ページの画像
PDF
ePub

The unfortunate cripple, broken utterly with this effort, slipped out of the Vagabond's arms, back amid the rushes.

“Her heart is there. Its light breaks through everything. Poor boy, you ask me the thing which cannot-_"

“Cannot !” Dame Rebecca's son started to his feet, in a frenzy, in which the rage matched the grief.

The Vagabond stretched out his arms to soothe him ; but the boy” (he was far past fifty, and still to the ancient traveller he was a child) drew quickly back, and glared at him.

You my best friend! Where is the picture, then?”

"By your mother's wish it lies upon her bosom, and will be buried with her.”

You my best friend !” was the answer, with that laugh which expresses the uttermost depth of grief. The cripple seized the book at the Vagabond's elbow, hurled it to the further end of the refectory and scrambled away.

The Lady of Charity who met him at the door, and for whom he had a loving reverence that was inexpressibly beautiful to see, spoke and was unheeded. A distant door was slammed, startling the stillness.

“He will be better there, with the nurses.”

The Lady of Charity was unruffled; being beyond, above grief. She had purged sorrow of all its earthliness; and through pain, which only the most gifted in heart know, she had risen to a level, whence she could be the steady ministrant of comfort to her kind. been said: “The sorrow that deepens not love, and runs not off with it, must ever flood the spirit and bear it down. Our best and sweetest life, that which we live in the good of others, is richly stocked with charities.”b Therefore, the holiest nurse is calmest. She minds not that her hands are puddled in the sweat of death : she breathes freely in the stifling room : her serene eye looks down upon pain. Love has borne her to a tranquil place between heaven and earth, just prone enough to mankind to let her hand reach the pillow, and her voice the aching ear.

The Lady of Charity sate, presiding over the first repast of the day when Dame Rebecca was to be buried; and ate the broken bread and spare morsels from the platters of her poor, among her Sisters, with her daily appetite, neither more nor less. Custom had not staled her heart ; love and faith had carried it to a safe place.

But the Christian Vagabond ate not with his usual zest that day.

b Herman Hooker's “ The Uses of Adversity.”

“I am sick, Sister Charity," he confessed; "for I have had a disturbed night, dreaming of memories which crowd the girdle of pilgrims' footsteps I have stretched round the world, cast hotch-potch together."

The Field of Rest lay through the Chapel. From the Chamber of Death to the Chapel entrance, the Sisters of the Garden had, it has been already said, strewn the way with lily leaves; and again, from the Chapel to the grave. Two Sisters had sate by the bier, while the rest who could be spared from the beds of the sick, were at the morning meal. At its close, the Lady of Charity went forth into the quadrangle, and the Sisters followed to where baskets of bread, of baked meats, of comforts of many kinds, were distributed near the dead.

By the Lady of Charity, at her elbow, the Christian Vagabond walked, holding his staff across his breast. The sick who could leave their chambers—the women from the eastern, the men from the western wings; came hobbling, crawling along, or wheeled upon chairs, or supported by Sisters. The broad entrance to the north was opened, showing the olive grove. Thence the poor of the world without came, and made a semicircle in the quadrangle : a most motley, weird company, upon which an imaginative mind would have speculated for many hours.

In the presence of the dead, Charity was extended to the living. The Lady of Charity and her Sisters, in silence gave to each of the poor the needful help of food and comfort. In no hap-hazard fashion, forgetting the humble and shame-faced, and ministering to counterfeit woe and lying tale; but after anxious counsel, and under due conditions. He was a thorough cripple who got a crutch.

The organ's tones vibrated upon the impressive scene, and the voices of the Sisters sang with a sweet and quiet sadness. The gifts distributed, the Lady of Charity, attended by the Christian Vagabond, led the way to the Chapel over the fresh lily leaves. It was the privilege of poor folk, whom Sister Charity singled out for the honour, to guide the bier, that moved upon broad wheels, silent as a nurse's slipper, to the Chapel. Among the bearers were men and women, who had themselves been waiting long in the vestibule of death. The maimed; the enfeebled; the blind; the dumb. The Chapel was filled with Charity. The poor prayed for the poor: for a child of poverty they had brought to be buried.

Silently, as in the early dawn, the Sisters had issued from their rooms, the crowd dispersed. The outer-world poor passed through the quadrangle, with their gifts, to the olive grove : the gates were

closed : the Sisters took up their duties where they had left them : and the Christian Vagabond patiently picked up the book which had been thrown amid the rushes, and smoothed it anew upon his knees.

That night the ashes of Dame Rebecca lay in the Chapel. On the morrow, an hour after sunrise, they were borne through to the Field of Rest; and the Lady of Charity stood at the head of the grave, and the Christian Vagabond at its foot, while mother earth received the mortal part of Dame Rebecca.

From the grave the Vagabond strode to the room where Rebecca's cripple son abode. He was gone.

(To be continued.)

BY ORDER OF THE KING.

(L'Homme qui Rit.)

A ROMANCE OF ENGLISH HISTORY: BY VICTOR HUGO.

PART II.-BOOK THE FOURTH.

(Continued.)

CHAPTER III.

LEX, REX, FEX.

NEXPLAINED arrest, which would greatly astonish

an Englishman now-a-days, was then a very usual proceeding of the police. Recourse was had to it, notwith

standing the Habeas Corpus Act, up to George II.'s time, especially in such delicate cases as were provided for by lettres de cachet in France; and one of the accusations against which Walpole had to defend himself was that he had caused or allowed Neuhoff to be arrested in that manner. The accusation was probably without foundation, for Neuhoff, King of Corsica, was put in prison by his creditors.

These silent captures of the person, very usual with the Holy Vehme in Germany, were admitted by German custom, which rules one half of the old English laws, and recommended in certain cases by Norman custom, which rules the other half. Justinian's chief of the palace police was called "Silentiarius Imperialis.The English magistrates who practised the captures in question relied upon numerous Norman texts :- Canes latrant, sergentes silent. Sergenter agere, id est tacere. They quoted Lundulphus Sagax, paragraph 16: Facit Imperator silentium. They quoted the charter of King Philip in 1307: Multos tenebimus bastonerios qui, obmutescentes, sergentare valeant. They quoted the statutes of Henry I. of England, cap. 53 : Surge signo jussus Taciturnior esto. Hoc est essc in captione regis. They took advantage especially of the following prescription, held to form part of the ancient feudal franchises of England :-“Sous les

viscomtes sont les serjans de l'espée, lesquels doivent justicier vertueusement à l'espée tous ceux qui suient malveses compagnies, gens diffamez d'aucuns crimes, et gens fuites et forbannis .... et les doivent si vigoureusement et discrètement apprehendés, que la bonne gent qui sont paisibles soient gardez paisiblement, et que les malfeteurs soient espoantés.” To be thus arrested was to be seized “à le glaive de l'espée.” (Vetus Consuetudo Normanniæ, MS. part 1, sect. 1, ch. 11.) The jurisconsults referred besides "in Charta Ludovici Hutini pro Normannis," chapter Servientes spatha. Servientes spathe, in the gradual approach of base Latin to our idioms, became sergentes spade.

These silent arrests were the contrary of the Clameur de Haro, and gave warning that it was advisable to hold one's tongue until such time as light should be thrown upon certain matters still in the dark. They signified questions reserved, and showed in the operation of the police a certain amount of raison d'état.

The legal term “private" was applied to arrests of this description. It was thus that Edward III., according to some chroniclers, caused Mortimer to be seized in the bed of his mother, Isabella of France.

This, again, we may take leave to doubt ; for Mortimer sustained a siege in his town before his capture.

Warwick, the king-maker, delighted in practising this mode of "attaching people." Cromwell made use of it, especially in Connaught; and it was with this precaution of silence that Trailie Arcklo, a relation of the Earl of Ormond, was arrested at Kilmacaugh.

These captures of the body by the mere motion of justice, represented rather the mandat de comparution than the warrant of arrest, Sometimes they were but processes of inquiry, and even argued, by the silence imposed upon all, a certain consideration for the person seized. For the mass of the people, little versed as they were in the estimate of such shades of difference, they had peculiar terrors.

It must not be forgotten that in 1705, and even much later, England was far from being what she is to-day. The general features of its constitution were confused and, at times, very oppressive. Daniel Defoe, who had himself had a taste of the pillory, characterises the social order of England, somewhere in his writings, as the "iron hands of the law.” There was not only the law, there was its arbitrary administration. We have but to recall Steele, ejected from Parliament; Locke, driven from his chair ; Hobbes and Gibbon, compelled to flight; Charles Churchill, Hume, and Priestley, persecuted ; John Wilkes, sent to the Tower. The task would be a long one, were we to count over the victims of the statute against seditious

« 前へ次へ »