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At these words the baker handed him a petition, addressed to the members of the committee of public safety, and a letter to himself from Albertine P-: the letter was in a simple but not inelegant style—its expressions poured from the heart, and excited his sympathy, and he could no longer resist when the baker added that she was but twenty-two years old, beautiful as an angel, and as modest as virtue herself. This he candidly allows destroyed the merit of bis benevolence. He also learned that the family were not noble, but of the mercantile class: that they had retired from business with a competent fortune, though it was now very much impaired by the situation of the country.
Yielding to his good feelings, which were now excited, our young peer immediately called at the house of Robespierre. He was from home, but his brother, who was very closely associated with him, was present. The warmth with which the request was urged made him laugh. “Are you her lover?” said Robespierre. “I have never seen her,” said the peer. “Then it is pure generosity,” resumed the other : “but who has told you that these people are not conspirators ?” “ And why should they be conspirators? What interest have they? Are they great lords or priests? And must you always be armed with malevolence or distrust?” “Don't distress yourself; I only spoke thus for amusement: let us see what you want. I have nothing to do with this permit, you must address yourself to Fouquir-Tanville; and as he does not know you here is a line to him, which may soften him. As to the petition, leave it, and I will talk to my brother, and try to oblige you, if the prisoner is not too guilty."
He then handed our peer a note addressed to Fouquir-Tanville, with a preconcerted cypher, which was recognized by this demagogue, of whom he gives a frightful description. He obtained the desired permission and withdrew from the monsster's den. He carried it to the young Albertine P-, the baker conducting him. She received him as her deliverershe poured forth her thanks with a vivacity which so animated her beautiful figure, that he stood like one enchanted. She determined to fly to her father and readily granted the peer's request to accompany her, for then, she said, "she would, on the way, the better express her gratitude for this kindness.” The expression sunk into his heart, and he already began to feel a young affection for Albertine glow in his breast. She took his arın, and after he had with difficulty succeeded in arresting the out-pourings of her gratitude, he turned the conversation on her VOL. VI.-N0. 11.
family. She spoke with such animation-such purity—such nobleness that he entered into her feelings and adopted her sentiments. When she entered the prison he waited in the street until her visit to her parent terminated. In about two hours she came out-her eyes red with weeping and her heart torn by the interview: yet she felt happy at having seen her father, and resumed her thanks to him who had obtained this favour which saved her from despair.
From that moment our lover's fate was fixed--he never suffered a day to pass without seeing her-he solicited the two Robespierres with so much earnestness in favour of citizen P-, that he obtained his temporary release during his illness, and he was removed to the baker's. Here was a new cause for thanks. The presence of the sick old man was no restraint to their tender intercourse, and at length a declaration was made. Albertine appeared more distressed than pleased with the disclosure, but she was not indifferent: there was something inexplicable in her of which he dreaded to catch a glimpse. Sometimes she listened to bim with delight and participated in his tenderness—at others she fled from him in tears imploring him to abandon her!
Far from yielding to her caprice he returned with ardour to the attack-he became more impassioned, and resolved to ask her in marriage. At another time he would not have thought of such a thing; but at this period old opinions had been done away, and the world was upside down. He felt that her influence on his soul increased daily—it became riveted more firmly the oftener he saw her—at length he declared bis wishes and offered her his hand. She listened in extreme grief, and far from answering affirmatively, she inquired if he had well considered what he wished to do? “Do you know me sufficiently" said she, “to give me your name and confide to nie your honour ? Are you sure I am worthy of it ?" She uttered these words with a deep but mysterious emotion which strangely embarassed him: he was afraid to ask an explanation and remained silentshe resumed: “You ought not to doubt my love--you possess my whole heart and yet I can never be your wife:—there is a disclosure which it is frightful for me to make, and yet I must-I have prayed to be spared it; but you have by your honourable and seductive proposal compelled me to tell you all-your esteem prescribes the rule of iny conduct."
More surprised than ever by this he assured her he could not believe her unworthy of him; he said if she desired to prove bis affection by this means it was unnecessary; for his opinion of her was fixed and unchangeable. “ You believe so," said she,
weeping bitterly, “but as soon as I shall pronounce the fatal words, you will regard me with horror!”
More and more excited, he no longer knew what to think of her. He told her at length she had said too much to conceal the rest.
She begged him never more to ask her to be his wife-if he only would not she could keep from him her sad secret. “I implore you," said she, "on my knees, as much in my own name as in that of my poor father!"
He told her she asked what was now impossible, but he would grant her a respite of eight days, but at the expiration of that time—“then” said she, interrupting him, “ eight days more of happiness are in store for me-at the end of that time it will cease to exist!"
His impatience to penetrate this inystery, was no less great than the vehemence of his love, yet, though sure he should find her conduct irreproachable, he could not but anxiously desire to be fully acquainted with her to whom he wished to impart the title of his wife. He waited the expiration of the eight days, and on the ninth Albertine still avoided him: at last he caught her towards evening in his arms on the stairs.
" Will you speak," said he ? “ Yes, since I must be separated from you for ever," and choaked with her emotion, she added, “I have been the mistress of Marat!"
Unfortunate girl, she had sacrificed her happiness on the altar of filial piety. She had delivered herself to that monster as the price of her father's life, but without her father's knowledge. From that moment her lover saw her no more.
Art. IV.- The Works of Ben Jonson, with Notes Critical and
Erplanatory; and a Biographical Memoir. By W. GIFFORD. In 9 vols. London, 1816.
The neglect, which the works of Ben Jonson have ever experienced in this country, and the oblivion with which they are now threatened, inay furnish a sufficient reason for our present attempt to awaken the attention of the American public to a just sense of their merits. But we confess, that we have found in the work before us an additional inducement to proceed, since Mr. Gifford has undertaken to exhibit the moral, if not
the intellectual qualities of this distinguished man, under a new aspect, and to disperse those clouds of envy and malignity, which have overshadowed bis memory, and been deepening and thickening around it for years. It is against the commentators of Shakspeare-the leaders, as Mr. Gifford terms them, in this crusade against the fame and character of Jonson—that he has directed the full force of his critical blows; and whether he has succeeded in protecting the reputation of his friend, or whether he has failed, no one, we think, will deny, that he has discomfited his assailants. If he has not proved the innocence of Jonson, he has at least done vengeance on his accusers, which sooth to say, might have proved to one of Mr. Gifford's temper, not the lighter gratification of the two!
The name of Ben Jonson is one of the most illustrious in English literature. At the early age of twenty-three--an age at which other men are accumulating the materials of future usefulness-he had already attained a perfect acquaintance with the literature of his own country, a complete mastery over the treasures of Greece and Rome, and what was yet more difficult, a thorough insight into life and manners; and if we consider that, though respectably descended, he was born to indigence, and depended for the elements of his education on the bounty of some patron, whose name unfortunately is lost; that, after some years spent at the university, he returned to the trade of a bricklayer, which was his step-father's employment; that he fled in disgust from the intolerable drudgery of this occupation, enlisted as a common soldier, and served a campaign in Holland ; that, returning to England, in his nineteenth year he commenced his career as a writer for the stage, and that in four years from this period, he had produced the most finished and purely classical comedy which England could boast of; if, in short, we take in at one view, the prodigious stores of learning he had accumulated, and the discouragements under which he had amassed them, we shall perceive that we have placed before our eyes the image of a perfect intellectual giant.
The dramatic literature of the day was but one step removed from its original rudeness. Lylly, Marlowe and Kyd, who were scholars as well as wits, had indeed written detached scenes of great excellence; but the advantages of a well connected plot were not yet perceived, and they had produced no play in which the scenes-while each sprung naturally from the precedinghad yet a common bearing on a predetermined end. When Jonson, therefore, brought to the service of the drama, his immense learning, and his rich talent of observation, he must
have contemplated a complete and splendid success; an expectation not unreasonable, whether he considered the imperfection of the pieces which then had possession of the stage, or his own immeasurable superiority over the writers we have just named. If Lylly, Marlowe, Kyd, and others of that calibre, had been bis only competitors, these expectations might have been realized. But at the very moment when Jonson determined to devote his talents to the stage, it was already in possession of the brightest and most glorious dramatic genius that the world had ever seen. Shakspeare had already struck the chords of that enchanted !yre, whose tones had enthralled the senses, and kiudled the imaginations, and gone thrilling to the hearts of men! His star, already “the lord of the ascendant," was now culminating towards its zenith, and all lesser fires were dimmed and obscured by its superior radiance. It was not for the colder genius of Jonson, sustained by all his art, and fortified by all his learning, to divide the empire of opinion, with this phenomenon of nature !
We have, incidentally, in our former numbers, offered our willing homage to the unequalled merits of Shakspeare, and we forbear to press the theme; but we are unwilling to withhold from the reader the glowing tribute offered to his genius by a distinguished critic, who was contented to struggle with all the perplexities of a foreign language, in order to arrive at a just estimate of his excellence. “ Never was there (says Schlegel) so comprehensive a talent, for the delineation of character as Shakspeare's! This Prometheus not only forms men—he opens the gates of the magical world of spirits-calls up the midnight ghost-exhibits before us his witches amidst their unhallowed rites-peoples the air with sportive fairies and sylphs; and these beings, existing only in imagination, possess such truth and consistency, that even when deformed monsters like Caliban, he extorts from us the conviction, that could such beings have existed, such would have been their conduct. In a word, as he carries the most fruitful and daring fancy into the world of nature; on the other hand he carries nature into the regions of fancy, lying beyond the confines of reality! We are lost in astonishmeut, at seeing the extraordinary, the wonderful, and the unbeard of, in such intimate nearness.” Again, “this tragical Titan, who storms the heavens, and threatens to tear the world from off its hinges; who more fruitful than Æschylus, makes our hair to stand on end, and congeals our blood with horror, possessed, at the same time, the insinuating loveliness of the sweetest poetry; he plays with love like a child, and his songs are breathed out like melting sighs!