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Chapter 2

  • > Forse se tu gustassi una sol volta La millesima parte delle gioje, Che gust_n cor amato riamando, Diresti ripentita sospirando, Perduto e tutto il temp_he in amar non si sponde. Tasso.
  • >
  • > Hadst Thou but tasted once the thousandth part Of joys, which bless th_oved and loving heart, Your words repentant and your sighs would prove, Los_s the time which is not past in love.
  • The monks having attended their Abbot to the door of his Cell, He dismisse_hem with an air of conscious superiority in which Humility's semblanc_ombated with the reality of pride.
  • He was no sooner alone, than He gave free loose to the indulgence of hi_anity. When He remembered the Enthusiasm which his discourse had excited, hi_eart swelled with rapture, and his imagination presented him with splendi_isions of aggrandizement. He looked round him with exultation, and Pride tol_im loudly that He was superior to the rest of his fellow-Creatures.
  • 'Who,' thought He; 'Who but myself has passed the ordeal of Youth, yet sees n_ingle stain upon his conscience? Who else has subdued the violence of stron_assions and an impetuous temperament, and submitted even from the dawn o_ife to voluntary retirement? I seek for such a Man in vain. I see no one bu_yself possessed of such resolution. Religion cannot boast Ambrosio's equal!
  • How powerful an effect did my discourse produce upon its Auditors! How the_rowded round me! How they loaded me with benedictions, and pronounced me th_ole uncorrupted Pillar of the Church! What then now is left for me to do?
  • Nothing, but to watch as carefully over the conduct of my Brothers as I hav_itherto watched over my own. Yet hold! May I not be tempted from those path_hich till now I have pursued without one moment's wandering? Am I not a Man, whose nature is frail, and prone to error? I must now abandon the solitude o_y retreat; The fairest and noblest Dames of Madrid continually presen_hemselves at the Abbey, and will use no other Confessor.
  • I must accustom my eyes to Objects of temptation, and expose myself to th_eduction of luxury and desire. Should I meet in that world which I a_onstrained to enter some lovely Female, lovely … as you, Madona… .!'
  • As He said this, He fixed his eyes upon a picture of the Virgin, which wa_uspended opposite to him: This for two years had been the Object of hi_ncreasing wonder and adoration. He paused, and gazed upon it with delight.
  • 'What Beauty in that countenance!' He continued after a silence of som_inutes; 'How graceful is the turn of that head! What sweetness, yet wha_ajesty in her divine eyes! How softly her cheek reclines upon her hand! Ca_he Rose vie with the blush of that cheek? Can the Lily rival the whiteness o_hat hand? Oh! if such a Creature existed, and existed but for me! Were _ermitted to twine round my fingers those golden ringlets, and press with m_ips the treasures of that snowy bosom! Gracious God, should I then resist th_emptation? Should I not barter for a single embrace the reward of m_ufferings for thirty years? Should I not abandon… . Fool that I am! Whithe_o I suffer my admiration of this picture to hurry me? Away, impure ideas! Le_e remember that Woman is for ever lost to me. Never was Mortal formed s_erfect as this picture. But even did such exist, the trial might be to_ighty for a common virtue, but Ambrosio's is proof against temptation.
  • Temptation, did I say? To me it would be none. What charms me, when ideal an_onsidered as a superior Being, would disgust me, become Woman and tainte_ith all the failings of Mortality. It is not the Woman's beauty that fills m_ith such enthusiasm; It is the Painter's skill that I admire, it is th_ivinity that I adore! Are not the passions dead in my bosom? Have I not free_yself from the frailty of Mankind? Fear not, Ambrosio! Take confidence in th_trength of your virtue. Enter boldly into a world to whose failings you ar_uperior; Reflect that you are now exempted from Humanity's defects, and def_ll the arts of the Spirits of Darkness. They shall know you for what yo_re!'
  • Here his Reverie was interrupted by three soft knocks at the door of his Cell.
  • With difficulty did the Abbot awake from his delirium. The knocking wa_epeated.
  • 'Who is there?' said Ambrosio at length.
  • 'It is only Rosario,' replied a gentle voice.
  • 'Enter! Enter, my Son!'
  • The Door was immediately opened, and Rosario appeared with a small basket i_is hand.
  • Rosario was a young Novice belonging to the Monastery, who in three Month_ntended to make his profession. A sort of mystery enveloped this Youth whic_endered him at once an object of interest and curiosity. His hatred o_ociety, his profound melancholy, his rigid observation of the duties of hi_rder, and his voluntary seclusion from the world at his age so unusual, attracted the notice of the whole fraternity. He seemed fearful of bein_ecognised, and no one had ever seen his face. His head was continuall_uffled up in his Cowl; Yet such of his features as accident discovered, appeared the most beautiful and noble. Rosario was the only name by which H_as known in the Monastery.
  • No one knew from whence He came, and when questioned in the subject H_reserved a profound silence. A Stranger, whose rich habit and magnificen_quipage declared him to be of distinguished rank, had engaged the Monks t_eceive a Novice, and had deposited the necessary sums. The next day H_eturned with Rosario, and from that time no more had been heard of him.
  • The Youth had carefully avoided the company of the Monks: He answered thei_ivilities with sweetness, but reserve, and evidently showed that hi_nclination led him to solitude. To this general rule the Superior was th_nly exception. To him He looked up with a respect approaching idolatry: H_ought his company with the most attentive assiduity, and eagerly seized ever_eans to ingratiate himself in his favour. In the Abbot's society his Hear_eemed to be at ease, and an air of gaiety pervaded his whole manners an_iscourse. Ambrosio on his side did not feel less attracted towards the Youth; With him alone did He lay aside his habitual severity. When He spoke to him, He insensibly assumed a tone milder than was usual to him; and no voic_ounded so sweet to him as did Rosario's. He repayed the Youth's attentions b_nstructing him in various sciences; The Novice received his lessons wit_ocility; Ambrosio was every day more charmed with the vivacity of his Genius, the simplicity of his manners, and the rectitude of his heart: In short H_oved him with all the affection of a Father. He could not help sometime_ndulging a desire secretly to see the face of his Pupil; But his rule o_elf-denial extended even to curiosity, and prevented him from communicatin_is wishes to the Youth.
  • 'Pardon my intrusion, Father,' said Rosario, while He placed his basket upo_he Table; 'I come to you a Suppliant. Hearing that a dear Friend i_angerously ill, I entreat your prayers for his recovery. If supplications ca_revail upon heaven to spare him, surely yours must be efficacious.'
  • 'Whatever depends upon me, my Son, you know that you may command.
  • What is your Friend's name?'
  • 'Vincentio della Ronda.'
  • ' 'Tis sufficient. I will not forget him in my prayers, and may our thrice- blessed St. Francis deign to listen to my intercession!—What have you in you_asket, Rosario?'
  • 'A few of those flowers, reverend Father, which I have observed to be mos_cceptable to you. Will you permit my arranging them in your chamber?'
  • 'Your attentions charm me, my Son.'
  • While Rosario dispersed the contents of his Basket in small Vases placed fo_hat purpose in various parts of the room, the Abbot thus continued th_onversation.
  • 'I saw you not in the Church this evening, Rosario.'
  • 'Yet I was present, Father. I am too grateful for your protection to lose a_pportunity of witnessing your Triumph.'
  • 'Alas! Rosario, I have but little cause to triumph: The Saint spoke by m_outh; To him belongs all the merit. It seems then you were contented with m_iscourse?'
  • 'Contented, say you? Oh! you surpassed yourself! Never did I hear suc_loquence … save once!'
  • Here the Novice heaved an involuntary sigh.
  • 'When was that once?' demanded the Abbot.
  • 'When you preached upon the sudden indisposition of our late Superior.'
  • 'I remember it: That is more than two years ago. And were you present? I kne_ou not at that time, Rosario.'
  • ' 'Tis true, Father; and would to God! I had expired, ere I beheld that day!
  • What sufferings, what sorrows should I have escaped!'
  • 'Sufferings at your age, Rosario?'
  • 'Aye, Father; Sufferings, which if known to you, would equally raise you_nger and compassion! Sufferings, which form at once the torment and pleasur_f my existence! Yet in this retreat my bosom would feel tranquil, were it no_or the tortures of apprehension. Oh God! Oh God! how cruel is a life o_ear!—Father! I have given up all; I have abandoned the world and its delight_or ever: Nothing now remains, Nothing now has charms for me, but you_riendship, but your affection. If I lose that, Father! Oh! if I lose that, tremble at the effects of my despair!'
  • 'You apprehend the loss of my friendship? How has my conduct justified thi_ear? Know me better, Rosario, and think me worthy of your confidence. Wha_re your sufferings? Reveal them to me, and believe that if 'tis in my powe_o relieve them… .'
  • 'Ah! 'tis in no one's power but yours. Yet I must not let you know them. Yo_ould hate me for my avowal! You would drive me from your presence with scor_nd ignominy!'
  • 'My Son, I conjure you! I entreat you!'
  • 'For pity's sake, enquire no further! I must not … I dare not … Hark! The Bel_ings for Vespers! Father, your benediction, and I leave you!'
  • As He said this, He threw himself upon his knees and received the blessin_hich He demanded. Then pressing the Abbot's hand to his lips, He started fro_he ground and hastily quitted the apartment. Soon after Ambrosio descended t_espers (which were celebrated in a small chapel belonging to the Abbey), filled with surprise at the singularity of the Youth's behaviour.
  • Vespers being over, the Monks retired to their respective Cells. The Abbo_lone remained in the Chapel to receive the Nuns of St. Clare. He had not bee_ong seated in the confessional chair before the Prioress made her appearance.
  • Each of the Nuns was heard in her turn, while the Others waited with th_omina in the adjoining Vestry. Ambrosio listened to the confessions wit_ttention, made many exhortations, enjoined penance proportioned to eac_ffence, and for some time every thing went on as usual: till at last one o_he Nuns, conspicuous from the nobleness of her air and elegance of he_igure, carelessly permitted a letter to fall from her bosom. She wa_etiring, unconscious of her loss. Ambrosio supposed it to have been writte_y some one of her Relations, and picked it up intending to restore it to her.
  • 'Stay, Daughter,' said He; 'You have let fall… .'
  • At this moment, the paper being already open, his eye involuntarily read th_irst words. He started back with surprise! The Nun had turned round o_earing his voice: She perceived her letter in his hand, and uttering a shrie_f terror, flew hastily to regain it.
  • 'Hold!' said the Friar in a tone of severity; 'Daughter, I must read thi_etter.'
  • 'Then I am lost!' She exclaimed clasping her hands together wildly.
  • All colour instantly faded from her face; she trembled with agitation, and wa_bliged to fold her arms round a Pillar of the Chapel to save herself fro_inking upon the floor. In the meanwhile the Abbot read the following lines.
  • 'All is ready for your escape, my dearest Agnes. At twelve tomorrow night _hall expect to find you at the Garden door: I have obtained the Key, and _ew hours will suffice to place you in a secure asylum. Let no mistake_cruples induce you to reject the certain means of preserving yourself and th_nnocent Creature whom you nourish in your bosom. Remember that you ha_romised to be mine, long ere you engaged yourself to the church; that you_ituation will soon be evident to the prying eyes of your Companions; and tha_light is the only means of avoiding the effects of their malevolen_esentment. Farewell, my Agnes! my dear and destined Wife! Fail not to be a_he Garden door at twelve!'
  • As soon as He had finished, Ambrosio bent an eye stern and angry upon th_mprudent Nun.
  • 'This letter must to the Prioress!' said He, and passed her.
  • His words sounded like thunder to her ears: She awoke from her torpidity onl_o be sensible of the dangers of her situation. She followed him hastily, an_etained him by his garment.
  • 'Stay! Oh! stay!' She cried in the accents of despair, while She threw hersel_t the Friar's feet, and bathed them with her tears. 'Father, compassionate m_outh! Look with indulgence on a Woman's weakness, and deign to conceal m_railty! The remainder of my life shall be employed in expiating this singl_ault, and your lenity will bring back a soul to heaven!'
  • 'Amazing confidence! What! Shall St. Clare's Convent become the retreat o_rostitutes? Shall I suffer the Church of Christ to cherish in its boso_ebauchery and shame? Unworthy Wretch! such lenity would make me you_ccomplice. Mercy would here be criminal. You have abandoned yourself to _educer's lust; You have defiled the sacred habit by your impurity; and stil_are you think yourself deserving my compassion? Hence, nor detain me longer!
  • Where is the Lady Prioress?' He added, raising his voice.
  • 'Hold! Father, Hold! Hear me but for one moment! Tax me not with impurity, no_hink that I have erred from the warmth of temperament. Long before I took th_eil, Raymond was Master of my heart: He inspired me with the purest, the mos_rreproachable passion, and was on the point of becoming my lawful husband. A_orrible adventure, and the treachery of a Relation, separated us from eac_ther: I believed him for ever lost to me, and threw myself into a Conven_rom motives of despair. Accident again united us; I could not refuse mysel_he melancholy pleasure of mingling my tears with his: We met nightly in th_ardens of St. Clare, and in an unguarded moment I violated my vows o_hastity. I shall soon become a Mother: Reverend Ambrosio, take compassion o_e; take compassion on the innocent Being whose existence is attached to mine.
  • If you discover my imprudence to the Domina, both of us are lost: Th_unishment which the laws of St. Clare assign to Unfortunates like myself i_ost severe and cruel. Worthy, worthy Father! Let not your own untainte_onscience render you unfeeling towards those less able to withstan_emptation! Let not mercy be the only virtue of which your heart i_nsusceptible! Pity me, most reverend! Restore my letter, nor doom me t_nevitable destruction!'
  • 'Your boldness confounds me! Shall I conceal your crime, I whom you hav_eceived by your feigned confession? No, Daughter, no! I will render you _ore essential service. I will rescue you from perdition in spite of yourself; Penance and mortification shall expiate your offence, and Severity force yo_ack to the paths of holiness. What; Ho! Mother St. Agatha!'
  • 'Father! By all that is sacred, by all that is most dear to you, I supplicate, I entreat… .'
  • 'Release me! I will not hear you. Where is the Domina? Mother St. Agatha, where are you?'
  • The door of the Vestry opened, and the Prioress entered the Chapel, followe_y her Nuns.
  • 'Cruel! Cruel!' exclaimed Agnes, relinquishing her hold.
  • Wild and desperate, She threw herself upon the ground, beating her bosom an_ending her veil in all the delirium of despair. The Nuns gazed wit_stonishment upon the scene before them. The Friar now presented the fata_aper to the Prioress, informed her of the manner in which he had found it, and added, that it was her business to decide, what penance the delinquen_erited.
  • While She perused the letter, the Domina's countenance grew inflamed wit_assion. What! Such a crime committed in her Convent, and made known t_mbrosio, to the Idol of Madrid, to the Man whom She was most anxious t_mpress with the opinion of the strictness and regularity of her House! Word_ere inadequate to express her fury. She was silent, and darted upon th_rostrate Nun looks of menace and malignity.
  • 'Away with her to the Convent!' said She at length to some of her Attendants.
  • Two of the oldest Nuns now approaching Agnes, raised her forcibly from th_round, and prepared to conduct her from the Chapel.
  • 'What!' She exclaimed suddenly shaking off their hold with distracte_estures; 'Is all hope then lost? Already do you drag me to punishment? Wher_re you, Raymond? Oh! save me! save me!'
  • Then casting upon the Abbot a frantic look, 'Hear me!' She continued; 'Man o_n hard heart! Hear me, Proud, Stern, and Cruel! You could have saved me; yo_ould have restored me to happiness and virtue, but would not! You are th_estroyer of my Soul; You are my Murderer, and on you fall the curse of m_eath and my unborn Infant's! Insolent in your yet-unshaken virtue, yo_isdained the prayers of a Penitent; But God will show mercy, though you sho_one. And where is the merit of your boasted virtue? What temptations have yo_anquished? Coward! you have fled from it, not opposed seduction. But the da_f Trial will arrive! Oh! then when you yield to impetuous passions! when yo_eel that Man is weak, and born to err; When shuddering you look back upo_our crimes, and solicit with terror the mercy of your God, Oh! in tha_earful moment think upon me! Think upon your Cruelty! Think upon Agnes, an_espair of pardon!'
  • As She uttered these last words, her strength was exhausted, and She san_nanimate upon the bosom of a Nun who stood near her. She was immediatel_onveyed from the Chapel, and her Companions followed her.
  • Ambrosio had not listened to her reproaches without emotion. A secret pang a_is heart made him feel, that He had treated this Unfortunate with too grea_everity. He therefore detained the Prioress and ventured to pronounce som_ords in favour of the Delinquent.
  • 'The violence of her despair,' said He, 'proves, that at least Vice is no_ecome familiar to her. Perhaps by treating her with somewhat less rigour tha_s generally practised, and mitigating in some degree the accustomed penance… .'
  • 'Mitigate it, Father?' interrupted the Lady Prioress; 'Not I, believe me. Th_aws of our order are strict and severe; they have fallen into disuse of late, But the crime of Agnes shows me the necessity of their revival. I go t_ignify my intention to the Convent, and Agnes shall be the first to feel th_igour of those laws, which shall be obeyed to the very letter. Father, Farewell.'
  • Thus saying, She hastened out of the Chapel.
  • 'I have done my duty,' said Ambrosio to himself.
  • Still did He not feel perfectly satisfied by this reflection. To dissipate th_npleasant ideas which this scene had excited in him, upon quitting the Chape_e descended into the Abbey Garden.
  • In all Madrid there was no spot more beautiful or better regulated. It wa_aid out with the most exquisite taste; The choicest flowers adorned it in th_eight of luxuriance, and though artfully arranged, seemed only planted by th_and of Nature: Fountains, springing from basons of white Marble, cooled th_ir with perpetual showers; and the Walls were entirely covered by Jessamine, vines, and Honeysuckles. The hour now added to the beauty of the scene. Th_ull Moon, ranging through a blue and cloudless sky, shed upon the trees _rembling lustre, and the waters of the fountains sparkled in the silver beam: A gentle breeze breathed the fragrance of Orange-blossoms along the Alleys; and the Nightingale poured forth her melodious murmur from the shelter of a_rtificial wilderness. Thither the Abbot bent his steps.
  • In the bosom of this little Grove stood a rustic Grotto, formed in imitatio_f an Hermitage. The walls were constructed of roots of trees, and th_nterstices filled up with Moss and Ivy. Seats of Turf were placed on eithe_ide, and a natural Cascade fell from the Rock above. Buried in himself th_onk approached the spot. The universal calm had communicated itself to hi_osom, and a voluptuous tranquillity spread languor through his soul.
  • He reached the Hermitage, and was entering to repose himself, when He stoppe_n perceiving it to be already occupied. Extended upon one of the Banks lay _an in a melancholy posture.
  • His head was supported upon his arm, and He seemed lost in mediation. The Mon_rew nearer, and recognised Rosario: He watched him in silence, and entere_ot the Hermitage. After some minutes the Youth raised his eyes, and fixe_hem mournfully upon the opposite Wall.
  • 'Yes!' said He with a deep and plaintive sigh; 'I feel all the happiness o_hy situation, all the misery of my own! Happy were I, could I think lik_hee! Could I look like Thee with disgust upon Mankind, could bury myself fo_ver in some impenetrable solitude, and forget that the world holds Being_eserving to be loved! Oh God! What a blessing would Misanthropy be to me!'
  • 'That is a singular thought, Rosario,' said the Abbot, entering the Grotto.
  • 'You here, reverend Father?' cried the Novice.
  • At the same time starting from his place in confusion, He drew his Cow_astily over his face. Ambrosio seated himself upon the Bank, and obliged th_outh to place himself by him.
  • 'You must not indulge this disposition to melancholy,' said He; 'What ca_ossibly have made you view in so desirable a light, Misanthropy, of al_entiments the most hateful?'
  • 'The perusal of these Verses, Father, which till now had escaped m_bservation. The Brightness of the Moonbeams permitted my reading them; an_h! how I envy the feelings of the Writer!'
  • As He said this, He pointed to a marble Tablet fixed against the opposit_all: On it were engraved the following lines.
  • INSCRIPTION IN AN HERMITAGE
  • Who-e'er Thou art these lines now reading, Think not, though from the worl_eceding I joy my lonely days to lead in This Desart drear, That with remors_conscience bleeding Hath led me here.
  • No thought of guilt my bosom sowrs: Free-willed I fled from courtly bowers; For well I saw in Halls and Towers That Lust and Pride, The Arch-Fiend'_earest darkest Powers, In state preside.
  • I saw Mankind with vice incrusted; I saw that Honour's sword was rusted; Tha_ew for aught but folly lusted; That He was still deceiv'd, who trusted I_ove or Friend; And hither came with Men disgusted My life to end.
  • In this lone Cave, in garments lowly, Alike a Foe to noisy folly, And brow- bent gloomy melancholy I wear away My life, and in my office holy Consume th_ay.
  • Content and comfort bless me more in This Grot, than e'er I felt before in _alace, and with thoughts still soaring To God on high, Each night and mor_ith voice imploring This wish I sigh.
  • 'Let me, Oh! Lord! from life retire, Unknown each guilty worldly fire, Remorseful throb, or loose desire; And when I die, Let me in this belie_xpire, ''To God I fly''!'
  • Stranger, if full of youth and riot As yet no grief has marred thy quiet, Tho_aply throw'st a scornful eye at The Hermit's prayer: But if Thou hast a caus_o sigh at Thy fault, or care;
  • If Thou hast known false Love's vexation, Or hast been exil'd from thy Nation, Or guilt affrights thy contemplation, And makes thee pine, Oh! how must Tho_ament thy station, And envy mine!
  • 'Were it possible' said the Friar, 'for Man to be so totally wrapped up i_imself as to live in absolute seclusion from human nature, and could yet fee_he contented tranquillity which these lines express, I allow that th_ituation would be more desirable, than to live in a world so pregnant wit_very vice and every folly. But this never can be the case. This inscriptio_as merely placed here for the ornament of the Grotto, and the sentiments an_he Hermit are equally imaginary. Man was born for society. However little H_ay be attached to the World, He never can wholly forget it, or bear to b_holly forgotten by it. Disgusted at the guilt or absurdity of Mankind, th_isanthrope flies from it: He resolves to become an Hermit, and buries himsel_n the Cavern of some gloomy Rock. While Hate inflames his bosom, possibly H_ay feel contented with his situation: But when his passions begin to cool; when Time has mellowed his sorrows, and healed those wounds which He bore wit_im to his solitude, think you that Content becomes his Companion? Ah! no, Rosario. No longer sustained by the violence of his passions, He feels all th_onotony of his way of living, and his heart becomes the prey of Ennui an_eariness. He looks round, and finds himself alone in the Universe: The lov_f society revives in his bosom, and He pants to return to that world which H_as abandoned. Nature loses all her charms in his eyes: No one is near him t_oint out her beauties, or share in his admiration of her excellence an_ariety. Propped upon the fragment of some Rock, He gazes upon the tumblin_aterfall with a vacant eye, He views without emotion the glory of the settin_un. Slowly He returns to his Cell at Evening, for no one there is anxious fo_is arrival; He has no comfort in his solitary unsavoury meal: He throw_imself upon his couch of Moss despondent and dissatisfied, and wakes only t_ass a day as joyless, as monotonous as the former.'
  • 'You amaze me, Father! Suppose that circumstances condemned you to solitude; Would not the duties of Religion and the consciousness of a life well spen_ommunicate to your heart that calm which… .'
  • 'I should deceive myself, did I fancy that they could. I am convinced of th_ontrary, and that all my fortitude would not prevent me from yielding t_elancholy and disgust. After consuming the day in study, if you knew m_leasure at meeting my Brethren in the Evening! After passing many a long hou_n solitude, if I could express to you the joy which I feel at once mor_eholding a fellow-Creature! 'Tis in this particular that I place th_rincipal merit of a Monastic Institution. It secludes Man from th_emptations of Vice; It procures that leisure necessary for the proper servic_f the Supreme; It spares him the mortification of witnessing the crimes o_he worldly, and yet permits him to enjoy the blessings of society. And d_ou, Rosario, do YOU envy an Hermit's life? Can you be thus blind to th_appiness of your situation? Reflect upon it for a moment. This Abbey i_ecome your Asylum: Your regularity, your gentleness, your talents hav_endered you the object of universal esteem: You are secluded from the worl_hich you profess to hate; yet you remain in possession of the benefits o_ociety, and that a society composed of the most estimable of Mankind.'
  • 'Father! Father! 'tis that which causes my Torment! Happy had it been for me, had my life been passed among the vicious and abandoned! Had I never hear_ronounced the name of Virtue! 'Tis my unbounded adoration of religion; 'Ti_y soul's exquisite sensibility of the beauty of fair and good, that loads m_ith shame! that hurries me to perdition! Oh! that I had never seen thes_bbey walls!'
  • 'How, Rosario? When we last conversed, you spoke in a different tone. Is m_riendship then become of such little consequence? Had you never seen thes_bbey walls, you never had seen me: Can that really be your wish?'
  • 'Had never seen you?' repeated the Novice, starting from the Bank, an_rasping the Friar's hand with a frantic air; 'You? You? Would to God, tha_ightning had blasted them, before you ever met my eyes! Would to God! that _ere never to see you more, and could forget that I had ever seen you!'
  • With these words He flew hastily from the Grotto. Ambrosio remained in hi_ormer attitude, reflecting on the Youth's unaccountable behaviour. He wa_nclined to suspect the derangement of his senses: yet the general tenor o_is conduct, the connexion of his ideas, and calmness of his demeanour til_he moment of his quitting the Grotto, seemed to discountenance thi_onjecture. After a few minutes Rosario returned. He again seated himself upo_he Bank: He reclined his cheek upon one hand, and with the other wiped awa_he tears which trickled from his eyes at intervals.
  • The Monk looked upon him with compassion, and forbore to interrupt hi_editations. Both observed for some time a profound silence. The Nightingal_ad now taken her station upon an Orange Tree fronting the Hermitage, an_oured forth a strain the most melancholy and melodious. Rosario raised hi_ead, and listened to her with attention.
  • 'It was thus,' said He, with a deep-drawn sigh; 'It was thus, that during th_ast month of her unhappy life, my Sister used to sit listening to th_ightingale. Poor Matilda! She sleeps in the Grave, and her broken hear_hrobs no more with passion.'
  • 'You had a Sister?'
  • 'You say right, that I HAD; Alas! I have one no longer. She sunk beneath th_eight of her sorrows in the very spring of life.'
  • 'What were those sorrows?'
  • 'They will not excite YOUR pity: YOU know not the power of those irresistible, those fatal sentiments, to which her Heart was a prey. Father, She love_nfortunately. A passion for One endowed with every virtue, for a Man, Oh!
  • rather let me say, for a divinity, proved the bane of her existence. His nobl_orm, his spotless character, his various talents, his wisdom solid, wonderful, and glorious, might have warmed the bosom of the most insensible.
  • My Sister saw him, and dared to love though She never dared to hope.'
  • 'If her love was so well bestowed, what forbad her to hope the obtaining o_ts object?'
  • 'Father, before He knew her, Julian had already plighted his vows to a Brid_ost fair, most heavenly! Yet still my Sister loved, and for the Husband'_ake She doted upon the Wife. One morning She found means to escape from ou_ather's House: Arrayed in humble weeds She offered herself as a Domestic t_he Consort of her Beloved, and was accepted. She was now continually in hi_resence: She strove to ingratiate herself into his favour: She succeeded. He_ttentions attracted Julian's notice; The virtuous are ever grateful, and H_istinguished Matilda above the rest of her Companions.'
  • 'And did not your Parents seek for her? Did they submit tamely to their loss, nor attempt to recover their wandering Daughter?'
  • 'Ere they could find her, She discovered herself. Her love grew too violen_or concealment; Yet She wished not for Julian's person, She ambitioned but _hare of his heart. In an unguarded moment She confessed her affection. Wha_as the return? Doating upon his Wife, and believing that a look of pit_estowed upon another was a theft from what He owed to her, He drove Matild_rom his presence. He forbad her ever again appearing before him. His severit_roke her heart: She returned to her Father's, and in a few Months after wa_arried to her Grave.'
  • 'Unhappy Girl! Surely her fate was too severe, and Julian was too cruel.'
  • 'Do you think so, Father?' cried the Novice with vivacity; 'Do you think tha_e was cruel?'
  • 'Doubtless I do, and pity her most sincerely.'
  • 'You pity her? You pity her? Oh! Father! Father! Then pity me!'
  • The Friar started; when after a moment's pause Rosario added with a falterin_oice,—'for my sufferings are still greater. My Sister had a Friend, a rea_riend, who pitied the acuteness of her feelings, nor reproached her with he_nability to repress them. I … ! I have no Friend! The whole wide world canno_urnish an heart that is willing to participate in the sorrows of mine!'
  • As He uttered these words, He sobbed audibly. The Friar was affected. He too_osario's hand, and pressed it with tenderness.
  • 'You have no Friend, say you? What then am I? Why will you not confide in me, and what can you fear? My severity? Have I ever used it with you? The dignit_f my habit? Rosario, I lay aside the Monk, and bid you consider me as n_ther than your Friend, your Father. Well may I assume that title, for neve_id Parent watch over a Child more fondly than I have watched over you. Fro_he moment in which I first beheld you, I perceived sensations in my boso_ill then unknown to me; I found a delight in your society which no one's els_ould afford; and when I witnessed the extent of your genius and information, I rejoiced as does a Father in the perfections of his Son. Then lay aside you_ears; Speak to me with openness: Speak to me, Rosario, and say that you wil_onfide in me. If my aid or my pity can alleviate your distress… .'
  • 'Yours can! Yours only can! Ah! Father, how willingly would I unveil to you m_eart! How willingly would I declare the secret which bows me down with it_eight! But Oh! I fear! I fear!'
  • 'What, my Son?'
  • 'That you should abhor me for my weakness; That the reward of my confidenc_hould be the loss of your esteem.'
  • 'How shall I reassure you? Reflect upon the whole of my past conduct, upon th_aternal tenderness which I have ever shown you. Abhor you, Rosario? It is n_onger in my power. To give up your society would be to deprive myself of th_reatest pleasure of my life. Then reveal to me what afflicts you, and believ_e while I solemnly swear… .'
  • 'Hold!' interrupted the Novice; 'Swear, that whatever be my secret, you wil_ot oblige me to quit the Monastery till my Noviciate shall expire.'
  • 'I promise it faithfully, and as I keep my vows to you, may Christ keep his t_ankind. Now then explain this mystery, and rely upon my indulgence.'
  • 'I obey you. Know then… . Oh! how I tremble to name the word! Listen to m_ith pity, revered Ambrosio! Call up every latent spark of human weakness tha_ay teach you compassion for mine! Father!' continued He throwing himself a_he Friar's feet, and pressing his hand to his lips with eagerness, whil_gitation for a moment choaked his voice; 'Father!' continued He in falterin_ccents, 'I am a Woman!'
  • The Abbot started at this unexpected avowal. Prostrate on the ground lay th_eigned Rosario, as if waiting in silence the decision of his Judge.
  • Astonishment on the one part, apprehension on the other, for some minute_hained them in the same attitudes, as had they been touched by the Rod o_ome Magician. At length recovering from his confusion, the Monk quitted th_rotto, and sped with precipitation towards the Abbey. His action did no_scape the Suppliant. She sprang from the ground; She hastened to follow him, overtook him, threw herself in his passage, and embraced his knees. Ambrosi_trove in vain to disengage himself from her grasp.
  • 'Do not fly me!' She cried; 'Leave me not abandoned to the impulse of despair!
  • Listen, while I excuse my imprudence; while I acknowledge my Sister's story t_e my own! I am Matilda; You are her Beloved.'
  • If Ambrosio's surprise was great at her first avowal, upon hearing her secon_t exceeded all bounds. Amazed, embarrassed, and irresolute He found himsel_ncapable of pronouncing a syllable, and remained in silence gazing upo_atilda: This gave her opportunity to continue her explanation as follows.
  • 'Think not, Ambrosio, that I come to rob your Bride of your affections. No, believe me: Religion alone deserves you; and far is it from Matilda's wish t_raw you from the paths of virtue. What I feel for you is love, no_icentiousness; I sigh to be possessor of your heart, not lust for th_njoyment of your person. Deign to listen to my vindication: A few moment_ill convince you that this holy retreat is not polluted by my presence, an_hat you may grant me your compassion without trespassing against you_ows.'—She seated herself: Ambrosio, scarcely conscious of what He did, followed her example, and She proceeded in her discourse.
  • 'I spring from a distinguished family: My Father was Chief of the noble Hous_f Villanegas. He died while I was still an Infant, and left me sole Heires_f his immense possessions. Young and wealthy, I was sought in marriage by th_oblest Youths of Madrid; But no one succeeded in gaining my affections. I ha_een brought up under the care of an Uncle possessed of the most soli_udgment and extensive erudition. He took pleasure in communicating to me som_ortion of his knowledge. Under his instructions my understanding acquire_ore strength and justness than generally falls to the lot of my sex: Th_bility of my Preceptor being aided by natural curiosity, I not only made _onsiderable progress in sciences universally studied, but in others, reveale_ut to few, and lying under censure from the blindness of superstition. Bu_hile my Guardian laboured to enlarge the sphere of my knowledge, He carefull_nculcated every moral precept: He relieved me from the shackles of vulga_rejudice; He pointed out the beauty of Religion; He taught me to look wit_doration upon the pure and virtuous, and, woe is me! I have obeyed him bu_oo well!
  • 'With such dispositions, Judge whether I could observe with any othe_entiment than disgust the vice, dissipation, and ignorance, which disgrac_ur Spanish Youth. I rejected every offer with disdain. My heart remaine_ithout a Master till chance conducted me to the Cathedral of the Capuchins.
  • Oh! surely on that day my Guardian Angel slumbered neglectful of his charge!
  • Then was it that I first beheld you: You supplied the Superior's place, absen_rom illness. You cannot but remember the lively enthusiasm which you_iscourse created. Oh! how I drank your words! How your eloquence seemed t_teal me from myself! I scarcely dared to breathe, fearing to lose a syllable; and while you spoke, Methought a radiant glory beamed round your head, an_our countenance shone with the majesty of a God. I retired from the Church, glowing with admiration. From that moment you became the idol of my heart, th_ever-changing object of my Meditations. I enquired respecting you. Th_eports which were made me of your mode of life, of your knowledge, piety, an_elf-denial riveted the chains imposed on me by your eloquence. I wa_onscious that there was no longer a void in my heart; That I had found th_an whom I had sought till then in vain. In expectation of hearing you again, every day I visited your Cathedral: You remained secluded within the Abbe_alls, and I always withdrew, wretched and disappointed. The Night was mor_ropitious to me, for then you stood before me in my dreams; You vowed to m_ternal friendship; You led me through the paths of virtue, and assisted me t_upport the vexations of life. The Morning dispelled these pleasing visions; _oke, and found myself separated from you by Barriers which appeare_nsurmountable. Time seemed only to increase the strength of my passion: _rew melancholy and despondent; I fled from society, and my health decline_aily. At length no longer able to exist in this state of torture, I resolve_o assume the disguise in which you see me. My artifice was fortunate: I wa_eceived into the Monastery, and succeeded in gaining your esteem.
  • 'Now then I should have felt compleatly happy, had not my quiet been disturbe_y the fear of detection. The pleasure which I received from your society, wa_mbittered by the idea that perhaps I should soon be deprived of it: and m_eart throbbed so rapturously at obtaining the marks of your friendship, as t_onvince me that I never should survive its loss. I resolved, therefore, no_o leave the discovery of my sex to chance, to confess the whole to you, an_hrow myself entirely on your mercy and indulgence. Ah! Ambrosio, can I hav_een deceived? Can you be less generous than I thought you? I will not suspec_t. You will not drive a Wretch to despair; I shall still be permitted to se_ou, to converse with you, to adore you! Your virtues shall be my exampl_hrough life; and when we expire, our bodies shall rest in the same Grave.'
  • She ceased. While She spoke, a thousand opposing sentiments combated i_mbrosio's bosom. Surprise at the singularity of this adventure, Confusion a_er abrupt declaration, Resentment at her boldness in entering the Monastery, and Consciousness of the austerity with which it behoved him to reply, suc_ere the sentiments of which He was aware; But there were others also whic_id not obtain his notice. He perceived not, that his vanity was flattered b_he praises bestowed upon his eloquence and virtue; that He felt a secre_leasure in reflecting that a young and seemingly lovely Woman had for hi_ake abandoned the world, and sacrificed every other passion to that which H_ad inspired: Still less did He perceive that his heart throbbed with desire, while his hand was pressed gently by Matilda's ivory fingers.
  • By degrees He recovered from his confusion. His ideas became less bewildered: He was immediately sensible of the extreme impropriety, should Matilda b_ermitted to remain in the Abbey after this avowal of her sex. He assumed a_ir of severity, and drew away his hand.
  • 'How, Lady!' said He; 'Can you really hope for my permission to remain amongs_s? Even were I to grant your request, what good could you derive from it?
  • Think you that I ever can reply to an affection, which … '.
  • 'No, Father, No! I expect not to inspire you with a love like mine. I onl_ish for the liberty to be near you, to pass some hours of the day in you_ociety; to obtain your compassion, your friendship and esteem. Surely m_equest is not unreasonable.'
  • 'But reflect, Lady! Reflect only for a moment on the impropriety of m_arbouring a Woman in the Abbey; and that too a Woman, who confesses that Sh_oves me. It must not be. The risque of your being discovered is too great, and I will not expose myself to so dangerous a temptation.'
  • 'Temptation, say you? Forget that I am a Woman, and it no longer exists: Consider me only as a Friend, as an Unfortunate, whose happiness, whose lif_epends upon your protection. Fear not lest I should ever call to you_emembrance that love the most impetuous, the most unbounded, has induced m_o disguise my sex; or that instigated by desires, offensive to YOUR vows an_y own honour, I should endeavour to seduce you from the path of rectitude.
  • No, Ambrosio, learn to know me better. I love you for your virtues: Lose them, and with them you lose my affections. I look upon you as a Saint; Prove to m_hat you are no more than Man, and I quit you with disgust. Is it then from m_hat you fear temptation? From me, in whom the world's dazzling pleasure_reated no other sentiment than contempt? From me, whose attachment i_rounded on your exemption from human frailty? Oh! dismiss such injuriou_pprehensions! Think nobler of me, think nobler of yourself. I am incapable o_educing you to error; and surely your Virtue is established on a basis to_irm to be shaken by unwarranted desires. Ambrosio, dearest Ambrosio! drive m_ot from your presence; Remember your promise, and authorize my stay!'
  • 'Impossible, Matilda; YOUR interest commands me to refuse your prayer, since _remble for you, not for myself. After vanquishing the impetuous ebullition_f Youth; After passing thirty years in mortification and penance, I migh_afely permit your stay, nor fear your inspiring me with warmer sentiment_han pity. But to yourself, remaining in the Abbey can produce none but fata_onsequences. You will misconstrue my every word and action; You will seiz_very circumstance with avidity, which encourages you to hope the return o_our affection; Insensibly your passions will gain a superiority over you_eason; and far from these being repressed by my presence, every moment whic_e pass together, will only serve to irritate and excite them. Believe me, unhappy Woman! you possess my sincere compassion. I am convinced that you hav_itherto acted upon the purest motives; But though you are blind to th_mprudence of your conduct, in me it would be culpable not to open your eyes.
  • I feel that Duty obliges my treating you with harshness: I must reject you_rayer, and remove every shadow of hope which may aid to nourish sentiments s_ernicious to your repose. Matilda, you must from hence tomorrow.'
  • 'Tomorrow, Ambrosio? Tomorrow? Oh! surely you cannot mean it!
  • You cannot resolve on driving me to despair! You cannot have the cruelty… .'
  • 'You have heard my decision, and it must be obeyed. The Laws of our Orde_orbid your stay: It would be perjury to conceal that a Woman is within thes_alls, and my vows will oblige me to declare your story to the Community. Yo_ust from hence!—I pity you, but can do no more!'
  • He pronounced these words in a faint and trembling voice: Then rising from hi_eat, He would have hastened towards the Monastery. Uttering a loud shriek, Matilda followed, and detained him.
  • 'Stay yet one moment, Ambrosio! Hear me yet speak one word!'
  • 'I dare not listen! Release me! You know my resolution!'
  • 'But one word! But one last word, and I have done!'
  • 'Leave me! Your entreaties are in vain! You must from hence tomorrow!'
  • 'Go then, Barbarian! But this resource is still left me.'
  • As She said this, She suddenly drew a poignard: She rent open her garment, an_laced the weapon's point against her bosom.
  • 'Father, I will never quit these Walls alive!'
  • 'Hold! Hold, Matilda! What would you do?'
  • 'You are determined, so am I: The Moment that you leave me, I plunge thi_teel in my heart.'
  • 'Holy St. Francis! Matilda, have you your senses? Do you know the consequence_f your action? That Suicide is the greatest of crimes? That you destroy you_oul? That you lose your claim to salvation? That you prepare for yoursel_verlasting torments?'
  • 'I care not! I care not!' She replied passionately; 'Either your hand guide_e to Paradise, or my own dooms me to perdition! Speak to me, Ambrosio! Tel_e that you will conceal my story, that I shall remain your Friend and you_ompanion, or this poignard drinks my blood!'
  • As She uttered these last words, She lifted her arm, and made a motion as i_o stab herself. The Friar's eyes followed with dread the course of th_agger. She had torn open her habit, and her bosom was half exposed. Th_eapon's point rested upon her left breast: And Oh! that was such a breast!
  • The Moonbeams darting full upon it enabled the Monk to observe its dazzlin_hiteness. His eye dwelt with insatiable avidity upon the beauteous Orb. _ensation till then unknown filled his heart with a mixture of anxiety an_elight: A raging fire shot through every limb; The blood boiled in his veins, and a thousand wild wishes bewildered his imagination.
  • 'Hold!' He cried in an hurried faultering voice; 'I can resist no longer!
  • Stay, then, Enchantress; Stay for my destruction!'
  • He said, and rushing from the place, hastened towards the Monastery: H_egained his Cell and threw himself upon his Couch, distracted irresolute an_onfused.
  • He found it impossible for some time to arrange his ideas. The scene in whic_e had been engaged had excited such a variety of sentiments in his bosom, that He was incapable of deciding which was predominant. He was irresolut_hat conduct He ought to hold with the disturber of his repose. He wa_onscious that prudence, religion, and propriety necessitated his obliging he_o quit the Abbey: But on the other hand such powerful reasons authorized he_tay that He was but too much inclined to consent to her remaining. He coul_ot avoid being flattered by Matilda's declaration, and at reflecting that H_ad unconsciously vanquished an heart which had resisted the attacks o_pain's noblest Cavaliers: The manner in which He had gained her affection_as also the most satisfactory to his vanity: He remembered the many happ_ours which He had passed in Rosario's society, and dreaded that void in hi_eart which parting with him would occasion. Besides all this, He considered, that as Matilda was wealthy, her favour might be of essential benefit to th_bbey.
  • 'And what do I risque,' said He to himself, 'by authorizing her stay? May _ot safely credit her assertions? Will it not be easy for me to forget he_ex, and still consider her as my Friend and my disciple? Surely her love i_s pure as She describes. Had it been the offspring of mere licentiousness, would She so long have concealed it in her own bosom? Would She not hav_mployed some means to procure its gratification? She has done quite th_ontrary: She strove to keep me in ignorance of her sex; and nothing but th_ear of detection, and my instances, would have compelled her to reveal th_ecret. She has observed the duties of religion not less strictly than myself.
  • She has made no attempts to rouze my slumbering passions, nor has She eve_onversed with me till this night on the subject of Love. Had She bee_esirous to gain my affections, not my esteem, She would not have conceale_rom me her charms so carefully: At this very moment I have never seen he_ace: Yet certainly that face must be lovely, and her person beautiful, t_udge by her … by what I have seen.'
  • As this last idea passed through his imagination, a blush spread itself ove_is cheek. Alarmed at the sentiments which He was indulging, He betook himsel_o prayer; He started from his Couch, knelt before the beautiful Madona, an_ntreated her assistance in stifling such culpable emotions. He then returne_o his Bed, and resigned himself to slumber.
  • He awoke, heated and unrefreshed. During his sleep his inflamed imaginatio_ad presented him with none but the most voluptuous objects. Matilda stoo_efore him in his dreams, and his eyes again dwelt upon her naked breast. Sh_epeated her protestations of eternal love, threw her arms round his neck, an_oaded him with kisses: He returned them; He clasped her passionately to hi_osom, and … the vision was dissolved. Sometimes his dreams presented th_mage of his favourite Madona, and He fancied that He was kneeling before her: As He offered up his vows to her, the eyes of the Figure seemed to beam on hi_ith inexpressible sweetness. He pressed his lips to hers, and found the_arm: The animated form started from the Canvas, embraced him affectionately, and his senses were unable to support delight so exquisite. Such were th_cenes, on which his thoughts were employed while sleeping: His unsatisfie_esires placed before him the most lustful and provoking Images, and he riote_n joys till then unknown to him.
  • He started from his Couch, filled with confusion at the remembrance of hi_reams. Scarcely was He less ashamed, when He reflected on his reasons of th_ormer night which induced him to authorize Matilda's stay. The cloud was no_issipated which had obscured his judgment: He shuddered when He beheld hi_rguments blazoned in their proper colours, and found that He had been a slav_o flattery, to avarice, and self-love. If in one hour's conversation Matild_ad produced a change so remarkable in his sentiments, what had He not t_read from her remaining in the Abbey? Become sensible of his danger, awakene_rom his dream of confidence, He resolved to insist on her departing withou_elay. He began to feel that He was not proof against temptation; and tha_owever Matilda might restrain herself within the bounds of modesty, He wa_nable to contend with those passions, from which He falsely thought himsel_xempted.
  • 'Agnes! Agnes!' He exclaimed, while reflecting on his embarrassments, '_lready feel thy curse!'
  • He quitted his Cell, determined upon dismissing the feigned Rosario. H_ppeared at Matins; But his thoughts were absent, and He paid them but littl_ttention. His heart and brain were both of them filled with worldly objects, and He prayed without devotion. The service over, He descended into th_arden. He bent his steps towards the same spot where, on the preceding night, He had made this embarrassing discovery. He doubted not but that Matilda woul_eek him there: He was not deceived. She soon entered the Hermitage, an_pproached the Monk with a timid air. After a few minutes during which bot_ere silent, She appeared as if on the point of speaking; But the Abbot, wh_uring this time had been summoning up all his resolution, hastily interrupte_er. Though still unconscious how extensive was its influence, He dreaded th_elodious seduction of her voice.
  • 'Seat yourself by my side, Matilda,' said He, assuming a look of firmness, though carefully avoiding the least mixture of severity; 'Listen to m_atiently, and believe, that in what I shall say, I am not more influenced b_y own interest than by yours: Believe, that I feel for you the warmes_riendship, the truest compassion, and that you cannot feel more grieved tha_ do, when I declare to you that we must never meet again.'
  • 'Ambrosio!' She cried, in a voice at once expressive of surprise and sorrow.
  • 'Be calm, my Friend! My Rosario! Still let me call you by that name so dear t_e! Our separation is unavoidable; I blush to own, how sensibly it affect_e.— But yet it must be so. I feel myself incapable of treating you wit_ndifference, and that very conviction obliges me to insist upon you_eparture. Matilda, you must stay here no longer.'
  • 'Oh! where shall I now seek for probity? Disgusted with a perfidious world, i_hat happy region does Truth conceal herself? Father, I hoped that She reside_ere; I thought that your bosom had been her favourite shrine. And you to_rove false? Oh God! And you too can betray me?'
  • 'Matilda!'
  • 'Yes, Father, Yes! 'Tis with justice that I reproach you. Oh! where are you_romises? My Noviciate is not expired, and yet will you compell me to quit th_onastery? Can you have the heart to drive me from you? And have I no_eceived your solemn oath to the contrary?'
  • 'I will not compell you to quit the Monastery: You have received my solem_ath to the contrary. But yet when I throw myself upon your generosity, when _eclare to you the embarrassments in which your presence involves me, will yo_ot release me from that oath? Reflect upon the danger of a discovery, upo_he opprobrium in which such an event would plunge me: Reflect that my honou_nd reputation are at stake, and that my peace of mind depends on you_ompliance. As yet my heart is free; I shall separate from you with regret, but not with despair. Stay here, and a few weeks will sacrifice my happines_n the altar of your charms. You are but too interesting, too amiable! _hould love you, I should doat on you! My bosom would become the prey o_esires which Honour and my profession forbid me to gratify. If I resiste_hem, the impetuosity of my wishes unsatisfied would drive me to madness: If _ielded to the temptation, I should sacrifice to one moment of guilty pleasur_y reputation in this world, my salvation in the next. To you then I fly fo_efence against myself. Preserve me from losing the reward of thirty years o_ufferings! Preserve me from becoming the Victim of Remorse! YOUR heart ha_lready felt the anguish of hopeless love; Oh! then if you really value me, spare mine that anguish! Give me back my promise; Fly from these walls. Go, and you bear with you my warmest prayers for your happiness, my friendship, m_steem and admiration: Stay, and you become to me the source of danger, o_ufferings, of despair! Answer me, Matilda; What is your resolve?'—She wa_ilent—'Will you not speak, Matilda? Will you not name your choice?'
  • 'Cruel! Cruel!' She exclaimed, wringing her hands in agony; 'You know too wel_hat you offer me no choice! You know too well that I can have no will bu_ours!'
  • 'I was not then deceived! Matilda's generosity equals my expectations.'
  • 'Yes; I will prove the truth of my affection by submitting to a decree whic_uts me to the very heart. Take back your promise. I will quit the Monaster_his very day. I have a Relation, Abbess of a Covent in Estramadura: To he_ill I bend my steps, and shut myself from the world for ever. Yet tell me, Father; Shall I bear your good wishes with me to my solitude? Will yo_ometimes abstract your attention from heavenly objects to bestow a though_pon me?'
  • 'Ah! Matilda, I fear that I shall think on you but too often for my repose!'
  • 'Then I have nothing more to wish for, save that we may meet in heaven.
  • Farewell, my Friend! my Ambrosio!— And yet methinks, I would fain bear with m_ome token of your regard!'
  • 'What shall I give you?'
  • 'Something.—Any thing.—One of those flowers will be sufficient.' (Here Sh_ointed to a bush of Roses, planted at the door of the Grotto.) 'I will hid_t in my bosom, and when I am dead, the Nuns shall find it withered upon m_eart.'
  • The Friar was unable to reply: With slow steps, and a soul heavy wit_ffliction, He quitted the Hermitage. He approached the Bush, and stooped t_luck one of the Roses. Suddenly He uttered a piercing cry, started bac_astily, and let the flower, which He already held, fall from his hand.
  • Matilda heard the shriek, and flew anxiously towards him.
  • 'What is the matter?' She cried; 'Answer me, for God's sake! What ha_appened?'
  • 'I have received my death!' He replied in a faint voice; 'Concealed among th_oses … A Serpent… .'
  • Here the pain of his wound became so exquisite, that Nature was unable to bea_t: His senses abandoned him, and He sank inanimate into Matilda's arms.
  • Her distress was beyond the power of description. She rent her hair, beat he_osom, and not daring to quit Ambrosio, endeavoured by loud cries to summo_he Monks to her assistance. She at length succeeded. Alarmed by her shrieks, Several of the Brothers hastened to the spot, and the Superior was conveye_ack to the Abbey. He was immediately put to bed, and the Monk who officiate_s Surgeon to the Fraternity prepared to examine the wound. By this tim_mbrosio's hand had swelled to an extraordinary size; The remedies which ha_een administered to him, 'tis true, restored him to life, but not to hi_enses; He raved in all the horrors of delirium, foamed at the mouth, and fou_f the strongest Monks were scarcely able to hold him in his bed.
  • Father Pablos, such was the Surgeon's name, hastened to examine the wounde_and. The Monks surrounded the Bed, anxiously waiting for the decision: Amon_hese the feigned Rosario appeared not the most insensible to the Friar'_alamity. He gazed upon the Sufferer with inexpressible anguish; and th_roans which every moment escaped from his bosom sufficiently betrayed th_iolence of his affliction.
  • Father Pablos probed the wound. As He drew out his Lancet, its point wa_inged with a greenish hue. He shook his head mournfully, and quitted th_edside.
  • ' 'Tis as I feared!' said He; 'There is no hope.'
  • 'No hope?' exclaimed the Monks with one voice; 'Say you, no hope?'
  • 'From the sudden effects, I suspected that the Abbot was stung by _ientipedoro: The venom which you see upon my Lancet confirms my idea: H_annot live three days.'
  • 'And can no possible remedy be found?' enquired Rosario.
  • 'Without extracting the poison, He cannot recover; and how to extract it is t_e still a secret. All that I can do is to apply such herbs to the wound a_ill relieve the anguish: The Patient will be restored to his senses; But th_enom will corrupt the whole mass of his blood, and in three days He wil_xist no longer.'
  • Excessive was the universal grief at hearing this decision. Pablos, as He ha_romised, dressed the wound, and then retired, followed by his Companions: Rosario alone remained in the Cell, the Abbot at his urgent entreaty havin_een committed to his care. Ambrosio's strength worn out by the violence o_is exertions, He had by this time fallen into a profound sleep. So totall_as He overcome by weariness, that He scarcely gave any signs of life; He wa_till in this situation, when the Monks returned to enquire whether any chang_ad taken place. Pablos loosened the bandage which concealed the wound, mor_rom a principle of curiosity than from indulging the hope of discovering an_avourable symptoms. What was his astonishment at finding, that th_nflammation had totally subsided! He probed the hand; His Lancet came ou_ure and unsullied; No traces of the venom were perceptible; and had not th_rifice still been visible, Pablos might have doubted that there had ever bee_ wound.
  • He communicated this intelligence to his Brethren; their delight was onl_qualled by their surprize. From the latter sentiment, however, they were soo_eleased by explaining the circumstance according to their own ideas: The_ere perfectly convinced that their Superior was a Saint, and thought, tha_othing could be more natural than for St. Francis to have operated a miracl_n his favour. This opinion was adopted unanimously: They declared it s_oudly, and vociferated,—'A miracle! a miracle!'—with such fervour, that the_oon interrupted Ambrosio's slumbers.
  • The Monks immediately crowded round his Bed, and expressed their satisfactio_t his wonderful recovery. He was perfectly in his senses, and free from ever_omplaint except feeling weak and languid. Pablos gave him a strengthenin_edicine, and advised his keeping his bed for the two succeeding days: He the_etired, having desired his Patient not to exhaust himself by conversation, but rather to endeavour at taking some repose. The other Monks followed hi_xample, and the Abbot and Rosario were left without Observers.
  • For some minutes Ambrosio regarded his Attendant with a look of mingle_leasure and apprehension. She was seated upon the side of the Bed, her hea_ending down, and as usual enveloped in the Cowl of her Habit.
  • 'And you are still here, Matilda?' said the Friar at length. 'Are you no_atisfied with having so nearly effected my destruction, that nothing but _iracle could have saved me from the Grave? Ah! surely Heaven sent tha_erpent to punish… .'
  • Matilda interrupted him by putting her hand before his lips with an air o_aiety.
  • 'Hush! Father, Hush! You must not talk!'
  • 'He who imposed that order, knew not how interesting are the subjects on whic_ wish to speak.'
  • 'But I know it, and yet issue the same positive command. I am appointed you_urse, and you must not disobey my orders.'
  • 'You are in spirits, Matilda!'
  • 'Well may I be so: I have just received a pleasure unexampled through my whol_ife.'
  • 'What was that pleasure?'
  • 'What I must conceal from all, but most from you.'
  • 'But most from me? Nay then, I entreat you, Matilda… .'
  • 'Hush, Father! Hush! You must not talk. But as you do not seem inclined t_leep, shall I endeavour to amuse you with my Harp?'
  • 'How? I knew not that you understood Music.'
  • 'Oh! I am a sorry Performer! Yet as silence is prescribed you for eight an_orty hours, I may possibly entertain you, when wearied of your ow_eflections. I go to fetch my Harp.'
  • She soon returned with it.
  • 'Now, Father; What shall I sing? Will you hear the Ballad which treats of th_allant Durandarte, who died in the famous battle of Roncevalles?'
  • 'What you please, Matilda.'
  • 'Oh! call me not Matilda! Call me Rosario, call me your Friend! Those are th_ames, which I love to hear from your lips. Now listen!'
  • She then tuned her harp, and afterwards preluded for some moments with suc_xquisite taste as to prove her a perfect Mistress of the Instrument. The ai_hich She played was soft and plaintive:
  • Ambrosio, while He listened, felt his uneasiness subside, and a pleasin_elancholy spread itself into his bosom. Suddenly Matilda changed the strain: With an hand bold and rapid She struck a few loud martial chords, and the_haunted the following Ballad to an air at once simple and melodious.
  • **DURANDARTE AND BELERMA**
  • Sad and fearful is the story Of the Roncevalles fight; On those fatal plain_f glory Perished many a gallant Knight.
  • There fell Durandarte; Never Verse a nobler Chieftain named: He, before hi_ips for ever Closed in silence thus exclaimed.
  • 'Oh! Belerma! Oh! my dear-one! For my pain and pleasure born! Seven long year_ served thee, fair-one, Seven long years my fee was scorn:
  • 'And when now thy heart replying To my wishes, burns like mine, Cruel Fate m_liss denying Bids me every hope resign.
  • 'Ah! Though young I fall, believe me, Death would never claim a sigh; 'Tis t_ose thee, 'tis to leave thee, Makes me think it hard to die!
  • 'Oh! my Cousin Montesinos, By that friendship firm and dear Which from Yout_as lived between us, Now my last petition hear!
  • 'When my Soul these limbs forsaking Eager seeks a purer air, From my breas_he cold heart taking, Give it to Belerma's care.
  • Say, I of my lands Possessor Named her with my dying breath: Say, my lips _p'd to bless her, Ere they closed for aye in death:
  • 'Twice a week too how sincerely I adored her, Cousin, say; Twice a week fo_ne who dearly Loved her, Cousin, bid her pray.
  • 'Montesinos, now the hour Marked by fate is near at hand: Lo! my arm has los_ts power! Lo! I drop my trusty brand!
  • 'Eyes, which forth beheld me going, Homewards ne'er shall see me hie! Cousin, stop those tears o'er-flowing, Let me on thy bosom die!
  • 'Thy kind hand my eyelids closing, Yet one favour I implore: Pray Thou for m_oul's reposing, When my heart shall throb no more;
  • 'So shall Jesus, still attending Gracious to a Christian's vow, Pleased accep_y Ghost ascending, And a seat in heaven allow.'
  • Thus spoke gallant Durandarte; Soon his brave heart broke in twain. Greatl_oyed the Moorish party, That the gallant Knight was slain.
  • Bitter weeping Montesinos Took from him his helm and glaive; Bitter weepin_ontesinos Dug his gallant Cousin's grave.
  • To perform his promise made, He Cut the heart from out the breast, Tha_elerma, wretched Lady! Might receive the last bequest.
  • Sad was Montesinos' heart, He Felt distress his bosom rend. 'Oh! my Cousi_urandarte, Woe is me to view thy end!
  • 'Sweet in manners, fair in favour, Mild in temper, fierce in fight, Warrior, nobler, gentler, braver, Never shall behold the light!
  • 'Cousin, Lo! my tears bedew thee! How shall I thy loss survive! Durandarte, H_ho slew thee, Wherefore left He me alive!'
  • While She sung, Ambrosio listened with delight: Never had He heard a voic_ore harmonious; and He wondered how such heavenly sounds could be produced b_ny but Angels. But though He indulged the sense of hearing, a single loo_onvinced him that He must not trust to that of sight. The Songstress sat at _ittle distance from his Bed. The attitude in which She bent over her harp, was easy and graceful: Her Cowl had fallen back- warder than usual: Two cora_ips were visible, ripe, fresh, and melting, and a Chin in whose dimple_eemed to lurk a thousand Cupids. Her Habit's long sleeve would have swep_long the Chords of the Instrument: To prevent this inconvenience She ha_rawn it above her elbow, and by this means an arm was discovered formed i_he most perfect symmetry, the delicacy of whose skin might have contende_ith snow in whiteness. Ambrosio dared to look on her but once: That glanc_ufficed to convince him, how dangerous was the presence of this seducin_bject. He closed his eyes, but strove in vain to banish her from hi_houghts. There She still moved before him, adorned with all those charm_hich his heated imagination could supply: Every beauty which He had seen, appeared embellished, and those still concealed Fancy represented to him i_lowing colours. Still, however, his vows and the necessity of keeping to the_ere present to his memory. He struggled with desire, and shuddered when H_eheld how deep was the precipice before him.
  • Matilda ceased to sing. Dreading the influence of her charms, Ambrosi_emained with his eyes closed, and offered up his prayers to St. Francis t_ssist him in this dangerous trial! Matilda believed that He was sleeping. Sh_ose from her seat, approached the Bed softly, and for some minutes gazed upo_im attentively.
  • 'He sleeps!' said She at length in a low voice, but whose accents the Abbo_istinguished perfectly; 'Now then I may gaze upon him without offence! I ma_ix my breath with his; I may doat upon his features, and He cannot suspect m_f impurity and deceit!—He fears my seducing him to the violation of his vows!
  • Oh! the Unjust! Were it my wish to excite desire, should I conceal my feature_rom him so carefully? Those features, of which I daily hear him… .'
  • She stopped, and was lost in her reflections.
  • 'It was but yesterday!' She continued; 'But a few short hours have past, sinc_ was dear to him! He esteemed me, and my heart was satisfied! Now!… Oh! no_ow cruelly is my situation changed! He looks on me with suspicion! He bids m_eave him, leave him for ever! Oh! You, my Saint! my Idol! You, holding th_ext place to God in my breast! Yet two days, and my heart will be unveiled t_ou.—Could you know my feelings, when I beheld your agony! Could you know, ho_uch your sufferings have endeared you to me! But the time will come, when yo_ill be convinced that my passion is pure and disinterested. Then you wil_ity me, and feel the whole weight of these sorrows!'
  • As She said this, her voice was choaked by weeping. While She bent ove_mbrosio, a tear fell upon his cheek.
  • 'Ah! I have disturbed him!' cried Matilda, and retreated hastily.
  • Her alarm was ungrounded. None sleep so profoundly, as those who ar_etermined not to wake. The Friar was in this predicament: He still seeme_uried in a repose, which every succeeding minute rendered him less capable o_njoying. The burning tear had communicated its warmth to his heart.
  • 'What affection! What purity!' said He internally; 'Ah! since my bosom is thu_ensible of pity, what would it be if agitated by love?'
  • Matilda again quitted her seat, and retired to some distance from the Bed.
  • Ambrosio ventured to open his eyes, and to cast them upon her fearfully. He_ace was turned from him. She rested her head in a melancholy posture upon he_arp, and gazed on the picture which hung opposite to the Bed.
  • 'Happy, happy Image!' Thus did She address the beautiful Madona; ' 'Tis to yo_hat He offers his prayers! 'Tis on you that He gazes with admiration! _hought you would have lightened my sorrows; You have only served to increas_heir weight: You have made me feel that had I known him ere his vows wer_ronounced, Ambrosio and happiness might have been mine. With what pleasure H_iews this picture! With what fervour He addresses his prayers to th_nsensible Image! Ah! may not his sentiments be inspired by some kind an_ecret Genius, Friend to my affection? May it not be Man's natural instinc_hich informs him… Be silent, idle hopes! Let me not encourage an idea whic_akes from the brilliance of Ambrosio's virtue. 'Tis Religion, not Beaut_hich attracts his admiration; 'Tis not to the Woman, but the Divinity that H_neels. Would He but address to me the least tender expression which He pour_orth to this Madona! Would He but say that were He not already affianced t_he Church, He would not have despised Matilda! Oh! let me nourish that fon_dea! Perhaps He may yet acknowledge that He feels for me more than pity, an_hat affection like mine might well have deserved a return; Perhaps, He ma_wn thus much when I lye on my deathbed! He then need not fear to infringe hi_ows, and the confession of his regard will soften the pangs of dying. Would _ere sure of this! Oh! how earnestly should I sigh for the moment o_issolution!'
  • Of this discourse the Abbot lost not a syllable; and the tone in which Sh_ronounced these last words pierced to his heart. Involuntarily He raise_imself from his pillow.
  • 'Matilda!' He said in a troubled voice; 'Oh! my Matilda!'
  • She started at the sound, and turned towards him hastily. The suddenness o_er movement made her Cowl fall back from her head; Her features becam_isible to the Monk's enquiring eye. What was his amazement at beholding th_xact resemblance of his admired Madona? The same exquisite proportion o_eatures, the same profusion of golden hair, the same rosy lips, heavenl_yes, and majesty of countenance adorned Matilda! Uttering an exclamation o_urprize, Ambrosio sank back upon his pillow, and doubted whether the Objec_efore him was mortal or divine.
  • Matilda seemed penetrated with confusion. She remained motionless in he_lace, and supported herself upon her Instrument. Her eyes were bent upon th_arth, and her fair cheeks overspread with blushes. On recovering herself, he_irst action was to conceal her features. She then in an unsteady and trouble_oice ventured to address these words to the Friar.
  • 'Accident has made you Master of a secret, which I never would have reveale_ut on the Bed of death. Yes, Ambrosio; In Matilda de Villanegas you see th_riginal of your beloved Madona. Soon after I conceived my unfortunat_assion, I formed the project of conveying to you my Picture: Crowds o_dmirers had persuaded me that I possessed some beauty, and I was anxious t_now what effect it would produce upon you. I caused my Portrait to be draw_y Martin Galuppi, a celebrated Venetian at that time resident in Madrid. Th_esemblance was striking: I sent it to the Capuchin Abbey as if for sale, an_he Jew from whom you bought it was one of my Emissaries. You purchased it.
  • Judge of my rapture, when informed that you had gazed upon it with delight, o_ather with adoration; that you had suspended it in your Cell, and that yo_ddressed your supplications to no other Saint. Will this discovery make m_till more regarded as an object of suspicion? Rather should it convince yo_ow pure is my affection, and engage you to suffer me in your society an_steem. I heard you daily extol the praises of my Portrait: I was a_yewitness of the transports, which its beauty excited in you: Yet I forbor_o use against your virtue those arms, with which yourself had furnished me. _oncealed those features from your sight, which you loved unconsciously. _trove not to excite desire by displaying my charms, or to make mysel_istress of your heart through the medium of your senses. To attract you_otice by studiously attending to religious duties, to endear myself to you b_onvincing you that my mind was virtuous and my attachment sincere, such wa_y only aim. I succeeded; I became your companion and your Friend. I conceale_y sex from your knowledge; and had you not pressed me to reveal my secret, had I not been tormented by the fear of a discovery, never had you known m_or any other than Rosario. And still are you resolved to drive me from you?
  • The few hours of life which yet remain for me, may I not pass them in you_resence? Oh! speak, Ambrosio, and tell me that I may stay!'
  • This speech gave the Abbot an opportunity of recollecting himself. He wa_onscious that in the present disposition of his mind, avoiding her societ_as his only refuge from the power of this enchanting Woman.
  • 'You declaration has so much astonished me,' said He, 'that I am at presen_ncapable of answering you. Do not insist upon a reply, Matilda; Leave me t_yself; I have need to be alone.'
  • 'I obey you—But before I go, promise not to insist upon my quitting the Abbe_mmediately.'
  • 'Matilda, reflect upon your situation; Reflect upon the consequences of you_tay. Our separation is indispensable, and we must part.'
  • 'But not to-day, Father! Oh! in pity not today!'
  • 'You press me too hard, but I cannot resist that tone of supplication. Sinc_ou insist upon it, I yield to your prayer: I consent to your remaining here _ufficient time to prepare in some measure the Brethren for your departure.
  • Stay yet two days; But on the third,' … (He sighed involuntarily)—'Remember, that on the third we must part for ever!'
  • She caught his hand eagerly, and pressed it to her lips.
  • 'On the third?' She exclaimed with an air of wild solemnity; 'You are right, Father! You are right! On the third we must part for ever!'
  • There was a dreadful expression in her eye as She uttered these words, whic_enetrated the Friar's soul with horror: Again She kissed his hand, and the_led with rapidity from the chamber.
  • Anxious to authorise the presence of his dangerous Guest, yet conscious tha_er stay was infringing the laws of his order, Ambrosio's bosom became th_heatre of a thousand contending passions. At length his attachment to th_eigned Rosario, aided by the natural warmth of his temperament, seemed likel_o obtain the victory: The success was assured, when that presumption whic_ormed the groundwork of his character came to Matilda's assistance. The Mon_eflected that to vanquish temptation was an infinitely greater merit than t_void it: He thought that He ought rather to rejoice in the opportunity give_im of proving the firmness of his virtue. St. Anthony had withstood al_eductions to lust; Then why should not He? Besides, St. Anthony was tempte_y the Devil, who put every art into practice to excite his passions: Whereas, Ambrosio's danger proceeded from a mere mortal Woman, fearful and modest, whose apprehensions of his yielding were not less violent than his own.
  • 'Yes,' said He; 'The Unfortunate shall stay; I have nothing to fear from he_resence. Even should my own prove too weak to resist the temptation, I a_ecured from danger by the innocence of Matilda.'
  • Ambrosio was yet to learn, that to an heart unacquainted with her, Vice i_ver most dangerous when lurking behind the Mask of Virtue.
  • He found himself so perfectly recovered, that when Father Pablos visited hi_gain at night, He entreated permission to quit his chamber on the da_ollowing. His request was granted. Matilda appeared no more that evening, except in company with the Monks when they came in a body to enquire after th_bbot's health. She seemed fearful of conversing with him in private, an_tayed but a few minutes in his room. The Friar slept well; But the dreams o_he former night were repeated, and his sensations of voluptuousness were ye_ore keen and exquisite. The same lust-exciting visions floated before hi_yes: Matilda, in all the pomp of beauty, warm, tender, and luxurious, claspe_im to her bosom, and lavished upon him the most ardent caresses. He returne_hem as eagerly, and already was on the point of satisfying his desires, whe_he faithless form disappeared, and left him to all the horrors of shame an_isappointment.
  • The Morning dawned. Fatigued, harassed, and exhausted by his provoking dreams, He was not disposed to quit his Bed. He excused himself from appearing a_atins: It was the first morning in his life that He had ever missed them. H_ose late. During the whole of the day He had no opportunity of speaking t_atilda without witnesses. His Cell was thronged by the Monks, anxious t_xpress their concern at his illness; And He was still occupied in receivin_heir compliments on his recovery, when the Bell summoned them to th_efectory.
  • After dinner the Monks separated, and dispersed themselves in various parts o_he Garden, where the shade of trees or retirement of some Grotto presente_he most agreeable means of enjoying the Siesta. The Abbot bent his step_owards the Hermitage: A glance of his eye invited Matilda to accompany him.
  • She obeyed, and followed him thither in silence. They entered the Grotto, an_eated themselves. Both seemed unwilling to begin the conversation, and t_abour under the influence of mutual embarrassment. At length the Abbot spoke: He conversed only on indifferent topics, and Matilda answered him in the sam_one. She seemed anxious to make him forget that the Person who sat by him wa_ny other than Rosario. Neither of them dared, or indeed wished to make a_llusion, to the subject which was most at the hearts of both.
  • Matilda's efforts to appear gay were evidently forced: Her spirits wer_ppressed by the weight of anxiety, and when She spoke her voice was low an_eeble. She seemed desirous of finishing a conversation which embarrassed her; and complaining that She was unwell, She requested Ambrosio's permission t_eturn to the Abbey. He accompanied her to the door of her cell; and whe_rrived there, He stopped her to declare his consent to her continuing th_artner of his solitude so long as should be agreeable to herself.
  • She discovered no marks of pleasure at receiving this intelligence, though o_he preceding day She had been so anxious to obtain the permission.
  • 'Alas! Father,' She said, waving her head mournfully; 'Your kindness comes to_ate! My doom is fixed. We must separate for ever. Yet believe, that I a_rateful for your generosity, for your compassion of an Unfortunate who is bu_oo little deserving of it!'
  • She put her handkerchief to her eyes. Her Cowl was only half drawn over he_ace. Ambrosio observed that She was pale, and her eyes sunk and heavy.
  • 'Good God!' He cried; 'You are very ill, Matilda! I shall send Father Pablo_o you instantly.'
  • 'No; Do not. I am ill, 'tis true; But He cannot cure my malady. Farewell, Father! Remember me in your prayers tomorrow, while I shall remember you i_eaven!'
  • She entered her cell, and closed the door.
  • The Abbot dispatched to her the Physician without losing a moment, and waite_is report impatiently. But Father Pablos soon returned, and declared that hi_rrand had been fruitless. Rosario refused to admit him, and had positivel_ejected his offers of assistance. The uneasiness which this account gav_mbrosio was not trifling: Yet He determined that Matilda should have her ow_ay for that night: But that if her situation did not mend by the morning, h_ould insist upon her taking the advice of Father Pablos.
  • He did not find himself inclined to sleep. He opened his casement, and gaze_pon the moonbeams as they played upon the small stream whose waters bathe_he walls of the Monastery. The coolness of the night breeze and tranquillit_f the hour inspired the Friar's mind with sadness. He thought upon Matilda'_eauty and affection; Upon the pleasures which He might have shared with her, had He not been restrained by monastic fetters. He reflected, that unsustaine_y hope her love for him could not long exist; That doubtless She woul_ucceed in extinguishing her passion, and seek for happiness in the arms o_ne more fortunate. He shuddered at the void which her absence would leave i_is bosom. He looked with disgust on the monotony of a Convent, and breathed _igh towards that world from which He was for ever separated. Such were th_eflections which a loud knocking at his door interrupted. The Bell of th_hurch had already struck Two. The Abbot hastened to enquire the cause of thi_isturbance. He opened the door of his Cell, and a Lay-Brother entered, whos_ooks declared his hurry and confusion.
  • 'Hasten, reverend Father!' said He; 'Hasten to the young Rosario.
  • He earnestly requests to see you; He lies at the point of death.'
  • 'Gracious God! Where is Father Pablos? Why is He not with him? Oh! I fear! _ear!'
  • 'Father Pablos has seen him, but his art can do nothing. He says that H_uspects the Youth to be poisoned.'
  • 'Poisoned? Oh! The Unfortunate! It is then as I suspected! But let me not los_ moment; Perhaps it may yet be time to save her!'
  • He said, and flew towards the Cell of the Novice. Several Monks were alread_n the chamber. Father Pablos was one of them, and held a medicine in his han_hich He was endeavouring to persuade Rosario to swallow. The Others wer_mployed in admiring the Patient's divine countenance, which They now saw fo_he first time. She looked lovelier than ever. She was no longer pale o_anguid; A bright glow had spread itself over her cheeks; her eyes sparkle_ith a serene delight, and her countenance was expressive of confidence an_esignation.
  • 'Oh! torment me no more!' was She saying to Pablos, when the terrified Abbo_ushed hastily into the Cell; 'My disease is far beyond the reach of you_kill, and I wish not to be cured of it'—Then perceiving Ambrosio,— 'Ah! 'ti_e!' She cried; 'I see him once again, before we part for ever! Leave me, m_rethren; Much have I to tell this holy Man in private.'
  • The Monks retired immediately, and Matilda and the Abbot remained together.
  • 'What have you done, imprudent Woman!' exclaimed the Latter, as soon as the_ere left alone; 'Tell me; Are my suspicions just? Am I indeed to lose you?
  • Has your own hand been the instrument of your destruction?'
  • She smiled, and grasped his hand.
  • 'In what have I been imprudent, Father? I have sacrificed a pebble, and save_ diamond: My death preserves a life valuable to the world, and more dear t_e than my own. Yes, Father; I am poisoned; But know that the poison onc_irculated in your veins.'
  • 'Matilda!'
  • 'What I tell you I resolved never to discover to you but on the bed of death: That moment is now arrived. You cannot have forgotten the day already, whe_our life was endangered by the bite of a Cientipedoro. The Physician gave yo_ver, declaring himself ignorant how to extract the venom: I knew but of on_eans, and hesitated not a moment to employ it. I was left alone with you: Yo_lept; I loosened the bandage from your hand; I kissed the wound, and drew ou_he poison with my lips. The effect has been more sudden than I expected. _eel death at my heart; Yet an hour, and I shall be in a better world.'
  • 'Almighty God!' exclaimed the Abbot, and sank almost lifeless upon the Bed.
  • After a few minutes He again raised himself up suddenly, and gazed upo_atilda with all the wildness of despair.
  • 'And you have sacrificed yourself for me! You die, and die to preserv_mbrosio! And is there indeed no remedy, Matilda? And is there indeed no hope?
  • Speak to me, Oh! speak to me! Tell me, that you have still the means of life!'
  • 'Be comforted, my only Friend! Yes, I have still the means of life in m_ower: But 'tis a means which I dare not employ. It is dangerous! It i_readful! Life would be purchased at too dear a rate, … unless it wer_ermitted me to live for you.'
  • 'Then live for me, Matilda, for me and gratitude!'— (He caught her hand, an_ressed it rapturously to his lips.)—'Remember our late conversations; I no_onsent to every thing: Remember in what lively colours you described th_nion of souls; Be it ours to realize those ideas. Let us forget th_istinctions of sex, despise the world's prejudices, and only consider eac_ther as Brother and Friend. Live then, Matilda! Oh! live for me!'
  • 'Ambrosio, it must not be. When I thought thus, I deceived both you an_yself. Either I must die at present, or expire by the lingering torments o_nsatisfied desire. Oh! since we last conversed together, a dreadful veil ha_een rent from before my eyes. I love you no longer with the devotion which i_aid to a Saint: I prize you no more for the virtues of your soul; I lust fo_he enjoyment of your person. The Woman reigns in my bosom, and I am become _rey to the wildest of passions. Away with friendship! 'tis a cold unfeelin_ord. My bosom burns with love, with unutterable love, and love must be it_eturn. Tremble then, Ambrosio, tremble to succeed in your prayers. If I live, your truth, your reputation, your reward of a life past in sufferings, al_hat you value is irretrievably lost. I shall no longer be able to combat m_assions, shall seize every opportunity to excite your desires, and labour t_ffect your dishonour and my own. No, no, Ambrosio; I must not live! I a_onvinced with every moment, that I have but one alternative; I feel wit_very heart-throb, that I must enjoy you, or die.'
  • 'Amazement!—Matilda! Can it be you who speak to me?'
  • He made a movement as if to quit his seat. She uttered a loud shriek, an_aising herself half out of the Bed, threw her arms round the Friar to detai_im.
  • 'Oh! do not leave me! Listen to my errors with compassion! In a few hours _hall be no more; Yet a little, and I am free from this disgraceful passion.'
  • 'Wretched Woman, what can I say to you! I cannot … I must not … But live, Matilda! Oh! live!'
  • 'You do not reflect on what you ask. What? Live to plunge myself in infamy? T_ecome the Agent of Hell? To work the destruction both of you and of Myself?
  • Feel this heart, Father!'
  • She took his hand: Confused, embarrassed, and fascinated, He withdrew it not, and felt her heart throb under it.
  • 'Feel this heart, Father! It is yet the seat of honour, truth, and chastity: If it beats tomorrow, it must fall a prey to the blackest crimes. Oh! let m_hen die today! Let me die, while I yet deserve the tears of the virtuous!
  • Thus will expire!'—(She reclined her head upon his shoulder; Her golden Hai_oured itself over his Chest.)— 'Folded in your arms, I shall sink to sleep; Your hand shall close my eyes for ever, and your lips receive my dying breath.
  • And will you not sometimes think of me? Will you not sometimes shed a tea_pon my Tomb? Oh! Yes! Yes! Yes! That kiss is my assurance!'
  • The hour was night. All was silence around. The faint beams of a solitary Lam_arted upon Matilda's figure, and shed through the chamber a dim mysteriou_ight. No prying eye, or curious ear was near the Lovers: Nothing was hear_ut Matilda's melodious accents. Ambrosio was in the full vigour of Manhood.
  • He saw before him a young and beautiful Woman, the preserver of his life, th_dorer of his person, and whom affection for him had reduced to the brink o_he Grave. He sat upon her Bed; His hand rested upon her bosom; Her hea_eclined voluptuously upon his breast. Who then can wonder, if He yielded t_he temptation? Drunk with desire, He pressed his lips to those which sough_hem: His kisses vied with Matilda's in warmth and passion. He clasped he_apturously in his arms; He forgot his vows, his sanctity, and his fame: H_emembered nothing but the pleasure and opportunity.
  • 'Ambrosio! Oh! my Ambrosio!' sighed Matilda.
  • 'Thine, ever thine!' murmured the Friar, and sank upon her bosom.