« FöregåendeFortsätt »
little to make me rejoice in the deliverance which has been effected for me by the interpreter, for I certainly never should have broken my bondage had it not been through his suggestions. As far as I can understand by putting things together, the parties in this family are running higher than ever they did in times past, though by all accounts they have run to great excess in years gone by, as your uncle will have told you; for in these days, in addition to the old parties, viz. that of which Father Peter is the head, a party which at one time carried all before it, and the other, to which your uncle belongs,* there are one or two more. First, there is that of the doctor, who, well-meaning man as he is, plays into the hands of the wrong side, and gives the leaders thereof many a chance for mischief, which otherwise they could not obtain ; and, secondly, there is a party from whom I look for all the sorrows which are coming on this house; for I verily believe that we shall have such troubles as we never had before ; although, as your uncle says (for he has talked much with me, and his talk, though he might perhaps think his labour lost,t has tended much to open my eyes), these troubles will be much shorter, for the sake of the chosen servants of the Lord. Now this last party,” continued Theophilus, “ may be in some measure called a new party; the librarian is at the head of it, and its doctrines go right against the authority of the Master-even so far, that some of them deny his very existence, some affirming that he never did, and others that he does not now exist; with much wretched stuff of the same sort, -all of which, as you see, Mr. Nicodemus, tends to the point of destroying every authority, and reducing every man to the same level. Now the librarian has to my knowledge been disseminating this poisonous doctrine for months past, in a quiet way; but I never heard him declare his opinions so publicly as to-day; and it was, I saw, no small triumph to him and to his party, to see how well these daring sentiments were borne with, and I am much mistaken if the flame which blazed out so boldly
*“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Matt. xxiv. 21.
+ " Cast thy bread upon the waters : for thou shalt find it after many days." Eccl. xi.i.
to-day, will not burn on till it makes some of those feel who little think of it just now. You saw what was going on in the village, Mr. Nicodemus," continued Theophilus ; “I would not answer for it that the castle itself will be quiet for many hours to come.”
“ But," said I, "if all authorities are to be sacri. ficed to this new spirit, is not Mr. Fitz-Adam uneasy respecting his place? may not he be likely to be pulled down among the rest ?"
Theophilus smiled, and replied, " I see you don't understand things yet. Mr. Fitz-Adam has such a hold on the people's hearts and interests (I mean the people of the wrong sort), that come what will, he will be uppermost till the Master himself arrives and takes the government in his own hands, and this he knows full well. Nay, the letters (as I have heard your uncle say) might be brought to prove that no one can shake the empire of Fitz-Adam till the Lord himself shall come, and Madame le Monde will rule as long as he does; they stand and they will fall together, and this they know; therefore they have nothing to dread but the return of the Lord, hence their rage against your uncle, who looks with a longing and anxious eye for that event which alone can terminate their reign."
I was, as my reader may suppose, put into a sort of brown study by this discourse: I saw every moment more and more clearly, that all my uncle had said was right, that it was my duty and interest to keep clear of the steward and the housekeeper, and the daughters of this latter; but then, on the other hand, I felt myself drawn into their circle by a power which I could not resist, and yet, I had not strength even to wish that I might be delivered; in consequence of which I was extremely unhappy, though I endeavoured not to betray my uneasiness to my companion. · So we lighted candles, for it was getting dark, and sat down to supper. Falling again into conversation, as is natural to those whose minds are full, and who find their affairs and principles in an unsettled state (though, by-the-by, I should say that I was the only one of the two whose principles were unsettled, for as to Theophilus, it seems that he had made up his mind to go straight forward in the right road, that is, as far as he could see and understand), we sat talking, Theophilus opening his heart to the very bottom, and I guarding mine, as it were, lest he should
see that in it which I did not wish him to discover: and the time was wearing away towards midnight, when my companion suddenly, as it were, pricking up his ears, said, “Did you not hear that, Mr. Nicodemus ?"
“ What !" said 1, " what is it ?"
“ Listen,” he replied, “ listen !” and surely enough, I heard a sort of rushing sound, resembling as I thought the boiling of the ocean* when the waves are pressed forward against the rocks by the tempest.
“What may that be?” I asked.
“What is it!” he replied, “but that the people are up-this is what I expected, though perhaps not so
And we arose from our seats, and stood as it were prepared to be on the alert in any way which we might think best. I am sure that we stood in that position four or five minutes, during which the murmur became more and more distinct; and to carry on our allusion, we could now hear the voices of the mariners who rode upon the storm, for the shouts of the populace were distinctly heard rising above the tread of many heavy footsteps.
“They are numerous," said Theophilus; "the village is up, I doubt not, and the inferior servants who lodge without have already joined them.”
“What is their object?" asked I.
“ Ask the sea,” he replied, " what it would have when it tosses its troubled waves on high.
But, Mr. Fitz-Adam,” I said, " what will he do in this emergency ?"
“Do !” replied Theophilus,“ let him alone for an emergency of this kind ; probably he will turn his coat, and rush in with the rabble, and so become the conductor to lead them to execute his own work; and to-morrow, if I am not mistaken, he will turn about again, and put the foremost of those in the stocks who this night will have been the instruments of mischief in his own hands. Mr. Fitz-Adam, indeed! do not trouble yourself about him ; if he does not make all this accrue to what he considers his own advantage and that of the master whom he serves, I am mistaken in my man. Nay, I have a pretty shrewd guess respecting the parties against which he will direct the storm.”
** But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked.”. Isaiah lvii. 20, 21.
“And which may they be?" I asked.
“Who should they be,” replied Theophilus, “but those who stand most in his own way, and those especially to whom he carries the fairest face, I mean the doctor, of whom to my certain knowledge he begins to be heartily tired; but," added he," why are we standing here? Is this a time to be deliberating and parleying among ourselves if it is as I expect? Let us hasten to the doctor, we might serve him in his perils." With that we both looked about us, and seeing a number of strong oaken staves belonging to my uncle, we each seized one, and were scarcely thus provided, when we heard a crash, as of the breaking open of a door, and then another and another, and then such yells and shrieks and shouts burst forth, as caused the very inner walls of our apartments to ring again. "They are within the house,” cried Theophilus; "let us seek the doctor," and he sprang through the doorway, while I followed him, but through the darkness and intricacies of the passages, lost sight of him in a moment; yet being directed by the roars of the mob, I sprang forward, and soon found myself at the entrance of the great hall; and surely such a sight as met my eyes there could never be forgotten! There was a mad and drunken populace, consisting of men, women, and boys, all without order and discipline, and without other objects than mischief and confusion; and they were pushing forward at the moment when I first saw them, crying, “ Down! down! down with them all! we will have nothing-no ruler-no prince; and to this they added scurrilous expressions, such as I will not sully my pages withal; when suddenly, as it were springing up in the midst of them, appeared a tall portly figure, clad as they were, and crying, " Come on! follow on, my boys! here we march, here we go, to destruction! destruction of the tyrants !” and so joining, first with the people, and then as it were leading the war song, he passed on, while the foolish and infuriated populace pursued fast at his heels, adopting him whom they knew not as a leader, at the very moment in which they were uttering the cry of “ We will have no prince -down with all authorities!
That this person was Mr. Fitz-Adam himself, I could not doubt, though he was all changed to his outward appearance: neither could I help admiring the firmness and presence of mind with which he thus turned the
flood from his own party and particular friends, though my admiration was mingled with horror and apprehension of what was to ensue. So he led on, and the people followed, and I stood observing until the last of the herd had passed down towards those parts of the house which were occupied by Father Peter, and which, although communicating by passages with the housekeeper's and steward's room, were capable of being barricaded from them. In following in the rear of the rabble, I therefore speedily entered the precincts of the father, and saw the mob before me through the long vistas of the cloistered walks, and heard their yells as they ran along under the arched roofs, rousing the hooded owls and bats, and other unclean birds, which had long kept undisturbed dominion of their murky secret haunts in the old building, and causing many of the servants and followers of the father to run and hide themselves, trembling even for their lives. The time had been when the father at the head of his band would have driven back ten, nay, a hundred times the number of persons who were then attacking him, but as I have before said, the father is not now what he once was his power is on the wane; as it took a long time to reach its height, so as I have heard my uncle say it may probably take as long a period to sink into total decay. So as the father did not feel himself strong enough to oppose the enemy, which poured in upon him like a flood, and as the most stanch of his followers seemed to be seized with an astonishment* which rendered them incapable of lifting a finger in his defence, the rabble were left to work their will through all his apartments ;t and bad work did they make-hauling and
*" And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning ; standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.” Rev. xviii. 9, 10.
+" And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues. And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled. And tho woman which thou sawest is that great city, which reigneth over the Kings of the earth.” Rev. xvii. 15–18.