Hnh ảnh trang
PDF
ePub

buried in a corn field, he was taken out of his grave by these superstitious people, as soon as they could discover the place where his body was deposited. But I return to the convent at Mont

serrat.

If you ascend from the lowest cell to the very summit, the last of all the thirteen, you will perceive a continual contention between pleasure and devotion; and at last, perhaps, find yourself at a loss to decide which deserves the pre-eminence: for you are not here to take cells in the vulgar acceptation, as the little dormitories of solitary monks; no, neatness, use, and contrivance, appear in every one of them; and though in an almost perfect equality, yet in such perfection, that you will find it difficult to discover in any one of them, any thing wanting to the pleasure of life. If you descend to the convent near the foot of that venerable hill, you may see more, much more of the riches of the world, but less, far less appearance of a celestial treasure. Perhaps it might be the sentiment of a heretic, but that awe and devotion, which I found in my attendant from cell to cell, grew languid, and was lost in mere empty bigotry, and foggy superstition when I came below.

Before I leave this emblem of the beatific vision, I must correct something like a mistake as to the poor borigo. I said at the beginning that his labour was daily, but the Sunday is to him a day of rest, as it is to the hermits, his masters, a day of reflection: for, to save the poor faithful brute the hard drudgery of that day, the thirteen hermits, if health permit, descend to their cœnobium, as they call it, that is, to the hall of the convent, where they dine in common with the monks of the order, who are Benedictines. After seven days variety of such innocent delight (the space allowed for the entertainment of strangers), I took my leave of this pacific hermitage, to pursue the more boisterous duties of my calling.

TAKING OF THE VEIL.

FROM THE SAME.

Being now pretty well recovered of my wounds, I was, by order of the Governor of Valencia, removed to Sainte Clemente de la Mancha, a town somewhat more inland, and consequently esteemed more secure, than a seaport. Here I remained under a sort of pilgrimage. To me as a stranger, devested of acquaintance or friend (for at that instant I was sole prisoner there), at first it appeared such, though in a very small compass of time I luckily found it made quite otherwise by an agreeable conversation.

Sainte Clemente de la Mancha is rendered famous by the renowned Don Michael Cervantes, who, in his facetious but satiri

до

cal romance, has fixed it the seat and birth-place of his hero Don Quixote.

The gentlemen of this place are the least priest-ridden, or sons of bigotry, of any that I met with in all Spain; of which, in my conversation with them, I had daily instances. Among many others, an expression that fell from Don Felix Pacheo, a gentleman of the best figure thereabout, and of a very plentiful fortune, shall now suffice. I was become very intimate with him; and we used often to converse together with a freedom too dangerous to be common in a country so enslaved by the inquisition. Asking me one day in a sort of a jocose manner, who, in my opinion had done the greatest miracles that ever were heard of? I answered, Jesus Christ. "It is very true," says he, "Jesus Christ did great miracles, and a great one it was to feed five thousand people with two or three small fishes, and a like number of loaves: but Saint Francis, the founder of the Franciscan order, has found out a way to feed daily one hundred thousand lubbards with nothing at all;" meaning the Franciscans, the followers of Saint Francis, who have no visible revenues; yet in their way of living, come up to, if they do not exceed, any other order.

Another day, talking of the place, it naturally led us into a discourse of the knight of La Mancha, Don Quixote. At which time he told me, that, in his opinion, that work was a perfect paradox, being the best and the worst romance that ever was wrote. "For," says he, "though it must infallibly please every man that has any taste for wit, yet has it had such a fatal effect upon the spirits of my countrymen, that every man of wit must ever resent; for," continued he, " before the appearance in the world of that labour of Cervantes, it was next to an impossibility for any man to walk the streets with any delight, or without danger. There were seen so many cavalieros prancing and and curvetting before the windows of their mistresses, that a stranger would have imagined the whole nation to have been nothing less than a race of knight-errants. But after the world became a little acquainted with that notable history, the man that was once seen in that notable drapery was pointed at as a Don Quixote, and found himself the jest of high and low. And I verily believe," added he, "that to this, and this only, we owe that dampness and poverty of spirit which has run through all our councils for a century past, so little agreeable to those nobler actions of our famous ancestors."

After many of these lesser sorts of confidences, Don Felix recommended me to a lodging next door to his own. It was at a widow's, who had one only daughter, her house just opposite to a Franciscan nunnery. Here I remained some time; all which

[blocks in formation]

time, lying in my bed, I could hear the nuns early in the morning at their matins, and late in the evening at their vespers, with delight enough to myself, and without the least indecency in the world in my thoughts of them. Their own divine employ too much engaged every faculty of mine to entertain any thing inconsentaneous or offensive.

This my neighbourhood to the nunnery, gave me an opportunity of seeing two nuns invested; and in this I must do a justice to the whole country to acknowledge, that a stranger who is curious (I would impute it rather to their hopes of conversion than to their vanity) shall be admitted to much greater freedoms in their religious pageantries, than any native.

One of their nuns was of the first quality, which rendered the ceremony more remarkably fine. The manner of investing them was thus :-In the morning her relations and friends all met at her father's house, whence, she being attired in her most sumptuous apparel, and a coronet placed on her head, they attended her, in cavalcade, to the nunnery, the streets and windows being crowded, and filled with spectators of all sorts.

So soon as she entered the chapel belonging to the nunnery she kneeled down, and, with an appearance of much devotion, saluted the ground, then rising up, she advanced a step or two farther, when, on her knees, she repeated the salutes; this done, she approached to the altar, where she remained till mass was over; after which, a sermon was preached by one of the priests, in praise, or rather in an exalted preference, of a single life. The sermon being over, the nun elect fell down on her knees before the altar, and, after some short mental orisons, rising again, she withdrew into an inner room, where, stripping off all her rich attire, she put on her nun's weeds; in which, making her appearance, she, again kneeling, offered up some private devotions, which being over, she was led to the door of the nunnery, where the lady and the rest of the nuns stood, ready to receive her with open arms. Thus entered, the nuns conducted her into the quire, where, after they had entertained her with singing, and playing upon the organ, the ceremony concluded, and every one departed to their proper habitations.

The very same day of the year ensuing, the relations and friends of the fair novitiate meet again in the chapel of the nunnery, where the lady abbess brings her out and delivers her to them. Then again is there a sermon preached on the same subject as the first; which, being over, she is brought up to the altar, in a decent but plain dress, the fine apparel which she put off on her initiation being deposited on one side of the altar, and her nun's weeds on the other. Here the priest, in Latin, cries, Utrum, horum, mavis, accipe: to which she answers, as her inclination or as her instruction directs her. If she, after this her year of probation,

!

shows any dislike, she is at liberty to come again into the world: but if, awed by fear (as too often is the case), or won by expectation, or present real inclination, she makes choice of the nun's weeds, she is immediately invested, and must never expect to appear again in the world out of the walls of the nunnery. The young lady I saw thus invested was very beautiful, and sang the in the nunnery.

best of

any

FROM LA BELLE ASSEMBLEE.

THE LATE LORD LYTTLETON.

WHILST The World was in being, the house in which Mr. Topham and I resided, in Beaufort-buildings, was the constant resort of men of literary character; and, among the number, we had the pleasure of reckoning Miles Peter Andrews, Esq. who had been the friend of Mr. Topham from his youth. I should not have introduced his name in these pages, it being somewhat extraneous to my subject, but to mention a circumstance that I heard from himself; which, as I ever knew him to be a man of veracity and strict honour, I have every reason to believe true; and as it explains some circumstances respecting the death of the late Lord Lyttleton (Mr. Andrews's intimate companion for several years), never before made known to the public, it may not be uninteresting to my readers. A few nights previous to Lord Lyttleton's demise (as mentioned in his biography attached to his Poems), soon after he had got into bed he saw a female at the foot of it, with a dove in her hand, and beautifully arrayed in white, who told him, in a very impressive manner, to prepare himself for death, as the third night from that, exactly at twelve o'clock, he should depart this life! His Lordship, who had ever led a very gay one, conceiving that it was some female who had got into the room, and had said so merely to jest with him, jumped out of bed; but to his astonishment found the door fast, and no person in the room but his valet, who was fast asleep in a recess, where he always lay. Greatly alarmed at the circumstance, it made a deep impression upon him, and he determined to put off a visit he was to have paid Mr. Andrews that very week; and the night which the spectre prescribed as his last, was the very one he was expected to sleep at Dartford. On the fatal evening his Lordship had several of his friends about him, who amused themselves with looking at the family pictures till the hour of twelve o'clock arrived. As some of them regarded it a

phantom of his Lordship's brain, they privately put the clock for-
ward a few minutes. As soon as it struck, he turned round to
all who were about him, and said, "You see I have cheated the
ghost!"-Upon which he went up to bed, and his valet brought
him up some trifling medicine to take, but had forgotten a spoon
to stir it; he sent him down for one; and on his return, found
him actually a corpse on the bed! he looked at his Lordship's
fine stop-watch, and found the hands exactly at the stroke of
twelve o'clock. Mr. Andrews finding that his Lordship did not
come down on the day he promised, which was the very one on
which he died, could not imagine the reason of it, and had retired
to rest somewhat before twelve. He had not been long lying
down when the curtains at the foot of the bed were drawn open,
and he saw his Lordship standing before him, in a large figured
morning-gown which always remained in the house for his Lord-
ship's sole use. Mr. Andrews conceiving that his Lordship had
arrived after he had retired, as he so positively expected him on
that day, said to him, "My Lord you are at some of your tricks;
go to your bed or I will throw something at you."
"The answer
he returned was-" It is all over with me, Andrews!"-and in-
stantly disappeared. As there was a large clothes press at the
foot of the bed, he conceived his Lordship had got into it, and
rose to see; but he did not find him there. He next examined
the night-bolt on the door, and found it fast; and he saw by the
candle he had not been long in bed, or he might otherwise have
conceived it a dream. He rung his bell, and inquired of his
servants where Lord Lyttleton was? they said they had not seen
him. The night-gown was next sought for, and found in its usu-
al place. Mr. Andrews knew not of his Lordship's death till
next day, when letters from London announced it to have taken
place exactly at twelve o'clock the night before. As must natu-
rally be supposed, the circumstance and the loss of his friend
made a very great impression upon Mr. Andrews, and affected
him for some months after, as he is positive to his being awake
at the time it happened, and of the appearance of the phantom.
Upon taking an impartial view of the business :-The circum-
stances connected with Lord Lyttleton's death are on record, well
authenticated by people of honour, veracity, and high rank, and
that he died at the exact hour of twelve, is beyond a doubt. With
respect to Mr. Andrews, he is a man of a strong mind, stored
with the most elegant accomplishments which literature, a refined
education, and a good understanding could give it; his charac-
ter as a man of honour and truth has never been impeached;
while his ample fortune has placed him above the petty cavils or
petty necessities of chequered life; therefore, under such circum-
stances, we can have no reason to suspect Mr. Andrews of telling

« TrướcTiếp tục »