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This suavity of demeanour is not the velvet of art; it is only one of the signs of a comprehensive philanthropy, which as habitually breaks out in acts of genuine sympathy and munificent relief, wherever a case of human suffering occurs within its range.
The circumstances of Hamilton Rowan's escape from imprisonment, as I once heard them minutely detailed, possessed all the interest of a romantic narrative. The following are such of the leading particulars as I can recall to my recollection. Having discovered (on the 28th of April, 1794,) the extent of the danger in which he was involved, he arranged a plan of flight to be put into execution on the night of the 1st of May. He had the address to prevail on the gaoler of Newgate, who knew nothing farther of his prisoner than that he was under sentence of confinement for a political libel, to accompany him at night to Mr. Rowan's own house. They were received by Mrs. R. who had a supper prepared in the front room of the second floor. The supper over, the prisoner requested the gaoler's permission to say a word or two in private to his wife in the adjoining room. The latter consented, on the condition of the door between the two rooms remaining open. He had so little suspicion of what was meditated, that instead of examining the state of this other room, he contented himself with shifting his chair at the supper-table so as to give him a view of the open door-way. In a few seconds his prisoner was beyond his reach, having descended by a single rope, which had been slung from the window of the back chamber. In his stable he found a horse ready saddled, and a peasant's outside coat to disguise him. With these he posted to the house of his attorney, Matthew Dowling, who was in the secret of his design, and had promised to contribute to its success by his counsel and assistance. Dowling was at home, but unfortunately his house was full of company. He came out to the street to Mr. Rowan, who personated the character of a country client, and hastily pointing out the great risk to be incurred from any attempt to give him refuge in his own house, directed him to proceed to the Rotunda (a public building in Sackvillestreet, with an open space in front), and remain there until Dowling could despatch his guests, and come to him. Irish guests were in those days rather slow to separate from the bottle. For one hour and a half the fugitive had to wait, leading his horse up and down before the Rotunda, and tortured between fear and hope at the appearance of every person that approached. He has often represented this as the most trying moment of his life. Dowling at length arrived, and after a short and anxious conference, advised him to mount his horse, and make for the country-house of their friend Mr. Sweetman, which was situate about four miles off, on the northern side of the bay of Dublin. This place he reached in safety, and found there the refuge and aid which he sought. After a delay of two or three days Mr. Sweetman engaged three boatmen of the neighbourhood to man his own pleasure-boat, and convey Hamilton Rowan to the coast of France. They put to sea at night; but a gale of wind coming on, they were compelled to put back, and take shelter under the lee of the Hill of Howth. While at anchor there on the following morning a small revenue-cruiser sailing by threw into the boat copies of the proclamations that had issued, offering 2000l. for the apprehen
sion of Hamilton Rowan. The weather having moderated, the boat pushed out to sea again. They had reached the mid-channel, when a situation occurred almost equalling in dramatic interest the celebrated "Cæsarem vehis" of antiquity. It would certainly make a fine subject for a picture. As the boat careered along before a favourable wind, the exiled Irishman perceived the boatmen grouped apart, perusing one of the proclamations, and by their significant looks and gestures, discovering that they had recognized the identity of their passenger, with the printed description. "Your conjectures are right, my lads," said Rowan, "my life is in your hands-but you are Irishmen." They flung the proclamation overboard, and the boat continued her course. * On the third morning, a little after break of day, they arrived within view of St. Paul de Leon, a fortified town, on the coast of Bretagne. As the sun rose, it dispersed a dense fog that had prevailed overnight, and discovered a couple of miles behind them, moving along under easy sail, the British Channel fleet, through the thick of which their little boat had just shot unperceived.
The party, having landed, were arrested as spies, and cast into prison, but in a few days an order from the French government procured their liberation. Hamilton Rowan proceeded to Paris, from which in a political convulsion that shortly ensued, it was his fate once more to seek for safety in flight. He escaped this time unaccompanied, in a wherry, which he rowed himself down the Seine. The banks were lined with the military; but he answered their challenges with so much address, that he was allowed to pass on unmolested. Having reached a French port, he embarked for the United States of America, where at length he found a secure asylum.
Hamilton Rowan, though of Irish blood, was born and educated in England. In his youth he acquired a large property under the will of his maternal grandfather, Mr. Rowan, a barrister and lay-fellow of Trinity College, Dublin, who, in a kind of prophetic spirit, made it a condition of the bequest, "that his grandson should not come to Ireland until after he should be twenty-five years old."
DON ESTEBAN; OR, MEMOIRS OF A SPANIARD.†
THIS work owes its interest not to any uncommon display of talent, but to a display that is quite as rare, and occasionally much more useful; namely, a united disposition and faculty to relate facts simply and faithfully, and leave them to produce their own impression upon the reader. This, added to the possession of a great variety of personal information, connected with at once the most interesting and important event of our times-the invasion of Spain-has contributed to produce, under the form of Memoirs of a living Spaniard, a very curious and amusing book, and one which, while the circumstances it relates
*It is now several years since the particulars of Mr. Rowan's escape were related to me by a friend, as they had been communicated to him by the principal actor himself; and my present recollection is that the above incident was not included. I have often heard it, as I have given it, from other sources.
+ Don Esteban, or Memoirs of a Spaniard; written by bimself, 3 vols. Post 8vo. Vol. IX. No. 53-1825.
are sufficiently uncommon to give the relation of them the effect of a romance, are placed before us in a manner to satisfy us that the work is nothing less. Assuming a title similar to two other works which have lately obtained a very deserved success—we mean Anastasius, or Memoirs of a Greek, and Hajji Baba, or Memoirs of a Persian-Don Esteban, or Memoirs of a Spaniard, resembles those works in nothing but in the various illustrations it affords us of the present state of society and manners in a highly interesting and but little known country: for that the actual state of manners in Spain, close at hand as it is, is but little known to the rest of Europe, is no less true than extraordinary. In fact, the present views, feelings, and moral condition of the Spanish people in general, though too well known for the maintenance of that respect in which they have till lately been held by contemporary nations, can perhaps, upon the whole, be less accurately judged of than those of any other previous period of Spanish history.
We will not say that the simple and unpretending work before us goes the full length of furnishing this desideratum: and, perhaps, the mere fact of its being written by an exiled Spaniard-exiled in consequence of his political feelings, opinions, and connexions-precludes the possibility of this being the case. But thus much we can safely say of it, that we know not where else the enquirer into matters of this nature can gather so much information of the kind alluded to: always taking it for granted, as indeed the style, matter, and every thing connected with the work leads us to do, that the author actually is what he pretends to be, and is not writing under an assumed character. His name, indeed, and the names of the other parties connected with the merely biographical portion of the work, he confesses are assumed. And this seems no more than was necessary under the circumstances. But he assures us, that the actual facts which are related are to be regarded as matter of history; and in connexion with the greater part of these he gives us real living names; which at once lays him open to exposure if his statements are not well-founded.
It is upon this ground therefore-namely, the alleged truth of the various extraordinary statements contained in the work—that we shall lay a short account of it before our readers, and present them with some of its singular details.
The work opens with some domestic scenes and occurrences connected with the author's life, at the period of his being a youthful student at the University of Valladolid. But as these, and indeed all the details immediately connected with the author himself, are much less curious and interesting than the various collateral events and persons that we are introduced to in the after part of his narrative, we shall pass over much of the introductory matter, in order to reach that period when he is induced, young as he is, first to connect himself with the guerilla parties that arose almost immediately on the invasion of the French, and afterwards to enter the regular Spanish army.
The opening details to which we have referred above occupy about half of the first volume, and are interesting chiefly on account of the clear insight they give into the domestic manners of several different classes of the Spanish people. We pass them over, however, to come to those more immediately connected with Napoleon's invasion.
The following account of the death of a deserving General, by the hands of the people whom he had just been defending, affords a striking illustration of the state of public feeling at the commencement of the contest. The account is thus introduced by the author :
"At that time, indeed, the Spanish generals, like their government, had authority only so long as they acted in unison with the feelings of those whom they commanded. Whether successful or unfortunate, they were equally obliged to submit to the will of their troops, or rather armed peasants. Those leaders who were imprudent enough to act contrary to it were immediately branded with the name of traitors, and literally torn to pieces by the enraged populace. There was hardly a large town in Spain that had not its victim."-"As soon as the latter General (Cuesta) found that Cevallos* was likely to be sacrificed to popular fury, he had sent to Avila, where he then was, a party of cavalry, with orders to convey him safe to his presence and have him tried; but principally with the intention of screening him from the ferocity of the people. Cevallos set off from that city accompanied by his wife and children, and escorted by the few cavalry soldiers who had been sent in search of him. In his way to Valladolid he suffered a thousand insults, and more than once had his life attempted. On coming within half a mile of Valladolid, the unfortunate man, as if foreseeing the fate that awaited him within its gates, and wishing to spare his unhappy wife the horrible sight of his death, alighted from the carriage, and mounting a saddle horse, pushed forward escorted by two soldiers, the rest remaining round the carriage. The news of his approach had already spread throughout the city, and a crowd of the lowest rabble hurried along to the city gates. No sooner had he entered than one of the market women cast a large stone at his head, which unfortunately struck him on the temple and brought him down. Immediately a mass of people, armed with all sorts of weapons, fell upon his prostrate body, and in less than five minutes it was a mangled corpse. It will scarcely be credited, perhaps, that one of these tigers in human shape, after stabbing him with his knife, drank of the blood that gushed out from the wound! His fainting wife entered the city shortly after, and the barbarian populace, exulting in their cruelty, received her with the severed limbs of her husband, stuck on poles, sticks, swords, and daggers! To such a pitch of frenzy had the wild effervescence of the popular feeling arrived."
Another specimen of the horrors connected with a war like that which the Spaniards were waging at this time, and we will proceed to other matters.
"As we were proceeding through by-ways, the high road being impassable, we overtook a young woman leading a mule loaded with two large trunks. She was crying bitterly for the loss of her husband, who had been killed in that day's battle. She was now a destitute widow, and her whole property was in those two trunks. Before she could relate more of her melancholy story we reached our country house on the banks of the Duero, and invited her in for the night. We found it crowded with strangers, who had taken up their quarters there. They were all welcome, and we managed for ourselves as well as we could. The young woman who came with us, begged her two trunks might be deposited carefully in one of the rooms, and taking a key from her pocket, she eagerly opened them; but what was the horror and surprise of all present at finding a dead infant in each! The grief of the unfortunate mother cannot be described; she fell into dreadful convulsions, in which we thought she would have expired. At last a torrent of tears came to relieve her, and having recovered the power of speech, she informed us that when she received the news of her husbands's death, and of the
* Cevallos had been in command of Segovia, but had just been compelled to cede it to the French troops.
advance of the French army, her children were both lying ill of the small per. The physician told her that their lives depended on not being exposed to the air; but no carriage or covered cart was to be had. To remain in the town was impossible, and, therefore, having with great difficulty procured a mule, she placed her babes in the trunks, and hurried away. Her grief and the continual alarms during the journey, made her quite forget that if exposure to the air were danger ous, the total want of it must prove fatal."
At this period, the arrival of Napoleon in person, and the spread of his troops over a great part of the Peninsula, had almost broken up every thing like domestic intercourse throughout the country, and carried dismay and destruction into the hearts of the most distinguished families of its population. The following may be taken as a fair specimen of the behaviour of " the politest nation in the world," under these circumstances. As real names are given, we suppose the story must be received as a simple statement of facts.
"General Dufreys was in the habit of coming to our house to dine with a superior officer, who was billetted there. In his various intrusions into our apartments, he had met with my sister Marienne, and fallen violently in love with her; (of course I mean the love that such a man was capable of feeling); but being unable to gain her heart, he endeavoured, by every possible means, short of absolute force, to get possession of her person. But when he found himself unsuccessful in this attempt, he turned his views to an object more worthy of his passion-to a maid-servant of ours-whom he succeeded in debauching by dint of presents and promises. She was now raised to the honour of being his acknowledged mistress; and he, on the departure of Marechal Besières, being made Governor of Vallado lid, gave a grand ball in honour of himself, out of the pockets of the inhabitants, (as was usually the case), to which the principal town's-people were invited. Of course my mother and my sister Marienne were not forgotten; but they both determined not to be present, and therefore sent an answer declining the honour. This was not admitted; on the contrary, one of the General's aides-de-camp came in person to intimate his Excellency's displeasure, in case they failed to attend. Notwithstanding this threat, they persisted in their first resolution. The hour of the ball arrived, and they had not made the slightest preparation for the dance. The music struck up, and the dancing commenced, yet still they were absent. The Governor, who had given this ball chiefly for the purpose of mortifying my mother and sister, immediately perceived it, and sent an officer, with a piquet of soldiers, with express orders not to return without them, in whatever dress they might be. The soldiers accordingly arrived at our house, and, entering their room, took them away by force, and conducted them to the Consistorio, insensible to their supplications and tears. There his Excellency, the General, received them with taunting and gross abuse, and then led them to the principal end of the room, where my Lady Governess, lately our servant-maid, was sitting under a most magnificent canopy. To her Ladyship they were obliged to make their obeisance; after which, my mother, with all her aristocratic feelings of blue-blood, was obliged to sit on her right hand, and Marienne on her left. This was not the only humiliation they received on that hateful night; for the servants who handed the refreshments round, being instructed how to act, every time they passed, asked her Ladyship"Will your Excellency take any refreshments?"-and then presenting some to the other ladies who were near, passed on without noticing my mother or sister. One would have thought that these degrading insults would have satisfied the mean, savage Frenchman; but no, Marienne must dance-nay, she must dance with him! Thus the poor girl was dragged about the room, like a doll, till he himself, tired of the sport, allowed his victims to withdraw! Early next day, he sent a note to my father, intimating that in consequence of his family having resisted his orders, he expected to receive five hundred dollars by twelve o'clock, without