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LEGEND OF THE PAINTER-FRIAR, THE DEVIL AND THE VIRGIN.

Don José de Valdivielso, one of the chaplains of the gay Cardinal Infant Ferdinand of Austria, relates the following legend in his paper on the Tax on Pictures, appended to Carducho's Dialogos de la Pintura. A certain young friar was famous amongst his order, for his skill in painting; and he took peculiar delight in drawing the Virgin and the Devil. To heighten the divine beauty of the one, and to devise new and extravagant forms of ugliness for the other, were the chief recreations for his leisure hours. Vexed at last by the variety and vigor of his sketches, Beelzebub, to be revenged, assumed the form of a lovely maiden, and crossed under this guise the path of the friar, who being of an amorous disposition, fell at once into the trap. The seeming damsel smiled on her shaven wooer, but though nothing loth to be won, would not surrender her charms at a less price than certain reliquaries and jewels in the convent treasury—a price which the friar in an evil hour consented to pay. He admitted her at midnight within the convent walls, and leading her to the sacristy, took from its antique cabinet the things for which she had asked. Then came the moment of vengeance. Passing in their return through the moonlit cloister as the friar stole along, embracing the booty with one arm, and his false Duessa with the other, the demon-lady suddenly cried out "Thieves!" with diabolical energy, and instantly vanished. The snoring monks rushed disordered from their cells and detected their unlucky brother making off with their plate. Excuse being impossible, they tied the culprit to a column, and leaving him till matins, when his punishment was to be determined, went back to their slumbers. When all was quiet, the Devil reappeared, but this time in his most hideous shape. Half dead with cold and terror, the discomfited caricaturist stood shivering at his column, while his tormentor made unmercifully merry with him; twitting him with his amorous overtures, mocking his stammered prayers, and irreverently suggesting an appeal for aid to the beauty he so loved to delineate. The penitent wretch at last took the advice thus jeeringly given—when lo! the Virgin descended, radiant in heavenly loveliness, loosened his cords, and bade him bind the Evil One to the column in his place—an order which he obeyed through her strength, with no less alacrity than astonishment. She further ordered him to appear among the other monks at table, and charged herself with the task of restoring the stolen plate to its place. Thus the tables were suddenly turned. The friar presented himself among his brethren in the morning, to their no small astonishment, and voted with much contrition for his own condemnation—a sentence which was reversed when they came to examine the contents of the sacristy, and found everything correct. As to the Devil, who remained fast bound to the pillar, he was soundly flogged, and so fell into the pit which he had digged for another. His dupe, on the other hand, gathered new strength from his fall, and became not only a wiser and a better man, but also an abler artist; for the experience of that terrible night had supplied all that was wanting to complete the ideal of his favorite subjects. Thenceforth, he followed no more after enticing damsels, but remained in his cloister, painting the Madonna more serenely beautiful, and the Arch Enemy more curiously appalling than ever.