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FROM THE FRENCH.
A PERUVIAN EXECUTION.
stay, however, and, service for service, interrogated him respecting the cause of
the extraordinary assemblage of which we URING my sojourn in the Peruvian formed a part.
capital I was witness, in the Plaza- What !” exclaimed he, “ do you not Mayor, of some strange scenes, which spoke know that they are about to shoot a conbut little in favor of the political life of the spirator ?" country. It is in the Plaza-Mayor that “I did not before,” I replied ; " and are executed all sentences of death against where will the execution take place ?" Limenian criminals, and in it have been “ In this plaza, not two feet from where enacted nearly all the military dramas, you stand.” tragic or otherwise, of which the republic “ What! in the middle of this crowd ?" founded by Bolivar has been the theater. “ Exactly.” A few months previous to my arrival in “But will no accident happen ?" I inthe country, Peru had been, as usual, in a quired, imagining that it would be imposstate of civil war. Its government had sible to avoid their taking place, so densely only just been settled for the first time since packed and numerous was the crowd. the period when the president Gamarra ex- “People must take care," was the piated upon the battle-field of Ingavi his response of the Limenian ; "and there ill-starred and deservedly unsuccessful at- will not be the slightest excuse for any tempt upon the liberties of the republic, victim, for every one in Lima knows perand the supreme power had just fallen into fectly well that the soldiers always fire the hands of General Vivanco, after having from these steps,” which were those of been contested for so long and fiercely by the palace of the right reverend archbishop. Menendez, Torrico, Lafuente, and Vidal. He then bade me to observe closely a wall
It was merely chance that conducted me at some paces opposite, and I perceived to the Plaza Mayor on the day on which that it bore evident traces of preceding took place this execution of a state criminal. executions. We were standing, then, I could not but observe, as I sat writing upon the exact spot from which the at the window of my lodgings, that the soldiers were to fire, and to me it seemed people were flocking thitherward in un- that the public security on these occasions accustomed crowds, and that every coun- must be extremely precarious, the crowds tenance wore a much more anxious look having nothing but their own prudence to than usual. Those of the women, in keep them out of danger. The approach, particular, who were there, as everywhere however, of a regiment of the soldiers of else, in the majority, betrayed a far greater Vivanco, soon distracted my thoughts from degree of inquietude and curiosity than this subject. They came marching proudly customary, and altogether it was easy to amid a flourish of trumpets, and deployed perceive that an event of unusual occur- in platoons before the national palace, rence was at hand. In spite of the danger which, like that of the archbishop, is to which a French soldier was at that situated in the plaza. The rolling of the time exposed who was incautious enough drums, the gay flourishes of the bugles, to appear in the streets of Lima in full the booming of the guns, and the dazzling uniform, I ceded the Aiquillon to curiosity, appearance of so much steel and brass and went out without changing mine, which glistening in such a sun as that which I then happened to be wearing, for a garb hangs above Peru, together with the less likely to attract attention. I had not empressement of the women, the conquering gone far when a Peruvian approached me, and proud air of the young military officers politely requesting to “be allowed the created by Vivanco, and all this bustle, favor of lighting his cigarette at my cigar.” | noise, and movement, gave to the plaza so I presented to him, according to the cus- much the appearance of a place prepared tom there, my panatella by the lighted for a public fête, that I began to forget the end. He took it delicately between his purpose for which it all had been given second finger and his thumb, lighted his birth to. It was recalled, however, to my own,
, and returned it to me with that grace- memory by hearing an individual, who ful gesture which expresses, in Spanish formed one of a neighboring group in America, at the same time thanks and a which seemed to be carrying on a very parting salutation. I beckoned him to animated conversation, interrupt himself
as the strokes of a neighboring church Arrived for the second time in the clock struck his ear, and exclaim : Plaza-Mayor, I found there, if possible, a
“ A quarter to nine ; in another quarter crowd denser than before. There was a of an hour he will be out of prison." sadness visible on every countenance,
" True," replied another; “but there are which, when coupled with the otherwise five churches on his route, so we shall not gay appearance of the plaza, produced an see him here much before noon."
effect upon the mind which I will not atThe conversation was then continued as tempt to describe. More soldiers had though nothing had interrupted it; but the arrived during the hour I had been absent, few words I have just repeated sufficed to and the beating of the drums from time to recall the poor condamne to my recollection, time announced that the “traitor's” senand I resolved to take immediately the tence was being read to the various way leading to the prison, since it seemed regiments. This formality had not been that the drama, of which I had determined as yet completely gone through, when a to become an attentive observer, would sudden murmur and confusion near the not be completed in one act. I arrived at entrance of the plaza announced the arrival the prison gates exactly as the clock struck there of the condemned. nine. The cortege, preceded and followed An electric thrill ran through the whole by a picket of cavalry, was already in assembly, which trembled like a field of motion ; a line of soldiers on each side of wheat in a gust of wind. Every countethe criminal were marching to keep off nance expressed something much akin to from him the pressure of the crowd. A stupor, every voice was hushed, and the drum, covered with flock crape, was beating procession entered amid a silence deep and a slow death-march, and was accompanied still as that of death. In order to give it at intervals by a couple of shrill fifes; entrance, one side of the rectangle of and the bells of a neighboring church, troops fell back upon the neighboring toward which the course of the proces- columns, and rendered visible the fatal sion seemed to be directed, were tolling a stool, seated upon which the prisoner was funeral knell.
about to undergo his penalty. The soldiers Accompanied by his confessor, who was then prepared to fire into the middle of the reading prayers to him in a half-whisper, crowd, as though no one stood before them the criminal marched along with his eyes but the prisoner. The people seemed covered and his arms tied. He wore no used to this, and those of them who were coat; and a not over-clean shirt, a pair of in danger made haste to extricate themtorn striped trowsers, an old felt hat, and selves; but neither the soldiers nor the a pair of well-worn shoes, completed his police appeared to dream of interrupting not very elegant costume. His step was the circulation of the populace. As soon, firm, and his bearing appeared fearless ; however, as the condemned had been conand-faithful to the last to his national ducted to his stool, my attention was taste—he smoked as he went along an wholly concentrated upon him. enormously large cigar. At some distance As soon as they had seated him he threw behind him followed a group of Sisters of away his cigar, and having prayed his atMercy-hermanos de la buena muerte, tendants to remove the bandage from his whose part in the sad drama was to be that eyes, delivered an address to those around of performing the proper duties, after the him, in which he declared that he was execution, to the corpse. The cortege entirely innocent. He then cast his eyes advanced but very slowly, and it stopped upon a gallery of the presidential palace, before every church upon its route, in order upon which were seated, as witnesses of that the condemned might be conducted the execution, a number of the officers of within its gates, and allowed to kneel | Vivanco, and, if report spoke truly, the upon its steps to pray, while some somber general himself. He appeared to hope for verses of the De Profundis were slowly an instant that his sentence might be sung in the interior. The prayers over, commuted, and I watched the gallery for the bells ceased tolling, the criminal arose, a few seconds with the most dolorous those of the next church farther on began, anxiety; but one could not divine the least and the procession recommenced its pas- manifestation of sympathy in any member sage through the midst of a very numerous of the group from which might have isand mournful crowd.
sued the word of grace. It was evident
that the law would be allowed to take its mercy of half a dozen private soldiers, who course, and I turned my eyes anew upon -committing, however, by doing so, seeing the condemned, whose calm and proud that they were not bidden, a breach of attitude had not in the least been shaken discipline-gave the mutilated wretch the by the alternate fevers of hope and despair coup de grace. Some of the random balls which in the course of the last few seconds which were fired by these soldiers grier. must have filled his veins. He asked that ously wounded several of the lookers-on ; the bandage might be again placed over and one of them, an officer, I believe, of his eyes, and when this was done he was high grade, died, I was told, the next pinioned to the stool, and twelve men ad- morning, a few hours after. vanced with their muskets pointed at him. The hermanos before mentioned now I turned away that I might not observe approached the corpse, straightened it, the sickening spectacle which I knew must and tied it to the back of the wooden stool, follow, and cast my eyes over the sur-and-as it was necessary that it should rerounding crowd. A discharge of muskets, main there till the evening-placed pear which made my heart leap painfully, ap- it a cross and a basin of holy water. prised me that the sentence had been This done, they knelt beside it and began carried out. Immediately the drums began praying, and continued to do so without again to beat; the trumpets were again intermission till after sunset. sounded; and the troops, breaking up their During the afternoon the plaza remained columns, defiled before the gallery of the almost empty, a few individuals only palace, the standard-bearers lowering their coming now and then to scatter holy water flags, and the officers saluting their supe- out of the basin on the corpse, and to riors with the sword, and shouting rirats. place offerings of money in the dead man's This noise and bustle had already begun hat, upon which was placed an inscription to efface the sorrowful expression which which solicited alms to be devoted to the was imprinted upon every countenance, purpose of paying for prayers for his soul's and we had all begun to breathe again, as repose. After, however, the oracion of though just delivered from the terrors of the evening, the portales were filled as a nightmare, when an unspeakable dread usual with elegant promenaders; the corpse seemed to seize upon all present, and began having been removed, the plaza lacked to scatter the multitude with the rapidity none of its customary noise and gayety, and of lightning. Carried away, in spite of it seemed as though the tragic scene of myself, by the strong human current, I which it had been the theater in the morndemanded of them near me the cause of all ing was already forgotten by the joyous this terror; but “ El muerto! El muerto !" crowds who filled it. I wondered much at was the only answer I could gain. The the time how that which had been felt so report, however, of a second discharge of keenly in the morning should have been so musketry, which was heard soon after, well forgotten as it appeared to be by the served to stop the flying, and caused them evening of the same day; but I discovered to retrace their steps toward the plaza, afterward that it had not entirely escaped again bearing me with them,—this time not the recollection of the gay Limenians, for unwillingly.
chancing to witness, a few weeks later, Having a third time gained the place of the drawing of the national lottery, I was execution, I saw that the poor wretch was astonished to find repeated a great number breathing still, in spite even of this second of times, among the other devices which fusilade, and notwithstanding that he had accompanied the various numbers, the been struck by more than a dozen balls! words El alma del hombre fusillado. He was writhing in the cruelest of tortures; Were these the words of remorseful acand so dreadful was the sight which he complices, or those of tender and unforgetpresented, that the populace, which again ting friends ? Did they who wrote these had gathered around him, rushed from his words upon their tickets intend, if fortune neighborhood after a second or two, favored them, to endow some chapel or smitten with fright and horror. Horrible found some mass, or-entering into a to relate, his torments lasted for some regular account with the dead “traitor”minutes, without any officer giving com to keep the money, and give him a prayer mand that they should be put an end to; or two in return? The latter is by far the and he was only released from them by the most probable supposition.
The National Magazine.
It will not do for them to scout the thing as jugglery, delusion, folly. It is not jugglery,
and the world now well enough knows it is AUGUST, 1853.
not; it is not sheer delusion--that the world also understands well enough; and as for folly,
that is a vague term, which the world cares THE SPIRIT RAPPINGS.
little about in a matter of popular excitement NHE English papers report that Bulwer, the like this. There is some jugglery and some spirit rappings"—that is, we suppose, to the whole matter, doubtless; but there is also, genpreposterous (alias preternatural) claims of the tlemen of science, an undeniable mystery of truth, rappists. Bulwer has, for some years past,
an undeniable scientific element in it. It will shown a propensity for novelties as well as not do to give it the go-by with a learned sneer. novels. His famous letter on the water cure,
The world demands something else from you. shows how much he can exaggerate even a
Your predecessors so treated Harvey's discovery good thing. We should not be surprised, if, of the circulation of the blood, Jenner's vaclike Harriet Martineau's vagaries on mesmer
cination, and Mesmer's still greater discovery ; ism, and the vagaries of most men of genius but the world took care that those great facts in occult matters of science, his speculations should not be ignored, in spite of the Pharishould yet furnish matter of astonishment to saic “professional dignity" of science. Hunhis friends.
dreds of thousands, nay millions of candid obEverything new and marvelous makes now servers, not a few of them cultivated men and a-days the tour of the world—that is, of the women, have fully ascertained that there is a "enlightened world.” The spirits have sub demonstrable reality in these new phenomena. mitted to this law of necessity, and are hard The want of a scientific recognition and exat work rapping tables, and astonishing be- plication of the mystery is now leaving not wildered experimenters all over Europe. The only this country, but most civilized countries, papers report them from Siberia to Rome, Ex to all sorts of delusions respecting it. Meanperiments are being made, it is said, by even the while our scientific men, with few exceptions, pope and cardinals within the Vatican. Spain stand off in such rapt self-respect, that they and Portugal are alive with excitement on the cannot condescend to enlighten the honest, but subject. France is on the qui vive with it, and erring convictions of the people. our latest French periodicals (of which we get
That there is a scientific solution of the some half-dozen monthly) not only discuss the problem we have no doubt whatever. Arago subject with the genuine national vivacity, but suggested it, before the French Academy, in the present pictorial illustrations of it on an ample case of Angelique Cottin—a case which presentscale. Germany has been rife with it for ed most of the "rapping” phenomena of these several months, “the tables being turned," late developments. That suggestion was, that tipped, rapped, &c., in cottages and castles, beer a newly-manifested force—not electricity nor houses and universities, to the amazement, if magnetism, for it defies the laws of both-was not amusement of the pipe-smoking and phleg- the cause of the anomalous effects. He further matic spectators. Some of the learned men suggested that it presented a new and most of the country are giving attention to the sub- important subject of investigation to the learnject, and we may expect to see it figure in ed world. Reichenbach, in the study of other brochures, if not in stout volumes, at the Leip- marvellous phenomena, reached conclusions sic fair. Baron Reichenbach has long had the respecting this new rent (Odyle, as he calls real clew of the secret in his hand, and will it,) which have taken, in his discussions, the doubtless give us a new edition of the “ dy- form of precise and elaborate scientific defininamics of magnetism," and new demonstra- tions. Faraday's researches in magnetism, tions of the “Odic force.” Here among our
and especially his discovery of dia-magnetism, selves it is said, that the mania spreads daily; have thrown new light on the subject, and it is estimated that there are about one hundred identified the discovery of Reichenbach. thousand “mediums" extant in the States; Abstractly considered there is nothing incredsome scores are now in our hospitals--the ible in this discovery; it is simply an addition insanity of the country has been quite appre to our acknowledged imponderable agents ciably increased by it in several States. It is light, physical magnetism, electricity, galvancreating a new section of literature, if not in- ism, attraction of gravitation. deed a new sect of religion among us. It prevails
The “Odic force” accounts, as Dr. Rogerst already in our new Pacific settlements; and has shown, for all the mysteries of the “rapeven the Spaniards of South America are begin- pings,” even for the elimination and transmisning to be bewitched by it.
sion of thought by them. Examples of the The superstitious abuses which must attend kind have been authentically attested long bethese phenomena among the masses of low Eu- fore these recent developments, as in the case ropean and South American population, will
of Frederika Hauffe, narrated by Dr. Kerner, be terrible. The extravagant, and in many
of Germany. cases disastrous, results witnessed among our more enlightened population, may well lead us
According to the latest word from Reichenbach
he acknowledges the identity of Faraday's discovery to apprehend serious evils from the prevalence of the mischief elsewhere.
† We again commend Rogers's work to our readAnd now we repeat what we said in our last professionally scientific source, on the subjects. Its
ers as the best (we regret to say only) work, from a number, that the responsibility of remedying only faults are that it is careless in style and yet too this widespread evil is upon our scientific men. elaborate for popular effect.
with his own.
The fact that in “circles" correct answers placed, may be inerasalle. Some diseased state have been “rapped” out, to questions which no of the brain or some casual association may, mere conjecture could meet, is unquestiona years afterward, bring it out in all its reality. ble. The evidence is, however, conclusive that But we are growing speculative, the reader in such cases the essential thought of the re will say; we did not intend to give the scientific ply has come from some mind present, usually investigation of the subject so much required, the querist himself. A clerical friend of ours, but only to indicate it. who was taken by surprise with these marvels, We cannot close these remarks without refervisited a "circle” and received very minute ring to two reflections which the subject sugand exact responses respecting a deceased rel- gests. The first is that we have in this strange ative. The case was exceedingly curious, and matter another instance of the humble, popular seemed absolutely conclusive of the question of manner in which important truths sometimes preternatural intelligence in the mysterious
A few obscure women first observed, agent. He resolved to repeat his visit prepared in Rochester, N. Y., this new marvel. They with three sets of questions. The first con have been laughed at all over the land as sisted of a series, the answers to which he deluded. They have been, perhaps, in part; knew accurately; the second of such as he but the civilized world is now experimenting could not answer or obtain their correct an and attesting the main fact at first announced swers from any source whatever; the third of by them, and, unquestionably, a new scientific such as he could not then answer, but could agent of untold interest, and, it may be, imascertain their correct answers from books. portance, has been thus brought out and proHe found the answers to the first correct; the pounded to the scientific inquiries of the age. answers to the second were apparently conjec The other reflection, with which we close tural, such as an ordinary mind would give these remarks, is not so satisfactory. It refers on unsettled questions; the third he found, to the evidence of popular infidelity, which the on looking into his books, to be all inaccurate. “rappings" have revealed. The "mediums" Who does not see the interaction of his own have introduced a new theology: it virtually and the medium's mind? In this way alone denies what Evangelical Christendom contends can we account for the common place and often for, as fundamental truths of revealed religion. puerile character of the answers. They com This theology is remarkably uniform among port with the standard of mind in the circle. the hundreds of thousands who hare become
The chief difficulty with this solution is the addicted to the "rapping circles.” If, now, fact, that sometimes events which the querist the responses from the tables, are as we have has totally forgotten, or, as he supposes, never shown, but indications of the minds present knew, are correctly given. There is a well in the circle, eliminations of thought-conscious attested psychological marvel to be referred to or sometimes unconscious thought-what an eviin such cases. It is supposed by some writers dence have we in these almost uniformly antithat the memory never really loses an impres- christian responses of the latent popular doubt sion, however casually received, or even when of the Christian faith! As might be expected, unconsciously received. Coleridge mentions a from the natural heart, this skepticism relates remarkable instance of a servant-maid who, mostly to the severer truths of Christianity, some years after residing in the family of a those truths which the conscience most readily learned old German divino, was taken with a recognizes, but which the wayward heart and fever, during the paroxyms of which she repeated passion-led will most readily reject.
The correctly passages from Latin, Greek, and He- thought is not without significance and not brew works. The learned maniac was, of course, without a sad lesson. & nine days' wonder ; scholars took down the passages and found them correct. Where did
ENGLISH ESTIMATE OF AMERICA. she, the untutored servant girl, learn them ? Inquiry was made respecting her former places E have repeatedly quoted from our English
old divine's parsonage. He, it seems, had been or character. John Bull is gruff and given to in the habit of reading aloud his learned books wbat the French call hauteur. He is quite malon his piazza, and was overheard by the servant, adroit at complimenting other than his own without an effort, doubtless, on her part to un country. Most of the judgments on American derstand or to remember the to her unintelligible matters which we have quoted from him, have jargon. Yet, years after, an abnormal con been carefully qualified and somewhat amdition of the brain reveals the hidden and dis- biguous. Yet it cannot have escaped the tinct impression on her memory of these mere notice of a reader of English periodicals, that sounds-sounds that had with them no associa the favorable inclination of the dignified old tion of ideas whatever. The reader of Rush on gentleman toward his wayward and audacious the Mind will recall similar instances in transatlantic children, has grown wonderfully abundance, Most men are familiar with some within a year or two. Even our literature such facts. A dream will sometimes awaken claims now his respectful attention.
Our an unconscious impression of the memory and steamers have made him stare. Our manufacreveal, truthfully, facts that were before hope- tures took him by surprise at the World's Fair, lessly unattainable. You may have heard of a and our yacht victory fairly set his big chest fact or seen a sight so inattentively as to be to puffing. He wiped the sweat from his round unconscious of it, and yet the image or impres- face that day, and was fain to take comfort in sion conveyed through your senses was lodged the thought that Jonathan was, after all, his in the memory, and according to some author own child-the veritable'son of him, Old John ities, among whom we think Bacon is to be Bull.