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POSTHUMOUS ADVENTURES OF PAG
I and forced by physical inability to desist, when
he fell back upon his pillow in a swoon. Three ANINI.
days afterward, as the clock struck five on the NEVER was a life fuller of romance and orig- evening of May 27th, 1840, he gently sank into W inality than Paganini's. It had scarcely an the long last sleep. incident in common with those of ordinary men : After his death, a priest declared that he had every thing about it was strange, eccentric, and refused to receive the last sacraments. This was sui generis. From playing upon his violin to not the truth. As we have seen, at the comeating his dinner, nothing that he did was done mencement of his illness, he fully believed that as it would have been by others. All was sin- he should recover, and this belief did not forsake gular and peculiar to himself.
| him till within a few minutes of his death. When, And what was true of the celebrated musician therefore, a day or two before its occurrence, a living, held so of his body when his spirit had priest intruded himself into his chamber, he told flown upward. It could not be buried in peace him that he did not yet need the consolations of like those of other men, but must first go through the Church, but that when he should need them as many strange adventures as the Catholic le- he would send for him. Death, however, surgends fable the dead bodies of some of their prised him so suddenly that this intention could saints to have done.
not be fulfilled. According to the Catholic docOf these adventures we propose here to give trine he had thus died in sin, and the clergy an account. The particulars we shall relate con- therefore ordained that Christian burial should cerning them, although left unmentioned by Paganini's professed biographers, may be relied upon | Many influential personages, the king himself, as perfectly authentic. We gathered them dur-Charles Albert, being of the number, sought to ing a recent sojourn in the hospitable mansion obtain a reversal of this decree. But those who of the Count de Cessole at Nice, the one in which issued it were deaf to all entreaties. Appeal had the great violinist breathed his last.
therefore to be made to an ecclesiastical court, It was in the middle of the December of 1839 and as it might be years before they gained a that Paganini, ill and feeble, came there to die. | decision authorizing them to bury his body-or He was pale and thin, even to ghastliness, and indeed a decision of any kind—the friends of the so weak as to require to be carried to his apart. deceased resolved that they would embalm it. ment. But though unable to stand alone-and When they had done so, they threw open the indeed unable even to speak, excepting through doors of the hall in which it was deposited to the the nostrils, since his larynx, if not entirely de- public, who flocked in crowds to gaze for a last stroyed, no longer performed its functions—he time upon the features of the illustrious dead. did not himself believe in the nearness of his From all parts of Italy came multitudes of all end. He spoke incessantly of tours which he classes and all ranks, each vying with the other yet intended to make in Russia and the United as to who should pay him the profoundest homStates, and of the rich harvests of roubles and age. But at this the clergy were exceedingly dollars which he yet hoped to reap with his mar- displeased. They felt outraged at seeing the velous bow. Nevertheless, he was dying rapidly. corpse of this man, who they declared had died
Confined to his bed, he lay surrounded by in impenitence, and whose ashes had been anathstringed instruments of all kinds, buried amidst ematized by the Church, the object of so much heaps of violins and violoncellos, all of high value, reverence and so many honors; they therefore and worthy of figuring in the hands of the great demanded of the civil government that it should est artists. Sometimes he called for his favorite be sent out of the city, and it was accordingly instrument, and drew from it sublimer tones than removed, under military 'escort, to the lazaretto even of old-tones like those which might have of Villefranche. been uttered by a dying poet who was pouring This lazaretto is situated upon the sea-shore, out his soul in a last song. The exertions which at the distance of about a league from Nice. It he underwent on these occasions, and the states crowns the summit of a rocky eminence, which of nervous excitement into which they threw him, forms one of the most remarkable features of the rapidly exhausted his little remaining strength. little peninsula of Villefranche, into whose narBut the weaker he grew, the greater became the row compass nature seems to have striven to impossibility of separating him from his instru crowd the greatest possible number of beauties. ment; and one day, in spite of the entreaties of Every thing that is entrancing in natural scenery all around him, he continued for between seven is there, and of at least one art—that of the archiand eight hours improvising upon it the most tect—there are masterpieces not a few. A lovedelicious airs, melodies of a sweetness perfectly | lier spot the imagination could not picture. If ineffable, which seemed like echoes of that other Italy may be called the garden of the world, it sphere toward which his soul was so soon to take may be called the garden of Italy. its flight. Lost to all consciousness of earthly But the lazaretto itself has nothing in common and material things, and utterly absorbed in the with the scenery which surrounds it. It is a ondeavor to translate into sounds audible to hu- gloomy building, and the corpse of Paganini was man ears the heavenly melodies with which his placed in its gloomiest apartment. Covered with soul seemed filled unto the overflow, he did not an old sail, it was deposited in a dark corner, like cease playing till entirely conquered by fatigue, a piece of merchandise suspected of capability to communicate some dreaded infection. Let us decisions, and referred the matter for final degaze on it, as it lies there still and quiet. It is cision to a council of three archbishops. But till no ordinary corpse that we see thus before us. this final judgment could be obtained, he author It is that of a man whose skill won for him the ized the provisional placing of the corpse in a enthusiastic plaudits of the multitudes, and awoke Christian cemetery. the wonder of the whole civilized world—a man This authorization reached Nice on the 20th who excited as much admiration among men as August, 1843, the quarantine of the maestro any hero, proud of his hundred victories! He having thus lasted more than three years. An lived for the multitudes, and sleeps his last sleep hour before midnight on the 21st, the Count de in the desert; he filled their cities with music, Cessole, bearing the necessary documents, and and is denied one "De Profundis ;" he conquered accompanied by two boatmen and two torch-beara right to the Pantheon, and is refused six feet ers, presented himself at the lazaretto, and deof earth by the side of the obscurest clown; he manded that the body should be delivered up to went through Europe like a conqueror, princes him. Having received it, his companions bore it, and peasants alike crowding round to do him by the light of the torches, into the skiff which honor, and now there is not one to watch beside had brought them thither, and then began to row him, or to murmur in his ear the faintest echo of in the direction of Genoa. the strains he loved ! Once the delight of Eu- As they passed the various customs' stations rope and the admired of all men, he is become an upon the coast, they were hailed by the officers object of fear, a thing of terror. The peasant in charge with the cry : “What carry you there?" *crosses himself when he sees from afar the build- " The corpse of Paganini-aquèo qué sonaba tan ing within whose walls is his asylum; and the ben"-(him who sang so well)—was the reply. fisherman trembles and relates that, as he passed But it was not sufficient to content the officers, it, he saw before him a pale countenance, which who insisted upon examining the body with all fixed upon him a look of piteous supplication, and minuteness, turning it over and over to assure heard the air filled with harmonious sounds which themselves that it was not made to hide any conshaped themselves into the accents of a wild cry traband goods. for mercy.
It was thus, then, that Paganini made his last The name a man is born with will sometimes voyage to his native city. He made it in the dead influence him through life. Paganini felt the of night, in a simple fishing-boat, so small that it effects of his even after death. Pagano, a pa- required to be rowed but by two men,he who gan, paganini, a little pagan-how could a man had filled Europe with his fame, who had be so called be a true Christian? So, at least, ar- queathed fifty thousand guineas to his son, and gued the populace, till it came to the conclusion whose ashes you would deem worthily transported that the priest's course was the right one. only upon the deck of some huge man-of-war,
When the case was brought before the tribu- hung with crape, crowded with saddened countenals it was argued on both sides with eloquent nances, and keeping time, by the sullen booming zeal. The priests did all they could to make it of its guns, to the mournful accents of some solappear otherwise, but Paganini was proved tri- emn funeral march! And as though it were not umphantly to have been in all things a good sufficient that his remains should be anathemaCatholic. All was in vain, however. Had they tized by the Christian clergy, refused the rites of proved him a saint, the bishop would still have Christian sepulture, coveted for exhibition by a denied him burial. Appeal must therefore be Jew, and suffered to lie for more than three years made to some higher authority.
in a dark corner of a lazar-house, they must now, The corpse bore the delay with exemplary pa- on his last voyage toward the city of his birth, tience. It waited uncomplainingly in its rude become objects of suspicion to petty cfficers of apartment in the lazaretto, seemingly determined, customs! Was not his destiny in every respect by passive resistance, to vanquish the hostile re- exceptional and peculiar? sistance of the clergy. But as it was perfectly In one respect, however, it was like that of all idle, the idea was formed of giving it employ- other genuises. Whatever honors his native city ment. A Jew proposed to purchase it for exhibi- might have rendered him while living-dead, it tion in England. The price he offered was 20001. paid no respect to his memory. He passed
Every thing connected with Paganini, either through it without receiving more notice than alive or dead, was thus exceptional. Spurned by would have been given to a dead dog. And yet the Christian priesthood, his ashes were thus he had made it famous in the history of art, and coveted by one of the children of the synagogue. had bequeathed to it his sword of Austerlitz-his Entrance into a church forbidden them, permis- favorite violin, the companion of all his glories, sion was sought to carry them from fair to fair, of all his triumphs. for exhibition side by side with giants, dwarfs, It was in the duchy of Parma that the dead and children with two heads!
voyageur at last found the repose so long denied From the bishop of Nice, appeal was made to to his persecuted ashes. He was buried in a litthe archbishop. But he only confirmed the orig- tle chapel added on purpose to a villa which had inal judgment. From him in his turn, therefore, been purchased some years before by his son. So appeal was made to the pope. Fortunately, the it is always, with the living as well as the dead tiara proved itself more tolerant than the mitre. —rest may be long denied, but, as surely as men The supreme pontiff reversed the two previous die, it comes at last !
FATHER AND SON.
cool, quiet faces, and eyes speaking no sort of "THEN let him die."
passion whatever. I It was not the words, terrible as they were very much such a man was William Norton in their simplicity; nor was it the thought of death after the marriage of Ellen Dusenberry, and he to one so young and manly, bitter as that thought was never seen again in the little village, where was; nor yet was it the fact that any one could he had been his father's clerk in the only store, speak thus of a fellow-being; but it was the voice, until after all the events occurred which I am now the tone, the suppressed but determined anger about to relate. that I heard in the words, and it was the horrible As years crept along Stephen Forster's family truth that it was a father speaking of his only son, increased, and four children sat at his board when that so shocked me.
he was forty years old. But there was no love “Let him die.” And wherefore should he die ? between the father and his family. He was harsh, He was young, and not ready-by years or weari-cold, stern, unforgiving in his treatment, and they ness--for death. He was not tired of living, nor rebelled, as children will. Once, when he was had he sought the end himself. His eye was not punishing the oldest boy for some fancied offense, dim, his voice was not broken, his ear was still a neighbor who was passing, and overheard the attuned to the pleasant sounds of earth; and it occurrence, entered and remonstrated with Forwas a beautiful earth, too, that in which he was ster for his brutality. The result might have been born, and in which he had grown to be a stout, anticipated. He was turned out of doors with strong man; and he loved life, and knew how to out ceremony, and left to console himself by reenjoy it--and why should he die? He was not lating the story to his neighbors, whoso opinion one of the worthless and useless men of this world of Forster was neither improved nor injured either, living for self, and heedless of all others, thereby. unloving, unloved, in cold sensual selfishness. Death came into the household, and the graveNot he. He was a noble man-young, ardent, yard gate was opened three times within a year, affectionate, full of the love of life and of his fel. to admit children of Stephen and Ellen Forster. lows, beloved by all who knew him, and always When the first one died, the wife, broken down ready to aid friend or stranger with purse, hand, by the terrible blow, sought comfort in the symand heart.
pathy of her husband, and listed her eyes from the Why then should be die ?
dead boy only to meet the cold, stony eyes of the There were many reasons why Stephen For- man that hated when he married her, and she ster the elder was willing at that time that Stephen pressed back into her heart the feelings that were Forster the younger should die.
well-nigh flowing toward him for the first time. Twenty-five years before the time at which our When the next-her darling namesake-shut her history is dated, there lived in an obscure village eyes on life and love, and went the dark way in the country, not far from the Hudson River, whither no mother's love may prevail to follow a man, some thirty years of age, with a young until God permit, she sought no sympathy from wife, not more than eighteen or twenty. The lat. her husband, but bowed her head in lonesome ter was the daughter of the wealthiest man in the agony. And when the third blow came, she bore county ; and, as it afterward proved, by the death it with the firmness of the mother of old times of her brother, she and her children were his sole who scorned to weep. There was something terheirs. Stephen Forster was a lawyer, gifted with rible in her gaze, as she now looked into the face some powers of mind; not quick, but shrewd, in of her husband. That third trial, and his continthe true acceptation of that word; and making ued coldness and sternness, had made a new permoney rapidly by speculations in farms and farm son of his once gentle wife, and she now repaid lands. I shall not pause to relate the painful cir- his scorn with scorn-his hate with unforgiving, cumstances through which he won the hand of unrelenting enmity. the young daughter of the old Judge; her heart he' In the brief limits assigned to this sketch, I never had won. That was not hers to give him ; can not pause to explain the mental process by and from the day he learned that fact, he hated her, which this gentle, lovely girl became transformed. with steady, persevering hate. But he married It was no slow process. It was like a lightning her nevertheless; and when the wedding ring flash. She had been calm, placid, bowed down was placed, I should say forced on her finger, with grief in the morning, when she stood by her she shuddered, and well-nigh fainted, for her eye dying boy, and talked with him of the land that caught at that moment the sad gleam of an eye was shining dimly through the clouds and mists that had once looked deeper into her own than of death on his eyes, that was shining even through had any other person's, and she knew then that her scalding tears on her own faithful vision; but as true a heart as man ever possessed was broken. the light of heaven was gone when the boy was
Broken hearts are not always followed by death. dead, and the angels that had lingered around It is a romantic notion that supposes it neces- his couch were gone with the light, and fiends sary. I have known men that lived many years came in the darkness and possessed her; and she with what in common parlance would be called a was changed-how changed ! broken heart. Nay, I have known men that had Imagine if you can that household for the next lived thus for scores of years, wandering restless- ten years, while young Stephen grew up to manly, almost hopelessly, up and down the paths of hood. It was in the most beautiful of valleys, this miserable world, yet bearing ahout with them with rich fields around it, and deep forests full
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of the forest glory close at hand, and a brawling | The rumor added a thousand horrors to the tale, stream dashing over rocks, and birds, and flowers, of which no more was actually established truth and all that God gave to Eden except only inno- than the fact that Mrs. Forster was poisoned the cence. Yet there was one long war in that house, evening previous, and was already dead. the father on the one side and the mother and The young man had returned from the city the son on the other—for she won the boy from him. day before with a package of various articles, They contended long for him and his love. Even which he had brought professedly for chemical in his childhood he learned that he could not love purposes. It was supposed he had procured some both, and that he must select one or the other to deadly poison among these, for the effect had attach himself to. He hesitated and varied from been swift and certain. day to day, as children do, and it was months, Certainly the internal state of that household even years, before he fully decided; but when he was no worse than it had been for years. For chose it was forever. Nothing could move, shake, her, the care-worn, weary mother, doubtless that or change him. At the first, after this determin- repose was profound and welcome after the long ation became manifest, the father, with his accus- storm. She seemed to be resting in peace as she tomed malignity, sent him away to school a hun | lay there, and the angry waves of the sea of her dred miles from home. But the six months of life had heard the “Peace, be still" of a heavenly his absence convinced the hard-hearted man that voice, and had obeyed. The husband stood near his house was unbearable if he and his wife were her while strangers came in and looked with far to have no one between them, and he recalled the more interest than he on the placid countenance boy, and contented himself with hating both him of the dead wife, and his countenance wore a and his mother. And so the boy grew to man- steady, motionless look, in which no trace of sufhood, ignorant, save as his mother had taught fering, or of emotion, or regret could be found. him, yet marvelously gentle and lovely. He at He neither wept nor smiled ; but occasionally length became the light of the house to those who strode up and down the long room in which her knew the family, and his presence was welcomed body lay, and uttered some expression of disconevery where. In all the country gatherings he tent at the tardiness of the coroner and his jury, was the star; and at length he began to extend and then resumed his position near a window, and his limits, and once in a while ventured as far as near his dead companion. Stephen was in strict the city. Here or somewhere, it matters not confinement in an upper room by order of his fawhere, he began for the first time to appreciate ther, and no one knew what was going on there. the importance of knowledge, and to understand No one that knew him and his love for that mothhis own inferiority to young men of his class and er, would believe it possible that he had murdered standing. Grieved and abashed at the discovery her, and yet the case was said to be even clearer of his ignorance, he set about repairing the loss, than circumstantial evidence, for the father himand for two years he was a book-worm, devouring self had seen the son mingling the fatal draught, every thing that came within his reach. It is as- and had not dreamed of its nature till the catastonishing how much an active mind may accom- trophe proclaimed it. plish in so brief a space of time; and at the end I was visiting at a friend's house in the neighof these two years he had learned as much as borhood and heard of the occurrence. I may be most boys would in ten. But he was not satis- pardoned for adding that the daughter of my fied with this brief period of study. He had friend was not visible that morning at breakfast, learned to love study for its own sake, and he having heard the terrible history from a servant, confined himself now to his room ; and strange and having been a very close friend of young stories got abroad of the events that were passing Stephen. in the old house, to which no one had access. Why need I disguise the truth. This is in
At last the old Judge died, leaving his entire tended to be a simple history, without plot or fortune to Stephen Forster the younger, subject plan, other than to relate each incident as it oconly to a life estate of his mother in the real prop-curred, and I may therefore say at once that she erty. This was more than a year before Stephen loved him with a woman's adoring love, and that entered his majority, and when his life was most she was not unloved in return. That she scored closely devoted to his books and studies. And the story of his guilt you will not doubt, and it this brings us to the period at which I first be- was at her suggestion that I rode over to the incame acquainted with the father and son. quest.
A rumor flies in the country with windlike ve- I had never seen them before. Never heard locity. It was one of those soft spring mornings of them indeed. Yet I was struck with both when the sky seems immeasurably deep, and the faces; of the father quite as much as that of the air is laden with life and health ; when the birds son. The latter was noble and manly-a keen sing loudest, and the wind's voice is softest, and black eye gleamed with the look of conscious the gurgle of the spring brook is most musical ; innocence, not unmingled with hatred of the it was on such a morning that a terrible rumor father, who had suffered him to stand bound by spread over — county, and even on the oppo- his dead mother, accused of murdering her. The site side of the river. The story was that Mrs. father's face was pale, calm, even lofty. But he Forster had been poisoned by her son for the sake avoided the eye of his son, and looked only where of having his fortune unencumbered, and that he he was certain of receiving no answering look, had also poisoned his father in the same bowl. even into the face of the sleeping woman who had been his wife and that boy's mother. She the family of my friend Wilson—where, if I delooked neither lovingly nor reproachfully at him sired it, I should go to find a spice of romance now. It was never thus before, and somehow and sentiment to add to this history, I shall leave he had no difficulty in keeping his gaze fixed on for the imagination of those who have defended her, so wonderful was that placid silence. friends against the verdict of a harsh world. Let
I shall not pause here to describe the curious me therefore pass on immediately to the courtevidence which was presented to the coroner's room and the trial of Stephen Forster, which jury going to establish the guilt of the son. It took place some two months after the death of is incredible to one not accustomed to these the mother. scenes, the amount of evidence that may be It was a hot summer day. The day was opamassed against even an innocent man. And in pressive at the early hour when I was roused to this case, as step by step, without aid or sugges- go over to the court-house, and as I rode across tion, the testimony revealed itself, one by one the the country, the sultry air was exceedingly disfriends of young Stephen dropped away from piriting. I had not taken charge of the defense him, and I was left, as lawyers often are, alone myself. Two eminent counsel were engaged, by the side of my client, for such he had now familiar with criminal practice, men of keen inbecome.
tellect, and whose experience in that branch of On my word, I believe that but for the clear, the profession enabled them to catch at every confident tones of Mary Wilson's voice assuring chance for life, and to detect every flaw, however me of his innocence, I should have believed the minute, in the links of the evidence opposed to story myself, and left the matricide to his fate. them.
The jury adjourned till evening, to allow a post-1 It was a very old court-room in which the mortem examination to take place, and during trial took place. The bench for the court was at this interval I sought a meeting with the father. the end opposite to the entrance, and consisted The result of it is given in the words with which of a raised platform, with a table on it, and a rail this history commences. It was my last argu- in front of it, which looked as if it might have ment to a father's heart, that attempt to move done service in a colonial court. On each side him, by the love of his son, to some exertion on of the doorway the seats were elevated one above behalf of the boy.
the other, rising toward the rear of the room, so “If you do not aid him he will perish." that you entered between two walls which grew “ Then let him die."
lower as you advanced to the bar. The only bar I looked suddenly into the man's countenance. was a high, close board fence-I can call it nothing He was a tall, thin man, of even commanding else-sweeping in a semicircle around the room, appearance, and the eye did not dispute the inclosing the seats and tables for the gentlemen of stories I had heard of his former life, that he had the profession. The prisoner's box was outside been dissolute, and that of late he had resorted of this fence, elevated above it, and arranged with again at times to the companions and employ- due reference to the impossibility of an escape. ments of his younger years. As I looked into The audience occupied the elevated seats in the his face the idea came over me with lightning rear, and some vacant places behind the jury box, force that the motive for murder was quite as which was on the judge's left. The latter mengreat on his part as on that of the son, for could tioned space was generally occupied by ladies, he but kill the mother and hang the son, the in- when any case was on trial which interested them. heritance of ample farms and funds would be his On the occasion of which I now write there was alone. Could it be possible? It was a terrible not room there for them. Long before the hour thought, but the life of a city practitioner had of opening, the court-room was thronged with the even then accustomed me to such ideas, though female population of the county, almost to the it was in the younger years of my practice. exclusion of the men who came from all quarters
I returned to Stephen, and talked with him. to attend this, the first murder trial in their neighHis astonishment at his position had by this borhood. The jurors were in their places an hour time given way to grief for his mother, and he before the time, as if they feared that the crowd was weeping bitterly, yet such tears as no mur- would prevent their being admitted. The bar derer ever wept. I paused while he recovered was, as usual, thronged with lawyers and their calmness, and the deep serenity of his grief over-clerks, chatting, laughing, and joking, as if the powered me for a moment, while I looked at him. most important question of the day were how to The conviction of his innocence grew on me as keep cool, and no one had any thing to do with I talked with him, but the weight of evidence the life or death of a young, strong man. against him was overpowering, and the examina- The prisoner was brought in before the court tion, which was now concluded, had confirmed was opened, and took his seat in the box. He the worst aspect of the case. It needed only the turned his gaze for a moment around the crowded proof, furnished within a few days, of the chemist room, catching the eyes of many that he had in New York from whom he had purchased the known and loved for years. There was one face article, to complete as strong a chain of evidence | that he knew as that of one of his mother's friends, as ever bound a man to the prospect of ignomini- a kindly woman who had held him on her knees ous death.
a hundred times. She looked into his face with I pass over all the incidental history in con- a longing gaze, that asked him as plainly as if he nection with this sorrowful affair. The effect in had heard the words, whether indeed he were