« 前へ次へ »
in the front. All remained still, and he attempted again, and, this second time, with better fortune. He gained as before the bottom of the first floor window, and swaying himself up by his hands, succeeded in getting outside it. He raised it with cautious hand, and moving forward with stealthy pace, entered the room, without even disturbing O'Reilly, who had again fallen into a deep sleep.
The room was wrapt in complete darkness. He groped about until he came to the corner where the prisoner slept, and he knew that he had found the object of his search by stumbling over him, The chains rattled with a clanking sound, which drove a cold pang of terror into Mulvany's bosom. Loud as it rung on his alarmed ears, it was, however, so slight as to be quite unheard outside. His next fear was that the sleeper, on being awakened, might make some exclamation that would mar the enterprise, Gently, therefore, as a mother rouses her sleeping child, he shook him, and took care that the first sound he heard should be " Be silent--I am a friend-Mulvany;" In spite of the precaution, O'Reilly started, and could hardly imagine that he was not still dreaming. In a minute Mulvany had told him every thing, and proposed to him to lose no time in effecting his escape.
6 How is it to be done?” said O'Reilly, “ I am fettered hand and foot, and the weight of my chains is such that I can scarcely move under them.”
“ That,” whispered his friend, “ I have thought of. Take this file, or rather let me use it, and we shall soon make your manacles of no avail.” He was as good as his word; but the labour was tedious, and not a stir could be made that did not appear to them as a sure precursor to discovery and destruction. An hour, however, had not elapsed before the leg-fetters were so far filed off as to enable O'Reilly to walk, and the hands, though still surrounded with the rings of his hand-cuffs, were free. That being done, how was the escape to be effected ? To go through the window, by which Mulvany had entered, would be useless. They could not pass through the guard house, and if even they succeeded in gaining the top of the high wall behind, it would be impossible to get down the steep which it bordered without loss of life. They were for some minutes disconsolate, when O'Reilly recollected that there was a fire-place in the room.
The chances were, that the chimney was unbarred. At all events, it was worth trying ; and, accordingly, they proceeded to attempt climbing it.
It was one of those wide old-fashioned chimneys which admitted the passage of a man. Mulvany, as being unincumbered with irons, mounted first, and his friend followed close. With difficulty they crept up, torn by the irregular building of its “ the parapet
wall, and half-smothered by soot and dirt; but, at length, they arrived at the summit, and, as they anticipated, no bars opposed their passage. They emerged carefully. The next step was indeed one of danger. Neither knew the construction of the roof,—it was parapetted they were sure, but to what extent they could not even conjecture. The intense darkness prohibited them from guessing how far they had to drop, or whether the part of the roof on which they had to fall was sloping or not. If they fell off the roof, death was inevitable; the house being at least sixty feet high. Determination, however, was necessary, and that speedily. “ I shall try it,” said O'Reilly, “ I may as well be dashed to pieces as hanged. I shall drop, and by my success, you may decide as to your own conduct. Before his friend could reply, the thing was done. Letting himself down his whole length, he dropped. The roof sloped as they had dreaded, and down he rolled, but fortunately the parapet was of sufficient height to protect him. He fell inside, repelled with great force, and thereby, as Homer would have said, escaped black death.
Mulvany listened to his fall, and halloed as loud as he dared, to inquire if he was safe. “ Yes," was the reply, is high enough ; but take care of the slanting roof.” He immediately made the attempt, and succeeded better than O'Reilly. He came on the ridge-tiles, and carefully crept down to the parapet, where he joined his companion. Their course was now comparatively clear. They would find little difficulty in passing to the roof of the neighbouring house, to which they therefore moved carefully along. An accident nearly discovered them. As they groped by the parapet, O'Reilly's hand shook down a loose stone, and it came thundering to the ground, just at the feet of two sentries parading below. 66 Who
there?"" said one. “ One," replied the other," who will not answer you. It is the wind, you fool."
“ I'll fire,” said the first, “ if not answered. Somebody is giving us the slip."
“ Fire, if you like,” said the other, 6 and make an ass of yourself, which indeed is needless, as you are one already. You would make a pretty sentinel, if you were to fire at every blast of wind that sings by your ear.”
The first sentry growled, but was persuaded, and continued his march up and down without farther argument. The fugitives above had no other interruption. They entered the next house by a sky-light, and proceeded hastily down stairs. The inmates were asleep, and they gained the yard undisturbed. Their knowledge of the localities of the city informed them, that
the back of this house looked over the hill side, where the steep, sloping gradually, was accessible, if somewhat dangerous. A small quay was below, at which a ferryman plied his poor trade. This therefore was their line of escape. The wall was easily scaled, and they fearlessly jumped on the ground below. Half staggering, half rolling, they came to the bottom, and immediately found the boat. They tore it from its moorings,-it was no time to discuss questions of property, -and, seizing the oars, rowed rapidly down the river. About three miles' rowing brought them to a house where they could venture to ask admittance, and, as the day had dawned for some time, though still it was very dark, and overcast with clouds, they knocked, and were answered from the window above by the owner himself. Gloomy as the light was, they made themselves known at once by communicating the word which marked them as initiated. He hastened to admit them, astonished at their escape. They turned the boat to the mercy of the current, and entered. He protected them till night set in again, and they then, venturing on the river, made their way to the harbour, where an American vessel, bound for Lisbon, took them on board, and secreted them, till out of the jurisdiction of England.
The next day, when the escape was discovered, the astonishment of all parties may be conceived. The sheriff had seen the prisoner at two in the morning safely chained. The sentries had not been alarmed. It was evident that the chains had been filed, but how or by whom it was impossible to guess. The ferryman attributed the loss of his boat to the violence of the storm; and, as it was found adrift about seven . miles lower down, he never doubted that he was right in his conjecture. Suspicion fell on various individuals, but the mystery was never cleared up, until by the fugitives themselves in letters to their friends at home. Mulvany never told how he had got into the prison, and nobody was more perplexed how to account for it than the worthy bailiff himself who had admitted him, and he, you may
be sure, kept the secret till his death.
What became of them ?
They got to Lisbon, whence Mulvany went to America, rose to some eminence there in the law, but was shot in a duel. I forget for what.
And the other ?
His fate was more singular. It is odd enough, that three years ago I had told this story of the escape of these men to a Roman Catholic priest, who had returned from Portugal to his native country. “ I can finish the story for you,
said he, O'Reilly's narrow escape had not taught him caution. When VOL. III. PART II.
the French advanced on Portugal in 1808, he was living in the frontier town of Elvas, and he had the temerity to enter into a correspondence with them. It was intercepted. The populace rose in rage against him, and dragged him out of his house. I stood by him, and endeavoured to mitigate their anger, but in vain : I almost implicated myself in his fate. They, after cuffing and kicking him most unmercifully, cut him literally in pieces with their knives, and I was spattered all over by his blood. They kicked his mangled remains through the town, and flung them into the river. Such was the end of O'Reilly.”
The cottage never was again inhabited. It gradually became qut of repair, and is now in the condition in which you see it.
The hare may kittle on its hearth-stane,
TALE OF A CHEMIST.
The advancement of knowledge is the triumph of truth, and, as such, is the eventual interest of mankind; inasmuch as the extension of reason is by its very definition the necessary object of rational beings. Timid theologians have trembled on the confines of some topics which might lead to dangerous discovery; forgetful that religion and truth, if not identical, are at least inseparable
. Some nice and sensitive chemists have forborne the search of the ne plus ultra in alchemy, dreading that as gold is the great fountain of wickedness on earth, the indefinite increase of that metal might be the unlimited multiplication of human evil : but forgetting that in all human affairs, from fluids up to theories, there is a specific gravity in all things which keeps constant the level of terrestrial operations, and prevents the restless brain of man from raising any edifice, in brick or discovery, high enough to be the ruin of his own species. To me, however, the one consideration, that the eternal search of knowledge and truth is the very object of our faculties, has been the main
spring of my life, and although my individual sufferings have been far from light, yet at their present distance the contemplation gives me pleasure, and I have the satisfaction to reflect that I am now in possession of an art which is continually employed, day and night, for the benefit of the present generation and of ages yet to come.
I was born in the Semlainogorod of Moscow; and for ten years applied intensely to chemistry. I confess the failure of many eminent predecessors prevented my attempting the philoso
pher's stone; my whole thoughts were engaged on the contemplation of gravity-on that mysterious invisible agent which pervaded the whole universe—which made my pen drop from my fingers--the planets move round the sun-and the very sun itself, with its planets, moons, and satellites, revolve for ever, with myriads of others, round the final centre of universal gravity,--that mysterious spot, perhaps the residence of those particular emanations of Providence which regard created beings. At length I discovered the actual ingredients of this omnipresent agent. It is little more than a combination of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and azote; but the proportions of these constituent parts had long baffled me; and I still withhold them from my species for obvious reasons.
Knowledge is power, and the next easy step from the discovery of the elements, was the decomposition of gravity, and the neutralization of its parts in any substance at my pleasure. I was more like a lunatic than a rational chemist ;-a burning furor drove me to an immediate essay of my art, and
stripped me of the power and will to calculate on consequences. Imagine me in my laboratory. I constructed a gravitation-pump-applied it to my body-turned the awful engine, and stood in an instant the first of all created beings-devoid of weight! Up sprung my hair my arms swung from my sides above the level of my shoulders, by the involuntary action of the muscles; which were no longer curbed by the re-action of their weight. I laughed like a fool or a fiend,-closed my arms carefully to my side, compressed or concealed my bristling hair under my cap, and walked forth from my study to seek some retired spot in the city where I might make instant experiment of a jump. With the greatest difficulty I preserved a decent gait; I walked with the uneasy unsteady motion of a man in water whose toes might barely reach the bottom : conscious as I was of my security, I felt every instant apprehensive of a fall. Nothing could have reconciled me to the disagreeable sensation I experienced, but the anticipation of vaulting unfettered into the air. I stood behind the cathedral of the Seven Towers; nobody was near-I looked hurriedly around, and made the spring! I rose with a slow, uniform motion--but, gracious heaven! imagine my horror and distress, when I found that nothing but the mere resistance of the air opposed my progress; and, when at last it stopped my flight, I found myself many hundred feet above the city-motionless, and destitute of every means of descent. I tore my hair, and cursed myself, for overlooking so obvious a result. My screams drew thousands to the singular sight. I stretched my arms towards the earth, and implored assistance. Poor fool! I knew it was impracticable.
But conceive the astonishment of the people! I was too high to be personally known ;--they called to me, and I answered ;