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[-248-] 

CHAPTER LXXXIII.

THE BLACK CHAMBER AGAIN.

A FEW days after the incidents just narrated, the following letters were opened in the Black Chamber of the General Post-Office.
    The first was from the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Castelcicala to the representative of that state at the British court:-

"Montoni, Castelcicala 

"The undersigned is desired by his lordship the Marquis of Gerrano, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to inform your excellency that the information you forwarded relative to the Englishwoman Eliza Sydney, has failed to produce the desired effect. Your excellency stated that Mrs. Arlington, the correspondent of the said Eliza Sydney, was the mistress of the Earl of Warrington; and that Eliza Sydney herself had been confined for two years in a criminal prison in England. Your excellency moreover forwarded the English newspapers of the time, containing a full and detailed report of her crime and trial. These statements have failed to produce any effect in a certain quarter, in consequence of the infatuation of a high personage In respect to this Eliza Sydney, and the apparent frankness (as the Marquis of Gerrano has learnt) with which she avowed the entire history of her past life to the high personage alluded to. It is now of the greatest consequence that your excellency should ascertain whether Eliza Sydney's conduct has ever been tainted with incontinence; whether, in a word, she has not indulged in immoral and vicious courses. The result of your excellency's inquiries must be forwarded by courier without [-249-] 

delay; as you will perceive, by the inclosed copy of a ducal ordinance issued this morning, that the infatuation above alluded to grows to a very dangerous point.
    "The undersigned avails himself of this opportunity to state that the Marquis of Gerrano is greatly afflicted at the perverse and obstinate conduct of the Prince Alberto, in steadily refusing the offers of a pension for life made by the Government of his reigning Highness through your Excellency. The Marquis of Gerrano desires your Excellency to redouble your assiduity in inducing the Prince to accept the terms proposed, for which purpose a farther delay of three months will be granted; and should his reply then continue unfavourable, the Government of his Highness will adopt measures to ensure the succession to the ducal throne of Castelcicala to a Neapolitan Prince.
    "The undersigned renews his expressions of perfect consideration toward your Excellency.
            "BARON RUPERTO,
                "Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
                        "July 13, 1839."

    The following is a copy of the ducal ordinance to which reference was made in the above letter:- 

ANGELO III., BY THE GRACE OF GOD, GRAND DUKE OF CASTELCICALA.

"To all present and to come, Greeting:
"We hare ordered and do order that which follows:-

    "1. The style and title of Marchioness of Ziani are conferred upon the Signora Eliza Sydney.
    "II. A pension of one thousand ducats annuallv shall be paid to the Marchionees of Ziani from the public treasury. 
    "III. Our Minister Secretary of State for the Department of the Interior will execute the first article of this ordinance; and our Minister Secretary of State for the Department of Finance will execute the second article.
    "By the Grand Duke, ANGELO III.
        MARQUIS OF VINCENZA,
            "Minister of the Interior.
        COUNT FP MARCOTTI,
            "Minister of Finance.
"July 13. 1839.

The next letter, read in the Black Chamber upon this occasion, ran as follows:-

"Montoni, Castelcicala 

    "I received your charming letters, my dearest Diana, and return you my most sincere thanks for the kind expressions of love and friendship which they contain, and for the advice which you proffer me. You moreover inform me that you have shown my letters of March, April, and May, to the Earl of Warrington; and that his lordship approves of the cautious manner in which I have acted, and recommends me to accept the honourable offer of marriage made to me by his Highness Angelo III. He [-250-] assured you that his highness never once insulted me by hinting at the possibility of a connexion upon any other terms than those of marriage; and when he proposed a morganatic union, it was merely in accordance with the practice of many European sovereigns. I however expressed  myself  firmly to his serene highness upon this head, stating that, although a morganatic marriage was perfectly valid so far as the religious ceremonies went, still it was not strictly legal, and would not please those who wished me well in England.
    "In my last letter I informed you that some one had represented to the Grand Duke my misfortunes in England. Happily this announcement failed to produce any change In his conduct or views with regard to me, as I had previously made him acquainted with all those particulars of my own accord.
    "In a word, my dearest Diana, his Serene Highness has offered me his hand, - offered to raise me to a seat by his side on the ducal throne,  -offered to make me his bride in sight of the world. Could I refuse? or why should I? You ask me if I can love his Serene Highness? Ah! how can I help revering one who shows such love for me? And then, human nature has its weak points; and rank, honour, wealth, and distinction cannot fail to attract even one naturally so retiring as myself. Oh! how pleasant will it be to possess riches and influence for the mere purpose of doing good!
    "Well, then - all is decided I am to be Grand Duchess of Castelcicala. The marriage is to take place in six weeks from the present date. The daughters of General Grachia are to be my bridesmaids. As a preliminary step towards this high honour, the Grand Duke has conferred upon me a title and a pension. To the world I am now the Marchioness of Ziani: to you, Diana, I am still, and always shall be - Eliza Sydney.
    "I was surprised to learn from you that the villain Montague Greenwood has succeeded in obtaining a seat in the English Parliament. Ever since I have had power and wealth in the prospective, I have meditated upon the best means of protecting others from that villany which he designed against me, but which Providence so signally frustrated. At length I thought of a plan, and despatched a trusty person to England a few days ago to execute it. This person has instructions from me to call upon you on his arrival in England, and communicate to you my scheme. He is also the bearer of a trifling token of my sincere friendship and gratitude towards you, dear Diana, and which little token I hope you will accept for my sake.
    "I need scarcely say that you will oblige me by tendering my best thanks to the Earl of Warrington for the kind advice he sent me through you, and renew to him the expression of my eternal gratitude for all he has done for me.
    "You shall hear again shortly from your devoted and attached
   
     ELIZA SYDNEY.
"July 13, 1839."

The third letter read upon this occasion, was addressed to Count Alteroni, Richmond, and ran in the following manner:-

"Montoni, Castelcicala,
"July 13, 1839.

"Things, my lord, are growing towards a crisis in this country. No. 29 is literally infatuated with No. 1. He has this morning created her a marchioness; and in a month or six weeks he will, it is said, espouse her. There is no possibility of preventing this, No. 29 being quite despotic; and now his foolish ministers see their mistake in having maintained him in his absolutism, and refused the country a constitution.

    "Number 29, you will understand," interrupted the Examiner, "evidently means the Grand Duke; and No. 1 represents Eliza Sydney. Proceed."
    The clerk who read the letter continued as follows:-

    "The ministers know not what to do. They are at their wits' end. I know for a fact that they obtained from England certain information relative to No. 1, which proved that she had been in a criminal gaol; but No. 29 made no account of it. No. 1 is very beautiful; fascinating in manners; somewhat shy and reserved; and yet amiable. She is also accomplished. When she first came to Montoni she spoke the Italian language imperfectly: she now speaks it fluently ;- and this knowledge she has acquired in a few months. There can be no doubt that she will exercise an immense influence over No. 29, if she choose to make use of it. And who knows what a woman, suddenly rising from private life is the first ducal throne in this world, may do? She does not, however, seem to be ambitious. Nevertheless, something ought to be done. If this marriage take place, you are well aware that issue may follow, for No.1 is young; and in thatcase  * * * *  I really think that if your lordship were to land suddenly upon the Castelcicalan coast, without delay, this union might be prevented. I hinted to your lordship in my last letter the immense ascendancy gained by No. 1 over No. 29: your lordship's reply astonished me. Your lordship states that if No. 29 choose to marry according to his fancy, no human power has a right to control him. With due deference, is not this carrying liberality of opinion a little too far? Your lordship expresses a determination to trust to the issue of events, and do nothing that may stand the chance of plunging the country into a civil war. These self-denying sentiments are no doubt highly patriotic and noble ;- but is it in human nature to resign without a struggle? * * * * *  In any case I am your lordship's faithful servant, and am anxious only to execute your lordship's wishes. I therefore await your lordship's instructions.
        "NUMBER 17"

    "You have taken copies of these letters?" said the Examiner.
    "Yes, sir," replied the clerk thus addressed.
    "Then let them be immediately conveyed to the office of the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, as their contents are highly important."
    "Yes, sir."
    And this order was forthwith obeyed.

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