| ||The Banished Man. Volume 2 of 2|
"Le vrai courage, est de scavoir souffrit."
WHILE Edward Ellesmere was lamenting, in Flanders, the cruel destiny of friends in England whom he so highly esteemed; while trembling for the hopes of D'Alonville in regard to his union with Angelina, which prudence seemed wholly to forbid, he sometimes imagined to himself, with great concern, how probable it was that D'Alonville himself was already the victim of the sanguinary faction that prevailed in France;—the subject of his friendly solicitude was travelling, as he believed, towards Paris, but so slowly, that he almost doubted whether it was really intended he should arrive there. His conductors had been twice changed, and those persons who had now the charge of him were so careless, that he could easily have escaped from them; and he sometimes fancied it was meant that he should do so; but without money, and without arms, he could have escaped only to be retaken, and, perhaps, to have been treated with greater ignominy. It was even possible, he was so loosely guarded, that he might, by attempting to fly, furnish an excuse for more sever treatment, or for the putting him immediately to death.
The carriage in which he was confined did not proceed more than four or five leagues in a day, sometimes not more than three; one or other
of his guards often slept in it the greater part of the time; and sometimes they both became instances of another change in the manners of the lower French people, among whom drunkenness had become much more frequent than before the revolution. It was already April, and ten or fourteen days of warm showery weather had wholly changed the appearance of the country, which now exhibited all the vivid beauty of spring; while every soft shower, and every hour of warm sun, visibly improved those scenes among which D'Alonville was passing a prisoner to the place where inevitable death awaited him.
With sensations how different from those he now felt, had only two years before hailed the return of spring!—When his course of education at Paris being finished, he received a summons from his father to follow him to his estate in Picardy, where he had retired to avoid being present at scenes which he entirely disapproved; at concessions made by his sovereign, from which his soul recoiled, though he was far from foreseeing whither they would lead. D'Alonville now saw around him the same natural beauties; the tender verdure of the trees; and the ground; though in many places uncultivated, yet covered with grass and flowers. France, which has at no other time the lively green of England, now smiled on her wretched sons with promises of almost spontaneous plenty; and D'Alonville, though not much accustomed to moralize, could not fail of being struck with a sentiment with Goldsmith (for truth and nature are in every country, and in every season of life of same), with much propriety, gives to his Vicar of Wakefield "How much kinder is Heaven to us, than we are to ourselves!" "What a wretched being is man," exclaimed he, "who throws from him blessings
which he might possess; or converts them into curses!"—While he thus reflected, they came in sight of a lonely cottage, embosomed within beech woods, now just coming into leaf; before it lay a small vineyard spreading to the south; a potagerie was divided from it by a hedge of white thorn in flower; and there was an air of neatness about it, unusual to French houses of so humble an appearance. The morning was warm, and D'Alonville's two guards felt no small desire to taste the wine of this vineyard, of which they supposed there might be a provision within the house. Dans la France regener, every thing ought to be in common, and one of them went in to demand a fraternal flask of the cultivateur. He returned with a large one, which he had already begun, and protested to his companion, as he poured him out a glass, that it was the very best vin du pais that he had ever tasted. "Those fellows always took care of themselves," said he, "this house belonged to the cur; the old crow has flown, but has left the best part of him behind. What if we go in and rest ourselves a little? Come, Monsieur l'Aristocrat, with your good leave you shall go with us; there's nobody in the house now but an old woman; though I warrant when the jolly old fellow was here himself, he had a pretty niece, or a black-eyed housekeeper."—They now released D'Alonville from his flight confinement, and he walked between them into the house.
The poor old woman who remained in charge of it, received them with trembling submission, and gave them the keys which they demanded, without any enquiry into the legality of their demand. While they were rummaging the cellars for wine of a still better vintage than that they had already tasted, their prisoner placed himself at
the window, and contemplated the prospect before him—nothing could be so lovely, unless that the same view might be itself more beautiful when the vine under its broad foliage half discovered its rich clusters purpling in the sun. "What a paradise would this little place be to me," said D'Alonville, musing, "if I could here find Angelina, and tranquility—my ambition would go no higher—most willingly would I resign the distinction of birth and live unknown, if I might live with her;—but ah! no, loveliest of creatures, may a happier fortune await thee!—this distracted, this polluted country is unworthy to receive thee! Ah! wherefore should I, whose life a few days, nay, perhaps a few hours will terminate—why should I indulge myself with visions like these?—cut off in the morning of my days, I die, and I leave no memorial or my short existence, unless thou, Angelina, wilt remember me!" His mournful reverie was here interrupted by the woman, who placed herself opposite to him, yet so near that he manifested his amazement. "I pray you, pardon me," said she, "Monsieur; I am ordered to watch you by the two officers below, and to cry out if you attempt to run away; and so," added she, lowering her voice, "and so you are a prisoner! Jesu Marie! What! will they kill so young and good-looking a gentleman?" D'Alonville could hardly help smiling at the simplicity of the poor woman. "Yes," replied he, "I believe, my good woman, they will; and I fear you run some hazard in expressing your pity for me, without the possibility of doing me any good."
"Hist! hist! replied she, "you had better speak low, though they are, I believe, thoroughly engaged in the cellar, and will scarcely hear us,—Where are you going, Sir?"
"That is more than I know, I assure you," answered D'Alonville; "Because, Sir," whispered the woman, "Because I heard them argue just now about the time they must be at the place, wherever it is, where you are expected this evening; one on them seemed afraid of staying here too long; the other said, bah! it would be quite time enough if you were there by nightfall, and that a person, whose name I could not hear, had told him it would be sufficient if he arrived then, and would be best for their business."
"That business," said D'Alonville, "is probably my execution; but why they have dragged me so many miles, when they might as well have settled the matter ten days ago at Rennes, it is impossible to conceive."
"Oh, Saint Vierge!" exclaimed the woman, "to execution! Such a young Seigneur! I wish Monsieur could escape."
I thank you sincerely, my good friend," answered D'Alonville, "but I should not attempt it any way, certainly not, where it would bring you into any difficulties; for life, I assure, is to me but of little value!" One of the guards now staggered up with some of the ci-devant cur's very best liquor, of which he poured out a large glass and gave it to D'Alonville, and then another for the woman, and then a yet larger potation for himself. It was difficult to say which was the most drunk, he or his companion; the latter, however, reminding him, with very little reserve, of the appointment they had for the evening, they contrived to reel together to the cart, with D'Alonville between them; and having rewarded the patience of the driver with some wine, of which they brought as many bottles away as they could carry, they once more proceeded on their way. D'Alonville now endeavoured to discover
whither they were going, and who they were to meet; but they both either were, or affected to be, so intoxicated, that he could make out nothing from their answers, except that their journey was to end that night.
D'Alonville was very sure they could not reach Paris that night, though he did not know the way they had passed, and fancied they had repeatedly crossed the country, and wandered far from the strait road to the capital, which he thought must be more than ten leagues distant. It was in vain to attempt forming conjectures as to what was the purpose of the persons who thus seemed to refine on cruelty, by protracting the pain of uncertainty; but, after every possible supposition, he at length concluded that Heurthofen found a malicious pleasure in prolonging his sufferings, and was unwilling to let him die when he was prepared to meet death with fortitude. This day nearly passed as the others had passed before. Towards evening they reached a little town, it appeared melancholy and deserted, hardly an inhabitant was to be seen, while the grass in abundance made its way through the pavement; the few persons that were in the streets, were meagre and squalid. D'Alonville enquired of his conductors the name of this town, but they evaded his question; they told him, however, that here he must pass the night, and drove under an high and dark gateway; there he was taken out of the cart and conducted through a miserable room, where two or three shabby ill-looking men went drinking, then across a large yard, and up a narrow stair cafe. A woman, who seemed to have expected their arrival (for she asked no questions), walked before them with a candle; she showed them into a small room, where the bare walls
were become green and black through damp, and where there was a bedstead with a mattrass, which perfectly answered to the appearance of the chamber; it had one high window, whose broken panes had been recently repaired with the wood, while the iron bars which crossed it, seemed to have been lately put there for security. "It is here we are directed to leave you, Monsieur," said one of the men; "we wish you well; for though it is your fortune to be an aristocrat, you may alter your mind, perhaps—you are young, and it is better to change from bad principles, than to die by the guillotine—we must say, that, as a prisoner, you have given us no trouble."
"Here then your commission ends, in regard to me," said D'Alonville, "but pray tell me in whose custody I am now to remain, and to what end?" "We have no orders," replied one of the national guards, "to give you any answer; but we advise you to have patience."
"I am still to be guarded, however?" interrupted D'Alonville, casting a look towards the window.
"Certainly" replied the man.
"But I am to be allowed light, I hope?"
"As to that," answered the soldier, "we have no orders; but I believe you will not long need it."
"Surely," cried D'Alonville, impatiently, "you will not refuse to tell me?"
The man, without giving him any further attention, left the room with his companion.—The woman who had stood at the door with the candle, shut it after her, and withdrew with the light. The door was barred without, and D'Alonville remained a moment with his eyes fixed upon it, though he could no longer distinguish it; he listened to the footsteps of the men who had
guarded him, as they became fainter on the stairs, and though they were his gaolers, and had the rude and brutish manners of the lowest of the people, he felt a sort of regret at their departure; so dreary seemed the darkness and silence in which he was now left.
This situation, though desolate, was however less so than his dungeon at Rennes—yet he felt infinitely more uneasy in it. There he was prepared for the worst that could happen, being persuaded that a few hours would put an end to his suspense with his life; but now he felt all the horrors that obscurity adds to circumstances indistinctly imagined, and of which, all he knew for certain, was, that they were circumstances of dread. Imprisonment, long, lingering imprisonment, would probably, he imagined, end in a public execution, attended with all the disgrace with which malice and revenge could contrive to embitter death; he had now hardly any doubt, but that he owed this prolonged existence to Heurthofen; and his heart swelled with indignation when he reflected on this apostate German priest, who had acquired, by the most infamous means, the power of oppressing him; at the same time, when he thought of his brother, sensations more poignantly painful assailed him. In Du Bosse's thus abandoning to the mean malice of such a colleague in iniquity, his only brother, the son of the same parents, the youth he had seen grow up with him, there was such a total dereliction of all those feelings that distinguish the man from the brute; such a failure of humanity, of every sentiment which nature implants in a good heart, or education impresses on one not naturally insensible, that D'Alonville could not bear to think upon it, yet he could think of nothing else; and his actual situation,
upon the whole, hurt him less than the reflection, that it was his brother who had plunged him into it. Through the high and only half-glazed window, which was fifteen or sixteen feet above the ground, the rays of an early moon glimmered faintly, rather making "darkness visible," than affording light; yet it served him to mark the wretchedness of the place where he was confined, and from which he felt himself tempted to escape; though he believed that it was most probable such an attempt would fail; or that if he succeeded in getting out of the house where he was now a prisoner, it would only be hastening his fate, in case, as was most probable, he should be overtaken and brought back. To hasten his fate, however, was now become his wish, and, with the calm resolution of despair, he determined to attempt forcing the door, which he believed, though it was barred, he could do without much difficulty: but when he was on the point of applying his strength to this purpose he hesitated—perhaps there might be a centinel set without to guard the door;—"well, and if there be," said he, recollecting himself; "and if there be! he has his musket charged, and by his means I shall escape from the insults of Heurthofen, from the bitter reflection that it is my brother who has exposed me to those insults; from the sad images that now perpetually haunt me, and the cruel reality of seeing my country deluged with her best blood." While he thus argued with himself, he thought that amidst the silence of the night, he heard some slight noise without the door, as of a person that breathed hard, and with difficulty;—he listened more attentively;—the door was slowly unbarred; the lock moved, and a man dressed in a dark surtout, the cape of which came high round his head, and a large hat flapped over
his eyes, entered with a lanthorn in his hand. D'Alonville stepped back a few paces; the figure followed him, and taking off his hat discovered the man who was once his brother!
The paleness and agitation of guilt and shame were visible on his countenance; his lips trembled, and his features were slightly confused, as waving his hand for D'Alonville to sit down on the bed, (the only seat there was); he turned towards the door, which he fastened within, and then again motioning for D'Alonville to be seated, who did not however obey him, he said in a low and tremulous voice, "you are surprised to see me here!"
"There was nothing I less expected," answered D'Alonville; "could you believe, then," whispered Du Bosse, "could you believe, D'Alonville, I could condemn you to death?"
Most readily," replied his brother—for after what you have done—Good God! is there any atrocity of which I am not well justified in believing you capable?"
"After what I have done," repeated Du Bosse—"what have I done that is not well justified by circumstances; by that first of all-active principles in a great, a generous mind, the sacred love of immortal liberty!"
"Leave that disgraceful cant, Sir, to such men as your German colleague, Heurthofen, the apostate priest" said D'Alonville, angrily turning from him; "it only increases my abhorrence and my contempt."
"And is it thus, weak and unhappy boy," cried Du Bosse, forgetting his precaution, and rising into anger, "is it thus you thank me for risking my own safety to preserve you from the death you have doubly deserved?—First, for bearing arms against your country; then for re-
turning, proscribed and condemned as you were, to light up within her bosom the flames of civil war—I am afraid I shall repent the weakness I have shown in making thus a vain attempt to rescue from ignominious death an obstinate and ignorant young man, merely because he was connected with me by the ties of blood." "And why did you make it, Monsieur Du Bosse?" cried D'Alonville, still more indignantly, "to a patriot burning with the sacred love of immortal liberty;—what are the ties of blood?—what are all the charities between man and man? Is it not part of your creed, that the holy flame of freedom bursts all these asunder, even as flax is dissevered by the fire?—Shall he who drove his father, (and such a father too) to despair and death—shall he affect compunction for the fate of a brother?" Notwithstanding the affected stoicism which Du Bosse had been so long practicing; notwithstanding his ambition and his pride; the charge which was, he knew, but too well founded, of having driven his father to die in despair, visibly shook him. He attempted in vain to deny the charge, or to appeal in his vindication to that love of his country which he declared had alone actuated his conduct. He talked of tyrants—Taruias, and despotism; of Roman virtues—of Brutus and Cato; and had bewildered himself in this new fort of gasconading; though he seemed to have learned the sentences by heart—when D'Alonville, rendered impatient by such an harangue, suddenly asked him to what all this tended; and what he meant to propose? "I am in your power, citizen Du Bosse," said he;—"and the only favour I ask of you, is, to put an end to the suspense in which, for I know not what reason, it seems to be your pleasure to keep me. If I am to die, call forth
your executioner—you shall see that the blood from which I am descended, does not belie itself; and that while one of the sons of the Viscount de Fayolles disgraces him in his life; the other shall, by his death, do honour to the name he bears."
"And you do not then fear to die, Sir?" cried Du Bosse;—"Why should I?" answered D'Alonville, with increased spirit,—"have you not taken from life all that could render it desirable? my father—(I loved my father,) my fortune, my home, my hopes? Can I fear dying, as my king has died? when, if my life were to be prolonged, it could only subject me to the humiliating condition of living a passive spectator of the disgrace and ruin of my country—perhaps of being again driven from it by the persecution of fellows with whom you, citizen Du Bosse, would not a few, a very few years since, have held the slightest intercourse; though you now call them your brethren;—your fellow labourers in this glorious cause, which has depopulated Your native land, and made the very name of its inhabitants a name of reproach." This conversation continued some time with encreasing asperity on the part of the younger brother; who having nothing to hope, disdained to fear any evil which could now be inflicted upon him—while the elder, formerly of so haughty a spirit as to throw off indignantly the parental authority, was for some reason that D'Alonville could not immediately penetrate, become suddenly so placid as to hear without resentment the severest reproaches. To paternal affection this alteration could not be imputed; for Du Bosse, who was nine years older than D'Alonville, had never shown any great attachment to him; but had treated him as a spoiled child, the favourite of
his father, with something of jealousy mingled with contempt. The new system he had adopted was not likely to have encreased his tenderness for his family; for, to immolate at the shrine of liberty and equality the feelings of the heart, was its leading principle—D'Alonville therefore was surprised to observe, that his keenest invectives were not only calmly endured, but that the patience which he lost, his brother seemed to acquire.—At length, after much circumlocution, and a great deal of what citizen Du Bosse thought artful management, D'Alonville discovered what was his brother's plan, though his motives for adopting that plan were not yet developed. It was Du Bosse's purpose to bring him over to the republican party; to conceal the part he had hitherto taken, and to introduce him on the political stage as a man, who, from his extreme youth, had not yet come forward, but now, actuated by sentiments and zeal like his own, was ready to shed the last drop of his blood in the cause of his country, (with a long et cetera of phrases so abused on these occasions). The greatest objection to the execution of this scheme, (for Du Bosse never doubted the concurrence of D'Alonville) was the knowledge which Heurthofen, or rather Citizen Rouill, had of the truth.—Du Bosse, however, who thought he understood this worthy colleague, and that there were means of securing not only his secrecy but his assistance, had in his own imagination conquered this impediment; he had therefore arranged his operations, and contrived to send D'Alonville off, under pretence of his being examined more fully at Paris; ordering him first to be compelled to see the execution of eleven persons embarked in the same cause, a fight which, he thought, would act as a very powerful argu-
ment in engaging him to abandon it; especially when security, fortune, and power, united to invite him to the other side.
Heurthofen affected to believe the reasons his colleague gave him for sending the young man to Paris—spoke of his concern for the painful struggle between his public duty and private affections, that Du Bosse must undergo, and said that though he had divested himself of every sentiment that might for a moment interfere with his rigid adherence to the good of the Republic, yet, that from all men, such sudden stoicism, such Roman fortitude, could not be expected; and that nothing but time, and a perfect conviction of the splendour of the glorious cause they had engaged in—a cause so sublime, so elevated, so immortal, could be supposed to exalt the human mind, to the true point of revolutionary enthusiasm, and teach it to shake off all inferior affectations, all human weaknesses, "As dew drops from the lion's mane."
Du Bosse, satisfied with these speeches, breathing moderation and tolerance towards mortals, not yet elevated enough to attain the seventh heaven of republicanism, ventured to trust to some suture time the entire reconciliation of Heurthofen to his fraternal tenderness, with his political orthodoxy; and the result was, the departure of D'Alonville from Rennes, in the way we have already seen, and which Du Bosse, in his profound sagacity, had managed in such a manner as was, he believed, most likely to baffle any enquiry, should it ever be made, as to the preceding adventures of his brother; but the plan thus contrived, and so perfect in the opinion of the contriver, was unluckily overthrown; for D'Alonville, the moment he comprehended it, declared in the most positive terms that nothing should induce him for a moment to pass for a republican, one of
those wretches he detested; and that were the guillotine on one side of him, and the Presidency of the Convention offered to him on the other, he would not hesitate an instant in his choice. It was equally in vain that Du Bosse exerted his eloquence or his authority.—D'Alonville had arguments ready in his turn, and asserted the freedom of opinion with a boldness which Du Bosse could not controvert without contradicting his favourite axioms.—It was true that the life of D'Alonville was in his power, but to take it was not what he intended. After a dialogue of many hours, at the end of which D'Alonville remained steady in his determination, they parted; the original scheme of Du Bosse was baffled; but he modified, and would not wholly relinquish it; and for very good reasons, which did not immediately appear, he determined neither to give D'Alonville up to punishment nor to lose sight of him.
Early the next morning he renewed the attack, but with as little success. This was one of those cases of which there are so many in the world, where one party glories in persevering in a good cause, while the adverse party declaims against obstinacy in a bad one.
D'Alonville, however, was immovable; and with his total refusal to have any connection with the men under whatever appellation, whether Girodists or Mountaineers, Moders or Enrags, who called themselves legislators of France, he mingled sarcasms so cutting, and comparisons so degrading, that unless Du Bosse had been actuated by something more powerful than brotherly affection was in his breast, he would hardly have endured this severity from a young man on whom he was bestowing security, and wished to have bestowed power and prosperity.—But from whatever motive it was, he restrained his resentment,
and with wonderful forbearance at length came to what he called a compromise. It was agreed then that under pretence of D'Alonville being a person who was to be interrogated before the committee of Public Safety, Du Bosse should conduct him towards Paris in a chaise; that when within a few miles of the capital he should be dismissed, furnished with a certificate of civism by Du Bosse, and enter Paris, where he was very little known, as a person employed as a messenger, or in some other inferior department; he was then to go to an house his brother named him, where his reception, and the character he was to appear in, were to be secured by Du Bosse, who was to arrive there before him.
The elder brother believed he should there find means to shake the resolution of the now inflexible royalist. D'Alonville on the other hand though himself proof against either temptation or terror: he was certainly not sorry to be delivered from the apprehension of immediate death, however prepared to meet it, and he was very glad of an opportunity of visiting Paris in security, for it was there only that he could judge of the real situation of his country.—These considerations induced him to agree to Du Bosse's last proposal making no other stipulation, than he should not be represented as a republican, however humble the people might be with whom he should be placed.
In consequence of this arrangement, Du Bosse, who had affected an air of profound mystery at the inn, now told the people that the prisoner they had in their house, was a person who had confessed secrets of the utmost importance to the Republic, that he had still more to reveal, and that, therefore, he (the commissioner) should take him to Paris in his chaise lest he should escape, and never
lose sight of him until he was delivered to the Committee. In half an hour after this affected confidence Du Bosse, armed with pistols and sabres, was most formidably seated in the carriage that had brought him.—They proceeded rapidly towards Paris, from whence they were about five leagues distant, when Du Bosse sending off first one servant and then another, on different pretences, was left alone with D'Alonville, who, when he next changed horses, he dismissed, furnished with the certificate he had promised him, and sufficient money to take him post to Paris by another road. D'Alonville had now an opportunity of escaping; but as his politics and his honour both forbade his attempting it, he pursued the directions his brother had given him, and arrived about nightfall at the house of a watchmaker on the Quai de Voltaire, as it was now called, where he found he was expected, as a person employed by Citizen Du Bosse, and where he retired to an upper room that had been made ready for him, extremely fatigued, and not a little surprised at finding himself at large, and in present safety, in a place where he imaged he should have arrived only to give up his life on a scaffold.