Imágenes de página

that in his face which told glad I am to see you,” he rethat he was a man not only joined, stretching out his hand of high breeding but of lofty to grip mine; adding, after a mind and soul, -one possibly pause, “I suppose I need not capable of strong passions and ask if he is yet living, for he violent acts, but never of any. was not with us in the late thing mean or cruel. You saw rising." that at a glance, but together The late rising ? It had with that you saw something been quelled almost half a else too, that called forth an century ago ! impression so painful, it almost “No," I said ; "he died a amounted to dislike, and was short time before. I was only certainly very different from a child then, but I remember pity or commiseration. His perfectly well that he was brows were contracted into an determined and prepared to everlasting frown; this gave start for Poland at the first him an extraordinary air of news of its outbreak.” fierceness, intensified by the “Poor Severin!” exclaimed long droops of his great white Brontoski. “But I must not moustache. His face was say that. He is happier-far wrinkled into a pattern which happier--to have died in hope, showed plainly what passions as he did. Do you know he had filled the man's life : pride held a candle to me whilst I was visible there, scorn, revolt, looked under the furniture for and along with these the gloom the Grand Duke? Ah! the of a terrible despair. One coward had taken refuge in his could tell, indeed, that their wife's bedroom, and of course object was impersonal, for there no gentleman could follow him was trace of degrading there. Severin and I slept selfishness in those lines. It under the same tent on the eve was a noble despair, a lofty of the battle of Grochow. Did misery; but the misery and he never tell you? Of course despair were there all the same, not; you were so young when and the folds about his lips he died. Well, and so you live especially suggested unutter- here amongst Poles as an Engable bitterness. So did the lishman, and give them lessons eyes, which after one bright of English? And all your life flash, as he welcomed me, re- has been spent in what they sumed their former and usual call 'peace'? But tell me, expression—a fixed gaze of have you never felt what we implacable resentment and

feel, - we of the old times ? defiance. Yet his words were “What you feel, sir," I anat first commonplace enough. swered, “I have felt and feel “ So it was not a mistake?

even now, though much less he said. “You are indeed re- intensely; that goes without lated to Severin ?"

saying. How could it be other“I am his eldest son,—the wise ?" others are dead," I answered. “How indeed ?” he returned “His son! I cannot say how gloomily.

gloomily. “Perhaps you too


[ocr errors]



think of a possible reconcilia- you that name was never to be tion between the sons of the uttered in my hearing! Leave murderers and the new genera- the room at once.

Go!” he tion of Poles," he added, with said, pointing to the door. an obvious allusion to the new She went out, sobbing like a and very unpopular party of scolded child, whilst I looked the “Ugodisci,” who, were it on in amazement. Brontoski, not for their high social posi- controlling himself with tion and their riches, might effort, turned towards me. scarcely be called a party at “I owe you some explana

tion of this disagreeable little "You forget, sir, to whose scene,” he remarked, attemptson you are speaking," I an- ing to smile; "and besides, if swered hastily and in anger; you and I are to be friends, it for the very question sounded is well we should understand in my ears like a suspicion of each other thoroughly. If you treachery, and I lost sight for will look round this room you a moment of the consideration will notice that there are no due to his age.

My words, religious pictures or emblems however, were very far indeed of any sort here.

Nor are from offending him.

there any in the next room "True," he said, “I forgot either." that, and I ask your pardon.

I remembered I had seen Come, let me embrace you after none, and said so. the Polish fashion; it will do “There are none

in any

of me good to embrace Severin's my apartments. So long as I boy-it will put new life into live there shall be none; and I my blood. Though why should intend to be taken to my grave I think of life?” he went on, without any religious rites sinking back on his pillows; whatsoever. Since our late “I have lived too long by more unfortunate rising, I have than forty years. But I am made up my mind entirely on dying now,-I am dying. I that point. Either there is no know it, and am glad to die!” Ruler of the world at all (which,

“O my God! my God !” I think, is far more probable), cried the old woman, who had or, if there is one, He has taken been silent until then, and she sides against us, and upholds burst into a flood of tears. that monster of iniquity, the These words, though to all Russian Empire. Our enemies appearance a very natural out- have crushed us, and He-if break of grief on her part, He exists—not only has allowed affected Brontoski in a most us to be crushed, not only has extraordinary and sinister way. not punished them, but has He suddenly drew himself up made them flourish.

They in bed, his eyes flashing, his have persecuted the Church whole body quivering with in- that is ours and was mine;

He has made them prosper “Vanda, how dare you !” he in all they have done. All cried. “How often have I told their wars have been success

tense anger.

fully waged; cowardly Europe claim to be an especially fervcringes before them, and even ent Catholio, or, in Brontoski's your England is not without words, "a bigot"; but my fear. Well, with all this and sympathies do not go the other the memory of what I have way. And this fury of revolt seen and gone through branded against God, though more than in my mind, this is what I say: once to be met with in the

I If there is an Almighty Being, writings of the national poets, He is unjust. If just, He might seemed portentous and incomwell let us be struck down, for prehensible to my mind. Born we have deserved it; but He and bred in England, I had would most certainly visit our passively accepted all those oppressors, whose guilt is far teachings about Providence greater than ours ever was- and the

fall of a sparrow which and of this I am as sure as

a prosperous nation listens to that the lamp here is burning with natural complacency, but —with a punishment far more which are hard sayings indeed terrible. What then? shall I to è down - trodden people; pray to this Defender of in- especially to the people that in iquity? to the Friend, to the better days, and in defence of Patron, of the Tsar? Never! Christendom against Islam, To such a one I will not pray, literally poured out blood like I will not submit: nothing can water. However, it was clear make me do so. Yes, I know I that a protest would be thrown am dying, but I do not care: I away; 80 I refrained from intend to die as I have lived, in protesting, and merely saidrevolt against the Tsar and all “I do not agree with you; that favours him; and if there but no doubt you have thought be a future world, and I meet the matter out for yourself, there an Almighty One, I shall and are satisfied that you are defy Him then, just as I defy in the right. As for attempting the Tsar now. In short, I do to interfere with your domestic not wish any one to utter that arrangements, it would be an name in conversation with me. impertinence I am not at all You have not the look of a likely to commit." bigoted man; but, at any rate, This appeared to be satisif you care for my friendship, factory to the old Revoluyou are warned. I do not even tionist; and after little allow my niece to practise any further talk on less delicate act of religion in this house topics, I took my leave, promWhat she may do outside does ising to call again. I met not concern me. She is seventy, his niece Vanda in the anteand may believe and perform chamber: she begged me to any fooleries and mummeries come into her room for a short she chooses; but here, in my time, where she at once began own lodgings, I am master." to talk about her uncle, ex

This declaration, I must con- cusing him as best she could. fess, somewhat shocked me at “He is a good man,” she first. I can certainly lay no protested; "it sounds strange,







I know, but he is; yes, and the in Austrian Poland, and thither best of men, if it were not for he might, if he chose, have rethis. If you only know what tired without molestation on he has suffered, you would feel the part of the Government; for him and forgive.

but he preferred to go in I assured her that he had voluntary exile to Paris, where all my sympathy already, and he could assist the poorer that there was no question of refugees with money and adforgiveness; and finding her vice, and live besides in close not averse to further conversa- communion with the leading tion on this subject, soon got spirits of the Polish revolution& clue to the old man's furious ary band. It was there that he hatred for religion. Other met the well-known mystio and Revolutionists had become un- visionary, Andreas Tovianski, concerned or free-thinkers, but whose influence, so deleterious for different reasons ; some, in the case of several Poles of especially priests, were even high literary genius, proved more attached to their faith

in his own. after the insurrection had From this man he got (as he failed; but this man's case thought) the right explanation was peculiar. He had been, it of the inexplicable failure appeared, extremely pious in which had so exercised his his youth, and was even on the faith. He learned, and came point of taking Holy Orders to believe with all his heart, when the insurrection of 1831 that Poland was destined to be broke out. Being no less for nations what Christ had ardent a patriot than zealous been for individual men, and in as a Catholic, he joined it, the same way-by her suffer. identifying the cause of Poland ings, death, and resurrection. with the cause of God. So Poland was the great Martyr convinced

he of this amongst nations, who throughidentity that a prodigy such out the many centuries of her as is related of Sennacherib's life had never been guilty of army, and of Pharaoh in pur- that crime which men name suit of Israel, would scarce conquest, and therefore had have surprised him. In the been chosen, an innocent victim, patriots' acts he saw, and to redeem the sister - peoples could see, nothing but right- from the sin into which all had eousness: how, then, could God fallen. “Poland is dead now,” fail to help them? It hap. Tovianski said; “but, dying pened, therefore, that when he as Christ died, for the sins of had to fly the country, after others, she will rise again, even the great conflagration had as Christ has risen, and this been quenched in blood, his time her life will be immortal faith was sorely shaken. His and her glory supreme. ” Bronproperty, for the most part toski eagerly drank in this consisting of landed estate, was doctrine, and spent his exile


1 Towian'ski,

in dreams of his beloved coun- their cause was the cause of try once more free and great, justice. until he became immovably “But his dreams all came fixed in the belief that God to an end at last,” the old must in His justice grant woman said, her tears welling Poland a marvellous resurrec- up afresh. “I was with him tion, or at least inflict a speedy when he got across the frontier, and dreadful chastisement on and came back to his home her oppressors,-above all, upon here in Galicia. For more than the worst of them.

a month he seemed stupefied, So, when the piteously tragi- and hardly spoke a word to cal insurrection of 1863 broke any one, even to me.

Yet we out, strong in his deep convic- were now all that remained of tion that the hour had struck the family. My father, his only at last, he instantly hurried brother, had died years before from Paris to the plains of in the mines of Siberia, and my Mazovia, that he might, as he mother did not survive him phrased it, “help in rolling very long. I was then thirty, away

the stone from the and was to have been married sepulchre." Patriots around at the close of the insurrection. him talked of an armed inter- But my uncle returned alone. vention, and confidently hoped My husband that was to have that England and France would been—poor Sigismund !--had come to their assistance. He, fallen by his side, shot to the too, thought that this was heart in the woods near Lublin. likely ; but when massacres Yet Ladislaus had not a word and transportations went on of comfort for me. Of course as before, when the insurgents he had not, though he loved me struggled desperately against very tenderly: he could think enormous odds and the West- of nothing but dead and desolate ern Powers made no sign, it Poland, and that thought left is doubtful whether he did no room for any others. think that still preferable. “ But as soon as he seemed Succour, he thought, must to be coming to himself again, come, -it must: if not the arm and when he settled in these of the flesh, then the Almighty lodgings which he has never Power of God-and this would left since, I realised what an be better by far. He had but awful change had come over to will, and in one day a range him. All his hopes, even the of impassable mountains would hope of revenge, were dead. arise between Muscovy and He could not bear to hear of Poland; or the earth might be politics any more, though till rent asunder, and an immense then they had been his very cleft unite the Baltic with the life. Now he would read no Black Sea. Even visions of all newspapers but the old ones, the first-born of Russia slain dating from the days of the in one night flitted before his last insurrection and before eyes. Why not?

Was any

that time. He paid no visits, thing difficult to the Lord ? and would receive but fewHe was justice itself; and mostly veterans, with whom he

« AnteriorContinuar »