« IndietroContinua »
slightest chance of their being adopted. One of these consists in the appointment of ecclesiastical commissioners, for the purpose of recommending persons fit for the episcopal office to the King. If the commissioners were efficient, they might in this way prevent notoriously bad appointments;-and if they were so far successful as to ensure good ones, there is no saying how long the reign of heresy might not be perpetuated. But fear not; such a measure implies far too great an encroachment upon the patronage of the government ever to take place. The Church in this country has always been used for the convenience of the state, which, indeed, could not subsist without the wages of her prostitution. A measure, therefore, which would have any tendency to make her an honest woman, will never, for one moment, be seriously entertained. Promotions will go on for the future as they have gone on hitherto; until abuses accumulate to such a degree that the heretics themselves will feel them to be unendurable abominations.
You may suppose that the remedy above described may have a chance of being adopted, because there is an instance of its having been resorted to by William the Third, upon his accession to the sovereignty of these realms. He said that, as a foreigner, he was unacquainted with the merits of the several individuals who were candidates for clerical preferment, and that he required assistance in making his selections from amongst them. But this only proves his simplicity. In excuse for him, however, it must be said that he was at that time a stranger in the country, and unacquainted with the only proper use to be made of English bishoprics. He did not until afterwards learn their value as a means of securing parliamentary influence; and, to do him justice, as soon as he was so far instructed, the labours of the commissioners were dispensed with. There is no fear that William the Fourth will fall into such an error. He has been educated in a different school. He, during his whole life, has had before his eyes the edifying examples of English statesmen. Whatever, therefore, may be done, will not, be satisfied, interfere in the
slightest degree with the cherished abuses of the good old system. It is not rooted in affection. It is not based in knowledge. It is not maintained by a body of well trained and honestly chosen ecclesiastics. It is not regarded by the government with either reverence or love. It is not even at unity with itself; while it is surrounded by active, powerful, and implacable enemies. Does it, therefore, require the gift of prophecy to say that it must fall; and that nothing but the memory of the miseries which it has occasioned will survive it?
The only thing that gives me the least reason to doubt that matters will in all respects proceed according to our wishes is, the conduct of our friend, the Lord Brougham and Vaux, since he became Lord High Chancellor of England. Confound the knave, he seems resolved upon making a conscientious use of his own preferments. He has been promoting some of the ablest and the most dangerous of his own and our common enemies! What infatuation! It would not be half so bad if he were not the keeper of the King's conscience. He should have avoided such folly, not to call it by a harsher name, if it were only for the sake of the example. But he will find out his mistake by and by.
Well, there is one consolation at all events, that, act how he may, he cannot do much mischief while he is connected with the present administration. THEY ARE RESOLVED UPON MEASURES WHICH MUST ENSURE THE DESTRUCTION OF THE CHURCH:-and so fully convinced are we of the efficacy of their present plans for the effectual accomplishment of all our purposes, that we are minded for the present to suspend our active hostility to the established clergy, and suffer them to repose in peace for the brief term allotted to their existence. They are under sentence of death. And if my advice be attended to, we will not disturb the last moments of an expiring heretical establishment, by any unseemly triumph or unnecessary molestation. But we have difficult spirits here to manage, and I know not how far I may be successful. Time presses, and I must say adieu.
A SKETCH FROM THE GERMAN.
Ir was late on the evening of a gloomy and bitter day in December, about the middle of the seventeenth century, that Carl Koëcker, a student of Goettingen University, ha ving sipped his last cup of coffee, was sitting thoughtfully in his room, with his feet crossed and resting on the fender of his little fire-place. His eyes were fixed on the fire, which crackled and blazed briskly, throwing a cheerful lustre over his snug study. All the tools of scholar-craft lay about him. On a table by his side lay open various volumes of classic and metaphysic lore, which shewed evident marks of service, being much thumbed and fingered; sundry note-books, filled with memoranda of the day's studies, and a case of mathematical instruments. Two sides of the chamber were lined with well-filled book-shelves; on one side was the window, and the corresponding one was occupied by a large dusky picture of Martin Luther. All was silent as the most studious German could desire; for the stillness was, so to speak, but enhanced by the whispered tickings of an old-fashioned family watch, suspended over the mantel-piece. As for Carl himself, he was of "goodly look and stature." His shirt-neck lay open, with the spot less collar turned down on each side; his right hand lay in his bosom, and his left, leaning on the table, support ed his "learning-laden" head. His brow was furrowed with thoughtful ed, and the disciples attending anxiety, which, together with his sal- them. Several of the leading stulow features and long black musta- dents at Goettingen had fallen under ches, gave him the appearance of a suspicion, and Carl Koëcker, it was much older man than he really was. As for his thoughts, it were difficult said, among the number. He was to say whether, at the moment when any possible pretext for offence, by cunning enough, however, to avoid he is presented to the reader, they were occupied by the mysterious disparagement of the objectionable saying little-and even that little in pneumatological speculations of Doc- doctrines.
tor Von Dunder Profondant, which Carl had been attempting to comprehend in the morning's lecture; whether his fancy was revelling in recollections of the romantic splendours of last night's opera, or whether they were fixed, with painful interest, on the facts of a seizure made that day in Goettingen by the terrible myrmidons of the Inquisition, on the double charge of heresy and sorcery. The frightful tribunal alluded to was then in the plenitude of its power, and its mysterious and ferocious doings were exciting nearly as much indignation as they had long occasioned consternation. Carl was of a very speculative, abstract turn, and having been early initiated into the gloomy depths of transcendentalism, had begun latterly to turn his thoughts towards the occult sciences.
About the period when this narrative commences, it was generally understood that a professor of the Art Diabolic had visited the principal places of Germany, and was supposed to have made several converts among the learned, as well as to have founded secret schools for teaching the principles of his science. The lynx-eyed Inquisition soon searched him out, and the unfortunate professor of magic suddenly disappeared, without ever again being heard of. The present object of those holy censors of mankind, the principals of the Inquisition, was
to discover the schools he had found
of its victims, are too well known for an intelligent reader to charge any portions of The subtle schemes resorted to by the Inquisition for the detection and seizure
the ensuing narrative with improbability
word-all that the
wit and power of devils can devise and execute, may wellnigh be believed of the
members of that execrable institution.
Carl had just set down his coffeepot on the hob, after an abortive effort to extract another cup from it, and was stirring together the glowing embers of his fire, when he was startled by aloud knocking at his door. It is not asserted that the sound caused him to change colour, but that he heard it with a little trepidation, is undeniable. Who, on earth, could be wanting him?
Rap, rap, rap!-Rap, rap, rap! Carl gently laid down the poker, but did not move from his seat. He listened-his heart beat quick and hard. It seemed evident that the obstreperous applicant for admission was resolved on effecting his purpose one way or another; for, in a few seconds, the door was shaken, and with some violence. Carl, almost fancying he had been dreaming, started from his seat, and cast an alarmed eye towards the scene of such unseemly interruptions. Ayethe door was really, visibly shaken, and that, too, very impetuously. Who could it be-and what the matter? Was it one of his creditors? He did not owe five pounds in the world. A fellow-student? The hour was too late, and Carl, besides, of such a reserved, unsocial turn, as to have scarce one acquaintance at College on visiting terms. A thief?He would surely effect his entrance more quietly. Were some of his relatives come to Goettingen? was any member of his family ill? was it merely drunk Jans, the janitor ?— Who-WHO could it be? thought the startled student.
Rap, rap, rap, rap!-Rap, rap, rap!
Carl almost overthrew the chair he was standing by, snatched up his little lamp, and stole to the door.
"Who the d-1 is without, there ?" he enquired, angrily, but not very firmly, with one hand hesitatingly extended towards the door-handle, and the other holding his lamp; the flame of which, by the way, he fancied flickered oddly.
"WHO is without there ?" he asked again, for his first question had received no answer.
Rap, rap, rap, rap, rap!-Rap, rap,
somewhat hollow voice, from without. "Who am I, i' faith?-Let me in! Let me in!-Mercy-you could not be more uncivil, or perchance affrighted, if I were Jans Cutpurse, or the Spirit of the Hartz mountains. Let me in, Carl Koëcker, I say-Let me in!"
"Let you in? Der teufel!"
"Come, come-open the door!" "Who are you? Who the d-l are you, I say?" continued Carl, pressing his right hand and knee against the door.
"Let me in at once, Carl Koëcker let me in, I say-or it may fare fearfully with you!"
"Mein Gott!" exclaimed the confounded student, looking askance at his lamp, as though he expected to find a confidential adviser in it. The. knocker, however, recommenced operations, with such astounding rapidity and violence, that Carl, in a momentary fit of fear and confusion, unguardedly opened the door. tide of objurgatory expressions gushed up to his tongue, when some one suddenly slipped through the door past Carl, made his way to the fireplace, and sat down in the arm-chair which had been recently occupied by the student. This was done with the easy matter-of-fact air of the most intimate acquaintance. Carl Koëcker still held the handle of the door, staring open-eyed and open-mouthed at the stranger, with unutterable
"Good Carl, prithee, now, shut the door-for 'tis bitter cold," exclaimed the unbidden guest, in a familiar tone, dragging his seat close to the fire, and rubbing together his shrivelled fingers, to quicken the circulation.
"Come, Carl! shut the door, and sit down here," continued the stranger, entreatingly. Carl, completely bewildered, obeyed, and sat down in a chair opposite stranger. The latter seemed not unlike a Jew-pedlar. He was small in stature, but of sinewy make. He wore a short coarse drab-coloured coat, or tunic, with double rows of huge horn buttons. His vest was of the same materials and cut; and, as was usual in those days with itinerant venders of valuable articles, he had a broad leathern girdle about his waist, with a pouch on the inside.
His short, shrunk, curved legs were enveloped in worsted over-alls, soiled and spattered with muddy walking. Removing a broad-brimmed hat, he disclosed a fine bald head, fringed round the base with a few straggling grey hairs. His face was wrinkled, and of a parchment hue; and his sparkling black eyes peered on the student with an expression of keen and searching inquisitiveCarl, in his excitement, almost fancied the stranger's eyes to glare on him with something like a swinish voracity. He shuddered; and was but little more reconciled to the strange figure before him, when a furtive glance had assured him that at least the feet were not cloven!
When he allowed himself to dwell for a few moments on the strange circumstances in which he was placed-alone-near midnight, with nobody knew whom-a thief, a murderer, a wizard,-a disguised satellite of the infernal Inquisition a devil, for aught he knew;-when, in a word, he gazed at the strange intruder, sitting quietly and silently by the fire, with the air rather of host than guest, and reflected how far he was out of hearing or assistance, if aught of violence human or supernatural should be offered-it was no trifling effort that enabled him to preserve a tolerable shew of calmness.
"Heigh-ho!" grunted the old man, in a musing tone, with his eyes fixed on the fire, and his skinny fingers clasped over each knee.
"H-e- —m!" muttered Carl, his eyes, as it were, glued to those of his guest.
"Well, Carl," said the stranger, suddenly, as if starting from a reverie ; "it grows very late, and I must begone ere long, having far to travel, and on pressing errands. So shall we discourse a little touching philosophy, or proceed at once to business ?"
"Proceed to business ?"_
"Yes, I say, proceed to business. Is there any thing so very odd in that ?" enquired the old man, slowly, with a surprised air.
"Business!-Business !". claimed Carl, muttering to himself; and he added, in a louder tone, ad
dressing himself to his visitor"Why, what the dev———”
"Pho, pho, Carl!-We have nothing whatever to do with the devil -at least I have not," replied the old man, with an odd leer." But, with your good leave, Carl, we will settle our business first, and then proceed to discourse on a point of Doctor Von Dunder's lecture of this morning."-So this extraordinary personage had been present at Doctor Von Dunder's that morning
and, further, knew that Carl had! "Carl," continued the stranger, abruptly-"are you still anxious for the bracelets ?"
The question suddenly blanched Carl's face, and his eyes seemed starting from their sockets, as he muttered, or rather gasped, in faltering accents-" Devil! devil! devil! What want you with me? Why are you come hither ?" He shook in his seat; for a certain circumstance occasioned a suspicion of the stranger's being an emissary of the Inquisition to flash across the mind of the affrighted student.
"Who sent you hither ?" he enquired in faltering accents.
Why, in heaven's name, are you so disturbed, Carl? I am really neither the devil nor one of his minions -having neither wit nor power enough for either," said the stranger, mildly.
"Then are you worse-you are from the INQUISITION-and are sent to ensnare my soul to hell, and my body to tortures horrible !" rejoined Carl, a cold sweat suddenly bedewing his whole frame.
“Why, if it were so, I must surely be bolder than wise, to venture on such odds as are here. I am old and somewhat shaken of strength; you young and lion-like. Which would have the better, think you, in a struggle?" continued the stranger, meekly. Why," replied Carl, still shivering with the fearful suspicion-"you speak fairly and reasonably; and let me then as fairly tell you, that whoever you be, if you be but mortal, and wrong me, or attempt me mischief, I will put you to death as calmly and surely as I shew you this”and he drew a small poniard from his vest, clasped it fiercely in his hand, and extended the keen thirsty
looking blade to the stranger, who merely crossed his hands on his breast, and looked upwards with an innocent air.
"Did I not say I was in your power, Carl? And is it probable I shall seek an offence with you? Would I, an old feeble man".
"What brought you hither? What made you cause the uproar at my door just now?" enquired Carl, with some shew of self-possession. "Oh, faith-that is easily answered. Business-business! I have much to do with you, and but small time to do it in. Truly your fears are all false! I am, I repeat it, but a man, even as you are-with the difference of an odd year or two-ugh! ugh! ugh!" continued the stranger with a feeble asthmatic laugh. "But, to be short. If your heart is still set upon the bracelets-I may, perhaps, put you in the way of obtaining them."
Carl strove to look calm-but the thing was impossible. His colour faded, his heart seemed fluttering about his throat as though it would choke him, and his eyes emitted coruscations of fire.
"Old man whoever, whatever you are-I supplicate you to tell me how you know any thing about the matter you speak of! How came you to know that I had any care about the-the-the bracelets ?"-He could scarce get out the word-" for I have not breathed a syllable about them to any one human!”
"How did I know it? Pho! it might be a long, perchance a dull tale, were I to explain how I came by my knowledge in this matter. Enough that I know your soul gapes to get the bracelets. In a word, I came not here to tell you how I know what I do, but simply to put you in the way of obtaining your wishes."
A cold stream of suspicion flowed over Carl's mind while the stranger spoke-and when Carl reverted to the many subtle devices known to be adopted by the Inquisition for entrapping their prey. Still Carl's anxious curiosity prevailed over his fears. The old man, after fumbling a while about the inner part of his girdle, took out what seemed to Carl a large snuff or tobacco-box. Opening it, he slowly removed two or three layers of fine wool; and then there glistened before the enchanted eyes
of the student one of the most resplendent bracelets that had ever is sued from the hands of cunning jew eller. He was lost, for a second or two, in speechless ecstasy.
"Oh, rare! oh, exquisite-exquisite bracelet!"-he gasped at length, so absorbed with the splendid bauble that he did not notice the almost wolfish glare with which the old man's eye was fixed on his." And may this be MINE? Did you not say you could put it into my power ?"
Aye, Carl, it may be yours!" replied the stranger, in a low, earnest tone, still fixedly eyeing his companion's countenance.
"Aye, aye! it may? Name, then, the price! Name your price, old man!" exclaimed Carl, eagerly. Checking himself, however, he added suddenly, in a desponding tone, "But why do I ask its price? Fool that I am, my whole fortune-aye, the fortunes of all our family, would not purchase one only of these jewels!"
The more Carl looked at the gorgeous toy, the more was he fascinated. It was studded with gems of such amazing brilliance, as to present the appearance of a circle of delicate violet and orange-hued flame, as the stranger placed it in different points of view. Carl could not remove his eyes from the bracelet.
"Take it into your own hands-it will bear a close scrutiny," said the old man, proffering the box, with its costly contents, to the student, who received it with an eager but trembling hand. As he examined the gems, he discovered one of superior splendour and magnitude; and whilst his eyes were riveted upon it-was it merely his nervous agitation—or, gracious God! did it really assume the appearance of a human eye, of awful expression?
Carl's eyes grew dim, the blood retreated to his heart, and his hands shook violently as he pushed back the box and its mysterious contents to the stranger. Neither spoke for some seconds. The old man gazed at Carl with astonishment.
"What-what shall I call you?" murmured Carl, as soon as he had recovered the power of speech. "What means that-that-that damned eye that looks at me from the bracelet? Do your superiors, then,