| ||The Banished Man. Volume 2 of 2|
Foss 'io puitosto, o piutosto non nato!
A che, fiero destin, ferbarmi in vita
Per condermi a verdere
Spettacolo si crudo, e si dolente!
THE unhappy D'Alonville, on arriving at Rennes, was thrown into the common prison with Rameau, who seemed to be again sunk into a state of stupefaction, and no longer sensible of his condition.
Convinced that his life was forfeited, D'Alonville disdained to attempt its preservation my misrepresenting himself, or his intentions; and he determined to avow both, whenever he should be examined by the commissioners of the Convention, two of whom he was informed, were arrived the evening before from Paris, to try a great number of prisoners confined at Rennes for counter-revolutionary projects; to direct their punishment on the spot, or to order them to Paris.
On entering the prison D'Alonville was shocked to see so many women, apparently of superior rank; military men advanced in years, of the most respectable appearance; and very young persons, who must have been incapable of having offended against the inconsistent and ridiculous laws which were every day issued and revoked. Ever in search of De Touranges and St. Remi, he anxiously examined the countenance of every person he saw; and met some that he recollected, though
they seemed to retain no remembrance of him, but turned from him with evident disgust, when they observed his dress, believing that he was one of those, who, by a late repentance, had incurred the resentment of the party he had at first undertaken to defend. One old knight of Malta, with whom he accidentally entered into conversation, conceived from his manner, his countenance, and his expressions, a more just opinion of him; and after a second conference, D'Alonville related to him the circumstances of his life for the last fourteen months.—The Chevalier de Calignon heard him with so much interest, as to be moved even to tear. "I knew your father," said he, "and highly esteemed him—I envy him his death, and such a son as you are.—Yet when I reflect, my young friend, how soon the promise of your youth will be blasted, and that we shall probably, in a few days, ascend the scaffold together, my heart bleeds again, as indeed it has often done, to see thus sacrificed the future hope of our country. For myself, an isolated being as I am, and robbed by this fatal war of my collateral connections and my property, it signifies but little how soon my career is at an end." De Calignon then informed him that he had been one of the party engaged with De Touranges and St. Remi; that their promising views had been darkened, and their hopes blasted by the treachery of a ci-devant monk who had been admitted to their councils, and that those who had not been fortunate enough to escape, when an armed force surrounded the castle of Vaudrecour, had been carried, some to one prison and some to another; but he had reason to believe that De Touranges, if not St. Remi were among those who escaped—at all events they were neither of them in prison at Rennes." D'Alonville thought with extreme concern, on
the anxious hours the mother and wife of the unfortunate De Touranges, would pass in the expectation of hearing of him. He recollected how sanguine the elder Madame de Touranges had been, and sighed with he pictured to himself the party assembling at Besthorpe or Worthfellbury, in expectation of intelligence that never would arrive.
De Calignon enquired of D'Alonville what he meant to answer to the questions that would be asked him the next day? "To relate the truth," replied he, "If it will hurt nobody—I am tired of the falsehood I have been uttering ever since my return to France, and can wear the degrading mask no longer." "I am older than you, my friend," replied the Chevalier de Calignon; "suffer me to advise you to repress this ingenuous ardour, which may injure, if not your immediate friends, many who are embarked in the same cause, by rendering them suspected, and giving to the search that is now making more malignant activity. I do not wish you to deny the truth, should it be discovered, for that would be unworthy of you; but do not needlessly avow it.—It is but too likely that you are already known, and I fear there is but little hope of your escaping the fate that is preparing for us; but if without any unworthy means of your part, you could preserve your life, remember you owe it to your country.—You are young, and may yet see the French name rescued from the obloquy with which it is now covered." D'Alonville promised to do nothing needlessly to incur danger; but his conduct seemed not likely to make any difference in the event. Nothing, he declared, should induce him to leave the world without a public avowal of his
name and his principles; an avowal that he owed to the memory of his father, and to himself.
D'Alonville, as well as the Chevalier de Calignon, were glad to learn that their imprisonment was not to be of long continuance. Two days after his arrival the hour was fixed for carrying him and his fellow-sufferers before the commissioners at the Hotel de Ville. D'Alonville was among the last of these unfortunate people who was brought forth; he was conducted to a sort of bar, behind which the judges were placed.—He approached—but what were his sensations on discovering, that one of these was his brother, the other his old acquaintance Heurthofen!
He immediately saw that Monsieur du Bosse (by which name the ci-devant Viscount de Fayolles chose now to be distinguished) knew, but determined not to acknowledge him; while the countenance of Heurthofen expressed a malignant joy which the solemnity he affected did not conceal. He seemed, from superiority of assurance, rather than of intellect, to assume greater authority than Du Bosse. To his interrogatories, D'Alonville answered plainly, that he had been an emigrant with his father; "Yes," said he, speaking in a loud and firm tone, "with my father, who died, partly in consequence of a wound, but yet more of a broken heart." He fixed his eyes earnestly on Du Bosse; he saw him turn pale, and heard him with faultering lips, endeavour to turn the examination to some other point. Heurthofen, who was now called Rouill, and of whom it seemed not to be remembered that he was an alien, continued his questions. "I quitted Vienna," said D'Alonville, "and went to England, where I have been till about three weeks since, when I returned to France." "To what purpose?—you knew your life was forfeited to the laws of your
country." "Not to the laws of my country," replied D'Alonville, "but to the unjust and tyrannic ordinances of men who have usurped the government of that country, and who have made the French name a word of abhorrence among the nations. I came in the hope of rejoining some of the faithful adherents of my murdered king, to revenge his death.—I have failed in my object, for by treachery my friends are dispersed.—My life is in your power—take it." "You carry this with an high hand, Monsieur le Chevalier," cried Heurthofen, contemptuously, "you will, however, condescend to tell us, who those friends are whom you thus expected to rejoin?"
"Never," answered D'Alonville, "you cannot force from me their names; and though I shall fall, I have great consolation in knowing that there is not an honest heart in France but is ready to bleed in the same cause; and some will surely undertake it with success. The justice of Heaven, Monsieur l'Abbé Heurthofen, will not always sleep! Apostates and incendiaries may triumph now, but the indignation of an insulted world—"
"Take back Monsieur le Chevalier," said Heurthofen, to the guard who were in waiting. The men were leading D'Alonville away, when he cast towards Du Bosse a look of indignation and contempt that seemed to sting him to the soul. "You will not suffer this young man," said Du Bosse, addressing himself to the guard, in a voice which betrayed agitation, which he vainly endeavoured to conceal, "You will not suffer him to have any communication whatsoever with any other prisoners." "But my sentence, gentlemen?" cried D'Alonville, as they led him away; "You will know it soon enough," was the answer he received. He was led immediately,
with his arms pinioned he behind him, to a dungeon under the common prison, a place equally noisome with which he had rescued Rameau, though it could not be called an oubliette. His conductors, to whom he applied for information how long he was to remain here, gave him no answer. He heard the iron door grate on its hinges as they closed it after them, and the noise of the bars, that made his escape impossible. A few boards covered with straw, that had already been pressed by the weary weight of some wretched prisoner, was to serve him at once for a bed and chair. He sat down upon it, and contemplating his dreary abode, found his only satisfaction in reflecting in that he should not be long its inhabitant; and when he reflected on the scene he had just left, he felt proudly conscious, that deplorable as his condition was, thus condemned to breath the foul air of an unwholesome cavern, and certain of leaving it only to perish in early youth by the hands of the executioner, he would not exchange situations with his brother. "Wretched man!" cried he, "degenerate son of De Fayolles—thou hast changed thy name; thou hast abandoned thy honour—but the immutable principles of right and wrong thou canst not change; and thy conscience embitters thy degraded existence."
On more minutely recollecting what had passed, D'Alonville was at a loss to comprehend whether Heurthofen knew him to be the brother of his colleague Du Bosse. It was hardly possible but that he must, notwithstanding his change of name; but the cant of the party, that Roman disregard of the ties of nature that every worthless pretender to patriotism affected, was, he thought, the reason why Du Bosse declined to own him, or Heurthofen to speak of him as being the bro-
ther of his associate. To see this apostate German now a legislator of France had at first occasioned to D'Alonville some surprise; but when he recollected his former conduct he ceased to think with astonishment of his present elevation. This man into whose power he had fallen, he knew to be his enemy, and he knew that his fate was inevitable.
His thoughts now fled to England; to Angelina, and her family.—"Amiable, happy people," exclaimed he, "I regret that I ever knew ye;—may no recollection of me embitter your felicity;—yet would it be a mournful satisfaction to me in dying, to believe you, Angelina, sometimes remembered me, and bestowed one sigh on my wretched destiny." He paused from the excess of emotions he could not conquer. "But you will never know it," added he;—"I perish unknown and unlamented. The kindred hand that should have resisted the stroke of the assassin, directs it—and the voice of nature is no longer heard. Ah! De Fayolles, how differently should I have acted, if you had fallen, culpable as you are, by the chance of war, or the vicissitudes of events, into my power. No; though I detest your principles, and the fatal ambition from which they are derived, I should have remembered that my enemy was still my brother—accursed be the infamous maxims that tend to break the ties of blood and friendship, and leave us nothing in their place, but the empty boasts of stoicism, which the heart denies."
It was now night; and as his gaolers did not appear, D'Alonville concluded, that as he was to suffer early the next morning it appeared unnecessary to these professors of humanity to provide him with food. However, about midnight
two of them appeared. They brought him food and wine, and a blanket to throw on his wretched bed.
D'Alonville entreated them to tell him at what hour the next morning he was to die; but the men, who were soldiers of the national guard, assured him they were themselves ignorant. They were ordered to be under arms by the break of day; but whether to surround the scaffold of prisoners who were to die at Rennes, or to serve as guards to those who were ordered to Paris, they knew not. D'Alonville would have questioned them farther, but one of them appeared surly, and the other apprehensive; and they left him so far from being relieved by having seen them, that he was more uneasy than before; for the uncertainty of when his fate was to be decided, was more painful to him than the belief he had before entertained that all would be inevitably concluded the next morning.
His friend Ellesmere was now present to his mind; and he wished he could have written to him an account of what had passed since they parted; and have sent him his last thanks and dying wishes. But he had no means of writing, nor was it probable that if he could write the letter would ever reach the hands of his friend.
Dismal and tedious appeared a night passed in this humid cavern, the abode often perhaps of guilt, but oftener of undeserved misery. Wearied at length with his own sad reflections, and with listening to the melancholy responses of the centinels, who repeated the half-hour around the walls of the prison, he threw himself upon the straw and forgot the real horrors of his condition, though fancy was busy in creating imaginary terrors, even more hideous than the realities which sur-
rounded him waking. He fancied he again saw his father; that he saw him dragged to execution and that his brother was himself the executioner. Vague images then pursued him. He believed Ellesmere reproached him, with having involved him in his distresses—and forswore his friendship for ever; and Angelina was struggling with ruffians whom Heurthofen had ordered to seize her, and from whose grasp D'Alonville in vain attempted to deliver her. The violence of these emotions could have awakened him, if he had not been startled from his restless slumber by a loud noise and a sudden light in the dungeon. He instantly regained his recollection, and saw, without much surprise, two other men enter the cavern;—they had fetters for the hands and legs, which they put on him; and without answering any of the questions he asked, led him away, as he believed, to immediate death. In this persuasion he collected all his resolution, and prepared to die with the courage which his conscious integrity, and the blood he descended from, ought to inspire. Life under such circumstances as he was now in, had so few charms that he was willing to lay it down—and he felt no satisfaction, when, instead of taking him into the street, as he expected, his conductors carried him to an upper room of the prison, where they placed him at a window, from whence he saw a scaffold erected, with the fatal instrument of death. Eagerly he enquired, "why he was sent thither."—An insulting answer was all he could obtain from the brutes who were about him; but he did not remain long in suspense. He saw eleven unhappy persons, of whom three were women, brought out, and executed, without being allowed to speak. The last was de Calignon, the venable
old officer with whom he had so lately conversed, who suffered, with a dignified calmness that excited in the breast of D'Alonville the liveliest emotions of respect for him, and of abhorrence against his murderers. The scene of death was closed—the infatuated multitude that had gazed on it in silence, and were hardly impelled by fear, or induced by the hirelings mingled among them, to cry "Vive la Republique," were dispersed; D'Alonville, with only three or four men to guard him, remained at the window. A man who appeared like a municipal officer came to the door, and made a sign to these guards, who conducted him back to his former dungeon as silently as before, took off his fetters, and left him there shuddering with horror, and more astonished than pleased to him himself yet living. He remained alone, and with no other light than what a thickly-grated window, close to another strong wall, afforded him; till the centinels around the persons had again cried twelve; when two other persons, men whom he had never yet seen, came into his dungeon. They spoke low, and affecting an air of mystery, exhorted him not to make any enquiries, which, they said, would avail him nothing; and once more leading him away, they put him into a small covered cart, to which he was tied. Two men completely armed, placed themselves on each side of him, and the carriage drove away, his guards absolutely refusing to give any account whither he was going. He doubted not, however, but that it was to Paris they were carrying him; and that his sufferings were prolonged, that he might end them on the theatre where so many tragedies had been acted. But why it was worth while
to single him out from so many other prisoners, all of as much, and some of more consequence than himself, he had no means of knowing, and wearied himself with conjectures in vain.