A 'Price One Penny' Edition

June 28, 1845

Up: The Mysteries of the Inquisition. Previous: June 21, 1845 Next: July 5, 1845

The Dungeons of the Inquisition

At ten o’clock in the evening, a few days after the events related in the two preceding chapters, the guests of the Grand Inquisidor Peter Arbuez assembled as usual in the pavilion of the palace garden.

A long table was spread with delicious fruits and wines: the Archbishop of Toledo, with a black velvet cap upon his head, occupied the seat of honour; and the Bishop of Malaga, who was still sojourning at Seville, also lent the light of his countenance to the ecclesiastical orgie.

Peter Arbuez rose from his chair, and leaning on the shoulder of his favourite Joseph, proposed a toast:—“The lovely women of Seville!” The Archbishop of Toledo’s rubicund countenance expanded into a broad grin of delight, as he raised his goblet, crowned with the choicest juice of Cyprus,80 and echoed the proposal of the Grand Inquisidor. Then all the guests,—men who on the following sabbath would denounce from the pulpits intemperance and all fleshly lusts,—those archbishops and bishops to whom was entrusted the care of thousands of souls,—those priests who granted absolution, those deacons who read portions of the scriptures and chanted litanies;—in a word, the whole ecclesiastical company joined in the hilarity and licentious enthusiasm with which that toast was greeted.

No—not all the company! There was one single exception; and that was Joseph, the favourite of the Grand Inquisidor! Upon that young man’s countenance was depicted the most ineffable disgust:—but the expression was only momentary—he had sufficient command over himself to smile, when the Grand Inquisidor whispered in his ear, “I could make these men drink to Judas himself if I chose!”

“Your lordship is omnipotent over them and every one besides in Seville,” answered Joseph in a whisper. “But my head aches, my lord: will your Eminence forgive me if I retire?”

“Go, Joseph. I know that late hours and deep potations suit not thine health.”

The young priest rose, bowed, and withdrew. But did he retire to rest? We shall see.

It was now midnight. At the entrance of that dark and gloomy edifice which was called the Prison of Faith,81 nothing interfered with the dense obscurity of the night. A profound silence reigned in that quarter: the tombs which enclosed the living victims of ecclesiastical tyranny were too deep to allow their cries of agony to penetrate without.

Two persons advanced with furtive steps towards the prison—a priest and a female. The night was so dark, and their garments were of so sombre a hue, that even a spy could not have distinguished them as they advanced along the blackened wall under whose shade they proceeded towards the door of the prison.

The priest knocked once at that massive door, which immediately opened, and admitted those two visitors into the gaol. The door then closed behind them, the hinges creaking not, for they had been purposely oiled that evening.

There was no light in the passage in which they now found themselves.

“Oh! I am afraid,” said the female in a whisper.

“Reassure yourself, Dolorez,” answered Joseph: “reassure yourself: with me you have nothing to fear.”

The young lady supported herself upon the Dominican’s arm—for her heart beat violently!

The gaoler had in the mean time lighted a dark lanthorn.

“Whither am I to conduct your Reverence?” he demanded.

“To the cell of Don Manuel Argoso,” was the answer. “Proceed—we will follow you.”

The gaoler hesitated a moment: he knew full well with what barbarity he should be treated by the Inquisition if it were discovered that he had introduced a female into the cell of a prisoner.

“Do you hesitate?” said Joseph.

“Holy father—you are aware——”

The Grand Inquisidor’s favourite made an imperative sign without uttering another word. The gaoler then proceeded on his way; and the priest, supporting the young lady on his arm, followed.

Before they reached the subterranean region where the Holy Office retained its victims, they descended a winding staircase of at least fifty steps. A disgusting odour pervaded the whole place. Joseph and his companion could scarcely resist its oppressive nature, which was almost insupportable to their delicate organs. Nevertheless, Joseph continued to sustain Dolorez in his arms—ready to faint as the poor young lady was!

“Oh!” she exclaimed, in a moment of agony, as they reached the bottom step; “can it be here that my poor father is imprisoned?”

“Courage,” said the Dominican: “courage! You will need all your fortitude!”

At that moment a heavy door opened, and gave vent to a current of air so thick and fetid, that it resembled smoke.

“This is the place, your Reverence,” said the gaoler, handing to the young priest his dark lanthorn. “Enter—but, in the name of heaven, make no noise, and do not remain long.”

“Leave us,” said Joseph imperiously. “I have no recommendations to receive from you.”

The gaoler obeyed, and retired into an obscure angle of that subterranean corridor.

Then, by the uncertain and vacillating glare of the lanthorn, Joseph essayed to guide Dolorez in that profound obscurity. They crossed the threshold of the narrow but massive door; and, when their eyes were habituated to the dubious light which enveloped them, they beheld a man extended, and apparently asleep, upon a species of bedstead at the further extremity of the dungeon.

This was the late governor of Seville. He was alone: the five other prisoners who had at first inhabited the dungeon along with him, had died, one after the other, during or after the torture.

The unfortunate Argoso, more courageous or more physically powerful, had resisted the terrible penalties which had been visited upon him; and during the period that had elapsed since he had undergone the torture, he had somewhat recovered from its awful effects.

At the moment when his daughter entered the cell, a gentle slumber had fallen upon his eyelids. That terrible dungeon only received a gleam of light in the day-time from a small loophole at the top of the wall which looked upon the street. The place was moreover so damp, that the mat on which the prisoner slept was completely rotten and falling into rags. Such was the den in which the Inquisition immured its victims!

Dolorez gently approached the bed-frame on which her father was sleeping; and, joining her hands together with an appalling expression of agony, she considered his countenance for some moments. But as Joseph advanced to that end of the dungeon, his feet encountered a pitcher of water: and the noise which it made in falling over awoke the count.

“Father, dear father!” ejaculated Dolorez, in a sorrowful tone; “Oh! how pale and changed you are!”

Then, throwing herself in his arms, she embraced him with the most heartfelt tenderness. The unhappy father responded not to the ebullition of feeling; but a cry of agony escaped his lips—for Dolorez, in straining him to her breast, had awakened the agonising pains of his dislocated limbs.

“What ails you, father? Oh! what makes you receive me thus?” exclaimed Dolorez, contriving to raise him in her feeble arms.

“Nothing, my sweet Dolorez—nothing! Oh! how rejoiced I am to see thee!” he cried, vainly essaying to smile.

Joseph turned aside, murmuring to himself, “Heaven forbid that he should betray the truth to his daughter! Surely—surely, he will spare her feelings in that respect: else—never would I have brought her hither!”

Manuel Argoso made vain efforts to raise himself; his arms, paralysed by suffering—his dislocated bones, not yet completely set—and his distended muscles, remained inert, refusing to obey the prompting of his desire.

His daughter,—the only being whom he loved upon earth,—his daughter, whom he feared never to behold again,—was there—in his presence,—there, in that dungeon—whither she seemed to have descended by means of a miracle;—and yet he could not press her to his heart—he could only mutter a few words without connection, and interrupted by sobs and moans.

“Oh! thou art then free—at liberty?” he said, after many endeavours to collect his thoughts, and now speaking in a tone so expressive of an unfeigned joy that the heart of Joseph vibrated like a piece of sonorous metal; and, by an involuntary movement, he threw himself on his knees before the count.

“Who is this priest?” demanded Don Manuel.

“An angel, my dear father,” answered Dolorez,—“an angel, who now unites us!”

“It is too late!” murmured the count.

“Why too late?” asked his daughter. “You suffer—but we will save you.”

She did not know that of a man naturally so robust and strong, the Inquisition had made A DEAD BODY!

“Ah! my dear child, do you not perceive—”

“Silence! silence!” ejaculated Joseph, bursting into tears—tears of mingled grief and indignation.

“What?—speak, dear father! Oh! is it possible? A light dawns in upon my soul: you cannot move your limbs—you cannot return my fond embrace:—a cry of agony escaped your lips when I clasped you in my arms. Ah! merciful heavens—I comprehend it all!”

Yes—she now understood that her sire had been subjected to the torture!

Weighed down, heart-broken, reduced to despair by this sudden conviction, Dolorez threw herself on her knees by the side of the bed: she gently raised his mutilated limbs, and covered them with kisses—almost appearing to believe that her fondness would restore him to life!

Then, perceiving that her efforts were useless, and that the unhappy governor, still motionless, lived only by means of the excitement of pain, she turned indignantly towards the Dominican, saying, “You knew this, and you did not tell me?”

“I could not prevent it: and yet I exerted myself to the utmost. I procured the attendance of John of Avila as a witness in your father’s favour.”

“True, true: a witness spoke for me!” ejaculated the count.

“Oh! heavens, my dear father, they have killed thee!” murmured the young lady, her bosom agitated with convulsive sobs. “See, Don Joseph,” she continued, after a pause, “he cannot move: and it is thus that he is left to languish—to pine—to die in slow torment! O God this prison is a tomb!”

“Do not be alarmed, sweet child,” answered the count. “I shall be well ere long—my sufferings are already much assuaged—”

“Yes, you shall be cured soon, because I will remain here to comfort you,” answered Dolorez, with resolution. “Who will dare to drag me away from your presence?”

“I,” exclaimed Joseph,—“who will save you both ere long!”

“You have already told me that; and yet—to what is my father reduced! You all deceive me: I will remain here—no one shall carry me hence!”

“Dolorez, listen to me! Yield not to this useless excitement: remain at liberty in order to assist your father. Are you not aware that Don Stephen de Vargas and John of Avila are adopting means to rescue his lordship Don Manuel from prison?”

“Joseph,” said Dolorez turning towards the young priest, “are you sure that my father will recover from these injuries which he has received?”

The young Dominican, who, like many ecclesiastics of that epoch, possessed some knowledge of medicine, felt the limbs of the count, and said, “Donna Dolorez, I declare most solemnly that in a few days your father will be enabled to walk.”

“In that case,” said Dolorez, who had a certain project in view, but which she did not choose to mention to the Dominican, for fear that he should prevent her from putting it in execution, “I will await the return of John of Avila.”

“Don Manuel,” exclaimed Joseph, “do not hasten to appear cured of these injuries: retard as much as possible the second interrogatory and allow your friends time to act. God will have pity on us,” he continued, with sombre excitement; “and the day of vengeance is not far distant!”

“I can endure everything now,” answered the count, “since I know that my daughter is free. And you will not betray us?” he added, with an undefinable glance at Joseph.

Manuel Argoso was afraid of that man, who wore the livery of the Inquisition.

“I owe my liberty to him,” said Dolorez, who comprehended the fears of her father: “it is he who has saved me from dishonour and death. Hope in him! And you, Don Joseph,” she continued, with great gentleness of manner, “pardon me those ebullitions of incredulity in your friendship—but, O God! I suffer so much!”

“And I also suffer,” answered the young Dominican, bitterly; “that is why I interest myself in you—and why I can forgive you.”

At that moment, steps were heard in the narrow passage communicating with the dungeons. Joseph hastily concealed his dark lanthorn beneath his cloak; and, regarding the governor and his daughter, said, “Silence! not a word!”

For a moment a sentiment of doubt and suspicion traversed the heart of Don Manuel Argoso: in spite of the confidence of his daughter, he was afraid of treachery;—but he did not allow his terrors to appear.

The noise continued for some moments: then the door of an adjacent dungeon opened, and was soon closed again; the steps retreated; and nothing more was heard save convulsive sobs, which the thickness of the walls could not intercept.

The sbirri of the Holy Office had just terminated a nocturnal expedition.

“Another victim!” said Joseph bitterly. “And a female!” added Dolorez, with a shudder. “I could tell that those sobs came from a woman’s lips!”

“Go—go!” ejaculated Don Manuel; “the air of this horrible prison is contagious! Return to freedom, dear Dolorez: we shall see each other again soon. Go—go!”

“Yes—we will meet again.”

“Not here—not here,” repeated her father: “not here! No one is in safety in the prisons of the Inquisition!”

“Oh! wait one moment—another moment—a single moment!” ejaculated Dolorez, clinging to her father, whom she could not bring herself to quit.

“We must not delay,” cried Joseph, almost compelled to have recourse to violence to detach her from that firm embrace. “Adieu, Don Manuel; and despair not. You have friends who will save you!”

At this moment the gaoler opened the door and said, “In the name of heaven, depart: I am risking my life: take away that young lady!”

“Let us go,” exclaimed Dolorez resolutely; “I will not compromise the life of any one.” Then, turning to her father, she said, “Farewell, dear parent: we will save thee yet!”

Dolorez and Joseph issued forth; and the door closed upon the prisoner.

The Two Travellers

The sun had risen. His earliest earliest rays of a pale yellow mingled with red, gleamed upon the dusky clouds which still covered the tops of the Sierra Morena.82

Two travellers proceeded along a path cut amongst the windings of the hills, and sometimes running along the verge of profound precipices, whose depth made the head giddy. Here and there a few fir-trees varied the uniformity of the granite tinge of the rocks; or else, by a strange contrast, a wild eglantine flourished upon the edge of the abyss, into which the eye could not glance without a shudder passing over the frame of the beholder. At that moment the travellers had reached the highest point of the Sierra Morena.

They turned towards the east, and the sun fell full upon their countenances.

The elder of those individuals was scarcely thirty; but his forehead wore an expression of such solemnity, and on his countenance was an air of such gentle and mild austerity, that his years seemed far to exceed the number just ascribed to him. Then again, it was evident that long vigils, laborious studies, fatiguing pursuits, and habits of meditation, had long marked with a stamp of wisdom and sanctity the countenance of that man, who wore the humble habit of a Franciscan.

The other traveller, who was only twenty, offered to his companion a contrast the more remarkable, inasmuch as there was a grand similitude between them in integrity of character and rectitude of purpose. Moreover, they professed the same doctrine; and if the inclinations of one often verged towards a point contrary to those of the other, they were at least now acting in the same cause, and with the same object in view.

Arrived at the summit of the highest mountain of the Sierra Morena, they seated themselves—for they were fatigued. Having reposed themselves for a few moments, and feeling their respiration more free and their courage returning to them, they threw simultaneous glances around them,—glances of philosophic enquiry which, even amidst the wonders of creation, endeavour to discover causes in effects, and, while admiring the works of God, seem to behold God himself!

Behind them, the Sierra Morena raised its lofty head, white with the snows of all ages! Before them extended the desolate plains of La Mancha: a little on the left, the voluptuous Andalusia spread out, in proud contrast, its fields of olive trees, its verdant vineyards, and its blooming citron trees.83 Further still, to the right were the Sierra Nervada, Sierra Chira, and the Alpuxarias, constituting that chain of inaccessible mountains which overtop the two Castilles like an immense barrier of granite.84 Then, at length, overleaping in thought the long space which separates them still, they fancied that they beheld the Castilles,—that stronghold of Spain which was never conquered by the strangers,—the Castilles with their varied and singular aspects, where the Tagus and the Mancanares wind their silvery way.85

From that elevated spot the travellers commanded, as it were, all Spain. In considering that rich and beautiful country, a bitter thought was commingled with their admiration. Down below,—at their feet,—in those fertile plains so beautifully embellished by the hand of God, an iniquitous and brutal power snatched away from man the free enjoyment of the fruits of that soil, and that happiness which is a privilege of life!

“There is the point to which we advance!” exclaimed the priest, extending his hand towards the horizon, and indicating a destination which the imagination alone could perceive, for it was lost in space.

“Oh, heavens!” cried the younger traveller; “shall we reach that place in time? And, more than that, shall we succeed in touching the heart of the King?”

“Take confidence,” answered the priest: “why do you torture yourself in advance with uncertainties? Impetuosity always militates against the success of enterprises: by means of calmness alone is the desired aim reached. The great secret of life is to know how to wait, and not to render the more certain future a positive torment for the present. The mind becomes enervated and fatigued with continual apprehensions and premature forebodings. The courageous man awaits, with a firm step, events without fearing them: he is often deemed careless, while he is in reality only courageous.”

“Oh! holy father,” said the young man bitterly, “it is easy to perceive that no care reaches you, and that, when you renounced terrestrial joys, you also gave up human miseries. You have isolated yourself in your religious sphere, as if you were in a desert; and, living no longer a life like that of others, you cannot comprehend common grief.”

“Do you think,” said the Franciscan, mildly, “that the office of apostle is a mission of selfishness and hard-heartedness? What, indeed, is this existence—the existence of an apostle? Is he not always ready to pour out his blood for his brethren—to succour them—to console them in their adversity—to render their present life happier by teaching them to hope in another?”

“Pardon me, holy father,” continued the young man; “I was ungrateful and unjust: I owe you everything, and I insult you and your sacred calling! Grief makes me selfish and hard-hearted!”

“No—you possess a generous, but an ardent and impassioned soul,” answered the priest. “May heaven grant that it lead thee not into peril!”

“It is now five days, holy father, since we quitted Seville. Have we much farther to journey ere we reach Madrid?”

“Eight days’ march,” answered the Franciscan.

“And during that interval, perhaps, the inquisitorial vulture will tear its prey to pieces.”

“Do not be alarmed. The Inquisition does not proceed so rapidly as you imagine. It drinks the last drop of its victim’s blood, ere it abandons him to the executioner. Courage, courage!”

At that moment the Franciscan beheld the guides approaching with their mules, from which they had alighted in order to climb the mountain on foot.

The travellers rose, and joined their guides on the road leading to Castille.

In those two travellers the reader has doubtless recognised John of Avila and Don Stephen de Vargas.

the choicest juice of Cyprus Wine.
Prison of Faith There is no record of a place with such a name.
Sierra Morena An important range stretching for 400 kilometres East-West to the north of Seville.
La Mancha An arid, dry, elevated plateau of central Spain, north of the Sierra Morena and south of Madrid.

citron trees Trees on which grow fruits which are ‘larger, less acid,’ and have a thicker skin than lemons (OED).

Sierra Nervada, Sierra Chira, and the Alpuxarias The French text reads ‘Sierra Elvira’ rather than the present ‘Sierra Chira’, which does not exist. The Sierra Nevada, the Sierra Elvira and Las Alpujarras surround Granada. Rather than being the Sierra Morena’s eastern continuation, as the text implies, they lie south, in Andalusia, close to the Mediterranean coast. Therefore, they do not enclose or ‘overtop’ the two Castilles, as the text claims.

two Castilles Old Castile to the north and New Castile to the south of the Sistema Central, a major mountain range north of the Sierra Morena. New Castile comprises La Mancha, the latter extending further to the south-east.

stronghold of Spain which was never conquered by the strangers Only the northern half of Old Castile was never part of Moorish territory, hence the assertion is untrue.

the Tagus and the Mancanares The Tagus is the longest river on the Iberian Peninsula, flowing from the East to the Atlantic Ocean. The Manzanares does not share the same geographical importance, but is historically noted because it flows through Madrid, descending south from the Sistema Central into New Castile.

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