Memorials and Other Papers V2
Thomas de Quincey

Part 3 out of 5

and was now on the point of giving full effect to their plans, at the
moment when certain circumstances should arise to favor the scheme.
What these were, he forbore designedly to say in a letter which ran
some risk of falling into the enemy's hands; but he bade Paulina
speedily to expect a great change for the better, which would put it in
their power to meet without restraint or fear; and concluded by giving
utterance in the fondest terms to a lover's hopes and tenderest

Paulina had scarcely recovered from the tumultuous sensations of
pleasure, and sudden restoration to hope, when she received a shock in
the opposite direction, from a summons to attend the Landgrave. The
language of the message was imperative, and more peremptory than had
ever before been addressed to herself, a lady of the imperial family.
She knew the Landgrave's character and his present position; both these
alarmed her, when connected with the style and language of his summons.
For _that_ announced distinctly enough that his resolution had
been now taken to commit himself to a bold course; no longer to hang
doubtfully between two policies, but openly to throw himself into the
arms of the emperor's enemies. In one view, Paulina found a benefit to
her spirits from this haughtiness of the Landgrave's message. She was
neither proud, nor apt to take offence. On the contrary, she was gentle
and meek; for the impulses of youth and elevated birth had in her been
chastened by her early acquaintance with great national calamities, and
the enlarged sympathy which that had bred with her fellow-creatures of
every rank. But she felt that, in this superfluous expression of
authority, the Landgrave was at the same time infringing the rights of
hospitality, and her own privileges of sex. Indignation at his unmanly
conduct gave her spirits to face him, though she apprehended a scene of
violence, and had the more reason to feel the trepidations of
uncertainty, because she very imperfectly comprehended his purposes as
respected herself.

These were not easily explained. She found the Landgrave pacing the
room with violence. His back was turned towards her as she entered;
but, as the usher announced loudly, on her entrance, "The Countess
Paulina of Hohenhelder," he turned impetuously, and advanced to meet
her. With the Landgrave, however irritated, the first impulse was to
comply with the ceremonious observances that belonged to his rank. He
made a cold obeisance, whilst an attendant placed a seat; and then
motioning to all present to withdraw, began to unfold the causes which
had called for Lady Paulina's presence.

So much art was mingled with so much violence, that for some time
Paulina gathered nothing of his real purposes. Resolved, however, to do
justice to her own insulted dignity, she took the first opening which
offered, to remonstrate with the Landgrave on the needless violence of
his summons. His serene highness wielded the sword in Klosterheim, and
could have no reason for anticipating resistance to his commands.

"The Lady Paulina, then, distinguishes between the power and the right?
I expected as much."

"By no means; she knew nothing of the claimants to either. She was a
stranger, seeking only hospitality in Klosterheim, which apparently was
violated by unprovoked exertions of authority."

"But the laws of hospitality," replied the Landgrave, "press equally on
the guest and the host. Each has his separate duties. And the Lady
Paulina, in the character of guest, violated hers from the moment when
she formed cabals in Klosterheim, and ministered to the fury of

"Your ear, sir, is abused; I have not so much as stepped beyond the
precincts of the convent in which I reside, until this day in paying
obedience to your highness' mandate."

"That may be; and that may argue only the more caution and subtlety.
The personal presence of a lady, so distinguished in her appearance as
the Lady Paulina, at any resort of conspirators or intriguers, would
have published too much the suspicions to which such a countenance
would be liable. But in writing have you dispersed nothing calculated
to alienate the attachment of my subjects?"

The Lady Paulina shook her head; she knew not even in what direction
the Landgrave's suspicions pointed.

"As, for example, this--does the Lady Paulina recognize this particular

Saying this, he drew forth from a portfolio a letter or paper of
instructions, consisting of several sheets, to which a large official
seal was attached. The countess glanced her eye over it attentively; in
one or two places the words _Maximilian_ and _Klosterheim_ attracted
her attention; but she felt satisfied at once that she now saw it for
the first time.

"Of this paper," she said, at length, in a determined tone, "I know
nothing. The handwriting I believe I may have seen before. It resembles
that of one of the emperor's secretaries. Beyond that, I have no means
of even conjecturing its origin."

"Beware, madam, beware how far you commit yourself. Suppose now this
paper were actually brought in one of your ladyship's mails, amongst
your own private property."

"That may very well be," said Lady Paulina, "and yet imply no falsehood
on my part. Falsehood! I disdain such an insinuation; your highness has
been the first person who ever dared to make it." At that moment she
called to mind the robbery of her carriage at Waldenhausen. Coloring
deeply with indignation, she added, "Even in the case, sir, which you
have supposed, as unconscious bearer of this or any other paper, I am
still innocent of the intentions which such an act might argue in some
people. I am as incapable of offending in that way, as I shall always
be of disavowing any of my own acts, according to your ungenerous
insinuation. But now, sir, tell me how far those may be innocent who
have possessed themselves of a paper carried, as your highness alleges,
among my private baggage. Was it for a prince to countenance a robbery
of that nature, or to appropriate its spoils?"

The blood rushed to the Landgrave's temples. "In these times, young
lady, petty rights of individuals give way to state necessities.
Neither are there any such rights of individuals in bar of such an
inquisition. They are forfeited, as I told you before, when the guest
forgets his duties. But (and here he frowned), it seems to me,
countess, that you are now forgetting your situation; not I, remember,
but yourself, are now placed on trial."

"Indeed!" said the countess, "of that I was certainly not aware. Who,
then, is my accuser, who my judge? Or is it in your serene highness
that I see both?"

"Your accuser, Lady Paulina, is the paper I have shown you, a
treasonable paper. Perhaps I have others to bring forward of the same
bearing. Perhaps this is sufficient."

The Lady Paulina grew suddenly sad and thoughtful. Here was a tyrant,
with matter against her, which, even to an unprejudiced judge, might
really wear some face of plausibility. The paper had perhaps really
been one of those plundered from her carriage. It might really contain
matter fitted to excite disaffection against the Landgrave's
government. Her own innocence of all participation in the designs which
it purposed to abet might find no credit; or might avail her not at all
in a situation so far removed from the imperial protection. She had in
fact unadvisedly entered a city, which, at the time of her entrance,
might be looked upon as neutral, but since then had been forced into
the ranks of the emperor's enemies, too abruptly to allow of warning or
retreat. This was her exact situation. She saw her danger; and again
apprehended that, at the very moment of recovering her lover from the
midst of perils besetting _his_ situation, she might lose him by
the perils of her own.

The Landgrave watched the changes of her countenance, and read her

"Yes," he said, at length, "your situation is one of peril. But take
courage. Confess freely, and you have everything to hope for from my

"Such clemency," said a deep voice, from some remote quarter of the
room, "as the wolf shows to the lamb."

Paulina started, and the Landgrave looked angry and perplexed. "Within,
there!" he cried loudly to the attendants in the next room. "I will no
more endure these insults," he exclaimed. "Go instantly, take a file of
soldiers; place them at all the outlets, and search the rooms
adjoining--above, and below. Such mummery is insufferable."

The voice replied again, "Landgrave, you search in vain. Look to
yourself! young Max is upon you!"

"This babbler," said the Landgrave, making an effort to recover his
coolness, "reminds me well; that adventurer, young Maximilian--who is
he? whence comes he? by whom authorized?"

Paulina blushed; but, roused by the Landgrave's contumelious
expressions applied to her lover, she replied, "He is no adventurer;
nor was ever in that class; the emperor's favor is not bestowed upon

"Then, what brings him to Klosterheim? For what is it that he would
trouble the repose of this city?"

Before Paulina could speak in rejoinder, the voice, from a little
further distance, replied, audibly, "For his rights! See that you,
Landgrave, make no resistance."

The prince arose in fury; his eyes flashed fire, he clenched his hands
in impotent determination. The same voice had annoyed him on former
occasions, but never under circumstances which mortified him so deeply.
Ashamed that the youthful countess should be a witness of the insults
put upon him, and seeing that it was in vain to pursue his conversation
with her further in a situation which exposed him to the sarcasms of a
third person, under no restraint of fear or partiality, he adjourned
the further prosecution of his inquiry to another opportunity, and for
the present gave her leave to depart; a license which she gladly
availed herself of, and retired in fear and perplexity.


It was dark as Paulina returned to her convent. Two servants of the
Landgrave's preceded her with torches to the great gates of St. Agnes,
which was at a very short distance. At that point she entered within
the shelter of the convent gates, and the prince's servants left her at
her own request. No person was now within call but a little page of her
own, and perhaps the porter at the convent. But after the first turn in
the garden of St. Agnes, she might almost consider herself as left to
her own guardianship; for the little boy, who followed her, was too
young to afford her any effectual help. She felt sorry, as she surveyed
the long avenue of ancient trees, which was yet to be traversed before
she entered upon the cloisters, that she should have dismissed the
servants of the Landgrave. These gardens were easily scaled from the
outside, and a ready communication existed between the remotest parts
of this very avenue and some of the least reputable parts of
Klosterheim. The city now overflowed with people of every rank; and
amongst them were continually recognized, and occasionally challenged,
some of the vilest deserters from the imperial camps. Wallenstein
himself, and other imperial commanders, but, above all, Holk, had
attracted to their standards the very refuse of the German jails; and,
allowing an unlimited license of plunder during some periods of their
career, had themselves evoked a fiendish spirit of lawless aggression
and spoliation, which afterwards they had found it impossible to
exorcise within its former limits. People were everywhere obliged to be
on their guard, not alone (as heretofore) against the military tyrant
or freebooter, but also against the private servants whom they hired
into their service. For some time back, suspicious persons had been
seen strolling at dusk in the gardens of St. Agnes, or even intruding
into the cloisters. Then the recollection of The Masque, now in the
very height of his mysterious career, flashed upon Paulina's thoughts.
Who knew his motives, or the principle of his mysterious warfare--
which, at any rate, in its mode had latterly been marked by bloodshed?
As these things came rapidly into her mind, she trembled more from fear
than from the wintry wind, which now blew keenly and gustily through
the avenue.

The gardens of St. Agnes were extensive, and Paulina yet wanted two
hundred yards of reaching the cloisters, when she observed a dusky
object stealing along the margin of a little pool, which in parts lay
open to the walk, whilst in others, where the walk receded from the
water, the banks were studded with thickets of tall shrubs. Paulina
stopped and observed the figure, which she was soon satisfied must be
that of a man. At times he rose to his full height; at times he cowered
downwards amongst the bushes. That he was not merely seeking a retreat
became evident from this, that the best road for such a purpose lay
open to him in the opposite direction; that he was watching herself,
also, became probable from the way in which he seemed to regulate his
own motions by hers. At length, whilst Paulina hesitated, in some
perplexity whether to go forward or to retreat towards the porter's
lodge, he suddenly plunged into the thickest belt of shrubs, and left
the road clear. Paulina seized the moment, and, with a palpitating
heart, quickened her steps towards the cloister.

She had cleared about one half of the way without obstruction, when
suddenly a powerful grasp seized her by the shoulder.

"Stop, lady!" said a deep, coarse voice; "stop! I mean no harm. Perhaps
I bring your ladyship what will be welcome news."

"But why here?" exclaimed Paulina; "wherefore do you alarm me thus? 0,
heavens! your eyes are wild and fierce; say, is it money that you

"Perhaps I do. To the like of me, lady, you may be sure that money
never comes amiss; but that is not my errand. Here is what will make
all clear;" and, as he spoke, he thrust his hand into the huge pocket
within the horseman's cloak which enveloped him. Instead of the pistol
or dag, which Paulina anticipated, he drew forth a large packet,
carefully sealed. Paulina felt so much relieved at beholding this
pledge of the man's pacific intentions, that she eagerly pressed her
purse into his hand, and was hastening to leave him, when the man
stopped her to deliver a verbal message from his master, requesting
earnestly that, if she concluded to keep the appointment arranged in
the letter, she would not be a minute later than the time fixed.

"And who," said Paulina, "is your master?"

"Surely, the general, madam--the young General Maximilian. Many a time
and oft have I waited on him when visiting your ladyship at the
Wartebrunn. But here I dare not show my face. Der Henker! if the
Landgrave knew that Michael Klotz was in Klosterheim, I reckon that all
the ladies in St. Agnes could not beg him a reprieve till to-morrow

"Then, villain!" said the foremost of two men, who rushed hastily from
the adjoining shrubs, "be assured that the Landgrave does know it. Let
this be your warrant!" With these words he fired, and, immediately
after, his comrade. Whether the fugitive were wounded could not be
known; for he instantly plunged into the water, and, after two or three
moments, was heard upon the opposite margin. His pursuers seemed to
shrink from this attempt, for they divided and took the opposite
extremities of the pool, from the other bank of which they were soon
heard animating and directing each other through the darkness.

Paulina, confused and agitated, and anxious above all to examine her
letters, took the opportunity of a clear road, and fled in trepidation
to the convent.


The countess had brought home with her a double subject of anxiety. She
knew not to what result the Landgrave's purposes were tending; she
feared, also, from this sudden and new method of communication opened
with herself so soon after his previous letter, that some unexpected
bad fortune might now be threatening her lover. Hastily she tore open
the packet, which manifestly contained something larger than letters.
The first article which presented itself was a nun's veil, exactly on
the pattern of those worn by the nuns of St. Agnes. The accompanying
letter sufficiently explained its purpose.

It was in the handwriting, and bore the signature, of Maximilian. In a
few words he told her that a sudden communication, but from a quarter
entirely to be depended on, had reached him of a great danger impending
over her from the Landgrave; that, in the present submission of
Klosterheim to that prince's will, instant flight presented the sole
means of delivering her; for which purpose he would himself meet her in
disguise on the following morning, as early as four o'clock; or, if
that should prove impossible under the circumstances of the case, would
send a faithful servant; that one or other of them would attend at a
particular station, easily recognized by the description added, in a
ruinous part of the boundary wall, in the rear of the convent garden. A
large travelling cloak would be brought, to draw over the rest of her
dress; but meanwhile, as a means of passing unobserved through the
convent grounds, where the Landgrave's agents were continually watching
her motions, the nun's veil was almost indispensable. The other
circumstances of the journey would be communicated to her upon meeting.
In conclusion, the writer implored Paulina to suffer no scruples of
false delicacy to withhold her from a step which had so suddenly become
necessary to her preservation; and cautioned her particularly against
communicating her intentions to the lady abbess, whose sense of decorum
might lead her to urge advice at this moment inconsistent with her

Again and again did Paulina read this agitating letter; again and again
did she scrutinize the handwriting, apprehensive that she might be
making herself a dupe to some hidden enemy. The handwriting,
undoubtedly, had not all the natural freedom which characterized that
of Maximilian; it was somewhat stiff in its movement, but not more so
than that of his previous letter, in which he had accounted for the
slight change from a wound not perfectly healed in his right hand. In
other respects the letter seemed liable to no just suspicion. The
danger apprehended from the Landgrave tallied with her own knowledge.
The convent grounds were certainly haunted, as the letter alleged, by
the Landgrave's people; of that she had just received a convincing
proof; for, though the two strangers had turned off in pursuit of the
messenger who bore Maximilian's letter, yet doubtless their original
object of attention had been herself; they were then posted to watch
her motions, and they had avowed themselves in effect the Landgrave's
people. That part of the advice, again, which respected the lady
abbess, seemed judicious, on considering the character of that lady,
however much at first sight it might warrant some jealousy of the
writer's purposes to find him warning her against her best friends.
After all, what most disturbed the confidence of Paulina was the
countenance of the man who presented the letter. If this man were to be
the representative of Maximilian on the following morning, she felt,
and was persuaded that she would continue to feel, an invincible
repugnance to commit her safety to any such keeping. Upon the whole,
she resolved to keep the appointment, but to be guided in her further
conduct by circumstances as they should arise at the moment.

That night Paulina's favorite female attendant employed herself in
putting into as small a compass as possible the slender wardrobe which
they would be able to carry with them. The young countess herself spent
the hours in writing to the lady abbess and Sister Madeline,
acquainting them with all the circumstances of her interview with the
Landgrave, the certain grounds she had for apprehending some great
danger in that quarter, and the proposals so unexpectedly made to her
on the part of Maximilian for evading it. To ask that they should feel
no anxiety on her account, in times which made even a successful escape
from danger so very hazardous, she acknowledged would be vain; but, in
judging of the degree of prudence which she had exhibited on this
occasion, she begged them to reflect on the certain dangers which
awaited her from the Landgrave; and finally, in excuse for not having
sought the advice of so dear a friend as the lady abbess, she enclosed
the letter upon which she had acted.

These preparations were completed by midnight, after which Paulina
sought an hour or two of repose. At three o'clock were celebrated the
early matins, attended by the devouter part of the sisterhood, in the
chapel. Paulina and her maid took this opportunity for leaving their
chamber, and slipping unobserved amongst the crowd who were hurrying on
that summons into the cloisters. The organ was pealing solemnly through
the labyrinth of passages which led from the interior of the convent;
and Paulina's eyes were suffused with tears, as the gentler
recollections of her earlier days, and the peace which belongs to those
who have abjured this world and its treacherous promises, arose to her
mind, under the influence of the sublime music, in powerful contrast
with the tempestuous troubles of Germany--now become so comprehensive,
in their desolating sweep, as to involve even herself, and others of
station as elevated.


The convent clock, chiming the quarters, at length announced that they
had reached the appointed hour. Trembling with fear and cold, though
muffled up in furs, Paulina and her attendant, with their nuns' veils
drawn over their head-dress, sallied forth into the garden. All was
profoundly dark, and overspread with the stillness of the grave. The
lights within the chapel threw a rich glow through the painted windows;
and here and there, from a few scattered casements in the vast pile of
St. Agnes, streamed a few weak rays from a taper or a lamp, indicating
the trouble of a sick bed, or the peace of prayer. But these rare
lights did but deepen the massy darkness of all beside; and Paulina,
with her attendant, had much difficulty in making her way to the
appointed station. Having reached the wall, however, they pursued its
windings, certain of meeting no important obstacles, until they
attained a part where their progress was impeded by frequent
dilapidations. Here they halted, and in low tones communicated their
doubts about the precise locality of the station indicated in the
letter, when suddenly a man started up from the ground, and greeted
them with the words "St. Agnes! all is right," which had been
preconcerted as the signal in the letter. This man was courteous and
respectful in his manner of speaking, and had nothing of the ruffian
voice which belonged to the bearer of the letter. In rapid terms he
assured Paulina that "the young general" had not found circumstances
favorable for venturing within the walls, but that he would meet her a
few miles beyond the city gates; and that at present they had no time
to lose. Saying this, he unshaded a dark lantern, which showed them a
ladder of ropes, attached to the summit of a wall, which at this point
was too low to occasion them much uneasiness or difficulty in
ascending. But Paulina insisted previously on hearing something more
circumstantial of the manner and style of their escape from the city
walls, and in what company their journey would be performed. The man
had already done something to conciliate Paulina's confidence by the
propriety of his address, which indicated a superior education, and
habits of intercourse with people of rank. He explained as much of the
plan as seemed necessary for the immediate occasion. A convoy of arms
and military stores was leaving the city for the post at Falkenstein.
Several carriages, containing privileged persons, to whom the Landgrave
or his minister had granted a license, were taking the benefit of an
escort over the forest; and a bribe in the proper quarter had easily
obtained permission, from the officer on duty at the gates, to suffer
an additional carriage to pass as one in a great lady's suite, on the
simple condition that it should contain none but females; as persons of
that sex were liable to no suspicion of being fugitives from the wrath
which was now supposed ready to descend upon the conspirators against
the Landgrave.

This explanation reconciled Paulina to the scheme. She felt cheered by
the prospect of having other ladies to countenance the mode of her
nocturnal journey; and at the worst, hearing this renewed mention of
conspirators and punishment, which easily connected itself with all
that had passed in her interview with the Landgrave, she felt assured,
at any rate, that the dangers she fled from transcended any which she
was likely to incur on her route. Her determination was immediately
taken. She passed over the wall with her attendant; and they found
themselves in a narrow lane, close to the city walls, with none but a
few ruinous outhouses on either side. A low whistle from the man was
soon answered by the rumbling of wheels; and from some distance, as it
seemed, a sort of caleche advanced, drawn by a pair of horses. Paulina
and her attendant stepped hastily in, for at the very moment when the
carriage drew up a signal-gun was heard; which, as their guide assured
them, proclaimed that the escort and the whole train of carriages were
at that moment defiling from the city gate. The driver, obeying the
directions of the other man, drove off as rapidly as the narrow road
and the darkness would allow. A few turns brought them into the great
square in front of the _schloss_; from which a few more open
streets, traversed at full gallop, soon brought them into the rear of
the convoy, which had been unexpectedly embarrassed in its progress to
the gate. From the rear, by dexterous management, they gradually
insinuated themselves into the centre; and, contrary to their
expectations, amongst the press of baggage-wagons, artillery, and
travelling equipages, all tumultuously clamoring to push on, as the
best chance of evading Holkerstein in the forest, their own
unpretending vehicle passed without other notice than a curse from the
officer on duty; which, however, they could not presume to appropriate,
as it might be supposed equitably distributed amongst all who stopped
the road at the moment.

Paulina shuddered as she looked out upon the line of fierce faces,
illuminated by the glare of torches, and mingling with horses' heads,
and the gleam of sabres; all around her, the roar of artillery wheels;
above her head the vast arch of the gates, its broad massy shadows
resting below; and in the vista beyond, which the archway defined, a
mass of blackness, in which she rather imagined than saw the
interminable solitudes of the forest. Soon the gate was closed; their
own carriage passed the tardier parts of the convoy; and, with a dozen
or two of others, surrounded by a squadron of dragoons, headed the
train. Happy beyond measure at the certainty that she had now cleared
the gates of Klosterheim, that she was in the wide, open forest, free
from a detested tyrant, and on the same side of the gates as her lover,
who was doubtless advancing to meet her, she threw herself back in her
carriage, and resigned herself to a slumber, which the anxieties and
watchings of the night had made more than usually welcome. The city
clocks were now heard in the forest, solemnly knelling out the hour of
four. Hardly, however, had Paulina slept an hour, when she was gently
awaked by her attendant, who had felt it to be her duty to apprise her
lady of the change which had occurred in their situation. They had
stopped, it seemed, to attach a pair of leaders to their wheel-horses,
and were now advancing at a thundering pace, separated from the rest of
the convoy, and surrounded by a small escort of cavalry. The darkness
was still intense; and the lights of Klosterheim, which the frequent
windings of the road brought often into view, were at this moment
conspicuously seen. The castle, from its commanding position, and the
Convent of St. Agnes, were both easily traced out by means of the
lights gleaming from their long ranges of upper windows. A particular
turret, which sprung to an almost aerial altitude above the rest of the
building, in which it was generally reported that the Landgrave slept,
was more distinguishable than any other part of Klosterheim, from one
brilliant lustre which shot its rays through a large oriel window.
There at this moment was sleeping that unhappy prince, tyrannical and
self-tormenting, whose unmanly fears had menaced her own innocence with
so much indefinite danger; whom, in escaping, she knew not if she
_had_ escaped; and whose snares, as a rueful misgiving began to
suggest, were perhaps gathering faster about her, with every echo which
the startled forest returned to the resounding tread of their flying
cavalcade. She leaned back again in the carriage; again she fell
asleep; again she dreamed. But her sleep was un-refreshing; her dreams
were agitated, confused, and haunted by terrific images. And she awoke
repeatedly with her cheerful anticipation continually decaying of
speedily (perhaps ever again) rejoining her gallant Maximilian. There
was indeed yet a possibility that she might be under the superintending
care of her lover. But she secretly felt that she was betrayed. And she
wept when she reflected that her own precipitance had facilitated the
accomplishment of the plot which had perhaps forever ruined her


Meantime, Paulina awoke from the troubled slumbers into which her
fatigues had thrown her, to find herself still flying along as rapidly
as four powerful horses could draw their light burden, and still
escorted by a considerable body of the Landgrave's dragoons. She was
undoubtedly separated from all the rest of the convoy with whom she had
left Klosterheim. It was now apparent, even to her humble attendant,
that they were betrayed; and Paulina reproached herself with having
voluntarily cooperated with her enemy's stratagems. Certainly the
dangers from which she fled were great and imminent; yet still, in
Klosterheim, she derived some protection from the favor of the lady
abbess. That lady had great powers of a legal nature throughout the
city, and still greater influence with a Roman Catholic populace at
this particular period, when their prince had laid himself open to
suspicions of favoring Protestant allies; and Paulina bitterly bewailed
the imprudence which, in removing her from the Convent of St. Agnes,
had removed her from her only friends.

It was about noon when the party halted at a solitary house for rest
and refreshments. Paulina had heard nothing of the route which they had
hitherto taken, nor did she find it easy to collect, from the short and
churlish responses of her escort to the few questions she had yet
ventured to propose, in what direction their future advance would
proceed. A hasty summons bade her alight; and a few steps, under the
guidance of a trooper, brought her into a little gloomy wainscoted
room, where some refreshments had been already spread upon a table.
Adjoining was a small bed-room. And she was desired, with something
more civility than she had yet experienced, to consider both as
allotted for the use of herself and servant during the time of their
stay, which was expected, however, not to exceed the two or three hours
requisite for resting the horses.

But that was an arrangement which depended as much upon others as
themselves. And, in fact, a small party, whom the main body of the
escort had sent on to patrol the roads in advance, soon returned with
the unwelcome news that a formidable corps of imperialists were out
reconnoitring in a direction which might probably lead them across
their own line of march, in the event of their proceeding instantly.
The orders already issued for advance were therefore countermanded; and
a resolution was at length adopted by the leader of the party for
taking up their abode during the night in their present very tolerable

Paulina, wearied and dejected, and recoiling naturally from the
indefinite prospects of danger before her, was not the least rejoiced
at this change in the original plan, by which she benefited at any rate
to the extent of a quiet shelter for one night more,--a blessing which
the next day's adventures might deny her,--and still more by that
postponement of impending evil which is so often welcome to the very
firmest minds, when exhausted by toil and affliction. Having this
certainty, however, of one night's continuance in her present abode,
she requested to have the room made a little more comfortable by the
exhilarating blaze of a fire. For this indulgence there were the
principal requisites in a hearth and spacious chimney. And an aged
crone, probably the sole female servant upon the premises, speedily
presented herself with a plentiful supply of wood, and the two
supporters, or _andirons_ (as they were formerly called), for
raising the billets so as to allow the air to circulate from below.
There was some difficulty at first in kindling the wood; and the old
servant resorted once or twice, after some little apologetic muttering
of doubts with herself, to a closet, containing, as Paulina could
observe, a considerable body of papers.

The fragments which she left remained strewed upon the ground; and
Paulina, taking them up with a careless air, was suddenly transfixed
with astonishment on observing that they were undoubtedly in a
handwriting familiar to her eye--the handwriting of the most
confidential amongst the imperial secretaries. Other recollections now
rapidly associated themselves together, which led her hastily to open
the closet door; and there, as she had already half expected, she saw
the travelling mail stolen from her own carriage, its lock forced, and
the remaining contents (for everything bearing a money value had
probably vanished on its first disappearance) lying in confusion.
Having made this discovery, she hastily closed the door of the closet,
resolved to prosecute her investigations in the night-time; but at
present, when she was liable to continual intrusions, to give no
occasion for those suspicions, which, once aroused, might end in
baffling her design.

Meantime, she occupied herself in conjectures upon the particular
course of accident which could have brought the trunk and papers into
the situation where she had been fortunate enough to find them. And,
with the clue already in her possession, she was not long in making
another discovery. She had previously felt some dim sense of
recognition, as her eyes wandered over the room, but had explained it
away into some resemblance to one or other of the many strange scenes
which she had passed through since leaving Vienna. But now, on
retracing the furniture and aspect of the two rooms, she was struck
with her own inattention, in not having sooner arrived at the discovery
that it was their old quarters of Waldenhausen, the very place in which
the robbery had been effected, where they had again the prospect of
spending the night, and of recovering in part the loss she had

Midnight came, and the Lady Paulina prepared to avail herself of her
opportunities. She drew out the parcel of papers, which was large and
miscellaneous in its contents. By far the greater part, as she was
happy to observe, were mere copies of originals in the chancery at
Vienna; those related to the civic affairs of Klosterheim, and were
probably of a nature not to have been acted upon during the
predominance of the Swedish interest in the counsels and administration
of that city. With the revival of the imperial cause, no doubt these
orders would be repeated, and with the modifications which new
circumstances and the progress of events would then have rendered
expedient. This portion of the papers, therefore, Paulina willingly
restored to their situation in the closet. No evil would arise to any
party from their present detention in a place where they were little
likely to attract notice from anybody but the old lady in her
ministries upon the fire. Suspicion would be also turned aside from
herself in appropriating the few papers which remained. These contained
too frequent mention of a name dear to herself, not to have a
considerable value in her eyes; she was resolved, if possible, to carry
them off by concealing them within her bosom; but, at all events, in
preparation for any misfortune that might ultimately compel her to
resign them, she determined, without loss of time, to make herself
mistress of their contents.

One, and the most important of these documents, was a long and
confidential letter from the emperor to the town council and the chief
heads of conventual houses in Klosterheim. It contained a rapid summary
of the principal events in her lover's life, from his infancy, when
some dreadful domestic tragedy had thrown him upon the emperor's
protection, to his present period of early manhood, when his own sword
and distinguished talents had raised him to a brilliant name and a high
military rank in the imperial service. What were the circumstances of
that tragedy, as a case sufficiently well known to those whom he
addressed, or to be collected from accompanying papers, the emperor did
not say. But he lavished every variety of praise upon Maximilian, with
a liberality that won tears of delight from the solitary young lady, as
she now sat at midnight looking over these gracious testimonies to her
lover's merit. A theme so delightful to Paulina could not be
unseasonable at any time; and never did her thoughts revert to him more
fondly than at this moment, when she so much needed his protecting arm.
Yet the emperor, she was aware, must have some more special motive for
enlarging upon this topic than his general favor to Maximilian. What
this could be, in a case so closely connecting the parties to the
correspondence on both sides with Klosterheim, a little interested her
curiosity. And, on looking more narrowly at the accompanying documents,
in one which had been most pointedly referred to by the emperor she
found some disclosures on the subject of her lover's early misfortunes,
which, whilst they filled her with horror and astonishment, elevated
the natural pretensions of Maximilian in point of birth and descent
more nearly to a level with the splendor of his self-created
distinctions; and thus crowned him, who already lived in her
apprehension as the very model of a hero, with the only advantages that
he had ever been supposed to want--the interest which attaches to
unmerited misfortunes, and the splendor of an illustrious descent.

As she thus sat, absorbed in the story of her lover's early
misfortunes, a murmuring sound of talking attracted her ear, apparently
issuing from the closet. Hastily throwing open the door, she found that
a thin wooden partition, veined with numerous chinks, was the sole
separation between the closet and an adjoining bed-room. The words were
startling, incoherent, and at times raving. Evidently they proceeded
from some patient stretched on a bed of sickness, and dealing with a
sort of horrors in his distempered fancy, worse, it was to be hoped,
than any which the records of his own remembrance could bring before
him. Sometimes he spoke in the character of one who chases a deer in a
forest; sometimes he was close upon the haunches of his game; sometimes
it seemed on the point of escaping him. Then the nature of the game
changed utterly, and became something human; and a companion was
suddenly at his side. With him he quarrelled fiercely about their share
in the pursuit and capture. "O, my lord, you must not deny it. Look,
look! your hands are bloodier than mine. Fie! fie! is there no running
water in the forest?--So young as he is, and so noble!--Stand off! he
will cover us all with his blood!--O, what a groan was that! It will
have broke somebody's heart-strings, I think! It would have broken mine
when I was younger. But these wars make us all cruel. Yet you are worse
than I am."

Then again, after a pause, the patient seemed to start up in bed, and
he cried out, convulsively, "Give me my share, I say. Wherefore must my
share be so small? There he comes past again. Now strike--now, now,
now! Get his head down, my lord.--He's off, by G--! Now, if he gets out
of the forest, two hours will take him to Vienna. And we must go to
Rome: where else could we get absolution? 0, Heavens! the forest is
full of blood; well may our hands be bloody. I see flowers all the way
to Vienna: but there is blood below: 0, what a depth! what a depth!--O!
heart, heart!--See how he starts up from his lair!--O! your highness
has deceived me! There are a thousand upon one man!"

In such terms he continued to rave, until Paulina's mind was so much
harassed with the constant succession of dreadful images and frenzied
ejaculations, all making report of a life passed in scenes of horror,
bloodshed, and violence, that at length, for her own relief, she was
obliged to close the door; through which, however, at intervals,
piercing shrieks or half-stifled curses still continued to find their
way. It struck her as a remarkable coincidence, that something like a
slender thread of connection might be found between the dreadful story
narrated in the imperial document, and the delirious ravings of this
poor, wretched creature, to whom accident had made her a neighbor for a
single night.

Early the next morning Paulina and her servant were summoned to resume
their journey; and three hours more of rapid travelling brought them to
the frowning fortress of Lovenstein. Their escort, with any one of whom
they had found but few opportunities of communicating, had shown
themselves throughout gloomy and obstinately silent. They knew not,
therefore, to what distance their journey extended. But, from the
elaborate ceremonies with which they were here received, and the formal
receipt for their persons, which was drawn up and delivered by the
governor to the officer commanding their escort, Paulina judged that
the castle of Lovenstein would prove to be their final destination.


Two days elapsed without any change in Paulina's situation, as she
found it arranged upon her first arrival at Lovenstein. Her rooms were
not incommodious; but the massy barricades at the doors, the grated
windows, and the sentinels who mounted guard upon all the avenues which
led to her apartments, satisfied her sufficiently that she was a

The third morning after her arrival brought her a still more unwelcome
proof of this melancholy truth, in the summons which she received to
attend a court of criminal justice on the succeeding day, connected
with the tenor of its language. Her heart died within her as she found
herself called upon to answer as a delinquent on a charge of
treasonable conspiracy with various members of the university of
Klosterheim, against the sovereign prince, the Landgrave of X----.
Witnesses in exculpation, whom could she produce? Or how defend herself
before a tribunal where all alike--judge, evidence, accuser---were in
effect one and the same malignant enemy? In what way she could have
come to be connected in the Landgrave's mind with a charge of treason
against his princely rights, she found it difficult to explain, unless
the mere fact of having carried the imperial despatches in the trunks
about her carriages were sufficient to implicate her as a secret
emissary or agent concerned in the imperial diplomacy. But she strongly
suspected that some deep misapprehension existed in the Landgrave's
mind; and its origin, she fancied, might be found in the refined
knavery of their ruffian host at Waldenhausen, in making his market of
the papers which he had purloined. Bringing them forward separately and
by piecemeal, he had probably hoped to receive so many separate
rewards. But, as it would often happen that one paper was necessary in
the way of explanation to another, and the whole, perhaps, were almost
essential to the proper understanding of any one, the result would
inevitably be grievously to mislead the Landgrave. Further
communications, indeed, would have tended to disabuse the prince of any
delusions raised in this way. But it was probable, as Paulina had
recently learned in passing through Waldenhausen, that the ruffian's
illness and delirium had put a stop to any further communication of
papers; and thus the misconceptions which he had caused were
perpetuated in the Landgrave's mind.

It was on the third day after Paulina's arrival that she was first
placed before the court. The presiding officer in this tribunal was the
governor of the fortress, a tried soldier, but a ruffian of low habits
and cruel nature. He had risen under the Landgrave's patronage, as an
adventurer of desperate courage, ready for any service, however
disreputable, careless alike of peril or of infamy. In common with many
partisan officers, who had sprung from the ranks in this adventurous
war, seeing on every side and in the highest quarters, princes as well
as supreme commanders, the uttermost contempt of justice and moral
principle, he had fought his way to distinction and fortune, through
every species of ignoble cruelty. He had passed from service to
service, as he saw an opening for his own peculiar interest or merit,
everywhere valued as a soldier of desperate enterprise, everywhere
abhorred as a man.

By birth a Croatian, he had exhibited himself as one of the most savage
leaders of that order of barbarians in the sack of Magdeburgh, where he
served under Tilly; but, latterly, he had taken service again under his
original patron, the Landgrave, who had lured him back to his interest
by the rank of general and the governorship of Lovenstein.

This brutal officer, who had latterly lived in a state of continual
intoxication, was the judge before whom the lovely and innocent Paulina
was now arraigned on a charge affecting her life. In fact, it became
obvious that the process was not designed for any other purpose than to
save appearances, and, if that should seem possible, to extract further
discoveries from the prisoner. The general acted as supreme arbiter in
every question of rights and power that arose to the court in the
administration of their almost unlimited functions. Doubts he allowed
of none; and cut every knot of jurisprudence, whether form or
substance, by his Croatian sabre. Two assessors, however, he willingly
received upon his bench of justice, to relieve him from the fatigue and
difficulty of conducting a perplexed examination.

These assessors were lawyers of a low class, who tempered the exercise
of their official duties with as few scruples of justice, and as little
regard to the restraints of courtesy, as their military principal. The
three judges were almost equally ferocious, and tools equally abject of
the unprincipled sovereign whom they served.

A sovereign, however, he was; and Paulina was well aware that in his
own states he had the power of life and death. She had good reason to
see that her own death was resolved on; still she neglected no means of
honorable self-defence. In a tone of mingled sweetness and dignity she
maintained her innocence of all that was alleged against her; protested
that she was unacquainted with the tenor of any papers which might have
been found in her trunks; and claimed her privilege, as a subject of
the emperor, in bar of all right on the Landgrave's part to call her to
account. These pleas were overruled, and when she further acquainted
the court that she was a near relative of the emperor's, and ventured
to hint at the vengeance with which his imperial majesty would not fail
to visit so bloody a contempt of justice, she was surprised to find
this menace treated with mockery and laughter. In reality, the long
habit of fighting for and against all the princes of Germany had given
to the Croatian general a disregard for any of them, except on the
single consideration of receiving his pay at the moment; and a single
circumstance, unknown to Paulina, in the final determination of the
Landgrave, to earn a merit with his Swedish allies by breaking off all
terms of reserve and compromise with the imperial court, impressed a
savage desperation on the tone of that prince's policy at this
particular time. The Landgrave had resolved to stake his all upon a
single throw. A battle was now expected, which, if favorable to the
Swedes, would lay open the road to Vienna. The Landgrave was prepared
to abide the issue; not, perhaps, wholly uninfluenced to so extreme a
course by the very paper which had been robbed from Paulina. His policy
was known to his agents, and conspicuously influenced their manner of
receiving her menace.

Menaces, they informed her, came with better grace from those who had
the power to enforce them; and, with a brutal scoff, the Croatian bade
her merit their indulgence by frank discoveries and voluntary
confessions. He insisted on knowing the nature of the connection which
the imperial colonel of horse, Maximilian, had maintained with the
students of Klosterheim; and upon other discoveries, with respect to
most of which Paulina was too imperfectly informed herself to be
capable of giving any light. Her earnest declarations to this effect
were treated with disregard. She was dismissed for the present, but
with an intimation that on the morrow she must prepare herself with a
more complying temper, or with a sort of firmness in maintaining her
resolution, which would not, perhaps, long resist those means which the
law had placed at their disposal for dealing with the refractory and


Paulina meditated earnestly upon the import of this parting threat. The
more she considered it, the less could she doubt that these fierce
inquisitors had meant to threaten her with torture. She felt the whole
indignity of such a threat, though she could hardly bring herself to
believe them in earnest.

On the following morning she was summoned early before her judges. They
had not yet assembled; but some of the lower officials were pacing up
and down, exchanging unintelligible jokes, looking sometimes at
herself, sometimes at an iron machine, with a complex arrangement of
wheels and screws. Dark were the suspicions which assaulted Paulina as
this framework or couch of iron first met her eyes; and perhaps some of
the jests circulating amongst the brutal ministers of her brutal judges
would have been intelligible enough, had she condescended to turn her
attention in that direction. Meantime her doubts were otherwise
dispersed. The Croatian officer now entered the room alone, his
assessors having probably declined participation in that part of the
horrid functions which remained under the Landgrave's commission.

This man, presenting a paper with a long list of interrogatories to
Paulina, bade her now rehearse verbally the sum of the answers which
she designed to give. Running rapidly through them, Paulina replied,
with dignity, yet trembling and agitated, that these were questions
which in any sense she could not answer; many of them referring to
points on which she had no knowledge, and none of them being consistent
with the gratitude and friendship so largely due on her side to the
persons implicated in the bearing of these questions.

"Then you refuse?"

"Certainly; there are three questions only which it is in my power to
answer at all--even these imperfectly. Answers such as you expect would
load me with dishonor."

"Then you refuse?"

"For the reasons I have stated, undoubtedly I do."

"Once more--you refuse?"

"I refuse, certainly; but do me the justice to record my reasons."

"Reasons!--ha! ha! they had need to be strong ones if they will hold
out against the arguments of this pretty plaything," laying his hand
upon the machine. "However, the choice is yours, not mine."

So saying, he made a sign to the attendants. One began to move the
machine, and work the screws, or raise the clanking grates and
framework, with a savage din; two others bared their arms. Paulina
looked on motionless with sudden horror, and palpitating with fear.

The Croatian nodded to the men; and then, in a loud, commanding voice,
exclaimed: "The question in the first degree!"

At this moment Paulina recovered her strength, which the first panic
had dispelled. She saw a man approach her with a ferocious grin of
exultation. Another, with the same horrid expression of countenance,
carried a large vase of water.

The whole indignity of the scene flashed full upon her mind. She, a
lady of the imperial house, threatened with torture by the base agent
of a titled ruffian! She, who owed him no duty,--had violated no claim
of hospitality, though in her own person all had been atrociously

Thoughts like these flew rapidly through her brain, when suddenly a
door opened behind her. It was an attendant with some implements for
tightening or relaxing bolts. The bare-armed ruffian at this moment
raised his arm to seize hers. Shrinking from the pollution of his
accursed touch, Paulina turned hastily round, darted through the open
door, and fled, like a dove pursued by vultures, along the passages
which stretched before her. Already she felt their hot breathing upon
her neck, already the foremost had raised his hand to arrest her, when
a sudden turn brought her full upon a band of young women, tending upon
one of superior rank, manifestly their mistress.

"0, madam!" exclaimed Paulina, "save me! save me!" and with these words
fell exhausted at the lady's feet.

This female--young, beautiful, and with a touching pensiveness of
manners--raised her tenderly in her arms, and with a sisterly tone of
affection bade her fear nothing; and the respectful manner in which the
officials retired at her command satisfied Paulina that she stood in
some very near relation to the Landgrave,--in reality, she soon spoke
of him as her father. "Is it possible," thought Paulina to herself,
"that this innocent and lovely child (for she was not more than
seventeen, though with a prematurity of womanly person that raised her
to a level with Paulina's height) should owe the affection of a
daughter to a tyrant so savage as the Landgrave?"

She found, however, that the gentle Princess Adeline owed to her own
childlike simplicity the best gift that one so situated could have
received from the bounty of Heaven. The barbarities exercised by the
Croatian governor she charged entirely upon his own brutal nature; and
so confirmed was she in this view by Paulina's own case, that she now
resolved upon executing a resolution she had long projected. Her
father's confidence was basely abused; this she said, and devoutly
believed. "No part of the truth ever reached him; her own letters
remained disregarded in a way which was irreconcilable with the
testimonies of profound affection to herself, daily showered upon her
by his highness."

In reality, this sole child of the Landgrave was also the one sole
jewel that gave a value in his eyes to his else desolate life.
Everything in and about the castle of Lovenstein was placed under her
absolute control; even the brutal Croatian governor knew that no plea
or extremity of circumstances would atone for one act of disobedience
to her orders; and hence it was that the ministers of this tyrant
retired with so much prompt obedience to her commands.

Experience, however, had taught the princess that, not unfrequently,
orders apparently obeyed were afterwards secretly evaded; and the
disregard paid of late to her letters of complaint satisfied her that
they were stifled and suppressed by the governor. Paulina, therefore,
whom a few hours of unrestrained intercourse had made interesting to
her heart, she would not suffer even to sleep apart from herself. Her
own agitation on the poor prisoner's behalf became greater even than
that of Paulina; and as fresh circumstances of suspicion daily arose in
the savage governor's deportment, she now took in good earnest those
measures for escape to Klosterheim which she had long arranged. In this
purpose she was greatly assisted by the absolute authority which her
father had conceded to her over everything but the mere military
arrangements in the fortress. Under the color of an excursion, such as
she had been daily accustomed to take, she found no difficulty in
placing Paulina, sufficiently disguised, amongst her own servants. At a
proper point of the road, Paulina and a few attendants, with the
princess herself, issued from their coaches, and, bidding them await
their return in half an hour's interval, by that time were far advanced
upon their road to the military post of Falkenberg.


In twenty days the mysterious Masque had summoned the Landgrave "to
answer for crimes unatoned, before a tribunal where no power but that
of innocence could avail him." These days were nearly expired. The
morning of the twentieth had arrived.

There were two interpretations of this summons. By many it was believed
that the tribunal contemplated was that of the emperor; and that, by
some mysterious plot, which could not be more difficult of execution
than others which had actually been accomplished by The Masque, on this
day the Landgrave would be carried off to Vienna. Others, again,
understanding by the tribunal, in the same sense, the imperial chamber
of criminal justice, believed it possible to fulfil the summons in some
way less liable to delay or uncertainty than by a long journey to
Vienna, through a country beset with enemies. But a third party,
differing from both the others, understood by the tribunal where
innocence was the only shield the judgment-seat of heaven; and believed
that on this day justice would be executed on the Landgrave, for crimes
known and unknown, by a public and memorable death. Under any
interpretation, however, nobody amongst the citizens could venture
peremptorily to deny, after the issue of the masqued ball, and of so
many other public denunciations, that The Masque would keep his word to
the letter.

It followed, of necessity, that everybody was on the tiptoe of
suspense, and that the interest hanging upon the issue of this night's
events swallowed up all other anxieties, of whatsoever nature. Even the
battle which was now daily expected between the imperial and Swedish
armies ceased to occupy the hearts and conversation of the citizens.
Domestic and public concerns alike gave way to the coming catastrophe
so solemnly denounced by The Masque.

The Landgrave alone maintained a gloomy reserve, and the expression of
a haughty disdain. He had resolved to meet the summons with the
liveliest expression of defiance, by fixing this evening for a second
masqued ball, upon a greater scale than the first. In doing this he
acted advisedly, and with the counsel of his Swedish allies. They
represented to him that the issue of the approaching battle might be
relied upon as pretty nearly certain; all the indications were indeed
generally thought to promise a decisive turn in their favor; but, in
the worst case, no defeat of the Swedish army in this war had ever been
complete; that the bulk of the retreating army, if the Swedes should be
obliged to retreat, would take the road to Klosterheim, and would
furnish to himself a garrison capable of holding the city for many
months to come (and _that_ would not fail to bring many fresh
chances to all of them), whilst to his new and cordial allies this
course would offer a secure retreat from pursuing enemies, and a
satisfactory proof of his own fidelity. This even in the worst case;
whereas in the better and more probable one, of a victory to the
Swedes, to maintain the city but for a day or two longer against
internal conspirators, and the secret cooperators outside, would be in
effect to ratify any victory which the Swedes might gain by putting
into their hands at a critical moment one of its most splendid trophies
and guarantees.

These counsels fell too much into the Landgrave's own way of thinking
to meet with any demurs from him. It was agreed, therefore, that as
many Swedish troops as could at this important moment be spared should
be introduced into the halls and saloons of the castle, on the eventful
evening, disguised as masquers. These were about four hundred; and
other arrangements were made, equally mysterious, and some of them
known only to the Landgrave.

At seven o'clock, as on the former occasion, the company began to
assemble. The same rooms were thrown open; but, as the party was now
far more numerous, and was made more comprehensive in point of rank, in
order to include all who were involved in the conspiracy which had been
some time maturing in Klosterheim, fresh suites of rooms were judged
necessary, on the pretext of giving fuller effect to the princely
hospitalities of the Landgrave. And, on this occasion, according to an
old privilege conceded in the case of coronations or galas of
magnificence, by the lady abbess of St. Agnes, the partition walls were
removed between the great hall of the _schloss_ and the refectory
of that immense convent; so that the two vast establishments, which on
one side were contiguous to each other, were thus laid into one.

The company had now continued to pour in for two hours. The palace and
the refectory of the convent were now overflowing with lights and
splendid masques; the avenues and corridors rang with music; and,
though every heart was throbbing with fear and suspense, no outward
expression was wanting of joy and festal pleasure. For the present, all
was calm around the slumbering volcano.

Suddenly, the Count St. Aldenheim, who was standing with arms folded,
and surveying the brilliant scene, felt some one touch his hand, in the
way concerted amongst the conspirators as a private signal of
recognition. He turned, and recognized his friend the Baron Adelort,
who saluted him with three emphatic words--"We are betrayed!"--Then,
after a pause, "Follow me."

St. Aldenheim made his way through the glittering crowds, and pressed
after his conductor into one of the most private corridors.

"Fear not," said the other, "that we shall be watched. Vigilance is no
longer necessary to our crafty enemy. He has already triumphed. Every
avenue of escape is barred and secured against us; every outlet of the
palace is occupied by the Landgrave's troops. Not a man of us will
return alive."

"Heaven forbid we should prove ourselves such gulls! You are but
jesting, my friend."

"Would to God I were! my information is but too certain. Something I
have overheard by accident; something has been told me; and something I
have seen. Come you, also, count, and see what I will show you: then
judge for yourself."

So saying, he led St. Aldenheim by a little circuit of passages to a
doorway, through which they passed into a hall of vast proportions; to
judge by the catafalques, and mural monuments, scattered at intervals
along the vast expanse of its walls, this seemed to be the ante-chapel
of St. Agnes. In fact it was so; a few faint lights glimmered through
the gloomy extent of this immense chamber, placed (according to the
Catholic rite) at the shrine of the saint. Feeble as it was, however,
the light was powerful enough to display in the centre a pile of
scaffolding covered with black drapery. Standing at the foot, they
could trace the outlines of a stage at the summit, fenced in with a
railing, a block, and the other apparatus for the solemnity of a public
execution, whilst the saw-dust below their feet ascertained the spot in
which the heads were to fall.

"Shall we ascend and rehearse our parts?" asked the count: "for
methinks everything is prepared, except the headsman and the
spectators. A plague on the inhospitable knave!"

"Yes, St. Aldenheim, all is prepared--even to the sufferers. On that
list you stand foremost. Believe me, I speak with knowledge; no matter
where gained. It is certain."

"Well, _necessitas non habet legem_; and he that dies on Tuesday
will never catch cold on Wednesday. But, still, that comfort is
something of the coldest. Think you that none better could be had?"

"As how?"

"Revenge, _par exemple_; a little revenge. Might one not screw the
neck of this base prince, who abuses the confidence of cavaliers so
perfidiously? To die I care not; but to be caught in a trap, and die
like a rat lured by a bait of toasted cheese--Faugh! my countly blood
rebels against it!"

"Something might surely be done, if we could muster in any strength.
That is, we might die sword in hand; but--"

"Enough! I ask no more. Now let us go. We will separately pace the
rooms, draw together as many of our party as we can single out, and
then proclaim ourselves. Let each answer for one victim. I'll take his
highness for my share."

With this purpose, and thus forewarned of the dreadful fate at hand,
they left the gloomy ante-chapel, traversed the long suite of
entertaining rooms, and collected as many as could easily be detached
from the dances without too much pointing out their own motions to the
attention of all present. The Count St. Aldenheim was seen rapidly
explaining to them the circumstances of their dreadful situation;
whilst hands uplifted, or suddenly applied to the hilt of the sword,
with other gestures of sudden emotion, expressed the different
impressions of rage or fear, which, under each variety of character,
impressed the several hearers. Some of them, however, were too
unguarded in their motions; and the energy of their gesticulations had
now begun to attract the attention of the company.

The Landgrave himself had his eye upon them. But at this moment his
attention was drawn off by an uproar of confusion in an ante-chamber,
which argued some tragical importance in the cause that could prompt so
sudden a disregard for the restraints of time and place.


His highness issued from the room in consternation, followed by many of
the company. In the very centre of the ante-room, booted and spurred,
bearing all the marks of extreme haste, panic, and confusion, stood a
Swedish officer, dealing forth hasty fragments of some heart-shaking
intelligence. "All is lost!" said he; "not a regiment has escaped!"
"And the place?" exclaimed a press of inquirers. "Nordlingen." "And
which way has the Swedish army retreated?" demanded a masque behind

"Retreat!" retorted the officer, "I tell you there is no retreat. All
have perished. The army is no more. Horse, foot, artillery--all is
wrecked, crushed, annihilated. Whatever yet lives is in the power of
the imperialists."

At this moment the Landgrave came up, and in every way strove to check
these too liberal communications. He frowned; the officer saw him not.
He laid his hand on the officer's arm, but all in vain. He spoke, but
the officer knew not, or forgot his rank. Panic and immeasurable sorrow
had crushed his heart; he cared not for restraints; decorum and
ceremony were become idle words. The Swedish army had perished. The
greatest disaster of the whole 'Thirty Years' War had fallen upon his
countrymen. His own eyes had witnessed the tragedy, and he had no power
to check or restrain that which made his heart overflow.

The Landgrave retired. But in half an hour the banquet was announced;
and his highness had so much command over his own feelings that he took
his seat at the table. He seemed tranquil in the midst of general
agitation; for the company were distracted by various passions. Some
exulted in the great victory of the imperialists, and the approaching
liberation of Klosterheim. Some, who were in the secret, anticipated
with horror the coming tragedy of vengeance upon his enemies which the
Landgrave had prepared for this night. Some were filled with suspense
and awe on the probable fulfilment in some way or other, doubtful as to
the mode, but tragic (it was not doubted) for the result, of The
Masque's mysterious denunciation.

* * * * *

Under such circumstances of universal agitation and suspense,--for on
one side or other it seemed inevitable that this night must produce a
tragical catastrophe,--it was not extraordinary that silence and
embarrassment should at one moment take possession of the company, and
at another that kind of forced and intermitting gayety which still more
forcibly proclaimed the trepidation which really mastered the spirits
of the assemblage. The banquet was magnificent; but it moved heavily
and in sadness. The music, which broke the silence at intervals, was
animating and triumphant; but it had no power to disperse the gloom
which hung over the evening, and which was gathering strength
conspicuously as the hours advanced to midnight.

As the clock struck eleven, the orchestra had suddenly become silent;
and, as no buzz of conversation succeeded, the anxiety of expectation
became more painfully irritating. The whole vast assemblage was hushed,
gazing at the doors, at each other, or watching, stealthily, the
Landgrave's countenance. Suddenly a sound was heard in an ante-room; a
page entered with a step hurried and discomposed, advanced to the
Landgrave's seat, and, bending downwards, whispered some news or
message to that prince, of which not a syllable could be caught by the
company. Whatever were its import, it could not be collected, from any
very marked change on the features of him to whom it was addressed,
that he participated in the emotions of the messenger, which were
obviously those of grief or panic--perhaps of both united. Some even
fancied that a transient expression of malignant exultation crossed the
Landgrave's countenance at this moment. But, if that were so, it was
banished as suddenly; and, in the next instant, the prince arose with a
leisurely motion; and, with a very successful affectation (if such it
were) of extreme tranquillity, he moved forwards to one of the ante-
rooms, in which, as it now appeared, some person was awaiting his

Who, and on what errand? These were the questions which now racked the
curiosity of those among the company who had least concern in the final
event, and more painfully interested others, whose fate was consciously
dependent upon the accidents which the next hour might happen to bring
up. Silence still continuing to prevail, and, if possible, deeper
silence than before, it was inevitable that all the company, those even
whose honorable temper would least have brooked any settled purpose of
surprising the Landgrave's secrets, should, in some measure, become a
party to what was now passing in the ante-room.

The voice of the Landgrave was heard at times, briefly and somewhat
sternly in reply, but apparently in the tone of one who is thrown upon
the necessity of self-defence. On the other side, the speaker was
earnest, solemn, and (as it seemed) upon an office of menace or
upbraiding. For a time, however, the tones were low and subdued; but,
as the passion of the scene advanced, less restraint was observed on
both sides; and at length many believed that in the stranger's voice
they recognized that of the lady abbess; and it was some corroboration
of this conjecture, that the name of Paulina began now frequently to be
caught, and in connection with ominous words, indicating some dreadful
fate supposed to have befallen her.

A few moments dispersed all doubts. The tones of bitter and angry
reproach rose louder than before; they were, without doubt, those of
the abbess. She charged the blood of Paulina upon the Landgrave's head;
denounced the instant vengeance of the emperor for so great an
atrocity; and, if that could be evaded, bade him expect certain
retribution from Heaven for so wanton and useless an effusion of
innocent blood.

The Landgrave replied in a lower key; and his words were few and rapid.
That they were words of fierce recrimination, was easily collected from
the tone; and in the next minute the parties separated with little
ceremony (as was sufficiently evident) on either side, and with mutual
wrath. The Landgrave reentered the banqueting-room; his features
discomposed and inflated with passion; but such was his self-command,
and so habitual his dissimulation, that, by the time he reached his
seat, all traces of agitation had disappeared; his countenance had
resumed its usual expression of stern serenity, and his manners their
usual air of perfect self-possession.

* * * * *

The clock of St. Agnes struck twelve. At that sound the Landgrave rose.
"Friends and illustrious strangers!" said he, "I have caused one seat
to be left empty for that blood-stained Masque, who summoned me to
answer on this night for a crime which he could not name, at a bar
which no man knows. His summons you heard. Its fulfilment is yet to
come. But I suppose few of us are weak enough to expect--"

"That The Masque of Klosterheim will ever break his engagements," said
a deep voice, suddenly interrupting the Landgrave. All eyes were
directed to the sound; and, behold! there stood The Masque, and seated
himself quietly in the chair which had been left vacant for his

"It is well!" said the Landgrave; but the air of vexation and panic
with which he sank back into his seat belied his words. Rising again,
after a pause, with some agitation, he said, "Audacious criminal! since
last we met, I have learned to know you, and to appreciate your
purposes. It is now fit they should be known to Klosterheim. A scene of
justice awaits you at present, which will teach this city to understand
the delusions which could build any part of her hopes upon yourself.
Citizens and friends, not I, but these dark criminals and interlopers
whom you will presently see revealed in their true colors, are
answerable for that interruption to the course of our peaceful
festivities, which will presently be brought before you. Not I, but
they are responsible."

So saying, the Landgrave arose, and the whole of the immense audience,
who now resumed their masques, and prepared to follow whither his
highness should lead. With the haste of one who fears he may be
anticipated in his purpose, and the fury of some bird of prey,
apprehending that his struggling victim may be yet torn from his
talons, the prince hurried onwards to the ante-chapel. Innumerable
torches now illuminated its darkness; in other respects it remained as
St. Aldenheim had left it.

The Swedish masques had many of them withdrawn from the gala on hearing
the dreadful day of Nordlingen. But enough remained, when strengthened
by the body-guard of the Landgrave, to make up a corps of nearly five
hundred men. Under the command of Colonel von Aremberg, part of them
now enclosed the scaffold, and part prepared to seize the persons who
were pointed out to them as conspirators. Amongst these stood foremost
The Masque.

Shaking off those who attempted to lay hands upon him, he strode
disdainfully within the ring; and then, turning to the Landgrave, he

"Prince, for once be generous; accept me as a ransom for the rest."

The Landgrave smiled sarcastically. "That were an unequal bargain,
methinks, to take a part in exchange for the whole."

"The whole? And where is, then, your assurance of the whole?"

"Who should now make it doubtful? There is the block; the headsman is
at hand. What hand can deliver from this extremity even you, Sir

"That which has many times delivered me from a greater. It seems,
prince, that you forget the last days in the history of Klosterheim. He
that rules by night in Klosterheim may well expect a greater favor than
this when he descends to sue for it."

The Landgrave smiled contemptuously. "But, again I ask you, sir, will
you on any terms grant immunity to these young men?"

"You sue as vainly for others as you would do for yourself."

"Then all grace is hopeless?" The Landgrave vouchsafed no answer, but
made signals to Von Aremberg.

"Gentlemen, cavaliers, citizens of Klosterheim, you that are not
involved in the Landgrave's suspicions," said The Masque, appealingly,
"will you not join me in the intercession I offer for these young
friends, who are else to perish unjudged, by blank edict of martial

The citizens of Klosterheim interceded with ineffectual supplication.
"Gentlemen, you waste your breath; they die without reprieve," replied
the Landgrave.

"Will your highness spare none?"

"Not one," he exclaimed, angrily,--"not the youngest amongst them."

"Nor grant a day's respite to him who may appear, on examination, the
least criminal of the whole?"

"A day's respite? No, nor half an hour's. Headsman, be ready. Soldiers,
lay the heads of the prisoners ready for the axe."

"Detested prince, now look to your own!"

With a succession of passions flying over his face,--rage, disdain,
suspicion,--the Landgrave looked round upon The Masque as he uttered
these words, and, with pallid, ghastly consternation, beheld him raise
to his lips a hunting-horn which depended from his neck. He blew a
blast, which was immediately answered from within. Silence as of the
grave ensued. All eyes were turned in the direction of the answer.
Expectation was at its summit; and in less than a minute solemnly
uprose the curtain, which divided the chapel from the ante-chapel,
revealing a scene that smote many hearts with awe, and the consciences
of some with as much horror as if it had really been that final
tribunal which numbers believed The Masque to have denounced.


The great chapel of St. Agnes, the immemorial hall of coronation for
the Landgraves of X----, was capable of containing with ease from seven
to eight thousand spectators. Nearly that number was now collected in
the galleries, which, on the recurrence of that great occasion, or of a
royal marriage, were usually assigned to the spectators. These were all
equipped in burnished arms, the very _élite_ of the imperial army.
Resistance was hopeless; in a single moment the Landgrave saw himself
dispossessed of all his hopes by an overwhelming force; the advanced
guard, in fact, of the victorious imperialists, now fresh from

On the marble area of the chapel, level with their own position, were
arranged "a brilliant staff of officers; and, a little in advance of
them, so as almost to reach the ante-chapel, stood the imperial legate
or ambassador. This nobleman advanced to the crowd of Klosterheimers,
and spoke thus:

"Citizens of Klosterheim, I bring you from the emperor your true and
lawful Landgrave, Maximilian, son of your last beloved prince."

Both chapels resounded with acclamations; and the troops presented

"Show us our prince! let us pay him our homage!" echoed from every

"This is mere treason!" exclaimed the usurper. "The emperor invites
treason against his own throne, who undermines that of other princes.
The late Landgrave had no son; so much is known to you all."

"None that was known to his murderer," replied The Masque, "else had he
met no better fate than his unhappy father."

"Murderer! And what art thou, blood-polluted Masque, with hands yet
reeking from the blood of all who refused to join the conspiracy
against your lawful prince?"

"Citizens of Klosterheim," said the legate, "first let the emperor's
friend be assoiled from all injurious thoughts. Those whom ye believe
to have been removed by murder are here to speak for themselves."

Upon this the whole line of those who had mysteriously disappeared from
Klosterheim presented themselves to the welcome of their astonished

"These," said the legate, "quitted Klosterheim, even by the same secret
passages which enabled us to enter it, and for the self-same purpose,--
to prepare the path for the restoration of the true heir, Maximilian
the Fourth, whom in this noble prince you behold, and whom may God long

Saying this, to the wonder of the whole assembly, he led forward The
Masque, whom nobody had yet suspected for more than an agent of the
true heir.

The Landgrave, meantime, thus suddenly denounced as a tyrant, usurper,
murderer, had stood aloof, and had given but a slight attention to the
latter words of the legate. A race of passions had traversed his
countenance, chasing each other in flying succession. But by a
prodigious effort he recalled himself to the scene before him; and,
striding up to the crowd, of which the legate was the central figure,
he raised his arm with a gesture of indignation, and protested
vehemently that the assassination of Maximilian's father had been
iniquitously charged upon himself.--"And yet," said he, "upon that one
gratuitous assumption have been built all the other foul suspicions
directed against my person."

"Pardon me, sir," replied the legate, "the evidences were such as
satisfied the emperor and his council; and he showed it by the
vigilance with which he watched over the Prince Maximilian, and the
anxiety with which he kept him from approaching your highness, until
his pretensions could be established by arms. But, if more direct
evidence were wanting, since yesterday we have had it in the dying
confession of the very agent employed to strike the fatal blow. That
man died last night, penitent and contrite, having fully unburdened his
conscience, at Waldenhausen. With evidence so overwhelming, the emperor
exacts no further sacrifice from your highness than that of retirement
from public life, to any one of your own castles in your patrimonial
principality of Oberhornstein.--But, now for a more pleasing duty.
Citizens of Klosterheim, welcome your young Landgrave in the emperor's
name: and to-morrow you shall welcome also your future Landgravine, the
lovely Countess Paulina, cousin to the emperor, my master, and cousin
also to your noble young Landgrave."

"No!" exclaimed the malignant usurper, "her you shall never see alive;
for that, be well assured, I have taken care."

"Vile, unworthy prince!" replied Maximilian, his eyes kindling with
passion, "know that your intentions, so worthy of a fiend, towards that
most innocent of ladies, have been confounded and brought to nothing by
your own gentle daughter, worthy of a far nobler father."

"If you speak of my directions for administering the torture,--a matter
in which I presume that I exercised no unusual privilege amongst German
sovereigns,--you are right. But it was not that of which I spoke."

"Of what else, then?--The Lady Paulina has escaped."

"True, to Falkenberg. But, doubtless, young Landgrave, you have heard
of such a thing as the intercepting of a fugitive prisoner; in such a
case, you know the punishment which martial law awards. The governor at
Falkenberg had his orders." These last significant words he uttered in
a tone of peculiar meaning. His eye sparkled with bright gleams of
malice and of savage vengeance, rioting in its completion.

"O, heart--heart!" exclaimed Maximilian, "can this be possible?"

The imperial legate and all present crowded around him to suggest such
consolation as they could. Some offered to ride off express to
Falkenberg; some argued that the Lady Paulina had been seen within the
last hour. But the hellish exulter in ruined happiness destroyed that
hope as soon as it dawned.

"Children!" said he, "foolish children! cherish not such chimeras. Me
you have destroyed, Landgrave, and the prospects of my house. Now
perish yourself.--Look there: is that the form of one who lives and

All present turned to the scaffold, in which direction he pointed, and
now first remarked, covered with a black pall, and brought hither
doubtless to aggravate the pangs of death to Maximilian, what seemed
but too certainly a female corpse. The stature, the fine swell of the
bust, the rich outline of the form, all pointed to the same conclusion;
and, in this recumbent attitude, it seemed but too clearly to present
the magnificent proportions of Paulina.

There was a dead silence. Who could endure to break it? Who make the
effort which was forever to fix the fate of Maximilian?

He himself could not. At last the deposed usurper, craving for the
consummation of his vengeance, himself strode forward; with one savage
grasp he tore away the pall, and below it lay the innocent features,
sleeping in her last tranquil slumber, of his own gentle-minded

* * * * *

No heart was found savage enough to exult; the sorrow even of such a
father was sacred. Death, and through his own orders, had struck the
only being whom he had ever loved; and the petrific mace of the fell
destroyer seemed to have smitten his own heart, and withered its hopes

Everybody comprehended the mistake in a moment. Paulina had lingered at
Waldenhausen under the protection of an imperial corps, which she had
met in her flight. The tyrant, who had heard of her escape, but
apprehended no necessity for such a step on the part of his daughter,
had issued sudden orders to the officer commanding the military post at
Falkenberg, to seize and shoot the female prisoner escaping from
confinement, without allowing any explanations whatsoever, on her
arrival at Falkenberg. This precaution he had adopted in part to
intercept any denunciation of the emperor's vengeance which Paulina
might address to the officer. As a rude soldier, accustomed to obey the
letter of his orders, this commandant had executed his commission; and
the gentle Adeline, who had naturally hastened to the protection of her
father's chateau, surrendered her breath meekly and with resignation to
what she believed a simple act of military violence; and this she did
before she could know a syllable of her father's guilt or his fall, and
without any the least reason for supposing him connected with the
occasion of her early death.

At this moment Paulina made her appearance unexpectedly, to reassure
the young Landgrave by her presence, and to weep over her young friend,
whom she had lost almost before she had come to know her. The scaffold,
the corpse, and the other images of sorrow, were then withdrawn; seven
thousand imperial troops presented arms to the youthful Landgrave and
the future Landgravine, the brilliant favorites of the emperor; the
immense area of St. Agnes resounded with the congratulations of
Klosterheim; and as the magnificent cortege moved off to the interior
of the _schloss_, the swell of the coronation anthem rising in
peals upon the ear from the choir of St. Agnes, and from the military
bands of the imperial troops, awoke the promise of happier days, and of
more equitable government, to the long-harassed inhabitants of

* * * * *

The Klosterheimers knew enough already, personally or by questions
easily answered in every quarter, to supply any links which were
wanting in the rapid explanations of the legate. Nevertheless, that
nothing might remain liable to misapprehension or cavil, a short
manifesto was this night circulated by the new government, from which
the following facts are abstracted:

The last rightful Landgrave, whilst yet a young man, had been
assassinated in the forest when hunting. A year or two before this
catastrophe he had contracted what, from the circumstances, was
presumed, at the time, to be a _morganatic_ or left-handed
marriage, with a lady of high birth, nearly connected with the imperial
house. The effect of such a marriage went to incapacitate the children
who might be born under it, male or female, from succeeding. On that
account, as well as because current report had represented her as
childless, the widow lady escaped all attempts from the assassin.
Meantime this lady, who was no other than Sister Madeline, had been
thus indebted for her safety to two rumors, which were in fact equally
false. She soon found means of convincing the emperor, who had been the
bosom friend of her princely husband, that her marriage was a perfect
one, and conferred the fullest rights of succession upon her infant son
Maximilian, whom at the earliest age, and with the utmost secrecy, she
had committed to the care of his imperial majesty. This powerful
guardian had in every way watched over the interests of the young
prince. But the Thirty Years' War had thrown all Germany into
distractions, which for a time thwarted the emperor, and favored the
views of the usurper. Latterly, also, another question had arisen on
the city and dependences of Klosterheim, as distinct from the
Landgraviate. These, it was now affirmed, were a female appanage, and
could only pass back to the Landgraves of X---- through a marriage with
the female inheretrix. To reconcile all claims, therefore, on finding
this bar in the way, the emperor had resolved to promote a marriage for
Maximilian with Paulina, who stood equally related to the imperial
house and to that of her lover. In this view he had despatched Paulina
to Klosterheim, with proper documents to support the claims of both
parties. Of these documents she had been robbed at Waldenhausen; and
the very letter which was designed to introduce Maximilian as "the
child and sole representative of the late murdered Landgrave," falling
in this surreptitious way into the usurper's hand, had naturally
misdirected his attacks to the person of Paulina.

For the rest, as regarded the mysterious movements of The Masque, these
were easily explained. Fear, and the exaggerations of fear, had done
one half the work to his hands, by preparing people to fall easy dupes
to the plans laid, and by increasing the romantic wonders of his
achievements. Coöperation, also, on the part of the very students and
others, who stood forward as the night-watch for detecting him, had
served The Masque no less powerfully. The appearances of deadly
struggles had been arranged artificially to countenance the plot and to
aid the terror. Finally, the secret passages which communicated between
the forest and the chapel of St. Agnes (passages of which many were
actually applied to that very use in the Thirty Years' War) had been
unreservedly placed at their disposal by the lady abbess, an early
friend of the unhappy Landgravine, who sympathized deeply with that
lady's unmerited sufferings.

One other explanation followed, communicated in a letter from
Maximilian to the legate; this related to the murder of the old
seneschal,--a matter in which the young prince took some blame to
himself, as having unintentionally drawn upon that excellent servant
his unhappy fate. "The seneschal," said the writer, "was the faithful
friend of my family, and knew the whole course of its misfortunes. He
continued his abode at the _schloss_, to serve my interest; and in
some measure I may fear that I drew upon him his fate. Traversing late
one evening a suite of rooms, which his assistance and my own
mysterious disguise laid open to my passage at all hours, I came
suddenly upon the prince's retirement. He pursued me, but with
hesitation. Some check I gave to his motions by halting before a
portrait of my unhappy father, and emphatically pointing his attention
to it. Conscience, I well knew, would supply a commentary to my act. I
produced the impression which I had anticipated, but not so strongly as
to stop his pursuit. My course necessarily drew him into the
seneschal's room. The old man was sleeping; and this accident threw
into the prince's hands a paper, which, I have reason to think, shed
some considerable light upon my own pretensions, and, in fact, first
made my enemy acquainted with my existence and my claims. Meantime, the
seneschal had secured the prince's vengeance upon himself. He was now
known as a faithful agent in my service. That fact signed his death-
warrant. There is a window in a gallery which commands the interior of
the seneschal's room. On the evening of the last _fête_,
waiting there for an opportunity of speaking securely with this
faithful servant, I heard a deep groan, and then another, and another;
I raised myself, and, with an ejaculation of horror, looked down upon
the murderer, then surveying his victim with hellish triumph. My loud
exclamation drew the murderer's eye upwards: under the pangs of an
agitated conscience, I have reason to think that he took me for my
unhappy father, who perished at my age, and is said to have resembled
me closely. Who that murderer was, I need not say more directly. He
fled with the terror of one who flies from an apparition. Taking a
lesson from this incident, on that same night, by the very same sudden
revelation of what passed, no doubt, for my father's countenance, aided
by my mysterious character, and the proof I had announced to him
immediately before my acquaintance with the secret of the seneschal's
murder, in this and no other way it was that I produced that powerful
impression upon the prince which terminated the festivities of that
evening, and which all Klosterheim witnessed. If not, it is for the
prince to explain in what other way I did or could affect him so

This explanation of the else unaccountable horror manifested by the ex-
Landgrave on the sudden exposure of The Masque's features, received a
remarkable confirmation from the confession of the miserable assassin
at Waldenhausen. This man's illness had been first brought on by the
sudden shock of a situation pretty nearly the same, acting on a
conscience more disturbed, and a more superstitious mind. In the very
act of attempting to assassinate or rob Maximilian, he had been
suddenly dragged by that prince into a dazzling light; and this
settling full upon features which too vividly recalled to the
murderer's recollection the last unhappy Landgrave, at the very same
period of blooming manhood, and in his own favorite hunting palace, not
far from which the murder had been perpetrated, naturally enough had
for a time unsettled the guilty man's understanding, and, terminating
in a nervous fever, had at length produced his penitential death.

A death, happily of the same character, soon overtook the deposed
Landgrave. He was laid by the side of his daughter, whose memory, as
much even as his own penitence, availed to gather round his final
resting-place the forgiving thoughts even of those who had suffered
most from his crimes. Klosterheim in the next age flourished greatly,
being one of those cities which benefited by the peace of Westphalia.
Many changes took place in consequence, greatly affecting the
architectural character of the town and its picturesque antiquities;
but, amidst all revolutions of this nature, the secret passages still
survive, and to this day are shown occasionally to strangers of rank
and consideration, by which, more than by any other of the advantages
at his disposal, The Masque of Klosterheim was enabled to replace
himself in his patrimonial rights, and at the same time to liberate
from a growing oppression his own compatriots and subjects.


The most ancient [Footnote: That is, amongst stories not wearing a
_mythologic_ character, such as those of Prometheus, Hercules, &c.
The era of Troy and its siege is doubtless by some centuries older than
its usual chronologic date of nine centuries before Christ. And
considering the mature age of Eteocles and Polynices, the two sons of
Œdipus, at the period of the "_Seven against Thebes_," which seven
were contemporary with the _fathers_ of the heroes engaged in the
Trojan war, it becomes necessary to add sixty or seventy years to the
Trojan date, in order to obtain that of Œdipus and the Sphinx. Out of
the Hebrew Scriptures, there is nothing purely historic so old as
this.] story in the Pagan records, older by two generations than the
story of Troy, is that of Œdipus and his mysterious fate, which wrapt
in ruin both himself and all his kindred. No story whatever continued
so long to impress the Greek sensibilities with religious awe, or was
felt by the great tragic poets to be so supremely fitted for scenical
representation. In one of its stages, this story is clothed with the
majesty of darkness; in another stage, it is radiant with burning
lights of female love, the most faithful and heroic, offering a
beautiful relief to the preternatural malice dividing the two sons of
Œdipus. This malice was so intense, that when the corpses of both
brothers were burned together on the same funeral pyre (as by one
tradition they were), the flames from each parted asunder, and refused
to mingle. This female love was so intense, that it survived the death
of its object, cared not for human praise or blame, and laughed at the
grave which waited in the rear for itself, yawning visibly for
immediate retribution. There are four separate movements through which
this impassioned tale devolves; all are of commanding interest; and all
wear a character of portentous solemnity, which fits them for
harmonizing with the dusky shadows of that deep antiquity into which
they ascend.

One only feature there is in the story, and this belongs to its second
stage (which is also its sublimest stage), where a pure taste is likely
to pause, and to revolt as from something not perfectly reconciled with
the general depth of the coloring. This lies in the Sphinx's riddle,
which, as hitherto explained, seems to us deplorably below the grandeur
of the occasion. Three thousand years, at the least, have passed away
since that riddle was propounded; and it seems odd enough that the
proper solution should not present itself till November of 1849. That
is true; it seems odd, but still it is possible, that we, in _anno
domini_ 1849, may see further through a mile-stone than Œdipus, the
king, in the year B. c. twelve or thirteen hundred. The long interval
between the enigma and its answer may remind the reader of an old story
in Joe Miller, where a traveller, apparently an inquisitive person, in
passing-through a toll-bar, said to the keeper, "How do you like your
eggs dressed?" Without waiting for the answer, he rode off; but twenty-
five years later, riding through the same bar, kept by the same man,
the traveller looked steadfastly at him, and received the monosyllabic
answer, "_Poached_." A long parenthesis is twenty-five years; and
we, gazing back over a far wider gulf of time, shall endeavor to look
hard at the Sphinx, and to convince that mysterious young lady,--if our
voice can reach her,--that she was too easily satisfied with the answer
given; that the true answer is yet to come; and that, in fact, Œdipus
shouted before he was out of the wood.

But, first of all, let us rehearse the circumstances of this old
Grecian story. For in a popular journal it is always a duty to assume
that perhaps three readers out of four may have had no opportunity, by
the course of their education, for making themselves acquainted with
classical legends. And in this present case, besides the
indispensableness of the story to the proper comprehension of our own
improved answer to the Sphinx, the story has a separate and independent
value of its own; for it illustrates a profound but obscure idea of
Pagan ages, which is connected with the elementary glimpses of man into
the abysses of his higher relations, and lurks mysteriously amongst
what Milton so finely calls "the dark foundations" of our human nature.
This notion it is hard to express in modern phrase, for we have no idea
exactly corresponding to it; but in Latin it was called _piacularity_.
The reader must understand upon our authority, _nostro periculo_, and
in defiance of all the false translations spread through books, that
the ancients (meaning the Greeks and Romans before the time of
Christianity) had no idea, not by the faintest vestige, of what in the
scriptural system is called _sin_. The Latin word _peccatum_, the Greek
word _amartia_, are translated continually by the word _sin_; but
neither one word nor the other has any such meaning in writers
belonging to the pure classical period. When baptized into new meaning
by the adoption of Christianity, these words, in common with many
others, transmigrated into new and philosophic functions. But
originally they tended towards no such acceptations, nor _could_ have
done so; seeing that the ancients had no avenue opened to them through
which the profound idea of _sin_ would have been even dimly
intelligible. Plato, four hundred years before Christ, or Cicero, more
than three hundred years later, was fully equal to the idea of _guilt_
through all its gamut; but no more equal to the idea of _sin_, than a
sagacious hound to the idea of gravitation, or of central forces. It is
the tremendous postulate upon which this idea reposes that constitutes
the initial moment of that revelation which is common to Judaism and to
Christianity. We have no intention of wandering into any discussion
upon this question. It will suffice for the service of the occasion if
we say that guilt, in all its modifications, implies only a defect or a
wound in the individual. Sin, on the other hand, the most mysterious,
and the most sorrowful of all ideas, implies a taint not in the
individual but in the race--_that_ is the distinction; or a taint
in the individual, not through any local disease of his own, but
through a scrofula equally diffused through the infinite family of man.
We are not speaking controversially, either as teachers of theology or
of philosophy; and we are careless of the particular construction by
which the reader interprets to himself this profound idea. What we
affirm is, that this idea was utterly and exquisitely inappreciable by
Pagan Greece and Rome; that various translations from Pindar,
[Footnote: And when we are speaking of this subject, it may be proper
to mention (as the very extreme anachronism which the case admits of)
that Mr. Archdeacon W. has absolutely introduced the idea of sin into
the "Iliad;" and, in a regular octavo volume, has represented it as the
key to the whole movement of the fable. It was once made a reproach to
Southey that his Don Roderick spoke, in his penitential moods, a
language too much resembling that of Methodism; yet, after all, that
prince was a Christian, and a Christian amongst Mussulmans. But what
are we to think of Achilles and Patroclus, when described as being (or
_not_ being) "under convictions of sin"?] from Aristophanes, and
from the Greek tragedians, embodying at intervals this word _sin_,
are more extravagant than would be the word _category_ introduced
into the harangue of an Indian sachem amongst the Cherokees; and
finally that the very nearest approach to the abysmal idea which we
Christians attach to the word sin--(an approach, but to that which
never can be touched--a writing as of palmistry upon each man's hand,
but a writing which "no man can read")--lies in the Pagan idea of
_piacularity_; which is an idea thus far like hereditary sin, that
it expresses an evil to which the party affected has not consciously
concurred; which is thus far _not_ like hereditary sin, that it
expresses an evil personal to the individual, and not extending itself
to the race.

This was the evil exemplified in Œdipus. He was loaded with an
insupportable burthen of pariah participation in pollution and misery,
to which his will had never consented. He seemed to have committed the
most atrocious crimes; he was a murderer, he was a parricide, he was
doubly incestuous, and yet how? In the case where he might be thought a
murderer, he had stood upon his self-defence, not benefiting by any
superior resources, but, on the contrary, fighting as one man against
three, and under the provocation of insufferable insolence. Had he been
a parricide? What matter, as regarded the moral guilt, if his father
(and by the fault of that father) were utterly unknown to him?
Incestuous had he been? but how, if the very oracles of fate, as
expounded by events and by mysterious creatures such as the Sphinx, had
stranded him, like a ship left by the tide, upon this dark unknown
shore of a criminality unsuspected by himself? All these treasons
against the sanctities of nature had Œdipus committed; and yet was this
Œdipus a thoroughly good man, no more dreaming of the horrors in which
he was entangled, than the eye at noonday in midsummer is conscious of
the stars that lie far behind the daylight. Let us review rapidly the
incidents of his life.

Laius, King of Thebes, the descendant of Labdacus, and representing the
illustrious house of the Labdacidae, about the time when his wife,
Jocasta, promised to present him with a child, had learned from various
prophetic voices that this unborn child was destined to be his
murderer. It is singular that in all such cases, which are many, spread
through classical literature, the parties menaced by fate believe the
menace; else why do they seek to evade it? and yet believe it not; else
why do they fancy themselves able to evade it? This fatal child, who
was the Œdipus of tragedy, being at length born, Laius committed the
infant to a slave, with orders to expose it on Mount Cithæron. This was
done; the infant was suspended, by thongs running through the fleshy
parts of his feet, to the branches of a tree, and he was supposed to
have perished by wild beasts. But a shepherd, who found him in this
perishing state, pitied his helplessness, and carried him to his master
and mistress, King and Queen of Corinth, who adopted and educated him
as their own child. That he was _not_ their own child, and that in
fact he was a foundling of unknown parentage, Œdipus was not slow of
finding from the insults of his schoolfellows; and at length, with the
determination of learning his origin and his fate, being now a full-
grown young man, he strode off from Corinth to Delphi. The oracle at
Delphi, being as usual in collusion with his evil destiny, sent him off
to seek his parents at Thebes. On his journey thither, he met, in a
narrow part of the road, a chariot proceeding in the counter direction
from Thebes to Delphi. The charioteer, relying upon the grandeur of his
master, insolently ordered the young stranger to clear the road; upon
which, under the impulse of his youthful blood, Œdipus slew him on the
spot. The haughty grandee who occupied the chariot rose up in fury to
avenge this outrage, fought with the young stranger, and was himself
killed. One attendant upon the chariot remained; but he, warned by the
fate of his master and his fellow-servant, withdrew quietly into the
forest that skirted the road, revealing no word of what had happened,
but reserved, by the dark destiny of Œdipus, to that evil day on which
_his_ evidence, concurring with other circumstantial exposures,
should convict the young Corinthian emigrant of parricide. For the
present, Œdipus viewed himself as no criminal, but much rather as an
injured man, who had simply used his natural powers of self-defence
against an insolent aggressor. This aggressor, as the reader will
suppose, was Laius. The throne therefore was empty, on the arrival of
Œdipus in Thebes; the king's death was known, but not the mode of it;
and that Œdipus was the murderer could not reasonably be suspected
either by the people of Thebes, or by Œdipus himself. The whole affair
would have had no interest for the young stranger; but, through the
accident of a public calamity then desolating the land, a mysterious
monster, called the Sphinx, half woman and half lion, was at that time
on the coast of Boeotia, and levying a daily tribute of human lives
from the Boeotian territory. This tribute, it was understood, would
continue to be levied from the territories attached to Thebes, until a
riddle proposed by the monster should have been satisfactorily solved.
By way of encouragement to all who might feel prompted to undertake so
dangerous an adventure, the authorities of Thebes offered the throne
and the hand of the widowed Jocasta as the prize of success; and
Œdipus, either on public or on selfish motives, entered the lists as a

The riddle proposed by the Sphinx ran in these terms: "What creature is
that which moves on four feet in the morning, on two feet at noonday,
and on three towards the going down of the sun?" Œdipus, after some
consideration, answered that the creature was MAN, who creeps on the
ground with hands and feet when an infant, walks upright in the vigor
of manhood, and leans upon a staff in old age. Immediately the dreadful
Sphinx confessed the truth of his solution by throwing herself headlong
from a point of rock into the sea; her power being overthrown as soon
as her secret had been detected. Thus was the Sphinx destroyed; and,
according to the promise of the proclamation, for this great service to
the state Œdipus was immediately recompensed. He was saluted King of
Thebes, and married to the royal widow Jocasta. In this way it
happened, but without suspicion either in himself or others, pointing
to the truth, that Œdipus had slain his father, had ascended his
father's throne, and had married his own mother.

Through a course of years all these dreadful events lay hushed in
darkness; but at length a pestilence arose, and an embassy was
despatched to Delphi, in order to ascertain the cause of the heavenly
wrath, and the proper means of propitiating that wrath. The embassy
returned to Thebes armed with a knowledge of the fatal secrets
connected with Œdipus, but under some restraints of prudence in making
a publication of what so dreadfully affected the most powerful
personage in the state. Perhaps, in the whole history of human art as
applied to the evolution of a poetic fable, there is nothing more
exquisite than the management of this crisis by Sophocles. A natural
discovery, first of all, connects Œdipus with the death of Laius. That
discovery comes upon him with some surprise, but with no shock of fear
or remorse. That he had killed a man of rank in a sudden quarrel, he
had always known; that this man was now discovered to be Laius, added
nothing to the reasons for regret. The affair remained as it was. It
was simply a case of personal strife on the high road, and one which
had really grown out of aristocratic violence in the adverse party.
Œdipus had asserted his own rights and dignity only as all brave men
would have done in an age that knew nothing of civic police.

It was true that this first discovery--the identification of himself as
the slayer of Laius--drew after it two others, namely, that it was the
throne of his victim on which he had seated himself, and that it was
_his_ widow whom he had married. But these were no offences; and,
on the contrary, they were distinctions won at great risk to himself,
and by a great service to the country. Suddenly, however, the
reappearance and disclosures of the shepherd who had saved his life
during infancy in one moment threw a dazzling but funereal light upon
the previous discoveries that else had seemed so trivial. In an instant
everything was read in another sense. The death of Laius, the marriage
with his widow, the appropriation of his throne, all towered into
colossal crimes, illimitable, and opening no avenues to atonement.
Œdipus, in the agonies of his horror, inflicts blindness upon himself;
Jocasta commits suicide; the two sons fall into fiery feuds for the
assertion of their separate claims on the throne, but previously unite
for the expulsion of Œdipus, as one who had become a curse to Thebes.
And thus the poor, heart-shattered king would have been turned out upon
the public roads, aged, blind, and a helpless vagrant, but for the
sublime piety of his two daughters, but especially of Antigone, the
elder. They share with their unhappy father the hardships and perils of
the road, and do not leave him until the moment of his mysterious
summons to some ineffable death in the woods of Colonus. The expulsion
of Polynices, the younger son, from Thebes; his return with a
confederate band of princes for the recovery of his rights; the death
of the two brothers in single combat; the public prohibition of funeral
rights to Polynices, as one who had levied war against his native land;
and the final reappearance of Antigone, who defies the law, and secures
a grave to her brother at the certain price of a grave to herself--
these are the sequels and arrears of the family overthrow accomplished
through the dark destiny of Œdipus.

And now, having reviewed the incidents of the story, in what respect is
it that we object to the solution of the Sphinx's riddle? We do not
object to it as _a_ solution of the riddle, and the only one
possible at the moment; but what we contend is, that it is not
_the_ solution. All great prophecies, all great mysteries, are
likely to involve double, triple, or even quadruple interpretations--
each rising in dignity, each cryptically involving another. Even
amongst natural agencies, precisely as they rise in grandeur, they
multiply their final purposes. Rivers and seas, for instance, are
useful, not merely as means of separating nations from each other, but
also as means of uniting them; not merely as baths and for all purposes
of washing and cleansing, but also as reservoirs of fish, as high-roads
for the conveyance of commodities, as permanent sources of agricultural
fertility, &c. In like manner, a mystery of any sort, having a public
reference, may be presumed to couch within it a secondary and a
profounder interpretation. The reader may think that the Sphinx ought
to have understood her own riddle best; and that, if _she_ were
satisfied with the answer of Œdipus, it must be impertinent in us at
this time of day to censure it. To censure, indeed, is more than we
propose. The solution of Œdipus was a true one; and it was all that he
_could_ have given in that early period of his life. But, perhaps,
at the moment of his death amongst the gloomy thickets of Attica, he
might have been able to suggest another and a better. If not, then we
have the satisfaction of thinking ourselves somewhat less dense than
Œdipus; for, in our opinion, the full and _final_ answer to the
Sphinx's riddle lay in the word ŒDIPUS. Œdipus himself it was that
fulfilled the conditions of the enigma. He it was, in the most pathetic
sense, that went upon four feet when an infant; for the general
condition of helplessness attached to all mankind in the period of
infancy, and which is expressed symbolically by this image of creeping,
applied to Œdipus in a far more significant manner, as one abandoned by
all his natural protectors, thrown upon the chances of a wilderness,
and upon the mercies of a slave. The allusion to this general
helplessness had, besides, a special propriety in the case of Œdipus,
who drew his very name (_Swollen-foot_) from the injury done to
his infant feet. He, again, it was that, in a more emphatic sense than
usual, asserted that majestic self-sufficientness and independence of
all alien aid, which is typified by the act of walking upright at
noonday upon his own natural basis. Throwing off all the power and
splendor borrowed from his royal protectors at Corinth, trusting
exclusively to his native powers as a man, he had fought his way
through insult to the presence of the dreadful Sphinx; her he had
confounded and vanquished; he had leaped into a throne,--the throne of
him who had insulted him,--without other resources than such as he drew
from himself, and he had, in the same way, obtained a royal bride. With
good right, therefore, he was foreshadowed in the riddle as one who
walked upright by his own masculine vigor, and relied upon no gifts but
those of nature. Lastly, by a sad but a pitying image, Œdipus is
described as supporting himself at nightfall on three feet; for Œdipus
it was that by his cruel sons would have been rejected from Thebes,


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