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wore nothing but a single and simple white garment, by no means so neatly finished, or so tastefully worked as a Kentish stock-frock, which, lashed round his waist, reaching nearly to his knees, left his sun-burnt, mahogany-coloured legs bare, his feet bearing sandals of the rudest construction. He also wore a white cap, but neither was it full or pendulous, like the flowing vanity of the Catalonian. The scene was also diversified by the various uniforms of the military, the wide-spreading hats of the canonigos, and here and there, by the beggarly garments of the Carmelite monk, the rope-cinctured grey vest of the Cordellier, and the rosy gills of the jolly Benedictine. But, at this period, monachism was in ill odour, and the brethren moved through the crowd stealthily, casting around them such looks of alarm, as plainly proved that they were not yet ripe for martyrdom. The beggars were bold, vociferous, and elaborately disgusting.
As I looked in silence on this scene, which had all the variety and bizarre appearance of a masquerade, my joy in my native country, which the sight of the females had inspired, was materially diminished; so I strolled forth from this peacock-pacing crowd, who were thus, in full-blown vanity, displaying their fine and their nasty feathers, beyond the lines that surround Barcelona, that I might satiate my gaze upon the noble range of mountains that rose behind the town, and which, extending from north to south, as far as eye can reach, are covered with verdure to their very summits.
There was peace, and even exaltation, in the contemplation. Musing on the singularity of my position, and generally disregarding the heartspoken salutations of the country people whom I met, the sun had nearly hidden himself behind the hills before I thought of turning my face homewards; the consequence of which was, that the evening, with its misty and purpled twilight, had gathered round me, when I found myself under the high promontory, on which the extensive fortifications frown, that command the harbour and awe the city. When I was fairly within the shadow of this cannon-clad hill, it had become so dark, that it was hard to recognize even an acquaintance, and I found, what wanderers are generally apt to do, that I had lost my way. Luckily, I discovered a person enveloped in the usual cloak, and, touching my cocked-hat respectfully, I advanced towards him, in order that I might receive directions how to gain the nearest gate.
“ You are welcome, Sir Student,” said the gentleman, "in the name of St. Luke, and the other holy evangelists," thrusting a Spanish dollar into my hand. “ Now leave me, kind sir, for I would be alone."
By his voice, I immediately knew the speaker to be my benevolent young friend Julien, and mutual explanations and congratulations ensued. He had but a melancholy tale to tell me, for his affairs were in a much more desperate condition than he had supposed, and he had chosen the solitary spot in which I had found him, in order to ruminate upon them without interruption. Our conversation became serious, and when we entered the town, we had left worldly, and were discoursing upon immortal, subjects. Instead of seeking our respective abodes, we paced to and fro till nearly midnight, under the shade of the old cathedral. In this conversation we laid bare our very hearts,
and, as the impression it made upon me had great results upon my after-fate, I shall give a short abstract of it. After we had mutually acknowledged the fathomless love, and the unbounded beneficence of the Creator, and produced some very fine hypotheses upon the existence of evil, which served only to entangle our senses as in a net, Julien, leaning a little more heavily on my arm, to make what he said sufficiently impressive, said, “ Ardent, a state of perfect, unalloyed, and eternal happiness, is inconceivable to the human sense. Bliss, the most ecstatic, the most pure, must, to be appreciated, have something with which to contrast itself. Nothing can measure itself by itself; so, contrary to what many divines have promulgated, I am inclined to think, that, in the blissful state of our after-life, the memory of the woes and tribulations of this miserable world will be permitted to us ; consequently, the good man who has suffered most here, must, necessarily, have a greater portion of happiness hereafter-but I have not advanced this, Troughton, as a dogma of faith, but merely to introduce a subject that has many times given me much pain, and of which you, my dear friend, are the unconscious inflicter."
“I! tell me what you mean immediately.”.
“ Through the horrors of that dreadful shipwreck that you have described to me so vividly, you must, in mind and body, have endured the greatest pangs of which humanity is capable ; that these pangs were such, that state of exhaustion in which you were found sufficiently prove. When you were taken on board our vessel, when your bones had recovered their flesh, your cheek the glow of health, and your mind its serenity, I did expect a greater show of gratitude."
“I ungrateful! O Julien, you crush me to the earth! you annihilate me! rather than you should think so, I would kneel at your feet, and beg of you to slay me.”
“ Not to me—not to me, my Ardent! You owe me nothing. Look up to your heavenly Protector! Could anything that the mind of man can conceive, be more like the contrast of immortal happiness and mortal misery, than this representation of it that you suffered and enjoyed in the sea, and in the ship, below ? and yet you never acknowledged this great mercy in conversation, in public prayer, or, I fear me, in private devotion.”
“ With shame I confess I did not-you search my heart cruelly.”
“ Not cruelly—but most kindiy—most lovingly-most brotherly. Isidora and I did not look for this hardness of heart."
“ Julien, I am debased before you—to-night, in the solitude of my chamber
“ It will not suffice-do it yet it will not suffice. Do you see this noble fane-observe how heaven-ward its time-worn pinnacles aspire. See the glorious moon rising above them, transcendent purity, like a justified soul, that has just thrown off the trammels of the grave. Is there not a holiness shed round this spot-does it not enter your heart ?”
“ It does—but the difference of our faiths ?"
“What of that—are there two faiths in gratitude? If the varieties of faith be varieties of errors of man-if God be truly sought, he will pardon them for the sake of the love he bears him, that made him sacrifice his own Son for man's salvation. Come to him with an honest thirst for truth, and in purity of spirit ; and though your intercessions may rise from the foot of the altar of a Roman Catholic church, depend upon it, that they will be acceptable."
“O Julien ! surely you do not wish to convert me ?”
“God forbid ! if we Catholics are sinners in our multiplied rites and ceremonies, I ask you, a sinner yourself, to come to-morrow and kneel amongst us. The fumes of superstition that you think do, and that I candidly confess may, surround the prayers that we utter, rest assured, that if these prayers come in a contrite spirit from the heart, ere they reach the roof of that holy building, in the eye of the Allmerciful, they will be purified. This noble pile is dedicated to God first, and next especially to Nostra Señora de la Mar. To-morrow, at noon, there will be a grand procession to her honour. All seafaring men, who have made vows in the hour of danger, will come and bring their offerings to the Virgin. Ardent Troughton, for the sake of your friend--for the sake of your immortal soul, enter with these devout men; for who has been more miraculously preserved than yourself?”
“ And smile not, Ardent, at the many absurdities you will see. They are not of the spirit, yet they assist a sluggish soul to awake to a sense of piety. The tinsel, and the banners, and the frankincense, and the relics---look upon them as types or as vain things it matters not, only be there."
“ I will."
“ And do not despise the humble offerings of the weather-beaten seaman."
“I will be there, Julien, and will also bring my offering a repentant and a subdued heart.”
Each of us were moved; we bade God mutually to bless us, and sought our homes.
That fatal promise! Better had I perished with James Gavel in the sea than I had made it-better had I died that night, when I had recommended myself to heaven, than to have kept it. Fool that I was to listen to the well-meant sophistries of my friend! What had I to do with this popish masquerading? With wilful blindness I rushed
upon my fate.
The next morning, when the flush of enthusiasm had subsided, bitterly did I repent having made the promise to go and worship in a Romish church. I remembered me of almost the last words that the good old merchant Falcke had spoken to me at parting. Still I held my promise to be sacred. I resolved so much to abstract myself in prayer and pious contemplation that the passing pageantry around should be lost upon me.
Having written a full account of all my adventures to my late principal, my father's agent, Mr. Falcke, and detailing to him exactly my present position, and requiring him either to send out one of his sons to arrange matters, or such vouchers as would fully identify me with my father, and enable him to recover the insurance upon the lost brig Jane and her cargo, about noon I repaired to the church of Nostra Señora de la Mar.
On my way thither, I passed by the procession, but I studiously avoided looking at it, and entered the church, where I was almost alone. I knelt before the superb altar-piece, and I trust that, for what I there did, my Protestant friends will not condemn me. Thus having kept faith with Julien, though the illiberal may think that I endangered my own, I was about to depart, when the clangor of musical instruments and the loud braying of trumpets, arrested my steps. The wide doorway of the church was immediately filled up with a dense and gorgeous procession, of which it would be idle to describe all the details: suffice it to say, that it was a mixture of grandeur and absurdity. Various saints, both male and female, rudely carved, highly rouged, and dressed after the most recent fashion, were borne in cars on men's shoulders: there were relics and there were banners in profusion. Towering above the rest was a colossal figure fourteen feet high, meant, heaven only knows by what association of ideas, for St. Joseph, for it was dressed in a vivid and light green coat, breeches of the most eye-irritating crimson, and yellow Hessian boots, whilst upon his head he carried the true Spanish hat, adorned by a splendid white plume. The skill of the sculptor in wood not being at all equal to his piety, the whole figure was misshapen and the countenance ludicrously ugly. However, as this worthy saint carried his face so high above the heads of all the others, the devout spectators bowed theirs down the more lowly to him. Among other vanities, I noticed that there was in the centre of the pageant, a highly-decorated and lofty but untenanted
But there was one part of this procession that had in it a touching interest, and that was some thirty honest-looking sailors, who advanced, in the midst of this mummery, up the aisle, to lay their offerings at the feet of our Lady of the Sea. Stern and rough as were their features, there was not a dry eye among them. They were grateful ; and gratitude is a prayer and an incense that the Omnipotent will always accept. It is true, that they thought more cunningly to propitiate that awful Being by offering at the shrine of the Virgin mother wax candles of various sizes, little waxen and tawdrily-attired saints, and, what the pious padres valued much more, sundry small canvas bags of silver coin. Still, in this part of the ceremony, and in the deportment of the mariners, there was something imposing. Not one of them who had not been snatched by the hand of Providence into safety from the gaping deep, or the horrible death of the wave-lashed rock. Though this honest crew were flanked on each side by some bushels of decay-eaten bones, all gifted with the power of miracle-working, and were surrounded by a band of brawny fellows, each carrying an immense wax candle ten feet high and of a proportionate thickness, the unlit end of each of these candles being fixed in a socket on the knee of the bearer, and belted, for more security, round his waist ; though a thousand other fooleries equally grotesque and ridiculous accompanied this exhibition, I felt no inclination to mock, no disposition to deride.
The offerings of these worthy fellows were received on an immense octagon-shaped silver plateau, carried by eight priests, in snow-white vestments. When each votary had deposited his tribute, I thought
that the show was over, and again rose from my knees to depart. Would that I had gone! Would that I had then known I stood upon the crisis of my fate !
A sudden and triumphant peal of the organ fixed me to the spot. The lofty and carved gothic roof shook to the harmonious echoes, and the ground vibrated under my feet as if it partook of the divine melody. Then rose the choral hymn to the Virgin mother—the young, the beautiful, the blessed! As the spirit of purified love they saluted her-with endearing, familiar, household expressions, they called upon her for her intercessions. They intreated that her beneficence might breathe over the sea, and that, as she herself had been mortal, she would still remember them in her beatified immortality. True it is that this exulting hymn was chaunted forth in rhyming monkish Latin; but it expressed the sentiments clearly, forcibly, and tenderly, and the music was sublime, and the choir excellent.
At each verse, the eight priests ascended one of the marble steps of the high altar, bearing with them the plateau of offerings, and on every step, as they gained it, they bent on one knee, lifting up their eyes with looks of devout supplication towards the altar-piece, which represented the Virgin with the halo of beauty and innocence around her. My eyes were directed towards her countenance, which was exquisite; and I almost deemed that such an ineffable expression of graciousness deserved the idolatry that was paid to it. In the mean time the acolytes surrounded the altar, and the officiating ministers with the fragrant smoke of frankincense, which, gradually spreading over the whole building, ascended in graceful volumes among the rich carved work of the roof, and finally threw a haze of sublimity about the procession that deprived it at once of incongruity. The scene began to make upon me a painful impression :- I trembled my heart fluttered --the tears were in my eyes—I was strongly tempted to relieve the oppressive rapture that overpowered me by a wild shout, when, as the priests had gained the highest step, and they, with the picture, were almost lost in a glorious cloud of fragrance, organ and choir rang out in reverberating peals of tuneful thunder-Ave Maria, hallelujah! A strong light burst forth from behind the altar-piece, and a living, a breathing divinity seemed to descend and bless the offerings.
It was jugglery-it was enchantment !
All the congregation were prostrate in an instant– I fell on my knees, but I bowed not my head. I was fascinated. Every faculty of my being had rallied to my eyes. There smiled before me the impersonation of faultless beauty; but it was a beauty that seemed to have been created with my own soul from the beginning of all time, and, now first ushered into mortal life, demanded the long-withheld sympathy, the adoration and the love of the slave that was called with it into being to serve it.
How this prodigy of excelling loveliness was attired, I knew not ; by what trick she was conveyed through the opening canvas of the altar-piece, or in what manner, after receiving and blessing the offerings, she was borne to the triumphal car in the midst of the procession, near as I was, I never sought to discover; all that I know is, that, when she was paraded round the church, I kept as close to her