« ForrigeFortsæt »
buted, but the details were left to blood as is there represented. Howmy discretion, and to the guidance of ever, it is true that he claimed descent circumstances as they should happen from an English family of even higher to emerge from the various enquiries distinction than that which is assigned which it would become pecessary to in the Russian statement. He was set on foot. This first document I proud of this English descent, and the soon laid aside, both because I found more so, as the war with Revolutionary that its provisions were dependant for France brought out more prominently their meaning upon the second, and be than ever the moral and civil grancause to this second document I looked deur of England. This pride was with confidence for a solution of many generous, but it was imprudent in mysteries of the profound sadness bis situation ; his immediate progeni. which bad, from the first of my acquain- tors had been scttled in Italy-at Rome tance with him, possessed a man so gor. first, but latterly at Milan; and his geously endowed as the favourite of whole property, large and scattered, nature and fortune-of his motives for came, by the progress of the Revolu. huddling up, in a clandestine manner, tion, to stand under French dominathat connexion which formed the glory tion. Many spoliations he suffered ; of his life-and possibly (but then I but still he was too rich to be seriously hesitated) of the late unintelligible injured. But he foresaw, in the promurders, which still lay under as pro- gress of events, still greater perils found a cloud as ever. Much of this menacing his most capital resources. would be unveiled—all might be: and Many of the states or princes in Italy there and then, with the corpse lying were deeply in his debt; and in the beside me of the gifted and mysterious great convulsions which threatened writer, I seated myself, and read the his country, he saw that both the confollowing statement:
tending parties would find a colour
able excuse for absolving themselves “ March 26, 1817. from engagements which pressed un“ My trial is finished; my con- pleasantly upon their finances. In this science, my duty, my honour, are embarrassment he formed an intimacy liberated ; my warfare is accome with a French officer of high rank and plished.' Margaret, my innocent high principle. My father's friend saw young wife, I have seen for the last lis danger, and advised liim to enter time. Her, the crown that might the French service. In his younger have been of my earthly felicity days, my father had served extensive. her, the one temptation to put aside ly under many princes, and had found the bitter cup whích awaited me_her, in every other military service a spirit sole seductress (oh, innocent seduc- of honour governing the conduct of tress!) from the stern duties which my the officers ; here only, and for the fate bad imposed upon me--her, even first time, he found ruthan manners her, I have sacrificed.
and universal rapacity. He could not “ Before I go, partly lest the inno draw his sword in company with such cent should be brought into question men, nor in such a cause. But at length, for acts almost exclusively mine, but under the pressure of necessity, he still more lest the lesson and the warn- accepted (or rather bought with an ing which God, by my hand, has writ. immense bribe) the place of a comten in blood upon your guilty walls, missary to the French forces in Italy. should perish for want of its authentic With this one resource, eventuaily he exposition, hear my last dying avowal, succeeded in making good the whole that the murders which have desolated of his public claims upon the Italian so many families within your walls, States. These vast sums he remitted, and made the household hearth no through various channels, to England, sanctuary, age no charter of protec where he became a proprietor in the tion, are all due originally to my head, funds to an immense amount. Incauif not always to my hand, as the mini- tiously, however, something of this ster of a dreadful retribution.
transpired, and the result was doubly " That account of my history, and unfortunate; for, whilst bis intentions my prospects, which you received from were thus made known as finally pointthe Russian diplomatist, amongst some ing to England, wbich of itself made errors of little importance, is essen- him an object of hatred and suspicion, tially correct. My father was not so it also diminished his means of briimmediately connected with English bery. These considerations, along with another, made some French officers of laid for him ; first trepanned into an high rank and influence the bitter act which violated some rule of the enemies of my father. My mother, service; and then provoked into a whom he had married when holding breach of discipline against the gene. a brigadier-general's commission in ral officer who had thus trepanned him. the Austrian service, was, by birth and Now was the long-sought opportuoity by religion, a Jewess. She was of gained, and in that very quarter of exquisite beauty, and had been sought Germany best fitted for improving it. in Morganatic marriage by an arch. My father was thrown into prison in duke of the Austrian family ; but she your city, subjected to the atrocious had relied upon this plea, that hers oppression of your jailer, and the more was the purest and noblest blood detestable oppression of your local amongst all Jewish families; that her laws. The charges against him were family traced themselves, by tradi. thought even to affect his life, and he tion and a vast series of attestations, was humbled into suing for permission under the hands of the Jewish high- to send for his wife and children. Als priests, to the Maccabees, and to the ready, to his proud spirit, it was punroyal houses of Judea ; and that for ishment enough that he should be her it would be a degradation to ac- reduced to sue for favour to one of his cept even of a sovereign prince on bitterest foes. But it was no part of the terms of such marriage. This was their plan to refuse that. By way of no vain pretension of ostentatious va expediting my mother's arrival, a milinity. It was one which had been ad. tary courier, with every facility for mitted as valid for time immemorial in the journey, was forwarded to her Transylvania and adjacent countries, without delay. My mother, her two where my mother's family were rich daughters, and myself, were then and honoured, and took their seat residing in Venice. I had, through amongst the dignitaries of the land. the aid of my father's connexions in
The French officers I have alluded to, Austria, been appointed in the impewithout capacity for any thing so dig. rial service, and held a high commisnified as a deep passion, but merely sion for my age. But on my father's in pursuit of a vagrant fancy that marching northwards with the French would, on the next day, have given army, I had been recalled as an inplace to another equally fleeting, had dispensable support to my mother. dared to insult my mother with pro- Not that my years could have made posals the most licentious-proposals me such, for I had barely accomplishas much below her rank and birth, ed my twelfth year; but my premaas, at any rate, they would have been ture growth, and my military station, below her dignity of mind and her had given me considerable knowledge purity. These she had communicated of the world and presence of mind. to my father, who bitterly resented “Our journey I pass over ; but as I the chains of subordination which tied approach your city, that sepulchre of up his hands from avenging his inju. honour and happiness to my poor faries. Still his eye told a tale which his mily, my heart beats with frantic emosuperiors could brook as little as they tions. Never do I see that venerable could the disdainful neglect of his wife. dome of your minster from the forest, More than one had been concerned in but I curse its form which reminds me the injuries to my father and mother; of what we then surveyed for many a more than one were interested in ob- mile as we traversed the forest. For taining revenge. Things could be leagues before we approached the city, done in German towns, and by fa- this object lay before us in relief upon vour of old German laws or usages, the frosty blue sky; and still it seemed which even in France could not have never to increase. Such was the combeen tolerated. This my father's ene- plaint of my little sister Mariamne. mies well knew, but this my father Most innocent child! would that it also knew; and he endeavoured to lay never had increased for thy eyes, but down his office of commissary. That, remained for ever at a distance! That however, was a favour which he could same hour began the series of monnot obtain. He was compelled to serve strous indignities which terminated on the German campaign then com- the career of my ill-fated family. mencing, and on the subsequent one As we drew up to the city gates, the of Friedland and Eylau. Here he officer who inspected the passports, was caught in some one of the snares finding my mother and sisters described as Jewesses, which in my mother's suborned ; and, finally, under some ears (reared in a region where Jews antiquated law of the place, he was are not dishonoured) always sounded subjected, in secret, to a mode of tora title of distinction, summoned a sub. ture which still lingers in the east of ordinate agent, who in coarse terms Europe. demanded his toll. We presumed « He sank under the torture and this to be a road-tax for the car. the degradation. I, too, thoughtlessly riage and horses, but we were quick. but by a natural movement of filial ly undeceived ; a small sum was de. indignation-suffered the truth to esmanded for each of my sisters and cape me in conversing with my mo. my mother, as for so many head of ther. And she- ; but I will precattle. I, fancying some mistake, serve the regular succession of things. spoke to the man temperately, and, to My father died: but he had taken such do him justice, he did not seem desir. measures, in concert with me, that his ous of insulting us; but he produced enemies should never benefit by his a printed board, on which, along with property. Mean-time my mother and the vilest animals, Jews and Jewcsses sisters had closed my father's eyes; were rated at so much a head. Whilst had attended his remains to the grave; we were debating the point, the offi. and in every act connected with this cers of the gate wore a sneering smile last sad rite, had met with insults aud upon their faces; the postilions were degradations too mighty for human laughing together; and this, too, in the patience. My mother, now become presence of three creatures whose ex- incapable of self-command, in the fury quisite beauty in different styles, agree. of her righteous grief, publicly and ably to their different ages, would have in court denounced the conduct of the caused noblemen to have fallen down magistracy; taxed some of them with and worshipped. My mother, who the vilest proposals to herself ; taxcd had never yet met with any flagrant them as a body with having used in. insult on account of her national dis- struments of torture upon my father; tinctions, was too much shocked to and finally, accused them of collusion be capable of speaking. I whisper. with the French military oppressors of ed to her a few words, recalling her the district. This last was a charge to her native dignity of mind, paid the under which they quailed, for by that money, and we drove to the prison. time the French had made themselves But the hour was past at which we odious to all who retained a spark of could be admitted, and, as Jewesses, patriotic feeling. My heart sank with. my mother and sisters could not be in me when I looked up at the bench, allowed to stay in the city; they were this tribunal of tyrants, all purple or to go into the Jewish quarter, a part livid with rage; when I looked at of the suburb set apart for Jews, in them alternately and at my noble which it was scarcely possible to obtain mother with her weeping daughtersalodging tolerably clean. My father, these so powerless, those so basely on the next day, we found, to our hor. vindictive, and locally so omnipotent. ror, at the point of death. To my mo. Willingly I would have sacrificed all ther he did not tell the worst of what my wealth for a simple permission to he had endured. To me he told, that, quit this infernal city with my poor fedriven to madness by the insults offer male relations, safe and undishonoured. ed to him, he had upbraided the court. But far other were the intentions of martial with their corrupt propensities, that incensed magistracy. My mother and had even mentioned that overtures was arrested, charged with some offence had been made to him for quashing the equal to petty treason, or scandalum proceedings in return for a sum of two magnatum, or the sowing of sedition : millions of francs ; and that his sole and though what she said was true, reason for not entertaining the pro- where, alas ! was she to look for evi. posal was his distrust of those who dence ? Here was seen the want of made it. "They would have taken gentlemen. Gentlemen, had they been iny money,' said he, and then found even equally tyrannical, would have a pretext for putting me to death recoiled with shame from taking venthat I might tell no secrets.' This geance on a woman. And what a venwas too near the truth to be tolerated; geance! Oh, heavenly powers ! that I in concert with the local authorities, should live to mention such a thing! the military enemies of my father con- Man that is born of woman, to inflict spired against him; witnesses were upon woman personal scourging on
the bare back, and through the streets stole out by by-lanes of the city from at noonday! Even for Christian wo- my poor exhausted sisters, whom I left men, the punishment was severe which sleeping in each other's innocent arms, the laws assigned to the offence in into the forest. There I listened to question. But for Jewesses, by one the shouting populace: there even I of the ancient laws against that per- fancied that I could trace my poor secuted people, far heavier and more mother's route by the course of the degrading punishments were annexed triumphant cries. There, even then, to almost every offence. What else even then, I made-oh! silent forest, could be looked for in a city which thou heardst me when I made-a welcomed its Jewish guests by valuing vow that I have kept too faithfully. them at its gates as brute beasts? Mother, thou art avenged : sleep, Sentence was passed, and the punish- daughter of Jerusalem! For at length ment was to be inflicted on two sepa- the oppressor sleeps with thee. And rate days, with an interval between thy poor son has paid, in discharge each ; doubtless to prolong the tor- of his vow, the forfeit of his own bap. tures of mind, but under a vile pre piness, of a Paradise opening upon tence of alleviating the physical tor- earth, of a heart as innocent as thine, ture. Three days after would come the and a face as fair. first day of punishment. My mother “I returned, and found my mother spent the time in reading her native returned : she slept by starts, but sho Scriptures; she spent it in prayer and was feverish and agitated; and when in musing; whilst her daughters clung she awoke and first saw me, she and wept around her day and night, blushed as if I could think that real -grovelling on the ground at the feet degradation had settled upon her. of any people in authority that en. Then it was that I told her of my tered their mother's cell. That same vow. Her eyes were lambent with interval-how was it passed by me? fierce light for a moment; but, when Now mark, my friend. Every man I went on more eagerly to speak of in oflice, or that could be presumed to my hopes and projects, she called me bear the slightest influence, every wife, to her, kissed me, and wbisperedmother, sister, daughter of such men, “Oh, not so, my son: think not of I besieged morning, noon, and night. me: think not of vengeance, think I wearied them with my supplications. only of poor Berenice and Mariamne.' I huinbled myself to the dust; I, the Ay, that thought was startling. Yet haughtiest of God's creatures, knelt this magnanimous and forbearing moand prayed to them for the sake of ther, as I knew by the report of our my mother. I besought them that I one faithful female servant, had, in the might undergo the punishment ten morning, during her bitter trial, be. times over in her stead. And once haved as might have become a daughter or twice I did obtain the encourage- of Judas Maccabirus: she had look. ment of a few natural tears-given ed serenely upon the vile mob, and more, however, as I was told, to my awed even them by her serenity; piety than to my mother's deserts. But she had disdained to utter a shriek rarely was I heard out with patience; when the cruel lash fell upon her fair and from some houses repelled with skin. There is a point that makes the personal indignities. The day came: triumph over natural feelings of pain I saw my mother half undressed by the easy or not easy-the degree in which base officials: I heard the prison gates wo count upon the sympathy of the expand: I heard the trumpets of the by-standers. My mother had it not in magistracy sound. She had warned the beginning; but long before the end me what to do; I had warned myself. her celestial beauty, the divinity of inWould I sacrifice a retribution sacred jured innocence, the pleading of comand comprehensive, for the momentary mon womanhood in the minds of the triumph over an individual ? If not, lowest class, and the reaction of manlet me forbear to look out of doors: ly feeling in the men, had worked a for I felt that in the self-same moment great change in the mob. Some bein which I saw the dog of an execugan now to threaten those who had tioner raise his accursed hand against been active in insulting her : the simy mother, swifter than the lightning lence of awe and respect succeeded would my dagger search his heart. to noise and uproar; and feelings When I heard the roar of the cruel which they scarcely understood masmob, I paused; endured ; forbore. I tered the rude rabble as they witnessed more and more the patient fortitude planned. Even whilst we consulted, of the sufferer. Menaces began to rise and the very night after my mother towards the executioner. Things wore had been committed to the Jewish such an aspect that the magistrates put burying.ground, came an officer, bear. a sudden end to the scene.
ing an order for me to repair to Vien" That day we received permission to na. Some officer in the French army go home to our poor house in the Jew. having watched the transaction reish quarter. I know not whether you specting my parents, was filled with are learned enough in Jewish usages shame and grief. He wrote a state. to be aware, that in every Jewish ment of the whole to an Austrian oili. house, wliere old traditions are kept cer of rank, my father's friend, who up, there is one room consecrated to obtained from the Emperor an order, confusion; a room always locked up claiming me as a page of his own, and and sequestered from vulgar usc, ex. an officer in the household service. Oh, cept on occasions of memorable afilic- Heavens! what a neglect that it did tion, where crery thing is purposely not include my sisters! However, in disorder-broken-shattered-mu. the next best thing was that I should tilated,—to typify, by symbols appall. use my influence at the imperial court ing to the eye, that desolation which to get them passed to Vienna. This has so long trampled on Jerusalem, I did, to the utmost of my power. But and the ravages of the boar within seven months elapsed before I saw the the vincyards of Judea. My mother, Emperor. If my applications ever met as a Hebrew princess, maintained all his eye he might readily suppose that traditional customs ; even in this your city, my friend, was as safe a wretched suburb she had her "cham place as another for my sisters. Nor ber of desolation. There it was that did I myself know all its dangers. At I and my sisters heard her last words. length, with the Emperor's leave of The rest of her sentence was to be absence, I returned. And what did I carried into effect within a week. She, find? Eight months had passed, and mean-time, had disdained to utter any the faithful Rachael had died. The word of fear; but that energy of self poor sisters, clinging together, but control had made the suffering but the now utterly bereft of friends, knew more bitter. Fever and dreadful agi. not which way to turn. In this abantation had succeeded. Her dreams donment they fell into the insidious showed sufficiently to us, who watched hands of the ruflian jailer. My eldest her couch, that ierror for the future sister, Berenice, the stateliest and mingled with the sense of degradation noblest of beauties, had attracted this for the past. Nature asserted her ruflian's admiration whilst she was in rights. But the more she shrank the prison with her mother. And when from the suffering, the more did she I returned to your city, armed with proclaim how severe it had been, and the imperial passports for all, I found consequently how noble the self-con- that Berenice had died in the villain's quest. Yet, as her weakness increased, custody : nor could I obtain any thing so did ber terror; until I begought her beyond a legal certificate of her death. to take comfort, assuring her that, in And finally, the blooming laughing case any attempt should be made to Marianne, she also had died-and of force her out again to public exposure, afliction for the loss of her sister. You, I would kill the man who came to exe. my friend, had been absent upon your cute the order-that we would all die travels during the calamitous history together-and there would be a com- I have recited. You had seen neither mon end to her injuries and her fears. my father nor my mother. But you She was reassured by what I told her came in time to take under your proof my belief that no future attempt tection, from the abhorred wretch the would be made upon her. She slept jailer, my little broken-hearted Mamore tranquilly ; but her fever in riamne. And when sometimes you creased; and slowly she slept away fancied that you had seen me under into the everlasting sleep which knows other circumstances, in her it was, my of no to-inorrow.
dear friend, and in her features that “ Here came a crisis in my fate. you saw mine. Should I stay and attempt to protect “ Now was the world a desert to me. my sisters? But, alas! what power had l I cared little, in the way of love, which to do so amongst our enemies? Rachael way I turned. But in the way of haand I consulted; and many a scheme we tred I cared every thing. I trans.