Page images


slightest touch. Then she relapsed into insensibility; the livid marks of poison deepened over her beautiful limbs; and she awoke no more.

The death of the Duchess by a sudden sickness was nounced; but it was soon whispered that she had perished by poison. One murmur of execration pervaded Padua. Curses of fear and hate were muttered against the tyrant and his paramour; for by all it was believed that Muratone had filled up the measure of his crimes, by destroying the innocent wife of his bosom, to make way for his abandoned mistress. Monterosa heard the common rumour. For hours he sat in helpless stupor. Then he arose in a paroxysm of frenzy so terrible, that his attendants fled from his presence. He dashed himself on the ground, and tore his hair by handfuls, and cursed his very being and the hour of his birth. He knew not how long he lay on the floor, but he looked up, and the stars were shining through the heavy and fretted windows. He sprang on his feet at once, burst through his domestics, who were watching in the antechamber, rushed from the palace, and in frantic haste reached the Muratone gardens. He paused at his accustomed station on the terrace. No light was in the oratory of Isidora; but from the next windows there was a feeble glimmer, as if there were lights in the apartment; but the curtains were closely drawn. He heard a faint sound, and listened till he distinguished the notes of the dead chaunt. Breathless he stood; and when it ceased, he flung himself with his face on the earth, and, in his agony, clutched his nails convulsively in the turf, and his groans were horrible to himself in the silence of the night. He half rose, and murmured, “O my beautiful, my beloved Isidora, I have murdered thee- I have murdered thee. My voice called up the powers of hell against thee, and gave thee over to an incarnate fiend.—0! thou accursed spirit, thou juggling devil, I did not bid thee work thy hellish arts to destroy my Isidora, the beloved of my soul.

Why have I borne my miserable life, but that she was still on earth? and now thou art gone, Isidora, thou art gone for ever;" and then again he buried his face on the ground, and his limbs shook violently with his frightful convulsion. Then he started up, and spread his hands to heaven. “O ye accursed spirits of the deep, hear, hear once more, the voice of your

miserable master, and bring back the life of Isidora. Devils that ye are, ye mock

-Why are ye laughing in my ears? Why are your scowling faces clustering around me?- My hour is not yet come. -Begone to your place of torment;- I know that I shall be with you soon, for


have made me the murderer of Isidora." At those terrible words he fell again on the earth, groaning until his groans died away in breathless insensibility. Slowly he opened

me now.

his eyes, and looked around him, in the utter misery and prostration of his soul. “O thou righteous Heaven, I sought to be avenged by unearthly means, and thou hast poured out upon me unearthly vengeance: I sought for forbidden power over the spirits of evil, and thou hast given me over to their devilish malice.” There was a line of grey light beneath the eastern clouds; yet there was the same indistinct glimmer on the distant windows, and the low sound of the chaunt was murmuring again upon the morning breeze. He could scarcely raise his benumbed and trembling limbs. He staggered homeward, and repulsing every offer of food, and every attention of his domestics, buried himself in his lonely chamber.

There was already a rumour that Federigo had placed himself at the head of a formidable body of Condottieri, and was advancing to regain his brother's sovereignty; and now it was known that, as soon as the obsequies of Isidora were performed, Muratone would

forth to meet the avenger

of his race.

The funeral took place at night. There was

no pomp, no train of attendants. The people dared not assemble to gaze ; but deep were the curses of the few spectators, as Muratone was seen in the garb of mourning, surrounded by armed horsemen in long black cloaks, who rode two and two, the one bearing in his right hand a sword, and the other a blazing torch. From that tower, where, in the madness of his blind belief, he had so often outwatched the stars, Monterosa looked down upon the procession. It moved with greater haste that is used when the bodies of those we love are to be restored in solemn sorrow to the earth. The clang of hoofs echoed along the deserted streets. As the long train of horsemen passed beneath, here and there the upturned countenance of a torch-bearer was visible in the partial red light. It flashed on the drawn swords and other arms, but the waving of their sable plumes and mantles could scarcely be seen; and, as they passed on, all but the dots of light was lost in gloom. The eyes of Monterosa had rested only on the bier. The trampling died away ; but before it ceased, the faint sound of chaunting announced that the priests of the cathedral had met the procession. Monterosa burst into tears, the first that he had wept since Isidora's death, and looking up with dim eyes to heaven, he shook his head mournfully, and exclaimed, “I will trust you no more, ye misguiding lights: I will accomplish my own purpose: my beloved Isidora, thou shalt not die unavenged.”

On the following day Muratone had mustered his troops in the great square. He was passing on foot along the ranks, conversing familiarly with his old soldiers, inspecting their array, and promising victory and rewards. He had just reached the extremity of the line, and had glanced on the surrounding populace, and turned away, when a man darted from the crowd, and

plunged a dagger at once to his heart. He was immediately seized by the soldiers; but all his strength seemed gone with the excitement of the moment, and he fell senseless in their arms. They tried in vain to revive him : the assassin had perished with the usurper: but the haggard and ghastly countenance was recognized to be that of Agostino della Monterosa.

H. M.



I HAVE an instinctive, hereditary love of queues. I do not mean to extend my veneration, (though I like them also,) to those graceful, tapering wands, with which captains in country quarters, and aspiring under-graduates, illustrate the abstruse problems of chances and angles. Yet I admire a game of billiards, without exposing my temper or my pocket to its temptations ; for I am not ashamed of my mediocrity, and have no dislike to receiving a red-hazard. But I was not thinking of such queues. The queues which command my ever-ready respect, are those which a few stately, gray, primitive gentlemen, of a past generation, carry about with them, in all seasons and into all companies. They tell a tale of other days, and I delight to read them.

There are only two queues extant in the town in which I was born, and in which I have lived from my boyhood. How of

my old, queue-bearing friends, who used to smile when I, wanton rogue, climbed up their chairs and reverently laid their queues upon their powdered shoulders, how many have passed into the oblivious grave! I sometimes see their venerable shades in my day-dreams, with their ample rouleaus of curls around their temples, and their neatly twisted queues behind their backs. They are gone;--and they are succeeded by a cropped and degenerate race.

I am old enough to remember the decline and fall' of the empire of queues. Faithful companions, duteous followers, ye succumbed to the tyranny of the greatest of Tories. The fatal tax upon hair-powder exterminated you. Slowly and sadly did ye decay; and one by one did ye depart from the cares of this transitory life! Frail and innocent beings, ye were untimely plucked, and cut off from your abiding-place and your inheritance! In a few short

almost all yield to the avarice of those who should have cherished you. They cast you off in the hollowness of their friendship, and they went shorn into the bleak world, honourless, comfortless, queueless.


I saw ye

I could never entirely tolerate the volunteer mania; for it completed the destruction of the persecuted queues. There was only one officer in our corps, of glorious memory, who had the magnanimity to bear his queue without a blush. Methought it gave him the look of those who knew how fields should be won. But there was a corporal who did not partake of my reverential feelings. As the veteran marched in advance of the battalion, the mischievous subaltern (he was a tailor) would perk the queue in his lieutenant's face. I could have brought the corporal to a court martial; it was flat mutiny, and unparalleled in the annals of warfare.

There were four queues in my native place who survived the oppression of the times ; but they owed their existence to a rare combination of favourable circumstances. They were trimmed and watered by an ancient professor of queues, who had commenced his practice not very many years after the disunion of the two illustrious occupations of barbery and surgery. The professor was necessary to the wearer of the queues ; and the four queues were a quiet and obedient family, that he loved with a complete and unmingled devotion. He was not a vulgar and every-day professor. He had saved a small fortune in the happier times of curls and toupees, and he despised the ordinary clients of these later days of unpowdered pertness. He received an annual guinea from each of his queue-bearers; and he resigned himself exclusively to the cultivation of this his small estate in tail. The hour of his morning visit was

an hour of happiness; it was a full hour. It was his to spread the flowing hair over the ample shoulders ; to smooth out the broad black ribbon, which he carefully renewed when its lustre was sullied ; to gather up the scattered locks into a solid girth of leather; and then to bind them fast, roundly and taperingly, till his power should again give them a temporary freedom. Poor F-! he sung « Time has not thinned,” with an exquisite tremulousness; and he told the scandal of his profession with a sly and solemn air, which at once bespoke his discretion and his sincerity. He loved his queue-bearers alike, and he left to each of them a ring.

His four stewards are alive; but two of his cherished family are defunct. I was sorry when I heard that A- had discarded the faithful attendant of so many years. He is of a rough and generous nature, and should have bethought him that the oak suffers the embrace of the ivy without a loss of power or dignity. As for P-I expected it of him. He was always a time-server, a slave of custom, a worshipper of the rising sun He cast off the friend that never would have forsaken him ; he had not soul enough to feel the honour of being one of “ the last of the Romans."

Had I once worn a queue I could never have parted with it. I was born after the refined days of hair-worship. The progress of intelligence has deposed these sinless and harmless adornments. But had it been my fate to have ever exhibited such an appendage to manhood, I would as soon have lost my hand as have suffered a sacrilegious scissor to have despoiled me of it. There is a mystical nature about a queue which approaches to the sublime: it is at once a part of the man, and a part of his dress; it will wear out fifty of his garments, and yet it does not seem wholly and essentially belonging to his body. Possessing the power of dismissing this ancient follower, I would have permitted my prerogative mercifully to have slumbered, till we had laid down together in the bosom of our common mother. How many fond recollections would have hung upon my queue! The loved one who dallied with it; the children who were tickled with it! Psha! I have no such delightful associations; I am cropped once a month, and my dishonoured locks are swept into the highway

There are only three queues in Parliament. They look to me like the pillars of the British constitution. I used to reverence the tall, stately George R-, walking through the dirt of Palace Yard, in his black silks, with the grace and equanimity of an old cavalier. Such courtly guise has given place to the trowsers and frock-coats

of the bustling city. But a trio of my queues are still there. There is Sir William G-, the foxhunter, whose thin, long queue has streamed in the breeze of many a misty morning : there is W- the retired lawyer, whose thick sturdy queue has shaken “ pestilence and war in many a wordy debate :-and there is A-, the worn-out WestIndian planter, whose pert diminutive adjunct ever reminded me of pigtail. Praise and honour to their constancy!

I went at Christmas to Covent Garden to see the pantomime; and I was offended. GRIMALDI had a long red queue, insolently mimicking the glories of the mighty dead. And the audience laughed! I could not look upon GRIMALDI again; but I walked round the degenerate house,- and there was not a queue in the whole dress circle. The age of gentlemen is passed!

P. A.

« PreviousContinue »