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scription of criminals were strangled beforehand. Of those who were broken alive, none were denied the coup-de-grace for the final stroke. This was a blow on the pit of the stomach, with the intention, seldom defeated, of putting an end to the tortures of the victim. Rarely after the blow of grace did he continue to breathe—more rarely to feel. Yet upon the ground of this feature in the punishment of the wheel Mr. Alison declares he is tempted to forget all the cruelties of the Revolution, and exclaim with Byron, “Arise, ye Goths, and glut your ire " But assuming the truth of the misstatements which he has adopted from a writer of French memoirs, was it because ruffians who had inflicted greater suffering than they endured were put to death by methods repudiated in a humaner age, or, if he pleases, though it was not the case, repudiated at the time by the avengers, whom events proved to be more sanguinary than the laws—was it on this account that kings and nobles should be brought to the scaffold, innocent men, women, and children butchered by thousands, the church be overthrown, property confiscated—that massacre, war, havoc, and ruin should desolate the land 1 Feelings find vent in exaggerated language, and we should not be critical upon an expression of sympathy, though extravagant in sentiment and offensive in form, unless these outbursts of spurious indignation had pervaded the whole of Mr. Alison's account of the French Revolution. There are, it is true, abundance of passages of an opposite description, for the jarring elements of hot and cold are poured out indiscriminately, and left to mingle as they may. Worse than the halter, axe, or wheel, was the fire which, as typical of the flames of hell, was employed in the blindness of theological fury to consume the foremost of the pilgrims to heaven. The legs of Bishop Hooper were charred, and his body scorched, before he was fully enveloped in the fire, which a wind blew aside, nor was it till the pile had been twice replenished that he bowed his head and gave up the ghost. A similar misfortune attended Ridley. An excess of sagots hindered the flames ascending, and his extremities were in ashes when his body was unsinged. Ridley yielded slightly to the dictates of nature, and struggled at the height of his protracted anguish. Hooper remained immovable as the stake to which he was chained. For three quarters of an hour his patience was proof against the fury of the flames, and he died at length as quietly as a child in its bed. But the pain of burning is of fearful intensity, and the meek endurance of these heroes at the stake was the triumph of mind over the tortures of the flesh. The Head, the Hope, the Supporter of those who gave their bodies to be burnt, drank himself of a bitterer cup. Of all the devices of cruel imagination, crucifixion is the masterpiece. Other pains are sharper for a time, but none are at once so agonizing and so long. One aggravation, however, was wanting which, owing to the want of knowledge in painters, is still, we believe, com
monly supposed to have belonged to the punishment. The weight of the body was borne by a ledge which projected from the middle of the upright beam, and not by the hands and feet, which were probably found unequal to the strain. The frailty of man's frame comes at last to be its own defence ; but enough remained to preserve the preeminence of torture to the cross. The process of nailing was exquisite torment, and yet worse in what ensued than in the actual infliction. The spikes rankled, the wounds inflamed, the local injury produced a general fever, the fever a most intolerable thirst ; but the misery of miseries to the sufferer was, while raeked with agony, to be fastened in a position which did not permit him even to writhe. Every attempt to relieve the muscles, every instinctive movement of anguish, only served to drag the lacerated flesh, and wake up new and acuter pangs; and this torture, which must have been continually aggravated, until advancing death began to lay it to sleep, lasted on an average two or three days. Several punishments allied to crucifixion, but which differed in the method of fastening the body, were once common, and are not entirely obsolete. Whether men are nailed to a cross, hung up with hooks, or fixed upon stakes, there is a strong resemblance in the suffering produced ; and any differential circumstance which adds to the torture, also curtails it. Maundrell has given from hearsay an account of impalement as practised at Tripoli, which would throw its rivals into the shade. A post the size of a man's leg, sharpened at the top, was placed in the ground, and when the point had been inserted between the legs of the victim, he was drawn on, as a joint of meat upon a spit, until the stake caine through at the shoulders. In this condition he would sometimes sit for a day and a night, and by smoking, drinking, and talking, endeavor to beguile the weary time. Maundrell is a trustworthy traveller, but on this occasion he was certainly deceived, or the anatomy of man has degenerated since. A race of beings who could endure a post the size of a leg to traverse their vitals, and be alive at the close—who, yet more, could sit for four-and-twenty hours, engaged in festive occupations, no matter with how slight a relish, while pierced from end to end with a staff more clumsy than that of Goliath's spear— a race of beings so tenacious of life, and insensible to pain, would require punishments to be heightened to meet the callousness of their structure; but with our delicate organization, too rough a usage breaks the golden cord. Nature has set bounds to the cruelty of man, for torture carried beyond a certain point defeats itself. Sorrow occupies a larger space in our minds than it does in our existence. Time, who in our happier hours put on wings and flew like the wind, in our misery toils heavily with leaden feet ; but though he may lag he cannot stop, and, when every other alleviation is gone, this will always remain to sustain patience under aggravated torments—that there must be a speedy abatement or a speedy release. We have been accompanying the body in its progress to the grave. We had meant next to retrace our steps, and observe the workings of the mind in its approach to the boundary which divides time from eternity; but this subject is, we find, too extensive to be made an appendage.
From the Presbyterian. Caprices. New York, 1849, Robert Carter & Brothers: Philadelphia, William S. Martien. 12mo, pp. 154.
The first caprice of the author is his adopting one of the very briefest titles we have ever seen in a new book, which said title, like a sign-board, is too often used to exaggerate the quality of the articles to be found within ; and then the very term caprices might repel the reader as setting forth things with which he had rather not meddle. The second caprice is no less remarkable. The book has not a line of preface, introduction, or advertisement, and not the remotest clue is furnished to those who are curious about authors' names. Passing over these, we dive into the midst of the caprices, and if we are not mistaken, we have found ourselves, although without introduction, in the best company. According to our estimate of the muses, the unknown author is a poet—one who has felt the true afflatus. In these brief and occasional productions of his muse, he has evinced the possession of a chaste imagination, the pictures of which are drawn with vigor and spirit. All the pieces are good, without being of uniform merit, and although we occasionally detect a false rhyme, and, peradventure, some other faults, we are ready to venture some of these stanzas side by side with some of the best of Longfellow’s, which they more resemble than those of any other poet. We indicate the lines beginning “Rest?—there is no such thing,” as felicitous, and there is more of the same quality; and “The Blue Beard chambers of the heart,” we copy at large, as a thrilling, graphic, and truly poetical portraiture of a blood-stained conscience. Mould upon the ceiling, Mould upon the floor, Windows barred and double-barred, Opening never more ;
Spiders in the corners,
Weaving frail and endless webs
Weaving, ever weaving, Weaving in the gloom,
Till the drooping drapery Trails about the room.
Waken not the echo,
In the curious crevices Of the panelings.
Waken not the echo,
Wall and ceiling whispering
Hist: the spectres gather,
Where a breath hath brushed away
Dust of weary winters,
Dust that deepens in the silence,
On the shelf and wainscot, Window-bars and wall,
Covering infinite devices, With its stealthy fall.
Hist! the spectres gather,
Wreathing, writhing, gibbering
Blood upon the panels,
Blood, that baffles wear and washing,
See—they pause and listen,
Stirs within the crevices
See—they pause and listen,
How the eager life has struggled,
See—they pause and listen,
For a startled breath is sighing,
Sighing in the corners,
Waken not those whispers;
Waken not the dust that deepens
Deepens in the silence,
Covering closer, as it gathers,
Hist! the spectres gather,
Wreathing, writhing, gibbering,
Blood upon the panels,
Blood that baffles wear and washing,
chapter xvi.--THE Gover Nor's soirée.
When one has been riding for several hours, whether in a carriage or on horseback, it is often agreeable to take a stroll on foot, especially through the streets of a strange town, where everything one sees is new. r. This opinion I shared in common with the Dalmatian and the Milanese ; so, having ordered a late dinner, which might as well have been called supper, we sallied forth to see the lions of Nove. All travellers have celebrated the beauty of an Italian evening. The air you breathe seems to be an intoxicating fluid, which induces some degree of soft languor, while it excites and exhilarates. It is difficult to explain the feeling. There is a sort of perfume floating about you, which is neither that of groves nor gardens, nor yet of artificial composition. It appears to descend from above, and to impregnate every particle of the atmosphere ; which, at the same time, is radiant with golden light, and put into a gentle, undulating motion by the breeze. It is delicious, when certain trains of thought come over you, to slip away from company, and be alone ; but it is best when accident effects the purpose for you. As we walked along, I could hear through the open windows the rocking of cradles, and the sweetest lullabies sung over halfsleeping infants. No sound in nature is so sweet as a mother's voice, when she is hushing the child of her love to rest. There is something seraphic in it. All the charities, and loves, and happiness of our earliest years rise up from the depth of the past, as we listen. We fancy that Heaven is listening with us, and pouring abundant blessings on the scene. Oh, how sacred a thing a mother is ' What religion is in her love . How she prays, and yearns, and watches over the cradle, looking forward and backward through time, weaving bright destinies for her child, or dreaming of moments when her own soul was first steeped in the Elysium of delight, and the baby she is now gazing on began to be. Turning a corner, we entered a street, down which the sun was throwing a flood of glory, sheathing the walls and eaves with gold, and glittering with dazzling brightness on the casements. At the entrance of a lofty porte cochére, sat a young woman, with a cradle by her side, which she rocked occasionally with her right foot, keeping time with the other on the ground. She was gathering up a rent in a white lace veil, which hung in graceful folds over her dark dress, and added greatly to the interest of her figure. In a low, sweet voice, she murmured, rather than sung, a hymn to the Virgin. I stood still to look at the picture. At first her various avocations prevented her from noticing me ; but when she did, pointing to an empty chair on the other side of the cradle, she politely invited me to sit down. I did not wait for a second invitation, but immediately taking the proffered chair, began the conversation by inquiring, very superfluously, I ad
mit, whose child that was in the cradle. She replied it was her own ; and then, uncovering its face a little more, asked me if I did not think it like her. “Very,” I replied, “for it is as beautiful as an angel.” Without noticing the compliment to herself, which, however, was not meant to be a compliment, since it was the simple truth, she exclaimed :– “You say true, sir—it is like an angel; and when you came up I was singing a hymn to the Virgin as a thanksgiving for the blessing. I do so twenty times a day—I am so happy!” “And where is its father 1" I inquired. “He has just gone down into the town,” she answered, “to buy something for me; he is so good. You must stay till he comes back—he will be here presently.” Just at that moment I made the discovery that my companions had disappeared. But it did not signify. I was determined to wait till the husband came back, provided he did not make a very long stay ; and proceeded with the conversation. “Do many strangers pass through Nove?” said I. “I don't know ; I seldom go out, except when I take the bambino into the fields.” “And how long have you been married ?” “Just a year and five weeks last Tuesday; and yet it already seems an age, I have enjoyed so much happiness in it.” “Then you have not heard the Spanish proverb, that “a year of pleasure passes like a fleeting dream, while a moment of misfortune seems an age of pain.'” “I don't know what misfortune means. I have never lost a person I loved. My father and mother are living, with all my brothers and sisters, all younger than I, and all at home.” “And so you think,” said I, “that happiness lengthens time !” “Oh, very much,” she replied; “for though, as you see, I am young, still I almost fancy I have lived forever. I can't tell when I began to think—when I began to feel—when I began to be happy. I have always been happy Did you ever look on the water at sunset, and observe how the sun's wake stretches away into the distance, till you don't know where it ends; but it is all golden and glittering, and, though every wavelet seems like the other, they are all bright—all alive with pleasure ? It has been exactly so with my life—nothing but one endless streak of sunshine. But look,” cried she, “there is my husband. Ah see how he smiles as he comes along ; he is so glad to come back to me. Dear Giuseppe,” said she as he approached, “here is a strange gentleman who has been admiring our child, and to whom I have been saying I don’t know what.” Gieuseppe was a fine fellow, and seemed to be quite as proud as his wife of the little boy who constituted so large a portion of their happiness. He had been out buying something for supper, he said. He had it in his hand in a little basket, and invited me to join them. I sincerely wished I could, but my travelling companions would have thought it unkind; so, bidding the happy pair a good evening, and promising to call if I ever again passed through Nove, I took my leave— not, however, without kissing the young Giuseppe, who took it, wrapt in balmy slumbers, without waking. At the end of the street I met my friends, who were coming back in search of me. We then continued our walk, and, shortly after sunset, reached the square, where, from the windows of a large, fine house, we heard strains of very delicious music, issuing like a flood. The Milanese affected a great passion for singing ; so, requesting us to wait a moment, he stepped towards the door of the house, which stood wide open, and, entering the hall, found there a soldier, who informed him it was the governor's house, adding, with extraordinary politeness, that he might go up stairs into an unoccupied room, and listen to the music, if he liked. “The governor,” said he, “is a very good gentleman ; and I know I shall not offend him by taking the liberty to invite you.” “But I have two friends waiting for me in the square,” answered the Milanese. “Ask them in also,” said the soldier. When our free and easy friend came out, and related the circumstance to us, we laughed heartily ; because, in the first place, we could hear the music much better where we were, and, secondly, because we thought the soldier was exceeding his duty, and that we should, probably, be ejected very unceremoniously by the governor when he came to learn how matters stood. Upon the assurance of our Carbonaro, however, that it would be all right, we entered the house, and were conducted by the soldier up stairs into a small room adjoining that in which the party were assembled. Here, he said, we might sit as long as we pleased ; and when we were tired, we had only to come down stairs, and he would let us out. At that moment there was a lady singing ; and it immediately struck me that I had heard her voice before. It was so rich, so full, so sweet, there could be, I thought, but one such in the world. It must be-it was—Carlotta's.
house entered, and, with a sweetness and a grace altogether irresistible, insisted on our entering the salon. When we did, Carlotta rose, and, coming half across the room to meet me, exclaimed, “How very fortunate Mamma and I were just saying how much we should have liked you to be here. But we were not aware you knew the governor.” In reply, I related to her the manner of our introduction ; at which she laughed very heartily, and then took me over to repeat it to Madame B . Never, perhaps, did three greater Guys make their appearance at a party. We were covered with dust from head to foot, had been smoking cigars, and, for my own part, with my long beard and northern costume, I must have appeared the strangest of all figures. The governor's lady was puzzled, and, in the course of the evening, asked Carlotta if I were not an Africano. There is, in the Italians, an innate taste which enables them to do everything with grace. The apartment in which we were now assembled was full of elegance. The lamps, from which the light was diffused on all sides, were modelled after the antique. The furniture was rich, without being gaudy; and the dresses and figures of the women superb. Upon the whole, the men were less striking. Possibly I am incompetent to comprehend the physiognomies of musical men, which always appear to me wanting in expression, |. in countries like Piedmont, where the political feeling is not permitted to develop itself, and impart grandeur and decision to the countenance. Men are there musical, because they can o nothing else. It helps to plunge them into that dreamy state in which a slave should pass his days—humming, whispering, crowding round pianos—sanning ladies' faces, and talking nonsense. It is a woful existence, worse than that led in many departments of Dante's Hell; and yet men exist for ages under such circumstances ! And the women, what are they born to Let Iago explain for mer—“To suckle fools, and chronicle small beer.” It is a godsend in the country to catch four or five strangers at once, just to break the monotony of life. Persons who circulate perpetually among each other gradually subside into a sort of animate clocks, that go on ticking for years, neither to me, “What would you take to settle down here at Nove for the rest of your life to “Nothing short of yourself,” I replied ; “but with you, I could settle anywhere, and be happy.” “I doubt it,” answered she ; “and I frankly confess that I don't believe either you or any one else could make me happy long in a place like this. A night and a single party exhaust all its vitality. I am glad we are to be off to-morrow.” This was one side of the picture. Shortly after, I found myself beside the lady of the house, who asked me what pleasure I could find in wandering about the world, leaving all my friends, breaking all my old associations, “and laying in,” added she, “a store of restlessness for the remainder of your days.” She said she had never quitted Nove, which every year acquired fresh charms for her. “In its quiet little churchyard,” said she, “all my forefathers lie buried ; and I often go there to count them over, and sit down and shed tears of pleasure on their graves. What tranquillity we enjoy what a blissful ignorance of all that passes in the great world ! My husband is contented with me, and I with him ; and neither of us would change our situation for the best in Italy. We have three dear little children asleep ; and if you could but see their happy faces when they first awake and kiss me in the morning ! They send a thrill of delight through my whole frame ; and morning and evening, on my knees, I offer up only this prayer, that such as my state now is, it may continue forever. With all the friends you see here, we have been familiar from childhood. The women were brought up in the same convent; the men went to school with my husband. We are like one family. We pray in the same church, we shall all be buried in the same churchyard ; and we hope,” added she, with a sweet smile, “that we shall all hereafter meet in the same heaven.” “God grant it!” cried I, greatly touched by the earnestness of her manner. I felt my spirit rebuked, and saw that happiness may be tasted everywhere, though, not, perhaps, by one who has once known what it is to wander and be alone, and craves the excitement of perpetual change. My friend the Carbonaro had been trying hard all the evening to get up a flirtation with a musical young lady, but without success. The Dalmatian listened to the music almost in silence, but yet appeared to enjoy the evening much. It was one o'clock in the morning when we returned to our inn, where innumerable oaths had been showered on us by cooks and waiters for ordering a dinner, and not coming back to eat it, though, of course, it was not forgotten next morning in the bill.
I trembled slightly. This, then, was perhaps her | louder nor lower, beside each other. Tick, tick, hone—this her father's house ; and here I should tick, from morning till night, without the slightlose her company. My speculations were cut 'est variation. They may be very good people, short by the entrance of the governor, who ap- altogether, and, as the phrase is, without vice; proached us with a smile and a bow, and begged but their conversation is like ratsbane, and enough we would do him the honor to join his party, to kill one with a single dose—and yet, as I have which consisted, he said, of a few musical friends said, it does not kill, but only induces mental got together in a hurry to hear a lady who had lethargy, in which state men reach the age of just arrived in Nove. We excused ourselves on Methuselah. Yet their existence, methinks, very the ground of being covered with the dust of the much resembles that of a toad in a stone ; they road ; and, at the same time, made a thousand turn about, they hum, they mutter, they dream, apologies for the liberty we had taken. He felt, they lie for ease now on this side, and now on that, quite gratified, he said, that we should have done and their blood congeals within them into a sort him so much honor. Finding his persuasions of virtuous paste, which has no more motion in it unavailing, he left us; and we were beginning to than a standing pool.
think of beating a retreat, when the lady of the At supper, Carlotta could not avoid whispering
often made me forget whether we were going up or down hill, whether the prospect was picturesque or otherwise—in short, everything but ourselves. We picked up at Nove a new set of companions, consisting of an English officer and his family, who intended to proceed with us as far as Genoa. They were all of them very agreeable ; and the father, who had often gone the road before, proposed, when we became tolerably familiar, that we should spend the following Sunday at a lovely village in the Apennines, where, he said, he had once staid a whole day. We then began to compare notes, and found that we had for some time been neighbors, he having lived at a chateau near Morges, while I was at Lausanne. Of that chateau he related many curious particulars, of which, at the present moment, I only remember the following. As he spoke Italian perfectly, he related it in that language, for the benefit of Carlotta and her mamma :“One night,” he said, “in the depth of winter, having staid up late in my library, I retired late to bed. The snow had been falling for hours, so that the whole country round was deeply covered with it. A strong wind, meanwhile, was blowing, and beating the flakes against my window, which shook and rattled and conspired, with uneasy thoughts, to keep me awake. The old clock of the chateau had already told twelve, and one, and two ; and still I could not sleep. There is an odd sensation produced, even in the neighborhood of the Alps, by a snow-storm. which seems to be engaged in wrapping a winding-sheet around the earth, and preparing it for its everlasting rest. I had a blazing wood-fire in my room; and I got out of bed every now and then to cast fresh logs upon it, and keep myself comfortable. Now and then, too, I went to the window, and looked out. There was nothing to be seen, for the snow fell so thick that it filled the air, and allowed no passage for a single ray of light, though the moon was at that moment shining, I knew, on the backs of the clouds, and rendering them luminous for the wandering spirits of the Alps. Presently I heard the bell of the castle sound faintly, as it shook the snow off its back, and tried to thaw itself with motion. Ding, dong, it went, with a chill and low sound ; which, however, wakened my man Francois, who, in anything but the best humor in the world, dressed, and descended to the gate. Presently I heard him knocking at my bed-room door. “‘What do you want, Francois 1” inquired I. “‘If you please, sir,' answered he, “here are two young women who wish to speak with you.” “‘With me,” I exclaimed, “at such an hour as this 1 Tell them I am in bed, Francois, and that they had better come to-morrow.” “‘They say, sir,” answered Francois, “that Mr. Duff is dead, and that they must speak with you.” “‘Mr. Duff' cried I; ‘Mr. Duff!—Who is this Mr. Duff 1? “‘Don’t know, sir,” answered Francois; “but