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The Devil's Elixir Vol. I (of 2)   By: (1776-1822)

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In diesem Jahre wandelte auch her Deuvel offentlich auf den Strassen von Berlin.

Haftit Microc. Berol. p. 1043.

In that yeare, the Deville was alsoe seene walking publiclie on the streetes of Berline.






My life, from my fourth to my sixteenth year, was spent at a lonely farm house, on the banks of the river Saale, near the Cistertian Monastery of Kreuzberg. The house, though not large, had once been the residence of a baronial family, that was now extinct, and of whose representatives strange stories were narrated. Of course, therefore, their castle was gloomy; of course, also, said to be haunted, and its immediate environs were in keeping with the character of the principal mansion.

There was, for example, a garden in the old style, with steps and terrace walks, now ruined and neglected; thick hedges of yew and cypress, with trees cut into fantastic shapes, which the present owner had not found leisure, or perhaps had not permission, to destroy. The surrounding country, however, at some distance, was very beautiful, presenting a fine diversity of hill and dale, rock, wood, and water. The situation of the Cistertian Convent, too, is particularly admired; but in the recollections which I am thus commencing, rapid, simple narrative must be my leading object; I have no time for diffuse and verbose description.

Being an only child, I was left much alone, and it is therefore not to be wondered at, that even at this early age, I should have exemplified an undue developement of the faculty of imagination, and betrayed singularities of thought and conduct, with proportionate defects in the more useful qualities of prudence and judgment. It is requisite to observe, however, that I was not born in this neighbourhood, but at the convent of the Holy Lime Tree in Prussia, of which place, even at this day, I seem to retain the most accurate reminiscence. That I should be able to describe scenes and events which happened in my earliest infancy, need not be considered inexplicable, as I have heard so much of them from the narratives of others, that an impression was of course very powerfully made on my imagination, or rather, the impressions once made, have never been suffered to decay, like cyphers carved on a tree, which some fond lover fails not at frequent intervals to revisit and to renovate. Of my father's rank or station in the world, I know little or nothing. From all that I have heard, he must have been a person of considerable experience and knowledge of life; yet, by various anecdotes which have only of late become intelligible, it appears that my parents, from the enjoyment of affluence and prosperity, had sunk, all at once, into a state of the bitterest poverty and comparative degradation. I learn, moreover, that my father, having been once enticed by stratagems of the Arch Enemy into the commission of a mortal sin, wished, when, in his latter years, the grace of God had brought him to repentance, to expiate his guilt by a penitential pilgrimage from Italy to the convent of the Holy Lime Tree, in the distant and cold climate of Prussia. On their laborious journey thither, his faithful partner in affliction perceived, for the first time after several years of a married life, that she was about to become a mother; and notwithstanding his extreme poverty, my father was by this occurrence greatly rejoiced, as it tended to the fulfilment of a mysterious vision, in which the blessed St Bernard had appeared, and promised to him forgiveness and consolation through the birth of a son.

In the convent of the Lime Tree, my father was attacked by severe illness, and as, notwithstanding his debility, he would on no account forego any of the prescribed devotional exercises, his disease rapidly gained ground, till at last, in mysterious conformity to the words of St Bernard, he died consoled and absolved, almost at the same moment in which I came into the world... Continue reading book >>

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