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"The medium of first offence," she said, "must be that of my final atonement. You have not yet learnt what are the virtues of the tree we prize so highly, whose benefits the ladies of Chiapa are so unwilling to relinquish. For my sake, take off the interdiction upon the beverage, and taste this chocolate."
"For your sake," murmured the bishop, "I would remove every barrier that-but, no-this is madness-oh! Magdalena, give me the cup!"
With a steady hand she presented the salver, not a pulse beat quicker, not a muscle quivered; had she been a hospital nurse, she could scarcely have shown less emotion, and yet-the draught was death! The bishop drained it to the last drop.
"It is no wonder," said he, smiling, as he set down the cup-"it is no wonder that the ladies of Chiapa were so unwilling to surrender their chocolate. Its virtues are marvellous; I feel quite restored."
He rose as he spoke, and with an earnest pressure of the hand, and a lingering gaze, which only too plainly told the thoughts that stirred his bosom, took an affectionate farewell of his kind, solicitous entertainer, promising to return on the morrow.
"Mañana" is a Spanish word of doubtful import: that "morrow”
Before the vesper-bell had rung that evening, the rumour went abroad that the Bishop of Chiapa was dangerously ill: when the matin service was ended on the following morning, the people of Chiapa knew that their bishop was dead.
There was one, habited like a Carmelite sister, who sat by his couch throughout that night of agony; who gave him the water for which he continually craved, and in that water poured the last drops from the phial of Martha Carillo; who heard his dying accents murmur the name of Magdalena, and who, as his last breath was expended, triumphantly exclaimed:
"Let him-let all BEWARE OF THE CHOCOLATE OF CHIAPA!"
And what became of that Carmelite sister? The bishop's chaplain overheard her words: the Inquisition and the rack performed their accustomed service; and on the anniversary of the death of Bernardino de Salazar, an auto-da-fe was celebrated in the market-place of Chiapa, and Magdalena de Morales, and her accomplice, Carillo, were burnt at the stake for heresy and witchcraft.
AFTER this fearful example, the schism which so long had agitated the Church subsided, and nothing more was ever heard again of taking refreshment during divine service. But the melancholy death of the bishop, and the circumstances which gave rise to it, made the words of Doña Magdalena a proverb-expression, and to this day it is said in that part of Mexico, when a dangerous gift is offered—
Beware of the Chocolate of Chiapa!
BY SIR NATHANIEL.
No. X. THE PATHOS OF THOMAS DE QUINCEY.
THE English Opium-eater, l'Allegro, was the theme of the first of these literary fly-leaves. To-day we take him as Il Penseroso. We are to mark his spirit as it flows, "like fabled Lethe,"
In creeping sadness, through oblivious shades
Of death and night,*
yet destined to "catch at every turn the colours of the sun"t of a diction unrivalled in imaginative splendour. That fluent stream, ever sinuous in its course, often majestically broad in its expanse, is vocal with a burden of utterance most musical, most melancholy, so that by its waters we are fain to sit down and weep.
Anything like a systematic illustration, however, of De Quincey's power of pathos, and of the matchlessness of his impassioned prose, is wholly beyond our aim. This "leaflet," like its forerunners, is a thing of shreds and patches; more fragmentary, indeed, more desultory and wayward, than usual. Granted (and lamented), that such a crumpled literaturblatt is ill suited to do justice, much less honour, to its illustrious theme. But even the bricks, or broken brickbats, to be now proffered as types of the parent edifice, may be admired as beautiful ruins, or rather as suggestive samples of the architect's art, and may, perchance, move some, not hitherto conversant with him, to pilgrimise to the shrine whence they have been rudely displaced.-Without other apology, then, we turn to the autobiography, wherein
We love to hear that eloquent old Man
Pour forth his meditations, and descant
'Tis sixty years since: a gorgeous summer day; and a young child is stealthily creeping into a solemnly still chamber, and wistfully peering around, to take a farewell vision of the corpse of another young child, his elder sister. Through an open window the midsummer sun is showering down torrents of splendour-the blue depths of a cloudless sky pathetically symbolise life and the glory of life. But death rules in that hushed chamber-death, and the shadow of death. Reclines on the bed a sweet childish figure-all the tokens of whose angel face the baby-brother scans with " agony that cannot be remembered"-the serene and noble forehead, the frozen eyelids, the darkness that seems to steal from beneath them, the marble lips, the stiffening hands, laid palm to palm, as if repeating the supplications of closing anguish.
And now the same mourner, time-stricken with sixty years, sorrowladen with incommunicable griefs, turns back in spirit to that Affliction
of Childhood, and records the passionate woe which mastered his young heart when thus bereaved of his " dear, noble Elizabeth." Previously he had lost another sister-little Jane-but was then too young to be abidingly impressed. For indeed—
A simple child, that lightly draws its breath,
And feels its life in every limb, what should it know of death? And simple as the creed of Wordsworth's cottage-girl had been this baby-brother's feelings at his first bereavement:
The first that died was sister Jane; in bed she moaning lay,
"I knew little more of mortality," he says, " than that Jane had disappeared. She had gone away; but, perhaps, she would come back. Happy interval of heaven-born ignorance! Gracious immunity of infancy from sorrow disproportioned to its strength! I was sad for Jane's absence. But still in my heart I trusted that she would come again. Summer and winter came again-crocuses and roses: why not little Jane ?”*
This, the first wound in his infant heart, admitted, therefore, of speedy healing. Little Jane was sorrowed for, but not without hope-hope, that is, not in the Scripture sense, but in respect to the heaven that lies about us in our infancy, paradise before paradise is lost. Quite different was the sorrow startled into sudden, throbbing life, when, after an interval of happy years, Elizabeth was removed from him who loved her so well. Blank anarchy and confusion of mind," he says,† " fell upon me. Deaf and blind I was, as I reeled under that revelation. I wish not to recal the circumstances of that time, when my agony was at its height, and hers, in another sense, was approaching. Enough it is to say, that all was soon over; and the morning of that day had at last arrived which looked down upon her innocent face, sleeping the sleep from which there is no awaking, and upon me sorrowing the sorrow for which there is no consolation.'
It was on the day after Elizabeth's death, that the Boy (to use Goethe's emphatic phrase) crept unseen to the room where she lay-gazed in rapt wonderment on the Early Called-and fell into a trance as he gazed. This trance is so characteristic of the author-so akin to the dream-experiences of the Opium-eater-so true to the philosophy which declares the child the father of the man-and moreover is recorded in diction so rich in musical cadence, so melting in expression, so perfectly attuned to the subject, as though floating a dreamy echo from unearthly orchestra— that we cannot quote, in our desultory (and so far damaging) way, a more significant illustration of the writer's mind and manner, when translating into words his suspiriosa cogitationes.
Behold him, then, standing beside the fair young corpse. And hear him, and heed his every word of description-for not a word but tellsnot a word but is instinct with feeling of the finest, fraught with meaning of the deepest. "Awe, not fear, fell upon me; and, whilst I stood,
* Autobiographic Sketches, vol. i.
† Speaking of that "moment of darkness and delirium" when the nurse awakened him from the delusion of hope," and launched God's thunderbolt at his heart in the assurance," hitherto spurned, or rather ignored, "that his sister
a solemn wind began to blow-the saddest that ear ever heard. a wind that might have swept the fields of mortality for a thousand centuries. Many times since, upon summer days, when the sun is about the hottest, I have remarked the same wind arising, and uttering the saine hollow, solemn, Memnonian, but saintly swell: it is in this world the one great audible symbol of eternity. And three times in my life have I happened to hear the same sound in the same circumstances-namely, when standing between an open window and a dead body on a summer day.
"Instantly, when my ear caught this vast Æolian intonation, when my eye filled with the golden fulness of life, the pomps, of the heavens above, or the glory of the flowers below, and turning when it settled upon the frost which overspread my sister's face, instantly a trance fell upon me. A vault seemed to open in the zenith of the far blue sky, a shaft which ran up for ever. I, in spirit, rose as if on billows that also the shaft for ever; and the billows seemed to pursue the throne of God; but that also ran before us and fled away continually. The flight and the pursuit seemed to go on for ever and ever. Frost gathering frost, some Sarsar wind of death, seemed to repel me; some mighty relation between God and death dimly struggled to evolve itself from the dreadful antagonism between them; shadowy meanings even yet continue to exercise and torment, in dreams, the deciphering oracle within me. slept for how long I cannot say; slowly I recovered my self-possession; and, when I woke, found myself standing, as before, close to my sister's bed.
"I have reason to believe that a very long interval had elapsed during this wandering or suspension of my perfect mind. When I returned to myself, there was a foot (or I fancied so) on the stairs. Hastily, therefore, I kissed the lips that I should kiss no more, and slunk, like a guilty thing, with stealthy steps from the room. Thus perished the vision, loveliest amongst all the shows which earth has revealed to me; thus mutilated was the parting which should have lasted for ever; tainted thus with fear was that farewell sacred to love and grief, to perfect love and to grief that could not be healed.
"O, Ahasuerus, everlasting Jew! fable or not a fable, thou, when first starting on thy endless pilgrimage of wo-thou, when first flying through the gates of Jerusalem, and vainly yearning to leave the pursuing curse behind thee-couldst not more certainly in the words of Christ have read thy doom of endless sorrow, than I when passing for ever from my sister's The worm was at my heart; and, I may say, the worm that could not die."
Quaintly, feelingly says holy George Herbert,
No screw, no piercer can
Into a piece of timber work and wind,
When He a torture hath designed.
They are too subtle for the subtlest hearts;
And fall, like rheums, upon the tenderest parts.
God's affliction had fallen subtly and soon upon the subtle, tender heart
* Autobiographic Sketches, chap. i.
of this entranced young mourner-one whose "fancies from afar were brought"-one of an intellect so intricately strung, of a temperament so sensitively moulded, of a nature "so exquisitely wild," that as we watch his childish vigil, in tremulous foreboding do
We think of him with many fears
For what may be his lot in future years.
We think of times when Pain shall be his guest,
Lord of his house and hospitality;
And Grief, uneasy lover! never rest
but within touch of his harassed, distraught spirit. Him thus prematurely, the eldest Sister of Our Ladies of Sorrow, Madonna, Mater Lachrymarum, consecrated to herself-she that night and day raves and moans, calling for vanished faces-she that by the power of her keys glides a ghostly intruder into the chambers of sleepless men, sleepless women, sleepless children, from Ganges to the Nile, from the Nile to Mississippi. And in after days, she, the eldest of three Semnai Theai-the Eumenides, "or Gracious Ladies" (so called by antiquity in shuddering propitiation), of his Oxford dreams-was beheld by him in mystic conference with her younger sisters, Mater Suspiriorum (who, unlike the first-born, weeps not, nor groans, nor clamours and defies; but is hopelessly meek, abjectly humble-whose sighs are inaudible, so deep are they-who if she murmur, 'tis in her sleep; if she whisper, 'tis to herself in the twilight) and Mater Tenebrarum (or Our Lady of Darkness-to be named, if at all, with 'bated breath-for she is the defier of God, the mother of lunacies, the suggestress of suicides-and she "can approach only those in whom a profound nature has been upheaved by central convulsions; in whom the heart trembles and the brain rocks under conspiracies of tempest from without and tempest from within"). Whither tended the conference of the Three Sisters, as overheard by their awed, long-ago initiated catechumen? How interprets he the language of gesture ?-for otherwise there is no speech or language-otherwise their voice is not heard. The Elder, MADONNA, in dumb show touched the head of the Oxford dreamer, and beckoned to the Second Sister, Our Lady of Sighs, "and what she spoke, translated out of the signs which (except in dreams) no man reads," was this:
"Lo! here is he, whom in childhood I dedicated to my altars. This is he that once I made my darling. Him I led astray, him I beguiled, and from heaven I stole away his young heart to mine. Through me did he become idolatrous; and through me it was, by languishing desires, that he worshipped the worm, and prayed to the wormy grave.*
* Elsewhere the autobiographer had shown how his sister Elizabeth's death had the perilous effect of fastening his regards on "the sublime attractions of the grave"-how closely environed was his young heart with the dangers of brooding solitude, of descending into a "depth from which there is no re-ascent; into a disease which seems no disease; into a languishing which, from its very sweetness, perplexes the mind and is fancied to be very health. Witchcraft has seized upon you, nympholepsy has struck you. Now you rave no more. acquiesce; nay, you are passionately delighted in your condition. Sweet becomes the grave, because you also hope immediately to travel thither.”—Suspiria de Profundis, 1845. (Blackwood, vol. Ivii., p. 491.)