Page images

* Go to,-thou wily Fiend,”—the sable stranger cried,
Contempt upon his lip as frowning he replied;
" Think not to veil thy guilt, this scroll can prove full well
How young Colonna's Lord beneath thy poisons fell;
And many a victim more is written here by thee,
In letters dark and strange,-yet not unknown to me!
Thou wert Toffania's charge,-to thee her arts are known;
Then strike as I command, or be thyself o'erthrown.”
As o'er the traveller lone, through mountain wilds who roves,
The dreadful snow-wreath hangs, and swiftly onward moves,
In vain his fate be flies, for Death his path has crost,
He trembles and it yields,-it falls. and he is lost :-
'Twas thus Muerta saw bis hidden crimes display'd,
And terror blanch'd his cheek, and guilt his soul dismay'd ;,
His mask was torn away, his veil was rent apart,
And thus he shew'd the fiend that dwelt within his heart.

[ocr errors]

“ Down, Conscience, down ;-Remorse, thou ghastly shade, begone !
Let others fear thee who thy sway despotic own;
But such as bravely dare above thy bonds to rise,
May mock thy keenest pangs, thy terrors may despise:
Shall I then, who have long the path of evil trod,
Gold for my hope and heaven,- Ambition for my God;
Shall I, when yet the streams of wealth may round me flow,
To Virtue bow me down !-No! by Apollyon, No!
Come what come will, I stand with Guilt enroll'd anew,
I will not shrink from aught which thou can'st bid me do:
Place gold before mine eyes, or power within my grasp,
And Fiends or Angels I alike with joy will clasp :
For, Oh the hours of want and famine I have known,
When Sorrow and Disease had mark'd me for their own,
Would shake the firmest faith that ever man received,
And make it worship aught that pity'd or relieved.”
“Now is thine heart unveil'd,” replied the dark unknown.
“ Muerta, now thy brave and reckless soul is shewn;
That never quail'd at guilt, nor ever blench'd with fear,
Though witness oft to that which fiends would shrink to hear.
Of that no more, thou’rt mive :-Thou know'st this City round,
The swift-destroying sword of Pestilence is found;
Yet there are some to whom Death has not yet come nigh,
But thou their Leech sball be,--and mark me,--they shall die.
Brief is my tale ; I came from bright Italia's land,
Where nature smiles, and shines, and scatters from her hand
Her never-failing gifts, from boundless stores above,
To form one blissful year of pleasure and of love.
There was I rear'd, my name,-ELVIRA DE LA MARE!
Nay, start not,--although now a gallant's dress I wear ;
Believe a greater change hath passion often wrought,
And direfal was the intent with which this garb I sought
In that luxurious clime, where love bath linger'd long
In looks of ladies eyes, and many a midnight song ;
Where all things seem but made to cast their spells around,
A climate of delight, a sweet enchanted ground;
There, unto beauty's power a greater worth is given,
Than riches, fame, or name, prosperity, or heaven!
And one fair rival's face which other's eyes controuls
Will be the fatal wreck of hearts, and lives, and souls.

When life was fresh and I was bright in female charms,
Then young Colonna's Lord soughi bliss within mine arms;
I heard him and believed, but tempted from my side
Thy drafts revenged me well, he left me,- and he died !
Now would I seek thy skill, on one whose bappy hour
As yet hath raised him o'er the Plague's destroying power,
LORD ALMERIC Fitz-MARCK, on whom my love was cast,
But he, unyielding fool, that opening love could blast.”

Rejoice then o'er him now,” the dark Muerta said,
“ Think on his crime no more, or view him as the dead;
For such he soon shall be : This glass secure doth hide
That fluid brcatbed by some, of London's plague who died !
A subtle poison Gill'd, as optic art hath shewn,
With fearful monstrous forms almost to earth unknown;
One drop, and one alone, the Pest will through him pour,
And in one little bour Fitz-Marck shall be no more."

What skills it now to tell, bow murder stain'd again
Muerta's guilty soul, that conscience smote in vain;
Or how he gold amass'd, from those whose lives decay'd
By his accursed arts, more swift than nature badc;
Or how beneath his care, one MAGDALENA rose
From keencst want to wealth in London's year of woes :
At length the Pest decay'd, and Death decreased his claims,
But London wept again to see her streets in lames,
Time rolld away before that mourning City rear'd
Her head from fire and death, and joy again appear'd
Within her rising scats, whose glories burst anew
O'er many a ruin dark, and dreadful still to view :
So did the sun arise in brightness on that ground
Where Sodom lay o'erthrown with livid flames around;
So direful was the sight that either scene could shew,
Beauty and grace above,-blackness and smoke below.
Time roll'd it's course away, and as it onward past,
O'er London's former woes a deepening veil was cast,
Till with fresh glories rear'd, each dark and fearful scene,
Forgotten or unknown, seem'd scarcely to have been ;
Save where of ancient form some dwellings there were shewn,
That even London's tļames had not yet overthrown;
Which still retain'd the cross of pestilence display'd,
As if preserved to shew where death his seat bad made.
'Twas night at such a time, but such a night as seems:
Only a milder veil for day's effulgent beams;
'Twas night, and heaven ou bigh her silver lamp bad hung,
And slumber closed each eye, and silence chain'd each tongue
The Priest had clasp'd his book, the Lady's lute was still,
And all things look'd as though the world were void of ill;
When through the lovely calm a voice was heard to break,
And fear was in it's sounds, for words like these it spake,
“ What ho! Awake within! Bjd Paul the Priest arise,
For there is one who now at life's departure lies,
Whose rack'd tormented soul seeks vainly Death's embrace,
Till true confession shall it's former life retrace :
Then haste,-in pity haste, for nature trembling hangs,
Alike too weak to die or live beneath her pangs ;
Oh! haste, in pity haste--for ne'er did dying hour
Affright the sinner with such azonizing powor."

At noon or night prepared in virtue's cause to rise,
The Priest awoke, and chased sleep's slumbers from his eyes,
Then follow'd where he led who late those slumbers broke,
Yet not one word of aught save salatation spoke :
His soul seem'd musing deep, to arm it for the fight-
With that dark wily fiend who grieved the parting sprite ;
Then as he pass'd the porch, he said, “May Heaven release
They who in anguish weep, and in this house be peace!"
It was an ancient pile, that rear'd it's form on high,
With battlements antique against the midnight sky;
"Twas lonely, but around a gloomy grandeur threw
A dark imposing air, yet blent with beauty too :
The door they pass'd, and soon the sick before them lay,
But ere the Priest began in fervent terms to pray,
The wretched victim cried, “ Ere life and desh be cold,
Let my last dying words to sacred ears be told.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Oh! there are crimes beyond the reach

Of mercy, penitence, or prayer ;
That scorch the heart, and chain the speech,

Whose only prospect is despair !
And they who would of virtue teach

Should turn the sinner's glances there.
Then would they see that hell of mind

In which all guilty hearts are bound;
The joys united earth can find

Can never heal it's burning wound,

Nor for one moment still the sound
Of that deep voice whose tones remind
That pangs more keen and longer are behind !
But all my lamentations now

E'en as my bopes of beaven are vain;
"Tis left me only to avow

My crimes that bidden yet remain :
To speak of that immortal stain

Which is upon my breast,
Then rush to an eternal chain,

To death;-bnt not to rest.
It chanced, that while our City lay
In sackcloth, mourning, and dismay,
And I in Want and Famine crost
Half deem'd my sinking life was lost,
--And would that it bad but been so,
And would that death had struck the blow,
That one from Spain, who long had tried
The arts by which mankind bave died ;
Who knew Toffania's secrets well,
Who studied in St. Croix' dark cell,
With cursed Brinvilliers traced the way
For life in languor to decay,
Came to my hovel to propose

The purpose of a fiend;
That I should nurse and murder those,
Who lay in pestilential throes,
Should hasten on of life the close,

And bring them to their end !
Then when the wretched victim's breath
Was passing, ere they stretch'd in death,
I caught the baneful foam that hung
On the pale lips and livid tongue,

And by that deadly fluid's pow'r,
I hasten'd many a parting hour;
For but one drop the life would chill,
And baffle all of human skill,
When death had seized his early prey
The spoil was our's, for none would stay
Within those dwellings where the Pest
Had been but for an hour a guest,
But that Muerta, -cursed name!
Procured a drug of wondrous fame,
Whose power was such as to defy
That swift and fearful malady;
And we, if gold could e'er have blest
Those who by sin that gold possest,
Might have rejoiced; but Oh! it feil
Like treasures burning fresh from hell;
For thus the Fiend his gifts controuls,
But takes the forfeit of our souls.
E'en so we batten'd on the prey
That sick or dead around us lay,
And fed upon the vital stream
That flow'd within the hearts of them,
Oh! if from the eternal world
The guilty soul be backward hurl'd,
To act again in mortal sphere
The crimes that once defaced it here,
Then will Muerta's, and mine own,
Like sanguine Vampire Sprites be shewn,
To feed on blood till time shall be
Swallow'd in immortality.
Ere yet Muerta's spirit Ned,
In his last anguish thus he said:
• 0, Magdalena! lad I seen
The torments of those Furies keen,
Who rend the dying sinner's heart,
I had not ta'en that awful part
Which blasts all hope, nor drawn thee in
To acts of deepest foulest sin :
But poverty around me prest,
My heart was broke, my soul distrest,
And one who knew my life of shamc,
A proud, imperious, jealous dame,
Elvira de la Mare her name,
Employ'd me as her Leech to send
Iler hated rivals to their end!
I was revenged on her, for fear
Is ever following guilt's career,
And lest she e'er these acts should tell,
E'en by my drafts Elvira fell!
He ceased, and death but yesterday
To judgment summon’d him away ;
For I, this wretched life to save,
By poison hurl'd him to the grave;
Yet vainly :-for his hand to me
Hath given the same :—thus should it be
Muerta,--now I come to thee!"

Then came the Death-sliriek's awful close ;

And Oh! those tones spread far and wide; And to this hour the building shows

Where LONDON'S VAMPIRES lived and died.


NOTES. The crimson Cross of Death.- In the orders which King Charles II. issned for the prevention and care of the Pestilence, it was directed, that all visited, or infected, houses should be designated by a red Cross of a foot in length, and a bill on which was written, “ Lord have mercy upon us.”

Who that Elixir form'.--This alludes to the Acqua Toffania, a secret poison common in Italy about the middle of the seventeenth century; by which persons were enabled to kill their enemies with the utmost privacy and certainty, at any distance of time.

A subtle poison filld, as optic art hath sheun,

With fearful monstrous forms almost to earth unknown. Iu “ The City Remembrancer," Lond. 1769, 8vo. Vol. 1. p. 129, it is related, that in 1665, some supposed that infection might be discovered, by the breath being cast upon a piece of glass, “ where the breath condensing, there might be seen by a microscope, living creatures of strange, monstrous, and frightful shapes, like dragons, snakes, serpents, &c."


(Continued from page 131.) AT the period that I became the sub- rience any regret in the change. jeet of your compassionate notice, and it was now that I expected to feel of Mr. Jerningham's bounty, said Mr. the value of Mr. Jerningham's geH. I had just attained the fourteenth nerosity; and determined, when I year of my age ; but, though the eldest should arrive in a strange place, to of my family, was so grossly ignorant, turn to some account the five pounds as to be unacquainted even with the that I had hitherto kept updiminished letters of the alphabet ; the result in my own possession. You will think of the state of extreme indigence in it, probably, very selfish and unfeeling, which we lived, and of my having that, with the pressing wants of my been considered, by my father and family daily before me, I had not mother, as totally devoid of the na been induced to share with them my tural abilities of boys of my age. little hoard of wealth ; but there were By the neighbours in general, too, two considerations which restrained I was regarded as so inveterately stu ine from doing this: firstly, the dreadpid, that from the dulness of my com ed chastisement of my carelessness; prehension, and the heaviness of my and, secondly, your uncle's words, manner, I had acquired, among the when he obliged me to accept his children, the nick-name of " Mopus;" bounty, which remained firmly imfor, instead of joining, whenever I pressed on my memory, though my had an opportunity, in their youth- faculties were not, at that time, fal sports, I had used to slink into sufficiently developed to comprehend a corner, and consume the scarce hour the full extent of their meaning. of leisure in unhealthy and unprofit “ My lad,” said he,

you should able inactivity both of body and mind. get some one to place your five pounds Little did any one imagine, that my into a fund, where it would bear obtuse head contained a talent which interest; which, if allowed to accushould some day make the fortune mulate for the space of twenty years, of my family; and that the seeming would double the principal; whereas, coldness of my heart was merely the if you were to keep it locked up in a disguise of an excessive sensibility, box for twenty years, it would only be which, being ashamed of, as a weak- five pounds at the last." Dess, I endeavoured to hide, by an One day, not long after I had reappearance of sullen apathy.

moved to Yarmouth, while engaged In three days after my memorable in attending on my uncle, who was visit to Atherfield, my uncle, who was employed, with a great many others, a ship-carpenter in the dock-yard at in the construction of an immense Yarmouth, came to our cottage ; and, sloop of war; I overheard one of the to the great delight of my parents, workmen say, “ This will be a brave carried me away, to be his assistant job when 'tis finished.” in his occupation: nor did I expe Ay, faith will it,' replied his comEur. Mag. Vol. 81. March 1822.


« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »