The Monk HTML version

Chapter III.5
----He was a fell despightful Fiend:
Hell holds none worse in baleful bower below:
By pride, and wit, and rage, and rancor keened;
Of Man alike, if good or bad the Foe.
On the day following Antonia's death, all Madrid was a scene of consternation and
amazement. An Archer who had witnessed the adventure in the Sepulchre had
indiscreetly related the circumstances of the murder: He had also named the Perpetrator.
The confusion was without example which this intelligence raised among the Devotees.
Most of them disbelieved it, and went themselves to the Abbey to ascertain the fact.
Anxious to avoid the shame to which their Superior's ill-conduct exposed the whole
Brotherhood, the Monks assured the Visitors that Ambrosio was prevented from
receiving them as usual by nothing but illness. This attempt was unsuccessful: The same
excuse being repeated day after day, the Archer's story gradually obtained confidence.
His Partizans abandoned him: No one entertained a doubt of his guilt; and they who
before had been the warmest in his praise were now the most vociferous in his
While his innocence or guilt was debated in Madrid with the utmost acrimony, Ambrosio
was a prey to the pangs of conscious villainy, and the terrors of punishment impending
over him. When He looked back to the eminence on which He had lately stood,
universally honoured and respected, at peace with the world and with himself, scarcely
could He believe that He was indeed the culprit whose crimes and whose fate He
trembled to envisage. But a few weeks had elapsed, since He was pure and virtuous,
courted by the wisest and noblest in Madrid, and regarded by the People with a reverence
that approached idolatry: He now saw himself stained with the most loathed and
monstrous sins, the object of universal execration, a Prisoner of the Holy Office, and
probably doomed to perish in tortures the most severe. He could not hope to deceive his
Judges: The proofs of his guilt were too strong. His being in the Sepulchre at so late an
hour, his confusion at the discovery, the dagger which in his first alarm He owned had
been concealed by him, and the blood which had spirted upon his habit from Antonia's
wound, sufficiently marked him out for the Assassin. He waited with agony for the day of
examination: He had no resource to comfort him in his distress. Religion could not
inspire him with fortitude: If He read the Books of morality which were put into his
hands, He saw in them nothing but the enormity of his offences; If he attempted to pray,
He recollected that He deserved not heaven's protection, and believed his crimes so
monstrous as to baffle even God's infinite goodness. For every other Sinner He thought
there might be hope, but for him there could be none. Shuddering at the past, anguished
by the present, and dreading the future, thus passed He the few days preceding that which
was marked for his Trial.