| ||The Banished Man. Volume 1 of 2|
Non tamen irritunt
Quodeunque retro est efficeit; neque
Dissinget, infectumque reddet
Quod sugiens semel hora vexit.
THE friendly interest which men of another country, and of other principles, took in his fate, and in that of his daughter, had almost an instantaneous effect on the depressed spirits of Carlowitz. When Ellesmere was by his friend D'Alonville introduced, they found him risen from his miserable couch, and sitting on his side, but too weak to support himself; he leaned against his daughter, who hung over him with the tenderest solicitude. While D'Alonville endeavoured to put an end to the attempts he made to express his gratitude, Ellesmere approached, and would have spoken to his daughter; but he was so struck by her figure, and by the expression of her countenance, that he could only murmur out a broken sentence, which he forgot she could not understand. Her father spoke to her in the Polish language; and though Ellesmere knew not what he said, he imagined he bade her attempt to speak French. Her faded cheek was for a moment tinted with a faint blush; and turning towards D'Alonville, she made an unsuccessful effort to express herself; but Ellesmere was tempted to envy him, what seemed almost a preference, and would have been himself the person in whose favor the attempt was made.
"Alexina," said her father, addressing himself to them both, "Alexina is a very young scholar in your language, gentlemen, (for he did not distinguish Ellesmere's country;) but though she is unable to say how much she is obliged to you, believe me she is sincerely sensible of you kindness.—"He then again spoke to her; and quitting him, she took up a cloak with a large hood which lay in a chair, and wrapping herself in it, so as to conceal her face as much as possible, she left the room.
Ellesmere followed her with his eyes and knew not how to help offering to assist her down the stairs or rather ladder—but fearful of offending, he continued to gaze at the door through which he had passed; and it was the repetition of her name only, that drew him from his admiration of her form, to attend to her interest, which D'Alonville already began to discuss with her father.
"Yes," said Carlowitz, "it is only on account of Alexina that my heart has failed me; for myself, I fear not death. I have affronted it in the most hideous forms; but my Alexina!—I wished to place her in the projection of the only relation I have at Vienna—and then if I live, do not imagine that I mean to pass the rest of my life in inactivity. While I have any remains of strength I must use it, though my country exists no longer."
He was proceeding with all that vehement enthusiasm which the cause that he had been engaged in defending, inspires, when recollecting the probability there was, that the principles of the persons to whom he was speaking were very different from those he was thus declaring, or perhaps reading in the countenance of D'Alonville some dissent from his opinions, he stopped—
and said, "but perhaps I am speaking to those who are themselves suffering from a very different cause."
"You judge rightly," answered D'Alonville, "as to me. My friend is an Englishman; but I am, like you, an exile from my country. We will not talk however of our politics. If every man should consider his fellow man as a brother, the tie is surely strengthened between unhappy men. If I can assist you, then, your opinions will not lessen my zeal to do so. Had I been a Polonese, I might have thought and have acted as you have done. Had you been a native of France, you would have seen her monarchy exchanged for anarchy infinitely more destructive and more tyrannical, with the same abhorrence as I have done." This candid discussion of a subject which has but too often divided the most sacred connections, by the warmth of the contention it has raised, soon set the new friends mutually at ease with each other; a little plan for the conveyance of Carlowitz and Alexina to Vienna on the return of the carriage which was going on to Berlin, with D'Alonville and his friends, was soon adjusted, which, with about the value of ten guineas English, was all Carlowitz could prevailed upon to accept. To this Ellesmere insisted on contributing half, and the noble Polonese gave them an acknowledgment for it, and in order to receive it at Vienna, by bill of exchange, of which he peremptorily demanded their acceptance, as the only terms on which he would receive the money. Fatigued as he was by a long conversation, Ellesmere fancied that, under all the disadvantages of illness, and of speaking with difficulty a foreign language, there was in the countenance and manner of this stranger an uncommon portion of sense and spirit. Their
business being arranged, Carlowitz expressed a wish to see his daughter, and Ellesmere with extreme eagerness flew down to find her; while D'Alonville, whom he seemed to fear had the same project, accompanied him but with a different intention. He went to make interest with the hostess, whose manners were much softened towards her sick guests, to prepare for them all a little repast, and to intercede for a better room for his Polonese friend, the little time he was still to stay at her house. While he was thus negotiating, Ellesmere had gone out in search of Alexina, who he was told had walked out. Within fifty yards of the house that stood alone near the foot of a steep hill, began a wood of birch and pine trees, with which that and the surrounding mountains were covered. A path led thither, and Ellesmere followed it, because the shelter the firs afforded made it most likely that it had been taken by Alexina. He saw her within a few paces of its entrance, leaning against a tree, her face almost veiled by her hood, and her figure by her long cloak; but yet he thought he never saw a form so graceful. He approached and spoke to her;—she put aside her veil, and discovered in the opinion of Ellesmere a face where sorrow and resignation irresistibly lent charms to feature perfectly lovely; and which acquired, by visible dejection, a grace which more than compensated for the bloom of health.—Ellesmere made her comprehend that her father wished to see her. A faint and melancholy smile told him she understood him, and she walked towards the house. Ellesmere attended her, and offered his hand as he ascended the stairs. When they reached the door of the room he would have retired, but Carlowitz saw him, and entreating him to come in he obeyed.
Alexina eagerly approached her father, who gave her his hand, which she held a moment between both her's, while he spoke to her in her native language; and, as Ellesmere imagined, related the arrangements that had been made. Her answer, from the expression with which it was accompanied, he translated to be, "I shall not go back to Warsaw, and leave you, then, my father?"—Her dark eyes were filled with tears, yet she turned them towards Ellesmere, seemed to wish she could explain how much she thought herself obliged to him, and then sat down, uttering one of those deep drawn sighs which appear to relieve the heart after the sudden removal of any oppression.
Carlowitz looked at her with so much concern and tenderness, that Ellesmere felt more than ever gratified by the reflection, that he had assisted in relieving from the anguish of threatened separation, a father and a daughter so fondly attached to each other; yet his heart was conscious of an acute pang, when he recollected that in a few moments he should lose sight of Alexina, and probably should never see her again. Carlowitz now entered into conversation with Ellesmere, as well as he could, in French (of which he was by no means master), on the happy constitution of England, and the flourishing situation to which she had arisen, even after a war which had threatened her destruction. He touched on the hopes the people of Poland had entertained of assistance from the English; and could not help remarking, how soon he had forgot the conduct of the Empress of Russia towards them in their war against America; and the impolicy of her being allowed now to encrease her enormous power by the acquisition of so large a share of Poland. Ellesmere, who had
never till then felt the least interest for the fate of a country which has so little influence on the politics of his own, had never considered the subject; the merits of which however Carlowitz was endeavouring to make him comprehend, when D'Alonville returned, followed by the hostess, who with much civility enquired whether they would remove into the best room she had below. This civility, the weak state of Carlowitz compelled him to refuse. He made some apologies to his friends, and besought them not to confine themselves to his room; they refused however to leave him, and a better dinner than the place seemed likely to afford, was served up. During which, Carlowitz gave them a slight sketch of his life, and of the events which had occasioned his expulsion from his country. As he spoke, his pale countenance became animated. His eyes flashed fire as he uttered the eulogium of the king of Poland; and his whole countenance lost its languor, while he uttered sentiments of which D'Alonville had till then had no idea, and which he found himself but little disposed to acquiesce in; while Ellesmere, to whose opinions they were more congenial, looked upon him an oracle; and felt from that, or some other cause, encreasing regret from the reflection that they were so soon to part.
Above all Ellesmere was impressed with veneration for that indifference to life which Carlowitz professed, who declared that his fears only for Alexina had tempted him to submit to flight; but that the agonies in which he saw her, the horror and dread she had of outliving him, and becoming a dependant on relations who had basely betrayed him, for their own security, had determined him to sacrifice to her, a life which could now indeed be of no use to his country.
"And when I feel the ignominy of my condition," cried he, "I will look again at Alexina, and I shall think myself again ennobled as her protector. When the idea of all I have lost recurs to me, I will remember the struggle I made to preserve it; and what I have been, and ought to be, shall console me for what I am, or may be." D'Alonville could not help remarking to himself, that the effect on his mind, of banishment and loss of property, was exactly the reverse; and, that it was what he had been and ought to be, that embittered to him every reflection on what he was, or might have been. As neither the father nor the daughter occupied his thoughts or his eyes so much as they appeared to do those of his English friend, his mind was gone back to Vienna, and he was musing, as was become his custom when left a moment to himself, on his strange destiny, when the lateness of the hour suddenly occurred to him. He had not a watch, but he requested Ellesmere to look at his, who declared, with some surprise, that it was past two o'clock. He had hardly fancied it noon. It was time to go, if they did not design to let their companions proceed quite to Berlin without them. Carlowitz was sensible of the inconvenience they had already put themselves to on his account, and entreated them to avoid those of darkness and tempest, which might too probably overtake them on their way, should they be under the necessity of following on horseback, farther than the next post-house. D'Alonville pressed their departure; but Ellesmere seemed unable to determine to go. At length, as no excuse remained for his stay, and the horses were ready at the door, the moment of bidding adieu to his two new friends could no longer be avoided. D'Alonville, who was really interested for their
fate, as much as it was possible to be for persons of whom he knew so little, begged to hear of their arrival at Vienna—repeated the good wishes he had before expressed; and in a polite and easy manner took his farewell of Carlowitz, who expressed anew the warmest gratitude for all his kindness. He next approached Alexina, and with equal ease and civility took leave of her, kissing her hand and wishing her every felicity. D'Alonville then went to his horse, leaving Ellesmere to manage his adieus as he would;—they were so long, that D'Alonville became impatient, and was on the point of returning to hasten his lingering friend, when at length Ellesmere appeared, and silently mounting the horse that was waiting, proceeded for a league almost without speaking. D'Alonville took the occasion of their going slowly up an hill to mention the friends they had left, and by Ellesmere's answers, he thought he discovered more plainly what he had before suspected—that the fair Alexina had made an impression on the heart of the young Englishman; but supposing it would be no more than one of those gouts passageres, of which he had been accustomed to think so lightly, he took and opportunity slightly to rally Ellesmere, who answered him in raillery; but though it seemed as if he wished to escape from the subject, and to laugh it off, his long fits of gravity, and the deep sighs that escaped him were not calculated to destroy the notion D'Alonville entertained. As they had exhausted most other topics of conversation, D'lonville insensibly led the discourse to the arrangements he had contrived for the conveyance of Carlowitz and his daughter to Vienna—and Ellesmere then said, "there is in the character of that man something very singular he has an originality of mind that I have never
met with her before. I wish I could have cultivated a farther acquaintance with him."
"And with Mademoiselle his daughter too.—I fancy my dear friend she has her part in that wish."
"I do not deny it," answered Ellesmere; "and though I could not converse with her for want of language, she has, if there be any trusting to the expression of countenance, a soul as elevated as her father's, softened by the feminine virtues—Did you ever see a more intelligent, a more lovely countenance?"
"Would you have me answer honestly?" replied D'Alonville. "Honestly and plainly," replied Ellesmere. "Why then I own, that though I think Mademoiselle Carlowitz hansome, and allow her to have a very fine and graceful form, yet I have seen women, of whom the countenance was more lovely, and equally intelligent."
"My dear Chevalier," cried Ellesmere, who seemed at least as much pleased with his dissent, as if he had appeared equally fascinated, "your eyes have been accustomed to French beauty, till you have lost all taste for the great simple. I am persuaded now you would have thought Alexina perfectly lovely, had she first been pointed out to you in a box at the opera at Paris as being a foreign beauty, whom it was the rage of the day to admire. Her unadorned loveliness is in too simple, too grand a style, if I may so express myself, to please a taste vitiated by the false glare of rouge, and the fantastic aid of fashionable dress. And thus I have often observed among most men who effect ton in England, and among almost all descriptions of men in France, that their taste is governed by fashion. A woman who is cried up as the beauty of the
season, is declared to be, "divine—absolutely without equal."—In a few months her novelty is gone; another matchless creature appears; and the first glides imperceptibly into oblivion, unless by some daring singularity, of dress of conduct, she can support herself a few months longer."
"You will recollect, my friend," answered D'Alonville, "that I was never regularly initiated into the great world at Paris, having only passed a few months there, at a time when the French were thinking more of politics than of the frivolous distinction of which I believe you justly enough accuse them. To what happens in London, I can still say less; but permit me to make one enquiry, and let that be, whether the fair Alexina does not derive some of the extraordinary charms you find in her, from the distresses that surround her; and whether a lovely nymph, wandering amidst woods and wilds, in inpious attendance on a banished father, acquires not peculiar charms in the eyes of my friend, who is a little, perhaps a very little, romantic?" To this Ellesmere answered, "You sometimes say to me, my friend, when I hazard a reflection or a sentiment which appears which appears to you uncommon"—'Il faut être bien Anglois pour avoir une telle pensée;' so I now reply, 'que c'est être bien Francois que d'avoir une telle idée.' No; though it is certain that the sweet attachment of Alexina to her father gives me the highest opinion of her heart and understanding, and though she has one of those graceful and attractive forms, which is suited to adorn a landscape where nature puts on her aweful and commanding features, yet I think, nay, I am sure, that the impression Alexina has made upon me, is not owing to any local circumstance. Wherever it had first been my chance
to meet her, I should have been equally struck with her."
"You are really and absolutely in love, then, with this northern beauty, after an acquaintance of four or five hours?"
"In love!—Oh! no not in love I hope neither—if I made indeed as light of the matter as, "vous autres," —I might say I was, "mourant d'amour," but in the sober sadness of an Englishman, I must go no farther than declaring that if Alexina has the mind she appears to have, and if I was a man of fortune, and could marry, I should prefer her to fill up my scheme of happiness before any woman I ever saw. But alas! as it is—a younger brother, whose portion is the sword, the pulpit, or the bar; and who, according to the equitable maxim adopted both in your country and mine, must scramble through the world as well as he can, that the elder branch may transmit the family estate, with only the burthens he shall himself place upon it to posterity; a younger brother has no business to think of a wife."—"And so," added he with a sigh—"we will talk no more of Alexina, at least for this time." At the end of the stage D'Alonville and Ellesmere, contrary to their expectations, overtook their companions, who had waited for them and they proceeded altogether without any occurrence worth noticing till they arrived at Berlin.