Imágenes de páginas

A young

one named Don Louis de las Terres, and the other Don Jaine de Sotomajor, resolved to hazard all in spite of the law of the queen's foot. One seized the bridle of the horse, and the other laid hold of the queen's foot, and took it out of the stirrup; and, in rendering her this service, displaced one of his fingers. When this was done, the cavaliers took the advantage of the confusion this accident occasioned, and, without stopping, went home, got their horses saddled, and fled from the punishment they had incurred, for daring to offend against so strict and so august a custom. The queen, recovering from her fright, desired to see her two deliverers. lord, their friend, told her majesty that they were obliged to fly the country to avoid the punishment they had merited. The queen, who was a French-woman, and knowing nothing of the prerogative of her heel, and probably without this fall had ever remained ignorant of it, imagined it a very impertinent custom to punish men for saving her life. In short, she, by much entreaty, obtained their pardon from the king her husband. But notwithstanding the restraint laid on them by the etiquette, the queens of Spain have been fond enough of gallantry, which helped to rid them of a troublesome and ridiculous yoke. The wife of Philip IV. (if we may credit the historians of those days) had a liking to the Count de Monterei, and she was at a loss how to make him sensible of it. The etiquette was now fixed, which settled the ceremonial to be observed with regard to the king's amours; but no mention was made therein with respect to those of the queen. The princess could find no better expedient than to drop a paper out of her hand one day when Monterei was giving her an account of an affair with which she had charged him. He took it up, and, with one knee to the ground, presented it to her: “Perhaps," says the queen, “you imagine this paper to be of importance. I will have you judge of it.' The count therein read these words: I spend the night without rest, alone, dull, forming of desires : my pain is a martyrdom, but such as I take delight in.” The count (who never imagined that a queen of Spain could stoop so low as to discover the tenderness of her heart) seemed not to understand the meaning of the letter, and perused it in a cool manner, so natural to a Spaniard. The queen, observing his indifference, grew outrageous, and, with spite and indignation, snatched it out of his hands. “Go,” says she, “ you may justly say, Domina non sum dignus.”

SECRETS OF CABALISM. There appeared at Spa, in the year 1720, a young gentleman, whose fine figure and good equipage created what is now called a great sensation. He had all the wit and learning of that day; talked to the ladies of the plurality of worlds in the style of a junior Fontenelle, and quoted Montesquieu to the gentlemen. He dropped one day from his pocket an extract from Voiture's correspondence which furnished half the petit-maitres of Spa with pretty billets during the season. Then he affected great knowledge of state-mysteries : shook his head when Prince Eugene was named ; hinted at Queen Anne's love for her brother; and said something strange about the French lady whose accouchement took place in King James's palace, and was foster-mother to his heir-apparent. As there is remarkable sympathy between similar characters, the Chevalier Valamour, as he chose to call himself, became very intimate with an obscure watchmaker in the suburbs of Aix-la-Chapelle. If this recluse had been the Emperor Charles V. in his watch-making frolic, he could not have known more of men and manners. He had also a surprising familiarity with the names of learned physicians, and now and then dropped mystic phrases of cabalistical import. He had a daughter whom he secreted in a corner of his miserable house, and guarded with the most anxious care. Our chevalier was duly fascinated with her beauty, and took all the pains required in the beginning of the eighteenth century to recommend himself. Not that

he fully understood his own meaning, for he had a most religious horror of a woman's tongue, especially a wife's. Linnæus himself, whom he partly resembled in genius, was not more unfortunate in a shrewish mother than he had been. His father's lady had compelled him to sweep his own room, prepare his own breakfast, and, perhaps, to hem his cambric ruffles. Certainly this woman's violence of power had contributed to excite and fix his imagination on the idea of a placid beauty as the most perfect: and as he probably did not find one exactly realized in the common world, he read romances, and especially the “Count de Gabalis,” till he conceived something of the kind might be found elsewhere. Ariette was more like the charming creature detained in the palace of silence by the King of the Fishes than any human female he had ever seen. She seemed to have chosen Madame Dacier's motto, “ Silence is the ornament of women ;” if indeed she had a choice, which certain mysterious motions of the father's head rendered doubtful. One thing was remarkable : - he could never prevail on her to show herself by moonlight, nor to lift her veil when he had spoken to her half an hour. At the expiration of that time, she always dropped the light and elegant screen of black silk net which was constantly attached to her fine hair. This, and the marble paleness of Ariette's countenance, gave something of poetic sanctity to her character, which her profound modesty and secluded mode of life completed. He was often tempted to propose himself to the ancient watchmaker as a son-in-law, but his reverence for him as a man of science was not quite enough to subdue the pride of birth, and some hereditary fears of a wife's dominion. At length fear and pride gave ground, and the chevalier made a suitable speech in the artist's study. To his great surprise, the offer was rejected, but with an air more in sorrow than in anger. He repeated it, and was promised a month's consideration. Before the end of that time, he was informed the watchmaker had suffered an apoplectic stroke, and lay at the point of death. He ran to him

the old man was expiring, and had only strength to put a small ring on his finger before he breathed his last. The room was silent- there was no spectator but himself, and a crowd of alembics, phials, and chemical preparations, lay in one corner. The suspicion he had always entertained that the deceased artist studied alchymy, and had probably discovered the long-sought secret of creating gold, induced our chevalier to search into the heap under which rested a little iron box. He soon perceived that the ring put on his finger by the dying man was contrived to act as a key, and it readily unlocked the coffer. There were in it only a few mysterious calculations, and one on which a horoscope was constructed. Underneath it, in Romaic characters, he decyphered words to this import.

My art informs me you will find this parchment on which your nativity is accurately traced. Ariette is not of my nature, nor have I power to bestow her. What her veil conceals I never knew, nor can I recollect any change in her aspect, though she has dwelt here

many years ;

but I am at no loss to guess her purpose. Sylphs, gnomes, nymphs, and salamanders, are incapable of enjoying eternity, unless by marriage with a Christian. They have then the power of sharing earthly happiness, and their partners, if they choose, may share with them that intellectual soul which is the spirit of eternal life. Or if they so please, these busbands may content themselves with their society during the short period which the order of their nature permits them to exist in human shape-Ariette is, as I humbly guess, a sylph or spirit of the purest element. For she has no interest in the world's wealth, no delight in its tumults, no capacity for ardent, jealous, or hostile feelings. She thinks, she acts, and she speaks, by the rule of reason ;--but

The manuscript broke off, as if a sudden sickness had arrested the writer's hand. To whom this could be addressed, unless to him, was not to be conjectured, and Valamour went home in great agitation. The very few neighbours who had seen Ariette celebrated her

domestic virtues, her charities, and unimpeachable prudence, during her residence of ten years' length among them. He could judge for himself of her grace and beauty : what could he risk by marrying her? If the Romaic manuscript was a fable, it could no way harm him—if it stated truths, it increased his chance of happiness. Valamour's heart was better than his head; it prevailed, and he married Ariette.

On his marriage day, the bride's conduct gave some countenance to the dead cabalist's assertion : for instead of the grateful tenderness which might have been expected to touch an orphan raised from poverty to a noble rank, Ariette showed a reserved, calm, and gentle demeanour, which expressed more good sense than sensibility. Valamour, however, was delighted with his prospect of escaping all the turmoils caused by an impatient spirit, and enjoying perpetual serenity with a wife altogether reasonable. On the third day after their nuptials, the chevalier conducted her to a carriage without saying a word of its destination, which she never inquired, and the next morning brought them to a charming villa in the midst of a rich Provençal valley. It was late in spring, but few flowers had made their appearance, except in a little recess near the Garonne, where a perfect bower of roses was spread. “ These,” said he, "are all the offspring of a sprig planted by my mother, who won in her youth the crown of roses given as a trophy of merit by the owner of the Chateau de Salency. You must have heard of that affecting ceremony, and I hold these rose-trees as the best part of my patrimony." There is no reason for it,” she answered coldly:-"these roses are no way conscious of their origin, nor a part of your mother's merit—if they were, you have no right to it.- If, indeed, they had been reared and nursed for you by your grateful peasants, like the roses of M. de Malesherbes, you would have reason to be pleased with them.”—Valamour was piqued at this reply, and obliquely reproached her with a want of that feeling which in such cases is more delightful than reason.—“It is not my fault,” she re,

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