ERRORS OF ECCENTRICITY.
VOLUME THE THIRD.
ERRORS OF ECCENTRICITY.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
WHY I can smile, and murder while I smile!
And cry content to that which grieves my heart;
And frame my face to all occasions.
I can add colours to the cameleon,
And wet my cheek with artificial tears.
Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme,
AN IRISHMAN IN THE WRONG.
AS we have already detailed Captain Derrick’s successful expedition in favour of the injured Signoras, S-forza, and safely restored him to the retreat he so rashly quitted, we will now follow him to a period distinguished by circumstances peculiarly distressing; in which he found himself, involved, through those very errors, that independent of their consequences, would, had they been properly guarded against, have assumed the character of laudable principles; but with the cold customs that prudence directs and justifies, Patrick had nothing to do. In his estimation, vice ought always to yield to, and to bend beneath the mighty crush of virtue. Totally ignorant of those wise operations, which, for ends unknown to indiscriminating mortality, supercede for a time the most benevolent efforts, he considered it as an article of his faith to expect even supernatural assistance, (for without it, many of his futile plans could not be realized,) upon all occasions that presented to exercise his benevolent propensities; and which, as he had been remarkably favoured in a few particular instances, the same infatuation encouraged him to pursue. True, he had not then to learn the possibility of disappointment, since even those plans which were most rationally founded, often failed; but Derrick, fully persuaded of their vast utility, and that they were properly cast, and still better conducted, would not suppose their defective powers rested with the contriver, but went on still inventing—still deceived. Yet no ways discouraged by repeated mortifications, he comforted himself with the adage of “Worse luck now, better another time.”
His impetuosity was also a trait in his disposition, which frequently proves its own punishment; and in the following instance, produced a train of consequences that threatened irreparable mischief.
It may be necessary in this place, to disclaim every title to the mean character of a plagiarist; as the situation in which our unlucky Irishman is so shortly to appear, has already been described by our more able contemporaries; nor would we have hazarded a description, (in which nothing entirely new can be introduced, if we except the originality of a very troublesome prisoner) could it have been avoided, without a chasm in our history. As it is, we will throw ourselves upon the candor and generosity of our readers; who will, we trust, allow of the possibility for descriptions and characters to tally in a degree, where the subject cannot admit of a total variety. For this we will venture to engage, that where truth and nature can be preserved inviolated, we will give our simple tale as much diffusion and originality, as an exact regard to history and well authenticated events will justify.—
Return we, then, to our honest Hibernian, who possessed a courage which was strengthened by the impetuosity already hinted at, and which no common circumstance could appal; adding to it a certain tenacity of opinion, or in other words, an inflexible obstinacy in all those points, where he conceived such an exertion necessary. Hence those repeated blunders which so often crimsoned the cheek, and pained the heart of his beloved child; and hence, the success which even his temerity did not always defeat.—Attached to the Cavalier Jerome, and so well assured of his loyal principles, and well established character upon that head, Derrick had never supposed that Polygon, whose interest he laughed at, and whose malevolence he despised and detested, possessed influence enough in that country to strike at that Cavalier’s safety; although Jerome, it was evident from the caution he used, was not quite so sanguine; but previous to Patrick’s last attack upon Polygon, the scheme which involved those warm friends of innocence had been laid, and the mine was ready to spring, which was to blow the unfortunate Irishman’s plans to atoms, and complete a revenge so detestable!
In consequence of the pursuit Jerome had so carefully conducted respecting his valuable young friend, for whose honourable safety he entertained some very reasonable fears, his trusty agents generally passed an hour or two in a day, in one or other of those houses, which they well knew to be frequented by the spies of government; contriving to give their appearance an air of chance, in the cherished hope of gaining some clue to her present situation. As it was necessary to assume a dress and manner entirely opposite to their station and purpose, Manuel, the leader, chose to be distinguished by a laughing light frivolity;—one who could tell a good story, sing a good song, and attached, within the rules of decorum, to the generous juice of the grape. Upon one of these occasions, it was his good or bad fortune to be noticed by Jacobus Storace, who with several others of the same stamp, were apparently waiting the arrival of another person, as they expressed their wonder at his improper delay.
Some flasks of wine stood before them, one of which was immediately pushed towards Manuel, with a high recommendation of its superior flavour; but before he was qualified to pronounce his opinion, the appearance of Isaac Polygon deprived him of every inclination, but those of coming at the motive of this meeting and escaping unsuspected. To do the latter, would defeat any attempt at the discovery of their schemes; and even after he found himself perfectly secure from Polygon’s suspicions, that old deceiver’s habitual caution, prevented his understanding any thing further than mutilated scraps of a conversation which was not intended for the ear of a stranger; and, from which, to avoid singularity, it was necessary he should either withdraw, or put in execution a plan he had often meditated, this was, to feign excessive inebriation; and he sportively taking a flask of brandy, offered to empty it immediately, at the same time exhibiting symptoms which seemed to render such a step unnecessary.
Trusting, therefore, to the goodness of his head, he swallowed enough to countenance the suspicion he wished to realize, and in a few minutes dropped from his seat in apparent stupidity; but in the management of this business, Manuel overrated his ability as a toper, and was too much confused to understand more than the words—“Cavalier”—“Prison”—“Derrick”—“Revenge”—and “Familiars;”—these, however, were sufficient to convince him, that his beloved master, in whose company he had fought, bled, and conquered, was in imminent danger, and this not from the civil power; and that he ought not to lose a moment in guarding him against it. Recovering, therefore, as quickly as he dare from the floor upon which he had fallen, Manuel stumbled away without being detained by any officious politeness, and he soon found himself on the road leading to the Cavalier’s abode;—when the fumes of what he had taken, acting in conjunction with an evening breeze upon his desultory brain, rendered it impossible to reach the hospital till he was somewhat recovered.—For this purpose, a fallen tree offered an acceptable seat, and Manuel soon found himself enabled to proceed; but just as he was about to renew his walk, a smart blow upon the shoulder, occasioned him to turn suddenly round, when his eye was saluted with the rosy phiz of the laughing Derrick; and his ear, with the salutation of “What cheer, messmate.”
Manuel answered the challenger with much respect: for Patrick’s harmless eccentricities and inexhaustible cheerfulness, had secured him as many friends at his assylum, as the Cavalier’s continual caution permitted him to select; and indeed a few more,—for Derrick was not particular in his selection, provided they possessed apparent honesty and real good humour.
To meet the Irishman so far from home, was matter of astonishment to Manuel, who knew his master’s motives for confining him; but, when he beheld in the twinkling eye, and staggering gate of this true son of Neptune, certain indications of his own late imprudence, and that Derrick had also been sacrificing to Bacchus, Manuel’s wonder ceased; and he thought himself justified, although little better than his companion, to walk home with him. Respectfully, therefore, he took the passive sailor’s arm, and made towards the common fields, beyond which the stately mansion stood. Derrick passed quietly on till they arrived at a small wine house, much frequented by those of the Factory, and others who drank mixed liquors, for its excellent Hollands; when perceiving Manuel turning his leg over a low stone wall, beyond which their path extended, he suddenly stopped—drew away his arm from his conductor, and with an arch grin, said they were upon a wrong tack, for there was a snug harbour within reach, where they might lie too, and refresh themselves with some excellent grog. Manuel shrugged up his shoulder, with “Patienza bono St. Antonio?” for he could not comprehend Derrick’s half Portuguese—half Irish—embellished as his accents were by a certain stammering, which wonderfully assisted to bewilder his meaning.
“Patientza?” hiccuped Patrick, “why as I live now, but he may be as good a saint as St. Anthony, or the whole string of those gintry, and I don’t care if I do take a sup with him, but I niver heard of his name before; so come along, honey!”
”Nos esperanza?” rejoined the unhappy Portuguese with a deep sigh, who feared he should be kept too long from the execution of his important commission by this foolish delay. — “Knows Poronzo? It’s more than I do then:” interrupted the quibbling Patrick, “but I suppose he is a saint of owld Bacchus’s canonizing, and an acquaintance of the other owld jontlemin’s, so we will even join company.” But finding Manuel gently attempting to cross the wall, he asked if Signor Patienza and the other old soaker were gone that way? because why, he shouldn’t stir a step after them:—“But mayhap you do not fancy the company of an honest tar! well, well, all’s one for that;—however,” raising his voice to its utmost pitch, and giving poor Manuel a very uncourtly shake, “it is my will and pleasure to drink a glass of grog in that very house: You see it, dont you, just before?—Well then, as I am none of your shim-sham cowardly beggarly Portuguese, who bye-the-bye isn’t a maravidi better than a half tiger, half monkey fiddling skipping French jackanapes,—why I don’t like to be alone without somebody with me,—so come along,” giving the astonished fellow a hearty pull, “and we’ll set foot to foot till—but how now!—What are all these cursed grimaces about?—You can’t go!—business—honour—all stuff!—Won’t? By Davy Jones’s Locker but you shall now, and that’s a bowld word, seeing that its fuller of gowld and precious stones than the snug little Casa at Loretto, that took such a nice bit of a walk without moving from the place it was born at; or the owld cuckold’s nest at—faith, I forget, O—at Mecca.”
As Manuel was not quite competent to the art of studying the Captain’s hyperbolical allusions and metaphors, he luckily escaped the necessity of calling him to an account for the unequivocal rudeness of his reflections; but still steadily persisted in his refusal to stop; and after wasting some precious minutes in trying to explain his motives for hurrying homewards, he again attempted to draw Derrick from his fixed purpose; but with a superior degree of manual strength and invincible obstinacy, his antagonist obtained a complete victory over the unlucky Portuguese; who, too weak to withstand the potency of frequent libations, soon felt himself unable to retire without that assistance he had so prematurely offered to his equally helpless companion, and it was almost midnight when these convivial friends arrived at the great hospital.
The Cavalier, who had been extremely anxious for the safety of his thoughtless favorite, received him with real displeasure; and the more when he beheld the situation of both. But his serious remonstrances were opposed with so much inoffensive drollery by Derrick, and the contrast which his laughing features exhibited to Manuel’s heavy rueful countenance, that even Spanish gravity could not have withstood an inclination to smile; and unwilling to commit himself before an erring servant, he would have dismissed the conscious culprit; but the length of the walk had so far assisted Manuel’s recollection, as to bring forward certain remembrances respecting his master; and throwing himself suddenly at Jerome’s feet, he entreated him to punish his dreadful transgression in any way he should think proper. “Retire to rest, Manuel,” replied the Cavalier, who mistook the cause of this eager address, “to-morrow I will think of an adequate punishment.”
—“To-morrow?” repeated the half distracted creature, “O my master,—now!—this very minute, spurn me from your feet! I have ruined you! this fatal delay” and he looked reproachfully at Derrick, “has destroyed you—Fly this moment! They will be here immediately: nay, I hear them now!” and he looked round with inexpressible agony, “I hear the carriage,—O that the earth would open and swallow up the monster who could betray so dear a master!”
“Begone, fool, and sleep off this mad enthusiasm,” cried the really angry Cavalier, “and you, Signor, retire also, I chuse to be alone!—“What leave him to the power of those who—but ah! Signor, indeed I hear a carriage—it approaches from the road—its wheels roll heavily under the gateway”—he then ran to the window, “Yes, yes, Jackimo opens the inner gates and bows as they pass,—What shall I say, that you are dead?—That you cannot be disturbed?”
Convinced by the sounds which whispered along the lower passages, that some visitors had actually arrived, Signor Jerome made a sign to his servant to be silent, while he opened the door, and listened with a countenance not wholly free from apprehension; but a dead stillness which succeeded the late sounds, struck the Cavalier as bearing an analogy in more lights than one, to the tremendous silence which preceded the memorable earthquake. To Derrick, who had derived much entertainment from what he stiled owld Patienza’s fancies, this visit appeared no ways extraordinary; and he readily concluded they were some hasty sowls, who were sneaking home from a rare jollification, and were afraid of being heard by the Governor of that enchanted castle; but Manuel’s agonized countenance and frantic actions told another tale; forbidden to speak, he could only weep, sigh, and have recourse to his beads, unheeding the irreverend gestures of his companion.
After waiting in uneasy suspense for nearly a quarter of an hour, Jerome distinctly heard the clapping of doors, which was immediately succeeded by the steps of several people as they slowly ascended; and—a similar appearance to that which we described as presented itself to the affrighted Almeria, struck terror to the heart of Jerome; who fully understood the mystic signs of an inquisitor’s profession. Derrick, who had never beheld a scene like this, gazed at the terrific figures with a wild half-frightened eagerness; but, when they presented a paper with the usual forms to the Cavalier, he directly encouraged an idea, that Polygon was at the bottom of the precious mischief, and he immediately planned a system of opposition to their designs; internally swearing the good Cavalier should never be subjected to such a villanous crocodile.
Had our Captain possessed but his usual scanty share of caution, he would have submitted with a better grace; but with his animal spirits heightened by grog, and every feeling which benevolence, hatred, courage, and impetuosity could enliven,—and roused by this supposition, revenge became the settled purpose of his soul, and the supposed agents of his enemy its determined objects. While watching for an opportunity to execute his mad intention, Derrick kept an attentive eye upon the familiars, who civilly pointed towards the door as a signal for their prisoner’s departure; while another of those unwelcome guests, made a motion for him also to accompany his friend. “Thank you heartily,” cried the indignant Irishman, “but I chuse to remain where I am, and so shall this jontlemin d’ye see; so set off and tell the owld cannibal he is mistaken for once, that’s all, honey!” A tremendous frown was the only answer he received to this daring attack, as the familiars were astonished for a moment even beyond the power of acting; but immediately recovering, two of them advanced, seized the refractory Patrick, and were dragging him towards the passage when Manuel entreated him, for the love of St. Anthony, to submit to the orders of the most holy tribunal.
“A fig for St. Anthony,—the Pope, and all his whelps too,” replied Derrick, who struggled to free himself from the grasp, “they may kiss—and as to your holy tribunal, to come for to drag a man out of his bed without knowing why, as one may say,—I would not give a —— for such love as that!” “For my sake then, Derrick,” said Don Jerome, “submit to your fate, and go without opposition; you know not the ruin you are bringing upon me, Frederico, Almeria, and yourself by this conduct.”
Too much exhausted for farther resistance, and touched with this affecting appeal to his passions, he reluctantly submitted to be put into the covered carriage; for he swore that not a member of his, which was the true Irish oak, should ever be employed to carry his body into a Portuguese limbo; nor did he fear being detained there long, as no venemous reptile could stand the power of that same Irish oak which composed his frame, (poor Derrick was rather premature even in this declaration) therefore they would rejoice to be rid of him. With these and similar reflections, he passed the time till they arrived at the prison, creating a thousand apprehensions in Jerome’s bosom, for the fate of a man who had ventured greater lengths in his impolite resistance, than ever prisoner had done before; for though he had delivered his rude defiances in his own language, it by no means followed that they were not understood by the guards, who were generally competent to their awful employment in its different departments; however, this remained to be known, and the Cavalier could only (by pressing his hand or a whispering entreaty to forbear) signify his sorrow for his friends imprudence but these were lost upon Derrick although in pity to the suffering Cavalier, he checked that volubility which was soon to be completely stopped.
To describe Patrick’s hostile menaces, frantic entreaties, and bitter sarcasms, when he found he must be separated from his friend, and occupy a small room, or rather cell, without even the comfort of venting his anger in loud soliloquies, would be unnecessary, nay impossible. The solemn silence of those awful domains, where every groan or sigh, as it burst from the tortured spirit, was amenable to censure, and the indulgence of them forbidden; the distant whispering step of those whose employments demanded their presence in the various cells; the visible darkness, as he called it, rendered still more melancholy by a few lamps, disposed in different parts of the prison; and the uncertainty of his own and the Cavalier’s fate, soon conquered our poor prisoner’s courage; who, thoroughly recovered from his late inebriation, and left to the perpetual employment of self examination, began to think that vice had more power over the innocent than he once could have supposed; and that it was even possible, for wickedness to triumph: nay, that Polygon himself might then be flourishing in a grand situation, re-possessed too, (this was an excruciating idea)—re-possessed too of the lovely sweet Francisca!
Why a suggestion of this nature should intrude amidst regrets so much more serious, was an hypothesis which even Derrick himself might fail in ascertaining; however, it was a suggestion that added a bitterness to his situation, and he groaned at times, with the weight his galling thoughts imposed.
For several days after their seizure, the captured friends were permitted to remain unquestioned and unmolested; but, upon the fifth, after their commitment, an officer was appointed to conduct them to the place of examination. Here Derrick preserved a total silence, till Signor Jerome had heard and answered those questions, which were first put to him; but when the inquisitor observed the same formalities with Patrick, such as enquiries respecting his name, age, business at Lisbon, and what he imagined to be the leading cause of his apprehension, our Irishman felt his choler rise;—suppressed resentment gave him a severe twinge, and he looked at Jerome, as if for permission to make a hearty reprisal.
It had been hinted at court, that his Portuguese was hardly to be understood; his defence, therefore, was suffered to proceed in a sort of corrupt English, such as few foreigners could understand—this was a proof that their knowledge of language was pretty extensive, and the Cavalier dreaded the consequence; for he saw the spirit of contradiction rising to Patrick’s eye, as he eagerly attempted to catch his fellow prisoner’s attention, who immediately glanced to an opposite direction. After some blundering and not very polite responses to the truly patient inquisitor, who sat as second judge, he was interrogated respecting his knowledge of Almeria, otherwise denominated Cleveland, her supposed affinity to the Tavora family, and the manner by which he became interested in her fate, so as to bring forward a marriage between her and Frederico de Lima.—At the mention of creatures for whom he would freely have given up every thing but life itself, Derrick absolutely started, and listened with a confused air, extremely prejudicial to his advantage. His spirits were in alarm, and thrown from his guard, which was never very strong, he gave those kind of answers best suited to the purpose of his cool and artful interrogator.
After looking over the secretary’s papers who had taken down the examination, the head inquisitor, who had not before spoken, thus addressed his unfortunate prisoner: “From what has appeared in the deposition given by you, Patrick Derrick, against the implied criminals, Frederico de Lima and Almeria Cleveland, we are bound to give our opinion, grounded upon your own words, that the said Frederico and Almeria have committed a most heinous crime against this our sacred tribunal, the ever blessed pope, the church, and all good catholics, by making an incestuous marriage; which marriage, you, Patrick Derrick, have abetted, forwarded, and encouraged.”
“It’s a lie,—an eternal lie! I niver said any such thing,” cried the enraged Irishman, whose prudence, patience, and even fear of death, could no longer stand such a terrible attack, “I niver, no niver, said they were brother and sister; I only said they loved like brother and sister; and what harm”—“Bind him,” said the offended judge, and his arms were immediately fastened behind him,—“Now take him to his cell; he shall be heard when he can respect our presence.” “I will be heard now, then, and swear that what I have said is true.—No, not true, that is, not what I did say, but what I meant to say.”
This rude interruption was unpardonable. Derrick was led from the hall, his eyes blinded, and his eager questions to his attendants wholly disregarded, till he was conducted through a long passage, and down a steep descent; when the bandage was taken from his forehead, and he beheld a spacious room, across the midst of which ran a large black cloth curtain, which entirely concealed all beyond it. To the left of the door were placed forms, chairs, a secretary’s desk; and upon a kind of platform, three magnificent seats, covered with black velvet, their backs richly embossed with gold, each representing a superb crucifix. Derrick gazed with a vacant eye at these not very extraordinary objects; his benevolent heart was reproaching itself with the mischief he had unintentionally brought upon his unhappy favourites, and his curiosity wanted a greater stimulus than a dismal room could furnish; however, it was soon moved to a degree of horror, by seeing the curtain slowly pushed back, and several men most frightfully disguised, advance from the interior of the room. Upon observing a motion from one of them, one of his attendants bid him go forward. Derrick would have refused, for he did not relish the appearance of his new conductors, whose black vizors, and dress of the same colour, fitted close to the body and limbs, made him tremble; but go he must, and had no sooner passed the curtain, than it fell together with a furious noise.
Turning suddenly at the alarming sound, our poor Captain found himself shut in with these fiend-like figures; who, leaving him to contemplate the scene before him, busied themselves in quickening a small fire, or rather stove, in which were several irons of an uncouth shape, which they were trying to heat. Near him was an engine of a peculiar shape, somewhat longer than the form of a man; at each end of which was a windlass, furnished with ropes, &c. Upon the floor and about the walls, he beheld instruments of various denominations; but Derrick, who gazed in stupid terror, easily guessed their designation; and the idea, that some sort of torture was preparing for him, put to flight even that of Frederico and Almeria. To venture a question in this situation he dreaded, and stood in an agony which hardly permitted respiration; for Derrick’s courage, already so severely tried, could scarcely stand a test so severe. At length, perceiving the man approach him, and finding they were preparing to cover his eyes, he sunk in speechless terror against a pillar, nor made the least opposition as they supported him along the apartment; till finding he had taken more steps than were necessary to reach the engine, he felt a moment’s respite to his fears. Still they went on, and still Derrick became more alert, for his strength encreased in proportion to his hope; when after walking for some time, they stopped;—the bandage was removed, and Patrick once more found himself in his little cell.
IGNORANT of all that passed beyond her little scope of observation, and interested only by affection for those beings who had ventured so much to serve her, and for whose safety she still endured the most poignant fears, Almeria passed her days without any material incident. She saw the spring advance, and watched the opening flower that bloomed before her window, with vague indefinite sensations; and hardly knowing what to wish, expect, or hope for, since her hopes had been defeated, her expectations disappointed, and her wishes, even when granted, productive only of mischief.
It had been her custom, since the season had mellowed into a kindly warmth, to venture within the porch of her little habitation, where, completely hidden from observation by the honey-suckle which covered it, she could catch the fleeting sail as it stole along the calm Tagus, which just shewed itself through a small opening in the shore. The view was momentary, but often repeated and highly pleasing; she could also mark the rising moon, as it threw an imperfect glance upon the level plain to the east; and in a situation of mind which cannot be described, enjoy the tranquil scene.
One evening while thus soberly engaged, she found her meditations interrupted by Lisetta, who almost breathless with alarm, entreated her to come in, for the most holy Father Douro waited to speak to her. Mrs. Cleveland’s heart palpitated as she followed the servant;—she should again behold her mysterious friend! but what could be his errand? “To do good,” said her confidential spirit, and the next moment she was in the arms of—this benevolent protector. Astonished, yet scarcely displeased at a liberty he had never before taken, she bashfully withdrew from his embrace; but he again caught the trembling creature with an energy too earnest to be allowed. “Nay, fly me not, dear child of my lost *** Fear not, I will guard your honour, your delicacy, your peace, with my life. Yet I am to blame;” and he wiped off the tear which trembled on her cheek, “I have been incautious: yet, it must be known; no secret shall now be hidden from my Almeria. —Say then, can you bear intelligence which has almost overcome my fortitude?” “O any thing, every thing but suspense like this.” “Well then, I am authorized to declare, that the family of De Tavora, and all its collateral branches have been fully acquitted of the horrible designs laid to their charge; in consequence—De Lima is nearly free!”
“O,” cried the empassioned Almeria, “blessed friend! confirm that sentence, and I will kneel at thy feet!”
“I do not exactly say that, my child, but I can assure you he is
not only living, but in tolerable health. At present, much remains to be done
before he can be liberated; but of this be assured, that his interest and
yours, employs every power of my soul, every action of my life. Ah! dear
creature, you will soon trace your mysterious friend in many of those
operations which have been given to chance; but for the present I must defer
any further conversation, only say, if you have a token which may be precious
to the heart of your husband, send it by me; I shall see him to-morrow.”
“Yes,” cried the delighted creature, “take this,” drawing a small picture from her bosom, and eagerly kissing it, while her tears fell upon the insensible chrystal, “Tell him, O tell him it has been my companion, my solace in every situation; and when once, O Signor! once indeed, I had nearly lost it. Poor Favorita, I recollect thy wayward fancies! But say, dear Signor, shall you really visit my suffering Frederico, and to-morrow too? and must you go alone? Could not some disguise be thought of in which I might accompany you?”
He returned the sweet earnest glance which strengthened this request, with one so chilling, so piercing, yet not devoid of tenderness, that while it convinced Almeria her hope had failed, seemed to bespeak a mind occupied by another subject. At length, “You can not see him yet, my child, but I trust that happiness, such as mortals define that extensive word, will not be long withheld from both.” He then arose to go, and had reached the door, when suddenly returning, as if struck by a new idea, and yet unwilling to have it thought of consequence, he carelessly asked of whom she spoke, when she reverted to the name of Favorita? “The hermit of the rock,” replied Mrs. Cleveland, who was somewhat surprised at the question, “he, who once I mentioned as bearing some similitude to your person.” “And you think so still?” “No, pardon me, I have been long convinced of that error.” “Error! true, but had there not been some motive for the strong suggestion, could you have encouraged it?” “Certainly not. Yet the difference in years and person is so very striking, that I wonder how I could be so deceived.” “You was not deceived,” said this mysterious stranger, “in me,” and his voice took a solemn tone, “you see united three different characters; my real title must still remain a secret. Soon I trust, it will be cleared from the dark and sullen mist, by which it has been clouded; soon I shall be enabled to enjoy the tranquillity my soul has seldom known. Happiness indeed is irrevocably lost to me; for death, unconquerable death has destroyed its very essence; therefore, to procure it for those I love, is now my only business. I did not mean to have added to your wonder by this discovery so soon, since even now I cannot give it you complete; but the name threw me from my guard, and now adieu! Curb as much as possible, those emotions which tremble in your eye and give that rich animation to your cheek.” So saying, he left her in a situation which pious gratitude, enraptured joy, and unsatisfied surprise, rendered painfully pleasing.
In the astonishing unity of such operations, and all governed, brought forward, and meeting in the actions of one being, Mrs. Cleveland found a subject that in some measure shared those meditations, which in default of a discovery so marvellous, she would have given exclusively to the dear hope of her husband’s anticipated deliverance; but there was still so much mystery attached to this wonderful man, so much to be known of his motives for an interference so amazing, and the rank he really held in life as an inquisitor, that every attempt to give even an air of rationality to his conduct was perfectly useless. Unable, then, to settle this point with herself, she endeavoured to release her mind from a perplexity so painful, and gave herself wholly up to the dear delight of reasonable and well grounded expectation.
From all the Signor had dropped, Almeria gathered this opinion, that Frederico would be emancipated in a few days, and she waited till the following one was nearly closed in a sort of patient inquietude, if we may so couple the words, but the evening which set in dull and tempestuous, brought with it no cheerful hope; when no longer restrained by the caution either of herself or others, she had strayed to the banks of the Tagus, and observed, with an awful sensation, the turbulent waves as they rolled over the bar, foaming and defying the unresisting tide, which yielded to a strong south-west wind. It was a scene that recalled many unpleasant ideas, and broke the chain of our heroine’s meditations, which extended to, and was absorbed by her hoped for, future meeting with her husband. Desirous therefore to escape a scene that too frequently reminded her of past events, and quickened by the approaching storm, she hastened from the shore, and had almost reached the house, when she was met by Lisetta, who entreated her to hasten home, for that there was a grand Signor and Signora just arrived, and she believed they meant to stay till the shower was over, but she did not care to press them till her lady came in.
Almeria was extremely agitated by this account; that strangers, for such she supposed them to be, should trust themselves so far from Lisbon in an evening apparently threatening; that they should stop, without a previous invitation, was rather absurd;—but, O transporting thought! might it not be her anxiously expected Frederico, who, informed of her abode by Douro, and cautious of affecting her too painfully, had sent this dubious message by the servant? “Yes,” she cried, “It is him,—it must be him; accompanied as is most probable by some female relative. Blessed disposer of mortal events, teach me to sustain this pang of bliss almost too exquisite for endurance! enable me to meet with fortitude, the dear source of all that hoard of anguish I have so long endured, and permit me once again to taste the sweets of rational friendship!”
Employed by this pious soliloquy, her trembling feet had reached the threshold; but she could not pass it just then, but sunk upon the sheltered seat, for she had caught a view of her supposed husband through a half shut lattice. In that moment (which seemed the point, that attracted all her hopes, her wishes, her expectations, and comprised in its important grasp her present happiness) she felt every doubt removed, and fearful of trusting her eye with an immediate view of a face so long, so ardently beloved, she averted it from the figure which folded her in a tender embrace. But, O! you, who disappointed in the sweet assurance of meeting, after years of hopeless grief, with a child,—a parent,—a husband: you, that have been led to encourage yet once again the fond delusion, and eagerly wished away the tedious hour that protracts the expected delight;—you only are competent to feel, to describe the agonizing pang which fastened upon your sinking heart, when once more left to the excruciating bitterness of repeated disappointment; and you only can feel in an adequate degree, the distress of our unhappy Almeria, when in the accents of friendly congratulation, her ear caught the voice of Sir Henry Tillotson? Sickening with a variety of sensations, she burst into tears at this cutting defeat of her high wrought expectations; nor was her surprise at meeting with one, towards whom she had acted with such duplicity the least of her distress. Conscious of the censures her suspicious conduct must have incurred, Mrs. Cleveland dared not glance at a countenance which beamed with a mixture of anxious love and tender pity.
Sir Henry understood this part of her distress; and eager to re-assure her sinking spirits, began to speak of the pleasure a meeting so unlooked for, would produce to Lady Tillotson; at the same instant drawing her towards the inner room, “Lady Tillotson!” repeated Almeria in a faint accent, “Is it possible!” and in the next moment she found herself pressed to the bosom of that revered Lady; whose affectionate reception of our confused emigrant, gave a delicious sensation to the heart which had so long been estranged from confidential communication. Restored by this charming assurance of female protection, Mrs. Cleveland found no difficulty in expressing her delighted astonishment, and immediately ordered such refreshments as her little retirement afforded; waving every enquiry respecting their appearance in Lisbon, till the rights of hospitality were performed. In truth, Almeria did not feel too desirous of hearing the mystery of their voyage explained; nothing doubting, but its leading object was that of her situation, as it might respect either her safety, or a re-union with her husband.
With these sentiments those of a sweeter nature were blended. Hope would intrude; and in the soft maternal glance of her kind friend, she tried to read an approbation of the marriage, against which the Baron had formerly set his face. Yet, that it might not be so, made her heart throb with a violence that impeded the questions she so ardently desired to frame. Sir Henry beheld this visible conflict, and without exactly tracing it to its source, felt impatient to remove as much of the cause as his important business would justify; beginning with an exordium upon the beauty of her retirement, its pleasing solitude, and simple ornaments; adding a compliment to the justice of her taste, in selecting a place so well calculated to ensure temporal and mental peace. He then went on to state his reasons for once again visiting Lisbon, and was producing some letters which would elucidate the whole, when Lisetta suddenly entered to announce the arrival of Signor Douro. Almeria was instantly quitting the room to receive him, for to his visit, on a night so dark and tempestuous, she attached some painful ideas respecting Frederico; but she was prevented by his immediate entrance.
To announce her visitors to this yet mysterious friend, was the ready suggestion of politeness; but caution interfered, and she stood in an awkward kind of suspension. In fact no one seemed to consider this meeting in a pleasant light; Sir Henry stood silent and irresolute; his lady’s eye alternately wandered from the stranger to Almeria, as if not quite satisfied with her new acquirement. Douro, instead of resigning his large hat, drew it lower upon his forehead; while Mrs. Cleveland, who found her former perplexities rapidly increase, attempted some observation upon the state of the weather. This was replied to by the Baronet in a very laconic style. Douro started, and seemed to be violently agitated; his step was unsteady, and his actions, as he paced the room, evinced either the paroxism of indignation, or the hurry of surprise.
Sir Henry, who, as well as his lady, felt no favourable sentiment in behalf of their young friend’s supposed attachment to an inquisitor, for he still wore the awful insignia, shrunk from any conversation with him; and as he approached, turned towards a window in defiance of the strong lightning, which then flashed in a perpendicular direction;—again our disconcerted heroine endeavoured to lead the attention of her visitors, by advancing an opinion upon the principles of electricity, but she met with no better success; for the whole party appeared to be absorbed in abstracted meditation. Determined then, to wait the result of this extraordinary silence, she ceased to interrupt it; but set herself to watch the impenetrable Douro, of whom she wished to ask a thousand questions.
At length, encouraged by Lisetta’s entrance to say the strange Signora’s apartment was ready, she arose to accompany her ladyship, “You do not mean to retire for the night, Lady Tillotson?” asked the Baronet, “we may yet reach Lisbon; the storm is almost over, and—” he was interrupted. Douro at the name of Tillotson, uttered an exclamation, too low to be heard by Sir Henry, till he repeated it more loudly, and hastily throwing off his sable garb and slouched hat, stood close to the astonished Baronet, who gazed in horrible amazement at the figure before him, fearfully articulated “From the grave! yes, he is come from the grave; and yet, what incorporeal form ever wore an appearance so natural!” “None,” cried the agitated Douro, “hast thou indeed, then, forgotten the friend of thy heart! Seest thou not in me the identical—Count de Lima?”
“I do, indeed!” said Sir Henry, who opened his arms to receive a friend, he had long supposed to be numbered with the dead; for although the letters which he brought with him, had been long since written by the Count, yet, for some important reason, they did not bear his signature therefore, these epistles which were so long kept back, were no evidence that he still lived.
Almeria heard this amazing discovery with a perturbation she could no ways disguise;—Count de Lima, the hermit of the rock, a Spanish officer, and an inquisitor, all represented by one man, wonderful! most wonderful to the still uninformed Almeria, was this amazing combination. The friend too, perhaps the near relative of her husband! How was she to reconcile the apparent contradictions? but they were realities: for, in the congratulations of these delighted men; in Lady Tillotson’s joy; in their fond and tender acknowledgment of her, as they supposed connected by blood with the De Lima race, she beheld conviction. “Nothing then remains” said the artless woman, as she returned their caresses, “but—but—the presence of my emancipated husband, to complete this charming, this unexpected discovery.”
An electrical shock could not have operated more powerfully upon Sir Henry’s nerves, than this declaration; his hands dropped insensibly from her waist, which he had eagerly encircled; his eye could scarcely restrain the starting tear; and with an emotion not to be wholly concealed, he energetically repeated the word “husband.” Mrs. Cleveland beheld his visible confusion, which restored to her apprehensive mind, his unaccountably steady dislike of her union with Frederico. The same frigid cast of countenance, the same repulsive tone of voice declared his continued antipathy; and, but for the evident pleasure with which the Count de Lima (as he must in future be stiled) received her self congratulatory speech, she had sunk beneath the force of a cruel disappointment. However, even this consolation soon lost its power.—Sir Henry motioned to speak with his newly recovered friend, and they retired to another room, leaving the two ladies in a situation which lost much of its social comfort, from an apprehension of what neither dared to explain. After a quarter of an hour’s absence, the friends returned; and in Count de Lima’s anguished features, Almeria traced the effect of Sir Henry’s communication.
It was indeed a fact, that he had produced a little manuscript, drawn up and signed by the person who delivered Mrs. Cleveland into Derrick’s hands, and who in the interval between De Lima’s reported decease, and Frederico’s marriage, had visited England, and confirmed his wife Laura’s intelligence to Sir Henry, which has been already explained. This intelligence, although communicated by Count de Lima to his friend, had long ceased to operate upon that nobleman’s belief; for, an event which will be spoken of in his little history, completely did away former suspicions. At first, then, he opposed with all the sophistry of interested affection, an information which threatened the peace and happiness of his sweet protegèe; but overcome by Sir Henry’s strenuous arguments, he at last consented to suspend his opinion, till positive circumstances should do away or confirm it. It was likewise agreed, that Almeria should be spared this dreadful shock, till no doubt remained of its tendency. With such serious apprehensions pressing upon the feelings of all present, it was impossible to keep up the spirit of congratulation;—a listless languor—attention visibly constrained — the smothered sigh and starting tear, appealed too plainly to the hearts of our affectionate party, to be entirely overlooked or misunderstood; and they soon after separated, to obtain a transient indulgence of those sensations which both prudence and friendship forbid, while liable to reciprocal notice.—
The Count felt eager to establish his hope of seeing his favourites comparatively happy; Sir Henry and his Lady mourned privately for the agonizing disappointment they must sustain; and the unhappy Almeria encouraged an idea, that she should meet with fresh obstacles to her re-union with Frederico.
REVERSE OF FORTUNE.
FROM the period of Count de Lima’s meeting with Almeria near Cadiz, he had employed every engine his power could command, for the advantage of this persecuted young woman; nor could Sir Henry’s fatal communication lessen his attachment, although it rendered the discharge of what he still conceived to be a duty, yet more painfully difficult; but one branch of it was still in his ability to perform; that of gratifying his laudable curiosity by the perusal of his eventful history, which he had collected from various little memorandums, and from the time of his parting with her for the purpose of her residing at the Baron’s, to the preceding evening, that nobleman had sedulously employed himself in rendering many of his actions clearly intelligible.
Nothing could have been more desirable respecting Count de Lima to Mrs. Cleveland, than this arrangement, so far as it respected his amazing conduct towards her; for she ardently hoped it would explain Sir Henry’s undefinable reluctance to her marriage; but of this satisfaction she was keenly disappointed for the present. However, she had one pleasure in store, since a perusal of what he meant to communicate, would cheat the lonely hours, as the Baronet and his Lady were to accompany their newly recovered friend on the following morning to Lisbon; for her endeavours to detain Lady Tillotson, met with such a determined rejection from Sir Henry, as effectually to prevent any further solicitations upon that head; although she could not guess at his inducement, which in fact was a dread of what might transpire in the confidence of friendship. Thus left to the solitude which rendered her little dwelling not undesirable in the present instance, and which was still more interesting from a possession of Count de Lima’s narrative; as it permitted her the opportunity of deeply studying its affecting and important contents.
“THEODORE DE LIMA TO HIS BELOVED ALMERIA.”
“To give my dear young friend an adequate idea of those difficulties that have put me upon assuming disguises and situations so various, I must refer to an early period of life, when every hour that passed seemed to leave a regret upon the mind for its hasty departure, which succeeding pleasures could not wholly obliterate.
“Our family, which at that period was high in the favour of Joseph, the late monarch, and enjoyed several distinguished posts under government, wished me to tread the crooked, and to a sprightly genius, the unpleasant path of politics; but neither my father’s attachment to his king, or his confidence in the Marquis de Tavora, who had been imprisoned upon suspicion, and the Duke D’Aveiro’s mysterious intrigues, could I behold any temptation strong enough to force me from the light amusements of happy youth; and no wonder, for it was but too apparent in the frequent political squabbles between the Baron de Lima and my cousins D’Aveiro and De Tavora, that certain opposite interests prevailed, to the utter exclusion of domestic peace, or a generous confidence among the parties. You have already understood the said Baron to be my venerable parent and your protector at Tavora: yes, Almeria, to that aged nobleman and his amiable grandchild, I entrusted the daughter of his ancient house; for I hoped in so doing, to secure to him the affection of a young and lovely relative, and to you a father’s love; but more of this in its place.
“In the warmth of my father’s resentment against De Tavora, and the Duke, I too soon discovered the disaffection of the two latter against the reigning family, to be an ostensible cause of the loyal Baron’s interposition; for he was attached to his king with a fervour which exempted him from every suspicion that could affect his safety, in a time of such danger as afterwards occurred. During the fabrication of that horrid plot, which involved in its discovery the innocent with the guilty, I felt my boasted felicity sensibly diminish. Fond, to excess, of the unhappy Marquis, and still more unhappy Duke, feeling too for a sweet and much loved sister whom he had married, I could not behold them advancing to the brink of that precipice which offered its fair and flowery descent, without joining in my father’s solicitations to drop their pernicious intention, although utterly ignorant of its dreadful extent.
“For a short time I fancied our arguments would prove effectual, and we both obtained much relief from the fallacious assurance. Barbarous De Tavora! what a return didst thou make to a family who sought to serve and save thee! What a sacrifice didst thou require to criminal pride and unrestrained passion! Not satisfied with plunging a noble race into the gulph of infamy and undeserved distress, but, unrestrained by every sacred, every honourable claim, thou didst tear the sweet Alzira from her betrothed husband,—throw a veil of horror over his youthful expectations, — and for ever crushed his rational hope of domestic bliss! And yet, Almeria, for the offspring of that relentless man, I have hazarded life itself! For Frederico de Lima—for his emancipation I have ventured into the enemy’s power, and would do more, if more were necessary to effect his deliverance. You are ready to call this assertion the effusions of insanity: no, my dear, it is that of love,—pure, sacred, and never to be forgotten love; for Frederico is also the son of Alzira!
“I cannot go over the particulars of an event which dispossessed reason of her seat, and produced a wandering deriliction of the imagination; such as you once witnessed, when the image of that lamented fair one, met my eye in the portrait of her prototype, Frederico de Lima. I see your astonishment at this declaration, and will explain the mystery: that cousin so much confided in, so deeply engaged in treasonable practices, so much indebted in various instances to Theodore de Lima, scrupled not by the basest manœvres, to tear—but I cannot proceed; from Sir Henry Tillotson you may learn what the torture of retrospection will not let me detail. He can inform you how Alzira became the Marchioness of Tavora; for I once hurried over the fatal story in his presence. He also knows that I protected and adopted that Lady’s offspring, as much and more from affection to her, than my relation to his perjured father could warrant;—but I must fly the hateful subject.
“As if these horrid effects of his treachery had not sufficiently wounded a too susceptible heart, this wretched man had, it was too probable, either through ignorance or design, struck another dart at my assumed tranquillity. Indifferent as to my future establishment in life, and dead to every hope of reciprocal affection, I was induced by my sympathizing father, to wed the sister of her for whom I still encouraged such a sentiment of adoration, as made a union with another truly reprehensible; but the generous forbearance of Louisa, who knew and pitied the situation of my heart, rendered her society a pleasing consolation; and for several years afterwards, I found my keenest sorrows suspended in a degree; when the report of Joseph’s being attacked by Alzira’s husband, renewed every poignant feeling, and drove me to an act of desperation. This was to make a personal appeal to the king, in favour of a man who so irreparably injured me: but it included the safety of his Marchioness, who, with all her children were equally attainted.
“As the son of Joseph’s favorite minister, I felt assured, if not of success, at least of a patient hearing; but, what were the agonies of my soul, when in answer to my petition, his majesty threw me a small packet, and immediately left the closet. Intimidated by the austerity of his countenance, and fearful for my own safety, I took the mandate, and hastened to my house at Belem; when breaking the seal of that ominous paper, I found several letters, written many years back, in which I had combated my cousin’s opinion of aristocratical, or rather monarchical governments; for at that period he had indulged principles totally opposite, not only to those which proved his ruin, but to that sense of liberty which is so dear even to a Portuguese. Certainly there was nothing in my argument that could detract from the character of a loyalist; yet it was admirably calculated to shew his opinions in a light extremely consequential to his sad situation; and I have no doubt but these unfortunate letters (if sent by the Marquis to his Majesty) were intended to prove that his general principles, although formerly implicated, were inimical to the crime for which he was apprehended. There was, however, a probability that they had been seized among other papers; be that as it may, the consequence was dreadful to me and my unhappy Countess; for I had scarcely left that generous woman, who urged me to secure my safety by flight, than our house was surrounded by the officers of justice, for the express purpose of my apprehension. Shocked almost to desperation, at an appearance so terrible to her gentle spirit, Louisa lost the power of combating her agonizing fears, and soon fell a victim to them.—She languished, drooped, and died!
“Alas! Almeria, how widely extended was that ruin which touched me from so many points; all sharpened, as I may say, by the hand of friendship?—The idol of my soul,—the wife of my rational choice,—both sacrificed to the indulgence of appetite, or the frenzy of ambition.—A father lamenting the fate of an injured son, and that son condemned to wander far from all that could soothe or ameliorate his misfortunes.
In the hurry of my ideas, when thrown at first into such a cruel situation, I recollected a friend who had long forsaken his dearest connexions, and retired to a small hermitage upon the rock. The impulse was decisive; and I hastily determined to seek him. In doing this, I was but little liable to detection: the night was dark, stormy and favourable to my escape; and although much danger was attached to this wild scheme, I luckily gained the rock without any material obstacle; when, knowing every avenue to Zeluco’s recess, I soon gained the stupendous height, but my friend was absent; however, there was no alternative, and the couch presented a desirable refreshment to my wearied frame.
“Restored by sleep to the repossession of those faculties, which were almost bewildered by a change so appalling, I began to consider the necessity of a dress proper to the place and character I was to occupy. How to support my existence was also an important consideration; but these matters were easily regulated. The friendly Zeluco had again returned to his former station in the world, and had left his garments, false beard, and several sorts of dried fruits, wine, &c. to any chance successor: — true, I was grieved to lose the consolation of an ancient friendship, but Zeluco’s abdication was not without its comforts, and immediately assumed the manners and appearance of an hermit. The venerable man who gave me the above particulars, shewed no curiosity at a conduct so abrupt and unaccountable, as mine must have appeared to a common observer; He not only assisted me in the transformation I was so eager to adopt, but instructed me in the best methods to procure provisions and settle myself in Zeluco’s solitude; and then quitted me with a courteous tender of his future services, should I find them necessary to either my comfort or establishment.
“From his intercourse with the world, little as that was, I learned the premature death of my poor Louisa, and the horrid catastrophe that involved Alzira—the noble, the generous Alzira in its dreadful effects. These tidings were too powerful for that reason which had once before given way to the violence of excessive sorrow; and years of an unconscious existence rolled away, unembittered by torturing recollection, unsupported by consolatory endearments! but I was yet to suffer; my career was not nearly finished:—an interval of sense renewed past anguish, and I again awoke to useless retrospection; but how widely different was the scene which first presented itself to my incredulous eye!—No longer confined to cheerless solitude and comfortless meditations,—I saw a father,—a sister, rejoicing over the relative they had mourned as irreparably lost; and in the splendid Casa at Tavora, I could not regret the hermit’s cell. As soon as my faculties were tolerably restored, I found fresh reason to admire the unwearied zeal of my friend on the rock; to whom in the height of my agonizing delirium, I had communicated a number of incidents sufficient to guide him to a knowledge of my family. The Baron was then at Lisbon, to whom the hermit addressed a short note, and he had the satisfaction of restoring me to the bosom of that invaluable parent; but no sooner were these particulars, so stimulative to my gratitude, repeated, than I found fresh cause for regret in the loss of that worthy man; who, in one of his nightly excursions from the rock to visit Lisbon, was run down by a vessel of a superior size to that in which he was, belonging to the hermits, and never heard of more!
* * * * * * *
“As the late dreadful executions had allayed the furious zeal of intolerant persecution against our unhappy family, my father ventured to solicit his king on my behalf, and obtained a repeal of the sentence of banishment which I had previously incurred; but he could not restore—the noble—the innocent victim of his sorded suspicion! Alzira—a wife! a mother! whose principles were honourable, just, and generous—She—but I dare not paint her sufferings;—her death upon the same scaffold, where not an hour before she had witnessed the execution of her husband, her children!—enough, enough have I reflected upon a situation so unprecedented, so repugnant to every feeling of humanity.
“From that era, I experienced the lassitude of despondency; almost the torpor of despair: even the comforts of domestic society failed of its delightful effects;—a residence at Tavora became irksome, and my father, who understood but too well the bent of my mind, urged me to travel; and in the negociation of some particular circumstances with Sir Henry Tillotson, I found a consolation which was wholly unexpected:—circumstances that may at some, perhaps not distant period, communicate equal pleasure to the bosom of those I best love.
“After an acquittal the most honourable to my character, could any being possessed of the smallest perception, suspect any farther evil to arise from a quarter which a faithful minister and a tender father had guarded with the utmost vigilance? That in consequence of Joseph’s sudden demise, new accusations should revive against the family of that confidential friend of his king; and yet such was the prejudice, the infatuation of an illiberal mind, that the Queen and her Uncle sought, as you too well know, to revive the dreadful transactions of 1758; and, although my father’s known integrity, his affecting supplication and defence in behalf of an injured son, ought to have been a sufficient inducement with the suspicious monarch, I was again hunted from society, and the hermit’s cell once more presented a safe assylum; where I had passed only a few months, when in the portrait upon your bosom I beheld the features of Alzira! “And shall I never obtain that mediocrity of feeling which alone can render my situation comfortable?” “No,” replied my empassioned heart, “It is happiness only that can content affections so highly set.” Happiness? what an indefinite term; and how unaptly applied in every situation of life, to the gratifications of short sighted mortals! Long have I supposed the possibility of an attainment so hard to establish, till repeated conviction of its futility has taught me to make humbler calculations of its powers, and discharging every idea of its complete existence upon earth. I have now only to attempt at the procuring a limitted degree of that eternal attribute to others, as the probable means of my feeling its reverberating effect.
From the moment in which I discovered your departure from Lisbon, fresh pursuits agitated my anxious mind! and depending upon the disguise I had assumed, ventured to make a visit to the city, for the purpose of tracing, if I might be so fortunate, the steps of one who had raised in my withering heart, the poignant sensations of mortified affection. For several days my search was fruitless, and to my accidental meeting with a friend by whom I was suddenly recognised, I owed the pleasure of seeing you again. Satisfied of Don Jerome’s integrity, for he it was, whose discernment rendered my caution useless, I ventured to disclose my situation to him, with the motives which had drawn me to Lisbon. Delighted with the opportunity of assisting my researches, that excellent being soon unravelled the mystery of your concealment: and to him I was wholly indebted for a discovery equally important, although acutely distressing.—The son of Alzira,—the only surviving child, as I then supposed, of that suffering martyr, was known to be confined in the state prison,—subject to a criminal prosecution, and in daily expectation of a dreadful fate! This intelligence set afloat every passion of my soul. To see the offspring of Alzira in any tolerable situation would have been extatic, if not permanent bliss; but to see him a prisoner, deprived of the common advantages of humanity, amenable to an arbitrary government for crimes which he could not be guilty of,—crimes that had brought a noble and innocent mother to the scaffold,—what is there of agonies experienced by a feeling heart, which this assurance did not communicate? yet to see him, to embrace him, to procure a relief to his temporary necessities—O! how my bosom throbbed at the very hope of such a gratification! Of Jeronymo Morviedro I knew nothing; but to my generous friend Jerome, that officer had been recently obliged; and when he became acquainted with my eager desire to procure an interview with the prisoner, readily promised to use his interest with Morviedro for that purpose. Alas, Almeria, many days elapsed before I received the joyful intelligence that I might on the following night, hope for a sight of Alzira’s son; and in due time that hope was gratified. Dear injured being! how strong were the emotions thy candid narrative created! That face too, so pale, so emaciated, so interesting, how affectingly did it remind me of *** but in delineating my own feelings, I am giving poignancy to thine.—Forgive me, Almeria, I will be more guarded.
“For several nights I was permitted the sad indulgence of mourning over this devoted youth; and was also happy enough to obtain for him the enjoyment of many local comforts; but he knew not from whom he derived them; on that subject I was inflexibly silent; and soon after this intercourse had taken place, his examination came on; after which event I saw him no more; my visits were prohibited; and I could only hear from Signor Jerome that he was in tolerable health, and that nothing was decided respecting his fate. Thus defeated in the hope I had encouraged of being instrumental to his emancipation, my next step was to protect his Almeria from the evils that surrounded her; but was prevented by a sudden illness, which confined me till your escape was so happily effected. When I had traced you from Juan’s cottage to the Moorish ruin, it was my intention to have accompanied you in your perilous journey; but perceiving your excessive terror when I crossed the apartment, I could not endure to add to it by any further surprise, and hastened on to a little village, where, after writing a short note enclosing those bills which I find you did not receive, I waited the arrival of Manuel, a confidential servant of the Cavalier’s, who had purchased a full suite of Spanish regimentals for me, as a further security against any discovery.—During my short abode at the Cabaret, I formed the plan of sending you to Tavora; and wrote a hasty request to my father, that he would receive you as one whose interest was particularly dear to me; but that there were circumstances in your story, that rendered all communication both improper and dangerous. For this caution I had a formidable motive, which belonged to the mystery of your origin; and as I knew the characters of those to whom you were to be entrusted, apprehended no mischief could result from such a reserve.
“Having so successfully provided for your safety, that of our beloved Frederico became once more the leading business of my life: but still the veil of obscurity enveloped his destiny; and before I could settle any plan for his benefit, Signor Jerome sent me the horrid information that you were betrayed by Polygon into the hands of our infernal tribunal, and was soon expected at Lisbon. Wretched beyond description at this intelligence, I felt every power of invention suspended; for who could oppose a power so tremendous? or, how could I, a being already amenable to civil authority, and depending upon the effort of friendship for concealment, take an active part in your recovery? but while fluctuating between hope and despair, I received some consolation from my indefatigable friend; who advised me to assume the garb of an inquisitor from the Brazils, several of whom were daily expected to supply the place of those who had been promoted to the highest offices of the tribunal at Portugal. He then stated the possibility of remaining undiscovered till some fortunate circumstance should deliver you into my hands. This was an awful attempt, and I shuddered at the idea of making it; but it was worth a trial; and I waited with inexpressible anxiety, the moment when it should be proved. At length the trusty Manuel informed us of your approach! for his master had commissioned him to watch for Polygon’s return, from the time in which he supposed you might arrive. Ah! my love, imagination cannot paint my feelings, when under the disguise of an officer of that inhuman court, I heard your affecting appeals for mercy, and received your inanimate form in my trembling arms. How little did you know that those black disfiguring garments, covered two hearts so determined to effect your deliverance, as those of Jerome Passado and Theodore de Lima!
“Before I conclude this desultory narrative, it will be right to observe, that deceived by the disguise I wore, and awed by that authority which is attached to every one in the Holy Office, I easily obtained the keys of the church, and with the assistance of proper instruments, wrenched open the little door from which you saw us advance; when the Familiars, who now conceived they had fully discharged their duty, departed for their respective habitations; it being within the limits of their rules to leave a prisoner in the custody of those whose turn it might be to officiate for the night, and the closeness of our dress, prevented a discovery of our persons. Our next business was to convey you to the cottage, which was previously prepared for your reception; and this was happily effected by leaving the church at a door that led into an orange grove, beyond which an open chaise was stationed; where I left you in the care of Lisetta, whose dread of inquisitorial vengeance, put her completely into my power; and I had nothing to dread from that quarter.
“Resuming, therefore, the insignia of war, I returned to Signor Jerome; nor ever after visited your little abode, but in the depth of midnight; preserving, however, my formidable appearance to Lisetta, with whom I knew my secret would be safe, so long as it might be necessary to wear the awful habit, which I was well assured would restrain her loquacity. Thus, then, have I rescued an invaluable creature from the malice of a detestable monster; and nothing further remains, but to endeavour to give liberty to her long lamented husband.—Yes, dearest friend, I am bid to hope for his emancipation; and to-morrow, if heaven permit, shall be able to ascertain the time of his release.”
“To-morrow?” repeated Almeria, “Alas, it is past without the gratification which this best of men foretold; but be silent, rebellious heart, nor whisper one doubt of that eternal goodness, which has thus wonderfully delegated his worthy agent to interfere so steadily in our behalf. For such unexampled kindness may he experience the rich reward, even in this life, which conscious goodness must enjoy.”
TRIALS OF LOVE.
UNEQUAL to the task of rallying her spirits, Almeria continued to linger with fond solicitude upon the brief, but pathetic description of the Count’s various sufferings. Imagination carried her back to the scene of Alzira’s death, and that of her father’s, whose title as Duke D’Aveiro she had been told reverted to his offspring; but, upon collateral distinctions she wasted not a thought; Frederico de Lima was the world to her: and she attached every hope of future felicity to the recovery of her husband, the continuation of the Count’s generous friendship, and the enjoyment of Captain Derrick’s society in future. On the description of Alzira’s horrible fate, she dropped the sympathizing tear, and adverting from that to the sorrows of her disappointed lover, sighed bitterly to the painful recollection; and in this tender employment, we shall leave her to follow the Count and Sir Henry Tillotson, whose uneasiness for the fate of their favourite Frederico, was considerably heightened by the intelligence they received from the officer Jeronymo Morviedro; importing, that his unfortunate prisoner (who had been informed of his release from every criminal process) expressed a wish to pass the evening with Morviedro, who added, that happy to comply with the request of a gentleman so much esteemed, he complimented him with an invitation to supper, which was enlivened by a temperate hilarity. That he accompanied the Signor to his apartment, omitting the usual ceremonies of placing centinels, or even fastening those doors which, for the first time, were left thrown back upon their hinges, to admit the refreshing midnight breeze. Upon this circumstance, his prisoner was feelingly eloquent; observing, with a sedate smile, upon the contrast of situation when last he passed the sombre passages, and adverting to his future happy prospects; Jeronymo then left him, and retired immediately to his repose, which he said was interrupted by several smothered groans near his chamber door. Not wholly unacquainted with those expressions of anguish he did not attempt to develope the cause, as he knew that an unhappy man was expected at the castle, but endeavoured to forget the unwelcome sounds; and his first visit on the following morning was to the Signor with an invitation to partake of his breakfast; but upon approaching the bed he was terribly surprised to find it had not been occupied, and the clothes he had worn on the preceding day scattered about the room. That eager to enjoy that liberty which a few days must have ensured, he had taken advantage of the first opportunity which presented, was Jeronymo’s leading idea; but when he considered the improbability of such an attempt without any clothing—another suggestion darted into his mind. What that was, he would not communicate to the anxious friends, and they could only entreat, remonstrate, and almost threaten, without any alleviation of their perplexity.
To return with such evident marks of distress upon their features, which this intelligence created, was only to carry excruciating misery to their unhappy young friend; and as the Count had passed some time without visiting Signor Jerome, he proposed to introduce Sir Henry Tillotson to that gentleman. In their passage to the stately hospital, the Count related several of those instances of true friendship of which Almeria had recently read the detail, and concluding with some little doubt of the Cavalier’s health, arising from an unusual omission of sending Manuel either to the rock, or the small Cabaret, in which Count Theodore passed some of those days antecedent to his release from the criminal process; but while Sir Henry (who felt much gratified by this tribute to such excellence) was admiring the noble edifice in which Signor Jerome, and his valiant contemporaries, were permitted to enjoy the benefit of a sovereign’s favour, and which now rose in all the dignity of ancient architecture before him, the Count bid him notice a window on the first floor, as one that belonged to the Signor’s apartment, but which was closely shut. “I fear he is ill,” said the anxious De Lima, “yet of course I should have heard it from Manuel, or the honest Irishman, whom he has kindly protected from the villain Polygon;” but a new disappointment struck fresh terror to Theodore’s heart. An old porter, whose business it was to admit strangers, no sooner heard our visitors’ errand, than he turned pale, trembled, and hinted his suspicion, that the Signor and his companion were conveyed to the inquisition. “It is now five weeks” said the compassionate veteran, “since that worthy gentleman, with his friend, were taken from hence; and, if I dared to be explicit ***” Here he stopped: “Be explicit,” said the Count, “you have already given a hint that inflicts a cruel pain; say then, is it your opinion, that they are indeed in the power of the most holy tribunal?” “Ah! Signor Capitano,” replied Jackimo, “I see you have a proper sense of the reverence due to that sacred court, therefore I will venture to tell you my reasons for supposing your friends are under ecclesiastical censure.” He then went into a full account of the familiars’ midnight visit, Derrick’s reluctance to go with them, and Manuel’s grief for his master’s departure; ending his unwelcome communication, with an eulogium upon the gentleness, mercy, and candour of a court, which owed this display of its supposed great qualities, to the superstition its tremendous power imposed. The Count could listen no longer to this elaborate display of Jackimo’s eloquence, but impatiently enquired for Manuel. A deep drawn sigh, and significant shake of his head, was the porter’s preface to another tedious and unpleasant information; namely, that Manuel, in consequence of his dread of the inquisition, had left Lisbon on the following morning, nor had ever been heard of since.
This account removed De Lima’s fears for that honest fellow’s safety; as he readily concluded, that the terrified creature had escaped to his father, who was a goatherd in the village of Chamouny, near Geneva; and, as there was now nothing further to be obtained from the communicative porter, our disappointed friends left him, after conjuring him to dispatch the first intelligence he could obtain of Signor Jerome, to the coffee-house where Sir Henry resided; and this command was enforced by the potent argument of a couple of moidores.
That Signor Jerome and Captain Derrick should become subject to the inquisition, was but too easily accounted for by Count de Lima; who had seen in Almeria’s cruel arrest, such a striking proof of Polygon’s power to do evil. It struck him also, that her husband was implicated in the same process, which included the safety of those who had encouraged him in a marriage so detrimental to his character. “Thus, then,” cried Sir Henry, “will those proofs be substantiated, which in point of their futility, had never been submitted to a court of judicature.” “Judicature!” repeated the Count, who could scarcely bear the weight of his own surmises, “that word implies justice, candour, patient investigation;—but can we look for those virtues at a tribunal where confession is extorted by torment; where subtile sophistry assumes the garb of simple truth; where innocence is confounded by the severity of interrogation, and unrelenting cruelty wears the dress of mercy?—No, Sir Henry, although a good catholic, I cannot yet allow such a triumph to the infernal machination of demons. True, I was led to believe as you do, in the evidence of Laura and her husband; till the death of that beloved sister, the Duchess D’Aveiro, threw into my niece Laurana’s hands, a small manuscript written by that unhappy lady, importing the birth of a female infant more than two years prior to the Duke’s execution; who had repeatedly declared, that the honours of his illustrious house, which he scrupled not to aver, was lineally descended from Braganza’s race, should never descend by the female line (for the Duchess had already presented him with a daughter) to his successors. Intimidated by this assurance, which, as her Grace’s pregnancy again became apparent, was daily impressed upon her maternal heart, she trusted to the Marchioness de Tavora for the management of an affair so important to her own, and her child’s happiness; and fearful of the Duke’s resentment, should he be disappointed in his hopes, she placed a confidence in the excellent Alzira, and was no ways deceived. A plan was thought of, that carried on the face of it apparent success; much of which was owing to the intrigues of De Tavora and D’Aveiro, who, involved in the fabrication of their own treasonable schemes, left the ladies at full liberty to act for themselves; for my sweet Alzira was also in the Duchess’s situation.
“They were permitted to reside together in the Moorish palace, so well known to our Almeria. It was then resolved to bring about a change of offspring, should that be found necessary; but to deceive the Duke, if both were females, they well knew would be extremely difficult; however they were determined to attempt it: and as the event justified this caution, it called for an innocent exertion of their scheming talents. The Marchioness produced a still born son, which by dint of proper management, was lamented by D’Aveiro as the deceased heir of his title and estates; for my lovely disappointed sister, whose fears were unfortunately justified by the birth of a daughter, had transferred the sweet undisguised anxieties of a fond mother, to her amiable friend; and saw her smiling infant acknowledged by that lady, with these alleviations to her disappointment, that the Duke was spared much useless vexation; for in the event of his supposed heir’s death, there was no foundation for bitter reproach, or the indulgence of passions which knew no bounds, and the regret for his loss was by no means permanent.
“How Laura’s husband could mention the unfortunate Almeria as Duke D’Aveiro’s heir, could no otherwise be accounted for than by the hurry of his spirits, which might occasion the mistake; for she had been committed to his care by the Marchioness as her own offspring, though such a motive seems hardly justifiable; be that as it may, the Count still adhered to his belief that the Duchess’s manuscript was authentic, which concluded with an affecting description of her own sufferings, when obliged to witness the departure of a little creature, to whom she was bound by every tie, which the horrid death of its father, the affection she had ever borne the Duke, and her tenderness for his desolate infant could strengthen.”
This account, so forcibly delivered, and so highly authenticated, contributed to unsettle the Baronet’s belief; and he began to think the infamy, horror, and grief, which the knowledge of such a crime must bring upon the wretched pair, should be unknown to them if possible. While concerting several plans for the entire developement of this complex story, they thought not of time; but the approach of night, as it stole over the city, reminded them of Mrs. Cleveland’s uncomfortable situation. Lady Tillotson, to whom after their visit to the hospital, they had immediately returned, proposed an evening visit to the cottage; to this Sir Henry most readily consented, and that amiable woman had the pleasure to see a gleam of delight animate her young favourite’s countenance, as she received Sir Henry’s cordial salute, when he entered the porch, where she sat to imbibe the sea breeze which had sunk into whispering softness: but upon the Count’s features her eyes were bent with anxious solicitude,—the name of Frederico trembled on her lip; while checked by her dread of the Baronet’s severity, she dared not give utterance to the question which her affectionate heart meditated. Count Theodore pitied the conflict she endured, but he could not relieve it; and he was happy to leave her to the society of her friends, who engaged to pass the night at the cottage, and as much of the following day as should occur before his return. He then departed in the firm resolution of once more hazarding his life, if less would not do, to put an end to the uncertainty which rendered his favourite so unhappy.
It was his first intention to procure, if possible, an admission to the hall of the inquisition, during the time set apart for the prisoner’s examinations; when, he thought, there was more than a chance, if his friends were confined there, of seeing one or perhaps both of them; but there were insuperable difficulties in his way. He had already exposed himself to the hazard of discovery, by imposing himself upon the familiars as an inquisitor: to go again, therefore, in disguise, was perfectly impracticable; and there was only one very improbable alternative to abide by.
We have already, in our description of the judges of that court, described one as particularly indulgent to Derrick upon his commitment: of this man’s character, the Count had formerly known something extremely to his honour; but it was not till since Almeria’s emancipation, that he knew of his delegation to that sacred office. Upon a knowledge of Father Theobald in his former capacity of confessor to Baron de Lima, there was nothing to build; as the well known secrecy of the tribunal of which he was a worthy member, forbid any advances upon every subject relative to it; yet it was worth a trial: and Count de Lima passed a tedious night in arranging a plan for the attainment of his purpose. To obtain an interview with the venerable Father, who resided in the great square, was his first object, and he presented himself before the inquisitor in his real character.
Rejoiced to meet with an individual of a family, for which he retained a sincere respect, the holy man received his visitor with a frankness that characterised the gentleman and the friend; while Theodore de Lima contemplated the urbanity of his countenance with a keen regret, and inwardly lamented the loss of so many virtues to the world, which his profession, as an inquisitor, he feared must necessarily stifle. However, depending upon the existence of such of them as his short experience in the art of tormenting had not yet destroyed, Theodore ventured, after explaining his own situation, to beg his Reverence’s attention to a circumstance which occupied his every thought: “Trust my discretion, dear Father,” he added, upon observing a shade of seriousness on the priest’s features, “I know your holy profession, and the reserve attached to it, nor will offer the smallest violence to your integrity, by soliciting any improper concession to my request.” “Be brief then, Count,” he replied “It is almost nine, and an affair of importance demands my presence at that hour.” “Every affair belonging to a court so solemn must be important to its officers; nor will I tax your patience further than to ask if the case of ***” Theodore stopped; for the father assumed a stern severity of a