ADRIAN FLORENT; OR, THE MYSTERY.|1878-01-05|The Cardigan Observer and General Advertiser for the Counties of Cardigan Carmarthen and Pembroke - Welsh Newspapers Online
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ADRIAN FLORENT; OR, THE MYSTERY.

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ADRIAN FLORENT; OR, THE MYSTERY. IN the middle of the fifteenth century, Louvain, in the Netherlands, was a flourishing university town. From the rich commercial cities all around, the: wealthy burghers sent their sons to acquire at least a smattering of polite literature at that seat of learning: and many young noblemen also frequented its' colleges, contributing to the prosperity of tr,8 bwn by the wealth they freely spent, even if they profited little by the educational advantages offered to them by a sojourn at the university. About one of the students there was at that time a mystery, and, as may be imagined, the mysterious scholar soon became an object of interest and; curiosity for his companions, the interest increasing j in proportion with the duration of the mystery which gave it birth. Adrian Florent, the mysterious personage in question, acquired the reputation of being connected with evil powers, and of holding converse with familiar demons. Some there were among the students who even undertook to furnish proofs of his having dabbled in "the black art," and not a few of the bolder and mere turbulent spirits went so far as to assert that Adrian had made a compact with the Evil One himself. The reader will naturally be anxious to know what it was that procured for this student so sinister and unsatisfactory a reputation. He owed it simply to the two following circumstances Adrian Florent, the son of a clotbworker of Utrecht, bad the marvellous power of learning almost, as it appeared, by intuition. His progress was wonderful- His fellow-students, far from being able to, compete with him, were left hopelessly in the rear in the race for academic honours, and were soon content to strive for the victors' wreaths among themselves, leaving Adrian to continue his course as he would, far ahead of them all. This was the first cause of his unpopularity. "How," said these casuists of eighteen or twenty years, could the obscure cloth worker's son, who went abroad in a shabby jerkin and threadbare hose, and had never a broadpiece to spend at the wine- house-how could he surpass them all, despite the advantages they had enjoyed in the way of early training and teachers, without having recourse to unhallowed means ?" It was clearly impossible," said the united wisdom of the student world of Louvam. The second circumstance was a more mysterious one still, and quite in accordance with the supersti- tious ideas of the time. Every evening as twilight fell, when the students were thinking of recreation after the fatigues of ,he day, Adrian would glide away from among them, and, declining all offers of companionship with a courteous but decided bearing, he would take himself away, to reappear at ten or eleven at night, most frequently with hollow cheeks and jaded eyes, in which, however, there burned an unnatural fire. The object or direction of these soli- tary walks he would never divulge, parrying all im- plied hints, and positively declining to answer the direct questions or some of the more eager among his comrades. Once, when closely pressed, he turned haughtily upon them, and m words of withering scorn denounced their meanness, in endeavouring to pry into a matter that concerned himself alone, and which he dbsired to keep hidden. His scorn, while it made them as a^^iied of themselves, roused their anger against him who had so palpably placed them in the wrong; and thus the breach between Adrian Florent and his fellow-etudlmts was widened, and he wandered among them successful, indeed, beyond precedent in his studIes-but a shunned, proscribed, suspected, and consequently an unhappy man. Still the mystery continued. As sure as the shadows of evening fell, the thin, spare form of the y°"n £ ^dent was seen issuing from the college gates, ana, heedless of all scoffers, with a sad smile on his calm pale face, he betook himself to his solitary walk. Each night he would return with the marks of severe mental conflict on his features, to achieve greater and greater triumphs in the lecture-room, and to be' looked upon, in consequence, with increased aversion by the youths, who hated and envied, while they could not equal him. At last they could bear uncertainty no longer; Ri 'j ^^fnl of the reproof their curiosity had a ready received, a party of some twelve betook them- selves, ore n'ght, to the task of parading the city hrough its length and breadth, in the hope of finding the mysterious student. For two hours they walked in vain nowbere could they find a trace of the man they sought, and, as midnight approached, they were about to abandon their search in despair, when one of them suggested that Sr. Peter's Church bad not! yet been visited. The observation was received by the rest with a scornful laugh. St.. Peter's Church!" cried one "by St. James, the young wioard will not have chosen so holy a place for his incan.ations! Nay, but," persisted the first speaker, "let us at any rate try if he be there, for every other spot in Louvain have we traversed twice over." So the students turntd about and made for the fine old church. They made a circuit of the edifice, and were about to retire with a laugh at their companion, at whosesuggeation they had taken so much useless trouble, when, laying his hand to his lips, the young man motioned them to advance silently. "Calebs I am strangely mistaken," he whisperea, he whom we seek is sitting yonder in the light of that lamp, reading." Noiselessly they advanced on tiptoe and there in a secluded corner of the porch, sat the reputed necro- mancer, his eyes bent on a Latin volume, which he was studyiog so eagerly as to be utterly unconscious of their approach. For some moments the intruders stood abashed, unwilling to disturb the pale student, and fearing to retire lest the noise should discover them. Presently, however, he raised his head, and perceived that he had been watched. A scarlet flush mounted to the forehead of Adrian Florent; but presently, recovering himself, he ad- vanced with calm dignity towards his comrades. You have taken some pains, my friends, to dis- cover my whereabouts," he said, smiling, "and it is I but just I should wholly enlighten those who have found out so much for themselves. Know, then, that in coming to the university, I bad the choice of re- maining a burden upon my father, who is, as you may know, a poor man, or of supporting myself as best I may by copying writings and doing any work of that kind I can obtain. I chose the latter, but found it inconvenient to take much time from my studies for the supply of my necessities; therefore, instead of working at parchments to buy candles for myself, I have taken advantage of the lamp our good town council has set up here, to study here, night after night; and that my scheme has not been unsuccessful, I hope to prove at the rext distribution of degrees." But, dear Adrian, the cold!" remonstrated one of his companions it is enough to freeze.you." Adrian stretched out his hand to the speaker, who grasped it cordially. The hand was burning hot. Dear friends," he said, with a smile, the thirst for knowledge is a burning fever, which will scorch a man up, unless he allays it, and the night air is scarce felt by him in whom this fever burns; and now, friends, leave me, for I would be alone." With glowing cheeks and downcast eyes they grasped the student's hand and retired. The after life of Adrian Florent belongs to the history of his country. The pale youth who had sat solitary under the lamp in the church porch, beoime vice-chancellor in the university whose poorest student he had been afterwards was made tutor and chosen counsellor of the Emperor Charles V.; prime minister in Spain and, finally, pope, under the title of Adrian VI.

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