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"My family knew me too well to oppose any obstacles to my resolution; on the contrary, the kindness, which earlier shown might have chained me to their side, seemed to have been reserved for the moment of my departure. My mother gave me her blessing-my father an order on a merchant at St. Petersburg, and my sister hid her weeping face in my bosom. She planted scorpions there-and tearing from her embrace, I flung myself into the sledge that awaited me, and in a few days found myself at the Court of Catharine.
"It was not long before my haughty and impetuous character hurried me into adventures, to which my name gave a certain consequence and reputation. Nor was this all: once thrown into the society of the capital, I was eager in all its extravagances. My chargers (for I had entered the Imperial Guard) were brought from Araby or Englandmy clothes were from the same hand that fashioned those of the young and chivalric Comte d'Artois; nor did I find it difficult to support my expenses on the credit of my expectations. Then the warmth with which I loved and ever came to the assistance of my friends, the contempt and hauteur with which I treated those whom I had reason to believe my enemies, gave me that number of partizans and opponents which are necessary to procure notice and consideration at Court.
"The Empress distinguished me by that peculiar smile, which softened the usual majesty of her brow when she wished the sovereign to be forgotten in the woman; and (there is little vanity in the boast) I might have been as happy as a lady of her age could make me. She was handsome even at that time. There was a tenderness in her eye, and a slow, voluptuous languor in her voice, which pleased me more than the charms of many dames of her court by whom I had already been seduced. I might have wooed her as a caprice of my own, but I was too proud to be taken as a slave out of the ring to administer to the pleasures of another.
"I turned from her advances, then, with disdain, and half determined to quit the Court. It was in this mood that I was sauntering in the fantastic gardens of the Czars Mozelo, reflecting on what plan I should adopt-now determining on exile, as my eye rested on the Turkish pavilion and Chinese kiosks; and hesitating again, I confess, for I was young, and not without ambition, as it glanced on the monuments of Orlow's and Romanzow's victories. I stood gazing upon those monuments, not far from which might be seen luxurious groups of showy flowers-an apt exemplification of the thoughts that blended themselves in the mind of their ambitious and voluptuous mistress. The sound of voices aroused me from my reverie, and I saw the Empress, with a favourite lady of the Court, but a few paces from the spot where I was standing. I would have retreated, but Catharine beckoned to me with her beautiful hand.
"What, Sir,' said the Empress, with that gentle and naïve familiarity for which this princess was as remarkable in private as for the pomp and magnificence with which she knew how to dazzle her people's eyes on any public occasion - What, Sir, are you of so solitary a humour? or is there any thing indescribably terrific to a young cavalier in our Imperial presence?'
"I spoke my fears of intruding on her Majesty's privacy.
"We are not all so fond of being alone, Sir, when we can enjoy company that is not too timid to be agreeable. What, may we crave, was the romantic subject of your reveries?—to what happy lady of our Court were you framing a couplet, or conning a compliment d'après la manière de mon bon Prince de Ligne?'
"Your Majesty will think but poorly of me, when I say that my thoughts were rather with the dead than the living.'
"What! so young- - and prefer a monument of marble to a chaplet of flowers! Suppose we were to twine you one?'
"The Empress fixed her full soft eye upon me.
Nay,' said I, if your Majesty was to condescend so far as to offer me a chaplet, it is not impossible but in my present mood of ambition I might aspire to a crown.'
"I said this without withdrawing my eye from that which was bent upon me, and Catharine, whose knowledge of character was one of her most remarkable attributes, saw at once all that my words meant to convey. In spite of her well-merited epithet of imperturbable, she slightly coloured, and, without appearing offended, changed her manner at once; and assuring me, in an affectionate but maternal tone, that she had long conceived a high opinion of my abilities, and had been anxious that some one should give me such advice as would lead me to render myself fit, by a severe education, for the posts to which my merit and my birth might raise me, she gave me her hand, with a kind but dignified familiarity, to kiss, and said she would not interrupt my musings further.
"The same pride, then, which had made me shrink from study when it came as a punishment, now wooed me to it as a means of honour and renown. I shut myself up with my books for days and weeks together, when I was absent from the Court; I communed with myself on what I read; and my mind became, by degrees, saturated with the lore of other times. The beautiful philosophy of Antiquity charmed my reveries, and the history of her haughty and stern republics infused a new energy into my soul. Gratitude and admiration (for she had many high qualities) made me a faithful subject during the life of Catharine; but on her death I entered into cabals, which were to have diminished the power of her successor, and placed under some control the sceptre, which extends, with an unlimited, and not unfrequently a brutal sway, from the walls of China to the Frozen Ocean. It is useless to consider whether such a project were feasible and wise; I engaged in it with the enthusiasm of my character, and without an idea, I may say, of my own individual interest or advancement. As long as our plan was vaguely agitated, and its parts still undesigned, I deemed my comrades as patriotic as myself; but directly we came to consider what should be erected on the place of that which we meant to sweep away-directly we meditated on the new Government we should establish-having determined how much of the old one should be destroyed-I then perceived that as much of private interest was embarked in our enterprise as of public principle. One wished to be placed at the head of the constitution-another to have the command of the armies-and even the most insignificant would not hear of being less than generals or
ambassadors. Before we had hunted down the bear, we fell to quarrelling about its skin. I was disenchanted, disgusted. My father died (my mother had died three years before)—my sister was expected at Court. I disposed of my property, the principal value of which was in a mine, and having counselled my confederates to abandon projects which they had not a single virtue necessary to execute, I quitted the title of courtier-I threw up the character of conspirator, and determined to seek in the variety of travel that excitement which was necessary to my disposition.
"It is useless to detail to you the adventures which pursued me through the different Courts of Europe-they had little effect upon my destiny.
"It was on one of those gorgeous mornings when the Magi's ancient God, bright as the memory of his old magnificence, had risen over the site of his ruined altars, that I was traversing the wild sands which clasp the blue waves of the Persian Gulf, as it were, in a burning zone. Full in his effulgence, the sun lighted up the ruins of a riven temple; and there was that in the glad dance of those beams which played upon the broken pavement and the fallen pillar, that looked like the mockery of a thing eternal over the baffled art of a mighty but not immortal spirit. Around the ruins was a green spot, and hard at hand a living fountain. Thither we were conducted by our sagacious guide, in those regions of honoured name. My companions had long been fainting with the heat and thirst which parch the pilgrims of that pathless way; even the patient beasts that carried us were overborne by the unrelenting haste with which our journey had been pursued. It was resolved to halt for some hours, at the ruins of which I have spoken, and which afforded some shady recesses, that might well afford a repose and shelter for the day.
"Our camels were unloaded-our Arab guards (for we were under the escort of a small body from a neighbouring tribe) rubbed the sweat from their horses' foaming necks, and prepared their frugal repast of unleavened bread. I had retired to a distant part of the ruins, reflecting with a kind of restless satisfaction on the romantic scenes into which my wild disposition for wandering and adventure brought me-catching at times the strains, rude but marvellously musical, with which one of the children of the desert was beguiling his companions. The song ceased; the shout of To horse!' was raised; and my faithful servant Arnoff, whom you have so long known, rushing towards me, cried, The Arabs! the robbers!'-two terms differing slightly in their signification.
"The spring at which we had halted belonged to a tribe hostile to that of our conductors, and when I arrived at the exterior of the temple, I found it about to be the field of action between the adverse parties. Some of our Arabs were on horseback, waving their long lances, and encouraging one another by shouting the name of their tribe-Sebaa! Sebaa!' others, couched among the large masses of marble and stone, were adjusting their firelocks. Those who had been mounted on camels were now on foot, their spears in their hands, and shouting as loud as the rest the war-cry of their clan. My immediate attendants gathered together, were awaiting my orders and
presence. I did not at first perceive-for my eye was not trained to the dangers of these deserts--the peril by which we were threatened in the cloud of dust, which, rolling on nearer and nearer, encompassed us on every side.
"It was not long, however, before the tramp of approaching horses -the forest of ostrich feathers, and the wild cry of the advancing enemy, left me no doubt as to the danger of our position. My men were Russians-faithful, and ignorant of fear. We threw ourselves upon our horses, and closely supported by my followers, and shouting their own battle-word, I placed myself at the head of our wild guard.
"There was death-feud between the tribes, and our affray was of the fiercest. Bearing on through the midst of the foe, I almost suspended the blows I was dealing to gaze in ecstasy on the picturesque scene before me. The striped mantle waving here and there over the plaited cuirass of some ancient Templar-for such these wild people are sometimes found to wear-the graceful mien and spirited posture of the curveting barb, now turned to avoid the wire-twisted javelin, now urged forward to give effect to the feather-tufted spear -the strange cries with which each warrior, engaged hand to hand, animated his own courage and strove to drown the voice of his adversary- and then the vast desert around, and the temple's reverend relics by which we fought;-the strife and passion of men -the desolation of nature-the stern force of time, all blent and mingled, was enough to awake a wild and terrible gladness in a breast less disposed to rejoice amidst such scenes of strife than mine. Small space, however, was allowed for reflection or regard; and even the brief glance I gave might have been dearly paid for but for the instinctive skill of my steed, who of his own movement avoided the desperate lance-thrust which a grey-bearded Bedouin aimed at me. At the same moment the veteran warrior was struck from his horse, and an Arab's spear had passed through his throat but for a blow of my sword (for there was not time to speak), which severed it in twain. Spare the aged man,' said I-'I am warrant for his ransom; and by Arnoff's aid, who was at that time a better Arab scholar than myself, I was successful in my intercession.
"The combat was now pretty well decided in our favour; the enemy were flying in different directions, and only fighting in one, where, though hemmed in by superior numbers, they defended themselves with determined spirit. In the middle of this group, a maiden with long fair hair, and mounted on a beautiful barb, snow white, and of the finest race, sat, with a young boy before her; her arm encircling him held the rein of the docile charger, while the urchin clapping his hands, and seeming to enjoy the fray, urged on the combatants by name, and yelped the war-cry of his race with all the shrill vehemence of which his childish voice was capable.
"The valour he excited was, however, in vain; the succour which I and my Russians brought to our friends, already half victorious, bore down all opposition-and those who could not escape were forced to yield themselves prisoners. The maiden and the child were the most eagerly watched and the least easily taken. Arnoff seized the damsel's horse by the bridle, and an Arab was speared who attempted to ride off with the boy. 2 P
June.-VOL. XXXIV. NO. CXXXVIII.
"Our troop hastily disposed itself in order of march, since we had only fallen in with the vanguard of a party, the whole of which might be expected by evening, if not earlier, at the same spot. The prisoners, carefully secured, were attached to led camels which had been taken from the enemy, and placed in the centre of our band. The damsel, as Arnoff's prisoner, was assigned to my Russians, and treated, according to my orders, as she would have been according to the custom of the Arabs themselves, with every civility and respect. Fancy to yourself a countenance of an exquisite Grecian mould-a nose of the most delicate proportions-lips of the rarest vermeil, rather thicker than those of antiquity, but with the same classic and graceful curve-eyes of a deep but wandering blue, so that you could hardly catch their exact tint, for it melted away, as it were, with the latest emotion they had expressed-a brow high and broad, and a neck so aptly turned and exquisitely fitted to its place, as to give full play to every light and graceful motion of the slender but stately form to which it was affixed. But it was not the figure or the feature, perfect as each were, but the expression, the carriage (only desertborn), so free without boldness, so modest without timidity, which gave such a charm to this young creature; and then the strange scene
in which I saw her--the wild circumstances under which we had met --the peculiarity of her garb itself—no female had ever before awakened such emotions in my bosom.
"I rode beside her during the whole of the day's journey, and endeavoured by every delicate and gentle attention to chase the mingled expression of shame and pride from her face. The old man whose life I had preserved, and the young boy, my fair prisoner's former companion, were placed upon a separate camel, and though strictly watched and guarded, seemed to be treated as persons of peculiar consequence and distinction. Towards night we arrived at an encampment of Sabaa Arabs, the tribe of my conductors; and being now in perfect safety from pursuit, we halted—and I learned from an Arab, who, having been obliged to fly the desert, had accompanied me through most of my Eastern wanderings, the nature and result of our day's adventure.
"Each clan of this race of warriors is commanded in their military and predatory excursions by an hereditary chief (Agyd), under whom, on these occasions, the Sheikh mself is obliged to serve. It had so happened, that to the tribe which we had that day encountered no males remained of their Agyd's family but one young orphan, who lived under the care of his elder sister. From want of a proper and genuine Agyd, the tribe had been headed on several occasions by the Sheikh (the brave and aged warrior whose lance I had so narrowly escaped), and always without success. After many losses, then, the Arabs had agreed in opinion, that without their true Agyd they should never be fortunate, and it was therefore resolved that they should ascertain how far that child, to whom the office hereditarily belonged, was fitted for his high station. Accordingly they directed his sister to mount the white steed which had belonged to their ancient and defunct commander, and desired her brother to take his seat behind her, that so he might join the troops who were already on their march. Had he consented to do this, the Arabs would not have