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something mortal or supernatural, is always the more terrible in proportion as it is complete. In the pictures of the temptations of saints and hermits, where the holy person is surrounded, teazed, and enticed, with devils and fantastic shapes, the most shocking phantasm is that of the beautiful woman. To return also to the poem above-mentioned. The most appalling personage in Mr. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner is the Spectre-woman, who is called Life-inDeath. He renders the most hideous abstraction more terrible than it could otherwise have been, by embodying it in its own reverse. "Death" not only "lives" in it; but the "unutterable" becomes uttered. To see such an unearthly passage end in such earthliness, seems to turn common-place itself into a sort of spectral doubt. The Mariner, after describing the horrible calm, and the rotting sea in which the ship was stuck, is speaking of a strange sail which he descried in the distance:
The western wave was all a-flame,
Almost upon the western wave
And straight the sun was flecked with bars (Heaven's Mother send us grace!)
As if through a dungeon-grate he peer'd,
Alas! (thought I, and my heart beat loud) How fast she neers and neers!
Are those her sails that glance in the sun Like restless gossameres?
Are those her ribs, through which the sun Did peer as through a grate?
And is that Woman all her crew?
Is that a death? and are there two?
Is Death that Woman's mate?
Her lips were red, her looks were free, Her locks were yellow as gold,
Her skin was as white as leprosy,
The Night-Mare Life-in-Death was she, Who thicks man's blood with cold.
But we must come to Mr. Coleridge's story with our subtlest imaginations upon us. Now let us put our knees a little nearer the fire, and tell a homelier one about Life in Death. The groundwork of it is in Sandys' Commentary upon Ovid, and quoted from Sabinus*.
A gentleman of Bavaria, of a noble family, was so afflicted at the death of his wife, that unable to bear the company of any other person, he gave himself up to a solitary way of living. This was the more remarkable in him, as he had been a man of jovial habits, fond of his wine and visitors, and impatient of having his numerous indulgences contradicted. But in the same temper perhaps might be found the cause of his sorrow; for though he would be impatient with his wife, as with others, yet
The Saxon Latin poet, we presume, professor of belleslettres at Frankfort. We know nothing of him except from a biographical dictionary.
his love for her was one of the gentlest wills he had; and the sweet and unaffected face which she always turned upon his anger, might have been a thing more easy for him to trespass upon while living, than to forget, when dead and gone. His very anger towards her, compared with that towards others, was a relief to him. It was rather a wish to refresh himself in the balmy feeling of her patience, than to make her unhappy herself, or to punish her, as some would have done, for that virtuous contrast to his own vice.
But whether he bethought himself, after her death, that this was a very selfish mode of loving; or whether as some thought, he had wearied out her life with habits so contrary to her own; or whether, as others reported, he had put it to a fatal risk by some lordly piece of self-will, in consequence of which she had caught a fever on the cold river during a night of festivity; he surprised ever those who thought that he loved her, by the extreme bitterness of his grief. The very mention of festivity, though he was patient for the first day or two, afterwards threw him into a passion of rage; but by degrees even his rage followed his other old habits. He was gentle, but ever silent. He ate and drank but sufficient to keep him alive; and used to spend the greater part of the day in the spot where his wife was buried.
He was going there one evening, in a very melancholy manner, with his eyes turned towards the earth, and had just entered the rails of the burial-ground, when he was accosted by the mild voice of somebody coming to meet him. "It is a blessed evening, Sir," said the voice. The gentleman looked up. Nobody but himself was allowed to be in the place at that hour; and yet he saw, with astonishment, a young chorister approaching him. He was going to express some wonder, when, he said, the modest though assured look of the boy, and the extreme beauty of his countenance, which glowed in the setting sun before him, made an irresistible addition to the singular sweetness of his voice; and he asked him with an involuntary calmness, and a gesture of respect, not what he did there, but what he wished. "Only to wish you all good things," answered the stranger, who had now come up," and to give you this letter." The gentleman took the letter, and saw upon it, with a beating yet scarcely bewildered heart, the handwriting of his wife. He raised his eyes again to speak to the boy, but he was gone. He cast them far and near round the place, but there were no traces of a passenger. He then opened the letter; and by the divine light of the setting sun, read these words:
"To my dear husband, who sorrows for his wife: “Otto, my husband, the soul you regret so
is returned. You will know the truth of this, and be prepared with calmness to see it, by the divineness of the messenger, who has passed you. You will find me sitting in the public walk, praying for you; praying, that you may never more give way to those gusts of passion, and those curses against others, which divided us.
"This, with a warm hand, from the living Bertha."
Otto (for such, it seems, was the gentleman's name) went instantly, calmly, quickly, yet with a sort of benumbed being, to the public walk. He felt, but with only a half-consciousness, as if he glided without a body. But all his spirit was awake, eager, intensely conscious. It seemed to him as if there had been but two things in the world-Life and Death; and that Death was dead. All else appeared to have been a dream. He had awaked from a waking state, and found himself all eye, and spirit, and locomotion. He said to himself, once, as he went: "This is not a dream. I will ask my great ancestors to-morrow to my new bridal feast, for they are alive." Otto had been calm at first, but something of old and triumphant feelings seemed again to come over him. Was he again too proud and confident? Did his earthly humours prevail again, when he thought them least upon him? We shall see.
The Bavarian arrived at the public walk. It was full of people with their wives and children, enjoying the beauty of the evening. Something like common fear came over him, as he went in and out among them, looking at the benches on each side. It happened that there was only one person, a lady, sitting upon them. She had her veil down; and his being underwent a fierce but short convulsion as he went near her. Something had a little baffled the calmer inspiration of the angel that had accosted him for fear prevailed at the instant, and Otto passed on. He returned before he had reached the end of the walk, and approached the lady again. She was still sitting in the same quiet posture, only he thought she looked at him. Again he passed her. On his second return, a grave and sweet courage came upon him, and in an under but firm tone of inquiry, he said "Bertha?"-"I thought you had forgotten me," said that well-known and mellow voice, which he had seemed as far from ever hearing again as earth is from heaven. He took her hand, which grasped his in turn; and they walked home in silence together, the arm, which was wound within his, giving warmth for warmth.
before, and his wife returned to her household affairs. It was only remarked that she always looked pale and pensive. But she was more kind to all, even than before; and her pensiveness seemed rather the result of some great internal thought, than of unhappi
For a year or two, the Bavarian retained the better temper which he acquired. His fortunes flourished beyond his earliest ambition; the most amiable as well as noble persons of the district were frequent visitors; and people said, that to be at Otto's house, must be the next thing to being in heaven. But by degrees his self-will returned with his prosperity. He never vented impatience on his wife; but he again began to show, that the disquietude it gave her to see it vented or others, was a secondary thing, in his mind, to the indulgence of it. Whether it was, that his grief for her loss had been rather remorse than affection, so he held himself secure if he treated her well; or whether he was at all times rather proud of her, than fond; or whatever was the cause which again set his antipathies above his sympathies, certain it was, that his old habits returned upon him; not so often indeed, but with greater violence and pride when they did. These were the only times, at which his wife was observed to show any ordinary symptoms of uneasiness.
At length, one day, some strong rebuff which he had received from an alienated neighbour threw him into such a transport of rage, that he gave way to the most bitter imprecations, crying with a loud voice-"This treatment to me too! To me! To me, who if the world knew all ". -At these words, his wife, who had in vain laid her hand upon his, and looked him with dreary earnestness in the face, suddenly glided from the room. He and two or three who were present, were struck with a dumb horror. They said, she did not walk out, nor vanish suddenly; but glided, as one who could dispense with the use of feet. After a moment's pause, the others proposed to him to follow her. He made a movement of despair; but they went. There was a short passage, which turned to the right into her favourite room. They knocked at the door twice or three times, and received no answer. At last, one of them gently opened it; and looking in, they saw her, as they thought, standing before a fire, which was the only light in the room. Yet she stood so far from it, as rather to be in the middle of the room; only the face was towards the fire, and she seemed looking upon it. They addressed her, but received no answer. They stepped gently towards her, and still received none. The
The neighbours seemed to have a miraculous want of wonder at the lady's re-appear-figure stooa dumb and unmoved. At last, one ance. Something was said about a mock- of them went round in front, and instantly fell funeral, and her having withdrawn from his on the floor. The figure was without body. company for awhile; but visitors came as A hollow hood was left instead of a face.
The clothes were standing upright by themselves.
That room was blocked up for ever, for the clothes, if it might be so, to moulder away. It was called the Room of the Lady's Figure. The house, after the gentleman's death, was long uninhabited, and at length burnt by the peasants in an insurrection. As for himself, he died about nine months after, a gentle and child-like penitent. He had never stirred from the house since; and nobody would venture to go near him, but a man who had the reputation of being a reprobate. It was from this man that the particulars of the story came first. He would distribute the gentleman's alms in great abundance to any strange poor who would accept them; for most of the neighbours held them in horror. He tried all he could to get the parents among them to let some of their little children, or a single one of them, go to see his employer. They said he even asked it one day with tears in his eyes. But they shuddered to think of it; and the matter was not mended, when this profane person, in a fit of impatience, said one day that he would have a child of his own on purpose. His employer, however, died in a day or two. They did not believe a word he told them of all the Bavarian's gentleness, looking upon the latter as a sort of Ogre, and upon his agent as little better, though a good-natured-looking earnest kind of person. It was said many years after, that this man had been a friend of the Bavarian's when young, and had been deserted by him. And the young believed it, whatever the old might do.
XX. THIEVES, ANCIENT AND MODERN.
must put something heavier in our remarks, as the little thin Grecian philosopher used to put lead in his pockets, lest the wind should steal him.
The more ruffianly crowd of thieves should go first, as pioneers; but they can hardly be looked upon as progenitors of our gentle Du Vall; and besides, with all their ferocity, some of them assume a grandeur, from standing in the remote shadows of antiquity. There was the famous son, for instance, of Vulcan and Medusa, whom Virgil calls the dire aspect of half-human Cacus-Semihominis Caci facies dira. (Eneid, b. vII. v. 194.) He was the raw-head-and-bloody-bones of ancient fable. He lived in a cave by Mount Aventine, breathing out fiery smoke, and haunting king Evander's highway like the Apollyon of Pilgrim's Progress.
The place about was ever in a plash
Of steaming blood; and o'er the insulting door
He stole some of the cows of Hercules, and dragged them backwards into his cave to prevent discovery; but the oxen happening to low, the cows answered them; and the demigod, detecting the miscreant in his cave, strangled him after a hard encounter. This is one of the earliest sharping tricks upon record.
Autolycus, the son of Mercury (after whom Shakspeare christened his merry rogue in the Winter's Tale) was a thief suitable to the greater airiness of his origin. He is said to have performed tricks which must awake the envy even of horse-dealers; for in pretending to return a capital horse which he had stolen, he palmed upon the owners a sorry jade of an ass; which was gravely received by those flats of antiquity. Another time he went still farther; for having conveyed away a handsome bride, he sent in exchange an old lady elaborately hideous; yet the husband did not find out the trick till he had got off.
Autolycus himself, however, was outwitted by Sisyphus, the son of Eolus. Autolycus was in the habit of stealing his neighbours' cattle, and altering the marks upon them. Among others he stole some from Sisyphus ; but notwithstanding his usual precautions, he was astonished to find the latter come and pick out his oxen, as if nothing had happened. He had marked them under the hoof. Autolycus, it seems, had the usual generosity of genius; and was so pleased with this evidence of superior cunning, that some say he gave him in marriage his daughter Anticlea, who was afterwards the wife of Laertes, the father of Ulysses. According to others, however, he | only favoured him with his daughter's company for a time, a fashion not yet extinct in
forgotten Forty Thieves, with their treasure in the green wood, their anxious observer, their magical opening of the door, their captain, their concealment in the jars, and the scalding oil, that, as it were, extinguished them groan
some primitive countries; and it was a reproach made against Ulysses, that Laertes was only his pretended, and Sisyphus his real, father. Sisyphus has the credit of being the greatest knave of antiquity. His famous punishment in hell, of being compelled to rolling, one by one? Have we not all ridden a stone up a hill to all eternity, and seeing it backwards and forwards with them to the wood always go down again, is attributed by some to a hundred times ?-watched them, with fear a characteristic trait, which he could not help and trembling, from the tree ?-sewn up, playing off upon Pluto. It was supposed by blindfolded, the four quarters of the dead body? the ancients, that a man's ghost wandered in a -and said, "Open Sesamé," to every door at melancholy manner upon the banks of the school? May we ride with them again and Styx, as long as his corpse remained without again; or we shall lose our appetite for some burial. Sisyphus on his death-bed purposely of the best things in the world. charged his wife to leave him unburied; and then begged Pluto's permission to go back to earth, on his parole, merely to punish her for so scandalous a neglect. Like the lawyer, however, who contrived to let his hat fall inside the door of heaven, and got St. Peter's permission to step in for it, Sisyphus would not return; and so when Pluto had him again, he paid him for the trick with setting him upon this everlasting job.
We pass over those interlopers in our English family, the Danes; as well as Rollo the Norman, and other freebooters, who only wanted less need of robbery, to become respectable conquerors. In fact, they did so, as they got on. We have also no particular worthy to select from among that host of petty chieftains, who availed themselves of their knightly castles and privileges, to commit all sorts of unchivalrous outrages. These are the giants of modern romance; and the Veglios, Malengins, and Pinabellos, of Pulci, Spenser, and Ariosto. They survived in the petty states of Italy a long while; gradually took a less solitary, though hardly less ferocious shape, among the fierce political partisans recorded by Dante; and at length became represented by the men of desperate fortunes, who make such a figure, between the gloomy and the gallant, in Mrs. Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho. The breaking up of the late kingdom of Italy, with its dependencies, has again revived them in some degree; but not, we believe, in any shape above common robbery. The regular modern thief seems to make his appearance for the first time in the imaginary character of Brunello, as described by Boiardo and Ariosto. He is a fellow that steals every valuable that comes in his way. The way in which he robs Sacripant, king of Circassia, of his horse, has been ridiculed by Cervantes; if indeed he did not rather repeat it with great zest for his use of the theft is really not such a caricature as in Boiardo and his great follower. While Sancho is sitting lumpishly asleep upon the back of his friend Dapple, Gines de Passamonte, the famous thief, comes and gently withdraws the donkey from under him, leaving the somniculous squire propped upon the saddle with four sticks. His consternation on waking may be guessed. But in the Italian poets, the Circassian prince has only fallen into a deep meditation, when Brunello draws away his steed. Ariosto appears to have thought this extravagance a hazardous one, though he could not deny himself the pleasure of repeating it; for he has made Sacripant blush, when called upon to testify how the horse was stolen from him. (Orlando Furio. lib. xxvII. st. 84.)
In the Italian Novels and the old French
The exploits of Mercury himself, the god of cunning, may be easily imagined to surpass everything achieved by profaner hands. Homer, in the hymn to his honour, has given a delightful account of his prematurity in swindling. He had not been born many hours before he stole Vulcan's tools, Mars' sword, and Jupiter's sceptre. He beat Cupid in a wrestling bout on the same day; and Venus caressing him for his conquest, he returned the embrace by filching away her girdle. He would also have stolen Jupiter's thunderbolts, but was afraid of burning his fingers. On the evening of his birth-day, he drove off the cattle of Admetus, which Apollo was tending. The good-humoured god of wit endeavoured to frighten him into restoring them; but could not help laughing when, in the midst of his threatenings, he found himself without his quiver.
The history of thieves is to be found either in that of romance, or in the details of the history of cities. The latter have not come down to us from the ancient world, with some exceptions in the comic writers, immaterial to our present purpose, and in the loathsome rhetoric of Petronius. The finest thief in old history is the pirate who made that famous answer to Alexander, in which he said that the conqueror was only the mightier thief of the two. The story of the thieving architect in Herodotus we will tell another time. We can call to mind no other thieves in the Greek and Latin writers (always excepting political ones) except some paltry fellows who stole napkins at dinner; and the robbers in Apuleius, the precursors of those in Gil Blas. When we come, however, to the times of the Arabians and of chivalry, they abound in all their glory, both great and small. Who among us does not know by heart the story of the never-to-be
Tales, are a variety of extremely amusing stories of thieves, all most probably founded on fact. We will give a specimen as we go, by way of making this article the completer. A doctor of laws in Bologna had become rich enough, by scraping money together, to indulge himself in a grand silver cup, which he sent home one day to his wife from the goldsmith's. There were two sharping fellows prowling about that day for a particular object; and getting scent of the cup, they laid their heads together, to contrive how they might indulge themselves in it instead. One of them accordingly goes to a fishmonger's, and buys a fine lamprey, which he takes to the doctor's wife, with her husband's compliments, and he would bring a company of his brother doctors with him to dinner, requesting in the meantime that she would send back the cup by the bearer, as he had forgotten to have his arms engraved upon it. The good lady, happy to obey all these pleasing impulses on the part of master doctor, takes in the fish, and sends out the cup, with equal satisfaction; and sets about getting the dinner ready. The doctor comes home at his usual hour, and finding his dinner so much better than ordinary, asks with an air of wonder, where was the necessity of going to that expense: upon which the wife, putting on an air of wonder in her turn, and proud of possessing the new cup, asks him where are all those brother doctors, whom he said he should bring with him. "What does the fool mean?" said the testy old gentleman. "Mean!" rejoined the wife" what does this mean?" pointing to the fish. The doctor looked down with his old eyes at the lamprey. "God knows," said he, "what it means. I am sure I don't know what it means more than any other fish, except that I shall have to pay a pretty sum for every mouthful you eat of it."
Why, it was your own doing, husband," said the wife; "and you will remember it, perhaps, when you recollect that the same man that brought me the fish, was to take away the cup to have your name engraved upon it." At this the doctor started back, with his eyes as wide open as the fish's, exclaiming, “ And you gave it him, did you ?"-" To be sure I did," returned the good housewife. The old doctor here began a passionate speech, which he suddenly broke off; and after stamping up and down the room, and crying out that he was an undone advocate, ran quivering out into the street like one frantic, asking everybody if he had seen a man with a lamprey. The two rogues were walking all this time in the neighbourhood; and seeing the doctor set off, in his frantic fit, to the goldsmith's, and knowing that he who brought the lamprey had been well disguised, they began to ask one another, in the jollity of their triumph, what need there was for losing a good lamprey, because they had gained a cup. The other therefore went
to the doctor's house, and putting on a face of good news, told the wife that the cup was found. "Master doctor," said he, "bade me come and tell you that it was but a joke of your old friend What's-his name."-" Castellani, I warrant me," said the wife, with a face broad with delight. "The same," returned be: "master doctor says that Signor Castellani, and the other gentlemen he spoke of, are waiting for you at the Signor's house, where they purpose to laugh away the choler they so merrily raised, with a good dinner and wine, and to that end they have sent me for the lamprey."-"Take it in God's name," said the good woman; "I am heartily glad to see it go out of the house, and shall follow it myself speedily." So saying, she gave him the fine hot fish, with some sauce, between two dishes; and the knave, who felt already round the corner with glee, slid it under his cloak, and made the best of his way to his companion, who lifted up his hands and eyes at sight of him, and asked twenty questions in a breath, and chuckled, and slapped his thigh, and snapped his fingers for joy, to think what a pair of fools two rogues had to do with. Little did the poor despairing doctor, on his return home, guess what they were saying of him as he passed the wall of the house in which they were feasting. "Heyday!" cried the wife, smiling all abroad, as she saw him entering, "what, art thou come to fetch me then, bone of my bone? Well; if this isn't the gallantest day I have seen many a year! It puts me in mind-it puts me in mind"- -Here the chirping old lady was about to remind the doctor of the days of his youth, holding out her arms and raising her quivering voice, when (we shudder to relate) she received a considerable cuff on the left cheek. "You make me mad," cried the doctor," with your eternal idiotical nonsense. What do you mean by coming to fetch you, and the gallantest day of your life? May the devil fetch you, and me, and that invisible fiend that stole the cup."-"What!" exclaimed the wife, suddenly changing her tone from a vociferous complaint which she had unthinkingly set up, "did you send nobody then for the lamprey?" Here the doctor cast his eyes upon the bereaved table; and unable to bear the shame of this additional loss, however trivial, began tearing his hair and beard, and hopping about the room, giving his wife a new and scandalous epithet at every step, as if he was dancing to a catalogue of her imperfections. The story shook all the shoulders in Bologna for a month after.
As we find, by the length to which this article has already reached, that we should otherwise be obliged to compress our recollections of Spanish, French, and English thieves, into a compass that would squeeze them into the merest dry notices, we will postpone them at once to our next number; and relate