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stay, however, and, service for service, interrogated him respecting the cause of the extraordinary assemblage of which we formed a part.


"What!" exclaimed he, "do you not know that they are about to shoot a conspirator?"

"I did not before," I replied; "and where will the execution take place ?"

“In this plaza, not two feet from where you stand."

"What! in the middle of this crowd?" Exactly."

"But will no accident happen?" I inquired, imagining that it would be impossible to avoid their taking place, so densely packed and numerous was the crowd.


It was merely chance that conducted me to the Plaza-Mayor on the day on which took place this execution of a state criminal. I could not but observe, as I sat writing at the window of my lodgings, that the people were flocking thitherward in unaccustomed crowds, and that every countenance wore a much more anxious look than usual. Those of the women, in particular, who were there, as everywhere else, in the majority, betrayed a far greater degree of inquietude and curiosity than customary, and altogether it was easy to perceive that an event of unusual occurrence was at hand. In spite of the danger to which a French soldier was at that time exposed who was incautious enough to appear in the streets of Lima in full uniform, I ceded the Aiquillon to curiosity, and went out without changing mine, which I then happened to be wearing, for a garb less likely to attract attention. I had not gone far when a Peruvian approached me, politely requesting to "be allowed the favor of lighting his cigarette at my cigar." I presented to him, according to the custom there, my panatella by the lighted end. He took it delicately between his second finger and his thumb, lighted his own, and returned it to me with that graceful gesture which expresses, in Spanish America, at the same time thanks and a parting salutation. I beckoned him to

"People must take care," was the response of the Limenian; "and there will not be the slightest excuse for any victim, for every one in Lima knows perfectly well that the soldiers always fire from these steps," which were those of the palace of the right reverend archbishop. He then bade me to observe closely a wall at some paces opposite, and I perceived that it bore evident traces of preceding executions. We were standing, then, upon the exact spot from which the soldiers were to fire, and to me it seemed that the public security on these occasions must be extremely precarious, the crowds having nothing but their own prudence to keep them out of danger. The approach, however, of a regiment of the soldiers of Vivanco, soon distracted my thoughts from this subject. They came marching proudly amid a flourish of trumpets, and deployed in platoons before the national palace, which, like that of the archbishop, is situated in the plaza. The rolling of the drums, the gay flourishes of the bugles, the booming of the guns, and the dazzling appearance of so much steel and brass glistening in such a sun as that which hangs above Peru, together with the empressement of the women, the conquering and proud air of the young military officers created by Vivanco, and all this bustle, noise, and movement, gave to the plaza so much the appearance of a place prepared for a public fête, that I began to forget the purpose for which it all had been given birth to. It was recalled, however, to my memory by hearing an individual, who formed one of a neighboring group in which seemed to be carrying on a very animated conversation, interrupt himself




URING my sojourn in the Peruvian capital I was witness, in the PlazaMayor, of some strange scenes, which spoke but little in favor of the political life of the country. It is in the Plaza-Mayor that are executed all sentences of death against Limenian criminals, and in it have been enacted nearly all the military dramas, tragic or otherwise, of which the republic founded by Bolivar has been the theater. A few months previous to my arrival in the country, Peru had been, as usual, in a state of civil war. Its government had only just been settled for the first time since the period when the president Gamarra expiated upon the battle-field of Ingavi his ill-starred and deservedly unsuccessful attempt upon the liberties of the republic, and the supreme power had just fallen into the hands of General Vivanco, after having been contested for so long and fiercely by Menendez, Torrico, Lafuente, and Vidal.

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as the strokes of a neighboring church clock struck his ear, and exclaim :

"A quarter to nine; in another quarter of an hour he will be out of prison."

"True,” replied another; "but there are five churches on his route, so we shall not see him here much before noon."

The conversation was then continued as though nothing had interrupted it; but the few words I have just repeated sufficed to recall the poor condamne to my recollection, and I resolved to take immediately the way leading to the prison, since it seemed that the drama, of which I had determined to become an attentive observer, would not be completed in one act. I arrived at the prison gates exactly as the clock struck nine. The cortege, preceded and followed by a picket of cavalry, was already in motion; a line of soldiers on each side of the criminal were marching to keep off from him the pressure of the crowd. A drum, covered with flock crape, was beating a slow death-march, and was accompanied at intervals by a couple of shrill fifes; and the bells of a neighboring church, toward which the course of the procession seemed to be directed, were tolling a funeral knell.

Accompanied by his confessor, who was reading prayers to him in a half-whisper, the criminal marched along with his eyes covered and his arms tied. He wore no coat; and a not over-clean shirt, a pair of torn striped trowsers, an old felt hat, and a pair of well-worn shoes, completed his not very elegant costume. His step was firm, and his bearing appeared fearless; and-faithful to the last to his national taste-he smoked as he went along an enormously large cigar. At some distance behind him followed a group of Sisters of Mercy-hermanos de la buena muerte whose part in the sad drama was to be that of performing the proper duties, after the execution, to the corpse. The cortege advanced but very slowly, and it stopped before every church upon its route, in order that the condemned might be conducted within its gates, and allowed to kneel upon its steps to pray, while some somber verses of the De Profundis were slowly sung in the interior. The prayers over, the bells ceased tolling, the criminal arose, those of the next church farther on began, and the procession recommenced its passage through the midst of a very numerous and mournful crowd.

Arrived for the second time in the Plaza-Mayor, I found there, if possible, a crowd denser than before. There was a sadness visible on every countenance, which, when coupled with the otherwise gay appearance of the plaza, produced an effect upon the mind which I will not attempt to describe. More soldiers had arrived during the hour I had been absent, and the beating of the drums from time to time announced that the "traitor's" sentence was being read to the various regiments. This formality had not been as yet completely gone through, when a sudden murmur and confusion near the entrance of the plaza announced the arrival there of the condemned.

An electric thrill ran through the whole assembly, which trembled like a field of wheat in a gust of wind. Every countenance expressed something much akin to stupor, every voice was hushed, and the procession entered amid a silence deep and still as that of death. In order to give it entrance, one side of the rectangle of troops fell back upon the neighboring columns, and rendered visible the fatal stool, seated upon which the prisoner was about to undergo his penalty. The soldiers then prepared to fire into the middle of the crowd, as though no one stood before them but the prisoner. The people seemed used to this, and those of them who were in danger made haste to extricate themselves; but neither the soldiers nor the police appeared to dream of interrupting the circulation of the populace. As soon, however, as the condemned had been conducted to his stool, my attention was wholly concentrated upon him.

As soon as they had seated him he threw away his cigar, and having prayed his attendants to remove the bandage from his eyes, delivered an address to those around him, in which he declared that he was entirely innocent. He then cast his eyes upon a gallery of the presidential palace, upon which were seated, as witnesses of the execution, a number of the officers of Vivanco, and, if report spoke truly, the general himself. He appeared to hope for an instant that his sentence might be commuted, and I watched the gallery for a few seconds with the most dolorous anxiety; but one could not divine the least manifestation of sympathy in any member of the group from which might have issued the word of grace. It was evident

that the law would be allowed to take its course, and I turned my eyes anew upon the condemned, whose calm and proud attitude had not in the least been shaken by the alternate fevers of hope and despair which in the course of the last few seconds must have filled his veins. He asked that the bandage might be again placed over his eyes, and when this was done he was pinioned to the stool, and twelve men advanced with their muskets pointed at him. I turned away that I might not observe the sickening spectacle which I knew must follow, and cast my eyes over the surrounding crowd. A discharge of muskets, which made my heart leap painfully, apprised me that the sentence had been carried out. Immediately the drums began again to beat; the trumpets were again sounded; and the troops, breaking up their columns, defiled before the gallery of the palace, the standard-bearers lowering their flags, and the officers saluting their superiors with the sword, and shouting rivats. This noise and bustle had already begun to efface the sorrowful expression which was imprinted upon every countenance, and we had all begun to breathe again, as though just delivered from the terrors of a nightmare, when an unspeakable dread seemed to seize upon all present, and began to scatter the multitude with the rapidity of lightning. Carried away, in spite of myself, by the strong human current, I demanded of them near me the cause of all this terror; but "El muerto! El muerto!" was the only answer I could gain. The report, however, of a second discharge of musketry, which was heard soon after, served to stop the flying, and caused them to retrace their steps toward the plaza, again bearing me with them, this time not unwillingly.

Having a third time gained the place of execution, I saw that the poor wretch was breathing still, in spite even of this second fusilade, and notwithstanding that he had been struck by more than a dozen balls! He was writhing in the cruelest of tortures; and so dreadful was the sight which he presented, that the populace, which again had gathered around him, rushed from his neighborhood after a second or two, smitten with fright and horror. Horrible to relate, his torments lasted for some minutes, without any officer giving command that they should be put an end to; and he was only released from them by the

mercy of half a dozen private soldiers, who

committing, however, by doing so, seeing that they were not bidden, a breach of discipline-gave the mutilated wretch the coup de grace. Some of the random balls which were fired by these soldiers grievously wounded several of the lookers-on; and one of them, an officer, I believe, of high grade, died, I was told, the next morning, a few hours after.

The hermanos before mentioned now approached the corpse, straightened it, and tied it to the back of the wooden stool, and as it was necessary that it should remain there till the evening-placed near it a cross and a basin of holy water. This done, they knelt beside it and began praying, and continued to do so without intermission till after sunset.

During the afternoon the plaza remained almost empty, a few individuals only coming now and then to scatter holy water out of the basin on the corpse, and to place offerings of money in the dead man's hat, upon which was placed an inscription which solicited alms to be devoted to the purpose of paying for prayers for his soul's repose. After, however, the oracion of the evening, the portales were filled as usual with elegant promenaders; the corpse having been removed, the plaza lacked none of its customary noise and gayety, and it seemed as though the tragic scene of which it had been the theater in the morning was already forgotten by the joyous crowds who filled it. I wondered much at the time how that which had been felt so keenly in the morning should have been so well forgotten as it appeared to be by the evening of the same day; but I discovered afterward that it had not entirely escaped the recollection of the gay Limenians, for chancing to witness, a few weeks later, the drawing of the national lottery, I was astonished to find repeated a great number of times, among the other devices which accompanied the various numbers, the words El alma del hombre fusillado. Were these the words of remorseful accomplices, or those of tender and unforgetting friends? Did they who wrote these words upon their tickets intend, if fortune favored them, to endow some chapel or found some mass, or-entering into a regular account with the dead "traitor"to keep the money, and give him a prayer or two in return? The latter is by far the most probable supposition.

The National Magazine.

AUGUST, 1853.



HE English papers report that Bulwer, the novelist, has become "a convert" to the "spirit rappings"-that is, we suppose, to the preposterous (alias preternatural) claims of the rappists. Bulwer has, for some years past, shown a propensity for novelties as well as novels. His famous letter on the water cure, shows how much he can exaggerate even a good thing. We should not be surprised, if, like Harriet Martineau's vagaries on mesmerism, and the vagaries of most men of genius in occult matters of science, his speculations should yet furnish matter of astonishment to his friends.


Everything new and marvelous makes nowa-days the tour of the world—that is, of the enlightened world." The spirits have submitted to this law of necessity, and are hard at work rapping tables, and astonishing bewildered experimenters all over Europe. The papers report them from Siberia to Rome. Experiments are being made, it is said, by even the pope and cardinals within the Vatican. Spain and Portugal are alive with excitement on the subject. France is on the qui vive with it, and our latest French periodicals (of which we get some half-dozen monthly) not only discuss the subject with the genuine national vivacity, but present pictorial illustrations of it on an ample scale. Germany has been rife with it for several months, "the tables being turned," tipped, rapped, &c., in cottages and castles, beerhouses and universities, to the amazement, if not amusement of the pipe-smoking and phlegmatic spectators. Some of the learned men of the country are giving attention to the subject, and we may expect to see it figure in brochures, if not in stout volumes, at the Leipsic fair. Baron Reichenbach has long had the real clew of the secret in his hand, and will doubtless give us a new edition of the "dynamics of magnetism," and new demonstrations of the "Odic force." Here among ourselves it is said, that the mania spreads daily; it is estimated that there are about one hundred thousand "mediums" extant in the States; some scores are now in our hospitals-the insanity of the country has been quite appreciably increased by it in several States. It is creating a new section of literature, if not indeed a new sect of religion among us. It prevails already in our new Pacific settlements; and even the Spaniards of South America are beginning to be bewitched by it.

The superstitious abuses which must attend these phenomena among the masses of low European and South American population, will be terrible. The extravagant, and in many cases disastrous, results witnessed among our more enlightened population, may well lead us to apprehend serious evils from the prevalence of the mischief elsewhere.

And now we repeat what we said in our last number, that the responsibility of remedying this wide-spread evil is upon our scientific men.

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 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 little about in a matter of popular excitement like this. There is some jugglery and some delusion, and much folly, mixed up with this whole matter, doubtless; but there is also, gentlemen of science, an undeniable mystery of truth, an undeniable scientific element in it. It will not do to give it the go-by with a learned sneer. The world demands something else from you. Your predecessors so treated Harvey's discovery of the circulation of the blood, Jenner's vaccination, and Mesmer's still greater discovery; but the world took care that those great facts should not be ignored, in spite of the Pharisaic "professional dignity" of science. Hundreds of thousands, nay millions of candid observers, not a few of them cultivated men and women, have fully ascertained that there is a demonstrable reality in these new phenomena. The want of a scientific recognition and explication of the mystery is now leaving not only this country, but most civilized countries, to all sorts of delusions respecting it. Meanwhile our scientific men, with few exceptions, stand off in such rapt self-respect, that they cannot condescend to enlighten the honest, but erring convictions of the people.

That there is a scientific solution of the problem we have no doubt whatever. Arago suggested it, before the French Academy, in the case of Angelique Cottin-a case which presented most of the "rapping" phenomena of these late developments. That suggestion was, that a newly-manifested force-not electricity nor magnetism, for it defies the laws of both-was the cause of the anomalous effects. He further suggested that it presented a new and most important subject of investigation to the learned world. Reichenbach, in the study of other marvellous phenomena, reached conclusions respecting this new agent (Odyle, as he calls it,) which have taken, in his discussions, the form of precise and elaborate scientific definitions. Faraday's researches in magnetism, and especially his discovery of dia-magnetism, have thrown new light on the subject, and identified the discovery of Reichenbach.

Abstractly considered there is nothing incredible in this discovery; it is simply an addition to our acknowledged imponderable agentslight, physical magnetism, electricity, galvanism, attraction of gravitation.

The "Odic force" accounts, as Dr. Rogerst has shown, for all the mysteries of the "rappings," even for the elimination and transmission of thought by them. Examples of the kind have been authentically attested long before these recent developments, as in the case of Frederika Hauffe, narrated by Dr. Kerner, of Germany.

According to the latest word from Reichenbach with his own. he acknowledges the identity of Faraday's discovery

We again commend Rogers's work to our readers as the best (we regret to say only) work, from a only faults are that it is careless in style and yet too professionally scientific source, on the subject. Its elaborate for popular effect.

The fact that in "circles" correct answers have been "rapped" out, to questions which no mere conjecture could meet, is unquestionable. The evidence is, however, conclusive that in such cases the essential thought of the reply has come from some mind present, usually the querist himself. A clerical friend of ours, who was taken by surprise with these marvels, visited a "circle" and received very minute and exact responses respecting a deceased relative. The case was exceedingly curious, and seemed absolutely conclusive of the question of preternatural intelligence in the mysterious agent. He resolved to repeat his visit prepared with three sets of questions. The first consisted of a series, the answers to which he knew accurately; the second of such as he could not answer or obtain their correct answers from any source whatever; the third of such as he could not then answer, but could ascertain their correct answers from books. He found the answers to the first correct; the answers to the second were apparently conjectural, such as an ordinary mind would give on unsettled questions; the third he found, on looking into his books, to be all inaccurate. Who does not see the interaction of his own and the medium's mind? In this way alone can we account for the commonplace and often puerile character of the answers. They comport with the standard of mind in the circle.

The chief difficulty with this solution is the fact, that sometimes events which the querist has totally forgotten, or, as he supposes, never knew, are correctly given. There is a well attested psychological marvel to be referred to in such cases. It is supposed by some writers that the memory never really loses an impression, however casually received, or even when unconsciously received. Coleridge mentions a remarkable instance of a servant-maid who, some years after residing in the family of a learned old German divine, was taken with a fever, during the paroxyms of which she repeated correctly passages from Latin, Greek, and Hebrew works. The learned maniac was, of course, a nine days' wonder; scholars took down the passages and found them correct. Where did she, the untutored servant girl, learn them?


Inquiry was made respecting her former places periodicals estimates of American genius quoted from our English

E have

of residence, and she was at last traced to the old divine's parsonage. He, it seems, had been in the habit of reading aloud his learned books on his piazza, and was overheard by the servant, without an effort, doubtless, on her part to understand or to remember the to her unintelligible jargon. Yet, years after, an abnormal condition of the brain reveals the hidden and distinct impression on her memory of these mere sounds-sounds that had with them no association of ideas whatever. The reader of Rush on the Mind will recall similar instances in abundance. Most men are familiar with some such facts. A dream will sometimes awaken an unconscious impression of the memory and reveal, truthfully, facts that were before hopelessly unattainable. You may have heard of a fact or seen a sight so inattentively as to be unconscious of it, and yet the image or impression conveyed through your senses was lodged in the memory, and according to some authorities, among whom we think Bacon is to be

or character. John Bull is gruff and given to what the French call hauteur. He is quite maladroit at complimenting other than his own country. Most of the judgments on American matters which we have quoted from him, have been carefully qualified and somewhat ambiguous. Yet it cannot have escaped the notice of a reader of English periodicals, that the favorable inclination of the dignified old gentleman toward his wayward and audacious transatlantic children, has grown wonderfully within a year or two. Even our literature claims now his respectful attention. Our steamers have made him stare. Our manufactures took him by surprise at the World's Fair, and our yacht victory fairly set his big chest to puffing. He wiped the sweat from his round face that day, and was fain to take comfort in the thought that Jonathan was, after all, his own child-the veritable'son of him, Old John Bull.

placed, may be inerasable. Some diseased state of the brain or some casual association may, years afterward, bring it out in all its reality.

But we are growing speculative, the reader will say; we did not intend to give the scientific investigation of the subject so much required, but only to indicate it.

come up.

We cannot close these remarks without referring to two reflections which the subject suggests. The first is that we have in this strange matter another instance of the humble, popular manner in which important truths sometimes A few obscure women first observed, in Rochester, N. Y., this new marvel. They have been laughed at all over the land as deluded. They have been, perhaps, in part; but the civilized world is now experimenting and attesting the main fact at first announced by them, and, unquestionably, a new scientific agent of untold interest, and, it may be, importance, has been thus brought out and propounded to the scientific inquiries of the age.

The other reflection, with which we close these remarks, is not so satisfactory. It refers to the evidence of popular infidelity, which the "rappings" have revealed. The "mediums" have introduced a new theology: it virtually denies what Evangelical Christendom contends for, as fundamental truths of revealed religion. This theology is remarkably uniform among the hundreds of thousands who have become addicted to the "rapping circles." If, now, the responses from the tables, are as we have shown, but indications of the minds present in the circle, eliminations of thought-conscious or sometimes unconscious thought-what an evidence have we in these almost uniformly antichristian responses of the latent popular doubt of the Christian faith! As might be expected, from the natural heart, this skepticism relates mostly to the severer truths of Christianity, those truths which the conscience most readily recognizes, but which the wayward heart and passion-led will most readily reject. The thought is not without significance and not without a sad lesson.

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