Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

brought you here. Look, you stand within a foot of the edge of the parapet—in another instant the work would have been done !'

“The demon had left him ; his eye was still unsettled, and the white foam stood in bubbles on his parched lips ; but he was no longer tossed by the same mad excitement under which he had been labouring so long, for he suffered me to lead him home without a single word. A few days' repose and silence, bleeding and abstinence, completely restored him to his former self, and what is most extraordinary, the circumstance was never mentioned between us. My fate was at work. It was during those few days of watching by the bedside of poor Beaumetz, that I received the letters from France, which announced to me the revocation of the decree which had sent me a wanderer to America. The Directoire had relented, and I was invited to return with all speed. I sought not to resist the appeal, and at once decided on leaving Beaumetz to prosecute our speculation alone, and on returning to Paris immediately.

“The blow was cruel to poor Beaumetz, who was fully persuaded, I have no doubt, that it was in dread of another attack on his part that I had now the wish to leave him. No argument I could make use of, no assurances of unchanged friendship, could shake his opinion, and our parting was a most stormy and painful one. I made over to him my interest in the ship which he had freighted together, and he departed for India, while I bent my course once more towards my belle France.

"Once more in a position to assist my friends, my first thought was of Beaumetz, and one of my first acts was the cancelling of his deathwarrant. I wrote to him to announce the joyful news, addressing my letter to the merchant at Calcutta to whom he had been recommended. In due time, receiving no answer, I wrote again ; but my letters were returned, with the information that the ship, which had sailed from New York some months before, and of which M. Beaumetz was supercargo, had not arrived, and that no tidings had been received of its fate, and that great fears were entertained of its total loss.

“The apprehension was justified, for from that day to this no tidings have ever been received of the ship, nor, alas ! of my poor friend Beaumetz !

The prince paused a moment, seeming to collect his sad remeinbrances of Beaumetz, and I could not but admire the singular good fortune which had caused him to abandon his voyage to India. How different might have been the fate of France, nay, of Europe, had he sailed in that ship! Well may he have gained among his friends the title of “ Fortune's master!"

“But what was really the motive of your first suspicion of the murderous intent of Beaumetz?” said oue of the company.

“I know not to this very hour," replied the Prince de Talleyrand; " it was not his eye, for I was not looking at him at the moment, I was gazing at the sublime view which he himself was pointing out to my notice; it was not in the tone of his voice either, in which lay the warning of my danger; it was a sudden and mysterious impulse for which I have never been able to account-one of those stariling and fearful mysteries which even the strongest minds are contented to accept without inquiry, being satisfied that such things are, and never daring to ask

[ocr errors]

wherefore. Many persons, the Illuminés for example, who ruled the monde philosophique for so long a period, have ascribed this sudden revelation of the hidden TROTH entirely to the effects of magnetism, and there are instances well known, wherein the great masters of the art have been able to produce the same effect at pleasure. Cagliostro, to whom I once mentioned the circumstance, had often obtained the same results by his wonderful powers of magnetism.”

What, mon prince, have you ever seen Cagliostro ?” exclaimed the fair Duchess de v., raising her head from her tapestry frame, and gazing into the prince's face with an amusing expression of wonder and of awe.

“Ay, that have I,” returned the prince, gravely; "often have I seen him, fáir lady, and am not of those who condemn him at once without examination, unthinkingly, as an impostor; for the man believed himself; no wonder then that he could so easily persuade others."

“Oh now do tell us soinething about this Cagliostro !” exclaimed the young duchess, shaking back her fair ringlets as she leant eagerly forward, and laid her white and jewelled hand upon the elbow of the prince's chair ; “do tell us all about your interview with the famous magician; but mind, tell us the truth.' Where did he live?-how did he look ?-what did he wear ?"'

“Nay," returned the prince, smiling, “were I to tell all I know concerning him, my story would not be done till to-morrow night, at this same hour.”

We all involuntarily followed the direction of his gaze towards the clock upon the mantelpiece. Alas! the hand was wearing round, and stood within a very few minutes of the hour of one.

“We must defer the story of Cagliostro's wonders till another time," said he, “but you shall not lose by waiting. Vous n'y perdrez rien, madame: But you shall sleep this night at least in peace; which you might never do again should you happen to believe! So, messieurs, bonne nuit-à demain." He arose.

Of course the whole assembly followed the movement, and in a few moments each one had retired.

My chamber was in one of the turrets which form the corner towers of the château, and by a most singular piece of good fortune I found that it was close to that of my friend. We lingered some few minutes, taper in hand, upon the threshold, and with his usual kindness C. proposed to me, as he took his leave for the night, to conduct me through the château and grounds on the morrow.

“We are all independent here,” said he ; " you must not feel surprised if you are left to cater for your own amusement until dinner, for each one does what is right in his own eyes, and the morrow's plans are determined on before night; so that interlopers must necessarily be excluded, for the first day at least. But you shall not be quite abandoned ; I will be with you betimes in the morning, and we shall have ample occupation for a long day, in wandering over the beauties of this place, which must some day become one of the most celebrated spots in our country.

He left me, and I soon sank to sleep, dreaming of all I had seen and heard, and with anticipations too of what more I was to see and hear before I took my departure from Valençay:

(To be continued.)

THE COURT OF CUPID;

WITH REMARKS UPON THE LAW OF LOVE.

This most ancient tribunal, not only in England, but in all the world, has, by some odd mischance or oversight, escaped the notice of the many grave writers who have learnedly treated of all other courts of justice or injustice, of equity or iniquity. That such a court existed in the old world, is as certain as that the old world was once a young and blooming one. The writer capable of contradicting this assertion, would deny that Venus had her Court of Queen's Bench in Cyprus, and would show himself scandalously ignorant of the laws and institutions of the Paphian gynocracy. Let us have no cavilling about names; the Judge Cupid of the Latins is the same as the Chief Justice Eros of the Greeks, and the latter is as like the Lord Chancellor Love of the British, as one of Venus's pigeons is like another.

We may be told that Fleta makes no mention of the tribunal we speak of, and that Judge Cupid is never once alluded to by Fortescue, or a rule of his court hinted at by Bracton. But it would have been unpardonable irrelevance in those gray-beards, had they introduced the subject. Love in Blackstone would be as absurd as Blackstone in love, and a passion in Lord Mansfield as unseemly as Lord Mansfield in a passion. What have lawyers to do with love-suits, any more than lovers with lawsuits? and who would not think a discussion on contingent remainders out of place in the Reports of Sir John Suckling, the Year-books of Cowley, or the Commentaries of Anacreon or Moore? The great authorities upon the law and practice of the high court under consideration, are, of course, the poets, who have been, time out of mind, its clerks and prothonotariesthe lovers, who have been its suitors—or the numerous corps of lady'smaids and match-makers who correspond with conveyancers, advocates, attorneys, and solicitors in our courts of law. From these authorities we have been endeavouring to cull all the information obtainable upon a subject as soft as it is serious, and as grave as it is gay. We confess we have sought in vain for any tenderness in Tidd, any passion in Preston, any charms in Chitty, any love in Littleton, any sweetness in Sugden, any thing arch in Archbold, or any thing pastoral even in Shepherd's Touchstone.

That Cupid's court is invisible, is no objection to the tribunal, or the slightest ground for questioning its existence. Has one shepherdess or swain out of one hundred ever seen the Court of Common Pleas, or had ocular evidence of the Exchequer? The Court of Chancery is just as invisible to the bulk of the people of England as the Court of Cupid, how unlike soever the Genius of Litigation may be to the God of Love. We grant the invisibility of the tribunal, which, in fact, like its ubiquity and its omnipotence, is only a proof of its divine and Olympian jurisdiction. It resembles, in one respect, the Queen's Bench, which is said to be ambulant, or attendant upon her ma

Jan.-VOL. LXX. NO. CCLXXVII.

с

jesty's sacred person, in all her progresses and rovings. In like manner, Chief Justice Love attends the whereabouts of Venus, his queenmother, although instead of being ambulant, he is often volant and volatile.

As he has never been seen in his judicial wig and robes, it is impossible to say, with any precision, how he looks in his official garb; but it is easy to guess that he must cut a very distinguished figure; for we have only to go into Westminster Hall, and imagine one of our common-law judges accommodated with Cupid's chubby face and laughing eyes, instead of his own sallow physiognomy, like law-binding and his own moping eyes, mousing for precedents, and haggard with peering into Peere Williams,

Cupid carries no sword, because he does not want one, being provided with his bow and arrows, with which he executes his writs and processes with a despatch, a celerity, and a vigour, perfectly unknown to the men of Lincolns-inn and the Temple. Yet, though he does not wear a sword himself, he commands those who do, and is known to have served his latitats upon the greatest warriors and generals upon earth—for example, upon Field-marshal Achilles and Major-general Cæsar. The recorded cases of resistance to love-processes are but few; it is said that Cupid's writs did not run in the camp of Scipio, any more than Queen Victoria's do in the realms of Connemara; but we may be certain that Scipio was punished for contempt of court, just as the Blakes and Martins are when the law lays hold of them, which is certainly not an everyday occurrence.

The reason that Cupid in general holds no balance, is not that there is no equity in love affairs, but that his godship is more concerned with Virgo than with Libra. However, there are occasions when Love, as well as Themis, is furnished with a pair of scales. When there is any thing commercial, or of the nature of barter and huxtering, in love-affairs, this apparatus is indispensable. Sometimes the commodities weighed together are wealth and beauty, sometimes beauty and rank, sometimes rank and opulence, sometimes opulence and talent; but the most common of all weighing transactions is, when purse is weighed against purse, and fortune against settlement.

In the Court of Cupid the legal language differs considerably from that of the Common Pleas or Queen's

Bench. A passion, in the former, is the parallel to an action in the latter; and although the plaintiffs in Banco Cupidinis are sometimes called suitors, they are more usually styled lovers or wooers. The querela of the lawyer has its exact counterpart in the proceeding by the lover called the love-elegy or sonnet, forms and precedents for which instruments are to be found in abundance in the text-books of Ovid, Petrarch, Shenstone, and other eminent practitioners in love-pleading. There is a difference of some importance in the way that the pleadings commence in the two professions; for whereas in law the suit begins with a declaration, in love the proceedings are often pretty far advanced before a declaration is made or filed. In many love cases the declaration ends the suit. This happens when the fair' defendant is particularly cold and unpropitious, and the plaintiff enters a nolle prosequi, or abandons his passion,

The pleadings in action of law are remarkably heavy and uninteresting, to all whose facts are not formed on Bacon's Abridgment, or Comyn's Digest ; but on the contrary, there is no more popular, more agreeable, or more fashionable reading than the whole of the record in an action at love tried, or for trial, before Judge Cupid. Such records are sometimes called novels, sometimes romances, sometimes love-tales, the latter designation closely resembling what is called in our lawFrench, the conte, or story, told in the plaintiff's declaration, from which our English word count has been derived. In this point of view, “Stephens on Pleading" is a work of the same nature as the “Original Love-Letters,” or the play of “Romeo and Juliet;" and Scott and Shakspeare may be said to have been acquainted with the practices of the two jurisdictions, if they did not both actually hold offices in the two courts.

Curiously enough, the object sought in both systems of pleading is issue ; and it is in both a point of great moment that the issue should be well-knit. Demurring, too, is a daily practice in the love-courts ; the lady frequently demurs of her own accord to the gentleman's declaration, and she is still more commonly advised to do so by her counsel learned in love-for example, an aunt, a mother, or a guardian. These demurrers are generally to the plaintiff's fortune and prospects, and joinder in demurrer is when the suitor admits the fact of poverty in presenti, and bleak anticipations in futuro, but refers the matter to the court within, and leaves it to the decision of the fair one's heart.

The heart, in fact, is Cupid's aula regia, where he sits “ in bank," and the banks which he loves are sometimes banks of violets and roses, sometimes the Bank of England, or Coutts's. In the heart he keeps his terms and his vacations; there are his writs returnable; there take place love's trials ; there he receives affidavits of truth and constancy, which he sometimes orders to be taken off the file for perjury.

When a suitor at law is defeated, he is said to be cast ; when a plaintiff in love is rejected, he is said to be down-case. Frequently he is down-cast with damages and costs—damages to his health and costs to his pocket. His passion sounds in damages, when he indites a querulous letter, or a lugubrious sonnet, addressed to the fair defendant who has cast him. He is then, too, to use another legal phrase“ in misericordia," or in mercy; and what spectacle indeed can be more afflicting ? But the difficulty is often as great in love as in law, to bring the matter to an issue. The means of delay are as abundant in the one as in the other, and the best parallel for a cause in Chancery is occasionally a suit in the Court of Cupid. Sometimes the parties grow old before a case is decided, in which the declaration was perhaps filed when both were in their teens. The lover declares ere he has a beard on his lip; and before he wins or loses the suit, he is qualified to relate the history of half a century, from his personal reminiscences. We have known a suit at love to have been pending for a score of years, and then have we seen it referred by the court to Master Interest, or Master Parsimony, to report upon the “ quid pro quo,” and settle the balance between prudence and passion. When a love-case once gets into the

« ZurückWeiter »