> ——He was a fell despightful Fiend: Hell holds none worse in baleful bowe_elow: By pride, and wit, and rage, and rancor keened; Of Man alike, if goo_r bad the Foe. Thomson.
On the day following Antonia's death, all Madrid was a scene of consternatio_nd amazement. An Archer who had witnessed the adventure in the Sepulchre ha_ndiscreetly related the circumstances of the murder: He had also named th_erpetrator. The confusion was without example which this intelligence raise_mong the Devotees. Most of them disbelieved it, and went themselves to th_bbey to ascertain the fact. Anxious to avoid the shame to which thei_uperior's ill-conduct exposed the whole Brotherhood, the Monks assured th_isitors that Ambrosio was prevented from receiving them as usual by nothin_ut illness. This attempt was unsuccessful: The same excuse being repeated da_fter day, the Archer's story gradually obtained confidence. His Partizan_bandoned him: No one entertained a doubt of his guilt; and they who befor_ad been the warmest in his praise were now the most vociferous in hi_ondemnation.
While his innocence or guilt was debated in Madrid with the utmost acrimony, Ambrosio was a prey to the pangs of conscious villainy, and the terrors o_unishment impending over him. When He looked back to the eminence on which H_ad lately stood, universally honoured and respected, at peace with the worl_nd with himself, scarcely could He believe that He was indeed the culpri_hose crimes and whose fate He trembled to envisage. But a few weeks ha_lapsed, since He was pure and virtuous, courted by the wisest and noblest i_adrid, and regarded by the People with a reverence that approached idolatry: He now saw himself stained with the most loathed and monstrous sins, th_bject of universal execration, a Prisoner of the Holy Office, and probabl_oomed to perish in tortures the most severe. He could not hope to deceive hi_udges: The proofs of his guilt were too strong. His being in the Sepulchre a_o late an hour, his confusion at the discovery, the dagger which in his firs_larm He owned had been concealed by him, and the blood which had spirted upo_is habit from Antonia's wound, sufficiently marked him out for the Assassin.
He waited with agony for the day of examination: He had no resource to comfor_im in his distress. Religion could not inspire him with fortitude: If He rea_he Books of morality which were put into his hands, He saw in them nothin_ut the enormity of his offences; If he attempted to pray, He recollected tha_e deserved not heaven's protection, and believed his crimes so monstrous a_o baffle even God's infinite goodness. For every other Sinner He though_here might be hope, but for him there could be none. Shuddering at the past, anguished by the present, and dreading the future, thus passed He the few day_receding that which was marked for his Trial.
That day arrived. At nine in the morning his prison door was unlocked, and hi_aoler entering, commanded him to follow him. He obeyed with trembling. He wa_onducted into a spacious Hall, hung with black cloth. At the Table sat thre_rave, stern-looking Men, also habited in black: One was the Grand Inquisitor, whom the importance of this cause had induced to examine into it himself. At _maller table at a little distance sat the Secretary, provided with al_ecessary implements for writing. Ambrosio was beckoned to advance, and tak_is station at the lower end of the Table. As his eye glanced downwards, H_erceived various iron instruments lying scattered upon the floor. Their form_ere unknown to him, but apprehension immediately guessed them to be engine_f torture. He turned pale, and with difficulty prevented himself from sinkin_pon the ground.
Profound silence prevailed, except when the Inquisitors whispered a few word_mong themselves mysteriously. Near an hour past away, and with every secon_f it Ambrosio's fears grew more poignant. At length a small Door, opposite t_hat by which He had entered the Hall, grated heavily upon its hinges. A_fficer appeared, and was immediately followed by the beautiful Matilda. He_air hung about her face wildly; Her cheeks were pale, and her eyes sunk an_ollow. She threw a melancholy look upon Ambrosio: He replied by one o_version and reproach. She was placed opposite to him. A Bell then sounde_hrice. It was the signal for opening the Court, and the Inquisitors entere_pon their office.
In these trials neither the accusation is mentioned, or the name of th_ccuser. The Prisoners are only asked, whether they will confess: If the_eply that having no crime they can make no confession, they are put to th_orture without delay. This is repeated at intervals, either till th_uspected avow themselves culpable, or the perseverance of the examinants i_orn out and exhausted: But without a direct acknowledgment of their guilt, the Inquisition never pronounces the final doom of its Prisoners.
In general much time is suffered to elapse without their being questioned: Bu_mbrosio's trial had been hastened, on account of a solemn Auto da Fe whic_ould take place in a few days, and in which the Inquisitors meant thi_istinguished Culprit to perform a part, and give a striking testimony o_heir vigilance.
The Abbot was not merely accused of rape and murder: The crime of Sorcery wa_aid to his charge, as well as to Matilda's. She had been seized as a_ccomplice in Antonia's assassination. On searching her Cell, variou_uspicious books and instruments were found which justified the accusatio_rought against her. To criminate the Monk, the constellated Mirror wa_roduced, which Matilda had accidentally left in his chamber. The strang_igures engraved upon it caught the attention of Don Ramirez, while searchin_he Abbot's Cell: In consequence, He carried it away with him. It was shown t_he Grand Inquisitor, who having considered it for some time, took off a smal_olden Cross which hung at his girdle, and laid it upon the Mirror. Instantl_ loud noise was heard, resembling a clap of thunder, and the steel shivere_nto a thousand pieces. This circumstance confirmed the suspicion of th_onk's having dealt in Magic: It was even supposed that his former influenc_ver the minds of the People was entirely to be ascribed to witchcraft.
Determined to make him confess not only the crimes which He had committed, bu_hose also of which He was innocent, the Inquisitors began their examination.
Though dreading the tortures, as He dreaded death still more which woul_onsign him to eternal torments, the Abbot asserted his purity in a voice bol_nd resolute. Matilda followed his example, but spoke with fear and trembling.
Having in vain exhorted him to confess, the Inquisitors ordered the Monk to b_ut to the question. The Decree was immediately executed. Ambrosio suffere_he most excruciating pangs that ever were invented by human cruelty: Yet s_readful is Death when guilt accompanies it, that He had sufficient fortitud_o persist in his disavowal. His agonies were redoubled in consequence: No_as He released till fainting from excess of pain, insensibility rescued hi_rom the hands of his Tormentors.
Matilda was next ordered to the torture: But terrified by the sight of th_riar's sufferings, her courage totally deserted her. She sank upon her knees, acknowledged her corresponding with infernal Spirits, and that She ha_itnessed the Monk's assassination of Antonia: But as to the crime of Sorcery, She declared herself the sole criminal, and Ambrosio perfectly innocent. Th_atter assertion met with no credit. The Abbot had recovered his senses i_ime to hear the confession of his Accomplice: But He was too much enfeeble_y what He had already undergone to be capable at that time of sustaining ne_orments.
He was commanded back to his Cell, but first informed that as soon as He ha_ained strength sufficient, He must prepare himself for a second examination.
The Inquisitors hoped that He would then be less hardened and obstinate. T_atilda it was announced that She must expiate her crime in fire on th_pproaching Auto da Fe. All her tears and entreaties could procure n_itigation of her doom, and She was dragged by force from the Hall of Trial.
Returned to his dungeon, the sufferings of Ambrosio's body were far mor_upportable than those of his mind. His dislocated limbs, the nails torn fro_is hands and feet, and his fingers mashed and broken by the pressure o_crews, were far surpassed in anguish by the agitation of his soul an_ehemence of his terrors. He saw that, guilty or innocent, his Judges wer_ent upon condemning him: The remembrance of what his denial had already cos_im terrified him at the idea of being again applied to the question, an_lmost engaged him to confess his crimes. Then again the consequences of hi_onfession flashed before him, and rendered him once more irresolute. Hi_eath would be inevitable, and that a death the most dreadful: He had listene_o Matilda's doom, and doubted not that a similar was reserved for him. H_huddered at the approaching Auto da Fe, at the idea of perishing in flames, and only escaping from indurable torments to pass into others more subtile an_ver-lasting! With affright did He bend his mind's eye on the space beyond th_rave; nor could hide from himself how justly he ought to dread Heaven'_engeance. In this Labyrinth of terrors, fain would He have taken his refug_n the gloom of Atheism: Fain would He have denied the soul's immortality; have persuaded himself that when his eyes once closed, they would never mor_pen, and that the same moment would annihilate his soul and body. Even thi_esource was refused to him. To permit his being blind to the fallacy of thi_elief, his knowledge was too extensive, his understanding too solid and just.
He could not help feeling the existence of a God. Those truths, once hi_omfort, now presented themselves before him in the clearest light; But the_nly served to drive him to distraction. They destroyed his ill-grounded hope_f escaping punishment; and dispelled by the irresistible brightness of Trut_nd convinction, Philosophy's deceitful vapours faded away like a dream.
In anguish almost too great for mortal frame to bear, He expected the tim_hen He was again to be examined. He busied himself in planning ineffectua_chemes for escaping both present and future punishment. Of the first ther_as no possibility; Of the second Despair made him neglect the only means.
While Reason forced him to acknowledge a God's existence, Conscience made hi_oubt the infinity of his goodness. He disbelieved that a Sinner like hi_ould find mercy. He had not been deceived into error: Ignorance could furnis_im with no excuse. He had seen vice in her true colours; Before He committe_is crimes, He had computed every scruple of their weight; and yet he ha_ommitted them.
'Pardon?' He would cry in an access of phrenzy 'Oh! there can be none for me!'
Persuaded of this, instead of humbling himself in penitence, of deploring hi_uilt, and employing his few remaining hours in deprecating Heaven's wrath, H_bandoned himself to the transports of desperate rage; He sorrowed for th_unishment of his crimes, not their commission; and exhaled his bosom'_nguish in idle sighs, in vain lamentations, in blasphemy and despair. As th_ew beams of day which pierced through the bars of his prison window graduall_isappeared, and their place was supplied by the pale and glimmering Lamp, H_elt his terrors redouble, and his ideas become more gloomy, more solemn, mor_espondent. He dreaded the approach of sleep: No sooner did his eyes close, wearied with tears and watching, than the dreadful visions seemed to b_ealised on which his mind had dwelt during the day. He found himself i_ulphurous realms and burning Caverns, surrounded by Fiends appointed hi_ormentors, and who drove him through a variety of tortures, each of which wa_ore dreadful than the former. Amidst these dismal scenes wandered the Ghost_f Elvira and her Daughter. They reproached him with their deaths, recounte_is crimes to the Daemons, and urged them to inflict torments of cruelty ye_ore refined. Such were the pictures which floated before his eyes in sleep: They vanished not till his repose was disturbed by excess of agony. Then woul_e start from the ground on which He had stretched himself, his brows runnin_own with cold sweat, his eyes wild and phrenzied; and He only exchanged th_errible certainty for surmizes scarcely more supportable. He paced hi_ungeon with disordered steps; He gazed with terror upon the surroundin_arkness, and often did He cry,
'Oh! fearful is night to the Guilty!'
The day of his second examination was at hand. He had been compelled t_wallow cordials, whose virtues were calculated to restore his bodil_trength, and enable him to support the question longer. On the nigh_receding this dreaded day, his fears for the morrow permitted him not t_leep. His terrors were so violent, as nearly to annihilate his mental powers.
He sat like one stupefied near the Table on which his Lamp was burning dimly.
Despair chained up his faculties in Idiotism, and He remained for some hours, unable to speak or move, or indeed to think.
'Look up, Ambrosio!' said a Voice in accents well-known to him—
The Monk started, and raised his melancholy eyes. Matilda stood before him.
She had quitted her religious habit. She now wore a female dress, at onc_legant and splendid: A profusion of diamonds blazed upon her robes, and he_air was confined by a coronet of Roses. In her right hand She held a smal_ook: A lively expression of pleasure beamed upon her countenance; But stil_t was mingled with a wild imperious majesty which inspired the Monk with awe, and represt in some measure his transports at seeing her.
'You here, Matilda?' He at length exclaimed; 'How have you gained entrance?
Where are your Chains? What means this magnificence, and the joy whic_parkles in your eyes? Have our Judges relented? Is there a chance of m_scaping? Answer me for pity, and tell me, what I have to hope, or fear.'
'Ambrosio!' She replied with an air of commanding dignity; 'I have baffled th_nquisition's fury. I am free: A few moments will place kingdoms between thes_ungeons and me. Yet I purchase my liberty at a dear, at a dreadful price!
Dare you pay the same, Ambrosio? Dare you spring without fear over the bound_hich separate Men from Angels?—You are silent.—You look upon me with eyes o_uspicion and alarm—I read your thoughts and confess their justice. Yes, Ambrosio ; I have sacrificed all for life and liberty. I am no longer _andidate for heaven! I have renounced God's service, and am enlisted beneat_he banners of his Foes. The deed is past recall: Yet were it in my power t_o back, I would not. Oh! my Friend, to expire in such torments! To die amids_urses and execrations! To bear the insults of an exasperated Mob! To b_xposed to all the mortifications of shame and infamy! Who can reflect withou_orror on such a doom? Let me then exult in my exchange. I have sold distan_nd uncertain happiness for present and secure: I have preserved a life whic_therwise I had lost in torture; and I have obtained the power of procurin_very bliss which can make that life delicious! The Infernal Spirits obey m_s their Sovereign: By their aid shall my days be past in every refinement o_uxury and voluptuousness. I will enjoy unrestrained the gratification of m_enses: Every passion shall be indulged, even to satiety; Then will I bid m_ervants invent new pleasures, to revive and stimulate my glutted appetites! _o impatient to exercise my newly-gained dominion. I pant to be at liberty.
Nothing should hold me one moment longer in this abhorred abode, but the hop_f persuading you to follow my example. Ambrosio, I still love you: Our mutua_uilt and danger have rendered you dearer to me than ever, and I would fai_ave you from impending destruction. Summon then your resolution to your aid; and renounce for immediate and certain benefits the hopes of a salvation, difficult to obtain, and perhaps altogether erroneous. Shake off the prejudic_f vulgar souls; Abandon a God who has abandoned you, and raise yourself t_he level of superior Beings!'
She paused for the Monk's reply: He shuddered, while He gave it.
'Matilda!' He said after a long silence in a low and unsteady voice; 'Wha_rice gave you for liberty?'
She answered him firm and dauntless.
'Ambrosio, it was my Soul!'
'Wretched Woman, what have you done? Pass but a few years, and how dreadfu_ill be your sufferings!'
'Weak Man, pass but this night, and how dreadful will be your own! Do yo_emember what you have already endured? Tomorrow you must bear torments doubl_xquisite. Do you remember the horrors of a fiery punishment? In two days yo_ust be led a Victim to the Stake! What then will become of you? Still dar_ou hope for pardon? Still are you beguiled with visions of salvation? Thin_pon your crimes! Think upon your lust, your perjury, inhumanity, an_ypocrisy! Think upon the innocent blood which cries to the Throne of God fo_engeance, and then hope for mercy! Then dream of heaven, and sigh for world_f light, and realms of peace and pleasure! Absurd! Open your eyes, Ambrosio, and be prudent. Hell is your lot; You are doomed to eternal perdition; Nough_ies beyond your grave but a gulph of devouring flames. And will you the_peed towards that Hell? Will you clasp that perdition in your arms, ere 'ti_eedful? Will you plunge into those flames while you still have the power t_hun them? 'Tis a Madman's action. No, no, Ambrosio: Let us for awhile fl_rom divine vengeance. Be advised by me; Purchase by one moment's courage th_liss of years; Enjoy the present, and forget that a future lags behind.'
'Matilda, your counsels are dangerous: I dare not, I will not follow them. _ust not give up my claim to salvation. Monstrous are my crimes; But God i_erciful, and I will not despair of pardon.'
'Is such your resolution? I have no more to say. I speed to joy and liberty, and abandon you to death and eternal torments.'
'Yet stay one moment, Matilda! You command the infernal Daemons:
You can force open these prison doors; You can release me from these chain_hich weigh me down. Save me, I conjure you, and bear me from these fearfu_bodes!'
'You ask the only boon beyond my power to bestow. I am forbidden to assist _hurchman and a Partizan of God: Renounce those titles, and command me.'
'I will not sell my soul to perdition.'
'Persist in your obstinacy, till you find yourself at the Stake: Then will yo_epent your error, and sigh for escape when the moment is gone by. I quit you.
Yet ere the hour of death arrives should wisdom enlighten you, listen to th_eans of repairing your present fault. I leave with you this Book. Read th_our first lines of the seventh page backwards: The Spirit whom you hav_lready once beheld will immediately appear to you. If you are wise, we shal_eet again: If not, farewell for ever!'
She let the Book fall upon the ground. A cloud of blue fire wrapped itsel_ound her: She waved her hand to Ambrosio, and disappeared. The momentar_lare which the flames poured through the dungeon, on dissipating suddenly, seemed to have increased its natural gloom. The solitary Lamp scarcely gav_ight sufficient to guide the Monk to a Chair. He threw himself into his seat, folded his arms, and leaning his head upon the table, sank into reflection_erplexing and unconnected.
He was still in this attitude when the opening of the prison door rouzed hi_rom his stupor. He was summoned to appear before the Grand Inquisitor. H_ose, and followed his Gaoler with painful steps. He was led into the sam_all, placed before the same Examiners, and was again interrogated whethe_ewould confess. He replied as before, that having no crimes, He coul_cknowledge none: But when the Executioners prepared to put him to th_uestion, when He saw the engines of torture, and remembered the pangs whic_hey had already inflicted, his resolution failed him entirely. Forgetting th_onsequences, and only anxious to escape the terrors of the present moment, H_ade an ample confession. He disclosed every circumstance of his guilt, an_wned not merely the crimes with which He was charged, but those of which H_ad never been suspected. Being interrogated as to Matilda's flight which ha_reated much confusion, He confessed that She had sold herself to Satan, an_hat She was indebted to Sorcery for her escape. He still assured his Judge_hat for his own part He had never entered into any compact with the inferna_pirits; But the threat of being tortured made him declare himself to be _orcerer, and Heretic, and whatever other title the Inquisitors chose to fi_pon him. In consequence of this avowal, his sentence was immediatel_ronounced. He was ordered to prepare himself to perish in the Auto da Fe, which was to be solemnized at twelve o'clock that night. This hour was chose_rom the idea that the horror of the flames being heightened by the gloom o_idnight, the execution would have a greater effect upon the mind of th_eople.
Ambrosio rather dead than alive was left alone in his dungeon. The moment i_hich this terrible decree was pronounced had nearly proved that of hi_issolution. He looked forward to the morrow with despair, and his terror_ncreased with the approach of midnight. Sometimes He was buried in gloom_ilence: At others He raved with delirious passion, wrung his hands, an_ursed the hour when He first beheld the light. In one of these moments hi_ye rested upon Matilda's mysterious gift. His transports of rage wer_nstantly suspended. He looked earnestly at the Book; He took it up, bu_mmediately threw it from him with horror. He walked rapidly up and down hi_ungeon: Then stopped, and again fixed his eyes on the spot where the Book ha_allen. He reflected that here at least was a resource from the fate which H_readed. He stooped, and took it up a second time.
He remained for some time trembling and irresolute: He longed to try th_harm, yet feared its consequences. The recollection of his sentence at lengt_ixed his indecision. He opened the Volume; but his agitation was so grea_hat He at first sought in vain for the page mentioned by Matilda. Ashamed o_imself, He called all his courage to his aid. He turned to the seventh leaf.
He began to read it aloud; But his eyes frequently wandered from the Book, while He anxiously cast them round in search of the Spirit, whom He wished, yet dreaded to behold. Still He persisted in his design; and with a voic_nassured and frequent interruptions, He contrived to finish the four firs_ines of the page.
They were in a language, whose import was totally unknown to him.
Scarce had He pronounced the last word when the effects of the charm wer_vident. A loud burst of Thunder was heard; The prison shook to its ver_oundations; A blaze of lightning flashed through the Cell; and in the nex_oment, borne upon sulphurous whirl-winds, Lucifer stood before him a secon_ime. But He came not as when at Matilda's summons He borrowed the Seraph'_orm to deceive Ambrosio. He appeared in all that ugliness which since hi_all from heaven had been his portion: His blasted limbs still bore marks o_he Almighty's thunder: A swarthy darkness spread itself over his giganti_orm: His hands and feet were armed with long Talons: Fury glared in his eyes, which might have struck the bravest heart with terror: Over his huge shoulder_aved two enormous sable wings; and his hair was supplied by living snakes, which twined themselves round his brows with frightful hissings. In one han_e held a roll of parchment, and in the other an iron pen. Still the lightnin_lashed around him, and the Thunder with repeated bursts, seemed to announc_he dissolution of Nature.
Terrified at an Apparition so different from what He had expected, Ambrosi_emained gazing upon the Fiend, deprived of the power of utterance. Th_hunder had ceased to roll: Universal silence reigned through the dungeon.
'For what am I summoned hither?' said the Daemon, in a voice which sulphurou_ogs had damped to hoarseness—
At the sound Nature seemed to tremble: A violent earthquake rocked the ground, accompanied by a fresh burst of Thunder, louder and more appalling than th_irst.
Ambrosio was long unable to answer the Daemon's demand.
'I am condemned to die;' He said with a faint voice, his blood running cold, while He gazed upon his dreadful Visitor. 'Save me! Bear me from hence!'
'Shall the reward of my services be paid me? Dare you embrace my cause? Wil_ou be mine, body and soul? Are you prepared to renounce him who made you, an_im who died for you? Answer but ''Yes'' and Lucifer is your Slave.'
'Will no less price content you? Can nothing satisfy you but my eternal ruin?
Spirit, you ask too much. Yet convey me from this dungeon: Be my Servant fo_ne hour, and I will be yours for a thousand years. Will not this offe_uffice?'
'It will not. I must have your soul; must have it mine, and mine for ever.'
'Insatiate Daemon, I will not doom myself to endless torments. I will not giv_p my hopes of being one day pardoned.'
'You will not? On what Chimaera rest then your hopes? Short-sighted Mortal!
Miserable Wretch! Are you not guilty? Are you not infamous in the eyes of Me_nd Angels. Can such enormous sins be forgiven? Hope you to escape my power?
Your fate is already pronounced. The Eternal has abandoned you; Mine you ar_arked in the book of destiny, and mine you must and shall be!'
'Fiend, 'tis false! Infinite is the Almighty's mercy, and the Penitent shal_eet his forgiveness. My crimes are monstrous, but I will not despair o_ardon: Haply, when they have received due chastisement … .'
'Chastisement? Was Purgatory meant for guilt like yours? Hope you that you_ffences shall be bought off by prayers of superstitious dotards and dronin_onks? Ambrosio, be wise! Mine you must be: You are doomed to flames, but ma_hun them for the present. Sign this parchment: I will bear you from hence, and you may pass your remaining years in bliss and liberty. Enjoy you_xistence: Indulge in every pleasure to which appetite may lead you: But fro_he moment that it quits your body, remember that your soul belongs to me, an_hat I will not be defrauded of my right.'
The Monk was silent; But his looks declared that the Tempter's words were no_hrown away. He reflected on the conditions proposed with horror: On the othe_and, He believed himself doomed to perdition and that, by refusing th_aemon's succour, He only hastened tortures which He never could escape. Th_iend saw that his resolution was shaken: He renewed his instances, an_ndeavoured to fix the Abbot's indecision. He described the agonies of deat_n the most terrific colours; and He worked so powerfully upon Ambrosio'_espair and fears that He prevailed upon him to receive the Parchment. He the_truck the iron Pen which He held into a vein of the Monk's left hand. I_ierced deep, and was instantly filled with blood; Yet Ambrosio felt no pai_rom the wound. The Pen was put into his hand: It trembled. The Wretch place_he Parchment on the Table before him, and prepared to sign it. Suddenly H_eld his hand: He started away hastily, and threw the Pen upon the table.
'What am I doing?' He cried—Then turning to the Fiend with a desperate air,
'Leave me! Begone! I will not sign the Parchment.'
'Fool!' exclaimed the disappointed Daemon, darting looks so furious a_enetrated the Friar's soul with horror; 'Thus am I trifled with? Go then!
Rave in agony, expire in tortures, and then learn the extent of the Eternal'_ercy! But beware how you make me again your mock! Call me no more til_esolved to accept my offers! Summon me a second time to dismiss me thus idly, and these Talons shall rend you into a thousand pieces! Speak yet again; Wil_ou sign the Parchment?'
'I will not! Leave me! Away!'
Instantly the Thunder was heard to roll horribly: Once more the earth tremble_ith violence: The Dungeon resounded with loud shrieks, and the Daemon fle_ith blasphemy and curses.
At first, the Monk rejoiced at having resisted the Seducer's arts, an_btained a triumph over Mankind's Enemy: But as the hour of punishment dre_ear, his former terrors revived in his heart. Their momentary repose seeme_o have given them fresh vigour. The nearer that the time approached, the mor_id He dread appearing before the Throne of God. He shuddered to think ho_oon He must be plunged into eternity; How soon meet the eyes of his Creator, whom He had so grievously offended. The Bell announced midnight: It was th_ignal for being led to the Stake! As He listened to the first stroke, th_lood ceased to circulate in the Abbot's veins: He heard death and tortur_urmured in each succeeding sound. He expected to see the Archers entering hi_rison; and as the Bell forbore to toll, he seized the magic volume in a fi_f despair. He opened it, turned hastily to the seventh page, and as i_earing to allow himself a moment's thought ran over the fatal lines wit_apidity. Accompanied by his former terrors, Lucifer again stood before th_rembler.
'You have summoned me,' said the Fiend; 'Are you determined to be wise? Wil_ou accept my conditions? You know them already. Renounce your claim t_alvation, make over to me your soul, and I bear you from this dungeo_nstantly. Yet is it time. Resolve, or it will be too late. Will you sign th_archment?'
'I must!—Fate urges me! I accept your conditions.'
'Sign the Parchment!' replied the Daemon in an exulting tone.
The Contract and the bloody Pen still lay upon the Table. Ambrosio drew nea_t. He prepared to sign his name. A moment's reflection made him hesitate.
'Hark!' cried the Tempter; 'They come! Be quick! Sign the Parchment, and _ear you from hence this moment.'
In effect, the Archers were heard approaching, appointed to lead Ambrosio t_he Stake. The sound encouraged the Monk in his resolution.
'What is the import of this writing?' said He.
'It makes your soul over to me for ever, and without reserve.'
'What am I to receive in exchange?'
'My protection, and release from this dungeon. Sign it, and this instant _ear you away.'
Ambrosio took up the Pen; He set it to the Parchment. Again his courage faile_im: He felt a pang of terror at his heart, and once more threw the Pen upo_he Table.
'Weak and Puerile!' cried the exasperated Fiend: 'Away with this folly! Sig_he writing this instant, or I sacrifice you to my rage!'
At this moment the bolt of the outward Door was drawn back. The Prisoner hear_he rattling of Chains; The heavy Bar fell; The Archers were on the point o_ntering. Worked up to phrenzy by the urgent danger, shrinking from th_pproach of death, terrified by the Daemon's threats, and seeing no othe_eans to escape destruction, the wretched Monk complied. He signed the fata_ontract, and gave it hastily into the evil Spirit's hands, whose eyes, as H_eceived the gift, glared with malicious rapture.
'Take it!' said the God-abandoned; 'Now then save me! Snatch me from hence!'
'Hold! Do you freely and absolutely renounce your Creator and his Son?'
'I do! I do!'
'Do you make over your soul to me for ever?'
'Without reserve or subterfuge? Without future appeal to the divine mercy?'
The last Chain fell from the door of the prison: The key was heard turning i_he Lock: Already the iron door grated heavily upon its rusty hinges.
'I am yours for ever and irrevocably!' cried the Monk wild with terror: '_bandon all claim to salvation! I own no power but yours! Hark! Hark! The_ome! Oh! save me! Bear me away!'
'I have triumphed! You are mine past reprieve, and I fulfil my promise.'
While He spoke, the Door unclosed. Instantly the Daemon grasped one o_mbrosio's arms, spread his broad pinions, and sprang with him into the air.
The roof opened as they soared upwards, and closed again when they had quitte_he Dungeon.
In the meanwhile, the Gaoler was thrown into the utmost surprize by th_isappearance of his Prisoner. Though neither He nor the Archers were in tim_o witness the Monk's escape, a sulphurous smell prevailing through the priso_ufficiently informed them by whose aid He had been liberated. They hastene_o make their report to the Grand Inquisitor. The story, how a Sorcerer ha_een carried away by the Devil, was soon noised about Madrid; and for som_ays the whole City was employed in discussing the subject. Gradually i_eased to be the topic of conversation: Other adventures arose whose novelt_ngaged universal attention; and Ambrosio was soon forgotten as totally, as i_e never had existed. While this was passing, the Monk supported by hi_nfernal guide, traversed the air with the rapidity of an arrow, and a fe_oments placed him upon a Precipice's brink, the steepest in Sierra Morena.
Though rescued from the Inquisition, Ambrosio as yet was insensible of th_lessings of liberty. The damning contract weighed heavy upon his mind; an_he scenes in which He had been a principal actor had left behind them suc_mpressions as rendered his heart the seat of anarchy and confusion. Th_bjects now before his eyes, and which the full Moon sailing through cloud_ermitted him to examine, were ill-calculated to inspire that calm, of whic_e stood so much in need. The disorder of his imagination was increased by th_ildness of the surrounding scenery; By the gloomy Caverns and steep rocks, rising above each other, and dividing the passing clouds; solitary clusters o_rees scattered here and there, among whose thick-twined branches the wind o_ight sighed hoarsely and mournfully; the shrill cry of mountain Eagles, wh_ad built their nests among these lonely Desarts; the stunning roar o_orrents, as swelled by late rains they rushed violently down tremendou_recipices; and the dark waters of a silent sluggish stream which faintl_eflected the moonbeams, and bathed the Rock's base on which Ambrosio stood.
The Abbot cast round him a look of terror. His infernal Conductor was still b_is side, and eyed him with a look of mingled malice, exultation, an_ontempt.
'Whither have you brought me?' said the Monk at length in an hollow tremblin_oice: 'Why am I placed in this melancholy scene? Bear me from it quickly!
Carry me to Matilda!'
The Fiend replied not, but continued to gaze upon him in silence.
Ambrosio could not sustain his glance; He turned away his eyes, while thu_poke the Daemon:
'I have him then in my power! This model of piety! This being withou_eproach! This Mortal who placed his puny virtues on a level with those o_ngels. He is mine! Irrevocably, eternally mine! Companions of my sufferings!
Denizens of hell! How grateful will be my present!'
He paused; then addressed himself to the Monk——
'Carry you to Matilda?' He continued, repeating Ambrosio's words:
'Wretch! you shall soon be with her! You well deserve a place near her, fo_ell boasts no miscreant more guilty than yourself.
Hark, Ambrosio, while I unveil your crimes! You have shed the blood of tw_nnocents; Antonia and Elvira perished by your hand. That Antonia whom yo_iolated, was your Sister! That Elvira whom you murdered, gave you birth!
Tremble, abandoned Hypocrite! Inhuman Parricide! Incestuous Ravisher! Trembl_t the extent of your offences! And you it was who thought yourself proo_gainst temptation, absolved from human frailties, and free from error an_ice! Is pride then a virtue? Is inhumanity no fault? Know, vain Man! That _ong have marked you for my prey: I watched the movements of your heart; I sa_hat you were virtuous from vanity, not principle, and I seized the fit momen_f seduction. I observed your blind idolatry of the Madona's picture. I bad _ubordinate but crafty spirit assume a similar form, and you eagerly yielde_o the blandishments of Matilda. Your pride was gratified by her flattery; Your lust only needed an opportunity to break forth; You ran into the snar_lindly, and scrupled not to commit a crime which you blamed in another wit_nfeeling severity. It was I who threw Matilda in your way; It was I who gav_ou entrance to Antonia's chamber; It was I who caused the dagger to be give_ou which pierced your Sister's bosom; and it was I who warned Elvira i_reams of your designs upon her Daughter, and thus, by preventing you_rofiting by her sleep, compelled you to add rape as well as incest to th_atalogue of your crimes. Hear, hear, Ambrosio! Had you resisted me one minut_onger, you had saved your body and soul. The guards whom you heard at you_rison door came to signify your pardon. But I had already triumphed: My plot_ad already succeeded. Scarcely could I propose crimes so quick as yo_erformed them. You are mine, and Heaven itself cannot rescue you from m_ower. Hope not that your penitence will make void our contract. Here is you_ond signed with your blood; You have given up your claim to mercy, an_othing can restore to you the rights which you have foolishly resigned.
Believe you that your secret thoughts escaped me? No, no, I read them all! Yo_rusted that you should still have time for repentance. I saw your artifice, knew its falsity, and rejoiced in deceiving the deceiver! You are mine beyon_eprieve: I burn to possess my right, and alive you quit not these mountains.'
During the Daemon's speech, Ambrosio had been stupefied by terror an_urprize. This last declaration rouzed him.
'Not quit these mountains alive?' He exclaimed: 'Perfidious, what mean you?
Have you forgotten our contract?'
The Fiend answered by a malicious laugh:
'Our contract? Have I not performed my part? What more did I promise than t_ave you from your prison? Have I not done so? Are you not safe from th_nquisition—safe from all but from me? Fool that you were to confide yoursel_o a Devil! Why did you not stipulate for life, and power, and pleasure? The_ll would have been granted: Now, your reflections come too late. Miscreant, prepare for death; You have not many hours to live!'
On hearing this sentence, dreadful were the feelings of the devoted Wretch! H_ank upon his knees, and raised his hands towards heaven. The Fiend read hi_ntention and prevented it—
'What?' He cried, darting at him a look of fury: 'Dare you still implore th_ternal's mercy? Would you feign penitence, and again act an Hypocrite's part?
Villain, resign your hopes of pardon. Thus I secure my prey!'
As He said this, darting his talons into the Monk's shaven crown, He spran_ith him from the rock. The Caves and mountains rang with Ambrosio's shrieks.
The Daemon continued to soar aloft, till reaching a dreadful height, H_eleased the sufferer. Headlong fell the Monk through the airy waste; Th_harp point of a rock received him; and He rolled from precipice to precipice, till bruised and mangled He rested on the river's banks. Life still existed i_is miserable frame: He attempted in vain to raise himself; His broken an_islocated limbs refused to perform their office, nor was He able to quit th_pot where He had first fallen. The Sun now rose above the horizon; It_corching beams darted full upon the head of the expiring Sinner. Myriads o_nsects were called forth by the warmth; They drank the blood which trickle_rom Ambrosio's wounds; He had no power to drive them from him, and the_astened upon his sores, darted their stings into his body, covered him wit_heir multitudes, and inflicted on him tortures the most exquisite an_nsupportable. The Eagles of the rock tore his flesh piecemeal, and dug ou_is eyeballs with their crooked beaks. A burning thirst tormented him; H_eard the river's murmur as it rolled beside him, but strove in vain to dra_imself towards the sound. Blind, maimed, helpless, and despairing, ventin_is rage in blasphemy and curses, execrating his existence, yet dreading th_rrival of death destined to yield him up to greater torments, six miserabl_ays did the Villain languish. On the Seventh a violent storm arose: The wind_n fury rent up rocks and forests: The sky was now black with clouds, no_heeted with fire: The rain fell in torrents; It swelled the stream; The wave_verflowed their banks; They reached the spot where Ambrosio lay, and whe_hey abated carried with them into the river the Corse of the despairing Monk.