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instead of awaiting a proposal to take up arms, he offered, unmasked, to try the spirit of the mountaineers; and declared that himself and his vassals would be the first to set an example, and turn out under the command of his beloved general.
“ Gustavus was rejoiced to find that he had at last discovered a man who was not afraid to draw his sword in the defence of his country; and endeavoured, by the most impressive arguments, and the prospect of a suitable
recompense for the personal risks he ran, to confirm him in so generous a resolution. Pearson answered with repeated assurances of fidelity; he named the gentlemen, and the leading persons among the peasants, whom he hoped to engage in the enterprise. Gustavus relied on his word, and promising not to disclose himself to any while he was absent, some days afterwards saw him leave the house to put his design in execution.
“It was indeed a design, and a black one. Under the specious cloak of a zealous affection for Gustavus, the traitor was contriving his ruin. The hope of making his court to the Danish tyrant, and the expectation of a large reward, made this son of Judas resolve to sacrifice his honour to his ambition, and, for the sake of a few ducats, violate the most sacred laws of hospitality, by betraying his guest. In pursuance of that base resolution, he went straight to one of Christiern's officers commanding in the province, and informed him that Gustavus was his prisoner. Having committed this treachery, he had not courage to face his victim; and telling the Dane how to surprise the prince, who, he said, believed himself to be under the protection of a friend, (shame to manhood, to dare to confess that he could betray such a confidence !) he proposed taking a wider circuit home, while they, apparently unknown to him, rifled it of its treasuer. · It will be an easy mat
ter,' said he, ' for not even my wife knows that it is Gustavus.'
“Accordingly, the officer, at the head of a party of well-armed soldiers, marched directly to the lake. The men invested the house, while the leader, abruptly entering, found Pearson's wife, according to the fashion of those days, employed in culinary preparations. At some distance from her sat a young man in a rustic garb, lopping off the knots from the broken branch of a tree. The officer went up to her, and told her he came in King Christiern's name to demand the rebel Gustavus, who he knew was concealed under her roof.The dauntless woman never changed colour; she immediately guessed the man whom her husband had introduced as a miner's son, to be the Swedish hero. The door was blocked up by soldiers. In an instant she replied, without once glancing at Gustavus, who sat motionless with surprise, 'If you mean the melancholy gentleman my husband has had here these few days, he has just walked out into the wood on the other side of the hill. Some of those soldiers may readily seize him, as he has no arms with him.
“ The officer did not suspect the easy simplicity of her manner ; and ordered part of the men to go in quest of him. At that moment, suddenly turning her eyes on Gustavus, she flew up to him, and catching the stick out of his hand, exclaimed, in an angry voice,— Unmannerly wretch! What, sit before your betters? Don't you see the king's officers in the room? Get out of my sight, or some of them shall give you a drubbing ! As * she spoke, she struck him a blow on the back with all her strength; and opening a side-door, there, get into the scullery,' cried she, “it is the fittest place for such company! and giving him another knock, she flung the stiek after him, and shut the door. Sure,' added
she, in a great heat, 'never woman was plagued with such a lout of a slave !'
“ The officer begged she would not disturb herself
his account; but she, affecting great reverence for the king, and respect for his representative, prayed him to enter her parlour while she brought some refreshment. The Dane civilly complied; perhaps glad enough to get from the side of a shrew; and she immediately hastened to Gustavus, whom she had bolted in, and by means of a back-passage conducted him in a moment to a certain little apartment, which projected from the side of the house close to the bank of the lake where the fishers' boats lay, she lowered him down the convenient aperture in the seat, and, giving him a direction to an honest curate across the lake, committed him to Provi. dence.”
ONE windy wintry night, as the Bachelor and his nymph were enjoying together the music of the blast, the lady said to him, —“ It was a strange fancy of our ancestors, to suppose that men and women witches and wizards should ever have delighted in causing such weather as this; and, above all, of making choice of it for visiting. But truly, after all that has been written about magic and witchcraft, I think a sound and sober treatise on the subject is still wanted. For my own part, I am of opinion that the laws against witches and witchcraft, though now
rendered obsolete by the progress of knowledge, were yet, when first enacted, founded in wisdom and on justice.”
Really, my love,” replied the Bachelor, looking aghast at this observation, "you begin to grow paradoxical. You do not mean to contend that there was ever any such crime as that for which so many poor wretches suffered death, in consequence of those absurd and superstitious laws?”
“But I do though,” said Egeria ; " I do not, it is true, contend, that ever any such power as that which was ascribed to the wizard and the witch actually existed; but, what was almost the same thing, the belief that it did exist was universal ; and wicked and malicious persons, by pretending to the possession of it, acquired an influence oyer the minds of their neighbours, which they often exercised with the worst and most baneful effect. Think, for a moment, what must have been his feelings who believed himself under the influence of their malignant spells ! Misfortunes were not to him merely causes of regret and sorrow, but subjects of the most hideous and horrible contemplation. He saw not his cattle die of disease, but the victims of unutterable incantations. It was not the wind nor the rain of nature by which his corn was laid, but the trampling of hell-hags, furious with enmity against himself. His sleep was not disturbed by indigestion, or by infirm health, but by dreadful charms, mingled by accursed hands, and made efficacious by the ministry of diabolical agents. The anguish of sickness perated by the pangs of mental suffering; and the invalid who pined in consumption, trembled with the frightful thought of a waxen image of himself, framed with mysteries under disastrous aspects of the heavens, revolving and melting before an enchanted fire, round which the most loathsome and detestable of beings were convened. The changes of his sensations told him when their cruelty damped the flame, to waste him lingeringly; and, in his sharp and shooting pains, he thought of the witches piercing the image with pins and bodkins. They sat on his heart in his sleep, and they haunted him in his shadow. Were not the causes of such agonies, though but by the management of the imaginations and the ears of the subjects, worthy of punishment ? and shall we therefore' say, that the laws, which were framed to deter wretches from the practice of impostures so fatal, were either in themselves uncalled for or unwise ? That those who practised witchcraft believed themselves possessed of the power to which they pretended is not impossible; but I am more inclined to think, that the spell formed but a part of the devices of their malignant cunning ;though it cannot be supposed that there ever was any such ceremonies in use among them as those of the absurd tales of the mysteries of their visitations.For example, look at Gaule's account of the business; was ever any such absurdities either done or attempted as the following ?"