Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

Gerbert, pretending to be deeply affected by the Duke's condescending behaviour, made the most grateful acknowledgements for it, and appeared to be extremely pleased at his restoration : but there is an old saying which may be here introduced with some propriety, though antient laws, like antient coins, are seldom esteemed but by those who are acquainted with their intrinsic (not current) value: “When the Devil gets into a man's head, he is not easily driven out.”

Gerbert, notwithstanding the Monk's arguments and admonitions, felt himself still inclined to carry his daring scheme into execution, and only wore the mask of hypocrisy upon his face, in order to conceal the traiterous designs of his heart. He was really, indeed, pleased to find himself fully restored to William's favour; but the pleasure which he received upon the occasion, was greatly heightened by his considering the return of the Duke's partiality as the ladder from the top of which he was to mount his throne.

While he was now thoroughly heated by ambition, he spent all his leisure hours in making a selection of those among his friends whom he deemed most fit, from a similarity of sentiments, to put the grand machine into motion; and he received from all to whom he communicated his intentions, as much encouragement as he could possibly expect, and as much, indeed, as the nature of the business admitted. A deep conspiracy was now formed against the unsuspicious Duke, whose partiality to the very man who was plotting against his Crown, and perhaps his life, daily encreased..

Gerbert, however, while he was secretly endeavouring to stir up the discontented among his countrymen to rebellion, was somewhat checked in his career by the displeasure of the Dutchess, who, having been not a little incensed against him, for the baseness of his behaviour to his own wife, a lady for whom she had a fincere regard, did all in her power to weaken the Duke's attach*ment to him, and had, upon his abrupt departure from Court, after the mortifying reprimand he had received, made a spirited effort to exclude his return with his former influence. Of the Dutchess, his declared enemy, and a woman of uncommon abilities and ado dress, he was very much afraid; and as his wife was always near 'her person, he was continually apprehensive of the discovery of his machinations. Guilt and fufpicion are inseparable companions ; and the man who is haunted by them, need not wish for more severe tormentors.

The baseness of Gerbert's behaviour to his wife, was occasioned by his connection with a French lady of cafy virtue, of whom he was immoderately fond ; and, intoxicated with vanity, he imagined that he was most seriously, most sincerely beloved by her : but he was grossly mistaken. As a man who was in a situation to Vol. VII. 158.

B

support

support her in the style she chose to live, the admitted him at all hours to her apartments"; but as avarice was her ruling passion, the only pretended to feel an affectionate esteem for him, in order to draw from his purse the necessary supplies.

When a woman only admits a man to the last favour for the fake of the money which she can extract from him, and not from any personal affection, it is very natural to suppose that the failure of the one will destroy even the appearance of the other. This was precisely the case with regard to Gerbert's mistress; a woman of wit and beauty, with much sense and many accomplishments; who, not finding her dupe, one day, quite so generous as the wished him to be, (to enable her to make a particular purchase on which she had set her heart,) rallied him so Imartly upon his want of spirit, that he was exceedingly galled by her fatirical effusions ; and not being at all in a jocular humour, he returned answers which produced a serious and sharp altercation between them.

In consequence of this altercation, a breach was made between the favourite and his mistress ; and in consequence of this breach, Emma, whom he had imprudently acquainted with his ambitious views, informed his wife of them, who immediately disclosed her most interesting intelligence to the Dutchess.

Clotilda, when the wife of Gerbert made her important dirclosure, was so astonished that the could hardly give credit to what the heard. As much as she was infamed against her husband's undeserving favourite, she could not, for some time, bring herself to believe that he had projected the Duke's dethronement: but the was not long in a state of incredulity; the discoveries which Emma had made, precluded all doubts with regard to the authenticity of her information.

The Duke's furprize, when he was informed by Clotilda of Gerbert's designs, was not less than her's had been : he now condescended to listen to her advice, and, agreeably to that, determined not to take any notice of the conspiracy formed against him, but to proceed in the most private manner to get all the conspirators into his power, and to bring them all to the punishment they had merited.

Gerbert's wife, in confequence of a conversation with the Dutchess, after the discovery of a state secret in which the was herself so deeply interested, advised the mistress of her licentious husband to ufe all the arts in her power to promote a reconciliation, that she might come at the bottom of all his designs against the Duke ; and to procure intelligence, from time to time, concerning the execution of them. Emma, being well rewarded by the Dutchess for what she had already communicated, and encouraged to expect large additions for her future disclosures, acted agreeably to her instructions, and with so much success, that Gerbert,

overpowered

overpowered by her beauty and her blandishments, became like a Sampson in the hands of a Delilah.

Clotilda (for the Duke having received the strongest proofs of her political fagacity, trusted the whole conduct of this fingular affair to her management,) finding that Gerbert had deluded some of the principal persons in one of the provinces belonging to the Duke, sent for them to her own apartments, and there fo confounded them by acquainting them with some particulars relating to their disloyal behaviour, that they fell on their knees before her, offered to make any submissions the required, in order to screen themselves from the Duke's just resentment, and, in the most so. lemn manner, promised not only to put a stop to all their iniquitous proceedings, but to support the Duke's Government, in future, with the utmost fidelity.

Clotilda told them, in return, that their submissions and their promises would be equally insufficient, if they did not also agree to act according to her directions with regard to the man who had prevailed on them to facilitate the execution of his base design. They immediately, and without the least hesitation, declared themselves ready to do whatever she desired, without any reserved conditions. She then ordered them to go back to their respective ha: bitations, to behave to Gerbert in such a manner as to give him no reason to suspect a discovery of his intentions, and to get from him in writing the regulations which he proposed to make upon his advancement, by ufurpation, to the Dutchy of Guienne.

With this command the Provincials were dismissed; and they had the fear of the gibbet too ntuch before their eyes, not to ob ferve, with the utmost punctuality, the commission with which the Dutchess had charged them. As soon as they had, from the unsuspecting Gerbert, drawn the manuscript which they wanted, and which contained damning proofs of his guilt, they acquainted Clos tilda with their fuccefs, and were fummoned foon afterwards to Court, in order to confront the false favourite, with these proofs in their hands.

Gerbert, equally lulled into a state of delusion, by the Aattering behaviour of the Duke and Dutchefs to him, ran precipitately to his ruin ; and his deceitful mistress was not inactive against him.

On the day appointed by Clotilda for the grand Lhock to be given to Gerbert, who appeared, in consequence of his self-deceptions, remarkably airy and satisfied, though he was at the same moment meditating the expulsion of his best benefactor, the Pro vincials, with the faint of rebellion upon them, though they had been pardoned for their defection from loyalty, made their appear. ance, each of them with a paper signed by Gerbert in his hand.

On their approach to the elevated spot where the Duke and Dutchess were ficting, Gerbert, who stood opposite to them, and B2

who

who had been particularly noticed by them, started a little at the sight of the last man whom he expected to see in that place. He changed colour ; but soon recovering himself, endeavoured to look as unconcerned as if his mind was perfectly at ease : but in vain; the Duke and Dutchefs both fixing their eyes full upon him, doubled his confusion. Clotilda then called upon the Provincials to know their business at Court; and they, advancing respect fully, presented the papers they had brought for her inspection. On the delivery of those papers, Gerbert became so very much difconcerted, that he could not support the alarms which a conscious, ness of his guilt had occafioned: he, therefore, gradually retreated, in order to make his escape ; but the Duke perceiving his design, instantly prevented his departure, by ordering the guards in waiting to take him into custody. When that order was obeyed, the Dutchess presented the written testimonies she had received of Gerbert's rebellious machinations. The Duke read these with aftonishment : he read them also with compaffion; however, the fensations excited by the latter, yielded to others which a recollection of the baseness and ingratitude of his favourite produced. First charging him, therefore, with the blackest of crimes, and then holding out the proofs he had received of his treason, he commanded the guards to carry him to the castle set apart for prisoners of state.

Gerbert was tried, convicted, and condemned; and would have been conveyed to the place of execution, had not the supplications and intercessions of the woman whom he had most injured, his amiable and cxemplary wife, saved him from an ignominious death. He was permitted to live; but he thought himself severely punished by the confiscation of his large pollessions, and the banishment of his person,

The History of the PEASANT YAARAB : An EASTERN TALĘ,

OT far from the superb city of Damascus, in those flowery

plains upon which nature has lavishly poured her most precious gifts, dwelt Yaarab ; who, though a peasant, in happiness surpassed Princes and Emperors.------By the labour of his hands he earned his bread; and the same toil by which he procured a subfistence, ftrung his nerves, and gave him a robust and healthy conftitution, for the want of which the rich and opulent languish amidst the gratifications of luxury.--.---The life of Yaarab was completely happy, notwithstanding his poverty. He was poffefied of the greatest bliss the fons of men can enjoy ; a bliss which the poor may partake of as well as the rich. He loved, and was beloved by Fatima the shepherdess, whose beauty could not be sur

passed

passed by the faireft Circassians in the harams of the Prince of the faithful. The lilly combined with the rose to form her complexion : her hair was blacker than the plumes of the raven ; and the luftre of her eye excelled that of the brightest gem of Golconda. She lent a favourable ear to the unpolished addresses of Yaarab, whose life glided away in happiness, and to whose rustic cabbin no anxious cares, no gloomy inquietudes, approached. One day, as he was employed in tilling the ground, his fpade struck against a stone, which having with much difficulty removed, he perceived several narrow footíteps, which his curiofity, a paffion as powerful in the uninstructed peasant as in the learned and knowing, tempted him to descend. ---After having paffed several turnings and windings, he entered a vault, in the lower end of which a lamp obscurely glimmered. He approached, though with fome terror, and underneath the lamp perceived a tomb of marble, with the following inscription upon it:

" What Naour, during his life, held most dear, could not be separated from him by death. If any audacious mortal should ever take it hence, may the Angel of Darkness turn it to his destruction."

Yaarab, though he was somewhat intimidated, felt his curiosity more powerful than his fear. Having, with much difficulty, opened the tomb, he perceived in it the body of a man, almost reduced to ashes, and in one corner a chest of ebony.---In this chest he found a considerable quantity of pieces of gold, a treasure which gave him inexpressible delight. He seized it with eagerness, and, re-ascending, placed the stone in its former position, and covered it over with earth. The treasure he immediately concealed with great caution in his cabbin, nor did he communicate bis fplendid acquisition even to his beloved Fatima. His nature underwent a sudden alteration : he felt himself agitated by alternate hopes and fears ; and his thoughts were so much engrossed about the disposal of his riches to advantage, that his former chearfulness of temper abandoned him. He shunned his once loved Fatima ; his days were spent in anxious solicitude, and his nightswere sleepless ; or if his eyes were sometimes closed in a transient slumber, his repose was disturbed by various phantoms, whose malignant suggestions helped to encrease the distraction of his mind, and add to his weight of care.---Luxury, with seducing mien, and infinuating speech, earnestly exhorted him to enjoy the present hour, and to plunge deep into all the pleafures which riches can bestow. When his soul seemed inclined to admit delight, when he began to give ear to these flattering insinuations, the phantom all on a sudden vanished, and gave place to a hideous figure, whose. [qualid appearance and wrinkled aspect, as well as the maxims which it inculcated, fufficiently discovered to be Avarice. This

monster

« AnteriorContinuar »