A 'Price One Penny' Edition

May 24, 1845

Up: The Mysteries of the Inquisition. Previous: May 17, 1845 Next: May 31, 1845

The Favourite of the Grand Inquisitor

It was the morning after the tortures inflicted on the governor of Seville. The Grand Inquisidor had just risen from his couch. He was of livid pallor: excess and evil passions were undermining a constitution naturally strong and vigorous.

He was moreover agitated with a consciousness of the atrocity of his conduct towards Don Manuel Argoso: he burned to possess Dolorez; and he knew that he was adopting the most horrible measures to ruin the peace of herself, and immolate her father to the success of his designs.

He approached the fire-place and warmed his hands, for he was cold: the violence of his sensations concentrated in the brain all his vital heat.57

“Dolorez!” he exclaimed: “Dolorez! Oh! that I were some humble cavalier who might aspire, with hope, to thine hand! Ah! once-envied Don Stephen de Vargas! Have you also been sacrificed to my wishes—have you also been removed from my path? How many victims are there already to number? and how many more victims will there be to count? And those victims—are they men and women really dangerous to the holy church? or have they offended me alone? How can I answer those questions to myself? I think upon my sins—and I tremble! Poor Francesca de Lerme, what injury didst thou do to me? and for a hasty word did I send thee to those horrible dungeons! Argoso, thou wast always a generous and hospitable friend; and thee also have I sacrificed! And was there not another—a lovely young woman who demanded her child—and whom I saw stretched upon the rack——”

He shuddered and paused. That terrible man was afraid of his own reflections. But in a few moments his ideas were again occupied with Dolorez. His excited imagination represented to him, as in a magic mirror, the almost superhuman beauty of the governor’s daughter: he clenched his fists with rage against those whose cowardice or treachery had allowed her to escape on the memorable night the proceedings of which have been already detailed; and his teeth were ground together in an access of indomitable frenzy.

“Oh!” how beautiful is she!” exclaimed the Grand Inquisidor, irresistibly pursued by the image of the young maiden: “how lovely was she when I saw her last—in the midst of her terror! Oh! to have held her in my power—to have had her brought hither—here where neither cries nor entreaties would have availed her! And yet that happiness would have been mine, but for the cowardice of Henriquez!”

Again he paused—and ground his teeth with rage.

“But, after all,” he exclaimed, glancing proudly around him, “am I not the master here? and can I not obtain by force that which craft has failed to procure for me?”

He rose and approached a silk curtain which concealed an antechamber, where the private officers and dependants of his household usually waited. Slightly pushing the curtain aside, he called his favourite Joseph.

He then paced the room, murmuring to himself, “At least Don Vargas is no more—unless, indeed, those vile Gardunos have proved as cowardly as my own familiars; and then, perhaps, my rival still lives. But that cannot be: the Gardunos never fail—and they dare not disobey me!”

While he yet spoke the pale countenance of Joseph was seen at the door of the apartment; and the Grand Inquisidor immediately accosted him in these terms:—

“My son, who was the second witness that thou didst procure yesternight to speak against Don Manuel Argoso?”

“I know not,” answered Joseph meekly.

“Thou knowest not,” cried the Inquisidor: “and yet, did I not charge thee to take that special business in hand?”

“You did, my lord,” was the reply.

“And I suppose you entrusted the duty to another?”

“Not exactly, my lord.”

“Joseph,” exclaimed the Grand Inquisidor, inclined to be very angry with his favourite, “explain yourself.”

“I employed Henriquez as one witness, my lord, because you distinctly commanded me to select some evidence from amongst the familiars of the Inquisition. In this point I fulfilled your orders to the very letter.”

“And how came the second witness to be employed?”

“Not knowing where to obtain one who would answer your lordship’s purpose—as few people choose to speak against Don Manuel of Seville—I repaired to a filthy tavern in the Triana quarter, and desired the young female who keeps it to aid me in this respect. She is devoted to the Holy Office, and her brother is both an alguazil and a familiar. She promised to do as I desired; but I presume, my lord, that she herself was imposed upon.”

“Be more cautious in future, Joseph,” said the Grand Inquisidor, his anger disappearing, as he listened to the meek and mellifluously bland sounds of the young novice’s voice, and surveyed his mild and handsome countenance. “Fortunately, no harm was done by the imprudence of yourself and the more than imprudence of the woman you allude to; but had not Henriquez spoken positively in his capacity of witness, and Don Manuel himself admitted his own crimes, this atrocious heretic would have escaped the torture.”

The Inquisidor spake thus kindly to Joseph, but had another than he been guilty of only one tenth part of the same imprudence, the dungeons of the Inquisition would have received him in a few hours. But the novice was one of those beings who are indispensable to the great rulers of nations, sects, or societies, and who have always been denominated by the title of favourites. Instrument of evil or good, according to the nature of their souls,—mysterious sources of influence, fatal as destiny,—familiar spirits of their masters whom they urge to good or bad deeds, they seem to act in virtue of an enchanted talisman; for the day on which they allow that talisman to escape from their hands, they fall themselves—dragged down by that irresistible power which crushes them as easily as it raised them, without cause and without motive!

“Your lordship has slept but indifferently,” said the favourite in a soothing tone.

“Yes—I have slept badly: I have passed a fatiguing and restless night, Joseph.”

“My lord, there is also in the palace a poor man who has passed a restless night—wounded, as he is, in body and soul, in the service of your Eminence.”

The eyes of Peter Arbuez glistened ferociously, but Joseph continued without being disconcerted.

“That man, my lord, has almost lost his life in your service; and when he returned into your presence, bleeding and faint, your Eminence chased him away like an unclean beast; and from that moment—”

“Joseph,” interrupted the Inquisidor, “if another than you dared to intercede for Henriquez—”

“Your Eminence would listen to him as you now deign to listen to me,” proceeded the favourite in a calm tone; “for your Eminence is just above all, and in your lordship’s soul is a germ of pity for poor Henriquez.”

“A traitor!” murmured Peter Arbuez.

“A servant who would die for you, my lord. Whom will you now make governor of Seville?”

“By the slipper of the Pope, you banter me, Master Joseph! I know not which of us two is the more foolish—you, a young hair-brained boy, who dare to amuse me with such absurdities—or I, Grand Inquisidor of Seville, who listen to you.”

“My lord, I will presently prove to you that we are both in our sound senses.”

“I should like to hear your argument.”

“Nothing is more simple, my lord. You have ere now deprived our noble city of Seville of its most honoured and honourable governor, Count Manuel Argoso: behold the city without an adviser, and your Eminence without an auxiliary. In these times of heresy, my lord, an auxiliary is a something without which your Eminence cannot act in surety.”

“To what point will you come at length?” asked the Inquisidor, now listening with attention.

“I am anxious to prove to your lordship that the best auxiliary of the Inquisidor is the governor of a city, and that it is urgent for such governor to be a creature of your Eminence. Where, then, will you find a man more devoted than that poor Henriquez, who in one venture only, has failed to fulfil your lordship’s wishes—whereas be has succeeded in so many others?”

Peter Arbuez smiled faintly: the influence of the favourite had already calmed the fever of his blood.

“Henriquez governor of Seville!” he exclaimed, after a moment’s reflection. “But do you know, Joseph, that he is a man of no name—no family—no rank?”

“The greater will be the power of your Eminence over him,” answered Joseph. “Shall I at least summon him to kiss the hand of your Eminence and implore pardon?”

“You may do so,” answered Peter Arbuez.

Joseph retired; and the Grand Inquisidor thought within himself, “After all, the idea of this boy is not so bad. Henriquez, governor of Seville, raised by me, and maintained by me, will become the docile instrument of my wishes. Yes—Joseph is right—it shall be even as he says.”

As he thus mused, Joseph entered, followed by Henriquez. The familiar was still pale; his head was bandaged, and he wore his arm in a sling. His hypocritical meekness gave to his thin and colourless face an air still more languishing and suffering.

The countenance of the Grand Inquisidor grew clouded once more. The disgraced familiar bent his knee to the ground, and, by a gesture, solicited the favour of kissing the hand of his Eminence.

Peter Arbuez glanced towards his favourite, who returned an imploring look.

“I pardon you, Henriquez,” said the Grand Inquisidor. “Thank Don Joseph who has so well pleaded your cause in my presence; and relate to me the details of the nocturnal expedition in which you received your wounds.”

Henriquez did not suffer himself to be asked twice: be related the whole particulars of the rescue of Dolorez, taking care however to attribute to himself all the honour of the blows given and received.

When he had finished, the Inquisidor, considerably softened, said in a patronising tone, “Henriquez, I know that thou art faithful; and I hope that thy future services in favour of the Inquisition will make amends for this failure. Accordingly, in order to convince you that I entertain no animosity towards you, I intend to write to the King and demand for you the title of Governor of Seville.”

“My lord!” ejaculated Henriquez, divided between surprise and joy.

At that moment a familiar entered, and said, “My lord, Master Mandamiento requests an audience of our Eminence.”

“Stephen is dead,” thought the Grand Inquisidor. “The Master may enter,” he added aloud.

Mandamiento was accordingly introduced. He remained standing with his hat on, in the presence of the Grand Inquisidor. That strange man entertained so ridiculous and enthusiastic an idea of his own prerogatives, that he believed he was now treating as it were between ruler and ruler.

Henriquez made a sign to Mandamiento to uncover his head; but the Master answered with a glance of contempt. The Inquisidor smiled; and, turning towards the Garduno, said, “Well—is it all over?”

“Nothing is done that you required,” answered Mandamiento, with a sombre air.

“What! Stephen de Vargas——”

“Is alive and well, for anything that I know; and not a hair of his head is injured. For the first time, since its existence, the Society of Garduna reckoned a traitor in its bosom; and that traitor was amongst the bravest of its sons,” added Mandamiento, with a grief altogether ludicrous.

He was as much cut up by the desertion of Manofina, as a good father would have been by the irregularities of a favourite or only son.

“By Satan!” cried the Grand Inquisidor, stamping his foot with rage: “everything goes wrong in this affair! What is the name of the traitor?”

“I have sworn that no one shall be made acquainted with it, my lord; and the name, moreover, matters but little to your Eminence. I have merely come to restore the money which I received in advance from——him who charged me with the undertaking.”

And, with the most scrupulous probity, the bandit placed upon the table the gold which had been paid him for the assassination of Don Stephen de Vargas.

“Is there none amongst your gipsey horde who will take this matter in hand?’ demanded the Inquisidor.

“Oh! certainly—we have brave and faithful men; and on another occasion, I can promise you that——but we have for the present lost all trace—and—”

“You must find the trace again,” interrupted the Grand Inquisidor. “Take your gold back, Mandamiento; and, remember, that it is only an earnest of my good intentions.”

“Well and good, my lord. Within a week your lordship shall hear news that will satisfy you.”

“Amen,” said Joseph; and he left the room with an air of indifference.

“Can you not tell me in what quarter of the town Dolorez, the daughter of the late governor, has concealed herself?” demanded Arbuez of Mandamiento.

“I am not the keeper of the young woman,” answered the Garduno.

“The reply of Cain to the Lord,” Henriquez ventured to observe.58

The Grand Inquisidor tolerated from Joseph what he would not permit on the part of another: he accordingly bent his brows at this pleasantry—which was intended as a compliment.

“Mandamiento,” said the Grand Inquisidor, “that is a prize for which my coffers should be generously opened to you. Endeavour to discover that young girl.”

“Safe and sound?” demanded the bandit coldly.

“By the Saviour!” ejaculated the Grand Inquisidor; “not a hair of her head must fall! Have you not women in your band who can encompass this little affair?”

“My lord, I promise nothing—but I will exert myself to the utmost.”

“My lord,” whispered Henriquez, “I will discover her: shall I not shortly be Governor of Seville?”

Arbuez then dismissed the Garduno.

When Mandamiento was upon the point of issuing from the palace into the street, he felt some one tap him upon the shoulder, he turned, and beheld Joseph, the favourite of the Grand Inquisidor.

“Has his Eminence forgotten something?” demanded the Garduno.

“His Eminence forgot to say that I will not have Don Stephen killed,” answered Joseph.

“How is this?” cried the Master. “His lordship gave me an earnest of his good intentions in this respect. Is not his gold in my pocket? and must I not do his will?”

“Not when mine is opposed to it,” answered Joseph authoritatively. “I will not have Don Stephen killed, I repeat. Do you understand me? Keep that gold: I will restore a similar amount to his Eminence.”

Mandamiento reflected a moment, he knew the power of Joseph with the Inquisidor:—should he displease the master or the favourite?

“Your Reverence,” he said, at length, “happen what will, shall be obeyed.”

“Remember that you do not deceive me,” added Joseph, thrusting a well-filled purse into the Garduno’s hand.

The favourite and Mandamiento then separated.

The Profession

Distant about a mile from Seville, upon a lofty hill whose base is washed by the Guadalquiver, stood a convent of Dominicans,—a vast and sumptuous edifice, built in the midst of an oasis surrounded without by all the charms of a rich and varied Nature, and embellished within by all the conveniences and luxuries of art, in order, no doubt, to render the process of self-denial more agreeable to the Order of Saint Dominicus.

This convent, or rather this palace the ancient dwelling of a Moorish prince—served as the asylum for thirty monks destined to supply vacancies which might occur in the tribunals of the Inquisition. Many amongst them had figured, “with honour to themselves,” as the ecclesiastical phrase of the day had it, in the high grade of Provincial Inquisidor; and all rendered themselves remarkable by their pitiless seal for the extirpation of heresy. The lord Arbuez was particularly devoted to that sacred asylum, which he frequently visited for the purpose of resting from his “painful functions!”

We must now introduce our readers to this convent on a particular day when business, more than pleasure, summoned the Grand Inquisidor to that “blissful sojourn.” A brilliant ceremony was in preparation, at which the presence of the Grand Inquisidor was to give additional solemnity.

It was four days after the incidents related in the preceding chapter. The passion of the Grand Inquisidor for Dolorez, though somewhat cooled, was still a source of deep pre-occupation to the mind of this man of baneful passions; and there were intervals when he almost raged at the idea of having lost her—perhaps for ever.

But, on this day, Dolorez was not the only object of interest in the mind of the Grand Inquisidor of Seville. Joseph, his favourite, was “to make his profession,” according to ecclesiastical language, in the convent of the Dominicans; and the friendship of Peter Arbuez for that young man, whose beauty was of a feminine order, was strong enough to abstract his mind from a contemplation of his disappointed passion.

From an early hour in the morning of that solemn day, the whole convent was in motion. The chapel, a vast rotunda, which had conserved a Moorish appearance in spite of its Christian ornaments, had been decorated with garlands and flowers.

The Virgin of the Rosary, the especial patroness of the Dominicans, had assumed her festal garments: silk and velvet veiled the chaste image of the humble Mother of the most humble of men; and that modest “queen of angels,” as the Catholics denominated her, shone with diamonds and pearls, like a queen of earth!

The white marble of the pillars disappeared beneath a tissue of roses; innumerable wax candles burnt upon the altar-piece; and, by the intoxicating perfume of the frankincense, the splendour of the drapery, the mythological and fabulous elegance of the colonnade, the profusion of flowers, and the brilliancy of the whole scene, one would have imagined that it was an ancient temple of Venus suddenly transformed into a Christian chapel. Only, in place of the pagan deity, the image of the Virgin had been erected; and on one side of the nave the full-length statue of the patron of the Dominicans reminded the spectator of the real nature of the locality.

In a convenient part of the vast chapel, a seat; covered with velvet, and raised on an elegant dais, had been prepared for his lordship the Grand Inquisidor. On the right of this ecclesiastical throng was a lower chair, destined for the chaplain of the convent.

At about nine o’clock in the morning, a loud and solemn anthem resounded beneath the arches of the chapel, which was already filled by lords and ladies, chevaliers and lovely damsels, and priests belonging to the neighbouring religious institutions. A procession of ecclesiastics then advanced, with a banner at their head, chanting the Gloria in Excelsis. Each one had a long wax candle in his hand. The sombre countenances of those priests could not however conceal, beneath a mask of rigid ascetism, passions wholly of a terrestrial nature. At the same time, that long procession of men, dressed in the insignia of the tomb—white and black—wore an air of gloom which chilled the hearts of the spectators. The chaplain, attired in his episcopal ornaments, closed the march.

When the hymn was finished, the priests halted, and formed into two lines, facing each other. The chaplain passed along between them: two monks, filling the office of deacons, followed him; and then came the novice, clad in the rich and graceful costume of a Spanish cavalier. They all four knelt in front of the dais, on the throne of which was already seated the lord Arbuez. A Spanish nobleman officiated as the Godfather of Don Joseph. When a minor canon had preached a sermon according to usage,—a sermon replete with mystic sophistry in favour of the happiness of a cloistral life,—the chaplain advanced towards the novice.

“Wherefore art thou come,” said he to Don Joseph, “thus decked out into the house of God?”

“I am come to seek the salvation of my soul,” answered Joseph.

“And do you expect to find it amidst the pomps of this world?”

“No, I renounce those pomps—now, and for ever.”

“That is not enough. You must renounce the flesh and your own will.”

“I pledge myself to vows of chastity; and I will be humble and submissive towards him who will deign to conduct me into the path of salvation.”

“Go, then,” said the chaplain. Two monks conducted the novice behind the altar into a place which had been prepared for his reception. It was a gloomy kind of cavern, lighted by a sepulchral lamp which hung from the arch. In the midst of this fearful looking place, was a coffin, covered with a pall, and around which burnt four candles of white wax. It seemed as if that coffin were prepared to be lowered into the tomb. On the lid was a skull, placed upon two cross bones, and displaying two rows of teeth as white as ivory. Above the coffin stood the grand silver cross and the species of banner surmounted with a crucifix, which were usually carried at funerals.

Near the farther extremity of the cavern, by the side of a prayer-desk supporting a leaden cross, was a table covered with black cloth, and on which were disposed the new garments intended for the novice. Lastly, at the other extremity, facing the prayer-desk, was a large plate of polished metal, attached to the wall, and reflecting all those mournful objects in its ample disk.

This place was called the “Cavern of Salvation;” and there the novice was left alone.

He laid aside his profane garments, and put on the habit of a Dominican—a white tunic and a black scapulary,59—a sombre costume that appeared to be the livery of death. Then he laid aside his plumed cap; for his head thenceforth was to have no other covering than its hair—and that too was shaven on the crown. Instead of a glittering belt to support a sword, he girt himself with a cord—the emblem of poverty; and, lastly he took off his rich boots, and shod his feet with sandals!

All this occupied him about half an hour. The hand of the novice trembled as if he had a fever; his heart beat precipitately; and a cold perspiration ran down his countenance—that countenance which was so delicately pale! He now knelt down before the crucifix, and began to pray in a bitter and lamentable tone.

Heart-rending sobs burst from his bosom; he murmured unintelligible words; and a name—a name which he himself alone heard—was incessantly upon his lips.

In the meantime the organ filled the chapel with its grand harmony; and the sacred hymns chanted by the monks, re-echoed with vibrating, and as it were metallic notes, through the vast nave.

Joseph rose from the ground, raised the lid of the coffin, and gazed stedfastly for some moments upon the tranquil countenance of the dead which it contained. This also was a part of the ceremony imposed upon him: for a day for his initiation had been chosen, which was also the one whereon a late inmate of the convent was to be deposited in the tomb.

The mind of the young novice gradually wandered as he gazed upon the face of the dead: the ceremony—the scene—the vows he had taken—the hideous place in which he found himself—and his own secret thoughts, combined to bewilder him.

Suffering the coffin lid to escape from his hands, he fell upon his knees, murmuring, “Oh! how sweet is death! would that I could die now—yes, even now! But, no: before I die, I must avenge myself! Fernand—Fernand!” he exclaimed, addressing some invisible being—“wait only a little while, and then—”

He fell senseless on the floor.

vital heat A notion introduced by the Ancient Greeks still in use in the nineteenth century which relates to the heat produced in the body by the heart and/or the circulatory system, either like a burning flame or through friction.
keeper ... reply of Cain ‘And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?’ (Genesis 4:9).
scapulary or scapular, ‘A short cloak covering the shoulders; prescribed by the Rule of St. Benedict to be worn by monks when engaged in manual labour, and adopted by certain religious orders as a part of their ordinary costume.’ (OED)
Up: The Mysteries of the Inquisition. Previous: May 17, 1845 Next: May 31, 1845
Victorine Subervic and Manuel de Cuendías. Date: 1 July 2013