« VorigeDoorgaan »
From Rafter's "Memoirs of Sir Gregor M'Gregor."
POLYCARPA SALABARRIETA was a young and beautiful girl of respectable connections in Santa Fe de Bogota, the capital of New Grenada. Enthusiastic in the cause of liberty, the sentiments of which she had imbibed from her infancy; but incapacitated, by her sex, from a display of those noble ideas with which her bosom laboured, she could only muse in secret on the sufferings of her country, and weep unavailing tears for the ravages of the Goths.*
Fate at length, in giving her a lover, afforded to Polycarpa an opportunity of serving her country, and dying in the cause of freedom. A young gentleman in the secretary's department of the government of Santa Fe, became enamoured of, and paid his addresses to her: his reception was favourable, and he was easily prevailed upon, by the entreaties of his beloved mistress, to betray to her the secrets of the government, and the plans and resources of the viceroy; which she communicated, from time to time, to the patriots of Casanaré, who thus received, for a considerable period, the most interesting intelligence, and obtained, in consequence, several important advantages. One of Polycarpa's letters was at length unfortunately intercepted, and she was arrested and thrown into a dungeon.
The Spanish authorities could not be convinced that the intercepted letter was the production of a young and inexperienced female; and the suspicion that an extensive plot existed, to undermine the foundation of their power, was immediately followed by the most active measures to discover it.
The world has long been acquainted with the intrigues, cruelties, and legal atrocities resorted to in cases of this kind, by the disciples of the Inquisition; and can duly appreciate the heroic firmness with which Polycarpa withstood them all. Neither the intreaties, the promises, nor the tortures inflicted by her merciless judges, could for a moment shake her constancy; but, true to the faith she had plighted, while writhing in agony, and shrinking beneath the scorn and threats of her heartless persecutors, she never, by look, word, or gesture, betrayed the secret of the man she loved.
Baffled by her constancy in assuming the whole odium and responsibility of the act for which she suffered, the wily judges of the unfortunate Polycarpa, trained in the Machiavelian school of legal artifice, sought a discovery from other sources: her lover was arrested, and being confronted with her, his anxiety to save the life of his adored mistress, be trayed their secret, and they were both condemned to be executed.
* Los Godos. A name deservedly bestowed, by the South Americans, upon the Spaniards, for the horrible cruelties and devastations which have marked their conquests.
Then it was, that, disdaining all mortal considerations, and feeling herself already an inhabitant of heaven, the noble Polycarpa, in a strain of eloquence more than human, addressed herself to her judges, upbraiding them for their cruelties; condemned and execrated the tyrants of her country, and defended the justice of the cause for which she was proud to die.
Such was the horror which this admirable woman felt for the European Spaniards, that, when it was necessary to receive the last awful ceremonies of the church, she refused to have them administered by a Spanish priest, who had been sent to her by the viceroy, for that purpose; and though believing, in common with all her countrymen, that the omission of those ceremonies would be fatal to her soul's salvation, she steadily adhered to her resolution, until an American priest was introduced, who admininistered the sacraments, and accompanied her to the place of execution.
The patriotic sentiments of this heroine continued unabated to the last. On the way from the prison to the final scene of her existence, the priest happening slightly to touch upon political affairs, and to condemn all opposition to the constituted authorities, Polycarpa said to him in a mild reproachful tone, "Alas! holy father, have you too become a royalist ?"
On the scaffold, she addressed the crowds assembled to witness the execution, "Ungrateful people! I am going to suffer for an attempt to recover your most sacred rights. Can you be base enough to tolerate such a scene of infamy? Can you listen patiently to my cries? Are you so lost to humanity as to witness my sufferings and death with calm insensibility ?"
The multitude is easily held in awe. Sighs and groans were the only answer to this pathetic address; and the heroic Polycarpa and her lover were hurried into eternity.
From The Graces," for 1824.
We are such stuff
As dreams are made of; and our little life
Oh, Man! before thy feverish brain
First, bends the burning heart of youth
Deems, like its own a stranger's truth,
And scorns the world beside !
But soon life's dangerous morn is past,
And well if o'er its sun be cast auf. Dari olw. Mieshy, 11
Then tears must fall, as sad as vain,
The homage to our pride;
Yet, broken once the worthless chain,
The fondness, frenzy, o'er;
And this is call'd-INCONSTANCY!
Then worldly dreams the spirit sway,
Pursues their willing slave,
And trembling o'er the tomb,
FAIR was thy blossom, tender flower,
How oft thy mother heaved the sigh
Before thy sweet and guiltless eye
How oft above thy lowly bed,
Her wronged but gentle bosom burned
With joy thy opening bloom to see; The only breast that o'er thee yearned; The only heart that cared for thee.
Oft her young eye, with tear drops bright,
O'er recollection wandered wild.
Fair was thy blossom, bonny flower,
Fair as the softest wreaths of spring, When late I saw thee seek the bower
In peace thy morning hymn to sing.
Thy little foot across the lawn,
Scarce from the primrose pressed the dew; I thought the spirit of the dawn
Before me to the greenwood flew ;
Even then the shaft was on the wing,
Thy spotless soul from earth to sever, A tear of pity wet the string
That twanged, and sealed thy doom for ever.
I saw thee late, the emblem fair
Of beauty, innocence, and truth, Start tiptoe on the verge of air,
"Twixt childhood and unstable youth;
But now I see thee stretched at rest :
To break that rest shall wake no morrow! Pale as the grave flower on thy breast!
Poor child of love, of shame, and sorrow!
May thy long sleep be sound and sweet;
Shall shed its earliest tear o'er thee!
PEACE AND WAR.
From "Prose by a Poet."
ABOUT three weeks before the battle of Waterloo, while the writer of these pages was one day turning over some old papers, he was startled by a strange and portentous expression of his own, which he had long forgotten, and the very meaning of which did not immediately strike his comprehension; Peace is only the sleep of war." The phrase had been used on occasion of the failure of Lord Malmesbury's negociation at Lisle in 1797. The recollections of eighteen years of subsequent hostility throughout Europe, in which peace, when we fancied we had it under the Addington administration, was literally only war asleep, rushed upon his mind, and awakened sensations so awful and transporting, that the images of thought became embodied, and passed in vision before him.
Rapt into by-gone times, he saw a goose's egg lying in the middle of a highway, on which multitudes were travelling; indeed it was the highway to and through all nations. A careless foot happening to break this egg; instead of a gosling, out crawled a reptile, which at first sight seemed a centipedes, but increasing in bulk every moment, it presently grew up into a monster as hideous to look upon as a Hindoo divinity. It was the demon of war in his own person, never before revealed to mortal eye. His figure might have been fashioned in mockery of the human form; his stature reached the clouds, and his shadow darkened the fairest provinces of the globe. He had two heads, which, unlike those of Janus, were placed front to front; innumerable arms, branching out all round his shoulders, sides, and chest; with legs as multitudinous, resembling in colour and motion the pillars of sand in an African whirlwind. His twin faces were frightfully distorted; they glared, they grinned, they spat, they railed, and hissed, and roared; they gnashed their teeth, and bit, and butted with their foreheads at each other. His. arms, wielding swords, and spears, and shields, were fighting pell-mell together, each against its neighbours, right and left, so that every one had to contend with two. Often were they broken, paralysed, or cut sheer off; yet they were quickly restored to strength and activity, or reinstated by others that sprouted from the stumps. His legs, in like manner, were indefatigably at variance, striding contrary ways, trampling on each other's toes, or kicking shins, by universal consent, in the most ludicrous and horrible manner. Beneath them the nations of Christendom were like mole-hills overturned, where the inhabitants, like ants when their nests are broken up, were running to and fro in