The Mysteries of Udolpho
He is a great observer, and he looks
Quite through the deeds of men: he loves no plays,
he hears no music;
Seldom he smiles; and smiles in such a sort,
As if he mock'd himself, and scorn'd his spirit
that could be mov'd to smile at any thing.
Such men as he be never at heart's ease,
While they behold a greater than themselves.
Montoni and his companion did not return home, till many hours after the dawn had
blushed upon the Adriatic. The airy groups, which had danced all night along the
colonnade of St. Mark, dispersed before the morning, like so many spirits. Montoni had
been otherwise engaged; his soul was little susceptible of light pleasures. He delighted in
the energies of the passions; the difficulties and tempests of life, which wreck the
happiness of others, roused and strengthened all the powers of his mind, and afforded him
the highest enjoyments, of which his nature was capable. Without some object of strong
interest, life was to him little more than a sleep; and, when pursuits of real interest failed,
he substituted artificial ones, till habit changed their nature, and they ceased to be unreal.
Of this kind was the habit of gaming, which he had adopted, first, for the purpose of
relieving him from the languor of inaction, but had since pursued with the ardour of
passion. In this occupation he had passed the night with Cavigni and a party of young
men, who had more money than rank, and more vice than either. Montoni despised the
greater part of these for the inferiority of their talents, rather than for their vicious
inclinations, and associated with them only to make them the instruments of his purposes.
Among these, however, were some of superior abilities, and a few whom Montoni
admitted to his intimacy, but even towards these he still preserved a decisive and haughty
air, which, while it imposed submission on weak and timid minds, roused the fierce
hatred of strong ones. He had, of course, many and bitter enemies; but the rancour of
their hatred proved the degree of his power; and, as power was his chief aim, he gloried
more in such hatred, than it was possible he could in being esteemed. A feeling so
tempered as that of esteem, he despised, and would have despised himself also had he
thought himself capable of being flattered by it.
Among the few whom he distinguished, were the Signors Bertolini, Orsino, and Verezzi.
The first was a man of gay temper, strong passions, dissipated, and of unbounded
extravagance, but generous, brave, and unsuspicious. Orsino was reserved, and haughty;
loving power more than ostentation; of a cruel and suspicious temper; quick to feel an
injury, and relentless in avenging it; cunning and unsearchable in contrivance, patient and
indefatigable in the execution of his schemes. He had a perfect command of feature and
of his passions, of which he had scarcely any, but pride, revenge and avarice; and, in the