List Of Contents | Contents of The Wandering Jew v10, by Eugene Sue
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prospect bounded by a high wall, of a blackish gray, half-covered with
ivy, the plant peculiar to ruins.  A dark avenue of old yew-trees, so fit
to shade the grave with their sepulchral verdure, extended from this wall
to a little semicircle, in front of the apartment generally occupied by
M. Hardy.  Two or three mounds of earth, bordered with box, symmetrically
cut, completed the charms of this garden, which in every respect
resembled a cemetery.

It was about two o'clock in the afternoon.  Though the April sun shone
brightly, its rays, intercepted by the high wall of which we have spoken,
could not penetrate into that portion of the garden, obscure, damp, and
cold as a cavern, which communicated with M. Hardy's apartment.  The room
was furnished with a perfect sense of the comfortable.  A soft carpet
covered the floor; thick curtains of dark green baize, the same color as
the walls, sheltered an excellent bed, and hung in folds about the glass-
door, which opened on the garden.  Some pieces of mahogany furniture,
plain, but very clean and bright, stood round the room.  Above the
secretary, placed just in front of the bed, was a large ivory crucifix,
upon a black velvet ground.  The chimney-piece was adorned with a clock,
in an ebony case, with ivory ornaments representing all sorts of gloomy
emblems, such as hour-glasses, scythes, death's-heads, etc.  Now imagine
this scene in twilight, with its solitary and mournful silence, only
broken at the hour of prayer by the lugubrious sound of the bells of the
neighboring chapel, and you will recognize the infernal skill, with which
these dangerous priests know how to turn to account every external
object, when they wish to influence the mind of those they are anxious to
gain over.

And this was not all.  After appealing to the senses, it was necessary to
address themselves to the intellect--and this was the method adopted by
the reverend fathers.  A single book--but one--was left, as if by chance,
within reach.  This book was Thomas a Kempis' "Imitation."  But as it
might happen that M. Hardy would not have the courage or the desire to
read this book, thoughts and reflections borrowed from its merciless
pages, and written in very large characters, were suspended in black
frames close to the bed, or at other parts within sight, so that,
involuntarily, in the sad leisure of his inactive dejection, the
dweller's eyes were almost necessarily attracted by them.  To that fatal
circle of despairing thoughts they confined the already weakened mind of
this unfortunate man, so long a prey to the most acute sorrow.  What he
read mechanically, every instant of the day and night, whenever the
blessed sleep fled from his eyes inflamed with tears, was not enough
merely to plunge the soul of the victim into incurable despair, but also
to reduce him to the corpse-like obedience required by the Society of
Jesus.  In that awful book may be found a thousand terrors to operate on
weak minds, a thousand slavish maxims to chain and degrade the
pusillanimous soul.

And now imagine M. Hardy carried wounded into this house; while his
heart, torn by bitter grief and the sense of horrible treachery, bled
even faster than his external injuries.  Attended with the utmost care,
and thanks to the acknowledged skill of Dr. Baleinier, M. Hardy soon
recovered from the hurts he had received when he threw himself into the
embers of his burning factory.  Yet, in order to favor the projects of
the reverend fathers, a drug, harmless enough in its effects, but
destined to act for a time upon the mind of the patient, and often
employed for that purpose in similar important cases by the pious doctor,
was administered to Hardy, and had kept him pretty long in a state of
mental torpor.  To a soul agonized by cruel deceptions, it appears an
inestimable benefit to be plunged into that kind of torpor, which at
least prevents one from dwelling upon the past.

Hardy resigned himself entirely to this profound apathy, and at length
came to regard it as the supreme good.  Thus do unfortunate wretches,
tortured by cruel diseases, accept with gratitude the opiate which kills
them slowly, but which at least deadens the sense of pain.

In sketching the portrait of M. Hardy, we tried to give some idea of the
exquisite delicacy of his tender soul, of his painful susceptibility with
regard to anything base or wicked, and of his extreme goodness,
uprightness, and generosity.  We now allude to these admirable qualities,
because we must observe, that with him, as with almost all who possess
them, they were not, and could not be, united with an energetic and
resolute character.  Admirably persevering in good deeds, the influence
of this excellent man, was insinuating rather than commanding; it was not
by the bold energy and somewhat overbearing will, peculiar to other men
of great and noble heart, that Hardy had realized the prodigy of his
Common Dwelling-house; it was by affectionate persuasion, for with him
mildness took the place of force.  At sight of any baseness or injustice,
he did not rouse himself, furious and threatening; but he suffered
intense pain.  He did not boldly attack the criminal, but he turned away
from him in pity and sorrow.  And then his loving heart, so full of
feminine delicacy, had an irresistible longing for the blessed contact of
dear affections; they alone could keep it alive.  Even as a poor, frail
bird dies with the cold, when it can no longer lie close to its brethren,
and receive and communicate the sweet warmth of the maternal nest.  And
now this sensitive organization, this extremely susceptible nature,
receives blow after blow from sorrows and deceptions, one of which would
suffice to shake, if it did not conquer, the firmest and most resolute
character.  Hardy's best friend has infamously betrayed him.  His adored
mistress has abandoned him.

The house which he had founded for the benefit of his workmen, whom he
loved as brethren, is reduced to a heap of ashes.  What then happens?
All the springs of his soul are at once broken.  Too feeble to resist
such frightful attacks, too fatally deceived to seek refuge in other
affections, too much discouraged to think of laying the first stone of
any new edifice--this poor heart, isolated from every salutary influence,
finds oblivion of the world and of itself in a kind of gloomy torpor.
And if some remaining instincts of life and affection, at long intervals,
endeavored to rouse themselves within him, and if, half-opening his
mind's eye, which he had kept closed against the present, the past, and
the future, Hardy looks around him--what does he see?  Only these
sentences, so full of terrible despair:

"Thou art nothing but dust and ashes.  Grief and tears art thy portion.
Believe not in any son of man.  There are no such things as friendship or
ties of kindred.  All human affections are false.  Die in the morning,
and thou wilt be forgotten before night.  Be humble--despise thyself--and
let others despise thee.  Think not, reason not, live not--but commit thy
fate to the hands of a superior, who will think and reason for thee.
Weep, suffer, think upon death.  Yes, death! always death--that should be
thy thought when thou thinkest--but it is better not to think at all.
Let a feeling of ceaseless woe prepare thy way to heaven.  It is only by
sorrow that we are welcome to the terrible God whom we adore!"

Such were the consolations offered to this unfortunate man.  Affrighted,
he again closed his eyes, and fell back into his lethargy.  As for
leaving this gloomy retreat, he could not, or rather he did not desire to
do so.  He had lost the power of will; and then, it must be confessed, he
had finished by getting accustomed to this house, and liked it well--they
paid him such discreet attentions, and yet left him so much alone with
his grief--there reigned all around such a death-like silence, which
harmonized closely with the silence of his heart; and that was now the
tomb of his last love, last friendship, last hope.  All energy was dead
within him!  Then began that slow, but inevitable transformation, so
judiciously foreseen by Rodin, who directed the whole of this
machination, even in its smallest details.  At first alarmed by the
dreadful maxims which surrounded him, M. Hardy had at length accustomed
himself to read them over almost mechanically, just as the captive, in
his mournful hours of leisure, counts the nails in the door of his
prison, or the bars of the grated window.  This was already a great point
gained by the reverend fathers.

And soon his weakened mind was struck with the apparent correctness of
these false and melancholy aphorisms.

Thus he read: "Do not count upon the affection of any human creature"--
and he had himself been shamefully betrayed.

"Man is born to sorrow and despair"--and he was himself despairing.

"There is no rest save in the cessation of thought"--and the slumber of
his mind had brought some relief to his pain.

Peepholes, skillfully concealed by the hangings and in the wainscoting of
these apartments, enabled the reverend fathers at all times to see and
hear the boarders, and above all to observe their countenance and manner,
when they believed themselves to be alone.  Every exclamation of grief
which escaped Hardy in his gloomy solitude, was repeated to Father
d'Aigrigny by a mysterious listener.  The reverend father, following
scrupulously Rodin's instructions, had at first visited his boarder very
rarely.  We have said, that when Father d'Aigrigny wished it, he could
display an almost irresistible power of charming, and accordingly he
threw all his tact and skill into the interviews he had with Hardy, when
he came from time to time to inquire after his health.  Informed of
everything by his spies, and aided by his natural sagacity, he soon saw
all the use that might be made of the physical and moral prostration of
the boarder.  Certain beforehand that Hardy would not take the hint, he
spoke to him frequently of the gloom of the house, advising him
affectionately to leave it, if he felt oppressed by its monotony, or at
all events to seek beyond its walls for some pleasure and amusement.  To
speak of pleasure and amusement to this unfortunate man, was in his
present state to insure a refusal, and so it of course happened.  Father
d'Aigrigny did not at first try to gain the recluse's confidence, nor did
he speak to him of sorrow; but every time he came, he appeared to take
such a tender interest in him, and showed it by a few simple and well-
timed words.  By degrees, these interviews, at first so rare, became more
frequent and longer.  Endowed with a flow of honeyed, insinuating, and
persuasive eloquence, Father d'Aigrigny naturally took for his theme
those gloomy maxims, to which Hardy's attention was now so often

Supple, prudent, skillful, knowing that the hermit had hitherto professed
that generous natural religion which teaches the grateful adoration of
God, the love of humanity, the worship of what is just and good, and
which, disdaining dogmas, professes the same veneration for Marcus
Aurelius as for Confucius, for Plato as for Christ, for Moses as for
Lycurgus--Father d'Aigrigny did not at first attempt to convert him, but
began by incessantly reminding him of the abominable deceptions practised
upon him; and, instead of describing such treachery as an exception in
life--instead of trying to calm, encourage, and revive his drooping soul-
-instead of exhorting Hardy to seek oblivion and consolation in the
discharge of his duties toward humanity, towards his brethren, whom he
had previously loved and succored--Father d'Aigrigny strove to inflame
the bleeding wounds of the unfortunate man, painted the human race in the
most atrocious blackness, and, by declaring all men treacherous,
ungrateful, wicked, succeeded in rendering his despair incurable.  Having
attained this object, the Jesuit took another step.  Knowing Hardy's
admirable goodness of heart, and profiting by the weakened state of his
mind, he spoke to him of the consolation to be derived by a man
overwhelmed with sorrow, from the belief that every one of his tears,
instead of being unfruitful, was in fact agreeable to God, and might aid
in the salvation of souls--the belief, as the reverend father adroitly
added, that by faith alone can sorrow be made useful to humanity, and
acceptable to Divinity.

Whatever impiety, whatever atrocious Machiavelism there was in these
detestable maxims, which make of a loving-kind Deity a being delighted
with the tears of his creatures, was thus skillfully concealed from
Hardy's eyes, whose generous instincts were still alive.  Soon did this
loving and tender soul, whom unworthy priests were driving to a sort of
moral suicide, find a mournful charm in the fiction, that his sorrows
would at least be profitable to other men.  It was at first only a
fiction; but the enfeebled mind which takes pleasure in such a fable,
finishes by receiving it as a reality, and by degrees will submit to the
consequences.  Such was Hardy's moral and physical state, when, by means
of a servant who had been bought over, he received from Agricola Baudoin
a letter requesting an interview.  Alone, the workman could not have
broken the band of the Jesuit's pleadings, but he was accompanied by
Gabriel, whose eloquence and reasonings were of a most convincing nature
to a spirit like Hardy's.

It is unnecessary to point out to the reader, with what dignified reserve
Gabriel had confined himself to the most generous means of rescuing Hardy
from the deadly influence of the reverend fathers.  It was repugnant to
the great soul of the young missionary, to stoop to a revelation of the
odious plots of these priests.  He would only have taken this extreme
course, had his powerful and sympathetic words have failed to have any
effect on Hardy's blindness.  About a quarter of an hour had elapsed
since Gabriel's departure, when the servant appointed to wait on this
boarder of the reverend fathers entered and delivered to him a letter.

"From whom is this?" asked Hardy.

"From a boarder in the house, sir," answered the servant bowing.

This man had a crafty hypocritical face; he wore his hair combed over his
forehead, spoke in a low voice, and always cast clown his eyes.  Waiting
the answer, he joined his hands, and began to twiddle his thumbs.  Hardy
opened the letter, and read as follows:

"SIR,--I have only just heard, by mere chance, that you also inhabit this
respectable house: a long illness, and the retirement in which I live,
will explain my ignorance of your being so near.  Though we have only met
once, sir, the circumstance which led to that meeting was of so serious a
nature, that I cannot think you have forgotten it."

Hardy stopped, and tasked his memory for an explanation, and not finding
anything to put him on the right track, he continued to read:

"This circumstance excited in me a feeling of such deep and respectful
sympathy for you, sir, that I cannot resist my anxious desire to wait
upon you, particularly as I learn, that you intend leaving this house to-

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