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He went round by the old mill and the fir plantation to get home. By this road he was less likely to meet anyone than he would have been had he made his way by the more direct course through the village. It was still early in the night, and the villagers were sure to be about.
His mental faculties seemed to grow suddenly stagnant, and he scarcely thought of anything during that dream-like journey to the littie cottage on the cleared space among the trees on the slope of the hill. He rested several times before he got there. Not that he felt physically tired ; yet there was a strange weakness upon him. “I suppose it's the spring weather,” he said to himself ; “I allays did feel onfit i' the spring."
But he got to the cottage at last. A bright light was shining from the window of the room in which Jacob had sat with his mother that evening on which he had heard of Maggie's affliction. He stepped in softly among the flowers (the garden seemed to be in beautiful order) and stood by the window to listen, for he was at a loss to understand the lack of courage from which he suffered. Some one was reading in the room. It was Maggie reading to his mother. Jacob's heart seemed as though it must burst within him as he crept close up to the window and listened to that dear voice once more. And these are the words which he heard Maggie read :
“. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet : but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss : but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven ; for she loved much : but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.'”
But Maggie stopped reading suddenly.
“I thought I heard a noise at the window, mother,"' Maggie replied. “I'll see if there's anybody there."
“Oh, if it should be Jacob !” the listening man heard his mother say.
The blind was pulled aside ; a bright light shone forth. But Jacob was not at the window. He was softly opening the door of the old home.
A SPRIG OF THE HOUSE OF
N o dead and gone human visage looms so clearly through the IV mist of ages as that strange lymphatic face of Philip IV., which the genius of Velazquez delighted to portray from youth to age. The smooth-faced stripling in hunting dress, with his fair pink and white complexion, his lank yellow hair, and his great mumbling Austrian mouth, shows more plainly on canvas than he could have done whilst alive, how weak of will and how potent of passion he was, how easily he would be led by the overbearing Count Duke of Olivares to sacrifice all else for splendid shows and sensuous indul. gence ; how his vanity would be flattered by poets, painters, and players, whilst the world-wide empire of his fathers was crumbling to nothingness beneath his sway, and his vassals were being robbed of their last maravedi to pay for the frenzy of waste and prodigality with which Charles Stuart was entertained or a royal wedding celebrated. Thenceforward, through his fastuous prime, stately and splendid in his black satin and gold, to the time when, old and disappointed, with forty years of disastrous domination, the rheumy eyes drawn and haggard, but the head still erect, haughty and unapproachable in its reserve, the great painter tells the King's story better than any pen could write it. There is something not unloveable in the shy weak poetic face; and one can pity the lad with such a countenance who found himself the greatest king on earth at the age of sixteen, surrounded by fawning flatterers and greedy bloodsuckers who plunged him into a vortex of dissipation before his father's body was cold in the marble sarcophagus at the Escurial. The old mar's face, too, cold and repellent as it is, shocking as are the ravages that time and self-indulgence have stamped upon it, has yet in it an almost plaintive despair that explains those terrible broken-hearted letters in which the King, icy and undemonstrative as he was, poured out liis agony and sorrow undisguised for years to the only person in the wide world he trusted, the nun Maria de Agreda. His long reign, which saw the ruin of the Spanish power
witnessed also the most splendid epoch of Spanish art and literature, the golden age of the Spanish stage, and a wasteful prodigality of magnificence in the court such as, with the exception of that displayed by Philip's son-in-law the roi soleil, the world has never seen equalled. The Elizabethan age in England may have approached it in literary strength, although even that cannot show such a galaxy as Lope de Vega, Calderon, Velazquez, Murillo, Tirso de Molina, Moreto, Quevedo, Guevara, Montalvan, and their host of imitators. The history of the reign has never yet been adequately or even fairly written. Isolated portions and detached incidents or personalities have been dealt with, and stray fragments now and again bring vivid pictures of the sumptuous court before us. Spanish writers, of late years particularly, are fond of dwelling with microscopic minuteness on the incidents and adventures of the time that happened at particular spots in the capital; but the topographicalhistorical style, first introduced by Mesonero Romanos, and now so popular, pleasant reading as it is, does not attempt to do more than amuse, by presenting romantic and detached pictures of a bygone age, and all that can be claimed by the writers is that materials are gradually being collected and brought to light by them from contemporary sources which will be invaluable to the future serious historian of the reign. The British Museum contains many hundreds of unpublished manuscripts bearing upon the subject ; copies of official documents, letters, and “relations,” from Philip's court, petitions and statements of grievance addressed to the King, and vast collections of miscellaneous papers in Spanish, Portuguese, and French, most of which have not yet been consulted for historical purposes. Amongst a great mass of rather dry official documents of the period, most of them copies, I recently came across a small compact group of papers, all originals, which tells a curious plaintive little story, nakedly enough it is true, but not without a pathos of its own. There is nothing historically important in it, or in the fact that it discloses, probably for the first time since it happened, but a quaint side-light is thrown by some of the documents on the way in which court intrigue was conducted, and also, curiously enough, on the opinion of the highest authorities of those times, as to the best way of bringing up a child, by which it will be seen that, allowing for difference of climate and national habits, no great change has taken place in this respect in the two centuries and a half that have passed since the papers were penned. Philip had succeeded to the throne on the death of his father in March, 1621. He was only sixteen, and Olivares at once plunged him into such distractions as the then most dissolute capital in Europe could afford. By a strange coincidence the paper in the Museum (Egerton MSS., 329) which precedes the group of which I wish to speak is a lengthy and solemn letter, dated only a few weeks after the young King's accession, addressed to the Count Duke by the Archbishop of Granada, remonstrating with the all-powerful favourite for taking the boy king out in the street at night. “People,” he says, “are gossiping about it all over Madrid, and things are being said which add little to the sovereign's credit or dignity.” Madrid even now is fond of scandal, but in the beginning of the seventeenth century, isolated from the world as was the capital of the Spains, its one absorbing pursuit from morn till night was tittle-tattle, and the long raised walk by the side wall of the church of St. Philip, fronting the Oñate palace in the Calle Mayor, was a recognised exchange for the scandalmongers. The Archbishop says, in his bold and outspoken letter, that not only have these people begun to whisper things that were better unsaid, but the example shown by the King and his Minister in scouring the streets, in search of adventure, is a bad one for the people at large, and he reminds Olivares of the anxiety of the late King on this very account, and his dread that his heir was already before his death being inducted into dissipation. The answer to the bold prelate's remonstrance is just such as might be expected from the insolent favourite. He tells him in effect that he is an impertinent meddler and ought to be ashamed, with his rank, and at his age, to trouble him with the vulgar gossip of the street. The King, he tells him, is 16, and he (Olivares) is 34, and it is not to be expected that they are to be kept in darkness as to what is done in the world. It is good that the King should see all phases of life, bad as well as good. He, Olivares, never trusts him with anyone else, and the favourite finishes his answer by a scarcely veiled threat that if the Archbishop does not mind his own business, worse may befall him. No doubt the prelate took the warning, for Olivares was not scrupulous, and had a short and secret way with those who incurred his displeasure. The small group of original papers coming after this begins with a memorandum unsigned, but evidently written by Olivares to the King some nine years subsequently, namely, early in the summer of 1630. It says that it is high time that measures should be taken at once to put a boy, whose name is not given, out of the way, as he is now four years old, and it is of great importance that he should be: concealed, and all communication broken off between him and the people with whom he has been. The writer goes on to say that he has considered deeply how this is to be done, and that there are objections to be found in every solution that presents itself, but he thinks on the whole the best way will be to entrust him secretly to the care of a gentleman of his acquaintance named Don Juan Isassi Ydiaquez, who lives at Salamanca. He is a person of education, has travelled all over Europe, and could bring the lad up as his own. It will be necessary to see this gentleman first, and the writer proposes to summon him to court without telling him the reason, so that “your Majesty” may see him and then decide for the best. Across this document is written in Philip's uncertain poetic hand : “It appears very necessary that something should be done in this matter and I approve of what you suggest. P.” Presumably Yaiaquez was sent for and approved of, as the next document in the series is of a much more formal character, being a notarial deed drawn up by the Secretary of State, Geronimo de Villanueva as prothonotary of the Kingdom, who was with the exception of Olivares the principal confidant of Philip's intrigues." This
'He was with difficulty rescued from the direst vengeance of the Inquisition a few years afterwards in consequence of his too ready co-operation in the King's amorous tendencies. Don Geronimo was patron of the convent of San Placido, next door to his own house in the Calle de la Madera in Madrid, and had inflamed the King's mind with stories of a very beautiful nun who was an inmate of the convent. Philip and his favourite, the Count Duke, insisted upon seeing this paragon of loveliness, and Don Geronimo, exerting his authority as patron, procured them entrance in disguise to the parlour, where, as was to be expected, his Catholic Majesty sell violently in love with the beautisul nun. The interviews in the parlour were constant, but, with the grating between the King and his flame, unsatisfactory, and, by dint of bribes and threats, Don Geronimo managed to break a passage from the cellars of his own house into the vaults of the convent, by means of which, notwithstanding the prayers, the entreaties, and appeals of the Abbess, the King was introduced into the cell of the unfortunate nun, with whom he was enamoured. He found her laid out as if she were a corpse, surrounded with lighted tapers, with a great crucifix by her side, but not even this availed, and the sacrilegious amours continued so long that the news reached the ever open ears of the Holy Office. The Grand Inquisitor, a Dominican friar called Antonio de Sotomayor, Archbishop of Damascus, privately took the King to task, and obtained a promise that the offence should cease. Don Geronimo was seized by the officers of the Inquisition (August 30, 1644) and taken to Toledo, where he was acceused of sacrilege and other heinous crimes against the faith. The evidence was full and conclusive, and Don Geronimo's life was trembling in the balance, when the Count Duke boldly went to the Grand Inquisitor one night with two signed royal decrees in his hands, one giving the Archbishop 12,000 ducats a year for life on condition of his resignation of the Grand Inquisitorship, and the other depriving him of all his temporalities, and banishing him for ever from all the dominions of his Catholic Majesty. The Grand Inquisitor naturally chose the former, and resigned next morning. Pressure was put on Pope Urban VIII. by the Spanish Ambassador, and very shortly an order arrived from Rome that