THE MIRROR OF LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.
VOL. 13, No. 373.] SUPPLEMENTARY NUMBER. [PRICE 2d.
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ANNE OF GEIERSTEIN, or THE MAIDEN OF THE MIST
A NOVEL. BY SIR WALTER SCOTT, BART.
The author of this delightful novel, by the fertility of his genius, has almost exhausted the rhetoric of admiration, and even the vocabulary of criticism. But we still hail his appearance with heartfelt interest, if not with the enthusiasm and rapture with which we were wont to speak of his earlier productions. The incognito of their authorship is removed, but with it none of their genuine fame; and, like few works of the same class, their popularity bids fair to outlive hundreds of matter-of-fact works, whose realities might have been expected to ensure them a more durable character. It would be idle, at this time of day, to go over the ground upon which the Waverley Novels will take their stand among our national literature: they are not merely pictures of fact and fancy blended by a masterly hand, but beyond this merit, they abound with so much knowledge of the human heart and the mastery of its passions, as to render them interesting to every reader beyond Robinson Crusoe; and above all, the free, conversational style in which this knowledge is imparted, is one of their greatest attractions. The author does not account for effects by any tedious appeal to our judgment, but he strikes at once at our feelings and common sense, and we become, as it were, identified with the dictates and impulses of his heroes. This merit belongs to book-effect, as situations belong to stage-effect; the endings of his chapters are like good exits—we are sure to be curious as to the following page or scene.
But we are trifling, like a subordinate who stays behind to say a silly thing in a farce. Having overrun Scotland, England, France, Palestine, and Germany, Sir Walter, in the work before us, introduces us to some of the most stirring times of Swiss story. Upon this simple intimation, the reader will anticipate all the fascinations of picturesque scenery and eloquent description—so characteristic of every volume of the Waverley Novels, and in this expectation, he will not be disappointed. The latter charms are constant in nothing but perpetual change; and the sublimities of Switzerland will excite admiration and awe, when the labours of man have crumbled to ruin, and all his proud glories passed away in the dream of time.
The novel opens in the year 1474, when Helvetia, after her heroic struggles for independence, began to be recognised by the neighbouring countries as a free state. At this date, its inhabitants "retained, in a great measure, the wisdom, moderation, and simplicity of their ancient manners; so much so, that those who were entrusted with the command of the troops of the Republic in battle, were wont to resume the shepherd's staff, when they laid down the truncheon, and, like the Roman Dictators, to retire to complete equality with their fellow citizens, from the eminence to which their talents, and the call of their country had raised them."
The first chapter introduces us to two travellers and their guide, who lose their way in the mountainous passes of the Alps, from Lucerne to Bale. The travellers are Englishmen, give themselves out as merchants, and assume the name of Philipson, the Christian name of the younger, who is the hero of the novel, being Arthur. They are overtaken by a storm, and fall into perils, a scene of which we have already given at page 313, of the MIRROR. They are at length rescued, by a party of Swiss from the neighbourhood of the old castle of Geierstein, or Rock of the Vulture. This party turns out to consist of Arnold Biederman, the Landamman, or Chief Magistrate of the Canton of Unterwalden, and his sons, who reside upon a farm among the mountains. Along with them comes another, who is mainly instrumental in saving the life of Arthur, and this is Anne of Geierstein, the Landamman's niece, a mountain maiden, but of noble birth, the daughter of one of the best families in Switzerland, and combining all the delicacy of a woman with all the heroic spirit of a man. Her portrait will be found at page 344, of the MIRROR.
The travellers spend some days at the Landamman's house. Arthur becomes intimately acquainted with the sons of Arnold Biederman, joins with them in their athletic sports, and gains no small reputation for his activity and skill. A cousin of these young men is also introduced, by name, Rudolph, of Donnerhugel, a youth of ambitious temperament, and withal a passionate admirer of Anne of Geierstein. Arthur and he, of course, are not disposed to regard each other with much complacency, and at the commencement of their acquaintance a challenge is exchanged between them; the combat is extremely well described:
The sun was just about to kiss the top of the most gigantic of that race of Titans, though the long shadows still lay on the rough grass, which crisped under the young man's feet with a strong intimation of frost. But Arthur looked not round on the landscape however lovely, which lay waiting one flash from the orb of day to start into brilliant existence. He drew the belt of his trusty sword which he was in the act of fastening when he left the house, and ere he had secured the buckle, he was many paces on his way towards the place where he was to use it.
Having hastily traversed the fields and groves which separated the Landamman's residence from the old castle of Geierstein, he entered the court-yard from the side where the castle overlooked the land; and nearly in the same instant his almost gigantic antagonist, who looked yet more tall and burly by the pale morning light than he had seemed the preceding evening, appeared ascending from the precarious bridge beside the torrent, having reached Geierstein by a different route from that pursued by the Englishman.
The young champion of Berne had hanging along his back one of those huge two-handed swords, the blade of which measured five feet, and which were wielded with both hands. These were almost universally used by the Swiss; for, besides the impression which such weapons were calculated to make upon the array of the German men-at-arms, whose armour was impenetrable to lighter swords, they were also well calculated to defend mountain passes, where the great bodily strength and agility of those who bore them, enabled the combatants, in spite of their weight and length, to use them with much address and effect. One of these gigantic swords hung around Rudolf Donnerhugel's neck, the point rattling against his heel, and the handle extending itself over his left shoulder considerably above his head. He carried another in his hand.
"Thou art punctual," he called out to Arthur Philipson, in a voice which was distinctly heard above the roar of the waterfall, which it seemed to rival in sullen force. "But I judged thou wouldst come without a two-handed sword. There is my kinsman Ernest's," he said, throwing on the ground the weapon which he carried, with the hilt towards the young Englishman. "Look, stranger, that thou disgrace it not, for my kinsman will never forgive me if thou dost. Or thou mayst have mine if thou likest it better."
The Englishman looked at the weapon, with some surprise, to the use of which he was totally unaccustomed.
"The challenger," he said, "in all countries where honour is known, accepts the arms of the challenged."
"He who fights on a Swiss mountain, fights with a Swiss brand," answered Rudolf. "Think you our hands are made to handle penknives?"
"Nor are ours made to wield scythes," said Arthur; and muttered betwixt his teeth, as he looked at the sword, which the Swiss continued to offer him—"Usum non habeo, I have not proved the weapon."
"Do you repent the bargain you have made?" said the Swiss; "if so, cry craven, and return in safety. Speak plainly, instead of prattling Latin like a clerk or a shaven monk."
"No, proud man," replied the Englishman, "I ask thee no forbearance. I thought but of a combat between a shepherd and a giant, in which God gave the victory to him who had worse odds of weapons than falls to my lot to-day. I will fight as I stand; my own good sword shall serve my need now, as it has done before."
"Content!—But blame not me who offered thee equality of weapons," said the mountaineer. "And now hear me. This is a fight for life or death—yon waterfall sounds the alarum for our conflict.—Yes, old bellower," he continued, looking back, "it is long since thou hast heard the noise of battle;—and look at it ere we begin, stranger, for if you fall, I will commit your body to its waters."
"And if thou fallest, proud Swiss," answered Arthur, "as well I trust thy presumption leads to destruction, I will have thee buried in the church at Einsiedlen, where the priests shall sing masses for thy soul—thy two-handed sword shall be displayed above the grave, and a scroll shall tell the passenger, Here lies a bear's cub of Berne, slain by Arthur the Englishman."
"The stone is not in Switzerland, rocky as it is," said Rudolf, scornfully, "that shall bear that inscription. Prepare thyself for battle."
The Englishman cast a calm and deliberate glance around the scene of action—a courtyard, partly open, partly encumbered with ruins, in less and larger masses.
Thinking thus, and imprinting on his mind as much as the time would permit, every circumstance of the locality around him which promised advantage in the combat, and taking his station in the middle of the courtyard where the ground was entirely clear, he flung his cloak from him, and drew his sword.
Rudolf had at first believed that his foreign antagonist was an effeminate youth, who would be swept from before him at the first flourish of his tremendous weapon. But the firm and watchful attitude assumed by the young man, reminded the Swiss of the deficiency of his own unwieldy implement, and made him determine to avoid any precipitation which might give advantage to an enemy who seemed both daring and vigilant. He unsheathed his huge sword, by drawing it over the left shoulder, an operation which required some little time, and might have offered formidable advantage to his antagonist, had Arthur's sense of honour permitted him to begin the attack ere it was completed. The Englishman remained firm, however, until the Swiss, displaying his bright brand to the morning sun, made three or four flourishes as if to prove its weight, and the facility with which he wielded it—then stood firm within sword-stroke of his adversary, grasping his weapon with both hands, and advancing it a little before his body, with the blade pointed straight upwards. The Englishman, on the contrary, carried his sword in one hand, holding it across his face in a horizontal position, so as to be at once ready to strike, thrust, or parry.
"Strike, Englishman!" said the Switzer, after they had confronted each other in this manner for about a minute.
"The longest sword should strike first," said Arthur; and the words had not left his mouth when the Swiss sword rose, and descended with a rapidity which, the weight and size of the weapon considered, appeared portentous. No parry, however dexterously interposed, could have baffled the ruinous descent of that dreadful weapon, by which the champion of Berne had hoped at once to begin the battle and end it. But young Philipson had not over-estimated the justice of his own eye, or the activity of his limbs. Ere the blade descended, a sudden spring to one side carried him from beneath its heavy sway, and before the Swiss could again raise his sword aloft, he received a wound, though a slight one, upon the left arm. Irritated at the failure and at the wound, the Switzer heaved up his sword once more, and availing himself of a strength corresponding to his size, he discharged towards his adversary a succession of blows, downright, athwart, horizontal, and from left to right, with such surprising strength and velocity, that it required all the address of the young Englishman, by parrying, shifting, eluding, or retreating, to evade a storm, of which every individual blow seemed sufficient to cleave a solid rock. The Englishman was compelled to give ground, now backwards, now swerving to the one side or the other, now availing himself of the fragments of the ruins, but watching all the while, with the utmost composure, the moment when the strength of his enraged enemy might become somewhat exhausted, or when by some improvident or furious blow he might again lay himself open to a close attack. The latter of these advantages had nearly occurred, for in the middle of his headlong charge, the Switzer stumbled over a large stone concealed among the long grass, and ere he could recover himself, received a severe blow across the head from his antagonist. It lighted upon his bonnet, the lining of which enclosed a small steel cap, so that he escaped unwounded, and springing up, renewed the battle with unabated fury, though it seemed to the young Englishman with breath somewhat short, and blows dealt with more caution.
They were still contending with equal fortune, when a stern voice, rising over the clash of swords, as well as the roar of waters, called out in a commanding tone, "On your lives, forbear!"
The two combatants sunk the points of their swords, not very sorry perhaps for the interruption of a strife which must otherwise have had a deadly termination. They looked round, and the Landamman stood before them, with anger frowning on his broad and expressive forehead.
[The Landamman was indebted for his knowledge of the rencontre taking place, to the watchful care of Anne of Geierstein.
The scene is now speedily changed. The Swiss Cantons, provoked by some encroachments on their liberties made by Charles the Bold, of Burgundy, and one of his ministers, Archibald Von Hagenbach, to whom the duke had intrusted the government of the frontier town of La Ferette, determine on sending a deputation to the court of Charles, either to obtain reparation for the injuries received, or to declare war in the name of the Helvetian Cantons. This deputation consists of Arnold Biederman, Rudolf Donnerhugel, and three others. As the two Englishmen are also on their way to the court of Charles, they agree to travel with the deputation; and as Count Geierstein, Anne's father and Arnold's brother, who has attached himself to the Duke of Burgundy, is anxious for his daughter's return to the paternal roof, she also proceeds along with the rest, together with a female attendant. An escort of 20 or 30 young Swiss volunteers complete the cavalcade.
The remainder of the first, and the whole of the second volume, is occupied with an exceedingly interesting and varied account of the different adventures of the deputation, or its individual members, in their progress. Among these are an account of a night-watch in an old castle in the neighbourhood of Bale, including the mysterious moonlight appearance of Anne of Geierstein to Arthur, and Donnerhugel's wild and wonderful narrative of the supernatural circumstances supposed to be connected with her family; the last of which will be found at page 324, of the MIRROR.
At the opening of the second volume, the two Englishmen leave the deputation for La Ferette, where, on their arrival, we are made acquainted with the ferocious governor, Archibald Von Hagenbach, Kilian, his fac-totum, and Steinernherz, his executioner, who has already cut off the heads of eight men, each at a single blow, and is to receive a patent of nobility, as soon as he has performed the same office for the ninth. The English travellers fall into the hands of these notable persons, and are saved from death, after a succession of the narrowest escapes, owing to a general rising of the town, and the death of the cruel governor. In these dangers, both father and son are saved by the apparently supernatural interference of Anne.
The elder Philipson proceeds on his journey, and at an inn in Alsace, meets with the following extraordinary adventure, the whole of which is wrought up with great effect:]
He had been in bed about an hour, and sleep had not yet approached his couch, when he felt that the pallet on which he lay was sinking below him, and that he was in the act of descending along with it he knew not whither. The sound of ropes and pullies was also indistinctly heard, though every caution had been taken to make them run smooth; and the traveller, by feeling around him, became sensible that he and the bed on which he lay had been spread upon a large trapdoor, which was capable of being let down into the vaults, or apartments beneath.
Philipson felt fear in circumstances so well qualified to produce it; for how could he hope a safe termination to an adventure which had begun so strangely? But his apprehensions were those of a brave, ready-witted man, who, even in the extremity of danger, which appeared to surround him, preserved his presence of mind. His descent seemed to be cautiously managed, and he held himself in readiness to start to his feet and defend himself, as soon as he should be once more upon firm ground. Although somewhat advanced in years, he was a man of great personal vigour and activity, and unless taken at advantage, which no doubt was at present much to be apprehended, he was likely to make a formidable defence. His plan of resistance, however, had been anticipated. He no sooner reached the bottom of the vault, down to which he was lowered, than two men, who had been waiting there till the operation was completed, laid hands on him from either side, and forcibly preventing him from starting up as he intended, cast a rope over his arms, and effectually made him a prisoner. He was obliged, therefore, to remain passive and unresisting, and await the termination of this formidable adventure. Secured as he was, he could only turn his head from one side to the other; and it was with joy that he at length saw lights twinkle, but they appeared at a great distance from him.
From the irregular manner in which these scattered lights advanced, sometimes keeping a straight line, sometimes mixing and crossing each other, it might be inferred that the subterranean vault in which they appeared was of very considerable extent. Their number also increased; and as they collected more together, Philipson could perceive that the lights proceeded from many torches, borne by men muffled in black cloaks, like mourners at a funeral, or the Black Friars of St. Francis's Order, wearing their cowls drawn over their heads, so as to conceal their features. They appeared anxiously engaged in measuring off a portion of the apartment; and, while occupied in that employment, they sung, in the ancient German language, rhymes more rude than Philipson could well understand, but which may be imitated thus:—
Measurers of good and evil, Bring the square, the line, the level,— Rear the altar, dig the trench, Blood both stone and ditch shall drench. Cubits six, from end to end, Must the fatal bench extend,—
Cubits six, from side to side, Judge and culprit must divide. On the east the Court assembles, On the west the Accused trembles— Answer, brethren, all and one, Is the ritual rightly done?
A deep chorus seemed to reply to the question. Many voices joined in it, as well of persons already in the subterranean vault, as of others who as yet remained without in various galleries and passages which communicated with it, and whom Philipson now presumed to be very numerous. The answer chanted run as follows:—
On life and soul, on blood and bone, One for all, and all for one, We warrant this is rightly done.
The original strain was then renewed in the same manner as before—
How wears the night?—Doth morning shine In early radiance on the Rhine? What music floats upon his tide? Do birds the tardy morning chide? Brethren, look out from hill and height, And answer true, how wears the night?
The answer was returned, though less loud than at first, and it seemed that those to whom the reply was given were at a much greater distance than before; yet the words were distinctly heard.
The night is old; on Rhine's broad breast Glance drowsy stars which long to rest. No beams are twinkling in the east. There is a voice upon the flood, The stern still call of blood for blood; 'Tis time we listen the behest.
The chorus replied with many additional voices—
Up, then up! When day's at rest, 'Tis time that such as we are watchers; Rise to judgment, brethren, rise! Vengeance knows not sleepy eyes, He and night are matchers.
The nature of the verses soon led Philipson to comprehend that he was in presence of the Initiated, or the Wise Wen; names which were applied to the celebrated judges of the Secret Tribunal, which continued at that period to subsist in Swabia, Franconia, and other districts of the east of Germany, which was called, perhaps from the frightful and frequent occurrence of executions by command of those invisible judges, the Red Land. Philipson had often heard that the seat of a Free Count, or chief of the Secret Tribunal, was secretly instituted even on the left bank of the Rhine, and that it maintained itself in Alsace, with the usual tenacity of those secret societies, though Duke Charles of Burgundy had expressed a desire to discover and to discourage its influence so far as was possible, without exposing himself to danger from the thousands of poniards which that mysterious tribunal could put in activity against his own life;—an awful means of defence, which for a long time rendered it extremely hazardous for the sovereigns of Germany, and even the emperors themselves, to put down by authority those singular associations.
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He lay devising the best means of obviating the present danger, while the persons whom he beheld glimmered before him, less like distinct and individual forms, than like the phantoms of a fever, or the phantasmagoria with which a disease of the optic nerves has been known to people a sick man's chamber. At length they assembled in the centre of the apartment where they had first appeared, and seemed to arrange themselves into form and order. A great number of black torches were successively lighted, and the scene became distinctly visible. In the centre of the hall, Philipson could now perceive one of the altars which are sometimes to be found in ancient subterranean chapels. But we must pause, in order briefly to describe, not the appearance only, but the nature and constitution, of this terrible court.
Behind the altar, which seemed to be the central point, on which all eyes were bent, there were placed in parallel lines two benches covered with black cloth. Each was occupied by a number of persons, who seemed assembled as judges; but those who held the foremost bench were fewer, and appeared of a rank superior to those who crowded the seat most remote from the altar. The first seemed to be all men of some consequence, priests high in their order, knights, or noblemen; and notwithstanding an appearance of equality which seemed to pervade this singular institution, much more weight was laid upon their opinion, or testimonies. They were called Free Knights, Counts, or whatever title they might bear, while the inferior class of the judges were only termed Free and worthy Burghers. For it must be observed, that the Vehmique Institution, which was the name that it commonly bore, although its power consisted in a wide system of espionage, and the tyrannical application of force which acted upon it, was yet, (so rude were the ideas of enforcing public law,) accounted to confer a privilege on the country in which it was received, and only freemen were allowed to experience its influence. Serfs and peasants could neither have a place among the Free Judges, their assessors, or assistants; for there was in this assembly even some idea of trying the culprit by his peers.
We must now return to the brave Englishman, who, though feeling all the danger he encountered from so tremendous a tribunal, maintained nevertheless a dignified and unaltered composure.
The meeting being assembled, a coil of ropes, and a naked sword, the well-known signals and emblems of Vehmique authority, were deposited on the altar; where the sword, from its being usually straight, with a cross handle, was considered as representing the blessed emblem of Christian Redemption, and the cord as indicating the right of criminal jurisdiction, and capital punishment. Then the President of the meeting, who occupied the centre seat on the foremost bench, arose, and laying his hand on the symbols, pronounced aloud the formula expressive of the duty of the tribunal, which all the inferior judges and assistants repeated after him, in deep and hollow murmurs.
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A member of the first-seated and highest class amongst the judges, muffled like the rest, but the tone of whose voice, and the stoop of whose person, announced him to be more advanced in years than the other two who had before spoken, arose with difficulty, and said with a trembling voice,—
"The child of the cord who is before us, has been convicted of folly and rashness in slandering our holy institution. But he spoke his folly to ears which had never heard our sacred laws—He has, therefore, been acquitted by irrefragable testimony, of combining for the impotent purpose of undermining our power, or stirring up princes against our holy association, for which death were too light a punishment—He hath been foolish, then, but not criminal; and as the holy laws of the Vehme bear no penalty save that of death, I propose for judgment that the child of the cord be restored without injury to society, and to the upper world, having been first duly admonished of his errors."
"Child of the cord," said the presiding judge, "thou hast heard thy sentence of acquittal. But, as thou desirest to sleep in an unbloody grave, let me warn thee, that the secrets of this night shall remain with thee, as a secret not to be communicated to father nor mother, to spouse, son, or daughter; neither to be spoken aloud nor whispered; to be told in words or written in characters; to be carved or to be painted, or to be otherwise communicated, either directly, or by parable and emblem. Obey this behest, and thy life is in surety. Let thy heart then rejoice within thee, but let it rejoice with trembling. Never more let thy vanity persuade thee that thou art secure from the servants and Judges of the Holy Vehme. Though a thousand leagues lie between thee and the Red Land, and thou speakest in that where our power is not known; though thou shouldst be sheltered by thy native island, and defended by thy kindred ocean, yet, even there, I warn thee to cross thyself when thou dost so much as think of the Holy and Invisible Tribunal, and to retain thy thoughts within thine own bosom; for the Avenger may be beside thee, and thou mayst die in thy folly. Go hence, be wise, and let the fear of the Holy Vehme never pass from before thine eyes."
At the concluding words, all the lights were at once extinguished with a hissing noise. Philipson felt once more the grasp of the hands of the officials, to which he resigned himself as the safest course. He was gently prostrated on his pallet-bed, and transported back to the place from which he had been advanced to the foot of the altar. The cordage was again applied to the platform, and Philipson was sensible that his couch rose with him for a few moments, until a slight shock apprised him that he was again brought to a level with the floor of the chamber in which he had been lodged on the preceding night, or rather morning.
[Meanwhile Arthur Philipson proceeds along the banks of the Rhine, and in his road falls in with a damsel, who proves to be Annette, the attendant of Anne of Geierstein. By the former he is conducted to the castle of Arnheim, where he has an interview with Anne, where she, in some measure, explains the cause of her late mysterious appearances, to convince him that the only witchery she possesses is that of female charms and kindness: we give her solution of the mystery:]
"Signior Arthur Philipson," she proceeded, "it is true my grandfather, by the mother's side, Baron Herman of Arnheim, was a man of great knowledge in abstruse sciences. He was also a presiding judge of a tribunal of which you must have heard, called the Holy Vehme. One night a stranger, closely pursued by the agents of that body, which (crossing herself) it is not safe even to name, arrived at the castle and craved his protection, and the rights of hospitality. My grandfather, finding the advance which the stranger had made to the rank of Adept, gave him his protection, and became bail to deliver him to answer the charge against him, for a year and a day, which delay he was, it seems, entitled to require on his behalf. They studied together during that term, and pushed their researches into the mysteries of nature, as far, in all probability, as men have the power of urging them. When the fatal day drew nigh on which the guest must part from his host, he asked permission to bring his daughter to the castle, that they might exchange a last farewell. She was introduced with much secrecy, and after some days, finding that her father's fate was so uncertain, the Baron, with the sage's consent, agreed to give the forlorn maiden refuge in his castle, hoping to obtain from her some additional information concerning the languages and the wisdom of the East. Danischemend, her father, left this castle, to go to render himself up to the Vehmegericht at Fulda. The result is unknown; perhaps he was saved by Baron Arnheim's testimony, perhaps he was given up to the steel and the cord. On such matters, who dare speak?
"The fair Persian became the wife of her guardian and protector. Amid many excellences, she had one peculiarity allied to imprudence. She availed herself of her foreign dress and manners, as well as of a beauty, which was said to have been marvellous, and an agility seldom equalled, to impose upon and terrify the ignorant German ladies, who, hearing her speak Persian and Arabic, were already disposed to consider her as over closely connected with unlawful arts. She was of a fanciful and imaginative disposition, and delighted to place herself in such colours and circumstances as might confirm their most ridiculous suspicions, which she considered only as matter of sport. There was no end to the stories to which she gave rise. Her first appearance in the castle was said to be highly picturesque, and to have inferred something of the marvellous. With the levity of a child, she had some childish passions, and while she encouraged the growth and circulation of the most extraordinary legends amongst some of the neighbourhood, she entered into disputes with persons of her own quality concerning rank and precedence, on which the ladies of Westphalia have at all times set great store. This cost her her life; for, on the morning of the christening of my poor mother, the Baroness of Arnheim died suddenly, even while a splendid company was assembled in the castle chapel to witness the ceremony. It was believed that she died of poison, administered by the Baroness Steinfeldt, with whom she was engaged in a bitter quarrel, entered into chiefly on behalf of her friend and companion, the Countess Waldstetten."
"And the opal gem—and the sprinkling with water?" said Arthur Philipson.
"Ah!" replied the young Baroness, "I see you desire to hear the real truth of my family history, of which you have yet learned only the romantic legend.—The sprinkling of water was necessarily had recourse to, on my ancestress's first swoon. As for the opal, I have heard that it did indeed grow pale, but only because it is said to be the nature of that noble gem, on the approach of poison. Some part of the quarrel with the Baroness Steinfeldt was about the right of the Persian maiden to wear this stone, which an ancestor of my family won in battle from the Soldan of Trebizond. All these things were confused in popular tradition, and the real facts turned into a fairy tale."
[Arthur leaves the castle, and towards the close of vol. ii. we have the following spirited scene:]
His steed stood ready, among about twenty others. Twelve of these were accoutred with war saddles, and frontlets of proof, being intended for the use of as many cavaliers, or troopers, retainers of the family of Arnheim, whom the seneschal's exertions had been able to collect on the spur of the occasion. Two palfreys, somewhat distinguished by their trappings, were designed for Anne of Geierstein and her favourite female attendant. The other menials, chiefly boys and women servants, had inferior horses. At a signal made, the troopers took their lances and stood by their steeds, till the females and menials were mounted and in order; they then sprang into their saddles and began to move forward, slowly and with great precaution. Schreckenwald (the steward and confident of Anne's father,) led the van, and kept Arthur Philipson close beside him. Anne and her attendant were in the centre of the little body, followed by the unwarlike train of servants, while two or three experienced cavaliers brought up the rear, with strict orders to guard against surprise.
On their being put into motion, the first thing which surprised Arthur was, that the horses' hoofs no longer sent forth the sharp and ringing sound arising from the collision of iron and flint, and as the morning light increased, he could perceive, that the fetlock and hoof of every steed, his own included, had been carefully wrapped around with a sufficient quantity of wool, to prevent the usual noise which accompanied their motions. It was a singular thing to behold the passage of the little body of cavalry down the rocky road which led from the castle, unattended with the noise which we are disposed to consider as inseparable from the motions of horse, the absence of which seemed to give a peculiar and almost an unearthly appearance to the cavalcade.
They passed in this manner the winding path which led from the castle of Arnheim to the adjacent village, which, as was the ancient feudal custom, lay so near the fortress, that its inhabitants, when summoned by their lord, could instantly repair for its defence. But it was at present occupied by very different inhabitants, the mutinous soldiers of the Rhingrave. When the party from Arnheim approached the entrance of the village, Schreckenwald made a signal to halt, which was instantly obeyed by his followers. He then rode forward in person to reconnoitre, accompanied by Arthur Philipson, both moving with the utmost steadiness and precaution. The deepest silence prevailed in the deserted streets. Here and there a soldier was seen, seemingly designed for a sentinel, but uniformly fast asleep.
"The swinish mutineers!" said Schreckenwald; "a fair night-watch they keep, and a beautiful morning's rouse would I treat them with, were not the point to protect yonder peevish wench.—Halt thou here, stranger, while I ride back and bring them on—there is no danger."
Schreckenwald left Arthur as he spoke, who, alone in the street of a village filled with banditti, though they were lulled into temporary insensibility, had no reason to consider his case as very comfortable. The chorus of a wassel song, which some reveller was trolling over in his sleep; or, in its turn, the growling of some village cur, seemed the signal for an hundred ruffians to start up around him. But in the space of two or three minutes, the noiseless cavalcade, headed by Ital Schreckenwald, again joined him, and followed their leader, observing the utmost precaution not to give an alarm. All went well till they reached the farther end of the village, where, although the Baaren-hauter who kept guard was as drunk as his companions on duty, a large shaggy dog which lay beside him was more vigilant. As the little troop approached, the animal sent forth a ferocious yell, loud enough to have broken the rest of the Seven Sleepers, and which effectually dispelled the slumbers of his master. The soldier snatched up his carabine and fired, he knew not well at what, or for what reason. The ball, however, struck Arthur's horse under him, and, as the animal fell, the sentinel rushed forward to kill or make prisoner the rider.
"Haste on, haste on, men of Arnheim! care for nothing but the young lady's safety," exclaimed the leader of the band.
"Stay, I command you;—aid the stranger, on your lives!"—said Anne, in a voice which, usually gentle and meek, she now made heard by those around her, like the note of a silver clarion. "I will not stir till he is rescued."
Schreckenwald had already spurred his horse for flight; but, perceiving Anne's reluctance to follow him, he dashed back, and seizing a horse, which, bridled and saddled, stood picqueted near him, he threw the reins to Arthur Philipson; and pushing his own horse, at the same time, betwixt the Englishman and the soldier, he forced the latter to quit the hold he had on his person. In an instant Philipson was again mounted, when, seizing a battle-axe which hung at the saddle-bow of his new steed, he struck down the staggering sentinel, who was endeavouring again to seize upon him. The whole troop then rode off at a gallop, for the alarm began to grow general in the village; some soldiers were seen coming out of their quarters, and others were beginning to get on horseback. Before Schreckenwald and his party had ridden a mile, they heard more than once the sound of bugles; and when they arrived upon the summit of an eminence commanding a view of the village, their leader, who, during the retreat, had placed himself in the rear of his company, now halted to reconnoitre the enemy they had left behind them. There was bustle and confusion in the street, but there did not appear to be any pursuit; so that Schreckenwald followed his route down the river, with speed and activity indeed, but with so much steadiness at the same time, as not to distress the slowest horse of his party.
[At length, father and son reach Strasburg, where they deliver their mission to Charles the Bold; and with vol. iii. commences quite a different cast of characters.
In the cathedral at Strasburg, Philipson and his son meet with Margaret of Anjou, and the interview between the exiled Queen, and as we should now call Philipson, the Earl of Oxford, and his son, is one of the most interesting scenes in the whole work; for there is a tinge of melancholy in fallen royalty which is always extremely touching:]
There was a pause. Four lamps, lighted before the shrine of St. George, cast a dim radiance on his armour and steed, represented as he was in the act of transfixing with his lance the prostrate dragon, whose outstretched wings and writhing neck were in part touched by their beams. The rest of the chapel was dimly illuminated by the autumnal sun, which could scarce find its way through the stained panes of the small lanceolated window, which was its only aperture to the open air. The light fell doubtful and gloomy, tinged with the various hues through which it passed, upon the stately, yet somewhat broken and dejected form of the female, and on those of the melancholy and anxious father, and his son, who, with all the eager interest of youth, suspected and anticipated extraordinary consequences from so singular an interview.
At length the female approached to the same side of the shrine with Arthur and his father, as if to be more distinctly heard, without being obliged to raise the solemn voice in which she had spoken.
"Do you here worship," she said, "the St. George of Burgundy, or the St. George of merry England, the flower of chivalry?"
"I serve," said Philipson, folding his hands humbly on his bosom, "the saint to whom this chapel is dedicated, and the deity with whom I hope for his holy intercession, whether here or in my native country."
"Ay—you," said the female, "even you can forget—you, even you, who have been numbered among the mirror of knighthood—can forget that you have worshipped in the royal fane of Windsor—that you have there bent a gartered knee, where kings and princes kneeled around you—you can forget this, and make your orisons at a foreign shrine, with a heart undisturbed with the thoughts of what you have been—praying, like some poor peasant, for bread and life during the day that passes over you."
"Lady" replied Philipson, "in my proudest hours, I was, before the being to whom I preferred my prayers, but as a worm in the dust—in his eyes I am now neither less nor more, degraded as I may be in the opinion of my fellow-reptiles."
"How canst thou think thus!" said the devotee; "and yet it is well with thee that thou canst. But what have thy losses been compared to mine!"
She put her hand to her brow, and seemed for a moment overpowered by agonizing recollections.
Arthur pressed to his father's side, and inquired, in a tone of interest which could not be repressed, "Father, who is this lady? Is it my mother?"
"No, my son," answered Philipson; "peace, for the sake of all you hold dear or holy!"
The singular female, however, heard both the question and answer, though expressed in a whisper.
"Yes," she said, "young man—I am—I should say I was—your mother; the mother, the protectress, of all that was noble in England—I am Margaret of Anjou."
Arthur sank on his knees before the dauntless widow of Henry the Sixth, who so long, and in such desperate circumstances, upheld, by unyielding courage and deep policy, the sinking cause of her feeble husband; and who, if she occasionally abused victory by cruelty and revenge, had made some atonement by the indomitable resolution with which she had supported the fiercest storms of adversity. Arthur had been bred in devoted adherence to the now dethroned line of Lancaster, of which his father was one of the most distinguished supporters; and his earliest deeds of arms, which though unfortunate, were neither obscure nor ignoble, had been done in their cause. With an enthusiasm belonging to his age and education, he in the same instant flung his bonnet on the pavement, and knelt at the feet of his ill-fated sovereign.
Margaret threw back the veil which concealed those noble and majestic features, which even yet—though rivers of tears had furrowed her cheek—though care, disappointment, domestic grief, and humbled pride, had quenched the fire of her eye, and wasted the smooth dignity of her forehead—even yet showed the remains of that beauty which once was held unequalled in Europe. The apathy with which a succession of misfortunes and disappointed hopes had chilled the feelings of the unfortunate princess, was for a moment melted by the sight of the fair youth's enthusiasm. She abandoned one hand to him, which he covered with tears and kisses, and with the other stroked with maternal tenderness his curled locks, as she endeavoured to raise him from the posture he had assumed.
[We are next introduced to the court of Charles the Bold, the political relations of France, England, and Burgundy, and especially to the part which the Earl of Oxford has taken in the wars of the roses. The introduction of the latter to the Duke affords an opportunity for a fine graphic description, of which we subjoin a specimen:]
The elder Philipson was shortly after summoned to the Duke's presence, introduced by a back entrance into the ducal pavilion, and into that part of it which, screened by close curtains and wooden barricades, formed Charles's own separate apartment. The plainness of the furniture, and the coarse apparatus of the Duke's toilette, formed a strong contrast to the appearance of the exterior of the pavilion; for Charles, whose character was, in that as in other things, far from consistent, exhibited in his own person daring war, an austerity, or rather coarseness of dress, and sometimes of manners also, which was more like the rudeness of a German lanzknecht, than the bearing of a prince of exalted rank; while, at the same time, he encouraged and enjoined a great splendour of expense and display amongst his vassals and courtiers, as if to be rudely attired, and to despise every restraint, even of ordinary ceremony, were a privilege of the sovereign alone. Yet when it pleased him to assume state in person and manners, none knew better than Charles of Burgundy how he ought to adorn and demean himself.
Upon his toilette appeared brushes and combs, which might have claimed dismissal as past the term of service, over-worn hats and doublets, dog-leashes, leather-belts, and other such paltry articles; amongst which, lay at random, as it seemed, the great diamond called Sanci—the three rubies termed the Three Brothers of Antwerp—another great diamond called the Lamp of Flanders, and other precious stones of scarcely inferior value and rarity. This extraordinary display somewhat resembled the character of the Duke himself, who mixed cruelty with justice, magnanimity with meanness of spirit, economy with extravagance, and liberality with avarice; being, in fact, consistent in nothing excepting in his obstinate determination to follow the opinion he had once formed, in every situation of things, and through all variety of risks.
[The dialogue, interest, and situations now become too involved for detached extracts, except in a few characteristic sketches. Among these is one of Rene, the minstrel monarch of Provence, and father of Margaret; and a beautiful autumnal picture of Provence:]
Born of royal parentage, and with high pretensions, Rene had at no period of his life been able to match his fortunes to his claims. Of the kingdoms to which he asserted right, nothing remained in his possession but the county of Provence itself, a fair and friendly principality, but diminished by the many claims which France had acquired upon portions of it by advances of money to supply the personal expenses of its master, and by other portions, which Burgundy, to whom Rene had been a prisoner, held in pledge for his ransom. In his youth he engaged in more than one military enterprise, in the hope of attaining some part of the territory of which he was styled sovereign. His courage is not impeached, but fortune did not smile on his military adventures; and he seems at last to have become sensible, that the power of admiring and celebrating warlike merit, is very different from possessing that quality. In fact, Rene was a prince of very moderate parts, endowed with a love of the fine arts, which he carried to extremity, and a degree of good-humour, which never permitted him to repine at fortune, but rendered its possessor happy, when a prince of keener feelings would have died of despair. This insouciant, light-tempered, gay, and thoughtless disposition, conducted Rene, free from all the passions which embitter life, and often shorten it, to a hale and mirthful old age. Even domestic losses, which often affect those who are proof against mere reverses of fortune, made no deep impression on the feelings of this cheerful old monarch. Most of his children had died young; Rene took it not to heart. His daughter Margaret's marriage with the powerful Henry of England was considered a connexion much above the fortunes of the King of the Troubadours. But in the issue, instead of Rene deriving any splendour from the match, he was involved in the misfortunes of his daughter, and repeatedly obliged to impoverish himself to supply her ransom. Perhaps in his private soul the old king did not think these losses so mollifying, as the necessity of receiving Margaret into his court and family. On fire when reflecting on the losses she had sustained, mourning over friends slain and kingdoms lost, the proudest and most passionate of princesses was ill suited to dwell with the gayest and best humoured of sovereigns, whose pursuits she contemned, and whose lightness of temper, for finding comfort in such trifles, she could not forgive. The discomfort attached to her presence, and vindictive recollections, embarrassed the good-humoured old monarch, though it was unable to drive him beyond his equanimity.
Another distress pressed him more sorely.—Yolande, a daughter of his first wife, Isabella, had succeeded to his claims upon the Duchy of Lorraine, and transmitted them to her son, Ferrand, Count of Vaudemont, a young man of courage and spirit, engaged at this time in the apparently desperate undertaking of making his title good against the Duke of Burgundy, who, with little right, but great power, was seizing upon and overrunning this rich Duchy, which he laid claim to as a male fief. And to conclude, while the aged king on one side beheld his dethroned daughter in hopeless despair, and on the other his disinherited grandson, in vain attempting to recover a part of their rights, he had the additional misfortune to know, that his nephew, Louis of France, and his cousin, the Duke of Burgundy, were secretly contending which should succeed him in that portion of Provence which he still continued to possess, and that it was only jealousy of each other which prevented his being despoiled of this last remnant of his territory. Yet amid all this distress, Rene feasted and received guests, danced, sang, composed poetry, used the pencil or brush with no small skill, devised and conducted festivals and processions, and studying to promote, as far as possible, the immediate mirth and good humour of his subjects, if he could not materially enlarge their more permanent prosperity, was never mentioned by them, excepting as Le bon Roi Rene, a distinction conferred on him down to the present day, and due to him certainly by the qualities of his heart if not by those of his head.
Whilst Arthur was receiving from his guide a full account of the peculiarities of King Rene, they entered the territories of that merry monarch. It was late in the autumn, and about the period when the south-eastern counties of France rather show to least advantage. The foliage of the olive tree is then decayed and withered, and as it predominates in the landscape, and resembles the scorched complexion of the soil itself, an ashen and arid hue is given to the whole. Still, however, there were scenes in the hilly and pastoral parts of the country, where the quality of the evergreens relieved the eye even in this dead season.
The appearance of the country, in general, had much in it that was peculiar. The travellers perceived at every turn some marks of the king's singular character. Provence, as the part of Gaul which first received Roman civilization, and as having been still longer the residence of the Grecian colony who founded Marseilles, is more full of the splendid relics of ancient architecture than any other country in Europe. Italy and Greece excepted. The good taste of King Rene had dictated some attempts to clear out and to restore these memorials of antiquity. Was there a triumphal arch, or an ancient temple—huts and hovels were cleared away from its vicinity, and means were used at least to retard the approach of ruin. Was there a marble fountain, which superstition had dedicated to some sequestered naiad—it was surrounded by olives, almond, and orange trees—its cistern was repaired, and taught once more to retain its crystal treasures. The huge amphitheatres, and gigantic colonnades, experienced the same anxious care, attesting that the noblest specimens of the fine arts found one admirer and preserver in King Rene, even during the course of those which are termed the dark and barbarous ages.
A change of manners could also be observed in passing from Burgundy and Lorraine, where society relished of German bluntness, into the pastoral country of Provence, where the influence of a fine climate and melodious language, joined to the pursuits of the romantic old monarch, with the universal taste for music and poetry, had introduced a civilization of manners, which approached to affectation. The shepherd literally marched abroad in the morning, piping his flocks forth to the pasture, with some love sonnet, the composition of an amorous troubadour; and his "fleecy care" seemed actually to be under the influence of his music, instead of being ungraciously insensible to its melody, as is the case in colder climates. Arthur observed, too, that the Provencal sheep, instead of being driven before the shepherd, regularly followed him, and did not disperse to feed, until the swain, by turning his face round to them, remaining stationary, and executing variations on the air which he was playing, seemed to remind them that it was proper to do so. While in motion, his huge dog, of a species which is trained to face the wolf, and who is respected by the sheep as their guardian, and not feared as their tyrant, followed his master with his ears pricked, like the chief critic and prime judge of the performance, at some tones of which he seldom failed to intimate disapprobation; while the flock, like the generality of an audience, followed in unanimous though silent applause. At the hour of noon, the shepherd had sometimes acquired an augmentation to his audience, in some comely matron or blooming maiden, with whom he had rendezvoused by such a fountain as we have described, and who listened to the husband's or lover's chalumeau, or mingled her voice with his in the duets, of which the songs of the troubadours have left so many examples. In the cool of the evening, the dance on the village green, or the concert before the hamlet door; the little repast of fruits, cheese, and bread, which the traveller was readily invited to share, gave new charms to the illusion, and seemed in earnest to point out Provence as the Arcadia of France.
But the greatest singularity was, in the eyes of Arthur, the total absence of armed men and soldiers in this peaceful country. In England, no man stirred without his long bow, sword, and buckler. In France, the hind wore armour even when he was betwixt the stilts of his plough. In Germany, you could not look along a mile of highway, but the eye was encountered by clouds of dust out of which were seen, by fits, waving feathers and flashing armour. Even in Switzerland, the peasant, if he had a journey to make, though but of a mile or two, cared not to travel without his halbert and two-handed sword. But in Provence all seemed quiet and peaceful, as if the music of the land had lulled to sleep all its wrathful passions. Now and then a mounted cavalier might pass them, the harp at whose saddle-bow, or carried by one of his attendants, attested the character of a troubadour, which was affected by men of all ranks; and then only a short sword on his left thigh, borne for show rather than use, was a necessary and appropriate part of his equipment.
[Next is a finely-wrought scene of Arthur's interview with Margaret in a monastery, "on the very top of Mount Saint Victoire."]
So much was Arthur awed by the scene before him, that he had almost forgotten, while gazing from the bartizan, the important business which had brought him to this place, when it was suddenly recalled by finding himself in the presence of Margaret of Anjou, who, not seeing him in the parlour of reception, had stept upon the balcony, that she might meet with him the sooner.
The Queen's dress was black, without any ornament except a gold coronal of an inch in breadth, restraining her long black tresses, of which advancing years, and misfortunes, had partly altered the hue. There was placed within the circlet a black plume with a red rose, the last of the season, which the good father who kept the garden had presented to her that morning, as the badge of her husband's house. Care, fatigue, and sorrow, seemed to dwell on her brow and her features. To another messenger, she would in all probability have administered a sharp rebuke, for not being alert in his duty to receive her as she entered; but Arthur's age and appearance corresponded with that of her loved and lost son. He was the son of a lady whom Margaret had loved with almost sisterly affection, and the presence of Arthur continued to excite in the dethroned queen the same feelings of maternal tenderness which they had awakened on their first meeting in the Cathedral of Strasburg. She raised him as he kneeled at her feet, spoke to him with much kindness, and encouraged him to detail at full length his father's message, and such other news as his brief residence at Dijon had made him acquainted with.
* * * * *
As she spoke, she sunk down as one who needs rest, on a stone-seat placed on the very verge of the balcony, regardless of the storm, which now began to rise with dreadful gusts of wind, the course of which being intermitted and altered by the crags round which they howled, it seemed as if in very deed Boreas, and Eurus, and Caurus, unchaining the winds from every quarter of heaven, were contending for mastery around the convent of our Lady of Victory. Amid this tumult, and amid billows of mist which concealed the bottom of the precipice, and masses of clouds which racked tearfully over their heads, the roar of the descending waters rather resembled the fall of cataracts than the rushing of torrents of rain. The seat on which Margaret had placed herself was in a considerable degree sheltered from the storm, but its eddies, varying in every direction, often tossed aloft her dishevelled hair; and we cannot describe the appearance of her noble and beautiful, yet ghastly and wasted features, agitated strongly by anxious hesitation, and conflicting thoughts, unless to those of our readers who have had the advantage of having seen our inimitable Siddons in such a character as this.
* * * * *
As Margaret spoke, she tore from her hair the sable feather and rose, which the tempest had detached from the circlet in which they were placed, and tossed them from the battlement with a gesture of wild energy. They were instantly whirled off in a bickering eddy of the agitated clouds, which swept the feather far distant into empty space, through which the eye could not pursue it. But while that of Arthur involuntarily strove to follow its course, a contrary gust of wind caught the red rose, and drove it back against his breast, so that it was easy for him to catch hold of and retain it.
"Joy, joy, and good fortune, royal mistress!" he said, returning to her the emblematic flower; "the tempest brings back the badge of Lancaster to its proper owner."
"I accept the omen," said Margaret; "but it concerns yourself, noble youth and not me. The feather, which is borne away to waste and desolation, is Margaret's emblem. My eyes will never see the restoration of the line of Lancaster. But you will live to behold it, and to aid to achieve it, and to dye our red rose deeper yet in the blood of tyrants and traitors. My thoughts are so strangely poised, that a feather or a flower may turn the scale. But my head is still giddy, and my heart sick—To-morrow you shall see another Margaret, and till then adieu."
[Oxford attempts to win over Charles the Bold to the Lancastrian cause, and proposes an invasion of England, while Edward, with his army, is in France. Charles acquiesces; but capriciously breaks off the treaty, and rashly commences an attack on the Swiss Cantons. In his first attempt at Granson, his vanguard is cut off, and he is compelled to retreat into Burgundy. He, however, resolves to wipe out the disgrace of his defeat, raises a powerful army, and fights the memorable battle of Morat. His army is utterly ruined by the stern valour of the Swiss; he is compelled to fight for Lorraine, before Nancy; the treachery of an Italian leader of Condittierri, gives the enemy access to his camp; and his army is surprised, and routed:]
It was ere daybreak of the first of January, 1477, a period long memorable for the events which marked it, that the Earl of Oxford, Colvin, and the young Englishman, followed only by Thiebault and two other servants, commenced their rounds of the Duke of Burgundy's encampment. For the greater part of their progress, they found sentinels and guards all on the alert and at their posts. It was a bitter morning. The ground was partly covered with snow—that snow had been partly melted by a thaw, which had prevailed for two days, and partly congealed into ice by a bitter frost, which had commenced the preceding evening, and still continued. A more dreary scene could scarcely be witnessed.
* * * * *
A broad red glare rising behind the assailants, and putting to shame the pallid lights of the winter morning, first recalled Arthur to a sense of his condition. The camp was on fire in his rear, and resounded with all the various shouts of conquest and terror that are heard in a town which is stormed. Starting to his feet, he looked around him for his father. He lay near him senseless, as were the gunners, whose condition prevented their attempting an escape. Having opened his father's casque, he was rejoiced to see him give symptoms of reanimation.
* * * * *
They looked back more than once on the camp, now one great scene of conflagration, by whose red and glaring light they could discover on the ground the traces of Charles's retreat. About three miles from the scene of their defeat, the sound of which they still heard, mingled with the bells of Nancy, which were ringing in triumph, they reached an half-frozen swamp, round which lay several dead bodies. The most conspicuous was that of Charles of Burgundy, once the possessor of such unlimited power—such unbounded wealth. He was partly stripped and plundered, as were those who lay round him. His body was pierced with several wounds, inflicted by various weapons. His sword was still in his hand, and the singular ferocity which was wont to animate his features in battle, still dwelt on his stiffened countenance. Close behind him, as if they had fallen in the act of mutual fight, lay the corpse of Count Albert of Geierstein; and that of Ital Schreckenwald, the faithful though unscrupulous follower of the latter, lay not far distant. Both were in the dress of the men-at-arms composing the Duke's guard, a disguise probably assumed to execute the fatal commission of the Secret Tribunal. It is supposed that a party of the traitor Campo-Basso's men had been engaged in the skirmish in which the Duke fell, for six or seven of them, and about the same number of the Duke's guards, were found near the spot.
[Previous to the battle of Nancy, Rudolf falls by the hand of Arthur:]
A pursuivant brought greetings from the family of the Biedermans to their friend Arthur, and a separate letter addressed to the same person, of which the contents ran thus:—
"Rudolf Donnerhugel is desirous to give the young merchant, Arthur Philipson, the opportunity of finishing the bargain which remained unsettled between them in the castle-court of Geierstein. He is the more desirous of this, as he is aware that the said Arthur has done him wrong, in seducing the affections of a certain maiden of rank, to whom he, Philipson, is not, and cannot be, any thing beyond an ordinary acquaintance. Rudolf Donnerhugel will send Arthur Philipson word, when a fair and equal meeting can take place on neutral ground. In the meantime, he will be as often as possible in the first rank of the skirmishers."
Young Arthur's heart leapt high as he read the defiance, the piqued tone of which showed the state of the writer's feelings, and argued sufficiently Rudolf's disappointment on the subject of Anne of Geierstein, and his suspicion that she had bestowed her affections on the youthful stranger. Arthur found means of dispatching a reply to the challenge of the Swiss, assuring him of the pleasure with which he would attend his commands, either in front of the line or elsewhere, as Rudolf might desire.
They met, as was the phrase of the time, "manful under shield." The lance of the Swiss glanced from the helmet of the Englishman, against which it was addressed, while the spear of Arthur, directed right against the centre of his adversary's body, was so justly aimed, and so truly seconded by the full fury of the career, as to pierce, not only the shield which hung round the ill-fated warrior's neck, but a breastplate, and a shirt of mail which he wore beneath it. Passing clear through the body, the steel point of the weapon was only stopped by the backpiece of the unfortunate cavalier, who fell headlong from his horse, as if struck by lightning, rolled twice or thrice over on the ground, tore the earth with his hands, and then lay prostrate a dead corpse.
There was a cry of rage and grief among those men-at-arms whose ranks Rudolf had that instant left, and many couched their lances to avenge him; but Ferrand of Lorraine, who was present in person, ordered them to make prisoner, but not to harm the successful champion. This was accomplished, for Arthur had not time to turn his bridle for flight, and resistance would have been madness.
When brought before Ferrand, he raised his visor, and said, "Is it well, my lord, to make captive an adventurous Knight, for doing his devoir against a personal challenger?"
"Do not complain, Sir Arthur of Oxford," said Ferrand, "before you experience injury.—You are free, Sir Knight. Your father and you were faithful to my royal aunt Margaret, and although she was my enemy, I do justice to your fidelity in her behalf; and from respect to her memory, disinherited as she was like myself, and to please my grandfather, who I think had some regard for you, I give you your freedom. But I must also care for your safety during your return to the camp of Burgundy. On this side of the hill we are loyal and true-hearted men, on the other they are traitors and murderers.—You, Sir Count, will, I think, gladly see our captive placed in safety."
[Margaret of Anjou sinks amidst the ruin of her hopes, and dies in her chair amidst a scene of royal festivity:]
To close the tale, about three months after the battle Nancy, the banished Earl of Oxford resumed his name of Philipson, bringing with his lady some remnants of their former wealth, which enabled them to procure a commodious residence near to Geierstein; and the Landamman's interest in the state procured for them the right of denizenship. The high blood, and the moderate fortunes, of Anne of Geierstein and Arthur de Vere, joined to their mutual inclination, made their marriage in every respect rational. Arthur continued to prefer the chase to the labours of husbandry, which was of little consequence, as his separate income amounted, in that poor country, to opulence. Time glided on, till it amounted to five years since the exiled family had been inhabitants of Switzerland. In the year 1482, the Landamman Biederman died the death of the righteous, lamented universally, as a model of the true and valiant, simple-minded and sagacious chiefs, who ruled the ancient Switzers in peace, and headed them in battle. In the same year, the Earl of Oxford lost his noble Countess.
But the star of Lancaster, at that period, began again to culminate, and called the banished lord and his son from their retirement, to mix once more in politics. A treasured necklace of Margaret was then put to its destined use, and the produce applied to levy those bands which shortly after fought the celebrated battle of Bosworth, in which the arms of Oxford and his son contributed so much to the success of Henry VII. This changed the destinies of De Vere and his lady; and the manners and beauty of Anne of Geierstein attracted as much admiration at the English Court as formerly in the Swiss Chalet.
 The word Wehme, pronounced Vehme, is of uncertain derivation, but was always used to intimate this inquisitorial and secret Court. The members were termed Wissenden, or Initiated, answering to the modern phrase of Illuminati.
 Baaren-hauter,—be of the Bear's hide,—a nickname for a German private soldier.
* * * * *
THE SELECTOR AND LITERARY NOTICES OF NEW WORKS.
* * * * *
Mr. Nathan, the musical composer, has just published a pleasant volume of "Fugitive Pieces and Reminiscences of Lord Byron," with a new edition of the celebrated "Hebrew Melodies," and some never before published, of which the following are three, with Mr. Nathan's Notes:—
SPEAK NOT—I TRACE NOT.
I speak not—I trace not—I breathe not thy name, There is grief in the sound—there were guilt in the fame, But the tear which now burns on my cheek may impart The deep thought that dwells in that silence of heart. Too brief for our passion, too long for our peace, Where those hours can their joy or their bitterness cease, We repent—we abjure—we will break from our chain, We must part—we must fly to—unite it again.
Oh! thine be the gladness and mine be the guilt, Forgive me adored one—forsake if thou wilt, But the heart which I bear shall expire undebased, And man shall not break it—whatever thou mayest. And stern to the haughty—but humble to thee, My soul in its bitterest blackness shall be; And our days seem as swift—and our moments more sweet With thee by my side—than the world at our feet.
One sigh of thy sorrow—one look of thy love Shall turn me or fix, shall reward or reprove; And the heartless may wonder at all we resign, Thy lip shall reply not to them—but to mine.
Many of the best poetical pieces of Lord Byron, having the least amatory feeling, have been strangely distorted by his calumniators, as if applicable to the lamented circumstances of his latter life.
The foregoing verses were written more than two years previously to his marriage; and to show how averse his lordship was from touching in the most distant manner upon the theme which might be deemed to have a personal allusion, he requested me the morning before he last left London, either to suppress the verses entirely or to be careful in putting the date when they were originally written.
At the close of his lordship's injunction, Mr. Leigh Hunt was announced, to whom I was for the first time introduced, and at his request I sang "O Marianne," and this melody, both of which he was pleased to eulogize; but his lordship again observed, "Notwithstanding my own partiality to the air, and the encomiums of an excellent judge, yet I must adhere to my former injunction."
Observing his lordship's anxiety, and fully appreciating the noble feeling by which that anxiety was augmented, I acquiesced, in signifying my willingness to withhold the melody altogether from the public rather than submit him to any uneasiness. "No, Nathan," ejaculated his lordship, "I am too great an admirer of your music to suffer a single phrase of it to be lost; I insist that you publish the melody, but by attaching to it the date it will answer every purpose, and it will prevent my lying under greater obligations than are absolutely necessary for the liberal encomiums of my friends."
IN THE VALLEY OF WATERS.
In the valley of waters we wept o'er the day When the host of the stranger made Salem his prey, And our heads on our bosoms all droopingly lay, And our hearts were so full of the land far away.
The song they demanded in vain—it lay still In our souls as the wind that hath died on the hill; They call'd for the harp—but our blood they shall spill Ere our right hand shall teach them one tone of their skill.
All stringlessly hung on the willow's sad tree, As dead as her dead leaf those mute harps must be. Our hands may be fettered—our tears still are free, For our God and our glory—and Sion!—Oh thee.
THEY SAY THAT HOPE IS HAPPINESS.
"Felix qui potuit ferum cognoscere causas."—Virgil.
They say that Hope is happiness; But genuine Love must prize the past, And mem'ry wakes the thoughts that bless: They rose the first—they set the last; And all that mem'ry loves the most Was once our only hope to be, And all that Hope ador'd and lost Hath melted into memory.
Alas! it is delusion all: The future cheats us from afar, Nor can we be what we recall Nor dare we think on what we are.
The foregoing lines were officiously taken up by a person who arrogated to himself some self-importance in criticism, and who made an observation upon their demerits, on which his lordship quaintly observed, "they were written in haste and they shall perish in the same manner," and immediately consigned them to the flames; as my music adapted to them, however, did not share the same fate, and having a contrary opinion of any thing that might fall from the pen of Lord Byron, I treasured them up, and on a subsequent interview with his lordship I accused him of having committed suicide in making so valuable a burnt offering: to which his lordship smilingly replied, "the act seems to inflame you: come, Nathan, since you are displeased with the sacrifice, I give them to you as a peace offering, use them as you may deem proper."
When the Hebrew Melodies were first published, Sir Walter, then Mr. Scott, honoured me with a visit at my late residence in Poland Street: I sang several of the melodies to him—he repeated his visit, and requested I would allow him to introduce his lady and his daughter; they came together, when I had the pleasure of singing to them Jephtha's Daughter and one or two more of the most favourite airs; they entered into the spirit of the music with all the true taste and feeling so peculiar to the Scotch.
Mr. Scott again called on me to take leave before his return to Scotland; we entered into conversation respecting the sublimity and beauty of Lord Byron's poetry, and he spoke of his lordship with admiration, exclaiming "He is a man of wonderful genius—he is a great man."
I called on Lord Byron the same day, and mentioned to him that Walter Scott had been with me that morning. His lordship observed, "Then, Nathan, you have been visited by the greatest man of the age, and," continued his lordship, "I suppose you have read Waverley." I replied in the negative. "Then," returned his lordship, "you have a pleasure to come, let me recommend it to you; it is decidedly the best novel I ever read; you are of course aware that it was written by Walter Scott." It had at this period scarcely been rumoured that such was actually the case, but Lord Byron was more than usually positive in identifying the author with his writings.
In speaking of Moore, as a poet, Lord Byron acknowledged his powers, and spoke highly of his effusions generally. "The Irish Melodies," said his lordship, "will outlive all his other productions, and will be hailed by the Irish nation as long as music and poetry exist in that country."
Many coincidences in life may seem to border on superstition, without any existing reality; and, although never personally taxed with the sin of superstition, yet the following circumstance brings strongly to my remembrance what passed relative to my friend and patron.
I was with Lord Byron, at his house in Piccadilly, the best part of the three last days before he left London, to quit England; I expressed my regret at his departure, and desired to know if it was really his intention not to return (little anticipating what eventually took place;) he fixed his eyes upon me with an eager look of inquiry, exclaiming at the same time, "Good God! I never had it in contemplation to remain in exile—why do you ask that question?" I stated that such a report had been rumoured. "I certainly intend returning," continued his lordship, "unless the grim tyrant should be playing his pranks on me."
He appeared very anxious for the voyage, and walked about the room in great agitation, waiting the return of a messenger who had been sent respecting some delay which was likely to take place; the messenger however soon entered, and presented him a letter, which his lordship opened with great eagerness. In reading the letter his countenance, like the earth illumined by the re-appearance of the moon, after having been obscured by dark clouds, brightened up, and at the close he exultingly exclaimed "this is kind—very kind—Nathan! to-morrow I quit." I soon after left him; he shook me heartily by the hand, and left with his impression a fifty pound note, saying, "Do not be offended with me at this mode of expressing the delight you have afforded me—until we meet again, farewell!—I shall not forget my promise." His lordship here alluded to some promised verses.
Having left the room he called me back, and reverting once more to my first allusion of the rumour about his not returning, laughingly said, "Remember, Nathan, you shall certainly see me again in body or in spirit."
There are several other interesting anecdotical Recollections of Lord Byron, especially of his connexion with Drury Lane Theatre, and above all, a new light is thrown on his Lordship's affair with Mrs. Mardyn. Appended are likewise some characteristic traits of the late Lady Caroline Lamb, with some pleasing specimens of her Ladyship's poetical talent. Altogether, Mr. Nathan's is just the book for the season; and we have penciled a few of its pleasantries for our next number.
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THE RUSSIAN NAVY.
One of the most striking and gigantic buildings in St. Petersburg is the Admiralty. The principal front on the land side is considerably more than one-third of an English mile in length, and its wings, in depth, extend six hundred and seventy two feet, down to the edge of the Neva, this noble river forming the fourth side of the quadrangle. Within the three sides (the Neva and two wings) are ranges of parallel buildings, which form the magazines, artificers' shops, mast and boat houses, offices, &c.; and in the area within these are four slips for building the largest, and two for a smaller class of ships of war. The whole of the outer range of buildings consists of grand suites of rooms, and long and beautifully ornamented galleries, filled with the natural history and curiosities collected in every part of the globe, and brought by the different navigators which Russia, of late years, has sent forth on discovery. In one room are assembled all the different nautical and mathematical instruments; in another all the models of ships of different nations and different eras; in another a complete library connected with every branch of the marine service.—Granville's Travels.
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