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Full text of "The Works of Edgar Allen Poe"

A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1841 



The ways of God in Nature, as in Providence, are not as our ways; nor are the models 
that we frame any way commensurate to the vastness, profundity, and unsearchableness 
of His works, which have a depth in them greater than the well ofDemocritus. 
Joseph Glanville. 

WE had now reached the summit of the loftiest crag. For some minutes the old man 
seemed too much exhausted to speak. 

"Not long ago," said he at length, "and I could have guided you on this route as well as 
the youngest of my sons; but, about three years past, there happened to me an event such 
as never happened before to mortal man —or at least such as no man ever survived to tell 
of —and the six hours of deadly terror which I then endured have broken me up body and 
soul. You suppose me a very old man -but I am not. It took less than a single day to 
change these hairs from a jetty black to white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my 
nerves, so that I tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a shadow. Do you 
know I can scarcely look over this little cliff without getting giddy?" 

The "little cliff," upon whose edge he had so carelessly thrown himself down to rest that 
the weightier portion of his body hung over it, while he was only kept from falling by the 
tenure of his elbow on its extreme and slippery edge —this "little cliff" arose, a sheer 
unobstructed precipice of black shining rock, some fifteen or sixteen hundred feet from 
the world of crags beneath us. Nothing would have tempted me to within half a dozen 
yards of its brink. In truth so deeply was I excited by the perilous position of my 
companion, that I fell at full length upon the ground, clung to the shrubs around me, and 
dared not even glance upward at the sky —while I struggled in vain to divest myself of the 
idea that the very foundations of the mountain were in danger from the fury of the winds. 
It was long before I could reason myself into sufficient courage to sit up and look out into 
the distance. 

"You must get over these fancies," said the guide, "for I have brought you here that you 
might have the best possible view of the scene of that event I mentioned —and to tell you 
the whole story with the spot just under your eye." 

"We are now," he continued, in that particularizing manner which distinguished him — 
"we are now close upon the Norwegian coast —in the sixty-eighth degree of latitude —in 
the great province of Nordland —and in the dreary district of Lofoden. The mountain 
upon whose top we sit is Helseggen, the Cloudy. Now raise yourself up a little higher — 



hold on to the grass if you feel giddy —so —and look out beyond the belt of vapor beneath 
us, into the sea." 

I looked dizzily, and beheld a wide expanse of ocean, whose waters wore so inky a hue as 
to bring at once to my mind the Nubian geographer's account of the Mare Tenebrarum. A 
panorama more deplorably desolate no human imagination can conceive. To the right and 
left, as far as the eye could reach, there lay outstretched, like ramparts of the world, lines 
of horridly black and beetling cliff, whose character of gloom was but the more forcibly 
illustrated by the surf which reared high up against it its white and ghastly crest, howling 
and shrieking for ever. Just opposite the promontory upon whose apex we were placed, 
and at a distance of some five or six miles out at sea, there was visible a small, bleak- 
looking island; or, more properly, its position was discernible through the wilderness of 
surge in which it was enveloped. About two miles nearer the land, arose another of 
smaller size, hideously craggy and barren, and encompassed at various intervals by a 
cluster of dark rocks. 

The appearance of the ocean, in the space between the more distant island and the shore, 
had something very unusual about it. Although, at the time, so strong a gale was blowing 
landward that a brig in the remote offing lay to under a double-reefed trysail, and 
constantly plunged her whole hull out of sight, still there was here nothing like a regular 
swell, but only a short, quick, angry cross dashing of water in every direction —as well in 
the teeth of the wind as otherwise. Of foam there was little except in the immediate 
vicinity of the rocks. 

"The island in the distance," resumed the old man, "is called by the Norwegians Vurrgh. 
The one midway is Moskoe. That a mile to the northward is Ambaaren. Yonder are 
Iflesen, Hoeyholm, Kieldholm, Suarven, and Buckholm. Farther off —between Moskoe 
and Vurrgh —are Otterholm, Flimen, Sandflesen, and Skarholm. These are the true names 
of the places -but why it has been thought necessary to name them at all, is more than 
either you or I can understand. Do you hear any thing? Do you see any change in the 
water?" 

We had now been about ten minutes upon the top of Helseggen, to which we had 
ascended from the interior of Lofoden, so that we had caught no glimpse of the sea until 
it had burst upon us from the summit. As the old man spoke, I became aware of a loud 
and gradually increasing sound, like the moaning of a vast herd of buffaloes upon an 
American prairie; and at the same moment I perceived that what seamen term the 
chopping character of the ocean beneath us, was rapidly changing into a current which set 
to the eastward. Even while I gazed, this current acquired a monstrous velocity. Each 
moment added to its speed —to its headlong impetuosity. In five minutes the whole sea, 
as far as Vurrgh, was lashed into ungovernable fury; but it was between Moskoe and the 
coast that the main uproar held its sway. Here the vast bed of the waters, seamed and 
scarred into a thousand conflicting channels, burst suddenly into phrensied convulsion — 
heaving, boiling, hissing -gyrating in gigantic and innumerable vortices, and all whirling 
and plunging on to the eastward with a rapidity which water never elsewhere assumes 
except in precipitous descents. 



In a few minutes more, there came over the scene another radical alteration. The general 
surface grew somewhat more smooth, and the whirlpools, one by one, disappeared, while 
prodigious streaks of foam became apparent where none had been seen before. These 
streaks, at length, spreading out to a great distance, and entering into combination, took 
unto themselves the gyratory motion of the subsided vortices, and seemed to form the 
germ of another more vast. Suddenly -very suddenly —this assumed a distinct and 
definite existence, in a circle of more than half a mile in diameter. The edge of the whirl 
was represented by a broad belt of gleaming spray; but no particle of this slipped into the 
mouth of the terrific funnel, whose interior, as far as the eye could fathom it, was a 
smooth, shining, and jet-black wall of water, inclined to the horizon at an angle of some 
forty-five degrees, speeding dizzily round and round with a swaying and sweltering 
motion, and sending forth to the winds an appalling voice, half shriek, half roar, such as 
not even the mighty cataract of Niagara ever lifts up in its agony to Heaven. 

The mountain trembled to its very base, and the rock rocked. I threw myself upon my 
face, and clung to the scant herbage in an excess of nervous agitation. 

"This," said I at length, to the old man -"this can be nothing else than the great whirlpool 
of the Maelstrom." 

"So it is sometimes termed," said he. "We Norwegians call it the Moskoe-strom, from the 
island of Moskoe in the midway." 

The ordinary accounts of this vortex had by no means prepared me for what I saw. That 
of Jonas Ramus, which is perhaps the most circumstantial of any, cannot impart the 
faintest conception either of the magnificence, or of the horror of the scene —or of the 
wild bewildering sense of the novel which confounds the beholder. I am not sure from 
what point of view the writer in question surveyed it, nor at what time; but it could 
neither have been from the summit of Helseggen, nor during a storm. There are some 
passages of his description, nevertheless, which may be quoted for their details, although 
their effect is exceedingly feeble in conveying an impression of the spectacle. 

"Between Lofoden and Moskoe," he says, "the depth of the water is between thirty-six 
and forty fathoms; but on the other side, toward Ver (Vurrgh) this depth decreases so as 
not to afford a convenient passage for a vessel, without the risk of splitting on the rocks, 
which happens even in the calmest weather. When it is flood, the stream runs up the 
country between Lofoden and Moskoe with a boisterous rapidity; but the roar of its 
impetuous ebb to the sea is scarce equalled by the loudest and most dreadful cataracts; 
the noise being heard several leagues off, and the vortices or pits are of such an extent 
and depth, that if a ship comes within its attraction, it is inevitably absorbed and carried 
down to the bottom, and there beat to pieces against the rocks; and when the water 
relaxes, the fragments thereof are thrown up again. But these intervals of tranquillity are 
only at the turn of the ebb and flood, and in calm weather, and last but a quarter of an 
hour, its violence gradually returning. When the stream is most boisterous, and its fury 
heightened by a storm, it is dangerous to come within a Norway mile of it. Boats, yachts, 
and ships have been carried away by not guarding against it before they were within its 



reach. It likewise happens frequently, that whales come too near the stream, and are 
overpowered by its violence; and then it is impossible to describe their howlings and 
bellowings in their fruitless struggles to disengage themselves. A bear once, attempting to 
swim from Lofoden to Moskoe, was caught by the stream and borne down, while he 
roared terribly, so as to be heard on shore. Large stocks of firs and pine trees, after being 
absorbed by the current, rise again broken and torn to such a degree as if bristles grew 
upon them. This plainly shows the bottom to consist of craggy rocks, among which they 
are whirled to and fro. This stream is regulated by the flux and reflux of the sea —it being 
constantly high and low water every six hours. In the year 1645, early in the morning of 
Sexagesima Sunday, it raged with such noise and impetuosity that the very stones of the 
houses on the coast fell to the ground." 

In regard to the depth of the water, I could not see how this could have been ascertained 
at all in the immediate vicinity of the vortex. The "forty fathoms" must have reference 
only to portions of the channel close upon the shore either of Moskoe or Lofoden. The 
depth in the centre of the Moskoe-strom must be immeasurably greater; and no better 
proof of this fact is necessary than can be obtained from even the sidelong glance into the 
abyss of the whirl which may be had from the highest crag of Helseggen. Looking down 
from this pinnacle upon the howling Phlegethon below, I could not help smiling at the 
simplicity with which the honest Jonas Ramus records, as a matter difficult of belief, the 
anecdotes of the whales and the bears; for it appeared to me, in fact, a self-evident thing, 
that the largest ships of the line in existence, coming within the influence of that deadly 
attraction, could resist it as little as a feather the hurricane, and must disappear bodily and 
at once. 

The attempts to account for the phenomenon —some of which, I remember, seemed to me 
sufficiently plausible in perusal —now wore a very different and unsatisfactory aspect. 
The idea generally received is that this, as well as three smaller vortices among the Feroe 
islands, "have no other cause than the collision of waves rising and falling, at flux and 
reflux, against a ridge of rocks and shelves, which confines the water so that it 
precipitates itself like a cataract; and thus the higher the flood rises, the deeper must the 
fall be, and the natural result of all is a whirlpool or vortex, the prodigious suction of 
which is sufficiently known by lesser experiments." —These are the words of the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica. Kircher and others imagine that in the centre of the channel of 
the Maelstrom is an abyss penetrating the globe, and issuing in some very remote part — 
the Gulf of Bothnia being somewhat decidedly named in one instance. This opinion, idle 
in itself, was the one to which, as I gazed, my imagination most readily assented; and, 
mentioning it to the guide, I was rather surprised to hear him say that, although it was the 
view almost universally entertained of the subject by the Norwegians, it nevertheless was 
not his own. As to the former notion he confessed his inability to comprehend it; and here 
I agreed with him —for, however conclusive on paper, it becomes altogether 
unintelligible, and even absurd, amid the thunder of the abyss. 

"You have had a good look at the whirl now," said the old man, "and if you will creep 
round this crag, so as to get in its lee, and deaden the roar of the water, I will tell you a 
story that will convince you I ought to know something of the Moskoe-strom." 



I placed myself as desired, and he proceeded. 

"Myself and my two brothers once owned a schooner-rigged smack of about seventy tons 
burthen, with which we were in the habit of fishing among the islands beyond Moskoe, 
nearly to Vurrgh. In all violent eddies at sea there is good fishing, at proper opportunities, 
if one has only the courage to attempt it; but among the whole of the Lofoden coastmen, 
we three were the only ones who made a regular business of going out to the islands, as I 
tell you. The usual grounds are a great way lower down to the southward. There fish can 
be got at all hours, without much risk, and therefore these places are preferred. The 
choice spots over here among the rocks, however, not only yield the finest variety, but in 
far greater abundance; so that we often got in a single day, what the more timid of the 
craft could not scrape together in a week. In fact, we made it a matter of desperate 
speculation -the risk of life standing instead of labor, and courage answering for capital. 

"We kept the smack in a cove about five miles higher up the coast than this; and it was 
our practice, in fine weather, to take advantage of the fifteen minutes' slack to push across 
the main channel of the Moskoe-strom, far above the pool, and then drop down upon 
anchorage somewhere near Otterholm, or Sandflesen, where the eddies are not so violent 
as elsewhere. Here we used to remain until nearly time for slackwater again, when we 
weighed and made for home. We never set out upon this expedition without a steady side 
wind for going and coming -one that we felt sure would not fall us before our return — 
and we seldom made a mis-calculation upon this point. Twice, during six years, we were 
forced to stay all night at anchor on account of a dead calm, which is a rare thing indeed 
just about here; and once we had to remain on the grounds nearly a week, starving to 
death, owing to a gale which blew up shortly after our arrival, and made the channel too 
boisterous to be thought of. Upon this occasion we should have been driven out to sea in 
spite of everything, (for the whirlpools threw us round and round so violently that, at 
length, we fouled our anchor and dragged it) if it had not been that we drifted into one of 
the innumerable cross currents-here to-day and gone to-morrow —which drove us under 
the lee of Flimen, where, by good luck, we brought up. 

"I could not tell you the twentieth part of the difficulties we encountered 'on the ground' - 
-it is a bad spot to be in, even in good weather -but we made shift always to run the 
gauntlet of the Moskoe-strom itself without accident; although at times my heart has been 
in my mouth when we happened to be a minute or so behind or before the slack. The 
wind sometimes was not as strong as we thought it at starting, and then we made rather 
less way than we could wish, while the current rendered the smack unmanageable. My 
eldest brother had a son eighteen years old, and I had two stout boys of my own. These 
would have been of great assistance at such times, in using the sweeps, as well as 
afterward in fishing -but, somehow, although we ran the risk ourselves, we had not the 
heart to let the young ones get into the danger —for, after all said and done, it was a 
horrible danger, and that is the truth. 

"It is now within a few days of three years since what I am going to tell you occurred. It 
was on the tenth of July, 18—, a day which the people of this part of the world will never 
forget —for it was one in which blew the most terrible hurricane that ever came out of the 



heavens. And yet all the morning, and indeed until late in the afternoon, there was a 
gentle and steady breeze from the south-west, while the sun shone brightly, so that the 
oldest seaman among us could not have foreseen what was to follow. 

"The three of us —my two brothers and myself —had crossed over to the islands about two 
o'clock P. M., and soon nearly loaded the smack with fine fish, which, we all remarked, 
were more plenty that day than we had ever known them. It was just seven, by my watch, 
when we weighed and started for home, so as to make the worst of the Strom at slack 
water, which we knew would be at eight. 

"We set out with a fresh wind on our starboard quarter, and for some time spanked along 
at a great rate, never dreaming of danger, for indeed we saw not the slightest reason to 
apprehend it. All at once we were taken aback by a breeze from over Helseggen. This 
was most unusual —something that had never happened to us before —and I began to feel 
a little uneasy, without exactly knowing why. We put the boat on the wind, but could 
make no headway at all for the eddies, and I was upon the point of proposing to return to 
the anchorage, when, looking astern, we saw the whole horizon covered with a singular 
copper-colored cloud that rose with the most amazing velocity. 

"In the meantime the breeze that had headed us off fell away, and we were dead 
becalmed, drifting about in every direction. This state of things, however, did not last 
long enough to give us time to think about it. In less than a minute the storm was upon us 
—in less than two the sky was entirely overcast —and what with this and the driving spray, 
it became suddenly so dark that we could not see each other in the smack. 

"Such a hurricane as then blew it is folly to attempt describing. The oldest seaman in 
Norway never experienced any thing like it. We had let our sails go by the run before it 
cleverly took us; but, at the first puff, both our masts went by the board if they had been 
sawed off —the mainmast taking with it my as I youngest brother, who had lashed himself 
to it for safety. 

"Our boat was the lightest feather of a thing that ever sat upon water. It had a complete 
flush deck, with only a small hatch near the bow, and this hatch it had always been our 
custom to batten down when about to cross the Strom, by way of precaution against the 
chopping seas. But for this circumstance we should have foundered at once —for we lay 
entirely buried for some moments. How my elder brother escaped destruction I cannot 
say, for I never had an opportunity of ascertaining. For my part, as soon as I had let the 
foresail run, I threw myself flat on deck, with my feet against the narrow gunwale of the 
bow, and with my hands grasping a ring-bolt near the foot of the foremast. It was mere 
instinct that prompted me to do this —which was undoubtedly the very best thing I could 
have done —for I was too much flurried to think. 

"For some moments we were completely deluged, as I say, and all this time I held my 
breath, and clung to the bolt. When I could stand it no longer I raised myself upon my 
knees, still keeping hold with my hands, and thus got my head clear. Presently our little 
boat gave herself a shake, just as a dog does in coming out of the water, and thus rid 



herself, in some measure, of the seas. I was now trying to get the better of the stupor that 
had come over me, and to collect my senses so as to see what was to be done, when I felt 
somebody grasp my arm. It was my elder brother, and my heart leaped for joy, for I had 
made sure that he was overboard —but the next moment all this joy was turned into horror 
-for he put his mouth close to my ear, and screamed out the word 'Moskoe-strom!' 

"No one ever will know what my feelings were at that moment. I shook from head to foot 
as if I had had the most violent fit of the ague. I knew what he meant by that one word 
well enough -I knew what he wished to make me understand. With the wind that now 
drove us on, we were bound for the whirl of the Strom, and nothing could save us! 

"You perceive that in crossing the Strom channel, we always went a long way up above 
the whirl, even in the calmest weather, and then had to wait and watch carefully for the 
slack -but now we were driving right upon the pool itself, and in such a hurricane as this! 
'To be sure,' I thought, 'we shall get there just about the slack —there is some little hope in 
that' —but in the next moment I cursed myself for being so great a fool as to dream of 
hope at all. I knew very well that we were doomed, had we been ten times a ninety-gun 
ship. 

"By this time the first fury of the tempest had spent itself, or perhaps we did not feel it so 
much, as we scudded before it, but at all events the seas, which at first had been kept 
down by the wind, and lay flat and frothing, now got up into absolute mountains. A 
singular change, too, had come over the heavens. Around in every direction it was still as 
black as pitch, but nearly overhead there burst out, all at once, a circular rift of clear sky - 
-as clear as I ever saw —and of a deep bright blue —and through it there blazed forth the 
full moon with a lustre that I never before knew her to wear. She lit up every thing about 
us with the greatest distinctness —but, oh God, what a scene it was to light up! 

"I now made one or two attempts to speak to my brother —but in some manner which I 
could not understand, the din had so increased that I could not make him hear a single 
word, although I screamed at the top of my voice in his ear. Presently he shook his head, 
looking as pale as death, and held up one of his fingers, as to say 'listen!' 

"At first I could not make out what he meant —but soon a hideous thought flashed upon 
me. I dragged my watch from its fob. It was not going. I glanced as its face by the 
moonlight, and then burst into tears as I flung it far away into the ocean. It had run down 
at seven o'clock! We were behind the time of the slack, and the whirl of the Strom was in 
full fury! 

"When a boat is well built, properly trimmed, and not deep laden, the waves in a strong 
gale, when she is going large, seem always to slip from beneath her -which appears very 
strange to a landsman —and this is what is called riding, in sea phrase. 

"Well, so far we had ridden the swells very cleverly; but presently a gigantic sea 
happened to take us right under the counter, and bore us with it as it rose -up —up —as if 
into the sky. I would not have believed that any wave could rise so high. And then down 



we came with a sweep, a slide, and a plunge, that made me feel sick and dizzy, as if I was 
falling from some lofty mountain-top in a dream. But while we were up I had thrown a 
quick glance around —and that one glance was all sufficient. I saw our exact position in 
an instant. The Moskoe-strom whirlpool was about a quarter of a mile dead ahead —but 
no more like the e very-day Moskoe-strom, than the whirl as you now see it, is like a mill- 
race. If I had not known where we were, and what we had to expect, I should not have 
recognised the place at all. As it was, I involuntarily closed my eyes in horror. The lids 
clenched themselves together as if in a spasm. 

"It could not have been more than two minutes afterwards until we suddenly felt the 
waves subside, and were enveloped in foam. The boat made a sharp half turn to larboard, 
and then shot off in its new direction like a thunderbolt. At the same moment the roaring 
noise of the water was completely drowned in a kind of shrill shriek —such a sound as 
you might imagine given out by the water-pipes of many thousand steam- vessels, letting 
off their steam all together. We were now in the belt of surf that always surrounds the 
whirl; and I thought, of course, that another moment would plunge us into the abyss — 
down which we could only see indistinctly on account of the amazing velocity with 
which we were borne along. The boat did not seem to sink into the water at all, but to 
skim like an air-bubble upon the surface of the surge. Her starboard side was next the 
whirl, and on the larboard arose the world of ocean we had left. It stood like a huge 
writhing wall between us and the horizon. 

"It may appear strange, but now, when we were in the very jaws of the gulf, I felt more 
composed than when we were only approaching it. Having made up my mind to hope no 
more, I got rid of a great deal of that terror which unmanned me at first. I suppose it was 
despair that strung my nerves. 

"It may look like boasting -but what I tell you is truth —I began to reflect how 
magnificent a thing it was to die in such a manner, and how foolish it was in me to think 
of so paltry a consideration as my own individual life, in view of so wonderful a 
manifestation of God's power. I do believe that I blushed with shame when this idea 
crossed my mind. After a little while I became possessed with the keenest curiosity about 
the whirl itself. I positively felt a wish to explore its depths, even at the sacrifice I was 
going to make; and my principal grief was that I should never be able to tell my old 
companions on shore about the mysteries I should see. These, no doubt, were singular 
fancies to occupy a man's mind in such extremity —and I have often thought since, that 
the revolutions of the boat around the pool might have rendered me a little light-headed. 

"There was another circumstance which tended to restore my self-possession; and this 
was the cessation of the wind, which could not reach us in our present situation -for, as 
you saw yourself, the belt of surf is considerably lower than the general bed of the ocean, 
and this latter now towered above us, a high, black, mountainous ridge. If you have never 
been at sea in a heavy gale, you can form no idea of the confusion of mind occasioned by 
the wind and the spray together. They blind, deafen and strangle you, and take away all 
power of action or reflection. But we were now, in a great measure, rid of these 



annoyances —just as death-condemned felons in prison are allowed petty indulgences, 
forbidden them while their doom is yet uncertain. 

"How often we made the circuit of the belt it is impossible to say. We careered round and 
round for perhaps an hour, flying rather than floating, getting gradually more and more 
into the middle of the surge, and then nearer and nearer to its horrible inner edge. All this 
time I had never let go of the ring-bolt. My brother was at the stern, holding on to a large 
empty water-cask which had been securely lashed under the coop of the counter, and was 
the only thing on deck that had not been swept overboard when the gale first took us. As 
we approached the brink of the pit he let go his hold upon this, and made for the ring, 
from which, in the agony of his terror, he endeavored to force my hands, as it was not 
large enough to afford us both a secure grasp. I never felt deeper grief than when I saw 
him attempt this act —although I knew he was a madman when he did it —a raving maniac 
through sheer fright. I did not care, however, to contest the point with him. I thought it 
could make no difference whether either of us held on at all; so I let him have the bolt, 
and went astern to the cask. This there was no great difficulty in doing; for the smack 
flew round steadily enough, and upon an even keel —only swaying to and fro, with the 
immense sweeps and swelters of the whirl. Scarcely had I secured myself in my new 
position, when we gave a wild lurch to starboard, and rushed headlong into the abyss. I 
muttered a hurried prayer to God, and thought all was over. 

"As I felt the sickening sweep of the descent, I had instinctively tightened my hold upon 
the barrel, and closed my eyes. For some seconds I dared not open them —while I 
expected instant destruction, and wondered that I was not already in my death-struggles 
with the water. But moment after moment elapsed. I still lived. The sense of falling had 
ceased; and the motion of the vessel seemed much as it had been before while in the belt 
of foam, with the exception that she now lay more along. I took courage and looked once 
again upon the scene. 

"Never shall I forget the sensations of awe, horror, and admiration with which I gazed 
about me. The boat appeared to be hanging, as if by magic, midway down, upon the 
interior surface of a funnel vast in circumference, prodigious in depth, and whose 
perfectly smooth sides might have been mistaken for ebony, but for the bewildering 
rapidity with which they spun around, and for the gleaming and ghastly radiance they 
shot forth, as the rays of the full moon, from that circular rift amid the clouds which I 
have already described, streamed in a flood of golden glory along the black walls, and far 
away down into the inmost recesses of the abyss. 

"At first I was too much confused to observe anything accurately. The general burst of 
terrific grandeur was all that I beheld. When I recovered myself a little, however, my 
gaze fell instinctively downward. In this direction I was able to obtain an unobstructed 
view, from the manner in which the smack hung on the inclined surface of the pool. She 
was quite upon an even keel —that is to say, her deck lay in a plane parallel with that of 
the water -but this latter sloped at an angle of more than forty-five degrees, so that we 
seemed to be lying upon our beam-ends. I could not help observing, nevertheless, that I 
had scarcely more difficulty in maintaining my hold and footing in this situation, than if 



we had been upon a dead level; and this, I suppose, was owing to the speed at which we 
revolved. 

"The rays of the moon seemed to search the very bottom of the profound gulf; but still I 
could make out nothing distinctly, on account of a thick mist in which everything there 
was enveloped, and over which there hung a magnificent rainbow, like that narrow and 
tottering bridge which Mussulmen say is the only pathway between Time and Eternity. 
This mist, or spray, was no doubt occasioned by the clashing of the great walls of the 
funnel, as they all met together at the bottom —but the yell that went up to the Heavens 
from out of that mist, I dare not attempt to describe. 

"Our first slide into the abyss itself, from the belt of foam above, had carried us to a great 
distance down the slope; but our farther descent was by no means proportionate. Round 
and round we swept -not with any uniform movement —but in dizzying swings and jerks, 
that sent us sometimes only a few hundred feet —sometimes nearly the complete circuit of 
the whirl. Our progress downward, at each revolution, was slow, but very perceptible. 

"Looking about me upon the wide waste of liquid ebony on which we were thus borne, I 
perceived that our boat was not the only object in the embrace of the whirl. Both above 
and below us were visible fragments of vessels, large masses of building timber and 
trunks of trees, with many smaller articles, such as pieces of house furniture, broken 
boxes, barrels and staves. I have already described the unnatural curiosity which had 
taken the place of my original terrors. It appeared to grow upon me as I drew nearer and 
nearer to my dreadful doom. I now began to watch, with a strange interest, the numerous 
things that floated in our company. I must have been delirious —for I even sought 
amusement in speculating upon the relative velocities of their several descents toward the 
foam below. 'This fir tree,' I found myself at one time saying, 'will certainly be the next 
thing that takes the awful plunge and disappears,' -and then I was disappointed to find 
that the wreck of a Dutch merchant ship overtook it and went down before. At length, 
after making several guesses of this nature, and being deceived in all -this fact -the fact 
of my invariable miscalculation, set me upon a train of reflection that made my limbs 
again tremble, and my heart beat heavily once more. 

"It was not a new terror that thus affected me, but the dawn of a more exciting hope. This 
hope arose partly from memory, and partly from present observation. I called to mind the 
great variety of buoyant matter that strewed the coast of Lofoden, having been absorbed 
and then thrown forth by the Moskoe-strom. By far the greater number of the articles 
were shattered in the most extraordinary way —so chafed and roughened as to have the 
appearance of being stuck full of splinters -but then I distinctly recollected that there 
were some of them which were not disfigured at all. Now I could not account for this 
difference except by supposing that the roughened fragments were the only ones which 
had been completely absorbed —that the others had entered the whirl at so late a period of 
the tide, or, from some reason, had descended so slowly after entering, that they did not 
reach the bottom before the turn of the flood came, or of the ebb, as the case might be. I 
conceived it possible, in either instance, that they might thus be whirled up again to the 
level of the ocean, without undergoing the fate of those which had been drawn in more 



early or absorbed more rapidly. I made, also, three important observations. The first was, 
that as a general rule, the larger the bodies were, the more rapid their descent; -the 
second, that, between two masses of equal extent, the one spherical, and the other of any 
other shape, the superiority in speed of descent was with the sphere; -the third, that, 
between two masses of equal size, the one cylindrical, and the other of any other shape, 
the cylinder was absorbed the more slowly. 

Since my escape, I have had several conversations on this subject with an old school- 
master of the district; and it was from him that I learned the use of the words 'cylinder' 
and 'sphere.' He explained to me —although I have forgotten the explanation -how what I 
observed was, in fact, the natural consequence of the forms of the floating fragments — 
and showed me how it happened that a cylinder, swimming in a vortex, offered more 
resistance to its suction, and was drawn in with greater difficulty than an equally bulky 
body, of any form whatever.* 

*See Archimedes, "De Incidentibus in Fluido." —lib. 2. 

"There was one startling circumstance which went a great way in enforcing these 
observations, and rendering me anxious to turn them to account, and this was that, at 
every revolution, we passed something like a barrel, or else the broken yard or the mast 
of a vessel, while many of these things, which had been on our level when I first opened 
my eyes upon the wonders of the whirlpool, were now high up above us, and seemed to 
have moved but little from their original station. 

"I no longer hesitated what to do. I resolved to lash myself securely to the water cask 
upon which I now held, to cut it loose from the counter, and to throw myself with it into 
the water. I attracted my brother's attention by signs, pointed to the floating barrels that 
came near us, and did everything in my power to make him understand what I was about 
to do. I thought at length that he comprehended my design —but, whether this was the 
case or not, he shook his head despairingly, and refused to move from his station by the 
ring-bolt. It was impossible to force him; the emergency admitted no delay; and so, with 
a bitter struggle, I resigned him to his fate, fastened myself to the cask by means of the 
lashings which secured it to the counter, and precipitated myself with it into the sea, 
without another moment's hesitation. 

"The result was precisely what I had hoped it might be. As it is myself who now tell you 
this tale —as you see that I did escape —and as you are already in possession of the mode 
in which this escape was effected, and must therefore anticipate all that I have farther to 
say —I will bring my story quickly to conclusion. It might have been an hour, or 
thereabout, after my quitting the smack, when, having descended to a vast distance 
beneath me, it made three or four wild gyrations in rapid succession, and, bearing my 
loved brother with it, plunged headlong, at once and forever, into the chaos of foam 
below. The barrel to which I was attached sunk very little farther than half the distance 
between the bottom of the gulf and the spot at which I leaped overboard, before a great 
change took place in the character of the whirlpool. The slope of the sides of the vast 
funnel became momently less and less steep. The gyrations of the whirl grew, gradually. 



less and less violent. By degrees, the froth and the rainbow disappeared, and the bottom 
of the gulf seemed slowly to uprise. The sky was clear, the winds had gone down, and the 
full moon was setting radiantly in the west, when I found myself on the surface of the 
ocean, in full view of the shores of Lofoden, and above the spot where the pool of the 
Moskoe-strom had been. It was the hour of the slack —but the sea still heaved in 
mountainous waves from the effects of the hurricane. I was borne violently into the 
channel of the Strom and in a few minutes, was hurried down the coast into the 'grounds' 
of the fishermen. A boat picked me up —exhausted from fatigue -and (now that the 
danger was removed) speechless from the memory of its horror. Those who drew me on 
board were my old mates and dally companions —but they knew me no more than they 
would have known a traveller from the spirit-land. My hair, which had been raven-black 
the day before, was as white as you see it now. They say too that the whole expression of 
my countenance had changed. I told them my story —they did not believe it. I now tell it 
to you —and I can scarcely expect you to put more faith in it than did the merry fishermen 
of Lofoden. 

THE END 



A DREAM WITHIN A DREAM 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1827 



Take this kiss upon the brow! 

And, in parting from you now, 

Thus much let me avow- 

You are not wrong, who deem 

That my days have been a dream; 

Yet if hope has flown away 

In a night, or in a day. 

In a vision, or in none. 

Is it therefore the less gone? 

All that we see or seem 

Is but a dream within a dream. 

I stand amid the roar 
Of a surf-tormented shore. 
And I hold within my hand 
Grains of the golden sand- 
How few! yet how they creep 
Through my fingers to the deep. 
While I weep- while I weep! 
O God! can I not grasp 
Them with a tighter clasp? 
O God! can I not save 
One from the pitiless wave? 
Is all that we see or seem 
But a dream within a dream? 

THE END 



A DREAM 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1827 



In visions of the dark night 
I have dreamed of joy departed- 
But a waking dream of life and light 
Hath left me broken-hearted. 

Ah! what is not a dream by day 
To him whose eyes are cast 
On things around him with a ray 
Turned back upon the past? 

That holy dream-that holy dream, 
While all the world were chiding, 
Hath cheered me as a lovely beam 
A lonely spirit guiding. 

What though that light, thro' storm and night. 
So trembled from afar- 
What could there be more purely bright 
In Truth's day-star? 

THE END 



A PREDICAMENT 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1838 



What chance, good lady, hath bereft you thus ? 
COMUS. 

IT was a quiet and still afternoon when I strolled forth in the goodly city of Edina. The 
confusion and bustle in the streets were terrible. Men were talking. Women were 
screaming. Children were choking. Pigs were whistling. Carts they rattled. Bulls they 
bellowed. Cows they lowed. Horses they neighed. Cats they caterwauled. Dogs they 
danced. Danced! Could it then be possible? Danced! Alas, thought I, my dancing days are 
over! Thus it is ever. What a host of gloomy recollections will ever and anon be 
awakened in the mind of genius and imaginative contemplation, especially of a genius 
doomed to the everlasting and eternal, and continual, and, as one might say, the- 
continued-yes, the continued and continuous, bitter, harassing, disturbing, and, if I may 
be allowed the expression, the very disturbing influence of the serene, and godlike, and 
heavenly, and exalted, and elevated, and purifying effect of what may be rightly termed 
the most enviable, the most truly enviable-nay! the most benignly beautiful, the most 
deliciously ethereal, and, as it were, the most pretty (if I may use so bold an expression) 
thing (pardon me, gentle reader!) in the world-but I am always led away by my feelings. 
In such a mind, I repeat, what a host of recollections are stirred up by a trifle! The dogs 
danced! I-I could not! They frisked-I wept. They capered-I sobbed aloud. Touching 
circumstances! which cannot fail to bring to the recollection of the classical reader that 
exquisite passage in relation to the fitness of things, which is to be found in the 
commencement of the third volume of that admirable and venerable Chinese novel the 
Jo-Go-Slow. 

In my solitary walk through, the city I had two humble but faithful companions. Diana, 
my poodle! sweetest of creatures! She had a quantity of hair over her one eye, and a blue 
ribband tied fashionably around her neck. Diana was not more than five inches in height, 
but her head was somewhat bigger than her body, and her tail being cut off exceedingly 
close, gave an air of injured innocence to the interesting animal which rendered her a 
favorite with all. 

And Pompey, my negro !-sweet Pompey! how shall I ever forget thee? I had taken 
Pompey's arm. He was three feet in height (I like to be particular) and about seventy, or 
perhaps eighty, years of age. He had bow-legs and was corpulent. His mouth should not 
be called small, nor his ears short. His teeth, however, were like pearl, and his large full 
eyes were deliciously white. Nature had endowed him with no neck, and had placed his 
ankles (as usual with that race) in the middle of the upper portion of the feet. He was clad 
with a striking simplicity. His sole garments were a stock of nine inches in height, and a 



nearly- new drab overcoat which had formerly been in the service of the tall, stately, and 
illustrious Dr. Moneypenny. It was a good overcoat. It was well cut. It was well made. 
The coat was nearly new. Pompey held it up out of the dirt with both hands. 

There were three persons in our party, and two of them have already been the subject of 
remark. There was a third-that person was myself. I am the Signora Psyche Zenobia. I 
am not Suky Snobbs. My appearance is commanding. On the memorable occasion of 
which I speak I was habited in a crimson satin dress, with a sky-blue Arabian mantelet. 
And the dress had trimmings of green agraffas, and seven graceful flounces of the 
orange-colored auricula. I thus formed the third of the party. There was the poodle. There 
was Pompey. There was myself. We were three. Thus it is said there were originally but 
three Furies-Melty, Nimmy, and Hetty-Meditation, Memory, and Fiddling. 

Leaning upon the arm of the gallant Pompey, and attended at a respectable distance by 
Diana, I proceeded down one of the populous and very pleasant streets of the now 
deserted Edina. On a sudden, there presented itself to view a church-a Gothic cathedral- 
vast, venerable, and with a tall steeple, which towered into the sky. What madness now 
possessed me? Why did I rush upon my fate? I was seized with an uncontrollable desire 
to ascend the giddy pinnacle, and then survey the immense extent of the city. The door of 
the cathedral stood invitingly open. My destiny prevailed. I entered the ominous archway. 
Where then was my guardian angel?-if indeed such angels there be. If! Distressing 
monosyllable! what world of mystery, and meaning, and doubt, and uncertainty is there 
involved in thy two letters! I entered the ominous archway! I entered; and, without injury 
to my orange-colored auriculas, I passed beneath the portal, and emerged within the 
vestibule. Thus it is said the immense river Alfred passed, unscathed, and unwetted, 
beneath the sea. 

I thought the staircase would never have an end. Round! Yes, they went round and up, 
and round and up and round and up, until I could not help surmising, with the sagacious 
Pompey, upon whose supporting arm I leaned in all the confidence of early affection-I 
could not help surmising that the upper end of the continuous spiral ladder had been 
accidentally, or perhaps designedly, removed. I paused for breath; and, in the meantime, 
an accident occurred of too momentous a nature in a moral, and also in a metaphysical 
point of view, to be passed over without notice. It appeared to me-indeed I was quite 
confident of the fact-I could not be mistaken-no! I had, for some moments, carefully and 
anxiously observed the motions of my Diana-I say that I could not be mistaken-Diana 
smelt a rat! At once I called Pompey's attention to the subject, and he-he agreed with me. 
There was then no longer any reasonable room for doubt. The rat had been smelled-and 
by Diana. Heavens! shall I ever forget the intense excitement of the moment? Alas! what 
is the boasted intellect of man? The rat!-it was there-that is to say, it was somewhere. 
Diana smelled the rat. I-I could not! Thus it is said the Prussian Isis has, for some 
persons, a sweet and very powerful perfume, while to others it is perfectly scentless. 

The staircase had been surmounted, and there were now only three or four more upward 
steps intervening between us and the summit. We still ascended, and now only one step 
remained. One step! One little, little step! Upon one such little step in the great staircase 



of human life how vast a sum of human happiness or misery depends! I thought of 
myself, then of Pompey, and then of the mysterious and inexplicable destiny which 
surrounded us. I thought of Pompey !-alas, I thought of love! I thought of my many false 
steps which have been taken, and may be taken again. I resolved to be more cautious, 
more reserved. I abandoned the arm of Pompey, and, without his assistance, surmounted 
the one remaining step, and gained the chamber of the belfry. I was followed immediately 
afterward by my poodle. Pompey alone remained behind. I stood at the head of the 
staircase, and encouraged him to ascend. He stretched forth to me his hand, and 
unfortunately in so doing was forced to abandon his firm hold upon the overcoat. Will the 
gods never cease their persecution? The overcoat is dropped, and, with one of his feet, 
Pompey stepped upon the long and trailing skirt of the overcoat. He stumbled and fell- 
this consequence was inevitable. He fell forward, and, with his accursed head, striking 
me full in the-in the breast, precipitated me headlong, together with himself, upon the 
hard, filthy, and detestable floor of the belfry. But my revenge was sure, sudden, and 
complete. Seizing him furiously by the wool with both hands, I tore out a vast quantity of 
black, and crisp, and curling material, and tossed it from me with every manifestation of 
disdain. It fell among the ropes of the belfry and remained. Pompey arose, and said no 
word. But he regarded me piteously with his large eyes and-sighed. Ye Gods-that sigh! It 
sunk into my heart. And the hair-the wool! Could I have reached that wool I would have 
bathed it with my tears, in testimony of regret. But alas! it was now far beyond my grasp. 
As it dangled among the cordage of the bell, I fancied it ahve. I fancied that it stood on 
end with indignation. Thus the happy-dandy Flos Aeris of Java bears, it is said, a 
beautiful flower, which will live when pulled up by the roots. The natives suspend it by a 
cord from the ceiling and enjoy its fragrance for years. 

Our quarrel was now made up, and we looked about the room for an aperture through 
which to survey the city of Edina. Windows there were none. The sole light admitted into 
the gloomy chamber proceeded from a square opening, about a foot in diameter, at a 
height of about seven feet from the floor. Yet what will the energy of true genius not 
effect? I resolved to clamber up to this hole. A vast quantity of wheels, pinions, and other 
cabalistic-looking machinery stood opposite the hole, close to it; and through the hole 
there passed an iron rod from the machinery. Between the wheels and the wall where the 
hole lay there was barely room for my body-yet I was desperate, and determined to 
persevere. I called Pompey to my side. 

"You perceive that aperture, Pompey. I wish to look through it. You will stand here just 
beneath the hole-so. Now, hold out one of your hands, Pompey, and let me step upon it- 
thus. Now, the other hand, Pompey, and with its aid I will get upon your shoulders." 

He did every thing I wished, and I found, upon getting up, that I could easily pass my 
head and neck through the aperture. The prospect was sublime. Nothing could be more 
magnificent. I merely paused a moment to bid Diana behave herself, and assure Pompey 
that I would be considerate and bear as lightly as possible upon his shoulders. I told him I 
would be tender of his feelings-ossi tender que beefsteak. Having done this justice to my 
faithful friend, I gave myself up with great zest and enthusiasm to the enjoyment of the 
scene which so obligingly spread itself out before my eyes. 



Upon this subject, however, I shall forbear to dilate. I will not describe the city of 
Edinburgh. Every one has been to the city of Edinburgh. Every one has been to 
Edinburgh-the classic Edina. I will confine myself to the momentous details of my own 
lamentable adventure. Having, in some measure, satisfied my curiosity in regard to the 
extent, situation, and general appearance of the city, I had leisure to survey the church in 
which I was, and the delicate architecture of the steeple. I observed that the aperture 
through which I had thrust my head was an opening in the dial-plate of a gigantic clock, 
and must have appeared, from the street, as a large key-hole, such as we see in the face of 
the French watches. No doubt the true object was to admit the arm of an attendant, to 
adjust, when necessary, the hands of the clock from within. I observed also, with surprise, 
the immense size of these hands, the longest of which could not have been less than ten 
feet in length, and, where broadest, eight or nine inches in breadth. They were of solid 
steel apparently, and their edges appeared to be sharp. Having noticed these particulars, 
and some others, I again turned my eyes upon the glorious prospect below, and soon 
became absorbed in contemplation. 

From this, after some minutes, I was aroused by the voice of Pompey, who declared that 
he could stand it no longer, and requested that I would be so kind as to come down. This 
was unreasonable, and I told him so in a speech of some length. He replied, but with an 
evident misunderstanding of my ideas upon the subject. I accordingly grew angry, and 
told him in plain words, that he was a fool, that he had committed an ignoramus e-clench- 
eye, that his notions were mere insommary Bovis, and his words little better than an 
ennemywerrybor'em. With this he appeared satisfied, and I resumed my contemplations. 

It might have been half an hour after this altercation when, as I was deeply absorbed in 
the heavenly scenery beneath me, I was startled by something very cold which pressed 
with a gentle pressure on the back of my neck. It is needless to say that I felt 
inexpressibly alarmed. I knew that Pompey was beneath my feet, and that Diana was 
sitting, according to my explicit directions, upon her hind legs, in the farthest comer of 
the room. What could it be? Alas! I but too soon discovered. Turning my head gently to 
one side, I perceived, to my extreme horror, that the huge, glittering, scimetar-like 
minute-hand of the clock had, in the course of its hourly revolution, descended upon my 
neck. There was, I knew, not a second to be lost. I pulled back at once-but it was too late. 
There was no chance of forcing my head through the mouth of that terrible trap in which 
it was so fairly caught, and which grew narrower and narrower with a rapidity too 
horrible to be conceived. The agony of that moment is not to be imagined. I threw up my 
hands and endeavored, with all my strength, to force upward the ponderous iron bar. I 
might as well have tried to lift the cathedral itself. Down, down, down it came, closer and 
yet closer. I screamed to Pompey for aid; but he said that I had hurt his feelings by calling 
him 'an ignorant old squint-eye:' I yelled to Diana; but she only said 'bow-wow-wow,' and 
that I had told her 'on no account to stir from the corner.' Thus I had no relief to expect 
from my associates. 

Meantime the ponderous and terrific Scythe of Time (for I now discovered the literal 
import of that classical phrase) had not stopped, nor was it likely to stop, in its career. 
Down and still down, it came. It had already buried its sharp edge a full inch in my flesh. 



and my sensations grew indistinct and confused. At one time I fancied myself in 
Philadelphia with the stately Dr. Moneypenny, at another in the back parlor of Mr. 
Blackwood receiving his invaluable instructions. And then again the sweet recollection of 
better and earlier times came over me, and I thought of that happy period when the world 
was not all a desert, and Pompey not altogether cruel. 

The ticking of the machinery amused me. Amused me, I say, for my sensations now 
bordered upon perfect happiness, and the most trifling circumstances afforded me 
pleasure. The eternal click-clak, click-clak, click-clak of the clock was the most 
melodious of music in my ears, and occasionally even put me in mind of the graceful 
sermonic harangues of Dr. OUapod. Then there were the great figures upon the dial- 
plate-how intelligent how intellectual, they all looked! And presently they took to 
dancing the Mazurka, and I think it was the figure V. who performed the most to my 
satisfaction. She was evidently a lady of breeding. None of your swaggerers, and nothing 
at all indelicate in her motions. She did the pirouette to admiration- whirling round upon 
her apex. I made an endeavor to hand her a chair, for I saw that she appeared fatigued 
with her exertions-and it was not until then that I fully perceived my lamentable 
situation. Lamentable indeed! The bar had buried itself two inches in my neck. I was 
aroused to a sense of exquisite pain. I prayed for death, and, in the agony of the moment, 
could not help repeating those exquisite verses of the poet Miguel De Cervantes: 

Vanny Buren, tan escondida 

Query no te senty venny 

Pork and pleasure, delly morry 

Nommy, torny, darry, widdy! 

But now a new horror presented itself, and one indeed sufficient to startle the strongest 
nerves. My eyes, from the cruel pressure of the machine, were absolutely starting from 
their sockets. While I was thinking how I should possibly manage without them, one 
actually tumbled out of my head, and, rolling down the steep side of the steeple, lodged 
in the rain gutter which ran along the eaves of the main building. The loss of the eye was 
not so much as the insolent air of independence and contempt with which it regarded me 
after it was out. There it lay in the gutter just under my nose, and the airs it gave itself 
would have been ridiculous had they not been disgusting. Such a winking and blinking 
were never before seen. This behavior on the part of my eye in the gutter was not only 
irritating on account of its manifest insolence and shameful ingratitude, but was also 
exceedingly inconvenient on account of the sympathy which always exists between two 
eyes of the same head, however far apart. I was forced, in a manner, to wink and to blink, 
whether I would or not, in exact concert with the scoundrelly thing that lay just under my 
nose. I was presently relieved, however, by the dropping out of the other eye. In falling it 
took the same direction (possibly a concerted plot) as its fellow. Both rolled out of the 
gutter together, and in truth I was very glad to get rid of them. 



The bar was now four inches and a half deep in my neck, and there was only a little bit of 
skin to cut through. My sensations were those of entire happiness, for I felt that in a few 
minutes, at farthest, I should be relieved from my disagreeable situation. And in this 
expectation I was not at all deceived. At twenty-five minutes past five in the afternoon, 
precisely, the huge minute-hand had proceeded sufficiently far on its terrible revolution 
to sever the small remainder of my neck. I was not sorry to see the head which had 
occasioned me so much embarrassment at length make a final separation from my body. 
It first rolled down the side of the steeple, then lodge, for a few seconds, in the gutter, and 
then made its way, with a plunge, into the middle of the street. 

I will candidly confess that my feelings were now of the most singular-nay, of the most 
mysterious, the most perplexing and incomprehensible character. My senses were here 
and there at one and the same moment. With my head I imagined, at one time, that I, the 
head, was the real Signora Psyche Zenobia-at another I felt convinced that myself, the 
body, was the proper identity. To clear my ideas on this topic I felt in my pocket for my 
snuff-box, but, upon getting it, and endeavoring to apply a pinch of its grateful contents 
in the ordinary manner, I became immediately aware of my peculiar deficiency, and 
threw the box at once down to my head. It took a pinch with great satisfaction, and 
smiled me an acknowledgement in return. Shortly afterward it made me a speech, which I 
could hear but indistinctly without ears. I gathered enough, however, to know that it was 
astonished at my wishing to remain alive under such circumstances. In the concluding 
sentences it quoted the noble words of Ariosto- 

II pover hommy che non sera corty 
And have a combat tenty erry morty; 

thus comparing me to the hero who, in the heat of the combat, not perceiving that he was 
dead, continued to contest the battle with inextinguishable valor. There was nothing now 
to prevent my getting down from my elevation, and I did so. What it was that Pompey 
saw so very peculiar in my appearance I have never yet been able to find out. The fellow 
opened his mouth from ear to ear, and shut his two eyes as if he were endeavoring to 
crack nuts between the lids. Finally, throwing off his overcoat, he made one spring for the 
staircase and disappeared. I hurled after the scoundrel these vehement words of 
Demosthenes- 
Andrew O'Phlegethon, you really make haste to fly, 

and then turned to the darling of my heart, to the one-eyed! the shaggy-haired Diana. 
Alas! what a horrible vision affronted my eyes? Was that a rat I saw skulking into his 
hole? Are these the picked bones of the little angel who has been cruelly devoured by the 
monster? Ye gods! and what do I behold-is that the departed spirit, the shade, the ghost, 
of my beloved puppy, which I perceive sitting with a grace so melancholy, in the corner? 
Hearken! for she speaks, and, heavens! it is in the German of Schiller- 

"Unt stubby duk, so stubby dun 



Dukshe!dukshe!" 

Alas! and are not her words too true? 

"And if I died, at least I died 

For thee-for thee." 

Sweet creature! she too has sacrificed herself in my behalf. Dogless, niggerless, headless, 
what now remains for the unhappy Signora Psyche Zenobia? Alas-nothing! I have done. 

THE END 



A TALE OF THE RAGGED MOUNTAINS 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



DURING the fall of the year 1827, while residing near Charlottesville, Virginia, I 
casually made the acquaintance of Mr. Augustus Bedloe. This young gentleman was 
remarkable in every respect, and excited in me a profound interest and curiosity. I found 
it impossible to comprehend him either in his moral or his physical relations. Of his 
family I could obtain no satisfactory account. Whence he came, I never ascertained. Even 
about his age-although I call him a young gentleman-there was something which 
perplexed me in no little degree. He certainly seemed young-and he made a point of 
speaking about his youth-yet there were moments when I should have had little trouble in 
imagining him a hundred years of age. But in no regard was he more peculiar than in his 
personal appearance. He was singularly tall and thin. He stooped much. His limbs were 
exceedingly long and emaciated. His forehead was broad and low. His complexion was 
absolutely bloodless. His mouth was large and flexible, and his teeth were more wildly 
uneven, although sound, than I had ever before seen teeth in a human head. The 
expression of his smile, however, was by no means unpleasing, as might be supposed; but 
it had no variation whatever. It was one of profound melancholy-of a phaseless and 
unceasing gloom. His eyes were abnormally large, and round like those of a cat. The 
pupils, too, upon any accession or diminution of light, underwent contraction or dilation, 
just such as is observed in the feline tribe. In moments of excitement the orbs grew bright 
to a degree almost inconceivable; seeming to emit luminous rays, not of a reflected but of 
an intrinsic lustre, as does a candle or the sun; yet their ordinary condition was so totally 
vapid, filmy, and dull as to convey the idea of the eyes of a long-interred corpse. 

These peculiarities of person appeared to cause him much annoyance, and he was 
continually alluding to them in a sort of half explanatory, half apologetic strain, which, 
when I first heard it, impressed me very painfully. I soon, however, grew accustomed to 
it, and my uneasiness wore off. It seemed to be his design rather to insinuate than directly 
to assert that, physically, he had not always been what he was-that a long series of 
neuralgic attacks had reduced him from a condition of more than usual personal beauty, 
to that which I saw. For many years past he had been attended by a physician, named 
Templeton-an old gentleman, perhaps seventy years of age-whom he had first 
encountered at Saratoga, and from whose attention, while there, he either received, or 
fancied that he received, great benefit. The result was that Bedloe, who was wealthy, had 
made an arrangement with Dr. Templeton, by which the latter, in consideration of a 
liberal annual allowance, had consented to devote his time and medical experience 
exclusively to the care of the invalid. 

Doctor Templeton had been a traveller in his younger days, and at Paris had become a 
convert, in great measure, to the doctrines of Mesmer. It was altogether by means of 



magnetic remedies that he had succeeded in alleviating the acute pains of his patient; and 
this success had very naturally inspired the latter with a certain degree of confidence in 
the opinions from which the remedies had been educed. The Doctor, however, like all 
enthusiasts, had struggled hard to make a thorough convert of his pupil, and finally so far 
gained his point as to induce the sufferer to submit to numerous experiments. By a 
frequent repetition of these, a result had arisen, which of late days has become so 
common as to attract little or no attention, but which, at the period of which I write, had 
very rarely been known in America. I mean to say, that between Doctor Templeton and 
Bedloe there had grown up, little by little, a very distinct and strongly marked rapport, or 
magnetic relation. I am not prepared to assert, however, that this rapport extended beyond 
the limits of the simple sleep-producing power, but this power itself had attained great 
intensity. At the first attempt to induce the magnetic somnolency, the mesmerist entirely 
failed. In the fifth or sixth he succeeded very partially, and after long continued effort. 
Only at the twelfth was the triumph complete. After this the will of the patient succumbed 
rapidly to that of the physician, so that, when I first became acquainted with the two, 
sleep was brought about almost instantaneously by the mere vohtion of the operator, even 
when the invalid was unaware of his presence. It is only now, in the year 1845, when 
similar miracles are witnessed daily by thousands, that I dare venture to record this 
apparent impossibility as a matter of serious fact. 

The temperature of Bedloe was, in the highest degree sensitive, excitable, enthusiastic. 
His imagination was singularly vigorous and creative; and no doubt it derived additional 
force from the habitual use of morphine, which he swallowed in great quantity, and 
without which he would have found it impossible to exist. It was his practice to take a 
very large dose of it immediately after breakfast each morning-or, rather, immediately 
after a cup of strong coffee, for he ate nothing in the forenoon-and then set forth alone, or 
attended only by a dog, upon a long ramble among the chain of wild and dreary hills that 
lie westward and southward of Charlottesville, and are there dignified by the title of the 
Ragged Mountains. 

Upon a dim, warm, misty day, toward the close of November, and during the strange 
interregnum of the seasons which in America is termed the Indian Summer, Mr. Bedloe 
departed as usual for the hills. The day passed, and still he did not return. 

About eight o'clock at night, having become seriously alarmed at his protracted absence, 
we were about setting out in search of him, when he unexpectedly made his appearance, 
in health no worse than usual, and in rather more than ordinary spirits. The account which 
he gave of his expedition, and of the events which had detained him, was a singular one 
indeed. 

"You will remember," said he, "that it was about nine in the morning when I left 
Charlottesville. I bent my steps immediately to the mountains, and, about ten, entered a 
gorge which was entirely new to me. I followed the windings of this pass with much 
interest. The scenery which presented itself on all sides, although scarcely entitled to be 
called grand, had about it an indescribable and to me a delicious aspect of dreary 
desolation. The solitude seemed absolutely virgin. I could not help believing that the 



green sods and the gray rocks upon which I trod had been trodden never before by the 
foot of a human being. So entirely secluded, and in fact inaccessible, except through a 
series of accidents, is the entrance of the ravine, that it is by no means impossible that I 
was indeed the first adventurer-the very first and sole adventurer who had ever 
penetrated its recesses. 

"The thick and peculiar mist, or smoke, which distinguishes the Indian Summer, and 
which now hung heavily over all objects, served, no doubt, to deepen the vague 
impressions which these objects created. So dense was this pleasant fog that I could at no 
time see more than a dozen yards of the path before me. This path was excessively 
sinuous, and as the sun could not be seen, I soon lost all idea of the direction in which I 
journeyed. In the meantime the morphine had its customary effect-that of enduing all the 
external world with an intensity of interest. In the quivering of a leaf-in the hue of a 
blade of grass-in the shape of a tref oil-in the humming of a bee-in the gleaming of a 
dew-drop-in the breathing of the wind-in the faint odors that came from the forest-there 
came a whole universe of suggestion-a gay and motley train of rhapsodical and 
immethodical thought. 

"Busied in this, I walked on for several hours, during which the mist deepened around me 
to so great an extent that at length I was reduced to an absolute groping of the way. And 
now an indescribable uneasiness possessed me-a species of nervous hesitation and 
tremor. I feared to tread, lest I should be precipitated into some abyss. I remembered, too, 
strange stories told about these Ragged Hills, and of the uncouth and fierce races of men 
who tenanted their groves and caverns. A thousand vague fancies oppressed and 
disconcerted me- fancies the more distressing because vague. Very suddenly my attention 
was arrested by the loud beating of a drum. 

"My amazement was, of course, extreme. A drum in these hills was a thing unknown. I 
could not have been more surprised at the sound of the trump of the Archangel. But a 
new and still more astounding source of interest and perplexity arose. There came a wild 
rattling or jingling sound, as if of a bunch of large keys, and upon the instant a dusky- 
visaged and half-naked man rushed past me with a shriek. He came so close to my person 
that I felt his hot breath upon my face. He bore in one hand an instrument composed of an 
assemblage of steel rings, and shook them vigorously as he ran. Scarcely had he 
disappeared in the mist before, panting after him, with open mouth and glaring eyes, 
there darted a huge beast. I could not be mistaken in its character. It was a hyena. 

"The sight of this monster rather relieved than heightened my terrors-for I now made 
sure that I dreamed, and endeavored to arouse myself to waking consciousness. I stepped 
boldly and briskly forward. I rubbed my eyes. I called aloud. I pinched my limbs. A small 
spring of water presented itself to my view, and here, stooping, I bathed my hands and 
my head and neck. This seemed to dissipate the equivocal sensations which had hitherto 
annoyed me. I arose, as I thought, a new man, and proceeded steadily and complacently 
on my unknown way. 



"At length, quite overcome by exertion, and by a certain oppressive closeness of the 
atmosphere, I seated myself beneath a tree. Presently there came a feeble gleam of 
sunshine, and the shadow of the leaves of the tree fell faintly but definitely upon the 
grass. At this shadow I gazed wonderingly for many minutes. Its character stupefied me 
with astonishment. I looked upward. The tree was a palm. 

"I now arose hurriedly, and in a state of fearful agitation-for the fancy that I dreamed 
would serve me no longer. I saw-I felt that I had perfect command of my senses-and 
these senses now brought to my soul a world of novel and singular sensation. The heat 
became all at once intolerable. A strange odor loaded the breeze. A low, continuous 
murmur, like that arising from a full, but gently flowing river, came to my ears, 
intermingled with the peculiar hum of multitudinous human voices. 

"While I listened in an extremity of astonishment which I need not attempt to describe, a 
strong and brief gust of wind bore off the incumbent fog as if by the wand of an 
enchanter. 

"I found myself at the foot of a high mountain, and looking down into a vast plain, 
through which wound a majestic river. On the margin of this river stood an Eastern- 
looking city, such as we read of in the Arabian Tales, but of a character even more 
singular than any there described. From my position, which was far above the level of the 
town, I could perceive its every nook and corner, as if delineated on a map. The streets 
seemed innumerable, and crossed each other irregularly in all directions, but were rather 
long winding alleys than streets, and absolutely swarmed with inhabitants. The houses 
were wildly picturesque. On every hand was a wilderness of balconies, of verandas, of 
minarets, of shrines, and fantastically carved oriels. Bazaars abounded; and in these were 
displayed rich wares in infinite variety and profusion-silks, muslins, the most dazzling 
cutlery, the most magnificent jewels and gems. Besides these things, were seen, on all 
sides, banners and palanquins, litters with stately dames close veiled, elephants 
gorgeously caparisoned, idols grotesquely hewn, drums, banners, and gongs, spears, 
silver and gilded maces. And amid the crowd, and the clamor, and the general intricacy 
and confusion- amid the million of black and yellow men, turbaned and robed, and of 
flowing beard, there roamed a countless multitude of holy filleted bulls, while vast 
legions of the filthy but sacred ape clambered, chattering and shrieking, about the 
cornices of the mosques, or clung to the minarets and oriels. From the swarming streets to 
the banks of the river, there descended innumerable flights of steps leading to bathing 
places, while the river itself seemed to force a passage with difficulty through the vast 
fleets of deeply-burthened ships that far and wide encountered its surface. Beyond the 
limits of the city arose, in frequent majestic groups, the palm and the cocoa, with other 
gigantic and weird trees of vast age, and here and there might be seen a field of rice, the 
thatched hut of a peasant, a tank, a stray temple, a gypsy camp, or a solitary graceful 
maiden taking her way, with a pitcher upon her head, to the banks of the magnificent 
river. 

"You will say now, of course, that I dreamed; but not so. What I saw-what I heard-what 
I felt-what I thought-had about it nothing of the unmistakable idiosyncrasy of the dream. 



All was rigorously self-consistent. At first, doubting that I was really awake, I entered 
into a series of tests, which soon convinced me that I really was. Now, when one dreams, 
and, in the dream, suspects that he dreams, the suspicion never fails to confirm itself, and 
the sleeper is almost immediately aroused. Thus Novahs errs not in saying that 'we are 
near waking when we dream that we dream.' Had the vision occurred to me as I describe 
it, without my suspecting it as a dream, then a dream it might absolutely have been, but, 
occurring as it did, and suspected and tested as it was, I am forced to class it among other 
phenomena." 

"In this I am not sure that you are wrong," observed Dr. Templeton, "but proceed. You 
arose and descended into the city." 

"I arose," continued Bedloe, regarding the Doctor with an air of profound astonishment "I 
arose, as you say, and descended into the city. On my way I fell in with an immense 
populace, crowding through every avenue, all in the same direction, and exhibiting in 
every action the wildest excitement. Very suddenly, and by some inconceivable impulse, 
I became intensely imbued with personal interest in what was going on. I seemed to feel 
that I had an important part to play, without exactly understanding what it was. Against 
the crowd which environed me, however, I experienced a deep sentiment of animosity. I 
shrank from amid them, and, swiftly, by a circuitous path, reached and entered the city. 
Here all was the wildest tumult and contention. A small party of men, clad in garments 
half- Indian, half-European, and officered by gentlemen in a uniform partly British, were 
engaged, at great odds, with the swarming rabble of the alleys. I joined the weaker party, 
arming myself with the weapons of a f Allan officer, and fighting I knew not whom with 
the nervous ferocity of despair. We were soon overpowered by numbers, and driven to 
seek refuge in a species of kiosk. Here we barricaded ourselves, and, for the present were 
secure. From a loop-hole near the summit of the kiosk, I perceived a vast crowd, in 
furious agitation, surrounding and assaulting a gay palace that overhung the river. 
Presently, from an upper window of this place, there descended an effeminate-looking 
person, by means of a string made of the turbans of his attendants. A boat was at hand, in 
which he escaped to the opposite bank of the river. 

"And now a new object took possession of my soul. I spoke a few hurried but energetic 
words to my companions, and, having succeeded in gaining over a few of them to my 
purpose made a frantic sally from the kiosk. We rushed amid the crowd that surrounded 
it. They retreated, at first, before us. They rallied, fought madly, and retreated again. In 
the mean time we were borne far from the kiosk, and became bewildered and entangled 
among the narrow streets of tall, overhanging houses, into the recesses of which the sun 
had never been able to shine. The rabble pressed impetuously upon us, harrassing us with 
their spears, and overwhelming us with flights of arrows. These latter were very 
remarkable, and resembled in some respects the writhing creese of the Malay. They were 
made to imitate the body of a creeping serpent, and were long and black, with a poisoned 
barb. One of them struck me upon the right temple. I reeled and fell. An instantaneous 
and dreadful sickness seized me. I struggled-I gasped-I died." 



"You will hardly persist now," said I smiling, "that the whole of your adventure was not a 
dream. You are not prepared to maintain that you are dead?" 

When I said these words, I of course expected some lively sally from Bedloe in reply, 
but, to my astonishment, he hesitated, trembled, became fearfully pallid, and remained 
silent. I looked toward Templeton. He sat erect and rigid in his chair-his teeth chattered, 
and his eyes were starting from their sockets. "Proceed!" he at length said hoarsely to 
Bedloe. 

"For many minutes," continued the latter, "my sole sentiment-my sole feeling-was that 
of darkness and nonentity, with the consciousness of death. At length there seemed to 
pass a violent and sudden shock through my soul, as if of electricity. With it came the 
sense of elasticity and of light. This latter I felt-not saw. In an instant I seemed to rise 
from the ground. But I had no bodily, no visible, audible, or palpable presence. The 
crowd had departed. The tumult had ceased. The city was in comparative repose. Beneath 
me lay my corpse, with the arrow in my temple, the whole head greatly swollen and 
disfigured. But all these things I felt-not saw. I took interest in nothing. Even the corpse 
seemed a matter in which I had no concern. Volition I had none, but appeared to be 
impelled into motion, and flitted buoyantly out of the city, retracing the circuitous path by 
which I had entered it. When I had attained that point of the ravine in the mountains at 
which I had encountered the hyena, I again experienced a shock as of a galvanic battery, 
the sense of weight, of volition, of substance, returned. I became my original self, and 
bent my steps eagerly homeward-but the past had not lost the vividness of the real-and 
not now, even for an instant, can I compel my understanding to regard it as a dream." 

"Nor was it," said Templeton, with an air of deep solemnity, "yet it would be difficult to 
say how otherwise it should be termed. Let us suppose only, that the soul of the man of 
to-day is upon the verge of some stupendous psychal discoveries. Let us content 
ourselves with this supposition. For the rest I have some explanation to make. Here is a 
watercolor drawing, which I should have shown you before, but which an unaccountable 
sentiment of horror has hitherto prevented me from showing." 

We looked at the picture which he presented. I saw nothing in it of an extraordinary 
character, but its effect upon Bedloe was prodigious. He nearly fainted as he gazed. And 
yet it was but a miniature portrait-a miraculously accurate one, to be sure-of his own 
very remarkable features. At least this was my thought as I regarded it. 

"You will perceive," said Templeton, "the date of this picture-it is here, scarcely visible, 
in this comer-1780. In this year was the portrait taken. It is the likeness of a dead friend- 
a Mr. Oldeb-to whom I became much attached at Calcutta, during the administration of 
Warren Hastings. I was then only twenty years old. When I first saw you, Mr. Bedloe, at 
Saratoga, it was the miraculous similarity which existed between yourself and the 
painting which induced me to accost you, to seek your friendship, and to bring about 
those arrangements which resulted in my becoming your constant companion. In 
accomplishing this point, I was urged partly, and perhaps principally, by a regretful 



memory of the deceased, but also, in part, by an uneasy, and not altogether horrorless 
curiosity respecting yourself. 

"In your detail of the vision which presented itself to you amid the hills, you have 
described, with the minutest accuracy, the Indian city of Benares, upon the Holy River. 
The riots, the combat, the massacre, were the actual events of the insurrection of Cheyte 
Sing, which took place in 1780, when Hastings was put in imminent peril of his life. The 
man escaping by the string of turbans was Cheyte Sing himself. The party in the kiosk 
were sepoys and British officers, headed by Hastings. Of this party I was one, and did all 
I could to prevent the rash and fatal sally of the officer who fell, in the crowded alleys, by 
the poisoned arrow of a Bengalee. That officer was my dearest friend. It was Oldeb. You 
will perceive by these manuscripts," (here the speaker produced a note-book in which 
several pages appeared to have been freshly written,) "that at the very period in which 
you fancied these things amid the hills, I was engaged in detailing them upon paper here 
at home." 

In about a week after this conversation, the following paragraphs appeared in a 
Charlottesville paper: 

"We have the painful duty of announcing the death of Mr. Augustus Bedlo, a gentleman 
whose amiable manners and many virtues have long endeared him to the citizens of 
Charlottesville. 

"Mr. B., for some years past, has been subject to neuralgia, which has often threatened to 
terminate fatally; but this can be regarded only as the mediate cause of his decease. The 
proximate cause was one of especial singularity. In an excursion to the Ragged 
Mountains, a few days since, a slight cold and fever were contracted, attended with great 
determination of blood to the head. To relieve this. Dr. Templeton resorted to topical 
bleeding. Leeches were applied to the temples. In a fearfully brief period the patient died, 
when it appeared that in the jar containing the leeches, had been introduced, by accident, 
one of the venomous vermicular sangsues which are now and then found in the 
neighboring ponds. This creature fastened itself upon a small artery in the right temple. 
Its close resemblance to the medicinal leech caused the mistake to be overlooked until too 
late. 

"N. B. The poisonous sangsue of Charlottesville may always be distinguished from the 
medicinal leech by its blackness, and especially by its writhing or vermicular motions, 
which very nearly resemble those of a snake." 

I was speaking with the editor of the paper in question, upon the topic of this remarkable 
accident, when it occurred to me to ask how it happened that the name of the deceased 
had been given as Bedlo. 

"I presume," I said, "you have authority for this spelling, but I have always supposed the 
name to be written with an e at the end." 



"Authority?-no," he replied. "It is a mere typographical error. The name is Bedlo with an 
e, all the world over, and I never knew it to be spelt otherwise in my life." 

"Then," said I mutteringly, as I turned upon my heel, "then indeed has it come to pass that 
one truth is stranger than any fiction-for Bedloe, without the e, what is it but Oldeb 
conversed! And this man tells me that it is a typographical error." 

THE END 



A VALENTINE 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1846 



For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes, 

Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda, 

Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies 

Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader. 

Search narrowly the lines !-they hold a treasure 

Divine-a talisman-an amulet 

That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure- 

The words-the syllables! Do not forget 

The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor 

And yet there is in this no Gordian knot 

Which one might not undo without a sabre. 

If one could merely comprehend the plot. 

En written upon the leaf where now are peering 

Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus 

Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing 

Of poets, by poets-as the name is a poet's, too. 

Its letters, although naturally lying 

Like the knight Pinto-Mendez Ferdinando- 

Still form a synonym for Truth-Cease trying! 

You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do. 



THE END 



AL AARAAF 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1829 



PARTI 

O! nothing earthly save the ray 
(Thrown back from flowers) of Beauty's eye, 
As in those gardens where the day 
Springs from the gems of Circassy- 
O! nothing earthly save the thrill 
Of melody in woodland rill- 
Or (music of the passion-hearted) 
Joy's voice so peacefully departed 
That like the murmur in the shell, 
Its echo dwelleth and will dwell- 
Oh, nothing of the dross of ours- 
Yet all the beauty-all the flowers 
That list our Love, and deck our bowers- 
Adorn yon world afar, afar- 
The wandering star. 

'Twas a sweet time for Nesace-for there 
Her world lay lolling on the golden air. 
Near four bright suns-a temporary rest- 
An oasis in desert of the blest. 
Away-away-'mid seas of rays that roll 
Empyrean splendor o'er th' unchained soul- 
The soul that scarce (the billows are so dense) 
Can struggle to its destin'd eminence,- 
To distant spheres, from time to time, she rode 
And late to ours, the favor'd one of God- 
But, now, the ruler of an anchor'd realm. 
She throws aside the sceptre-leaves the helm. 
And, amid incense and high spiritual hymns. 
Laves in quadruple light her angel hmbs. 

Now happiest, loveliest in yon lovely Earth, 
Whence sprang the "Idea of Beauty" into birth, 
(Falling in wreaths thro' many a startled star. 
Like woman's hair 'mid pearls, until, afar. 
It lit on hills Achaian, and there dwelt) 



She looked into Infinity-and knelt. 
Rich clouds, for canopies, about her curled- 
Fit emblems of the model of her world- 
Seen but in beauty-not impeding sight 
Of other beauty glittering thro' the light- 
A wreath that twined each starry form around. 
And all the opal'd air in color bound. 

All hurriedly she knelt upon a bed 
Of flowers: of lilies such as rear'd the head 
On the fair Capo Deucato, and sprang 
So eagerly around about to hang 
Upon the flying footsteps of-deep pride- 
Of her who lov'd a mortal-and so died. 
The Sephalica, budding with young bees, 
Upreared its purple stem around her knees :- 
And gemmy flower, of Trebizond misnam'd- 
Inmate of highest stars, where erst it sham'd 
All other loveliness:-its honied dew 
(The fabled nectar that the heathen knew) 
Deliriously sweet, was dropp'd from Heaven, 
And fell on gardens of the unforgiven 
In Trebizond-and on a sunny flower 
So like its own above that, to this hour. 
It still remaineth, torturing the bee 
With madness, and unwonted reverie: 
In Heaven, and all its environs, the leaf 
And blossom of the fairy plant in grief 
Disconsolate linger-grief that hangs her head. 
Repenting follies that full long have Red, 
Heaving her white breast to the balmy air. 
Like guilty beauty, chasten'd and more fair: 
Nyctanthes too, as sacred as the light 
She fears to perfume, perfuming the night: 
And Clytia, pondering between many a sun. 
While pettish tears adown her petals run: 
And that aspiring flower that sprang on Earth, 
And died, ere scarce exalted into birth. 
Bursting its odorous heart in spirit to wing 
Its way to Heaven, from garden of a king: 
And Valisnerian lotus, thither flown" 
From struggling with the waters of the Rhone: 
And thy most lovely purple perfume, Zante! 
Isola d'oro!-Fior di Levante! 
And the Nelumbo bud that floats for ever 
With Indian Cupid down the holy river- 



Fair flowers, and fairy! to whose care is given 
To bear the Goddess' song, in odors, up to Heaven: 

"Spirit! that dwellest where. 
In the deep sky. 
The terrible and fair. 
In beauty vie! 
Beyond the line of blue- 
The boundary of the star 
Which turneth at the view 
Of thy barrier and thy bar- 
Of the barrier overgone 
By the comets who were cast 
From their pride and from their throne 
To be drudges till the last- 
To be carriers of fire 
(The red fire of their heart) 
With speed that may not tire 
And with pain that shall not part- 
Who livest-that we know- 
In Etemity-we feel- 
But the shadow of whose brow 
What spirit shall reveal? 
Tho' the beings whom thy Nesace, 
Thy messenger hath known 
Have dream'd for thy Infinity 
A model of their own- 
Thy will is done, O God! 
The star hath ridden high 
Thro' many a tempest, but she rode 
Beneath thy burning eye; 
And here, in thought, to thee- 
In thought that can alone 
Ascend thy empire and so be 
A partner of thy throne- 
By winged Fantasy, 
My embassy is given. 
Till secrecy shall knowledge be 
In the environs of Heaven." 

She ceas'd-and buried then her burning cheek 

Abash'd, amid the lilies there, to seek 

A shelter from the fervor of His eye; 

For the stars trembled at the Deity. 

She stirr'd not-breath'd not-for a voice was there 

How solemnly pervading the calm air! 



A sound of silence on the startled ear 

Which dreamy poets name "the music of the sphere." 

Ours is a world of words: Quiet we call 

"Silence"-which is the merest word of all. 

All Nature speaks, and ev'n ideal things 

Flap shadowy sounds from visionary wings- 

But ah! not so when, thus, in realms on high 

The eternal voice of God is passing by. 

And the red winds are withering in the sky:- 

"What tho 'in worlds which sightless cycles run. 
Linked to a little system, and one sun- 
Where all my love is folly and the crowd 
Still think my terrors but the thunder cloud. 
The storm, the earthquake, and the ocean-wrath- 
(Ah! will they cross me in my angrier path?) 
What tho' in worlds which own a single sun 
The sands of Time grow dimmer as they run, 
Yet thine is my resplendency, so given 
To bear my secrets thro' the upper Heaven! 
Leave tenantless thy crystal home, and fly. 
With all thy train, athwart the moony sky- 
Apart-like fire-flies in Sicilian night. 
And wing to other worlds another light! 
Divulge the secrets of thy embassy 
To the proud orbs that twinkle-and so be 
To ev'ry heart a barrier and a ban 
Lest the stars totter in the guilt of man!" 

Up rose the maiden in the yellow night. 
The single-mooned eve!-on Earth we plight 
Our faith to one love-and one moon adore- 
The birth-place of young Beauty had no more. 
As sprang that yellow star from downy hours 
Up rose the maiden from her shrine of flowers. 
And bent o'er sheeny mountains and dim plain 
Her way, but left not yet her Therasaean reign. 
PART II 

High on a mountain of enamell'd head- 
Such as the drowsy shepherd on his bed 
Of giant pasturage lying at his ease. 
Raising his heavy eyelid, starts and sees 
With many a mutter'd "hope to be forgiven" 
What time the moon is quadrated in Heaven- 
Of rosy head that, towering far away 



Into the sunlit ether, caught the ray 
Of sunken suns at eve-at noon of night, 
While the moon danc'd with the fair stranger light- 
Uprear'd upon such height arose a pile 
Of gorgeous columns on th' unburthen'd air. 
Flashing from Parian marble that twin smile 
Far down upon the wave that sparkled there. 
And nursled the young mountain in its lair. 
Of molten stars their pavement, such as fall 
Thro' the ebon air, besilvering the pall 
Of their own dissolution, while they die- 
Adorning then the dwellings of the sky. 
A dome, by linked light from Heaven let down. 
Sat gently on these columns as a crown- 
A window of one circular diamond, there, 
Look'd out above into the purple air. 
And rays from God shot down that meteor chain 
And hallow'd all the beauty twice again. 
Save, when, between th' empyrean and that ring. 
Some eager spirit Flapp'd his dusky wing. 
But on the pillars Seraph eyes have seen 
The dimness of this world: that greyish green 
That Nature loves the best Beauty's grave 
Lurk'd in each cornice, round each architrave- 
And every sculptur'd cherub thereabout 
That from his marble dwelling peered out, 
Seem'd earthly in the shadow of his niche- 
Achaian statues in a world so rich! 
Friezes from Tadmor and Persepolis- 
From Balbec, and the stilly, clear abyss 
Of beautiful Gomorrah! O, the wave 
Is now upon thee-but too late to save! 

Sound loves to revel in a summer night: 
Witness the murmur of the grey twilight 
That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco, 
Of many a wild star-gazer long ago- 
That stealeth ever on the ear of him 
Who, musing, gazeth on the distance dim. 
And sees the darkness coming as a cloud- 
Is not its form-its voice-most palpable and loud? 

But what is this?-it cometh, and it brings 
A music with it-'tis the rush of wings- 
A pause-and then a sweeping, falling strain 
And Nesace is in her halls again. 



From the wild energy of wanton haste 
Her cheeks were flushing, and her lips apart; 
And zone that clung around her gentle waist 
Had burst beneath the heaving of her heart. 
Within the centre of that hall to breathe, 
She paused and panted, Zanthe! all beneath. 
The fairy light that kiss'd her golden hair 
And long'd to rest, yet could but sparkle there. 

Young flowers were whispering in melody 
To happy flowers that night-and tree to tree; 
Fountains were gushing music as they fell 
In many a star-lit grove, or moon-lit dell; 
Yet silence came upon material things- 
Fair flowers, bright waterfalls and angel wings- 
And sound alone that from the spirit sprang 
Bore burthen to the charm the maiden sang: 

'"Neath the blue-bell or streamer- 
Or tufted wild spray 
That keeps, from the dreamer. 
The moonbeam away- 
Bright beings! that ponder. 
With half closing eyes. 
On the stars which your wonder 
Hath drawn from the skies. 
Till they glance thro' the shade, and 
Come down to your brow 
Like-eyes of the maiden 
Who calls on you now- 
Arise! from your dreaming 
In violet bowers. 
To duty beseeming 
These star-litten hours- 
And shake from your tresses 
Encumber'd with dew 
The breath of those kisses 
That cumber them too- 
(O! how, without you. Love! 
Could angels be blest?) 
Those kisses of true Love 
That luU'd ye to rest! 
Up!-shake from your wing 
Each hindering thing: 
The dew of the night- 
It would weigh down your flight 



And true love caresses- 
O, leave them apart! 
They are light on the tresses, 
But lead on the heart. 

Ligeia! Ligeia! 

My beautiful one! 

Whose harshest idea 

Will to melody run, 

O! is it thy will 

On the breezes to toss? 

Or, capriciously still. 

Like the lone Albatros, 

Incumbent on night 

(As she on the air) 

To keep watch with delight 

On the harmony there? 

Ligeia! wherever 
Thy image may be. 
No magic shall sever 
Thy music from thee. 
Thou hast bound many eyes 
In a dreamy sleep- 
But the strains still arise 
Which thy vigilance keep- 
The sound of the rain. 
Which leaps down to the flower- 
And dances again 
In the rhythm of the shower- 
The murmur that springs 
From the growing of grass 
Are the music of things- 
But are modell'd, alas!- 
Away, then, my dearest. 
Oh! hie thee away 
To the springs that lie clearest 
Beneath the moon-ray- 
To lone lake that smiles. 
In its dream of deep rest. 
At the many star-isles 
That enjewel its breast- 
Where wild flowers, creeping. 
Have mingled their shade. 
On its margin is sleeping 
Full many a maid- 



Some have left the cool glade, and 
Have slept with the bee- 
Arouse them, my maiden. 
On moorland and lea- 
Go! breathe on their slumber. 
All softly in ear. 
Thy musical number 
They slumbered to hear- 
For what can awaken 
An angel so soon. 
Whose sleep hath been taken 
Beneath the cold moon. 
As the spell which no slumber 
Of witchery may test. 
The rhythmical number 
Which luU'd him to rest?" 

Spirits in wing, and angels to the view, 
A thousand seraphs burst th' Empyrean thro'. 
Young dreams still hovering on their drowsy flight- 
Seraphs in all but "Knowledge," the keen light 
That fell, refracted, thro' thy bounds, afar, 
O Death! from eye of God upon that star: 
Sweet was that error-sweeter still that death- 
Sweet was that error-even with us the breath 
Of Science dims the mirror of our joy- 
To them 'twere the Simoom, and would destroy- 
For what (to them) availeth it to know 
That Truth is Falsehood-or that Bliss is Woe? 
Sweet was their death-with them to die was rife 
With the last ecstasy of satiate life- 
Beyond that death no immortality- 
But sleep that pondereth and is not "to be'!- 
And there-oh! may my weary spirit dwell- 
Apart from Heaven's Eternity-and yet how far from Hell! 
What guilty spirit, in what shrubbery dim. 
Heard not the stirring summons of that hymn? 
But two: they fell: for Heaven no grace imparts 
To those who hear not for their beating hearts. 
A maiden-angel and her seraph-lover- 
O! where (and ye may seek the wide skies over) 
Was Love, the blind, near sober Duty known? 
Unguided Love hath fAUan-'mid "tears of perfect moan." 
He was a goodly spirit-he who fell: 
A wanderer by moss-y-mantled well- 
A gazer on the lights that shine above- 



A dreamer in the moonbeam by his love: 

What wonder? for each star is eye-like there, 

And looks so sweetly down on Beauty's hair- 

And they, and ev'ry mossy spring were holy 

To his love-haunted heart and melancholy. 

The night had found (to him a night of woe) 

Upon a mountain crag, young Angelo- 

Beetling it bends athwart the solemn sky. 

And scowls on starry worlds that down beneath it lie. 

Here sat he with his love-his dark eye bent 

With eagle gaze along the firmament: 

Now turn'd it upon her-but ever then 

It trembled to the orb of EARTH again. 

"lanthe, dearest, see-how dim that ray! 

How lovely 'tis to look so far away! 

She seem'd not thus upon that autumn eve 

I left her gorgeous halls-nor mourn'd to leave. 

That eve-that eve-I should remember well- 

The sun-ray dropp'd in Lemnos, with a spell 

On th' arabesque carving of a gilded hall 

Wherein I sate, and on the draperied wall- 

And on my eyelids-0 the heavy light! 

How drowsily it weigh'd them into night! 

On flowers, before, and mist, and love they ran 

With Persian Saadi in his Gulistan: 

But O that hght!-I slumber'd-Death, the while. 

Stole o'er my senses in that lovely isle 

So softly that no single silken hair 

Awoke that slept-or knew that he was there. 

"The last spot of Earth's orb I trod upon 
Was a proud temple call'd the Parthenon; 
More beauty clung around her column'd wall 
Than ev'n thy glowing bosom beats withal. 
And when old Time my wing did disenthral 
Thence sprang I-as the eagle from his tower. 
And years I left behind me in an hour. 
What time upon her airy bounds I hung. 
One half the garden of her globe was flung 
Unrolling as a chart unto my view- 
Tenantless cities of the desert too! 
lanthe, beauty crowded on me then. 
And half I wish'd to be again of men." 



"My Angelo! and why of them to be? 
A brighter dwelling-place is here for thee- 
And greener fields than in yon world above, 
And woman's loveliness-and passionate love." 

"But, list, lanthe! when the air so soft 
Fail'd, as my pennon'd spirit leapt aloft. 
Perhaps my brain grew dizzy-but the world 
I left so late was into chaos hurl'd- 
Sprang from her station, on the winds apart. 
And roU'd, a flame, the fiery Heaven athwart. 
Methought, my sweet one, then I ceased to soar 
And fell-not swiftly as I rose before. 
But with a downward, tremulous motion thro' 
Light, brazen rays, this golden star unto! 
Nor long the measure of my falling hours. 
For nearest of all stars was thine to ours- 
Dread star! that came, amid a night of mirth, 
A red Daedalion on the timid Earth." 

"We came-and to thy Earth-but not to us 
Be given our lady's bidding to discuss: 
We came, my love; around, above, below. 
Gay fire-fly of the night we come and go. 
Nor ask a reason save the angel-nod 
She grants to us, as granted by her God- 
But, Angelo, than thine grey Time unfurl'd 
Never his fairy wing O'er fairier world! 
Dim was its little disk, and angel eyes 
Alone could see the phantom in the skies. 
When first Al Aaraaf knew her course to be 
Headlong thitherward o'er the starry sea- 
But when its glory swell'd upon the sky. 
As glowing Beauty's bust beneath man's eye. 
We paused before the heritage of men. 
And thy star trembled-as doth Beauty then!" 

Thus, in discourse, the lovers whiled away 
The night that waned and waned and brought no day. 
They fell: for Heaven to them no hope imparts 
Who hear not for the beating of their hearts. 

THE END 



ALONE 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1830 



From childhood's hour I have not been 
As others were; I have not seen 
As others saw; I could not bring 
My passions from a common spring. 
From the same source I have not taken 
My sorrow; I could not awaken 
My heart to joy at the same tone; 
And all I loved, I loved alone. 
Then-in my childhood, in the dawn 
Of a most stormy life-was drawn 
From every depth of good and ill 
The mystery which binds me still: 
From the torrent, or the fountain. 
From the red cliff of the mountain. 
From the sun that round me rolled 
In its autumn tint of gold. 
From the lightning in the sky 
As it passed me flying by. 
From the thunder and the storm. 
And the cloud that took the form 
(When the rest of Heaven was blue) 
Of a demon in my view. 

THE END 



AN ENIGMA 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1848 



"Seldom we find," says Solomon Don Dunce, 
"Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet. 
Through all the flimsy things we see at once 
As easily as through a Naples bonnet- 
Trash of all trash !-how can a lady don it? 
Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff- 
Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff 
Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it." 
And, veritably, Sol is right enough. 
The general tuckermanities are arrant 
Bubbles-ephemeral and so transparent- 
But this is, now-you may depend upon it- 
Stable, opaque, immortal-all by dint 
Of the dear names that he concealed within 't. 

THE END 



ANNABEL LEE 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1849 



It was many and many a year ago, 

In a kingdom by the sea, 

That a maiden there lived whom you may know 

By the name of ANNABEL LEE; 

And this maiden she lived with no other thought 

Than to love and be loved by me. 

I was a child and she was a child. 

In this kingdom by the sea; 

But we loved with a love that was more than love- 

I and my Annabel Lee; 

With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven 

Coveted her and me. 

And this was the reason that, long ago. 

In this kingdom by the sea, 

A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling 

My beautiful Annabel Lee; 

So that her highborn kinsman came 

And bore her away from me. 

To shut her up in a sepulchre 

In this kingdom by the sea. 

The angels, not half so happy in heaven. 

Went envying her and me- 

Yes!-that was the reason (as all men know. 

In this kingdom by the sea) 

That the wind came out of the cloud by night. 

Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee. 

But our love it was stronger by far than the love 

Of those who were older than we- 

Of many far wiser than we- 

And neither the angels in heaven above. 

Nor the demons down under the sea. 

Can ever dissever my soul from the soul 

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee. 



For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams 

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 

And the stars never rise but I feel the bright eyes 

Of the beautiful Annabel Lee; 

And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side 

Of my darling-my darling-my life and my bride. 

In the sepulchre there by the sea. 

In her tomb by the sounding sea. 

THE END 



BERENICE 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1835 



Dicebant mihi sodales, si sepulchrum amicae visitarem, 
curas meas aliquantulum fore levatas. 
--Ebn Zaiat. 

MISERY is manifold. The wretchedness of earth is multiform. Overreaching the wide 
horizon as the rainbow, its hues are as various as the hues of that arch, —as distinct too, 
yet as intimately blended. Overreaching the wide horizon as the rainbow! How is it that 
from beauty I have derived a type of unloveliness? —from the covenant of peace a simile 
of sorrow? But as, in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so, in fact, out of joy is sorrow 
bom. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of to-day, or the agonies which are 
have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been. 

My baptismal name is Egaeus; that of my family I will not mention. Yet there are no 
towers in the land more time-honored than my gloomy, gray, hereditary halls. Our line 
has been called a race of visionaries; and in many striking particulars -in the character of 
the family mansion —in the frescos of the chief saloon —in the tapestries of the 
dormitories —in the chiselling of some buttresses in the armory —but more especially in 
the gallery of antique paintings —in the fashion of the library chamber —and, lastly, in the 
very peculiar nature of the library's contents, there is more than sufficient evidence to 
warrant the belief. 

The recollections of my earliest years are connected with that chamber, and with its 
volumes —of which latter I will say no more. Here died my mother. Herein was I born. 
But it is mere idleness to say that I had not lived before —that the soul has no previous 
existence. You deny it? —let us not argue the matter. Convinced myself, I seek not to 
convince. There is, however, a remembrance of aerial forms —of spiritual and meaning 
eyes —of sounds, musical yet sad —a remembrance which will not be excluded; a memory 
hke a shadow, vague, variable, indefinite, unsteady; and like a shadow, too, in the 
impossibility of my getting rid of it while the sunlight of my reason shall exist. 

In that chamber was I born. Thus awaking from the long night of what seemed, but was 
not, nonentity, at once into the very regions of fairy-land -into a palace of imagination - 
into the wild dominions of monastic thought and erudition -it is not singular that I gazed 
around me with a startled and ardent eye —that I loitered away my boyhood in books, and 
dissipated my youth in reverie; but it is singular that as years rolled away, and the noon of 
manhood found me still in the mansion of my fathers —it is wonderful what stagnation 
there fell upon the springs of my life —wonderful how total an inversion took place in the 
character of my commonest thought. The realities of the world affected me as visions. 



and as visions only, while the wild ideas of the land of dreams became, in turn, —not the 
material of my every-day existence-but in very deed that existence utterly and solely in 
itself. 

Berenice and I were cousins, and we grew up together in my paternal halls. Yet 
differently we grew —I ill of health, and buried in gloom -she agile, graceful, and 
overflowing with energy; hers the ramble on the hill-side —mine the studies of the cloister 
-I living within my own heart, and addicted body and soul to the most intense and 
painful meditation —she roaming carelessly through life with no thought of the shadows 
in her path, or the silent flight of the raven- winged hours. Berenice! —I call upon her 
name —Berenice! —and from the gray ruins of memory a thousand tumultuous 
recollections are startled at the sound! Ah! vividly is her image before me now, as in the 
early days of her light- heartedness and joy! Oh! gorgeous yet fantastic beauty! Oh! sylph 
amid the shrubberies of Arnheim! —Oh! Naiad among its fountains! —and then —then all 
is mystery and terror, and a tale which should not be told. Disease —a fatal disease —fell 
like the simoom upon her frame, and, even while I gazed upon her, the spirit of change 
swept, over her, pervading her mind, her habits, and her character, and, in a manner the 
most subtle and terrible, disturbing even the identity of her person! Alas! the destroyer 
came and went, and the victim —where was she, I knew her not —or knew her no longer 
as Berenice. 

Among the numerous train of maladies superinduced by that fatal and primary one which 
effected a revolution of so horrible a kind in the moral and physical being of my cousin, 
may be mentioned as the most distressing and obstinate in its nature, a species of epilepsy 
not unfrequently terminating in trance itself —trance very nearly resembling positive 
dissolution, and from which her manner of recovery was in most instances, startlingly 
abrupt. In the mean time my own disease —for I have been told that I should call it by no 
other appelation -my own disease, then, grew rapidly upon me, and assumed finally a 
monomaniac character of a novel and extraordinary form —hourly and momently gaining 
vigor —and at length obtaining over me the most incomprehensible ascendancy. This 
monomania, if I must so term it, consisted in a morbid irritability of those properties of 
the mind in metaphysical science termed the attentive. It is more than probable that I am 
not understood; but I fear, indeed, that it is in no manner possible to convey to the mind 
of the merely general reader, an adequate idea of that nervous intensity of interest with 
which, in my case, the powers of meditation (not to speak technically) busied and buried 
themselves, in the contemplation of even the most ordinary objects of the universe. 

To muse for long unwearied hours with my attention riveted to some frivolous device on 
the margin, or in the topography of a book; to become absorbed for the better part of a 
summer's day, in a quaint shadow falling aslant upon the tapestry, or upon the door; to 
lose myself for an entire night in watching the steady flame of a lamp, or the embers of a 
fire; to dream away whole days over the perfume of a flower; to repeat monotonously 
some common word, until the sound, by dint of frequent repetition, ceased to convey any 
idea whatever to the mind; to lose all sense of motion or physical existence, by means of 
absolute bodily quiescence long and obstinately persevered in; —such were a few of the 
most common and least pernicious vagaries induced by a condition of the mental 



faculties, not, indeed, altogether unparalleled, but certainly bidding defiance to anything 
like analysis or explanation. 

Yet let me not be misapprehended. —The undue, earnest, and morbid attention thus 
excited by objects in their own nature frivolous, must not be confounded in character 
with that ruminating propensity common to all mankind, and more especially indulged in 
by persons of ardent imagination. It was not even, as might be at first supposed, an 
extreme condition or exaggeration of such propensity, but primarily and essentially 
distinct and different. In the one instance, the dreamer, or enthusiast, being interested by 
an object usually not frivolous, imperceptibly loses sight of this object in a wilderness of 
deductions and suggestions issuing therefrom, until, at the conclusion of a day dream 
often replete with luxury, he finds the incitamentum or first cause of his musings entirely 
vanished and forgotten. In my case the primary object was invariably frivolous, although 
assuming, through the medium of my distempered vision, a refracted and unreal 
importance. Few deductions, if any, were made; and those few pertinaciously returning in 
upon the original object as a centre. The meditations were never pleasurable; and, at the 
termination of the reverie, the first cause, so far from being out of sight, had attained that 
supernaturally exaggerated interest which was the prevailing feature of the disease. In a 
word, the powers of mind more particularly exercised were, with me, as I have said 
before, the attentive, and are, with the day-dreamer, the speculative. 

My books, at this epoch, if they did not actually serve to irritate the disorder, partook, it 
will be perceived, largely, in their imaginative and inconsequential nature, of the 
characteristic qualities of the disorder itself. I well remember, among others, the treatise 
of the noble Italian Coelius Secundus Curio "de Amplitudine Beati Regni dei"; St. 
Austin's great work, the "City of God"; and TertuUian "de Carne Christi," in which the 
paradoxical sentence "Mortuus est Dei filius; credible est quia ineptum est: et sepultus 
resurrexit; certum est quia impossible est" occupied my undivided time, for many weeks 
of laborious and fruitless investigation. 

Thus it will appear that, shaken from its balance only by trivial things, my reason bore 
resemblance to that ocean-crag spoken of by Ptolemy Hephestion, which steadily 
resisting the attacks of human violence, and the fiercer fury of the waters and the winds, 
trembled only to the touch of the flower called Asphodel. And although, to a careless 
thinker, it might appear a matter beyond doubt, that the alteration produced by her 
unhappy malady, in the moral condition of Berenice, would afford me many objects for 
the exercise of that intense and abnormal meditation whose nature I have been at some 
trouble in explaining, yet such was not in any degree the case. In the lucid intervals of my 
infirmity, her calamity, indeed, gave me pain, and, taking deeply to heart that total wreck 
of her fair and gentle life, I did not fall to ponder frequently and bitterly upon the wonder- 
working means by which so strange a revolution had been so suddenly brought to pass. 
But these reflections partook not of the idiosyncrasy of my disease, and were such as 
would have occurred, under similar circumstances, to the ordinary mass of mankind. True 
to its own character, my disorder revelled in the less important but more startling changes 
wrought in the physical frame of Berenice —in the singular and most appalling distortion 
of her personal identity. 



During the brightest days of her unparalleled beauty, most surely I had never loved her. 
In the strange anomaly of my existence, feelings with me, had never been of the heart, 
and my passions always were of the mind. Through the gray of the early morning — 
among the trellissed shadows of the forest at noonday —and in the silence of my library at 
night, she had flitted by my eyes, and I had seen her —not as the living and breathing 
Berenice, but as the Berenice of a dream —not as a being of the earth, earthy, but as the 
abstraction of such a being-not as a thing to admire, but to analyze -not as an object of 
love, but as the theme of the most abstruse although desultory speculation. And now — 
now I shuddered in her presence, and grew pale at her approach; yet bitterly lamenting 
her fAUan and desolate condition, I called to mind that she had loved me long, and, in an 
evil moment, I spoke to her of marriage. 

And at length the period of our nuptials was approaching, when, upon an afternoon in the 
winter of the year, —one of those unseasonably warm, calm, and misty days which are the 
nurse of the beautiful Halcyon*, —I sat, (and sat, as I thought, alone,) in the inner 
apartment of the library. But uplifting my eyes I saw that Berenice stood before me. 

*For as Jove, during the winter season, gives twice seven days of warmth, men have 
called this clement and temperate time the nurse of the beautiful Halcyon — Simonides. 

Was it my own excited imagination —or the misty influence of the atmosphere —or the 
uncertain twilight of the chamber —or the gray draperies which fell around her figure — 
that caused in it so vacillating and indistinct an outline? I could not tell. She spoke no 
word, I —not for worlds could I have uttered a syllable. An icy chill ran through my 
frame; a sense of insufferable anxiety oppressed me; a consuming curiosity pervaded my 
soul; and sinking back upon the chair, I remained for some time breathless and 
motionless, with my eyes riveted upon her person. Alas! its emaciation was excessive, 
and not one vestige of the former being, lurked in any single line of the contour. My 
burning glances at length fell upon the face. 

The forehead was high, and very pale, and singularly placid; and the once jetty hair fell 
partially over it, and overshadowed the hollow temples with innumerable ringlets now of 
a vivid yellow, and Jarring discordantly, in their fantastic character, with the reigning 
melancholy of the countenance. The eyes were lifeless, and lustreless, and seemingly 
pupil-less, and I shrank involuntarily from their glassy stare to the contemplation of the 
thin and shrunken lips. They parted; and in a smile of peculiar meaning, the teeth of the 
changed Berenice disclosed themselves slowly to my view. Would to God that I had 
never beheld them, or that, having done so, I had died! 

The shutting of a door disturbed me, and, looking up, I found that my cousin had 
departed from the chamber. But from the disordered chamber of my brain, had not, alas! 
departed, and would not be driven away, the white and ghastly spectrum of the teeth. Not 
a speck on their surface —not a shade on their enamel —not an indenture in their edges — 
but what that period of her smile had sufficed to brand in upon my memory. I saw them 
now even more unequivocally than I beheld them then. The teeth! —the teeth! —they were 
here, and there, and everywhere, and visibly and palpably before me; long, narrow, and 



excessively white, with the pale lips writhing about them, as in the very moment of their 
first terrible development. Then came the full fury of my monomania, and I struggled in 
vain against its strange and irresistible influence. In the multiplied objects of the external 
world I had no thoughts but for the teeth. For these I longed with a phrenzied desire. All 
other matters and all different interests became absorbed in their single contemplation. 
They —they alone were present to the mental eye, and they, in their sole individuality, 
became the essence of my mental life. I held them in every light. I turned them in every 
attitude. I surveyed their characteristics. I dwelt upon their peculiarities. I pondered upon 
their conformation. I mused upon the alteration in their nature. I shuddered as I assigned 
to them in imagination a sensitive and sentient power, and even when unassisted by the 
lips, a capability of moral expression. Of Mad'selle Salle it has been well said, "que tous 
ses pas etaient des sentiments," and of Berenice I more seriously believed que toutes ses 
dents etaient des idees. Des idees! -ah here was the idiotic thought that destroyed me! 
Des idees! -ah therefore it was that I coveted them so madly! I felt that their possession 
could alone ever restore me to peace, in giving me back to reason. 

And the evening closed in upon me thus-and then the darkness came, and tarried, and 
went —and the day again dawned —and the mists of a second night were now gathering 
around —and still I sat motionless in that solitary room; and still I sat buried in 
meditation, and still the phantasma of the teeth maintained its terrible ascendancy as, with 
the most vivid hideous distinctness, it floated about amid the changing lights and 
shadows of the chamber. At length there broke in upon my dreams a cry as of horror and 
dismay; and thereunto, after a pause, succeeded the sound of troubled voices, 
intermingled with many low moanings of sorrow, or of pain. I arose from my seat and, 
throwing open one of the doors of the library, saw standing out in the antechamber a 
servant maiden, all in tears, who told me that Berenice was —no more. She had been 
seized with epilepsy in the early morning, and now, at the closing in of the night, the 
grave was ready for its tenant, and all the preparations for the burial were completed. 

I found myself sitting in the library, and again sitting there alone. It seemed that I had 
newly awakened from a confused and exciting dream. I knew that it was now midnight, 
and I was well aware that since the setting of the sun Berenice had been interred. But of 
that dreary period which intervened I had no positive —at least no definite 
comprehension. Yet its memory was replete with horror —horror more horrible from 
being vague, and terror more terrible from ambiguity. It was a fearful page in the record 
my existence, written all over with dim, and hideous, and unintelligible recollections. I 
strived to decypher them, but in vain; while ever and anon, like the spirit of a departed 
sound, the shrill and piercing shriek of a female voice seemed to be ringing in my ears. I 
had done a deed -what was it? I asked myself the question aloud, and the whispering 
echoes of the chamber answered me, "what was it?" 

On the table beside me burned a lamp, and near it lay a little box. It was of no remarkable 
character, and I had seen it frequently before, for it was the property of the family 
physician; but how came it there, upon my table, and why did I shudder in regarding it? 
These things were in no manner to be accounted for, and my eyes at length dropped to the 
open pages of a book, and to a sentence underscored therein. The words were the singular 



but simple ones of the poet Ebn Zaiat, "Dicebant mihi sodales si sepulchrum amicae 
visitarem, curas meas aliquantulum fore levatas." Why then, as I perased them, did the 
hairs of my head erect themselves on end, and the blood of my body become congealed 
within my veins? 

There came a light tap at the library door, and pale as the tenant of a tomb, a menial 
entered upon tiptoe. His looks were wild with terror, and he spoke to me in a voice 
tremulous, husky, and very low. What said he? -some broken sentences I heard. He told 
of a wild cry disturbing the silence of the night —of the gathering together of the 
household-of a search in the direction of the sound; —and then his tones grew thrillingly 
distinct as he whispered me of a violated grave -of a disfigured body enshrouded, yet 
still breathing, still palpitating, still alive! 

He pointed to garments;-they were muddy and clotted with gore. I spoke not, and he took 
me gently by the hand; —it was indented with the impress of human nails. He directed my 
attention to some object against the wall; —I looked at it for some minutes; -it was a 
spade. With a shriek I bounded to the table, and grasped the box that lay upon it. But I 
could not force it open; and in my tremor it slipped from my hands, and fell heavily, and 
burst into pieces; and from it, with a rattling sound, there rolled out some instruments of 
dental surgery, intermingled with thirty-two small, white and ivory-looking substances 
that were scattered to and fro about the floor. 

THE END 



BON-BON 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



Quand un ton vin meuble mon estomac 
Je suis plus savant que Balzac- 
Plus sage que Pibrac; 
Mon brass seul faisant I'attaque 
De la nation Coseaque, 
La mettroit au sac; 
De Charon je passerois le lac 
En dormant dans son bac, 
J'irois aufier Eac, 
Sans que mon coeurfit tic ni tac, 
Premmer du tabac. 
—French Vaudeville 

THAT Pierre Bon-Bon was a restaurateur of uncommon qualifications, the cul-de-sac Le 
Febvre at Rouen, will, I imagine, feel himself at liberty to dispute. That Pierre Bon-Bon 
was, in an equal degree, skilled in the philosophy of that period is, I presume still more 
especially undeniable. His pates a la fois were beyond doubt immaculate; but what pen 
can do justice to his essays sur la Nature-his thoughts sur lAme-his observations sur 
I'Esprit? If his omelettes-if his fricandeaux were inestimable, what litterateur of that day 
would not have given twice as much for an "Idee de Bon-Bon" as for all the trash of 
"Idees" of all the rest of the savants? Bon-Bon had ransacked libraries which no other 
man had ransacked-had more than any other would have entertained a notion of reading- 
had understood more than any other would have conceived the possibility of 
understanding; and although, while he flourished, there were not wanting some authors at 
Rouen to assert "that his dicta evinced neither the purity of the Academy, nor the depth of 
the Lyceum"-although, mark me, his doctrines were by no means very generally 
comprehended, still it did not follow that they were difficult of comprehension. It was, I 
think, on account of their self-evidency that many persons were led to consider them 
abstruse. It is to Bon-Bon-but let this go no farther-it is to Bon-Bon that Kant himself is 
mainly indebted for his metaphysics. The former was indeed not a Platonist, nor strictly 
speaking an Aristotelian-nor did he, like the modern Leibnitz, waste those precious hours 
which might be employed in the invention of a fricasee or, facili gradu, the analysis of a 
sensation, in frivolous attempts at reconcihng the obstinate oils and waters of ethical 
discussion. Not at all. Bon-Bon was lonic-Bon-Bon was equally Italic. He reasoned a 
priori-He reasoned also a posteriori. His ideas were innate-or otherwise. He believed in 
George of Trebizonde-He believed in Bossarion. Bon-Bon was emphatically a-Bon- 
Bonist. 



I have spoken of the philosopher in his capacity of restaurateur. I would not, however, 
have any friend of mine imagine that, in fulfilling his hereditary duties in that line, our 
hero wanted a proper estimation of their dignity and importance. Far from it. It was 
impossible to say in which branch of his profession he took the greater pride. In his 
opinion the powers of the intellect held intimate connection with the capabilities of the 
stomach. I am not sure, indeed, that he greatly disagreed with the Chinese, who held that 
the soul lies in the abdomen. The Greeks at all events were right, he thought, who 
employed the same words for the mind and the diaphragm. By this I do not mean to 
insinuate a charge of gluttony, or indeed any other serious charge to the prejudice of the 
metaphysician. If Pierre Bon-Bon had his failings-and what great man has not a 
thousand?-if Pierre Bon-Bon, I say, had his failings, they were failings of very little 
importance-faults indeed which, in other tempers, have often been looked upon rather in 
the light of virtues. As regards one of these foibles, I should not even have mentioned it 
in this history but for the remarkable prominency-the extreme alto relievo-in which it 
jutted out from the plane of his general disposition. He could never let slip an opportunity 
of making a bargain. 

Not that he was avaricious-no. It was by no means necessary to the satisfaction of the 
philosopher, that the bargain should be to his own proper advantage. Provided a trade 
could be effected-a trade of any kind, upon any terms, or under any circumstances-a 
triumphant smile was seen for many days thereafter to enlighten his countenance, and a 
knowing wink of the eye to give evidence of his sagacity. 

At any epoch it would not be very wonderful if a humor so peculiar as the one I have just 
mentioned, should elicit attention and remark. At the epoch of our narrative, had this 
peculiarity not attracted observation, there would have been room for wonder indeed. It 
was soon reported that, upon all occasions of the kind, the smile of Bon-Bon was wont to 
differ widely from the downright grin with which he would laugh at his own jokes, or 
welcome an acquaintance. Hints were thrown out of an exciting nature; stories were told 
of perilous bargains made in a hurry and repented of at leisure; and instances were 
adduced of unaccountable capacities, vague longings, and unnatural inclinations 
implanted by the author of all evil for wise purposes of his own. 

The philosopher had other weaknesses-but they are scarcely worthy our serious 
examination. For example, there are few men of extraordinary profundity who are found 
wanting in an inclination for the bottle. Whether this inclination be an exciting cause, or 
rather a valid proof of such profundity, it is a nice thing to say. Bon-Bon, as far as I can 
learn, did not think the subject adapted to minute investigation;-nor do I. Yet in the 
indulgence of a propensity so truly classical, it is not to be supposed that the restaurateur 
would lose sight of that intuitive discrimination which was wont to characterize, at one 
and the same time, his essais and his omelettes. In his seclusions the Vin de Bourgogne 
had its allotted hour, and there were appropriate moments for the Cotes du Rhone. With 
him Sauteme was to Medoc what Catullus was to Homer. He would sport with a 
syllogism in sipping St. Peray, but unravel an argument over Clos de Vougeot, and upset 
a theory in a torrent of Chambertin. Well had it been if the same quick sense of propriety 
had attended him in the peddling propensity to which I have formerly alluded-but this 



was by no means the case. Indeed to say the truth, that trait of mind in the philosophic 
Bon-Bon did begin at length to assume a character of strange intensity and mysticism, 
and appeared deeply tinctured with the diablerie of his favorite German studies. 

To enter the little Cafe in the cul-de-sac Le Febvre was, at the period of our tale, to enter 
the sanctum of a man of genius. Bon-Bon was a man of genius. There was not a sous- 
cusinier in Rouen, who could not have told you that Bon-Bon was a man of genius. His 
very cat knew it, and forebore to whisk her tail in the presence of the man of genius. His 
large water-dog was acquainted with the fact, and upon the approach of his master, 
betrayed his sense of inferiority by a sanctity of deportment, a debasement of the ears, 
and a dropping of the lower jaw not altogether unworthy of a dog. It is, however, true that 
much of this habitual respect might have been attributed to the personal appearance of the 
metaphysician. A distinguished exterior will, I am constrained to say, have its way even 
with a beast; and I am willing to allow much in the outward man of the restaurateur 
calculated to impress the imagination of the quadruped. There is a peculiar majesty about 
the atmosphere of the little great-if I may be permitted so equivocal an expression-which 
mere physical bulk alone will be found at all times inefficient in creating. If, however, 
Bon-Bon was barely three feet in height, and if his head was diminutively small, still it 
was impossible to behold the rotundity of his stomach without a sense of magnificence 
nearly bordering upon the sublime. In its size both dogs and men must have seen a type 
of his acquirements-in its immensity a fitting habitation for his immortal soul. 

I might here-if it so pleased me-dilate upon the matter of habiliment, and other mere 
circumstances of the external metaphysician. I might hint that the hair of our hero was 
worn short, combed smoothly over his forehead, and surmounted by a conical- shaped 
white flannel cap and tassels-that his pea-green jerkin was not after the fashion of those 
worn by the common class of restaurateurs at that day-that the sleeves were something 
fuller than the reigning costume permitted-that the cuffs were turned up, not as usual in 
that barbarous period, with cloth of the same quality and color as the garment, but faced 
in a more fanciful manner with the particolored velvet of Genoa-that his slippers were of 
a bright purple, curiously filigreed, and might have been manufactured in Japan, but for 
the exquisite pointing of the toes, and the brilliant tints of the binding and embroidery- 
that his breeches were of the yellow satin-like material called aimable-that his sky-blue 
cloak, resembling in form a dressing-wrapper, and richly bestudded all over with crimson 
devices, floated cavalierly upon his shoulders like a mist of the morning-and that his tout 
ensemble gave rise to the remarkable words of Benevenuta, the Improvisatrice of 
Florence, "that it was difficult to say whether Pierre Bon-Bon was indeed a bird of 
Paradise, or rather a very Paradise of perfection." I might, I say, expatiate upon all these 
points if I pleased,-but I forbear, merely personal details may be left to historical 
novelists,-they are beneath the moral dignity of matter-of-fact. 

I have said that "to enter the Cafe in the cul-de-sac Le Febvre was to enter the sanctum of 
a man of genius"-but then it was only the man of genius who could duly estimate the 
merits of the sanctum. A sign, consisting of a vast folio, swung before the entrance. On 
one side of the volume was painted a bottle; on the reverse a pate. On the back were 



visible in large letters Oeuvres de Bon-Bon. Thus was delicately shadowed forth the two- 
fold occupation of the proprietor. 

Upon stepping over the threshold, the whole interior of the building presented itself to 
view. A long, low-pitched room, of antique construction, was indeed all the 
accommodation afforded by the Cafe. In a corner of the apartment stood the bed of the 
metaphysician. An army of curtains, together with a canopy a la Grecque, gave it an air at 
once classic and comfortable. In the comer diagonary opposite, appeared, in direct family 
communion, the properties of the kitchen and the bibliotheque. A dish of polemics stood 
peacefully upon the dresser. Here lay an ovenful of the latest ethics-there a kettle of 
dudecimo melanges. Volumes of German morality were hand and glove with the 
gridiron-a toasting-fork might be discovered by the side of Eusebius-Plato rechned at his 
ease in the frying-pan-and contemporary manuscripts were filed away upon the spit. 

In other respects the Cafe de Bon-Bon might be said to differ little from the usual 
restaurants of the period. A fireplace yawned opposite the door. On the right of the 
fireplace an open cupboard displayed a formidable array of labelled bottles. 

It was here, about twelve o'clock one night during the severe winter the comments of his 
neighbours upon his singular propensity-that Pierre Bon-Bon, I say, having turned them 
all out of his house, locked the door upon them with an oath, and betook himself in no 
very pacific mood to the comforts of a leather-bottomed arm-chair, and a fire of blazing 
fagots. 

It was one of those terrific nights which are only met with once or twice during a century. 
It snowed fiercely, and the house tottered to its centre with the floods of wind that, 
rushing through the crannies in the wall, and pouring impetuously down the chimney, 
shook awfully the curtains of the philosopher's bed, and disorganized the economy of his 
pate-pans and papers. The huge folio sign that swung without, exposed to the fury of the 
tempest, creaked ominously, and gave out a moaning sound from its stanchions of solid 
oak. 

It was in no placid temper, I say, that the metaphysician drew up his chair to its 
customary station by the hearth. Many circumstances of a perplexing nature had occurred 
during the day, to disturb the serenity of his meditations. In attempting des oeufs a la 
Princesse, he had unfortunately perpetrated an omelette a la Reine; the discovery of a 
principle in ethics had been frustrated by the overtuming of a stew; and last, not least, he 
had been thwarted in one of those admirable bargains which he at all times took such 
especial delight in bringing to a successful termination. But in the chafing of his mind at 
these unaccountable vicissitudes, there did not fail to be mingled some degree of that 
nervous anxiety which the fury of a boisterous night is so well calculated to produce. 
Whistling to his more immediate vicinity the large black water-dog we have spoken of 
before, and settling himself uneasily in his chair, he could not help casting a wary and 
unquiet eye toward those distant recesses of the apartment whose inexorable shadows not 
even the red firelight itself could more than partially succeed in overcoming. Having 
completed a scrutiny whose exact purpose was perhaps unintelligible to himself, he drew 



close to his seat a small table covered with books and papers, and soon became absorbed 
in the task of retouching a voluminous manuscript, intended for publication on the 
morrow. 

He had been thus occupied for some minutes when "I am in no hurry. Monsieur Bon- 
Bon," suddenly whispered a whining voice in the apartment. 

"The devil!" ejaculated our hero, starting to his feet, overturning the table at his side, and 
staring around him in astonishment. 

"Very true," calmly replied the voice. 

"Very true!-what is very true?-how came you here?" vociferated the metaphysician, as 
his eye fell upon something which lay stretched at full length upon the bed. 

"I was saying," said the intruder, without attending to the interrogatives,-"! was saying 
that I am not at all pushed for time- that the business upon which I took the liberty of 
calling, is of no pressing importance-in short, that I can very well wait until you have 
finished your Exposition." 

"My Exposition !-there now!-how do you know?-how came you to understand that I was 
writing an Exposition?-good God!" 

"Hush!" replied the figure, in a shrill undertone; and, arising quickly from the bed, he 
made a single step toward our hero, while an iron lamp that depended over-head swung 
convulsively back from his approach. 

The philosopher's amazement did not prevent a narrow scrutiny of the stranger's dress 
and appearance. The outlines of his figure, exceedingly lean, but much above the 
common height, were rendered minutely distinct, by means of a faded suit of black cloth 
which fitted tight to the skin, but was otherwise cut very much in the style of a century 
ago. These garments had evidently been intended for a much shorter person than their 
present owner. His ankles and wrists were left naked for several inches. In his shoes, 
however, a pair of very brilliant buckles gave the lie to the extreme poverty implied by 
the other portions of his dress. His head was bare, and entirely bald, with the exception of 
a hinder part, from which depended a queue of considerable length. A pair of green 
spectacles, with side glasses, protected his eyes from the influence of the hght, and at the 
same time prevented our hero from ascertaining either their color or their conformation. 
About the entire person there was no evidence of a shirt, but a white cravat, of filthy 
appearance, was tied with extreme precision around the throat and the ends hanging down 
formally side by side gave (although I dare say unintentionally) the idea of an 
ecclesiastic. Indeed, many other points both in his appearance and demeanor might have 
very well sustained a conception of that nature. Over his left ear, he carried, after the 
fashion of a modern clerk, an instrument resembling the stylus of the ancients. In a 
breast-pocket of his coat appeared conspicuously a small black volume fastened with 
clasps of steel. This book, whether accidentally or not, was so turned outwardly from the 



person as to discover the words "Rituel Catholique" in white letters upon the back. His 
entire physiognomy was interestingly saturnine-even cadaverously pale. The forehead 
was lofty, and deeply furrowed with the ridges of contemplation. The corners of the 
mouth were drawn down into an expression of the most submissive humility. There was 
also a clasping of the hands, as he stepped toward our hero-a deep sigh-and altogether a 
look of such utter sanctity as could not have failed to be unequivocally preposessing. 
Every shadow of anger faded from the countenance of the metaphysician, as, having 
completed a satisfactory survey of his visiter's person, he shook him cordially by the 
hand, and conducted him to a seat. 

There would however be a radical error in attributing this instantaneous transition of 
feeling in the philosopher, to any one of those causes which might naturally be supposed 
to have had an influence. Indeed, Pierre Bon-Bon, from what I have been able to 
understand of his disposition, was of all men the least likely to be imposed upon by any 
speciousness of exterior deportment. It was impossible that so accurate an observer of 
men and things should have failed to discover, upon the moment, the real character of the 
personage who had thus intruded upon his hospitality. To say no more, the conformation 
of his visiter's feet was sufficiently remarkable-he maintained lightly upon his head an 
inordinately tall hat-there was a tremulous swelling about the hinder part of his 
breeches-and the vibration of his coat tail was a palpable fact. Judge, then, with what 
feelings of satisfaction our hero found himself thrown thus at once into the society of a 
person for whom he had at all times entertained the most unqualified respect. He was, 
however, too much of the diplomatist to let escape him any intimation of his suspicions in 
regard to the true state of affairs. It was not his cue to appear at all conscious of the high 
honor he thus unexpectedly enjoyed; but, by leading his guest into the conversation, to 
elicit some important ethical ideas, which might, in obtaining a place in his contemplated 
publication, enlighten the human race, and at the same time immortalize himself-ideas 
which, I should have added, his visitor's great age, and well-known proficiency in the 
science of morals, might very well have enabled him to afford. 

Actuated by these enlightened views, our hero bade the gentleman sit down, while he 
himself took occasion to throw some fagots upon the fire, and place upon the now re- 
established table some bottles of Mousseux. Having quickly completed these operations, 
he drew his chair vis-a-vis to his companion's, and waited until the latter should open the 
conversation. But plans even the most skilfully matured are often thwarted in the outset 
of their application-and the restaurateur found himself nonplussed by the very first words 
of his visiter's speech. 

"I see you know me, Bon-Bon," said he; "ha! ha! ha!-he! he! he!- hi! hi! hi!-ho! ho! ho!- 
hu! hu! hu!"-and the devil, dropping at once the sanctity of his demeanor, opened to its 
fullest extent a mouth from ear to ear, so as to display a set of jagged and fang-like teeth, 
and, throwing back his head, laughed long, loudly, wickedly, and uproariously, while the 
black dog, crouching down upon his haunches, joined lustily in the chorus, and the tabby 
cat, flying off at a tangent, stood up on end, and shrieked in the farthest corner of the 
apartment. 



Not so the philosopher; he was too much a man of the world either to laugh like the dog, 
or by shrieks to betray the indecorous trepidation of the cat. It must be confessed, he felt 
a little astonishment to see the white letters which formed the words "Rituel Catholique" 
on the book in his guest's pocket, momently changing both their color and their import, 
and in a few seconds, in place of the original title the words Regitre des Condamnes 
blazed forth in characters of red. This startling circumstance, when Bon-Bon replied to 
his visiter's remark, imparted to his manner an air of embarrassment which probably 
might, not otherwise have been observed. 

"Why sir," said the philosopher, "why sir, to speak sincerely-I I imagine-I have some 
faint-some very faint idea-of the remarkable honor-" 

"Oh!-ah!-yes!-very well!" interrupted his Majesty; "say no more- 1 see how it is." And 
hereupon, taking off his green spectacles, he wiped the glasses carefully with the sleeve 
of his coat, and deposited them in his pocket. 

If Bon-Bon had been astonished at the incident of the book, his amazement was now 
much increased by the spectacle which here presented itself to view. In raising his eyes, 
with a strong feeling of curiosity to ascertain the color of his guest's, he found them by no 
means black, as he had anticipated-nor gray, as might have been imagined-nor yet hazel 
nor blue-nor indeed yellow nor red-nor purple-nor white-nor green-nor any other color 
in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. In short, 
Pierre Bon-Bon not only saw plainly that his Majesty had no eyes whatsoever, but could 
discover no indications of their having existed at any previous period-for the space where 
eyes should naturally have been was, I am constrained to say, simply a dead level of 
flesh. 

It was not in the nature of the metaphysician to forbear making some inquiry into the 
sources of so strange a phenomenon, and the reply of his Majesty was at once prompt, 
dignified, and satisfactory. 

"Eyes! my dear Bon-Bon-eyes! did you say?-oh!-ah!-I perceive! The ridiculous prints, 
eh, which are in, circulation, have given you a false idea of my personal appearance? 
Eyes!-true. Eyes, Pierre Bon-Bon, are very well in their proper place-that, you would 
say, is the head?-right-the head of a worm. To you, likewise, these optics are 
indispensable-yet I will convince you that my vision is more penetrating than your own. 
There is a cat I see in the comer-a pretty cat-look at her-observe her well. Now, Bon- 
Bon, do you behold the thoughts-the thoughts, I say,-the ideas-the reflections-which are 
being engendered in her pericranium? There it is, now-you do not! She is thinking we 
admire the length of her tail and the profundity of her mind. She has just concluded that I 
am the most distinguished of ecclesiastics, and that you are the most superficial of 
metaphysicians. Thus you see I am not altogether blind; but to one of my profession, the 
eyes you speak of would be merely an incumbrance, liable at any time to be put out by a 
toasting-iron, or a pitchfork. To you, I allow, these optical affairs are indispensable. 
Endeavor, Bon-Bon, to use them well;-my vision is the soul." 



Hereupon the guest helped himself to the wine upon the table, and pouring out a bumper 
for Bon-Bon, requested him to drink it without scruple, and make himself perfectly at 
home. 

"A clever book that of yours, Pierre," resumed his Majesty, tapping our friend knowingly 
upon the shoulder, as the latter put down his glass after a thorough compliance with his 
visiter's injunction. "A clever book that of yours, upon my honor. It's a work after my 
own heart. Your arrangement of the matter, I think, however, might be improved, and 
many of your notions remind me of Aristotle. That philosopher was one of my most 
intimate acquaintances. I liked him as much for his terrible ill temper, as for his happy 
knack at making a blunder. There is only one solid truth in all that he has written, and for 
that I gave him the hint out of pure compassion for his absurdity. I suppose, Pierre Bon- 
Bon, you very well know to what divine moral truth I am alluding?" 

"Cannot say that I- " 

"Indeed !-why it was I who told Aristotle that by sneezing, men expelled superfluous 
ideas through the proboscis." 

"Which is-hiccup!-undoubtedly the case," said the metaphysician, while he poured out 
for himself another bumper of Mousseux, and offered his snuff-box to the fingers of his 
visiter. 

"There was Plato, too," continued his Majesty, modestly declining the snuff-box and the 
compliment it implied-"there was Plato, too, for whom I, at one time, felt all the affection 
of a friend. You knew Plato, Bon-Bon?-ah, no, I beg a thousand pardons. He met me at 
Athens, one day, in the Parthenon, and told me he was distressed for an idea. I bade him 
write, down that o nous estin aulos. He said that he would do so, and went home, while I 
stepped over to the pyramids. But my conscience smote me for having uttered a truth, 
even to aid a friend, and hastening back to Athens, I arrived behind the philosopher's 
chair as he was inditing the 'aulos.'" 

"Giving the lambda a fillip with my finger, I turned it upside down. So the sentence now 
read 'o nous estin augos', and is, you perceive, the fundamental doctrines in his 
metaphysics." 

"Were you ever at Rome?" asked the restaurateur, as he finished his second bottle of 
Mousseux, and drew from the closet a larger supply of Chambertin. 

But once. Monsieur Bon-Bon, but once. There was a time," said the devil, as if reciting 
some passage from a book-"there was a time when occurred an anarchy of five years, 
during which the republic, bereft of all its officers, had no magistracy besides the tribunes 
of the people, and these were not legally vested with any degree of executive power-at 
that time. Monsieur Bon-Bon-at that time only I was in Rome, and I have no earthly 
acquaintance, consequently, with any of its philosophy."* 



*Ils ecrivaient sur la Philosophic (Cicero, Lucretius, Seneca) mais c'etait la Philosophic 
Grecque.-Condorcet. 

"What do you think of-what do you think of-hiccup!-Epicurus?" 

"What do I think of whom?" said the devil, in astonishment, "you cannot surely mean to 
find any fault with Epicurus! What do I think of Epicurus! Do you mean me, sir?-I am 
Epicurus! I am the same philosopher who wrote each of the three hundred treatises 
commemorated by Diogenes Laertes." 

"That's a lie!" said the metaphysician, for the wine had gotten a little into his head. 

"Very well!-very well, sir!-very well, indeed, sir!" said his Majesty, apparently much 
flattered. 

"That's a lie!" repeated the restaurateur, dogmatically; "that's a-hiccup!-a lie!" 

"Well, well, have it your own way!" said the devil, pacifically, and Bon-Bon, having 
beaten his Majesty at argument, thought it his duty to conclude a second bottle of 
Chambertin. 

"As I was saying," resumed the visiter-"as I was observing a little while ago, there are 
some very outre notions in that book of yours Monsieur Bon-Bon. What, for instance, do 
you mean by all that humbug about the soul? Pray, sir, what is the soul?" 

"The-hiccup!-soul," replied the metaphysician, referring to his MS., "is undoubtedly-" 

"No, sir!" 

"Indubitably-" 

"No, sir!" 

"Indisputably-" 

"No, sir!" 

"Evidently-" 

"No, sir!" 

"Incontrovertibly- " 

"No, sir!" 

"Hiccup!-" 



"No, sir!" 

"And beyond all question, a-" 

"No sir, the soul is no such thing!" (Here the philosopher, looking daggers, took occasion 
to make an end, upon the spot, of his third bottle of Chambertin.) 

"Then-hic-cup!-pray, sir-what-what is it?" 

"That is neither here nor there. Monsieur Bon-Bon," replied his Majesty, musingly. "I 
have tasted-that is to say, I have known some very bad souls, and some too-pretty good 
ones." Here he smacked his lips, and, having unconsciously let fall his hand upon the 
volume in his pocket, was seized with a violent fit of sneezing. 

He continued. 

"There was the soul of Cratinus-passable: Aristophanes-racy: Plato-exquisite-not your 
Plato, but Plato the comic poet; your Plato would have turned the stomach of Cerberus- 
faugh! Then let me see! there were Naevius, and Andronicus, and Plautus, and Terentius. 
Then there were Lucilius, and Catullus, and Naso, and Quintus Flaccus,- dear Quinty! as 
I called him when he sung a seculare for my amusement, while I toasted him, in pure 
good humor, on a fork. But they want flavor, these Romans. One fat Greek is worth a 
dozen of them, and besides will keep, which cannot be said of a Quirite.-Let us taste your 
Sauteme." 

Bon-Bon had by this time made up his mind to nil admirari and endeavored to hand down 
the bottles in question. He was, however, conscious of a strange sound in the room like 
the wagging of a tail. Of this, although extremely indecent in his Majesty, the philosopher 
took no notice:-simply kicking the dog, and requesting him to be quiet. The visiter 
continued: 

"I found that Horace tasted very much like Aristotle;-you know I am fond of variety. 
Terentius I could not have told from Menander. Naso, to my astonishment, was Nicander 
in disguise. Virgilius had a strong twang of Theocritus. Martial put me much in mind of 
Archilochus-and Titus Livius was positively Polybius and none other." 

"Hic-cup!" here replied Bon-Bon, and his majesty proceeded: 

"But if I have a penchant. Monsieur Bon-Bon-if I have a penchant, it is for a philosopher. 
Yet, let me tell you, sir, it is not every dev-I mean it is not every gentleman who knows 
how to choose a philosopher. Long ones are not good; and the best, if not carefully 
shelled, are apt to be a little rancid on account of the gall!" 

"Shelled!" 

"I mean taken out of the carcass." 



"What do you think of a-hic-cup!-physician?" 

"Don't mention them!-ugh! ugh! ugh!" (Here his Majesty retched violently.) "I never 
tasted but one-that rascal Hippocrates !-smelt of asafoetida-ugh! ugh! ugh!-caught a 
wretched cold washing him in the Styx-and after all he gave me the cholera morbus." 

"The-hiccup-wretch!" ejaculated Bon-Bon, "the-hic-cup!- absorption of a pill-box! "-and 
the philosopher dropped a tear. 

"After all," continued the visiter, "after all, if a dev-if a gentleman wishes to live, he must 
have more talents than one or two; and with us a fat face is an evidence of diplomacy." 

"How so?" 

"Why, we are sometimes exceedingly pushed for provisions. You must know that, in a 
climate so sultry as mine, it is frequently impossible to keep a spirit alive for more than 
two or three hours; and after death, unless pickled immediately (and a pickled spirit is not 
good), they will-smell-you understand, eh? Putrefaction is always to be apprehended 
when the souls are consigned to us in the usual way." 

"Hiccup! -hiccup! -good God! how do you manage?" 

Here the iron lamp commenced swinging with redoubled violence, and the devil half 
started from his seat;-however, with a slight sigh, he recovered his composure, merely 
saying to our hero in a low tone: "I tell you what, Pierre Bon-Bon, we must have no more 
swearing." 

The host swallowed another bumper, by way of denoting thorough comprehension and 
acquiescence, and the visiter continued. 

"Why, there are several ways of managing. The most of us starve: some put up with the 
pickle: for my part I purchase my spirits vivente corpore, in which case I find they keep 
very well." 

"But the body!-hiccup!-the body!" 

"The body, the body- well, what of the body?-oh! ah! I perceive. Why, sir, the body is 
not at all affected by the transaction. I have made innumerable purchases of the kind in 
my day, and the parties never experienced any inconvenience. There were Cain and 
Nimrod, and Nero, and Caligula, and Dionysius, and Pisistratus, and-and a thousand 
others, who never knew what it was to have a soul during the latter part of their lives; yet, 
sir, these men adorned society. Why possession of his faculties, mental and corporeal? 
Who writes a keener epigram? Who reasons more wittily? Who-but stay! I have his 
agreement in my pocket-book." 



Thus saying, he produced a red leather wallet, and took from it a number of papers. Upon 
some of these Bon-Bon caught a glimpse of the letters Machi-Maza-Robesp-with the 
words Caligula, George, Elizabeth. His Majesty selected a narrow slip of parchment, and 
from it read aloud the following words: 

"In consideration of certain mental endowments which it is unnecessary to specify, and in 
further consideration of one thousand louis d'or, I being aged one year and one month, do 
hereby make over to the bearer of this agreement all my right, title, and appurtenance in 
the shadow called my soul. (Signed) A...."* (Here His Majesty repeated a name which I 
did not feel justified in indicating more unequivocally.) 

*Quere-Arouet? 

"A clever fellow that," resumed he; "but like you. Monsieur Bon-Bon, he was mistaken 
about the soul. The soul a shadow, truly! The soul a shadow; Ha! ha! ha!-he! he! he!-hu! 
hu! hu! Only think of a fricasseed shadow!" 

"Only think-hiccup!-of a fricasseed shadow!" exclaimed our hero, whose faculties were 
becoming much illuminated by the profundity of his Majesty's discourse. 

"Only think of a hiccup !-fricasseed shadow! ! Now, damme! -hiccup!- humph! If I would 
have been such a-hiccup! -nincompoop! My soul, Mr.-humph!" 

"Your soul. Monsieur Bon-Bon?" 

"Yes, sir-hiccup! -my soul is-" 

"What, sir?" 

"No shadow, damme!" 

"Did you mean to say-" 

"Yes, sir, my soul is-hiccup!-humph!-yes, sir." 

"Did you not intend to assert-" 

"My soul is-hiccup!-peculiarly qualified for-hiccup!-a-" 

"What, sir?" 

"Stew." 

"Ha!" 

"Soufflee." 



"Eh!" 

"Fricassee." 

"Indeed!" 

"Ragout and fricandeau-and see here, my good fellow! I'll let you have it-hiccup !-a 
bargain." Here the philosopher slapped his Majesty upon the back. 

"Couldn't think of such a thing," said the latter calmly, at the same time rising from his 
seat. The metaphysician stared. 

"Am supplied at present," said his Majesty. 

"Hiccup-e-h?" said the philosopher. 

"Have no funds on hand." 

"What?" 

"Besides, very unhandsome in me-" 

"Sir!" 

"To take advantage of-" 

"Hiccup!" 

"Your present disgusting and ungentlemanly situation." 

Here the visiter bowed and withdrew-in what manner could not precisely be ascertained- 
but in a well-concerted effort to discharge a bottle at "the villain," the slender chain was 
severed that depended from the ceiling, and the metaphysician prostrated by the downfall 
of the lamp. 

THE END 



BRIDAL BALLAD 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1837 



The ring is on my hand, 
And the wreath is on my brow; 
Satin and jewels grand 
Are all at my command, 
And I am happy now. 

And my lord he loves me well; 

But, when first he breathed his vow, 

I felt my bosom swell- 

For the words rang as a knell. 

And the voice seemed his who fell 

In the battle down the dell. 

And who is happy now. 

But he spoke to re-assure me. 
And he kissed my pallid brow. 
While a reverie came o'er me. 
And to the church-yard bore me. 
And I sighed to him before me. 
Thinking him dead D'Elormie, 
"Oh, I am happy now!" 

And thus the words were spoken. 
And this the plighted vow. 
And, though my faith be broken. 
And, though my heart be broken. 
Here is a ring, as token 
That I am happy now! 

Would God I could awaken! 
For I dream I know not how! 
And my soul is sorely shaken 
Lest an evil step be taken,- 
Lest the dead who is forsaken 
May not be happy now. 

THE END 



CRITICISM 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



IT HAS been said that a good critique on a poem may be written by one who is no poet 
himself. This, according to your idea and mine of poetry, I feel to be false-the less 
poetical the critic, the less just the critique, and the converse. On this account, and 
because the world's good opinion as proud of your own. Another than yourself might here 
observe, "Shakespeare is in possession of the world's good opinion, and yet Shakespeare 
is the greatest of poets. It appears then that as the world judges correctly, why should you 
be ashamed of their favourable judgment?" The difficulty lies in the interpretation of the 
word "judgment" or "opinion." The opinion is the world's, truly, but it may be called 
theirs as a man would call a book his, having bought it; he did not write the book, but it is 
his; they did not originate the opinion, but it is theirs. A fool, for example, thinks 
Shakespeare a great poet-yet the fool has never read Shakespeare. But the fool's 
neighbor, who is a step higher on the Andes of the mind, whose head (that is to say, his 
more exalted thought) is too far above the fool to be seen or understood, but whose feet 
(by which I mean his every-day actions) are sufficiently near to be discerned, and by 
means of which that superiority is ascertained, which but for them would never have been 
disco vered-this neighbor asserts that Shakespeare is a great poet-the fool believes him, 
and it is henceforward his opinion. This neighbor's own opinion has, in like manner, been 
adopted from one above him, and so, ascendingly, to a few gifted individuals who kneel 
around the summit, beholding, face to face, the master spirit who stands upon the 
pinnacle.... 

You are aware of the great barrier in the path of an American writer. He is read, if at all, 
in preference to the combined and established wit of the world. I say established; for it is 
with literature as with law or empire-an established name is an estate in tenure, or a 
throne in possession. Besides, one might suppose that books, like their authors, improve 
by travel-their having crossed the sea is, with us, so great a distinction. Our antiquaries 
abandon time for distance; our very fops glance from the binding to the bottom of the 
title-page, where the mystic characters which spell London, Paris, or Genoa, are precisely 
so many letters of recommendation. 

I mentioned just now a vulgar error as regards criticism. I think the notion that no poet 
can form a correct estimate of his own writings is another. I remarked before that in 
proportion to the poetical talent would be the justice of a critique upon poetry. Therefore 
a bad poet would, I grant, make a false critique, and his self-love would infallibly bias his 
little judgment in his favour; but a poet, who is indeed a poet, could not, I think, fail of 
making a just critique; whatever should be deducted on the score of self-love might be 
replaced on account of his intimate acquaintance with the subject; in short, we have more 
instances of false criticism than of just where one's own writings are the test, simply 



because we have more bad poets than good. There are, of course, many objections to 
what I say: Milton is a great example of the contrary, but his opinion with respect to the 
Paradise Regained is by no means fairly ascertained. By what trivial circumstances men 
are often led to assert what they do not really believe! Perhaps an inadvertent world has 
descended to posterity. But, in fact, the Paradise Regained is little, if at all inferior to the 
Paradise Lost and is only supposed so to be because men do not like epics, whatever they 
may say to the contrary, and reading those of Milton in their natural order, are too much 
wearied with the first to derive any pleasure from the second. 

I dare say Milton preferred Comos to either-if so-justly.... 

As I am speaking of poetry, it will not be amiss to touch slightly upon the most singular 
heresy in its modem history-the heresy of what is called, very foolishly, the Lake School. 
Some years ago I might have been induced, by an occasion like the present, to attempt a 
formal refutation of their doctrine; at present it would be a work of supererogation. The 
wise must bow to the wisdom of such men as Coleridge and Southey, but being wise, 
have laughed at poetical theories so prosaically exemplified. 

Aristotle, with singular assurance, has declared poetry the most philosophical of all 
writings-but it required a Wordsworth to pronounce it the most metaphysical. He seems 
to think that the end of poetry is, or should be, instruction; yet it is a truism that the end of 
our existence is happiness; if so, the end of every separate part of our existence, 
everything connected with our existence, should be happiness. Therefore the end of 
instruction should be happiness; and happiness is another name for pleasure, -therefore 
the end of instruction should be pleasure; yet we see the above-mentioned opinion 
implies precisely the reverse. 

To proceed: ceteris paribus, he who pleases is of more importance to his fellow-men than 
he who instructs, since utility is happiness, and pleasure is the end already obtained while 
instruction is merely the means of obtaining. 

I see no reason, then, why our metaphysical poets should plume themselves so much on 
the utility of their works, unless indeed they refer to instruction with eternity in view; in 
which case, sincere respect for their piety would not allow me to express my contempt for 
their judgement; contempt which it would be difficult to conceal, since their writings are 
professedly to be understood by the few, and it is the many who stand in need of 
salvation. In such case I should no doubt be tempted to think of the devil in "Melmoth," 
who labours indefatigably, through three octavo volumes, to accomplish the destruction 
of one or two souls, while any common devil would have demolished one or two 
thousand. 

Against the subtleties which would make poetry a study-not a passion-it becomes the 
metaphysician to reason-but the poet to protest. Yet Wordsworth and Coleridge are men 
in years; the one imbued in contemplating from his childhood, the other a giant in 
intellect and learning. The diffidence, then, with which I venture to dispute their authority 



would be overwhelming did I not feel, from the bottom of my heart, that learning has 
little to do with the imagination-intellect with the passions-or age with poetry. 

Trifles, like straws, upon the surface flow; 

He who would search for pearls must dive below, 

are lines which have done much mischief. As regards the greater truths, men oftener err 
by seeking them at the bottom than at the top; Truth lies in the huge abysses where 
wisdom is sought-not in the palpable palaces where she is found. The ancients were not 
always right in hiding the goddess in a well; witness the light which Bacon has thrown 
upon philosophy; witness the principles of our divine faith-that moral mechanism by 
which the simplicity of a child may overbalance the wisdom of a man. 

We see an instance of Coleridge's liability to err, in his Biographia Literaria-professedly 
his literary life and opinions, but, in fact, a treatise de omni scibili et quibusdam aliis. He 
goes wrong by reason of his very profundity, and of his error we have a natural type in 
the contemplation of a star. He who regards it directly and intensely sees, it is true, the 
star, but it is the star without a ray-while he who surveys it less inquisitively is conscious 
of all for which the star is useful to us below-its brilliancy and its beauty. 

As to Wordsworth, I have no faith in him. That he had in youth the feelings of a poet I 
believe-for there are glimpses of extreme delicacy in his writings-(and delicacy is the 
poet's own kingdom-his El Dorado )-but they have the appearance of a better day 
recollected; and glimpses, at best, are little evidence of present poetic fire-we know that a 
few straggling flowers spring up daily in the crevices of the glacier. 

He was to blame in wearing away his youth in contemplation with the end of poetizing in 
his manhood. With the increase of his judgment the light which should make it apparent 
has faded away. His judgment consequently is too correct. This may not be understood,- 
but the old Goths of Germany would have understood it, who used to debate matters of 
importance to their State twice, once when drunk, and once when sober-sober that they 
might not be deficient in formality-drunk lest they should be destitute of vigour. 

The long wordy discussions by which he tries to reason us into admiration of his poetry, 
speak very little in his favour: they are full of such assertions as this (I have opened one 
of his volumes at random)-"Of genius the only proof is the act of doing well what is 
worthy to be done, and what was never done before" ;-indeed? then it follows that in 
doing what is unworthy to be done, or what has been done before, no genius can be 
evinced; yet the picking of pockets is an unworthy act, pockets have been picked time 
immemorial and Barrington, the pickpocket, in point of genius, would have thought hard 
of a comparison with William Wordsworth, the poet. 

Again-in estimating the merit of certain poems, whether they be Ossian's or M'Pherson's, 
can surely be of little consequence, yet, in order to prove their worthlessness, Mr. W. has 
expended many pages in the controversy. Tantaene animis? Can great minds descend to 



such absurdity? But worse still: that he may bear down every argument in favour of these 
poems, he triumphantly drags forward a passage in his abomination with which he 
expects the reader to sympathise. It is the beginning of the epic poem "Temora." "The 
blue waves of UUin roll in light; the green hills are covered with day, trees shake their 
dusty heads in the breeze." And this-this gorgeous, yet simple imagery, where all is alive 
and panting with immortality- this, William Wordsworth, the author of "Peter Bell," has 
selected for his contempt. We shall see what better he, in his own person, has to offer. 
Imprimis: 

And now she's at the pony's tail. 
And now she's at the pony's head. 
On that side now, and now on this; 
And, almost stifled with her bliss, 
A few sad tears does Betty shed.... 
She pats the pony, where or when 
She knows not... happy Betty Foy! 
Oh, Johnny, never mind the doctor! 

Secondly: 

The dew was falling fast, the-stars began to blink; 
I heard a voice: it said-"Drink, pretty creature, drink!" 
And, looking o'er the hedge, be-fore me I espied 
A snow-white mountain lamb, with a-maiden at its side. 
No other sheep was near,-the lamb was all alone. 
And by a slender cord was-tether'd to a stone. 

Now, we have no doubt this is all true; we will believe it, indeed we will, Mr. W. Is it 
sympathy for the sheep you wish to excite? I love a sheep from the bottom of my heart. 

Wordsworth is reasonable. Even Stamboul, it is said, shall have an end, and the most 
unlucky blunders must come to a conclusion. Here is an extract from his preface:- 

"Those who have been accustomed to the phraseology of modern writers, if they persist 
in reading this book to a conclusion (impossible!) will, no doubt, have to struggle with 
feelings of awkwardness; (ha! ha! ha!) they will look round for poetry (ha! ha! ha! ha!), 
and will be induced to inquire by what species of courtesy these attempts have been 
permitted to assume that title." Ha! ha! ha! ha! ha! 

Yet, let not Mr. W. despair; he has given immortality to a wagon, and the bee Sophocles 
has transmitted to eternity a sore toe, and dignified a tragedy with a chorus of turkeys. 

Of Coleridge, I cannot speak but with reverence. His towering intellect! his gigantic 
power! He is one more evidence of the fact "que la plupart des sectes ont raison dans une 
bonne partie de ce qu'elles avancent, mais non pas en ce qu'elles nient." He has 
imprisoned his own conceptions by the barrier he has erected against those of others. It is 



lamentable to think that such a mind should be buried in metaphysics, and, like the 
Nyctanthes, waste its perfume upon the night alone. In reading that man's poetry, I 
tremble like one who stands upon a volcano, conscious from the very darkness bursting 
from the crater, of the fire and the light that are weltering below. 

What is Poetry ?-Poetry! that Proteus-like idea, with as many appellations as the nine- 
titled Corcyra! Give me, I demanded of a scholar some time ago, give me a definition of 
poetry. "Tres-volontiers"; and he proceeded to his library, brought me a Dr. Johnson, and 
overwhelmed me with a definition. Shade of the immortal Shakespeare! I imagine to 
myself the scowl of your spiritual eye upon the profanity of the scurrilous Ursa Major. 
Think of poetry, dear of all that is airy and fairy-like, and then of all that is hideous and 
unwieldy, think of his huge bulk, the Elephant! and then-and then think of the Tempest- 
the Midsummer Night's Dream-Pro spero-Oberon- and Titania! 

A poem, in my opinion, is opposed to a work of science by having, for its immediate 
object, pleasure, not truth; to romance, by having for its object, an indefinite instead of a 
definite pleasure, being a poem only so far as this object is attained; romance presenting 
perceptible images with definite poetry with indefinite sensations, to which end music is 
an essential, since the comprehension of sweet sound is our most indefinite conception. 
Music, when combined with a pleasurable idea, is poetry-music, without the idea, is 
simply music; the idea, without the music, is prose, from its very definitiveness. 

What was meant by the invective against him who had no music in his soul? 

doubt, perceive, for the metaphysical poets as poets, the most sovereign contempt. That 
they have followers proves nothing- 
No Indian prince has to his palace 
More followers than a thief to the gallows. 
THE CULPRIT FAY, AND OTHER POEMS 
Joseph Rodman Drake 

ALNWICK CASTLE, AND OTHER POEMS 

Fitz- Greene Halleck 

BEFORE entering upon the detailed notice which we propose of the volumes before us, 
we wish to speak a few words in regard to the present state of American criticism. 

It must be visible to all who meddle with literary matters, that of late years a thorough 
revolution has been effected in the censorship of our press. That this revolution is 
infinitely for the worse we believe. There was a time, it is true, when we cringed to 
foreign opinion-let us even say when we paid most servile deference to British critical 
dicta. That an American book could, by any possibility, be worthy perusal, was an idea 
by no means extensively prevalent in the land; and if we were induced to read at all the 
productions of our native writers, it was only after repeated assurances from England that 



such productions were not altogether contemptible. But there was, at all events, a shadow 
of excuse, and a slight basis of reason for a subserviency so grotesque. Even now, 
perhaps, it would not be far wrong to assert that such basis of reason may still exist. Let 
us grant that in many of the abstract sciences- that even in Theology, in Medicine, in 
Law, in Oratory, in the Mechanical Arts, we have no competitors whatever, still nothing 
but the most egregious national vanity would assign us a place, in the matter of Polite 
Literature, upon a level with the elder and riper climes of Europe, the earliest steps of 
whose children are among the groves of magnificently endowed Academies, and whose 
innumerable men of leisure, and of consequent learning, drink daily from those august 
fountains of inspiration which burst around them everywhere from out the tombs of their 
immortal dead, and from out their hoary and trophied monuments of chivalry and song. 
In paying then, as a nation, a respectful and not undue deference to a supremacy rarely 
questioned but by prejudice or ignorance, we should, of course, be doing nothing more 
than acting in a rational manner. The excess of our subserviency was blamable-but, as we 
have before said, this very excess might have found a shadow of excuse in the strict 
justice, if properly regulated, of the principle from which it issued. Not so, however, with 
our present follies. We are becoming boisterous and arrogant in the pride of a too 
speedily assumed literary freedom. We throw off, with the most presumptuous and 
unmeaning hauteur, all deference whatever to foreign opinion-we forget, in the puerile 
inflation of vanity, that the world is the true theatre of the biblical histrio-we get up a hue 
and cry about the necessity of encouraging native writers of merit-we blindly fancy that 
we can accomplish this by indiscriminate puffing of good, bad, and indifferent, without 
taking the trouble to consider that what we choose to denominate encouragement is thus, 
by its general application, rendered precisely the reverse. In a word, so far from being 
ashamed of the many disgraceful literary failures to which our own inordinate vanities 
and misapplied patriotism have lately given birth, and so far from deeply lamenting that 
these daily puerilities are of home manufacture, we adhere pertinaciously to our original 
blindly conceived idea, and thus often find ourselves involved in the gross paradox of 
liking a stupid book the better, because, sure enough, its stupidity is American.* 

* This charge of indiscriminant puffing will, of course, only apply to the general 
character of our criticism-there are some noble exceptions. We wish also especially to 
discriminate between those notices of new works which are intended merely to call 
public attention to them, and deliberate criticism on the works themselves. 

Deeply lamenting this unjustifiable state of public feeling, it has been our constant 
endeavor, since assuming the Editorial duties of this Journal, to stem, with what little 
abilities we possess, a current so disastrously undermining the health and prosperity of 
our literature. 

We have seen our efforts applauded by men whose applauses we value. From all quarters 
we have received abundant private as well as public testimonials in favor of our Critical 
Notices, and, until very lately, have heard from no respectable source one word 
impugning their integrity or candor. In looking over, however, a number of the New York 
Commercial Advertiser, we meet with the following paragraph. 



"The last number of the Southern Literary Messenger is very readable and respectable. 
The contributions to the Messenger are much better than the original matter. The critical 
department of this work-much as it would seem to boast itself of impartiality and 
discernment-is in our opinion decidedly quacky. There is in it a great assumption of 
acumen, which is completely unsustained. Many a work has been slashingly condemned 
therein, of which the critic himself could not write a page, were he to die for it. This 
affectation of eccentric sternness in criticism, without the power to back one's suit withal, 
so far from deserving praise, as some suppose, merits the strongest reprehension. 
Philadelphia Gazette.' 

"We are entirely of opinion with the Philadelphia Gazette in relation to the Southern 
Literary Messenger, and take this occasion to express our total dissent from the numerous 
and lavish encomiums we have seen bestowed upon its critical notices. Some few of them 
have been judicious, fair and candid; bestowing praise and censure with judgement and 
impartiality; but by far the greater number of those we have read, have been flippant, 
unjust, untenable and uncritical. The duty of the critic is to act as judge, not as enemy, of 
the writer whom he reviews; a distinction of which the Zoilus of the Messenger seems 
not to be aware. It is possible to review a book sincerely, without bestowing opprobrious 
epithets upon the writer, to condemn with courtesy, if not with kindness. The critic of the 
Messenger has been eulogized for his scorching and scarifying abilities, and he thinks it 
incumbent upon him to keep up his reputation in that line, by sneers, sarcasm and 
downright abuse; by straining his vision with microscopic intensity in search of faults, 
and shutting his eyes, with all his might to beauties. Moreover, we have detected him, 
more than once, in blunders quite as gross as those on which it was his pleasure to 
descant."* 

* In addition to these things we observe, in the New York Mirror, what follows: "Those 
who have read the Notices of American books in a certain Southern Monthly, which is 
striving to gain notoriety by the loudness of its abuse, may find amusement in the sketch 
on another page, entitled "The Successful Novel." The Southern Literary Messenger 
knows by experience what it is to write a successless novel." We have, in this case, only 
to deny, flatly, the assertion of the Mirror. The Editor of the Messenger never in his life 
wrote or published, or attempted to publish, a novel either successful or successless. 

In the paragraph from the Philadelphia Gazette, (which is edited by Mr. Willis Gaylord 
Clark, one of the editors of the Knickerbocker) we find nothing at which we have any 
desire to take exception. Mr. C. has a right to think us quacky if he pleases, and we do not 
remember having assumed for a moment that we could write a single line of the works 
we have reviewed. But there is something equivocal, to say the least, in the remarks of 
Col. Stone. He acknowledges that "some of our notices have been judicious, fair, and 
candid bestowing praise and censure with judgment and impartiality." This being the 
case, how can he reconcile his total dissent from the public verdict in our favor, with the 
dictates of justice? We are accused too of bestowing "opprobrious epithets" upon writers 
whom we review and in the paragraphs so accusing us are called nothing less than 
"flippant, unjust and uncritical." 



But there is another point of which we disapprove. While in our reviews we have at all 
times been particularly careful not to deal in generalities, and have never, if we remember 
aright, advanced in any single instance an unsupported assertion, our accuser has 
forgotten to give us any better evidence of our flippancy, injustice, personality, and gross 
blundering, than the solitary dictum of Col. Stone. We call upon the Colonel for 
assistance in this dilemma. We wish to be shown our blunders that we may correct them- 
to be made aware of our flippancy that we may avoid it hereafter-and above all to have 
our personalities pointed out that we may proceed forthwith with a repentant spirit, to 
make the amende honorable. In default of this aid from the Editor of the Commercial we 
shall take it for granted that we are neither blunderers, flippant, personal, nor unjust. 

Who will deny that in regard to individual poems no definitive opinions can exist, so long 
as to Poetry in the abstract we attach no definitive idea? Yet it is a common thing to hear 
our critics, day after day, pronounce, with a positive air, laudatory or condemnatory 
sentences, en masse, upon material works of whose merits or demerits they have, in the 
first place, virtually confessed an utter ignorance, in confessing it ignorance of all 
determinate principles by which to regulate a decision. Poetry has never been defined to 
the satisfaction of all parties. Perhaps, in the present condition of language it never will 
be. Words cannot hem it in. Its intangible and purely spiritual nature refuses to be bound 
down within the widest horizon of mere sounds. But it is not, therefore, misunderstood-at 
least, not by all men is it misunderstood. Very far from it, if indeed, there be any one 
circle of thought distinctly and palpably marked out from amid the jarring and 
tumultuous chaos of human intelligence, it is that evergreen and radiant Paradise which 
the true poet knows, and knows alone, as the limited realm of his authority-as the 
circumscribed Eden of his dreams. But a definition is a thing of words-a conception of 
ideas. And thus while we readily believe that Poesy, the term, it will be troublesome, if 
not impossible to define-still, with its image vividly existing in the world, we apprehend 
no difficulty in so describing Poesy, the Sentiment, as to imbue even the most obtuse 
intellect with a comprehension of it sufficiently distinct for all the purposes of practical 
analysis. 

To look upwards from any existence, material or immaterial to its design, is, perhaps, the 
most direct, and the most unerring method of attaining a just notion of the nature of the 
existence itself. Nor is the principle at fault when we turn our eyes from Nature even to 
Natures God. We find certain faculties, implanted within us, and arrive at a more 
plausible conception of the character and attributes of those faculties, by considering, 
with what finite judgment we possess, the intention of the Deity in so implanting them 
within us, than by any actual investigation of their powers, or any speculative deductions 
from their visible and material effects. Thus, for example, we discover in all men a 
disposition to look with reverence upon superiority, whether real or supposititious. In 
some, this disposition is to be recognized with difficulty, and, in very peculiar cases, we 
are occasionally even led to doubt its existence altogether, until circumstances beyond the 
common routine bring it accidentally into development. In others again it forms a 
prominent and distinctive feature of character, and is rendered palpably evident in its 
excesses. But in all human beings it is, in a greater or less degree, finally perceptible. It 
has been, therefore, justly considered a primitive sentiment. Phrenologists call it 



Veneration. It is, indeed, the instinct given to man by God as security for his own 
worship. And although, preserving its nature, it becomes perverted from its principal 
purpose, and although swerving from that purpose, it serves to modify the relations of 
human society-the relations of father and child, of master and slave, of the ruler and the 
ruled-its primitive essence is nevertheless the same, and by a reference to primal causes, 
may at any moment be determined. 

Very nearly akin to this feeling, and liable to the same analysis, is the Faculty of Ideality- 
which is the sentiment of Poesy. This sentiment is the sense of the beautiful, of the 
sublime, and of the mystical.* Thence spring immediately admiration of the fair flowers, 
the fairer forests, the bright valleys and rivers and mountains of the Earth-and love of the 
gleaming stars and other burning glories of Heaven-and, mingled up inextricably with 
this love and this admiration of Heaven and of Earth, the unconquerable desire-to know. 
Poesy is the sentiment of Intellectual Happiness here, and the Hope of a higher 
Intellectual Happiness hereafter.* (2) 

* We separate the sublime and the mystical-for, despite of high authorities, we are firmly 
convinced that the latter may exist, in the most vivid degree, without giving rise to the 
sense of the former. 

*(2) The consciousness of this truth was by no mortal more fully than by Shelley, 
although he has only once especially alluded to it. In his Hymn to intellectual Beauty we 
find these lines. 

While yet a boy I sought for ghosts, and sped 

Through many a listening chamber, cave and ruin. 

And starlight wood, with fearful steps pursuing 

Hopes of high talk with the departed dead: 

I called on poisonous names with which our youth is fed: 

I was not heard: I saw them not. 

When musing deeply on the lot 

Of life at that sweet time when birds are wooing 

All vital things that wake to bring 

News of buds and blossoming. 

Sudden thy shadow fell on me- 

I shrieked and clasped my hands in ecstasy! 

I vow'd that I would dedicate my powers 

To thee and thine: have I not kept the vow? 

With beating heart and streaming eyes, even now 

I call the phantoms of a thousand hours 

Each from his voiceless grave: they have in vision'd bowers 

Of studious zeal or love's delight 

Outwatch'd with me the envious night: 

They know that never joy illum'd my brow, 

Unlink'd with hope that thou wouldst free. 

This world from its dark slavery. 



That thou, O awful Loveliness, 

Wouldst give whate'er these words cannot express. 

Imagination is its soul.* With the passions of mankind-although it may modify them 
greatly-although it may exalt, or inflame, or purify, or control them-it would require 
little ingenuity to prove that it has no inevitable, and indeed no necessary co-existence. 
We have hitherto spoken of poetry in the abstract: we come now to speak of it in its 
everyday acceptation-that is to say, of the practical result arising from the sentiment we 
have considered. 

* Imagination is, possibly in man, a lesser degree of the creative power in God. What the 
Deity imagines, is, but was not before. What man imagines, is, but was also. The mind of 
man cannot imagine what is not. This latter point may be demonstrated.-See Les 
Premiers Traits de L'Erudition Universelle, par M. Le Baron de Biefield, 1767. 

And now it appears evident, that since Poetry, in this new sense, is the practical result, 
expressed in language, of this Poetic Sentiment in certain individuals, the only proper 
method of testing the merits of a poem is by measuring its capabilities of exciting the 
Poetic Sentiments in others. And to this end we have many aids-in observation, in 
experience, in ethical analysis, and in the dictates of common sense. Hence the Poeta 
nascitur, which is indisputably true if we consider the Poetic Sentiment, becomes the 
merest of absurdities when we regard it in reference to the practical result. We do not 
hesitate to say that a man highly endowed with the powers of Causality-that is to say, a 
man of metaphysical acumen-will, even with a very deficient share of Ideality, compose 
a finer poem (if we test it, as we should, by its measure of exciting the Poetic Sentiment) 
than one who, without such metaphysical acumen, shall be gifted, in the most 
extraordinary degree, with the faculty of Ideality. For a poem is not the Poetic faculty, but 
the means of exciting it in mankind. Now these means the metaphysician may discover 
by analysis of their effects in other cases than his own, without even conceiving the 
nature of these effects-thus arriving at a result which the unaided Ideality of his 
competitor would be utterly unable, except by accident, to attain. It is more than possible 
that the man who, of all writers, living or dead, has been most successful in writing the 
purest of all poems-that is to say, poems which excite more purely, most exclusively, and 
most powerfully the imaginative faculties in men-owed his extraordinary and almost 
magical preeminence rather to metaphysical than poetical powers. We allude to the 
author of Christabel, of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and of Love-to Coleridge- 
whose head, if we mistake not its character, gave no great phrenological tokens of 
Ideality, while the organs of Causality and Comparison were most singularly developed. 

Perhaps at this particular moment there are no American poems held in so high 
estimation by our countrymen, as the poems of Drake, and of Halleck. The exertions of 
Mr. George Dearborn have no doubt a far greater share in creating this feeling than the 
lovers of literature for its own sake and spiritual uses would be willing to admit. We have 
indeed seldom seen more beautiful volumes than the volumes now before us. But an 
adventitious interest of a loftier nature-the interest of the living in the memory of the 
beloved dead-attaches itself to the few literary remains of Drake. The poems which are 



now given to us with his name are nineteen in number; and whether all, or whether even 
the best of his writings, it is our present purpose to speak of these alone, since upon this 
edition his poetical reputation to all time will most probably depend. 

It is only lately that we have read The Culprit Fay. This is a poem of six hundred and 
forty irregular lines, generally iambic, and divided into thirty-six stanzas, of unequal 
length. The scene of the narrative, as we ascertain from the single line. 

The moon looks down on old Crone st, 

is principally in the vicinity of West Point on the Hudson. The plot is as follows. An 
Ouphe, one of the race of Fairies, has "broken his vestal vow," 

He has loved an earthly maid 
And left for her his woodland shade; 
He has lain upon her lip of dew. 
And sunned him in her eye of blue, 
Fann'd her cheek with his wing of air, 
Play'd with the ringlets of her hair. 
And, nestling on her snowy breast. 
Forgot the lily-kings behest- 

in short, he has broken Fairy-law in becoming enamored of a mortal. The result of this 
misdemeanor we could not express so well as the poet, and will therefore make use of the 
language put into the mouth of the Fairy-King who reprimands the criminal. 

Fairy! Fairy! list and mark. 

Thou hast broke thine elfin chain. 

Thy flame- wood lamp is quench'd and dark 

And thy wings are dyed with a deadly stain. 

The Ouphe being in this predicament, it has become necessary that his case and crime 
should be investigated by a jury of his fellows, and to this end the "shadowy tribes of air" 
are summoned by the "sentry elve" who has been awakened by the "wood-tick"-are 
summoned we say to the "elfin-court" at midnight to hear the doom of the Culprit Fay. 

"Had a stain been found on the earthly fair," whose blandishments so bewildered the little 
Ouphe, his punishment would have been severe indeed. In such case he would have been 
(as we learn from the Fairy judge's exposition of the criminal code,) 

Tied to the hornet's shardy wings; 
Tossed on the pricks of nettles' stings; 
Or seven long ages doomed to dwell 
With the lazy worm in the walnut shell; 
Or every night to writhe and bleed 
Beneath the tread of the centipede. 



Or bound in a cobweb dungeon dim 
His jailer a spider huge and grim, 
Amid the carrion bodies to lie 
Of the worm and the bug and the murdered fly- 
Fortunately, however, for the Culprit, his mistress is proved to be of "sinless mind" and 
under such redeeming circumstances the sentence is, mildly, as foUows- 

Thou shalt seek the beach of sand 

Where the water bounds the elfin land. 

Thou shalt watch the oozy brine 

Till the sturgeon leaps in the bright moonshine. 

Then dart the glistening arch below. 

And catch a drop from his silver bow. 

If the spray-bead be won 

The stain of thy wing is washed away. 

But another errand must be done 

Ere thy crime be lost for aye; 

Thy flame- wood lamp is quenched and dark. 

Thou must re-illume its spark. 

Mount thy steed and spur him high 

To the heaven's blue canopy. 

And when thou seest a shooting star 

Follow it fast and follow it far 

The last faint spark of its burning train 

Shall light the elfin lamp again. 

Upon this sin, and upon this sentence, depends the web of the narrative, which is now 
occupied with the elfin difficulties overcome by the Ouphe in washing away the stain of 
his wing, and re-illuming his flame-wood lamp. His soiled pinion having lost its power, 
he is under the necessity of wending his way on foot from the Elfin court upon Cronest to 
the river beach at its base. His path is encumbered at every step with "bog and briar," 
with "brook and mire," with "beds of tangled fern," with "groves of night- shade," and 
with the minor evils of ant and snake. Happily, however, a spotted toad coming in sight, 
our adventurer jumps upon her back, and "bridling her mouth with a silk- weed twist" 
bounds merrily along 

Till the mountain's magic verge is past 
And the beach of sand is reached at last. 

Alighting now from his "courser-toad" the Ouphe folds his wings around his bosom, 
springs on a rock, breathes a prayer, throws his arms above his head. 

Then tosses a tiny curve in air 
And plunges in the waters blue. 



Here, however, a host of difficulties await him by far too multitudinous to enumerate. We 
will content ourselves with simply stating the names of his most respectable assailants. 
These are the "spirits of the wave" dressed in "snail-plate armor" and aided by the 
"mailed shrimp," the "prickly prong," the "blood-red leech," the "stony star-fish," the 
"jellied quarl," the "soldier-crab," and the "lancing squab." But the hopes of our hero are 
high, and his limbs are strong, so 

He spreads his arms like the swallow's wing. 

And throws his feet with a frog-like fling. 

All however, is to no purpose. 

On his thigh the leech has fixed his hold. 

The quarl's long arms are round him roU'd, 

The prickly prong has pierced his skin. 

And the squab has thrown his javelin. 

The gritty star has rubb'd him raw. 

And the crab has struck with his giant claw; 

He bawls with rage, and he shrieks with pain 

He strikes around but his blows are vain- 

So then. 

He turns him round and flies amain 

With hurry and dash to the beach again. 

Arrived safely on land our Fairy friend now gathers the dew from the "sorrel-leaf and 
henbane-bud" and bathing therewith his wounds, finally ties them up with cobweb. Thus 
recruited, he 

-treads the fatal shore 

As fresh and vigorous as before. 

At length espying a "purple-muscle shell" upon the beach, he determines to use it as a 
boat and thus evade the animosity of the water spirits whose powers extend not above the 
wave. Making a "sculler's notch" in the stern, and providing himself with an oar of the 
bootle -blade, the Ouphe a second time ventures upon the deep. His perils are now 
diminished, but still great. The imps of the river heave the billows up before the prow of 
the boat, dash the surges against her side, and strike against her keel. The quarl uprears 
"his island-back" in her path, and the scallop, floating in the rear of the vessel, spatters it 
all over with water. Our adventurer, however, bails it out with the colen bell (which he 
has luckily provided for the purpose of catching the drop from the silver bow of the 
sturgeon,) and keeping his little bark warily trimmed, holds on his course undiscomfited. 

The object of his first adventure is at length discovered in a "brownbacked sturgeon," 
who 

Like the heaven- shot javelin 
Springs above the waters blue. 
And, instant as the star-fall light 



Plunges him in the deep again, 
But leaves an arch of silver bright, 
The rainbow of the moony main. 

From this rainbow our Ouphe succeeds in catching, by means of his colen bell cup, a 
"droplet of the sparkling dew." One half of his task is accordingly done- 

His wings are pure, for the gem is won. 

On his return to land, the ripples divide before him, while the water- spirits, so rancorous 
before, are obsequiously attentive to his comfort. Having tarried a moment on the beach 
to breathe a prayer, he "spreads his wings of gilded blue" and takes his way to the elfin 
court-there resting until the cricket, at two in the morning, rouses him up for the second 
portion of his penance. 

His equipments are now an "acorn-helmet," a "thistle-down plume," a corslet of the 
"wild-bee's" skin, a cloak of the "wings of butterflies," a shield of the "shell of the lady- 
bug," for lance "the sting of a wasp," for sword a "blade of grass," for horse "a fire-fly," 
and for spurs a couple of "cockle seed." Thus accoutred. 

Away like a glance of thought he flies 
To skim the heavens and follow far 
The fiery trail of the rocket- star. 

In the Heavens he has new dangers to encounter. The "shapes of air" have begun their 
work-a "drizzly mist" is cast around him- "storm, darkness, sleet and shade" assail him- 
"shadowy hands" twitch at his bridle-rein-"flame-shot tongues" play around him- 
"fiendish eyes" glare upon him-and 

Yells of rage and shrieks of fear 
Come screaming on his startled ear. 
Still our adventurer is nothing daunted. 
He thrusts before, and he strikes behind. 
Till he pierces the cloudy bodies through 
And gashes the shadowy limbs of mind. 

and the Elfin makes no stop, until he reaches the "bank of the milky way." He there 
checks his courser, and watches "for the glimpse of the planet shoot." While thus 
engaged, however, an unexpected adventure befalls him. He is approached by a company 
of the "sylphs of Heaven attired in sunset's crimson pall." They dance around him, and 
"skip before him on the plain." One receiving his "wasp-sting lance," and another taking 
his bridle-rein. 

With warblings wild they lead him on. 
To where, through clouds of amber seen. 



Studded with stars resplendent shone 
The palace of the sylphid queen. 

A glowing description of the queen's beauty follows: and as the form of an earthly Fay 
had never been seen before in the bowers of light, she is represented as falling 
desperately in love at first sight with our adventurous Ouphe. He returns the compliment 
in some measure, of course; but, although "his heart bent fitfully," the "earthly form 
imprinted there" was a security against a too vivid impression. He declines, consequently, 
the invitation of the queen to remain with her and amuse himself by "lying within the 
fleecy drift," "hanging upon the rainbow's rim," having his "brow adorned with all the 
jewels of the sky," "sitting within the Pleiad ring," "resting upon Orion's belt" "riding 
upon the lightning's gleam," "dancing upon the orbed moon," and "swimming within the 
milky way." 



Lady, he cries, I have sworn to-night 
On the word of a fairy knight 
To do my sentence task aright 



The queen, therefore, contents herself with bidding the Fay an affectionate farewell- 
having first directed him carefully to that particular portion of the sky where a star is 
about to fall. He reaches this point in safety, and in despite of the "fiends of the cloud," 
who "bellow very loud," succeeds finally in catching a "glimmering spark" with which he 
returns triumphantly to Fairy-land. The poem closes with an lo Paean chaunted by the 
elves in honor of these glorious adventures. 

It is more than probable that from ten readers of the Culprit Fay, nine would immediately 
pronounce it a poem betokening the most extraordinary powers of imagination, and of 
these nine, perhaps five or six, poets themselves, and fully impressed with the truth of 
what we have already assumed, that Ideality is indeed the soul of the Poetic Sentiment, 
would feel embarrassed between a half-consciousness that they ought to admire the 
production, and a wonder that they do not. This embarrassment would then arise from an 
indistinct conception of the results in which Ideality is rendered manifest. Of these results 
some few are seen in the Culprit Fay, but the greater part of it is utterly destitute of any 
evidence of imagination whatever. The general character of the poem will, we think, be 
sufficiently understood by any one who may have taken the trouble to read our foregoing 
compendium of the narrative. It will be there seen that what is so frequently termed the 
imaginative power of this story, lies especially-we should have rather said is thought to 
lie-in the passages we have quoted, or in others of a precisely similar nature. These 
passages embody, principally, mere specifications of qualities, of habiliments, of 
punishments, of occupations, of circumstances, &c., which the poet has believed in 
unison with the size, firstly, and secondly with the nature of his Fairies. To all which may 
be added specifications of other animal existences (such as the toad, the beetle, the lance- 
fly, the fire-fly and the like) supposed also to be in accordance. An example will best 
illustrate our meaning upon this point- 



He put his acorn helmet on; 

It was plumed of the silk of the thistle down: 

The corslet plate that guarded his breast 

Was once the wild bee's golden vest; 

His cloak of a thousand mingled dyes, 

Was formed of the wings of butterflies; 

His shield was the shell of a lady-bug queen, 

Studs of gold on a ground of green;* 

And the quivering lance which he brandished bright 

Was the sting of a wasp he had slain in fight. 

* Chestnut color, or more slack. 

Gold upon a ground of black. 

Ben Jonson. 

We shall now be understood. Were any of the admirers of the Culprit Fay asked their 
opinion of these lines, they would most probably speak in high terms of the imagination 
they display. Yet let the most stolid and the most confessedly unpoetical of these 
admirers only try the experiment, and he will find, possibly to his extreme surprise, that 
he himself will have no difficulty whatever in substituting for the equipments of the 
Fairy, as assigned by the poet, other equipments equally comfortable, no doubt, and 
equally in unison with the preconceived size, character, and other qualities of the 
equipped. Why we could accoutre him as well ourselves-let us see. 

His blue -bell helmet, we have heard 

Was plumed with the down of the hummingbird. 

The corslet on his bosom bold 

Was once the locust's coat of gold. 

His cloak, of a thousand mingled hues. 

Was the velvet violet, wet with dews. 

His target was, the crescent shell 

Of the small sea Sidrophel, 

And a glittering beam from a maiden's eye 

Was the lance which he proudly wav'd on high. 

The truth is, that the only requisite for writing verses of this nature, ad libitum is a 
tolerable acquaintance with the qualities of the objects to be detailed, and a very 
moderate endowment of the faculty of Comparison-which is the chief constituent of 
Fancy or the powers of combination. A thousand such lines may be composed without 
exercising in the least degree the Poetic Sentiment, which is Ideality, Imagination, or the 
creative ability. And, as we have before said, the greater portion of the Culprit Fay is 
occupied with these, or similiar things, and upon such, depends very nearly, if not 
altogether, its reputation. We select another example- 

But oh! how fair the shape that lay 
Beneath a rainbow bending bright. 
She seem'd to the entranced Fay 



The loveliest of the forms of light, 

Her mantle was the purple rolled 

At twilight in the west afar; 

T'was tied with threads of dawning gold, 

And button'd with a sparkling star. 

Her face was like the lily roon 

That veils the vestal planet's hue. 

Her eyes, two beamlets from the moon 

Set floating in the welkin blue. 

Her hair is like the sunny beam. 

And the diamond gems which round it gleam 

Are the pure drops of dewy even. 

That neer have left their native heaven. 

Here again the faculty of Comparison is alone exercised, and no mind possessing the 
faculty in any ordinary degree would find a difficulty in substituting for the materials 
employed by the poet other materials equally as good. But viewed as mere efforts of the 
Fancy and without reference to Ideality, the lines just quoted are much worse than those 
which were taken earlier. A congruity was observable in the accoutrements of the Ouphe, 
and we had no trouble in forming a distinct conception of his appearance when so 
accoutred. But the most vivid powers of Comparison can attach no definitive idea to even 
"the loveliest form of light," when habited in a mantle of "rolled purple tied with threads 
of dawn and buttoned with a star," and sitting at the same time under a rainbow with 
"beamlet" eyes and a visage of "lily roon." 

But if these things evince no Ideality in their author, do they not excite it in others?-if so, 
we must conclude, that without being himself imbued with the Poetic Sentiment, he has 
still succeeded in writing a fine poem-a supposition as we have before endeavored to 
show, not altogether paradoxical. Most assuredly we think not. In the case of a great 
majority of readers the only sentiment aroused by compositions of this order is a species 
of vague wonder at the writer's ingenuity, and it is this indeterminate sense of wonder 
which passes but too frequently current for the proper influence of the Poetic power. For 
our own part we plead guilty to a predominant sense of the ludicrous while occupied in 
the perusal of the poem before us-a sense whose promptings we sincerely and honestly 
endeavored to quell, perhaps not altogether successfully, while penning our compend of 
the narrative. That a feeling of this nature is utterly at war with the Poetic Sentiment will 
not be disputed by those who comprehend the character of the sentiment itself. This 
character is finely shadowed out in that popular although vague idea so prevalent 
throughout all time, that a species of melancholy is inseparably connected with the higher 
manifestations of the beautiful. But with the numerous and seriously-adduced 
incongruities of the Culprit Fay, we find it generally impossible to connect other ideas 
than those of the ridiculous. We are bidden, in the first place, and in a tone of sentiment 
and language adapted to the loftiest breathings of the Muse, to imagine a race of Fairies 
in the vicinity of West Point. We are told, with a grave air, of their camp, of their king, 
and especially of their sentry, who is a wood-tick. We are informed that an Ouphe of 
about an inch in height has committed a deadly sin in falling in love with a mortal 



maiden, who may, very possibly, be six feet in her stockings. The consequence to the 
Ouphe is-what? Why, that he has "dyed his wings," "broken his elfin chain," and 
"quenched his flame- wood lamp." And he is therefore sentenced to what? To catch a 
spark from the tail of a falling star, and a drop of water from the belly of a sturgeon. 
What are his equipments for the first adventure? An acorn-helmet, a thistle-down plume, 
a butterfly cloak, a lady-bug shield, cockle-seed spurs, and a fire-fly horse. How does he 
ride to the second? On the back of a bullfrog. What are his opponents in the one? 
"Drizzle-mists," "sulphur and smoke," "shadowy hands and flame-shot tongues." What in 
the other? "Mailed shrimps," "prickly prongs," "blood-red leeches," "jellied quarls," 
"stony star fishes," "lancing squabs" and "soldier crabs." Is that all? No- Although only 
an inch high he is in imminent danger of seduction from a "sylphid queen," dressed in a 
mantle of "rolled purple," "tied with threads of dawning gold," "buttoned with a sparkling 
star," and sitting under a rainbow with "beamlet eyes" and a countenance of "lily roon." 
In our account of all this matter we have had reference to the book-and to the book alone. 
It will be difficult to prove us guilty in any degree of distortion or exaggeration. Yet such 
are the puerilities we daily find ourselves called upon to admire, as among the loftiest 
efforts of the human mind, and which not to assign a rank with the proud trophies of the 
matured and vigorous genius of England, is to prove ourselves at once a fool; a maligner, 
and no patriot.* 

* A review of Drake's poems, emanating from one of our proudest Universities, does not 
scruple to make use of the following language in relation to the Culprit Fay. "It is, to say 
the least, an elegant production, the purest specimen of Ideality we have ever met with, 
sustaining in each incident a most bewitching interest. Its very title is enough," &c. &c. 
We quote these expressions as a fair specimen of the general unphilosophical and 
adulatory tenor of our criticism. 

As an instance of what may be termed the sublimely ridiculous we quote the following 
lines- 

With sweeping tail and quivering fin. 
Through the wave the sturgeon flew. 
And like the heaven-shot javelin. 
He sprung above the waters blue. 
Instant as the star-fall light. 
He plunged into the deep again. 
But left an arch of silver bright 
The rainbow of the moony main. 
It was a strange and lovely sight 
To see the puny goblin there. 
He seemed an angel form of light 
With azure wing and sunny hair. 
Throned on a cloud of purple fair 
Circled with blue and edged with white 
And sitting at the fall of even 
Beneath the bow of summer heaven. 



The [lines of the last verse], if considered without their context, have a certain air of 
dignity, elegance, and chastity of thought. If however we apply the context, we are 
immediately overwhelmed with the grotesque. It is impossible to read without laughing, 
such expressions as "It was a strange and lovely sight"-"He seemed an angel form of 
light"-"And sitting at the fall of even, beneath the bow of summer heaven" to a Fairy-a 
goblin-an Ouphe-half an inch high, dressed in an acorn helmet and butterfly-cloak, and 
sitting on the water in a muscleshell, with a "brown-backed sturgeon" turning somersets 
over his head. 

In a world where evil is a mere consequence of good, and good a mere consequence of 
evil-in short where all of which we have any conception is good or bad only by 
comparison-we have never yet been fully able to appreciate the validity of that decision 
which would debar the critic from enforcing upon his readers the merits or demerits of a 
work with another. It seems to us that an adage has had more to do with this popular 
feeling than any just reason founded upon common sense. Thinking thus, we shall have 
no scruple in illustrating our opinion in regard to what is not Ideality or the Poetic Power, 
by an example of what is.* 

* As examples of entire poems of the purest ideality, we would cite the Prometheus 
Vinctus of Aeschylus, the Inferno of Dante, Cervantes' Destruction of Numantia, the 
Comus of Milton, Pope's Rape of the Lock, Burns' Tam O'Shanter, the Auncient Mariner, 
the Christabel, and the Kubla Khan of Coleridge, and most especially the Sensitive Plant 
of Shelley, and the Nightingale of Keats. We have seen American poems evincing the 
faculty in the highest degree. 

We have already given the description of the Sylphid Queen in the Culprit Fay. In the 
Queen Mab of Shelley a Fairy is thus introduced- 

Those who had looked upon the sight 

Passing all human glory. 

Saw not the yellow moon. 

Saw not the mortal scene. 

Heard not the night wind's rush. 

Heard not an earthly sound. 

Saw but the fairy pageant. 

Heard but the heavenly strains 

That filled the lonely dwelling- 

and thus described- 

The Fairy's frame was slight, yon fibrous cloud 

That catches but the faintest tinge of even. 

And which the straining eye can hardly seize 

When melting into eastern twilight's shadow. 

Were scarce so thin, so slight; but the fair star 

That gems the glittering coronet of mom. 

Sheds not a light so mild, so powerful. 

As that which, bursting from the Fairy's form. 



Spread a purpureal halo round the scene, 
Yet with an undulating motion, 
Swayed to her outline gracefully. 

In these exquisite lines the Faculty of mere Comparison is but little exercised-that of 
Ideality in a wonderful degree. It is probable that in a similar case the poet we are now 
reviewing would have formed the face of the Fairy of the "fibrous cloud," her arms of the 
"pale tinge of even," her eyes of the "fair stars," and her body of the "twilight shadow." 
Having so done, his admirers would have congratulated him upon his imagination, not, 
taking the trouble to think that they themselves could at any moment imagine a Fairy of 
materials equally as good, and conveying an equally distinct idea. Their mistake would 
be precisely analogous to that of many a schoolboy who admires the imagination 
displayed in Jack the Giant-Killer, and is finally rejoiced at; discovering his own 
imagination to surpass that of the author, since the monsters destroyed by Jack are only 
about forty feet in height, and he himself has no trouble in imagining some of one 
hundred and forty. It will, be seen that the Fairy of Shelley is not a mere compound of 
incongruous natural objects, inartificially put together, and unaccompanied by any moral 
sentiment- but a being, in the illustration of whose nature some physical elements are 
used collaterally as adjuncts, while the main conception springs immediately or thus 
apparently springs, from the brain of the poet, enveloped in the moral sentiments of 
grace, of color, of motion-of the beautiful, of the mystical, of the august-in short of the 
ideal.* 

* Among things, which not only in our opinion, but in the opinion of far wiser and better 
men, are to be ranked with the mere prettinesses of the Muse, are the positive similes so 
abundant in the writing of antiquity, and so much insisted upon by the critics of the reign 
of Queen Anne. 

It is by no means our intention to deny that in the Culprit Fay are passages of a different 
order from those to which we have objected-passages evincing a degree of imagination 
not to be discovered in the plot, conception, or general execution of the poem. The 
opening stanza will afford us a tolerable example. 

Tis the middle watch of a summer's night- 

The earth is dark but the heavens are bright 

Naught is seen in the vault on high 

But the moon, and the stars, and the cloudless sky. 

And the flood which rolls its milky hue 

A river of light on the welkin blue. 

The moon looks down on old Crone st. 

She mellows the shades of his shaggy breast. 

And seems his huge gray form to throw 

In a silver cone on the wave below. 

His sides are broken by spots of shade. 

By the walnut bow and the cedar made. 

And through their clustering branches dark 



Glimmers and dies the fire-fly's spark- 
Like starry twinkles that momently break 
Through the rifts of the gathering tempest rack. 

There is Ideality in these lines-but except in the case of the [second and the fourteenth 
lines]-it is Ideality not of a high order. We have, it is true, a collection of natural objects, 
each individually of great beauty, and, if actually seen as in nature, capable of exciting in 
any mind, through the means of the Poetic Sentiment more or less inherent in all, a 
certain sense of the beautiful. But to view such natural objects as they exist, and to behold 
them through the medium of words, are different things. Let us pursue the idea that such 
a collection as we have here will produce, of necessity, the Poetic Sentiment, and we may 
as well make up our minds to believe that a catalogue of such expressions as moon, sky, 
trees, rivers, mountains, &c., shall be capable of exciting it,-it is merely an extension of 
the principle. But in the line "the earth is dark, but the heavens are bright" besides the 
simple mention of the "dark earth" "and the bright heaven," we have, directly, the moral 
sentiment of the brightness of the sky compensating for the darkness of the earth-and 
thus, indirectly, of the happiness of a future state compensating for the miseries of the 
present. All this is effected by the simple introduction of the word but between the "dark 
earth" and the "bright heaven"-this introduction, however, was prompted by the Poetic 
Sentiment, and by the Poetic Sentiment alone. The case is analogous in the expression 
"glimmers and dies," where the imagination is exalted by the moral sentiment of beauty 
heightened in dissolution. 

In one or two shorter passages of the Culprit Fay the poet will recognize the purely ideal, 
and be able at a glance to distinguish it from that baser alloy upon which we have 
descanted. We give them without farther comment. 

The winds are whist, and the owl is still. 

The bat in the shelvy rock is hid 

And naught is heard on the lonely hill 

But the cricket's chirp and the answer shrill 

Of the gauze- winged katydid; 

And the plaint of the wailing whippoorwill 

Who mourns unseen, and ceaseless sings 

Ever a note of wail and wo- 

Up to the vaulted firmament 

His path the fire-fly courser bent. 

And at every gallop on the wind 

He flung a glittering spark behind. 

He blessed the force of the charmed line 

And he banned the water-goblins' spite. 

For he saw around in the sweet moonshine. 

Their little wee faces above the brine. 

Grinning and laughing with all their might 

At the piteous hap of the Fairy wight. 



The poem "To a Friend" consists of fourteen Spenserian stanzas. They are fine spirited 
verses, and probably were not supposed by their author to be more. Stanza the fourth, 
although beginning nobly, concludes with that very common exemplification of the 
bathos, the illustrating natural objects of beauty or grandeur by references to the tinsel of 
artificiality. 

Oh! for a seat on Appalachia's brow. 

That I might scan the glorious prospects round. 

Wild waving woods, and rolling floods below. 

Smooth level glades and fields with grain embrowned. 

High heaving hills, with tufted forests crowned. 

Rearing their tall tops to the heaven's blue dome. 

And emerald isles, like banners green un-wound. 

Floating along the take, while round them roam 

Bright helms of billowy blue, and plumes of dancing foam. 

In the Extracts from Leon are passages not often surpassed in vigor of passionate thought 
and expression-and which induce us to believe not only that their author would have 
succeeded better in prose romance than in poetry, but that his attention would have 
naturally f Allan into the former direction, had the Destroyer only spared him a little 
longer. 

This poem contains also lines of far greater poetic power than any to be found in the 
Culprit Fay. For example- 

The stars have lit in heaven their lamps of gold. 
The viewless dew falls lightly on the world; 
The gentle air that softly sweeps the leaves 
A strain of faint unearthly music weaves: 
As when the harp of heaven remotely plays. 
Or sygnets wail-or song of sorrowing fays 
That float amid the moonshine glimmerings pale. 
On wings of woven air in some enchanted vale.* 

* The expression "woven air," much insisted upon by the friends of Drake, seems to be 
accredited to him as original. It is to be found in many English writers-and can be traced 
back to Apuleius, who calls fine drapery ventum textilem. 

Niagara is objectionable in many respects, and in none more so than in its frequent 
inversions of language, and the artificial character of its versification. The invocation. 

Roar, raging torrent! and thou, mighty river. 
Pour thy white foam on the valley below! 
Frown ye dark mountains, &c. 



is ludicrous-and nothing more. In general, all such invocations have an air of the 
burlesque. In the present instance we may fancy the majestic Niagara replying, "Most 
assuredly I will roar, whether, worm! thou tellest me or not." 

The American Flag commences with a collection of those bald conceits, which we have 
already shown to have no dependence whatever upon the Poetic Power-springing 
altogether from Comparison. 

When Freedom from her mountain height 
Unfurled her standard to the air. 
She tore the azure robe of night 
And set the stars of glory there. 
She mingled with its gorgeous dyes 
The milky baldric of the skies. 
And striped its pure celestrial white 
With streakings of the morning light; 
Then from his mansion in the sun 
She called her eagle bearer down 
And gave into his mighty hand 
The symbol of her chosen land. 

Let us reduce all this to plain English, and we have-what? Why, a flag, consisting of the 
"azure robe of night," "set with stars of glory," interspersed with "streaks of morning 
light," relieved with a few pieces of "milky way," and the whole carried by an "eagle 
bearer," that is to say, an eagle ensign, who bears aloft this "symbol of our chosen land" 
in his "mighty hand," by which we are to understand his claw. In the second stanza, "the 
thunder-drum of Heaven" is bathetic and grotesque in the highest degree-a commingling 
of the most sublime music of Heaven with the most utterly contemptible and common- 
place of Earth. The two concluding verses are in a better spirit, and might almost be 
supposed to be from a different hand. The images contained in the lines 

When Death careering on the gale 
Sweeps darkly round the bellied sail. 
And frighted waves rush wildly back. 
Before the broadsides reeling rack, 

are of the highest order of Ideality. The deficiencies of the whole poem may be best 
estimated by reading it in connection with "Scots wha hae," with the "Mariners of 
England," or with "Hohenlinden." It is indebted for its high and most undeserved 
reputation to our patriotism-not to our judgment. 

The remaining poems in Mr. Dearborn's edition of Drake, are three Songs; Lines in an 
Album; Lines to a Lady; Lines on leaving New Rochelle; Hope; A Fragment; To-; To 
Eva; To a Lady; To Sarah; and Bronx. These are all poems of little compass, and with the 
exception of Bronx and a portion of the Fragment, they have no character distinctive 
from the mass of our current poetical literature. Bronx, however, is in our opinion, not 



only the best of the writings of Drake, but altogether a lofty and beautiful poem, upon 
which his admirers would do better to found a hope of the writer's ultimate reputation 
than upon the niaiseries of the Culprit Fay. In the Fragment is to be found the finest 
individual passage in the volume before us, and we quote it as a proper finale to our 
review. 

Yes! thou art lovelier now than ever. 
How sweet't would be when all the air 
In moonlight swims, along thy river 
To couch upon the grass, and hear 
Niagra's everlasting voice 
Far in the deep blue west away. 
That dreamy and poetic noise 
We mark not in the glare of day. 
Oh! how unlike its torrent-cry. 
When o'er the brink the tide is driven. 
As if the vast and sheeted sky 
In thunder fell from Heaven. 

Halleck's poetical powers appear to us essentially inferior, upon the whole, to those of his 
friend Drake. He has written nothing at all comparable to Bronx. By the hackneyed 
phrase, sportive elegance, we might possibly designate at once the general character of 
his writings and the very loftiest praise to which he is justly entitled. 

Alnwick Castle is an irregular poem of one hundred and twenty-eight lines-was written, 
as we are informed, in October 1822-and is descriptive of a seat of the Duke of 
Northumberland, in Northumberlandshire, England. The effect of the first stanza is 
materially impaired by a defect in its grammatical arrangement. The fine lines. 

Home of the Percy's high-born race. 
Home of their beautiful and brave. 
Alike their birth and burial place, 
Their cradle and their grave! 

are of the nature of an invocation, and thus require a continuation of the address to the 
"Home, &c." We are consequently disappointed when the stanza proceeds with- 

Still sternly o'er the castle gate 
Their house's Lion stands in state 
As in his proud departed hours; 
And warriors frown in stone on high. 
And feudal banners "flout the sky" 
Above his princely towers. 

The objects of allusion here vary, in an awkward manner, from the castle to the lion, and 
from the Lion to the towers. By writing the verses thus the difficulty would be remedied. 



Still sternly o'er the castle gate 
Thy house's Lion stands in state, 
As in his proud departed hours; 
And warriors frown in stone on high, 
And feudal banners "flout the sky" 
Above thy princely towers. 

The second stanza, without evincing in any measure the loftier powers of a poet, has that 
quiet air of grace, both in thought and expression, which seems to be the prevailing 
feature of the Muse of Halleck. 

A gentle hill its side inclines. 
Lovely in England's fadeless green. 
To meet the quiet stream which winds 
Through this romantic scene 
As silently and sweetly still. 
As when, at evening, on that hill. 
While summer's wind blew soft and low. 
Seated by gallant Hotspur's side 
His Katherine was a happy bride 
A thousand years ago. 

There are one or two brief passages in the poem evincing a degree of rich imagination not 
elsewhere perceptible throughout the book. For example- 
Gaze on the Abbey's ruined pile: 

Does not the succoring Ivy keeping. 

Her watch around it seem to smile 

As o'er a lov'd one sleeping? 

and. 

One solitary turret gray 

Still tells in melancholy glory 

The legend of the Cheviot day. 

The commencement of the fourth stanza is of the highest order of Poetry, and partakes, in 
a happy manner, of that quaintness of expression so effective an adjunct to Ideality, when 
employed by the Shelleys, the Coleridges and the Tennysons, but so frequently debased, 
and rendered ridiculous, by the herd of brainless imitators. 

Wild roses by the abbey towers 

Are gay in their young bud and bloom: 

They were born of a race of funeral flowers. 

That garlanded in long-gone hours, 

A Templar's knightly tomb. 



The tone employed in the concluding portions of Alnwick Castle, is, we sincerely think, 
reprehensible, and unworthy of Halleck. No true poet can unite in any manner the low 
burlesque with the ideal, and not be conscious of incongruity and of a profanation. Such 
verses as 

Men in the coal and cattle line 
From Tevoit's bard and hero land. 
From royal Berwick's beach of sand. 
From Wooler, Morpeth, Hexham, and 
Newcastle upon Tyne. 

may lay claim to oddity-but no more. These things are the defects and not the beauties of 
Don Juan. They are totally out of keeping with the graceful and delicate manner of the 
initial portions of Alnwick Castle, and serve no better purpose than to deprive the entire 
poem of all unity of effect. If a poet must be farcical, let him be just that, and nothing 
else. To be droUy sentimental is bad enough, as we have just seen in certain passages of 
the Culprit Fay, but to be sentimentally droll is a thing intolerable to men, and Gods, and 
columns. 

Marco Bozzaris appears to have much lyrical without any high order of ideal beauty. 
Force is its prevailing character-a force, however, consisting more in a well ordered and 
sonorous arrangement of this metre, and a judicious disposal of what may be called the 
circumstances of the poem, than in the true material of lyric vigor. We are introduced, 
first, to the Turk who dreams, at midnight, in his guarded tent, 

of the hour 

When Greece her knee in suppliance bent. 
Should tremble at his power- 
He is represented as revelling in the visions of ambition. 
In dreams through camp and court he bore 
The trophies of a conqueror; 
In dreams his song of triumph heard; 
Then wore his monarch's signet ring; 
Then pressed that monarch's throne-a king; 
As wild his thoughts and gay of wing 
As Eden's garden bird. 

In direct contrast to this we have Bozzaris watchful in the forest, and ranging his band of 
Suliotes on the ground, and amid the memories of Plataea. An hour elapses, and the Turk 
awakes from his visions of false glory-to die. But Bozzaris dies-to awake. He dies in the 
flush of victory to awake, in death, to an ultimate certainty of Freedom. Then follows an 
invocation to death. His terrors under ordinary circumstances are contrasted with the 
glories of the dissolution of Bozzaris, in which the approach of the Destroyer is 

welcome as the cry 

That told the Indian isles were nigh 



To the world- seeking Genoese, 

When the land-wind from woods of palm, 

And orange groves and fields of balm. 

Blew o'er the Haytian seas. 

The poem closes with the poetical apotheosis of Marco Bozzaris as 

One of the few, the immortal names 

That are not bom to die. 

It will be seen that these arrangements of the subject are skillfully contrived-perhaps they 
are a little too evident, and we are enabled too readily by the perusal of one passage, to 
anticipate the succeeding. The rhythm is highly artificial. The stanzas are well adapted 
for vigorous expression-the fifth will afford a just specimen of the versification of the 
whole poem. 

Come to the bridal Chamber, Death! 
Come to the mother's when she feels 
For the first time her first born's breath; 
Come when the blessed seals 
That close the pestilence are broke. 
And crowded cities wail its stroke. 
Come in consumption's ghastly form. 
The earthquake shock, the ocean storm; 
Come when the heart beats high and warm. 
With banquet song and dance, and wine; 
And thou art terrible-the tear. 
The groan, the knell, the pall, the bier. 
And all we know, or dream, or fear 
Of agony, are thine. 

Granting, however, to Marco Bozzaris, the minor excellences we have pointed out we 
should be doing our conscience great wrong in calling it, upon the whole, any more than 
a very ordinary matter. It is surpassed, even as a lyric, by a multitude of foreign and by 
many American compositions of a similar character. To Ideality it has few pretensions, 
and the finest portion of the poem is probably to be found in the verses we have quoted 
elsewhere- 

Thy grasp is welcome as the hand 
Of brother in a foreign land. 
Thy summons welcome as the cry 
That told the Indian isles were nigh 
To the world- seeking Genoese, 
When the land-wind from woods of palm 
And orange groves, and fields of balm 
Blew o'er the Haytian seas. 



The verses entitled Bums consist of thirty-eight quatrains-the three first lines of each 
quatrain being of four feet, the fourth of three. This poem has many of the traits of 
Alnwick Castle, and bears also a strong resemblance to some of the writings of 
Wordsworth. Its chief merits, and indeed the chief merit, so we think, of all the poems of 
Halleck is the merit of expression. In the brief extracts from Burns which follow, our 
readers will recognize the peculiar character of which we speak. 

Wild Rose of Alio way! my thanks: 

Thou mind' St me of that autumn noon 

When first we met upon "the banks 

And braes o'bonny Doon"- 

Like thine, beneath the thorn-tree's bough. 

My sunny hour was glad and brief- 

We've crossed the winter sea, and thou 

Art withered-flower and leaf. 

There have been loftier themes than his. 

And longer scrolls and louder lyres 

And lays lit up with Poesy's 

Purer and holier fires. 

And when he breathes his master-lay 

Of AUoways witch-haunted wall 

All passions in our frames of clay 

Come thronging at his call. 

Such graves as his are pilgrim- shrines. 

Shrines to no code or creed confined- 

The Delphian vales, the Palastines, 

The Meccas of the mind. 

They linger by the Doon's low trees. 

And pastoral Nith, and wooded Ayr, 

And round thy Sepulchres, Dumfries! 

The Poet's tomb is there. 

Wyoming is composed of nine Spenserian stanzas. With some unusual excellences, it has 
some of the worst faults of Halleck. The lines which follow are of great beauty. 

I then but dreamed: thou art before me now. 

In life-a vision of the brain no more, 

I've stood upon the wooded mountain's brow. 

That beetles high thy love! valley o'er; 

And now, where winds thy river's greenest shore. 

Within a bower of sycamores am laid; 

And winds as soft and sweet as ever bore 

The fragrance of wild flowers through sun and shade 

Are singing in the trees, whose low boughs press my head. 



The poem, however, is disfigured with the mere burlesque of some portions of Alnwick 
Castle-with such things as 

he would look particularly droll 

In his Iberian boot and Spanish plume; 

and 

A girl of sweet sixteen 

Love-darting eyes and tresses like the morn 

Without a shoe or stocking-hoeing corn, 

mingled up in a pitiable manner with images of real beauty. 

The Field of the Grounded Arms contains twenty-four quatrains, without rhyme, and, we 
think, of a disagreeable versification. In this poem are to be observed some of the finest 
passages of Halleck. For example- 
Strangers! your eyes are on that valley fixed 
Intently, as we gaze on vacancy. 
When the mind's wings o'erspread 
The spirit world of dreams, 
and again- 
O'er sleepless seas of grass whose waves are flowers. 

Red-jacket has much power of expression with little evidence of poetical ability. Its 
humor is very fine, and does not interfere, in any great degree, with the general tone of 
the poem. 

A Sketch should have been omitted from the edition as altogether unworthy of its author. 

The remaining pieces in the volume are Twilight, Psalm cxxxvii; To...; Love; Domestic 
Happiness; Magdalen, From the Italian; Woman; Connecticut; Music; On the Death of 
Lieut. William Howard Allan; A Poet's Daughter; and On the Death of Joseph Rodman 
Drake. Of the majority of these we deem it unnecessary to say more than that they 
partake, in a more or less degree, of the general character observable in the poems of 
Halleck. The Poet's Daughter appears to us a particularly happy specimen of that general 
character, and we doubt whether it be not the favorite of its author. We are glad to see the 
vulgarity of 

I'm busy in the cotton trade 
And sugar line, 

omitted in the present edition. The eleventh stanza is certainly not English as it stands- 
and besides it is altogether unintelligible. What is the meaning of this? 

But her who asks, though first among 
The good, the beautiful, the young 



The birthright of a spell more strong 
Than these have brought her. 

The Lines on the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake, we prefer to any of the writings of 
Halleck. It has that rare merit in composition of this kind-the union of tender sentiment 
and simplicity. This poem consists merely of six quatrains, and we quote them in full. 

Green be the turf above thee. 
Friend of my better days! 
None knew thee but to love thee. 
Nor named thee but to praise. 
Tears fell when thou wert dying 
From eyes unused to weep. 
And long, where thou art lying. 
Will tears the cold turf steep. 
When hearts whose truth was proven. 
Like thine are laid in earth. 
There should a wreath be woven 
To tell the world their worth. 
And I, who woke each morrow 
To clasp thy hand in mine. 
Who shared thy joy and sorrow. 
Whose weal and woe were thine- 
It should be mine to braid it 
Around thy faded brow. 
But I've in vain essayed it. 
And feel I cannot now. 
While memory bids me weep thee. 
Nor thoughts nor words are free. 
The grief is fixed too deeply. 
That mourns a man like thee. 

If we are to judge from the subject of these verses, they are a work of some care and 
reflection. Yet they abound in faults. In the line. 

Tears fell when thou wert dying; 

wert is not English. 

Will tears the cold turf steep, 

is an exceedingly rough verse. The metonymy involved in 

There should a wreath be woven 

To tell the world their worth, 

is unjust. The quatrain beginning. 

And I who woke each morrow. 



is ungrammatical in its construction when viewed in connection with the quatrain which 
immediately follows. "Weep thee" and "deeply" are inaccurate rhymes-and the whole of 
the first quatrain, 

Green be the turf, &c. 

although beautiful, bears too close a resemblance to the still more beautiful lines of 
William Wordsworth, 

She dwelt among the untrodden ways 
Beside the springs of Dove, 
A maid whom there were none to praise 
And very few to love. 

As a versifier Halleck is by no means equal to his friend, all of whose poems evince an 
ear finely attuned to the delicacies of melody. We seldom meet with more inharmonious 
lines than those, generally, of the author of Alnwick Castle. At every step such verses 
occur as. 

And the monk's hymn and minstrel's song- 
True as the steel of their tried blades- 
For him the joy of her young years- 
Where the Bard-peasant first drew breath- 
And withered my life's leaf like thine- 

in which the proper course of the rhythm would demand an accent upon syllables too 
unimportant to sustain it. Not infrequently, too, we meet with lines such as this. 

Like torn branch from death's leafless tree, 

in which the multiplicity of consonants renders the pronunciation of the words at all, a 
matter of no inconsiderable difficulty. 

But we must bring our notice to a close. It will be seen that while we are willing to 
admire in many respects the poems before us, we feel obliged to dissent materially from 
that public opinion (perhaps not fairly ascertained) which would assign them a very 
brilliant rank in the empire of Poesy. That we have among us poets of the loftiest order 
we believe-but we do not believe that these poets are Drake and Halleck. 

BRYANT'S POEMS 

MR. BRYANT'S poetical reputation, both at home and abroad, is greater, we presume, 
than that of any other American. British critics have frequently awarded him high praise, 
and here, the public press have been unanimous in approbation. We can call to mind no 
dissenting voice. Yet the nature, and, most especially the manner, of the expressed 
opinions in this case, should be considered as somewhat equivocal, and but too frequently 



must have borne to the mind of the poet doubts and dissatisfaction. The edition now 
before us may be supposed to embrace all such of his poems as he deems not unworthy 
his name. These (amounting to about one hundred) have been "carefully revised." With 
the exception of some few, about which nothing could well be said, we will speak briefly 
of them one by one, but in such order as we may find convenient. 

The Ages, a didactic piece of thirty-five Spenserian stanzas, is the first and longest in the 
volume. It was originally printed in 1821, With about half a dozen others now included in 
this collection. The design of the author in this poem is "from a survey of the past ages of 
the world, and of the successive advances of mankind in knowledge and virtue, to justify 
and confirm the hopes of the philanthropist for the future destinies of the human race." It 
is, indeed, an essay on the perfectability of man, wherein, among other better arguments 
some in the very teeth of analogy, are deduced from the eternal cycle of physical nature, 
to sustain a hope of progression in happiness. But it is only as a poem that we wish to 
examine The Ages. Its commencement is impressive. The four initial lines arrest the 
attention at once by a quiet dignity of manner, an air of placid contemplation, and a 
versification combining the extremes of melody and force- 
When to the common rest that crowns our days. 
Called in the noon of life, the good man goes. 
Or full of years, and ripe in wisdom, lays 
His silver temples in their last repose- 

The five concluding lines of the stanza, however, are not equally effective- 
When, o'er the buds of youth, the death- wind blows. 
And brights the fairest; when our bitterest tears 
Stream, as the eyes of those that love us close. 
We think on what they were, with many fears 
Lest goodness die with them, and leave the coming years. 

The defects, here, are all of a metrical and of course minor nature, but are still defects. 
The line 

When o'er the buds of youth the death- wind blows, 

is impeded in its flow by the final th in youth, and especially in death where w follows. 
The word tears cannot readily be pronounced after the final st in bitterest; and its own 
final consonants, rs, in like manner render an effort necessary in the utterance of stream 
which commences the next line. In the verse 

We think on what they were, with many fears 

the word many is, from its nature, too rapidly pronounced for the fulfilment of the time 
necessary to give weight to the foot of two syllables. All words of two syllables do not 
necessarily constitute a foot (we speak now of the Pentameter here employed) even 



although the syllables be entirely distinct, as in many, very, often, and the like. Such as, 
without effort, cannot employ in their pronunciation the time demanded by each of the 
preceding and succeeding feet of the verse, and occasionally of a preceding verse, will 
never fail to offend. It is the perception of this fact which so frequently forces the 
versifier of delicate ear to employ feet exceeding what are unjustly called legitimate 
dimensions. For example. We have the following lines- 

Lo! to the smiling Arno's classic side. 
The emulous nations of the West repair! 

These verses are exceedingly forcible, yet, upon scanning the latter we find a syllable too 
many. We shall be told possibly that there should be an elision of the e in the at the 
commencement. But no-this was not intended. Both the and emulous demand a perfect 
accentuation. The verse commencing Lo! 

Lo! to the smiling Arno's classic side, 

has, it will be observed, a Trochee in its first foot. As is usually the case, the whole line 
partakes, in consequence, of a stately and emphatic enunciation, and to equalize the time 
in the verse succeeding, something more is necessary than the succession of Iambuses 
which constitute the ordinary English Pentameter. The equalization is therefore 
judiciously effected by the introduction of an additional syllable. But in the lines 

Stream, as the eyes of those that love us close. 
We think on what they were with many fears, 

lines to which the preceding observations will equally apply, this additional syllable is 
wanting. Did the rhyme admit of the alteration, everything necessary could be 
accomplished by writing 

We think on what they were with many a fear. 

Lest goodness die with them and leave the coming year. 

These remarks may be considered hypercritical-yet it is undeniable that upon a rigid 
attention to minutiae such as we have pointed out, any great degree of metrical success 
must altogether depend. We are more disposed, too, to dwell upon the particular point 
mentioned above, since, with regard to it, the American Monthly, in a late critique upon 
the poems of Mr. Willis, has evidently done that gentleman injustice. The reviewer has 
f Allan into what we conceive the error of citing, by themselves, (that is to say insulated 
from the context) such verses as 

The night-wind with a desolate moan swept by. 
With difficult energy and when the rod. 
Fell through, and with the tremulous hand of age. 
With supernatural whiteness loosely fell. 



for the purpose of animadversion. "The license" he says "of turning such words as 
'passionate' and 'desolate' into two syllables could only have been taken by a pupil of the 
Fantastic School." We are quite sure that Mr. Willis had no purpose of turning them into 
words of two syllables-nor even, as may be supposed upon a careless examination, of 
pronouncing them in the same time which would be required for two ordinary, syllables. 
The excesses of measure are here employed (perhaps without any definite design on the 
part of the writer, who may have been guided solely by ear) with reference to the proper 
equalization, of balancing, if we may so term it, of time, throughout an entire sentence. 
This, we confess, is a novel idea, but, we think, perfectly tenable. Any musician will 
understand us. Efforts for the relief of monotone will necessarily produce fluctuations in 
the time of any metre, which fluctuations, if not subsequently counterbalanced, affect the 
ear like unresolved discords in music. The deviations then of which we have been 
speaking, from the strict rules of prosodial art, are but improvements upon the rigor of 
those rules, and are a merit, not a fault. It is the nicety of this species of equalization more 
than any other metrical merit which elevates Pope as a versifier above the mere couplet- 
maker of his day, and, on the other hand, it is the extension of the principle to sentences 
of greater length which elevates Milton above Pope. Knowing this, it was, of course, with 
some surprise that we found the American Monthly (for whose opinions we still have the 
highest respect,) citing Pope in opposition to Mr. Willis upon the very point to which we 
allude. A few examples will be sufficient to show that Pope not only made free use of the 
license referred to, but that he used it for the reasons, and under the circumstances which 
we have suggested. 

Oh thou! whatever title please thine ear. 

Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver! 

Whether thou choose Cervantes' serious air. 

Or laugh and shake in Rabelais easy chair. 

Any person will here readily perceive that the third line 

Whether thou choose Cervantes' serious air, 

differs in time from the usual course of the rhythm, and requires some counterbalance in 
the line which succeeds. It is indeed precisely such a verse as that of Mr. Bryant's upon 
which we have commented. 

Stream, as the eyes of those that love us close, 

and commences in the same manner with a Trochee. But again, from Pope we have- 
Hence hymning Tyburn's elegiac lines 
Hence Journals, Medleys, Mercuries, Magazines. 
Else all my prose and verse were much the same. 
This prose on stilts, that poetry fAUan lame. 
And thrice he lifted high the birth-day brand 
And thrice he dropped it from his quivering hand. 
Here stood her opium, here she nursed her owls. 
And here she planned the imperial seat of fools. 



Here to her chosen all her works she shows; 
Prose swell'd to verse, verse loitering into prose. 
Rome in her Capitol saw Querno sit 
Throned on seven hills, the Antichrist of wit. 
And his this drum whose hoarse heroic bass 
Drowns the loud clarion of the braying ass. 
But such a bulk as no twelve bards could raise 
Twelve starveling bards of these degenerate days. 

These are all taken at random from the first book of the Dunciad. In the last example it 
will be seen that the two additional syllables are employed with a view of equalizing the 
time with that of the verse. 

But such a bulk as no twelve bards could raise, 

a verse which will be perceived to labor in its progress-and which Pope, in accordance 
with his favorite theory of making sound accord with sense, evidently intended so to 
labor. It is useless to say that the words should be written with elision- starv'ling and 
degen'rate. Their pronunciation is not thereby materially affected- and, besides, granting 
it to be so, it may be as well to make the elision also in the case of Mr. Willis. But Pope 
had no such intention, nor, we presume, had Mr. W. It is somewhat singular, we may 
remark, en passant, that the American Monthly, in a subsequent portion of the critique 
alluded to, quotes from Pope as a line of "sonorous grandeur" and one beyond the ability 
of our American poet, the well known 

Luke's iron crown and Damien's bed of steel. 

Now this is indeed a line of "sonorous grandeur"-but it is rendered so principally if not 
altogether by that very excess of metre (in the word Damien) which the reviewer has 
condemned in Mr. Willis. The lines which we quote below from Mr. Bryant's poem of 
The Ages will suffice to show that the author we are now reviewing fully appreciates the 
force of such occasional excess, and that he has only neglected it through oversight in the 
verse which suggested these observations. 

Peace to the just man's memory-let it grow 

Greener with years, and blossom through the flight 

Of ages-let the mimic canvass show 

His calm benevolent features. 

Does prodigal Autumn to our age deny 

The plenty that once swelled beneath his sober eye? 

Look on this beautiful world and read the truth 

In her fair page. 

Will then the merciful One who stamped our race 

With his own image, and who gave them sway 

O'er Earth and the glad dwellers on her face. 

Now that our flourishing nations far away 



Are spread, where'er the moist earth drinks the day, 
Forget the ancient care that taught and nursed 
His latest offspring? 

He who has tamed the elements shall not live 
The slave of his own passions. 
When liberty awoke 
New-bom, amid those beautiful vales. 
Oh Greece, thy flourishing cities were a spoil 
Unto each other. 

And thou didst drive from thy unnatural breast 
Thy just and brave. 

Yet her degenerate children sold the crown. 
Instead of the pure heart and innocent hands- 
Among thy gallant sons that guard thee well 
Thou laugh'st at enemies. Who shall then declare- 
Far like the comet's way thro' infinite space. 
The full region leads 
New colonies forth. 

Full many a horrible worship that, of old. 
Held o'er the shuddering realms unquestioned sway. 

All these instances, and some others, occur in a poem of but thirty-five stanzas-yet in 
only a very few cases is the license improperly used. Before quitting this subject it may 
be as well to cite a striking example from Wordsworth- 
There was a youth whom I had loved so long. 
That when I loved him not I cannot say. 
Mid the green mountains many and many a song 
We two had sung like gladsome birds in May. 

Another specimen, and one still more to the purpose may be given from Milton whose 
accurate ear (although he cannot justly be called the best of versifiers) included and 
balanced without difficulty the rhythm of the longest passages. 

But say, if our Deliverer up to heaven 
Must re-ascend, what will betide the few 
His faithful, left among the unfaithful herd. 
The enemies of truth? who then shall guide 
His people, who defend? Will they not deal 
More with his fo than with him they dealt? 
Be sure they will, said the Angel. 

The other metrical faults in The Ages are few. Mr. Bryant is not always successful in his 
Alexandrines. Too great care cannot be taken, we think, in so regulating this species of 
verse as to admit of the necessary pause at the end of the third foot-or at least as not to 
render a pause necessary elsewhere. We object, therefore, to such lines as 



A palm like his, and catch from him the hallowed flame. 
The truth of heaven, and kneel to Gods that heard them not. 

That which concludes Stanza X, although correctly cadenced in the above respect, 
requires an accent on the monosyllable the, which is too unimportant to sustain it. The 
defect is rendered the more perceptible by the introduction of a Trochee in the first foot. 

The sick untended then 

Languished in the damp shade, and died afar from men. 

We are not sure that such lines as 

A boundless sea of blood and the wild air. 

The smile of heaven, till a new age expands. 

are in any case justifiable, and they can be easily avoided. As in the Alexandrine 
mentioned above, the course of the rhythm demands an accent on monosyllables too 
unimportant to sustain it. For this prevalent heresy in metre we are mainly indebted to 
Byron, who introduced it freely, with the view of imparting an abrupt energy to his verse. 
There are, however, many better ways of relieving a monotone. 

Stanza VI is, throughout, an exquisite specimen of versification, besides embracing many 
beauties both of thought and expression. 

Look on this beautiful world and read the truth 

In her fair page; see every season brings 

New change, to her, of everlasting youth; 

Still the green soil with joyous living things 

Swarms; the wide air is full of joyous wings; 

And myriads, still, are happy in the sleep 

Of ocean's azure gulfs, and where he flings 

The restless surge. Eternal love doth keep 

In his complacent arms the earth, the air, the deep. 

The cadences, here, at the words page, swarms, and surge respectively, cannot be 
surpassed. We shall find, upon examination, comparatively few consonants in the stanza, 
and by their arrangement no impediment is offered to the flow of the verse. Liquids and 
the most melodious vowels abound. World, eternal, season, wide, change, full, air, 
everlasting, wings, flings, complacent, surge, gulfs, myriads, azure, ocean, sail, and 
joyous, are among the softest and most sonorous sounds in the language, and the partial 
line after the pause at surge, together with the stately march of the Alexandrine which 
succeeds, is one of the finest imaginable of finales- 
Eternal love doth keep 
In his complacent arms, the earth, the air, the deep. 

The higher beauties of the poem are not, we think, of the highest. It has unity, 
completeness,-a beginning, middle and end. The tone, too, of calm, hopeful, and elevated 



reflection, is well sustained throughout. There is an occasional quaint grace of 
expression, as in 

Nurse of full streams, and lifter up of proud 

Sky-mingling mountains that o'erlook the cloud- 

or of antithetical and rhythmical force combined, as in 

The shock that burled 

To dust in many fragments dashed and strewn 

The throne whose roots were in another world 

And whose far- stretching shadow awed our own. 

But we look in vain for something more worthy commendation. At the same time the 
piece is especially free from errors. Once only we meet with an unjust metonymy, where 
a sheet of water is said to 

Cradle, in his soft embrace, a gay 
Young group of grassy islands. 

We find little originality of thought, and less imagination. But in a poem essentially 
didactic, of course we cannot hope for the loftiest breathings of the Muse. 

To the Past is a poem of fourteen quatrains-three feet and four alternately. In the second 
quatrain, the lines 

And glorious ages gone 

Lie deep within the shadow of thy womb. 

are, to us, disagreeable. Such things are common, but at best, repulsive. In the present 
case there is not even the merit of illustration. The womb, in any just imagery, should be 
spoken of with a view to things future; here it is employed, in the sense of the tomb, and 
with a view to things past. In Stanza XI the idea is even worse. The allegorical meaning 
throughout the poem, although generally well sustained, is not always so. In the quatrain 

Thine for a space are they 

Yet shalt thou yield thy treasures up at last; 

Thy gates shall yet give way 

Thy bolts shall fall inexorable Past! 

it seems that The Past, as an allegorical personification, is confounded with Death. 

The Old Man's Funeral is of seven stanzas, each of six lines-four Pentameters and 
Alexandrine rhyming. At the funeral of an old man who has lived out his full quota of 
years, another, as aged, reproves the company for weeping. The poem is nearly perfect in 
its way-the thoughts striking and natural-the versification singularly sweet. The third 
stanza embodies a fine idea, beautifully expressed. 



Ye sigh not when the sun, his course fulfilled, 

His glorious course rejoicing earth and sky. 

In the soft evening when the winds are stilled. 

Sings where his islands of refreshment lie. 

And leaves the smile of his departure spread 

O'er the warm-colored heaven, and ruddy mountain head. 

The technical word chronic should have been avoided in the fifth line of Stanza VI- 

No chronic tortures racked his aged limb. 

The Rivulet has about ninety octo- syllabic verses. They contrast the changing and 
perishable nature of our human frame, with the greater durability of the Rivulet. The 
chief merit is simplicity. We should imagine the poem to be one of the earliest pieces of 
Mr. Bryant, and to have undergone much correction. In the first paragraph are, however, 
some awkward constructions. In the verses, for example 

This little rill that from the springs 
Of yonder grove its current brings. 
Plays on the slope awhile, and then 
Goes prattling into groves again. 

the reader is apt to suppose that rill is the nominative to plays, whereas it is the 
nominative only to drew in the subsequent lines. 

Oft to its warbling waters drew 
My little feet when life was new. 

The proper verb is, of course, immediately seen upon reading these latter lines-but the 
ambiguity has occurred. 

The Praries. This is a poem, in blank Pentameter, of about one hundred and twenty-five 
lines, and possesses features which do not appear in any of the pieces above mentioned. 
Its descriptive beauty is of a high order. The peculiar points of interest in the Prairie are 
vividly shown forth, and as a local painting, the work is, altogether, excellent. Here are 
moreover, evidences of fine imagination. For example- 

The great heavens 

Seem to stoop down upon the scene in love- 

A nearer vault and of a tenderer blue 

Than that which bends above the eastern hills. 

Till twilight blushed, and lovers walked and wooed 

In a forgotten language, and old tunes 

From instruments of unremembered form 

Gave the soft winds a voice. 

The bee 



Within the hollow oak. I listen long 

To his domestic hum and think I hear 

The sound of the advancing multitude 

Which soon shall fill these deserts. 

Breezes of the south! 

Who toss the golden and the flame-like flowers, 

And pass the prairie-hawk that poised on high, 

Flaps his broad wing yet moves not! 

There is an objectionable ellipsis in the expression "I behold them from the first," 
meaning "first time;" and either a grammatical or typographical error of moment in the 
fine sentence commencing 

Fitting floor 

For this magnificent temple of the sky- 

With flowers whose glory and whose multitude 

Rival the constellations! 

Earth, a poem of similar length and construction to The Prairies, embodies a noble 
conception. The poet represents himself as lying on the earth in a "midnight black with 
clouds," and giving ideal voices to the varied sounds of the coming tempest. The 
following passages remind us of some of the more beautiful portions of Young. 

On the breast of Earth 

I lie and listen to her mighty voice; 

A voice of many tones- sent up from streams 

That wander through the gloom, from woods unseen 

Swayed by the sweeping of the tides of air. 

From rocky chasm where darkness dwells all day. 

And hollows of the great invisible hills. 

And sands that edge the ocean stretching far 

Into the night-a melancholy sound! 

Ha! how the murmur deepens! I perceive 

And tremble at its dreadful import. Earth 

Uplifts a general cry for guilt and wrong 

And Heaven is listening. The forgotten graves 

Of the heart broken utter forth their plaint. 

The dust of her who loved and was betrayed. 

And him who died neglected in his age. 

The sepulchres of those who for mankind 

Labored, and earned the recompense of scorn. 

Ashes of martyrs for the truth, and bones 

Of those who in the strife for liberty 

Were beaten down, their corses given to dogs. 

Their names to infamy, all find a voice! 



In this poem and elsewhere occasionally throughout the volume, we meet with a species 
of grammatical construction, which, although it is to be found in writing of high merit, is 
a mere affectation, and, of course, objectionable. We mean the abrupt employment of a 
direct pronoun in place of the customary relative. For example- 

Or haply dost thou grieve for those that die- 
For living things that trod awhile thy face. 
The love of thee and heaven, and how they sleep. 
Mixed with the shapeless dust on which thy herds 
Trample and graze? 

The note of interrogation here, renders the affectation more perceptible. 

The poem To the Apenines resembles, in meter, that entitled The Old Man's Funeral, 
except that the former has a Pentameter in place of the Alexandrine. This piece is chiefly 
remarkable for the force, metrical and moral, of its concluding stanza. 

In you the heart that sighs for Freedom seeks 

Her image; there the winds no barrier know. 

Clouds come and rest and leave your fairy peaks; 

While even the immaterial Mind, below. 

And Thought, her winged offspring, chained by power. 

Pine silently for the redeeming hour. 

The Knight's Epitaph consists of about fifty lines of blank Pentameter. This poem is well 
conceived and executed. Entering the Church of St. Catherine at Pisa, the poet is arrested 
by the image of an armed knight graven upon the lid of a sepulchre. The epitaph consists 
of an imaginative portraiture of the knight, in which he is made the impersonation of the 
ancient Italian chivalry. 

Seventy-six has seven stanzas of a common, but musical versification, of which these 
lines will afford an excellent specimen. 

That death- stain on the vernal sword. 
Hallowed to freedom all the shore- 
In fragments fell the yoke abhorred- 
The footsteps of a foreign lord 
Profaned the soil no more. 

The Living Lost has four stanzas of somewhat peculiar construction, but admirably 
adapted to the tone of contemplative melancholy which pervades the poem. We can call 
to mind few things more singularly impressive than the eight concluding verses. They 
combine ease with severity, and have antithetical force without effort or flippancy. The 
final thought has also a high ideal beauty. 



But ye who for the living lost 

That agony in secret bear 

Who shall with soothing words accost 

The strength of your despair? 

Grief for your sake is scorn for them 

Whom ye lament, and all condemn, 

And o'er the world of spirit lies 

A gloom from which ye turn your eyes. 

The first stanza commences with one of those affectations which we noticed in the poem 
"Earth." 

Matron, the children of whose love. 
Each to his grave in youth have passed. 
And now the mould is heaped above 
The dearest and the last. 

The Strange Lady is of the fourteen syllable metre, answering to two lines, one of eight 
syllables, the other six. This rhythm is unmanageable, and requires great care in the 
rejection of harsh consonants. Little, however, has been taken, apparently, in the 
construction of the verses 

As if they loved to breast the breeze that sweeps the cool 
clear sky. 

And thou shoudst chase the nobler game, and I bring 
down the bird. 

Or that strange dame so gay and fair were some mysterious foe, which are not to be 
pronounced without labor. The story is old-of a young gentleman who going out to hunt, 
is inveigled into the woods and destroyed by a fiend in the guise of a fair lady. The ballad 
character is nevertheless well preserved, and this, we presume, is nearly every thing 
intended. 

The Hunter's Vision is skilfully and sweetly told. It is a tale of a young hunter who, 
overcome with toil, dozes on the brink of a precipice. In this state between waking and 
sleeping, he fancies a spirit-land in the fogs of the valley beneath him, and sees 
approaching him the deceased lady of his love. Arising to meet her, he falls, with the 
effort, from the crag, and perishes. The state of reverie is admirably pictured in the 
following stanzas. The poem consists of nine such. 

All dim in haze the mountains lay 
With dimmer vales between; 
And rivers glimmered on their way 
By forests faintly seen; 
While ever rose a murmuring sound 
From brooks below and bees around. 



He listened till he seemed to hear 
A strain so soft and low 
That whether in the mind or ear 
The listener scarce might know. 
With such a tone, so sweet and mild 
The watching mother lulls her child. 

Catterskill Falls is a narrative somewhat similar. Here the hero is also a hunter-but of 
delicate frame. He is overcome with the cold at the foot of the falls, sleeps, and is near 
perishing-but being found by some woodmen, is taken care of, and recovers. As in the 
Hunters Vision, the dream of the youth is the main subject of the poem. He fancies a 
goblin palace in the icy network of the cascade, and peoples it in his vision with ghosts. 
His entry into this palace is, with rich imagination on the part of the poet, made to 
correspond with the time of the transition from the state of reverie to that of nearly total 
insensibility. 

They eye him not as they pass along. 

But his hair stands up with dread. 

When he feels that he moves with that phantom throng 

Till those icy turrets are over his head. 

And the torrent's roar as they enter seems 

Like a drowsy murmur heard in dreams. 

The glittering threshold is scarcely passed 

When there gathers and wraps him round 

A thick white twilight sullen and vast 

In which there is neither form nor sound; 

The phantoms, the glory, vanish all 

Within the dying voice of the waterfall. 

There are nineteen similar stanzas. The metre is formed of Iambuses and Anapests. 

The Hunter of the Prairies (fifty-six octosyllabic verses with alternate rhymes) is a vivid 
picture of the life of a hunter in the desert. The poet, however, is here greatly indebted to 
his subject. 

The Damsel of Peru is in the fourteen syllable metre, and has a most spirited, imaginative 
and musical commencement 

Where olive leaves were twinkling in every wind that blew. 
There sat beneath the pleasant shade a damsel of Peru. 

This is also a ballad, and a very fine one-full of action, chivalry, energy and rhythm. 
Some passages have even a loftier merit-that of a glowing ideality. For example- 

For the noon is coming on, and the sunbeams fiercely beat. 
And the silent hills and forest-tops seem reeling in the heat. 



The Song of Pitcairn's Island is a sweet, quiet and simple poem, of a versification 
differing from that of any preceding piece. We subjoin a specimen. The Tahetian maiden 
addresses her lover. 

Come talk of Europe's maids with me 
Whose necks and cheeks they tell 
Outshine the beauty of the sea. 
White foam and crimson shell. 
I'll shape like theirs my simple dress 
And bind like them each jetty tress, 
A sight to please thee well 
And for my dusky brow will braid 
A bonnet like an English maid. 
There are seven similar stanzas. 

Rispah is a scriptural theme from 2 Samuel, and we like it less than any poem yet 
mentioned. The subject, we think, derives no additional interest from its poetical dress. 
The metre resembling, except in the matter of rhyme, that of "Catterskill Falls," and 
consisting of mingled Iambuses and Anapaests, is the most positively disagreeable of any 
which our language admits, and, having a frisky or fidgetty rhythm, is singularly ill- 
adapted to the lamentations of the bereaved mother. We cannot conceive how the fine ear 
of Mr. Bryant could admit such verses as. 

And Rispah once the loveliest of all 

That bloomed and smiled in the court of Saul, &c. 

The Indian Girl's Lament and The Arctic Lover have nearly all the peculiarities of the 
"Song of Pitcairn's Island." 

The Massacre at Scio is only remarkable for inaccuracy of expression in the two 
concluding lines- 
Till the last link of slavery's chain 
Is shivered to be worn no more. 

What shall be worn no more? The chain-but the link is implied. 

Monument Mountain is a poem of about a hundred and forty blank Pentameters and 
relates the tale of an Indian maiden who loved her cousin. Such a love being deemed 
incestuous by the morality of her tribe, she threw herself from a precipice and perished. 
There is little peculiar in the story or its narration. We quote a rough verse- 

The mighty columns with which earth props heaven. 



The use of the epithet old preceded by some other adjective, is found so frequently in this 
poem and elsewhere in the writings of Mr. Bryant, as to excite a smile upon each 
recurrence of the expression. 

In all that proud old world beyond the deep- 
There is a tale about these gray old rocks- 
The wide old woods resounded with her song- 
And the gray old men that passed- 
And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven. 

We dislike too the antique use of the word affect in such sentences as 

They deemed 

Like worshippers of the elder time that 
God Doth walk in the high places and affect 
The earth-o'erlooking mountains. 

Milton, it is true, uses it-we remember it especially in Comus- 

'T is most true 

That musing meditation most affects 
The pensive secrecy of desert cell- 
but then Milton would not use it were he writing Comus today. 

In the Summer Wind, our author has several successful attempts at making "the sound an 
echo to the sense." For example- 

For me, I lie 

Languidly in the shade, where the thick turf 

Yet virgin from the kisses of the sun 

Retains some freshness. 

All is silent, save the faint 

And interrupted murmur of the bee 

Settling on the sick flowers, and then again 

Instantly on the wing. 

All the green herbs 

Are stirring in his breath; a thousand flowers 

By the road side, and the borders of the brook 

Nod, gaily to each other. 

Autumn Woods. This is a poem of much sweetness and simplicity of expression, and 
including one or two fine thoughts, viz: 

the sweet South-west at play 

Flies, rustling where the painted leaves are strown 



Along the winding way. 

But 'neath yon crimson tree 

Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame, 

Nor mark within its roseate canopy 

Her flush of maiden shame. 

The mountains that unfold 

In their wide sweep the colored landscape round, 

Seem groups of giant kings in purple and gold 

That guard the enchanted ground. 

All this is beautiful-Happily to endow inanimate nature with sentience and a capability of 
moral action is one of the severest tests of the poet. Even the most unmusical ear will not 
fail to appreciate the rare beauty and strength of the extra syllable in the line 

Seem groups of giant kings in purple and gold. 

The Distinterred Warrior has a passage we do not clearly understand. Speaking of the 
Indian our author says- 

For he was fresher from the hand 

That formed of earth the human face. 

And to the elements did stand 

In nearer kindred than our race. 

There are ten similar quatrains in the poem. 

The Greek Boy consists of four spirited stanzas, nearly resembling, in metre. The Living 
Lost. The two concluding lines are highly ideal. 

A shoot of that old vine that made 
The nations silent in its shade. 

When the Firmament Quivers with Daylight's Young Beam, belongs to a species of 
poetry which we cannot be brought to admire. Some natural phenomenon is observed, 
and the poet taxes his ingenuity to find a parallel in the moral world. In general, we may 
assume, that the more successful he is in sustaining a parallel, the farther he departs from 
the true province of the Muse. The title, here, is a specimen of the metre. This is a kind 
which we have before designated as exceedingly difficult to manage. 

To a Musquito, is droll, and has at least the merit of making, at the same time, no efforts 
at being sentimental. We are not inclined, however, to rank as poems, either this 
production or the article on New England Coal. 

The Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus has ninety Pentameters. One of them 

Kind influence. Lo! their orbs bum more bright. 



can only be read, metrically, by drawing out influence into three marked syllables, 
shortening the long monosyllable, Lo! and lengthening the short one, their. 

June is sweet and soft in its rhythm, and inexpressibly pathetic. There is an illy subdued 
sorrow and intense awe coming up, per force as it were to the surface of the poet's gay 
sayings about his grave, which we find thrilling us to the soul. 

And what if cheerful shouts, at noon. 

Come, from the village sent. 

Or songs of maids, beneath the moon 

With fairy laughter blent? 

And what if, in the evening light. 

Betrothed lovers walk in sight 

Of my low monument? 

I would the lovely scene around 

Might know no sadder sight nor sound. 

I know, I know I should not see 

The season's glorious show. 

Nor would its brightness shine for me 

Nor its wild music flow. 

But if, around my place of sleep. 

The friends I love should come to weep. 

They might not haste to go 

Soft airs, and song, and hght, and bloom 

Should keep them lingering by my tomb. 

Innocent Child and Snow-White Flower, is remarkable only for the deficiency of a foot in 
one of its verses. 

White as those leaves just blown apart 

Are the folds of thy own young heart. 

and for the graceful repetition in its concluding quatrain 

Throw it aside in thy weary hour. 

Throw to the ground the fair white flower. 

Yet as thy tender years depart 

Keep that white and innocent heart. 

Of the seven original sonnets in the volume before us, it is somewhat difficult to speak. 
The sonnet demands, in a great degree, point, strength, unity, compression, and a species 
of completeness. Generally, Mr. Bryant has evinced more of the first and the last, than of 
the three mediate qualities. William Tell is feeble. No forcible line ever ended with 
liberty, and the best of the rhymes-thee, he, free, and the like, are destitute of the 
necessary vigor. But for this rhythmical defect the thought in the concluding couplet- 

The bitter cup they mingled strengthened thee 
For the great work to set thy country free 



would have well ended the sonnet. Midsummer is objectionable for the variety of its 
objects of allusion. Its final lines embrace a fine thought- 

As if the day of fire had dawned and sent 

Its deadly breath into the firmament- 

but the vigor of the whole is impaired by the necessity of placing an unwonted accent on 
the last syllable of firmament. October has little to recommend it, but the slight 
epigrammatism of its conclusion- 

And when my last sand twinkled in the glass, 
Pass silently from men-as thou dost pass. 

The Sonnet To Cole, is feeble in its final lines, and is worthy of praise only in the verses- 
Paths, homes, graves, ruins, from the lowest glen 
To where life shrinks from the fierce Alpine air. 

Mutation, a didactic sonnet, has few either of faults or beauties. November is far better. 
The lines 

And the blue Gentian flower that, in the breeze. 

Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last, 

are very happy. A single thought pervades and gives unity to the piece. We are glad, too, 
to see an Alexandrine in the close. In the whole metrical construction of his sonnets, 
however, Mr. Bryant has very wisely declined confining himself to the laws of the Italian 
poem, or even to the dicta of Capel Lofft. The Alexandrine is beyond comparison the 
most effective finale, and we are astonished that the common Pentameter should ever be 
employed. The best sonnet of the seven is, we think, that To-. With the exception of a 
harshness in the last line but one it is perfect. The finale is inimitable. 

Ay, thou art for the grave; thy glances shine 
Too brightly to shine long; another Spring 
Shall deck her for men's eyes, but not for thine 
Sealed in a sleep which knows no wakening. 
The fields for thee have no medicinal leaf. 
And the vexed ore no mineral of power; 
And they who love thee wait in anxious grief 
Till the slow plague shall bring the fatal hour. 
Glide softly to thy rest, then; Death should come 
Gently to one of gentle mould like thee. 



As light winds wandering through groves of bloom 
Detach the delicate blossom from the tree. 
Close thy sweet eyes, calmly, and without pain. 
And we will trust in God to see thee yet again. 

To a Cloud, has another instance of the affectation to which we alluded in our notice of 
Earth, and The Living Lost. 

Whose sons at length have heard the call that comes 

From the old battle fields and tombs. 

And risen, and drawn the sword, and on the foe 

Have dealt the swift and desperate blow. 

And the Othman power is cloven, and the stroke 

Has touched its chains, and they are broke. 

Of the Translations in the volume it is not our intention to speak in detail. Mary 
Magdelen, from the Spanish of Bartoleme Leonardo De Argensola, is the finest specimen 
of versification in the book. Alexis, from the Spanish of Iglesias, is delightful in its 
exceeding delicacy, and general beauty. We cannot refrain from quoting it entire. 

Alexis calls me cruel- 
The rifted crags that hold 
The gathered ice of winter. 
He says, are not more cold. 
When even the very blossoms 
Around the fountain's brim. 
And forest walks, can witness 
The love I bear to him. 
I would that I could utter 
My feelings without shame 
And tell him how I love him 
Nor wrong my virgin fame. 
Alas! to seize the moment 
When heart inclines to heart. 
And press a suit with passion 
Is not a woman's part. 
If man come not to gather 
The roses where they stand. 
They fade among their foliage. 
They cannot seek his hand. 

The Waterfowl is very beautiful, but still not entitled to the admiration which it has 
occasionally elicited. There is a fidelity and force in the picture of the fowl as brought 
before the eve of the mind, and a fine sense of effect in throwing its figure on the 
background of the "crimson sky," amid "falling dew," "while glow the heavens with the 
last steps of day." But the merits which possibly have had most weight in the public 



estimation of the poem, are the melody and strength of its versification, (which is indeed 
excellent) and more particularly its completeness. Its rounded and didactic termination 
has done wonders: 

on my heart. 

Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given 

And shall not soon depart. 

He, who, from zone to zone. 

Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight 

In the long way that I must tread alone 

Will lead my steps aright. 

There are, however, points of more sterling merit. We fully recognize the poet in 

Thou art gone-the abyss of heaven 
Hath swallowed up thy form. 
There is a power whose care 
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast- 
The desert, and illimitable air- 
Lone, wandering, but not lost. 

The Forest Hymn consists of about a hundred and twenty blank Pentameters of whose 
great rhythmical beauty it is scarcely possible to speak too highly. With the exception of 
the line 

The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds, 

no fault, in this respect, can be found, while excellencies are frequent of a rare order, and 
evincing the greatest delicacy of ear. We might, perhaps, suggest, that the two concluding 
verses, beautiful as they stand, would be slightly improved by transferring to the last the 
metrical excess of the one immediately preceding. For the appreciation of this, it is 
necessary to quote six or seven lines in succession 

Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face 
Spare me and mine, nor let us need the warmth 
Of the mad unchained elements, to teach 
Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate 
In these calm shades thy milder majesty. 
And to the beautiful order of thy works 
Learn to conform the order of our lives. 

There is an excess of one syllable in the [sixth line]. If we discard this syllable here, and 
adopt it in the final line, the close will acquire strength, we think, in acquiring a fuller 
volume. 



Be it ours to meditate 
In these calm shades thy milder majesty, 
And to the perfect order of thy works 
Conform, if we can, the order of our lives. 

Directness, boldness, and simplicity of expression, are main features in the poem. 

Oh God! when thou 

Dost scare the world with tempests, set on fire 

The heavens with falling thunderbolts, or fill 

With all the waters of the firmament 

The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods. 

And drowns the villages. 

Here an ordinary writer would have preferred the word fright to scare, and omitted the 
definite article before woods and villages. 

To the Evening Wind has been justly admired. It is the best specimen of that 
completeness which we have before spoken of as a characteristic feature in the poems of 
Mr. Bryant. It has a beginning, middle, and end, each depending upon the other, and each 
beautiful. Here are three lines breathing all the spirit of Shelley. 

Pleasant shall be thy way, where meekly bows 

The shutting flower, and darkling waters pass. 

And 'twixt the o'ershadowing branches and the grass. 

The conclusion is admirable- 

Go-but the circle of eternal change. 

Which is the life of Nature, shall restore. 

With sounds and scents from all thy mighty range. 

Thee to thy birth-place of the deep once more; 

Sweet odors in the sea air, sweet and strange. 

Shall tell the home- sick mariner of the shore. 

And, listening to thy murmur, he shall deem 

He hears the rustling leaf and running stream. 

Thanatopsis is somewhat more than half the length of The Forest Hymn, and of a 
character precisely similar. It is, however, the finer poem. Like The Waterfowl, it owes 
much to the point, force, and general beauty of its didactic conclusion. In the 
commencement, the lines 

To him who, in the love of nature, holds 
Communion with her visible forms, &c. 

belong to a class of vague phrases, which, since the days of Byron, have obtained too 
universal a currency. The verse 



Go forth under the open sky and list- 
is sadly out of place amid the forcible and even Miltonic rhythm of such lines as- 

Take the wings 

Of morning, and the Barcan desert pierce, 
Or lose thyself in the continuous woods 
Where rolls the Oregon 

But these are trivial faults indeed and the poem embodies a great degree of the most 
elevated beauty. Two of its passages, passages of the purest ideality, would alone render 
it worthy of the general commendation it has received. 

So live, that when thy summons comes to join 
The innumerable caravan that moves 
To that mysterious realm where each shall take 
His chamber in the silent halls of death. 
Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night. 
Scourged to his dungeon; but sustained and soothed 
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave 
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 
About him, and lies down to pleasant dream. 
The hills 

Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun-the vales 
Stretching in pensive quietude between- 
The venerable woods-rivers that move 
In majesty, and the complaining brooks 
That make the meadows green-and, pured round all. 
Old Ocean's gray and melancholy waste- 
Are but the solemn decorations all 
Of the great tomb of man. 

Oh, fairest of the Rural Maids! is a gem, of which we cannot sufficiently express our 
admiration. We quote in full. 

Oh, fairest of the rural maids! 

Thy birth was in the forest shades; 

Green boughs and glimpses of the sky 

Were all that met thine infant eye. 

Thy sports, thy wanderings when a child 

Were ever in the sylvan wild; 

And all the beauty of the place 

Is in thy heart and on thy face. 

The twilight of the trees and rocks 

Is in the light shade of thy locks. 

Thy step is as the wind that weaves 



Its playful way among the leaves. 
Thine eyes are springs, in whose serene 
And silent waters Heaven is seen; 
Their lashes are the herbs that look 
On their young figures in the brook. 
The forest depths by foot impressed 
Are not more sinless than thy breast; 
The holy peace that fills the air 
Of those calm solitudes, is there. 

A rich simplicity is a main feature in this poem-simplicity of design and execution. This 
is strikingly perceptible in the opening and concluding lines, and in expression 
throughout. But there is a far higher and more strictly ideal beauty, which it is less easy to 
analyze. The original conception is of the very loftiest order of true Poesy. A maiden is 
bom in the forest- 
Green boughs and glimpses of the sky 
Are all which meet her infant eye- 
She is not merely modelled in character by the associations of her childhood-this were 
the thought of an ordinary poet-an idea that we meet with every day in rhyme-but she 
imbibes, in her physical as well as moral being, the traits, the very features of the 
delicious scenery around her-its loveliness becomes a portion of her own- 

The twilight of the trees and rocks 
Is in the light shade of her locks. 
And all the beauty of the place 
Is in her heart and on her face. 

It would have been a highly poetical idea to imagine the tints in the locks of the maiden 
deducing a resemblance to the "twilight of the trees and rocks," from the constancy of her 
associations-but the spirit of Ideality is immeasurably more apparent when the "twilight" 
is represented as becoming identified with the shadows of her hair. 

The twilight of the trees and rocks 
Is in the light shade of her locks. 
And all the beauty of the place 
Is in her heart and on her face. 

Feeling thus, we did not, in copying the poem, [comment on] the lines, although 
beautiful. 

Thy step is as the wind that weaves 
Its playful way among the leaves. 



nor those which immediately follow. The two concluding verses however, are again of 
the most elevated species of poetical merit. 

The forest depths by foot impressed 
Are not more sinless than thy breast- 
The holy peace that fills the air 
Of those calm solitudes, is there. 
The image contained in the lines 
Thine eyes are springs in whose serene 
And silent waters Heaven is seen- 

is one which, we think, for appropriateness, completeness, and every perfect beauty of 
which imagery is susceptible, has never been surpassed-but imagery is susceptible of no 
beauty like that we have designated in the sentences above. The latter idea, moreover, is 
not original with our poet. 

In all the rhapsodies of Mr. Bryant, which have reference to the beauty or the majesty of 
nature, is a most audible and thrilling tone of love and exultation. As far as he appreciates 
her loveliness or her augustness, no appreciation can be more ardent, more full of heart, 
more replete with the glowing soul of adoration. Nor, either in the moral or physical 
universe coming within the periphery of his vision, does he at any time fail to perceive 
and designate, at once, the legitimate items of the beautiful. Therefore, could we consider 
(as some have considered) the mere enjoyment of the beautiful when perceived, or even 
this enjoyment when combined with the readiest and truest perception and discrimination 
in regard to beauty presented, as a sufficient test of the poetical sentiment we could have 
no hesitation in according to Mr. Bryant the very highest poetical rank. But something 
more, we have elsewhere presumed to say, is demanded. Just above, we spoke of "objects 
in the moral or physical universe coming within the periphery of his vision." We now 
mean to say, that the relative extent of these peripheries of poetical vision must ever be a 
primary consideration in our classification of poets. Judging Mr. B. in this manner, and 
by a general estimate of the volume before us, we should, of course, pause long before 
assigning him a place with the spiritual Shelleys, or Coleridges, or Wordsworths, or with 
Keats, or even Tennyson, or Wilson, or with some other burning lights of our own day, to 
be valued in a day to come. Yet if his poems, as a whole, will not warrant us in assigning 
him this grade, one such poem as the last upon which we have commented, is enough to 
assure us that he may attain it. 

The writings of our author, as we find them here, are characterized by an air of calm and 
elevated contemplation more than by any other individual feature. In their mere didactics, 
however, they err essentially and primitively, inasmuch as such things are the province 
rather of Minerva than of the Camenae. Of imagination, we discover much-but more of 
its rich and certain evidences, than of its ripened fruit. In all the minor merits Mr. Bryant 
is pre-eminent. His ars celare artem is most efficient. Of his "completeness," unity, and 
finish of style we have already spoken. As a versifier, we know of no writer, living or 
dead, who can be said greatly to surpass him. A Frenchman would assuredly call him "un 
poete des plus correctes." 



Between Cowper and Young, perhaps, (with both of whom he has many points of 
analogy,) would be the post assigned him by an examination at once general and 
superficial. Even in this view, however, he has a juster appreciation of the beautiful than 
the one, of the sublime than the other-a finer taste than Cowper-an equally vigorous, and 
far more delicate imagination than Young. In regard to his proper rank among American 
poets there should be no question whatever. Few-at least few who are fairly before the 
public, have more than very shallow claims to a rivalry with the author of Thanatopsis. 

THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP, AND OTHER TALES 

By Charles Dickens, With Numerous Illustrations by Cattermole 

and Browne. Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard. 

MASTER HUMPHEREY'S CLOCK 

By Charles Dickens. (Boz.) With Ninty-one Illustrations by 

George Cattermole and Hablot Browne. Philadelphia: Lea & Blanchard. 

WHAT WE here give [the above titles] is the duplicate title, on two separate title-pages, 
of an octavo volume of three hundred and sixty-two pages. Why this method of 
nomenclature should have been adopted is more than we can understand-although it 
arises, perhaps, from a certain confusion and hesitation observable in the whole structure 
of the book itself. Publishers have an idea, however, (and no doubt they are the best 
judges in such matters) that a complete work obtains a readier sale than one "to be 
continued;" and we see plainly that it is with the design of intimating the entireness of the 
volume now before us, that "The Old Curiosity Shop and other Tales," has been made not 
only the primary and main title, but the name of the whole publication as indicated by the 
back. This may be quite fair in trade, but is morally wrong not the less. The volume is 
only one of a series-only part of a whole; and the title has no right to insinuate otherwise. 
So obvious is this intention to misguide, that it has led to the absurdity of putting the 
inclusive, or general, title of the series, as a secondary instead of a primary one. Anybody 
may see that if the wish had been fairly to represent the plan and extent of the volume, 
something like this would have been given on a single page- 

MASTER HUMPHREY'S CLOCK 

By Charles Dickens. Part I. Containing The Old Curiosity Shop, 

and other tales, with numerous illustrations, &c. &c. 

This would have been better for all parties, a good deal more honest, and a vast deal more 
easily understood. In fact, there is sufficient uncertainty of purpose in the book itself, 
without resort to mystification in the matter of title. We do not think it altogether 
impossible that the rumors in respect to the sanity of Mr. Dickens which were so 
prevalent during the publication of the first numbers of the work, had some slight-some 
very slight foundation in truth. By this, we mean merely to say that the mind of the 
author, at the time, might possibly have been struggling with some of those manifold and 
multiform aberrations by which the nobler order of genius is so frequently beset-but 
which are still so very far removed from disease. 



There are some facts in the physical world which have a really wonderful analogy with 
others in the world of thought, and seem thus to give some color of truth to the (false) 
rhetorical dogma, that metaphor or simile may be made to strengthen an argument, as 
well as to embellish a description. The principle of the vis inertiae, for example, with the 
amount of momentum proportionate with it and consequent upon it, seems to be identical 
in physics and metaphysics. It is not more true, in the former, that a large body is with 
more difficulty set in motion than a smaller one, and that its subsequent impetus is 
commensurate with this difficulty, than it is, in the latter, that intellects of the vaster 
capacity, while more forcible, more constant, and more extensive in their movements 
than those of inferior grade, are yet the less readily moved, and are more embarrassed and 
more full of hesitation in the first few steps of their progress. While, therefore, it is not 
impossible, as we have just said, that some slight mental aberration might have given rise 
to the hesitancy and indefinitiveness of purpose which are so very perceptible in the first 
pages of the volume before us, we are still the more willing to believe these defects the 
result of the moral fact just stated, since we find the work itself of an unusual order of 
excellence, even when regarded as the production of the author of "Nicholas Nickleby." 
That the evils we complain of are not, and were not, fully perceived by Mr. Dickens 
himself, cannot be supposed for a moment. Had his book been published in the old way, 
we should have seen no traces of them whatever. 

The design of the general work, "Humphrey's Clock," is simply the common-place one of 
putting various tales into the mouths of a social party. The meetings are held at the house 
of Master Humphrey- an antique building in London, where an old-fashioned clock case 
is the place of deposit for the M.S.S. Why such designs have become common is obvious. 
One half the pleasure experienced at a theatre arises from the spectator's sympathy with 
the rest of the audience, and, especially, from his belief in their sympathy with him. The 
eccentric gentleman who not long ago, at the Park, found himself the solitary occupant of 
box, pit, and gallery, would have derived but little enjoyment from his visit, had he been 
suffered to remain. It was an act of mercy to turn him out. The present absurd rage for 
lecturing is founded in the feeling in question. Essays which we would not be hired to 
read-so trite is their subject-so feeble is their execution-so much easier is it to get better 
information on similar themes out of any Encyclopaedia in Christendom-we are brought 
to tolerate, and alas, even to applaud in their tenth and twentieth repetition, through the 
sole force of our sympathy with the throng. In the same way we listen to a story with 
greater zest when there are others present at its narration besides ourselves. Aware of this, 
authors without due reflection have repeatedly attempted, by supposing a circle of 
listeners, to imbue their narratives with the interest of sympathy. At a cursory glance the 
idea seems plausible enough. But, in the one case, there is an actual, personal, and 
palpable sympathy, conveyed in looks, gestures and brief comments-a sympathy of real 
individuals, all with the matters discussed to be sure, but then especially, each with each. 
In the other instance, we, alone in our closet, are required to sympathise with the 
sympathy of fictitious listeners, who, so far from being present in body, are often 
studiously kept out of sight and out of mind for two or three hundred pages at a time. 
This is sympathy double-diluted-the shadow of a shade. It is unnecesary to say that the 
design invariably fails of its effect. 



In his preface to the present volume, Mr. Dickens seems to feel the necessity for an 
apology in regard to certain portions of his commencement, without seeing clearly what 
apology he should make, or for what precise thing he should apologize. He makes an 
effort to get over the difficulty, by saying something about its never being "his intention 
to have the members of 'Master Humphrey's Clock' active agents in the stories they 
relate," and about his "picturing to himself the various sensations of his hearers-thinking 
how Jack Redburn might incline to poor Kit-how the deaf gentleman would have his 
favorite and Mr. Miles his," &c. &c.-but we are quite sure that all this is as pure a fiction 
as "The Curiosity Shop?" itself. Our author is deceived. Occupied with little Nell and her 
grandfather, he had forgotten the very existence of his interlocutors until he found 
himself, at the end of his book, under the disagreeable necessity of saying a word or two 
concerning them, by way of winding them up. The simple truth is that, either for one of 
the two reasons at which we have already hinted, or else because the work was begun in a 
hurry, Mr. Dickens did not precisely know his own plans when he penned the five or six 
first chapters of the "Clock." 

The wish to preserve a certain degree of unity between various narratives naturally 
unconnected, is a more obvious and a better reason for employing interlocutors. But such 
unity as may be thus had is scarcely worth having. It may, in some feeble measure, 
satisfy the judgment by a sense of completeness; but it seldom produces a pleasant effect; 
and if the speakers are made to take part in their own stories (as has been the Case here) 
they become injurious by creating confusion. Thus, in "The Curiosity Shop," we feel 
displeased to find Master Humphrey commencing the tale in the first person, dropping 
this for the third, and concluding by introducing himself as the "single gentleman" who 
figures in the story. In spite of all the subsequent explanation we are forced to look upon 
him as two. All is confusion, and what makes it worse, is that Master Humphrey is 
painted as a lean and sober personage, while his second self is a fat, bluff and boisterous 
old bachelor. 

Yet the species of connexion in question, besides preserving the unity desired, may be 
made, if well managed, a source of consistent and agreeable interest. It has been so made 
by Thomas Moore-the most skilful literary artist of his day-perhaps of any day-a man 
who stands in the singular and really wonderful predicament of being undervalued on 
account of the profusion with which he has scattered about him his good things. The 
brilliancies on any one page of Lalla Roohk would have sufficed to establish that very 
reputation which has been in a great measure self-dimmed by the galazied lustre of the 
entire book. It seems that the horrid laws of political economy cannot be evaded even by 
the inspired, and that a perfect versification, a vigorous style, and a never-tiring fancy, 
may, like the water we drink and die without, yet despise, be so plentifully set forth as to 
be absolutely of no value at all. 

By far the greater portion of the volume now published, is occupied with the tale of "The 
Old Curiosity Shop," narrated by Master Humphrey himself. The other stories are brief. 
The "Giant Chronicles" is the title of what appears to be meant for a series within a 
series, and we think this design doubly objectionable. The narrative of "The Bowyer," as 
well as of "John Podgers," is not altogether worthy of Mr. Dickens. They were probably 



sent to press to supply a demand for copy, while he was occupied with the "Curiosity 
Shop." But the "Confession Found in a Prison in the Time of Charles the Second" is a 
paper of remarkable power, truly original in conception, and worked out with great 
ability. 

The story of "The Curiosity Shop" is very simple. Two brothers of England, warmly 
attached to each other, love the same lady, without each other's knowledge. The younger 
at length discovers the elder's secret, and, sacrificing himself to fraternal affection, quits 
the country and resides for many years in a foreign land, where he amasses great wealth. 
Meantime his brother marries the lady, who soon dies, leaving an infant daughter-her 
perfect resemblance. In the widower's heart the mother lives again through the child. This 
latter grows up, marries unhappily, has a son and a daughter, loses her husband, and dies 
herself shortly afterward. The grandfather takes the orphans to his home. The boy spurns 
his protection, falls into bad courses, and becomes an outcast. The girl-in whom a third 
time lives the object of the old man's early choice-dwells with him alone, and is loved by 
him with a most doting affection. He has now become poor, and at length is reduced to 
keeping a shop for antiquities and curiosities. Finally, through his dread of involving the 
child in want, his mind becomes weakened. He thinks to redeem his fortune by gambling, 
borrows money for this purpose of a dwarf, who, at length, discovering the true state of 
the old man's affairs, seizes his furniture and turns him out of doors. The girl and himself 
set out, without farther object than to relieve themselves of the sight of the hated city, 
upon a weary pilgrimage, whose events form the basis or body of the tale. In fine, just as 
a peaceful retirement is secured for them, the child, wasted with fatigue and anxiety, dies. 
The grandfather, through grief, immediately follows her to the tomb. The younger 
brother, meantime, has received information of the old man's poverty, hastens to 
England, and arrives only in time to be at the closing scene of the tragedy. 

This plot is the best which could have been constructed for the main object of the 
narrative. This object is the depicting of a fervent and dreamy love for the child on the 
part of the grandfather-such a love as would induce devotion to himself on the part of the 
orphan. We have thus the conception of a childhood, educated in utter ignorance of the 
world, filled with an affection which has been, through its brief existence, the sole source 
of its pleasures, and which has no part in the passion of a more mature youth for an object 
of its own age-we have the idea of this childhood, full of ardent hopes, leading by the 
hand, forth from the heated and wearying city, into the green fields, to seek for bread, the 
decrepid imbecility of a doting and confiding old age, whose stern knowledge of man, 
and of the world it leaves behind, is now merged in the sole consciousness of receiving 
love and protection from that weakness it has loved and protected. 

This conception is indeed most beautiful. It is simply and severely grand. The more fully 
we survey it the more thoroughly we are convinced of the lofty character of that genius 
which gave it birth. That in its present simplicity of form, however, it was first 
entertained by Mr. Dickens, may well be doubted. That it was not, we are assured by the 
title which the tale bears. When in its commencement he called it "The Old Curiosity 
Shop," his design was far different from what we see it in its completion. It is evident that 
had he now to name the story he would not so term it; for the shop itself is a thing of an 



altogether collateral interest, and is spoken of merely in the beginning. This is only one 
among a hundred instances of the disadvantage under which the periodical novelist 
labors. When his work is done, he never fails to observe a thousand defects which he 
might have remedied, and a thousand alterations, in regard to the book as a whole, which 
might be made to its manifest improvement. 

But of the conception of this story deserves praise, its execution is beyond all-and here 
the subject naturally leads us from the generalization which is the proper province of the 
critic, into details among which it is scarcely fitting that he should venture. 

The Art of Mr. Dickens, although elaborate and great, seems only a happy modification 
of Nature. In this respect he differs remarkably from the author of "Night and Morning." 
The latter, by excessive care and by patient reflection, aided by much rhetorical 
knowledge, and general information, has arrived at the capability of producing books 
which be mistaken by ninety-nine readers out of a hundred for the genuine inspirations of 
genius. The former, by the promptings of the truest genius itself, has been brought to 
compose, and evidently without effort, works which have effected a long-sought 
consummation-which have rendered him the idol of the people, while defying and 
enchanting the critics. Mr. Bulwer, through art, has almost created a genius. Mr. Dickens, 
through genius, has perfected a standard from which Art itself will derive its essence, in 
rules. 

When we speak in this manner of the "Old Curiosity Shop," we speak with entire 
deliberation, and know quite well what it is we assert. We do not mean to say that it is 
perfect, as a whole-this could not well have been the case under the circumstances of its 
composition. But we know that, in all the higher elements which go to make up literary 
greatness, it is supremely excellent. We think, for instance, that the introduction of 
Nelly's brother (and here we address those who have read the work) is supererogatory- 
that the character of Quilp would have been more in keeping had he been confined to 
petty and grotesque acts of malice-that his death should have been made the immediate 
consequence of his attempt at revenge upon Kit; and that after matters had been put fairly 
in train for this poetical justice, he should not have perished by an accident 
inconsequential upon his villany. We think, too, that there is an air of ultra- accident in the 
finally discovered relationship between Kit's master and the bachelor of the old church- 
that the sneering politeness put into the mouth of Quilp, with his manner of commencing 
a question which he wishes answered in the affirmative, with an affirmative 
interrogatory, instead of the ordinary negative one-are fashions borrowed from the 
authors own Fagin-that he has repeated himself in many other instances-that the practical 
tricks and love of mischief of the dwarfs boy are too nearly consonant with the traits of 
the master-that so much of the propensities of Swiveller as relate to his inapposite 
appropriation of odds and ends of verse, is stolen from the generic loafer of our fellow- 
townsman, Neal-and that the writer has suffered the overflowing kindness of his own 
bosom to mislead him in a very important point of art, when he endows so many of his 
dramatis personae with a warmth of feeling so very rare in reality. Above all, we 
acknowledge that the death of Nelly is excessively painful-that it leaves a most 
distressing oppression of spirit upon the reader-and should, therefore, have been avoided. 



But when we come to speak of the excellences of the tale these defects appear really 
insignificant. It embodies more originality in every point, but in character especially, than 
any single work within our knowledge. There is the grandfather-a truly profound 
conception; the gentle and lovely Nelly-we have discoursed of her before; Quilp, with 
mouth like that of the panting dog-(a bold idea which the engraver has neglected to 
embody) with his hilarious antics, his cowardice, and his very petty and spoilt-child-like 
malevolence, Dick Swiveller, that prince of goodhearted, good-for-nothing, lazy, 
luxurious, poetical, brave, romantically generous, gallant, affectionate, and not over-and- 
above honest, "glorious ApoUos;" the marchioness, his bride; Tom Codlin and his 
partner; Miss Sally Brass, that "fine fellow;" the pony that had an opinion of its own; the 
boy that stood upon his head; the sexton; the man at the forge; not forgetting the dancing 
dogs and baby Nubbles. There are other admirably drawn characters-but we note these 
for their remarkable originality, as well as for their wonderful keeping, and the glowing 
colors in which they are painted. We have heard some of them called caricatures-but the 
charge is grossly ill-founded. No critical principle is more firmly based in reason than 
that a certain amount of exaggeration is essential to the proper depicting of truth itself. 
We do not paint an object to be true, but to appear true to the beholder. Were we to copy 
nature with accuracy the object copied would seem unnatural. The columns of the Greek 
temples, which convey the idea of absolute proportion, are very considerably thicker just 
beneath the capital than at the base. We regret that we have not left ourselves space in 
which to examine this whole question as it deserves. We must content ourselves with 
saying that caricature seldom exists (unless in so gross a form as to disgust at once) 
where the component parts are in keeping; and that the laugh excited by it, in any case, is 
radically distinct from that induced by a properly artistical incongruity-the source of all 
mirth. Were these creations of Mr. Dickens' really caricatures they would not live in 
public estimation beyond the hour of their first survey. We regard them as creations-(that 
is to say as original combinations of character) only not all of the highest order, because 
the elements employed are not always of the highest. In the instances of Nelly, the 
grandfather, the Sexton, and the man of the furnace, the force of the creative intellect 
could scarcely have been engaged with nobler material, and the result is that these 
personages belong to the most august regions of the Ideal. 

In truth, the great feature of the "Curiosity Shop" is its chaste, vigorous, and glorious 
imagination. This is the one charm, all potent, which alone would suffice to compensate 
for a world more of error than Mr. Dickens ever committed. It is not only seen in the 
conception, and general handling of the story, or in the invention of character; but it 
pervades every sentence of the book. We recognise its prodigious influence in every 
inspired word. It is this which induces the reader who is at all ideal, to pause frequently, 
to reread the occasionally quaint phrases, to muse in uncontrollable delight over thoughts 
which, while he wonders he has never hit upon them before, he yet admits that he never 
has encountered. In fact it is the wand of the enchanter. 

Had we room to particularize, we would mention as points evincing most distinctly the 
ideality of the "Curiosity Shop "-the picture of the shop itself-the newly-born desire of 
the worldly old man for the peace of green fields-his whole character and conduct, in 
short-the schoolmaster, with his desolate fortunes, seeking affection in little children-the 



haunts of Quilp among the wharf-rats-the tinkering of the Punchmen among the tombs- 
the glorious scene where the man of the forge sits poring, at deep midnight, into that 
dread fire-again the whole conception of this character, and, last and greatest, the stealthy 
approach of Nell to her death-her gradual sinking away on the journey to the village, so 
skilfully indicated rather than described-her pensive and prescient meditation-the fit of 
strange musing which came over her when the house in which she was to die first broke 
upon her sight-the description of this house, of the old church, and of the churchyard- 
everything in rigid consonance with the one impression to be conveyed-that deep 
meaningless well-the comments of the Sexton upon death, and upon his own secure life- 
this whole world of mournful yet peaceful idea merging, at length, into the decease of the 
child Nelly, and the uncomprehending despair of the grandfather. These concluding 
scenes are so drawn that human language, urged by human thought, could go no farther 
in the excitement of human feelings. And the pathos is of that best order which is 
relieved, in great measure, by ideality. Here the book has never been equalled,-never 
approached except in one instance, and that is in the case of the "Undine" by De La Motte 
Fouque. The imagination is perhaps as great in this latter work, but the pathos, although 
truly beautiful and deep, fails of much of its effect through the material from which it is 
wrought. The chief character, being endowed with purely fanciful attributes, cannot 
command our full sympathies, as can a simple denizen of earth. In saying above, that the 
death of the child left too painful an impression, and should therefore have been avoided, 
we must, of course, be understood as referring to the work as a whole, and in respect to 
its general appreciation and popularity. The death, as recorded, is, we repeat, of the 
highest order of literary excellence-yet while none can deny this fact, there are few who 
will be willing to read the concluding passages a second time. 

Upon the whole we think the "Curiosity Shop" very much the best of the works of Mr. 
Dickens. It is scarcely possible to speak of it too well. It is in all respects a tale which will 
secure for its author the enthusiastic admiration of every man of genius. 

The edition before us is handsomely printed, on excellent paper. The designs by 
Cattermole and Browne are many of them excellent-some of them outrageously bad. Of 
course, it is difficult for us to say how far the American engraver is in fault. In 
conclusion, we must enter our solemn protest against the final page full of little angels in 
smock frocks, or dimity chemises. 

THE QUACKS OF HELICON 
A Satire. By L. A. Wilmer 

A SATIRE, professedly such, at the present day, and especially by an American writer, is 
a welcome novelty indeed. We have really done very little in the line upon this side of the 
Atlantic-nothing certainly of importance-TrumbuU's clumsy poem and Halleck's 
"Croakers" to the contrary notwithstanding. Some things we have produced, to be sure, 
which were excellent in the way of burlesque, without intending a syllable that was not 
utterly solemn and serious. Odes, ballads, songs, sonnets, epics, and epigrams, possessed 
of this unintentional excellence, we could have no difficulty in designating by the dozen; 
but in the matter of directly meant and genuine satire, it cannot be denied that we are 



sadly deficient. Although, as a literary people, however, we are not exactly 
Archilochuses- although we have no pretensions to the echeenpes iamboi-although in 
short, we are no satirists ourselves, there can be no question that we answer sufficiently 
well as subjects for satire. 

We repeat that we are glad to see this book of Mr. Wilmer's; first, because it is something 
new under the sun; secondly, because, in many respects, it is well executed; and thirdly, 
because, in the universal corruption and rigmarole, amid which we gasp for breath, it is 
really a pleasant thing to get even one accidental whiff of the unadulterated air of truth. 

"The Quacks of Helicon," as a poem and otherwise, has many defects, and these we shall 
have no scruple in pointing out- although Mr. Wilmer is a personal friend of our own, and 
we are happy and proud to say so-but it has also many remarkable merits- merits which it 
will be quite useless for those aggrieved by the satire-quite useless for any clique, or set 
of cliques, to attempt to frown down, or to affect not to see, or to feel, or to understand. 

Its prevalent blemishes are referable chiefly to the leading sin of imitation. Had the work 
been composed professedly in paraphrase of the whole manner of the sarcastic epistles of 
the times of Dryden and Pope, we should have pronounced it the most ingenious and 
truthful thing of the kind upon record. So close is the copy that it extends to the most 
trivial points-for example, to the old forms of punctuation. The turns of phraseology, the 
tricks of rhythm, the arrangement of the paragraphs, the general conduct of the satire- 
everything-all-are Dryden's. We cannot deny, it is true, that the satiric model of the days 
in question is insusceptible of improvement, and that the modem author who deviates 
therefrom must necessarily sacrifice something of merit at the shrine of originality. 
Neither can we shut our eyes to the fact that the imitation in the present case has 
conveyed, in full spirit, the high qualities, as well as in rigid letter, the minor elegancies 
and general peculiarities of the author of "Absalom and Achitophel." We have here the 
bold, vigorous, and sonorous verse, the biting sarcasm, the pungent epigrammatism, the 
unscrupulous directness, as of old. Yet it will not do to forget that Mr. Wilmer has been 
shown how to accomplish these things. He is thus only entitled to the praise of a close 
observer, and of a thoughtful and skilful copyist. The images are, to be sure, his own. 
They are neither Popes, nor Dryden's, nor Rochester's, nor Churchill's-but they are 
moulded in the identical mould used by these satirists. 

This servility of imitation has seduced our author into errors, which his better sense 
should have avoided. He sometimes mistakes intentions; at other times, he copies faults, 
confounding them with beauties. In the opening of the poem, for example, we find the 
lines- 

Against usurpers, Olney, I declare 
A righteous, just and patriotic war. 

The rhymes war and declare are here adopted from Pope, who employs them frequently; 
but it should have been remembered that the modern relative pronunciation of the two 
words differs materially from the relative pronunciation of the era of the "Dunciad." 



We are also sure that the gross obscenity, the filth-we can use no gentler name-which 
disgraces "The Quacks of Helicon," cannot be the result of innate impurity in the mind of 
the writer. It is but a part of the slavish and indiscriminating imitation of the Swift and 
Rochester school. It has done the book an irreparable injury, both in a moral and 
pecuniary view, without affecting anything whatever on the score of sarcasm, vigour or 
wit. "Let what is to be said, he said plainly." True, but let nothing vulgar be ever said or 
conceived. 

In asserting that this satire, even in its mannerism, has imbued itself with the full spirit of 
the polish and of the pungency of Dryden, we have already awarded it high praise. But 
there remains to be mentioned the far loftier merit of speaking fearlessly the truth, at an 
epoch when truth is out of fashion, and under circumstances of social position which 
would have deterred almost any man in our community from a similar Quixotism. For the 
publication of "The Quacks of Helicon"-a poem which brings under review, by name, 
most of our prominent literati and treats them, generally, as they deserve (what treatment 
could be more bitter?)-for the publication of this attack, Mr. Wilmer, whose subsistence 
lies in his pen, has little to look for-apart from the silent respect of those at once honest 
and timid-but the most malignant open or covert persecution. For this reason, and 
because it is the truth which he has spoken, do we say to him, from the bottom of our 
hearts, "Godspeed!" 

We repeat it: it is the truth which he has spoken; and who shall contradict us? He has said 
unscrupulously what every reasonable man among us has long known to be "as true as 
the Pentateuch"-that, as a literary people, we are one vast perambulating humbug. He has 
asserted that we are clique-ridden; and who does not smile at the obvious truism of that 
assertion? He maintains that chicanery is, with us, a far surer road than talent to 
distinction in letters. Who gainsays this? The corrupt nature of our ordinary criticism has 
become notorious. Its powers have been prostrated by its own arm. The intercourse 
between critic and publisher, as it now almost universally stands, is comprised either in 
the paying and pocketing of blackmail, as the price of a simple forebearance, or in a 
direct system of petty and contemptible bribery, properly so-called-a system even more 
injurious than the former to the true interests of the public, and more degrading to the 
buyers and sellers of good opinion, on account of the more positive character of the 
service here rendered for the consideration received. We laugh at the idea of any denial of 
our assertions upon this topic; they are infamously true. In the charge of general 
corruption, there are undoubtedly many noble exceptions to be made. There are, indeed, 
some very few editors, who, maintaining an entire independence, will receive no books 
from publishers at all, or who receive them with a perfect understanding, on the part of 
these latter, that an unbiassed critique will be given. But these cases are insufficient to 
have much effect on the popular mistrust; a mistrust heightened by late exposure of the 
machinations of coteries in New York-coteries which, at the bidding of leading 
booksellers, manufacture, as required from time to time, a pseudo-public opinion by 
wholesale, for the benefit of any little hanger-on of the party, or pettifogging protector of 
the firm. 



We speak of these things in the bitterness of scorn. It is unnecessary to cite instances, 
where one is found in almost every issue of a book. It is needless to call to mind the 
desperate case of Fay-a case where the pertinacity of the effort to gull-where the 
obviousness of the attempt at forestalling a judgment- where the wofuUy overdone 
bemirrorment of that man-of-straw, together with the pitiable platitude of his production, 
proved a dose somewhat too potent for even the well-prepared stomach of the mob. We 
say it is supererogatory to dwell upon "Norman Leslie," or other by-gone follies, when 
we have before our eyes hourly instances of the machinations in question. To so great an 
extent of methodical assurance has the system of puffery arrived, that publishers, of late, 
have made no scruple of keeping on hand an assortment of commendatory notices, 
prepared by their men of all work, and of sending these notices around to the 
multitudinous papers within their influence, done up within the fly leaves of the book. 
The grossness of these base attempts, however, has not escaped indignant rebuke from 
the more honourable portion of the press; and we hail these symptoms of restiveness 
under the yoke of unprincipled ignorance and quackery (strong only in combination) as 
the harbinger of a better era for the interests of real merit, and of the national literature as 
a whole. 

It has become, indeed, the plain duty of each individual connected with our periodicals 
heartily to give whatever influence he possesses to the good cause of integrity and the 
truth. The results thus attainable will be found worthy his closest attention and best 
efforts. We shall thus frown down all conspiracies to foist inanity upon the public 
consideration at the obvious expense of every man of talent who is not a member of a 
clique in power. We may even arrive in time at that desirable point from which a distinct 
view of our men of letters may be obtained, and their respective pretensions adjusted by 
the standard of a rigorous and self-sustaining criticism alone. That their several positions 
are as yet properly settled; that the posts which a vast number of them now hold are 
maintained by any better tenure than that of the chicanery upon which we have 
commented, will be asserted by none but the ignorant, or the parties who have best right 
to feel an interest in the "good old condition of things." No two matters can be more 
radically different than the reputation of some of our prominent litterateurs as gathered 
from the mouths of the people (who glean it from the paragraphs of the papers), and the 
same reputation as deduced from the private estimate of intelligent and educated men. 
We do not advance this fact as a new discovery. Its truth, on the contrary, is the subject, 
and has long been so, of every-day witticism and mirth. 

Why not? Surely there can be few things more ridiculous than the general character and 
assumptions of the ordinary critical notices of new books! An editor, sometimes without 
the shadow of the commonest attainment-often without brains, always without time-does 
not scruple to give the world to understand that he is in the daily habit of critically 
reading and deciding upon a flood of publications, one-tenth of whose title pages he may 
possibly have turned over, three-fourths of whose contents would be Hebrew to his most 
desperate efforts at comprehension, and whose entire mass and amount, as might be 
mathematically demonstrated, would be sufficient to occupy, in the most cursory perusal, 
the attention of some ten or twenty readers for a month! What he wants in plausibility, 
however, he makes up in obsequiousness; what he lacks in time he supplies in temper. He 



is the most easily pleased man in the world. He admires everything, from the big 
Dictionary of Noah Webster to the last diamond edition of Tom Thumb. Indeed, his sole 
difficulty is in finding tongue to express his delight. Every pamphlet is a miracle- every 
book in boards is an epoch in letters. His phrases, therefore, get bigger and bigger every 
day, and, if it were not for talking Cockney, we might call him a "regular swell." 

Yet, in the attempt at getting definite information in regard to any one portion of our 
literature, the merely general reader, or the foreigner, will turn in vain from the lighter to 
the heavier journals. But it is not our intention here to dwell upon the radical, antique, 
and systematized rigmarole of our Quarterlies. The articles here are anonymous. Who 
writes?-who causes to be written? Who but an ass will put faith in tirades which may be 
the result of personal hostility, or in panegyrics which nine times out of ten may be laid, 
directly or indirectly, to the charge of the author himself? It is in the favour of these 
saturnine pamphlets that they contain, now and then, a good essay de omnibus rebus et 
quibusdam aliis, which may be looked into, without decided somnolent consequences, at 
any period, not immediately subsequent to dinner. But it is useless to expect criticism 
from periodicals called "Reviews" from never reviewing. Besides, all men know, or 
should know, that these books are sadly given to verbiage. It is a part of their nature, a 
condition of their being, a point of their faith. A veteran reviewer loves the safety of 
generalities and is therefore rarely particular. "Words, words, words," are the secret of his 
strength. He has one or two ideas of his own and is both wary and fussy in giving them 
out. His wit lies, with his truth, in a well, and there is always a world of trouble in getting 
it up. He is a sworn enemy to all things simple and direct. He gives no ear to the advice of 
the giant Moulineau-"Belier, mon ami commencez au commencement." He either jumps 
at once into the middle of his subject, or breaks in at a back door, or sidles up to it with 
the gait of a crab. No other mode of approach has an air of sufficient profundity. When 
fairly into it, however, he becomes dazzled with the scintillations of his own wisdom, and 
is seldom able to see his way out. Tired of laughing at his antics, or frightened at seeing 
him flounder, the reader, at length, shuts him up, with the book. "What song the Syrens 
sang," says Sir Thomas Browne, "or what name Achilles assumed when he hid himself 
among women, though puzzling questions, are not beyond all conjecture" ;-but it would 
puzzle Sir Thomas, backed by Achilles and all the Syrens in Heathendom, to say, in nine 
cases out of ten, what is the object of a thoroughgoing Quarterly Reviewer. 

Should the opinions promulgated by our press at large be taken, in their wonderful 
aggregate, as an evidence of what American literature absolutely is (and it may be said 
that, in general, they are really so taken), we shall find ourselves the most enviable set of 
people upon the face of the earth. Our fine writers are legion. Our very atmosphere is 
redolent of genius; and we, the nation, are a huge, well-contented chameleon, grown 
pursy by inhaling it. We are teretes et rotundi-en wrapped in excellence. All our poets are 
Milton neither mute nor inglorious; all our poetesses are "American Hemanses"; nor will 
it do to deny that all our novelists are Great Knowns or Great Unknowns, and that 
everybody who writes, in every possible and impossible department, is the Admirable 
Crichton, or, at least, the Admirable Crichton's ghost. We are thus in a glorious condition, 
and will remain so until forced to disgorge our ethereal honours. In truth there is some 
danger that the jealousy of the Old World will interfere. It cannot long submit to that 



outrageous monopoly of "all the decency and all the talent," of which the gentlemen of 
the press give such undoubted assurance of our being the possessors. 

But we feel angry with ourselves for the jesting tone of our observations upon this topic. 
The prevalence of the spirit of puffery is a subject far less for merriment than for disgust. 
Its truckling, yet dogmatical character-its bold, unsustained, yet self-sufficient and 
wholesale laudation-is becoming, more and more, an insult to the common sense of the 
community. Trivial as it essentially is, it has yet been made the instrument of the grossest 
abuse in the elevation of imbecility, to the manifest injury, to the utter ruin, of true merit. 
Is there any man of good feeling and of ordinary understanding-is there one single 
individual among all our readers-who does not feel a thrill of bitter indignation, apart 
from any sentiment of mirth, as he calls to mind instance after instance of the purest, of 
the most unadulterated quackery in letters, which has risen to a high post in the apparent 
popular estimation, and which still maintains it, by the sole means of a blustering 
arrogance, or of a busy wriggling conceit, or of the most barefaced plagiarism, or even 
through the simple immensity of its assumptions-assumptions not only unopposed by the 
press at large, but absolutely supported in proportion to the vociferous clamour with 
which they are made-in exact accordance with their utter baselessness and untenability? 
We should have no trouble in pointing out to-day some twenty or thirty so-called literary 
personages, who, if not idiots, as we half think them, or if not hardened to all sense of 
shame by a long course of disingenuousness, will now blush in the perusal of these 
words, through consciousness of the shadowy nature of that purchased pedestal upon 
which they stand- will now tremble in thinking of the feebleness of the breath which will 
be adequate to the blowing it from beneath their feet. With the help of a hearty good will, 
even we may yet tumble them down. 

So firm, through a long endurance, has been the hold taken upon the popular mind (at 
least so far as we may consider the popular mind reflected in ephemeral letters) by the 
laudatory system which we have deprecated, that what is, in its own essence, a vice, has 
become endowed with the appearance, and met with the reception of a virtue. Antiquity, 
as usual, has lent a certain degree of speciousness even to the absurd. So continuously 
have we puffed, that we have, at length, come to think puffing the duty, and plain 
speaking the dereliction. What we began in gross error, we persist in through habit. 
Having adopted, in the earlier days of our literature, the untenable idea that this literature, 
as a whole, could be advanced by an indiscriminate approbation bestowed on its every 
effort- having adopted this idea, we say, without attention to the obvious fact that praise 
of all was bitter although negative censure to the few alone deserving, and that the only 
result of the system, in the fostering way, would be the fostering of foUy-we now 
continue our vile practice through the supineness of custom, even while, in our national 
self-conceit, we repudiate that necessity for patronage and protection in which originated 
our conduct. In a word, the press throughout the country has not been ashamed to make 
head against the very few bold attempts at independence which have from time to time 
been made in the face of the reigning order of things. And if in one, or perhaps two, 
insulated cases, the spirit of severe truth, sustained by an unconquerable will, was not to 
be so put down, then, forthwith, were private chicaneries set in motion; then was had 
resort, on the part of those who considered themselves injured by the severity of criticism 



(and who were so, if the just contempt of every ingenuous man is injury), resort to arts of 
the most virulent indignity, to untraceable slanders, to ruthless assassination in the dark. 
We say these things were done while the press in general looked on, and, with a full 
understanding of the wrong perpetrated, spoke not against the wrong. The idea had 
absolutely gone abroad- had grown up little by little into toleration-that attacks, however 
just, upon a literary reputation, however obtained, however untenable, were well 
retaliated by the basest and most unfounded traduction of personal fame. But is this an 
age-is this a day-in which it can be necessary even to advert to such considerations as 
that the book of the author is the property of the public, and that the issue of the book is 
the throwing down of the gauntlet to the reviewer-to the reviewer whose duty is the 
plainest; the duty not even of approbation, or of censure, or of silence, at his own, will 
but at the sway of those sentiments and of those opinions which are derived from the 
author himself, through the medium of his written and published words? True criticism is 
the reflection of the thing criticized upon the spirit of the critic. 

But a nos moutons-to "The Quacks of Helicon." This satire has many faults besides those 
upon which we have commented. The title, for example, is not sufficiently distinctive, 
although otherwise good. It does not confine the subject to American quacks, while the 
work does. The two concluding lines enfeeble instead of strengthening the finale, which 
would have been exceedingly pungent without them. The individual portions of the thesis 
are strung together too much at random-a natural sequence is not always preserved-so 
that, although the lights of the picture are often forcible, the whole has what, in artistical 
parlance, is termed an accidental and spotty appearance. In truth, the parts of the poem 
have evidently been composed each by each, as separate themes, and afterwards fitted 
into the general satire in the best manner possible. 

But a more reprehensible sin than an or than all of these is yet to be mentioned-the sin of 
indiscriminate censure. Even here Mr. Wilmer has erred through imitation. He has held in 
view the sweeping denunciations of the Dunciad, and of the later (abortive) satire of 
Byron. No one in his senses can deny the justice of the general charges of corruption in 
regard to which we have just spoken from the text of our author. But are there no 
exceptions? We should, indeed, blush if there were not. And is there no hope? Time will 
show. We cannot do everything in a day-Non se gano Zonora en un ora. Again, it cannot 
be gainsaid that the greater number of those who hold high places in our poetical 
literature are absolute nincompoops-fellows alike innocent of reason and of rhyme. But 
neither are we all brainless, nor is the devil himself so black as he is painted. Mr. Wilmer 
must read the chapter in Rabelais's "Gargantua," "de ce qu'est signifie par les couleurs 
blanc et bleu, "-for there is some difference after all. It will not do in a civilized land to 
run a-muck like a Malay. Mr. Morris has written good songs. Mr. Bryant is not all a fool. 
Mr. Willis is not quite an ass. Mr. Longfellow will steal, but, perhaps, he cannot help it 
(for we have heard of such things), and then it must not be denied that nil tetigit quod non 
omavit. 

The fact is that our author, in the rank exuberance of his zeal, seems to think as little of 
discrimination as the Bishop of Autun* did of the Bible. Poetical "things in general" are 
the windmills at which he spurs his Rozinante. He as often tilts at what is true as at what 



is false; and thus his lines are like the mirrors of the temples of Smyrna, which represent 
the fairest images as deformed. But the talent, the fearlessness, and especially the design 
of this book, will suffice to preserve it from that dreadful damnation of "silent contempt," 
to which editors throughout the country, if we are not much mistaken, will endeavour, 
one and all to consign it. 

* Talleyrand. 

EXORDIUM 

EXORDIUM 

[Graham's Magazine, January, 1842] 

IN Commencing, with the New Year, a New Volume, we shall be permitted to say a very 
few words by way of exordium to our usual chapter of Reviews, or, as we should prefer 
calling them, of Critical Notices. Yet we speak not for the sake of the exordium, but 
because we have really something to say, and know not when or where better to say it. 

That the public attention, in America, has, of late days, been more than usually directed 
to the matter of literary criticism, is plainly apparent. Our periodicals are beginning to 
acknowledge the importance of the science (shall we so term it?) and to disdain the 
flippant opinion which so long has been made its substitute. 

Time was when we imported our critical decisions from the mother country. For many 
years we enacted a perfect farce of subserviency to the dicta of Great Britain. At last a 
revulsion of feeling, with self-disgust, necessarily ensued. Urged by these, we plunged 
into the opposite extreme. In throwing totally off that "authority," whose voice had so 
long been so sacred, we even surpassed, and by much, our original folly. But the 
watchword now was, "a national literature! "-as, if any true literature could be "national"- 
as if the world at large were not the only proper stage for the literary histrio. We became, 
suddenly, the merest and maddest partizans in letters. Our papers spoke of "tariffs" and 
"protection." Our Magazines had habitual passages about that "truly native novelist, Mr. 
Cooper," or that "staunch American genius, Mr. Paulding." Unmindful of the spirit of the 
axioms that "a prophet has no honor in his own land" and that "a hero is never a hero to 
his valet-de-chambre"-axioms founded in reason and in truth-our reviews urged the 
propriety-our booksellers the necessity, of strictly "American" themes. A foreign subject, 
at this epoch, was a weight more than enough to drag down into the very depths of 
critical damnation the finest writer owning nativity in the States; while, on the reverse, 
we found ourselves daily in the paradoxical dilemma of liking, or pretending to like, a 
stupid book the better because (sure enough) its stupidity was of our own growth, and 
discussed our own affairs. 

It is, in fact, but very lately that this anomalous state of feeling has shown any signs of 
subsidence. Still it is subsiding. Our views of literature in general having expanded, we 
begin to demand the use- to inquire into the offices and provinces of criticism-to regard it 



more as an art based immovably in nature, less as a mere system of fluctuating and 
conventional dogmas. And, with the prevalence of these ideas, has arrived a distaste even 
to the home-dictation of the bookseller-coteries. If our editors are not as yet all 
independent of the will of a publisher, a majority of them scruple, at least, to confess a 
subservience, and enter into no positive combinations against the minority who despise 
and discard it. And this is a very great improvement of exceedingly late date. 

Escaping these quicksands, our criticism is nevertheless in some danger-some very little 
danger-of falling into the pit of a most detestable species of cant-the cant of generality. 
This tendency has been given it, in the first instance, by the onward and tumultuous spirit 
of the age. With the increase of the thinking-material comes the desire, if not the 
necessity, of abandoning particulars for masses. Yet in our individual case, as a nation, 
we seem merely to have adopted this bias from the British Quarterly Reviews, upon 
which our own Quarterlies have been slavishly and pertinaciously modelled. In the 
foreign journal, the review or criticism properly so termed, has gradually yet steadily 
degenerated into what we see it at present-that is to say, into anything but criticism. 
Originally a "review" was not so called as lucus a non lucendo. Its name conveyed a just 
idea of its design. It reviewed, or surveyed the book whose title formed its text, and, 
giving an analysis of its contents, passed judgment upon its merits or defects. But, 
through the system of anonymous contribution, this natural process lost ground from day 
to day. The name of a writer being known only to a few, it became to him an object not 
so much to write well, as to write fluently, at so many guineas per sheet. The analysis of a 
book is a matter of time and of mental exertion. For many classes of composition there is 
required a deliberate perusal, with notes, and subsequent generalization. An easy 
substitute for this labor was found in a digest or compendium of the work noticed, with 
copious extracts-or a still easier, in random comments upon such passages as 
accidentally met the eye of the critic, with the passages themselves copied at full length. 
The mode of reviewing most in favor, however, because carrying with it the greatest 
semblance of care, was that of diffuse essay upon the subject matter of the publication, 
the reviewer(?) using the facts alone which the publication supplied, and using them as 
material for some theory, the sole concern, bearing, and intention of which, was mere 
difference of opinion with the author. These came at length to be understood and 
habitually practised as the customary or conventional fashions of review; and although 
the nobler order of intellects did not fall into the full heresy of these fashions-we may 
still assert that even Macaulay's nearest approach to criticism in its legitimate sense, is to 
be found in his article upon Ranke's "History of the Popes "-an article in which the whole 
strength of the reviewer is put forth to account for a single fact-the progress of 
Romanism-which the book under discussion has established. 

Now, while we do not mean to deny that a good essay is a good thing, we yet assert that 
these papers on general topics have nothing whatever to do with that criticism which their 
evil example has nevertheless infected in se. Because these dogmatizing pamphlets, 
which were once "Reviews," have lapsed from their original faith, it does not follow that 
the faith itself is extinct-that "there shall be no more cakes and ale"-that criticism, in its 
old acceptation, does not exist. But we complain of a growing inclination on the part of 
our lighter journals to believe, on such grounds, that such is the fact- that because the 



British Quarterlies, through supineness, and our own, through a degrading imitation, have 
come to merge all varieties of vague generalization in the one title of "Review," it 
therefore results that criticism, being everything in the universe, is, consequently, nothing 
whatever in fact. For to this end, and to none other conceivable, is the tendency of such 
propositions, for example, as we find in a late number of that very clever monthly 
magazine, Arcturus. 

"But now" (the emphasis on the now is our own)-"but now," says Mr. Mathews, in the 
preface to the first volume of his journal, "criticism has a wider scope and a universal 
interest. It dismisses errors of grammer, and hands over an imperfect rhyme or a false 
quantity to the proofreader; it looks now to the heart of the subject and the author's 
design. It is a test of opinion. Its acuteness is not pedantic, but philosophical; it unravels 
the web of the author's mystery to interpret his meaning to others; it detects his sophistry, 
because sophistry is injurious to the heart and life; it promulgates his beauties with 
liberal, generous praise, because this is his true duty as the servant of truth. Good 
criticism may be well asked for, since it is the type of the literature of the day. It gives 
method to the universal inquisitiveness on every topic relating to life or action. A 
criticism, now, includes every form of literature, except perhaps the imaginative and the 
strictly dramatic. It is an essay, a sermon, an oration, a chapter in history, a philosophical 
speculation, a prose-poem, an art-novel, a dialogue, it admits of humor, pathos, the 
personal feelings of autobiography, the broadest views of statesmanship. As the ballad 
and the epic were the productions of the days of Homer, the review is the native 
characteristic growth of the nineteenth century." 

We respect the talents of Mr. Mathews, but must dissent from nearly all that he here says. 
The species of "review" which he designates as the "characteristic growth of the 
nineteenth century" is only the growth of the last twenty or thirty years in Great Britain. 
The French Reviews, for example, which are not anonymous, are very different things, 
and preserve the unique spirit of true criticism. And what need we say of the Germans?- 
what of Winckelmann, of Novalis, of ScheUing, of Goethe, of Augustus WiUiam, and of 
Frederick Schlegel?-that their magnificent critiques raisonnees differ from those of 
Kames, of Johnson, and of Blair, in principle not at all, (for the principles of these artists 
will not fail until Nature herself expires,) but solely in their more careful elaboration, 
their greater thoroughness, their more profound analysis and application of the principles 
themselves. That a criticism "now" should be different in spirit, as Mr. Mathews 
supposes, from a criticism at any previous period, is to insinuate a charge of variability in 
laws that cannot vary-the laws of man's heart and intellect-for these are the sole basis, 
upon which the true critical art is established. And this art "now" no more than in the 
days of the "Dunciad," can, without neglect of its duty, "dismiss errors of grammar," or 
"hand over an imperfect rhyme or a false quantity to the proof-reader." What is meant by 
a "test of opinion" in the connection here given the words by Mr. M., we do not 
comprehend as clearly as we could desire. By this phrase we are as completely enveloped 
in doubt as was Mirabeau in the castle of If. To our imperfect appreciation it seems to 
form a portion of that general vagueness which is the tone of the whole philosophy at this 
point:- but all that which our journalist describes a criticism to be, is all that which we 
sturdily maintain it is not. Criticism is not, we think, an essay, nor a sermon, nor an 



oration, nor a chapter in history, nor a philosophical speculation, nor a prose-poem, nor 
an art-novel, nor a dialogue. In fact, it can be nothing in the world but-a criticism. But if 
it were all that Arcturus imagines, it is not very clear why it might not be equally 
"imaginative, or "dramatic"- a romance or a melodrama, or both. That it would be a farce 
cannot be doubted. 

It is against this frantic spirit of generalization that we protest. We have a word, 
"criticism," whose import is sufficiently distinct, through long usage, at least, and we 
have an art of high importance and clearly ascertained limit, which this word is quite well 
enough understood to represent. Of that conglomerate science to which Mr. Mathews so 
eloquently alludes, and of which we are instructed that it is anything and everything at 
once-of this science we know nothing, and really wish to know less; but we object to our 
contemporary's appropriation in its behalf, of a term to which we, in common with a large 
majority of mankind, have been accustomed to attach a certain and very definitive idea. Is 
there no word but "criticism" which may be made to serve the purposes of "Arcturus"? 
Has it any objection to Orphicism, or Dialism, or Emersonism, or any other pregnant 
compound indicative of confusion worse confounded? 

Still, we must not pretend a total misapprehension of the idea of Mr. Mathews, and we 
should be sorry that he misunderstood us. It may be granted that we differ only in terms- 
although the difference will yet be found not unimportant in effect. Following the highest 
authority, we would wish, in a word, to limit literary criticism to comment upon Art. A 
book is written-and it is only as the book that we subject it to review. With the opinions 
of the work, considered otherwise than in their relation to the work itself, the critic has 
really nothing to do. It is his part simply to decide upon the mode in which these opinions 
are brought to bear. Criticism is thus no "test of opinion." For this test, the work, divested 
of its pretensions as an art-product, is turned over for discussion to the world at large- and 
first, to that class which it especially addresses-if a history, to the historian-if a 
metaphysical treatise, to the moralist. In this, the only true and intelligible sense, it will 
be seen that criticism, the test or analysis of Art, (not of opinion,) is only properly 
employed upon productions which have their basis in art itself, and although the 
journalist (whose duties and objects are multiform) may turn aside, at pleasure, from the 
mode or vehicle of opinion to discussion of the opinion conveyed-it is still clear that he is 
"critical" only in so much as he deviates from his true province not at all. 

And of the critic himself what shall we say?-for as yet we have spoken only the proem to 
the true epopea. What can we better say of him than, with Bulwer, that "he must have 
courage to blame boldly, magnanimity to eschew envy, genius to appreciate, learning to 
compare, an eye for beauty, an ear for music, and a heart for feeling." Let us add, a talent 
for analysis and a solemn indifference to abuse. 

BALLADS AND OTHER POEMS 

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, author of "Voices of the Night," 

"Hyperion," &c. Second edition. John Owen, Cambridge. 



"IL Y A A PARIER," says Chamfort, "que toute idee publique, toute convention recue, 
est une sottise, car elle a convenu au plus grand notore."-One would be safe in wagering 
that any given public idea is erroneous, for it has been yielded to the clamor of the 
majority -and this strictly philosophical, although somewhat French assertion has 
especial bearing upon the whole race of what are termed maxims and popular proverbs; 
nine-tenths of which are the quintessence of folly. One of the most deplorably false of 
them is the antique adage, De gustibus non est disputandum-there should be no disputing 
about taste. Here the idea designed to be conveyed is that any one person has as just right 
to consider his own taste the true, as has any one other-that taste itself, in short, is an 
arbitrary something, amenable to no law, and measurable by no definite rules. It must be 
confessed, however, that the exceedingly vague and impotent treatises which are alone 
extant, have much to answer for as regards confirming the general error. Not the least 
important service which, hereafter, mankind will owe to Phrenology, may, perhaps, be 
recognized in an analysis of the real principles, and a digest of the resulting laws of taste. 
These principles, in fact, are as clearly traceable, and these laws as really susceptible of 
system as are any whatever. 

In the meantime, the inane adage above mentioned is in no respect more generally, more 
stupidly, and more pertinaciously quoted than by the admirers of what is termed the 
"good old Pope," or the "good old Goldsmith school" of poetry, in reference to the 
bolder, more natural and more ideal compositions of such authors as Coetlogon and 
Lamartine* in France; Herder, Korner, and Uhland, in Germany; Brun and Baggesen in 
Denmark; Bellman, Tegner, Nyberg*(2) in Sweden; Keats, Shelley, Coleridge, and 
Tennyson in England; Lowell and Longfellow in America. "De gustibus non," say these 
"good-old school" fellows; and we have no doubt that their mental translation of the 
phrase is- "We pity your taste-we pity every body's taste but our own." 

* We allude here chiefly to the "David" of Coetlogon and only to the "Chute d'un Ange" 
of Lamartine. 

*(2) Julia Nyberg, author of the "Dikter von Euphrosyne." 

It is our purpose hereafter, when occasion shall be afforded us, to controvert in an article 
of some length, the popular idea that the poets, just mentioned owe to novelty, to 
trickeries of expression, and to other meretricious effects, their appreciation by certain 
readers:-to demonstrate (for the matter is susceptible of demonstration) that such poetry 
and such alone has fulfilled the legitimate office of the muse; has thoroughly satisfied an 
earnest and unquenchable desire existing in the heart of man. In the present number of 
our Magazine we have left ourselves barely room to say a few random words of welcome 
to these "Ballads," by Longfellow, and to tender him, and all such as he, the homage of 
our most earnest love and admiration. 

The volume before us (in whose outward appearance the keen "taste" of genius is evinced 
with nearly as much precision as in its internal soul) includes, with several brief original 
pieces, a translation from the Swedish of Tegner. In attempting (what never should be 
attempted) a literal version of both the words and the metre of this poem. Professor 



Longfellow has failed to do justice either to his author or himself. He has striven to do 
what no man ever did well and what, from the nature of the language itself, never can be 
well done. Unless, for example, we shall come to have an influx of spondees in our 
English tongue, it will always be impossible to construct an English hexameter. Our 
spondees, or, we should say, our spondiac words, are rare. In the Swedish they are nearly 
as abundant as in the Latin and Greek. We have only "compound," "context," "footfall," 
and a few other similar ones. This is the difficulty; and that it is so will become evident 
upon reading "The Children of the Lord's Supper," where the sole readable verses are 
those in which we meet with the rare spondaic dissyllables. We mean to say readable as 
Hexameters; for many of them will read very well as mere English Dactylics, with certain 
irregularities. 

But within the narrow compass now left us we must not indulge in anything like critical 
comment. Our readers will be better satisfied perhaps with a few brief extracts from the 
original poems of the volume-which we give for their rare excellence, without pausing 
now to say in what particulars this excellence exists. 

And, like the water's flow 

Under December's snow 

Came a dull voice of woe. 

From the heart's chamber. 

So the loud laugh of scorn. 

Out of those lips unshorn 

From the deep drinking-horn 

Blew the foam lightly. 

As with his wings aslant 

Sails the fierce cormorant 

Seeking some rocky haunt. 

With his prey laden. 

So toward the open main. 

Beating to sea again. 

Through the wild hurricane. 

Bore I the maiden. 

Down came the storm and smote amain 

The vessel in its strength; 

She shuddered and paused like a frighted steed 

Then leaped her cable's length. 

She drifted a dreary wreck. 

And a whooping billow swept the crew 

Like icicles from her deck. 

He hears the parson pray and preach 

He hears his daughter's voice. 

Singing in the village choir. 

And it makes his heart rejoice; 

It sounds to him like her mother's voice 

Singing in Paradise! 



He needs must think of her once more 

How in the grave she lies; 

And with his hard rough hand he wipes 

A tear out of his eyes. 

Thus the flaming forge of life 

Our fortunes must be wrought; 

Thus on its sounding anvil shaped 

Each burning deed and thought. 

The rising moon has hid the stars 

Her level rays like golden bars 

Lie on the landscape green 

With shadows brown between. 

Love lifts the boughs whose shadows deep 

Are life's oblivion, the soul's sleep, 

And kisses the closed eyes 

Of him who slumbering lies. 

Friends my soul with joy remembers! 

How like quivering flames they start. 

When I fan the living embers 

On the hearth-stone of my heart. 

Hearest thou voices on the shore. 

That our ears perceive no more 

Deafened by the cataract's roar? 

And from the sky, serene and far 

A voice fell like a falling star. 

Some of these passages cannot be fully appreciated apart from the context-but we 
address those who have read the book. Of the translations we have not spoken. It is but 
right to say, however, that "The Luck of Edenhall" is a far finer poem, in every respect 
than any of the original pieces. Nor would we have our previous observations 
misunderstood. Much as we admire the genius of Mr. Longfellow, we are fully sensible 
of his many errors of affectation and imitation. His artistical skill is great and his ideality 
high. But his conception of the aims of poesy is all wrong, and this we shall prove at 
some future day-to our own satisfaction, at least. His didactics are all out of place. He 
has written brilliant poems-by accident; that is to say when permitting his genius to get 
the better of his conventional habit of thinking-a habit deduced from German study. We 
do not mean to say that a didactic moral may not be well made the under-current of a 
poetical thesis; but that it can never be well put so obtrusively forth, as in the majority of 
his compositions. There is a young American who, with ideality not richer than that of 
Longfellow, and with less artistical knowledge, has yet composed far truer poems, merely 
through the greater propriety of his themes. We allude to James Russell Lowell; and in 
the number of this Magazine for last month, will be found a ballad entitled "Rosaline," 
affording an excellent exemplification of our meaning. This composition has 
unquestionably its defects, and the very defects which are not perceptible in Mr. 
Longfellow-but we sincerely think that no American poem equals it in the higher 
elements of song. 



In our last number we had some hasty observations on these "Ballads'-observations 
which we propose, in some measure, to amplify and explain. 

It may be remembered that, among other points, we demurred to Mr. Longfellow's 
themes, or rather to their general character. We found fault with the too obtrusive nature 
of their didacticism. Some years ago, we urged a similar objection to one or two of the 
longer pieces of Bryant, and neither time nor reflection has sufficed to modify, in the 
slightest particular, our conviction upon this topic. 

We have said that Mr. Longfellow's conception of the aims of poesy is erroneous; and 
that thus, labouring at a disadvantage, he does violent wrong to his own high powers; and 
now the question is. What are his ideas of the aims of the Muse, as we gather these ideas 
from the general tendency of his poems? It will be at once evident that, imbued with the 
peculiar spirit of German song (a pure conventionality), he regards the inculcation of a 
moral as essential. Here we find it necessary to repeat that we have reference only to the 
general tendency of his compositions; for there are some magnificent exceptions, where, 
as if by accident, he has permitted his genius to get the better of his conventional 
prejudice. But didacticism is the prevalent tone of his song. His invention, his imagery, 
his all, is made subservient to the elucidation of some one or more points (but rarely of 
more than one) which he looks upon as truth. And that this mode of procedure will find 
stern defenders should never excite surprise, so long as the world is full to overflowing 
with cant and conventicles. There are men who will scramble on all fours through the 
muddiest sloughs of vice to pick up a single apple of virtue. There are things called men 
who, so long as the sun rolls, will greet with snuffling huzzas every figure that takes upon 
itself the semblance of truth, even although the figure, in itself only a "stuffed Paddy," be 
as much out of place as a toga on the statue of Washington, or out of season as rabbits in 
the days of the dog- star. 

Now, with as deep a reverence for "the true" as ever inspired the bosom of mortal man, 
we would limit, in many respects, its modes of inculcation. We would limit, to enforce 
them. We would not render them impotent by dissipation. The demands of truth are 
severe. She has no sympathy with the myrtles. All that is indispensable in song is all with 
which she has nothing to do. To deck her in gay robes is to render her a harlot. It is but 
making her a flaunting paradox to wreathe her in gems and flowers. Even in stating this 
our present proposition, we verify our own words-we feel the necessity, in enforcing this 
truth, of descending from metaphor. Let us then be simple and distinct. To convey "the 
true" we are required to dismiss from the attention all inessentials. We must be 
perspicuous, precise, terse. We need concentration rather than expansion of mind. We 
must be calm, unimpassioned, unexcited-in a word, we must be in that peculiar mood 
which, as nearly as possible, is the exact converse of the poetical. He must be blind 
indeed who cannot perceive the radical and chasmal difference between the truthful and 
the poetical modes of inculcation. He must be grossly wedded to conventionalisms who, 
in spite of this difference, shall still attempt to reconcile the obstinate oils and waters of 
Poetry and Truth. 



Dividing the world of mind into its most obvious and immediately recognisable 
distinctions, we have the pure intellect, taste and the moral sense. We place taste between 
the intellect and the moral sense, because it is just this intermediate space which, in the 
mind, it occupies. It is the connecting link in the triple chain. 

It serves to sustain a mutual intelligence between the extremes. It appertains, in strict 
appreciation, to the former, but is distinguished from the latter by so faint a difference 
that Aristotle has not hesitated to class some of its operations among the Virtues 
themselves. But the offices of the trio are broadly marked. Just as conscience, or the 
moral sense, recognises duty; just as the intellect deals with truth; so is it the part of taste 
alone to inform us BEAUTY. And Poesy is the handmaiden but of Taste. Yet we would 
not be misunderstood. This handmaiden is not forbidden to moralise-in her own fashion. 
She is not forbidden to depict-but to reason and preach of virtue. As of this latter, 
conscience recognises the obligation, so intellect teaches the expediency, while taste 
contents herself with displaying the beauty; waging war with vice merely on the ground 
of its inconsistency with fitness, harmony, proportion-in a word with-'to kalon.' 

An important condition of man's immortal nature is thus, plainly, the sense of the 
Beautiful. This it is which ministers to his delight in the manifold forms and colours and 
sounds and sentiments amid which he exists. And, just as the eyes of Amaryllis are 
repeated in the mirror, or the living lily in the lake, so is the mere record of these forms 
and colours and sounds and sentiments-so is their mere oral or written repetition a 
duplicate source of delight. But this repetition is not Poesy. He who shall merely sing 
with whatever rapture, in however harmonious strains, or with however vivid a truth of 
imitation, of the sights and sounds which greet him in common with all mankind-he, we 
say, has yet failed to prove his divine title. There is still a longing unsatisfied, which he 
has been impotent to fulfil. There is still a thirst unquenchable, which to allay he has 
shown us no crystal springs. This burning thirst belongs to the immortal essence of man's 
nature. It is equally a consequence and an indication of his perennial life. It is the desire 
of the moth for the star. It is not the mere appreciation of the beauty before us. It is a wild 
effort to reach the beauty above. It is a forethought of the loveliness to come. It is a 
passion to be satiated by no sublunary sights, or sounds, or sentiments, and the soul thus 
athirst strives to allay its fever in futile efforts at creation. Inspired with a prescient 
ecstasy of the beauty beyond the grave, it struggles by multiform novelty of combination 
among the things and thoughts of Time, to anticipate some portion of that loveliness 
whose very elements, perhaps, appertain solely to Eternity, and the result of such effort, 
on the part of souls fittingly constituted, is alone what mankind have agreed to 
denominate Poetry. 

We say this with little fear of contradiction. Yet the spirit of our assertion must be more 
heeded than the letter. Mankind have seemed to define Poesy in a thousand, and in a 
thousand conflicting, definitions. But the war is one only of words. Induction is as well 
applicable to this subject as to the most palpable and utilitarian; and by its sober 
processes we find that, in respect to compositions which have been really received as 
poems, the imaginative, or, more popularly, the creative portions alone have ensured 
them to be so received. Yet these works, on account of these portions, having once been 



so received and so named, it has happened naturally and inevitably, that other portions 
totally unpoetic have not only come to be regarded by the popular voice as poetic, but 
have been made to serve as false standards of perfection in the adjustment of other 
poetical claims. Whatever has been found in whatever has been received as a poem, has 
been blindly regarded as ex statu poetic. And this is a species of gross error which 
scarcely could have made its way into any less intangible topic. In fact that license which 
appertains to the Muse herself, it has been thought decorous, if not sagacious, to indulge 
in all examination of her character. 

Poesy is thus seen to be a response-unsatisfactory it is true- but still in some measure a 
response, to a natural and irrepressible demand. Man being what he is, the time could 
never have been in which poesy was not. Its first element is the thirst for supernal 
BEAUTY-a beauty which is not afforded the soul by any existing collocation of earth's 
forms-a beauty which, perhaps, no possible combination of these forms would fully 
produce. Its second element is the attempt to satisfy this thirst by novel combinations 
among those forms of beauty which already exist-or by novel combinations of those 
combinations which our predecessors, toiling in chase of the same phantom have already 
set in order. We thus clearly deduce the novelty, the originality, the invention, the 
imagination, or lastly the creation of BEAUTY (for the terms as here employed are 
synonymous), as the essence of all Poesy. Nor is this idea so much at variance with 
ordinary opinion as, at first sight, it may appear. A multitude of antique dogmas on this 
topic will be found when divested of extrinsic speculation, to be easily resoluble into the 
definition now proposed. We do nothing more than present tangibly the vague clouds of 
the world's idea. We recognize the idea itself floating, unsettled, indefinite, in every 
attempt which has yet been made to circumscribe the conception of "Poesy" in words. A 
striking instance of this is observable in the fact that no definition exists in which either 
the "beautiful," or some one of those qualities which we have mentioned above 
designated synonymously with "creation," has not been pointed out as the chief attribute 
of the Muse. "Invention," however, or "imagination," is by far more commonly insisted 
upon. The word poiesis itself (creation) speaks volumes upon this point. Neither will it be 
amiss here to mention Count Bielfeld's definition of poetry as "L'art d'exprimer les 
pensees par la fiction." With this definition (of which the philosophy is profound to a 
certain extent) the German terms Dichtkunst, the art of fiction, and Dichten, to feign, 
which are used for "poetry" and "to make verses," are in full and remarkable accordance. 
It is, nevertheless, in the combination of the two omniprevalent ideas that the novelty 
and, we believe, the force of our own proposition is to be found. 

So far we have spoken of Poesy as of an abstraction alone. As such, it is obvious that it 
may be applicable in various moods. The sentiment may develop itself in Sculpture, in 
Painting, in Music, or otherwise. But our present business is with its development in 
words-that development to which, in practical acceptation, the world has agreed to limit 
the term. And at this point there is one consideration which induces us to pause. We 
cannot make up our minds to admit (as some have admitted) the inessentiality of rhythm. 
On the contrary, the universality of its use in the earliest poetical efforts of all mankind 
would be sufficient to assure us, not merely of its congeniality with the Muse, or of its 
adaptation to her purposes, but of its elementary and indispensable importance. But here 



we must, perforce, content ourselves with mere suggestion; for this topic is of a character 
which would lead us too far. We have already spoken of Music as one of the moods of 
poetical development. It is in Music, perhaps, that the soul most nearly attains that end 
upon which we have commented-the creation of supernal beauty. It may be, indeed, that 
this august aim is here even partially or imperfectly attained, in fact. The elements of that 
beauty which is felt in sound, may be the mutual or common heritage of Earth and 
Heaven. In the soul's struggles at combination it is thus not impossible that a harp may 
strike notes not unfamiliar to the angels. And in this view the wonder may well be less 
that all attempts at defining the character or sentiment of the deeper musical impressions 
have been found absolutely futile. Contenting ourselves, therefore, with the firm 
conviction that music (in its modifications of rhythm and rhyme) is of so vast a moment 
in Poesy as never to be neglected by him who is truly poetical-is of so mighty a force in 
furthering the great aim intended that he is mad who rejects its assistance-content with 
this idea we shall not pause to maintain its absolute essentiality, for the mere sake of 
rounding a definition. We will but add, at this point, that the highest possible 
development of the Poetical Sentiment is to be found in the union of song with music, in 
its popular sense. The old Bards and Minnesingers possessed, in the fullest perfection, the 
finest and truest elements of Poesy; and Thomas Moore, singing his own ballads, is but 
putting the final touch to their completion as poems. 

To recapitulate, then, we would define in brief the Poetry of words as the Rhythmical 
Creation of Beauty. Beyond the limits of Beauty its province does not extend. Its sole 
arbiter is Taste. With the Intellect or with the Conscience it has only collateral relations. 
It has no dependence, unless incidentally, upon either Duty or Truth. That our definition 
will necessarily exclude much of what, through a supine toleration, has been hitherto 
ranked as poetical, is a matter which affords us not even momentary concern. We address 
but the thoughtful, and heed only their approval-with our own. If our suggestions are 
truthful, then "after many days" shall they be understood as truth, even though found in 
contradiction of all that has been hitherto so understood. If false, shall we not be the first 
to bid them die? 

We would reject, of course, all such matters as "Armstrong on Health," a revolting 
production; Pope's "Essay on Man," which may well be content with the title of an 
"Essay in Rhyme"; "Hudibras," and other merely humorous pieces. We do not gainsay 
the peculiar merits of either of these latter compositions-but deny them the position they 
have held. In a notice of Brainard's Poems, we took occasion to show that the common 
use of a certain instrument (rhythm) had tended, more than aught else, to confound 
humorous verse with poetry. The observation is now recalled to corroborate what we 
have just said in respect to the vast effect or force of melody in itself-an effect which 
could elevate into even momentary confusion with the highest efforts of mind, 
compositions such as are the greater number of satires or burlesques. 

Of the poets who have appeared most fully instinct with the principles now developed, 
we may mention Keats as the most remarkable. He is the sole British poet who has never 
erred in his themes. Beauty is always his aim. 



We have thus shown our ground of objection to the general themes of Professor 
Longfellow. In common with all who claim the sacred title of poet, he should limit his 
endeavours to the creation of novel moods of beauty, in form, in colour, in sound, in 
sentiment; for over all this wide range has the poetry of words dominion. To what the 
world terms prose may be safely and properly left all else. The artist who doubts of his 
thesis, may always resolve his doubt by the single question-"might not this matter be as 
well or better handled in prose?" If it may, then is it no subject for the Muse. In the 
general acceptation of the term Beauty we are content to rest, being careful only to 
suggest that, in our peculiar views, it must be understood as inclusive of the sublime. 

Of the pieces which constitute the present volume there are not more than one or two 
thoroughly fulfilling the idea above proposed; although the volume as a whole is by no 
means so chargeable with didacticism as Mr. Longfellow's previous book. We would 
mention as poems nearly true, "The Village Blacksmith," "The Wreck of the Hesperus," 
and especially "The Skeleton in Armor." In the first- mentioned we have the beauty of 
simple-mindedness as a genuine thesis; and this thesis is inimitably handled until the 
concluding stanza, where the spirit of legitimate poesy is aggrieved in the pointed 
antithetical deduction of a moral from what has gone before. In "The Wreck of the 
Hesperus" we have the beauty of child-like confidence and innocence, with that of the 
father's courage and affection. But, with slight exception, those particulars of the storm 
here detailed are not poetic subjects. Their thrilling horror belongs to prose, in which it 
could be far more effectively discussed, as Professor Longfellow may assure himself at 
any moment by experiment. There are points of a tempest which afford the loftiest and 
truest poetical themes-points in which pure beauty is found, or, better still, beauty 
heightened into the sublime, by terror. But when we read, among other similar things, 
that 

The salt sea was frozen on her breast. 
The salt tears in her eyes. 

we feel, if not positive disgust, at least a chilling sense of the inappropriate. In "The 
Skeleton in Armor" we find a pure and perfect thesis artistically treated. We find the 
beauty of bold courage and self-confidence, of love and maiden devotion, of reckless 
adventure, and finally the life-contemning grief. Combined with all this, we have 
numerous points of beauty apparently insulated, but all aiding the main effect or 
impression. The heart is stirred, and the mind does not lament its malinstruction. The 
metre is simple, sonorous, well-balanced, and fully adapted to the subject. Upon the 
whole, there are few truer poems than this. It has not one defect-an important one. The 
prose remarks prefacing the narrative are really necessary. But every work of art should 
contain within itself all that is requisite for its own comprehension. And this remark is 
especially true of the ballad. In poems of magnitude the mind of the reader is not, at all 
times, enabled to include, in one comprehensive survey, the proportions and proper 
adjustment of the whole. He is pleased, if at all with particular passages; and the sum of 
his pleasure is compounded of the sums of the pleasurable sentiments inspired by these 
individual passages in the progress of perusal. But, in pieces of less extent, the pleasure is 
unique, in the proper acceptation of this term-the understanding is employed, without 



difficulty, in the contemplation of the picture as a whole; and thus its effect will depend, 
in great measure, upon the perfection of its finish, upon the nice adaptation of its 
constituent parts, and especially, upon what is rightly termed by Schlegel the unity or 
totality of interest. But the practice of prefixing explanatory passages is utterly at 
variance with such unity. By the prefix, we are either put in possession of the subject of 
the poem, or some hint, historic fact, or suggestion, is thereby afforded, not included in 
the body of the piece, which, without the hint, is incomprehensible. In the latter case, 
while perusing the poem, the reader must revert, in mind at, least, to the prefix, for the 
necessary explanation. In the former, the poem being a mere paraphrase of the prefix, the 
interest is divided between the prefix and the paraphrase. In either instance the totality of 
effect is destroyed. 

Of the other original poems in the volume before us there is none in which the aim of 
instruction, or truth, has not been too obviously substituted for the legitimate aim, beauty. 
We have heretofore taken occasion to say that a didactic moral might be happily made 
the under-current of a poetical theme, and we have treated this point at length in a review 
of Moore's "Alciphron"; but the moral thus conveyed is invariably an ill effect when 
obtruding beyond the upper-current of the thesis itself. Perhaps the worst specimen of this 
obtrusion is given us by our poet in "Blind Bartimeus" and the "Goblet of Life," where it 
will be observed that the sole interest of the upper-current of meaning depends upon its 
relation or reference to the under. What we read upon the surface would be vox et 
praeterea nihil in default of the moral beneath. The Greek finales of "Blind Bartimeus" 
are an affectation altogether inexcusable. What the small, second-hand, Gibbonish 
pedantry of Byron introduced, is unworthy the imitation of Longfellow. 

Of the translations we scarcely think it necessary to speak at all. We regret that our poet 
will persist in busying himself about such matters. His time might be better employed in 
original conception. Most of these versions are marked with the error upon which we 
have commented. This error is, in fact, essentially Germanic. "The Luck of Edenhall," 
however, is a truly beautiful poem; and we say this with all that deference which the 
opinion of the "Democratic Review" demands. This composition appears to us one of the 
very finest. It has all the free, hearty, obvious movement of the true ballad-legend. The 
greatest force of language is combined in it with the richest imagination, acting in its 
most legitimate province. Upon the whole, we prefer it even to the "Sword-Song" of 
Komer. The pointed moral with which it terminates is so exceedingly natural-so 
perfectly fluent from the incidents-that we have hardly heart to pronounce it in ill-taste. 
We may observe of this ballad, in conclusion, that its subject is more physical than is 
usual in Germany. Its images are rich rather in physical than in moral beauty. And this 
tendency in Song is the true one. It is chiefly, if we are not mistaken-it is chiefly amid 
forms of physical loveliness (we use the word forms in its widest sense as embracing 
modifications of sound and colour) that the soul seeks the realisation of its dreams of 
BEAUTY. It is to her demand in this sense especially, that the poet, who is wise, will 
most frequently and most earnestly respond. 

"The Children of the Lord's Supper" is, beyond doubt, a true and most beautiful poem in 
great part, while, in some particulars, it is too metaphysical to have any pretension to the 



name. We have already objected, briefly, to its metre-the ordinary Latin or Greek 
Hexameter-dactyls and spondees at random, with a spondee in conclusion. We maintain 
that the hexameter can never be introduced into our language, from the nature of that 
language itself. This rhythm demands, for English ears, a preponderance of natural 
spondees. Our tongue has few. Not only does the Latin and Greek, with the Swedish, and 
some others, abound in them; but the Greek and Roman ear had become reconciled (why 
or how is unknown) to the reception of artificial spondees-that is to say, spondaic words 
formed partly of one word and partly of another, or from an excised part of one word. In 
short, the ancients were content to read as they scanned, or nearly so. It may be safely 
prophesied that we shall never do this; and thus we shall never admit English hexameters. 
The attempt to introduce them, after the repeated failures of Sir Philip Sidney and others, 
is perhaps somewhat discreditable to the scholarship of Professor Longfellow. The 
"Democratic Review," in saying that he has triumphed over difficulties in this rhythm, 
has been deceived, it is evident, by the facility with which some of these verses may be 
read. In glancing over the poem, we do not observe a single verse which can be read, to 
English ears, as a Greek hexameter. There are many, however, which can be well read as 
mere English dactylic verses; such, for example, as the well-known lines of Byron, 
commencing 

Know ye the / land where the / cypress and / myrtle. 

These lines (although full of irregularities) are, in their perfection, formed of three dactyls 
and a caesura-just as if we should cut short the initial verse of the Bucolics thus- 

Tityre / tu patu / lae recu / bans- 

The "myrtal," at the close of Byron's line, is a double rhyme, and must be understood as 
one syllable. 

Now a great number, of Professor Longfellow's hexameters are merely these dactylic 
lines, continued for two feet. For example- 
Whispered the / race of the / flowers and / merry on / balancing / branches. 

In this example, also, "branches," which is a double ending, must be regarded as the 
caesura, or one syllable, of which alone it has the force. 

As we have already alluded, in one or two regards, to a notice of these poems which 
appeared in the "Democratic Review," we may as well here proceed with some few 
further comments upon the article in question-with whose general tenor we are happy to 
agree. 

The Review speaks of "Maidenhood" as a poem, "not to be understood but at the expense 
of more time and trouble than a song can justly claim." We are scarcely less surprised at 
this opinion from Mr. Langtree than we were at the condemnation of "The Luck of 
Edenhall." 



"Maidenhood" is faulty, it appears to us, only on the score of its theme, which is 
somewhat didactic. Its meaning seems simplicity itself. A maiden on the verge of 
womanhood hesitating to enjoy life (for which she has a strong appetite) through a false 
idea of duty, is bidden to fear nothing, having purity of heart as her lion of Una. 

What Mr. Langtree styles "an unfortunate peculiarity" in Mr. Longfellow, resulting from 
"adherence to a false system," has really been always regarded by us as one of his 
idiosyncratic merits. "In each poem," says the critic, "he has but one idea, which, in the 
progress of his song, is gradually unfolded, and at last reaches its full development in the 
concluding lines: this singleness of thought might lead a harsh critic to suspect 
intellectual barrenness." It leads us, individually, only to a full sense of the artistical 
power and knowledge of the poet. We confess that now, for the first time, we hear unity 
of conception objected to as a defect. But Mr. Langtree seems to have f Allan into the 
singular error of supposing the poet to have absolutely but one idea in each of his ballads. 
Yet how "one idea" can be "gradually unfolded" without other ideas is, to us, a mystery 
of mysteries. Mr. Longfellow, very properly, has but one leading idea which forms the 
basis of his poem; but to the aid and development of this one there are innumerable 
others, of which the rare excellence is that all are in keeping, that none could be well 
omitted, that each tends to the one general effect. It is unnecessary to say another word 
upon this topic. 

In speaking of "Excelsior," Mr. Langtree (are we wrong in attributing the notice to his 
very forcible pen?) seems to labour under some similar misconception. "It carries along 
with it," says he, "a false moral which greatly diminishes its merit in our eyes. The great 
merit of a picture, whether made with the pencil or pen, is its truth; and this merit does 
not belong to Mr. Longfellow's sketch. Men of genius may, and probably do, meet with 
greater difficulties in their struggles with the world than their fellow men who are less 
highly gifted; but their power of overcoming obstacles is proportionately greater, and the 
result of their laborious suffering is not death but immortality." 

That the chief merit of a picture is its truth, is an assertion deplorably erroneous. Even in 
Painting, which is, more essentially than Poetry, a mimetic art, the proposition cannot be 
sustained. Truth is not even the aim. Indeed it is curious to observe how very slight a 
degree of truth is sufficient to satisfy the mind, which acquiesces in the absence of 
numerous essentials in the thing depicted. An outline frequently stirs the spirit more 
pleasantly than the most elaborate picture. We need only refer to the compositions of 
Flaxman and of Retzsch. Here all details are omitted-nothing can be farther from truth. 
Without even colour the most thrilling effects are produced. In statues we are rather 
pleased than disgusted with the want of the eyeball. The hair of the Venus de Medicis 
was gilded. Truth indeed! The grapes of Zeuxis as well as the curtain of Parrhasius were 
received as indisputable evidence of the truthful ability of these artists-but they were not 
even classed among their pictures. If truth is the highest aim of either Painting or Poesy, 
then Jan Steen was a greater artist than Angelo, and Crabbe is a nobler poet than Milton. 

But we have not quoted the observation of Mr. Langtree to deny its philosophy; our 
design was simply to show that he has misunderstood the poet. "Excelsior" has not even a 



remote tendency to the interpretation assigned it by the critic. It depicts the earnest 
upward impulse of the soul-an impulse not to be subdued even in Death. Despising 
danger, resisting pleasure, the youth, bearing the banner inscribed "Excelsior!" (higher 
stilU) struggles through all difficulties to an Alpine summit. Warned to be content with 
the elevation attained, his cry is still "Excelsior!" and even in falling dead on the highest 
pinnacle, his cry is still "Excelsior!" There is yet an immortal height to be surmounted-an 
ascent in Eternity. The poet holds in view the idea of never-ending progress. That he is 
misunderstood is rather the misfortune of Mr. Langtree tree the fault of Mr. Longfellow. 
There is an old adage about the difficulty of one's furnishing an auditor both with matter 
to be comprehended and brains for its comprehension. 

HAWTHORNE'S TWICE-TOLD TALES 

By Nathaniel Hawthorne. James Munroe & Co.: Boston 

WE HAVE always regarded the Tale (using this word in its popular acceptation) as 
affording the best prose opportunity for display of the highest talent. It has peculiar 
advantages which the novel does not admit. It is, of course, a far finer field than the 
essay. It has even points of superiority over the poem. An accident has deprived us, this 
month, of our customary space for review, and thus nipped in the bud a design long 
cherished of treating this subject in detail; taking Mr. Hawthorne's volumes as a text. In 
May we shall endeavor to carry out our intention. At present we are forced to be brief. 

With rare exception-in the case of Mr. Irving's "Tales of a Traveller" and a few other 
works of a like cast-we have had no American tales of high merit. We have had no 
skilful compositions- nothing which could bear examination as works of art. Of twaddle 
called tale-writing we have had, perhaps more than enough. We have had a 
superabundance of the Rosa-Matilda effusions-gilt-edged paper all couleur de rose: a full 
allowance of cut-and-thrust blue-blazing melodramaticisms; a nauseating surfeit of low 
miniature copying of low life, much in the manner, and with about half the merit, of the 
Dutch herrings and decayed cheeses of Van Tuyssel-of all this, eheu jam satis! 

Mr. Hawthorne's volumes appear misnamed to us in two respects. In the first place they 
should not have been called "Twice-Told Tales"- for this is a title which will not bear 
repetition. If in the first collected edition they were twice-told, of course now they are 
thrice-told.-May we live to hear them told a hundred times. In the second place, these 
compositions are by no means all "Tales." The most of them are essays properly so 
called. It would have been wise in their author to have modified his title, so as to have 
had reference to all included. This point could have been easily arranged. 

But under whatever titular blunders we receive this book, it is most cordially welcome. 
We have seen no prose composition by any American which can compare with some of 
these articles in the higher merits, or indeed in the lower; while there is not single piece 
which would do dishonor to the best of the British essayists. 

"The Rill from the Town Pump" which, through the ad captandum nature of its title, has 
attracted more of the public notice than any other of Mr. Hawthorne's compositions, is 



perhaps, the least meritorious. Among his best we may briefly mention "The Hollow of 
the Three Hills" "The Minister's Black Veil"; "Wakefield"; "Mr. Higginbotham's 
Catastrophe"; "Fancy's Show-Box"; "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment"; "David Swan"; "The 
Wedding Knell"; and "The White Old Maid." It is remarkable that all of these, with one 
exception, are from the first volume. 

The style of Mr. Hawthorne is purity itself. His tone is singularly effective-wild, 
plaintive, thoughtful, and in full accordance with his themes. We have only to object that 
there is insufficient diversity in these themes themselves, or rather in their character. His 
originality both of incident and reflection is very remarkable; and this trait alone would 
insure him at least our warmest regard and commendation. We speak here chiefly of the 
tales; the essays are not so markedly novel. Upon the whole we look upon him as one of 
the few men of indisputable genius to whom our country has as yet given birth. As such, 
it will be our delight to do him honor; and lest, in these undigested and cursory remarks, 
without proof and without explanation, we should appear to do him more honor than is 
his due, we postpone all farther comment until a more favorable opportunity. 

We said a few hurried words about Mr. Hawthorne in our last number, with the design of 
speaking more fully in the present. We are still, however, pressed for room, and must 
necessarily discuss his volumes more briefly and more at random than their high merits 
deserve. 

The book professes to be a collection of tales, yet is, in two respects, misnamed. These 
pieces are now in their third republication, and, of course, are thrice-told. Moreover, they 
are by no means all tales, either in the ordinary or in the legitimate understanding of the 
term. Many of them are pure essays; for example, "Sights from a Steeple," "Sunday at 
Home," "Little Annies Ramble," "A Rill from the Town Pump," "The Toll-Gatherer's 
Day," "The Haunted Mind," "The Sister Sister Years," "Snow-Flakes," "Night Sketches," 
and "Foot-Prints on the Sea-Shore." We mention these matters chiefly on account of their 
discrepancy with that marked precision and finish by which the body of the work is 
distinguished. 

Of the Essays just named, we must be content to speak in brief. They are each and all 
beautiful, without being characterized by the polish and adaptation so visible in the tales 
proper. A painter would at once note their leading or predominant feature, and style it 
repose. There is no attempt at effect. All is quiet, thoughtful, subdued. Yet this respose 
may exist simultaneously with high originality of thought; and Mr. Hawthorne has 
demonstrated the fact. At every turn we meet with novel combinations; yet these 
combinations never surpass the limits of the quiet. We are soothed as we read; and withal 
is a calm astonishment that ideas so apparently obvious have never occurred or been 
presented to us before. Herein our author differs materially from Lamb or Hunt or 
Hazlitt-who, with vivid originality of manner and expression, have less of the true 
novelty of thought than is generally supposed, and whose originality, at best, has an 
uneasy and meretricious quaintness, replete with startling effects unfounded in nature, 
and inducing trains of reflection which lead to no satisfactory result. The Essays of 
Hawthorne have much of the character of Irving, with more of originality, and less of 



finish; while, compared with the Spectator, they have a vast superiority at all points. The 
Spectator, Mr. Irving, and Mr. Hawthorne have in common that tranquil and subdued 
manner which we have chosen to denominate repose; but in the case of the two former, 
this repose is attained rather by the absence of novel combination, or of originality, than 
otherwise, and consists chiefly in the calm, quiet, unostentatious expression of 
commonplace thoughts, in an unambitious unadulterated Saxon. In them, by strong effort, 
we are made to conceive the absence of all. In the essays before us the absence of effort 
is too obvious to be mistaken, and a strong under-current of suggestion runs continuously 
beneath the upper stream of the tranquil thesis. In short, these effusions of Mr. 
Hawthorne are the product of a truly imaginative intellect, restrained, and in some 
measure repressed, by fastidiousness of taste, by constitutional melancholy and by 
indolence. 

But it is of his tales that we desire principally to speak. The tale proper, in our opinion, 
affords unquestionably the fairest field for the exercise of the loftiest talent, which can be 
afforded by the wide domains of mere prose. Were we bidden to say how the highest 
genius could be most advantageously employed for the best display of its own powers, 
we should answer, without hesitation-in the composition of a rhymed poem, not to 
exceed in length what might be perused in an hour. Within this limit alone can the highest 
order of true poetry exist. We need only here say, upon this topic, that, in almost all 
classes of composition, the unity of effect or impression is a point of the greatest 
importance. It is clear, moreover, that this unity cannot be thoroughly preserved in 
productions whose perusal cannot be completed at one sitting. We may continue the 
reading of a prose composition, from the very nature of prose itself, much longer than we 
can persevere, to any good purpose, in the perusal of a poem. This latter, if truly fulfilling 
the demands of the poetic sentiment, induces an exaltation of the soul which cannot be 
long sustained. All high excitements are necessarily transient. Thus a long poem is a 
paradox And, without unity of impression, the deepest effects cannot be brought about. 
Epics were the offspring of an imperfect sense of Art, and their reign is no more. A poem 
too brief may produce a vivid, but never an intense or enduring impression. Without a 
certain continuity of effort-without a certain duration or repetition of purpose-the soul is 
never deeply moved. There must be the dropping of the water upon the rock. De 
Beranger has wrought brilliant things-pungent and spirit- stirring-but, like all immassive 
bodies, they lack momentum, and thus fail to satisfy the Poetic Sentiment. They sparkle 
and excite, but, from want of continuity, fail deeply to impress. Extreme brevity will 
degenerate into epigrammatism; but the sin of extreme length is even more unpardonable. 
In medio tutissimus ibis. 

Were we called upon, however, to designate that class of composition which, next to such 
a poem as we have suggested, should best fulfil the demands of high genius-should offer 
it the most advantageous field of exertion-we should unhesitatingly speak of the prose 
tale, as Mr. Hawthorne has here exemplified it. We allude to the short prose narrative, 
requiring from a half-hour to one or two hours in its perusal. The ordinary novel is 
objectionable, from its length, for reasons already stated in substance. As it cannot be 
read at one sitting, it deprives itself, of course, of the immense force derivable from 
totality. Worldly interests intervening during the pauses of perusal, modify, annul, or 



counteract, in a greater or less degree, the impressions of the book. But simple cessation 
in reading, would, of itself, be sufficient to destroy the true unity. In the brief tale, 
however, the author is enabled to carry out the fulness of his intention, be it what it may. 
During the hour of perusal the soul of the reader is at the writer's control. There are no 
external or extrinsic influences-resulting from weariness or interruption. 

A skilful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not fashioned his thoughts to 
accommodate his incidents; but having conceived, with deliberate care, a certain unique 
or single effect to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents-he then combines such 
events as may best aid him in establishing this preconceived effect. If his very initial 
sentence tend not to the out-bringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In 
the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or 
indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. And by such means, with such care and 
skill, a picture is at length painted which leaves in the mind of him who contemplates it 
with a kindred art, a sense of the fullest satisfaction. The idea of the tale has been 
presented unblemished, because undisturbed; and this is an end unattainable by the novel. 
Undue brevity is just as exceptionable here as in the poem; but undue length is yet more 
to be avoided. 

We have said that the tale has a point of superiority even over the poem. In fact, while the 
rhythm of this latter is an essential aid in the development of the poem's highest idea-the 
idea of the Beautiful-the artificialities of this rhythm are an inseparable bar to the 
development of all points of thought or expression which have their basis in Truth. But 
Truth is often, and in very great degree, the aim of the tale. Some of the finest tales are 
tales of ratiocination. Thus the field of this species of composition, if not in so elevated a 
region on the mountain of Mind, is a table-land of far vaster extent than the domain of 
the mere poem. Its products are never so rich, but infinitely more numerous, and more 
appreciable by the mass of mankind. The writer of the prose tale, in short, may bring to 
his theme a vast variety of modes or inflections of thought and expression-(the 
ratiocinative, for example, the sarcastic or the humorous) which are not only 
antagonistical to the nature of the poem, but absolutely forbidden by one of its most 
peculiar and indispensable adjuncts; we allude, of course, to rhythm. It may be added, 
here, par parenthese, that the author who aims at the purely beautiful in a prose tale is 
laboring at great disadvantage. For Beauty can be better treated in the poem. Not so with 
terror, or passion, or horror, or a multitude of such other points. And here it will be seen 
how full of prejudice are the usual animadversions against those tales of effect, many fine 
examples of which were found in the earlier numbers of Blackwood. The impressions 
produced were wrought in a legitimate sphere of action, and constituted a legitimate 
although sometimes an exaggerated interest. They were relished by every man of genius: 
although there were found many men of genius who condemned them without just 
ground. The true critic will but demand that that the design intended be accomplished, to 
the fullest extent, by the means most advantageously applicable. 

We have very few American tales of real merit-we may say, indeed, none, with the 
exception of "The Tales of a Traveller" of Washington Irving, and these "Twice-Told 
Tales" of Mr. Hawthorne. Some of the pieces of Mr. John Neal abound in vigor and 



originality; but in general his compositions of this class are excessively diffuse, 
extravagant, and indicative of an imperfect sentiment of Art. Articles at random are, now 
and then, met with in our periodicals which might be advantageously compared with the 
best effusions of the British Magazines; but, upon the whole, we are far behind our 
progenitors in this department of literature. 

Of Mr. Hawthorne's Tales we would say, emphatically, that they belong to the highest 
region of Art-and Art subservient to genius of a very lofty order. We had supposed, with 
good reason for so supposing, that he had been thrust into his present position by one of 
the impudent cliques which beset our literature, and whose pretensions it is our full 
purpose to expose at the earliest opportunity, but we have been most agreeably mistaken. 
We know of few compositions which the critic can more honestly commend than these 
"Twice-Told Tales." As Americans, we feel proud of the book. 

Mr. Hawthornes distinctive trait is invention, creation, imagination, originality-a trait 
which, in the literature of fiction, is positively worth all the rest. But the nature of 
originality, so far as regards its manifestation in letters, is but imperfectly understood. 
The inventive or original mind as frequently displays itself in novelty of tone as in 
novelty of matter. Mr. Hawthorne is original at all points. 

It would be a matter of some difficulty to designate the best of these tales; we repeat that, 
without exception, they are beautiful. "Wakefield" is remarkable for the skill with which 
an old idea-a well-known incident-is worked up or discussed. A man of whims 
conceives the purpose of quitting his wife and residing incognito, for twenty years, in her 
immediate neighborhood. Something of this kind actually happened in London. The force 
of Mr. Hawthornes tale lies in the analysis of the motives which must or might have 
impelled the husband to such folly, in the first instance, with the possible causes of his 
perseverance. Upon this thesis a sketch of singular power has been constructed. 

"The Wedding Knell" is full of the boldest imagination-an imagination fully controlled 
by taste. The most captious critic could find no flaw in this production. 

"The Minister's Black Veil" is a masterly composition of which the sole defect is that to 
the rabble its exquisite skill will be caviare. The obvious meaning of this article will be 
found to smother its insinuated one. The moral put into the mouth of the dying minister 
will be supposed to convey the true import of the narrative, and that a crime of dark dye, 
(having reference to the "young lady") has been committed, is a point which only minds 
congenial with that of the author will perceive. 

"Mr. Higginbotham's Catastrophe" is vividly original and managed most dexterously. 

"Dr. Heidegger's Experiment" is exceedingly well imagined, and executed, with 
surpassing ability. The artist breathes in every line of it. 



"The White Old Maid" is objectionable, even more than the "Minister's Black Veil," on 
the score of its mysticism. Even with the thoughtful and analytic, there will be much 
trouble in penetrating its entire import. 

"The Hollow of the Three Hills" we would quote in full, had we space;-not as evincing 
higher talent than any of the other pieces, but as affording an excellent example of the 
author's peculiar ability. The subject is commonplace. A witch, subjects the Distant and 
the Past to the view of a mourner. It has been the fashion to describe, in such cases, a 
mirror in which the images of the absent appear, or a cloud of smoke is made to arise, and 
thence the figures are gradually unfolded. Mr. Hawthorne has wonderfully heightened his 
effect by making the ear, in place of the eye, the medium by which the fantasy is 
conveyed. The head of the mourner is enveloped in the cloak of the witch, and within its 
magic, folds there arise sounds which have an all-sufficient intelligence. Throughout this 
article also, the artist is conspicuous-not more in positive than in negative merits. Not 
only is all done that should be done, but (what perhaps is an end with more difficulty 
attained) there is nothing done which should not be. Every word tells, and there is not a 
word which does not tell. 

In "Howes Masquerade" we observe something which resembles a plagiarism-but which 
may be a very flattering coincidence of thought. We quote the passage in question. 

"With a dark flush of wrath upon his brow they saw the general draw his sword and 
advance to meet the figure in the cloak before the latter had stepped one pace upon the 
floor. 

'"Villain, unmuffle yourself,' cried he, 'you pass no further!" 

"The figure without blanching a hair's breadth from the sword which was pointed at his 
breast, made a solemn pause, and lowered the cape of the cloak from his face, yet not 
sufficiently for the spectators to catch a glimpse of it. But Sir William Howe had 
evidently seen enough. The sternness of his countenance gave place to a look of wild 
amazement, if not horror, while he recoiled several steps from the figure, and let fall his 
sword upon the floor." 

The idea here is, that the figure in the cloak is the phantom or reduplication of Sir 
William Howe, but in an article called "William Wilson," one of the "Tales of the 
Grotesque and Arabesque," we have not only the same idea, but the same idea similarly 
presented in several respects. We quote two paragraphs, which our readers may compare 
with what has been already given. 

"The brief moment in which I averted my eyes had been sufficient to produce, 
apparently, a material change in the arrangement at the upper or farther end of the room. 
A large mirror, it appeared to me, now stood where none had been perceptible before: 
and as I stepped up to it in extremity of terror, mine own image, but with features all pale 
and dabbled in blood, advanced with a feeble and tottering gait to meet me. 



"Thus it appeared I say, but was not. It was Wilson, who then stood before me in the 
agonies of dissolution. Not a line in all the marked and singular lineaments of that face 
which was not even identically mine own. His mask and cloak lay where he had thrown 
them, upon the floor." 

Here it will be observed, not only are the two general conceptions identical but there are 
various points of similarity. In each case the figure seen is the wraith or duplication of the 
beholder. In each case the scene is a masquerade. In each case the figure is cloaked. In 
each, there is a quarrel-that is to say, angry words pass between the parties. In each the 
beholder is enraged. In each the cloak and sword fall upon the floor. The "villain, 
unmuffle yourself," of Mr. H. is precisely paralleled by a passage of "William Wilson." 

In the way of objection we have scarcely a word to say of these tales. There is, perhaps, a 
somewhat too general or prevalent tone- a tone of melancholy and mysticism. The 
subjects are insufficiently varied. There is not so much of versatility evinced as we might 
well be warranted in expecting from the high powers of Mr. Hawthorne. But beyond 
these trivial exceptions we have really none to make. The style is purity itself. Force 
abounds. High imagination gleams from every page. Mr. Hawthorne is a man of the 
truest genius. We only regret that the limits of our Magazine will not permit us to pay 
him that full tribute of commendation, which, under other circumstances, we should be so 
eager to pay. 

THE AMERICAN DRAMA 

A BIOGRAPHIST of Berryer calls him "I'homme qui, dans ses description, demande le 
plus grande quantite possible d' antithese,"-but that ever- recurring topic, the decline of 
the drama, seems to have consumed of late more of the material in question than would 
have sufficed for a dozen prime ministers-even admitting them to be French. Every trick 
of thought and every harlequinade of phrase have been put in operation for the purpose 
"de nier ce qui est, et d'expliquer ce qui n'est pas." 

Ce qui n'est pas:-for the drama has not declined. The facts and the philosophy of the case 
seem to be these. The great opponent to Progress is Conservatism. In other words-the 
great adversary of Invention is Imitation: the propositions are in spirit identical. Just as an 
art is imitative, is it stationary. The most imitative arts are the most prone to repose and 
the converse. Upon the utilitarian- upon the business arts, where Necessity impels. 
Invention, Necessity's well-understood offspring, is ever in attendance. And the less we 
see of the mother the less we behold of the child. No one complains of the decline of the 
art of Engineering. Here the Reason, which never retrogrades or reposes, is called into 
play. But let us glance at Sculpture. We are not worse here, than the ancients, let pedantry 
say what it may (the Venus of Canova is worth, at any time, two of that of Cleomenes), 
but it is equally certain that we have made, in general, no advances; and Sculpture, 
properly considered, is perhaps the most imitative of all arts which have a right to the title 
of Art at all. Looking next at Painting, we find that we have to boast of progress only in 
the ratio of the inferior imitativeness of Painting, when compared with Sculpture. As far 
indeed as we have any means of judging, our improvement has been exceedingly little. 



and did we know anything of ancient Art in this department, we might be astonished at 
discovering that we had advanced even far less than we suppose. As regards Architecture, 
whatever progress we have made has been precisely in those particulars which have no 
reference to imitation:-that is to say, we have improved the utilitarian and not the 
ornamental provinces of the art. Where Reason predominated, we advanced; where mere 
Feeling or Taste was the guide, we remained as we were. 

Coming to the Drama, we shall see that in its mechanisms we have made progress, while 
in its spirituality we have done little or nothing for centuries certainly-and, perhaps, little 
or nothing for thousands of years. And this is because what we term the spirituality of the 
drama is precisely its imitative portion-is exactly that portion which distinguishes it as 
one of the principal of the imitative arts. 

Sculptors, painters, dramatists, are, from the very nature of their material-their spiritual 
material-imitators-conservatists-prone to repose in old Feeling and in antique Taste. For 
this reason-and for this reason only-the arts of Sculpture, Painting, and the Drama have 
not advanced-or have advanced feebly, and inversely in the ratio of their imitativeness. 

But it by no means follows that either has declined. All seem to have declined, because 
they have remained stationary while the multitudinous other arts (of reason) have flitted 
so rapidly by them. In the same manner the traveller by railroad can imagine that the trees 
by the wayside are retrograding. The trees in this case are absolutely stationary but the 
Drama has not been altogether so, although its progress has been so slight as not to 
interfere with the general effect-that of seeming retrogradation or decline. 

This seeming retrogradation, however, is to all practical intents an absolute one. Whether 
the Drama has declined, or whether it has merely remained stationary, is a point of no 
importance, so far as concerns the public encouragement of the Drama. It is unsupported, 
in either case, because it does not deserve support. 

But if this stagnation, or deterioration, grows out of the very idiosyncracy of the drama 
itself, as one of the principal of the imitative arts, how is it possible that a remedy shall be 
applied- since it is clearly impossible to alter the nature of the art, and yet leave it the art 
which it now is? 

We have already spoken of the improvements effected in Architecture, in all its utilitarian 
departments, and in the Drama, at all the points of its mechanism. "Wherever Reason 
predominates, we advance; where mere Feeling or Taste is the guide, we remain as we 
are." We wish now to suggest that, by the engrafting of Reason upon Feeling and Taste, 
we shall be able, and thus alone shall be able, to force the modern drama into the 
production of any profitable fruit. 

At present, what is it we do? We are content if, with Feeling and Taste, a dramatist does 
as other dramatists have done. The most successful of the more immediately modern 
playwrights has been Sheridan Knowles, and to play Sheridan Knowles seems to be the 
highest ambition of our writers for the stage. Now the author of "The Hunchback" 



possesses what we are weak enough to term the true "dramatic feeling," and this true 
dramatic feeling he has manifested in the most preposterous series of imitations of the 
Elizabethan drama by which ever mankind were insulted and beguiled. Not only did he 
adhere to the old plots, the old characters, the old stage conventionalities throughout; but 
he went even so far as to persist in the obsolete phraseologies of the Elizabethan period- 
and, just in proportion to his obstinacy and absurdity at all points, did we pretend to like 
him the better, and pretend to consider him a great dramatist. 

Pretend-for every particle of it was pretence. Never was enthusiasm more utterly false 
than that which so many "respectable audiences" endeavoured to get up for these plays- 
endeavoured to get up, first, because there was a general desire to see the drama revive, 
and secondly, because we had been all along entertaining the fancy that "the decline of 
the drama" meant little, if anything, else than its deviation from the Elizabethan routine- 
and that, consequently, the return to the Elizabethan routine was, and of necessity must 
be, the revival of the drama. 

But if the principles we have been at some trouble in explaining are true-and most 
profoundly do we feel them to be so-if the spirit of imitation is, in fact, the real source, of 
the drama's stagnation-and if it is so because of the tendency in in all imitation to render 
Reason subservient to Feeling and to Taste it is clear that only by deliberate counteracting 
of the spirit, and of the tendency of the spirit, we can hope to succeed in the drama's 
revival. 

The first thing necessary is to burn or bury the "old models," and to forget, as quickly as 
possible, that ever a play has been penned. The second thing is to consider de novo what 
are the capabilities of the drama-not merely what hitherto have been its conventional 
purposes. The third and last point has reference to the composition of a play (showing to 
the fullest extent these capabilities) conceived and constructed with Feeling and with 
Taste, but with Feeling and Taste guided and controlled in every particular by the details 
of Reason-of Common Sense-in a word, of a Natural Art. 

It is obvious, in the meantime, that towards the good end in view much may be effected 
by discriminative criticism on what has already been done. The field, thus stated, is, of 
course, practically illimitable-and to Americans the American drama is the special point 
of interest. We propose, therefore, in a series of papers, to take a somewhat deliberate 
survey of some few of the most noticeable American plays. We shall do this without 
reference either to the date of the composition or its adaptation for the closet or the stage. 
We shall speak with absolute frankness both of merits and defects-our principal object 
being understood not as that of mere commentary on the individual play-but on the 
drama in general, and on the American drama in especial, of which each individual play 
is a constituent part. We will commence at once with 

TORTESA, THE USURER 

This is the third dramatic attempt of Mr. Willis, and may be regarded as particularly 
successful, since it has received, both on the stage and in the closet, no stinted measure of 



commendation. This success, as well as the high reputation of the author, will justify us 
in a more extended notice of the play than might, under other circumstances, be desirable. 

The story runs thus:-Tortesa, a usurer of Florence, and whose character is a mingled web 
of good and evil feelings, gets into his possession the palace and lands of a certain Count 
Falcone. The usurer would wed the daughter (Isabella) of Valcone, not through love, but 
in his own words, 

"To please a devil that inhabits him-" 

in fact, to mortify the pride of the nobility, and avenge himself of their scorn. He 
therefore bargains with Falcone [a narrow-souled villain] for the hand of Isabella. The 
deed of the Falcone property is restored to the Count upon an agreement that the lady 
shall marry the usurer-this contract being invalid should Falcone change his mind in 
regard to the marriage, or should the maiden demur-but valid should the wedding be 
prevented through any fault of Tortesa, or through any accident not springing from the 
will of the father or child. The first Scene makes us aware of this bargain, and introduces 
us to Zippa, a glover's daughter, who resolves, with a view of befriending Isabella, to 
feign a love for Tortesa [which, in fact she partially feels], hoping thus to break off the 
match. 

The second Scene makes us acquainted with a young painter (Angelo), poor, but of high 
talents and ambition, and with his servant (Tomaso), an old bottle-loving rascal, 
entertaining no very exalted opinion of his master's abilities. Tomaso does some injury to 
a picture, and Angelo is about to run him through the body when he is interrupted by a 
sudden visit from the Duke of Florence, attended by Falcone. The Duke is enraged at the 
murderous attempt, but admires the paintings in the studio. Finding that the rage of the 
great man will prevent his patronage if he knows the aggressor as the artist, Angelo 
passes off Tomaso as himself (Angelo), making an exchange of names. This is a point of 
some importance, as it introduces the true Angelo to a job which he has long coveted-the 
painting of the portrait of Isabella, of whose beauty he had become enamoured through 
report. The Duke wishes the portrait painted. Falcone, however, on account of a promise 
to Tortesa, would have objected to admit to his daughter's presence the handsome 
Angelo, but in regard to Tomaso has no scruple. Supposing Tomaso to be Angelo and the 
artist, the Count writes a note to Isabella, requiring her "to admit the painter Angelo." The 
real Angelo is thus admitted. He and the lady love at first sight (much in the manner of 
Romeo and Juliet), each ignorant of the other's attachment. 

The third Scene of the second Act is occupied with a conversation between Falcone and 
Tortesa, during which a letter arrives from the Duke, who, having heard of the intended 
sacrifice of Isabella, offers to redeem the Count's lands and palace, and desires him to 
preserve his daughter for a certain Count Julian. But Isabella,- who, before seeing 
Angelo, had been willing to sacrifice herself for her father's sake, and who, since seeing 
him, had entertained hopes of escaping the hateful match through means of a plot entered 
into by herself and Zippa-Isabella, we say, is now in despair. To gain time, she at once 
feigns a love for the usurer, and indignantly rejects the proposal of the Duke. The hour 



for the wedding draws near. The lady has prepared a sleeping potion, whose effects 
resemble those of death. (Romeo and Juliet.) She swallows it-knowing that her supposed 
corpse would lie at night, pursuant to an old custom, in the sanctuary of the cathedral; and 
believing that Angelo-whose love for herself she has elicited, by a stratagem, from his 
own lips-will watch by the body, in the strength of his devotion. Her ultimate design (we 
may suppose, for it is not told) is to confess all to her lover on her revival, and throw 
herself upon his protection- their marriage being concealed, and herself regarded as dead 
by the world. Zippa, who really loves Angelo-(her love for Tortesa, it must be 
understood, is a very equivocal feeling, for the fact cannot be denied that Mr. Willis 
makes her love both at the same time)- Zippa, who really loves Angelo-who has 
discovered his passion for Isabella-and who, as well as that lady, believes that the painter 
will watch the corpse in the cathedral,-determines, through jealousy, to prevent his so 
doing, and with this view informs Tortesa that she has learned it to be Angelo's design to 
steal the body for purposes,-in short, as a model to be used in his studio. The usurer, in 
consequence, sets a guard at the doors of the cathedral. This guard does, in fact, prevent 
the lover from watching the corpse, but, it appears, does not prevent the lady, on her 
revival and disappointment in not seeing the one she sought, from passing unperceived 
from the church. Weakened by her long sleep, she wanders aimlessly through the streets, 
and at length finds herself, when just sinking with exhaustion, at the door of her father. 
She has no resource but to knock. The Count, who here, we must say, acts very much as 
Thimble of old-the knight, we mean, of the "scolding wife"- maintains that she is dead, 
and shuts the door in her face. In other words, he supposes it to be the ghost of his 
daughter who speaks; and so the lady is left to perish on the steps. Meantime Angelo is 
absent from home, attempting to get access to the cathedral; and his servant Tomaso 
takes the opportunity of absenting himself also, and of indulging his bibulous 
propensities while perambulating the town. He finds Isabella as we left her, and through 
motives which we will leave Mr. Willis to explain, conducts her unresistingly to Angelo's 
residence, and-deposits her in Angelo's bed. The artist now returns-Tomaso is kicked out 
of doors-and we are not told, but left to presume, that a fun explanation and perfect 
understanding are brought about between the lady and her lover. 

We find them, next morning, in the studio, where stands, leaning against an easel the 
portrait (a full length) of Isabella, with curtains adjusted before it. The stage-directions, 
moreover, inform us that "the black wall of the room is such as to form a natural ground 
for the picture." While Angelo is occupied in retouching it, he is interrupted by the arrival 
of Tortesa with a guard, and is accused of having stolen the corpse from the sanctuary- 
the lady, meanwhile, having stepped behind the curtain. The usurer insists upon seeing 
the painting, with a view of ascertaining whether any new touches had been put upon it, 
which would argue an examination, post mortem, of those charms of neck and bosom 
which the living Isabella would not have unveiled. Resistance in vain-the curtain is torn 
down; but, to the surprise of Angelo, the lady herself is discovered, "with her hands 
crossed on her breast, and her eyes fixed on the ground, standing motionless in the frame 
which had contained the picture." The tableau we are to believe, deceives Tortesa, who 
steps back to contemplate what he supposes to be the portrait of his betrothed. In the 
meantime, the guards, having searched the house, find the veil which had been thrown 
over the imagined corpse in the sanctuary, and upon this evidence the artist is carried 



before the Duke. Here he is accused, not only of sacrilege, but of the murder of Isabella, 
and is about to be condemned to death, when his mistress comes forward in person; thus 
resigning herself to the usurer to save the life of her lover. But the noble nature of Tortesa 
now breaks forth; and, smitten with admiration of the lady's conduct, as well as 
convinced that her love for himself was feigned, he resigns her to Angelo-although now 
feeling and acknowledging for the first time that a fervent love has, in his own bosom, 
assumed the place of the misanthropic ambition which, hitherto, had alone actuated him 
in seeking her hand. Moreover, he endows Isabella with the lands of her father Falcone. 
The lovers are thus made happy. The usurer weds Zippa; and the curtain drops upon the 
promise of the Duke to honour the double nuptials with his presence. 

This story, as we have given it, hangs better together (Mr. Willis will pardon our 
modesty), and is altogether more easily comprehended, than in the words of the play 
itself. We have really put the best face upon the matter, and presented the whole in the 
simplest and clearest light in our power. We mean to say that "Tortesa" (partaking 
largely, in this respect, of the drama of Cervantes and Calderon) is over-clouded- 
rendered misty-by a world of unnecessary and impertinent intrigue. This folly was 
adopted by the Spanish comedy, and is imitated by us, with the idea of imparting 
"action," "business," "vivacity." But vivacity, however desirable, can be attained in many 
other ways, and is dearly purchased, indeed, when the price is intelligibility. 

The truth is that cant has never attained a more owl-like dignity than in the discussion of 
dramatic principle. A modem stage critic is nothing, if not a lofty contemner of all things 
simple and direct. He delights in mystery-revels in mystification-has transcendental 
notions concerning P. S. and O. P, and talks about "stage business and stage effect" as if 
he were discussing the differential calculus. For much of all this we are indebted to the 
somewhat overprofound criticisms of Augustus William Schlegel. 

But the dicta of common sense are of universal application, and, touching this matter of 
intrigue, if, from its superabundance, we are compelled, even in the quiet and critical 
perusal of a play, to pause frequently and reflect long-to re-read passages over and over 
again, for the purpose of gathering their bearing upon the whole-of maintaining in our 
mind a general connection-what but fatigue can result from the exertion? How, then, 
when we come to the representation?-when these passages-trifling, perhaps, in 
themselves, but important when considered in relation to the plot-are hurried and blurred 
over in the stuttering enunciation of some miserable rantipole, or omitted altogether 
through the constitutional lapse of memory so peculiar to those lights of the age and 
stage, bedight (from being of no conceivable use) supernumeraries? For it must be borne 
in mind that these bits of intrigue (we use the term in the sense of the German critics) 
appertain generally, indeed altogether, to the after thoughts of the drama-to the 
underplots-are met with consequently, in the mouth of the lackeys and chambermaids- 
and are thus consigned to the tender mercies of the stellae minores. Of course we get but 
an imperfect idea of what is going on before our eyes. Action after action ensues whose 
mystery we can not unlock without the little key which these barbarians have thrown 
away and lost. Our weariness increases in proportion to the number of these 
embarrassments, and if the play escape damnation at all it escapes in spite of that intrigue 



to which, in nine cases out of ten, the author attributes his success, and which he will 
persist in valuing exactly in proportion to the misapplied labour it has cost him. 

But dramas of this kind are said, in our customary parlance, to "abound in plot." We have 
never yet met any one, however, who could tell us what precise ideas he connected with 
the phrase. A mere succession of incidents, even the most spirited, will no more 
constitute a plot than a multiplication of zeros, even the most infinite, will result in the 
production of a unit. This all will admit-but few trouble themselves to think further. The 
common notion seems be in favour of mere complexity; but a plot, properly understood, 
is perfect only inasmuch as we shall find ourselves unable to detach from it or disarrange 
any single incident involved, without destruction to the mass. 

This we say is the point of perfection-a point never yet attained, but not on that account 
unattainable. Practically, we may consider a plot as of high excellence, when no one of its 
component parts shall be susceptible of removal without detriment to the whole. Here, 
indeed, is a vast lowering of the demand-and with less than this no writer of refined taste 
should content himself. 

As this subject is not only in itself of great importance, but will have at all points a 
bearing upon what we shall say hereafter, in the examination of various plays, we shall be 
pardoned for quoting from the "Democratic Review" some passages (of our own which 
enter more particularly into the rationale of the subject:- 

"AU the Bridgewater treatises have failed in noticing the great idiosyncrasy in the Divine 
system of adaptation:-that idiosyncrasy which stamps the adaptation as divine, in 
distinction from that which is the work of merely human constructiveness. I speak of the 
complete mutuality of adaptation. For example:-in human constructions, a particular 
cause has a particular effect-a particular purpose brings about a particular object; but we 
see no reciprocity. The effect does not react upon the cause-the object does not change 
relations with the purpose. In Divine constructions, the object is either object or purpose 
as we choose to regard it, while the purpose is either purpose or object; so that we can 
never (abstractly- without concretion- without reference to facts of the moment) decide 
which is which. 

"For secondary example:-In polar climates, the human frame, to maintain its animal heat, 
requires, for combustion in the capillary system, an abundant supply of highly azotized 
food, such as train oil. Again:-in polar climates nearly the sole food afforded man is the 
oil of abundant seals and whales. Now whether is oil at hand because imperatively 
demanded? or whether is it the only thing demanded because the only thing fo be 
obtained? It is impossible to say:-there is an absolute reciprocity of adaptation for which 
we seek in vain among the works of man. 

"The Bridgewater tractists may have avoided this point, on account of its apparent 
tendency to overthrow the idea of cause in general- consequently of a First Cause-of God. 
But it is more probable that they have failed to perceive what no one preceding them has, 
to my knowledge, perceived. 



"The pleasure which we derive from any exertion of human ingenuity, is in the direct 
ratio of the approach to this species of reciprocity between cause and effect. In the 
construction of plot, for example, in fictitious literature, we should aim at so arranging 
the points, or incidents, that we cannot distinctly see, in respect to any one of them, 
whether that one depends from any one other or upholds it. In this sense, of course, 
perfection of plot is unattainable in fact-because Man is the constructor. The plots of God 
are perfect. The Universe is a plot of God." 

The pleasure derived from the contemplation of the unity resulting from plot is far more 
intense than is ordinarily supposed, and, as in Nature we meet with no such combination 
of incident, appertains to a very lofty region of the ideal. In speaking thus we have not 
said that plot is more than an adjunct to the drama-more than a perfectly distinct and 
separable source of pleasure. It is not an essential. In its intense artificiality it may even 
be conceived injurious in a certain degree (unless constructed with consummate skill) to 
that real lifelikeness which is the soul of the drama of character. Good dramas have been 
written with very little plot- capital dramas might be written with none at all. Some plays 
of high merit, having plot, abound in irrelevant incident-in incident, we mean, which 
could be displaced or removed altogether without effect upon the plot itself, and yet are 
by no means objectionable as dramas; and for this reason-that the incidents are evidently 
irrelevant- obviously episodical. Of their disgressive nature the spectator is so 
immediately aware that he views them, as they arise, in the simple light of interlude, and 
does not fatigue his attention by attempting to establish for them a connection, or more 
than an illustrative connection, with the great interests of the subject. Such are the plays 
of Shakespeare. But all this is very different from that irrelevancy of intrigue which 
disfigures and very usually damns the work of the unskilful artist. With him the great 
error lies in inconsequence. Underplot is piled upon underplot (the very word is a 
paradox), and all to no purpose-to no end. The interposed incidents have no ultimate 
effect upon the main ones. They may hang upon the mass-they may even coalesce with 
it, or, as in some intricate cases, they may be so intimately blended as to be lost amid the 
chaos which they have been instrumental in bringing about-but still they have no portion 
in the plot, which exists, if at all, independently of their influence. Yet the attempt is 
made by the author to establish and demonstrate a dependence-an identity, and it is the 
obviousness of this attempt which is the cause of weariness in the spectator, who, of 
course, cannot at once see that his attention is chAUanged to no purpose-that intrigues so 
obtrusively forced upon it are to be found, in the end, without effect upon the leading 
interests of the day. 

"Tortesa" will afford us plentiful examples of this irrelevancy of intrigue-of this 
misconception of the nature and of the capacities of plot. We have said that our digest of 
the story is more easy of comprehension than the detail of Mr. Willis. If so, it is because 
we have forborne to give such portions as had no influence upon the whole. These served 
but to embarrass the narrative and fatigue the attention. How much was irrelevant is 
shown by the brevity of the space in which we have recorded, somewhat at length, all the 
influential incidents of a drama of five acts. There is scarcely a scene in which is not to 
be found the germ of an underplot-a germ, however, which seldom proceeds beyond the 
condition of a bud, or, if so fortunate as to swell into a flower, arrives, in no single 



instance, at the dignity of fruit. Zippa, a lady altogether without character (dramatic), is 
the most pertinacious of all conceivable concoctors of plans never to be matured-of vast 
designs that terminate in no thing-of cul-de-sac machinations. She plots in one page and 
counter-plots in the next. She schemes her way from P. S. to O. P., and intrigues 
perseveringly from the footlights to the slips. A very singular instance of the 
inconsequence of her manoeuvres is found towards the conclusion of the play. The whole 
of the second scene (occupying five pages), in the fifth act, is obviously introduced for 
the purpose of giving her information, through Tomaso's means, of Angelo's arrest for the 
murder of Isabella. Upon learning his danger she rushes from the stage, to be present at 
the trial, exclaiming that her evidence can save his life. We, the audience, of course 
applaud, and now look with interest to her movements in the scene of the judgment-hall. 
She, Zippa, we think, is somebody after all; she will be the means of Angelo's salvation; 
she will thus be the chief unraveller of the plot. All eyes are bent, therefore, upon Zippa- 
but alas! upon the point at issue, Zippa does not so much as open her mouth. It is scarcely 
too much to say that not a single action of this impertinent little busybody has any real 
influence upon the play;-yet she appears upon every occasion-appearing only to perplex. 

Similar things abound; we should not have space even to allude to them all. The whole 
conclusion of the play is supererogatory. The immensity of pure fuss with which it is 
overloaded forces us to the reflection that all of it might have been avoided by one word 
of explanation to the Duke an amiable man who admires the talents of Angelo, and who, 
to prevent Isabella's marrying against her will, had previously offered to free Falcone of 
his bonds to the usurer. That he would free him now, and thus set all matters straight, the 
spectator cannot doubt for an instant, and he can conceive no better reason why 
explanations are not made than that Mr. Willis does not think proper they should be. In 
fact, the whole drama is exceedingly ill motivirt. 

We have already mentioned an inadvertence, in the fourth Act, where Isabella is made to 
escape from the sanctuary through the midst of guards who prevented the ingress of 
Angelo. Another occurs where Falcone's conscience is made to reprove him, upon the 
appearance of his daughter's supposed ghost, for having occasioned her death by forcing 
her to marry against her will. The author had forgotten that Falcone submitted to the 
wedding, after the Dukes interposition, only upon Isabella's assurance that she really 
loved the usurer. In the third Scene, too, of the first Act, the imagination of the spectator 
is no doubt a little taxed when he finds Angelo, in the first moment of his introduction to 
the palace of Isabella, commencing her portrait by laying on colour after colour, before 
he has made any attempt at an outline. In the last Act, moreover, Tortesa gives to Isabella 
a deed 

"Of the Falcone palaces and lands. 
And all the money forfeit by Falcone." 

This is a terrible blunder, and the more important as upon this act of the usurer depends 
the development of his newborn sentiments of honour and virtue-depends, in fact, the 
most salient point of the play. Tortesa, we say, gives to Isabella the lands forfeited by 
Falcone; but Tortesa was surely not very generous in giving what, clearly, was not his 



own to give. Falcone had not forfeited the deed, which had been restored to him by the 
usurer, and which was then in his (Falcone's) possession. Here Tortesa:- 

He put it in the bond. 

That if, by any humour of my own. 

Or accident that came not from himself. 

Or from his daughter's will, the match were marred. 

His tenure stood intact." 

Now Falcone is still resolute for the match; but this new generous "humour" of Tortesa 
induces him (Tortesa) to decline it. Falcone's tenure is then intact; he retains the deed, the 
usurer is giving away property not his own. 

As a drama of character, "Tortesa" is by no means open to so many objections as when 
we view it in the light of its plot; but it is still faulty. The merits are so exceedingly 
negative, that it is difficult to say anything about them. The Duke is nobody, Falcone, 
nothing; Zippa, less than nothing. Angelo may be regarded simply as the medium through 
which Mr. Willis conveys to the reader his own glowing feelings-his own refined and 
delicate fancy-(delicate, yet bold)-his own rich voluptuousness of sentiment-a 
voluptuousness which would offend in almost any other language than that in which it is 
so skilfully apparelled. Isabella is-the heroine of the Hunchback. The revolution in the 
character of Tortesa-or rather the final triumph of his innate virtue-is a dramatic point far 
older than the hills. It may be observed, too, that although the representation of no human 
character should be quarrelled with for its inconsistency, we yet require that the 
inconsistencies be not absolute antagonisms to the extent of neutralization: they may be 
permitted to be oils and waters, but they must not be alkalis and acids. When, in the 
course of the denouement, the usurer bursts forth into an eloquence virtue- inspired, we 
cannot sympathize very heartily in his fine speeches, since they proceed from the mouth 
of the self-same egotist who, urged by a disgusting vanity, uttered so many sotticisms 
(about his fine legs, etc.) in the earlier passages of the play. Tomaso is, upon the whole, 
the best personage. We recognize some originality in his conception, and conception was 
seldom more admirably carried out. 

One or two observations at random. In the third Scene of the fifth Act, Tomaso, the 
buffoon, is made to assume paternal authority over Isabella (as usual, without sufficient 
purpose), by virtue of a law which Tortesa thus expounds:- 

"My gracious liege, there is a law in Florence 
That if a father, for no guilt or shame. 
Disown and shut his door upon his daughter. 
She is the child of him who succours her. 
Who by the shelter of a single night. 
Becomes endowed with the authority 
Lost by the other." 



No one, of course, can be made to believe that any such stupid law as this ever existed 
either in Florence or Timbuctoo; but, on the ground que le vrai n'est pas toujours le 
vraisemblable, we say that even its real existence would be no justification of Mr. Willis. 
It has an air of the far-fetched-of the desperate-which a fine taste will avoid as a 
pestilence. Very much of the same nature is the attempt of Tortesa to extort a second 
bond from Falcone. The evidence which convicts Angelo of murder is ridiculously frail. 
The idea of Isabella's assuming the place of the portrait, and so deceiving the usurer, is 
not only glaringly improbable, but seems adopted from the "Winter's Tale." But in this 
latter-play, the deception is at least possible, for the human figure but imitates a statue. 
What, however, are we to make of Mr. W.'s stage direction about the back wall's being 
"so arranged as to form a natural ground for the picture"? Of course, the very slightest 
movement of Tortesa (and he makes many) would have annihilated the illusion by 
disarranging the perspective, and in no manner could this latter have been arranged at all 
for more than one particular point of view-in other words, for more than one particular 
person in the whole audience. The "asides," moreover, are unjustifiably frequent. The 
prevalence of this folly (of speaking aside) detracts as much from the acting merit of our 
drama generally as any other inartisticality. It utterly destroys verisimilitude. People are 
not in the habit of soliloquising aloud-at least, not to any positive extent; and why should 
an author have to be told, what the slightest reflection would teach him, that an audience, 
by dint of no imagination, can or will conceive that what is sonorous in their own ears at 
the distance of fifty feet cannot be heard by an actor at the distance of one or two? 

Having spoken thus of "Tortesa" in terms of nearly unmitigated censure-our readers may 
be surprised to hear us say that we think highly of the drama as a whole-and have little 
hesitation in ranking it before most of the dramas of Sheridan Knowles. Its leading faults 
are those of the modern drama generally-they are not peculiar to itself-while its great 
merits are. If in support of our opinion we do not cite points of commendation, it is 
because those form the mass of the work. And were we to speak of fine passages, we 
should speak of the entire play. Nor by "fine passages" do we mean passages of merely 
fine language, embodying fine sentiment, but such as are replete with truthfulness, and 
teem with the loftiest qualities of the dramatic art. Points-capital points abound; and 
these have far more to do with the general excellence of a play than a too speculative 
criticism has been willing to admit. Upon the whole, we are proud of "Tortesa"-and her 
again, for the fiftieth time at least, record our warm admiration of the abilities of Mr. 
Willis. 

We proceed now to Mr. Longfellow's 
SPANISH STUDENT 

The reputation of its author as a poet, and as a graceful writer of prose, is, of course, long 
and deservedly established-but as a dramatist he was unknown before the publication of 
this play. Upon its original appearance, in Graham's Magazine, the general opinion was 
greatly in favour-if not exactly of "The Spanish Student"-at all events of the writer of 
"Outre-Mer." But this general opinion is the most equivocal thing in the world. It is never 
self-formed. It has very seldom indeed an original development. In regard to the work of 
an already famous or infamous author it decides, to be sure, with a laudable promptitude; 



making up all the mind that it has, by reference to the reception of the author's 
immediately previous publication- making up thus the ghost of a mind pro tem.-a species 
of critical shadow that fully answers, nevertheless, all the purposes of a substance itself 
until the substance itself shall be forthcoming. But beyond this point the general opinion 
can only be considered that of the public, as a man may call a book his, having bought it. 
When a new writer arises, the shop of the true, thoughtful or critical opinion is not 
simultaneously thrown away-is not immediately set up. Some weeks elapse; and, during 
this interval, the public, at a loss where to procure an opinion of the debutante, have 
necessarily no opinion of him at all for the nonce. 

The popular voice, then, which ran so much in favour of "The Spanish Student," upon its 
original issue, should be looked upon as merely the ghost pro tem.-as based upon critical 
decisions respecting the previous works of the author-as having reference in no manner 
to "The Spanish Student" itself-and thus as utterly meaningless and valueless per se. 

The few, by which we mean those who think, in contradistinction from the many who 
think they think-the few who think at first hand, and thus twice before speaking at all- 
these received the play with a commendation somewhat less pronounced-somewhat more 
guardedly qualified-than Professor Longfellow might have desired, or may have been 
taught to expect. Still the composition was approved upon the whole. The few words of 
censure were very far indeed from amounting to condemnation. The chief defect insisted 
upon was the feebleness of the denouement, and, generally, of the concluding scenes, as 
compared with the opening passages. We are not sure, however, that anything like 
detailed criticism has been attempted in the case-nor do we propose now to attempt it. 
Nevertheless, the work has interest, not only within itself, but as the first dramatic effort 
of an author who has remarkably succeeded in almost every other department of light 
literature than that of the drama. It may be as well, therefore, to speak of it, if not 
analytically, at least somewhat in detail; and we cannot, perhaps, more suitably 
commence than by a quotation, without comment of some of the finer passages: 

"And, though she is a virgin outwardly. 

Within she is a sinner, like those panels 

Of doors and altar-pieces the old monks 

Painted in convents, with the Virgin Mary 

On the outside, and on the inside Venus." 

"I believe 

That woman, in her deepest degradation. 

Holds something sacred, something undefiled. 

Some pledge and keepsake of her higher nature. 

And, like the diamond in the dark, retains 

Some quenchless gleam of the celestial light." 

"And we shall sit together unmolested. 

And words of true love pass from tongue to tongue 

As singing birds from one bough to another." 

"Our feelings and our thoughts 

Tend ever on and rest not in the Present, 



As drops of rain fall into some dark well, 

And from below comes a scarce audible sound, 

So fall our thoughts into the dark 

Hereafter, And their mysterious echo reaches us." 

"Her tender limbs are still, and, on her breast. 

The cross she prayed to, ere she fell asleep. 

Rises or falls with the soft tide of dreams. 

Like a light barge safe moored." 

"Hark! how the large and ponderous mace of Time 

Knocks at the golden portals of the day!" 

"The lady Violante bathed in tears 

Of love and anger, like the maid of Colchis, 

Whom thou, another faithless Argonaut, 

Having won that golden fleece, a woman's love, 

Desertest for this Glauce." 

"I read, or sit in reverie and watch 

The changing colour of the waves that break 

Upon the idle sea- shore of the mind." 

"I will forget her. All dear recollections 

Pressed in my heart, like flowers within a book. 

Shall be tom out and scattered to the winds." 

"Oh yes! I see it now- 

Yet rather with my heart than with mine eyes. 

So faint it is. And all my thoughts sail thither. 

Freighted with prayers and hopes, and forward urged. 

Against all stress of accident, as, in 

The Eastern Tale, against the wind and tide 

Great ships were drawn to the Magnetic Mountains." 

"But there are brighter dreams than those of Fame, 

Which are the dreams of Love! Out of the heart 

Rises the bright ideal of these dreams. 

As from some woodland fount a spirit rises 

And sinks again into its silent deeps. 

Ere the enamoured knight can touch her robe! 

'Tis this ideal that the soul of Man, 

Like the enamoured knight beside the fountain. 

Waits for upon the margin of Life's stream; 

Waits to behold her rise from the dark waters. 

Clad in a mortal shape! Alas, how many 

Must wait in vain! The stream flows evermore. 

But from its silent deeps no spirit rises! 

Yet I, born under a propitious star. 

Have found the bright ideal of my dreams." 

"Yes; by the Darro's side 

My childhood passed. I can remember still 

The river, and the mountains capped with snow; 



The villages where, yet a little child, 

I told the traveller's fortune in the street; 

The smugglers horse; the brigand and the shepherd; 

The march across the moor; the halt at noon; 

The red fire of the evening camp, that lighted 

The forest where we slept; and, farther back. 

As in a dream, or in some former life. 

Gardens and palace walls." 

"This path will lead us to it. 

Over the wheatfields, where the shadows sail 

Across the running sea, now green, now blue. 

And, like an idle mariner on the ocean. 

Whistles the quail." 

These extracts will be universally admired. They are graceful, well expressed, 
imaginative, and altogether replete with the true poetic feeling. We quote them now, at 
the beginning of our review, by way of justice to the poet, and because, in what follows, 
we are not sure that we have more than a very few words of what may be termed 
commendation to bestow. 

"The Spanish Student" has an unfortunate beginning, in a most unpardonable, and yet to 
render the matter worse, in a most indispensable "Preface:- 

"The subject of the following play," says Mr. L., "is taken in part from the beautiful play 
of Cervantes, La Gitanilla. To this source, however, I am indebted for the main incident 
only, the love of a Spanish student for a Gipsy girl, and the name of the heroine, Preciosa. 
I have not followed the story in any of its details. In Spain this subject has been twice 
handled dramatically, first by Juan Perez de Montalvan in La Gitanilla, and afterwards by 
Antonio de Soils y Rivadeneira in La Gitanilla de Madrid. The same subject has also 
been made use of by Thomas Middleton, an English dramatist of the seventeenth century. 
His play is called The Spanish Gipsy. The main plot is the same as in the Spanish pieces; 
but there runs through it a tragic underplot of the loves of Rodrigo and Dona Clara, which 
is taken from another tale of Cervantes, La Fuerza de la Sangre. The reader who is 
acquainted with La Gitanilla of Cervantes, and the plays of Montalvan, Soils, and 
Middleton, will perceive that my treatment of the subject differs entirely from theirs." 

Now the autorial originality, properly considered, is threefold. There is, first, the 
originality of the general thesis, secondly, that of the several incidents or thoughts by 
which the thesis is developed, and thirdly, that of manner or tone, by which means alone 
an old subject, even when developed through hackneyed incidents or thoughts, may be 
made to produce a fully original effect-which, after all, is the end truly in view. 

But originality, as it is one of the highest, is also one of the rarest of merits. In America it 
is especially and very remarkably rare:-this through causes sufficiently well understood. 
We are content perforce, therefore, as a general thing, with either of the lower branches 
of originality mentioned above, and would regard with high favour indeed any author 



who should supply the great desideratum in combining the three. Still the three should be 
combined; and from whom, if not from such men as Professor Longfellow- if not from 
those who occupy the chief niches in our Literary Temple-shall we expect the 
combination? But in the present instance, what has Professor Longfellow accomplished? 
Is he original at any one point? Is he original in respect to the first and most important of 
our three divisions? "The [subject] of the following play," he says himself, "is taken [in 
part] from the beautiful play of Cervantes, 'La Gitanilla.' To this source, however, I am 
indebted for [the main incident only,] the love of the Spanish student for a Gipsy girl, and 
the name of the heroine, Preciosa." 

The [brackets] are our own, and the [bracketed words] involve an obvious contradiction. 
We cannot understand how "the love of the Spanish student for the Gipsy girl" can be 
called an "incident," or even a "main incident," at all. In fact, this love-this discordant 
and therefore eventful or incidental love is the true thesis of the drama of Cervantes. It is 
this anomalous "love," which originates the incidents by means of which itself, this 
"love," the thesis, is developed. Having based his play, then, upon this "love," we cannot 
admit his claim to originality upon our first count; nor has he any right to say that he has 
adopted his "subject" "in part." It is clear that he has adopted it altogether. Nor would he 
have been entitled to claim originality of subject, even had he based his story upon any 
variety of love arising between parties naturally separated by prejudices of caste-such, 
for example, as those which divide the Brahmin from the Pariah, the Ammonite from the 
African, or even the Christian from the Jew. For here in its ultimate analysis, is the real 
thesis of the Spaniard. But when the drama is founded, not merely upon this general 
thesis, but upon this general thesis in the identical application given it by Cervantes-that 
is to say, upon the prejudice of caste exemplified in the case of a Catholic, and this 
Catholic a Spaniard, and this Spaniard a student, and this student loving a Gipsy, and this 
Gipsy a dancing-girl, and this dancing-girl bearing the name Preciosa-we are not 
altogether prepared to be informed by Professor Longfellow that he is indebted for an 
"incident only" to the "beautiful 'Gitanilla' of Cervantes." 

Whether our author is original upon our second and third points- in the true incidents of 
his story, or in the manner and tone of their handling-will be more distinctly seen as we 
proceed. 

It is to be regretted that "The Spanish Student" was not subentitled "A Dramatic Poem," 
rather than "A Play." The former title would have more fully conveyed the intention of 
the poet; for, of course, we shall not do Mr. Longfellow the injustice to suppose that his 
design has been, in any respect, a play, in the ordinary acceptation of the term. Whatever 
may be its merits in a merely poetical view, "The Spanish Student" could not be endured 
upon the stage. 

Its plot runs thus:-Preciosa, the daughter of a Spanish gentleman, is stolen, while an 
infant, by Gipsies, brought up as his own daughter, and as a dancing-girl, by a Gipsy 
leader, Cruzado; and by him betrothed to a young Gipsy, Bartolome. At Madrid, Preciosa 
loves and is beloved by Victorian, a student of Alcala, who resolves to marry her, 
notwithstanding her caste, rumours involving her purity, the dissuasions of his friends. 



and his betrothal to an heiress of Madrid. Preciosa is also sought by the Count of Lara, a 
roue. She rejects him. He forces his way into her chamber, and is there seen by Victorian, 
who, misinterpreting some words overheard, doubts the fidelity of his mistress, and 
leaves her in anger, after chAUanging the Count of Lara. In the duel, the Count receives 
his life at the hands of Victorian: declares his ignorance of the understanding between 
Victorian and Preciosa; boasts of favours received from the latter, and, to make good his 
words, produces a ring which she gave him, he asserts, as a pledge of her love. This ring 
is a duplicate of one previously given the girl by Victorian, and known to have been so 
given by the Count. Victorian mistakes it for his own, believes all that has been said, and 
abandons the field to his rival, who, immediately afterwards, while attempting to procure 
access to the Gipsy, is assassinated by Bartolome. Meantime, Victorian, wandering 
through the country, reaches Guadarrama. Here he receives a letter from Madrid, 
disclosing the treachery practiced by Lara, and telling that Preciosa, rejecting his 
addresses, had been through his instrumentality hissed from the stage, and now again 
roamed with the Gipsies. He goes in search of her, finds her in a wood near Guadarrama; 
approaches her, disguising his voice; she recognizes him, pretending she does not, and 
unaware that he knows her innocence; a conversation of equivoque ensues; he sees his 
ring upon her finger; offers to purchase it; she refuses to part with it, a full eclairissement 
takes place; at this juncture a servant of Victorian's arrives with "news from court," 
giving the first intimation of the true parentage of Preciosa. The lovers set out, forthwith, 
for Madrid, to see the newly discovered father. On the route, Bartolome dogs their steps; 
fires at Preciosa; misses her; the shot is returned; he falls; and "The Spanish Student" is 
concluded. 

This plot, however, like that of "Tortesa," looks better in our naked digest than amidst the 
details which develop only to disfigure it. The reader of the play itself will be astonished, 
when he remembers the name of the author, at the inconsequence of the incidents-at the 
utter want of skill-of art-manifested in their conception and introduction. In dramatic 
writing, no principle is more clear than that nothing should be said or done which has not 
a tendency to develop the catastrophe, or the characters. But Mr. Longfellow's play 
abounds in events and conversations that have no ostensible purpose, and certainly 
answer no end. In what light, for example, since we cannot suppose this drama intended 
for the stage, are we to regard the second scene of the second act, where a long dialogue 
between an Archbishop and a Cardinal is wound up by a dance from Preciosa? The Pope 
thinks of abolishing public dances in Spain, and the priests in question have been 
delegated to examine, personally, the proprieties or improprieties of such exhibitions. 
With this view, Preciosa is summoned and required to give a specimen of her skill. Now 
this, in a mere spectacle, would do very well; for here all that is demanded is an occasion 
or an excuse for a dance; but what business has it in a pure drama? or in what regard does 
it further the end of a dramatic poem, intended only to be read? In the same manner, the 
whole of Scene the eighth, in the same act, is occupied with six lines of stage directions, 
as follows :- 

The Theatre: the orchestra plays the Cachuca. Sound of castinets behind the scenes. The 
curtain rises and discovers Preciosa in the attitude of commencing the dance. The 



Cachuca. Tumult. Hisses. Cries of Brava! and Aguera! She falters and pauses. The music 
stops. General confusion. Preciosa faints. 

But the inconsequence of which we complain will be best exemplified by an entire scene. 
We take Scene the Fourth, Act the First: - 

"An inn on the road to Alcala. BALTASAR asleep on a bench. Enter CHISPA." 

CHISPA. And here we are, half way to Alcala, between cocks and midnight. Body o' me! 
what an inn this is! The light out and the landlord asleep! Hola! ancient Baltasar! 

BALTASAR. [waking]. Here I am. 

CHISPA. Yes, there you are, like a one-eyed alcalde in a town without inhabitants. Bring 
a light, and let me have supper. 

BALTASAR. Where is your master? 

CHISPA. Do not trouble yourself about him. We have stopped a moment to breathe our 
horses; and if he chooses to walk up and down in the open air, looking into the sky as one 
who hears it rain, that does not satisfy my hunger, you know. But be quick, for I am in a 
hurry, and every one stretches his legs according to the length of his coverlet. What have 
we here? 

BALTASAR. [setting a light on the table]. Stewed rabbit. 

CHISPA. [eating]. Conscience of Portalegre! stewed kitten you mean! 

BALTASAR. And a pitcher of Pedro Ximenes, with a roasted pear in it. 

CHISPA [drinking]. Ancient Baltasar, amigo! You know how to cry wine and sell 
vinegar. I tell you this is nothing but Vino Tinto of La Mancha, with a tang of the swine- 
skin. 

BALTASAR. I swear to you by Saint Simon and Judas, it is all as I say. 

CHISPA. And I swear to you by Saint Peter and Saint Paul that it is no such thing. 
Moreover, your supper is like the hidalgo's dinner-very little meat and a great deal of 
tablecloth. 

BALTASAR. Ha! ha! ha! 

CHISPA. And more noise than nuts. 

BALTASAR. Ha! ha! ha! You must have your joke. Master Chispa. But 



shall I not ask Don Victorian in to take a draught of the Pedro Ximenes? 

CHISPA. No; you might as well say, "Don't you want some?" to a dead man. 

BALTASAR. Why does he go so often to Madrid? 

CHISPA. For the same reason that he eats no supper. He is in love. Were you ever in 
love, Baltasar? 

BALTASAR. I was never out of it, good Chispa. It has been the torment of my life. 

CHISPA. What! are you on fire, too, old hay-stack? Why, we shall never be able to put 
you out. 

VICTORIAN [without] Chispa! 

CHISPA. Go to bed, Pero GruUo, for the cocks are crowing. 

VICTORIAN. Ea! Chispa! Chispa! 

CHISPA. Ea! Senor. Come with me, ancient Baltasar, and bring water for the horses. I 
will pay for the supper tomorrow. [Exeunt.] 

Now here the question occurs-what is accomplished? How has the subject been 
forwarded? We did not need to learn that Victorian was in love-that was known before; 
and all that we glean is that a stupid imitation of Sancho Panza drinks in the course of 
two minutes (the time occupied in the perusal of the scene) a bottle of vino tinto, by way 
of Pedro Ximenes, and devours a stewed kitten in place of a rabbit. 

In the beginning of the play this Chispa is the valet of Victorian; subsequently we find 
him the servant of another; and near the denouement he returns to his original master. No 
cause is assigned, and not even the shadow of an object is attained; the whole 
tergiversation being but another instance of the gross inconsequence which abounds in 
the play. 

The authors deficiency of skill is especially evinced in the scene of the eclaircissement 
between Victorian and Preciosa. The former having been enlightened respecting the true 
character of the latter by means of a letter received at Guadarrama, from a friend at 
Madrid (how wofuUy inartistical is this!), resolves to go in search of her forthwith, and 
forthwith, also, discovers her in a wood close at hand. Whereupon he approaches, 
disguising his voice:-yes, we are required to believe that a lover may so disguise his 
voice from his mistress as even to render his person in full view irrecognizable! He 
approaches, and each knowing the other, a conversation ensues under the hypothesis that 
each to the other is unknown-a very unoriginal, and, of course, a very silly source of 
equivoque, fit only for the gum-elastic imagination of an infant. But what we especially 
complain of here is that our poet should have taken so many and so obvious pains to 



bring about this position of equivoque, when it was impossible that it could have served 
any other purpose than that of injuring his intended effect! Read, for example, this 
passage:- 

VICTORIAN. I never loved a maid; 
For she I loved was then a maid no more. 

PRECIOSA. How know you that? 

VICTORIA. A little bird in the air 
Whispered the secret. 

PRECIOSA. There, take back your gold! 
Your hand is cold like a deceiver's hand! 
There is no blessing in its charity! 
Make her your wife, for you have been abused; 
And you shall mend your fortunes mending hers. 

VICTORIAN. How like an angel's speaks the tongue of woman. 
When pleading in another's cause her own! 

Now here it is clear that if we understood Preciosa to be really ignorant of Victorian's 
identity, the "pleading in another's cause her own" would create a favourable impression 
upon the reader or spectator. But the advice-"Make her your wife, etc.," takes an 
interested and selfish turn when we remember that she knows to whom she speaks. 

Again, when Victorian says: 

That is a pretty ring upon your finger. 
Pray give it me! 
and when she replies: 
No, never from my hand 
Shall that be taken, 

we are inclined to think her only an artful coquette, knowing, as we do, the extent of her 
knowledge, on the hand we should have applauded her constancy (as the author intended) 
had she been represented ignorant of Victorian's presence. The effect upon the audience, 
in a word, would be pleasant in place of disagreeable were the case altered as we suggest, 
while the effect upon Victorian would remain altogether untouched. 

A still more remarkable instance of deficiency in the dramatic tact is to be found in the 
mode of bringing about the discovery of Preciosa's parentage. In the very moment of the 
eclaircissement between the lovers, Chispa arrives almost as a matter of course, and 
settles the point in a sentence:- 



Good news from the Court; Good news! Beltran Cruzado, 
The Count of the Cales, is not your father, 
But your true father has returned to Spain 
Laden with wealth. You are no more a Gipsy. 

Now here are three points:-first, the extreme baldness, platitude, and independence of the 
incident narrated by Chispa. The opportune return of the father (we are tempted to say the 
excessively opportune) stands by itself-has no relation to any other event in the play- 
does not appear to arise, in the way of result, from any incident or incidents that have 
arisen before. It has the air of a happy chance, of a God-send, of an ultra- accident, 
invented by the play-wright by way of compromise for his lack of invention. Nee Deus 
intersit, etc .-but here the God has interposed, and the knot is laughably unworthy of the 
God. 

The second point concerns the return of the father "laden with wealth." The lover has 
abandoned his mistress in her poverty, and, while yet the words of his proffered 
reconciliation hang upon his lips, comes his own servant with the news that the mistress' 
father has returned "laden with wealth." Now, so far as regards the audience, who are 
behind the scenes and know the fidelity of the lover-so far as regards the audience, all is 
right; but the poet had no business to place his heroine in the sad predicament of being 
forced, provided she is not a fool, to suspect both the ignorance and the disinterestedness 
of the hero. 

The third point has reference to the words-" You are now no more a Gipsy." The thesis of 
this drama, as we have already said, is love disregarding the prejudices of caste, and in 
the development of this thesis, the powers of the dramatist have been engaged, or should 
have been engaged, during the whole of the three acts of the play. The interest excited 
lies in our admiration of the sacrifice, and of the love that could make it; but this interest 
immediately and disagreeably subsides when we find that the sacrifice has been made to 
no purpose. "You are no more a Gipsy" dissolves the charm, and obliterates the whole 
impression which the author has been at so much labour to convey. Our romantic sense of 
the hero's chivalry declines into a complacent satisfaction with his fate. We drop our 
enthusiasm, with the enthusiast, and jovially shake by the hand the mere man of good 
luck. But is not the latter feeling the more comfortable of the two? Perhaps so; but 
"comfortable" is not exactly the word Mr. Longfellow might wish applied to the end of 
his drama, and then why be at the trouble of building up an effect through a hundred and 
eighty pages, merely to knock it down at the end of the hundred and eighty-first? 

We have already given, at some length, our conceptions of the nature of plot-and of that 
of "The Spanish Student", it seems almost superfluous to speak at all. It has nothing of 
construction about it. Indeed there is scarcely a single incident which has any necessary 
dependence upon any one other. Not only might we take away two-thirds of the whole 
without ruin-but without detriment-indeed with a positive benefit to the mass. And, even 
as regards the mere order of arrangement, we might with a very decided chance of 
improvement, put the scenes in a bag, give them a shake or two by way of shuffle, and 
tumble them out. The whole mode of collocation- not to speak of the feebleness of the 



incidents in themselves- evinces, on the part of the author, an utter and radical want of the 
adapting or constructive power which the drama so imperatively demands. 

Of the unoriginality of the thesis we have already spoken; and now, to the unoriginality 
of the events by which the thesis is developed, we need do little more than alude. What, 
indeed, could we say of such incidents as the child stolen by Gipsies-as her education as 
a danseuse-as her betrothal to a Gipsy-as her preference for a gentleman-as the rumours 
against her purity-as her persecution by a roue-as the irruption of the roue into her 
chamber-as the consequent misunderstanding between her and her lover-as the duel-as 
the defeat of the roue-as the receipt of his life from the hero-as his boasts of success with 
the girl-as the ruse of the duplicate ring-as the field, in consequence, abandoned by the 
lover-as the assassination of Lara while scaling the girl's bed-chamber-as the 
disconsolate peregrination of Victorian-as the equivoque scene with Preciosa-as the 
offering to purchase the ring and the refusal to part with it-as the "news from court," 
telling of the Gipsy's true parentage-what could we say of all these ridiculous things, 
except that we have met them, each and all, some two or three hundred times before, and 
that they have formed, in a great or less degree, the staple material of every Hop-O'My- 
Thumb tragedy since the flood? There is not an incident, from the first page of "The 
Spanish Student" to the last and most satisfactory, which we would not undertake to find 
bodily, at ten minutes' notice, in some one of the thousand and one comedies of intrigue 
attributed to Calderon and Lope de Vega. 

But if our poet is grossly unoriginal in his subject, and in the events which evolve it, may 
he not be original in his handling or tone? We really grieve to say that he is not, unless, 
indeed, we grant him the need of originality for the peculiar manner in which he has 
jumbled together the quaint and stilted tone of the old English dramatists with the 
degagee air of Cervantes. But this is a point upon which, through want of space, we must 
necessarily permit the reader to judge altogether for himself. We quote, however, a 
passage from the second scene of the first act, by way of showing how very easy a matter 
it is to make a man discourse Sancho Panza:- 

Chispa. Abemuncio Satanas! and a plague upon all lovers who ramble about at night, 
drinking the elements, instead of sleeping quietly in their beds. Every dead man to his 
cemetery, say I; and every friar to his monastery. Now, here's my master Victorian, 
yesterday a cow-keeper and to-day a gentleman; yesterday a student and to-day a lover; 
and I must be up later than the nightingale, for as the abbot sings so must the sacristan 
respond. God grant he may soon be married, for then shall all this serenading cease. Ay, 
marry, marry, marry! Mother, what does marry mean? It means to spin, to bear children, 
and to weep, my daughter! and, of a truth, there is something more in matrimony than the 
wedding-ring. And now, gentlemen. Pax vobiscum! as the ass said to the cabbages! 

And we might add, as an ass only should say. 

In fact, throughout "The Spanish Student," as well as throughout other compositions of 
its author, there runs a very obvious vein of imitation. We are perpetually reminded of 
something we have seen before-some old acquaintance in manner or matter, and even 



where the similarity cannot be said to amount to plagiarism, it is still injurious to the poet 
in the good opinion of him who reads. 

Among the minor defects of the play, we may mention the frequent allusion to book 
incidents not generally known, and requiring each a Note by way of explanation. The 
drama demands that everything be so instantaneously evident that he who runs may read; 
and the only impression effected by these Notes to a play is, that the author is desirous of 
showing his reading. 

We may mention, also, occasional tautologies, such as:- 

Never did I behold thee so attired 

And garmented in beauty as to-night! 

Or- 

What we need 

Is the celestial fire to change the fruit 

Into transparent crystal, bright and clear! 

We may speak, too, of more than occasional errors of grammar. For example:- 

"Did no one see thee? None, my love, but thou." 

Here "but" is not a conjunction, but a preposition, and governs thee in the objective. 
"None but thee" would be right; meaning none except thee, saving thee. Earlier, "mayest" 
is somewhat incorrectly written "may'st." And we have:- 

I have no other saint than thou to pray to. 

Here authority and analogy are both against Mr. Longfellow. "Than" also is here a 
preposition governing the objective, and meaning save or except. "I have none other God 
than thee, etc" See Home Tooke. The Latin "quam te" is exactly equivalent. [Later] we 
read:- 

Like thee I am a captive, and, like thee, 

I have a gentle gaoler. 

Here "like thee" (although grammatical of course) does not convey the idea. Mr. L. does 
not mean that the speaker is like the bird itself, but that his condition resembles it. The 
true reading would thus be:- 

As thou I am a captive, and, as thou, 

I have a gentle poler. 

That is to say, as thou art and as thou hast. 



Upon the whole, we regret that Professor Longfellow has written this work, and feel 
especially vexed that he has committed himself by its republication. Only when regarded 
as a mere poem can it be said to have merit of any kind. For in fact it is only when we 
separate the poem from the drama that the passages we have commended as beautiful can 
be understood to have beauty. We are not too sure, indeed, that a "dramatic poem" is not 
a flat contradiction in terms. At all events a man of true genius (and such Mr. L. 
unquestionably is) has no business with these hybrid and paradoxical compositions. Let a 
poem be a poem only, let a play be a play and nothing more. As for "The Spanish 
Student," its thesis is unoriginal; its incidents are antique; its plot is no plot; its characters 
have no character, in short, it is a little better than a play upon words to style it "A Play" 
at all. 

PREFACE TO THE RAVEN AND OTHER POEMS 

THESE TRIFLES are collected and republished chiefly with a view to their redemption 
from the many improvements to which they have been subjected while "going the rounds 
of the press." I am naturally anxious that if what I have written is to circulate at all, it 
should circulate as I wrote it. In defence of my own taste, nevertheless, it is incumbent on 
me to say that I think nothing in this volume of much value to the public, or very 
creditable to myself. Events not to be controlled have prevented me from making, at any 
time, any serious effort in what, under happier circumstances would have been the field 
of my choice. With me poetry has not been a purpose, but a passion; and the passions 
should be held in reverence; they must not-they cannot at will be excited, with an eye to 
the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of mankind 

E. A. P. 

THE PHILOSOPHY OF COMPOSITION 

CHARLES DICKENS, in a note now lying before me, alluding to an examination I once 
made of the mechanism of "Barnaby Rudge," says-"By the way, are you aware that 
Godwin wrote his 'Caleb Williams' backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of 
difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some 
mode of accounting for what had been done." 

I cannot think this the precise mode of procedure on the part of Godwin-and indeed what 
he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens' idea-but the 
author of "Caleb Williams" was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivable 
from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing is more clear than that every plot, 
worth the name, must be elaborated to its denouement before anything be attempted with 
the pen. It is only with the denouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its 
indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially 
the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention. 

There is a radical error, I think, in the usual mode of constructing a story. Either history 
affords a thesis-or one is suggested by an incident of the day-or, at best, the author sets 



himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his 
narrative-designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial comment, 
whatever crevices of fact, or action, may, from page to page, render themselves apparent. 

I prefer commencing with the consideration of an effect. Keeping originality always in 
view-for he is false to himself who ventures to dispense with so obvious and so easily 
attainable a source of interest-I say to myself, in the first place, "Of the innumerable 
effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is 
susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion, select?" Having chosen a novel, 
first, and secondly a vivid effect, I consider whether it can be best wrought by incident or 
tone-whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity 
both of incident and tone-afterward looking about me (or rather within) for such 
combinations of event, or tone, as shall best aid me in the construction of the effect. 

I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author 
who would-that is to say, who could-detail, step by step, the processes by which any one 
of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never 
been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say-but, perhaps, the autorial vanity has 
had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers-poets in 
especial-prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy-an 
ecstatic intuition-and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind 
the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought-at the true purposes seized 
only at the last moment-at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the 
maturity of full view-at the fully-matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable- 
at the cautious selections and rejections-at the painful erasures and interpolations-in a 
word, at the wheels and pinions-the tackle for scene- shifting-the step-ladders, and 
demon-traps-the cock's feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety- 
nine cases out of a hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio. 

I am aware, on the other hand, that the case is by no means common, in which an author 
is at all in condition to retrace the steps by which his conclusions have been attained. In 
general, suggestions, having arisen pell-mell are pursued and forgotten in a similar 
manner. 

For my own part, I have neither sympathy with the repugnance alluded to, nor, at any 
time, the least difficulty in recalling to mind the progressive steps of any of my 
compositions, and, since the interest of an analysis or reconstruction, such as I have 
considered a desideratum, is quite independent of any real or fancied interest in the thing 
analysed, it will not be regarded as a breach of decorum on my part to show the modus 
operandi by which some one of my own works was put together. I select 'The Raven' as 
most generally known. It is my design to render it manifest that no one point in its 
composition is referable either to accident or intuition-that the work proceeded step by 
step, to its completion, with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical 
problem. 



Let us dismiss, as irrelevant to the poem, per se, the circumstance- or say the necessity- 
which, in the first place, gave rise to the intention of composing a poem that should suit 
at once the popular and the critical taste. 

We commence, then, with this intention. 

The initial consideration was that of extent. If any literary work is too long to be read at 
one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable 
from unity of impression-for, if two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere, 
and everything like totality is at once destroyed. But since, ceteris paribus, no poet can 
afford to dispense with anything that may advance his design, it but remains to be seen 
whether there is, in extent, any advantage to counterbalance the loss of unity which 
attends it. Here I say no, at once. What we term a long poem is, in fact, merely a 
succession of brief ones-that is to say, of brief poetical effects. It is needless to 
demonstrate that a poem is such only inasmuch as it intensely excites, by elevating the 
soul; and all intense excitements are, through a psychal necessity, brief. For this reason, 
at least, one-half of the "Paradise Lost" is essentially prose-a succession of poetical 
excitements interspersed, inevitably, with corresponding depressions-the whole being 
deprived, through the extremeness of its length, of the vastly important artistic element, 
totality, or unity of effect. 

It appears evident, then, that there is a distinct limit, as regards length, to all works of 
literary art-the limit of a single sitting- and that, although in certain classes of prose 
composition, such as "Robinson Crusoe" (demanding no unity), this limit may be 
advantageously overpassed, it can never properly be overpassed in a poem. Within this 
limit, the extent of a poem may be made to bear mathematical relation to its merit-in 
other words, to the excitement or elevation-again, in other words, to the degree of the true 
poetical effect which it is capable of inducing; for it is clear that the brevity must be in 
direct ratio of the intensity of the intended effect-this, with one proviso-that a certain 
degree of duration is absolutely requisite for the production of any effect at all. 

Holding in view these considerations, as well as that degree of excitement which I 
deemed not above the popular, while not below the critical taste, I reached at once what I 
conceived the proper length for my intended poem-a length of about one hundred lines. It 
is, in fact, a hundred and eight. 

My next thought concerned the choice of an impression, or effect, to be conveyed: and 
here I may as well observe that throughout the construction, I kept steadily in view the 
design of rendering the work universally appreciable. I should be carried too far out of 
my immediate topic were I to demonstrate a point upon which I have repeatedly insisted, 
and which, with the poetical, stands not in the slightest need of demonstration-the point, I 
mean, that Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem. A few words, however, in 
elucidation of my real meaning, which some of my friends have evinced a disposition to 
misrepresent. That pleasure which is at once the most intense, the most elevating, and the 
most pure is, I believe, found in the contemplation of the beautiful. When, indeed, men 
speak of Beauty, they mean, precisely, not a quality, as is supposed, but an effect-they 



refer, in short, just to that intense and pure elevation of soul-not of intellect, or of heart- 
upon which I have commented, and which is experienced in consequence of 
contemplating the "beautiful." Now I designate Beauty as the province of the poem, 
merely because it is an obvious rule of Art that effects should be made to spring from 
direct causes-that objects should be attained through means best adapted for their 
attainment-no one as yet having been weak enough to deny that the peculiar elevation 
alluded to is most readily attained in the poem. Now the object Truth, or the satisfaction 
of the intellect, and the object Passion, or the excitement of the heart, are, although 
attainable to a certain extent in poetry, far more readily attainable in prose. Truth, in fact, 
demands a precision, and Passion, a homeliness (the truly passionate will comprehend 
me), which are absolutely antagonistic to that Beauty which, I maintain, is the excitement 
or pleasurable elevation of the soul. It by no means follows, from anything here said, that 
passion, or even truth, may not be introduced, and even profitably introduced, into a 
poem for they may serve in elucidation, or aid the general effect, as do discords in music, 
by contrast-but the true artist will always contrive, first, to tone them into proper 
subservience to the predominant aim, and, secondly, to enveil them, as far as possible, in 
that Beauty which is the atmosphere and the essence of the poem. 

Regarding, then. Beauty as my province, my next question referred to the tone of its 
highest manifestation-and all experience has shown that this tone is one of sadness. 
Beauty of whatever kind in its supreme development invariably excites the sensitive soul 
to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones. 

The length, the province, and the tone, being thus determined, I betook myself to ordinary 
induction, with the view of obtaining some artistic piquancy which might serve me as a 
key-note in the construction of the poem-some pivot upon which the whole structure 
might turn. In carefully thinking over all the usual artistic effects- or more properly 
points, in the theatrical sense-I did not fail to perceive immediately that no one had been 
so universally employed as that of the refrain. The universality of its employment 
sufficed to assure me of its intrinsic value, and spared me the necessity of submitting it to 
analysis. I considered it, however, with regard to its susceptibility of improvement, and 
soon saw it to be in a primitive condition. As commonly used, the refrain, or burden, not 
only is limited to lyric verse, but depends for its impression upon the force of monotone- 
both in sound and thought. The pleasure is deduced solely from the sense of identity-of 
repetition. I resolved to diversify, and so heighten the effect, by adhering in general to the 
monotone of sound, while I continually varied that of thought: that is to say, I determined 
to produce continuously novel effects, by the variation of the application of the refrain- 
the refrain itself remaining for the most part, unvaried. 

These points being settled, I next bethought me of the nature of my refrain. Since its 
application was to be repeatedly varied it was clear that the refrain itself must be brief, 
for there would have been an insurmountable difficulty in frequent variations of 
application in any sentence of length. In proportion to the brevity of the sentence would, 
of course, be the facility of the variation. This led me at once to a single word as the best 
refrain. 



The question now arose as to the character of the word. Having made up my mind to a 
refrain, the division of the poem into stanzas was of course a corollary, the refrain 
forming the close to each stanza. That such a close, to have force, must be sonorous and 
susceptible of protracted emphasis, admitted no doubt, and these considerations 
inevitably led me to the long o as the most sonorous vowel in connection with r as the 
most producible consonant. 

The sound of the refrain being thus determined, it became necessary to select a word 
embodying this sound, and at the same time in the fullest possible keeping with that 
melancholy which I had pre-determined as the tone of the poem. In such a search it 
would have been absolutely impossible to overlook the word "Nevermore." In fact it was 
the very first which presented itself. 

The next desideratum was a pretext for the continuous use of the one word "nevermore." 
In observing the difficulty which I had at once found in inventing a sufficiently plausible 
reason for its continuous repetition, I did not fail to perceive that this difficulty arose 
solely from the preassumption that the word was to be so continuously or monotonously 
spoken by a human being-I did not fail to perceive, in short, that the difficulty lay in the 
reconciliation of this monotony with the exercise of reason on the part of the creature 
repeating the word. Here, then, immediately arose the idea of a non-reasoning creature 
capable of speech, and very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but 
was superseded forthwith by a Raven as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in 
keeping with the intended tone. 

I had now gone so far as the conception of a Raven, the bird of ill-omen, monotonously 
repeating the one word "Nevermore" at the conclusion of each stanza in a poem of 
melancholy tone, and in length about one hundred lines. Now, never losing sight of the 
object- supremeness or perfection at all points, I asked myself-"Of all melancholy topics 
what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy?" 
Death, was the obvious reply. "And when," I said, "is this most melancholy of topics 
most poetical?" From what I have already explained at some length the answer here also 
is obvious-"When it most closely allies itself to Beauty: the death then of a beautiful 
woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world, and equally is it beyond 
doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover." 

I had now to combine the two ideas of a lover lamenting his deceased mistress and a 
Raven continuously repeating the word "Nevermore." I had to combine these, bearing in 
mind my design of varying at every turn the application of the word repeated, but the 
only intelligible mode of such combination is that of imagining the Raven employing the 
word in answer to the queries of the lover. And here it was that I saw at once the 
opportunity afforded for the effect on which I had been depending, that is to say, the 
effect of the variation of application. I saw that I could make the first query propounded 
by the lover-the first query to which the Raven should reply "Nevermore"- that I could 
make this first query a commonplace one, the second less so, the third still less, and so 
on, until at length the lover, startled from his original nonchalance by the melancholy 
character of the word itself, by its frequent repetition, and by a consideration of the 



ominous reputation of the fowl that uttered it, is at length excited to superstition, and 
wildly propounds queries of a far different character-queries whose solution he has 
passionately at heart-propounds them half in superstition and half in that species of 
despair which delights in self-torture-propounds them not altogether because he believes 
in the prophetic or demoniac character of the bird (which reason assures him is merely 
repeating a lesson learned by rote), but because he experiences a frenzied pleasure in so 
modelling his questions as to receive from the expected "Nevermore" the most delicious 
because the most intolerable of sorrows. Perceiving the opportunity thus afforded me, or, 
more strictly, thus forced upon me in the progress of the construction, I first established 
in my mind the climax or concluding query-that query to which "Nevermore" should be 
in the last place an answer-that query in reply to which this word "Nevermore" should 
involve the utmost conceivable amount of sorrow and despair. 

Here then the poem may be said to have had its beginning-at the end where all works of 
art should begin-for it was here at this point of my preconsiderations that I first put pen 
to paper in the composition of the stanza: 

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! prophet still if bird or devil! 
By that Heaven that bends above us-by that God we both adore. 
Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the distant Aidenn, 
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore- 
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore." 
Quoth the Raven-"Nevermore." 

I composed this stanza, at this point, first that, by establishing the climax, I might the 
better vary and graduate, as regards seriousness and importance, the preceding queries of 
the lover, and secondly, that I might definitely settle the rhythm, the metre, and the length 
and general arrangement of the stanza, as well as graduate the stanzas which were to 
precede, so that none of them might surpass this in rhythmical effect. Had I been able in 
the subsequent composition to construct more vigorous stanzas I should without scruple 
have purposely enfeebled them so as not to interfere with the climacteric effect. 

And here I may as well say a few words of the versification. My first object (as usual) 
was originality. The extent to which this has been neglected in versification is one of the 
most unaccountable things in the world. Admitting that there is little possibility of variety 
in mere rhythm, it is still clear that the possible varieties of metre and stanza are 
absolutely infinite, and yet, for centuries, no man, in verse, has ever done, or ever seemed 
to think of doing, an original thing. The fact is that originality (unless in minds of very 
unusual force) is by no means a matter, as some suppose, of impulse or intuition. In 
general, to be found, it must be elaborately sought, and although a positive merit of the 
highest class, demands in its attainment less of invention than negation. 

Of course I pretend to no originality in either the rhythm or metre of the "Raven." The 
former is trochaic-the latter is octametre acatalectic, alternating with heptametre 
catalectic repeated in the refrain of the fifth verse, and terminating with tetrametre 
catalectic. Less pedantically the feet employed throughout (trochees) consist of a long 



syllable followed by a short, the first line of the stanza consists of eight of these feet, the 
second of seven and a half (in effect two-thirds), the third of eight, the fourth of seven 
and a half, the fifth the same, the sixth three and a half. Now, each of these lines taken 
individually has been employed before, and what originality the "Raven" has, is in their 
combination into stanza; nothing even remotely approaching this has ever been 
attempted. The effect of this originality of combination is aided by other unusual and 
some altogether novel effects, arising from an extension of the application of the 
principles of rhyme and alliteration. 

The next point to be considered was the mode of bringing together the lover and the 
Raven-and the first branch of this consideration was the locale. For this the most natural 
suggestion might seem to be a forest, or the fields-but it has always appeared to me that a 
close circumscription of space is absolutely necessary to the effect of insulated incident- 
it has the force of a frame to a picture. It has an indisputable moral power in keeping 
concentrated the attention, and, of course, must not be confounded with mere unity of 
place. 

I determined, then, to place the lover in his chamber-in a chamber rendered sacred to him 
by memories of her who had frequented it. The room is represented as richly furnished- 
this in mere pursuance of the ideas I have already explained on the subject of Beauty, as 
the sole true poetical thesis. 

The locale being thus determined, I had now to introduce the bird- and the thought of 
introducing him through the window was inevitable. The idea of making the lover 
suppose, in the first instance, that the flapping of the wings of the bird against the shutter, 
is a "tapping" at the door, originated in a wish to increase, by prolonging, the reader's 
curiosity, and in a desire to admit the incidental effect arising from the lover's throwing 
open the door, finding all dark, and thence adopting the half-fancy that it was the spirit of 
his mistress that knocked. 

I made the night tempestuous, first to account for the Raven's seeking admission, and 
secondly, for the effect of contrast with the (physical) serenity within the chamber. 

I made the bird alight on the bust of Pallas, also for the effect of contrast between the 
marble and the plumage-it being understood that the bust was absolutely suggested by 
the bird-the bust of Pallas being chosen, first, as most in keeping with the scholarship of 
the lover, and secondly, for the sonorousness of the word, Pallas, itself. 

About the middle of the poem, also, I have availed myself of the force of contrast, with a 
view of deepening the ultimate impression. For example, an air of the fantastic- 
approaching as nearly to the ludicrous as was admissible-is given to the Raven's 
entrance. He comes in "with many a flirt and flutter." 

Not the least obeisance made he-not a moment stopped or stayed he. 
But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door. 



In the two stanzas which follow, the design is more obviously carried out:- 

Then this ebony bird, beguiling my sad fancy into smiling 
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore, 
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no 
craven. 

Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore- 
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore?" 
Quoth the Raven-"Nevermore." 

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly, 
Though its answer little meaning-little relevancy bore; 
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being 
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door- 
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door. 
With such name as "Nevermore." 

The effect of the denouement being thus provided for, I immediately drop the fantastic 
for a tone of the most profound seriousness-this tone commencing in the stanza directly 
following the one last quoted, with the line. 

But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only, etc. 

From this epoch the lover no longer jests-no longer sees anything even of the fantastic in 
the Raven's demeanour. He speaks of him as a "grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and 
ominous bird of yore," and feels the "fiery eyes" burning into his "bosom's core." This 
revolution of thought, or fancy, on the lover's part, is intended to induce a similar one on 
the part of the reader-to bring the mind into a proper frame for the denouement-which is 
now brought about as rapidly and as directly as possible. 

With the denouement proper-with the Raven's reply, "Nevermore," to the lover's final 
demand if he shall meet his mistress in another world-the poem, in its obvious phase, that 
of a simple narrative, may be said to have its completion. So far, everything is within the 
limits of the accountable-of the real. A raven, having learned by rote the single word 
"Nevermore," and having escaped from the custody of its owner, is driven at midnight, 
through the violence of a storm, to seek admission at a window from which a light still 
gleams-the chamber- window of a student, occupied half in poring over a volume, half in 
dreaming of a beloved mistress deceased. The casement being thrown open at the 
fluttering of the bird's wings, the bird itself perches on the most convenient seat out of the 
immediate reach of the student, who amused by the incident and the oddity of the visitor's 
demeanour, demands of it, in jest and without looking for a reply, its name. The raven 
addressed, answers with its customary word, "Nevermore"-a word which finds 
immediate echo in the melancholy heart of the student, who, giving utterance aloud to 
certain thoughts suggested by the occasion, is again startled by the fowl's repetition of 
"Nevermore." The student now guesses the state of the case, but is impelled, as I have 
before explained, by the human thirst for self-torture, and in part by superstition, to 
propound such queries to the bird as will bring him, the lover, the most of the luxury of 



sorrow, through the anticipated answer, "Nevermore." With the indulgence, to the 
extreme, of this self-torture, the narration, in what I have termed its first or obvious 
phase, has a natural termination, and so far there has been no overstepping of the limits of 
the real. 

But in subjects so handled, however skillfully, or with however vivid an array of incident, 
there is always a certain hardness or nakedness which repels the artistical eye. Two things 
are invariably required-first, some amount of complexity, or more properly, adaptation; 
and, secondly, some amount of suggestiveness-some under-current, however indefinite, 
of meaning. It is this latter, in especial, which imparts to a work of art so much of that 
richness (to borrow from colloquy a forcible term), which we are too fond of 
confounding with the ideal. It is the excess of the suggested meaning- it is the rendering 
this the upper instead of the under-current of the theme- which turns into prose (and that 
of the very flattest kind), the so-called poetry of the so-called transcendentalists. 

Holding these opinions, I added the two concluding stanzas of the poem-their 
suggestiveness being thus made to pervade all the narrative which has preceded them. 
The under-current of meaning is rendered first apparent in the line- 

"Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my 
door!" 

Quoth the Raven "Nevermore!" 

It will be observed that the words, "from out my heart," involve the first metaphorical 
expression in the poem. They, with the answer, "Nevermore," dispose the mind to seek a 
moral in all that has been previously narrated. The reader begins now to regard the Raven 
as emblematic al-but it is not until the very last line of the very last stanza that the 
intention of making him emblematical of Mournful and never ending Remembrance is 
permitted distinctly to be seen: 

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting. 
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door; 
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming. 
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor; 
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor 
Shall be lif ted-nevermore. 

THE RATIONALE OF VERSE 

THE WORD "Verse" is here used not in its strict or primitive sense, but as the term most 
convenient for expressing generally and without pedantry all that is involved in the 
consideration of rhythm, rhyme, metre, and versification. 

There is, perhaps, no topic in polite literature which has been more pertinaciously 
discussed, and there is certainly not one about which so much inaccuracy, confusion. 



misconception, misrepresentation, mystification, and downright ignorance on all sides, 
can be fairly said to exist. Were the topic really difficult, or did it lie, even, in the 
cloudland of metaphysics, where the doubt-vapors may be made to assume any and every 
shape at the will or at the fancy of the gazer, we should have less reason to wonder at all 
this contradiction and perplexity; but in fact the subject is exceedingly simple; one-tenth 
of it, possibly, may be called ethical; nine-tenths, however, appertain to mathematics; and 
the whole is included within the limits of the commonest common sense. 

"But, if this is the case, how," it will be asked, "can so much misunderstanding have 
arisen? Is it conceivable that a thousand profound scholars, investigating so very simple a 
matter for centuries, have not been able to place it in the fullest light, at least, of which it 
is susceptible?" These queries, I confess, are not easily answered: at all events, a 
satisfactory reply to them might cost more trouble than would, if properly considered, the 
whole vexata quaestio to which they have reference. Nevertheless, there is little difficulty 
or danger in suggesting that the "thousand profound scholars" may have failed first, 
because they were scholars; secondly, because they were profound; and thirdly, because 
they were a thousand-the impotency of the scholarship and profundity having been thus 
multiplied a thousand fold. I am serious in these suggestions; for, first again, there is 
something in "scholarship" which seduces us into blind worship of Bacon's Idol of the 
Theatre-into irrational deference to antiquity, secondly, the proper "profundity" is rarely 
profound-it is the nature of Truth in general, as of some ores in particular, to be richest 
when most superficial; thirdly, the clearest subject may be over-clouded by mere 
superabundance of talk. In chemistry, the best way of separating two bodies is to add a 
third; in speculation, fact often agrees with fact and argument with argument until an 
additional well-meaning fact or argument sets everything by the ears. In one case out of a 
hundred a point is excessively discussed because it is obscure; in the ninety-nine 
remaining it is obscure because excessively discussed. When a topic is thus 
circumstanced, the readiest mode of investigating it is to forget that any previous 
investigation has been attempted. 

But, in fact, while much has been written on the Greek and Latin rhythms, and even on 
the Hebrew, little effort has been made at examining that of any of the modern tongues. 
As regards the English, comparatively nothing has been done. It may be said, indeed, that 
we are without a treatise on our own verse. In our ordinary grammars and in our works on 
rhetoric or prosody in general, may be found occasional chapters, it is true, which have 
the heading, "Versification," but these are, in all instances, exceedingly meagre. They 
pretend to no analysis; they propose nothing like system; they make no attempts at even 
rule; everything depends upon "authority." They are confined, in fact, to mere 
exemplification of the supposed varieties of English feet and English lines-although in no 
work with which I am acquainted are these feet correctly given or these lines detailed in 
anything like their full extent. Yet what has been mentioned is all-if we except the 
occasional introduction of some pedagogue-ism, such as this borrowed from the Greek 
Prosodies: "When a syllable is wanting the verse is said to be catalectic; when the 
measure is exact, the line is acatalectic; when there is a redundant syllable, it forms 
hypermeter." Now, whether a line be termed catalectic or acatalectic is, perhaps, a point 
of no vital importance-it is even possible that the student may be able to decide. 



promptly, when the a should be employed and when omitted, yet be incognizant, at the 
same time, of all that is worth knowing in regard to the structure of verse. 

A leading defect in each of our treatises (if treatises they can be called) is the confining 
the subject to mere Versification, while Verse in general, with the understanding given to 
the term in the heading of this paper, is the real question at issue. Nor am I aware of even 
one of our Grammars which so much as properly defines the word versification itself. 
"Versification," says a work now before me, of which the accuracy is far more than 
usual-the "English Grammar" of Goold Brown-"Versification is the art of arranging 
words into lines of correspondent length, so as to produce harmony by the regular 
alternation of syllables differing in quantity." The commencement of this definition might 
apply, indeed, to the art of versification, but not to versification itself. Versification is not 
the art of arranging, etc, but the actual arranging-a distinction too obvious to need 
comment. The error here is identical with one which has been too long permitted to 
disgrace the initial page of every one of our school grammars. I allude to the definitions 
of English Grammar itself. "English Grammar," it is said, "is the art of speaking and 
writing the English language correctly." This phraseology, or something essentially 
similar, is employed, I believe, by Bacon, Miller, Fisk, Greenleaf, IngersoU, Kirkland, 
Cooper, Flint, Pue, Comly, and many others. These gentlemen, it is presumed, adopted it 
without examination from Murray, who derived it from Lily (whose work was "quam 
solam Regia Majestas in omnibus scholis docendam praecipit"), and who appropriated it 
without acknowledgment, but with some unimportant modification, from the Latin 
Grammar of Leonicenus. It may be shown, however, that this definition, so complacently 
received, is not, and cannot be, a proper definition of English Grammar. A definition is 
that which so describes its object as to distinguish it from all others-it is no definition of 
any one thing if its terms are applicable to any one other. But if it be asked-"What is the 
design-the end-the aim of English Grammar?" our obvious answer is, "The art of 
speaking and writing the English language correctly "-that is to say, we must use the 
precise words employed as the definition of English Grammar itself. But the object to be 
obtained by any means is, assuredly, not the means. English Grammar and the end 
contemplated by English Grammar are two matters sufficiently distinct; nor can the one 
be more reasonably regarded as the other than a fishing-hook as a fish. The definition, 
therefore, which is applicable in the latter instance, cannot, in the former, be true. 
Grammar in general is the analysis of language; English Grammar of the English. 

But to return to Versification as defined in our extract above. "It is the art," says the 
extract "of arranging words into lines of correspondent length." Not so:-a correspondence 
in the length of lines is by no means essential. Pindaric odes are, surely, instances of 
versification, yet these compositions are noted for extreme diversity in the length of their 
lines. 

The arrangement is moreover said to be for the purpose of producing "harmony by the 
regular alternation," etc. But harmony is not the sole aim-not even the principal one. In 
the construction of verse, melody should never be left out of view; yet this is a point 
which all our Prosodies have most unaccountably forborne to touch. Reasoned rules on 
this topic should form a portion of all systems of rhythm. 



"So as to produce harmony," says the definition, "by the regular alternation," etc. A 
regular alternation, as described, forms no part of any principle of versification. The 
arrangement of spondees and dactyls, for example, in the Greek hexameter, is an 
arrangement which may be termed at random. At least it is arbitrary. Without interference 
with the line as a whole, a dactyl may be substituted for a spondee, or the converse, at 
any point other than the ultimate and penultimate feet, of which the former is always a 
spondee, the latter nearly always a dactyl. Here, it is clear, we have no "regular 
alternation of syllables differing in quantity." 

"So as to produce harmony," proceeds the definition "by the regular alternation of 
syllables differing in quantity, "-in other words by the alternation of long and short 
syllables; for in rhythm all syllables are necessarily either short or long. But not only do I 
deny the necessity of any regularity in the succession of feet and, by consequence, of 
syllables, but dispute the essentiality of any alternation regular or irregular, of syllables 
long and short. Our author, observe, is now engaged in a definition of versification in 
general, not of English versification in particular. But the Greek and Latin metres abound 
in the spondee and pyrrhic-the former consisting of two long syllables, the latter of two 
short; and there are innumerable instances of the immediate succession of many spondees 
and many pyrrhics. 

Here is a passage from Silius Italicus: 

Fallit te mensas inter quod credis inermem 
Tot bellis quaesita viro, tot caedibus armat 
Majestas aetema ducem: si admoveris ora 
Cannas et Trebium ante oculos Trasymenaque busta 
Et Pauli stare ingentem miraberis umbram. 

Making the elisions demanded by the classic Prosodies, we should scan these Hexameters 
thus: 

Fallit / te men / sas in / ter quod / credis in / ermem / 
Tot bel / lis quae / sita tot / caedibus / armat / 
Majes / tas ae / terna du / cem s'ad / moveris / ora / 
Cannas / et Trebi / ant ocu / los Trasy / menaque / busta / 
Et Pau / li sta / r' ingen / tem mi / raberis / umbram / 

It will be seen that, in the first and last of these lines, we have only two short syllables in 
thirteen, with an uninterrupted succession of no less than nine long syllables. But how are 
we to reconcile all this with a definition of versification which describes it as "the art of 
arranging words into lines of correspondent length so as to produce harmony by the 
regular alternation of syllables differing in quantity"? 

It may be urged, however, that our prosodist's intention was to speak of the English 
metres alone, and that, by omitting all mention of the spondee and pyrrhic, he has 
virtually avowed their exclusion from our rhythms. A grammarian is never excusable on 



the ground of good intentions. We demand from him, if from any one, rigorous precision 
of style. But grant the design. Let us admit that our author, following the example of all 
authors on English Prosody, has, in defining versification at large, intended a definition 
merely of the English. All these prosodists, we will say, reject the spondee and pyrrhic. 
Still all admit the iambus, which consists of a short syllable followed by a long; the 
trochee, which is the converse of the iambus; the dactyl, formed of one long syllable 
followed by two short; and the anapaest-two short succeeded by a long. The spondee is 
improperly rejected, as I shall presently show. The pyrrhic is rightfully dismissed. Its 
existence in either ancient or modern rhythm is purely chimerical, and the insisting on so 
perplexing a nonentity as a foot of two short syllables, affords, perhaps, the best evidence 
of the gross irrationality and subservience to authority which characterise our Prosody. In 
the meantime the acknowledged dactyl and anapaest are enough to sustain my 
proposition about the "alternation," etc, without reference to feet which are assumed to 
exist in the Greek and Latin metres alone-for an anapaest and a dactyl may meet in the 
same line, when, of course, we shall have an uninterrupted succession of four short 
syllables. The meeting of these two feet, to be sure, is an accident not contemplated in the 
definition now discussed; for this definition, in demanding a "regular alternation of 
syllables differing in quantity," insists on a regular succession of similar feet. But here is 
an example: 

Sing to me / Isabelle. 

This is the opening line of a little ballad now before me which proceeds in the same 
rhythm-a peculiarly beautiful one. More than all this:-English lines are often well 
composed, entirely, of a regular succession of syllables all of the same quantity:-the first 
line, for instance, of the following quatrain by Arthur C. Coxe: 

March! march! march! 
Making sounds as they tread. 
Ho! ho! how they step. 
Going down to the dead! 

The [first line] is formed of three caesuras. The caesura, of which I have much to say 
hereafter, is rejected by the English Prosodies, and grossly misrepresented in the classic. 
It is a perfect foot-the most important in all verse-and consists of a single long syllable; 
but the length of this syllable varies. 

It has thus been made evident that there is not one point of the definition in question 
which does not involve an error, and for anything more satisfactory or more intelligible 
we shall look in vain to any published treatise on the topic. 

So general and so total a failure can be referred only to radical misconception. In fact the 
English Prosodists have blindly followed the pedants. These latter, like les moutons de 
Panurge, have been occupied in incessant tumbling into ditches, for the excellent reason 
that their leaders have so tumbled before. The Iliad, being taken as a starting point, was 
made to stand instead of Nature and common sense. Upon this poem, in place of facts and 



deduction from fact, or from natural law, were built systems of feet, metres, rhythms, 
rules,-rules that contradict each other every five minutes, and for nearly all of which 
there may be found twice as many exceptions as examples. If any one has a fancy to be 
thoroughly confounded-to see how far the infatuation of what is termed "classical 
scholarship," can lead a bookworm in the manufacture of darkness out of sunshine, let 
him turn over for a few moments any of the German Greek Prosodies. The only thing 
clearly made out in them is a very magnificent contempt for Leibnitzs principle of "a 
sufficient reason." 

To divert attention from the real matter in hand by any further reference to these works is 
unnecessary, and would be weak. I cannot call to mind at this moment one essential 
particular of information that is to be gleaned from them, and I will drop them here with 
merely this one observation,-that employing from among the numerous "ancient" feet the 
spondee, the trochee, the iambus, the anapaest, the dactyl, and the caesura alone, I will 
engage to scan correctly any of the Horatian rhythms, or any true rhythm that human 
ingenuity can conceive. And this excess of chimerical feet is perhaps the very least of the 
scholastic supererogations. Ex uno disce omnia. The fact is that quantity is a point in 
whose investigation the lumber of mere learning may be dispensed with, if ever in any. 
Its appreciation is universal. It appertains to no region, nor race, nor era in special. To 
melody and to harmony the Greeks hearkened with ears precisely similar to those which 
we employ for similar purposes at present, and I should not be condemned for heresy in 
asserting that a pendulum at Athens would have vibrated much after the same fashion as 
does a pendulum in the city of Penn. 

Verse originates in the human enjoyment of equality, fitness. To this enjoyment, also, all 
the moods of verse, rhythm, metre, stanza, rhyme, alliteration, the refrain, and other 
analagous effects, are to be referred. As there are some readers who habitually confound 
rhythm and metre, it may be as well here to say that the former concerns the character of 
feet (that is arrangements of syllables) while the latter has to do with the number of these 
feet. Thus by "a dactylic rhythm" we express a sequence of dactyls. By "a dactylic 
hexameter" we imply a line or measure consisting of six of these dactyls. 

To return to equality. Its idea embraces those of similarity, proportion, identity, 
repetition, and adaptation or fitness. It might not be very difficult to go even behind the 
idea of equality, and show both how and why it is that the human nature takes pleasure in 
it, but such an investigation would, for any purpose now in view, be supererogatory. It is 
sufficient that the fact is undeniable-the fact that man derives enjoyment from his 
perception of equality. Let us examine a crystal. We are at once interested by the equality 
between the sides and between the angles of one of its faces; the equality of the sides 
pleases us, that of the angles doubles the pleasure. On bringing to view a second face in 
all respects similar to the first, this pleasure seems to be squared; on bringing to view a 
third it appears to be cubed, and so on. I have no doubt, indeed, that the delight 
experienced, if measurable, would be found to have exact mathematical relation such as I 
suggest, that is to say, as far as a certain point, beyond which there would be a decrease 
in similar relations. 



The perception of pleasure in the equality of sounds is the principle of Music. 
Unpractised ears can appreciate only simple equalities, such as are found in ballad airs. 
While comparing one simple sound with another they are too much occupied to be 
capable of comparing the equality subsisting between these two simple sounds taken 
conjointly, and two other similar simple sounds taken conjointly. Practised ears, on the 
other hand, appreciate both equalities at the same instant, although it is absurd to suppose 
that both are heard at the same instant. One is heard and appreciated from itself, the other 
is heard by the memory, and the instant glides into and is confounded with the secondary 
appreciation. Highly cultivated musical taste in this manner enjoys not only these double 
equalities, all appreciated at once, but takes pleasurable cognizance, through memory, of 
equalities the members of which occur at intervals so great that the uncultivated taste 
loses them altogether. That this latter can properly estimate or decide on the merits of 
what is called scientific music is of course impossible. But scientific music has no claim 
to intrinsic excellence; it is fit for scientific ears alone. In its excess it is the triumph of 
the physique over the morale of music. The sentiment is overwhelmed by the sense. On 
the whole, the advocates of the simpler melody and harmony have infinitely the best of 
the argument, although there has been very little of real argument on the subject. 

In verse, which cannot be better designated than as an inferior or less capable Music, 
there is, happily, little chance for complexity. Its rigidly simple character not even 
Science-not even Pedantry can greatly pervert. 

The rudiment of verse may possibly be found in the spondee. The very germ of a thought 
seeking satisfaction in equality of sound would result in the construction of words of two 
syllables, equally accented. In corroboration of this idea we find that spondees most 
abound in the most ancient tongues. The second step we can easily suppose to be the 
comparison, that is to say, the collocation of two spondees-or two words composed each 
of a spondee. The third step would be the juxtaposition of three of these words. By this 
time the perception of monotone would induce further consideration; and thus arises what 
Leigh Hunt so flounders in discussing under the title of "The Principle of Variety in 
Uniformity." Of course there is no principle in the case-nor in maintaining it. The 
"Uniformity" is the principle-the "Variety" is but the principle's natural safeguard from 
self-destruction by excess of self. "Uniformity," besides, is the very worst word that 
could have been chosen for the expression of the general idea at which it aims. 

The perception of monotone having given rise to an attempt at its relief, the first thought 
in this new direction would be that of collating two or more words formed each of two 
syllables differently accented (that is to say, short and long) but having the same order in 
each word-in other terms, of collating two or more iambuses, or two or more trochees. 
And here let me pause to assert that more pitiable nonsense has been written on the topic 
of long and short syllables than on any other subject under the sun. In general, a syllable 
is long or short, just as it is difficult or easy of enunciation. The natural long syllables are 
those encumbered-the natural short syllables are those unencumbered with consonants; 
all the rest is mere artificiality and jargon. The Latin Prosodies have a rule that a "vowel 
before two consonants is long." This rule is deduced from "authority "-that is, from the 
observation that vowels so circumstanced, in the ancient poems, are always in syllables 



long by the laws of scansion. The philosophy of the rule is untouched, and lies simply in 
the physical difficulty of giving voice to such syllables-of performing the lingual 
evolutions necessary for their utterance. Of course, it is not the vowel that is long 
(although the rule says so), but the syllable of which the vowel is a part. It will be seen 
that the length of a syllable, depending on the facility or difficulty of its enunciation, 
must have great variation in various syllables; but for the purposes of verse we suppose a 
long syllable equal to two short ones, and the natural deviation from this relativeness we 
correct in perusal. The more closely our long syllables approach this relation with our 
short ones, the better, ceteris paribus, will be our verse: but if the relation does not exist 
of itself we force it by emphasis, which can, of course, make any syllable as long as 
desired;-or, by an effort we can pronounce with unnatural brevity a syllable that is 
naturally too long. Accented syllables are, of course, always long, but where 
unencumbered with consonants, must be classed among the unnaturally long. Mere 
custom has declared that we shall accent them-that is to say, dwell upon them; but no 
inevitable lingual difficulty forces us to do so. In fine, every long syllable must of its own 
accord occupy in its utterance, or must be made to occupy, precisely the time demanded 
for two short ones. The only exception to this rule is found in the caesura-of which more 
anon. 

The success of the experiment with the trochees or iambuses (the one would have 
suggested the other) must have led to a trial of dactyls or anapaests-natural dactyls or 
anapaests-dactylic or anapaestic words. And now some degree of complexity has been 
attained. There is an appreciation, first, of the equality between the several dactyls or 
anapaests, and secondly, of that between the long syllable and the two short conjointly. 
But here it may be said, that step after step would have been taken, in continuation of this 
routine, until all the feet of the Greek Prosodies became exhausted. Not so; these 
remaining feet have no existence except in the brains of the scholiasts. It is needless to 
imagine men inventing these things, and folly to explain how and why they invented 
them, until it shall be first shown that they are actually invented. All other "feet" than 
those which I have specified are, if not impossible at first view, merely combinations of 
the specified; and, although this assertion is rigidly true, I will, to avoid 
misunderstanding, put it in a somewhat different shape. I will say, then, that at present I 
am aware of no rhythm-nor do I believe that any one can be constructed-which, in its 
last analysis, will not be found to consist altogether of the feet I have mentioned, either 
existing in their individual and obvious condition, or interwoven with each other in 
accordance with simple natural laws which I will endeavour to point out hereafter. 

We have now gone so far as to suppose men constructing indefinite sequences of 
spondaic, iambic, trochaic, dactylic, or anapaestic words. In extending these sequences, 
they would be again arrested by the sense of monotone. A succession of spondees would 
immediately have displeased; one of iambuses or of trochees, on account of the variety 
included within the foot itself, would have taken longer to displease, one of dactyls or 
anapaests, still longer; but even the last, if extended very far, must have become 
wearisome. The idea first of curtailing, and secondly of defining, the length of a sequence 
would thus at once have arisen. Here then is the line of verse proper.* The principle of 
equality being constantly at the bottom of the whole process, lines would naturally be 



made, in the first instance, equal in the number of their feet; in the second instance, there 
would be variation in the mere number; one line would be twice as long as another, then 
one would be some less obvious multiple of another; then still less obvious proportions 
would be adopted- nevertheless there would be proportion, that is to say, a phase of 
equality, still. 

* Verse, from the Latin vertere, to turn, is so called on account of the turning or re- 
commencement of the series of feet. Thus a verse strictly speaking is a line. In this sense, 
however, I have preferred using the latter word alone; employing the former in the 
general acceptation given it in the heading of this paper. 

Lines being once introduced, the necessity of distinctly defining these lines to the ear (as 
yet written verse does not exist), would lead to a scrutiny of their capabilities at their 
terminations-and now would spring up the idea of equality in sound between the final 
syllables-in other words, of rhyme. First, it would be used only in the iambic, anapaestic, 
and spondaic rhythms (granting that the latter had not been thrown aside long since, on 
account of its tameness), because in these rhythms the concluding syllable being long, 
could best sustain the necessary protraction of the voice. No great while could elapse, 
however, before the effect, found pleasant as well as useful, would be applied to the two 
remaining rhythms. But as the chief force of rhyme must lie in the accented syllable, the 
attempt to create rhyme at all in these two remaining rhythms, the trochaic and dactylic, 
would necessarily result in double and triple rhymes, such as beauty with duty (trochaic), 
and beautiful with dutiful (dactylic). 

It must be observed that in suggesting these processes I assign them no date; nor do I 
even insist upon their order. Rhyme is supposed to be of modern origin, and were this 
proved my positions remain untouched. I may say, however, in passing, that several 
instances of rhyme occur in the "Clouds" of Aristophanes, and that the Roman poets 
occasionally employed it. There is an effective species of ancient rhyming which has 
never descended to the moderns: that in which the ultimate and penultimate syllables 
rhyme with each other. For example: 

Parturiunt montes; nascetur ridiculus mus. 

And again: 

Litoreis ingens inventa sub ilicibus sus. 

The terminations of Hebrew verse (as far as understood) show no signs of rhyme; but 
what thinking person can doubt that it did actually exist? That men have so obstinately 
and blindly insisted, in general, even up to the present day, in confining rhyme to the 
ends of lines, when its effect is even better applicable elsewhere, intimates in my opinion 
the sense of some necessity in the connection of the ends with the rhyme-hints that the 
origin of rhyme lay in a necessity which connected it with the end-shows that neither 
mere accident nor mere fancy gave rise to the connection-points, in a word, at the very 
necessity which I have suggested (that of some mode of defining lines to the ear), as the 



true origin of rhyme. Admit this and we throw the origin far back in the night of Time- 
beyond the origin of written verse. 

But to resume. The amount of complexity I have now supposed to be attained is very 
considerable. Various systems of equalization are appreciated at once (or nearly so) in 
their respective values and in the value of each system with reference to all the others. As 
our present ultimatum of complexity, we have arrived at triple-rhymed, natural-dactylic 
lines, existing proportionally as well as equally with regard to other triple-rhymed, 
natural-dactylic lines. For example: 

Virginal Lilian, rigidly, humblily dutiful; 
Saintlily, lowlily, 
Thrillingly, holily 
Beautiful! 

Here we appreciate, first, the absolute equality between the long syllable of each dactyl 
and the two short conjointly; secondly, the absolute equality between each dactyl and any 
other dactyl, in other words, among all the dactyls; thirdly, the absolute equality between 
the two middle lines; fourthly, the absolute equality between the first line and the three 
others taken conjointly, fifthly, the absolute equality between the last two syllables of the 
respective words "dutiful" and "beautiful"; sixthly, the absolute equality between the two 
last syllables of the respective words "lowlily" and "holily"; seventhly, the proximate 
equality between the first syllable of "dutiful" and the first syllable of "beautiful"; 
eighthly, the proximate equality between the first syllable of "lowlily" and that of 
"holily"; ninthly, the proportional equality (that of five to one) between the first line and 
each of its members, the dactyls; tenthly, the proportional equality (that of two to one) 
between each of the middle lines and its members, the dactyls, eleventhly, the 
proportional equality between the first line and each of the two middle, that of five to 
two; twelfthly, the proportional equality between the first line and the last, that of five to 
one; thirteenthly, the proportional equality between each of the middle lines and the last, 
that of two to one, lastly, the proportional equality, as concerns number, between all the 
lines taken collectively, and any individual line, that of four to one. 

The consideration of this last equality would give birth immediately to the idea of 
stanza,* that is to say, the insulation of lines into equal or obviously proportional masses. 
In its primitive (which was also its best) form the stanza would most probably have had 
absolute unity. In other words, the removal of any one of its lines would have rendered it 
imperfect, as in the case above, where if the last line, for example, be taken away there is 
left no rhyme to the "dutiful" of the first. Modern stanza is excessively loose, and where 
so, ineffective as a matter of course. 

* A stanza is often vulgarly, and with gross impropriety, called a verse. 

Now, although in the deliberate written statement which I have here given of these 
various systems of equalities, there seems to be an infinity of complexity so much that it 
is hard to conceive the mind taking cognisance of them all in the brief period occupied by 



the perusal or recital of the stanza, yet the difficulty is in fact apparent only when we will 
it to become so. Any one fond of mental experiment may satisfy himself, by trial, that in 
listening to the lines he does actually (although with a seeming unconsciousness, on 
account of the rapid evolutions of sensation) recognise and instantaneously appreciate 
(more or less intensely as his is cultivated) each and all of the equalizations detailed. The 
pleasure received or receivable has very much such progressive increase, and in very 
nearly such mathematical relations as those which I have suggested in the case of the 
crystal. 

It will be observed that I speak of merely a proximate equality between the first syllable 
of "dutiful" and that of "beautiful," and it may be asked why we cannot imagine the 
earliest rhymes to have had absolute instead of proximate equality of sound. But absolute 
equality would have involved the use of identical words, and it is the duplicate sameness 
or monotony, that of sense as well as that of sound, which would have caused these 
rhymes to be rejected in the very first instance. 

The narrowness of the limits within which verse composed of natural feet alone must 
necessarily have been confined would have led, after a very brief interval, to the trial and 
immediate adoption of artificial feet, that is to say, of feet not constituted each of a single 
word but two, or even three words, or of parts of words. These feet would be 
intermingled with natural ones. For example: 

A breath / can make / them as / a breath / his made. 

This is an iambic line in which each iambus is formed of two words. Again: 

The un / ima / gina / ble might / of Jove. 

This is an iambic line in which the first foot is formed of a word and a part of a word; the 
second and third of parts taken from the body or interior of a word; the fourth of a part 
and a whole; the fifth of two complete words. There are no natural feet in either line. 
Again: 

Can it be / fancied that / Deity / ever vin / dictively 
Made in his / image a / mannikin / merely to / madden it? 

These are two dactylic lines in which we find natural feet ("Deity," "mannikin"); feet 
composed of two words ("fancied that," "image a," "merely to," "madden it"); feet 
composed of three words, ("can it be," "made in his"); a foot composed of a part of a 
word ("dictively"); and a foot composed of a word and a part of a word ("ever vin"). 

And now, in our suppositional progress, we have gone so far as to exhaust all the 
essentialities of verse. What follows may, strictly speaking, be regarded as embellishment 
merely, but even in this embellishment the rudimental sense of equality would have been 
the never-ceasing impulse. It would, for example, be simply in seeking further 
administration to this sense that men would come in time to think of the refrain or 



burden, where, at the closes of the several stanzas of a poem, one word or phrase is 
repeated; and of alliteration, in whose simplest form a consonant is repeated in the 
commencements of various words. This effect would be extended so as to embrace 
repetitions both of vowels and of consonants in the bodies as well as in the beginnings of 
words, and at a later period would be made to infringe on the province of rhyme by the 
introduction of general similarity of sound between whole feet occurring in the body of a 
line-all of which modifications I have exemplified in the line above. 

Made in his image a mannikin merely to madden it. 

Further cultivation would improve also the refrain by relieving its monotone in slightly 
varying the phrase at each repetition, or (as I have attempted to do in "The Raven") in 
retaining the phrase and varying its application, although this latter point is not strictly a 
rhythmical effect alone. Finally, poets when fairly wearied with following precedent, 
following it the more closely the less they perceived it in company with Reason, would 
adventure so far as to indulge in positive rhyme at other points than the ends of lines. 
First, they would put it in the middle of the line, then at some point where the multiple 
would be less obvious, then, alarmed at their own audacity, they would undo all their 
work by cutting these lines in two. And here is the fruitful source of the infinity of "short 
metre" by which modern poetry, if not distinguished, is at least disgraced. It would 
require a high degree, indeed, both of cultivation and of courage on the part of any 
versifier to enable him to place his rhymes, and let them remain at unquestionably their 
best position, that of unusual and unanticipated intervals. 

On account of the stupidity of some people, or (if talent be a more respectable word), on 
account of their talent for misconception-I think it necessary to add here, first, that I 
believe the "processes" above detailed to be nearly, if not accurately, those which did 
occur in the gradual creation of what we now can verse; secondly, that, although I so 
believe, I yet urge neither the assumed fact nor my belief in it as a part of the true 
propositions of this paper, thirdly, that in regard to the aim of this paper, it is of no 
consequence whether these processes did occur either in the order I have assigned them, 
or at all; my design being simply, in presenting a general type of what such processes 
might have been and must have resembled, to help them, the "some people," to an easy 
understanding of what I have further to say on the topic of Verse. 

There is one point, which, in my summary of the processes, I have purposely forborne to 
touch; because this point, being the most important of all on account of the immensity of 
error usually involved in its consideration, would have led me into a series of detail 
inconsistent with the object of a summary. 

Every reader of verse must have observed how seldom it happens that even any one line 
proceeds uniformly with a succession, such as I have supposed, of absolutely equal feet; 
that is to say, with a succession of iambuses only, or of trochees only, or of dactyls only, 
or of anapaests only, or of spondees only. Even in the most musical lines we find the 
succession interrupted. The iambic pentameters of Pope, for example, will be found on 



examination, frequently varied by trochees in the beginning, or by (what seem to be) 
anapaests in the body of the line. 

oh thou / whate / ver ti / tie please / thine ear / 
Dean Dra / pier Bick / erstaff / or Gull / iver / 
Whether / thou choose / Cervan / tes' / se / rious air / 
or laugh / and shake / in Rab / elais' ea / sy chair / 

Were any one weak enough to refer to the Prosodies for the solution of the difficulty 
here, he would find it solved as usual by a rule, stating the fact (or what it, the rule, 
supposes to be the fact), but without the slightest attempt at the rationale. "By a 
synaeresis of the two short syllables," say the books, "an anapaest may sometimes be 
employed for an iambus, or dactyl for a trochee.... In the beginning of a line a trochee is 
often used for an iambus." 

Blending is the plain English for synaeresis-but there should be no blending; neither is an 
anapaest ever employed for an iambus, or a dactyl for a trochee. These feet differ in time, 
and no feet so differing can ever be legitimately used in the same line. An anapaest is 
equal to four short syllables-an iambus only to three. Dactyls and trochees hold the same 
relation. The principle of equality, in verse, admits, it is true, of variation at certain 
points, for the relief of monotone, as I have already shown, but the point of time is that 
point which, being the rudimental one, must never be tampered with at all. 

To explain:-In further efforts for the relief of monotone than those to which I have 
alluded in the summary, men soon came to see that there was no absolute necessity for 
adhering to the precise number of syllables, provided the time required for the whole foot 
was preserved inviolate. They saw, for instance, that in such a line as 

or laugh / and shake / in Rab / elais ea / sy chair / 

the equalisation of the three syllables elais ea with the two syllables composing any of the 
other feet could be readily effected by pronouncing the two syllables elais in double 
quick time. By pronouncing each of the syllables e and lais twice as rapidly as the 
syllable sy, or the syllable in, or any other short syllable, they could bring the two of 
them, taken together, to the length, that is to say to the time, of any one short syllable. 
This consideration enabled them to effect the agreeable variation of three syllables in 
place of the uniform two. And variation was the object-variation to the ear. What sense is 
there, then, in supposing this object rendered null by the blending of the two syllables so 
as to render them, in absolute effect, one? Of course, there must be no blending. Each 
syllable must be pronounced as distinctly as possible (or the variation is lost), but with 
twice the rapidity in which the ordinary short syllable is enunciated. That the syllables 
elais ea do not compose an anapaest is evident, and the signs of their accentuation are 
erroneous. The foot might be written with inverted crescents expressing double quick 
time; and might be called a bastard iambus. 

Here is a trochaic line: 



See the / delicate-footed / rain-deer. 

The prosodies-that is to say the most considerate of them-would here decide that 
"delicate" is a dactyl used in place of a trochee, and would refer to what they call their 
"rule, for justification. Others, varying the stupidity, would insist upon a Procrustean 
adjustment thus (del'cate) an adjustment recommended to all such words as silvery, 
murmuring, etc., which, it is said, should be not only pronounced but written silv'ry, 
murm'ring, and so on, whenever they find themselves in trochaic predicament. I have 
only to say that "delicate," when circumstanced as above, is neither a dactyl nor a dactyl's 
equivalent; that I think it as well to call it a bastard trochee; and that all words, at all 
events, should be written and pronounced in full, and as nearly as possible as nature 
intended them. 

About eleven years ago, there appeared in "The American Monthly Magazine" (then 
edited, I believe, by Messrs Hoffman and Benjamin,) a review of Mr. Willis's Poems; the 
critic putting forth his strength, or his weakness, in an endeavor to show that the poet was 
either absurdly affected, or grossly ignorant of the laws of verse; the accusation being 
based altogether on the fact that Mr. W. made occasional use of this very word "delicate," 
and other similar words, in "the Heroic measure, which every one knew consisted of feet 
of two syllables." Mr. W. has often, for example, such lines as 

That binds him to a woman's delicate love- 
in the gay sunshine, reverent in the storm 
With its invisible fingers my loose hair. 

Here of course, the feet licate love, verent in and sible fin, are bastard iambuses; are not 
anapaests and are not improperly used. Their employment, on the contrary, by Mr. Willis, 
is but one of the innumerable instances he has given of keen sensibility in all those 
matters of taste which may be classed under the general head of fanciful embellishment. 

It is also about eleven years ago, if I am not mistaken, since Mr. Home (of England,) the 
author of "Orion," one of the noblest epics in any language, thought it necessary to 
preface his "Chaucer Modernized" by a very long and evidently a very elaborate essay, of 
which the greater portion was occupied in a discussion of the seemingly anomalous foot 
of which we have been speaking. Mr. Home upholds Chaucer in its frequent use; 
maintains his superiority, on account of his so frequently using it, over all English 
versifiers; and indignantly repelling the common idea of those who make verse on their 
fingers-that the superfluous syllable is a roughness and an error- very chivalrously makes 
battle for it as a "grace." That a grace it is, there can be no doubt; and what I complain of 
is, that the author of the most happily versified long poem in existence, should have been 
under the necessity of discussing this grace merely as a grace, through forty or fifty vague 
pages, solely because of his inability to show how and why it is a grace-by which 
showing the question would have been settled in an instant. 

About the trochee used for an iambus, as we see in the beginning of the line. 



Whether thou choose Cervantes' serious air, 

there is little that need be said. It brings me to the general proposition that, in all rhythms, 
the prevalent or distinctive feet may be varied at will and nearly at random, by the 
occasional introduction of feet-that is to say, feet the sum of whose syllabic times is 
equal to the sum of the syllabic times of the distinctive feet. Thus, the trochee, whether is 
equal, in the sum of the times of its syllables, to the iambus, thou choose, in the sum of 
the times of its syllables; each foot being in time equal to three short syllables. Good 
versifiers who happen to be also good poets, contrive to relieve the monotony of a series 
of feet by the use of equivalent feet only at rare intervals, and at such points of their 
subject as seem in accordance with the startling character of the variation. Nothing of this 
care is seen in the line quoted above- although Pope has some fine instances of the 
duplicate effect. Where vehemence is to be strongly expressed, I am not sure that we 
should be wrong in venturing on two consecutive equivalent feet-although I cannot say 
that I have ever known the adventure made, except in the following passage, which 
occurs in "Al Aaraaf," a boyish poem written by myself when a boy. I am referring to the 
sudden and rapid advent of a star: 

Dim was its little disk, and angel eyes 
Alone could see the phantom in the skies. 
When first the phantoms course was found to be 
Headlong hithirward o'er the starry sea. 

In the "general proposition" above, I speak of the occasional introduction of equivalent 
feet. It sometimes happens that unskilful versifiers, without knowing what they do, or 
why they do it, introduce so many "variations" as to exceed in number the "distinctive" 
feet, when the ear becomes at once balked by the bouleversement of the rhythm. Too 
many trochees, for example, inserted in an iambic rhythm would convert the latter to a 
trochaic. I may note here that in all cases the rhythm designed should be commenced and 
continued, without variation, until the ear has had full time to comprehend what is the 
rhythm. In violation of a rule so obviously founded in common sense, many even of our 
best poets do not scruple to begin an iambic rhythm with a trochee, or the converse; or a 
dactylic with an anapaest or the converse; and so on. 

A somewhat less objectionable error, although still a decided one, is that of commencing 
a rhythm not with a different equivalent foot but with a "bastard" foot of the rhythm 
intended. For example: 

Many a / thought will / come to / memory. / 

Here 'many a' is what I have explained to be a bastard trochee, and to be understood 
should be accented with inverted crescents. It is objectionable solely on account of its 
position as the opening foot of a trochaic rhythm. Memory, similarly accented is also a 
bastard trochee, but unobjectionable, although by no means demanded. 

The further illustration of this point will enable me to take an important step. 



One of our finest poets, Mr. Christopher Pearse Cranch, begins a very beautiful poem 
thus: 

Many are the thoughts that come to me 

In my lonely musing; 

And they drift so strange and swift 

There's no time for choosing 

Which to follow; for to leave 

Any, seems a losing. 

"A losing" to Mr. Cranch, of course-but this en passant. It will be seen here that the 
intention is trochaic ;-although we do not see this intention by the opening foot as we 
should do, or even by the opening line. Reading the whole stanza, however, we perceive 
the trochaic rhythm as the general design, and so after some reflection, we divide the first 
line thus: 

Many are the / thoughts that / come to / me. 

Thus scanned, the line will seem musical. It is highly so. And it is because there is no end 
to instances of just such lines of apparently incomprehensible music, that Coleridge 
thought proper to invent his nonsensical system of what he calls "scanning by accents "- 
as if "scanning by accents" were anything more than a phrase. Whenever "Christabel" is 
really not rough, it can be as readily scanned by the true I laws (not the supposititious 
rules) of verse, as can the simplest pentameter of Pope; and where it is rough (passim) 
these same laws will enable any one of common sense to show why it is rough and to 
point out instantaneously the remedy for the roughness. 

A reads and re-reads a certain line, and pronounces it false in rhythm-unmusical. B, 
however, reads it to A, and A is at once struck with the perfection of the rhythm, and 
wonders at his dulness in not "catching" it before. Henceforward he admits the line to be 
musical. B, triumphant, asserts that, to be sure the line is musical-for it is the work of 
Coleridge-and that it is A who is not; the fault being in A's false reading. Now here A is 
right and B wrong. That rhythm is erroneous (at some point or other more or less 
obvious), which any ordinary reader can, without design, read improperly. It is the 
business of the poet so to construct his line that the intention must be caught at once. 
Even when these men have precisely the same understanding of a sentence, they differ, 
and often widely, in their modes of enunciating it. Any one who has taken the trouble to 
examine the topic of emphasis (by which I here mean not accent of particular syllables, 
but the dwelling on entire words), must have seen that men emphasize in the most 
singularly arbitrary manner. There are certain large classes of people, for example, who 
persist in emphasizing their monosyllables. Little uniformity of emphasis prevails; 
because the thing itself-the idea, emphasis-is referable to no natural-at least to no well 
comprehended and therefore uniform-law. Beyond a very narrow and vague limit, the 
whole matter is conventionality. And if we differ in emphasis even when we agree in 
comprehension, how much more so in the former when in the latter too! Apart, however, 
from the consideration of natural disagreement, is it not clear that, by tripping here and 



mouthing there, any sequence of words may be twisted into any species of rhythm? But 
are we thence to deduce that all sequences of words are rhythmical in a rational 
understanding of the term?-for this is the deduction precisely to which the reductio ad 
absurdum will, in the end, bring all the propositions of Coleridge. Out of a hundred 
readers of "Christabel," fifty will be able to make nothing of its rhythm, while forty-nine 
of the remaining fifty with some ado, fancy they comprehend it, after the fourth or fifth 
perusal. The one out of the whole hundred who shall both comprehend and admire it at 
first sight-must be an unaccountably clever person-and I am by far too modest to 
assume, for a moment, that that very clever person is myself. 

In illustration of what is here advanced I cannot do better than quote a poem: 

Pease porridge hot pease porridge cold 
Pease porridge in the pot-nine days old. 

Now those of my readers who have never heard this poem pronounced according to the 
nursery conventionality, will find its rhythm as obscure as an explanatory note; while 
those who have heard it will divide it thus, declare it musical, and wonder how there can 
be any doubt about it. 

Pease / porridge / hot / pease / porridge / cold / 
Pease / porridge / in the / pot / nine / days / old. / 

The chief thing in the way of this species of rhythm, is the necessity which it imposes 
upon the poet of travelling in constant company with his compositions, so as to be ready 
at a moment's notice, to avail himself of a well-understood poetical license-that of 
reading aloud one's own doggerel. 

In Mr. Cranch's line. 

Many are the / thoughts that / come to / me, 

the general error of which I speak is, of course, very partially exemplified, and the 
purpose for which, chiefly, I cite it, lies yet further on in our topic. 

The two divisions (thoughts that) and (come to) are ordinary trochees. The first division 
(many are the) would be thus accented by the Greek Prosodies (many are the), and would 
be called by them astrologos. The Latin books would style the foot Paeon Primus, and 
both Greek and Latin would swear that it was compoded of a trochee and what they term 
a pyrrhic-that is to say, a foot of two short syllables-a thing that cannot be, as I shall 
presently show large 

But now, there is an obvious difficulty. The astrologos, according to the Prosodies' own 
showing, is equal to five short syllables, and the trochee to three-yet, in the line quoted, 
these two feet are equal. They occupy, precisely, the same time. In fact, the whole music 
of the line depends upon their being made to occupy the same time. The Prosodies then, 
have demonstrated what all mathematicians have stupidly failed in demonstrating-that 



three and five are one and the same thing. After what I have already said, however, about 
the bastard trochee and the bastard iambus, no one can have any trouble in understanding 
that many are the is of similar character. It is merely a bolder variation than usual from 
the routine of trochees, and introduces to the bastard trochee one additional syllable. But 
this syllable is not short. That is, it is not short in the sense of "short" as applied to the 
final syllable of the ordinary trochee, where the word means merely the half of long. 

In this case (that of the additional syllable) "short," if used at all, must be used in the 
sense of the sixth of long. And all the three final syllables can be called short only with 
the same understanding of the term. The three together are equal only to the one short 
syllable (whose place they supply) of the ordinary trochee. It follows that there is no 
sense in accenting these syllables with [a crescent placed with the curve to the bottom]. 
We must devise for them some new character which shall denote the sixth of long. Let it 
be the crescent placed with the curve to the left. The whole foot (many are the) might be 
called a quick trochee. 

We now come to the final division (me) of Mr. Cranch's line. It is clear that this foot, 
short as it appears, is fully equal in time to each of the preceding. It is, in fact, the 
caesura-the foot which, in the beginning of this paper, I called the most important in all 
verse. Its chief office is that of pause or termination; and here-at the end of a line-its use 
is easy, because there is no danger of misapprehending its value. We pause on it, by a 
seeming necessity, just so long as it has taken us to pronounce the preceding feet, 
whether iambuses, trochees, dactyls, or anapaests. It is thus a variable foot, and, with 
some care, may be well introduced into the body of a line, as in a little poem of great 
beauty by Mrs. Welby: 

I have / a lit / tie step / son / of on / ly three / years old. / 

Here we dwell on the caesura, son just as long as it requires us to pronounce either of the 
preceding or succeeding iambuses. Its value, therefore, in this line, is that of three short 
syllables. In the following dactylic line its value is that of four short syllables. 

Pale as a / hly was / Emily / [Gray]. / 

I have accented the caesura with brackets by way of expressing this variability of value. 

I observed just now that there could be no such foot as one of two short syllables. What 
we start from in the very beginning of all idea on the topic of verse, is quantity, length. 
Thus when we enunciate an independent syllable it is long, as a matter of course. If we 
enunciate two, dwelling on both we express equality in the enunciation, or length, and 
have a right to call them two long syllables. If we dwell on one more than the other, we 
have also a right to call one short, because it is short in relation to the other. But if we 
dwell on both equally, and with a tripping voice, saying to ourselves here are two short 
syllables, the query might well be asked of us-"in relation to what are they short?" 
Shortness is but the negation of length. To say, then, that two syllables, placed 
independently of any other syllable, are short, is merely to say that they have no positive 



length, or enunciation-in other words, that they are no syllable s-that they do not exist at 
all. And if, persisting, we add anything about their equality, we are merely floundering in 
the idea of an identical equation, where, x being equal to x, nothing is shown to be equal 
to zero. In a word, we can form no conception of a pyrrhic as of an independent foot. It is 
a mere chimera bred in the mad fancy of a pedant. 

From what I have said about the equalization of the several feet of a line, it must not be 
deduced that any necessity for equality in time exists between the rhythm of several lines. 
A poem, or even a stanza, may begin with iambuses in the first line, and proceed with 
anapaests in the second, or even with the less accordant dactyls, as in the opening of quite 
a pretty specimen of verse by Miss Mary A. S. Aldrich: 

The wa / ter li / ly sleeps / in pride / 
Down in the / depths of the / Azure / [lake.] / 
Here azure is a spondee, equivalent to a dactyl; lake a caesura. 
I shall now best proceed in quoting the initial lines of Byron's "Bride of Abydos": 
Know ye the land where, the cypress and myrtle 
Are emblems of deeds that are done in their clime. 
Where the rage of the vulture, the love of the turtle 
Now melt into softness, now madden to crime? 
Know ye the land of the cedar and vine. 
Where the flowers ever blossom, the beams ever shine. 
And the light wings of Zephyr, oppressed with perfume. 
Wax faint o'er the gardens of Gul in their bloom? 
Where the citron and olive are fairest of fruit 
And the voice of the nightingale never is mute- 
Where the virgins are soft as the roses they twine. 
And all save the spirit of man is divine? 
'Tis the land of the East-'tis the clime of the Sun- 
Can he smile on such deeds as his children have done? 
Oh, wild as the accents of lovers' farewell 
Are the hearts that they bear and the tales that they tell. 

Now the flow of these lines (as times go) is very sweet and musical. They have been 
often admired, and justly-as times go-that is to say, it is a rare thing to find better 
versification of its kind. And where verse is pleasant to the ear, it is silly to find fault with 
it because it refuses to be scanned. Yet I have heard men, professing to be scholars, who 
made no scruple of abusing these lines of Byron's on the ground that they were musical in 
spite of all law. Other gentlemen, not scholars, abused "all law" for the same reason- and 
it occurred neither to the one party nor to the other that the law about which they were 
disputing might possibly be no law at all-an ass of a law in the skin of a lion. 

The Grammars said nothing about dactylic lines, and it was easily seen that these lines 
were at least meant for dactylic. The first one was, therefore, thus divided: 

Know ye the / land where the / cypress and / myrtle. / 



The concluding foot was a mystery; but the Prosodies said something about the dactylic 
"measure" calling now and then for a double rhyme; and the court of inquiry were content 
to rest in the double rhyme, without exactly perceiving what a double rhyme had to do 
with the question of an irregular foot. Quitting the first line, the second was thus scanned: 

are emblems / of deeds that / are done in / their clime. / 

It was immediately seen, however, that this would not do-it was at war with the whole 
emphasis of the reading. It could not be supposed that Byron, or any one in his senses, 
intended to place stress upon such monosyllables as "are," "of," and "their," nor could 
"their clime," collated with "to crime," in the corresponding line below, be fairly twisted 
into anything like a "double rhyme," so as to bring everything within the category of the 
Grammars. But farther these Grammars spoke not. The inquirers, therefore, in spite of 
their sense of harmony in the lines, when considered without reference to scansion, fell 
upon the idea that the "Are" was a blunder-an excess for which the poet should be sent to 
Coventry-and, striking it out, they scanned the remainder of the line as follows: 

-emblems of / deeds that are / done in their / clime. 

This answered pretty well; but the Grammars admitted no such foot as a foot of one 
syllable; and besides the rhythm was dactylic. In despair, the books are well searched, 
however, and at last the investigators are gratified by a full solution of the riddle in the 
profound "Observation" quoted in the beginning of this article:-"When a syllable is 
wanting, the verse is said to be catalectic, when the measure is exact, the line is 
acatalectic; when there is a redundant syllable it forms hypermeter" This is enough. The 
anomalous line is pronounced to be catalectic at the head and to form hypermeter at the 
tail-and so on, and so on; it being soon discovered that nearly all the remaining lines are 
in a similar predicament, and that what flows so smoothly to the ear, although so roughly 
to the eye, is, after all, a mere jumble of catalecticism, acatalecticism, and hypermeter- 
not to say worse. 

Now, had this court of inquiry been in possession of even the shadow of the philosophy 
of Verse, they would have had no trouble in reconciling this oil and water of the eye and 
ear, by merely scanning the passage without reference to lines, and, continuously, thus: 

Know ye the / land where the / cypress and myrtle Are / emblems of deeds that are / done 
in their / clime Where the rage of the / vulture the / love of the / turtle Now / melt into / 
softness now / madden to / Know ye the / land of the / cedar and / vine Where the flowers 
ever / blossom the / beams ever / shine And the / light wings of / Zephyr op / pressed by 
per / fume Wax / faint o'er the / gardens of / Gul in their / bloom where the / citron and / 
olive are / fairest of / fruit And the / voice of the / nightingale / never is / mute Where the 
/ virgins are / soft as the / roses they / twine And / all save the / spirit of / man is di / vine. 
'Tis the / land of the / East 'tis the / clime of the / sum Can he / smile on such / deeds as 
his / children have / done Oh / wild as the / accents of / lovers' fare / well Are the / hearts 
that they / bear and the / tales that they / tell. 



Here "crime" and "tell" are caesuras, each having the value of a dactyl, four short 
syllables, while "fume Wax," "twine And," and "done Oh," are spondees which, of 
course, being composed of two long syllables are also equal to four short, and are the 
dactyl's natural equivalent. The nicety of Byron's ear has led him into a succession of feet 
which, with two trivial exceptions as regards melody, are absolutely accurate, a very rare 
occurrence this in dactylic or anapaestic rhythms. The exceptions are found in the 
spondee "twine And," and the dactyl "smile on such." Both feet are false in point of 
melody. In "twine And" to make out the rhyme we must force "And" into a length which 
it will not naturally bear. We are called on to sacrifice either the proper length of the 
syllable as demanded by its position as a member of a spondee, or the customary 
accentuation of the word in conversation. There is no hesitation, and should be none. We 
at once give up the sound for the sense, and the rhythm is imperfect. In this instance it is 
very slightly so, not one person in ten thousand could by ear detect the inaccuracy. But 
the perfection of verse as regards melody, consists in its never demanding any such 
sacrifice as is here demanded. The rhythmical must agree thoroughly with the reading 
flow. This perfection has in no instance been attained, but is unquestionably attainable. 
"Smile on such," a dactyl, is incorrect, because "such," from the character of the two 
consonants ch cannot easily be enunciated in the ordinary time of a short syllable, which 
its position declares that it is. Almost every reader will be able to appreciate the slight 
difficulty here, and yet the error is by no means so important as that of the "And" in the 
spondee. By dexterity we may pronounce "such" in the true time, but the attempt to 
remedy the rhythmical deficiency of the And by drawing it out, merely aggrevates the 
offence against natural enunciation by directing attention to the offence. 

My main object, however, in quoting these lines is to show that in spite of the Prosodies, 
the length of a line is entirely an arbitrary matter. We might divide the commencement of 
Byron's poem thus:- 

Know ye the / land where the / 

or thus: 

Know ye the / land where the / cypress and / 

or thus: 

Know ye the / land where the / cypress and / myrtle are / 

or thus: 

Know ye the / land where the / cypress and / myrtle are / emblems of 

In short, we may give it any division we please, and the lines will be good, provided we 
have at least two feet in a line. As in mathematics two units are required to form number, 
so rhythm (from the Greek arithmos, number) demands for its formation at least two feet. 
Beyond doubt, we often see such lines as 



Know ye the- 

Land where the- 

lines of one foot, and our Prosodies admit such, but with impropriety, for common sense 
would dictate that every so obvious division of a poem as is made by a line, should 
include within itself all that is necessary for its own comprehension, but in a line of one 
foot we can have no appreciation of rhythm, which depends upon the equality between 
two or more pulsations. The false lines, consisting sometimes of a single caesura, which 
are seen in mock Pindaric odes, are, of course, "rhythmical" only in connection with 
some other line, and it is this want of independent rhythm, which adapts them to the 
purposes of burlesque alone. Their effect is that of incongruity (the principle of mirth), 
for they include the blankness of prose amid the harmony of verse. 

My second object in quoting Byron's lines was that of showing how absurd it often is to 
cite a single line from amid the body of a poem for the purpose of instancing the 
perfection or imperfection of the lines rhythm. Were we to see by itself 

Know ye the land where the cypress and myrtle, 

we might justly condemn it as defective in the final foot, which is equal to only three, 
instead of being equal to four short syllables. 

In the foot "flowers ever" we shall find a further exemplification of the principle of the 
bastard iambus, bastard trochee, and quick trochee, as I have been at some pains in 
describing these feet above. All the Prosodies on English verse would insist upon making 
elision in "flowers," thus (flow'rs), but this is nonsense. In the quick trochee (many Are 
the) occurring in Mr. Cranch's trochaic line, we had to equalize the time of the three 
syllables (ny, are, the) to that of the one short syllable whose position they usurp. 
Accordingly each of these syllables is equal to the third of a short syllable, that is to say, 
the sixth of a long. But in Byron's dactylic rhythm, we have to equalize the time of the 
three syllables (ers, ev, er) to that of the one long syllable whose position they usurp, or 
(which is the same thing) of the two short. Therefore the value of each of the syllables 
(ers, ev, and er) is the third of a long. We enunciate them with only half the rapidity we 
employ in enunciating the three final syllables of the quick trochee-which latter is a rare 
foot. The "flowers ever," on the contrary, is as common in the dactylic rhythm as is the 
bastard trochee in the trochaic, or the bastard iambus in the iambic. We may as well 
accent it with the curve of the crescent to the right and call it a bastard dactyl. A bastard 
anapaest, whose nature I now need be at no trouble in explaining, will of course occur 
now and then in an anapaestic rhythm. 

[A brief discussion of diacritical marks has been eliminated. Ed.] 

I began the "processes" by a suggestion of the spondee as the first step towards verse. But 
the innate monotony of the spondee has caused its disappearance as the basis of rhythm 
from all modem poetry. We may say, indeed, that the French heroic-the most wretchedly 



monotonous verse in existence-is to all intents and purposes spondaic. But it is not 
designedly spondaic, and if the French were ever to examine it at all, they would no 
doubt pronounce it iambic. It must be observed that the French language is strangely 
peculiar in this point-that it is without accentuation and consequently without verse. The 
genius of the people, rather than the structure of the tongue, declares that their words are 
for the most part enunciated with a uniform dwelling on each syllable. For example we 
say "syllabification." A Frenchman would say syl-la-bi-fi-ca-ti-on, dwelling on no one of 
the syllables with any noticeable particularity. Here again I put an extreme case in order 
to be well understood, but the general fact is as I give it-that, comparatively, the French 
have no accentuation; and there can be nothing worth the name of verse without. 
Therefore, the French have no verse worth the name-which is the fact put in sufficiently 
plain terms. Their iambic rhythm so superabounds in absolute spondees as to warrant me 
in calling its basis spondaic; but French is the only modem tongue which has any rhythm 
with such basis, and even in the French it is, as I have said, unintentional. 

Admitting, however, the validity of my suggestion, that the spondee was the first 
approach to verse, we should expect to find, first, natural spondees (words each forming 
just a spondee) most abundant in the most ancient languages; and, secondly, we should 
expect to find spondees forming the basis of the most ancient rhythms. These 
expectations are in both cases confirmed. 

Of the Greek hexameter the intentional basis is spondaic. The dactyls are the variation of 
the theme. It will be observed that there is no absolute certainty about their points of 
interposition. The penultimate foot, it is true, is usually a dactyl but not uniformly so, 
while the ultimate, on which the ear lingers, is always a spondee. Even that the 
penultimate is usually a dactyl may be clearly referred to the necessity of winding up 
with the distinctive spondee. In corroboration of this idea, again, we should look to find 
the penultimate spondee most usual in the most ancient verse, and, accordingly, we find it 
more frequent in the Greek than in the Latin hexameter. 

But besides all this, spondees are not only more prevalent in the heroic hexameter than 
dactyls, but occur to such an extent as is even unpleasant to modern ears, on account of 
monotony. What the modern chiefly appreciates and admires in the Greek hexameter is 
the melody of the abundant vowel sounds. The Latin hexameters really please very few 
modems-although so many pretend to fall into ecstasies about them. In the hexameters 
quoted several pages ago, from Silius Italicus, the preponderance of the spondee is 
strikingly manifest. Besides the natural spondees of the Greek and Latin, numerous 
artificial ones arise in the verse of these tongues, on account of the tendency which 
inflection has to throw full accentuation on terminal syllables, and the preponderance of 
the spondee is further ensured by the comparative infrequency of the small prepositions 
which we have to serve us instead of case, and also the absence of the diminutive 
auxiliary verbs with which we have to eke out the expression of our primary ones. These 
are the monosyllables whose abundance serves to stamp the poetic genius of a language 
as tripping or dactylic. 



Now paying no attention to these facts, Sir Philip Sidney, Professor Longfellow, and 
innumerable other persons, more or less modem, have busied themselves in constructing 
what they supposed to be "English hexameters on the model of the Greek." The only 
difficulty was that (even leaving out of question the melodious masses of vowel) these 
gentlemen never could get their English hexameters to sound Greek. Did they look 
Greek?-that should have been the query, and the reply might have led to a solution of the 
riddle. In placing a copy of ancient hexameters side by side with a copy (in similar type) 
of such hexameters as Professor Longfellow, or Professor Felton or the Frogpondian 
Professors collectively, are in the shameful practice of composing "on the model of the 
Greek," it will be seen that the latter (hexameters, not professors) are about one-third 
longer to the eye, on an average, than the former. The more abundant dactyls make the 
difference. And it is the greater number of spondees in the Greek than in the English, in 
the ancient than in the modem tongue, which has caused it to fall out that while these 
eminent scholars were groping about in the dark for a Greek hexameter, which is a 
spondaic rhythm varied now and then by dactyls, they merely stumbled, to the lasting 
scandal of scholarship, over something which, on account of its long-leggedness, we may 
as well term a Feltonian hexameter, and which is a dactylic rhythm interrupted rarely by 
artificial spondees which are no spondees at all, and which are curiously thrown in by the 
heels at all kinds of improper and impertinent points. 

Here is a specimen of the Longfellow hexameter: 

Also the / church with / in was a / domed for / this was the / 

season / 

In which the / young their / parent's / hope and the / loved ones of 

/ Heaven / 

Should at the / foot of the / altar re / new the / vows of their / 

baptism / 

Therefore each / nook and / comer was / swept and / cleaned and the 

/ dust was / 

Blown from the / walls and / ceiling and / from the / oil-painted / 

benches. / 

Mr. Longfellow is a man of imagination, but can he imagine that any individual, with a 
proper understanding of the danger of lockjaw, would make the attempt of twisting his 
mouth into the shape necessary for the emission of such spondees as "parents," and "from 
the," or such dactyls as "cleaned and the," and "loved ones of"? "Baptism" is by no means 
a bad spondee-perhaps because it happens to be a dactyl-of all the rest, however, I am 
dreadfully ashamed. 

But these feet, dactyls and spondees, all together, should thus be put at once into their 
proper position: 

"Also the church within was adomed; for this was the season in which the young, their 
parents' hope, and the loved ones of Heaven, should, at the foot of the altar, renew the 



vows of their baptism. Therefore, each nook and corner was swept and cleaned; and the 
dust was blown from the walls and ceiling, and from the oil-painted benches? 

There !-That is respectable prose, and it will incur no danger of ever getting its character 
ruined by anybody's mistaking it for verse. 

But even when we let these modem hexameters go as Greek, and merely hold them fast 
in their proper character of Longfellowine, or Feltonian, or Frogpondian, we must still 
condemn them as having been committed in a radical misconception of the philosophy of 
verse. The spondee, as I observed, is the theme of the Greek line. Most of the ancient 
hexameters begin with spondees, for the reason that the spondee is the theme, and the ear 
is filled with it as with a burden. Now the Feltonian dactylics have, in the same way, 
dactyl for the theme, and most of them begin with dactyls-which is all very proper if not 
very Greek-but unhappily, the one point at which they are very Greek is that point, 
precisely, at which they should be nothing but Feltonian. They always close with what is 
meant for a spondee. To be consistently silly they should die off in a dactyl. 

That a truly Greek hexameter cannot, however, be readily composed in English, is a 
proposition which I am by no means inclined to admit. I think I could manage the point 
myself. For example: 

Do tell! / when may we / hope to make / men of sense / out of the 

Pundits 

Born and brought / up with their / snouts deep / down in the / mud 

of the / Frog-pond? 

Why ask? / who ever / yet saw / money made / out of a / fat old 

Jew, or / downright / upright / nutmegs / out of a / pine-knot? 

The proper spondee predominance is here preserved. Some of the dactyls are not so good 
as I could wish, but, upon the whole the rhythm is very decent-to say nothing of its 
excellent sense. 

THE POETIC PRINCIPLE 

IN SPEAKING of the Poetic Principle, I have no design to be either thorough or 
profound. While discussing, very much at random, the essentiality of what we call 
Poetry, my principal purpose will be to cite for consideration, some few of those minor 
English or American poems which best suit my own taste, or which, upon my own fancy, 
have left the most definite impression. By "minor poems" I mean, of course, poems of 
little length. And here, in the beginning, permit me to say a few words in regard to a 
somewhat peculiar principle, which, whether rightfully or wrongfully, has always had its 
influence in my own critical estimate of the poem. I hold that a long poem does not exist. 
I maintain that the phrase, "a long poem," is simply a flat contradiction in terms. 

I need scarcely observe that a poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by 
elevating the soul. The value of the poem is in the ratio of this elevating excitement. But 



all excitements are, through a psychal necessity, transient. That degree of excitement 
which would entitle a poem to be so called at all, cannot be sustained throughout a 
composition of any great length. After the lapse of half an hour, at the very utmost, it 
flags-fails-a revulsion ensues- and then the poem is, in effect and in fact, no longer such. 

There are, no doubt, many who have found difficulty in reconciling the critical dictum 
that the "Paradise Lost" is to be devoutly admired throughout, with the absolute 
impossibility of maintaining for it, during perusal, the amount of enthusiasm which that 
critical dictum would demand. This great work, in fact, is to be regarded as poetical, only 
when, losing sight of that vital requisite in all works of Art, Unity, we view it merely as a 
series of minor poems. If, to preserve its Unity-its totality of effect or impression-we 
read it (as would be necessary) at a single sitting, the result is but a constant alteration of 
excitement and depression. After a passage of what we feel to be true poetry, there 
follows, inevitably, a passage of platitude which no critical prejudgment can force us to 
admire; but if, upon completing the work, we read it again, omitting the first book-that is 
to say, commencing with the second-we shall be surprised at now finding that admirable 
which we before condemned- that damnable which we had previously so much admired. 
It follows from all this that the ultimate, aggregate, or absolute effect of even the best 
epic under the sun, is a nullity:-and this is precisely the fact. 

In regard to the Iliad, we have, if not positive proof, at least very good reason for 
believing it intended as a series of lyrics; but, granting the epic intention, I can say only 
that the work is based in an imperfect sense of art. The modern epic is, of the 
supposititious ancient model, but an inconsiderate and blindfold imitation. But the day of 
these artistic anomalies is over. If, at any time, any very long poem were popular in 
reality, which I doubt, it is at least clear that no very long poem will ever be popular 
again. 

That the extent of a poetical work is, ceteris paribus, the measure of its merit, seems 
undoubtedly, when we thus state it a proposition sufficiently absurd-yet we are indebted 
for it to the Quarterly Reviews. Surely there can be nothing in mere size, abstractly 
considered-there can be nothing in mere bulk, so far as a volume is concerned, which has 
so continuously elicited admiration from these saturnine pamphlets! A mountain, to be 
sure, by the mere sentiment of physical magnitude which it conveys, does impress us 
with a sense of the sublime-but no man is impressed after this fashion by the material 
grandeur of even "The Columbiad." Even the Quarterlies have not instructed us to be so 
impressed by it. As yet, they have not insisted on our estimating Lamartine by the cubic 
foot, or Pollock by the pound-but what else are we to infer from their continual prating 
about "sustained effort"? If, by "sustained effort," any little gentleman has accomplished 
an epic, let us frankly commend him for the effort-if this indeed be a thing 
commendable-but let us forbear praising the epic on the effort's account. It is to be hoped 
that common sense, in the time to come, will prefer deciding upon a work of Art rather 
by the impression it makes-by the effect it produces-than by the time it took to impress 
the effect, or by the amount of "sustained effort" which had been found necessary in 
effecting the impression. The fact is, that perseverance is one thing and genius quite 
another-nor can all the Quarterlies in Christendom confound them. By and by, this 



proposition, with many which I have been just urging, will be received as self-evident. In 
the meantime, by being generally condemned as falsities, they will not be essentially 
damaged as truths. 

On the other hand, it is clear that a poem may be improperly brief. Undue brevity 
degenerates into mere epigrammatism. A very short poem, while now and then producing 
a brilliant or vivid, never produces a profound or enduring effect. There must be the 
steady pressing down of the stamp upon the wax. De Beranger has wrought innumerable 
things, pungent and spirit-stirring, but in general they have been too imponderous to 
stamp themselves deeply into the public attention, and thus, as so many feathers of fancy, 
have been blown aloft only to be whistled down the wind. 

A remarkable instance of the effect of undue brevity in depressing a poem, in keeping it 
out of the popular view, is afforded by the following exquisite little Serenade- 

I arise from dreams of thee 

In the first sweet sleep of night. 

When the winds are breathing low. 

And the stars are shining bright. 

I arise from dreams of thee. 

And a spirit in my feet 

Has led me-who knows how?- 

To thy chamber- window, sweet! 

The wandering airs they faint 

On the dark the silent stream- 

The champak odors fail 

Like sweet thoughts in a dream; 

The nightingale's complaint. 

It dies upon her heart. 

As I must die on thine, 

O, beloved as thou art! 

O, lift me from the grass! 

I die, I faint, I fail! 

Let thy love in kisses rain 

On my lips and eyelids pale. 

My cheek is cold and white, alas! 

My heart beats loud and fast: 

O, press it close to thine again. 

Where it will break at last. 

Very few perhaps are familiar with these lines-yet no less a poet than Shelley is their 
author. Their warm, yet delicate and ethereal imagination will be appreciated by all, but 
by none so thoroughly as by him who has himself arisen from sweet dreams of one 
beloved to bathe in the aromatic air of a southern midsummer night. 



One of the finest poems by Willis-the very best in my opinion which he has ever written- 
has no doubt, through this same defect of undue brevity, been kept back from its proper 
position, not less in the critical than in the popular view:- 

The shadows lay along Broadway, 
'Twas near the twilight-tide- 
And slowly there a lady fair 
Was walking in her pride. 
Alone walk'd she; but, viewlessly, 
Walk'd spirits at her side. 
Peace charm'd the street beneath her feet. 
And Honour charm'd the air. 
And all astir looked kind on her. 
And called her good as fair- 
For all God ever gave to her 
She kept with chary care. 
She kept with care her beauties rare 
From lovers warm and true- 
For heart was cold to all but gold. 
And the rich came not to woo- 
But honour'd well her charms to sell 
If priests the selling do. 
Now walking there was one more fair- 
A slight girl lily-pale; 
And she had unseen company 
To make the spirit quail- 
'Twixt Want and Scorn she walk'd forlorn. 
And nothing could avail. 
No mercy now can clear her brow 
From this world's peace to pray. 
For as loves wild prayer dissolved in air. 
Her woman's heart gave way!- 
But the sin forgiven by Christ in Heaven, 
By man is cursed alway! 

In this composition we find it difficult to recognise the Willis who has written so many 
mere "verses of society." The lines are not only richly ideal, but full of energy, while they 
breathe an earnestness, an evident sincerity of sentiment, for which we look in vain 
throughout all the other works of this author. 

While the epic mania, while the idea that to merit in poetry prolixity is indispensable, has 
for some years past been gradually dying out of the public mind, by mere dint of its own 
absurdity, we find it succeeded by a heresy too palpably false to be long tolerated, but 
one which, in the brief period it has already endured, may be said to have accomplished 
more in the corruption of our Poetical Literature than all its other enemies combined. I 
allude to the heresies of The Didactic. It has been assumed, tacitly and avowedly, directly 



and indirectly, that the ultimate object of all Poetry is Truth. Every poem, it is said, 
should inculcate a moral, and by this moral is the poetical merit of the work to be 
adjudged. We Americans especially have patronized this happy idea, and we Bostonians 
very especially have developed it in full. We have taken it into our heads that to write a 
poem simply for the poem's sake, and to acknowledge such to have been our design, 
would be to confess ourselves radically wanting in the true poetic dignity and force:-but 
the simple fact is that would we but permit ourselves to look into our own souls we 
should immediately there discover that under the sun there neither exists nor can exist 
any work more thoroughly dignified, more supremely noble, than this very poem, this 
poem per se, this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely for 
the poem's sake. 

With as deep a reverence for the True as ever inspired the bosom of man, I would 
nevertheless limit, in some measure, its modes of inculcation. I would limit to enforce 
them. I would not enfeeble them by dissipation. The demands of Truth are severe. She 
has no sympathy with the myrtles. All that which is so indispensable in Song is precisely 
all that with which she has nothing whatever to do. It is but making her a flaunting 
paradox to wreathe her in gems and flowers. In enforcing a truth we need severity rather 
than efflorescence of language. We must be simple, precise, terse. We must be cool, 
calm, unimpassioned. In a word, we must be in that mood which, as nearly as possible, is 
the exact converse of the poetical. He must be blind indeed who does not perceive the 
radical and chasmal difference between the truthful and the poetical modes of 
inculcation. He must be theory-mad beyond redemption who, in spite of these 
differences, shall still persist in attempting to reconcile the obstinate oils and waters of 
Poetry and Truth. 

Dividing the world of mind into its three most immediately obvious distinctions, we have 
the Pure Intellect, Taste, and the Moral Sense. I place Taste in the middle, because it is 
just this position which in the mind it occupies. It holds intimate relations with either 
extreme; but from the Moral Sense is separated by so faint a difference that Aristotle has 
not hesitated to place some of its operations among the virtues themselves. Nevertheless 
we find the offices of the trio marked with a sufficient distinction. Just as the Intellect 
concerns itself with Truth, so Taste informs us of the Beautiful, while the Moral Sense is 
regardful of Duty. Of this latter, while Conscience teaches the obligation, and Reason the 
expediency. Taste contents herself with displaying the charms :-waging war upon Vice 
solely on the ground of her deformity-her disproportion-her animosity to the fitting, to 
the appropriate, to the harmonious-in a word, to Beauty. 

An immortal instinct deep within the spirit of man is thus plainly a sense of the Beautiful. 
This it is which administers to his delight in the manifold forms, and sounds, and odors 
and sentiments amid which he exists. And just as the lily is repeated in the lake, or the 
eyes of Amaryllis in the mirror, so is the mere oral or written repetition of these forms, 
and sounds, and colors, and odors, and sentiments a duplicate source of delight. But this 
mere repetition is not poetry. He who shall simply sing, with however glowing 
enthusiasm, or with however vivid a truth of description, of the sights, and sounds, and 
odors, and colors, and sentiments which greet him in common with all mankind-he, I say. 



has yet faded to prove his divine title. There is still a something in the distance which he 
has been unable to attain. We have still a thirst unquenchable, to allay which he has not 
shown us the crystal springs. This thirst belongs to the immortality of Man. It is at once a 
consequence and an indication of his perennial existence. It is the desire of the moth for 
the star. It is no mere appreciation of the Beauty before us, but a wild effort to reach the 
Beauty above. Inspired by an ecstatic prescience of the glories beyond the grave, we 
struggle by multiform combinations among the things and thoughts of Time to attain a 
portion of that Loveliness whose very elements perhaps appertain to eternity alone. And 
thus when by Poetry, or when by Music, the most entrancing of the poetic moods, we 
find ourselves melted into tears, we weep then, not as the Abbate Gravina supposes, 
through excess of pleasure, but through a certain petulant, impatient sorrow at our 
inability to grasp now, wholly, here on earth, at once and for ever, those divine and 
rapturous joys of which through the poem, or through the music, we attain to but brief 
and indeterminate glimpses. 

The struggle to apprehend the supernal Loveliness-this struggle, on the part of souls 
fittingly constituted-has given to the world all that which it (the world) has ever been 
enabled at once to understand and to feel as poetic. 

The Poetic Sentiment, of course, may develop itself in various modes-in Painting, in 
Sculpture, in Architecture, in the Dance- very especially in Music-and very peculiarly, 
and with a wide field, in the composition of the Landscape Garden. Our present theme, 
however, has regard only to its manifestation in words. And here let me speak briefly on 
the topic of rhythm. Contenting myself with the certainty that Music, in its various modes 
of metre, rhythm, and rhyme, is of so vast a moment in Poetry as never to be wisely 
rejected-is so vitally important an adjunct that he is simply silly who declines its 
assistance, I will not now pause to maintain its absolute essentiality. It is in Music 
perhaps that the soul most nearly attains the great end for which, when inspired by the 
Poetic Sentiment it struggles-the creation of supernal Beauty. It may be, indeed, that here 
this sublime end is, now and then, attained in fact. We are often made to feel, with a 
shivering delight, that from an earthly harp are stricken notes which cannot have been 
unfamiliar to the angels. And thus there can be little doubt that in the union of Poetry 
with Music in its popular sense, we shall find the widest field for the Poetic development. 
The old Bards and Minnesingers had advantages which we do not possess-and Thomas 
Moore, singing his own songs, was, in the most legitimate manner, perfecting them as 
poems. 

To recapitulate then:-I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as The Rhythmical 
Creation of Beauty. Its sole arbiter is Taste. With the Intellect or with the Conscience it 
has only collateral relations. Unless incidentally, it has no concern whatever either with 
Duty or with Truth. 

A few words, however, in explanation. That pleasure which is at once the most pure, the 
most elevating, and the most intense, is derived, I maintain, from the contemplation of the 
Beautiful. In the contemplation of Beauty we alone find it possible to attain that 
pleasurable elevation, or excitement of the soul, which we recognise as the Poetic 



Sentiment, and which is so easily distinguished from Truth, which is the satisfaction of 
the Reason, or from Passion, which is the excitement of the heart. I make Beauty, 
therefore-using the word as inclusive of the sublime-I make Beauty the province of the 
poem, simply because it is an obvious rule of Art that effects should be made to spring as 
directly as possible from their causes:- no one as yet having been weak enough to deny 
that the peculiar elevation in question is at least most readily attainable in the poem. It by 
no means follows, however, that the incitements of Passion, or the precepts of Duty, or 
even the lessons of Truth, may not be introduced into a poem, and with advantage, for 
they may subserve incidentally, in various ways, the general purposes of the work: but 
the true artist will always contrive to tone them down in proper subjection to that Beauty 
which is the atmosphere and the real essence of the poem. 

I cannot better introduce the few poems which I shall present for your consideration, than 
by the citation of the Proem to Longfellow's "Waif":- 

The day is done, and the darkness 

Falls from the wings of Night, 

As a feather is wafted downward 

From an Eagle in his flight. 

I see the lights of the village 

Gleam through the rain and the mist. 

And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me. 

That my soul cannot resist; 

A feeling of sadness and longing. 

That is not akin to pain. 

And resembles sorrow only 

As the mist resembles the rain. 

Come, read to me some poem. 

Some simple and heartfelt lay. 

That shall soothe this restless feeling. 

And banish the thoughts of day. 

Not from the grand old masters. 

Not from the bards sublime. 

Whose distant footsteps echo 

Through the corridors of Time. 

For, like strains of martial music. 

Their mighty thoughts suggest 

Life's endless toil and endeavour; 

And to-night I long for rest. 

Read from some humbler poet. 

Whose songs gushed from his heart. 

As showers from the clouds of summer. 

Or tears from the eyelids start; 

Who through long days of labor. 

And nights devoid of ease. 

Still heard in his soul the music 



Of wonderful melodies. 

Such songs have power to quiet 

The restless pulse of care, 

And come like the benediction 

That follows after prayer. 

Then read from the treasured volume 

The poem of thy choice, 

And lend to the rhyme of the poet 

The beauty of thy voice. 

And the night shall be filled with music. 

And the cares that infest the day 

Shall fold their tents like the Arabs, 

And as silently steal away. 

With no great range of imagination, these lines have been justly admired for their 
delicacy of expression. Some of the images are very effective. Nothing can be better 
than- 

-the bards sublime. 

Whose distant footsteps echo 

Down the corridors of Time. 

The idea of the last quatrain is also very effective. The poem on the whole, however, is 
chiefly to be admired for the graceful insouciance of its metre, so well in accordance with 
the character of the sentiments, and especially for the ease of the general manner. This 
"ease" or naturalness, in a literary style, it has long been the fashion to regard as ease in 
appearance alone-as a point of really difficult attainment. But not so:-a natural manner is 
difficult only to him who should never meddle with it-to the unnatural. It is but the result 
of writing with the understanding, or with the instinct, that the tone, in composition, 
should always be that which the mass of mankind would adopt-and must perpetually 
vary, of course, with the occasion. The author who, after the fashion of "The North 
American Review," should be upon all occasions merely "quiet," must necessarily upon 
many occasions be simply silly, or stupid; and has no more right to be considered "easy" 
or "natural" than a Cockney exquisite, or than the sleeping Beauty in the waxworks. 

Among the minor poems of Bryant, none has so much impressed me as the one which he 
entitles "June." I quote only a portion of it:- 

There, through the long, long summer hours. 

The golden light should lie. 

And thick young herbs and groups of flowers 

Stand in their beauty by. 

The oriole should build and tell 

His love-tale, close beside my cell; 

The idle butterfly 

Should rest him there, and there be heard 



The housewife-bee and humming bird. 

And what if cheerful shouts at noon, 

Come, from the village sent. 

Or songs of maids, beneath the moon. 

With fairy laughter blent? 

And what if, in the evening light. 

Betrothed lovers walk in sight 

Of my low monument? 

I would the lovely scene around 

Might know no sadder sight nor sound. 

I know, I know I should not see 

The season's glorious show. 

Nor would its brightness shine for me; 

Nor its wild music flow; 

But if, around my place of sleep. 

The friends I love should come to weep. 

They might not haste to go. 

Soft airs and song, and the light and bloom. 

Should keep them lingering by my tomb. 

These to their soften'd hearts should bear 

The thoughts of what has been. 

And speak of one who cannot share 

The gladness of the scene; 

Whose part in all the pomp that fills 

The circuit of the summer hills, 

Is-that his grave is green; 

And deeply would their hearts rejoice 

To hear again his living voice. 

The rhythmical flow here is even voluptuous-nothing could be more melodious. The 
poem has always affected me in a remarkable manner. The intense melancholy which 
seems to well up, perforce, to the surface of all the poet's cheerful sayings about his 
grave, we find thrilling us to the soul-while there is the truest poetic elevation in the 
thrill. The impression left is one of a pleasurable sadness. And if, in the remaining 
compositions which I shall introduce to you, there be more or less of a similar tone 
always apparent, let me remind you that (how or why we know not) this certain taint of 
sadness is inseparably connected with all the higher manifestations of true Beauty. It is, 
nevertheless, 

A feeling of sadness and longing 
That is not akin to pain. 
And resembles sorrow only 
As the mist resembles the rain. 

The taint of which I speak is clearly perceptible even in a poem so full of brilliancy and 
spirit as "The Health" of Edward Coate Pinckney:- 



I fill this cup to one made up 

Of loveliness alone, 

A woman, of her gentle sex 

The seeming paragon; 

To whom the better elements 

And kindly stars have given 

A form so fair that, like the air, 

'Tis less of earth than heaven. 

Her every tone is musies own. 

Like those of morning birds. 

And something more than melody 

Dwells ever in her words; 

The coinage of her heart are they. 

And from her lips each flows 

As one may see the burden'd be 

Forth issue from the rose. 

Affections are as thoughts to her, 

The measures of her hours; 

Her feelings have the fragrancy. 

The freshness of young flowers; 

And lovely passions, changing oft. 

So fill her, she appears 

The image of themselves by turns. 

The idol of past years! 

Of her bright face one glance will trace 

A picture on the brain. 

And of her voice in echoing hearts 

A sound must long remain; 

But memory, such as mine of her. 

So very much endears 

When death is nigh my latest sigh 

Will not be life's, but hers. 

I fill'd this cup to one made up 

Of loveliness alone, 

A woman, of her gentle sex 

The seeming paragon- 

Her health! and would on earth there stood. 

Some more of such a frame. 

That life might be all poetry. 

And weariness a name. 

It was the misfortune of Mr. Pinckney to have been bom too far south. Had he been a 
New Englander, it is probable that he would have been ranked as the first of American 
lyrists by that magnanimous cabal which has so long controlled the destinies of American 
Letters, in conducting the thing called "The North American Review." The poem just 
cited is especially beautiful; but the poetic elevation which it induces we must refer 



chiefly to our sympathy in the poet's enthusiasm. We pardon his hyperboles for the 
evident earnestness with which they are uttered. 

It was by no means my design, however, to expatiate upon the merits of what I should 
read you. These will necessarily speak for themselves. Boccalini, in his "Advertisements 
from Parnassus," tells us that Zoilus once presented Apollo a very caustic criticism upon 
a very admirable book:-whereupon the god asked him for the beauties of the work. He 
replied that he only busied himself about the errors. On hearing this, Apollo, handing him 
a sack of unwinnowed wheat, bade him pick out all the chaff for his reward. 

Now this fable answers very well as a hit at the critics-but I am by no means sure that the 
god was in the right. I am by no means certain that the true limits of the critical duty are 
not grossly misunderstood. Excellence, in a poem especially, may be considered in the 
light of an axiom, which need only be properly put, to become self-evident. It is not 
excellence if it require to be demonstrated as such:-and thus to point out too particularly 
the merits of a work of Art, is to admit that they are not merits altogether. 

Among the "Melodies" of Thomas Moore is one whose distinguished character as a poem 
proper seems to have been singularly left out of view. I allude to his lines beginning- 
"Come, rest in this bosom." The intense energy of their expression is not surpassed by 
anything in Byron. There are two of the lines in which a sentiment is conveyed that 
embodies the all in all of the divine passion of Love-a sentiment which, perhaps, has 
found its echo in more, and in more passionate, human hearts than any other single 
sentiment ever embodied in words:- 

Come, rest in this bosom, my own stricken deer 

Though the herd have fled from thee, thy home is still here; 

Here still is the smile, that no cloud can o'ercast. 

And a heart and a hand all thy own to the last. 

Oh! what was love made for, if 'tis not the same 

Through joy and through torment, through glory and shame? 

I know not, I ask not, if guilt's in that heart, 

I but know that I love thee, whatever thou art. 

Thou hast call'd me thy Angel in moments of bliss. 

And thy Angel I'll be, 'mid the horrors of this,- 

Through the furnace, unshrinking, thy steps to pursue. 

And shield thee, and save thee,-or perish there tool 

It has been the fashion of late days to deny Moore Imagination, while granting him 
Fancy-a distinction originating with Coleridge- than whom no man more fully 
comprehended the great powers of Moore. The fact is, that the fancy of this poet so far 
predominates over all his other faculties, and over the fancy of all other men, as to have 
induced, very naturally, the idea that he is fanciful only. But never was there a greater 
mistake. Never was a grosser wrong done the fame of a true poet. In the compass of the 
English language I can call to mind no poem more profoundly-more weirdly imaginative. 



in the best sense, than the lines commencing-"! would I were by that dim lake"-which 
are the composition of Thomas Moore. I regret that I am unable to remember them. 

One of the noblest-and, speaking of Fancy-one of the most singularly fanciful of modem 
poets, was Thomas Hood. His "Fair Ines" had always for me an inexpressible charm:- 

O saw ye not fair Ines? 
She's gone into the West, 
To dazzle when the sun is down. 
And rob the world of rest; 
She took our daylight with her. 
The smiles that we love best. 
With morning blushes on her cheek. 
And pearls upon her breast. 

turn again, fair Ines, 
Before the fall of night. 

For fear the moon should shine alone. 

And stars unrivall'd bright; 

And blessed will the lover be 

That walks beneath their light. 

And breathes the love against thy cheek 

1 dare not even write! 
Would I had been, fair Ines, 
That gallant cavalier. 

Who rode so gaily by thy side. 

And whisper'd thee so near! 

Were there no bonny dames at home 

Or no true lovers here. 

That he should cross the seas to win 

The dearest of the dear? 

I saw thee, lovely Ines, 

Descend along the shore. 

With bands of noble gentlemen. 

And banners waved before. 

And gentle youth and maidens gay. 

And snowy plumes they wore; 

It would have been a beauteous dream. 

If it had been no more! 

Alas, alas, fair Ines, 

She went away with song. 

With music waiting on her steps. 

And shoutings of the throng; 

But some were sad and felt no mirth. 

But only Music's wrong. 

In sounds that sang Farewell, Farewell, 

To her you've loved so long. 



Farewell, farewell, fair Ines, 
That vessel never bore 
So fair a lady on its deck. 
Nor danced so light before,- 
Alas for pleasure on the sea. 
And sorrow on the shore! 
The smile that blest one lover's heart 
Has broken many more! 

"The Haunted House," by the same author, is one of the truest poems ever written,-one of 
the truest, one of the most unexceptionable, one of the most thoroughly artistic, both in its 
theme and in its execution. It is, moreover, powerfully ideal- imaginative. I regret that its 
length renders it unsuitable for the purposes of this lecture. In place of it permit me to 
offer the universally appreciated "Bridge of Sighs":- 

One more Unfortunate, 
Weary of breath. 
Gone to her death! 
Take her up tenderly, 
Lift her with care,- 
Fashion'd so slenderly. 
Young and so fair! 
Look at her garments 
Clinging like cerements; 
Whilst the wave constantly 
Drips from her clothing; 
Take her up instantly. 
Loving, not loathing. 
Touch her not scornfully. 
Think of her mournfully. 
Gently and humanly. 
Not of the stains of her. 
All that remains of her 
Now is pure womanly. 
Make no deep scrutiny 
Into her mutiny 
Rash and undutiful; 
Past all dishonor. 
Death has left on her 
Only the beautiful. 
Where the lamps quiver 
So far in the river. 
With many a light 
From window and casement 
From garret to basement. 
She stood, with amazement. 



Houseless by night 
The bleak wind of March 
Made her tremble and shiver, 
But not the dark arch, 
Or the black flowing river: 
Mad from life's history. 
Glad to death's mystery. 
Swift to be hurl'd- 
Anywhere, anywhere 
Outof the world! 
In she plunged boldly. 
No matter how coldly 
The rough river ran,- 
Over the brink of it. 
Picture it,-think of it. 
Dissolute Man! 
Lave in it, drink of it 
Then, if you can! 
Still, for all slips of her 
One of Eves family- 
Wipe those poor lips of hers 
Oozing so clammily. 
Loop up her tresses 
Escaped from the comb. 
Her fair auburn tresses; 
Whilst wonderment guesses 
Where was her home? 
Who was her father? 
Who was her mother? 
Had she a sister? 
Had she a brother? 
Or was there a dearer one 
Still, and a nearer one 
Yet, than all other? 
Alas! for the rarity 
Of Christian charity 
Under the sun! 
Oh! it was pitiful 
Near a whole city full. 
Home she had none. 
Sisterly, brotherly. 
Fatherly, motherly. 
Feelings had changed: 
Love, by harsh evidence. 
Thrown from its eminence. 
Seeming estranged. 



Take her up tenderly, 
Lift her with care; 
Fashion'd so slenderly, 
Young, and so fair! 
Ere her limbs frigidly 
Stiffen too rigidly. 
Decently ,-kindly,- 
Smooth and compose them; 
And her eyes, close them. 
Staring so bhndly! 
Dreadfully staring 
Through muddy impurity. 
As when with the daring 
Last look of despairing 
Fixed on futurity. 
Perishing gloomily. 
Spurred by contumely. 
Cold inhumanity. 
Burning insanity, 
Into her rest,- 
Cross her hands humbly. 
As if praying dumbly. 
Over her breast! 
Owning her weakness. 
Her evil behaviour. 
And leaving, with meekness. 
Her sins to her Saviour! 

The vigour of this poem is no less remarkable than its pathos. The versification although 
carrying the fanciful to the very verge of the fantastic, is nevertheless admirably adapted 
to the wild insanity which is the thesis of the poem. 

Among the minor poems of Lord Byron is one which has never received from the critics 
the praise which it undoubtedly deserves:- 

Though the day of my destiny's over. 

And the star of my fate hath declined 

Thy soft heart refused to discover 

The faults which so many could find; 

Though thy soul with my grief was acquainted. 

It shrunk not to share it with me. 

And the love which my spirit hath painted 

It never hath found but in thee. 

Then when nature around me is smiling. 

The last smile which answers to mine, 

I do not believe it beguiling. 



Because it reminds me of thine, 

And when winds are at war with the ocean, 

As the breasts I believed in with me. 

If their billows excite an emotion. 

It is that they bear me from thee. 

Though the rock of my last hope is shivered. 

And its fragments are sunk in the wave. 

Though I feel that my soul is delivered 

To pain-it shall not be its slave. 

There is many a pang to pursue me: 

They may crush, but they shall not contemn- 

They may torture, but shall not subdue me- 

'Tis of thee that I think-not of them. 

Though human, thou didst not deceive me. 

Though woman, thou didst not forsake. 

Though loved, thou forborest to grieve me. 

Though slandered, thou never couldst shake,- 

Though trusted, thou didst not disclaim me. 

Though parted, it was not to fly. 

Though watchful, 'twas not to defame me. 

Nor mute, that the world might belie. 

Yet I blame not the world, nor despise it. 

Nor the war of the many with one- 

If my soul was not fitted to prize it, 

'Twas folly not sooner to shun: 

And if dearly that error hath cost me. 

And more than I once could foresee, 

I have found that whatever it lost me. 

It could not deprive me of thee. 

From the wreck of the past, which hath perished, 

Thus much I at least may recall. 

It hath taught me that which I most cherished 

Deserved to be dearest of all: 

In the desert a fountain is springing. 

In the wide waste there still is a tree. 

And a bird in the solitude singing. 

Which speaks to my spirit of thee. 

Although the rhythm here is one of the most difficult, the versification could scarcely be 
improved. No nobler theme ever engaged the pen of poet. It is the soul-elevating idea that 
no man can consider himself entitled to complain of Fate while in his adversity he still 
retains the unwavering love of woman. 

From Alfred Tennyson, although in perfect sincerity I regard him as the noblest poet that 
ever lived, I have left myself time to cite only a very brief specimen. I call him, and think 
him the noblest of poets, not because the impressions he produces are at all times the 



most profound-not because the poetical excitement which be induces is at all times the 
most intense-but because it is at all times the most ethereal-in other words, the most 
elevating and most pure. No poet is so little of the earth, earthy. What I am about to read 
is from his last long poem, "The Princess":- 

Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean. 
Tears from the depth of some divine despair 
Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes. 
In looking on the happy Autumn fields. 
And thinking of the days that are no more. 
Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail. 
That brings our friends up from the underworld. 
Sad as the last which reddens over one 
That sinks with all we love below the verge; 
So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more. 
Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns 
The earliest pipe of half-awaken'd birds 
To dying ears, when unto dying eyes 
The casement slowly grows a glimmering square; 
So sad, so strange, the days that are no more. 
Dear as remember'd kisses after death. 
And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign'd 
On lips that are for others; deep as love. 
Deep as first love, and wild with all regret, 
O Death in Life, the days that are no more. 

Thus, although in a very cursory and imperfect manner, I have endeavoured to convey to 
you my conception of the Poetic Principle. It has been my purpose to suggest that, while 
this principle itself is strictly and simply the Human Aspiration for Supernal Beauty, the 
manifestation of the Principle is always found in an elevating excitement of the soul, 
quite independent of that passion which is the intoxication of the Heart, or of that truth 
which is the satisfaction of the Reason. For in regard to passion, alas! its tendency is to 
degrade rather than to elevate the Soul. Love, on the contrary-Love-the true, the divine 
Eros-the Uranian as distinguished from the Dionnan Venus-is unquestionably the purest 
and truest of all poetical themes. And in regard to Truth, if, to be sure, through the 
attainment of a truth we are led to perceive a harmony where none was apparent before, 
we experience at once the true poetical effect; but this effect is referable to the harmony 
alone, and not in the least degree to the truth which merely served to render the harmony 
manifest. 

We shall reach, however, more immediately a distinct conception of what the true Poetry 
is, by mere reference to a few of the simple elements which induce in the Poet himself the 
true poetical effect. He recognises the ambrosia which nourishes his soul in the bright 
orbs that shine in Heaven-in the volutes of the flower-in the clustering of low 
shrubberies-in the waving of the grain-fields-in the slanting of tall eastern trees-in the 
blue distance of mountains- in the grouping of clouds-in the twinkling of half-hidden 



brooks- in the gleaming of silver rivers-in the repose of sequestered lakes-in the star- 
mirroring depths of lonely wells. He perceives it in the songs of birds-in the harp of 
Aeolus-in the sighing of the night- wind-in the repining voice of the forest-in the surf 
that complains to the shore-in the fresh breath of the woods-in the scent of the violet-in 
the voluptuous perfume of the hyacinth-in the suggestive odour that comes to him at 
eventide from far-distant undiscovered islands, over dim oceans, illimitable and 
unexplored. He owns it in all noble thoughts-in all unworldly motives-in all holy 
impulses-in all chivalrous, generous, and self-sacrificing deeds. He feels it in the beauty 
of woman-in the grace of her step- in the lustre of her eye-in the melody of her voice-in 
her soft laughter, in her sigh-in the harmony of the rustling of her robes. He deeply feels 
it in her winning endearments-in her burning enthusiasms-in her gentle charities-in her 
meek and devotional endurances-but above all-ah, far above all he kneels to it-he 
worships it in the faith, in the purity, in the strength, in the altogether divine majesty-of 
her love. 

Let me conclude by-the recitation of yet another brief poem-one very different in 
character from any that I have before quoted. It is by Motherwell, and is called "The 
Song of the Cavalier." With our modern and altogether rational ideas of the absurdity and 
impiety of warfare, we are not precisely in that frame of mind best adapted to sympathize 
with the sentiments, and thus to appreciate the real excellence of the poem. To do this 
fully we must identify ourselves in fancy with the soul of the old cavalier: - 

Then mounte! then mounte, brave gallants all. 

And don your helmes amaine: 

Deathe's couriers. Fame and Honour call 

Us to the field againe. 

No shrewish teares shall fill your eye 

When the sword-hilt's in our hand,- 

Heart-whole we'll part, and no whit sighe 

For the fayrest of the land; 

Let piping swaine, and craven wight. 

Thus weepe and puling crye. 

Our business is like men to fight. 

And hero-like to die! 

THE END 



DIDDLING 

Considered as One of the Exact Sciences 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



Hey, diddle diddle 
The cat and the fiddle 

SINCE the world began there have been two Jeremys. The one wrote a Jeremiad about 
usury, and was called Jeremy Bentham. He has been much admired by Mr. John Neal, 
and was a great man in a small way. The other gave name to the most important of the 
Exact Sciences, and was a great man in a great way-I may say, indeed, in the very 
greatest of ways. 

Diddling-or the abstract idea conveyed by the verb to diddle-is sufficiently well 
understood. Yet the fact, the deed, the thing diddling, is somewhat difficult to define. We 
may get, however, at a tolerably distinct conception of the matter in hand, by defining- 
not the thing, diddling, in itself-but man, as an animal that diddles. Had Plato but hit 
upon this, he would have been spared the affront of the picked chicken. 

Very pertinently it was demanded of Plato, why a picked chicken, which was clearly "a 
biped without feathers," was not, according to his own definition, a man? But I am not to 
be bothered by any similar query. Man is an animal that diddles, and there is no animal 
that diddles but man. It will take an entire hen-coop of picked chickens to get over that. 

What constitutes the essence, the nare, the principle of diddling is, in fact, peculiar to the 
class of creatures that wear coats and pantaloons. A crow thieves; a fox cheats; a weasel 
outwits; a man diddles. To diddle is his destiny. "Man was made to mourn," says the 
poet. But not so:-he was made to diddle. This is his aim-his object- his end. And for this 
reason when a man's diddled we say he's "done." 

Diddling, rightly considered, is a compound, of which the ingredients are minuteness, 
interest, perseverance, ingenuity, audacity, nonchalance, originality, impertinence, and 
grin. 

Minuteness:-Your diddler is minute. His operations are upon a small scale. His business 
is retail, for cash, or approved paper at sight. Should he ever be tempted into magnificent 
speculation, he then, at once, loses his distinctive features, and becomes what we term 
"financier." This latter word conveys the diddling idea in every respect except that of 
magnitude. A diddler may thus be regarded as a banker in petto-a "financial operation," 



as a diddle at Brobdignag. The one is to the other, as Homer to "Flaccus"-as a Mastodon 
to a mouse-as the tail of a comet to that of a pig. 

Interest:-Your diddler is guided by self-interest. He scorns to diddle for the mere sake of 
the diddle. He has an object in view- his pocket-and yours. He regards always the main 
chance. He looks to Number One. You are Number Two, and must look to yourself. 

Perseverance:-Your diddler perseveres. He is not readily discouraged. Should even the 
banks break, he cares nothing about it. He steadily pursues his end, and 

Ut canis a corio nunquam absterrebitur uncto. 

so he never lets go of his game. 

Ingenuity:-Your diddler is ingenious. He has constructiveness large. He understands plot. 
He invents and circumvents. Were he not Alexander he would be Diogenes. Were he not 
a diddler, he would be a maker of patent rat-traps or an angler for trout. 

Audacity:-Your diddler is audacious.-He is a bold man. He carries the war into Africa. 
He conquers all by assault. He would not fear the daggers of Frey Herren. With a little 
more prudence Dick Turpin would have made a good diddler; with a trifle less blarney, 
Daniel O'Connell; with a pound or two more brains Charles the Twelfth. 

Nonchalance :-Your diddler is nonchalant. He is not at all nervous. He never had any 
nerves. He is never seduced into a flurry. He is never put out-unless put out of doors. He 
is cool-cool as a cucumber. He is calm-"calm as a smile from Lady Bury." He is easy- 
easy as an old glove, or the damsels of ancient Baiae. 

Originality:-Your diddler is original-conscientiously so. His thoughts are his own. He 
would scorn to employ those of another. A stale trick is his aversion. He would return a 
purse, I am sure, upon discovering that he had obtained it by an unoriginal diddle. 

Impertinence.-Your diddler is impertinent. He swaggers. He sets his arms a-kimbo. He 
thrusts, his hands in his trowsers' pockets. He sneers in your face. He treads on your 
corns. He eats your dinner, he drinks your wine, he borrows your money, he pulls your 
nose, he kicks your poodle, and he kisses your wife. 

Grin:-Your true diddler winds up all with a grin. But this nobody sees but himself. He 
grins when his daily work is done-when his allotted labors are accomplished-at night in 
his own closet, and altogether for his own private entertainment. He goes home. He locks 
his door. He divests himself of his clothes. He puts out his candle. He gets into bed. He 
places his head upon the pillow. All this done, and your diddler grins. This is no 
hypothesis. It is a matter of course. I reason a priori, and a diddle would be no diddle 
without a grin. 



The origin of the diddle is referrable to the infancy of the Human Race. Perhaps the first 
diddler was Adam. At all events, we can trace the science back to a very remote period of 
antiquity. The moderns, however, have brought it to a perfection never dreamed of by our 
thick-headed progenitors. Without pausing to speak of the "old saws," therefore, I shall 
content myself with a compendious account of some of the more "modem instances." 

A very good diddle is this. A housekeeper in want of a sofa, for instance, is seen to go in 
and out of several cabinet warehouses. At length she arrives at one offering an excellent 
variety. She is accosted, and invited to enter, by a polite and voluble individual at the 
door. She finds a sofa well adapted to her views, and upon inquiring the price, is 
surprised and delighted to hear a sum named at least twenty per cent, lower than her 
expectations. She hastens to make the purchase, gets a bill and receipt, leaves her address, 
with a request that the article be sent home as speedily as possible, and retires amid a 
profusion of bows from the shopkeeper. The night arrives and no sofa. A servant is sent 
to make inquiry about the delay. The whole transaction is denied. No sofa has been sold- 
no money received-except by the diddler, who played shop-keeper for the nonce. 

Our cabinet warehouses are left entirely unattended, and thus afford every facility for a 
trick of this kind. Visiters enter, look at furniture, and depart unheeded and unseen. 
Should any one wish to purchase, or to inquire the price of an article, a bell is at hand, 
and this is considered amply sufficient. 

Again, quite a respectable diddle is this. A well-dressed individual enters a shop, makes a 
purchase to the value of a dollar; finds, much to his vexation, that he has left his pocket- 
book in another coat pocket; and so says to the shopkeeper- 

"My dear sir, never mind; just oblige me, will you, by sending the bundle home? But 
stay! I really believe that I have nothing less than a five dollar bill, even there. However, 
you can send four dollars in change with the bundle, you know." 

"Very good, sir," replies the shop-keeper, who entertains, at once, a lofty opinion of the 
high-mindedness of his customer. "I know fellows," he says to himself, "who would just 
have put the goods under their arm, and walked off with a promise to call and pay the 
dollar as they came by in the afternoon." 

A boy is sent with the parcel and change. On the route, quite accidentally, he is met by 
the purchaser, who exclaims: 

"Ah! This is my bundle, I see-I thought you had been home with it, long ago. Well, go 
on! My wife, Mrs. Trotter, will give you the five doUars-I left instructions with her to 
that effect. The change you might as well give to me-I shall want some silver for the Post 
Office. Very good! One, two, is this a good quarter?- three, four-quite right! Say to Mrs. 
Trotter that you met me, and be sure now and do not loiter on the way." 

The boy doesn't loiter at ail-but he is a very long time in getting back from his errand-for 
no lady of the precise name of Mrs. Trotter is to be discovered. He consoles himself. 



however, that he has not been such a fool as to leave the goods without the money, and 
re-entering his shop with a self-satisfied air, feels sensibly hurt and indignant when his 
master asks him what has become of the change. 

A very simple diddle, indeed, is this. The captain of a ship, which is about to sail, is 
presented by an official looking person with an unusually moderate bill of city charges. 
Glad to get off so easily, and confused by a hundred duties pressing upon him all at once, 
he discharges the claim forthwith. In about fifteen minutes, another and less reasonable 
bill is handed him by one who soon makes it evident that the first collector was a diddler, 
and the original collection a diddle. 

And here, too, is a somewhat similar thing. A steamboat is casting loose from the wharf. 
A traveller, portmanteau in hand, is discovered running toward the wharf, at full speed. 
Suddenly, he makes a dead halt, stoops, and picks up something from the ground in a 
very agitated manner. It is a pocket-book, and-"Has any gentleman lost a pocketbook?" 
he cries. No one can say that he has exactly lost a pocket-book; but a great excitement 
ensues, when the treasure trove is found to be of value. The boat, however, must not be 
detained. 

"Time and tide wait for no man," says the captain. 

"For God's sake, stay only a few minutes," says the finder of the book-"the true claimant 
will presently appear." 



"Can't wait!" replies the man in authority; "cast off there, d'ye hear?" 

"What am I to do?" asks the finder, in great tribulation. "I am about to leave the country 
for some years, and I cannot conscientiously retain this large amount in my possession. I 
beg your pardon, sir," [here he addresses a gentleman on shore,] "but you have the air of 
an honest man. Will you confer upon me the favor of taking charge of this pocket-book-I 
know I can trust you-and of advertising it? The notes, you see, amount to a very 
considerable sum. The owner will, no doubt, insist upon rewarding you for your trouble- 

"Me!-no, you!-it was you who found the book." 

"Well, if you must have it so-I will take a small reward-just to satisfy your scruples. Let 
me see-why these notes are all hundreds- bless my soul! a hundred is too much to take- 
fifty would be quite enough, I am sure- 

"Cast off there!" says the captain. 

"But then I have no change for a hundred, and upon the whole, you had better- 

"Cast off there!" says the captain. 



"Never mind!" cries the gentleman on shore, who has been examining his own pocket- 
book for the last minute or so-"never mind! I can fix it-here is a fifty on the Bank of 
North America-throw the book." 

And the over-conscientious finder takes the fifty with marked reluctance, and throws the 
gentleman the book, as desired, while the steamboat fumes and fizzes on her way. In 
about half an hour after her departure, the "large amount" is seen to be a "counterfeit 
presentment," and the whole thing a capital diddle. 

A bold diddle is this. A camp-meeting, or something similar, is to be held at a certain spot 
which is accessible only by means of a free bridge. A diddler stations himself upon this 
bridge, respectfully informs all passers by of the new county law, which establishes a toll 
of one cent for foot passengers, two for horses and donkeys, and so forth, and so forth. 
Some grumble but all submit, and the diddler goes home a wealthier man by some fifty or 
sixty dollars well earned. This taking a toll from a great crowd of people is an excessively 
troublesome thing. 

A neat diddle is this. A friend holds one of the diddler's promises to pay, filled up and 
signed in due form, upon the ordinary blanks printed in red ink. The diddler purchases 
one or two dozen of these blanks, and every day dips one of them in his soup, makes his 
dog jump for it, and finally gives it to him as a bonne bouche. The note arriving at 
maturity, the diddler, with the diddler's dog, calls upon the friend, and the promise to pay 
is made the topic of discussion. The friend produces it from his escritoire, and is in the 
act of reaching it to the diddler, when up jumps the diddler's dog and devours it forthwith. 
The diddler is not only surprised but vexed and incensed at the absurd behavior of his 
dog, and expresses his entire readiness to cancel the obligation at any moment when the 
evidence of the obligation shall be forthcoming. 

A very mean diddle is this. A lady is insulted in the street by a diddler's accomplice. The 
diddler himself flies to her assistance, and, giving his friend a comfortable thrashing, 
insists upon attending the lady to her own door. He bows, with his hand upon his heart, 
and most respectfully bids her adieu. She entreats him, as her deliverer, to walk in and be 
introduced to her big brother and her papa. With a sigh, he declines to do so. "Is there no 
way, then, sir," she murmurs, "in which I may be permitted to testify my gratitude?" 

"Why, yes, madam, there is. Will you be kind enough to lend me a couple of shillings?" 

In the first excitement of the moment the lady decides upon fainting outright. Upon 
second thought, however, she opens her purse-strings and delivers the specie. Now this, I 
say, is a diddle minute-for one entire moiety of the sum borrowed has to be paid to the 
gentleman who had the trouble of performing the insult, and who had then to stand still 
and be thrashed for performing it. 

Rather a small but still a scientific diddle is this. The diddler approaches the bar of a 
tavern, and demands a couple of twists of tobacco. These are handed to him, when, 
having slightly examined them, he says: 



"I don't much like this tobacco. Here, take it back, and give me a glass of brandy and 
water in its place." The brandy and water is furnished and imbibed, and the diddler makes 
his way to the door. But the voice of the tavern-keeper arrests him. 

"I believe, sir, you have forgotten to pay for your brandy and water." 

"Pay for my brandy and water!-didn't I give you the tobacco for the brandy and water? 
What more would you have?" 

"But, sir, if you please, I don't remember that you paid me for the tobacco." 

"What do you mean by that, you scoundrel?-Didn't I give you back your tobacco? Isn't 
that your tobacco lying there? Do you expect me to pay for what I did not take?" 

"But, sir," says the publican, now rather at a loss what to say, "but sir-" 

"But me no buts, sir," interrupts the diddler, apparently in very high dudgeon, and 
slamming the door after him, as he makes his escape.-"But me no buts, sir, and none of 
your tricks upon travellers." 

Here again is a very clever diddle, of which the simplicity is not its least 
recommendation. A purse, or pocket-book, being really lost, the loser inserts in one of the 
daily papers of a large city a fully descriptive advertisement. 

Whereupon our diddler copies the facts of this advertisement, with a change of heading, 
of general phraseology and address. The original, for instance, is long, and verbose, is 
headed "A Pocket-Book Lost!" and requires the treasure, when found, to be left at No. 1 
Tom Street. The copy is brief, and being headed with "Lost" only, indicates No. 2 Dick, 
or No. 3 Harry Street, as the locality at which the owner may be seen. Moreover, it is 
inserted in at least five or six of the daily papers of the day, while in point of time, it 
makes its appearance only a few hours after the original. Should it be read by the loser of 
the purse, he would hardly suspect it to have any reference to his own misfortune. But, of 
course, the chances are five or six to one, that the finder will repair to the address given 
by the diddler, rather than to that pointed out by the rightful proprietor. The former pays 
the reward, pockets the treasure and decamps. 

Quite an analogous diddle is this. A lady of ton has dropped, some where in the street, a 
diamond ring of very unusual value. For its recovery, she offers some forty or fifty 
dollars reward-giving, in her advertisement, a very minute description of the gem, and of 
its settings, and declaring that, on its restoration at No. so and so, in such and such 
Avenue, the reward would be paid instanter, without a single question being asked. 
During the lady's absence from home, a day or two afterwards, a ring is heard at the door 
of No. so and so, in such and such Avenue; a servant appears; the lady of the house is 
asked for and is declared to be out, at which astounding information, the visitor expresses 
the most poignant regret. His business is of importance and concerns the lady herself. In 
fact, he had the good fortune to find her diamond ring. But perhaps it would be as well 



that he should call again. "By no means!" says the servant; and "By no means!" says the 
lady's sister and the lady's sister-in-law, who are summoned forthwith. The ring is 
clamorously identified, the reward is paid, and the finder nearly thrust out of doors. The 
lady returns and expresses some little dissatisfaction with her sister and sister-in-law, 
because they happen to have paid forty or fifty dollars for a fac- simile of her diamond 
ring-a fac-simile made out of real pinch-beck and unquestionable paste. 

But as there is really no end to diddling, so there would be none to this essay, were I even 
to hint at half the variations, or inflections, of which this science is susceptible. I must 
bring this paper, perforce, to a conclusion, and this I cannot do better than by a summary 
notice of a very decent, but rather elaborate diddle, of which our own city was made the 
theatre, not very long ago, and which was subsequently repeated with success, in other 
still more verdant localities of the Union. A middle-aged gentleman arrives in town from 
parts unknown. He is remarkably precise, cautious, staid, and deliberate in his demeanor. 
His dress is scrupulously neat, but plain, unostentatious. He wears a white cravat, an 
ample waistcoat, made with an eye to comfort alone; thick-soled cosy-looking shoes, and 
pantaloons without straps. He has the whole air, in fact, of your well-to-do, sober-sided, 
exact, and respectable "man of business," Par excellence-one of the stem and outwardly 
hard, internally soft, sort of people that we see in the crack high comedies-fellows whose 
words are so many bonds, and who are noted for giving away guineas, in charity, with the 
one hand, while, in the way of mere bargain, they exact the uttermost fraction of a 
farthing with the other. 

He makes much ado before he can get suited with a boarding house. He dislikes children. 
He has been accustomed to quiet. His habits are methodic al-and then he would prefer 
getting into a private and respectable small family, piously inclined. Terms, however, are 
no object-only he must insist upon settling his bill on the first of every month, (it is now 
the second) and begs his landlady, when he finally obtains one to his mind, not on any 
account to forget his instructions upon this point-but to send in a bill, and receipt, 
precisely at ten o'clock, on the first day of every month, and under no circumstances to 
put it off to the second. 

These arrangements made, our man of business rents an office in a reputable rather than a 
fashionable quarter of the town. There is nothing he more despises than pretense. "Where 
there is much show," he says, "there is seldom any thing very solid behind"-an 
observation which so profoundly impresses his landlady's fancy, that she makes a pencil 
memorandum of it forthwith, in her great family Bible, on the broad margin of the 
Proverbs of Solomon. 

The next step is to advertise, after some such fashion as this, in the principal business six- 
pennies of the city-the pennies are eschewed as not "respectable "-and as demanding 
payment for all advertisements in advance. Our man of business holds it as a point of his 
faith that work should never be paid for until done. 

"WANTED-The advertisers, being about to commence extensive business operations in 
this city, will require the services of three or four intelligent and competent clerks, to 



whom a liberal salary will be paid. The very best recommendations, not so much for 
capacity, as for integrity, will be expected. Indeed, as the duties to be performed involve 
high responsibilities, and large amounts of money must necessarily pass through the 
hands of those engaged, it is deemed advisable to demand a deposit of fifty dollars from 
each clerk employed. No person need apply, therefore, who is not prepared to leave this 
sum in the possession of the advertisers, and who cannot furnish the most satisfactory 
testimonials of morality. Young gentlemen piously inclined will be preferred. Application 
should be made between the hours of ten and eleven A. M., and four and five P. M., of 
Messrs. 

"Bogs, Hogs Logs, Frogs & Co., 
"No. 110 Dog Street" 

By the thirty-first day of the month, this advertisement has brought to the office of 
Messrs. Bogs, Hogs, Logs, Frogs, and Company, some fifteen or twenty young 
gentlemen piously inclined. But our man of business is in no hurry to conclude a contract 
with any-no man of business is ever precipitate-and it is not until the most rigid 
catechism in respect to the piety of each young gentleman's inclination, that his services 
are engaged and his fifty dollars receipted for, just by way of proper precaution, on the 
part of the respectable firm of Bogs, Hogs, Logs, Frogs, and Company. On the morning 
of the first day of the next month, the landlady does not present her bill, according to 
promise-a piece of neglect for which the comfortable head of the house ending in ogs 
would no doubt have chided her severely, could he have been prevailed upon to remain in 
town a day or two for that purpose. 

As it is, the constables have had a sad time of it, running hither and thither, and all they 
can do is to declare the man of business most emphatically, a "hen knee high"-by which 
some persons imagine them to imply that, in fact, he is n. e. i.-by which again the very 
classical phrase non est inventus, is supposed to be understood. In the meantime the 
young gentlemen, one and all, are somewhat less piously inclined than before, while the 
landlady purchases a shilling's worth of the Indian rubber, and very carefully obliterates 
the pencil memorandum that some fool has made in her great family Bible, on the broad 
margin of the Proverbs of Solomon. 

THE END 



DREAMLAND 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1844 



By a route obscure and lonely, 
Haunted by ill angels only, 
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, 
On a black throne reigns upright, 
I have reached these lands but newly 
From an ultimate dim Thule- 
From a wild clime that lieth, sublime. 
Out of SPACE-out of TIME. 

Bottomless vales and boundless floods. 
And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods. 
With forms that no man can discover 
For the tears that drip all over; 
Mountains toppling evermore 
Into seas without a shore; 
Seas that restlessly aspire. 
Surging, unto skies of fire; 
Lakes that endlessly outspread 
Their lone waters-lone and dead,- 
Their still waters-still and chilly 
With the snows of the lolling lily. 

By the lakes that thus outspread 
Their lone waters, lone and dead,- 
Their sad waters, sad and chilly 
With the snows of the lolling lily,- 
By the mountains-near the river 
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,- 
By the grey woods,-by the swamp 
Where the toad and the newt encamp- 
By the dismal tarns and pools 
Where dwell the Ghouls,- 
By each spot the most unholy- 
In each nook most melancholy- 
There the traveller meets aghast 
Sheeted Memories of the Past- 
Shrouded forms that start and sigh 
As they pass the wanderer by- 



White-robed forms of friends long given, 
In agony, to the Earth-and Heaven. 

For the heart whose woes are legion 

'Tis a peaceful, soothing region- 

For the spirit that walks in shadow 

'Tis-oh, 'tis an Eldorado! 

But the traveller, travelling through it. 

May not-dare not openly view it! 

Never its mysteries are exposed 

To the weak human eye unclosed; 

So wills its King, who hath forbid 

The uplifting of the fringed lid; 

And thus the sad Soul that here passes 

Beholds it but through darkened glasses. 

By a route obscure and lonely. 
Haunted by ill angels only. 
Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT, 
On a black throne reigns upright, 
I have wandered home but newly 
From this ultimate dim Thule. 

THE END 



DREAMS 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1827 



Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream! 

My spirit not awakening, till the beam 

Of an Eternity should bring the morrow. 

Yes! tho' that long dream were of hopeless sorrow, 

'Twere better than the cold reality 

Of waking life, to him whose heart must be. 

And hath been still, upon the lovely earth, 

A chaos of deep passion, from his birth. 

But should it be-that dream eternally 

Continuing-as dreams have been to me 

In my young boyhood-should it thus be given, 

'Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven. 

For I have revell'd, when the sun was bright 

r the summer sky, in dreams of living light 

And loveliness,-have left my very heart 

In climes of my imagining, apart 

From mine own home, with beings that have been 

Of mine own thought-what more could I have seen? 

'Twas once-and only once-and the wild hour 

From my remembrance shall not pass-some power 

Or spell had bound me-'twas the chilly wind 

Came o'er me in the night, and left behind 

Its image on my spirit-or the moon 

Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon 

Too coldly-or the stars-howe'er it was 

That dream was as that night-wind-let it pass. 

I have been happy, tho' in a dream. 

I have been happy-and I love the theme: 

Dreams ! in their vivid coloring of life. 

As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife 

Of semblance with reality, which brings 

To the delirious eye, more lovely things 

Of Paradise and Love-and all our own! 

Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known. 

THE END 



ELDORADO 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1849 



Gaily bedight, 

A gallant knight, 

In sunshine and in shadow, 

Had journeyed long. 

Singing a song. 

In search of Eldorado. 

But he grew old- 

This knight so bold- 

And o'er his heart a shadow 

Fell as he found 

No spot of ground 

That looked like Eldorado. 

And, as his strength 
Failed him at length. 
He met a pilgrim shadow- 
" Shadow," said he, 
"Where can it be- 
This land of Eldorado?" 

"Over the Mountains 

Of the Moon, 

Down the Valley of the Shadow, 

Ride, boldly ride," 

The shade replied- 

"If you seek for Eldorado!" 

THE END 



ELEONORA 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



Sub conservatione formae specificae salva anima. 
RAYMOND LULLY. 

I AM come of a race noted for vigor of fancy and ardor of passion. Men have called me 
mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest 
intelligence-whether much that is glorious-whether all that is profound-does not spring 
from disease of thought-from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general 
intellect. They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who 
dream only by night. In their gray visions they obtain glimpses of eternity, and thrill, in 
awakening, to find that they have been upon the verge of the great secret. In snatches, 
they learn something of the wisdom which is of good, and more of the mere knowledge 
which is of evil. They penetrate, however, rudderless or compassless into the vast ocean 
of the "light ineffable," and again, like the adventures of the Nubian geographer, "agressi 
sunt mare tenebrarum, quid in eo esset exploraturi." 

We will say, then, that I am mad. I grant, at least, that there are two distinct conditions of 
my mental existence-the condition of a lucid reason, not to be disputed, and belonging to 
the memory of events forming the first epoch of my life-and a condition of shadow and 
doubt, appertaining to the present, and to the recollection of what constitutes the second 
great era of my being. Therefore, what I shall tell of the earlier period, believe; and to 
what I may relate of the later time, give only such credit as may seem due, or doubt it 
altogether, or, if doubt it ye cannot, then play unto its riddle the Oedipus. 

She whom I loved in youth, and of whom I now pen calmly and distinctly these 
remembrances, was the sole daughter of the only sister of my mother long departed. 
Eleonora was the name of my cousin. We had always dwelled together, beneath a tropical 
sun, in the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass. No unguided footstep ever came upon that 
vale; for it lay away up among a range of giant hills that hung beetling around about it, 
shutting out the sunlight from its sweetest recesses. No path was trodden in its vicinity; 
and, to reach our happy home, there was need of putting back, with force, the foliage of 
many thousands of forest trees, and of crushing to death the glories of many millions of 
fragrant flowers. Thus it was that we lived all alone, knowing nothing of the world 
without the valley-I, and my cousin, and her mother. 

From the dim regions beyond the mountains at the upper end of our encircled domain, 
there crept out a narrow and deep river, brighter than all save the eyes of Eleonora; and, 
winding stealthily about in mazy courses, it passed away, at length, through a shadowy 
gorge, among hills still dimmer than those whence it had issued. We called it the "River 



of Silence"; for there seemed to be a hushing influence in its flow. No murmur arose from 
its bed, and so gently it wandered along, that the pearly pebbles upon which we loved to 
gaze, far down within its bosom, stirred not at all, but lay in a motionless content, each in 
its own old station, shining on gloriously forever. 

The margin of the river, and of the many dazzling rivulets that glided through devious 
ways into its channel, as well as the spaces that extended from the margins away down 
into the depths of the streams until they reached the bed of pebbles at the bottom,-these 
spots, not less than the whole surface of the valley, from the river to the mountains that 
girdled it in, were carpeted all by a soft green grass, thick, short, perfectly even, and 
vanilla-perfumed, but so besprinkled throughout with the yellow buttercup, the white 
daisy, the purple violet, and the ruby-red asphodel, that its exceeding beauty spoke to our 
hearts in loud tones, of the love and of the glory of God. 

And, here and there, in groves about this grass, like wildernesses of dreams, sprang up 
fantastic trees, whose tall slender stems stood not upright, but slanted gracefully toward 
the light that peered at noon-day into the centre of the valley. Their mark was speckled 
with the vivid alternate splendor of ebony and silver, and was smoother than all save the 
cheeks of Eleonora; so that, but for the brilliant green of the huge leaves that spread from 
their summits in long, tremulous lines, dallying with the Zephyrs, one might have fancied 
them giant serpents of Syria doing homage to their sovereign the Sun. 

Hand in hand about this valley, for fifteen years, roamed I with Eleonora before Love 
entered within our hearts. It was one evening at the close of the third lustrum of her life, 
and of the fourth of my own, that we sat, locked in each other's embrace, beneath the 
serpent- like trees, and looked down within the water of the River of Silence at our images 
therein. We spoke no words during the rest of that sweet day, and our words even upon 
the morrow were tremulous and few. We had drawn the God Eros from that wave, and 
now we felt that he had enkindled within us the fiery souls of our forefathers. The 
passions which had for centuries distinguished our race, came thronging with the fancies 
for which they had been equally noted, and together breathed a delirious bliss over the 
Valley of the Many-Colored Grass. A change fell upon all things. Strange, briUiant 
flowers, star-shaped, burn out upon the trees where no flowers had been known before. 
The tints of the green carpet deepened; and when, one by one, the white daisies shrank 
away, there sprang up in place of them, ten by ten of the ruby-red asphodel. And life 
arose in our paths; for the tall flamingo, hitherto unseen, with all gay glowing birds, 
flaunted his scarlet plumage before us. The golden and silver fish haunted the river, out 
of the bosom of which issued, little by little, a murmur that swelled, at length, into a 
lulling melody more divine than that of the harp of Aeolus- sweeter than all save the voice 
of Eleonora. And now, too, a voluminous cloud, which we had long watched in the 
regions of Hesper, floated out thence, all gorgeous in crimson and gold, and settling in 
peace above us, sank, day by day, lower and lower, until its edges rested upon the tops of 
the mountains, turning all their dimness into magnificence, and shutting us up, as if 
forever, within a magic prison-house of grandeur and of glory. 



The loveliness of Eleonora was that of the Seraphim; but she was a maiden artless and 
innocent as the brief life she had led among the flowers. No guile disguised the fervor of 
love which animated her heart, and she examined with me its inmost recesses as we 
walked together in the Valley of the Many-Colored Grass, and discoursed of the mighty 
changes which had lately taken place therein. 

At length, having spoken one day, in tears, of the last sad change which must befall 
Humanity, she thenceforward dwelt only upon this one sorrowful theme, interweaving it 
into all our converse, as, in the songs of the bard of Schiraz, the same images are found 
occurring, again and again, in every impressive variation of phrase. 

She had seen that the finger of Death was upon her bosom-that, like the ephemeron, she 
had been made perfect in loveliness only to die; but the terrors of the grave to her lay 
solely in a consideration which she revealed to me, one evening at twilight, by the banks 
of the River of Silence. She grieved to think that, having entombed her in the Valley of 
the Many-Colored Grass, I would quit forever its happy recesses, transferring the love 
which now was so passionately her own to some maiden of the outer and everyday world. 
And, then and there, I threw myself hurriedly at the feet of Eleonora, and offered up a 
vow, to herself and to Heaven, that I would never bind myself in marriage to any 
daughter of Earth-that I would in no manner prove recreant to her dear memory, or to the 
memory of the devout affection with which she had blessed me. And I called the Mighty 
Ruler of the Universe to witness the pious solemnity of my vow. And the curse which I 
invoked of Him and of her, a saint in Helusion should I prove traitorous to that promise, 
involved a penalty the exceeding great horror of which will not permit me to make record 
of it here. And the bright eyes of Eleonora grew brighter at my words; and she sighed as 
if a deadly burthen had been taken from her breast; and she trembled and very bitterly 
wept; but she made acceptance of the vow, (for what was she but a child?) and it made 
easy to her the bed of her death. And she said to me, not many days afterward, tranquilly 
dying, that, because of what I had done for the comfort of her spirit she would watch over 
me in that spirit when departed, and, if so it were permitted her return to me visibly in the 
watches of the night; but, if this thing were, indeed, beyond the power of the souls in 
Paradise, that she would, at least, give me frequent indications of her presence, sighing 
upon me in the evening winds, or filling the air which I breathed with perfume from the 
censers of the angels. And, with these words upon her lips, she yielded up her innocent 
life, putting an end to the first epoch of my own. 

Thus far I have faithfully said. But as I pass the barrier in Times path, formed by the 
death of my beloved, and proceed with the second era of my existence, I feel that a 
shadow gathers over my brain, and I mistrust the perfect sanity of the record. But let me 
on.-Years dragged themselves along heavily, and still I dwelled within the Valley of the 
Many-Colored Grass; but a second change had come upon all things. The star-shaped 
flowers shrank into the stems of the trees, and appeared no more. The tints of the green 
carpet faded; and, one by one, the ruby-red asphodels withered away; and there sprang 
up, in place of them, ten by ten, dark, eye-like violets, that writhed uneasily and were 
ever encumbered with dew. And Life departed from our paths; for the tall flamingo 
flaunted no longer his scarlet plumage before us, but flew sadly from the vale into the 



hills, with all the gay glowing birds that had arrived in his company. And the golden and 
silver fish swam down through the gorge at the lower end of our domain and bedecked 
the sweet river never again. And the lulling melody that had been softer than the wind- 
harp of Aeolus, and more divine than all save the voice of Eleonora, it died little by little 
away, in murmurs growing lower and lower, until the stream returned, at length, utterly, 
into the solemnity of its original silence. And then, lastly, the voluminous cloud uprose, 
and, abandoning the tops of the mountains to the dimness of old, fell back into the 
regions of Hesper, and took away all its manifold golden and gorgeous glories from the 
Valley of the Many-Colored Grass. 

Yet the promises of Eleonora were not forgotten; for I heard the sounds of the swinging 
of the censers of the angels; and streams of a holy perfume floated ever and ever about 
the valley; and at lone hours, when my heart beat heavily, the winds that bathed my brow 
came unto me laden with soft sighs; and indistinct murmurs filled often the night air, and 
once-oh, but once only! I was awakened from a slumber, like the slumber of death, by 
the pressing of spiritual lips upon my own. 

But the void within my heart refused, even thus, to be filled. I longed for the love which 
had before filled it to overflowing. At length the valley pained me through its memories 
of Eleonora, and I left it for ever for the vanities and the turbulent triumphs of the world. 

I found myself within a strange city, where all things might have served to blot from 
recollection the sweet dreams I had dreamed so long in the Valley of the Many-Colored 
Grass. The pomps and pageantries of a stately court, and the mad clangor of arms, and 
the radiant loveliness of women, bewildered and intoxicated my brain. But as yet my soul 
had proved true to its vows, and the indications of the presence of Eleonora were still 
given me in the silent hours of the night. Suddenly these manifestations they ceased, and 
the world grew dark before mine eyes, and I stood aghast at the burning thoughts which 
possessed, at the terrible temptations which beset me; for there came from some far, far 
distant and unknown land, into the gay court of the king I served, a maiden to whose 
beauty my whole recreant heart yielded at once-at whose footstool I bowed down 
without a struggle, in the most ardent, in the most abject worship of love. What, indeed, 
was my passion for the young girl of the valley in comparison with the fervor, and the 
delirium, and the spirit-lifting ecstasy of adoration with which I poured out my whole 
soul in tears at the feet of the ethereal Ermengarde?-Oh, bright was the seraph 
Ermengarde! and in that knowledge I had room for none other .-Oh, divine was the angel 
Ermengarde! and as I looked down into the depths of her memorial eyes, I thought only 
of them-and of her. 

I wedded;-nor dreaded the curse I had invoked; and its bitterness was not visited upon 
me. And once-but once again in the silence of the night; there came through my lattice 
the soft sighs which had forsaken me; and they modelled themselves into familiar and 
sweet voice, saying: 



"Sleep in peace !-for the Spirit of Love reigneth and ruleth, and, in taking to thy 
passionate heart her who is Ermengarde, thou art absolved, for reasons which shall be 
made known to thee in Heaven, of thy vows unto Eleonora." 

THE END 



ELIZABETH 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



Elizabeth, it surely is most fit 

[Logic and common usage so commanding] 

In thy own book that first thy name be writ, 

Zeno and other sages notwithstanding; 

And I have other reasons for so doing 

Besides my innate love of contradiction; 

Each poet-if a poet-in pursuing 

The muses thro' their bowers of Truth or Fiction, 

Has studied very little of his part. 

Read nothing, written less-in short's a fool 

Endued with neither soul, nor sense, nor art. 

Being ignorant of one important rule. 

Employed in even the theses of the school- 

Called-I forget the heathenish Greek name 

[Called anything, its meaning is the same] 

"Always write first things uppermost in the heart." 

THE END 



EULALIE 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1845 



I dwelt alone 
In a world of moan, 
And my soul was a stagnant tide, 

Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride- 
Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride. 

Ah, less-less bright 
The stars of the night 
Than the eyes of the radiant girl! 
That the vapor can make 
With the moon-tints of purple and pearl. 
Can vie with the modest Eulalie's most unregarded curl- 
Can compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie's most humble and careless 
curl. 

Now Doubt-now Pain 
Come never again. 
For her soul gives me sigh for sigh. 
And all day long 
Shines, bright and strong, 
Astarte within the sky. 

While ever to her dear Eulalie upturns her matron eye- 
While ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye. 

THE END 



EUREKA-A PROSE POEM 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1848 



WITH VERY PROFOUND RESPECT, 

THIS WORK IS DEDICATED 

TO 

ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT 

PREFACE 

To the few who love me and whom I love —to those who feel rather than to those who 
think — to the dreamers and those who put faith in dreams as in the only realities — I offer 
this Book of Truths, not in its character of Truth-Teller, but for the Beauty that abounds 
in its Truth; constituting it true. To these I present the composition as an Art-Product 
alone:-let us say as a Romance; or, if I be not urging too lofty a claim, as a Poem. 
What I here propound is true:-* therefore it cannot die:-or if by any means it be now 
trodden down so that it die, it will "rise again to the Life Everlasting." 

Nevertheless it is as a Poem only that I wish this work to be judged after I am dead. 
E. A. P. 

EUREKA: 

AN ESSAY ON THE MATERIAL AND SPIRITUAL UNIVERSE 

IT is with humility really unassumed —it is with a sentiment even of awe —that I pen the 
opening sentence of this work: for of all conceivable subjects I approach the reader with 
the most solemn —the most comprehensive —the most difficult —the most august. 

What terms shall I find sufficiently simple in their sublimity — sufficiently sublime in 
their simplicity — for the mere enunciation of my theme? 

I design to speak of the Physical, Metaphysical and Mathematical - of the Material and 
Spiritual Universe:-of its Essence, its Origin, its Creation, its Present Condition and its 
Destiny. I shall be so rash, moreover, as to chAUange the conclusions, and thus, in effect, 
to question the sagacity, of many of the greatest and most justly reverenced of men. 

In the beginning, let me as distinctly as possible announce —not the theorem which I 
hope to demonstrate —for, whatever the mathematicians may assert, there is, in this world 
at least, no such thing as demonstration —but the ruling idea which, throughout this 
volume, I shall be continually endeavoring to suggest. 



My general proposition, then, is this: — In the Original Unity of the First Thing lies the 
Secondary Cause of All Things, with the Germ of their Inevitable Annihilation. 

In illustration of this idea, I propose to take such a survey of the Universe that the mind 
may be able really to receive and to perceive an individual impression. 

He who from the top of AEtna casts his eyes leisurely around, is affected chiefly by the 
extent and diversity of the scene. Only by a rapid whirling on his heel could he hope to 
comprehend the panorama in the sublimity of its oneness. But as, on the summit of 
AEtna, no man has thought of whirling on his heel, so no man has ever taken into his 
brain the full uniqueness of the prospect; and so, again, whatever considerations lie 
involved in this uniqueness, have as yet no practical existence for mankind. 

I do not know a treatise in which a survey of the Universe — using the word in its most 
comprehensive and only legitimate acceptation —is taken at all: —and it may be as well 
here to mention that by the term "Universe," wherever employed without qualification in 
this essay, I mean to designate the utmost conceivable expanse of space, with all things, 
spiritual and material, that can he imagined to exist within the compass of that expanse. 
In speaking of what is ordinarily implied by the expression, "Universe," I shall take a 
phrase of limitation —"the Universe of stars." Why this distinction is considered 
necessary, will be seen in the sequel. 

But even of treatises on the really limited, although always assumed as the un limited. 
Universe of stars, I know none in which a survey, even of this limited Universe, is so 
taken as to warrant deductions from its individuality. The nearest approach to such a 
work is made in the "Cosmos" of Alexander Von Humboldt. He presents the subject, 
however, not in its individuality but in its generality. His theme, in its last result, is the 
law of each portion of the merely physical Universe, as this law is related to the laws of 
every other portion of this merely physical Universe. His design is simply synoeretical. In 
a word, he discusses the universality of material relation, and discloses to the eye of 
Philosophy whatever inferences have hitherto lain hidden behind this universality. But 
however admirable be the succinctness with which he has treated each particular point of 
his topic, the mere multiplicity of these points occasions, necessarily, an amount of detail, 
and thus an involution of idea, which preclude all individuality of impression. 

It seems to me that, in aiming at this latter effect, and, through it, at the consequences — 
the conclusions —the suggestions —the speculations —or, if nothing better offer itself, the 
mere guesses which may result from it — we require something like a mental gyration on 
the heel. We need so rapid a revolution of all things about the central point of sight that, 
while the minutiae vanish altogether, even the more conspicuous objects become blended 
into one. Among the vanishing minutiae, in a survey of this kind, would be all 
exclusively terrestrial matters. The Earth would be considered in its planetary relations 
alone. A man, in this view, becomes mankind; mankind a member of the cosmical family 
of Intelligences. 



And now, before proceeding to our subject proper, let me beg the reader's attention to an 
extract or two from a somewhat remarkable letter, which appears to have been found 
corked in a bottle and floating on the Mare Tenebrarum-an ocean well described by the 
Nubian geographer, Ptolemy Hephestion, but little frequented in modern days unless by 
the Transcendentalists and some other divers for crotchets. The date of this letter, I 
confess, surprises me even more particularly than its contents; for it seems to have been 
written in the year Two thousand eight hundred and forty-eight. As for the passages I am 
about to transcribe, they, I fancy, will speak for themselves. 

"Do you know, my dear friend," says the writer, addressing, no doubt, a contemporary — 
"Do you know that it is scarcely more than eight or nine hundred years ago since the 
metaphysicians first consented to relieve the people of the singular fancy that there exist 
but two practicable roads to Truth? Believe it if you can! It appears, however, that long, 
long ago, in the night of Time, there lived a Turkish philosopher called Aries and 
surnamed Tottle." [Here, possibly, the letter- writer means Aristotle; the best names are 
wretchedly corrupted in two or three thousand years.] "The fame of this great man 
depended mainly upon his demonstration that sneezing is a natural provision, by means 
of which over-profound thinkers are enabled to expel superfluous ideas through the nose; 
but he obtained a scarcely less valuable celebrity as the founder, or at all events as the 
principal propagator, of what was termed the de ductive or a priori philosophy. He started 
with what he maintained to be axioms, or self-evident truths: —and the now well- 
understood fact that no truths are self -evident, really does not make in the slightest 
degree against his speculations: —it was sufficient for his purpose that the truths in 
question were evident at all. From axioms he proceeded, logically, to results. His most 
illustrious disciples were one Tuclid, a geometrician," [meaning Euclid] "and one Kant, a 
Dutchman, the originator of that species of Transcendentalism which, with the change 
merely of a C for a K, now bears his peculiar name. 

"Well, Aries Tottle flourished supreme, until the advent of one Hog, surnamed 'the 
Ettrick shepherd,' who preached an entirely different system, which he called the a 
posteriori or in ductive. His plan referred altogether to sensation. He proceeded by 
observing, analyzing, and classifying facts — instantiae Naturae, as they were somewhat 
affectedly called —and arranging them into general laws. In a word, while the mode of 
Aries rested on noumena, that of Hog depended on phenomena; and so great was the 
admiration excited by this latter system that, at its first introduction, Aries fell into 
general disrepute. Finally, however, he recovered ground, and was permitted to divide the 
empire of Philosophy with his more modern rival: — the savans contenting themselves 
with proscribing all other competitors, past, present, and to come; putting an end to all 
controversy on the topic by the promulgation of a Median law, to the effect that the 
Aristotelian and Baconian roads are, and of right ought to be, the sole possible avenues to 
knowledge: —'Baconian,' you must know, my dear friend," adds the letter-writer at this 
point, "was an adjective invented as equivalent to Hog-ian, and at the same time more 
dignified and euphonious. 

"Now I do assure you most positively" —proceeds the epistle —"that I represent these 
matters fairly; and you can easily understand how restrictions so absurd on their very face 



must have operated, in those days, to retard the progress of true Science, which makes its 
most important advances —as all History will show —by seemingly intuitive leaps. These 
ancient ideas confined investigation to crawling; and I need not suggest to you that 
crawling, among varieties of locomotion, is a very capital thing of its kind; —but because 
the tortoise is sure of foot, for this reason must we clip the wings of the eagles? For many 
centuries, so great was the infatuation, about Hog especially, that a virtual stop was put to 
all thinking, properly so called. No man dared utter a truth for which he felt himself 
indebted to his soul alone. It mattered not whether the truth was even demonstrably such; 
for the dogmatizing philosophers of that epoch regarded only the road by which it 
professed to have been attained. The end, with them, was a point of no moment, 
whatever: —'the means!' they vociferated — 'let us look at the means!' — and if, on 
scrutiny of the means, it was found to come neither under the category Hog, nor under the 
category Aries (which means ram), why then the savans went no farther, but, calling the 
thinker a fool and branding him a 'theorist,' would never, thenceforward, have any thing 
to do either with him or with his truths. 

"Now, my dear friend," continues the letter- writer, "it cannot be maintained that by the 
crawling system, exclusively adopted, men would arrive at the maximum amount of 
truth, even in any long series of ages; for the repression of imagination was an evil not to 
be counterbalanced even by absolute certainty in the snail processes. But their certainty 
was very far from absolute. The error of our progenitors was quite analogous with that of 
the wiseacre who fancies he must necessarily see an object the more distinctly, the more 
closely he holds it to his eyes. They blinded themselves, too, with the impalpable, 
titillating Scotch snuff of detail; and thus the boasted facts of the Hog-ites were by no 
means always facts —a point of little importance but for the assumption that they always 
were. The vital taint, however, in Baconianism — its most lamentable fount of error —lay 
in its tendency to throw power and consideration into the hands of merely perceptive men 
—of those inter- Tritonic minnows, the microscopical savans —the diggers and pedlers of 
minute facts, for the most part in physical science - facts all of which they retailed at the 
same price upon the highway; their value depending, it was supposed, simply upon the 
fact of their fact, without reference to their applicability or inapplicability in the 
development of those ultimate and only legitimate facts, called Law. 

"Than the persons" —the letter goes on to say —"than the persons thus suddenly elevated 
by the Hog-ian philosophy into a station for which they were unfitted —thus transferred 
from the sculleries into the parlors of Science —from its pantries into its pulpits —than 
these individuals a more intolerant —a more intolerable set of bigots and tyrants never 
existed on the face of the earth. Their creed, their text and their sermon were, alike, the 
one word 'fact' —but, for the most part, even of this one word, they knew not even the 
meaning. On those who ventured to disturb their facts with the view of putting them in 
order and to use, the disciples of Hog had no mercy whatever. All attempts at 
generalization were met at once by the words 'theoretical,' 'theory,' 'theorist' — all thought, 
to be brief, was very properly resented as a personal affront to themselves. Cultivating the 
natural sciences to the exclusion of Metaphysics, the Mathematics, and Logic, many of 
these Bacon-engendered philosophers — one-idead, one-sided and lame of a leg —were 
more wretchedly helpless —more miserably ignorant, in view of all the comprehensible 



objects of knowledge, than the veriest unlettered hind who proves that he knows 
something at least, in admitting that he knows absolutely nothing. 

"Nor had our forefathers any better right to talk about certainty, when pursuing, in blind 
confidence, the a priori path of axioms, or of the Ram. At innumerable points this path 
was scarcely as straight as a ram's-horn. The simple truth is, that the Aristotelians erected 
their castles upon a basis far less reliable than air; for no such things as axioms ever 
existed or can possibly exist at all. This they must have been very blind, indeed, not to 
see, or at least to suspect; for, even in their own day, many of their long-admitted 'axioms' 
had been abandoned: — 'ex nihilo nihil fit,' for example, and a 'thing cannot act where it is 
not,' and 'there cannot be antipodes,' and 'darkness cannot proceed from light.' These and 
numerous similar propositions formerly accepted, without hesitation, as axioms, or 
undeniable truths, were, even at the period of which I speak, seen to be altogether 
untenable: —how absurd in these people, then, to persist in relying upon a basis, as 
immutable, whose mutability had become so repeatedly manifest! 

"But, even through evidence afforded by themselves against themselves, it is easy to 
convict these a priori reasoners of the grossest unreason —it is easy to show the futility — 
the impalpability of their axioms in general. I have now lying before me" — it will be 
observed that we still proceed with the letter — "I have now lying before me a book 
printed about a thousand years ago. Pundit assures me that it is decidedly the cleverest 
ancient work on its topic, which is 'Logic' The author, who was much esteemed in his 
day, was one Miller or Mill; and we find it recorded of him, as a point of some 
importance, that he rode a mill-horse whom he called Jeremy Bentham: — but let us 
glance at the volume itself! 

"Ah! — 'Ability or inability to conceive,' says Mr. Mill very properly, 'is in no case to be 
received as a criterion of axiomatic truth.' Now, that this is a palpable truism no one in his 
senses will deny. Not to admit the proposition, is to insinuate a charge of variability in 
Truth itself, whose very title is a synonym of the Steadfast. If ability to conceive be taken 
as a criterion of Truth, then a truth to David Hume would very seldom be a truth to Joe; 
and ninety-nine hundredths of what is undeniable in Heaven would be demonstrable 
falsity upon Earth. The proposition of Mr. Mill, then, is sustained. I will not grant it to be 
an axiom; and this merely because I am showing that no axioms exist; but, with a 
distinction which could not have been cavilled at even by Mr. Mill himself, I am ready to 
grant that, if an axiom there be, then the proposition of which we speak has the fullest 
right to be considered an axiom —that no more absolute axiom is —and, consequently, 
that any subsequent proposition which shall conflict with this one primarily advanced, 
must be either a falsity in itself —that is to say no axiom —or, if admitted axiomatic, must 
at once neutralize both itself and its predecessor. 

"And now, by the logic of their own propounder, let us proceed to test any one of the 
axioms propounded. Let us give Mr. Mill the fairest of play. We will bring the point to no 
ordinary issue. We will select for investigation no common-place axiom — no axiom of 
what, not the less preposterously because only impliedly, he terms his secondary class — 
as if a positive truth by definition could be either more or less positively a truth: —we 



will select, I say, no axiom of an unquestionability so questionable as is to be found in 
Euclid. We will not talk, for example, about such propositions as that two straight lines 
cannot enclose a space, or that the whole is greater than any one of its parts. We will 
afford the logician every advantage. We will come at once to a proposition which he 
regards as the acme of the unquestionable —as the quintessence of axiomatic 
undeniability. Here it is: —'Contradictions cannot both be true - that is, cannot coexist in 
nature.' Here Mr. Mill means, for instance, —and I give the most forcible instance 
conceivable — that a tree must be either a tree or not a tree — that it cannot be at the same 
time a tree and not a tree: —all which is quite reasonable of itself and will answer 
remarkably well as an axiom, until we bring it into collation with an axiom insisted upon 
a few pages before —in other words —words which I have previously employed —until 
we test it by the logic of its own propounder. 'A tree,' Mr. Mill asserts, 'must be either a 
tree or not a tree.' Very well: — and now let me ask him, why. To this little query there is 
but one response: —I defy any man living to invent a second. The sole answer is this: — 
'Because we find it impossible to conceive that a tree can be anything else than a tree or 
not a tree.' This, I repeat, is Mr. Mill's sole answer: —he will not pretend to suggest 
another: —and yet, by his own showing, his answer is clearly no answer at all; for has he 
not already required us to admit, as an axiom, that ability or inability to conceive is in no 
case to be taken as a criterion of axiomatic truth? Thus all —absolutely his argumentation 
is at sea without a rudder. Let it not be urged that an exception from the general rule is to 
be made, in cases where the 'impossibility to conceive' is so peculiarly great as when we 
are called upon to conceive a tree both a tree and not a tree. Let no attempt, I say, be 
made at urging this sotticism; for, in the first place, there are no degrees of 'impossibility,' 
and thus no one impossible conception can be more peculiarly impossible than another 
impossible conception: —in the second place, Mr. Mill himself, no doubt after thorough 
deliberation, has most distinctly, and most rationally, excluded all opportunity for 
exception, by the emphasis of his proposition, that, in no case, is ability or inability to 
conceive, to be taken as a criterion of axiomatic truth: — in the third place, even were 
exceptions admissible at all, it remains to be shown how any exception is admissible 
here. That a tree can be both a tree and not a tree, is an idea which the angels, or the 
devils, may entertain, and which no doubt many an earthly Bedlamite, or 
Transcendentalist, does. 

"Now I do not quarrel with these ancients," continues the letter-writer, "so much on 
account of the transparent frivolity of their logic —which, to be plain, was baseless, 
worthless and fantastic altogether —as on account of their pompous and infatuate 
proscription of all other roads to Truth than the two narrow and crooked paths —the one 
of creeping and the other of crawling — to which, in their ignorant perversity, they have 
dared to confine the Soul —the Soul which loves nothing so well as to soar in those 
regions of illimitable intuition which are utterly incognizant of 'path.' 

"By the bye, my dear friend, is it not an evidence of the mental slavery entailed upon 
those bigoted people by their Hogs and Rams, that in spite of the eternal prating of their 
savans about roads to Truth, none of them fell, even by accident, into what we now so 
distinctly perceive to be the broadest, the straightest and most available of all mere roads 
—the great thoroughfare —the majestic highway of the Consistent? Is it not wonderful 



that they should have failed to deduce from the works of God the vitally momentous 
consideration that a perfect consistency can be nothing but an absolute truth? How plain - 
-how rapid our progress since the late announcement of this proposition! By its means, 
investigation has been taken out of the hands of the ground-moles, and given as a duty, 
rather than as a task, to the true —to the only true thinkers —to the generally-educated 
men of ardent imagination. These latter —our Keplers —our Laplaces —'speculate' — 
'theorize' —these are the terms — can you not fancy the shout of scorn with which they 
would be received by our progenitors, were it possible for them to be looking over my 
shoulders as I write? The Keplers, I repeat, speculate — theorize — and their theories are 
merely corrected — reduced —sifted — cleared, little by little, of their chaff of 
inconsistency —until at length there stands apparent an unencumbered Consistency —a 
consistency which the most stolid admit —because it is a consistency —to be an absolute 
and unquestionable TRuth. 

"I have often thought, my friend, that it must have puzzled these dogmaticians of a 
thousand years ago, to determine, even, by which of their two boasted roads it is that the 
cryptographist attains the solution of the more complicated cyphers —or by which of 
them ChampoUion guided mankind to those important and innumerable truths which, for 
so many centuries, have lain entombed amid the phonetical hieroglyphics of Egypt. In 
especial, would it not have given these bigots some trouble to determine by which of their 
two roads was reached the most momentous and sublime of their truths —the truth —the 
fact of gravitation? Newton deduced it from the laws of Kepler. Kepler admitted that 
these laws he guessed —these laws whose investigation disclosed to the greatest of 
British astronomers that principle, the basis of all (existing) physical principle, in going 
behind which we enter at once the nebulous kingdom of Metaphysics. Yes! —these vital 
laws Kepler guessed —that it is to say, he imagined them. Had he been asked to point out 
either the de ductive or in ductive route by which he attained them, his reply might have 
been — 'I know nothing about routes —but I do know the machinery of the Universe. Here 
it is. I grasped it with my soul —I reached it through mere dint of intuition.' Alas, poor 
ignorant old man! Could not any metaphysician have told him that what he called 
'intuition' was but the conviction resulting from de ductions or in ductions of which the 
processes were so shadowy as to have escaped his consciousness, eluded his reason, or 
bidden defiance to his capacity of expression? How great a pity it is that some 'moral 
philosopher' had not enlightened him about all this! How it would have comforted him on 
his death-bed to know that, instead of having gone intuitively and thus unbecomingly, he 
had, in fact, proceeded decorously and legitimately —that is to say Hog-ishly, or at least 
Ram-ishly —into the vast halls where lay gleaming, untended, and hitherto untouched by 
mortal hand — unseen by mortal eye — the imperishable and priceless secrets of the 
Universe! 

"Yes, Kepler was essentially a theorist; but this title, now of so much sanctity, was, in 
those ancient days, a designation of supreme contempt. It is only now that men begin to 
appreciate that divine old man —to sympathize with the prophetical and poetical 
rhapsody of his ever-memorable words. For my part," continues the unknown 
correspondent, "I glow with a sacred fire when I even think of them, and feel that I shall 
never grow weary of their repetition: — in concluding this letter, let me have the real 



pleasure of transcribing them once again: —1 care not whether my work be read now or 
by posterity. I can afford to wait a century for readers when God himself has waited six 
thousand years for an observer. I triumph. I have stolen the golden secret of the 
Egyptians. I will indulge my sacred fury.'" 

Here end my quotations from this very unaccountable and, perhaps, somewhat 
impertinent epistle; and perhaps it would be folly to comment, in any respect, upon the 
chimerical, not to say revolutionary, fancies of the writer — whoever he is — fancies so 
radically at war with the well-considered and well-settled opinions of this age. Let us 
proceed, then, to our legitimate thesis. The Universe. 

This thesis admits a choice between two modes of discussion: —We may as cend or des 
cend. Beginning at our own point of view —at the Earth on which we stand —we may 
pass to the other planets of our system —thence to the Sun —thence to our system 
considered collectively —and thence, through other systems, indefinitely outwards; or, 
commencing on high at some point as definite as we can make it or conceive it, we may 
come down to the habitation of Man. Usually —that is to say, in ordinary essays on 
Astronomy —the first of these two modes is, with certain reservation, adopted: —this for 
the obvious reason that astronomical facts, merely, and principles, being the object, that 
object is best fulfilled in stepping from the known because proximate, gradually onward 
to the point where all certitude becomes lost in the remote. For my present purpose, 
however, —that of enabling the mind to take in, as if from afar and at one glance, a 
distant conception of the individual Universe —it is clear that a descent to small from 
great — to the outskirts from the centre (if we could establish a centre) — to the end from 
the beginning (if we could fancy a beginning) would be the preferable course, but for the 
difficulty, if not impossibility, of presenting, in this course, to the unastronomical, a 
picture at all comprehensible in regard to such considerations as are involved in quantity - 
-that is to say, in number, magnitude and distance. 

Now, distinctness —intelligibility, at all points, is a primary feature in my general design. 
On important topics it is better to be a good deal prolix than even a very little obscure. 
But abstruseness is a quality appertaining to no subject per se. All are alike, in facility of 
comprehension, to him who approaches them by properly graduated steps. It is merely 
because a stepping-stone, here and there, is heedlessly left unsupplied in our road to the 
Differential Calculus, that this latter is not altogether as simple a thing as a sonnet by Mr. 
Solomon Seesaw. 

By way of admitting, then, no chance for misapprehension, I think it advisable to proceed 
as if even the more obvious facts of Astronomy were unknown to the reader. In 
combining the two modes of discussion to which I have referred, I propose to avail 
myself of the advantages peculiar to each —and very especially of the iteration in detail 
which will be unavoidable as a consequence of the plan. Commencing with a descent, I 
shall reserve for the return upwards those indispensable considerations of quantity to 
which allusion has already been made. 



Let us begin, then, at once, with that merest of words, "Infinity." This, like "God," 
"spirit," and some other expressions of which the equivalents exist in all languages, is by 
no means the expression of an idea —but of an effort at one. It stands for the possible 
attempt at an impossible conception. Man needed a term by which to point out the 
direction of this effort — the cloud behind which lay, forever invisible, the object of this 
attempt. A word, in fine, was demanded, by means of which one human being might put 
himself in relation at once with another human being and with a certain tendency of the 
human intellect. Out of this demand arose the word, "Infinity;" which is thus the 
representative but of the thought of a thought. 

As regards that infinity now considered —the infinity of space —we often hear it said that 
"its idea is admitted by the mind —is acquiesced in —is entertained —on account of the 
greater difficulty which attends the conception of a limit." But this is merely one of those 
phrases by which even profound thinkers, time out of mind, have occasionally taken 
pleasure in deceiving themselves. The quibble lies concealed in the word "difficulty." 
"The mind," we are told, "entertains the idea of limitless, through the greater difficulty 
which it finds in entertaining that of limited, space." Now, were the proposition but fairly 
put, its absurdity would become transparent at once. Clearly, there is no mere difficulty in 
the case. The assertion intended, if presented according to its intention and without 
sophistry, would run thus: —"The mind admits the idea of limitless, through the greater 
impossibility of entertaining that of limited, space." 

It must be immediately seen that this is not a question of two statements between whose 
respective credibilities —or of two arguments between whose respective validities — the 
reason is called upon to decide: —it is a matter of two conceptions, directly conflicting, 
and each avowedly impossible, one of which the intellect is supposed to be capable of 
entertaining, on account of the greater impossibility of entertaining the other. The choice 
is not made between two difficulties; —it is merely fancied to be made between two 
impossibilities. Now of the former, there are degrees, —but of the latter, none: —just as 
our impertinent letter-writer has already suggested. A task may be more or less difficult; 
but it is either possible or not possible: —there are no gradations. It might be more 
difficult to overthrow the Andes than an ant-hill; but it can be no more impossible to 
annihilate the matter of the one than the matter of the other. A man may jump ten feet 
with less difficulty than he can jump twenty, but the impossibility of his leaping to the 
moon is not a whit less than that of his leaping to the dog-star. 

Since all this is undeniable: since the choice of the mind is to be made between 
impossibilities of conception: since one impossibility cannot be greater than another: and 
since, thus, one cannot be preferred to another: the philosophers who not only maintain, 
on the grounds mentioned, man's idea of infinity but, on account of such supposititious 
idea, infinity itself —are plainly engaged in demonstrating one impossible thing to be 
possible by showing how it is that some one other thing —is impossible too. This, it will 
be said, is nonsense; and perhaps it is: —indeed I think it very capital nonsense —but 
forego all claim to it as nonsense of mine. 



The readiest mode, however, of displaying the fallacy of the philosophical argument on 
this question, is by simply adverting to a fact respecting it which has been hitherto quite 
overlooked —the fact that the argument alluded to both proves and disproves its own 
proposition. "The mind is impelled," say the theologians and others, "to admit a First 
Cause, by the superior difficulty it experiences in conceiving cause beyond cause without 
end." The quibble, as before, lies in the word "difficulty" —but here what is it employed 
to sustain? A First Cause. And what is a First Cause? An ultimate termination of causes. 
And what is an ultimate termination of causes? Finity — the Finite. Thus the one quibble, 
in two processes, by God knows how many philosophers, is made to support now Finity 
and now Infinity —could it not be brought to support something besides? As for the 
quibblers —they, at least, are insupportable. But —to dismiss them: —what they prove in 
the one case is the identical nothing which they demonstrate in the other. 

Of course, no one will suppose that I here contend for the absolute impossibility of that 
which we attempt to convey in the word "Infinity." My purpose is but to show the folly of 
endeavoring to prove Infinity itself, or even our conception of it, by any such blundering 
ratiocination as that which is ordinarily employed. 

Nevertheless, as an individual, I may be permitted to say that I cannot conceive Infinity, 
and am convinced that no human being can. A mind not thoroughly self-conscious — not 
accustomed to the introspective analysis of its own operations —will, it is true, often 
deceive itself by supposing that it has entertained the conception of which we speak. In 
the effort to entertain it, we proceed step beyond step —we fancy point still beyond point; 
and so long as we Continue the effort, it may be said, in fact, that we are tending to the 
formation of the idea designed; while the strength of the impression that we actually form 
or have formed it, is in the ratio of the period during which we keep up the mental 
endeavor. But it is in the act of discontinuing the endeavor —of fulfilling (as we think) 
the idea —of putting the finishing stroke (as we suppose) to the conception —that we 
overthrow at once the whole fabric of our fancy by resting upon some one ultimate and 
therefore definite point. This fact, however, we fail to perceive, on account of the 
absolute coincidence, in time, between the settling down upon the ultimate point and the 
act of cessation in thinking. — In attempting, on the other hand, to frame the idea of a 
limited space, we merely converse the processes which involve the impossibility. 

We believe in a God. We may or may not believe in finite or in infinite space; but our 
belief, in such cases, is more properly designated as faith, and is a matter quite distinct 
from that belief proper — from that intellectual belief — which presupposes the mental 
conception. 

The fact is, that, upon the enunciation of any one of that class of terms to which "Infinity" 
belongs —the class representing thoughts of thought —he who has a right to say that he 
thinks at all, feels himself called upon, not to entertain a conception, but simply to direct 
his mental vision toward some given point, in the intellectual firmament, where lies a 
nebula never to be resolved. To solve it, indeed, he makes no effort; for with a rapid 
instinct he comprehends, not only the impossibility, but, as regards all human purposes, 
the inessentiality, of its solution. He perceives that the Deity has not designed it to be 



solved. He sees, at once, that it lies out of the brain of man, and even how, if not exactly 
why, it lies out of it. There are people, I am aware, who, busying themselves in attempts 
at the unattainable, acquire very easily, by dint of the jargon they emit, among those 
thinkers-that-they-think with whom darkness and depth are synonymous, a kind of cuttle- 
fish reputation for profundity; but the finest quality of Thought is its self-cognizance; 
and, with some little equivocation, it may be said that no fog of the mind can well be 
greater than that which, extending to the very boundaries of the mental domain, shuts out 
even these boundaries themselves from comprehension. 

It will now be understood that, in using the phrase, "Infinity of Space," I make no call 
upon the reader to entertain the impossible conception of an absolute infinity. I refer 
simply to the "utmost conceivable expanse" of space —a shadowy and fluctuating 
domain, now shrinking, now swelling, in accordance with the vacillating energies of the 
imagination. 

Hitherto, the Universe of stars has always been considered as coincident with the 
Universe proper, as I have defined it in the commencement of this Discourse. It has been 
always either directly or indirectly assumed —at least since the dawn of intelligible 
Astronomy —that, were it possible for us to attain any given point in space, we should 
still find, on all sides of us, an interminable succession of stars. This was the untenable 
idea of Pascal when making perhaps the most successful attempt ever made, at 
periphrasing the conception for which we struggle in the word "Universe." "It is a 
sphere," he says, "of which the centre is everywhere, the circumference, nowhere." But 
although this intended definition is, in fact, no definition of the Universe of stars, we may 
accept it, with some mental reservation, as a definition (rigorous enough for all practical 
purposes) of the Universe proper —that is to say, of the Universe of space. This latter, 
then, let us regard as "a sphere of which the centre is everywhere, the circumference 
nowhere." In fact, while we find it impossible to fancy an end to space, we have no 
difficulty in picturing to ourselves any one of an infinity of beginnings. 

As our starting point, then, let us adopt the Godhead. Of this Godhead, in itself, he alone 
is not imbecile —he alone is not impious who propounds —nothing. "Nous ne 
connaissons rien," says the Baron de Bielfeld —"Nous ne connaissons rien de la nature ou 
de I'essence de Dieu: —pour savoir ce qu'il est, il faut etre Dieu meme." — "We know 
absolutely nothing of the nature or essence of God: — in order to comprehend what he is, 
we should have to be God ourselves." 

"We should have to be God ourselves!" —With a phrase so startling as this yet ringing in 
my ears, I nevertheless venture to demand if this our present ignorance of the Deity is an 
ignorance to which the soul is everlastingly condemned. 

By Him, however — now, at least, the Incomprehensible — by Him — assuming him as 
Spirit —that is to say, as not Matter —a distinction which, for all intelligible purposes, 
will stand well instead of a definition —by Him, then, existing as Spirit, let us content 
ourselves, to-night, with supposing to have been created, or made out of Nothing, by dint 
of his Volition —at some point of Space which we will take as a centre —at some period 



into which we do not pretend to inquire, but at all events immensely remote —by Him, 
then again, let us suppose to have been created —what? This is a vitally momentous 
epoch in our considerations. What is it that we are justified —that alone we are justified 
in supposing to have been, primarily and solely, created? 

We have attained a point where only Intuition can aid us: —but now let me recur to the 
idea which I have already suggested as that alone which we can properly entertain of 
intuition. It is but the conviction arising from those inductions or deductions of which the 
processes are so shadowy as to escape our consciousness, elude our reason, or defy our 
capacity of expression. With this understanding, I now assert —that an intuition 
altogether irresistible, although inexpressible, forces me to the conclusion that what God 
originally created — that that Matter which, by dint of his Volition, he first made from his 
Spirit, or from Nihility, Could have been nothing but Matter in its utmost conceivable 
state of -- what? —of Simphcity? 

This will be found the sole absolute assumption of my Discourse. I use the word 
"assumption" in its ordinary sense; yet I maintain that even this my primary proposition, 
is very, very far indeed, from being really a mere assumption. Nothing was ever more 
certainly — no human conclusion was ever, in fact, more regularly —more rigorously de 
duced: —but, alas! the processes lie out of the human analysis —at all events are beyond 
the utterance of the human tongue. 

Let us now endeavor to conceive what Matter must be, when, or if, in its absolute 
extreme of Simplicity. Here the Reason flies at once to Imparticularity — to a particle —to 
one particle — a particle of one kind — of one character —of one nature —of one size — of 
one form — a particle, therefore, "without form and void" —a particle positively a particle 
at all points —a particle absolutely unique, individual, undivided, and not indivisible only 
because He who created it, by dint of his Will, can by an infinitely less energetic exercise 
of the same Will, as a matter of course, divide it. 

Oneness, then, is all that I predicate of the originally created Matter; but I propose to 
show that this Oneness is a principle abundantly sufficient to account for the constitution, 
the existing phaenomena and the plainly inevitable annihilation of at least the material 
Universe. 

The willing into being the primordial particle, has completed the act, or more properly the 
Conception, of Creation. We now proceed to the ultimate purpose for which we are to 
suppose the Particle created — that is to say, the ultimate purpose so far as our 
considerations yet enable us to see it — the constitution of the Universe from it, the 
Particle. 

This constitution has been effected by forcing the originally and therefore normally One 
into the abnormal condition of Many. An action of this character implies reaction. A 
diffusion from Unity, under the conditions, involves a tendency to return into Unity —a 
tendency ineradicable until satisfied. But on these points I will speak more fully 
hereafter. 



The assumption of absolute Unity in the primordial Particle includes that of infinite 
divisibility. Let us conceive the Particle, then, to be only not totally exhausted by 
diffusion into Space. From the one Particle, as a centre, let us suppose to be irradiated 
spherically —in all directions —to immeasurable but still to definite distances in the 
previously vacant space —a certain inexpressibly great yet limited number of 
unimaginably yet not infinitely minute atoms. 

Now, of these atoms, thus diffused, or upon diffusion, what conditions are we permitted - 
-not to assume, but to infer, from consideration as well of their source as of the character 
of the design apparent in their diffusion? Unity being their source, and difference from 
Unity the character of the design manifested in their diffusion, we are warranted in 
supposing this character to be at least generally preserved throughout the design, and to 
form a portion of the design itself: —that is to say, we shall be warranted in conceiving 
continual differences at all points from the uniquity and simplicity of the origin. But, for 
these reasons, shall we be justified in imagining the atoms heterogeneous, dissimilar, 
unequal, and inequidistant? More explicitly —are we to consider no two atoms as, at their 
diffusion, of the same nature, or of the same form, or of the same size? —and, after 
fulfilment of their diffusion into Space, is absolute inequidistance, each from each, to be 
understood of all of them? In such arrangement, under such conditions, we most easily 
and immediately comprehend the subsequent most feasible carrying out to completion of 
any such design as that which I have suggested —the design of variety out of unity — 
diversity out of sameness — heterogeneity out of homogeneity —complexity out of 
simplicity —in a word, the utmost possible multiplicity of relation out of the emphatically 
irrelative One. Undoubtedly, therefore, we should be warranted in assuming all that has 
been mentioned, but for the reflection, first, that supererogation is not presumable of any 
Divine Act; and, secondly, that the object supposed in view, appears as feasible when 
some of the conditions in question are dispensed with, in the beginning, as when all are 
understood immediately to exist. I mean to say that some are involved in the rest, or so 
instantaneous a consequence of them as to make the distinction inappreciable. Difference 
of size, for example, will at once be brought about through the tendency of one atom to a 
second, in preference to a third, on account of particular inequidistance; which is to be 
comprehended as particular inequidistances between centres of quantity, in neighboring 
atoms of different form — a matter not at all interfering with the generally-equable 
distribution of the atoms. Difference of kind, too, is easily conceived to be merely a result 
of differences in size and form, taken more or less conjointly: —in fact, since the Unity of 
the Particle Proper implies absolute homogeneity, we cannot imagine the atoms, at their 
diffusion, differing in kind, without imagining, at the same time, a special exercise of the 
Divine Will, at the emission of each atom, for the purpose of effecting, in each, a change 
of its essential nature: —so fantastic an idea is the less to be indulged, as the object 
proposed is seen to be thoroughly attainable without such minute and elaborate 
interposition. We perceive, therefore, upon the whole, that it would be supererogatory, 
and consequently unphilosophical, to predicate of the atoms, in view of their purposes, 
any thing more than difference of form at their dispersion, with particular inequidistance 
after it — all other differences arising at once out of these, in the very first processes of 
mass-constitution: —We thus establish the Universe on a purely geometrical basis. Of 
course, it is by no means necessary to assume absolute difference, even of form, among 



the atoms irradiated —any more than absolute particular inequidistance of each from 
each. We are required to conceive merely that no neighboring atoms are of similar form - 
-no atoms which can ever approximate, until their inevitable reunition at the end. 

Although the immediate and perpetual tendency of the disunited atoms to return into their 
normal Unity, is implied, as I have said, in their abnormal diffusion; still it is clear that 
this tendency will be without consequence — a tendency and no more — until the diffusive 
energy, in ceasing to be exerted, shall leave it, the tendency, free to seek its satisfaction. 
The Divine Act, however, being considered as determinate, and discontinued on 
fulfilment of the diffusion, we understand, at once, a reaction —in other words, a 
satisfiable tendency of the disunited atoms to return into One. 

But the diffusive energy being withdrawn, and the reaction having commenced in 
furtherance of the ultimate design —that of the utmost possible Relation —this design is 
now in danger of being frustrated, in detail, by reason of that very tendency to return 
which is to effect its accomplishment in general. Multiplicity is the object; but there is 
nothing to prevent proximate atoms, from lapsing at once, through the now satisfiable 
tendency —before the fulfilment of any ends proposed in multiplicity — into absolute 
oneness among themselves: —there is nothing to impede the aggregation of various 
unique masses, at various points of space: — in other words, nothing to interfere with the 
accumulation of various masses, each absolutely One. 

For the effectual and thorough completion of the general design, we thus see the 
necessity for a repulsion of limited capacity —a separate something which, on withdrawal 
of the diffusive Volition, shall at the same time allow the approach, and forbid the 
junction, of the atoms; suffering them infinitely to approximate, while denying them 
positive contact; in a word, having the power —up to a certain epoch —of preventing their 
Coalition, but no ability to interfere with their Coalescence in any respect or degree. The 
repulsion, already considered as so peculiarly limited in other regards, must be 
understood, let me repeat, as having power to prevent absolute coalition, only up to a 
certain epoch. Unless we are to conceive that the appetite for Unity among the atoms is 
doomed to be satisfied never; —unless we are to conceive that what had a beginning is to 
have no end —a conception which cannot really be entertained, however much we may 
talk or dream of entertaining it — we are forced to conclude that the repulsive influence 
imagined, will, finally —under pressure of the Uni-tendency collectively applied, but, 
never and in no degree until, on fulfilment of the Divine purposes, such collective 
application shall be naturally made —yield to a force which, at that ultimate epoch, shall 
be the superior force precisely to the extent required, and thus permit the universal 
subsidence into the inevitable, because original and therefore normal. One. —The 
conditions here to be reconciled are difficult indeed: —we cannot even comprehend the 
possibility of their conciliation; —nevertheless, the apparent impossibility is brilliantly 
suggestive. 

That the repulsive something actually exists, we see. Man neither employs, nor knows, a 
force sufficient to bring two atoms into contact. This is but the well-established 
proposition of the impenetrability of matter. All Experiment proves — all Philosophy 



admits it. The design of the repulsion — the necessity for its existence — I have 
endeavored to show; but from all attempt at investigating its nature have religiously 
abstained; this on account of an intuitive conviction that the principle at issue is strictly 
spiritual —lies in a recess impervious to our present understanding — lies involved in a 
consideration of what now —in our human state —is not to be considered —in a 
consideration of Spirit in itself. I feel, in a word, that here the God has interposed, and 
here only, because here and here only the knot demanded the interposition of the God. 

In fact, while the tendency of the diffused atoms to return into Unity, will be recognized, 
at once, as the principle of the Newtonian Gravity, what I have spoken of as a repulsive 
influence prescribing limits to the (immediate) satisfaction of the tendency, will be 
understood as that which we have been in the practice of designating now as heat, now as 
magnetism, now as electricity; displaying our ignorance of its awful character in the 
vacillation of the phraseology with which we endeavor to circumscribe it. 

Calling it, merely for the moment, electricity, we know that all experimental analysis of 
electricity has given, as an ultimate result, the principle, or seeming principle, 
heterogeneity. Only where things differ is electricity apparent; and it is presumable that 
they never differ where it is not developed at least, if not apparent. Now, this result is in 
the fullest keeping with that which I have reached unempirically. The design of the 
repulsive influence I have maintained to be that of preventing immediate Unity among 
the diffused atoms; and these atoms are represented as different each from each. 
Difference is their character — their essentiality —just as no-difference was the 
essentiality of their course. When we say, then, that an attempt to bring any two of these 
atoms together would induce an effort, on the part of the repulsive influence, to prevent 
the contact we may as well use the strictly convertible sentence that an attempt to bring 
together any two differences will result in a development of electricity. All existing 
bodies, of course, are composed of these atoms in proximate contact, and are therefore to 
be considered as mere assemblages of more or fewer differences; and the resistance made 
by the repulsive spirit, on bringing together any two such assemblages, would be in the 
ratio of the two sums of the differences in each: — an expression which, when reduced, is 
equivalent to this: —The amount of electricity developed on the approximation of two 
bodies, is proportional to the difference between the respective sums of the atoms of 
which the bodies are composed. That no two bodies are absolutely alike, is a simple 
corollary from all that has been here said. Electricity, therefore, existing always, is 
developed whenever any bodies, but manifested only when bodies of appreciable 
difference, are brought into approximation. 

To electricity — so, for the present, continuing to call it —we may not be wrong in 
referring the various physical appearances of light, heat and magnetism; but far less shall 
we be liable to err in attributing to this strictly spiritual principle the more important 
phaenomena of vitality, consciousness and Thought. On this topic, however, I need pause 
here merely to suggest that these phaenomena, whether observed generally or in detail, 
seem to proceed at least in the ratio of the heterogeneous. 



Discarding now the two equivocal terms, "gravitation" and "electricity," let us adopt the 
more definite expressions, "attraction" and "repulsion." The former is the body; the latter 
the soul: the one is the material; the other the spiritual, principle of the Universe. No 
other principles exist. All phaenomena are referable to one, or to the other, or to both 
combined. So rigorously is this the case —so thoroughly demonstrable is it that attraction 
and repulsion are the sole properties through which we perceive the Universe — in other 
words, by which Matter is manifested to Mind —that, for all merely argumentative 
purposes, we are fully justified in assuming that matter exists only as attraction and 
repulsion — that attraction and repulsion are matter: — there being no conceivable case in 
which we may not employ the term "matter" and the terms "attraction" and "repulsion," 
taken together, as equivalent, and therefore convertible, expressions in Logic. 

I said, just now, that what I have described as the tendency of the diffused atoms to return 
into their original unity, would be understood as the principle of the Newtonian law of 
gravity: and, in fact, there can be but little difficulty in such an understanding, if we look 
at the Newtonian gravity in a merely general view, as a force impelling matter to seek 
matter; that is to say, when we pay no attention to the known modus operandi of the 
Newtonian force. The general coincidence satisfies us; but, upon looking closely, we see, 
in detail, much that appears in coincident, and much in regard to which no coincidence, at 
least, is established. For example; the Newtonian gravity, when we think of it in certain 
moods, does not seem to be a tendency to oneness at all, but rather a tendency of all 
bodies in all directions —a phrase apparently expressive of a tendency to diffusion. Here, 
then, is an in coincidence. Again; when we reflect on the mathematical LAO governing 
the Newtonian tendency, we see clearly that no coincidence has been made good, in 
respect of the modus operandi, at least, between gravitation as known to exist and that 
seemingly simple and direct tendency which I have assumed. 

In fact, I have attained a point at which it will be advisable to strengthen my position by 
reversing my processes. So far, we have gone on a priori, from an abstract consideration 
of Simplicity, as that quality most likely to have characterized the original action of God. 
Let us now see whether the established facts of the Newtonian Gravitation may not afford 
us, a posteriori, some legitimate inductions. 

What does the Newtonian law declare? —That all bodies attract each other with forces 
proportional to their quantities of matter and inversely proportional to the squares of their 
distances. Purposely, I have here given, in the first place, the vulgar version of the law; 
and I confess that in this, as in most other vulgar versions of great truths, we find little of 
a suggestive character. Let us now adopt a more philosophical phraseology: —Every 
atom, of every body, attracts every other atom, both of its own and of every other body, 
with a force which varies inversely as the squares of the distances between the attracting 
and attracted atom. —Here, indeed, a flood of suggestion bursts upon the mind. 

But let us see distinctly what it was that Newton proved - according to the grossly 
irrational definitions of proof prescribed by the metaphysical schools. He was forced to 
content himself with showing how thoroughly the motions of an imaginary Universe, 
composed of attracting and attracted atoms obedient to the law he announced, coincide 



with those of the actually existing Universe so far as it comes under our observation. This 
was the amount of his demonstration —that is to say, this was the amount of it, according 
to the conventional cant of the "philosophies." His successes added proof multiplied by 
proof —such proof as a sound intellect admits —but the demonstration of the law itself, 
persist the metaphysicians, had not been strengthened in any degree. "Ocular, physical 
proof," however, of attraction, here upon Earth, in accordance with the Newtonian theory, 
was, at length, much to the satisfaction of some intellectual grovellers, afforded. This 
proof arose collaterally and incidentally (as nearly all important truths have arisen) out of 
an attempt to ascertain the mean density of the Earth. In the famous Maskelyne, 
Cavendish and Bailly experiments for this purpose, the attraction of the mass of a 
mountain was seen, felt, measured, and found to be mathematically consistent with the 
immortal theory of the British astronomer. 

But in spite of this confirmation of that which needed none — in spite of the so-called 
corroboration of the "theory" by the so-called "ocular and physical proof" —in spite of 
the character of this corroboration —the ideas which even really philosophical men 
cannot help imbibing of gravity —and, especially, the ideas of it which ordinary men get 
and contentedly maintain, are seen to have been derived, for the most part, from a 
consideration of the principle as they find it developed —merely in the planet upon which 
they stand. 

Now, to what does so partial a consideration tend —to what species of error does it give 
rise? On the Earth we see and feel, only that gravity impels all bodies towards the centre 
of the Earth. No man in the common walks of life could be made to see or feel anything 
else —could be made to perceive that anything, anywhere, has a perpetual, gravitating 
tendency in any other direction than to the centre of the Earth; yet (with an exception 
hereafter to be specified) it is a fact that every earthly thing (not to speak now of every 
heavenly thing) has a tendency not only to the Earth's centre but in every conceivable 
direction besides. 

Now, although the philosophic cannot be said to err with the vulgar in this matter, they 
nevertheless permit themselves to be influenced, without knowing it, by the sentiment of 
the vulgar idea. "Although the Pagan fables are not believed," says Bryant, in his very 
erudite "Mythology," "yet we forget ourselves continually and make inferences from 
them as from existing realities." I mean to assert that the merely sensitive perception of 
gravity as we experience it on Earth, beguiles mankind into the fancy of 
Concentralization or especiality respecting it —has been continually biasing towards this 
fancy even the mightiest intellects — perpetually, although imperceptibly, leading them 
away from the real characteristics of the principle; thus preventing them, up to this date, 
from ever getting a glimpse of that vital truth which lies in a diametrically opposite 
direction —behind the principle's essential characteristics —those, not of 
concentralization or especiality —but of universality and diffusion. This "vital truth" is 
Unity as the source of the phaenomenon. 



Let me now repeat the definition of gravity: —Every atom, of every body, attracts every 
other atom, both of its own and of every other body, with a force which varies inversely 
as the squares of the distances of the attracting and attracted atom. 

Here let the reader pause with me, for a moment, in contemplation of the miraculous — of 
the ineffable — of the altogether unimaginable complexity of relation involved in the fact 
that each atom attracts every other atom —involved merely in this fact of the attraction, 
without reference to the law or mode in which the attraction is manifested — involved 
merely in the fact that each atom attracts every other atom at all, in a wilderness of atoms 
so numerous that those which go to the composition of a cannon-ball, exceed, probably, 
in mere point of number, all the stars which go to the constitution of the Universe. 

Had we discovered, simply, that each atom tended to some one favorite point —to some 
especially attractive atom —we should still have fAUan upon a discovery which, in itself, 
would have sufficed to overwhelm the mind: —but what is it that we are actually called 
upon to comprehend? That each atom attracts —sympathizes with the most delicate 
movements of every other atom, and with each and with all at the same time, and forever, 
and according to a determinate law of which the complexity, even considered by itself 
solely, is utterly beyond the grasp of the imagination of man. If I propose to ascertain the 
influence of one mote in a sunbeam upon its neighboring mote, I cannot accomplish my 
purpose without first counting and weighing all the atoms in the Universe and defining 
the precise positions of all at one particular moment. If I venture to displace, by even the 
billionth part of an inch, the microscopical speck of dust which lies now upon the point of 
my finger, what is the character of that act upon which I have adventured? I have done a 
deed which shakes the Moon in her path, which causes the Sun to be no longer the Sun, 
and which alters forever the destiny of the multitudinous myriads of stars that roll and 
glow in the majestic presence of their Creator. 

These ideas —conceptions such as these — unthought-like thoughts - soul-reveries rather 
than conclusions or even considerations of the intellect: —ideas, I repeat, such as these, 
are such as we can alone hope profitably to entertain in any effort at grasping the great 
principle. Attraction. 

But now, —with such ideas —with such a vision of the marvellous complexity of 
Attraction fairly in his mind —let any person competent of thought on such topics as 
these, set himself to the task of imagining a principle for the phaenomena observed — a 
condition from which they sprang. 

Does not so evident a brotherhood among the atoms point to a common parentage? Does 
not a sympathy so omniprevalent, so ineradicable, and so thoroughly irrespective, suggest 
a common paternity as its source? Does not one extreme impel the reason to the other? 
Does not the infinitude of division refer to the utterness of individuality? Does not the 
entireness of the complex hint at the perfection of the simple? It is not that the atoms, as 
we see them, are divided or that they are complex in their relations — but that they are 
inconceivably divided and unutterably complex: — it is the extremeness of the conditions 
to which I now allude, rather than to the conditions themselves. In a word, not because 



the atoms were, at some remote epoch of time, even more than together — is it not 
because originally, and therefore normally, they were One — that now, in all 
circumstances —at all points —in all directions —by all modes of approach —in all 
relations and through all conditions —they struggle back to this absolutely, this 
irrelatively, this unconditionally one? 

Some person may here demand: —"Why —since it is to the One that the atoms struggle 
back — do we not find and define Attraction 'a merely general tendency to a centre?' — 
why, in especial, do not your atoms —the atoms which you describe as having been 
irradiated from a centre — proceed at once, rectilinearly, back to the central point of their 
origin?" 

I reply that they do; as will be distinctly shown; but that the cause of their so doing is 
quite irrespective of the centre as such. They all tend rectilinearly towards a centre, 
because of the sphereicity with which they have been irradiated into space. Each atom, 
forming one of a generally uniform globe of atoms, finds more atoms in the direction of 
the centre, of course, than in any other, and in that direction, therefore, is impelled —but 
is not thus impelled because the centre is the point of its origin. It is not to any point that 
the atoms are allied. It is not any locality, either in the concrete or in the abstract, to 
which I suppose them bound. Nothing like location was conceived as their origin. Their 
source lies in the principle. Unity. This is their lost parent. This they seek always — 
immediately —in all directions — wherever it is even partially to be found; thus 
appeasing, in some measure, the ineradicable tendency, while on the way to its absolute 
satisfaction in the end. It follows from all this, that any principle which shall be adequate 
to account for the LAO or modus operandi, of the attractive force in general, will account 
for this law in particular: — that is to say, any principle which will show why the atoms 
should tend to their general centre of irradiation with forces inversely proportional to the 
squares of the distances, will be admitted as satisfactorily accounting, at the same time, 
for the tendency, according to the same law, of these atoms each to each: — for the 
tendency to the centre is merely the tendency each to each, and not any tendency to a 
centre as such. —Thus it will be seen, also, that the establishment of my propositions 
would involve no necessity of modification in the terms of the Newtonian definition of 
Gravity, which declares that each atom attracts each other atom and so forth, and declares 
this merely; but (always under the supposition that what I propose be, in the end, 
admitted) it seems clear that some error might occasionally be avoided, in the future 
processes of Science, were a more ample phraseology adopted: —for instance: — "Each 
atom tends to every other atom &c. with a force &c.: the general result being a tendency 
of all, with a similar force, to a general centre." 

The reversal of our processes has thus brought us to an identical result; but, while in the 
one process intuition was the starting-point, in the other it was the goal. In commencing 
the former journey I could only say that, with an irresistable intuition, I felt Simplicity to 
have been the characteristic of the original action of God: — in ending the latter I can only 
declare that, with an irresistible intuition, I perceive Unity to have been the source of the 
observed phaenomena of the Newtonian gravitation. Thus, according to the schools, I 
prove nothing. So be it: —I design but to suggest-and to Convince through the suggestion. 



I am proudly aware that there exist many of the most profound and cautiously 
discriminative human intellects which cannot help being abundantly content with my — 
suggestions. To these intellects —as to my own —there is no mathematical demonstration 
which Could bring the least additional TRue proof of the great TRuth which I have 
advanced - the truth of Original Unity as the source —as the principle of the Universal 
Phaenomena. For my part, I am not sure that I speak and see —I am not so sure that my 
heart beats and that my soul lives: — of the rising of to-morrow's sun —a probability that 
as yet lies in the Future —I do not pretend to be one thousandth part as sure —as I am of 
the irretrievably by-gone Fact that All Things and All Thoughts of Things, with all their 
ineffable Multiplicity of Relation, sprang at once into being from the primordial and 
irrelative One. 

Referring to the Newtonian Gravity, Dr. Nichol, the eloquent author of "The Architecture 
of the Heavens," says: —"In truth we have no reason to suppose this great Law, as now 
revealed, to be the ultimate or simplest, and therefore the universal and all- 
comprehensive, form of a great Ordinance. The mode in which its intensity diminishes 
with the element of distance, has not the aspect of an ultimate principle; which always 
assumes the simplicity and self-evidence of those axioms which constitute the basis of 
Geometry." 

Now, it is quite true that "ultimate principles," in the common understanding of the 
words, always assume the simplicity of geometrical axioms —(as for "self-evidence," 
there is no such thing) — but these principles are clearly not "ultimate;" in other terms 
what we are in the habit of calling principles are no principles, properly speaking —since 
there can be but one principle, the Volition of God. We have no right to assume, then, 
from what we observe in rules that we choose foolishly to name "principles," anything at 
all in respect to the characteristics of a principle proper. The "ultimate principles" of 
which Dr. Nichol speaks as having geometrical simplicity, may and do have this 
geometrical turn, as being part and parcel of a vast geometrical system, and thus a system 
of simplicity itself —in which, nevertheless, the TRuly ultimate principle is, as we know, 
the consummation of the complex — that is to say, of the unintelligible — for is it not the 
Spiritual Capacity of God? 

I quoted Dr. Nichol's remark, however, not so much to question its philosophy, as by way 
of calling attention to the fact that, while all men have admitted some principle as 
existing behind the Law of Gravity, no attempt has been yet made to point out what this 
principle in particular is: —if we except, perhaps, occasional fantastic efforts at referring 
it to Magnetism, or Mesmerism, or Swedenborgianism, or Transcendentalism, or some 
other equally delicious ism of the same species, and invariably patronized by one and the 
same species of people. The great mind of Newton, while boldly grasping the Law itself, 
shrank from the principle of the Law. The more fluent and comprehensive at least, if not 
the more patient and profound, sagacity of Laplace, had not the courage to attack it. But 
hesitation on the part of these two astronomers it is, perhaps, not so very difficult to 
understand. They, as well as all the first class of mathematicians, were mathematicians 
solely: — their intellect, at least, had a firmly-pronounced mathematico-physical tone. 
What lay not distinctly within the domain of Physics, or of Mathematics, seemed to them 



either Non-Entity or Shadow. Nevertheless, we may well wonder that Leibnitz, who was 
a marked exception to the general rule in these respects, and whose mental temperament 
was a singular admixture of the mathematical with the physico-metaphysical, did not at 
once investigate and establish the point at issue. Either Newton or Laplace, seeking a 
principle and discovering none physical, would have rested contentedly in the conclusion 
that there was absolutely none; but it is almost impossible to fancy, of Leibnitz, that, 
having exhausted in his search the physical dominions, he would not have stepped at 
once, boldly and hopefully, amid his old familiar haunts in the kingdom of Metaphysics. 
Here, indeed, it is clear that he must have adventured in search of the treasure: —that he 
did not find it after all, was, perhaps, because his fairy guide. Imagination, was not 
sufficiently well-grown, or well-educated, to direct him aright. 

I observed, just now, that, in fact, there had been certain vague attempts at referring 
Gravity to some very uncertain isms. These attempts, however, although considered bold 
and justly so considered, looked no farther than to the generality —the merest generality - 
-of the Newtonian Law. Its modus operandi has never, to my knowledge, been 
approached in the way of an effort at explanation. It is, therefore, with no unwarranted 
fear of being taken for a madman at the outset, and before I can bring my propositions 
fairly to the eye of those who alone are competent to decide upon them, that I here 
declare the modus operandi of the Law of Gravity to be an exceedingly simple and 
perfectly explicable thing —that is to say, when we make our advances towards it in just 
gradations and in the true direction —when we regard it from the proper point of view. 

Whether we reach the idea of absolute Unity as the source of All Things, from a 
consideration of Simplicity as the most probable characteristic of the original action of 
God; — whether we arrive at it from an inspection of the universality of relation in the 
gravitating phaenomena; —or whether we attain it as a result of the mutual corroboration 
afforded by both processes; —still, the idea itself, if entertained at all, is entertained in 
inseparable connection with another idea — that of the condition of the Universe of stars 
as we now perceive it —that is to say, a condition of immeasurable diffusion through 
space. Now a connection between these two ideas —unity and diffusion —cannot be 
established unless through the entertainment of a third idea —that of irradiation. Absolute 
Unity being taken as a centre, then the existing Universe of stars is the result of 
irradiation from that centre. 

Now, the laws of irradiation are known. They are part and parcel of the sphere. They 
belong to the class of indisputable geometrical properties. We say of them, "they are true 
—they are evident." To demand why they are true, would be to demand why the axioms 
are true upon which their demonstration is based. Nothing is demonstrable, strictly 
speaking; but if anything be, then the properties —the laws in question are demonstrated. 

But these laws —what do they declare? Irradiation —how —by what steps does it proceed 
outwardly from a centre? 

From a luminous centre. Light issues by irradiation; and the quantities of light received 
upon any given plane, supposed to be shifting its position so as to be now nearer the 



centre and now farther from it, will be diminished in the same proportion as the squares 
of the distances of the plane from the lumimous body, are increased; and will be 
increased in the same proportion as these squares are diminished. 

The expression of the law may be thus generalized: — the number of light-particles (or, if 
the phrase be preferred, the number of light-impressions) received upon the shifting 
plane, will be inversely proportional with the squares of the distances of the plane. 
Generalizing yet again, we may say that the diffusion —the scattering —the irradiation, in 
a word —is directly proportional with the squares of the distances. 

For example: at the distance B, from the luminous centre A, a certain number of particles 
are so diffused as to occupy the surface B (see illustration). Then at double the distance - 
-that is to say at C —they will be so much farther diffused as to occupy four such 
surfaces: —at treble the distance, or at D, they will be so much farther separated as to 
occupy nine such surfaces: —while, at quadruple the distance, or at E, they will have 
become so scattered as to spread themselves over sixteen such surfaces —and so on 
forever. 

In saying, generally, that the irradiation proceeds in direct proportion with the squares of 
the distances, we use the term irradiation to express the degree of the diffusion as we 
proceed outwardly from the centre. Conversing the idea, and employing the word 
"concentralization" to express the degree of the drawing together as we come back 
toward the centre from an outward position, we may say that concentralization proceeds 
inversely as the squares of the distances. In other words, we have reached the conclusion 
that, on the hypothesis that matter was originally irradiated from a centre and is now 
returning to it, the concentralization, in the return, proceeds exactly as we know the force 
of gravitation to proceed. 

Now here, if we could be permitted to assume that concentralization exactly represented 
the force of the tendency to the centre — that the one was exactly proportional to the 
other, and that the two proceeded together —we should have shown all that is required. 
The sole difficulty existing, then, is to establish a direct proportion between 
"concentralization" and the force of concentralization; and this is done, of course, if we 
establish such proportion between "irradiation" and the force of irradiation. 

A very slight inspection of the Heavens assures us that the stars have a certain general 
uniformity, equability, or equidistance, of distribution through that region of space in 
which, collectively, and in a roughly globular form, they are situated: —this species of 
very general, rather than absolute, equability, being in full keeping with my deduction of 
inequidistance, within certain limits, among the originally diffused atoms, as a corollary 
from the evident design of infinite complexity of relation out of irrelation. I started, it will 
be remembered, with the idea of a generally uniform but particularly un uniform 
distribution of the atoms; —an idea, I repeat, which an inspection of the stars, as they 
exist, confirms. 



But even in the merely general equability of distribution, as regards the atoms, there 
appears a difficulty which, no doubt, has already suggested itself to those among my 
readers who have borne in mind that I suppose this equability of distribution effected 
through irradiation from a centre. The very first glance at the idea, irradiation, forces us 
to the entertainment of the hitherto unseparated and seemingly inseparable idea of 
agglomeration about a centre, with dispersion as we recede from it —the idea, in a word, 
of in equability of distribution in respect to the matter irradiated. 

Now, I have elsewhere * observed that it is by just such difficulties as the one now in 
question —such roughnesses —such peculiarities —such protuberances above the plane of 
the ordinary — that Reason feels her way, if at all, in her search for the True. By the 
difficulty — the "peculiarity" —now presented, I leap at once to the secret — a secret which 
I might never have attained but for the peculiarity and the inferences which, in its mere 
character of peculiarity, it affords me. 

* "Murders in the Rue Morgue." 

The process of thought, at this point, may be thus roughly sketched: —I say to myself — 
"Unity, as I have explained it, is a truth —I feel it. Diffusion is a truth —I see it. 
Irradiation, by which alone these two truths are reconciled, is a consequent truth - I 
perceive it. Equability of diffusion, first deduced a priori and then corroborated by the 
inspection of phaenomena, is also a truth — I fully admit it. So far all is clear around me: - 
-there are no clouds behind which the secret — the great secret of the gravitating modus 
operandi —can possibly lie hidden; —but this secret lies hereabouts, most assuredly; and 
were there but a cloud in view, I should be driven to suspicion of that cloud." And now, 
just as I say this, there actually comes a cloud into view. This cloud is the seeming 
impossibility of reconciling my truth, irradiation, with my truth, equability of diffusion. I 
say now: —"Behind this seeming impossibility is to be found what I desire." I do not say 
"real impossibility;" for invincible faith in my truths assures me that it is a mere difficulty 
after all —but I go on to say, with unflinching confidence, that, when this difficulty shall 
be solved, we shall find, wrapped up in the recess of solution, the key to the secret at 
which we aim. Moreover — I feel that we shall discover but one possible solution of the 
difficulty; this for the reason that, were there two, one would be supererogatory —would 
be fruitless —would be empty —would contain no key —since no duplicate key can be 
needed to any secret of Nature. 

And now, let us see: —Our usual notions of irradiation —in fact our distinct notions of it - 
-are caught merely from the process as we see it exemplified in Light. Here there is a 
Continuous outpouring of ray- streams, and with a force which we have at least no right to 
suppose varies at all. Now, in any such irradiation as this —continuous and of unvarying 
force —the regions nearer the centre must inevitably be always more crowded with the 
irradiated matter than the regions more remote. But I have assumed no such irradiation as 
this. I assumed no Continuous irradiation; and for the simple reason that such an 
assumption would have involved, first, the necessity of entertaining a conception which I 
have shown no man can entertain, and which (as I will more fully explain hereafter) all 
observation of the firmament refutes —the conception of the absolute infinity of the 



Universe of stars —and would have involved, secondly, the impossibility of 
understanding a reaction - that is, gravitation —as existing now —since, while an act is 
continued, no reaction, of course, can take place. My assumption, then, or rather my 
inevitable deduction from just premises —was that of a determinate irradiation —one 
finally dis continued. 

Let me now describe the sole possible mode in which it is conceivable that matter could 
have been diffused through space, so as to fulfil the conditions at once of irradiation and 
of generally equable distribution. 

For convenience of illustration, let us imagine, in the first place, a hollow sphere of glass, 
or of anything else, occupying the space throughout which the universal matter is to be 
thus equally diffused, by means of irradiation, from the absolute, irrelative, unconditional 
particle, placed in the centre of the sphere. 

Now, a certain exertion of the diffusive power (presumed to be the Divine Volition) — in 
other words, a certain force —whose measure is the quantity of matter —that is to say, the 
number of atoms — emitted; emits, by irradiation, this certain number of atoms; forcing 
them in all directions outwardly from the centre — their proximity to each other 
diminishing as they proceed —until, finally, they are distributed, loosely, over the interior 
surface of the sphere. 

When these atoms have attained this position, or while proceeding to attain it, a second 
and inferior exercise of the same force — or a second and inferior force of the same 
character —emits, in the same manner —that is to say, by irradiation as before —a second 
stratum of atoms which proceeds to deposit itself upon the first; the number of atoms, in 
this case as in the former, being of course the measure of the force which emitted them; 
in other words the force being precisely adapted to the purpose it effects —the force and 
the number of atoms sent out by the force, being directly proportional. 

When this second stratum has reached its destined position —or while approaching it —a 
third still inferior exertion of the force, or a third inferior force of a similar character — 
the number of atoms emitted being in cases the measure of the force — proceeds to 
deposit a third stratum upon the second: —and so on, until these concentric strata, 
growing gradually less and less, come down at length to the central point; and the 
diffusive matter, simultaneously with the diffusive force, is exhausted. 

We have now the sphere filled, through means of irradiation, with atoms equably 
diffused. The two necessary conditions —those of irradiation and of equable diffusion — 
are satisfied; and by the sole process in which the possibility of their simultaneous 
satisfaction is conceivable. For this reason, I confidently expect to find, lurking in the 
present condition of the atoms as distributed throughout the sphere, the secret of which I 
am in search —the all-important principle of the modus operandi of the Newtonian law. 
Let us examine, then, the actual condition of the atoms. 



They lie in a series of concentric strata. They are equably diffused throughout the sphere. 
They have been irradiated into these states. 

The atoms being equably distributed, the greater the superficial extent of any of these 
concentric strata, or spheres, the more atoms will lie upon it. In other words, the number 
of atoms lying upon the surface of any one of the concentric spheres, is directly 
proportional with the extent of that surface. 

But, in any series of concentric spheres, the surfaces are directly proportional with the 
squares of the distances from the centre. * 

* Succinctly —The surfaces of spheres are as the squares of their radii. 

Therefore the number of atoms in any stratum is directly proportional with the square of 
that stratum's distance from the centre. 

But the number of atoms in any stratum is the measure of the force which emitted that 
stratum —that is to say, is directly proportional with the force. 

Therefore the force which irradiated any stratum is directly proportional with the square 
of that stratum's distance from the centre: —or, generally. 

The force of the irradiation has been directly proportional with the squares of the 
distances. 

Now, Reaction, as far as we know any thing of it, is Action conversed. The general 
principle of Gravity being, in the first place, understood as the reaction of an act —as the 
expression of a desire on the part of Matter, while existing in a state of diffusion, to 
return into the Unity whence it was diffused; and, in the second place, the mind being 
called upon to determine the character of the desire — the manner in which it would, 
naturally, be manifested; in other words, being called upon to conceive a probable law, or 
modus operandi, for the return; could not well help arriving at the conclusion that this law 
of return would be precisely the converse of the law of departure. That such would be the 
case, any one, at least, would be abundantly justified in taking for granted, until such time 
as some person should suggest something like a plausible reason why it should not be the 
case —until such a period as a law of return shall be imagined which the intellect can 
consider as preferable. 

Matter, then, irradiated into space with a force varying as the squares of the distances, 
might, a priori, be supposed to return towards its centre of irradiation with a force varying 
inversely as the squares of the distances: and I have already shown * that any principle 
which will explain why the atoms should tend, according to any law, to the general 
centre, must be admitted as satisfactorily explaining, at the same time, why, according to 
the same law, they should tend each to each. For, in fact, the tendency to the general 
centre is not to a centre as such, but because of its being a point in tending towards which 



each atom tends most directly to its real and essential centre, Unity —the absolute and 
final Union of all. 

* See previous paragraph, "I reply that they do; as will be distinctly..." 

The consideration here involved presents to my own mind no embarrassment whatever — 
but this fact does not blind me to the possibility of its being obscure to those who may 
have been less in the habit of dealing with abstractions: —and, upon the whole, it may be 
as well to look at the matter from one or two other points of view. 

The absolute, irrelative particle primarily created by the Volition of God, must have been 
in a condition of positive normality, or rightfulness —for wrongfulness implies relation. 
Right is positive; wrong is negative —is merely the negation of right; as cold is the 
negation of heat —darkness of light. That a thing may be wrong, it is necessary that there 
be some other thing in relation to which it is wrong — some condition which it fails to 
satisfy; some law which it violates; some being whom it aggrieves. If there be no such 
being, law, or condition, in respect to which the thing is wrong — and, still more 
especially, if no beings, laws, or conditions exist at all —then the thing cannot be wrong 
and consequently must be right. Any deviation from normality involves a tendency to 
return to it. A difference from the normal —from the right — from the just — can be 
understood as effected only by the overcoming a difficulty; and if the force which 
overcomes the difficulty be not infinitely continued, the ineradicable tendency to return 
will at length be permitted to act for its own satisfaction. Upon withdrawal of the force, 
the tendency acts. This is the principle of reaction as the inevitable consequence of finite 
action. Employing a phraseology of which the seeming affectation will be pardoned for 
its expressiveness, we may say that Reaction is the return from the condition of as it is 
and ought not to be into the condition of as it was, originally, and therefore ought to be: - 
-and let me add here that the absolute force of Reaction would no doubt be always found 
in direct proportion with the reality — the truth —the absoluteness —of the originality —if 
ever it were possible to measure this latter: —and, consequently, the greatest of all 
conceivable reactions must be that produced by the tendency which we now discuss —the 
tendency to return into the absolutely original —into the supremely primitive. Gravity, 
then, must be the strongest of forces —an idea reached a priori and abundantly confirmed 
by induction. What use I make of the idea, will be seen in the sequel. 

The atoms, now, having been diffused from their normal condition of Unity, seek to 
return to —what? Not to any particular point, certainly; for it is clear that if, upon the 
diffusion, the whole Universe of matter had been projected, collectively, to a distance 
from the point of irradiation, the atomic tendency to the general centre of the sphere 
would not have been disturbed in the least: — the atoms would not have sought the point 
in absolute space from which they were originally impelled. It is merely the Condition, 
and not the point or locality at which this condition took its rise, that these atoms seek to 
re-establish; — it is merely that condition which is their normality, that they desire. "But 
they seek a centre," it will be said, "and a centre is a point." True; but they seek this point 
not in its character of point — (for, were the whole sphere moved from its position, they 
would seek, equally, the centre; and the centre then would be a new point) —but because 



it so happens, on account of the form in which they collectively exist — (that of the 
sphere) — that only through the point in question — the sphere's centre — they can attain 
their true object, Unity. In the direction of the centre each atom perceives more atoms 
than in any other direction. Each atom is impelled towards the centre because along the 
straight line joining it and the centre and passing on to the circumference beyond, there 
lie a greater number of atoms than along any other straight line — a greater number of 
objects that seek it, the individual atom —a greater number of tendencies to Unity —a 
greater number of satisfactions for its own tendency to Unity —in a word, because in the 
direction of the centre lies the utmost possibility of satisfaction, generally, for its own 
individual appetite. To be brief, the Condition, Unity, is all that is really sought; and if the 
atoms seem to seek the centre of the sphere, it is only impliedly, through implication — 
because such centre happens to imply, to include, or to involve, the only essential centre. 
Unity. But on account of this implication or involution, there is no possibility of 
practically separating the tendency to Unity in the abstract, from the tendency to the 
concrete centre. Thus the tendency of the atoms to the general centre is, to all practical 
intents and for all logical purposes, the tendency each to each; and the tendency each to 
each is the tendency to the centre; and the one tendency may be assumed as the other; 
whatever will apply to the one must be thoroughly applicable to the other; and, in 
conclusion, whatever principle will satisfactorily explain the one, cannot be questioned as 
an explanation of the other. 

In looking carefully around me for rational objection to what I have advanced, I am able 
to discover nothing; —but of that class of objections usually urged by the doubters for 
Doubt's sake, I very readily perceive three; and proceed to dispose of them in order. 

It may be said, first: "The proof that the force of irradiation (in the case described) is 
directly proportional to the squares of the distances, depends upon an unwarranted 
assumption —that of the number of atoms in each stratum being the measure of the force 
with which they are emitted." 

I reply, not only that I am warranted in such assumption, but that I should be utterly un 
warranted in any other. What I assume is, simply, that an effect is the measure of its 
cause — that every exercise of the Divine Will will be proportional to that which demands 
the exertion —that the means of Omnipotence, or of Omniscience, will be exactly adapted 
to its purposes. Neither can a deficiency nor an excess of cause bring to pass any effect. 
Had the force which irradiated any stratum to its position, been either more or less than 
was needed for the purpose —that is to say, not directly proportional to the purpose — 
then to its position that stratum could not have been irradiated. Had the force which, with 
a view to general equability of distribution, emitted the proper number of atoms for each 
stratum, been not directly proportional to the number, then the number would not have 
been the number demanded for the equable distribution. 

The second supposable objection is somewhat better entitled to an answer. 

It is an admitted principle in Dynamics that every body, on receiving an impulse, or 
disposition to move, will move onward in a straight line, in the direction imparted by the 



impelling force, until deflected, or stopped, by some other force. How then, it may be 
asked, is my first or external stratum of atoms to be understood as discontinuing their 
movement at the circumference of the imaginary glass sphere, when no second force, of 
more than an imaginary character, appears, to account for the discontinuance? 

I reply that the objection, in this case, actually does arise out of "an unwarranted 
assumption" —on the part of the objector —the assumption of a principle, in Dynamics, at 
an epoch when no "principles," in anything, exist: — I use the word "principle," of course, 
in the objector's understanding of the word. 

"In the beginning" we can admit —indeed we can comprehend — but one First Cause — 
the truly ultimate Principle —the Volition of God. The primary act — that of Irradiation 
from Unity — must have been independent of all that which the world now calls 
"principle" —because all that we so designate is but a consequence of the reaction of that 
primary act: —I say "primary" act; for the creation of the absolute material particle is 
more properly to be regarded as a Conception than as an "act" in the ordinary meaning of 
the term. Thus, we must regard the primary act as an act for the establishment of what we 
now call "principles". But this primary act itself is to be considered as Continuous 
Volition. The Thought of God is to be understood as originating the Diffusion —as 
proceeding with it —as regulating it —and, finally, as being withdrawn from it upon its 
completion. Then commences Reaction, and through Reaction, "Principle," as we employ 
the word. It will be advisable, however, to limit the application of this word to the two 
immediate results of the discontinuance of the Divine Volition — that is, to the two 
agents. Attraction and Repulsion. Every other Natural agent depends, either more or less 
immediately, upon these two, and therefore would be more conveniently designated as 
sub -principle. 

It may be objected, thirdly, that, in general, the peculiar mode of distribution which I 
have suggested for the atoms, is "an hypothesis and nothing more." 

Now, I am aware that the word hypothesis is a ponderous sledge-hammer, grasped 
immediately, if not lifted, by all very diminutive thinkers, upon the first appearance of 
any proposition wearing, in any particular, the garb of a theory. But "hypothesis" cannot 
be wielded here to any good purpose, even by those who succeed in lifting it —little men 
or great. 

I maintain, first, that only in the mode described is it conceivable that Matter could have 
been diffused so as to fulfil at once the conditions of irradiation and of generally equable 
distribution. I maintain, secondly, that these conditions themselves have been imposed 
upon me, as necessities, in a train of ratiocination as rigorously logical as that which 
establishes any demonstration in Euclid; and I maintain, thirdly, that even if the charge of 
"hypothesis" were as fully sustained as it is, in fact, unsustained and untenable, still the 
validity and indisputability of my result would not, even in the slightest particular, be 
disturbed. 



To explain: The Newtonian Gravity —a law of Nature —a law whose existence as such 
no one out of Bedlam questions —a law whose admission as such enables us to account 
for nine-tenths of the Universal phaenomena —a law which, merely because it does so 
enable us to account for these phaenomena, we are perfectly willing, without reference to 
any other considerations, to admit, and cannot help admitting, as a law —a law, 
nevertheless, of which neither the principle nor the modus operandi of the principle, has 
ever yet been traced by the human analysis —a law, in short, which, neither in its detail 
nor in its generality, has been found susceptible of explanation at all —is at length seen to 
be at every point thoroughly explicable, provided we only yield our assent to —what? To 
an hypothesis? Why if an hypothesis —if the merest hypothesis —if an hypothesis for 
whose assumption —as in the case of that pure hypothesis the Newtonian law itself —no 
shadow of a priori reason could be assigned —if an hypothesis, even so absolute as all 
this implies, would enable us to perceive a principle for the Newtonian law —would 
enable us to understand as satisfied, conditions so miraculously —so ineffably complex 
and seemingly irreconcileable as those involved in the relations of which Gravity tells us, 
—what rational being Could so expose his fatuity as to call even this absolute hypothesis 
an hypothesis any longer —unless, indeed, he were to persist in so calling it, with the 
understanding that he did so, simply for the sake of consistency in words? 

But what is the true state of our present case? What is the fact? Not only that it is not an 
hypothesis which we are required to adopt, in order to admit the principle at issue 
explained, but that it is a logical conclusion which we are requested not to adopt if we can 
avoid it —which we are simply invited to deny if we can: —a conclusion of so accurate a 
logicality that to dispute it would be the effort —to doubt its validity beyond our power: - 
-a conclusion from which we see no mode of escape, turn as we will; a result which 
confronts us either at the end of an in ductive journey from the phaenomena of the very 
Law discussed, or at the close of a de ductive career from the most rigorously simple of 
all conceivable assumptions —the assumption, in a word, of Simplicity itself. 

And if here, for the mere sake of cavilling, it be urged, that although my starting-point is, 
as I assert, the assumption of absolute Simplicity, yet Simplicity, considered merely in 
itself, is no axiom; and that only deductions from axioms are indisputable —it is thus that 
I reply: — 

Every other science than Logic is the science of certain concrete relations. Arithmetic, for 
example, is the science of the relations of number — Geometry, of the relations of form — 
Mathematics in general, of the relations of quantity in general — of whatever can be 
increased or diminished. Logic, however, is the science of Relation in the abstract — of 
absolute Relation — of Relation considered solely in itself. An axiom in any particular 
science other than Logic is, thus, merely a proposition announcing certain concrete 
relations which seem to be too obvious for dispute —as when we say, for instance, that 
the whole is greater than its part: —and, thus again, the principle of the Logical axiom — 
in other words, of an axiom in the abstract — is, simply, obviousness of relation. Now, it 
is clear, not only that what is obvious to one mind may not be obvious to another, but that 
what is obvious to one mind at one epoch, may be anything but obvious, at another 
epoch, to the same mind. It is clear, moreover, that what, to-day, is obvious even to the 



majority of mankind, or to the majority of the best intellects of mankind, may to-morrow 
be, to either majority, more or less obvious, or in no respect obvious at all. It is seen, 
then, that the axiomatic principle itself is susceptible of variation, and of course that 
axioms are susceptible of similar change. Being mutable, the "truths" which grow out of 
them are necessarily mutable too; or, in other words, are never to be positively depended 
upon as truths at all —since Truth and Immutability are one. 

It will now be readily understood that no axiomatic idea —no idea founded in the 
fluctuating principle, obviousness of relation —can possibly be so secure —so reliable a 
basis for any structure erected by the Reason, as that idea —(whatever it is, wherever we 
can find it, or if it be practicable to find it anywhere) — which is ir relative altogether — 
which not only presents to the understanding no obviousness of relation, either greater or 
less, to be considered, but subjects the intellect, not in the slightest degree, to the 
necessity of even looking at any relation at all. If such an idea be not what we too 
heedlessly term "an axiom," it is at least preferable, as a Logical basis, to any axiom ever 
propounded, or to all imaginable axioms combined: —and such, precisely, is the idea with 
which my deductive process, so thoroughly corroborated by induction, commences. My 
particle proper is but absolute Irrelation. To sum up what has been advanced: —As a 
starting point I have taken it for granted, simply, that the Beginning had nothing behind it 
or before it —that it was a Beginning in fact —that it was a beginning and nothing 
different from a beginning —in short, that this Beginning was —that which it was. If this 
be a "mere assumption" then a "mere assumption" let it be. 

To conclude this branch of the subject: —I am fully warranted in announcing that the 
Law which we have been in the habit of calling Gravity exists on account of Matter's 
having been irradiated, at its origin, atomically, into a limited * sphere of Space, from 
one, individual, unconditional, irrelative, and absolute Particle Proper, by the sole process 
in which it was possible to satisfy, at the same time, the two conditions, irradiation, and 
generally-equable distribution throughout the sphere —that is to say, by a force varying in 
direct proportion with the squares of the distances between the irradiated atoms, 
respectively, and the Particular centre of Irradiation. 

* "Limited sphere" —A sphere is necessarily limited. I prefer tautology to a chance of 
misconception. 

I have already given my reasons for presuming Matter to have been diffused by a 
determinate rather than by a continuous or infinitely continued force. Supposing a 
continuous force, we should be unable, in the first place, to comprehend a reaction at all; 
and we should be required, in the second place, to entertain the impossible conception of 
an infinite extension of Matter. Not to dwell upon the impossibility of the conception, the 
infinite extension of Matter is an idea which, if not positively disproved, is at least not in 
any respect warranted by telescopic observation of the stars —a point to be explained 
more fully hereafter; and this empirical reason for believing in the original finity of 
Matter is unempirically confirmed. For example: —Admitting, for the moment, the 
possibility of understanding Space filled with the irradiated atoms —that is to say, 
admitting, as well as we can, for argument's sake, that the succession of the irradiated 



atoms had absolutely no end —then it is abundantly clear that, even when the Volition of 
God had been withdrawn from them, and thus the tendency to return into Unity permitted 
(abstractly) to be satisfied, this permission would have been nugatory and invalid — 
practically valueless and of no effect whatever. No Reaction could have taken place; no 
movement toward Unity could have been made; no Law of Gravity could have obtained. 

To explain: —Grant the abstract tendency of any one atom to any one other as the 
inevitable result of diffusion from the normal Unity: —or, what is the same thing, admit 
any given atom as proposing to move in any given direction —it is clear that, since there 
is an infinity of atoms on all sides of the atom proposing to move, it never can actually 
move toward the satisfaction of its tendency in the direction given, on account of a 
precisely equal and counter-balancing tendency in the direction diametrically opposite. In 
other words, exactly as many tendencies to Unity are behind the hesitating atom as before 
it; for it is a mere sotticism to say that one infinite line is longer or shorter than another 
infinite line, or that one infinite number is greater or less than another number that is 
infinite. Thus the atom in question must remain stationary forever. Under the impossible 
circumstances which we have been merely endeavoring to conceive for argument's sake, 
there could have been no aggregation of Matter —no stars —no worlds —nothing but a 
perpetually atomic and inconsequential Universe. In fact, view it as we will, the whole 
idea of unlimited Matter is not only untenable, but impossible and preposterous. 

With the understanding of a sphere of atoms, however, we perceive, at once, a satisfiable 
tendency to union. The general result of the tendency each to each, being a tendency of 
all to the centre, the general process of condensation, or approximation, commences 
immediately, by a common and simultaneous movement, on withdrawal of the Divine 
Volition; the individual approximations, or coalescences-not coalitions —of atom with 
atom, being subject to almost infinite variations of time, degree, and condition, on 
account of the excessive multiplicity of relation, arising from the differences of form 
assumed as characterizing the atoms at the moment of their quitting the Particle Proper; 
as well as from the subsequent particular inequidistance, each from each. 

What I wish to impress upon the reader is the certainty of there arising, at once, (on 
withdrawal of the diffusive force, or Divine Volition,) out of the condition of the atoms 
as described, at innumerable points throughout the Universal sphere, innumerable 
agglomerations, characterized by innumerable specific differences of form, size, essential 
nature, and distance each from each. The development of Repulsion (Electricity) must 
have commenced, of course, with the very earliest particular efforts at Unity, and must 
have proceeded constantly in the ratio of Coalescence —that is to say, in that of 
Condensation, or, again, of Heterogeneity. 

Thus the two Principles Proper, Attraction and Repulsion —the Material and the Spiritual 
— accompany each other, in the strictest fellowship, forever. Thus The Body and The 
Soul walk hand in hand. 

If now, in fancy, we select any one of the agglomerations considered as in their primary 
stages throughout the Universal sphere, and suppose this incipient agglomeration to be 



taking place at that point where the centre of our Sun exists —or rather where it did exist 
originally; for the Sun is perpetually shifting his position —we shall find ourselves met, 
and borne onward for a time at least, by the most magnificent of theories —by the 
Nebular Cosmogony of Laplace: — although "Cosmogony" is far too comprehensive a 
term for what he really discusses —which is the constitution of our solar system alone — 
of one among the myriad of similar systems which make up the Universe Proper — that 
Universal sphere —that all-inclusive and absolute Kosmos which forms the subject of my 
present Discourse. 

Confining himself to an obviously limited region —that of our solar system with its 
comparatively immediate vicinity —and merely assuming —that is to say, assuming 
without any basis whatever, either deductive or inductive —much of what I have been 
just endeavoring to place upon a more stable basis than assumption; assuming, for 
example, matter as diffused (without pretending to account for the diffusion) throughout, 
and somewhat beyond, the space occupied by our system —diffused in a state of 
heterogeneous nebulosity and obedient to that omniprevalent law of Gravity at whose 
principle he ventured to make no guess; —assuming all this (which is quite true, although 
he had no logical right to its assumption) Laplace has shown, dynamically and 
mathematically, that the results in such case necessarily ensuing, are those and those 
alone which we find manifested in the actually existing condition of the system itself. 

To explain: —Let us conceive that particular agglomeration of which we have just spoken 
—the one at the point designated by our Sun's centre —to have so far proceeded that a 
vast quantity of nebulous matter has here assumed a roughly globular form; its centre 
being, of course, coincident with what is now, or rather was originally, the centre of our 
Sun; and its periphery extending out beyond the orbit of Neptune, the most remote of our 
planets: —in other words, let us suppose the diameter of this rough sphere to be some 
6000 millions of miles. For ages, this mass of matter has been undergoing condensation, 
until at length it has become reduced into the bulk we imagine; having proceeded 
gradually, of course, from its atomic and imperceptible state, into what we understand of 
visible, palpable, or otherwise appreciable nebulosity. 

Now, the condition of this mass implies a rotation about an imaginary axis —a rotation 
which, commencing with the absolute incipiency of the aggregation, has been ever since 
acquiring velocity. The very first two atoms which met, approaching each other from 
points not diametrically opposite, would, in rushing partially past each other, form a 
nucleus for the rotary movement described. How this would increase in velocity, is 
readily seen. The two atoms are joined by others: —an aggregation is formed. The mass 
continues to rotate while condensing. But any atom at the circumference has, of course, a 
more rapid motion than one nearer the centre. The outer atom, however, with its superior 
velocity, approaches the centre; carrying this superior velocity with it as it goes. Thus 
every atom, proceeding inwardly, and finally attaching itself to the condensed centre, 
adds something to the original velocity of that centre —that is to say, increases the rotary 
movement of the mass. 



Let us now suppose this mass so far condensed that it occupies precisely the space 
circumscribed by the orbit of Neptune, and that the velocity with which the surface of the 
mass moves, in the general rotation, is precisely that velocity with which Neptune now 
revolves about the Sun. At this epoch, then, we are to understand that the constantly 
increasing centrifugal force, having gotten the better of the non-increasing centripetal, 
loosened and separated the exterior and least condensed stratum, or a few of the exterior 
and least condensed strata, at the equator of the sphere, where the tangential velocity 
predominated; so that these strata formed about the main body an independent ring 
encircling the equatorial regions: —just as the exterior portion thrown off, by excessive 
velocity of rotation, from a grindstone, would form a ring about the grindstone, but for 
the solidity of the superficial material: were this caoutchouc, or anything similar in 
consistency, precisely the phaenomenon I describe would be presented. 

The ring thus whirled from the nebulous mass, revolved, of course, as a separate ring, 
with just that velocity with which, while the surface of the mass, it rotated. In the 
meantime, condensation still proceeding, the interval between the discharged ring and the 
main body continued to increase, until the former was left at a vast distance from the 
latter. 

Now, admitting the ring to have possessed, by some seemingly accidental arrangement of 
its heterogeneous materials, a constitution nearly uniform, then this ring, as such, would 
never have ceased revolving about its primary; but, as might have been anticipated, there 
appears to have been enough irregularity in the disposition of the materials, to make them 
cluster about centres of superior solidity; and thus the annular form was destroyed. * No 
doubt, the band was soon broken up into several portions, and one of these portions, 
predominating in mass, absorbed the others into itself; the whole settling, spherically, 
into a planet. That this latter, as a planet, continued the revolutionary movement which 
characterized it while a ring, is sufficiently clear; and that it took upon itself, also, an 
additional movement in its new condition of sphere, is readily explained. The ring being 
understood as yet unbroken, we see that its exterior, while the whole revolves about the 
parent body, moves more rapidly than its interior. When the rupture occurred, then, some 
portion in each fragment must have been moving with greater velocity than the others. 
The superior movement prevailing, must have whirled each fragment round — that is to 
say, have caused it to rotate; and the direction of the rotation must, of course, have been 
the direction of the revolution whence it arose, the fragments having become subject to 
the rotation described, must, in coalescing, have imparted it to the one planet constituted 
by their coalescence. —This planet was Neptune. Its material continuing to undergo 
condensation, and the centrifugal force generated in its rotation getting, at length, the 
better of the centripetal, as before in the case of the parent orb, a ring was whirled also 
from the equatorial surface of this planet: this ring, having been ununiform in its 
constitution, was broken up, and its several fragments, being absorbed by the most 
massive, were collectively spherified into a moon. Subsequently, the operation was 
repeated, and a second moon was the result. We thus account for the planet Neptune, with 
the two satellites which accompany him. 



* Laplace assumed his nebulosity heterogeneous, merely that he might be thus enabled to 
account for the breaking up of the rings; for had the nebulosity been homogeneous, they 
would not have broken. I reach the same result —heterogeneity of the secondary masses 
immediately resulting from the atoms —purely from an a priori consideration of their 
general design —Relation. 

In throwing of a ring from its equator, the Sun re-established that equilibrium between its 
centripetal and centrifugal forces which had been disturbed in the process of 
condensation; but, as this condensation still proceeded, the equilibrium was again 
immediately disturbed, through the increase of rotation. By the time the mass had so far 
shrunk that it occupied a spherical space just that circumscribed by the orbit of Uranus, 
we are to understand that the centrifugal force had so far obtained the ascendency that 
new relief was needed: a second equatorial band was, consequently, thrown off, which, 
proving ununiform, was broken up, as before in the case of Neptune; the fragments 
settling into the planet Uranus; the velocity of whose actual revolution about the Sun 
indicates, of course, the rotary speed of that Sun's equatorial surface at the moment of the 
separation. Uranus, adopting a rotation from the collective rotations of the fragments 
composing it, as previously explained, now threw off ring after ring; each of which, 
becoming broken up, settled into a moon: — three moons, at different epochs, having been 
formed, in this manner, by the rupture and general spherification of as many distinct 
ununiform rings. 

By the time the Sun had shrunk until it occupied a space just that circumscribed by the 
orbit of Saturn, the balance, we are to suppose, between its centripetal and centrifugal 
forces had again become so far disturbed, through increase of rotary velocity, the result of 
condensation, that a third effort at equilibrium became necessary; and an annular band 
was therefore whirled off, as twice before; which, on rupture through ununiformity, 
became consolidated into the planet Saturn. This latter threw off, in the first place, seven 
uniform bands, which, on rupture, were spherified respectively into as many moons; but, 
subsequently, it appears to have discharged, at three distinct but not very distant epochs, 
three rings whose equability of constitution was, by apparent accident, so considerable as 
to present no occasion for their rupture; thus they continue to revolve as rings. I use the 
phrase "apparent accident;" for of accident in the ordinary sense there was, of course, 
nothing: —the term is properly applied only to the result of indistinguishable or not 
immediately traceable LAO 

Shrinking still farther, until it occupied just the space circumscribed by the orbit of 
Jupiter, the Sun now found need of farther effort to restore the counterbalance of its two 
forces, continually disarranged in the still continued increase of rotation. Jupiter, 
accordingly, was now thrown off; passing from the annular to the planetary condition; 
and, on attaining this latter, threw off in its turn, at four different epochs, four rings, 
which finally resolved themselves into so many moons. 

Still shrinking, until its sphere occupied just the space defined by the orbit of the 
Asteroids, the Sun now discarded a ring which appears to have had eight centres of 
superior solidity, and, on breaking up, to have separated into eight fragments no one of 



which so far predominated in mass as to absorb the others. All therefore, as distinct 
although comparatively small planets, proceeded to revolve in orbits whose distances, 
each from each, may be considered as in some degree the measure of the force which 
drove them asunder: —all the orbits, nevertheless, being so closely coincident as to admit 
of our calling them one, in view of the other planetary orbits. 

Continuing to shrink, the Sun, on becoming so small as just to fill the orbit of Mars, now 
discharged this planet —of course by the process repeatedly described. Having no moon, 
however. Mars could have thrown off no ring. In fact, an epoch had now arrived in the 
career of the parent body, the centre of the system. The de crease of its nebulosity, which 
is the in crease of its density, and which again is the de crease of its condensation, out of 
which latter arose the constant disturbance of equilibrium —must, by this period, have 
attained a point at which the efforts for restoration would have been more and more 
ineffectual just in proportion as they were less frequently needed. Thus the processes of 
which we have been speaking would everywhere show signs of exhaustion — in the 
planets, first, and secondly, in the original mass. We must not fall into the error of 
supposing the decrease of interval observed among the planets as we approach the Sun, to 
be in any respect indicative of an increase of frequency in the periods at which they were 
discarded. Exactly the converse is to be understood. The longest interval of time must 
have occurred between the discharges of the two interior; the shortest, between those of 
the two exterior, planets. The decrease of the interval of space is, nevertheless, the 
measure of the density, and thus inversely of the condensation, of the Sun, throughout the 
processes detailed. 

Having shrunk, however, so far as to fill only the orbit of our Earth, the parent sphere 

whirled from itself still one other body — the Earth — in a condition so nebulous as 

to admit of this body's discarding, in its turn, yet another, which is our Moon; —but here 
terminated the lunar formations. 

Finally, subsiding to the orbits first of Venus and then of Mercury, the Sun discarded 
these two interior planets; neither of which has given birth to any moon. 

Thus from his original bulk — or, to speak more accurately, from the condition in which 
we first considered him — from a partially spherified nebular mass, certainly much more 
than 5,600 millions of miles in diameter — the great central orb and origin of our solar- 
planetary-lunar system, has gradually descended, by condensation, in obedience to the 
law of Gravity, to a globe only 882,000 miles in diameter; but it by no means follows, 
either that its condensation is yet complete, or that it may not still possess the capacity of 
whirling from itself another planet. 

I have here given — in outline of course, but still with all the detail necessary for 
distinctness — a view of the Nebular Theory as its author himself conceived it. From 
whatever point we regard it, we shall find it beautifully true. It is by far too beautiful, 
indeed, not to possess Truth as its essentiality —and here I am very profoundly serious in 
what I say. In the revolution of the satellites of Uranus, there does appear something 
seemingly inconsistent with the assumptions of Laplace; but that one inconsistency can 



invalidate a theory constructed from a million of intricate consistencies, is a fancy fit only 
for the fantastic. In prophecying, confidently, that the apparent anomaly to which I refer, 
will, sooner or later, be found one of the strongest possible corroborations of the general 
hypothesis, I pretend to no especial spirit of divination. It is a matter which the only 
difficulty seems not to foresee. * 

* I am prepared to show that the anomalous revolution of the satellites of Uranus is a 
simply perspective anomaly arising from the inclination of the axis of the planet. 

The bodies whirled off in the processes described, would exchange, it has been seen, the 
superficial rotation of the orbs whence they originated, for a revolution of equal velocity 
about these orbs as distant centres; and the revolution thus engendered must proceed, so 
long as the centripetal force, or that with which the discarded body gravitates toward its 
parent, is neither greater nor less than that by which it was discarded; that is, than the 
centrifugal, or, far more properly, than the tangential, velocity. From the unity, however, 
of the origin of these two forces, we might have expected to find them as they are found - 
-the one accurately counterbalancing the other. It has been shown, indeed, that the act of 
whirling-off is, in every case, merely an act for the preservation of the counterbalance. 

After referring, however, the centripetal force to the omniprevalent law of Gravity, it has 
been the fashion with astronomical treatises, to seek beyond the limits of mere Nature — 
that is to say, of Secondary Cause —a solution of the phaenomenon of tangential velocity. 
This latter they attribute directly to a First Cause —to God. The force which carries a 
stellar body around its primary they assert to have originated in an impulse given 
immediately by the finger — this is the childish phraseology employed — by the finger of 
Deity itself. In this view, the planets, fully formed, are conceived to have been hurled 
from the Divine hand, to a position in the vicinity of the suns, with an impetus 
mathematically adapted to the masses, or attractive capacities, of the suns themselves. An 
idea so grossly unphilosophical, although so supinely adopted, could have arisen only 
from the difficulty of otherwise accounting for the absolutely accurate adaptation, each to 
each, of two forces so seemingly independent, one of the other, as are the gravitating and 
tangential. But it should be remembered that, for a long time, the coincidence between 
the moon's rotation and her sidereal revolution — two matters seemingly far more 
independent than those now considered —was looked upon as positively miraculous; and 
there was a strong disposition, even among astronomers, to attribute the marvel to the 
direct and continual agency of God —who, in this case, it was said, had found it 
necessary to interpose, specially, among his general laws, a set of subsidiary regulations, 
for the purpose of forever concealing from mortal eyes the glories, or perhaps the horrors, 
of the other side of the Moon —of that mysterious hemisphere which has always avoided, 
and must perpetually avoid, the telescopic scrutiny of mankind. The advance of Science, 
however, soon demonstrated —what to the philosophical instinct needed no 
demonstration — that the one movement is but a portion — something more, even, than a 
consequence —of the other. 

For my part, I have no patience with fantasies at once so timorous, so idle, and so 
awkward. They belong to the veriest Cowardice of thought. That Nature and the God of 



Nature are distinct, no thinking being can long doubt. By the former we imply merely the 
laws of the latter. But with the very idea of God, omnipotent, omniscient, we entertain, 
also, the idea of the infallibility of his laws. With Him there being neither Past nor Future 
—with Him all being Now —do we not insult him in supposing his laws so contrived as 
not to provide for every possible contingency? —or, rather, what idea can we have of any 
possible contingency, except that it is at once a result and a manifestation of his laws? He 
who, divesting himself of prejudice, shall have the rare courage to think absolutely for 
himself, cannot fail to arrive, in the end, at the condensation of LAO into LAO -cannot fail 
of reaching the conclusion that each law of Nature is dependent at all points upon all 
other laws, and that all are but consequences of one primary exercise of the Divine 
Volition. Such is the principle of the Cosmogony which, with all necessary deference, I 
here venture to suggest and to maintain. 

In this view, it will be seen that, dismissing as frivolous, and even impious, the fancy of 
the tangential force having been imparted to the planets immediately, by "the finger of 
God," I consider this force as originating in the rotation of the stars: —this rotation as 
brought about by the in-rushing of the primary atoms, towards their respective centres of 
aggregation: —this in-rushing as the consequence of the law of Gravity: —this law as but 
the mode in which is necessarily manifested the tendency of the atoms to return into 
imparticularity: —this tendency to return as but the inevitable reaction of the first and 
most sublime of Acts —that act by which a God, self-existing and alone existing, became 
all things at once, through dint of his volition, while all things were thus constituted a 
portion of God. 

The radical assumptions of this Discourse suggest to me, and in fact imply, certain 
important modifications of the Nebular Theory as given by Laplace. The efforts of the 
repulsive power I have considered as made for the purpose of preventing contact among 
the atoms, and thus as made in the ratio of the approach to contact —that is to say, in the 
ratio of condensation. * In other words. Electricity, with its involute phaenomena, heat, 
light and magnetism, is to be understood as proceeding as condensation proceeds, and, of 
course, inversely as density proceeds, or the cessation to condense. Thus the Sun, in the 
process of its aggregation, must soon, in developing repulsion, have become excessively 
heated —perhaps incandescent: and we can perceive how the operation of discarding its 
rings must have been materially assisted by the slight incrustation of its surface 
consequent on cooling. Any common experiment shows us how readily a crust of the 
character suggested, is separated, through heterogeneity, from the interior mass. But, on 
every successive rejection of the crust, the new surface would appear incandescent as 
before; and the period at which it would again become so far encrusted as to be readily 
loosened and discharged, may well be imagined as exactly coincident with that at which a 
new effort would be needed, by the whole mass, to restore the equilibrium of its two 
forces, disarranged through condensation. In other words: — by the time the electric 
influence (Repulsion) has prepared the surface for rejection, we are to understand that the 
gravitating influence (Attraction) is precisely ready to reject it. Here, then, as everywhere, 
the Body and the Soul walk hand in hand. 

* See previous paragraph, "With the understanding of a sphere of atoms..." 



These ideas are empirically confirmed at all points. Since condensation can never, in any 
body, be considered as absolutely at an end, we are warranted in anticipating that, 
whenever we have an opportunity of testing the matter, we shall find indications of 
resident luminosity in the stellar bodies —moons and planets as well as suns. That our 
Moon is strongly self-luminous, we see at her every total eclipse, when, if not so, she 
would disappear. On the dark part of the satellite, too, during her phases, we often 
observe flashes like our own Auroras; and that these latter, with our various other so- 
called electrical phaenomena, without reference to any more steady radiance, must give 
our Earth a certain appearance of luminosity to an inhabitant of the Moon, is quite 
evident. In fact, we should regard all the phaenomena referred to, as mere manifestations, 
in different moods and degrees, of the Earth's feebly-continued condensation. 

If my views are tenable, we should be prepared to find the newer planets —that is to say, 
those nearer the Sun — more luminous than those older and more remote: — and the 
extreme brilliancy of Venus (on whose dark portions, during her phases, the Auroras are 
frequently visible) does not seem to be altogether accounted for by her mere proximity to 
the central orb. She is no doubt vividly self-luminous, although less so than Mercury: 
while the luminosity of Neptune may be comparatively nothing. 

Admitting what I have urged, it is clear that, from the moment of the Sun's discarding a 
ring, there must be a continuous diminution both of his heat and light, on account of the 
continuous encrustation of his surface; and that a period would arrive —the period 
immediately previous to a new discharge —when a very material decrease of both light 
and heat, must become apparent. Now, we know that tokens of such changes are 
distinctly recognizable. On the Melville islands — to adduce merely one out of a hundred 
examples —we find traces of ULO vegetation —of plants that never could have flourished 
without immensely more light and heat than are at present afforded by our Sun to any 
portion of the surface of the Earth. Is such vegetation referable to an epoch immediately 
subsequent to the whirling-off of Venus? At this epoch must have occurred to us our 
greatest access of solar influence; and, in fact, this influence must then have attained its 
maximum: —leaving out of view, of course, the period when the Earth itself was 
discarded —the period of its mere organization. 

Again: —we know that there exist non-luminous suns —that is to say, suns whose 
existence we determine through the movements of others, but whose luminosity is not 
sufficient to impress us. Are these suns invisible merely on account of the length of time 
elapsed since their discharge of a planet? And yet again: —may we not —at least in 
certain cases —account for the sudden appearances of suns where none had been 
previously suspected, by the hypothesis that, having rolled with encrusted surfaces 
throughout the few thousand years of our astronomical history, each of these suns, in 
whirling off a new secondary, has at length been enabled to display the glories of its still 
incandescent interior? — To the well-ascertained fact of the proportional increase of heat 
as we descend into the Earth, I need of course, do nothing more than refer: — it comes in 
the strongest possible corroboration of all that I have said on the topic now at issue. 



In speaking, not long ago, of the repulsive or electrical influence, I remarked that "the 
important phaenomena of vitality, consciousness, and thought, whether we observe them 
generally or in detail, seem to proceed at least in the ratio of the heterogeneous. " * I 
mentioned, too, that I would recur to the suggestion: —and this is the proper point at 
which to do so. Looking at the matter, first, in detail, we perceive that not merely the 
manifestation of vitality, but its importance, consequences, and elevation of character, 
keep pace, very closely, with the heterogeneity, or complexity, of the animal structure. 
Looking at the question, now, in its generality, and referring to the first movements of the 
atoms towards mass-constitution, we find that heterogeneousness, brought about directly 
through condensation, is proportional with it forever. We thus reach the proposition that 
the importance of the development of the terrestrial vitality proceeds equably with the 
terrestrial condensation. 

* See previous paragraph, "To electricity —so, for the present, continuing to call it..." 

Now this is in precise accordance with what we know of the succession of animals on the 
Earth. As it has proceeded in its condensation, superior and still superior races have 
appeared. Is it impossible that the successive geological revolutions which have attended, 
at least, if not immediately caused, these successive elevations of vitalic character —is it 
improbable that these revolutions have themselves been produced by the successive 
planetary discharges from the Sun —in other words, by the successive variations in the 
solar influence on the Earth? Were this idea tenable, we should not be unwarranted in the 
fancy that the discharge of yet a new planet, interior to Mercury, may give rise to yet a 
new modification of the terrestrial surface — a modification from which may spring a race 
both materially and spiritually superior to Man. These thoughts impress me with all the 
force of truth — but I throw them out, of course, merely in their obvious character of 
suggestion. 

The Nebular Theory of Laplace has lately received far more confirmation than it needed, 
at the hands of the philosopher, Compte. These two have thus together shown —not, to be 
sure, that Matter at any period actually existed as described, in a state of nebular 
diffusion, but that, admitting it so to have existed throughout the space and much beyond 
the space now occupied by our solar system, and to have commenced a movement 
towards a centre - it must gradually have assumed the various forms and motions which 
are now seen, in that system, to obtain. A demonstration such as this —a dynamical and 
mathematical demonstration, as far as demonstration can be —unquestionable and 
unquestioned —unless, indeed, by that unprofitable and disreputable tribe, the 
professional questioners — the mere madmen who deny the Newtonian law of Gravity on 
which the results of the French mathematicians are based —a demonstration, I say, such 
as this, would to most intellects be conclusive —and I confess that it is so to mine —of the 
validity of the nebular hypothesis upon which the demonstration depends. 

That the demonstration does not prove the hypothesis, according to the common 
understanding of the word "proof," I admit, of course. To show that certain existing 
results —that certain established facts - may be, even mathematically, accounted for by 
the assumption of a certain hypothesis, is by no means to establish the hypothesis itself. 



In other words: —to show that, certain data being given, a certain existing result might, or 
even must, have ensued, will fail to prove that this result did ensue, FR until such time as 
it shall be also shown that there are, and can be, no other data from which the result in 
question might equally have ensued. But, in the case now discussed, although all must 
admit the deficiency of what we are in the habit of terming "proof," still there are many 
intellects, and those of the loftiest order to which no proof could bring one iota of 
additional Conviction. Without going into details which might impinge upon the Cloud- 
Land of Metaphysics, I may as well here observe that the force of conviction, in cases 
such as this, will always, with the right-thinking, be proportional to the amount of 
Complexity intervening between the hypothesis and the result. To be less abstract: — The 
greatness of the complexity found existing among cosmical conditions, by rendering 
great in the same proportion the difficulty of accounting for all these conditions at once, 
strengthens, also in the same proportion, our faith in that hypothesis which does, in such 
manner, satisfactorily account for them: — and as no complexity can well be conceived 
greater than that of the astronomical conditions, so no conviction can be stronger — to my 
mind at least —than that with which I am impressed by an hypothesis that not only 
reconciles these conditions, with mathematical accuracy, and reduces them into a 
consistent and intelligible whole, but is, at the same time, the sole hypothesis by means of 
which the human intellect has been ever enabled to account for them at all. 

A most unfounded opinion has been latterly current and even in scientific circles — the 
opinion that the so-called Nebular Cosmogony has been overthrown. This fancy has 
arisen from the report of late observations made, among what hitherto have been termed 
the "nebulae," through the large telescope of Cincinnati, and the world-renowned 
instrument of Lord Rosse. Certain spots in the firmament which presented, even to the 
most powerful of the old telescopes, the appearance of nebulosity, or haze, had been 
regarded for a long time as confirming the theory of Laplace. They were looked upon as 
stars in that very process of condensation which I have been attempting to describe. Thus 
it was supposed that we "had ocular evidence" —an evidence, by the way, which has 
always been found very questionable - of the truth of the hypothesis; and, although 
certain telescopic improvements, every now and then, enabled us to perceive that a spot, 
here and there, which we had been classing among the nebulae, was, in fact, but a cluster 
of stars deriving its nebular character only from its immensity of distance —still it was 
thought that no doubt could exist as to the actual nebulosity of numerous other masses, 
the strong-holds of the nebulists, bidding defiance to every effort at segregation. Of these 
latter the most interesting was the great "nebulae" in the constellation Orion: —but this, 
with innumerable other miscalled "nebulae," when viewed through the magnificent 
modem telescopes, has become resolved into a simple collection of stars. Now this fact 
has been very generally understood as conclusive against the Nebular Hypothesis of 
Laplace; and, on announcement of the discoveries in question, the most enthusiastic 
defender and most eloquent popularizer of the theory. Dr. Nichol, went so far as to 
"admit the necessity of abandoning" an idea which had formed the material of his most 
praiseworthy book. * 

* "Views of the Architecture of the Heavens." A letter, purporting to be from Dr. Nichol 
to a friend in America, went the rounds of our newspapers, about two years ago, I think. 



admitting "the necessity" to which I refer. In a subsequent Lecture, however, Dr. N. 
appears in some manner to have gotten the better of the necessity, and does not quite 
renounce the theory, although he seems to wish that he could sneer at it as "a purely 
hypothetical one." What else was the Law of Gravity before the Maskelyne experiments? 
and who questioned the Law of Gravity, even then? 

Many of my readers will no doubt be inclined to say that the result of these new 
investigations has at least a strong tendency to overthrow the hypothesis; while some of 
them, more thoughtful, will suggest that, although the theory is by no means disproved 
through the segregation of the particular "nebulae" alluded to, still a failure to segregate 
them, with such telescopes, might well have been understood as a triumphant 
Corroboration of the theory: —and this latter class will be surprised, perhaps, to hear me 
say that even with them I disagree. If the propositions of this Discourse have been 
comprehended, it will be seen that, in my view, a failure to segregate the "nebulae" would 
have tended to the refutation, rather than to the confirmation, of the Nebular Hypothesis. 

Let me explain: —The Newtonian Law of Gravity we may, of course, assume as 
demonstrated. This law, it will be remembered, I have referred to the reaction of the first 
Divine Act — to the reaction of an exercise of the Divine Volition temporarily 
overcoming a difficulty. This difficulty is that of forcing the normal into the abnormal — 
of impelling that whose originality, and therefore whose rightful condition, was One, to 
take upon itself the wrongful condition of Many. It is only by conceiving this difficulty as 
temporarily overcome, that we can comprehend a reaction. There could have been no 
reaction had the act been infinitely continued. So long as the act LAO no reaction, of 
course, could commence; in other words, no gravitation could take place —for we have 
considered the one as but the manifestation of the other. But gravitation has taken place; 
therefore the act of Creation has ceased: and gravitation has long ago taken place; 
therefore the act of Creation has long ago ceased. We can no more expect, then, to 
observe the primary processes of Creation; and to these primary processes the condition 
of nebulosity has already been explained to belong. 

Through what we know of the propagation of light, we have direct proof that the more 
remote of the stars have existed, under the forms in which we now see them, for an 
inconceivable number of years. So far back at least, then, as the period when these stars 
underwent condensation, must have been the epoch at which the mass-constitutive 
processes began. That we may conceive these processes, then, as still going on in the case 
of certain "nebulae," while in all other cases we find them thoroughly at an end, we are 
forced into assumptions for which we have really no basis whatever —we have to thrust 
in, again, upon the revolting Reason, the blasphemous idea of special interposition —we 
have to suppose that, in the particular instances of these "nebulae," an unerring God 
found it necessary to introduce certain supplementary regulations - certain improvements 
of the general law —certain retouchings and emendations, in a word, which had the effect 
of deferring the completion of these individual stars for centuries of centuries beyond the 
aera during which all the other stellar bodies had time, not only to be fully constituted, 
but to grow hoary with an unspeakable old age. 



Of course, it will be immediately objected that since the light by which we recognize the 
nebulae now, must be merely that which left their surfaces a vast number of years ago, 
the processes at present observed, or supposed to be observed, are, in fact, not processes 
now actually going on, but the phantoms of processes completed long in the Past —just as 
I maintain all these mass-constitutive processes must have been. 

To this I reply that neither is the now-observed condition of the condensed stars their 
actual condition, but a condition completed long in the Past; so that my argument drawn 
from the relative condition of the stars and the "nebulae," is in no manner disturbed. 
Moreover, those who maintain the existence of nebulae, do not refer the nebulosity to 
extreme distance; they declare it a real and not merely a perspective nebulosity. That we 
may conceive, indeed, a nebular mass as visible at all, we must conceive it as very near 
us in comparison with the condensed stars brought into view by the modern telescopes. In 
maintaining the appearances in question, then, to be really nebulous, we maintain their 
comparative vicinity to our point of view. Thus, their condition, as we see them now, 
must be referred to an epoch far less remote than that to which we may refer the now- 
observed condition of at least the majority of the stars. - In a word, should Astronomy 
ever demonstrate a "nebula," in the sense at present intended, I should consider the 
Nebular Cosmogony — not, indeed, as corroborated by the demonstration —but as thereby 
irretrievably overthrown. 

By way, however, of rendering unto Caesar no more than the things that are Caesar's, let 
me here remark that the assumption of the hypothesis which led him to so glorious a 
result, seems to have been suggested to Laplace in great measure by a misconception — 
by the very misconception of which we have just been speaking — by the generally 
prevalent misunderstanding of the character of the nebulae, so mis-named. These he 
supposed to be, in reality, what their designation implies. The fact is, this great man had, 
very properly, an inferior faith in his own merely perceptive powers. In respect, therefore, 
to the actual existence of nebulae — an existence so confidently maintained by his 
telescopic contemporaries —he depended less upon what he saw than upon what he 
heard. 

It will be seen that the only valid objections to his theory, are those made to its hypothesis 
as such —to what suggested it —not to what it suggests; to its propositions rather than to 
its results. His most unwarranted assumption was that of giving the atoms a movement 
towards a centre, in the very face of his evident understanding that these atoms, in 
unlimited succession, extended throughout the Universal space. I have already shown 
that, under such circumstances, there could have occurred no movement at all; and 
Laplace, consequently, assumed one on no more philosophical ground than that 
something of the kind was necessary for the establishment of what he intended to 
establish. 

His original idea seems to have been a compound of the true Epicurean atoms with the 
false nebulae of his contemporaries; and thus his theory presents us with the singular 
anomaly of absolute truth deduced, as a mathematical result, from a hybrid datum of 
ancient imagination intertangled with modern inacumen. Laplace's real strength lay, in 



fact, in an almost miraculous mathematical instinct: —on this he relied; and in no instance 
did it fail or deceive him: — in the case of the Nebular Cosmogony, it led him, 
blindfolded, through a labyrinth of Error, into one of the most luminous and stupendous 
temples of Truth. 

Let us now fancy, for the moment, that the ring first thrown off by the Sun —that is to 
say, the ring whose breaking-up constituted Neptune —did not, in fact, break up until the 
throwing-off of the ring out of which Uranus arose; that this latter ring, again, remained 
perfect until the discharge of that out of which sprang Saturn; that this latter, again, 
remained entire until the discharge of that from which originated Jupiter — and so on. Let 
us imagine, in a word, that no dissolution occurred among the rings until the final 
rejection of that which gave birth to Mercury. We thus paint to the eye of the mind a 
series of coexistent concentric circles; and looking as well at them as at the processes by 
which, according to Laplace's hypothesis, they were constructed, we perceive at once a 
very singular analogy with the atomic strata and the process of the original irradiation as I 
have described it. Is it impossible that, on measuring the forces, respectively, by which 
each successive planetary circle was thrown off —that is to say, on measuring the 
successive excesses of rotation over gravitation which occasioned the successive 
discharges —we should find the analogy in question more decidedly confirmed? Is it 
improbable that we should discover these forces to have varied —as in the original 
radiation —proportional to the squares of the distances? 

Our solar system, consisting, in chief, of one sun, with sixteen planets certainly, and 
possibly a few more, revolving about it at various distances, and attended by seventeen 
moons assuredly, but very probably by several others —is now to be considered as an 
example of the innumerable agglomerations which proceeded to take place throughout 
the Universal Sphere of atoms on withdrawal of the Divine Volition. I mean to say that 
our solar system is to be understood as affording a generic instance of these 
agglomerations, or, more correctly, of the ulterior conditions at which they arrived. If we 
keep our attention fixed on the idea of the utmost possible Relation as the Omnipotent 
design, and on the precautions taken to accomplish it through difference of form, among 
the original atoms, and particular inequidistance, we shall find it impossible to suppose 
for a moment that even any two of the incipient agglomerations reached precisely the 
same result in the end. We shall rather be inclined to think that no two stellar bodies in 
the Universe —whether suns, planets or moons —are particularly, while are generally, 
similar. Still less, then, can we imagine any two assemblages of such bodies —any two 
"systems" —as having more than a general resemblance. * Our telescopes, at this point, 
thoroughly confirm our deductions. Taking our own solar system, then, as merely a loose 
or general type of all, we have so far proceeded in our subject as to survey the Universe 
under the aspect of a spherical space, throughout which, dispersed with merely general 
equability, exist a number of but generally similar systems. 

* It is not impossible that some unlooked-for optical improvement may disclose to us, 
among innumerable varieties of systems, a luminous sun, encircled by luminous and non- 
luminous rings, within and without and between which, revolve luminous and non- 



luminous planets, attended by moons having moons —and even these latter again having 
moons. 

Let us now, expanding our conceptions, look upon each of these system as in itself an 
atom; which in fact it is, when we consider it as but one of the countless myriads of 
systems which constitute the Universe. Regarding all, then, as but colossal atoms, each 
with the same ineradicable tendency to Unity which characterizes the actual atoms of 
which it consists —we enter at once upon a new order of aggregations. The smaller 
systems, in the vicinity of a larger one, would, inevitably, be drawn into still closer 
vicinity. A thousand would assemble here; a million there —perhaps here, again, even a 
billion —leaving, thus, immeasurable vacancies in space. And if, now, it be demanded 
why, in the case of these systems —of these merely Titanic atoms —I speak, simply, of an 
"assemblage," and not, as in the case of the actual atoms, of a more or less consolidated 
agglomeration: —if it be asked, for instance, why I do not carry what I suggest to its 
legitimate conclusion, and describe, at once, these assemblages of system-atoms as 
rushing to consolidation in spheres — as each becoming condensed into one magnificent 
sun —my reply is that mellonta tauta —I am but pausing, for a moment, on the awful 
threshold of the Future. For the present, calling these assemblages "clusters," we see them 
in the incipient stages of their consolidation. Their absolute consolidation is to come. 

We have now reached a point from which we behold the Universe as a spherical space, 
interspersed, unequably, with clusters. It will be noticed that I here prefer the adverb 
"unequably" to the phrase "with a merely general equability," employed before. It is 
evident, in fact, that the equability of distribution will diminish in the ratio of the 
agglomerative processes —that is to say, as the things distributed diminish in number. 
Thus the increase of in equability — an increase which must continue until, sooner or later 
an epoch will arrive at which the largest agglomeration will absorb all the others —should 
be viewed as, simply, a corroborative indication of the tendency to One. 

And here, at length, it seems proper to inquire whether the ascertained facts of 
Astronomy confirm the general arrangement which I have thus, deductively, assigned to 
the Heavens. Thoroughly, they do. Telescopic observation, guided by the laws of 
perspective, enables us to understand that the perceptible Universe exists as a cluster of 
clusters, irregularly disposed. 

The "clusters" of which this Universal "cluster of clusters" consists, are merely what we 
have been in the practice of designating "nebulae" —and, of these "nebulae," one is of 
paramount interest to mankind. I allude to the Galaxy, or Milky Way. This interests us, 
first and most obviously, on account of its great superiority in apparent size, not only to 
any one other cluster in the firmament, but to all the other clusters taken together. The 
largest of these latter occupies a mere point, comparatively, and is distinctly seen only 
with the aid of a telescope. The Galaxy sweeps throughout the Heaven and is brilliantly 
visible to the naked eye. But it interests man chiefly, although less immediately, on 
account of its being his home; the home of the Earth on which he exists; the home of the 
Sun about which this Earth revolves; the home of that "system" of orbs of which the Sun 
is the centre and primary — the Earth one of sixteen secondaries, or planets —the Moon 



one of seventeen tertiaries, or satellites. The Galaxy, let me repeat, is but one of the 
clusters which I have been describing —but one of the mis-called "nebulae" revealed to 
us —by the telescope alone, sometimes —as faint hazy spots in various quarters of the 
sky. We have no reason to suppose the Milky Way really more extensive than the least of 
these "nebulae". Its vast superiority in size is but an apparent superiority arising from our 
position in regard to it —that is to say, from our position in its midst. However strange the 
assertion may at first appear to those unversed in Astronomy, still the astronomer himself 
has no hesitation in asserting that we are in the midst of that inconceivable host of stars — 
of suns —of systems —which constitute the Galaxy. Moreover, not only have we —not 
only has our Sun a right to claim the Galaxy as its own especial cluster, but, with slight 
reservation, it may be said that all the distinctly visible stars of the firmament —all the 
stars visible to the naked eye —have equally a right to claim it as their own. 

There has been a great deal of misconception in respect to the shape of the Galaxy; 
which, in nearly all our astronomical treatises, is said to resemble that of a capital Y. The 
cluster in question has, in reality, a certain general — very general resemblance to the 
planet Saturn, with its encompassing triple ring. Instead of the solid orb of that planet, 
however, we must picture to ourselves a lenticular star-island, or collection of stars; our 
Sun lying excentrically — near the shore of the island — on that side of it which is nearest 
the constellation of the Cross and farthest from that of Cassiopeia. The surrounding ring, 
where it approaches our position, has in it a longitudinal gash, which does in fact, cause 
the ring, in our vicinity, to assume, loosely, the appearance of a capital Y. 

We must not fall into the error, however, of conceiving the somewhat indefinite girdle as 
at all remote, comparatively speaking, from the also indefinite lenticular cluster which it 
surrounds; and thus, for mere purpose of explanation, we may speak of our Sun as 
actually situated at that point of the Y where its three component lines unite; and, 
conceiving this letter to be of a certain solidity —of a certain thickness, very trivial in 
comparison with its length —we may even speak of our position as in the middle of this 
thickness. Fancying ourselves thus placed, we shall no longer find difficulty in 
accounting for the phaenomena presented —which are perspective altogether. When we 
look upward or downward —that is to say, when we cast our eyes in the direction of the 
letter's thickness —we look through fewer stars than when we cast them in the direction 
of its length, or either of the three component lines. Of course, in the former case, the 
stars appear scattered —in the latter, crowded. —To reverse this explanation: —An 
inhabitant of the Earth, when looking, as we commonly express ourselves, at the Galaxy, 
is then beholding it in some of the directions of its length — is looking the lines of the Y - 
-but when, looking out into the general Heaven, he turns his eyes FR the Galaxy, he is 
then surveying it in the direction of the letter's thickness; and on this account the stars 
seem to him scattered; while, in fact, they are as close together, on an average, as in the 
mass of the cluster. No consideration could be better adapted to convey an idea of this 
cluster's stupendous extent. 

If, with a telescope of high space-penetrating power, we carefully inspect the firmament, 
we shall become aware of a belt of clusters —of what we have hitherto called "nebulae" - 
-a band, of varying breadth, stretching from horizon to horizon, at right angles to the 



general course of the Milky Way. This band is the ultimate cluster of clusters. This belt is 
The Universe. Our Galaxy is but one, and perhaps one of the most inconsiderable, of the 
clusters which go to the constitution of this ultimate. Universal belt or band. The 
appearance of this cluster of clusters, to our eyes, as a belt or band, is altogether a 
perspective phaenomenon of the same character as that which causes us to behold our 
own individual and roughly- spherical cluster, the Galaxy, under guise also of a belt, 
traversing the Heavens at right angles to the Universal one. The shape of the all-inclusive 
cluster is, of course generally, that of each individual cluster which it includes. Just as the 
scattered stars which, on looking FR the Galaxy, we see in the general sky, are, in fact, 
but a portion of that Galaxy itself, and as closely intermingled with it as any of the 
telescopic points in what seems the densest portion of its mass —so are the scattered 
"nebulae" which, on casting our eyes FR the Universal belt, we perceive at all points of 
the firmament —so, I say, are these scattered "nebulae" to be understood as only 
perspectively scattered, and as part and parcel of the one supreme and Universal sphere. 

No astronomical fallacy is more untenable, and none has been more pertinaciously 
adhered to, than that of the absolute illimitation of the Universe of Stars. The reasons for 
limitation, as I have already assigned them, a priori, seem to me unanswerable; but, not to 
speak of these, observation assures us that there is, in numerous directions around us, 
certainly, if not in all, a positive limit — or, at the very least, affords us no basis whatever 
for thinking otherwise. Were the succession of stars endless, then the background of the 
sky would present us an uniform luminosity, like that displayed by the Galaxy —since 
there could be absolutely no point, in all that background, at which would not exist a star. 
The only mode, therefore, in which, under such a state of affairs, we could comprehend 
the voids which our telescopes find in innumerable directions, would be by supposing the 
distance of the invisible background so immense that no ray from it has yet been able to 
reach us at all. That this may be so, who shall venture to deny? I maintain, simply, that 
we have not even the shadow of a reason for believing that it is so. 

When speaking of the vulgar propensity to regard all bodies on the Earth as tending 
merely to the Earth's centre, I observed that, "with certain exceptions to be specified 
hereafter, every body on the Earth tended not only to the Earth's centre, but in every 
conceivable direction besides." * The "exceptions" refer to those frequent gaps in the 
Heavens, where our utmost scrutiny can detect not only no stellar bodies, but no 
indications of their existence: — where yawning chasms, blacker than Erebus, seem to 
afford us glimpses, through the boundary walls of the Universe of Stars, into the 
illimitable Universe of Vacancy, beyond. Now as any body, existing on the Earth, 
chances to pass, either through its own movement or the Earth's, into a line with any one 
of these voids, or cosmical abysses, it clearly is no longer attracted in the direction of that 
void, and for the moment, consequently, is "heavier" than at any period, either after or 
before. Independently of the consideration of these voids however, and looking only at 
the generally unequable distribution of the stars, we see that the absolute tendency of 
bodies on the Earth to the Earth's centre, is in a state of perpetual variation. 

* See prevous paragraph, "Now, to what does so partial a consideration tend..." 



We comprehend, then, the insulation of our Universe. We perceive the isolation of that — 
of that which we grasp with the senses. We know that there exists one cluster of clusters - 
-a collection around which, on all sides, extend the immeasurable wildernesses of a 
Space to all human perception untenanted. But because upon the confines of this 
Universe of Stars we are compelled to pause, through want of farther evidence from the 
senses, is it right to conclude that, in fact, there is no material point beyond that which we 
have thus been permitted to attain? Have we, or have we not, an analogical right to the 
inference that this perceptible Universe — that this cluster of clusters —is but one of a 
series of clusters of clusters, the rest of which are invisible through distance —through the 
diffusion of their light being so excessive, ere it reaches us, as not to produce upon our 
retinas a light-impression — or from there being no such emanation as light at all, in these 
unspeakably distant worlds —or, lastly, from the mere interval being so vast, that the 
electric tidings of their presence in Space, have not yet —through the lapsing myriads of 
years —been enabled to traverse that interval? 

Have we any right to inferences —have we any ground whatever for visions such as 
these? If we have a right to them in any degree, we have a right to their infinite extension. 

The human brain has obviously a leaning to the "Infinite," and fondles the phantom of the 
idea. It seems to long with a passionate fervor for this impossible conception, with the 
hope of intellectually believing it when conceived. What is general among the whole race 
of Man, of course no individual of that race can be warranted in considering abnormal; 
nevertheless, there may be a class of superior intelligences, to whom the human bias 
alluded to may wear all the character of monomania. 

My question, however, remains unanswered: —Have we any right to infer —let us say, 
rather, to imagine — an interminable succession of the "clusters of clusters," or of 
"Universes" more or less similar? 

I reply that the "right," in a case such as this, depends absolutely upon the hardihood of 
that imagination which ventures to claim the right. Let me declare, only, that, as an 
individual, I myself feel impelled to the fancy —without daring to call it more — that there 
does exist a limitless succession of Universes, more or less similar to that of which we 
have cognizance — to that of which we shall ever have cognizance — at the very least until 
the return of our own particular Universe into Unity. If such clusters of clusters exist, 
however —and they do —it is abundantly clear that, having had no part in our origin, they 
have no portion in our laws. They neither attract us, nor we them. Their material —their 
spirit is not ours —is not that which obtains in any part of our Universe. They could not 
impress our senses or our souls. Among them and us —considering all, for the moment, 
collectively —there are no influences in common. Each exists, apart and independently, 
in the bosom of its proper and particular God. 

In the conduct of this Discourse, I am aiming less at physical than at metaphysical order. 
The clearness with which even material phaenomena are presented to the understanding, 
depends very little, I have long since learned to perceive, upon a merely natural, and 
almost altogether upon a moral, arrangement. If then I seem to step somewhat too 



discursively from point to point of my topic, let me suggest that I do so in the hope of 
thus the better keeping unbroken that chain of graduated impression by which alone the 
intellect of Man can expect to encompass the grandeurs of which I speak, and, in their 
majestic totality, to comprehend them. 

So far, our attention has been directed, almost exclusively, to a general and relative 
grouping of the stellar bodies in space. Of specification there has been little and whatever 
ideas of quantity have been conveyed —that is to say, of number, magnitude, and distance 
— have been conveyed incidentally and by way of preparation for more definitive 
conceptions. These latter let us now attempt to entertain. 

Our solar system, as has been already mentioned, consists, in chief, of one sun and 
sixteen planets certainly, but in all probability a few others, revolving around it as a 
centre, and attended by seventeen moons of which we know, with possibly several more 
of which as yet we know nothing. These various bodies are not true spheres, but oblate 
spheroids —spheres flattened at the poles of the imaginary axes about which they rotate: - 
-the flattening being a consequence of the rotation. Neither is the Sun absolutely the 
centre of the system; for this Sun itself, with all the planets, revolves about a perpetually 
shifting point of space, which is the system's general centre of gravity. Neither are we to 
consider the paths through which these different spheroids move — the moons about the 
planets, the planets about the Sun, or the Sun about the common centre —as circles in an 
accurate sense. They are, in fact, ellipses — one of the foci being the point about which 
the revolution is made. An ellipse is a curve, returning into itself, one of whose diameters 
is longer than the other. In the longer diameter are two points, equidistant from the 
middle of the line, and so situated otherwise that if, from each of them a straight line be 
drawn to any one point of the curve, the two lines, taken together, will, be equal to the 
longer diameter itself. Now let us conceive such an ellipse. At one of the points 
mentioned, which are the foci, let us fasten an orange. By an elastic thread let us connect 
this orange with a pea; and let us place this latter on the circumference of the ellipse. Let 
us now move the pea continuously around the orange —keeping always on the 
circumference of the ellipse. The elastic thread, which, of course, varies in length as we 
move the pea, will form what in geometry is called a radius vector. Now, if the orange be 
understood as the Sun, and the pea as a planet revolving about it, then the revolution 
should be made at such a rate —with a velocity so varying —that the radius vector may 
pass over equal areas of space in equal times. The progress of the pea should be —in 
other words, the progress of the planet is, of course, —slow in proportion to its distance 
from the Sun —swift in proportion to its proximity. Those planets, moreover, move the 
more slowly which are the farther from the Sun; the squares of their periods of revolution 
having the same proportion to each other, as have to each other the cubes of their mean 
distances from the Sun. 

The wonderfully complex laws of revolution here described, however, are not to be 
understood as obtaining in our system alone. They everywhere prevail where Attraction 
prevails. They control the Universe. Every shining speck in the firmament is, no doubt, a 
luminous sun, resembling our own, at least in its general features, and having in 
attendance upon it a greater or less number of planets, greater or less, whose still 



lingering luminosity is not sufficient to render them visible to us at so vast a distance, but 
which, nevertheless, revolve, moon-attended, about their starry centres, in obedience to 
the principles just detailed — in obedience to the three omniprevalent laws of revolution 
the three immortal laws guessed by the imaginative Kepler, and but subsequently 
demonstrated and accounted for by the patient and mathematical Newton. Among a tribe 
of philosophers who pride themselves excessively upon matter-of-fact, it is far too 
fashionable to sneer at all speculation under the comprehensive sobriquet, "guess-work." 
The point to be considered is, who guesses. In guessing with Plato, we spend our time to 
better purpose, now and then, than in hearkening to a demonstration by Alcmaeon. 

In many works on Astronomy I find it distinctly stated that the laws of Kepler are the 
basis of the great principle. Gravitation. This idea must have arisen from the fact that the 
suggestion of these laws by Kepler, and his proving them a posteriori to have an actual 
existence, led Newton to account for them by the hypothesis of Gravitation, and, finally, 
to demonstrate them a priori, as necessary consequences of the hypothetical principle. 
Thus so far from the laws of Kepler being the basis of Gravity, Gravity is the basis of 
these laws —as it is, indeed, of all the laws of the material Universe which are not 
referable to Repulsion alone. 

The mean distance of the Earth from the Moon — that is to say, from the heavenly body in 
our closest vicinity —is 237,000 miles. Mercury, the planet nearest the Sun, is distant 
from him 37 millions of miles. Venus, the next, revolves at a distance of 68 millions: — 
the Earth, which comes next, at a distance of 95 millions: —Mars, then, at a distance of 
144 millions. Now come the eight Asteroids (Ceres, Juno, Vesta, Pallas, Astraea, Flora, 
Iris, and Hebe) at an average distance of about 250 millions. Then we have Jupiter, 
distant 490 millions; then Saturn, 900 millions; then Uranus, 19 hundred millions; finally 
Neptune, lately discovered, and revolving at a distance, say of 28 hundred millions. 
Leaving Neptune out of the account —of which as yet we know little accurately and 
which is, possibly, one of a system of Asteroids —it will be seen that, within certain 
limits, there exists an order of interval among the planets. Speaking loosely, we may say 
that each outer planet is twice as far from the Sun as is the next inner one. May not the 
order here mentioned —may not the law of Bode —be deduced from consideration of the 
analogy suggested by me as having place between the solar discharge of rings and the 
mode of the atomic irradiation? 

The numbers hurriedly mentioned in this summary of distance, it is folly to attempt 
comprehending, unless in the light of abstract arithmetical facts. They are not practically 
tangible ones. They convey no precise ideas. I have stated that Neptune, the planet 
farthest from the Sun, revolves about him at a distance of 28 hundred millions of miles. 
So far good: —I have stated a mathematical fact; and, without comprehending it in the 
least, we may put it to use —mathematically. But in mentioning, even, that the Moon 
revolves about the Earth at the comparatively trifling distance of 237,000 miles, I 
entertained no expectation of giving any one to understand —to know —to feel —how far 
from the Earth the Moon actually is. 237,000 miles! There are, perhaps, few of my 
readers who have not crossed the Atlantic ocean; yet how many of them have a distinct 
idea of even the 3,000 miles intervening between shore and shore? I doubt, indeed. 



whether the man lives who can force into his brain the most remote conception of the 
interval between one milestone and its next neighbor upon the turnpike. We are in some 
measure aided, however, in our consideration of distance, by combining this 
consideration with the kindred one of velocity. Sound passes through 1 100 feet of space 
in a second of time. Now were it possible for an inhabitant of the Earth to see the flash of 
a cannon discharged in the Moon, and to hear the report, he would have to wait, after 
perceiving the former, more than 13 entire days and nights before getting any intimation 
of the latter. 

However feeble be the impression, even thus conveyed, of the Moon's real distance from 
the Earth, it will, nevertheless, effect a good object in enabling us more clearly to see the 
futility of attempting to grasp such intervals as that of the 28 hundred millions of miles 
between our Sun and Neptune; or even that of the 95 millions between the Sun and the 
Earth we inhabit. A cannon-ball, flying at the greatest velocity with which a ball has ever 
been known to fly, could not traverse the latter interval in less than 20 years; while for the 
former it would require 590. 

Our Moon's real diameter is 2160 miles; yet she is comparatively so trifling an object that 
it would take nearly 50 such orbs to compose one as great as the Earth. 

The diameter of our own globe is 7912 miles —but from the enunciation of these 
numbers what positive idea do we derive? 

If we ascend an ordinary mountain and look around us from its summit, we behold a 
landscape stretching, say 40 miles, in every direction; forming a circle 250 miles in 
circumference; and including an area of 5000 square miles. The extent of such a prospect, 
on account of the successiveness with which its portions necessarily present themselves 
to view, can be only very feebly and very partially appreciated: —yet the entire panorama 
would comprehend no more than one 40,000th part of the mere surface of our globe. 
Were this panorama, then, to be succeeded, after the lapse of an hour, by another of equal 
extent; this again by a third, after the lapse of another hour; this again by a fourth after 
lapse of another hour - and so on, until the scenery of the whole Earth were exhausted; 
and were we to be engaged in examining these various panoramas for twelve hours of 
every day; we should nevertheless, be 9 years and 48 days in completing the general 
survey. 

But if the mere surface of the Earth eludes the grasp of the imagination, what are we to 
think of its cubical contents? It embraces a mass of matter equal in weight to at least 2 
sextillions, 200 quintillions of tons. Let us suppose it in a state of quiescence; and now let 
us endeavor to conceive a mechanical force sufficient to set it in motion! Not the strength 
of all the myriads of beings whom we may conclude to inhabit the planetary worlds of 
our system —not the combined physical strength of these beings —even admitting all to 
be more powerful than man —would avail to stir the ponderous mass a single inch from 
its position. 



What are we to understand, then, of the force, which under similar circumstances, would 
be required to move the LAO of our planets, Jupiter? This is 86,000 miles in diameter, 
and would include within its periphery more than a thousand orbs of the magnitude of our 
own. Yet this stupendous body is actually flying around the Sun at the rate of 29,000 
miles an hour —that is to say, with a velocity 40 times greater than that of a cannon-ball! 
The thought of such a phaenomenon cannot well be said to startle the mind: —it palsies 
and appals it. Not unfrequently we task our imagination in picturing the capacities of an 
angel. Let us fancy such a being at a distance of some hundred miles from Jupiter —a 
close eye-witness of this planet as it speeds on its annual revolution. Now can we, I 
demand, fashion for ourselves any conception so distinct of this ideal being's spiritual 
exaltation, as that involved in the supposition that, even by this immeasurable mass of 
matter, whirled immediately before his eyes, with a velocity so unutterable, he — an angel 
—angelic though he be — is not at once struck into nothingness and overwhelmed? 

At this point, however, it seems proper to suggest that, in fact, we have been speaking of 
comparative trifles. Our Sun — the central and controlling orb of the system to which 
Jupiter belongs, is not only greater than Jupiter, but greater by far than all the planets of 
the system taken together. This fact is an essential condition, indeed, of the stability of 
the system itself. The diameter of Jupiter has been mentioned: —it is 86,000 miles: — that 
of the Sun is 882,000 miles. An inhabitant of the latter, travehng 90 miles a day, would 
be more than 80 years in going round a great circle of its circumference. It occupies a 
cubical space of 681 quadrillions, 472 trillions of miles. The Moon, as has been stated, 
revolves about the Earth at a distance of 237,000 miles —in an orbit, consequently, of 
nearly a million and a half. Now, were the Sun placed upon the Earth, centre over centre, 
the body of the former would extend, in every direction, not only to the line of the 
Moon's orbit, but beyond it, a distance of 200,000 miles. 

And here, once again, let me suggest that, in fact, we have still been speaking of 
comparative trifles. The distance of the planet Neptune from the Sun has been stated: —it 
is 28 hundred millions of miles; the circumference of its orbit, therefore, is about 17 
billions. Let this be borne in mind while we glance at some one of the brightest stars. 
Between this and the star of our system, (the Sun,) there is a gulf of space, to convey any 
idea of which we should need the tongue of an archangel. From our system, then, and 
from our Sun, or star, the star at which we suppose ourselves glancing is a thing 
altogether apart: —still, for the moment, let us imagine it placed upon our Sun, centre 
over centre, as we just now imagined this Sun itself placed upon the Earth. Let us now 
conceive the particular star we have in mind, extending, in every direction, beyond the 
orbit of Mercury — of Venus —of the Earth: —still on, beyond the orbit of Mars — of 
Jupiter — of Uranus — until, finally, we fancy it filling the circle —17 billions of miles in 
circumference — which is described by the revolution of Leverrier's planet. When we 
have conceived all this, we shall have entertained no extravagant conception. There is the 
very best reason for believing that many of the stars are even far larger than the one we 
have imagined. I mean to say that we have the very best empirical basis for such belief: - 
-and, in looking back at the original, atomic arrangements for diversity, which have been 
assumed as a part of the Divine plan in the constitution of the Universe, we shall be 
enabled easily to understand, and to credit, the existence of even far vaster disproportions 



in stellar size than any to which I have hitherto alluded. The largest orbs, of course, we 
must expect to find rolling through the widest vacancies of Space. 

I remarked, just now, that to convey an idea of the interval between our Sun and any one 
of the other stars, we should require the eloquence of an archangel. In so saying, I should 
not be accused of exaggeration; for, in simple truth, these are topics on which it is 
scarcely possible to exaggerate. But let us bring the matter more distinctly before the eye 
of the mind. 

In the first place, we may get a general, relative conception of the interval referred to, by 
comparing it with the inter-planetary spaces. If, for example, we suppose the Earth, 
which is, in reality, 95 millions of miles from the Sun, to be only one foot from that 
luminary; then Neptune would be 40 feet distant; and the star Alpha Lyrae, at the very 
least, 159. 

Now I presume that, in the termination of my last sentence, few of my readers have 
noticed anything especially objectionable — particularly wrong. I said that the distance of 
the Earth from the Sun being taken at one foot, the distance of Neptune would be 40 feet, 
and that of Alpha Lyrae, 159. The proportion between one foot and 159, has appeared, 
perhaps, to convey a sufficiently definite impression of the proportion between the two 
intervals — that of the Earth from the Sun and that of Alpha Lyrae from the same 
luminary. But my account of the matter should, in reality, have run thus: —The distance 
of the Earth from the Sun being taken at one foot, the distance of Neptune would be 40 
feet, and that of Alpha Lyrae, 159 —miles: —that is to say, I had assigned to Alpha Lyrae, 
in my first statement of the case, only the 5280th part of that distance which is the least 
distance possible at which it can actually lie. 

To proceed: However distant a mere PLO,0, is, yet when we look at it through a 
telescope, we see it under a certain form — of a certain appreciable size. Now I have 
already hinted at the probable bulk of many of the stars; nevertheless, when we view any 
one of them, even through the most powerful telescope, it is found to present us with no 
form, and consequently with no magnitude whatever. We see it as a point and nothing 
more. 

Again; —Let us suppose ourselves walking, at night, on a highway. In a field on one side 
of the road, is a line of tall objects, say trees, the figures of which are distinctly defined 
against the background of the sky. This line of objects extends at right angles to the road, 
and from the road to the horizon. Now, as we proceed along the road, we see these 
objects changing their positions, respectively, in relation to a certain fixed point in that 
portion of the firmament which forms the background of the view. Let us suppose this 
fixed point — sufficiently fixed for our purpose — to be the rising moon. We become 
aware, at once, that while the tree nearest us so far alters its position in respect to the 
moon, as to seem flying behind us, the tree in the extreme distance has scarcely changed 
at all its relative position with the satellite. We then go on to perceive that the farther the 
objects are from us, the less they alter their positions; and the converse. Then we begin, 
unwittingly, to estimate the distances of individual trees by the degrees in which they 



evince the relative alteration. Finally, we come to understand how it might be possible to 
ascertain the actual distance of any given tree in the hne, by using the amount of relative 
alteration as a basis in a simple geometrical problem. Now this relative alteration is what 
we call "parallax;" and by parallax we calculate the distances of the heavenly bodies. 
Applying the principle to the trees in question, we should, of course, be very much at a 
loss to comprehend the distance of that tree, which, however far we proceeded along the 
road, should evince no parallax at all. This, in the case described, is a thing impossible; 
but impossible only because all distances on our Earth are trivial indeed: —in comparison 
with the vast cosmical quantities, we may speak of them as absolutely nothing. 

Now, let us suppose the star Alpha Lyrae directly overhead; and let us imagine that, 
instead of standing on the Earth, we stand at one end of a straight road stretching through 
Space to a distance equalling the diameter of the Earth's orbit —that is to say, to a 
distance of 190 millions of miles. Having observed, by means of the most delicate 
micrometrical instruments, the exact position of the star, let us now pass along this 
inconceivable road, until we reach its other extremity. Now, once again, let us look at the 
star. It is precisely where we left it. Our instruments, however delicate, assure us that its 
relative position is absolutely —is identically the same as at the commencement of our 
unutterable journey. No parallax — none whatever —has been found. 

The fact is, that, in regard to the distance of the fixed stars - of any one of the myriads of 
suns glistening on the farther side of that awful chasm which separates our system from 
its brothers in the cluster to which it belongs —astronomical science, until very lately, 
could speak only with a negative certainty. Assuming the brightest as the nearest, we 
could say, even of them, only that there is a certain incomprehensible distance on the 
hither side of which they cannot be: —how far they are beyond it we had in no case been 
able to ascertain. We perceived, for example, that Alpha Lyrae cannot be nearer to us 
than 19 trillions, 200 billions of miles; but, for all we knew, and indeed for all we now 
know, it may be distant from us the square, or the cube, or any other power of the number 
mentioned. By dint, however, of wonderfully minute and cautious observations, 
continued, with novel instruments, for many laborious years, Bessel, not long ago 
deceased, has lately succeeded in determining the distance of six or seven stars; among 
others, that of the star numbered 61 in the constellation of the Swan. The distance in this 
latter instance ascertained, is 670,000 times that of the Sun; which last it will be 
remembered, is 95 millions of miles. The star 61 Cygni, then, is nearly 64 trillions of 
miles from us —or more than three times the distance assigned, as the least possible, for 
Alpha Lyrae. 

In attempting to appreciate this interval by the aid of any considerations of velocity, as 
we did in endeavoring to estimate the distance of the moon, we must leave out of sight, 
altogether, such nothings as the speed of a cannon ball, or of sound. Light, however, 
according to the latest calculations of Struve, proceeds at the rate of 167,000 miles in a 
second. Thought itself cannot pass through this interval more speedily —if, indeed, 
thought can traverse it at all. Yet, in coming from 61 Cygni to us, even at this 
inconceivable rate, light occupies more than ten years; and, consequently, were the star 



this moment blotted out from the Universe, still, for ten years, would it continue to 
sparkle on, undimmed in its paradoxical glory. 

Keeping now in mind whatever feeble conception we may have attained of the interval 
between our Sun and 61 Cygni, let us remember that this interval, however unutterably 
vast, we are permitted to consider as but the average interval among the countless host of 
stars composing that cluster, or "nebula," to which our system, as well as that of 61 
Cygni, belongs. I have, in fact, stated the case with great moderation we have excellent 
reason for believing 61 Cygni to be one of the nearest stars, and thus for concluding, at 
least for the present, that its distance from us is less than the average distance between 
star and star in the magnificent cluster of the Milky Way. 

And here, once again and finally, it seems proper to suggest that even as yet we have 
been speaking of trifles. Ceasing to wonder at the space between star and star in our own 
or in any particular cluster, let us rather turn our thoughts to the intervals between cluster 
and cluster, in the all comprehensive cluster of the Universe. 

I have already said that light proceeds at the rate of 167,000 miles in a second —that is, 
about 10 millions of miles in a minute, or about 600 millions of miles in an hour: — yet so 
far removed from us are some of the "nebulae" that even light, speeding with this 
velocity, could not and does not reach us, from those mysterious regions, in less than 3 
millions of years. This calculation, moreover, is made by the elder Herschel, and in 
reference merely to those comparatively proximate clusters within the scope of his own 
telescope. There are "nebulae," however, which, through the magical tube of Lord Rosse, 
are this instant whispering in our ears the secrets of a million of ages by-gone. In a word, 
the events which we behold now — at this moment — in those worlds — are the identical 
events which interested their inhabitants ten hundred thousand centuries ago. In intervals 
—in distances such as this suggestion forces upon the soul —rather than upon the mind — 
we find, at length, a fitting climax to all hitherto frivolous considerations of quantity. 

Our fancies thus occupied with the cosmical distances, let us take the opportunity of 
referring to the difficulty which we have so often experienced, while pursuing the beaten 
path of astronomical reflection, in accounting for the immeasurable voids alluded to — in 
comprehending why chasms so totally unoccupied and therefore apparently so needless, 
have been made to intervene between star and star —between cluster and cluster — in 
understanding, to be brief, a sufficient reason for the Titanic scale, in respect of mere 
Space, on which the Universe is seen to be constructed. A rational cause for the 
phaenomenon, I maintain that Astronomy has palpably failed to assign: —but the 
considerations through which, in this Essay, we have proceeded step by step, enable us 
clearly and immediately to perceive that Space and Duration are one. That the Universe 
might endure throughout an aera at all commensurate with the grandeur of its component 
material portions and with the high majesty of its spiritual purposes, it was necessary that 
the original atomic diffusion be made to so inconceivable an extent as to be only not 
infinite. It was required, in a word, that the stars should be gathered into visibility from 
invisible nebulosity —proceed from nebulosity to consolidation —and so grow grey in 
giving birth and death to unspeakably numerous and complex variations of vitalic 



development it was required that the stars should do all this — should have time 
thoroughly to accomplish all these Divine purposes - during the period in which all 
things were effecting their return into Unity with a velocity accumulating in the inverse 
proportion of the squares of the distances at which lay the inevitable End. 

Throughout all this we have no difficulty in understanding the absolute accuracy of the 
Divine adaptation. The density of the stars, respectively, proceeds, of course, as their 
condensation diminishes; condensation and heterogeneity keep pace with each other; 
through the latter, which is the index of the former, we estimate the vitalic and spiritual 
development. Thus, in the density of the globes, we have the measure in which their 
purposes are fulfilled. As density proceeds —as the divine intentions are accomplished — 
as less and still less remains to be accomplished — so —in the same ratio —should we 
expect to find an acceleration of the End: —and thus the philosophical mind will easily 
comprehend that the Divine designs in constituting the stars, advance mathematically to 
their fulfilment: — and more; it will readily give the advance a mathematical expression; 
it will decide that this advance is inversely proportional with the squares of the distances 
of all created things from the starting-point and goal of their creation. 

Not only is this Divine adaptation, however, mathematically accurate, but there is that 
about it which stamps it as divine, in distinction from that which is merely the work of 
human constructiveness. I allude to the complete mutuality of adaptation. For example; in 
human constructions a particular cause has a particular effect; a particular intention 
brings to pass a particular object; but this is all; we see no reciprocity. The effect does not 
re-act upon the cause; the intention does not change relations with the object. In Divine 
constructions the object is either design or object as we choose to regard it —and we may 
take at any time a cause for an effect, or the converse —so that we can never absolutely 
decide which is which. 

To give an instance: — In polar climates the human frame, to maintain its animal heat, 
requires, for combustion in the capillary system, an abundant supply of highly azotized 
food, such as train-oil. But again: —in polar climates nearly the sole food afforded man is 
the oil of abundant seals and whales. Now, whether is oil at hand because imperatively 
demanded, or the only thing demanded because the only thing to be obtained? It is 
impossible to decide. There is an absolute reciprocity of adaptation. 

The pleasure which we derive from any display of human ingenuity is in the ratio of the 
approach to this species of reciprocity. In the construction of plot, for example, in 
fictitious literature, we should aim at so arranging the incidents that we shall not be able 
to determine, of any one of them, whether it depends from any one other or upholds it. In 
this sense, of course, perfection of PLO, is really, or practically, unattainable —but only 
because it is a finite intelligence that constructs. The plots of God are perfect. The 
Universe is a plot of God. 

And now we have reached a point at which the intellect is forced, again, to struggle 
against its propensity for analogical inference - against its monomaniac grasping at the 
infinite. Moons have been seen revolving about planets; planets about stars; and the 



poetical instinct of humanity — its instinct of the symmetrical, if the symmetry be but a 
symmetry of surface: —this instinct, which the Soul, not only of Man but of all created 
beings, took up, in the beginning, from the geometrical basis of the Universal irradiation - 
-impels us to the fancy of an endless extension of this system of cycles. Closing our eyes 
equally to de duction and in duction, we insist upon imagining a revolution of all the orbs 
of the Galaxy about some gigantic globe which we take to be the central pivot of the 
whole. Each cluster in the great cluster of clusters is imagined, of course, to be similarly 
supplied and constructed; while, that the "analogy" may be wanting at no point, we go on 
to conceive these clusters themselves, again, as revolving about some still more august 
sphere; —this latter, still again, with its encircling clusters, as but one of a yet more 
magnificent series of agglomerations, gyrating about yet another orb central to them — 
some orb still more unspeakably sublime —some orb, let us rather say, of infinite 
sublimity endlessly multiplied by the infinitely sublime. Such are the conditions, 
continued in perpetuity, which the voice of what some people term "analogy" calls upon 
the Fancy to depict and the Reason to contemplate, if possible, without becoming 
dissatisfied with the picture. Such, in general, are the interminable gyrations beyond 
gyration which we have been instructed by Philosophy to comprehend and to account for, 
at least in the best manner we can. Now and then, however, a philosopher proper - one 
whose frenzy takes a very determinate turn — whose genius, to speak more reverentially, 
has a strongly-pronounced washer- womanish bias, doing every thing up by the dozen — 
enables us to see precisely that point out of sight, at which the revolutionary processes in 
question do, and of right ought to, come to an end. 

It is hardly worth while, perhaps, even to sneer at the reveries of Fourrier — but much has 
been said, latterly, of the hypothesis of Madler —that there exists, in the centre of the 
Galaxy, a stupendous globe about which all the systems of the cluster revolve. The period 
of our own, indeed, has been stated —117 millions of years. 

That our Sun has a motion in space, independently of its rotation, and revolution about 
the system's centre of gravity, has long been suspected. This motion, granting it to exist, 
would be manifested perspectively. The stars in that firmamental region which we were 
leaving behind us, would, in a very long series of years, become crowded; those in the 
opposite quarter, scattered. Now, by means of astronomical History, we ascertain, 
cloudily, that some such phaenomena have occurred. On this ground it has been declared 
that our system is moving to a point in the heavens diametrically opposite the star Zeta 
Herculis: — but this inference is, perhaps, the maximum to which we have any logical 
right. Madler, however, has gone so far as to designate a particular star, Alcyone in the 
Pleiades, as being at or about the very spot around which a general revolution is 
performed. 

Now, since by "analogy" we are led, in the first instance, to these dreams, it is no more 
than proper that we should abide by analogy, at least in some measure, during their 
development; and that analogy which suggests the revolution, suggests at the same time a 
central orb about which it should be performed —so far the astronomer was consistent. 
This central orb, however, should, dynamically, be greater than all the orbs, taken 
together, which surround it. Of these there are about 100 millions. "Why, then," it was of 



course demanded, "do we not see this vast central sun —at least equal in mass to 100 
millions of such suns as ours —why do we not see it —we, especially, who occupy the 
mid region of the cluster —the very locality near which, at all events, must be situated 
this incomparable star?" The reply was ready —"It must be non-luminous, as are our 
planets." Here, then, to suit a purpose, analogy is suddenly let fall. "Not so," it may be 
said —"we know that non-luminous suns actually exist." It is true that we have reason at 
least for supposing so; but we have certainly no reason whatever for supposing that the 
non-luminous suns in question are encircled by luminous suns, while these again are 
surrounded by non-luminous planets and it is precisely all this with which Madler is 
called upon to find any thing analogous in the heavens —for it is precisely all this which 
he imagines in the case of the Galaxy. Admitting the thing to be so, we cannot help here 
picturing to ourselves how sad a puzzle the why is it so must prove to all a priori 
philosophers. 

But granting, in the very teeth of analogy and of every thing else, the non-luminosity of 
the vast central orb, we may still inquire how this orb, so enormous, could fail of being 
rendered visible by the flood of light thrown upon it from the 100 millions of glorious 
suns glaring in all directions about it. Upon the urging of this question, the idea of an 
actually solid central sun appears, in some measure, to have been abandoned; and 
speculation proceeded to assert that the systems of the cluster perform their revolutions 
merely about an immaterial centre of gravity common to all. Here again then, to suit a 
purpose, analogy is let fall. The planets of our system revolve, it is true, about a common 
centre of gravity; but they do this in connexion with, and in consequence of, a material 
sun whose mass more than counterbalances the rest of the system. 

The mathematical circle is a curve composed of an infinity of straight lines. But this idea 
of the circle —an idea which in view of all ordinary geometry, is merely the 
mathematical, as contradistinguished from the practical, idea —is, in sober fact, the 
practical conception which alone we have any right to entertain in regard to the majestic 
circle with which we have to deal, at least in fancy, when we suppose our system 
revolving about a point in the centre of the Galaxy. Let the most vigorous of human 
imaginations attempt but to take a single step towards the comprehension of a sweep so 
ineffable! It would scarcely be paradoxical to say that a flash of lightning itself, travelling 
forever upon the circumference of this unutterable circle, would still, forever, be 
travelling in a straight line. That the path of our Sun in such an orbit would, to any human 
perception, deviate in the slightest degree from a straight line, even in a million of years, 
is a proposition not to be entertained: —yet we are required to believe that a curvature has 
become apparent during the brief period of our astronomical history — during a mere 
point —during the utter nothingness of two or three thousand years. 

It may be said that Madler has really ascertained a curvature in the direction of our 
system's now well-established progress through Space. Admitting, if necessary, this fact 
to be in reality such, I maintain that nothing is thereby shown except the reality of this 
fact the fact of a curvature. For its thorough determination, ages will be required; and, 
when determined, it will be found indicative of some binary or other multiple relation 
between our Sun and some one or more of the proximate stars. I hazard nothing however. 



in predicting, that, after the lapse of many centuries, all efforts at determining the path of 
our sun through Space, will be abandoned as fruitless. This is easily conceivable when we 
look at the infinity of perturbation it must experience, from its perpetually- shifting 
relations with other orbs, in the common approach of all to the nucleus of the Galaxy. 

But in examining other "nebulae" than that of the Milky Way — in surveying, generally, 
the clusters which overspread the heavens — do we or do we not find confirmation of 
Madler's hypothesis? We do not. The forms of the clusters are exceedingly diverse when 
casually viewed; but on close inspection, through powerful telescopes, we recognize the 
sphere, very distinctly, as at least the proximate form of all: —their constitution, in 
general, being at variance with the idea of revolution about a common centre. 

"It is difficult," says Sir John Herschel, "to form any conception of the dynamical state of 
such systems. On one hand, without a rotary motion and a centrifugal force, it is hardly 
possible not to regard them as in a state of progressive collapse. On the other, granting 
such a motion and such a force, we find it no less difficult to reconcile their forms with 
the rotation of the whole system [meaning cluster] around any single axis, without which 
internal collision would appear to be inevitable." 

Some remarks lately made about the "nebulae" by Dr. Nichol, in taking quite a different 
view of the cosmical conditions from any taken in this Discourse — have a very peculiar 
applicability to the point now at issue. He says: 

"When our greatest telescopes are brought to bear upon them, we find that those which 
were thought to be irregular, are not so; they approach nearer to a globe. Here is one that 
looked oval; but Lord Rosse's telescope brought it into a circle.... Now there occurs a 
very remarkable circumstance in reference to these comparatively sweeping circular 
masses of nebulae. We find they are not entirely circular, but the reverse; and that all 
around them, on every side, there are volumes of stars, stretching out apparently as if they 
were rushing towards a great central mass in consequence of the action of some great 
power." * 

* I must be understood as denying, especially, only the revolutionary portion of Madler's 
hypothesis. Of course, if no great central orb exists now in our cluster, such will exist 
hereafter. Whenever existing, it will be merely the nucleus of the consolidation. 

Were I to describe, in my own words, what must necessarily be the existing condition of 
each nebula on the hypothesis that all matter is, as I suggest, now returning to its original 
Unity, I should simply be going over, nearly verbatim, the language here employed by 
Dr. Nichol, without the faintest suspicion of that stupendous truth which is the key to 
these nebular phaenomena. 

And here let me fortify my position still farther, by the voice of a greater than Madler — 
of one, moreover, to whom all the data of Madler have long been familiar things, 
carefully and thoroughly considered. Referring to the elaborate calculations of 



Argelander — the very researches which form Madler's basis — Humboldt, whose 
generalizing powers have never, perhaps been equalled, has the following observation: 

"When we regard the real, proper, or non-perspective motions of the stars, we find many 
groups of them moving in opposite directions; and the data as yet in hand render it not 
necessary, at least, to conceive that the systems composing the Milky Way, or the 
clusters, generally, composing the Universe, are revolving about any particular centre 
unknown, whether luminous or non-luminous. It is but Man's longing for a fundamental 
First Cause, that impels both his intellect and fancy to the adoption of such an 
hypothesis." * 

* Betrachtet man die nicht perspectivischen eigenen Bewegungen der Sterne, so scheinen 
viele gruppenweise in ihrer Richtung entgegengesetzt; und die bisher gesammelten 
Thatsachen machen es auf s wenigste nicht nothwendig, anzunehmen, dass alle Theile 
unserer Sternenschicht oder gar der gesammten Sterneninseln, welche den Weltraum 
fuUen, sich um einen grossen, unbekannten, leuchtenden oder dunkeln Centralkorper 
bewegen. Das Streben nach den letzten und hochsten Grundursachen macht freilich die 
reflectirende Thatigkeit des Menschen, wie seine Phantasie, zu einer solchen Annahme 
geneigt. 

The phaenomenon here alluded to —that of "many groups moving in opposite directions" 
—is quite inexplicable by Madler's idea; but arises, as a necessary consequence, from that 
which forms the basis of this Discourse. While the merely general direction of each atom 
- of each moon, planet, star, or cluster —would, on my hypothesis, be, of course, 
absolutely rectilinear; while the general path of all bodies would be a right line leading to 
the centre of all; it is clear, nevertheless, that this general rectilinearity would be 
compounded of what, with scarcely any exaggeration, we may term an infinity of 
particular curves — an infinity of local deviations from rectilinearity — the result of 
continuous differences of relative position among the multudinous masses as each 
proceeded on its own proper journey to the End. 

I quoted, just now, from Sir John Herschel, the following words, used in reference to the 
clusters: —"On one hand, without a rotary motion and a centrifugal force, it is hardly 
possible not to regard them as in a state of progressive collapse." The fact is, that, in 
surveying the "nebulae" with a telescope of high power, we shall find it quite impossible, 
having once conceived this idea of "collapse," not to gather, at all points, corroboration of 
the idea. A nucleus is always apparent, in the direction of which the stars seem to be 
precipitating themselves; nor can these nuclei be mistaken for merely perspective 
phaenomena: —the clusters are really denser near the centre — sparser in the regions more 
remote from it. In a word, we see every thing as we should see it were a collapse taking 
place; but, in general, it may be said of these clusters, that we can fairly entertain, while 
looking at them, the idea of orbitual movement about a centre, only by admitting the 
possible existence, in the distant domains of space, of dynamical laws with which we are 
unacquainted. 



On the part of Herschel, however, there is evidently a reluctance to regard the nebulae as 
in "a state of progressive collapse." But if facts —if even appearances justify the 
supposition of their being in this state, why, it may well be demanded, is he disinclined to 
admit it? Simply on account of a prejudice; —merely because the supposition is at war 
with a preconceived and utterly baseless notion —that of the endlessness —that of the 
eternal stability of the Universe. 

If the propositions of this Discourse are tenable, the "state of progressive collapse" is 
precisely that state in which alone we are warranted in considering All Things; and, with 
due humility, let me here confess that, for my part, I am at a loss to conceive how any 
other understanding of the existing condition of affairs, could ever have made its way 
into the human brain. "The tendency to collapse" and "the attraction of gravitation" are 
convertible phrases. In using either, we speak of the reaction of the First Act. Never was 
necessity less obvious than that of supposing Matter imbued with an ineradicable quality 
forming part of its material nature —a quality, or instinct, forever inseparable from it, and 
by dint of which inalienable principle every atom is perpetually impelled to seek its 
fellow-atom. Never was necessity less obvious than that of entertaining this 
unphilosophical idea. Going boldly behind the vulgar thought, we have to conceive, 
metaphysically, that the gravitating principle appertains to Matter temporarily —only 
while diffused - only while existing as Many instead of as One —appertains to it by 
virtue of its state of irradiation alone —appertains, in a word, altogether to its Condition, 
and not in the slightest degree to itself. In this view, when the irradiation shall have 
returned into its source — when the reaction shall be completed —the gravitating principle 
will no longer exist. And, in fact, astronomers, without at any time reaching the idea here 
suggested, seem to have been approximating it, in the assertion that "if there were but one 
body in the Universe, it would be impossible to understand how the principle. Gravity, 
could obtain": —that is to say, from a consideration of Matter as they find it, they reach a 
conclusion at which I deductively arrive. That so pregnant a suggestion as the one quoted 
should have been permitted to remain so long unfruitful, is, nevertheless, a mystery 
which I find it difficult to fathom. 

It is, perhaps, in no little degree, however, our propensity for the continuous —for the 
analogical —in the present case more particularly for the symmetrical which has been 
leading us astray. And, in fact, the sense of the symmetrical is an instinct which may be 
depended upon with an almost blindfold reliance. It is the poetical essence of the 
Universe — OF0,0 which, in the supremeness of its symmetry, is but the most sublime of 
poems. Now symmetry and consistency are convertible terms: — thus Poetry and Truth 
are one. A thing is consistent in the ratio of its truth —true in the ratio of its consistency. 
A Perfect consistency, I repeat, can be nothing but a absolute truth. We may take it for 
granted, then, that Man cannot long or widely err, if he suffer himself to be guided by his 
poetical, which I have maintained to be his truthful, in being his symmetrical, instinct. He 
must have a care, however, lest, in pursuing too heedlessly the superficial symmetry of 
forms and motions, he leave out of sight the really essential symmetry of the principles 
which determine and control them. 



That the stellar bodies would finally be merged in one —that, at last, all would be drawn 
into the substance of one stupendous central orb already existing —is an idea which, for 
some time past, seems, vaguely and indeterminately, to have held possession of the fancy 
of mankind. It is an idea, in fact, which belongs to the class of the excessively obvious. It 
springs, instantly, from a superficial observation of the cyclic and seemingly gyrating, or 
vorticial movements of those individual portions of the Universe which come most 
immediately and most closely under our observation. There is not, perhaps, a human 
being, of ordinary education and of average reflective capacity, to whom, at some period, 
the fancy inquestion has not occurred, as if spontaneously, or intuitively, and wearing all 
the character of a very profound and very original conception. This conception, however, 
so commonly entertained, has never, within my knowledge, arisen out of any abstract 
considerations. Being, on the contrary, always suggested, as I say, by the vorticial 
movements about centres, a reason for it, also, —a cause for the ingathering of all the 
orbs into one, imagined to be already existing, was naturally sought in the same direction 
—among these cyclic movements themselves. 

Thus it happened that, on announcement of the gradual and perfectly regular decrease 
observed in the orbit of Enck's comet, at every successive revolution about our Sun, 
astronomers were nearly unanimous in the opinion that the cause in question was found - 
-that a principle was discovered sufficient to account, physically, for that final, universal 
agglomeration which, I repeat, the analogical, symmetrical or poetical instinct of Man 
had predetermined to understand as something more than a simple hypothesis. 

This cause —this sufficient reason for the final ingathering —was declared to exist in an 
exceedingly rare but still material medium pervading space; which medium, by retarding, 
in some degree, the progress of the comet, perpetually weakened its tangential force; thus 
giving a predominance to the centripetal; which, of course, drew the comet nearer and 
nearer at each revolution, and would eventually precipitate it upon the Sun. 

All this was strictly logical —admitting the medium or ether; but this ether was assumed, 
most illogically, on the ground that no other mode than the one spoken of could be 
discovered, of accounting for the observed decrease in the orbit of the comet: — as if from 
the fact that we could discover no other mode of accounting for it, it followed, in any 
respect, that no other mode of accounting for it existed. It is clear that innumerable causes 
might operate, in combination, to diminish the orbit, without even a possibility of our 
ever becoming acquainted with one of them. In the meantime, it has never been fairly 
shown, perhaps, why the retardation occasioned by the skirts of the Sun's atmosphere, 
through which the comet passes at perihelion, is not enough to account for the 
phaenomenon. That Enck's comet will be absorbed into the Sun, is probable; that all the 
comets of the system will be absorbed, is more than merely possible; but, in such case, 
the principle of absorption must be referred to eccentricity of orbit —to the close 
approximation to the Sun, of the comets at their perihelia; and is a principle not affecting, 
in any degree, the ponderous spheres, which are to be regarded as the true material 
constituents of the Universe. — Touching comets, in general, let me here suggest, in 
passing, that we cannot be far wrong in looking upon them as the lightning-flashes of the 
cosmical Heaven. 



The idea of a retarding ether and, through it, of a final agglomeration of all things, 
seemed at one time, however, to be confirmed by the observation of a positive decrease 
in the orbit of the solid moon. By reference to eclipses recorded 2500 years ago, it was 
found that the velocity of the satellite's revolution then was considerably less than it is 
now; that on the hypothesis that its motions in its orbit is uniformly in accordance with 
Kepler's law, and was accurately determined then —2500 years ago —it is now in 
advance of the position it should occupy, by nearly 9000 miles. The increase of velocity 
proved, of course, a diminution of orbit; and astronomers were fast yielding to a belief in 
an ether, as the sole mode of accounting for the phaenomenon, when Lagrange came to 
the rescue. He showed that, owing to the configurations of the spheroids, the shorter axes 
of their ellipses are subject to variation in length; the longer axes being permanent; and 
that this variation is continuous and vibratory —so that every orbit is in a state of 
transition, either from circle to ellipse, or from ellipse to circle. In the case of the moon, 
where the shorter axis is de creasing, the orbit is passing from circle to ellipse, and, 
consequently, is de creasing too; but, after a long series of ages, the ultimate eccentricity 
will be attained; then the shorter axis will proceed to in crease, until the orbit becomes a 
circle; when the process of shortening will again take place; —and so on forever. In the 
case of the Earth, the orbit is passing from ellipse to circle. The facts thus demonstrated 
do away, of course, with all necessity for supposing an ether, and with all apprehension 
of the system's instability —on the ether's account. 

It will be remembered that I have myself assumed what we may term an ether. I have 
spoken of a subtle influence which we know to be ever in attendance upon matter, 
although becoming manifest only through matter's heterogeneity. To this influence — 
without daring to touch it at all in any effort at explaining its awful nature —I have 
referred the various phaenomena of electricity, heat, light, magnetism; and more — of 
vitality, consciousness, and thought —in a word, of spirituality. It will be seen, at once, 
then, that the ether thus conceived is radically distinct from the ether of the astronomers; 
inasmuch as theirs is matter and mine not. 

With the idea of material ether, seems, thus, to have departed altogether the thought of 
that universal agglomeration so long predetermined by the poetical fancy of mankind: — 
an agglomeration in which a sound Philosophy might have been warranted in putting 
faith, at least to a certain extent, if for no other reason than that by this poetical fancy it 
had been so predetermined. But so far as Astronomy —so far as mere Physics have yet 
spoken, the cycles of the Universe are perpetual — the Universe has no conceivable end. 
Had an end been demonstrated, however, from so purely collateral a cause as an ether, 
Man's instinct of the Divine capacity to adapt, would have rebelled against the 
demonstration. We should have been forced to regard the Universe with some such sense 
of dissatisfaction as we experience in contemplating an unnecessarily complex work of 
human art. Creation would have affected us as an imperfect PLO, in a romance, where the 
denoument is awkwardly brought about by interposed incidents external and foreign to 
the main subject; instead of springing out of the bosom of the thesis —out of the heart of 
the ruling idea —instead of arising as a result of the primary proposition —as inseparable 
and inevitable part and parcel of the fundamental conception of the book. 



What I mean by the symmetry of mere surface — will now be more clearly understood. It 
is simply by the blandishment of this symmetry that we have been beguiled into the 
general idea of which Madler's hypothesis is but a part —the idea of the vorticial 
indrawing of the orbs. Dismissing this nakedly physical conception, the symmetry of 
principle sees the end of all things metaphysically involved in the thought of a beginning; 
seeks and finds in this origin of all things the rudiment of this end; and perceives the 
impiety of supposing this end likely to be brought about less simply —less directly —less 
obviously —less artistically —than through the reaction of the originating Act. 

Recurring, then, to a previous suggestion, let us understand the systems —let us 
understand each star, with its attendant planets —as but a Titanic atom existing in space 
with precisely the same inclination for Unity which characterized, in the beginning, the 
actual atoms after their irradiation throughout the Universal sphere. As these original 
atoms rushed towards each other in generally straight lines, so let us conceive as at least 
generally rectilinear, the paths of the system-atoms towards their respective centres of 
aggregation: —and in this direct drawing together of the systems into clusters, with a 
similar and simultaneous drawing together of the clusters themselves while undergoing 
consolidation, we have at length attained the great Now —the awful Present —the 
Existing Condition of the Universe. 

Of the still more awful Future a not irrational analogy may guide us in framing an 
hypothesis. The equilibrium between the centripetal and centrifugal forces of each 
system, being necessarily destroyed upon attainment of a certain proximity to the nucleus 
of the cluster to which it belongs, there must occur, at once, a chaotic or seemingly 
chaotic precipitation, of the moons upon the planets, of the planets upon the suns, and of 
the suns upon the nuclei; and the general result of this precipitation must be the gathering 
of the myriad now-existing stars of the firmament into an almost infinitely less number of 
almost infinitely superior spheres. In being immeasurably fewer, the worlds of that day 
will be immeasurably greater than our own. Then, indeed, amid unfathomable abysses, 
will be glaring unimaginable suns. But all this will be merely a climacic magnificence 
foreboding the great End. Of this End the new genesis described, can be but a very partial 
postponement. While undergoing consolidation, the clusters themselves, with a speed 
prodigiously accumulative, have been rushing towards their own general centre —and 
now, with a thousandfold electric velocity, commensurate only with their material 
grandeur and with the spiritual passion of their appetite for oneness, the majestic 
remnants of the tribe of Stars flash, at length, into a common embrace. The inevitable 
catastrophe is at hand. 

But this catastrophe —what is it? We have seen accomplished the ingathering of the orbs. 
Henceforward, are we not to understand one material globe of globes as constituting and 
comprehending the Universe? Such a fancy would be altogether at war with every 
assumption and consideration of this Discourse. 

I have already alluded to that absolute reciprocity of adaptation which is the idiosyncrasy 
of the divine Art — stamping it divine. Up to this point of our reflections, we have been 
regarding the electrical influence as a something by dint of whose repulsion alone Matter 



is enabled to exist in that state of diffusion demanded for the fulfilment of its purposes: — 
so far, in a word, we have been considering the influence in question as ordained for 
Matter's sake — to subserve the objects of matter. With a perfectly legitimate reciprocity, 
we are now permitted to look at Matter, as created solely for the sake of this influence — 
solely to serve the objects of this spiritual Ether. Through the aid —by the means — 
through the agency of Matter, and by dint of its heterogeneity —is this Ether manifested - 
-is Spirit individualized. It is merely in the development of this Ether, through 
heterogeneity, that particular masses of Matter become animate —sensitive —and in the 
ratio of their heterogeneity; —some reaching a degree of sensitiveness involving what we 
call Thought and thus attaining Conscious Intelligence. 

In this view, we are enabled to perceive Matter as a Means —not as an End. Its purposes 
are thus seen to have been comprehended in its diffusion; and with the return into Unity 
these purposes cease. The absolutely consolidated globe of globes would be objectless: — 
therefore not for a moment could it continue to exist. Matter, created for an end, would 
unquestionably, on fulfilment of that end, be Matter no longer. Let us endeavor to 
understand that it would disappear, and that God would remain all in all. 

That every work of Divine conception must coexist and coexpire with its particular 
design, seems to me especially obvious; and I make no doubt that, on perceiving the final 
globe of globes to be objectless, the majority of my readers will be satisfied with my 
"therefore it cannot continue to exist." Nevertheless, as the startling thought of its 
instantaneous disappearance is one which the most powerful intellect cannot be expected 
readily to entertain on grounds so decidedly abstract, let us endeavor to look at the idea 
from some other and more ordinary point of view: — let us see how thoroughly and 
beautifully it is corroborated in an a posteriori consideration of Matter as we actually find 
it. 

I have before said that "Attraction and Repulsion being undeniably the sole properties by 
which Matter is manifested to Mind, we are justified in assuming that Matter exists only 
as Attraction and Repulsion —in other words that Attraction and Repulsion are Matter; 
there being no conceivable case in which we may not employ the term Matter and the 
terms 'Attraction' and 'Repulsion' taken together, as equivalent, and therefore convertible, 
expressions of Logic." * 

* See previous paragraph, "Discarding now the two equivocal terms..." 

Now the very definition of Attraction implies particularity — the existence of parts, 
particles, or atoms; for we define it as the tendency of "each atom &c. to every other 
atom," &c. according to a certain law. Of course where there are no parts — where there is 
absolute Unity — where the tendency to oneness is satisfied —there can be no Attraction: - 
-this has been fully shown, and all Philosophy admits it. When, on fulfilment of its 
purposes, then. Matter shall have returned into its original condition of One —a condition 
which presupposes the expulsion of the separative ether, whose province and whose 
capacity are limited to keeping the atoms apart until that great day when, this ether being 
no longer needed, the overwhelming pressure of the finally collective Attraction shall at 



length just sufficiently predominate * and expel it: —when, I say, Matter, finally, 
expelling the Ether, shall have returned into absolute Unity, —it will then (to speak 
paradoxically for the moment) be Matter without Attraction and without Repulsion —in 
other words. Matter without Matter —in other words, again. Matter no more. In sinking 
into Unity, it will sink at once into that Nothingness which, to all Finite Perception, Unity 
must be — into that Material Nihility from which alone we can conceive it to have been 
evoked — to have been created by the Volition of God. 

* "Gravity, therefore, must be the strongest of forces." See previous section, "Now, 
although the philosophic cannot be said to..." 

I repeat then — Let us endeavor to comprehend that the final globe of globes will 
instantaneously disappear, and that God will remain all in all. 

But are we here to pause? Not so. On the Universal agglomeration and dissolution, we 
can readily conceive that a new and perhaps totally different series of conditions may 
ensue — another creation and irradiation, returning into itself —another action and 
reaction of the Divine Will. Guiding our imaginations by that omniprevalent law of laws, 
the law of periodicity, are we not, indeed, more than justified in entertaining a belief — let 
us say, rather, in indulging a hope —that the processes we have here ventured to 
contemplate will be renewed forever, and forever, and forever; a novel Universe swelling 
into existence, and then subsiding into nothingness, at every throb of the Heart Divine? 

And now —this Heart Divine —what is it? It is our own. 

Let not the merely seeming irreverence of this idea frighten our souls from that cool 
exercise of consciousness — from that deep tranquillity of self-inspection —through which 
alone we can hope to attain the presence of this, the most sublime of truths, and look it 
leisurely in the face. 

The phaenomena on which our conclusions must at this point depend, are merely spiritual 
shadows, but not the less thoroughly substantial. 

We walk about, amid the destinies of our world-existence, encompassed by dim but ever 
present Memories of a Destiny more vast — very distant in the bygone time, and infinitely 
awful. 

We live out a Youth peculiarly haunted by such dreams; yet never mistaking them for 
dreams. As Memories we know them. During our Youth the distinction is too clear to 
deceive us even for a moment. 

So long as this Youth endures, the feeling that we exist, is the most natural of all feelings. 
We understand it thoroughly. That there was a period at which we did not exist —or, that 
it might so have happened that we never had existed at all —are the considerations, 
indeed, which during this youth, we find difficulty in understanding. Why we should not 
exist, is, up to the epoch of Manhood, of all queries the most unanswerable. Existence — 



self-existence — existence from all Time and to all Eternity — seems, up to the epoch of 
Manhood, a normal and unquestionable condition: — seems, because it is. 

But now comes the period at which a conventional World-Reason awakens us from the 
truth of our dream. Doubt, Surprise and Incomprehensibility arrive at the same moment. 
They say: — "You live and the time was when you lived not. You have been created. An 
Intelligence exists greater than your own; and it is only through this Intelligence you live 
at all." These things we struggle to comprehend and cannot: —cannot, because these 
things, being untrue, are thus, of necessity, incomprehensible. 

No thinking being lives who, at some luminous point of his life of thought, has not felt 
himself lost amid the surges of futile efforts at understanding, or believing, that anything 
exists greater than his own soul. The utter impossibility of any one's soul feeling itself 
inferior to another; the intense, overwhelming dissatisfaction and rebellion at the thought; 
—these, with the omniprevalent aspirations at perfection, are but the spiritual, coincident 
with the material, struggles towards the original Unity —are, to my mind at least, a 
species of proof far surpassing what Man terms demonstration, that no one soul is inferior 
to another —that nothing is, or can be, superior to any one soul —that each soul is, in part, 
its own God —its own Creator: —in a word, that God —the material and spiritual God - 
now exists solely in the diffused Matter and Spirit of the Universe; and that the 
regathering of this diffused Matter and Spirit will be but the re-constitution of the purely 
Spiritual and Individual God. 

In this view, and in this view alone, we comprehend the riddles of Divine Injustice — of 
Inexorable Fate. In this view alone the existence of Evil becomes intelligible; but in this 
view it becomes more —it becomes endurable. Our souls no longer rebel at a Sorrow 
which we ourselves have imposed upon ourselves, in furtherance of our own purposes — 
with a view — if even with a futile view —to the extension of our own Joy. 

I have spoken of Memories that haunt us during our youth. They sometimes pursue us 
even in our Manhood: —assume gradually less and less indefinite shapes: —now and then 
speak to us with low voices, saying: 

"There was an epoch in the Night of Time, when a still-existent Being existed — one of an 
absolutely infinite number of similar Beings that people the absolutely infinite domains 
of the absolutely infinite space. * 

* See previous paragraph, 'I reply that the "right," in a case such as this...' 

It was not and is not in the power of this Being —any more than it is in your own —to 
extend, by actual increase, the joy of his Existence; but just as it is in your power to 
expand or to concentrate your pleasures (the absolute amount of happiness remaining 
always the same) so did and does a similar capability appertain to this Divine Being, who 
thus passes his Eternity in perpetual variation of Concentrated Self and almost Infinite 
Self-Diffusion. What you call The Universe is but his present expansive existence. He 
now feels his life through an infinity of imperfect pleasures —the partial and pain- 



intertangled pleasures of those inconceivably numerous things which you designate as his 
creatures, but which are really but infinite individualizations of Himself. All these 
creatures - those which you term animate, as well as those to whom you deny life for no 
better reason than that you do not behold it in operation - these creatures have, in a 
greater or less degree, a capacity for pleasure and for pain: —but the general sum of their 
sensations is precisely that amount of Happiness which appertains by right to the Divine 
Being when concentrated within Himself. These creatures are all too, more or less 
conscious Intelligences; conscious, first, of a proper identity; conscious, secondly and by 
faint indeterminate glimpses, of an identity with the Divine Being of whom we speak — 
of an identity with God. Of the two classes of consciousness, fancy that the former will 
grow weaker, the latter stronger, during the long succession of ages which must elapse 
before these myriads of individual Intelligences become blended — when the bright stars 
become blended — into One. Think that the sense of individual identity will be gradually 
merged in the general consciousness — that Man, for example, ceasing imperceptibly to 
feel himself Man, will at length attain that awfully triumphant epoch when he shall 
recognize his existence as that of Jehovah. In the meantime bear in mind that all is Life — 
Life — Life within Life —the less within the greater, and all within the Spirit Divine. 

THE END 



EVENING STAR 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1827 



'Twas noontide of summer, 

And mid-time of night; 

And stars, in their orbits. 

Shone pale, thro' the light 

Of the brighter, cold moon, 

'Mid planets her slaves. 

Herself in the Heavens, 

Her beam on the waves. 

I gazed awhile 

On her cold smile; 

Too cold-too cold for me- 

There pass'd, as a shroud, 

A fleecy cloud. 

And I turned away to thee. 

Proud Evening Star, 

In thy glory afar. 

And dearer thy beam shall be; 

For joy to my heart 

Is the proud part 

Thou bearest in Heaven at night. 

And more I admire 

Thy distant fire. 

Than that colder, lowly light. 

THE END 



FAIRY-LAND 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1829 



Dim vales-and shadowy floods- 
And cloudy-looking woods, 
Whose forms we can't discover 
For the tears that drip all over! 
Huge moons there wax and wane- 
Again-again-again- 
Every moment of the night- 
Forever changing places- 
And they put out the star-light 
With the breath from their pale faces. 
About twelve by the moon-dial, 
One more filmy than the rest 
(A kind which, upon trial. 
They have found to be the best) 
Comes down-still down-and down. 
With its centre on the crown 
Of a mountain's eminence. 
While its wide circumference 
In easy drapery falls 
Over hamlets, over halls. 
Wherever they may be- 
O'er the strange woods-o'er the sea- 
Over spirits on the wing- 
Over every drowsy thing- 
And buries them up quite 
In a labyrinth of light- 
And then, how deep!-0, deep! 
Is the passion of their sleep. 
In the morning they arise. 
And their moony covering 
Is soaring in the skies. 
With the tempests as they toss. 
Like-almost anything- 
Or a yellow Albatross. 
They use that moon no more 
For the same end as before- 
Videlicet, a tent- 
Which I think extravagant: 



Its atomies, however, 
Into a shower dissever. 
Of which those butterflies 
Of Earth, who seek the skies. 
And so come down again, 
(Never-contented things!) 
Have brought a specimen 
Upon their quivering wings. 

THE END 



FOR ANNIE 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1849 



Thank Heaven! the crisis- 

The danger is past, 

And the lingering illness 

Is over at last- 

And the fever called "Living" 

Is conquered at last. 

Sadly, I know 
I am shorn of my strength. 
And no muscle I move 
As I lie at full length- 
But no matter!-I feel 
I am better at length. 

And I rest so composedly. 
Now, in my bed 
That any beholder 
Might fancy me dead- 
Might start at beholding me. 
Thinking me dead. 

The moaning and groaning. 
The sighing and sobbing. 
Are quieted now. 
With that horrible throbbing 
At heart:-ah, that horrible. 
Horrible throbbing! 

The sickness-the nausea- 
The pitiless pain- 
Have ceased, with the fever 
That maddened my brain- 
With the fever called "Living" 
That burned in my brain. 

And oh! of all tortures 
That torture the worst 
Has abated-the terrible 



Torture of thirst 
For the naphthahne river 
Of Passion accurst: - 
I have drunk of a water 
That quenches all thirst: - 

Of a water that flows, 
With a lullaby sound, 
From a spring but a very few 
Feet under ground- 
From a cavern not very far 
Down under ground. 

And ah! let it never 

Be foolishly said 

That my room it is gloomy 

And narrow my bed; 

For man never slept 

In a different bed- 

And, to sleep, you must slumber 

In just such a bed. 

My tantalized spirit 
Here blandly reposes. 
Forgetting, or never 
Regretting its roses- 
Its old agitations 
Of myrtles and roses: 

For now, while so quietly 
Lying, it fancies 
A holier odor 
About it, of pansies- 
A rosemary odor. 
Commingled with pansies- 
With rue and the beautiful 
Puritan pansies. 

And so it lies happily. 
Bathing in many 
A dream of the truth 
And the beauty of Annie- 
Drowned in a bath 
Of the tresses of Annie. 



She tenderly kissed me, 
She fondly caressed, 
And then I fell gently 
To sleep on her breast- 
Deeply to sleep 
From the heaven of her breast. 

When the light was extinguished. 
She covered me warm. 
And she prayed to the angels 
To keep me from harm- 
To the queen of the angels 
To shield me from harm. 

And I lie so composedly, 
Now, in my bed, 
(Knowing her love) 
That you fancy me dead- 
And I rest so contentedly. 
Now, in my bed, 
(With her love at my breast) 
That you fancy me dead- 
That you shudder to look at me. 
Thinking me dead. 

But my heart it is brighter 
Than all of the many 
Stars in the sky. 
For it sparkles with Annie- 
It glows with the light 
Of the love of my Annie- 
With the thought of the light 
Of the eyes of my Annie. 

THE END 



FOUR BEASTS IN ONE-THE HOMO 
CAMELEOPARD 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



Chacun a ses vertus. 
CREBILLON'S Xerxes. 

ANTIOCHUS EPIPHANES is very generally looked upon as the Gog of the prophet 
Ezekiel. This honor is, however, more properly attributable to Cambyses, the son of 
Cyrus. And, indeed, the character of the Syrian monarch does by no means stand in need 
of any adventitious embellishment. His accession to the throne, or rather his usurpation of 
the sovereignty, a hundred and seventy-one years before the coming of Christ; his attempt 
to plunder the temple of Diana at Ephesus; his implacable hostility to the Jews; his 
pollution of the Holy of Holies; and his miserable death at Taba, after a tumultuous reign 
of eleven years, are circumstances of a prominent kind, and therefore more generally 
noticed by the historians of his time than the impious, dastardly, cruel, silly, and 
whimsical achievements which make up the sum total of his private life and reputation. 

Let us suppose, gentle reader, that it is now the year of the world three thousand eight 
hundred and thirty, and let us, for a few minutes, imagine ourselves at that most 
grotesque habitation of man, the remarkable city of Antioch. To be sure there were, in 
Syria and other countries, sixteen cities of that appellation, besides the one to which I 
more particularly allude. But ours is that which went by the name of Antiochia 
Epidaphne, from its vicinity to the little village of Daphne, where stood a temple to that 
divinity. It was built (although about this matter there is some dispute) by Seleucus 
Nicanor, the first king of the country after Alexander the Great, in memory of his father 
Antiochus, and became immediately the residence of the Syrian monarchy. In the 
flourishing times of the Roman Empire, it was the ordinary station of the prefect of the 
eastern provinces; and many of the emperors of the queen city (among whom may be 
mentioned, especially, Verus and Valens) spent here the greater part of their time. But I 
perceive we have arrived at the city itself. Let us ascend this battlement, and throw our 
eyes upon the town and neighboring country. 

"What broad and rapid river is that which forces its way, with innumerable falls, through 
the mountainous wilderness, and finally through the wilderness of buildings?" 

That is the Orontes, and it is the only water in sight, with the exception of the 
Mediterranean, which stretches, like a broad mirror, about twelve miles off to the 
southward. Every one has seen the Mediterranean; but let me tell you, there are few who 
have had a peep at Antioch. By few, I mean, few who, like you and me, have had, at the 



same time, the advantages of a modern education. Therefore cease to regard that sea, and 
give your whole attention to the mass of houses that lie beneath us. You will remember 
that it is now the year of the world three thousand eight hundred and thirty. Were it later- 
for example, were it the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and forty-five, we should be 
deprived of this extraordinary spectacle. In the nineteenth century Antioch is-that is to 
say, Antioch will be- in a lamentable state of decay. It will have been, by that time, 
totally destroyed, at three different periods, by three successive earthquakes. Indeed, to 
say the truth, what little of its former self may then remain, will be found in so desolate 
and ruinous a state that the patriarch shall have removed his residence to Damascus. This 
is well. I see you profit by my advice, and are making the most of your time in inspecting 
the premises-in 

-satisfying your eyes 

With the memorials and the things of fame 

That most renown this city.- 

I beg pardon; I had forgotten that Shakespeare will not flourish for seventeen hundred 
and fifty years to come. But does not the appearance of Epidaphne justify me in calling it 
grotesque? 

"It is well fortified; and in this respect is as much indebted to nature as to art." 

Very true. 

"There are a prodigious number of stately palaces." 

There are. 

"And the numerous temples, sumptuous and magnificent, may bear comparison with the 
most lauded of antiquity." 

All this I must acknowledge. Still there is an infinity of mud huts, and abominable hovels. 
We cannot help perceiving abundance of filth in every kennel, and, were it not for the 
over-powering fumes of idolatrous incense, I have no doubt we should find a most 
intolerable stench. Did you ever behold streets so insufferably narrow, or houses so 
miraculously tall? What gloom their shadows cast upon the ground! It is well the 
swinging lamps in those endless colonnades are kept burning throughout the day; we 
should otherwise have the darkness of Egypt in the time of her desolation. 

"It is certainly a strange place! What is the meaning of yonder singular building? See! it 
towers above all others, and lies to the eastward of what I take to be the royal palace." 

That is the new Temple of the Sun, who is adored in Syria under the title of Elah 
Gabalah. Hereafter a very notorious Roman Emperor will institute this worship in Rome, 
and thence derive a cognomen, Heliogabalus. I dare say you would like to take a peep at 
the divinity of the temple. You need not look up at the heavens; his Sunship is not there- 



at least not the Sunship adored by the Syrians. That deity will be found in the interior of 
yonder building. He is worshipped under the figure of a large stone pillar terminating at 
the summit in a cone or pyramid, whereby is denoted Fire. 

"Hark-behold!-who can those ridiculous beings be, half naked, with their faces painted, 
shouting and gesticulating to the rabble?" 

Some few are mountebanks. Others more particularly belong to the race of philosophers. 
The greatest portion, however-those especially who belabor the populace with clubs-are 
the principal courtiers of the palace, executing as in duty bound, some laudable 
comicality of the king's. 

"But what have we here? Heavens! the town is swarming with wild beasts! How terrible a 
spectacle !-how dangerous a peculiarity!" 

Terrible, if you please; but not in the least degree dangerous. Each animal if you will take 
the pains to observe, is following, very quietly, in the wake of its master. Some few, to be 
sure, are led with a rope about the neck, but these are chiefly the lesser or timid species. 
The lion, the tiger, and the leopard are entirely without restraint. They have been trained 
without difficulty to their present profession, and attend upon their respective owners in 
the capacity of valets-de-chambre. It is true, there are occasions when Nature asserts her 
violated dominions;-but then the devouring of a man-at-arms, or the throttling of a 
consecrated bull, is a circumstance of too little moment to be more than hinted at in 
Epidaphne. 

"But what extraordinary tumult do I hear? Surely this is a loud noise even for Antioch! It 
argues some commotion of unusual interest." 

Yes-undoubtedly. The king has ordered some novel spectacle-some gladiatorial 
exhibition at the hippodrome-or perhaps the massacre of the Scythian prisoners-or the 
conflagration of his new palace- or the tearing down of a handsome temple-or, indeed, a 
bonfire of a few Jews. The uproar increases. Shouts of laughter ascend the skies. The air 
becomes dissonant with wind instruments, and horrible with clamor of a million throats. 
Let us descend, for the love of fun, and see what is going on! This way-be careful! Here 
we are in the principal street, which is called the street of Timarchus. The sea of people is 
coming this way, and we shall find a difficulty in stemming the tide. They are pouring 
through the alley of Heraclides, which leads directly from the palace ;-therefore the king 
is most probably among the rioters. Yes;-I hear the shouts of the herald proclaiming his 
approach in the pompous phraseology of the East. We shall have a glimpse of his person 
as he passes by the temple of Ashimah. Let us ensconce ourselves in the vestibule of the 
sanctuary; he will be here anon. In the meantime let us survey this image. What is it? Oh! 
it is the god Ashimah in proper person. You perceive, however, that he is neither a lamb, 
nor a goat, nor a satyr, neither has he much resemblance to the Pan of the Arcadians. Yet 
all these appearances have been given-I beg pardon-will be given-by the learned of 
future ages, to the Ashimah of the Syrians. Put on your spectacles, and tell me what it is. 
What is it? 



"Bless me! it is an ape!" 

True-a baboon; but by no means the less a deity. His name is a derivation of the Greek 
Simia-what great fools are antiquarians! But see!-see!-yonder scampers a ragged little 
urchin. Where is he going? What is he bawling about? What does he say? Oh! he says the 
king is coming in triumph; that he is dressed in state; that he has just finished putting to 
death, with his own hand, a thousand chained Israelitish prisoners! For this exploit the 
ragamuffin is lauding him to the skies. Hark! here comes a troop of a similar description. 
They have made a Latin hymn upon the valor of the king, and are singing it as they go: 

Mille, mille, mille, 

Mille, mille, mille, 

DecoUavimus, unus homo! 

Mille, mille, mille, mille, decoUavimus! 

Mille, mille, mille, 

Vivat qui mille mille occidit! 

Tantum vini habet nemo 

Quantum sanguinis effudit!* 

Which may be thus paraphrased: 

A thousand, a thousand, a thousand, 

A thousand, a thousand, a thousand. 

We, with one warrior, have slain! 

A thousand, a thousand, a thousand, a thousand. 

Sing a thousand over again! 

Soho!-let us sing 

Long life to our king. 

Who knocked over a thousand so fine! 

Soho!-letusroar, 

He has given us more 

Red gallons of gore 

Than all Syria can furnish of wine! 

* Flavins Vospicus says, that the hymn here introduced was sung by the rabble upon the 
occasion of Aurelian, in the Sarmatic war, having slain, with his own hand, nine hundred 
and fifty of the enemy. 

"Do you hear that flourish of trumpets?" 

Yes: the king is coming! See! the people are aghast with admiration, and lift up their eyes 
to the heavens in reverence. He comes;-he is coming;-there he is! 

"Who?-where?-the king?-do not behold him-cannot say that I perceive him." 

Then you must be blind. 



"Very possible. Still I see nothing but a tumultuous mob of idiots and madmen, who are 
busy in prostrating themselves before a gigantic cameleopard, and endeavoring to obtain 
a kiss of the animal's hoofs. See! the beast has very justly kicked one of the rabble over- 
and another-and another-and another. Indeed, I cannot help admiring the animal for the 
excellent use he is making of his feet." 

Rabble, indeed !-why these are the noble and free citizens of Epidaphne! Beasts, did you 
say?-take care that you are not overheard. Do you not perceive that the animal has the 
visage of a man? Why, my dear sir, that cameleopard is no other than Antiochus 
Epiphanes, Antiochus the Illustrious, King of Syria, and the most potent of all the 
autocrats of the East! It is true, that he is entitled, at times, Antiochus Epimanes- 
Antiochus the madman-but that is because all people have not the capacity to appreciate 
his merits. It is also certain that he is at present ensconced in the hide of a beast, and is 
doing his best to play the part of a cameleopard; but this is done for the better sustaining 
his dignity as king. Besides, the monarch is of gigantic stature, and the dress is therefore 
neither unbecoming nor over large. We may, however, presume he would not have 
adopted it but for some occasion of especial state. Such, you will allow, is the massacre 
of a thousand Jews. With how superior a dignity the monarch perambulates on all fours! 
His tail, you perceive, is held aloft by his two principal concubines, EUine and Argelais; 
and his whole appearance would be infinitely prepossessing, were it not for the 
protuberance of his eyes, which will certainly start out of his head, and the queer color of 
his face, which has become nondescript from the quantity of wine he has swallowed. Let 
us follow him to the hippodrome, whither he is proceeding, and listen to the song of 
triumph which he is commencing: 

Who is king but Epiphanes? 

Say-do you know? 

Who is king but Epiphanes? 

Bravo !-bravo! 

There is none but Epiphanes, 

No-there is none: 

So tear down the temples. 

And put out the sun! 

Well and strenuously sung! The populace are hailing him 'Prince of Poets,' as well as 
'Glory of the East,' 'Delight of the Universe,' and 'Most Remarkable of Cameleopards.' 
They have encored his effusion, and do you hear?-he is singing it over again. When he 
arrives at the hippodrome, he will be crowned with the poetic wreath, in anticipation of 
his victory at the approaching Olympics. 

"But, good Jupiter! what is the matter in the crowd behind us?" 

Behind us, did you say?-oh! ah!-I perceive. My friend, it is well that you spoke in time. 
Let us get into a place of safety as soon as possible. Here!-let us conceal ourselves in the 
arch of this aqueduct, and I will inform you presently of the origin of the commotion. It 
has turned out as I have been anticipating. The singular appearance of the cameleopard 



and the head of a man, has, it seems, given offence to the notions of propriety entertained, 
in general, by the wild animals domesticated in the city. A mutiny has been the result; 
and, as is usual upon such occasions, all human efforts will be of no avail in quelling the 
mob. Several of the Syrians have already been devoured; but the general voice of the 
four-footed patriots seems to be for eating up the cameleopard. 'The Prince of Poets,' 
therefore, is upon his hinder legs, running for his life. His courtiers have left him in the 
lurch, and his concubines have followed so excellent an example. 'Delight of the 
Universe,' thou art in a sad predicament! 'Glory of the East,' thou art in danger of 
mastication! Therefore never regard so piteously thy tail; it will undoubtedly be draggled 
in the mud, and for this there is no help. Look not behind thee, then, at its unavoidable 
degradation; but take courage, ply thy legs with vigor, and scud for the hippodrome! 
Remember that thou art Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus the Illustrious !-also 'Prince of 
Poets,' 'Glory of the East,' 'Delight of the Universe,' and 'Most Remarkable of 
Cameleopards!' Heavens! what a power of speed thou art displaying! What a capacity for 
leg-bail thou art developing! Run, Prince !-Bravo, Epiphanes! Well done, Cameleopard !- 
Glorious Antiochus !-He runs!-he leaps !-he flies! Like an arrow from a catapult he 
approaches the hippodrome! He leaps !-he shrieks !-he is there! This is well; for hadst 
thou, 'Glory of the East,' been half a second longer in reaching the gates of the 
Amphitheatre, there is not a bear's cub in Epidaphne that would not have had a nibble at 
thy carcase. Let us be off-let us take our departure !-for we shall find our delicate modem 
ears unable to endure the vast uproar which is about to commence in celebration of the 
king's escape! Listen! it has already commenced. See!-the whole town is topsy-turvy. 

"Surely this is the most populous city of the East! What a wilderness of people! what a 
jumble of all ranks and ages! what a multiplicity of sects and nations! what a variety of 
costumes! what a Babel of languages! what a screaming of beasts! what a tinkling of 
instruments! what a parcel of philosophers!" 

Come let us be off. 

"Stay a moment! I see a vast hubbub in the hippodrome; what is the meaning of it, I 
beseech you?" 

That?-oh, nothing! The noble and free citizens of Epidaphne being, as they declare, well 
satisfied of the faith, valor, wisdom, and divinity of their king, and having, moreover, 
been eye-witnesses of his late superhuman agility, do think it no more than their duty to 
invest his brows (in addition to the poetic crown) with the wreath of victory in the 
footrace-a wreath which it is evident he must obtain at the celebration of the next 
Olympiad, and which, therefore, they now give him in advance. 

THE END 



HANS PHAALL 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



There is, strictly speaking, but little similarity between this sketchy trifle and the very 
celebrated and very beautiful "Moon-story" of Mr. Locke-but as both have the character 
of hoaxes, (although one is in the tone of banter, the other of downright earnest) and as 
both hoaxes are on the same subject, the moon-the author of "Hans Phaall" thinks it 
necessary to say, in self-defence, that his own jeu-d'esprit was published, in the Southern 
Literary Messenger, about three weeks previously to the appearance of Mr. L's in the 
New York "Sun." Fancying a similarity which does not really exist, some of the New 
York papers copied "Hans Phaall," and collated it with the Hoax- with the view of 
detecting the writer of the one in the writer of the other. 

By late accounts from Rotterdam, that city seems to be in a high state of philosophical 
excitement. Indeed, phenomena have there occurred of a nature so completely 
unexpected-so entirely novel-so utterly at variance with preconceived opinions-as to 
leave no doubt on my mind that long ere this all Europe is in an uproar, all physics in a 
ferment, all reason and astronomy together by the ears, date), a vast crowd of people, for 
purposes not specifically mentioned, were assembled in the great square of the Exchange 
in the well-conditioned city of Rotterdam. The day was warm-unusually so for the 
season-there was hardly a breath of air stirring; and the multitude were in no bad humor 
at being now and then besprinkled with friendly showers of momentary duration, that fell 
from large white masses of cloud which chequered in a fitful manner the blue vault of the 
firmament. Nevertheless, about noon, a slight but remarkable agitation became apparent 
in the assembly: the clattering of ten thousand tongues succeeded; and, in an instant 
afterward, ten thousand faces were upturned toward the heavens, ten thousand pipes 
descended simultaneously from the corners of ten thousand mouths, and a shout, which 
could be compared to nothing but the roaring of Niagara, resounded long, loudly, and 
furiously, through all the environs of Rotterdam. 

The origin of this hubbub soon became sufficiently evident. From behind the huge bulk 
of one of those sharply-defined masses of cloud already mentioned, was seen slowly to 
emerge into an open area of blue space, a queer, heterogeneous, but apparently solid 
substance, so oddly shaped, so whimsically put together, as not to be in any manner 
comprehended, and never to be sufficiently admired, by the host of sturdy burghers who 
stood open-mouthed below. What could it be? In the name of all the vrows and devils in 
Rotterdam, what could it possibly portend? No one knew, no one could imagine; no one- 
not even the burgomaster Mynheer Superbus Von Underduk-had the slightest clew by 
which to unravel the mystery; so, as nothing more reasonable could be done, every one to 
a man replaced his pipe carefully in the corner of his mouth, and cocking up his right eye 



towards the phenomenon, puffed, paused, waddled about, and grunted significantly- then 
waddled back, grunted, paused, and finally-puffed again. 

In the meantime, however, lower and still lower toward the goodly city, came the object 
of so much curiosity, and the cause of so much smoke. In a very few minutes it arrived 
near enough to be accurately discerned. It appeared to be-yes! it was undoubtedly a 
species of balloon; but surely no such balloon had ever been seen in Rotterdam before. 
For who, let me ask, ever heard of a balloon manufactured entirely of dirty newspapers? 
No man in Holland certainly; yet here, under the very noses of the people, or rather at 
some distance above their noses was the identical thing in question, and composed, I have 
it on the best authority, of the precise material which no one had ever before known to be 
used for a similar purpose. It was an egregious insult to the good sense of the burghers of 
Rotterdam. As to the shape of the phenomenon, it was even still more reprehensible. 
Being little or nothing better than a huge foolscap turned upside down. And this 
similitude was regarded as by no means lessened when, upon nearer inspection, there was 
perceived a large tassel depending from its apex, and, around the upper rim or base of the 
cone, a circle of little instruments, resembling sheep-bells, which kept up a continual 
tinkling to the tune of Betty Martin. But still worse. Suspended by blue ribbons to the end 
of this fantastic machine, there hung, by way of car, an enormous drab beaver bat, with a 
brim superlatively broad, and a hemispherical crown with a black band and a silver 
buckle. It is, however, somewhat remarkable that many citizens of Rotterdam swore to 
having seen the same hat repeatedly before; and indeed the whole assembly seemed to 
regard it with eyes of familiarity; while the vrow Grettel Phaall, upon sight of it, uttered 
an exclamation of joyful surprise, and declared it to be the identical hat of her good man 
himself. Now this was a circumstance the more to be observed, as Phaall, with three 
companions, had actually disappeared from Rotterdam about five years before, in a very 
sudden and unaccountable manner, and up to the date of this narrative all attempts had 
failed of obtaining any intelligence concerning them whatsoever. To be sure, some bones 
which were thought to be human, mixed up with a quantity of odd-looking rubbish, had 
been lately discovered in a retired situation to the east of Rotterdam, and some people 
went so far as to imagine that in this spot a foul murder had been committed, and that the 
sufferers were in all probability Hans Phaall and his associates. But to return. 

The balloon (for such no doubt it was) had now descended to within a hundred feet of the 
earth, allowing the crowd below a sufficiently distinct view of the person of its occupant. 
This was in truth a very droll little somebody. He could not have been more than two feet 
in height; but this altitude, little as it was, would have been sufficient to destroy his 
equilibrium, and tilt him over the edge of his tiny car, but for the intervention of a 
circular rim reaching as high as the breast, and rigged on to the cords of the balloon. The 
body of the little man was more than proportionately broad, giving to his entire figure a 
rotundity highly absurd. His feet, of course, could not be seen at all, although a horny 
substance of suspicious nature was occasionally protruded through a rent in the bottom of 
the car, or to speak more properly, in the top of the hat. His hands were enormously large. 
His hair was extremely gray, and collected in a cue behind. His nose was prodigiously 
long, crooked, and inflammatory; his eyes full, brilliant, and acute; his chin and cheeks, 
although wrinkled with age, were broad, puffy, and double; but of ears of any kind or 



character there was not a semblance to be discovered upon any portion of his head. This 
odd little gentleman was dressed in a loose surtout of sky-blue satin, with tight breeches 
to match, fastened with silver buckles at the knees. His vest was of some bright yellow 
material; a white taffety cap was set jauntily on one side of his head; and, to complete his 
equipment, a blood-red silk handkerchief enveloped his throat, and fell down, in a dainty 
manner, upon his bosom, in a fantastic bow-knot of super-eminent dimensions. 

Having descended, as I said before, to about one hundred feet from the surface of the 
earth, the little old gentleman was suddenly seized with a fit of trepidation, and appeared 
disinclined to make any nearer approach to terra firma. Throwing out, therefore, a 
quantity of sand from a canvas bag, which, he lifted with great difficulty, he became 
stationary in an instant. He then proceeded, in a hurried and agitated manner, to extract 
from a side-pocket in his surtout a large morocco pocket-book. This he poised 
suspiciously in his hand, then eyed it with an air of extreme surprise, and was evidently 
astonished at its weight. He at length opened it, and drawing there from a huge letter 
sealed with red sealing-wax and tied carefully with red tape, let it fall precisely at the feet 
of the burgomaster, Superbus Von Underduk. His Excellency stooped to take it up. But 
the aeronaut, still greatly discomposed, and having apparently no farther business to 
detain him in Rotterdam, began at this moment to make busy preparations for departure; 
and it being necessary to discharge a portion of ballast to enable him to reascend, the half 
dozen bags which he threw out, one after another, without taking the trouble to empty 
their contents, tumbled, every one of them, most unfortunately upon the back of the 
burgomaster, and rolled him over and over no less than one-and-twenty times, in the face 
of every man in Rotterdam. It is not to be supposed, however, that the great Underduk 
suffered this impertinence on the part of the little old man to pass off with impunity. It is 
said, on the contrary, that during each and every one of his one-and twenty 
circumvolutions he emitted no less than one-and-twenty distinct and furious whiffs from 
his pipe, to which he held fast the whole time with all his might, and to which he intends 
holding fast until the day of his death. 

In the meantime the balloon arose like a lark, and, soaring far away above the city, at 
length drifted quietly behind a cloud similar to that from which it had so oddly emerged, 
and was thus lost forever to the wondering eyes of the good citiezns of Rotterdam. All 
attention was now directed to the letter, the descent of which, and the consequences 
attending thereupon, had proved so fatally subversive of both person and personal dignity 
to his Excellency, the illustrious Burgomaster Mynheer Superbus Von Underduk. That 
functionary, however, had not failed, during his circumgyratory movements, to bestow a 
thought upon the important subject of securing the packet in question, which was seen, 
upon inspection, to have f Allan into the most proper hands, being actually addressed to 
himself and Professor Rub-a-dub, in their official capacities of President and Vice- 
President of the Rotterdam College of Astronomy. It was accordingly opened by those 
dignitaries upon the spot, and found to contain the following extraordinary, and indeed 
very serious, communications. 

To their Excellencies Von Underduk and Rub-a-dub, President and Vice-President of the 
States' College of Astronomers, in the city of Rotterdam. 



Your Excellencies may perhaps be able to remember an humble artizan, by name Hans 
Phaall, and by occupation a mender of bellows, who, with three others, disappeared from 
Rotterdam, about five years ago, in a manner which must have been considered by all 
parties at once sudden, and extremely unaccountable. If, however, it so please your 
Excellencies, I, the writer of this communication, am the identical Hans Phaall himself. It 
is well known to most of my fellow citizens, that for the period of forty years I continued 
to occupy the little square brick building, at the head of the alley called Sauerkraut, in 
which I resided at the time of my disappearance. My ancestors have also resided therein 
time out of mind-they, as well as myself, steadily following the respectable and indeed 
lucrative profession of mending of bellows. For, to speak the truth, until of late years, that 
the heads of all the people have been set agog with politics, no better business than my 
own could an honest citizen of Rotterdam either desire or deserve. Credit was good, 
employment was never wanting, and on all hands there was no lack of either money or 
good-will. But, as I was saying, we soon began to feel the effects of liberty and long 
speeches, and radicalism, and all that sort of thing. People who were formerly, the very 
best customers in the world, had now not a moment of time to think of us at all. They 
had, so they said, as much as they could do to read about the revolutions, and keep up 
with the march of intellect and the spirit of the age. If a fire wanted fanning, it could 
readily be fanned with a newspaper, and as the government grew weaker, I have no doubt 
that leather and iron acquired durability in proportion, for, in a very short time, there was 
not a pair of bellows in all Rotterdam that ever stood in need of a stitch or required the 
assistance of a hammer. This was a state of things not to be endured. I soon grew as poor 
as a rat, and, having a wife and children to provide for, my burdens at length became 
intolerable, and I spent hour after hour in reflecting upon the most convenient method of 
putting an end to my life. Duns, in the meantime, left me little leisure for contemplation. 
My house was literally besieged from morning till night, so that I began to rave, and 
foam, and fret like a caged tiger against the bars of his enclosure. There were three 
fellows in particular who worried me beyond endurance, keeping watch continually about 
my door, and threatening me with the law. Upon these three I internally vowed the 
bitterest revenge, if ever I should be so happy as to get them within my clutches; and I 
believe nothing in the world but the pleasure of this anticipation prevented me from 
putting my plan of suicide into immediate execution, by blowing my brains out with a 
blunderbuss. I thought it best, however, to dissemble my wrath, and to treat them with 
promises and fair words, until, by some good turn of fate, an opportunity of vengeance 
should be afforded me. 

One day, having given my creditors the slip, and feeling more than usually dejected, I 
continued for a long time to wander about the most obscure streets without object 
whatever, until at length I chanced to stumble against the corner of a bookseller's stall. 
Seeing a chair close at hand, for the use of customers, I threw myself doggedly into it, 
and, hardly knowing why, opened the pages of the first volume which came within my 
reach. It proved to be a small pamphlet treatise on Speculative Astronomy, written either 
by Professor Encke of Berlin or by a Frenchman of somewhat similar name. I had some 
little tincture of information on matters of this nature, and soon became more and more 
absorbed in the contents of the book, reading it actually through twice before I awoke to a 
recollection of what was passing around me. By this time it began to grow dark, and I 



directed my steps toward home. But the treatise had made an indelible impression on my 
mind, and, as I sauntered along the dusky streets, I revolved carefully over in my memory 
the wild and sometimes unintelligible reasonings of the writer. There are some particular 
passages which affected my imagination in a powerful and extraordinary manner. The 
longer I meditated upon these the more intense grew the interest which had been excited 
within me. The limited nature of my education in general, and more especially my 
ignorance on subjects connected with natural philosophy, so far from rendering me 
diffident of my own ability to comprehend what I had read, or inducing me to mistrust 
the many vague notions which had arisen in consequence, merely served as a farther 
stimulus to imagination; and I was vain enough, or perhaps reasonable enough, to doubt 
whether those crude ideas which, arising in ill-regulated minds, have all the appearance, 
may not often in effect possess all the force, the reality, and other inherent properties, of 
instinct or intuition; whether, to proceed a step farther, profundity itself might not, in 
matters of a purely speculative nature, be detected as a legitimate source of falsity and 
error. In other words, I believed, and still do believe, that truth, is frequently of its own 
essence, superficial, and that, in many cases, the depth lies more in the abysses where we 
seek her, than in the actual situations wherein she may be found. Nature herself seemed 
to afford me corroboration of these ideas. In the contemplation of the heavenly bodies it 
struck me forcibly that I could not distinguish a star with nearly as much precision, when 
I gazed on it with earnest, direct and undeviating attention, as when I suffered my eye 
only to glance in its vicinity alone. I was not, of course, at that time aware that this 
apparent paradox was occasioned by the center of the visual area being less susceptible of 
feeble impressions of light than the exterior portions of the retina. This knowledge, and 
some of another kind, came afterwards in the course of an eventful five years, during 
which I have dropped the prejudices of my former humble situation in life, and forgotten 
the bellows-mender in far different occupations. But at the epoch of which I speak, the 
analogy which a casual observation of a star offered to the conclusions I had already 
drawn, struck me with the force of positive conformation, and I then finally made up my 
mind to the course which I afterwards pursued. 

It was late when I reached home, and I went immediately to bed. My mind, however, was 
too much occupied to sleep, and I lay the whole night buried in meditation. Arising early 
in the morning, and contriving again to escape the vigilance of my creditors, I repaired 
eagerly to the bookseller's stall, and laid out what little ready money I possessed, in the 
purchase of some volumes of Mechanics and Practical Astronomy. Having arrived at 
home safely with these, I devoted every spare moment to their perusal, and soon made 
such proficiency in studies of this nature as I thought sufficient for the execution of my 
plan. In the intervals of this period, I made every endeavor to conciliate the three 
creditors who had given me so much annoyance. In this I finally succeeded-partly by 
selling enough of my household furniture to satisfy a moiety of their claim, and partly by 
a promise of paying the balance upon completion of a little project which I told them I 
had in view, and for assistance in which I solicited their services. By these means-for 
they were ignorant men-I found little difficulty in gaining them over to my purpose. 

Matters being thus arranged, I contrived, by the aid of my wife and with the greatest 
secrecy and caution, to dispose of what property I had remaining, and to borrow, in small 



sums, under various pretences, and without paying any attention to my future means of 
repayment, no inconsiderable quantity of ready money. With the means thus accruing I 
proceeded to procure at intervals, cambric muslin, very fine, in pieces of twelve yards 
each; twine; a lot of the varnish of caoutchouc; a large and deep basket of wicker-work, 
made to order; and several other articles necessary in the construction and equipment of a 
balloon of extraordinary dimensions. This I directed my wife to make up as soon as 
possible, and gave her all requisite information as to the particular method of proceeding. 
In the meantime I worked up the twine into a net- work of sufficient dimensions; rigged it 
with a hoop and the necessary cords; bought a quadrant, a compass, a spy-glass, a 
common barometer with some important modifications, and two astronomical 
instruments not so generally known. I then took opportunities of conveying by night, to a 
retired situation east of Rotterdam, five iron-bound casks, to contain about fifty gallons 
each, and one of a larger size; six tinned ware tubes, three inches in diameter, properly 
shaped, and ten feet in length; a quantity of a particular metallic substance, or semi-metal, 
which I shall not name, and a dozen demijohns of a very common acid. The gas to be 
formed from these latter materials is a gas never yet generated by any other person than 
myself-or at least never applied to any similar purpose. The secret I would make no 
difficulty in disclosing, but that it of right belongs to a citizen of Nantz, in France, by 
whom it was conditionally communicated to myself. The same individual submitted to 
me, without being at all aware of my intentions, a method of constructing balloons from 
the membrane of a certain animal, through which substance any escape of gas was nearly 
an impossibility. I found it, however, altogether too expensive, and was not sure, upon 
the whole, whether cambric muslin with a coating of gum caoutchouc, was not equally as 
good. I mention this circumstance, because I think it probable that hereafter the 
individual in question may attempt a balloon ascension with the novel gas and material I 
have spoken of, and I do not wish to deprive him of the honor of a very singular 
invention. 

On the spot which I intended each of the smaller casks to occupy respectively during the 
inflation of the balloon, I privately dug a hole two feet deep; the holes forming in this 
manner a circle twenty-five feet in diameter. In the centre of this circle, being the station 
designed for the large cask, I also dug a hole three feet in depth. In each of the five 
smaller holes, I deposited a canister containing fifty pounds, and in the larger one a keg 
holding one hundred and fifty pounds, of cannon powder. These-the keg and canisters-I 
connected in a proper manner with covered trains; and having let into one of the canisters 
the end of about four feet of slow match, I covered up the hole, and placed the cask over 
it, leaving the other end of the match protruding about an inch, and barely visible beyond 
the cask. I then filled up the remaining holes, and placed the barrels over them in their 
destined situation. 

Besides the articles above enumerated, I conveyed to the depot, and there secreted, one of 
M. Grimm's improvements upon the apparatus for condensation of the atmospheric air. I 
found this machine, however, to require considerable alteration before it could be adapted 
to the purposes to which I intended making it applicable. But, with severe labor and 
unremitting perseverance, I at length met with entire success in all my preparations. My 
balloon was soon completed. It would contain more than forty thousand cubic feet of gas; 



would take me up easily, I calculated, with all my implements, and, if I managed rightly, 
with one hundred and seventy-five pounds of ballast into the bargain. It had received 
three coats of varnish, and I found the cambric muslin to answer all the purposes of silk 
itself, quite as strong and a good deal less expensive. 

Everything being now ready, I exacted from my wife an oath of secrecy in relation to all 
my actions from the day of my first visit to the bookseller's stall; and promising, on my 
part, to return as soon as circumstances would permit, I gave her what little money I had 
left, and bade her farewell. Indeed I had no fear on her account. She was what people call 
a notable woman, and could manage matters in the world without my assistance. I 
believe, to tell the truth, she always looked upon me as an idle boy, a mere make-weight, 
good for nothing but building castles in the air, and was rather glad to get rid of me. It 
was a dark night when I bade her good-bye, and taking with me, as aides-de-camp, the 
three creditors who had given me so much trouble, we carried the balloon, with the car 
and accoutrements, by a roundabout way, to the station where the other articles were 
deposited. We there found them all unmolested, and I proceeded immediately to business. 

It was the first of April. The night, as I said before, was dark; there was not a star to be 
seen; and a drizzling rain, falling at intervals, rendered us very uncomfortable. But my 
chief anxiety was concerning the balloon, which, in spite of the varnish with which it was 
defended, began to grow rather heavy with the moisture; the powder also was liable to 
damage. I therefore kept my three duns working with great diligence, pounding down ice 
around the central cask, and stirring the acid in the others. They did not cease, however, 
importuning me with questions as to what I intended to do with all this apparatus, and 
expressed much dissatisfaction at the terrible labor I made them undergo. They could not 
perceive, so they said, what good was likely to result from their getting wet to the skin, 
merely to take a part in such horrible incantations. I began to get uneasy, and worked 
away with all my might, for I verily believe the idiots supposed that I had entered into a 
compact with the devil, and that, in short, what I was now doing was nothing better than 
it should be. I was, therefore, in great fear of their leaving me altogether. I contrived, 
however, to pacify them by promises of payment of all scores in full, as soon as I could 
bring the present business to a termination. To these speeches they gave, of course, their 
own interpretation; fancying, no doubt, that at all events I should come into possession of 
vast quantities of ready money; and provided I paid them all I owed, and a trifle more, in 
consideration of their services, I dare say they cared very little what became of either my 
soul or my carcass. 

In about four hours and a half I found the balloon sufficiently inflated. I attached the car, 
therefore, and put all my implements in it-not forgetting the condensing apparatus, a 
copious supply of water, and a large quantity of provisions, such as pemmican, in which 
much nutriment is contained in comparatively little bulk. I also secured in the car a pair 
of pigeons and a cat. It was now nearly daybreak, and I thought it high time to take my 
departure. Dropping a lighted cigar on the ground, as if by accident, I took the 
opportunity, in stooping to pick it up, of igniting privately the piece of slow match, whose 
end, as I said before, protruded a very little beyond the lower rim of one of the smaller 
casks. This manoeuvre was totally unperceived on the part of the three duns; and. 



jumping into the car, I immediately cut the single cord which held me to the earth, and 
was pleased to find that I shot upward, carrying with all ease one hundred and seventy- 
five pounds of leaden ballast, and able to have carried up as many more. 

Scarcely, however, had I attained the height of fifty yards, when, roaring and rumbling up 
after me in the most horrible and tumultuous manner, came so dense a hurricane of fire, 
and smoke, and sulphur, and legs and arms, and gravel, and burning wood, and blazing 
metal, that my very heart sunk within me, and I fell down in the bottom of the car, 
trembling with unmitigated terror. Indeed, I now perceived that I had entirely overdone 
the business, and that the main consequences of the shock were yet to be experienced. 
Accordingly, in less than a second, I felt all the blood in my body rushing to my temples, 
and immediately thereupon, a concussion, which I shall never forget, burst abruptly 
through the night and seemed to rip the very firmament asunder. When I afterward had 
time for reflection, I did not fail to attribute the extreme violence of the explosion, as 
regarded myself, to its proper cause-my situation directly above it, and in the hne of its 
greatest power. But at the time, I thought only of preserving my life. The balloon at first 
collapsed, then furiously expanded, then whirled round and round with horrible velocity, 
and finally, reeling and staggering like a drunken man, hurled me with great force over 
the rim of the car, and left me dangling, at a terrific height, with my head downward, and 
my face outwards, by a piece of slender cord about three feet in length, which hung 
accidentally through a crevice near the bottom of the wicker-work, and in which, as I fell, 
my left foot became most providentially entangled. It is impossible-utterly impossible-to 
form any adequate idea of the horror of my situation. I gasped convulsively for breath-a 
shudder resembling a fit of the ague agitated every nerve and muscle of my frame-I felt 
my eyes starting from their sockets-a horrible nausea overwhelmed me-and at length I 
fainted away. 

How long I remained in this state it is impossible to say. It must, however, have been no 
inconsiderable time, for when I partially recovered the sense of existence, I found the day 
breaking, the balloon at a prodigious height over a wilderness of ocean, and not a trace of 
land to be discovered far and wide within the limits of the vast horizon. My sensations, 
however, upon thus recovering, were by no means so rife with agony as might have been 
anticipated. Indeed, there was much of incipient madness in the calm survey which I 
began to take of my situation. I drew up to my eyes each of my hands, one after the other, 
and wondered what occurrence could have given rise to the swelling of the veins, and the 
horrible blackness of the fingemails. I afterward carefully examined my head, shaking it 
repeatedly, and feeling it with minute attention, until I succeeded in satisfying myself that 
it was not, as I had more than half suspected, larger than my balloon. Then, in a knowing 
manner, I felt in both my breeches pockets, and, missing therefrom a set of tablets and a 
toothpick case, endeavored to account for their disappearance, and not being able to do 
so, felt inexpressibly chagrined. It now occurred to me that I suffered great uneasiness in 
the joint of my left ankle, and a dim consciousness of my situation began to glimmer 
through my mind. But, strange to say! I was neither astonished nor horror-stricken. If I 
felt any emotion at all, it was a kind of chuckling satisfaction at the cleverness I was 
about to display in extricating myself from this dilemma; and I never, for a moment, 
looked upon my ultimate safety as a question susceptible of doubt. For a few minutes I 



remained wrapped in the profoundest meditation. I have a distinct recollection of 
frequently compressing my lips, putting my forefinger to the side of my nose, and making 
use of other gesticulations and grimaces common to men who, at ease in their arm-chairs, 
meditate upon matters of intricacy or importance. Having, as I thought, sufficiently 
collected my ideas, I now, with great caution and deliberation, put my hands behind my 
back, and unfastened the large iron buckle which belonged to the waistband of my 
inexpressibles. This buckle had three teeth, which, being somewhat rusty, turned with 
great difficulty on their axis. I brought them, however, after some trouble, at right angles 
to the body of the buckle, and was glad to find them remain firm in that position. Holding 
the instrument thus obtained within my teeth, I now proceeded to untie the knot of my 
cravat. I had to rest several times before I could accomplish this manoeuvre, but it was at 
length accomplished. To one end of the cravat I then made fast the buckle, and the other 
end I tied, for greater security, tightly around my wrist. Drawing now my body upwards, 
with a prodigious exertion of muscular force, I succeeded, at the very first trial, in 
throwing the buckle over the car, and entangling it, as I had anticipated, in the circular 
rim of the wicker-work. 

My body was now inclined towards the side of the car, at an angle of about forty-five 
degrees; but it must not be understood that I was therefore only forty-five degrees below 
the perpendicular. So far from it, I still lay nearly level with the plane of the horizon; for 
the change of situation which I had acquired, had forced the bottom of the car 
considerably outwards from my position, which was accordingly one of the most 
imminent and deadly peril. It should be remembered, however, that when I fell in the first 
instance, from the car, if I had f Allan with my face turned toward the balloon, instead of 
turned outwardly from it, as it actually was; or if, in the second place, the cord by which I 
was suspended had chanced to hang over the upper edge, instead of through a crevice 
near the bottom of the car,-I say it may be readily conceived that, in either of these 
supposed cases, I should have been unable to accomplish even as much as I had now 
accomplished, and the wonderful adventures of Hans Phaall would have been utterly lost 
to posterity, I had therefore every reason to be grateful; although, in point of fact, I was 
still too stupid to be anything at all, and hung for, perhaps, a quarter of an hour in that 
extraordinary manner, without making the slightest farther exertion whatsoever, and in a 
singularly tranquil state of idiotic enjoyment. But this feeling did not fail to die rapidly 
away, and thereunto succeeded horror, and dismay, and a chilling sense of utter 
helplessness and ruin. In fact, the blood so long accumulating in the vessels of my head 
and throat, and which had hitherto buoyed up my spirits with madness and delirium, had 
now begun to retire within their proper channels, and the distinctness which was thus 
added to my perception of the danger, merely served to deprive me of the self-possession 
and courage to encounter it. But this weakness was, luckily for me, of no very long 
duration. In good time came to my rescue the spirit of despair, and, with frantic cries and 
struggles, I jerked my way bodily upwards, till at length, clutching with a vise-like grip 
the long-desired rim, I writhed my person over it, and fell headlong and shuddering 
within the car. 

It was not until some time afterward that I recovered myself sufficiently to attend to the 
ordinary cares of the balloon. I then, however, examined it with attention, and found it, to 



my great relief, uninjured. My implements were all safe, and, fortunately, I had lost 
neither ballast nor provisions. Indeed, I had so well secured them in their places, that such 
an accident was entirely out of the question. Looking at my watch, I found it six o'clock. I 
was still rapidly ascending, and my barometer gave a present altitude of three and three- 
quarter miles. Immediately beneath me in the ocean, lay a small black object, slightly 
oblong in shape, seemingly about the size, and in every way bearing a great resemblance 
to one of those childish toys called a domino. Bringing my telescope to bear upon it, I 
plainly discerned it to be a British ninety four-gun ship, close-hauled, and pitching 
heavily in the sea with her head to the W.S.W. Besides this ship, I saw nothing but the 
ocean and the sky, and the sun, which had long arisen. 

It is now high time that I should explain to your Excellencies the object of my perilous 
voyage. Your Excellencies will bear in mind that distressed circumstances in Rotterdam 
had at length driven me to the resolution of committing suicide. It was not, however, that 
to life itself I had any, positive disgust, but that I was harassed beyond endurance by the 
adventitious miseries attending my situation. In this state of mind, wishing to live, yet 
wearied with life, the treatise at the stall of the bookseller opened a resource to my 
imagination. I then finally made up my mind. I determined to depart, yet live-to leave the 
world, yet continue to exist-in short, to drop enigmas, I resolved, let what would ensue, 
to force a passage, if I could, to the moon. Now, lest I should be supposed more of a 
madman than I actually am, I will detail, as well as I am able, the considerations which 
led me to believe that an achievement of this nature, although without doubt difficult, and 
incontestably full of danger, was not absolutely, to a bold spirit, beyond the confines of 
the possible. 

The moon's actual distance from the earth was the first thing to be attended to. Now, the 
mean or average interval between the centres of the two planets is 59.9643 of the earth's 
equatorial radii, or only about 237,000 miles. I say the mean or average interval. But it 
must be borne in mind that the form of the moon's orbit being an ellipse of eccentricity 
amounting to no less than 0.05484 of the major semi-axis of the ellipse itself, and the 
earth's centre being situated in its focus, if I could, in any manner, contrive to meet the 
moon, as it were, in its perigee, the above mentioned distance would be materially 
diminished. But, to say nothing at present of this possibility, it was very certain that, at all 
events, from the 237,000 miles I would have to deduct the radius of the earth, say 4,000, 
and the radius of the moon, say 1080, in all 5,080, leaving an actual interval to be 
traversed, under average circumstances, of 231,920 miles. Now this, I reflected, was no 
very extraordinary distance. Travelling on land has been repeatedly accomplished at the 
rate of thirty miles per hour, and indeed a much greater speed may be anticipated. But 
even at this velocity, it would take me no more than 322 days to reach the surface of the 
moon. There were, however, many particulars inducing me to believe that my average 
rate of travelling might possibly very much exceed that of thirty miles per hour, and, as 
these considerations did not fail to make a deep impression upon my mind, I will mention 
them more fully hereafter. 

The next point to be regarded was a matter of far greater importance. From indications 
afforded by the barometer, we find that, in ascensions from the surface of the earth we 



have, at the height of 1,000 feet, left below us about one-thirtieth of the entire mass of 
atmospheric air, that at 10,600 we have ascended through nearly one-third; and that at 
18,000, which is not far from the elevation of Cotopaxi, we have surmounted one-half the 
material, or, at all events, one-half the ponderable, body of air incumbent upon our globe. 
It is also calculated that at an altitude not exceeding the hundredth part of the earth's 
diameter-that is, not exceeding eighty miles-the rarefaction would be so excessive that 
animal life could in no manner be sustained, and, moreover, that the most delicate means 
we possess of ascertaining the presence of the atmosphere would be inadequate to assure 
us of its existence. But I did not fail to perceive that these latter calculations are founded 
altogether on our experimental knowledge of the properties of air, and the mechanical 
laws regulating its dilation and compression, in what may be called, comparatively 
speaking, the immediate vicinity of the earth itself; and, at the same time, it is taken for 
granted that animal life is and must be essentially incapable of modification at any given 
unattainable distance from the surface. Now, all such reasoning and from such data must, 
of course, be simply analogical. The greatest height ever reached by man was that of 
25,000 feet, attained in the aeronautic expedition of Messieurs Gay-Lussac and Biot. This 
is a moderate altitude, even when compared with the eighty miles in question; and I could 
not help thinking that the subject admitted room for doubt and great latitude for 
speculation. 

But, in point of fact, an ascension being made to any given altitude, the ponderable 
quantity of air surmounted in any farther ascension is by no means in proportion to the 
additional height ascended (as may be plainly seen from what has been stated before), but 
in a ratio constantly decreasing. It is therefore evident that, ascend as high as we may, we 
cannot, literally speaking, arrive at a limit beyond which no atmosphere is to be found. It 
must exist, I argued; although it may exist in a state of infinite rarefaction. 

On the other hand, I was aware that arguments have not been wanting to prove the 
existence of a real and definite limit to the atmosphere, beyond which there is absolutely 
no air whatsoever. But a circumstance which has been left out of view by those who 
contend for such a limit seemed to me, although no positive refutation of their creed, still 
a point worthy very serious investigation. On comparing the intervals between the 
successive arrivals of Encke's comet at its perihelion, after giving credit, in the most 
exact manner, for all the disturbances due to the attractions of the planets, it appears that 
the periods are gradually diminishing; that is to say, the major axis of the comet's ellipse 
is growing shorter, in a slow but perfectly regular decrease. Now, this is precisely what 
ought to be the case, if we suppose a resistance experienced from the comet from an 
extremely rare ethereal medium pervading the regions of its orbit. For it is evident that 
such a medium must, in retarding the comet's velocity, increase its centripetal, by 
weakening its centrifugal force. In other words, the sun's attraction would be constantly 
attaining greater power, and the comet would be drawn nearer at every revolution. 
Indeed, there is no other way of accounting for the variation in question. But again. The 
real diameter of the same comet's nebulosity is observed to contract rapidly as it 
approaches the sun, and dilate with equal rapidity in its departure towards its aphelion. 
Was I not justifiable in supposing with M. Valz, that this apparent condensation of 
volume has its origin in the compression of the same ethereal medium I have spoken of 



before, and which is only denser in proportion to its solar vicinity? The lenticular- shaped 
phenomenon, also called the zodiacal light, was a matter worthy of attention. This 
radiance, so apparent in the tropics, and which cannot be mistaken for any meteoric 
lustre, extends from the horizon obliquely upward, and follows generally the direction of 
the sun's equator. It appeared to me evidently in the nature of a rare atmosphere extending 
from the sun outward, beyond the orbit of Venus at least, and I believed indefinitely 
farther.* Indeed, this medium I could not suppose confined to the path of the comet's 
ellipse, or to the immediate neighborhood of the sun. It was easy, on the contrary, to 
imagine it pervading the entire regions of our planetary system, condensed into what we 
call atmosphere at the planets themselves, and perhaps at some of them modified by 
considerations, so to speak, purely geological. 

*The zodiacal light is probably what the ancients called Trabes. Emicant Trabes quos 
docos vocant.-Pliny, lib. 2, p. 26. 

Having adopted this view of the subject, I had little further hesitation. Granting that on 
my passage I should meet with atmosphere essentially the same as at the surface of the 
earth, I conceived that, by means of the very ingenious apparatus of M. Grimm, I should 
readily be enabled to condense it in sufficient quantity for the purposes of respiration. 
This would remove the chief obstacle in a journey to the moon. I had indeed spent some 
money and great labor in adapting the apparatus to the object intended, and confidently 
looked forward to its successful application, if I could manage to complete the voyage 
within any reasonable period. This brings me back to the rate at which it might be 
possible to travel. 

It is true that balloons, in the first stage of their ascensions from the earth, are known to 
rise with a velocity comparatively moderate. Now, the power of elevation lies altogether 
in the superior lightness of the gas in the balloon compared with the atmospheric air; and, 
at first sight, it does not appear probable that, as the balloon acquires altitude, and 
consequently arrives successively in atmospheric strata of densities rapidly diminishing-I 
say, it does not appear at all reasonable that, in this its progress upwards, the original 
velocity should be accelerated. On the other hand, I was not aware that, in any recorded 
ascension, a diminution was apparent in the absolute rate of ascent; although such should 
have been the case, if on account of nothing else, on account of the escape of gas through 
balloons ill-constructed, and varnished with no better material than the ordinary varnish. 
It seemed, therefore, that the effect of such escape was only sufficient to counterbalance 
the effect of some accelerating power. I now considered that, provided in my passage I 
found the medium I had imagined, and provided that it should prove to be actually and 
essentially what we denominate atmospheric air, it could make comparatively little 
difference at what extreme state of rarefaction I should discover it-that is to say, in regard 
to my power of ascending-for the gas in the balloon would not only be itself subject to 
rarefaction partially similar (in proportion to the occurrence of which, I could suffer an 
escape of so much as would be requisite to prevent explosion), but, being what it was, 
would, at all events, continue specifically lighter than any compound whatever of mere 
nitrogen and oxygen. In the meantime, the force of gravitation would be constantly 
diminishing, in proportion to the squares of the distances, and thus, with a velocity 



prodigiously accelerating, I should at length arrive in those distant regions where the 
force of the earth's attraction would be superseded by that of the moon. In accordance 
with these ideas, I did not think it worth while to encumber myself with more provisions 
than would be sufficient for a period of forty days. 

There was still, however, another difficulty, which occasioned me some little disquietude. 
It has been observed, that, in balloon ascensions to any considerable height, besides the 
pain attending respiration, great uneasiness is experienced about the head and body, often 
accompanied with bleeding at the nose, and other symptoms of an alarming kind, and 
growing more and more inconvenient in proportion to the altitude attained.* This was a 
reflection of a nature somewhat startling. Was it not probable that these symptoms would 
increase indefinitely, or at least until terminated by death itself? I finally thought not. 
Their origin was to be looked for in the progressive removal of the customary 
atmospheric pressure upon the surface of the body, and consequent distention of the 
superficial blood- vessels-not in any positive disorganization of the animal system, as in 
the case of difficulty in breathing, where the atmospheric density is chemically 
insufficient for the due renovation of blood in a ventricle of the heart. Unless for default 
of this renovation, I could see no reason, therefore, why life could not be sustained even 
in a vacuum; for the expansion and compression of chest, commonly called breathing, is 
action purely muscular, and the cause, not the effect, of respiration. In a word, I 
conceived that, as the body should become habituated to the want of atmospheric 
pressure, the sensations of pain would gradually diminish-and to endure them while they 
continued, I relied with confidence upon the iron hardihood of my constitution. 

* Since the original publication of Hans Phaall, I find that Mr. Green, of Nassau balloon 
notoriety, and other late aeronauts, deny the assertions of Humboldt, in this respect, and 
speak of a decreasing inconvenience,-precisely in accordance with the theory here urged 
in a mere spirit of banter. 

Thus, may it please your Excellencies, I have detailed some, though by no means all, the 
considerations which led me to form the project of a lunar voyage. I shall now proceed to 
lay before you the result of an attempt so apparently audacious in conception, and, at all 
events, so utterly unparalleled in the annals of mankind. 

Having attained the altitude before mentioned, that is to say three miles and three- 
quarters, I threw out from the car a quantity of feathers, and found that I still ascended 
with sufficient rapidity; there was, therefore, no necessity for discharging any ballast. I 
was glad of this, for I wished to retain with me as much weight as I could carry, for 
reasons which will be explained in the sequel. I as yet suffered no bodily inconvenience, 
breathing with great freedom, and feeling no pain whatever in the head. The cat was lying 
very demurely upon my coat, which I had taken off, and eyeing the pigeons with an air of 
nonchalance. These latter being tied by the leg, to prevent their escape, were busily 
employed in picking up some grains of rice scattered for them in the bottom of the car. 

At twenty minutes past six o'clock, the barometer showed an elevation of 26,400 feet, or 
five miles to a fraction. The prospect seemed unbounded. Indeed, it is very easily 



calculated by means of spherical geometry, what a great extent of the earth's area I 
beheld. The convex surface of any segment of a sphere is, to the entire surface of the 
sphere itself, as the versed sine of the segment to the diameter of the sphere. Now, in my 
case, the versed sine-that is to say, the thickness of the segment beneath me-was about 
equal to my elevation, or the elevation of the point of sight above the surface. "As five 
miles, then, to eight thousand," would express the proportion of the earth's area seen by 
me. In other words, I beheld as much as a sixteen-hundredth part of the whole surface of 
the globe. The sea appeared unruffled as a mirror, although, by means of the spy-glass, I 
could perceive it to be in a state of violent agitation. The ship was no longer visible, 
having drifted away, apparently to the eastward. I now began to experience, at intervals, 
severe pain in the head, especially about the ears-still, however, breathing with tolerable 
freedom. The cat and pigeons seemed to suffer no inconvenience whatsoever. 

At twenty minutes before seven, the balloon entered a long series of dense cloud, which 
put me to great trouble, by damaging my condensing apparatus and wetting me to the 
skin. This was, to be sure, a singular recontre, for I had not believed it possible that a 
cloud of this nature could be sustained at so great an elevation. I thought it best, however, 
to throw out two five-pound pieces of ballast, reserving still a weight of one hundred and 
sixty-five pounds. Upon so doing, I soon rose above the difficulty, and perceived 
immediately, that I had obtained a great increase in my rate of ascent. In a few seconds 
after my leaving the cloud, a flash of vivid lightning shot from one end of it to the other, 
and caused it to kindle up, throughout its vast extent, like a mass of ignited and glowing 
charcoal. This, it must be remembered, was in the broad light of day. No fancy may 
picture the sublimity which might have been exhibited by a similar phenomenon taking 
place amid the darkness of the night. Hell itself might have been found a fitting image. 
Even as it was, my hair stood on end, while I gazed afar down within the yawning 
abysses, letting imagination descend, as it were, and stalk about in the strange vaulted 
halls, and ruddy gulfs, and red ghastly chasms of the hideous and unfathomable fire. I had 
indeed made a narrow escape. Had the balloon remained a very short while longer within 
the cloud-that is to say-had not the inconvenience of getting wet, determined me to 
discharge the ballast, inevitable ruin would have been the consequence. Such perils, 
although little considered, are perhaps the greatest which must be encountered in 
balloons. I had by this time, however, attained too great an elevation to be any longer 
uneasy on this head. 

I was now rising rapidly, and by seven o'clock the barometer indicated an altitude of no 
less than nine miles and a half. I began to find great difficulty in drawing my breath. My 
head, too, was excessively painful; and, having felt for some time a moisture about my 
cheeks, I at length discovered it to be blood, which was oozing quite fast from the drums 
of my ears. My eyes, also, gave me great uneasiness. Upon passing the hand over them 
they seemed to have protruded from their sockets in no inconsiderable degree; and all 
objects in the car, and even the balloon itself, appeared distorted to my vision. These 
symptoms were more than I had expected, and occasioned me some alarm. At this 
juncture, very imprudently, and without consideration, I threw out from the car three five- 
pound pieces of ballast. The accelerated rate of ascent thus obtained, carried me too 
rapidly, and without sufficient gradation, into a highly rarefied stratum of the atmosphere. 



and the result had nearly proved fatal to my expedition and to myself. I was suddenly 
seized with a spasm which lasted for more than five minutes, and even when this, in a 
measure, ceased, I could catch my breath only at long intervals, and in a gasping manner- 
bleeding all the while copiously at the nose and ears, and even slightly at the eyes. The 
pigeons appeared distressed in the extreme, and struggled to escape; while the cat mewed 
piteously, and, with her tongue hanging out of her mouth, staggered to and fro in the car 
as if under the influence of poison. I now too late discovered the great rashness of which I 
had been guilty in discharging the ballast, and my agitation was excessive. I anticipated 
nothing less than death, and death in a few minutes. The physical suffering I underwent 
contributed also to render me nearly incapable of making any exertion for the 
preservation of my life. I had, indeed, little power of reflection left, and the violence of 
the pain in my head seemed to be greatly on the increase. Thus I found that my senses 
would shortly give way altogether, and I had already clutched one of the valve ropes with 
the view of attempting a descent, when the recollection of the trick I had played the three 
creditors, and the possible consequences to myself, should I return, operated to deter me 
for the moment. I lay down in the bottom of the car, and endeavored to collect my 
faculties. In this I so far succeeded as to determine upon the experiment of losing blood. 
Having no lancet, however, I was constrained to perform the operation in the best manner 
I was able, and finally succeeded in opening a vein in my right arm, with the blade of my 
penknife. The blood had hardly commenced flowing when I experienced a sensible relief, 
and by the time I had lost about half a moderate basin full, most of the worst symptoms 
had abandoned me entirely. I nevertheless did not think it expedient to attempt getting on 
my feet immediately; but, having tied up my arm as well as I could, I lay still for about a 
quarter of an hour. At the end of this time I arose, and found myself freer from absolute 
pain of any kind than I had been during the last hour and a quarter of my ascension. The 
difficulty of breathing, however, was diminished in a very slight degree, and I found that 
it would soon be positively necessary to make use of my condenser. In the meantime, 
looking toward the cat, who was again snugly stowed away upon my coat, I discovered to 
my infinite surprise, that she had taken the opportunity of my indisposition to bring into 
light a litter of three little kittens. This was an addition to the number of passengers on 
my part altogether unexpected; but I was pleased at the occurrence. It would afford me a 
chance of bringing to a kind of test the truth of a surmise, which, more than anything else, 
had influenced me in attempting this ascension. I had imagined that the habitual 
endurance of the atmospheric pressure at the surface of the earth was the cause, or nearly 
so, of the pain attending animal existence at a distance above the surface. Should the 
kittens be found to suffer uneasiness in an equal degree with their mother, I must consider 
my theory in fault, but a failure to do so I should look upon as a strong confirmation of 
my idea. 

By eight o'clock I had actually attained an elevation of seventeen miles above the surface 
of the earth. Thus it seemed to me evident that my rate of ascent was not only on the 
increase, but that the progression would have been apparent in a slight degree even had I 
not discharged the ballast which I did. The pains in my head and ears returned, at 
intervals, with violence, and I still continued to bleed occasionally at the nose; but, upon 
the whole, I suffered much less than might have been expected. I breathed, however, at 
every moment, with more and more difficulty, and each inhalation was attended with a 



troublesome spasmodic action of the chest. I now unpacked the condensing apparatus, 
and got it ready for immediate use. 

The view of the earth, at this period of my ascension, was beautiful indeed. To the 
westward, the northward, and the southward, as far as I could see, lay a boundless sheet 
of apparently unruffled ocean, which every moment gained a deeper and a deeper tint of 
blue and began already to assume a slight appearance of convexity. At a vast distance to 
the eastward, although perfectly discernible, extended the islands of Great Britain, the 
entire Atlantic coasts of France and Spain, with a small portion of the northern part of the 
continent of Africa. Of individual edifices not a trace could be discovered, and the 
proudest cities of mankind had utterly faded away from the face of the earth. From the 
rock of Gibraltar, now dwindled into a dim speck, the dark Mediterranean sea, dotted 
with shining islands as the heaven is dotted with stars, spread itself out to the eastward as 
far as my vision extended, until its entire mass of waters seemed at length to tumble 
headlong over the abyss of the horizon, and I found myself listening on tiptoe for the 
echoes of the mighty cataract. Overhead, the sky was of a jetty black, and the stars were 
brilliantly visible. 

The pigeons about this time seeming to undergo much suffering, I determined upon 
giving them their liberty. I first untied one of them, a beautiful gray-mottled pigeon, and 
placed him upon the rim of the wicker-work. He appeared extremely uneasy, looking 
anxiously around him, fluttering his wings, and making a loud cooing noise, but could 
not be persuaded to trust himself from off the car. I took him up at last, and threw him to 
about half a dozen yards from the balloon. He made, however, no attempt to descend as I 
had expected, but struggled with great vehemence to get back, uttering at the same time 
very shrill and piercing cries. He at length succeeded in regaining his former station on 
the rim, but had hardly done so when his head dropped upon his breast, and be fell dead 
within the car. The other one did not prove so unfortunate. To prevent his following the 
example of his companion, and accomplishing a return, I threw him downward with all 
my force, and was pleased to find him continue his descent, with great velocity, making 
use of his wings with ease, and in a perfectly natural manner. In a very short time he was 
out of sight, and I have no doubt he reached home in safety. Puss, who seemed in a great 
measure recovered from her illness, now made a hearty meal of the dead bird and then 
went to sleep with much apparent satisfaction. Her kittens were quite lively, and so far 
evinced not the slightest sign of any uneasiness whatever. 

At a quarter-past eight, being no longer able to draw breath without the most intolerable 
pain, I proceeded forthwith to adjust around the car the apparatus belonging to the 
condenser. This apparatus will require some little explanation, and your Excellencies will 
please to bear in mind that my object, in the first place, was to surround myself and cat 
entirely with a barricade against the highly rarefied atmosphere in which I was existing, 
with the intention of introducing within this barricade, by means of my condenser, a 
quantity of this same atmosphere sufficiently condensed for the purposes of respiration. 
With this object in view I had prepared a very strong perfectly air-tight, but flexible gum- 
elastic bag. In this bag, which was of sufficient dimensions, the entire car was in a 
manner placed. That is to say, it (the bag) was drawn over the whole bottom of the car, up 



its sides, and so on, along the outside of the ropes, to the upper rim or hoop where the 
net-work is attached. Having pulled the bag up in this way, and formed a complete 
enclosure on all sides, and at botttom, it was now necessary to fasten up its top or mouth, 
by passing its material over the hoop of the net- work-in other words, between the net- 
work and the hoop. But if the net- work were separated from the hoop to admit this 
passage, what was to sustain the car in the meantime? Now the net- work was not 
permanently fastened to the hoop, but attached by a series of running loops or nooses. I 
therefore undid only a few of these loops at one time, leaving the car suspended by the 
remainder. Having thus inserted a portion of the cloth forming the upper part of the bag, I 
refastened the loops-not to the hoop, for that would have been impossible, since the cloth 
now intervened-but to a series of large buttons, affixed to the cloth itself, about three feet 
below the mouth of the bag, the intervals between the buttons having been made to 
correspond to the intervals between the loops. This done, a few more of the loops were 
unfastened from the rim, a farther portion of the cloth introduced, and the disengaged 
loops then connected with their proper buttons. In this way it was possible to insert the 
whole upper part of the bag between the net- work and the hoop. It is evident that the 
hoop would now drop down within the car, while the whole weight of the car itself, with 
all its contents, would be held up merely by the strength of the buttons. This, at first sight, 
would seem an inadequate dependence; but it was by no means so, for the buttons were 
not only very strong in themselves, but so close together that a very slight portion of the 
whole weight was supported by any one of them. Indeed, had the car and contents been 
three times heavier than they were, I should not have been at all uneasy. I now raised up 
the hoop again within the covering of gum-elastic, and propped it at nearly its former 
height by means of three light poles prepared for the occasion. This was done, of course, 
to keep the bag distended at the top, and to preserve the lower part of the net-work in its 
proper situation. All that now remained was to fasten up the mouth of the enclosure; and 
this was readily accomplished by gathering the folds of the material together, and 
twisting them up very tightly on the inside by means of a kind of stationary tourniquet. 

In the sides of the covering thus adjusted round the car, had been inserted three circular 
panes of thick but clear glass, through which I could see without difficulty around me in 
every horizontal direction. In that portion of the cloth forming the bottom, was likewise, a 
fourth window, of the same kind, and corresponding with a small aperture in the floor of 
the car itself. This enabled me to see perpendicularly down, but having found it 
impossible to place any similar contrivance overhead, on account of the peculiar manner 
of closing up the opening there, and the consequent wrinkles in the cloth, I could expect 
to see no objects situated directly in my zenith. This, of course, was a matter of little 
consequence; for had I even been able to place a window at top, the balloon itself would 
have prevented my making any use of it. 

About a foot below one of the side windows was a circular opening, eight inches in 
diameter, and fitted with a brass rim adapted in its inner edge to the windings of a screw. 
In this rim was screwed the large tube of the condenser, the body of the machine being, 
of course, within the chamber of gum-elastic. Through this tube a quantity of the rare 
atmosphere circumjacent being drawn by means of a vacuum created in the body of the 
machine, was thence discharged, in a state of condensation, to mingle with the thin air 



already in the chamber. This operation being repeated several times, at length filled the 
chamber with atmosphere proper for all the purposes of respiration. But in so confined a 
space it would, in a short time, necessarily become foul, and unfit for use from frequent 
contact with the lungs. It was then ejected by a small valve at the bottom of the car-the 
dense air readily sinking into the thinner atmosphere below. To avoid the inconvenience 
of making a total vacuum at any moment within the chamber, this purification was never 
accomplished all at once, but in a gradual manner-the valve being opened only for a few 
seconds, then closed again, until one or two strokes from the pump of the condenser had 
supplied the place of the atmosphere ejected. For the sake of experiment I had put the cat 
and kittens in a small basket, and suspended it outside the car to a button at the bottom, 
close by the valve, through which I could feed them at any moment when necessary. I did 
this at some little risk, and before closing the mouth of the chamber, by reaching under 
the car with one of the poles before mentioned to which a hook had been attached. 

By the time I had fully completed these arrangements and filled the chamber as 
explained, it wanted only ten minutes of nine o'clock. During the whole period of my 
being thus employed, I endured the most terrible distress from difficulty of respiration, 
and bitterly did I repent the negligence or rather fool-hardiness, of which I had been 
guilty, of putting off to the last moment a matter of so much importance. But having at 
length accomplished it, I soon began to reap the benefit of my invention. Once again I 
breathed with perfect freedom and ease-and indeed why should I not? I was also 
agreeably surprised to find myself, in a great measure, relieved from the violent pains 
which had hitherto tormented me. A slight headache, accompanied with a sensation of 
fulness or distention about the wrists, the ankles, and the throat, was nearly all of which I 
had now to complain. Thus it seemed evident that a greater part of the uneasiness 
attending the removal of atmospheric pressure had actually worn off, as I had expected, 
and that much of the pain endured for the last two hours should have been attributed 
altogether to the effects of a deficient respiration. 

At twenty minutes before nine o'clock-that is to say, a short time prior to my closing up 
the mouth of the chamber, the mercury attained its limit, or ran down, in the barometer, 
which, as I mentioned before, was one of an extended construction. It then indicated an 
altitude on my part of 132,000 feet, or five-and-twenty miles, and I consequently 
surveyed at that time an extent of the earth's area amounting to no less than the three 
hundred-and-twentieth part of its entire superficies. At nine o'clock I had again lost sight 
of land to the eastward, but not before I became aware that the balloon was drifting 
rapidly to the N. N. W. The convexity of the ocean beneath me was very evident indeed, 
although my view was often interrupted by the masses of cloud which floated to and fro. 
I observed now that even the lightest vapors never rose to more than ten miles above the 
level of the sea. 

At half past nine I tried the experiment of throwing out a handful of feathers through the 
valve. They did not float as I had expected; but dropped down perpendicularly, like a 
bullet, en masse, and with the greatest velocity-being out of sight in a very few seconds. I 
did not at first know what to make of this extraordinary phenomenon; not being able to 
believe that my rate of ascent had, of a sudden, met with so prodigious an acceleration. 



But it soon occurred to me that the atmosphere was now far too rare to sustain even the 
feathers; that they actually fell, as they appeared to do, with great rapidity; and that I had 
been surprised by the united velocities of their descent and my own elevation. 

By ten o'clock I found that I had very little to occupy my immediate attention. Affairs 
went swimmingly, and I believed the balloon to be going upward witb a speed increasing 
momently although I had no longer any means of ascertaining the progression of the 
increase. I suffered no pain or uneasiness of any kind, and enjoyed better spirits than I 
had at any period since my departure from Rotterdam, busying myself now in examining 
the state of my various apparatus, and now in regenerating the atmosphere within the 
chamber. This latter point I determined to attend to at regular intervals of forty minutes, 
more on account of the preservation of my health, than from so frequent a renovation 
being absolutely necessary. In the meanwhile I could not help making anticipations. 
Fancy revelled in the wild and dreamy regions of the moon. Imagination, feeling herself 
for once unshackled, roamed at will among the ever-changing wonders of a shadowy and 
unstable land. Now there were boary and time-honored forests, and craggy precipices, 
and waterfalls tumbling with a loud noise into abysses without a bottom. Then I came 
suddenly into still noonday solitudes, where no wind of heaven ever intruded, and where 
vast meadows of poppies, and slender, lily- looking flowers spread themselves out a 
weary distance, all silent and motionless forever. Then again I journeyed far down away 
into another country where it was all one dim and vague lake, with a boundary line of 
clouds. And out of this melancholy water arose a forest of tall eastern trees, like a 
wilderness of dreams. And I have in mind that the shadows of the trees which fell upon 
the lake remained not on the surface where they fell, but sunk slowly and steadily down, 
and commingled with the waves, while from the trunks of the trees other shadows were 
continually coming out, and taking the place of their brothers thus entombed. "This then," 
I said thoughtfully, "is the very reason why the waters of this lake grow blacker with age, 
and more melancholy as the hours run on." But fancies such as these were not the sole 
possessors of my brain. Horrors of a nature most stern and most appalling would too 
frequently obtrude themselves upon my mind, and shake the innermost depths of my soul 
with the bare supposition of their possibility. Yet I would not suffer my thoughts for any 
length of time to dwell upon these latter speculations, rightly judging the real and 
palpable dangers of the voyage sufficient for my undivided attention. 

At five o'clock, p.m., being engaged in regenerating the atmosphere within the chamber, I 
took that opportunity of observing the cat and kittens through the valve. The cat herself 
appeared to suffer again very much, and I had no hesitation in attributing her uneasiness 
chiefly to a difficulty in breathing; but my experiment with the kittens had resulted very 
strangely. I had expected, of course, to see them betray a sense of pain, although in a less 
degree than their mother, and this would have been sufficient to confirm my opinion 
concerning the habitual endurance of atmospheric pressure. But I was not prepared to 
find them, upon close examination, evidently enjoying a high degree of health, breathing 
with the greatest ease and perfect regularity, and evincing not the slightest sign of any 
uneasiness whatever. I could only account for all this by extending my theory, and 
supposing that the highly rarefied atmosphere around might perhaps not be, as I had 
taken for granted, chemically insufficient for the purposes of life, and that a person born 



in such a medium might, possibly, be unaware of any inconvenience attending its 
inhalation, while, upon removal to the denser strata near the earth, he might endure 
tortures of a similar nature to those I had so lately experienced. It has since been to me a 
matter of deep regret that an awkward accident, at this time, occasioned me the loss of 
my little family of cats, and deprived me of the insight into this matter which a continued 
experiment might have afforded. In passing my hand through the valve, with a cup of 
water for the old puss, the sleeves of my shirt became entangled in the loop which 
sustained the basket, and thus, in a moment, loosened it from the bottom. Had the whole 
actually vanished into air, it could not have shot from my sight in a more abrupt and 
instantaneous manner. Positively, there could not have intervened the tenth part of a 
second between the disengagement of the basket and its absolute and total disappearance 
with all that it contained. My good wishes followed it to the earth, but of course, I had no 
hope that either cat or kittens would ever live to tell the tale of their misfortune. 

At six o'clock, I perceived a great portion of the earth's visible area to the eastward 
involved in thick shadow, which continued to advance with great rapidity, until, at five 
minutes before seven, the whole surface in view was enveloped in the darkness of night. 
It was not, however, until long after this time that the rays of the setting sun ceased to 
illumine the balloon; and this circumstance, although of course fully anticipated, did not 
fail to give me an infinite deal of pleasure. It was evident that, in the morning, I should 
behold the rising luminary many hours at least before the citizens of Rotterdam, in spite 
of their situation so much farther to the eastward, and thus, day after day, in proportion to 
the height ascended, would I enjoy the light of the sun for a longer and a longer period. I 
now determined to keep a journal of my passage, reckoning the days from one to twenty- 
four hours continuously, without taking into consideration the intervals of darkness. 

At ten o'clock, feeling sleepy, I determined to lie down for the rest of the night; but here a 
difficulty presented itself, which, obvious as it may appear, had escaped my attention up 
to the very moment of which I am now speaking. If I went to sleep as I proposed, how 
could the atmosphere in the chamber be regenerated in the interim? To breathe it for 
more than an hour, at the farthest, would be a matter of impossibility, or, if even this term 
could be extended to an hour and a quarter, the most ruinous consequences might ensue. 
The consideration of this dilemma gave me no little disquietude; and it will hardly be 
believed, that, after the dangers I had undergone, I should look upon this business in so 
serious a light, as to give up all hope of accomplishing my ultimate design, and finally 
make up my mind to the necessity of a descent. But this hesitation was only momentary. I 
reflected that man is the veriest slave of custom, and that many points in the routine of his 
existence are deemed essentially important, which are only so at all by his having 
rendered them habitual. It was very certain that I could not do without sleep; but I might 
easily bring myself to feel no inconvenience from being awakened at intervals of an hour 
during the whole period of my repose. It would require but five minutes at most to 
regenerate the atmosphere in the fullest manner, and the only real difficulty was to 
contrive a method of arousing myself at the proper moment for so doing. But this was a 
question which, I am willing to confess, occasioned me no little trouble in its solution. To 
be sure, I had heard of the student who, to prevent his falling asleep over his books, held 
in one hand a ball of copper, the din of whose descent into a basin of the same metal on 



the floor beside his chair, served effectually to startle him up, if, at any moment, he 
should be overcome with drowsiness. My own case, however, was very different indeed, 
and left me no room for any similar idea; for I did not wish to keep awake, but to be 
aroused from slumber at regular intervals of time. I at length hit upon the following 
expedient, which, simple as it may seem, was hailed by me, at the moment of discovery, 
as an invention fully equal to that of the telescope, the steam-engine, or the art of printing 
itself. 

It is necessary to premise, that the balloon, at the elevation now attained, continued its 
course upward with an even and undeviating ascent, and the car consequently followed 
with a steadiness so perfect that it would have been impossible to detect in it the slightest 
vacillation whatever. This circumstance favored me greatly in the project I now 
determined to adopt. My supply of water had been put on board in kegs containing five 
gallons each, and ranged very securely around the interior of the car. I unfastened one of 
these, and taking two ropes tied them tightly across the rim of the wicker-work from one 
side to the other; placing them about a foot apart and parallel so as to form a kind of 
shelf, upon which I placed the keg, and steadied it in a horizontal position. About eight 
inches immediately below these ropes, and four feet from the bottom of the car I fastened 
another shelf-but made of thin plank, being the only similar piece of wood I had. Upon 
this latter shelf, and exactly beneath one of the rims of the keg, a small earthem pitcher 
was deposited. I now bored a hole in the end of the keg over the pitcher, and fitted in a 
plug of soft wood, cut in a tapering or conical shape. This plug I pushed in or pulled out, 
as might happen, until, after a few experiments, it arrived at that exact degree of 
tightness, at which the water, oozing from the hole, and falling into the pitcher below, 
would fill the latter to the brim in the period of sixty minutes. This, of course, was a 
matter briefly and easily ascertained, by noticing the proportion of the pitcher filled in 
any given time. Having arranged all this, the rest of the plan is obvious. My bed was so 
contrived upon the floor of the car, as to bring my head, in lying down, immediately 
below the mouth of the pitcher. It was evident, that, at the expiration of an hour, the 
pitcher, getting full, would be forced to run over, and to run over at the mouth, which was 
somewhat lower than the rim. It was also evident, that the water thus falling from a height 
of more than four feet, could not do otherwise than fall upon my face, and that the sure 
consequences would be, to waken me up instantaneously, even from the soundest 
slumber in the world. 

It was fully eleven by the time I had completed these arrangements, and I immediately 
betook myself to bed, with full confidence in the efficiency of my invention. Nor in this 
matter was I disappointed. Punctually every sixty minutes was I aroused by my trusty 
chronometer, when, having emptied the pitcher into the bung-hole of the keg, and 
performed the duties of the condenser, I retired again to bed. These regular interruptions 
to my slumber caused me even less discomfort than I had anticipated; and when I finally 
arose for the day, it was seven o'clock, and the sun had attained many degrees above the 
line of my horizon. 

April 3d. I found the balloon at an immense height indeed, and the earth's apparent 
convexity increased in a material degree. Below me in the ocean lay a cluster of black 



specks, which undoubtedly were islands. Far away to the northward I perceived a thin, 
white, and exceedingly brilliant line, or streak, on the edge of the horizon, and I had no 
hesitation in supposing it to be the southern disk of the ices of the Polar Sea. My curiosity 
was greatly excited, for I had hopes of passing on much farther to the north, and might 
possibly, at some period, find myself placed directly above the Pole itself. I now 
lamented that my great elevation would, in this case, prevent my taking as accurate a 
survey as I could wish. Much, however, might be ascertained. Nothing else of an 
extraordinary nature occurred during the day. My apparatus all continued in good order, 
and the balloon still ascended without any perceptible vacillation. The cold was intense, 
and obliged me to wrap up closely in an overcoat. When darkness came over the earth, I 
betook myself to bed, although it was for many hours afterward broad daylight all around 
my immediate situation. The water-clock was punctual in its duty, and I slept until next 
morning soundly, with the exception of the periodical interruption. 

April 4th. Arose in good health and spirits, and was astonished at the singular change 
which had taken place in the appearance of the sea. It had lost, in a great measure, the 
deep tint of blue it had hitherto worn, being now of a grayish- white, and of a lustre 
dazzling to the eye. The islands were no longer visible; whether they had passed down 
the horizon to the southeast, or whether my increasing elevation had left them out of 
sight, it is impossible to say. I was inclined, however, to the latter opinion. The rim of ice 
to the northward was growing more and more apparent. Cold by no means so intense. 
Nothing of importance occurred, and I passed the day in reading, having taken care to 
supply myself with books. 

April 5th. Beheld the singular phenomenon of the sun rising while nearly the whole 
visible surface of the earth continued to be involved in darkness. In time, however, the 
light spread itself over all, and I again saw the line of ice to the northward. It was now 
very distinct, and appeared of a much darker hue than the waters of the ocean. I was 
evidently approaching it, and with great rapidity. Fancied I could again distinguish a strip 
of land to the eastward, and one also to the westward, but could not be certain. Weather 
moderate. Nothing of any consequence happened during the day. Went early to bed. 

April 6th. Was surprised at finding the rim of ice at a very moderate distance, and an 
immense field of the same material stretching away off to the horizon in the north. It was 
evident that if the balloon held its present course, it would soon arrive above the Frozen 
Ocean, and I had now little doubt of ultimately seeing the Pole. During the whole of the 
day I continued to near the ice. Toward night the limits of my horizon very suddenly and 
materially increased, owing undoubtedly to the earth's form being that of an oblate 
spheroid, and my arriving above the flattened regions in the vicinity of the Arctic circle. 
When darkness at length overtook me, I went to bed in great anxiety, fearing to pass over 
the object of so much curiosity when I should have no opportunity of observing it. 

April 7th. Arose early, and, to my great joy, at length beheld what there could be no 
hesitation in supposing the northern Pole itself. It was there, beyond a doubt, and 
immediately beneath my feet; but, alas! I had now ascended to so vast a distance, that 
nothing could with accuracy be discerned. Indeed, to judge from the progression of the 



numbers indicating my various altitudes, respectively, at different periods, between six 
A.M. on the second of April, and twenty minutes before nine A.M. of the same day (at 
which time the barometer ran down), it might be fairly inferred that the balloon had now, 
at four o'clock in the morning of April the seventh, reached a height of not less, certainly, 
than 7,254 miles above the surface of the sea. This elevation may appear immense, but 
the estimate upon which it is calculated gave a result in all probability far inferior to the 
truth. At all events I undoubtedly beheld the whole of the earth's major diameter; the 
entire northern hemisphere lay beneath me like a chart orthographically projected: and 
the great circle of the equator itself formed the boundary line of my horizon. Your 
Excellencies may, however, readily imagine that the confined regions hitherto unexplored 
within the limits of the Arctic circle, although situated directly beneath me, and therefore 
seen without any appearance of being foreshortened, were still, in themselves, 
comparatively too diminutive, and at too great a distance from the point of sight, to admit 
of any very accurate examination. Nevertheless, what could be seen was of a nature 
singular and exciting. Northwardly from that huge rim before mentioned, and which, with 
slight qualification, may be called the limit of human discovery in these regions, one 
unbroken, or nearly unbroken, sheet of ice continues to extend. In the first few degrees of 
this its progress, its surface is very sensibly flattened, farther on depressed into a plane, 
and finally, becoming not a little concave, it terminates, at the Pole itself, in a circular 
centre, sharply defined, wbose apparent diameter subtended at the balloon an angle of 
about sixty-five seconds, and whose dusky hue, varying in intensity, was, at all times, 
darker than any other spot upon the visible hemisphere, and occasionally deepened into 
the most absolute and impenetrable blackness. Farther than this, little could be 
ascertained. By twelve o'clock the circular centre had materially decreased in 
circumference, and by seven P.M. I lost sight of it entirely; the balloon passing over the 
western limb of the ice, and floating away rapidly in the direction of the equator. 

April 8th. Found a sensible diminution in the earth's apparent diameter, besides a material 
alteration in its general color and appearance. The whole visible area partook in different 
degrees of a tint of pale yellow, and in some portions had acquired a brilliancy even 
painful to the eye. My view downward was also considerably impeded by the dense 
atmosphere in the vicinity of the surface being loaded with clouds, between whose 
masses I could only now and then obtain a glimpse of the earth itself. This difficulty of 
direct vision had troubled me more or less for the last forty-eight hours; but my present 
enormous elevation brought closer together, as it were, the floating bodies of vapor, and 
the inconvenience became, of course, more and more palpable in proportion to my ascent. 
Nevertheless, I could easily perceive that the balloon now hovered above the range of 
great lakes in the continent of North America, and was holding a course, due south, 
which would bring me to the tropics. This circumstance did not fail to give me the most 
heartful satisfaction, and I hailed it as a happy omen of ultimate success. Indeed, the 
direction I had hitherto taken, had filled me with uneasiness; for it was evident that, had I 
continued it much longer, there would have been no possibility of my arriving at the 
moon at all, whose orbit is inclined to the ecliptic at only the small angle of 5 degrees 8' 
48". 



April 9th. To-day the earth's diameter was greatly diminished, and the color of the 
surface assumed hourly a deeper tint of yellow. The balloon kept steadily on her course to 
the southward, and arrived, at nine P.M., over the northern edge of the Mexican Gulf. 

April 10th. I was suddenly aroused from slumber, about five o'clock this morning, by a 
loud, crackling, and terrific sound, for which I could in no manner account. It was of very 
brief duration, but, while it lasted resembled nothing in the world of which I had any 
previous experience. It is needless to say that I became excessively alarmed, having, in 
the first instance, attributed the noise to the bursting of the balloon. I examined all my 
apparatus, however, with great attention, and could discover nothing out of order. Spent a 
great part of the day in meditating upon an occurrence so extraordinary, but could find no 
means whatever of accounting for it. Went to bed dissatisfied, and in a state of great 
anxiety and agitation. 

April 1 1th. Found a startling diminution in the apparent diameter of the earth, and a 
considerable increase, now observable for the first time, in that of the moon itself, which 
wanted only a few days of being full. It now required long and excessive labor to 
condense within the chamber sufficient atmospheric air for the sustenance of life. 

April 12th. A singular alteration took place in regard to the direction of the balloon, and 
although fully anticipated, afforded me the most unequivocal delight. Having reached, in 
its former course, about the twentieth parallel of southern latitude, it turned off suddenly, 
at an acute angle, to the eastward, and thus proceeded throughout the day, keeping nearly, 
if not altogether, in the exact plane of the lunar elipse. What was worthy of remark, a 
very perceptible vacillation in the car was a consequence of this change of route-a 
vacillation which prevailed, in a more or less degree, for a period of many hours. 

April 13th. Was again very much alarmed by a repetition of the loud, crackling noise 
which terrified me on the tenth. Thought long upon the subject, but was unable to form 
any satisfactory conclusion. Great decrease in the earth's apparent diameter, which now 
subtended from the balloon an angle of very little more than twenty-five degrees. The 
moon could not be seen at all, 

THE END 



HOP-FROG OR THE EIGHT CHAINED OURANG- 

OUTANGS 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



I NEVER knew anyone so keenly alive to a joke as the king was. He seemed to live only 
for joking. To tell a good story of the joke kind, and to tell it well, was the surest road to 
his favor. Thus it happened that his seven ministers were all noted for their 
accomplishments as jokers. They all took after the king, too, in being large, corpulent, 
oily men, as well as inimitable jokers. Whether people grow fat by joking, or whether 
there is something in fat itself which predisposes to a joke, I have never been quite able to 
determine; but certain it is that a lean joker is a rara avis in terris. 

About the refinements, or, as he called them, the 'ghost' of wit, the king troubled himself 
very little. He had an especial admiration for breadth in a jest, and would often put up 
with length, for the sake of it. Over-niceties wearied him. He would have preferred 
Rabelais' 'Gargantua' to the 'Zadig' of Voltaire: and, upon the whole, practical jokes 
suited his taste far better than verbal ones. 

At the date of my narrative, professing jesters had not altogether gone out of fashion at 
court. Several of the great continental 'powers' still retain their 'fools,' who wore motley, 
with caps and bells, and who were expected to be always ready with sharp witticisms, at a 
moment's notice, in consideration of the crumbs that fell from the royal table. 

Our king, as a matter of course, retained his 'fool.' The fact is, he required something in 
the way of foUy-if only to counterbalance the heavy wisdom of the seven wise men who 
were his ministers-not to mention himself. 

His fool, or professional jester, was not only a fool, however. His value was trebled in the 
eyes of the king, by the fact of his being also a dwarf and a cripple. Dwarfs were as 
common at court, in those days, as fools; and many monarchs would have found it 
difficult to get through their days (days are rather longer at court than elsewhere) without 
both a jester to laugh with, and a dwarf to laugh at. But, as I have already observed, your 
jesters, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, are fat, round, and unwieldy-so that it was 
no small source of self-gratulation with our king that, in Hop-Frog (this was the fool's 
name), he possessed a triplicate treasure in one person. 

I believe the name 'Hop-Frog' was not that given to the dwarf by his sponsors at baptism, 
but it was conferred upon him, by general consent of the several ministers, on account of 
his inability to walk as other men do. In fact, Hop-Frog could only get along by a sort of 
interjectional gait-something between a leap and a wriggle-a movement that afforded 



illimitable amusement, and of course consolation, to the king, for (notwithstanding the 
protuberance of his stomach and a constitutional swelling of the head) the king, by his 
whole court, was accounted a capital figure. 

But although Hop-Frog, through the distortion of his legs, could move only with great 
pain and difficulty along a road or floor, the prodigious muscular power which nature 
seemed to have bestowed upon his arms, by way of compensation for deficiency in the 
lower limbs, enabled him to perform many feats of wonderful dexterity, where trees or 
ropes were in question, or any thing else to climb. At such exercises he certainly much 
more resembled a squirrel, or a small monkey, than a frog. 

I am not able to say, with precision, from what country Hop-Frog originally came. It was 
from some barbarous region, however, that no person ever heard of-a vast distance from 
the court of our king. Hop-Frog, and a young girl very little less dwarfish than himself 
(although of exquisite proportions, and a marvellous dancer), had been forcibly carried 
off from their respective homes in adjoining provinces, and sent as presents to the king, 
by one of his ever- victorious generals. 

Under these circumstances, it is not to be wondered at that a close intimacy arose 
between the two little captives. Indeed, they soon became sworn friends. Hop-Frog, who, 
although he made a great deal of sport, was by no means popular, had it not in his power 
to render Trippetta many services; but she, on account of her grace and exquisite beauty 
(although a dwarf), was universally admired and petted; so she possessed much 
influence; and never failed to use it, whenever she could, for the benefit of Hop-Frog. 

On some grand state occasion-I forgot what-the king determined to have a masquerade, 
and whenever a masquerade or any thing of that kind, occurred at our court, then the 
talents, both of Hop-Frog and Trippetta were sure to be called into play. Hop-Frog, in 
especial, was so inventive in the way of getting up pageants, suggesting novel characters, 
and arranging costumes, for masked balls, that nothing could be done, it seems, without 
his assistance. 

The night appointed for the fete had arrived. A gorgeous hall had been fitted up, under 
Trippetta's eye, with every kind of device which could possibly give eclat to a 
masquerade. The whole court was in a fever of expectation. As for costumes and 
characters, it might well be supposed that everybody had come to a decision on such 
points. Many had made up their minds (as to what roles they should assume) a week, or 
even a month, in advance; and, in fact, there was not a particle of indecision anywhere- 
except in the case of the king and his seven minsters. Why they hesitated I never could 
tell, unless they did it by way of a joke. More probably, they found it difficult, on account 
of being so fat, to make up their minds. At all events, time flew; and, as a last resort they 
sent for Trippetta and Hop-Frog. 

When the two little friends obeyed the summons of the king they found him sitting at his 
wine with the seven members of his cabinet council; but the monarch appeared to be in a 
very ill humor. He knew that Hop-Frog was not fond of wine, for it excited the poor 



cripple almost to madness; and madness is no comfortable feeling. But the king loved his 
practical jokes, and took pleasure in forcing Hop-Frog to drink and (as the king called it) 
'to be merry.' 

"Come here, Hop-Frog," said he, as the jester and his friend entered the room; "swallow 
this bumper to the health of your absent friends, [here Hop-Frog sighed,] and then let us 
have the benefit of your invention. We want characters-characters, man-something 
novel-out of the way. We are wearied with this everlasting sameness. Come, drink! the 
wine will brighten your wits." 

Hop-Frog endeavored, as usual, to get up a jest in reply to these advances from the king; 
but the effort was too much. It happened to be the poor dwarfs birthday, and the 
command to drink to his 'absent friends' forced the tears to his eyes. Many large, bitter 
drops fell into the goblet as he took it, humbly, from the hand of the tyrant. 

"Ah! ha! ha!" roared the latter, as the dwarf reluctantly drained the beaker.-"See what a 
glass of good wine can do! Why, your eyes are shining already!" 

Poor fellow! his large eyes gleamed, rather than shone; for the effect of wine on his 
excitable brain was not more powerful than instantaneous. He placed the goblet 
nervously on the table, and looked round upon the company with a half-insane stare. 
They all seemed highly amused at the success of the king's joke.' 

"And now to business," said the prime minister, a very fat man. 

"Yes," said the King; "Come lend us your assistance. Characters, my fine fellow; we 
stand in need of characters-all of us-ha! ha! ha!" and as this was seriously meant for a 
joke, his laugh was chorused by the seven. 

Hop-Frog also laughed although feebly and somewhat vacantly. 

"Come, come," said the king, impatiently, "have you nothing to suggest?" 

"I am endeavoring to think of something novel," replied the dwarf, abstractedly, for he 
was quite bewildered by the wine. 

"Endeavoring!" cried the tyrant, fiercely; "what do you mean by that? Ah, I perceive. 
You are Sulky, and want more wine. Here, drink this!" and he poured out another goblet 
full and offered it to the cripple, who merely gazed at it, gasping for breath. 

"Drink, I say!" shouted the monster, "or by the fiends-" 

The dwarf hesitated. The king grew purple with rage. The courtiers smirked. Trippetta, 
pale as a corpse, advanced to the monarch's seat, and, falling on her knees before him, 
implored him to spare her friend. 



The tyrant regarded her, for some moments, in evident wonder at her audacity. He 
seemed quite at a loss what to do or say-how most becomingly to express his indignation. 
At last, without uttering a syllable, he pushed her violently from him, and threw the 
contents of the brimming goblet in her face. 

The poor girl got up the best she could, and, not daring even to sigh, resumed her position 
at the foot of the table. 

There was a dead silence for about half a minute, during which the falling of a leaf, or of 
a feather, might have been heard. It was interrupted by a low, but harsh and protracted 
grating sound which seemed to come at once from every corner of the room. 

"What-what-what are you making that noise for?" demanded the king, turning furiously 
to the dwarf. 

The latter seemed to have recovered, in great measure, from his intoxication, and looking 
fixedly but quietly into the tyrant's face, merely ejaculated: 

"I-I? How could it have been me?" 

"The sound appeared to come from without," observed one of the courtiers. "I fancy it 
was the parrot at the window, whetting his bill upon his cage-wires." 

"True," replied the monarch, as if much relieved by the suggestion; "but, on the honor of 
a knight, I could have sworn that it was the gritting of this vagabond's teeth." 

Hereupon the dwarf laughed (the king was too confirmed a joker to object to any one's 
laughing), and displayed a set of large, powerful, and very repulsive teeth. Moreover, he 
avowed his perfect willingness to swallow as much wine as desired. The monarch was 
pacified; and having drained another bumper with no very perceptible ill effect, Hop- 
Frog entered at once, and with spirit, into the plans for the masquerade. 

"I cannot tell what was the association of idea," observed he, very tranquilly, and as if he 
had never tasted wine in his life, "but just after your majesty, had struck the girl and 
thrown the wine in her face-just after your majesty had done this, and while the parrot 
was making that odd noise outside the window, there came into my mind a capital 
diversion-one of my own country frolics-often enacted among us, at our masquerades: 
but here it will be new altogether. Unfortunately, however, it requires a company of eight 
persons and-" 

"Here we are!" cried the king, laughing at his acute discovery of the coincidence; "eight 
to a fraction-I and my seven ministers. Come! what is the diversion?" 

"We call it," replied the cripple, "the Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs, and it really is 
excellent sport if well enacted." 



"We will enact it," remarked the king, drawing himself up, and lowering his eyelids. 

"The beauty of the game," continued Hop-Frog, "lies in the fright it occasions among the 
women." 

"Capital!" roared in chorus the monarch and his ministry. 

"I will equip you as ourang-outangs," proceeded the dwarf; "leave all that to me. The 
resemblance shall be so striking, that the company of masqueraders will take you for real 
beasts-and of course, they will be as much terrified as astonished." 

"Oh, this is exquisite!" exclaimed the king. "Hop-Frog! I will make a man of you." 

"The chains are for the purpose of increasing the confusion by their jangling. You are 
supposed to have escaped, en masse, from your keepers. Your majesty cannot conceive 
the effect produced, at a masquerade, by eight chained ourang-outangs, imagined to be 
real ones by most of the company; and rushing in with savage cries, among the crowd of 
delicately and gorgeously habited men and women. The contrast is inimitable!" 

"It must be," said the king: and the council arose hurriedly (as it was growing late), to put 
in execution the scheme of Hop-Frog. 

His mode of equipping the party as ourang-outangs was very simple, but effective enough 
for his purposes. The animals in question had, at the epoch of my story, very rarely been 
seen in any part of the civilized world; and as the imitations made by the dwarf were 
sufficiently beast-like and more than sufficiently hideous, their truthfulness to nature was 
thus thought to be secured. 

The king and his ministers were first encased in tight-fitting stockinet shirts and drawers. 
They were then saturated with tar. At this stage of the process, some one of the party 
suggested feathers; but the suggestion was at once overruled by the dwarf, who soon 
convinced the eight, by ocular demonstration, that the hair of such a brute as the ourang- 
outang was much more efficiently represented by flu. A thick coating of the latter was 
accordingly plastered upon the coating of tar. A long chain was now procured. First, it 
was passed about the waist of the king, and tied, then about another of the party, and also 
tied; then about all successively, in the same manner. When this chaining arrangement 
was complete, and the party stood as far apart from each other as possible, they formed a 
circle; and to make all things appear natural, Hop-Frog passed the residue of the chain in 
two diameters, at right angles, across the circle, after the fashion adopted, at the present 
day, by those who capture Chimpanzees, or other large apes, in Borneo. 

The grand saloon in which the masquerade was to take place, was a circular room, very 
lofty, and receiving the light of the sun only through a single window at top. At night (the 
season for which the apartment was especially designed) it was illuminated principally by 
a large chandelier, depending by a chain from the centre of the sky-light, and lowered, or 



elevated, by means of a counter-balance as usual; but (in order not to look unsightly) this 
latter passed outside the cupola and over the roof. 

The arrangements of the room had been left to Trippetta's superintendence; but, in some 
particulars, it seems, she had been guided by the calmer judgment of her friend the dwarf. 
At his suggestion it was that, on this occasion, the chandelier was removed. Its waxen 
drippings (which, in weather so warm, it was quite impossible to prevent) would have 
been seriously detrimental to the rich dresses of the guests, who, on account of the 
crowded state of the saloon, could not all be expected to keep from out its centre; that is 
to say, from under the chandelier. Additional sconces were set in various parts of the hall, 
out of the war, and a flambeau, emitting sweet odor, was placed in the right hand of each 
of the Caryatides that stood against the wall-some fifty or sixty altogether. 

The eight ourang-outangs, taking Hop-Frog's advice, waited patiently until midnight 
(when the room was thoroughly filled with masqueraders) before making their 
appearance. No sooner had the clock ceased striking, however, than they rushed, or rather 
rolled in, all together-for the impediments of their chains caused most of the party to fall, 
and all to stumble as they entered. 

The excitement among the masqueraders was prodigious, and filled the heart of the king 
with glee. As had been anticipated, there were not a few of the guests who supposed the 
ferocious-looking creatures to be beasts of some kind in reality, if not precisely ourang- 
outangs. Many of the women swooned with affright; and had not the king taken the 
precaution to exclude all weapons from the saloon, his party might soon have expiated 
their frolic in their blood. As it was, a general rush was made for the doors; but the king 
had ordered them to be locked immediately upon his entrance; and, at the dwarfs 
suggestion, the keys had been deposited with him. 

While the tumult was at its height, and each masquerader attentive only to his own safety 
(for, in fact, there was much real danger from the pressure of the excited crowd), the 
chain by which the chandelier ordinarily hung, and which had been drawn up on its 
removal, might have been seen very gradually to descend, until its hooked extremity 
came within three feet of the floor. 

Soon after this, the king and his seven friends having reeled about the hall in all 
directions, found themselves, at length, in its centre, and, of course, in immediate contact 
with the chain. While they were thus situated, the dwarf, who had followed noiselessly at 
their heels, inciting them to keep up the commotion, took hold of their own chain at the 
intersection of the two portions which crossed the circle diametrically and at right angles. 
Here, with the rapidity of thought, he inserted the hook from which the chandelier had 
been wont to depend; and, in an instant, by some unseen agency, the chandelier-chain 
was drawn so far upward as to take the hook out of reach, and, as an inevitable 
consequence, to drag the ourang-outangs together in close connection, and face to face. 



The masqueraders, by this time, had recovered, in some measure, from their alarm; and, 
beginning to regard the whole matter as a well-contrived pleasantry, set up a loud shout 
of laughter at the predicament of the apes. 

"Leave them to me!" now screamed Hop-Frog, his shrill voice making itself easily heard 
through all the din. "Leave them to me. I fancy I know them. If I can only get a good look 
at them, I can soon tell who they are." 

Here, scrambling over the heads of the crowd, he managed to get to the wall; when, 
seizing a flambeau from one of the Caryatides, he returned, as he went, to the centre of 
the room-leaping, with the agility of a monkey, upon the kings head, and thence 
clambered a few feet up the chain; holding down the torch to examine the group of 
ourang-outangs, and still screaming: "I shall soon find out who they are!" 

And now, while the whole assembly (the apes included) were convulsed with laughter, 
the jester suddenly uttered a shrill whistle; when the chain flew violently up for about 
thirty feet-dragging with it the dismayed and struggling ourang-outangs, and leaving 
them suspended in mid-air between the sky-light and the floor. Hop-Frog, clinging to the 
chain as it rose, still maintained his relative position in respect to the eight maskers, and 
still (as if nothing were the matter) continued to thrust his torch down toward them, as 
though endeavoring to discover who they were. 

So thoroughly astonished was the whole company at this ascent, that a dead silence, of 
about a minute's duration, ensued. It was broken by just such a low, harsh, grating sound, 
as had before attracted the attention of the king and his councillors when the former 
threw the wine in the face of Trippetta. But, on the present occasion, there could be no 
question as to whence the sound issued. It came from the fang-like teeth of the dwarf, 
who ground them and gnashed them as he foamed at the mouth, and glared, with an 
expression of maniacal rage, into the upturned countenances of the king and his seven 
companions. 

"Ah, ha!" said at length the infuriated jester. "Ah, ha! I begin to see who these people are 
now!" Here, pretending to scrutinize the king more closely, he held the flambeau to the 
flaxen coat which enveloped him, and which instantly burst into a sheet of vivid flame. In 
less than half a minute the whole eight ourang-outangs were blazing fiercely, amid the 
shrieks of the multitude who gazed at them from below, horror-stricken, and without the 
power to render them the slightest assistance. 

At length the flames, suddenly increasing in virulence, forced the jester to climb higher 
up the chain, to be out of their reach; and, as he made this movement, the crowd again 
sank, for a brief instant, into silence. The dwarf seized his opportunity, and once more 
spoke: 

"I now see distinctly." he said, "what manner of people these maskers are. They are a 
great king and his seven privy-councillors,-a king who does not scruple to strike a 



defenceless girl and his seven councillors who abet him in the outrage. As for myself, I 
am simply Hop-Frog, the jester-and this is my last jest." 

Owing to the high combustibility of both the flax and the tar to which it adhered, the 
dwarf had scarcely made an end of his brief speech before the work of vengeance was 
complete. The eight corpses swung in their chains, a fetid, blackened, hideous, and 
indistinguishable mass. The cripple hurled his torch at them, clambered leisurely to the 
ceiling, and disappeared through the sky-light. 

It is supposed that Trippetta, stationed on the roof of the saloon, had been the accomplice 
of her friend in his fiery revenge, and that, together, they effected their escape to their 
own country: for neither was seen again. 

THE END 



HOW TO WRITE A BLACKWOOD ARTICLE 

by Edgar Allan Poe 

1850 



"In the name of the prophets-figs! ! " 
Cry of Turkish fig-peddler. 

I PRESUME everybody has heard of me. My name is the Signora Psyche Zenobia. This I 
know to be a fact. Nobody but my enemies ever calls me Suky Snobbs. I have been 
assured that Suky is but a vulgar corruption of Psyche, which is good Greek, and means 
"the soul" (that's me, I'm all soul) and sometimes "a butterfly," which latter meaning 
undoubtedly alludes to my appearance in my new crimson satin dress, with the sky-blue 
Arabian mantelet, and the trimmings of green agraffas, and the seven flounces of orange- 
colored auriculas. As for Snobbs-any person who should look at me would be instantly 
aware that my name wasn't Snobbs. Miss Tabitha Turnip propagated that report through 
sheer envy. Tabitha Turnip indeed! Oh the little wretch! But what can we expect from a 
turnip? Wonder if she remembers the old adage about "blood out of a turnip," &c.? 
[Mem. put her in mind of it the first opportunity.] [Mem. again-puU her nose.] Where 
was I? Ah! I have been assured that Snobbs is a mere corruption of Zenobia, and that 
Zenobia was a queen-(So am I. Dr. Moneypenny always calls me the Queen of the 
Hearts)-and that Zenobia, as well as Psyche, is good Greek, and that my father was "a 
Greek," and that consequently I have a right to our patronymic, which is Zenobia and not 
by any means Snobbs. Nobody but Tabitha Turnip calls me Suky Snobbs. I am the 
Signora Psyche Zenobia. 

As I said before, everybody has heard of me. I am that very Signora Psyche Zenobia, so 
justly celebrated as corresponding secretary to the "Philadelphia, Regular, Exchange, 
Tea, Total, Young, Belles, Lettres, Universal, Experimental, Bibliographical, 
Association, To, Civilize, Humanity." Dr. Moneypenny made the title for us, and says he 
chose it because it sounded big hke an empty rum-puncheon. (A vulgar man that 
sometimes-but he's deep.) We all sign the initials of the society after our names, in the 
fashion of the R. S. A., Royal Society of Arts-the S. D. U. K., Society for the Diffusion 
of Useful Knowledge, &c, &c. Dr. Moneypenny says that S. stands for stale, and that D. 
U. K. spells duck, (but it don't,) that S. D. U. K. stands for Stale Duck and not for Lord 
Brougham's society-but then Dr. Moneypenny is such a queer man that I am never sure 
when he is telling me the truth. At any rate we always add to our names the initials P. R. 
E. T. T. Y. B. L. U. E. B. A. T. C. H.- that is to say, Philadelphia, Regular, Exchange, 
Tea, Total, Young, Belles, Lettres, Universal, Experimental, Bibliographical, 
Association, To, Civilize, Humanity-one letter for each word, which is a decided 
improvement upon Lord Brougham. Dr. Moneypenny will have it that our initials give 
our true character-but for my life I can't see what he means. 



Notwithstanding the good offices of the Doctor, and the strenuous exertions of the 
association to get itself into notice, it met with no very great success until I joined it. The 
truth is, the members indulged in too flippant a tone of discussion. The papers read every 
Saturday evening were characterized less by depth than buffoonery. They were all 
whipped syllabub. There was no investigation of first causes, first principles. There was 
no investigation of any thing at all. There was no attention paid to that great point, the 
"fitness of things." In short there was no fine writing like this. It was all low-very! No 
profundity, no reading, no metaphysics-nothing which the learned call spirituality, and 
which the unlearned choose to stigmatize as cant. [Dr. M. says I ought to spell "cant" 
with a capital K-but I know better.] 

When I joined the society it was my endeavor to introduce a better style of thinking and 
writing, and all the world knows how well I have succeeded. We get up as good papers 
now in the P. R. E. T. T. Y. B. L. U. E. B. A. T. C. H. as any to be found even in 
Blackwood. I say, Blackwood, because I have been assured that the finest writing, upon 
every subject, is to be discovered in the pages of that justly celebrated Magazine. We 
now take it for our model upon all themes, and are getting into rapid notice accordingly. 
And, after all, it's not so very difficult a matter to compose an article of the genuine 
Blackwood stamp, if one only goes properly about it. Of course I don't speak of the 
political articles. Everybody knows how they are managed, since Dr. Moneypenny 
explained it. Mr. Blackwood has a pair of tailor's-shears, and three apprentices who stand 
by him for orders. One hands him the "Times," another the "Examiner" and a third a 
"CuUey's New Compendium of Slang-Whang." Mr. B. merely cuts out and intersperses. 
It is soon done-nothing but "Examiner," "Slang-Whang," and "Times"-then "Times," 
"Slang-Whang," and "Examiner"-and then "Times," "Examiner," and "Slang-Whang." 

But the chief merit of the Magazine lies in its miscellaneous articles; and the best of these 
come under the head of what Dr. Moneypenny calls the bizarreries (whatever that may 
mean) and what everybody else calls the intensities. This is a species of writing which I 
have long known how to appreciate, although it is only since my late visit to Mr. 
Blackwood (deputed by the society) that I have been made aware of the exact method of 
composition. This method is very simple, but not so much so as the politics. Upon my 
calling at Mr. B.'s, and making known to him the wishes of the society, he received me 
with great civility, took me into his study, and gave me a clear explanation of the whole 
process. 

"My dear madam," said he, evidently struck with my majestic appearance, for I had on 
the crimson satin, with the green agraffas, and orange-colored auriclas. "My dear 
madam," said he, "sit down. The matter stands thus: In the first place your writer of 
intensities must have very black ink, and a very big pen, with a very blunt nib. And, mark 
me. Miss Psyche Zenobia!" he continued, after a pause, with the most expressive energy 
and solemnity of manner, "mark me!-that pen-must-never be mended! Herein, madam, 
lies the secret, the soul, of intensity. I assume upon myself to say, that no individual, of 
however great genius ever wrote with a good pen-understand me,-a good article. You 
may take, it for granted, that when manuscript can be read it is never worth reading. This 



is a leading principle in our faith, to which if you cannot readily assent, our conference is 
at an end." 

He paused. But, of course, as I had no wish to put an end to the conference, I assented to 
a proposition so very obvious, and one, too, of whose truth I had all along been 
sufficiently aware. He seemed pleased, and went on with his instructions. 

"It may appear invidious in me. Miss Psyche Zenobia, to refer you to any article, or set of 
articles, in the way of model or study, yet perhaps I may as well call your attention to a 
few cases. Let me see. There was 'The Dead Alive,' a capital thing !-the record of a 
gentleman's sensations when entombed before the breath was out of his body-full of 
tastes, terror, sentiment, metaphysics, and erudition. You wou