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* * V\7TERE I bidden to say," writes Poe in his essay on 
YV Hawthorne, "how the highest genius could be 
most advantageously employed for the best 
display of its own powers, I should answer, without hesita- 
tion, in the composition of a rhymed poem, not to exceed 
in length what might be perused in an hour. . . . Next to 
such a poem I should unhesitatingly speak of the prose 
tale as Mr. Hawthorne has exemplified it. I allude to the 
short prose narrative requiring from a half-hour to one or 
two hours in its perusal." 

Poe, the tale-writer, was very faithful to his theory. It is 
not often that an author is able to illustrate his critical ideas 
in his original work as well as Poe did ; and in his tales 
perhaps, even more than in his poems. And now that the 
shorter tale seems almost likely in its increasing vogue to 
take the place of the long novel — ^not altogether unfor- 
tunately, it may be thought, seeing to what inane results the 
long novel is apt to lead us— Poe's tales may well be turned 
to anew for their admirable example in the art of fiction. 
There are, no doubt, many paths open to the tale-writer 
that he did not attempt His, it has been said, was a 
narrow range, in which melancholy, curiosity, and horror 
are the leading motives; but it was Poe's virtue that, 
driven by temperament and circumstance toward these 
things, he strove to give them in the most perfect way. 
When the stress of the hard life that America afforded him 


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as an author did not lead him off into mere sensation, or 
buffoonery, or in other ways thwart his natural faculty, 
whatever he did was well and artistically done. With 
perhaps a dozen of his poems remain twice as many tales 
after this deduction — ^poems like " The Haunted Palace " 
and "Israfel," tales like "The Fall of the House of Usher" 
and " William Wilson " — ^standing in a place by themselves, 
which will always attract those who care for the rarer things 
of the imagination. 

Without attempting, in one's account, to follow the 
late M. Emile Hennequin, who, in one of his essays, 
turned in a friendly way Poe*s analytical weapons upon 
Poe himself, so to speak, the critic might yet with 
advantage allow the author of these tales to speak for 
himself to a great extent Poe has already been treated 
biographically so often, that it is not necessary to again tell 
his story in full, with all its sorry details. It is doubtful, 
indeed, if one could satisfactorily get at his elusive spirit, 
"complexe, t^n^breuse, retorse et robuste," to use M. 
Hennequin's words, by treating him merely from the 
outside, as the creature of a certain disposition of facts and 
dates. Poe, after all, was a dreamer before everything, to 
whom at heart the second life of the imagination was so 
much more than the everyday life ; and if this life of the 
imagination is to count for anything, it is at least as 
important to study the report this dreamer gave of himself, 
as that given by his biographers of the exact reasons why, 
for instance, he went from New York to Philadelphia, or 
from Philadelphia to New York. 

During a recent visit to these and other of the American 
towns in which his ill-fated life was passed half-a-century 
ago, after trying in vain out of the present appearances of 
things there to gain some active sense of what his real 


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environment was in his own time, I felt at last, on coming 
one hot May morning to the monument erected in his 
memory in a dusty Baltimore churchyard, how useless the 
attempt was. The true Edgar Poe, author of " The City in 
the Sea" and "Eleonora," was not so much the man 
that Griswold and Willis knew, to opposite eflfect, as the 
Romanticist who lived that second life which is all in all to 
men of his stamp. It is not to Baltimore or Philadelphia, 
but to the fateful House of Usher, or the Domain of 
Arnheim, or the mystic valley depicted in "Eleonora," 
that we must go if we would really know him. And yet, of 
course, remembering his daily life, passing there in America 
to its ignoble end, one does learn many things which help 
an understanding of his work too. 

Mr. Woodberry has at last, in his admirably told life 
of Poe, gathered together all, and more than all, that it 
is necessary to know. In various ways his account throws 
fresh light on previous memoirs, but in the main the book 
leaves the situation still the same. It is chiefly a question 
of point of view. Those who have a temperamental sym- 
pathy with such difficult natures will continue to love 
Poe's work and to forgive his sins ; those who found it a 
pleasure to see the so-called "Real Shelley" disclosed, 
will find in Mr. Woodberry sufficient data to formulate a 
" Real Poe " too. The impression one gathers from this Hfe 
is of a nature singularly compounded of great strength and 
great weakness ; and on turning to the tales one cannot fail 
to be struck by the way in which they corroborate the life, 
while making many things clear that were before doubtful, 
and giving one a new and gentler sense of the hard con- 
ditions of temperament and circumstance that Poe had to 
meet, and meeting, failed to conquer. Many of his tales 
are simply artistic renderings of his own experiences, and 




some of them have even a closer verisimilitude ; and it will 
be interesting to let their writer disclose himself through 
them, keeping in view at the same time the irregular outline 
of his career where it touches upon his work. 

" I am the descendant of a race whose imaginative and 
easily excitable temperament has at all times rendered them 
remarkable," says William Wilson of himself. Poe is said 
to have come of an old Irish family, the Le Poers, which, 
judging by his father before him, had* transmitted to its 
descendants in America not a little of the old restless 
Celtic spirit Poe's father had given up law in Baltimore 
for the stage, marrying an English actress. Born at Boston 
in 1809, the boy, Edgar, was left an orphan, with his 
brother and sister, before he was three years old. Here 
already misfortune enters, and the apparent good-luck that 
followed in his adoption by well-to-do people, the Allans, 
was more apparent than real Those things which it is easy 
for rich people to do for their children they did for the 
child, no doubt ; but there it ended. They were, however, 
responsible for Poe's early experience of the English school 
at Stoke Newington, so memorably narrated in the tale 
" William Wilson," of all his childish experiences the most 
important and formative. " My earliest recollections of a 
school-life," he says in " William Wilson," "are connected 
with a large, rambling, Elizabethan house, in a misty- 
looking village of England, where were a vast number of 
gigantic and gnarled trees, and where all the houses were 
excessively ancient. In truth, it was a dream-Hke and 
spirit-soothing place, that venerable old town. At this 
moment, in fancy, I feel the refreshing chilliness of its 
deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance of its 
thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with indefinable de- 
light, at the deep hollow note of the church-bell, breaking, 


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each hour, upon the stillness of the dusky atmosphere 
in which the fretted Grothic steeple lay imbedded and 

William Wilson, on leaving his first school, goes on to 
Eton, while Edgar Poe was taken back to America in his 
twelfth year. The account given in the tale of the later 
schooMife is comprised in a paragraph or two, and there 
is, of course, no local colour. But the tale all through 
is more nearly autobiographical than any other of the 
tales dealing with his earlier life. The way in which the 
Doppelganger idea is used, in the tragic interaction of the 
two William Wilsons, forms a striking commentary on the 
two Edgar Poes who grew up together, the one to the poet's 
high estate, the other to the hack-writer's life leading on to 
that pitiful death at Baltimore. The tale throughout, 
indeed, shows a darkly pathetic consciousness in Poe of the 
weakness that ruined him. The proud, ambitious boy, 
William Wilson, who grew into the dissolute Oxford imder- 
graduate, though not an exact likeness, is yet like enough 
the shadows being laid in darker, and the lights left 
out, except so far as the second William Wilson, his 
better other-self, is made part of the picture. "The 
ardour, the enthusiasm, and the imperiousness of my dis- 
position," he says, " soon rendered me a marked character 
among my schoolmates, and by slow but natural gradations, 
gave me an ascendency over all not greatly older than 
myself; — over all with a single exception. This exception 
was found in the person of a scholar, who, although 
no relation, bore the same Christian and surname as 
myself; — a circumstance, in fact, little remarkable; for, 
notwithstanding a noble descent, mine was one of those 
everyday appellations which seem by prescriptive right to 
have been, time out of mind, the common property of the 


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mob. In this narrative I have, therefore, designated myself 
as William Wilson,— a fictitious title not very dissimilar to 
the real" Thus finely, with striking dramatic fitness, Poe 
introduces Wilson's other-self at the point where "the 
ardour, the enthusiasm, and the imperiousness " of his 
nature begin to threaten its finer growth. It may be added 
that at Stoke Newington Poe was known, not under his 
own name, but by that of his foster-parents, Allan, which is, 
of course, much more of an "everyday appellation" than 
Poe. Carrying back with him the recollection of his 
life in England, which doubtless had much to do with that 
delight in things antique, which gives a charm to so 
much of his work, the rest of his life was to be passed 
altogether in America. 

His later school-days at Richmond, Virginia, were 
probably not as happy as those passed in England. His 
Bohemian origin was remembered against him by his 
school-fellows; and his very talents probably helped in 
the end to cause envy, added as they were to the pride 
and the dreamer's moodiness which prevented his making 
boyish firiendships readily. But these days must often 
have been hs^py, nevertlieless. The boy was alert and 
robust beyond his fellows, a leader in the school-games, 
as ready to fight and swim and run, as at other times to 
turn away in soHtary mood, possessed by some engrossing 
boyish imagination. The adventurous side of his character 
is shown in some of his tales, as the dreamer in others, and, 
indeed, more or less in all. Take this passage firom the 
** Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym," for instance. Pym 
and another boy, Barnard, it should be said, are in bed, 
and Barnard is protesting that he does not mean to go 
to sleep. " He was tired, he added, of lying in bed on 
such a fine night like a dog, and was determined to get up 


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and dress, and go out on a frolic with the boat I can 
hardly tell what possessed me, but the words were no 
sooner out of his mouth than I felt a thrill of the greatest 
excitement and pleasure^ and thought his mad idea one 
of the most delightful and reasonable things in the world. 
It was blowing almost a gale, and the weather was very 
cold — it being late in October. I sprang out of bed, 
nevertheless, in a kind of ecstasy, and told him I was quite 
as brave as himself, and quite as tired as he was of l3dng in 
bed Uke a dog, and quite as ready for any fun or frolic as 
any Augustus Barnard in Nantucket" 

That shows one side of the boy, Edgar Poe, as the 
following passage shows, in a somewhat highly-coloured 
rendering perhaps, the other, and enables us to realise 
the way in which he took the past into his imagination, 
and living in America, contrived, nevertheless, to pass 
long and engrossing hours in the imagined domains of 
the Old World. "There are no towers in the land," 
he says, "more time-honoured than my gloomy, grey, 
hereditary halls," and goes on to speak of the frescoes, 
and tapestries, and quaint carvings, and old paintings and 
books there, which proved by their choice what a race 
of visionaries must have been his forefathers who chose 
them. Born to these things, "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 
revery." Again, in the same tale, "Berenice": — "To 
muse for long unwearied hours, with my attention rivetted 
to some frivolous device on the margin or in the 


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typography 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 floor, to lose myself, for 
an entire night, in watching the steady flame of a lamp, or 
the embers of a fire," are instances of the way in which he 
must often in holiday times at home have passed his time 
when the mood was upon him. 

"My constitutional temperament broke forth with re- 
doubled ardour," says William Wilson of himself when 
he had passed to the new horizon of Oxford, and if 
Poe had already many ideals of life and poetry, not 
hinted at in the story, to save him from the last descent of 
Wilson, the life at the University of Virginia must still have 
been a wild one. Some idea of it may be had from the 
story told in Mr. Woodberry's life, of a raid upon the 
students, made by the County Sheriff" and his officers at the 
instance of the College Faculty, who had taken this step 
to check the outrageous gaming in the University. The 
offenders, however, escaped, and remained for three days 
hidden in the by-ways of the Ragged Mountains, which 
lie in the neighbourhood. Poe's "Tale of the Ragged 
Mountains"* is probably in part a reminiscence of these 
days, and one may well turn aside to add some of its 
passages to those already given from other tales, in tracing 
his growth through boyhood and youth. 

" Upon a warm, misty day, toward the close of November, 
and during the strange interregnum of the seasons, which in 
America is termed the Indian Summer," then, we may think 
of him, with as much suggestion probably of actual fact 
as many other events narrated in good faith by his 

* The tale as a whole is not one of Foe's best, and, the available 
space being limited, is omitted therefore in this volume. 


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biographers contain, as wandering " forth alone, or attended 
only by a dog, upon a long ramble among the chain of 
wild and dreary hills," called the Ragged Mountains. 
"Although scarcely entitled to be called grand, the scenery," 
he says, "had about it an indescribable, and to me, a 
delicious aspect of dreary desolatioa The solitude seemed 
absolutely virgin. I could not help believing that the green 
sods and the grey rocks upon which I trod had never 
before been trodden by the foot of a human being." With 
his usual fine sense of effect, thus Poe leads one on, 
deepening the impression of the scene in its reaction upon 
a high-strung imagination. " The thick and peculiar mist 
or smoke which distinguishes the Indian Summer, and 
which now hung heavily over all objects, served, no doubt, 
to de.epen the impressions which these objects created. . . . 
In the quivering of a leaf — ^in the hue of a blade of 
grass — ^in the shape of a trefoil — ^in the humming of a bee 
— ^in the gleaming of a dew-drop — ^in the breathing of the 
wind — ^in the faint odours that came from the forest — there 
came a whole universe of suggestion, a gay and motley train 
of rhapsodical and unmethodical thought" But the mist 
deepens as the lonely traveller goes on, and becomes at last 
so dense that it fills him with vague terrors. There are 
few things in fiction more impressive than the unexpected 
development which the narrative now takes ; for suddenly 
a drum sounds in this utter solitude, 

" 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." 
This startling drum-beat forms the opening of the wonderful 
visionary adventures which conclude the episode. After 
other significant incidents, during an oppressive heat in 
the air, the wanderer seats himself beneath a tree. 


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•* 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 won- 
deringly for many minutes. Its character stupefied me with 
astonishment I looked upward. The tree was a palm." 
And now a strange odour comes on the breeze, and with 
it a low, continuous murmur, like that of a great river, 
mingled with " the peculiar hum of multitudinous human 
voices." While he listens to this in astonishment, a gust 
of wind bears off the fog as if by enchantment, and 
he finds himself "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. . . . The streets seemed innumerable, . . . and 
absolutely swarmed with inhabitants. The houses were 
wiMly picturesque. On every hand was a wilderness of 
balconies, of verandahs, of minarets, of shrines, and 
fantastically carved oriels. Bazaars abounded; and in 
these were displayed rich wares in infinite variety and 
profusion.** But enough has been given to show the 
fashion of Poe's translations from actual to imaginary. 
The dreamer must be followed back to things actual at 
the University of Virginia, which he was soon to leave. 

With this year of alternate revelling, dreaming, and 
studying, a year which must in many wa3rs have been 
happy, free as it was fi*om the cares that were soon to crowd 
upon him, ends the first part of his life. At the end of the 
year his foster-father, who had taught him extravagance — 
Dr. Bransby, the Stoke Newington school-master spoke of 
the boy there as spoilt by "an extravagant amount of 
pocket-money *^— grew alarmed at his heavy debts, and 
withdrew him abruptly. The result was that a few months 


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later — after an unwilling experience of the Allan counting- 
house — Poe had quarrelled with Mr. Allan and had fled to 
Boston, the city of his birth, there to enter precipitately 
on the literary career, with only the boyish poems written 
at college to c^er as a sign to editors and critics. 

The thin little volume which came of this adventure : 
Tamerlane 4tnd Other Poems^ by a Bastonian, which was 
published at Boston in 1827, has a singular interest now, 
but it was not a fortunate beginning. In the light of his 
maturer work, it is clearly enough his unformed voice 
making a first doubtful effort ; as seen then, it must have 
seemed chiefly a crude imitation c^ Byron and other poets. 
Where it really touches his own history is in its passages of 
ideal aspiration, its note of ambition, its sense of the 
conflict between " lion ambition ^ and love and the interests 
of the world. As it was, the book brought him no renown, 
no opportunity such as he had doubtless expected. Instead 
poverty came, and presently seems to have driven him, 
after a few months spent in Boston, one knows not how, 
to enlist. This led to a last, well-meant, but unlucky 
interference of his guardian, who again discounted whatever 
self-reliance Poe was learning in depending on his own 
resources, by causing him to be transferred from the regular 
army to the Military Academy at West Point, an episode 
that ended unpleasantly enough. It was characteristic of 
Poe on his perverse side, that duties fulfilled honour- 
aMy when they were of his own choice were neglected 
when they became part of the conditions made for him by 

With this unfortunate West Point episode are associated 
two further editions of his poems, published at Baltimore 
and New York, in each case revised and enlarged. In the 
third of these, published while he was still only twenty-two 


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years old, his individual note is at last clearly heard. Such 
pieces as the '* Lines to Helen " show it But if the young 
poet had dreamt of living at Baltimore in some unusual 
way by his verse, even by verse of the " Helen " quality, he 
was soon disillusioned, and turned now professionally to 
tale-writing, as he had before done no doubt m amateur^ 
without however the smallest encouragement He was 
barely saved by the opportunity which at last came to him 
in the Prize Competition of a literary journal, ITie Saturday 
Visitor^ his tale, "A MS. Found in a Bottle," one of six 
" Tales of the Folio Club," sent in by him, carrying off the 
prize. But already misery had done its sorry work. John 
Kennedy, who had acted as one of the judges in the com- 
petition, and who became the best friend Poe ever had, has 
afforded us a painful glimpse of the situation from which 
the unlucky tale-writer was thus rescued at the last moment 
"In a state of starvation," to use Kennedy's own words, Poe 
confessed when invited by Kennedy to dine with him : " I 
cannot come for reasons of the most humiliating nature — 
my personal appearance." 

But now the air brightly cleared. The Saturday Visitor 
and other papers offered an opening, and Poe's fame as 
a tale-writer began to make way. The probation had 
however been too hard. With his high-wrought tem- 
perament, is it strange that he had already been led by 
poverty and physical wretchedness to turn to those illusive 
talismans, wine and opium, whose spell can yet stay 
beauty a while in the heart of misery itself? It is at 
this period of the struggle, this transition period, that the 
most memorable event of his whole story occurs, in the 
appearance upon the scene of his child-cousin Virginia, who, 
while yet a child, was to become his wife. The saving 
influence of this child's love in Foe's life from this time is 


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best to be understood from his own endless versions of the 
story, whether in verse or in prose. And it is there, I 
think, that one should rightly leave it to be read, whether 
in such poems as " Annabel Lee," or in " Eleanora,'' which 
tell what can never be found out from the accounts of the 
friends who knew them. While still a child, as I have said, 
she was married to him, and a child, simple and childlike 
in her utter devotion, she remained to the end — ^at her 
death some twelve years later, never doubting, though all 
the world beside doubted. 

The rest of the story is too well known to need repeating. 
It is a chronicle of incessant struggle, complicated by the 
malaise of Poe's temperament, the ill-health of his wife, and 
the sordid conditions of the journalistic life at the time in 
America. Remembering this, one cannot fail to be struck 
by the energy and courage with which Poe fought against 
great odds, and by the exquisite sense of art, which he kept 
undimmed all but to the last, though health and fortune 
and happy surroundings, and everything else that goes to 
the encouragement of the artist, failed him. What now 
remains of his work, of course, is only a small part of 
his whole accomplishment. As journalist and editor, his 
mere hack-work was as interminable in its drudgery, as 
hack-work of the kind seems usually to other men of letters 
who are forced to eke out their livelihood in this way ; but, 
as a recent critic has pointed out in regard to Poe, never 
was hack-work so conscientiously done, which is shown indeed 
by the fact of so much of it having been mistaken by his 
editors — unfortunately enough, it may be added — for part of 
his real contribution to letters. The full misery of the last 
years of all, before and after his wife's death, will probably 
never be known; and it is as well There are brighter 
glimpses at times, as in the little cottage at Fordham, 


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where poverty was made less dreadful by the simple 
refinements of birds, flowers, or in the literary circles of 
New York, when the exigencies of the critical and personal 
warfare, in which Poe indulged to excess, allowed him to 
appear there, — ^a dark, pale, melancholy man, with the 
stamp of genius and disaster on the pale brow, close-set lips, . 
and luminous black eyes, as pictured in the reminiscences 
of certain of his friends at this time. But, altogether, the 
story is one of great wretchedness, whose end, with its dark 
scenes at Baltimore in the drinking saloons at election 
time and in the hospital, comes in grim sequence to 
the rest. "Such," to quote one of his biographers, Mr. 
R. H. Stoddard, in closing the story, " such was the brief, 
brilliant, but unhappy life, and such the melancholy death 
of Edgar Allan Poe, of whom it may well be said in the 
words of Dr. Johnson, that the events of his life are 
variously related, and all that can be told with certainty is, 
that he was poor." 

In turning to the tales, not much need be added. Those 
that follow are the best written by Poe, and with one or 
two exceptions, are those that best represent his faculty 
as a tale-teller. In considering them, it is valuable to 
remember Poe's theory of the tale, with which we began. 
Some further passages from the essay then quoted may 
well be added here, as completing Poe's argument, which 
has such special significance for us to-day. After ad- 
vancing his claim for the short tale, he goes on to state 
the reasons for its advantage over the ordinary novel, 
which, ** as it cannot be read in one sitting, 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 


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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." Some further sentences from another part of 
the essay will help to make his theory and its application to 
his own tales still clearer. " A skilful literary artist," he 
continues, "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 
first initial sentence tend not to the outbringing 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." 

Rigorously insisted upon, this may seem to be asking too 
much, and of course Poe himself, in his own tales, was not 
all that we might expect him to be from this. But in the 
main, his tales are remarkable for the working out of the 
rule of directness, of simplicity, of dramatic unity, which 
he laid down in the text quoted. Take, for example, that 
grim little tragedy, " The Cask of Amontillado." The very 
first sentence tells : " The thousand injuries of Fortunato I 
had borne as I best could ; but when he ventured upon 
insult, I vowed revenge." ' The wonderful art with which 


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Poe expands this simple motive ; his management of the 
incidental dialogue ] his choice of scene, and of the time, 
— "It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme 
madness of the carnival season;" the whole process of 
the tale from beginning to end, in short, is a lesson which, 
one thinks, the ordinary writers of our interminable 
magazine novels might well take to heart 

But "The Cask of Amontillado" is hardly the tale that 
one would choose to represent Poe. He is much more 
in evidence in the cycle of tales dealing with the romance of 
himself, so to speak. Without attempting anything like a 
scientific classification, as is the fashion of the hour, which 
in Poe's case would be absurd, the tales here following have 
still been arranged with some general idea of preserving 
their correspondence to his life. " The Fall of the House 
of Usher," admittedly the finest of all — "alone enough," says 
Mr. Lowell, " to stamp him as a man of genius and the 
master of a classic style," an opinion in which he is at one 
with every other critic of Poe, from Mr. Baudelaire to Mr. 
Woodberry, naturally comes first — ^the highest expression 
in his prose of that sense of fate and of disaster which 
fills all his tales of the kind. So with "Ligeia" and 
**Eleonora," which, written long before the death of his 
wife, so imaginatively foreshadow her sad Hfe and its end, 
and his turning afterward to others who should fill her 
place. So with other of the tales, as "The Man of 
the Crowd," a simply perfect e xample of o u ggfijt ive fiction, 
that no one else but Poe could possibly have written, as 
indeed no one but he could have written " The Fall of the 
House of Usher," or presented the tragedy of his own 
life in the dark autobiographical disguise of "William 

The same might be said for his tales of sensation, such 


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as "The Mystery of Marie Roget," and "The Murders 
in the Rue Morgue, '* which, although they are in parts 
equalled by certain French writers, contain too much that 
is peculiar to Poe. We may agree, indeed, with Baudelaire, 
when he says, "It is not by his material miracles, which 
however have made his renown, that it will be given him 
to win the admiration of the people who think ; it is by 
his love of beautiful, by his knowledge of the harmonic 
conditions of beauty, by his poetry, profound and plain- 
tive, by his admirable style, pure and bizarre — ^and at last 
throughout by his quite especial genius, by his unique 
temperament, which allowed him to paint and to explain in 
a manner impeccable, absorbing, terrible, the exception in 
the moral order." 

Poe's essays are more important generally as disclosing 
the literary influences that counted with him, than for any 
all-round critical significance. They contain incidentally 
much that is luminous and acute about the art of poetry 
and the art of prose fiction, but read in the light of modern 
criticism, such as Matthew Arnold's, for instance, or that of 
the later French school, they fail ^ a serious contribution 
to literature. It is a matter for quarrel with Poe's editors 
that they have insisted upon preserving so many of his 
journalistic reviews, which are c^uite useless for any per- 
manent . end. In his essay on Dickens, Poe speaks of 
having had to write " without due deliberation — for alas ! 
the hurried duties of the journairst preclude it;" and it 
would have been better to have observed the division 
between journalism and literature in dealing with his 
remains. Therefore the plan has been adopted here of 
excerpting from his essays those passages which are not 
only of passing interest, written with an eye to the errata of 
some special edition, long superseded, but which have some / 


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bearing on his own practice, or on his own opinions where 
they reflect upon his practice in verse and prose. Much 
there is, in his essays as in his tales, of value however, 
which it is impossible to get into a small volume such as this, 
and which those who desire to study his critical work more 
deliberately and fully must turn to in the several editions 
of his collected works. There, among other things, it will 
be found interesting to note the curious way in which 
\ Poe's opinions vaijed from time to^ime, and led him to 
i\such confusing paracjojuafr thaf m his Hawthorne essay, 
I Where in one pasSage he tells us that "Hawthorne was 
>priginal in all points," and later, "the fact is, he is not 
Original in any sense" — the italics in both cases being 
Poe's own. One might account for such deliverances by 
supposing the critic to be amusing himself at the expense 
of the American public, which he had found gullible on 
other occasions, but that the essay bears internal evidence 
of its author's entire seriousness. 

Gathering up other indications in his reviews and 
essays, it is interesting to find that Poe at the beginning 
learnt much from such sources as Blackwood's Maga- 
zine in its palmy days, when it was famous for its short 
tales of effect^ as Poe called them, tales sometimes 
extravagant, sometimes psychological, jlnd always, or 
nearly always, sensational, "whose impressions," he says, 
" were wrought in a legitimate sphere of action, and con- 
stituted a legitimate, although sometimes an exaggerated, 
interest" In the same place he states concisely his 
favourite thesis as to the several functions of the poem 
and the tale, when, after saying "that Beauty simply can 
be better treated in poetry," he adds — "Not so with terror, 
or passion, or horror, or a multitude of such other points," 
which give the tale its advantage in variety of scope. 


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Poe again, we know, was much affected by Hawthorne, 
though he would hardly have admitted it, and he owed 
something even to writers like Lytton, whose work he after- 
wards rather discounted. His essay on Barnaby Rudge 
proves how closely he had observed.the method of Dickens, 
while, with regard to his poetry, his tributes to Mrs. Barrett 
Browning, Tennyson (whom he calle(f more than once " the 
noblest of all poets"), T oin Hood (whose "Haunted 
House" he copsidered^jm c- of th e imes t^jgoenxsJja^-tbe 
language), TomTloore, Longfellow, and others, are very 
silgpsttver This various indebtedness of Poe's, it may 
be thought, is not of much account, but it shows at 
any rate that he too, as far as his literary outcome is in 
question, was not such an abnormal appearance as has 
been imagined, but, if not a child of his time, was at 
least as much a student of the conditions of his time as 

Poe the tale-writer was, to end all, absolutely one with 
Poe the poet The same qualities, the same defects, all 
but peculiar to himself, are in both. In his tales the samp-> 
rare fac ulty of imagination^ however narrow, the same 
natural gitt oi style, are to be found, which save even such 
a ffecariou? feat ofword-play as **^I1ie Raven " from being 
merely laid aside in the cabinet of the literary curio-hunter. 
One turns to his tales, if one is wise^ with such elusive 
echoes from his poems in one's ears as "The Haunted 
Palace" (quoted in "The Fall of the House of Usher"), 
which, as some one has pointed out, forms an allegory of 
his own life : — 

** In the greenest of our valleys 
By good angels tenanted. 
Once a fair and stately palace — 
fUdiant palace — reared its li^ 


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In the monarch Thought's dominion — 

It stood there ! 
Never seraph spread a pinion 

Over fabric half so fair. 

Banners yellow, glorious, golden, 

On its roof did float and flow, 
(This— all this— was in the olden 

Time long ago). " 

In the haunted palace, its ruler of extraordinary name, 
Porphyrogene, throned amid a throng of spirits who dance 
to the sound of the lute, is discovered, in a way that 
calls up suggestively certain things in his prose variations 
of the same motive — in a way, too, that reminds one, as 
do his descriptions in "Ligeia," "The Fall of the House 
of Usher," and other tales of his remarkable affinity to the 
old romancers and poets of the Celtic races. And \i " the 
thirst for supernal Beauty — a beauty not afforded the soul 
by any existing collocation of earth's forms," which he 
declared the first and last inspiration of poetry, and which 
was the inspiration of those Celtic romancers and poets, 
may not, remembering his own critical division of the 
fiction of verse and prose, be assigned as the only aim 
of his tales too, yet it is the sense of struggle amid 
human passions, and sorrows, and ** unmerciful disaster," 
to realise this supernal Beauty, which gives many of 
them their last interest. But to attempt to theorise such 
creations is vain. It were well instead to take warning by 
their author's own failure, when at last, with brain weakened 
by long excess and suffering, he lost his truer instinct for 
the time being, and turned from his own natural ways of 
expression to that futile, if suggestive, farrago of science and 
philosophy, ** Eureka." His remarkable dedication to that 


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mistaken work, however, may well be quoted in now com- 
mitting his tales to the reader, with the words in which 
he oflfers his book :— -** 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." 

E. R. 

Westminster, /a««a^ 1889. 


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1809. January 19. — Poe born at Boston. 

181 1. [Death of his mother.] Adopted by the Allans. 

18 1 5- 1820. School-da)rs : Stoke Newington and Richmond. 

1826. Entered University of Virginia. 

1827. Early spring. — Began literary life at Boston. 

„ Tamerlane and other Poems^ by a Bostonian, [Boston.] 

1828. May 26. — Enlisted at Boston. 

1829. March 30. — Left the Army, on his guardian's application. 
„ . Al Aaraafy Tamerlaney and Minor Poems, [Baltimore.] 

1830. July I. — Entered West Point Military Academy. 

1831. March. — Dismissal from West Point. 

,, Poems, Second Edition. [New York.] 

„ Settled at Baltimore. 

1832. •* MS. Found in a Bottle." ♦ 

1833. " The Assignation." 

„ Won Prize Competition— "Tales of the Folio Club.** 

1836. Married to Virginia Clemm. 

1838. Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym» [New York,] 

1838. " The Fall of the House of Usher." " Ligeia." 

1838. [Residence at Philadelphia.] 

1839. •'William Wilson." 

* Where it is possible, the approximate dates of the tales and essays 
are separately given, as most of them appeared in magazines at 
intervals long before their final collection into volume form. Foe'a 
published volumes are distinguished by italics. 


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184a Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque. [Philadelphia.] " The 
Man of the Crowd." 

1841. " The Descent into the Maelstrom." " Masque of the Red 

Death." '• Colloquy of Monos and Una." 

1842. " Eleonora." 

1843. "TheGold-Bug." 

1844. Residence in New York. 

1845. Lectures at New York and Boston, on American Poetry. 
„ " The Purloined Letter." 

„ TTie Raven and other Poems, [New York.] 

1846. Residence at Fordham. 

„ " The Cask of Amontillada** " Philosophy of Composition." 

1847. Death of Virginia. 

1848. Eureka. A Prose Poem. [New York.] 
„ " Landor's Cottage." 

1849. 7th October.— Died in the Washington Hospital, Baltimore. 

Editor's Note, — With regard to the selection of Poe's prose given 
in this volume, it is clear, of coarse, that the limits of the volume itself 
compel the omission of many familiar items. The more sensational 
of Poe's tales have, however, appeared in so many cheap editions, 
that they are already well within reach. Counting these as already 
sufficiently known, the aim here has been to give such a general 
selection of the tales and other prose-writings as would best further 
satisfy the interest created by his poems — a selection arranged so as 
to complete, if possible, the artistic impression of his verse by a 
companion volume of his prose. 

In compiling the above list, I have drawn freely on Mr. Woodberry*s 
Life of Poe^ to which and to the writings of others not named in 
my introduction, such as Mr. Ingram, Mr. Edmund Clarence Stedman, 
Mr. R. H. Stoddard (who, I am sorry to see, has recently discounted 
somewhat his former friendly memoir of Poe), Mr. Andrew Lang, 
and Mr. Joseph Skipsey, I must take this meagre opportunity of stating 
my general debt. 


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WpRTQ 287 


TENNYSON . . . . , 297 






R. H. HORNE 307 


EUREKA: dedication and conclusion ... 309 


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" Son coenr est nn Inth sospenda ; 
Sitdt qu'on le touche il r^nne." 

-— Db BiBANGEB. 

DURING the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in 
the autumn of the year, when the clouds hung oppres- 
sively low in the heavens, I had been passing alone, on 
horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of country, and at 
length found myself, as the shades of evening drew on, within 
view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it 
was— but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of 
insuperable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable ; for 
the feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, 
because poetic, sentiment, with which the mind usually receives 
even the sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible. I 
looked upon the scene before me — upon the mere house, and 
the simple landscape features of the domain — upon the bleak 
walls — upon the vacant eye-like windows — upon a few rank 
sedges — and upon a few white trunks of decayed trees — with an 
utter depression of ^ul which I can compare to no earthly 
sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the reveller 
upon opium — ^the bitter lapse into evcry-day life — ^the hideous 
dropping of the veil. There was an iciness, a sinking, a 
sickening of the heart— an unredeemed dreariness of thought 



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which no goading of the imagination could torture into aught of 
the sublime. What was it — I paused to think — what was it 
that so unnerved me in the contemplation of the House of 
Usher? It was a mystery all insoluble; nor could I grapple 
with the shadowy fancies that crowded upon me as I pondered. 
I was forced to fall back upon the unsatisfactory conclusion, 
that while, beyond doubt, there are combinations of very simple 
natural objects which have the power of thus affecting us, still 
the analysis of this power lies among considerations beyond 
our depth. It was possible, I reflected, that a mere different 
arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the details 
of the picture, would be sufificient to modify, or perhaps to 
annihilate its capacity for sorrowful impression ; and, acting 
upon this idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a 
black and lurid tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the dwelling, 
and gazed down — but with a shudder more thrilling than 
before — upon the remodelled and inverted images of the grey 
sedge, and the ghastly tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like 

Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed to 
myself a sojourn of some weeks. Its proprietor, Roderick 
Usher, had been one of my boon companions in boyhood ; but 
many years had elapsed since our last meeting. A letter, 
however, had lately reached me in a distant part of the country 
— a letter from him — ^which, in its wildly importunate nature, 
had admitted of no other than a personal reply. The MS. 
gave evidence of nervous agitation. The writer spoke of acute 
bodily illness — of a mental disorder which oppressed him — and 
of an earnest desire to see me, as his best, and indeed his only 
personal friend, with a view of attempting, by the cheerfulness 
of my society, some alleviation of his malady. It was the 
manner in which all this, and much more, was said — it was the 
apparent heart that went with his request — which allowed me 
no room for hesitation, and I accordingly obeyed forthwith what 
I still considered a very singular summons. 

Although, as boys, we had been even intimate associates, 
yet I really knew little of my friend. His reserve had 


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been always excessive and habitual. I was aware, however, 
that his very ancient family had been noted, time out of 
mind, for a peculiar sensibility of temperament, displaying 
itself through long ages in many works of exalted art, and 
manifested of late in repeated deeds of munificent yet unob- 
trusive charity, as well as in a passionate devotion to the 
intricacies, perhaps even more than to the orthodox and easily- 
recognisable beauties of musical science. I had learned, too, 
the very remarkable fact that the stem of the Usher race, all 
lime-honoured as it was, had put forth at no period any 
enduring branch ; in other words, that the entire family lay in 
the direct line of descent, and had always, with very trifling 
and very temporary variation, so lain. It was this deficiency, 
I considered, while running over in thought the perfect keeping 
of the character of the premises with the accredited character 
of the people, and while speculating upon the possible influence 
which the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have 
exercised upon the other — it was this deficiency perhaps of 
collateral issue, and the consequent undeviating transmission 
from sire to son of the patrimony with the name, which had at 
length so identified the two as to merge the original title of the 
estate in the quaint and equivocal appellation of the " House of 
Usher" — an appellation which seemed to include, in the minds 
of the peasantry who used it, both the family and the family 

I have said that the sole eflect of my somewhat childish 
experiment — that of looking down within the tarn — had been to 
deepen the first singular impression. There can be no doubt 
that the consciousness of the rapid increase of my superstition 
— for why should I not so term it ? — served mainly to accelerate 
the increase itself. Such, I have long known, is the paradox- 
ical law of all sentiments having terror as a basis ; and it might 
have been for this reason only that, when I again uplifted my 
eyes to the house itself from its image in the pool, diere grew 
in my mind a strange fancy — 2l fancy so ridiculous indeed that 
I but mention it to show the vivid force of the sensations which 
oppressed me. I had so worked upon my imagination as really 


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to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung 
an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate 
vicinity — ^an atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of 
heaven, but which had reeked up from the decayed trees, and 
the grey wall, and the silent tarn — a pestilent and mystic 
vapour, dull, sluggish, faintly discernible, and leaden-hued. 

Shaking oflf from my spirit what must have been a dream, I 
scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building. Its 
principal feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity. 
The discolouration of ages had been great Minute fungi 
overspread the whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled 
web-work from the eaves. Yet all this was apart from any 
extraordinary dilapidation. No portion of the masonry had 
fallen, and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency between 
its still perfect adaptation of parts and the crumbling condition 
of the individual stones. In this there was much that reminded 
me of the spacious totality of old woodwork which has rotted 
for long years in some neglected vault with no disturbance 
from the breath of the external air. Beyond this indication 
of extensive decay, however, the fabric gave little token of 
instability. Perhaps the eye of a scrutinising observer might 
have discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending 
from the roof of the building in front, made its way down the 
wall in a zigzag direction, until it became lost in the sullen 
waters of the tarn. 

Noticing these things, I rode over a short causeway to the 
house. A servant in waiting took my horse, and I entered the 
Gothic archway of the hall. A valet, of stealthy step, thence 
conducted me in silence through many dark and intricate 
passages in my progress to the studio of his master. Much 
that I encountered on the way contributed, I know not how, to 
heighten the vague sentiments of which I have already spoken. 
While the objects around me — while the carvings of the ceil- 
ings, the sombre tapestries of the walls, the ebon blackness of the 
floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which rattled 
as I strode, were but matters to which, or to such as which, 
I had been accustomed from my infancy — while I hesitated 


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not to acknowledge how familiar was all this — I still wondered 
to find how unfamiliar were the fancies which ordinary images 
were stirring up. On one of the staircases I met the physician 
of the family. His countenance, I thought, wore a mingled 
expression of low cunning and perplexity. He accosted me 
with trepidation and passed on. The valet now threw open a 
door, and ushered me into the presence of his master. 

The room in which I found myself was very large and lofty. 
The windows were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a 
distance from the black oaken floor as to be altogether 
inaccessible from within. Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light 
made their way through the trellised panes, and served to 
render sufficiently distinct the more prominent objects around ; 
the eye, however, struggled in vain to reach the remoter angles 
of the chamber, or the recesses of the vaulted and fretted 
ceiling. Dark draperies hung upon the walls. The general 
furniture was profuse, comfortless, antique, and tattered. 
Many books and musical instruments lay scattered about, 
but failed to give any vitality to the scene. I felt that I 
breathed an atmosphere of sorrow. An air of stem, deep, and 
irredeemable gloom hung over and pervaded alL 

Upon my entrance. Usher arose from a sofa on which he had 
been lying at full length, and greeted me with a vivacious 
warmth which had much in it, I at- first thought, of an overdone 
cordiality — of the constrained eflfort of the ennuyi man of the 
world. A glance, however, at his countenance convinced me of 
his perfect sincerity* We sat down ; and for some moments, 
while he spoke not, I gazed upon him with a feeling half 
of pity, half of awe. Surely, man had never before so terribly 
altered, in so brief a period, as had Roderick Usher I It was 
with difficulty that I could bring myself to admit the identity of 
the wan being before me with the companion of my early 
boyhood. Yet the character of his face had been at all times 
remarkable. A cadaverousness of complexion ; an eye large, 
liquid, and luminous beyond comparison ; lips somewhat thin 
and very pallid, but of a surpassingly beautiful curve ; a nose of 
a delicate Hebrew model, but with a breadth of nostril unusual 


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in similar formations ; a finely-moulded chin, speaking, in its 
want of prominence, of a want of moral energy ; hair of a more 
than web-like softness and tenuity ; these features, with an 
inordinate expansion above the regions of the temple, made up 
altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten. And now 
in the mere exaggeration of the prevailing character of these 
features, and of the expression they were wont to convey, lay so 
much of change that I doubted to whom I spoke. The now 
ghastly pallor of the skin, and the now miraculous lustre of the 
eye, above all things startled and even awed me. The silken 
hair, too, had been suffered to grow all unheeded, and as, in its 
wild gossamer texture, it floated rather than fell about the face, 
I could not, even with effort, connect its Arabesque expression 
with any idea of simple humanity. 

In the manner of my friend I was at once struck with an 
incoherence — an inconsistency ; and I soon found this to arise 
from a series of feeble and futile struggles to overcome an 
habitual trepidancy — an excessive nervous agitation. For 
something of this nature I had indeed been prepared, no less 
by his letter than by reminiscences of certain boyish traits, and 
by conclusions deduced from his peculiar physical conformation 
and temperament. His action was alternately vivacious and 
sullen. His voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision 
(when the animal spirits seemed utterly in abeyance) to that 
species of energetic concision — that abrupt, weighty, unhurried, 
and hollow-sounding enunciation — that leaden, self-balanced, 
and perfectly modulated guttural utterance which may 
be observed in the lost drunkard, or the irreclaimable eater 
of opium, during the periods of his most intense excite- 

It was thus that he spoke of the object of my visit, of his 
earnest desire to see me, and of the solace he expected me to 
afford him. He entered at some length into what he conceived 
to be the nature of his malady. It was, he said, a constitutional 
and a family evil, and one for which he despaired to find a 
remedy — a mere nervous affection, he immediately added, which 
would undoubtedly soon pass ofii It displayed itself in a host of 


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unnatural sensations. Some of these, as he detailed them, 
interested and bewildered me ; although perhaps the terms and 
the general manner of the narration had their weight. He 
suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses ; the most 
insipid food was alone endurable ; he could wear only garments 
of certain texture ; the odours of all flowers were oppressive ; 
his eyes were tortured by even a faint light ; and there were 
but peculiar sounds, and these from stringed instruments, which 
did not inspire him with horror. 

To an anomalous species of terror I found him a bounden 
slave. " I shall perish," said he, " I must perish in this 
deplorable folly. Thus, thus, and not otherwise, shall I be lost. 
I dread the events of the future, not in themselves, but in their 
results. I shudder at the thought of any, even the most trivial 
incident, which may operate upon this intolerable agitation of 
soul. I have indeed no abhorrence of danger, except in its 
absolute effect — in terror. In this unnerved — in this pitiable 
condition — I feel that the period will sooner or later arrive 
when I must abandon life and reason together in some struggle 
with the grim phantasm, Fear.*' 

I learned, moreover, at intervals, and through broken and 
equivocal hints, another singular feature of his mental con- 
dition. He was enchained by certain superstitious impressions 
in regard to the dwelling which he tenanted, and whence, for 
many years, he had never ventured forth — in regard to an 
influence whose supposititious force was conveyed in terms too 
shadowy here to be re-stated — an influence which some 
peculiarities in the mere form and substance of his family 
mansion had, by dint of long sufferance, he said, obtained 
over his spirit — an effect which the physique of the grey walls 
and turrets, and of the dim tarn into which they all looked 
down, had at length brought about upon the morale of his 

He admitted, however, although with hesitation, that much of 
the peculiar gloom which thus afflicted him could be traced to a 
more natural and far more palpable origin— to the severe and 
long-continued illness—indeed to the evidently approaching 


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dissolution — of a tenderly-beloved sister — his sole companion 
for long years — his last and only relative on earth. "Her 
decease," he said, with a bitterness which I can never forget, 
" would leave him (him the hopeless and the frail) the last of 
the ancient race of the Ushers." While he spoke, the lady 
Madeline (for so was she called) passed slowly through a 
remote portion of the apartment, and, without having noticed 
my presence, disappeared. I regarded her with an utter 
astonishment not unmingled with dread— and yet I found it 
impossible to account for such feelings. A sensation of stupor 
oppressed me as my eyes followed her retreating steps. When 
a door at length closed upon her, my glance sought instinctively 
and eagerly the countenance of the brother— but he had buried 
his face in his hands, and I could only perceive that a far more 
than ordinary wanness had overspread the emaciated fingers 
through which trickled many passionate tears. 

The disease of the lady Madeline had long baffled the skill of 
her physicians. A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of 
the person, and frequent although transient affections of a 
partially cataleptical character, were the unusual diagnosis. 
Hitherto she had steadily borne up against the pressure of her 
malady, and had not betaken herself finally to bed ; but, on the 
closing in of the evening of my arrival at the house, she 
succumbed (as her brother told me at night with inexpressible 
agitation) to the prostrating power of the destroyer ; and I 
learned that the glimpse I had obtained of her person would 
thus probably be the last I should obtain — that the lady, at 
least while living, would be seen by me no more. 

For several days ensuing her name was unmentioned by 
either Usher or myself; and during this period I was busied 
in earnest endeavours to alleviate the melancholy of my friend. 
We painted and read together, or I listened, as if in a dream, 
to the wild improvisations of his speaking guitar. And thus, as 
a closer and still closer intimacy admitted me more unre- 
servedly into the recesses of his spirit, the more bitterly did I 
perceive the futility of all attempts at cheering a mind from 
which darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured forth 


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upon all objects of the moral and physical universe in one 
unceasing radiation of gloom. 

I shall ever bear about me a memory of the many solemn 
hours I thus spent alone with the master of the House of 
Usher. Yet I should fail in any attempt to convey an idea of 
the exact character of the studies, or of the occupations in which 
he involved me or led me the way. An excited and highly- 
distempered ideality threw a sulphureous lustre over all. 
His long improvised dirges will ring forever in my ears. 
Among other things, I hold painfully in mind a certain singular 
perversion and amplification of the wild air of the last waltz of 
Von Weber. From the paintings over which his elaborate fancy 
brooded, and which grew, touch by touch, into vaguenesses at 
which I shuddered the more thrillingly, because I shuddered 
knowing not why ; — ^from these paintings (vivid as their images 
now are before me) I would in vain endeavour to educe more 
than a small portion which should lie within the compass of 
merely written words. By the utter simplicity, by the naked- 
ness of his designs, he arrested and overawed attention. If 
ever mortal painted an idea, that mortal was Roderick Usher. 
For me, at least — in the circumstances then surrounding me — 
there arose out of the pure abstractions which the hypochondriac 
contrived to throw upon his canvas an intensity of intolerable 
awe, no shadow of which felt I ever yet in the contemplation of 
the certainly glowing yet too concrete reveries of Fuseli. 

One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, par- 
taking not so rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be 
shadowed forth, although feebly, in words. A small picture 
presented the interior of an immensely long and rectangular 
vault or tunnel, with low walls, smooth, white, and without 
interruption or device. Certain accessory points of the design 
served well to convey the idea that this excavation lay at an 
exceeding depth below the surface of the earth. No outlet 
was observed in any portion of its vast extent, and no torch, 
or other artificial source of light was discernible, yet a flood of 
intense rays rolled throughout, and bathed the whole in a 
ghastly and inappropriate splendour. 


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I have just spoken of that morbid condition of the auditory 
nerve which rendered all music intolerable to the sufferer, with 
the exception of certain effects of stringed instruments. It was 
perhaps the narrow limits to which he thus confined himself 
upon the guitar which gave birth, in great measure, to the 
fantastic character of his performances. But the fervid facility 
of his impromptus could not be so accounted for. They must 
have been and were, in the notes, as well as in the words of 
his wild fantasias (for he not unfrequently accompanied himself 
with rhymed-verbal improvisations), the result of that intense 
mental collectedness and concentration to which I have pre- 
viously alluded as observable only in particular moments of 
the highest artificial excitement The words of one of these 
rhapsodies I have easily remembered. I was perhaps the more 
forcibly impressed with it as he gave it, because, in the under 
or mystic current of its meaning, I fancied that I perceived, 
and for the first time, a full consciousness on the part of Usher, 
of the tottering of his lofty reason upon her throne. The verses, 
which were entitled " The Haunted Palace," ran very nearly, if 
not accurately, thus :— 

In the greenest of our Talleys, 

By good angels tenanted, 
Once a fair and stately palace — 

Kadiant palace — ^reared its head. 
In the monarch Thought's dominion — 

It stood there ! 
Never seraph spread a pinion 
Over fabric half so fair. 

Banners yellow, glorious, golden, 

On its roof did float and flow ; 
(This— all this— was in the olden 

Time long ago) 
And every gentle air that dallied 

In that sweet day, 
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid^ 

A winged odour went away. 


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Wanderers in that happy valley 
Through two luminous windows saw 

Spirits moving musically 
To a lute's well-tun^d law, 

Bound about a throne, where sitting 
(Porphyrogene 1) 

In state his glory well befitting 
The ruler of the realm was seen. 


And all with pearl and ruby glowing 

Was the fair palace door, 
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing. 

And sparkling evermore, 
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty 

Was but to sing. 
In voices of surpassing beauty, 

The wit and wisdom of their king. 

But evil things, in robes of sorrow, 

Assailed the monarch's high estate * 
(Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow 

Shall dawn upon him, desolate 1) 
And, round about his home, the glory 

That blushed and bloomed 
Is but a dim-remembered story 

Of the old time entombed. 

And travellers now within that valley, 

Through the red-litten windows, see 
Vast forms that move fantastically 

To a discordant melody ; 
While, like a rapid ghastly river 

Through the pale door, 
A hideous throng rush out for ever, 

And laugh— but smile no more. 


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I well remember that suggestions arising from this ballad led 
us into a train of thought wherein there became manifest an 
opinion of Usher's, which I mention not so much on account of 
its novelty (for other men* have thought thus), as on account of 
the pertinacity with which he maintained it This opinion, in 
its general form, was that of the sentience of all vegetable 
things. But, in his disordered fancy, the idea had assumed a 
more daring character, and trespassed, under certain conditions, 
upon the kingdom of inorganisation. I lack words to express 
the full extent, or the earnest abandon of his persuasion. The 
belief, however, was connected (as I have previously hinted) 
with the grey stones of the home of his forefathers. The 
conditions of the sentience had been here, he imagined, fulfilled 
in the method of collocation of these stones — in the order of 
their arrangement, as well as in that of the many fungi which 
overspread them, and of the decayed trees which stood around 
— above all, in the long, undisturbed endurance of this arrange- 
ment, and in its reduplication in the still waters of the tarn. 
Its evidence — the evidence of the sentience — was to be seen, he 
said (and I here started as he spoke), in the gradual yet certain 
condensation of an atmosphere of their own about the waters 
and the walls. The result was discoverable, he added, in that 
silent yet importunate and terrible influence which for centuries 
bad moulded the destinies of his family, and which made him 
what I now saw him — what he was. Such opinions need no 
comment, and I will make none. 

Our books — ^the books which for years had formed no small 
portion of the mental existence of the invalid — were, as might 
be supposed, in strict keeping with this character of phantasm. 
We pored together over such works as the Ververt et Chartreuse 
of Cresset ; the Beiphegpr of Machiavelli ; the Heaven and 
Hell of Swedenborg ; the Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas 
Klimm by Holberg ; the Chiromancy of Robert Flud, of Jean 
lyindagind, and of De la Chambre ; the Journey into the Blue 

* Watson, Dr. Percival, SpaUanzani, and especially the Bishop of 
Llanda£— See Otyemwd Assays, vol. v. 


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Distance of Tieck ; and the City of the Sun of Campanella. 
One favourite volume was a small octavo edition of the 
Directorium Inquisitorium^ by the Dominican Eymeric de 
Gironne ; and there were passages in Pomponius Mela about 
the old African Satyrs and CEgipans, over which Usher would 
sit dreaming for hours. His chief delight, however, was found 
in the perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious book in 
quarto Gothic — the manual of a forgotten church — the Vigilae 
Mortuorum secundum Chorum Ecclesiae Maguntinae, 

I could not help thinking of the wild ritual of this work, and 
of its probable influence upon the hypochondriac, when, one 
evening, having informed me abruptly that the lady Madeline 
was no more, he stated his intention of preserving her corpse 
for a fortnight (previously to its final interment) in one of the 
numerous vaults within the main walls of the building. The 
worldly reason, however, assigned for this singular proceeding 
was one which I did not feel at liberty to dispute. The brother 
had been led to his resolution (so he told me) by consideration 
of the unusual character of the malady of the deceased, of 
certain obtrusive and eager inquiries on the part of her medical 
man, and of the remote and exposed situation of the burial- 
ground of the family. I will not deny that when I called to 
mind the sinister countenance of the person whom I met upon 
the staircase on the day of my arrival at the house, I had no 
desire to oppose what I regarded as at best but a harmless and 
by no means an unnatural precaution. 

At the request of Usher, I personally aided him in the 
arrangements for the temporary entombment. The body 
having been encof&ned, we two alone bore it to its rest The 
vault in which we placed it (and which had been so long 
unopened that our torches, half smothered in its oppressive 
atmosphere, gave us little opportunity for investigation) was 
small, damp, and entirely without means of admission for light, 
lying at great depth immediately beneath that portion of the 
building in which was my own sleeping apartment. It had 
been used apparently in remote feudal times for the worst 
purposes of a donjon-keep, and in later days as a place of 


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deposit for powder or some other highly-combustible substance, 
as a portion of its floor, and the whole interior of a long archway 
through which we reached it, were carefully sheathed with 
copper. The door, of massive iron, had been also similarly 
protected. Its immense weight caused an unusually sharp 
grating sound as it moved upon its hinges. 

Having deposited our mournful burden upon tressels within 
this region of horror, we partially turned aside the yet un- 
screwed lid of the coffin and looked upon the face of the tenant. 
A striking similitude between the brother and sister now first 
arrested my attention, and Usher, divining perhaps my 
thoughts, murmured out some few words from which I learned 
that the deceased and himself had been twins, and that 
sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed 
between them. Our glances, however, rested not long upon 
the dead — for we could not regard her unawed. The disease 
which had thus entombed the lady in the maturity of youth had 
left, as usual in all maladies of a strictly cataleptical character, 
the mockery of a faint blush upon the bosom and the face, and 
that suspiciously lingering smile upon the lip which is so 
terrible in death. We replaced and screwed down the lid, and 
having secured the door of iron, made our way with toil into 
the scarcely less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of the 

And now, some days of bitter grief having elapsed, an 
observable change came over the features of the mental 
disorder of my friend. His ordinary manner had vanished. 
His ordinary occupations were neglected or forgotten. He 
roamed from chamber to chamber with hurried, unequal, and 
objectless step. The pallor of his countenance had assumed, if 
possible, a more ghastly hue — but the luminousness of his ^ye 
had utterly gone out. The once occasional huskiness of his 
tone was heard no more, and a tremulous quaver, as if of 
extreme terror, habitually characterised his utterance. There 
were times indeed when I thought his unceasingly agitated 
mind was labouring with some oppressive secret, to divulge 
which he struggled for the necessary courage. At times again 


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I was obliged to resolve all into the mere inexplicable vagaries 
of madness, for I beheld him gazing upon vacancy for long 
hours in an attitude of the profoundest attention, as if listening 
to some imaginary sound. It was no wonder that his condition 
terrified — that it infected me. I felt creeping upon me, by slow 
yet certain degrees, the wild influences of his own fantastic yet 
impressive superstitions. 

It was especially upon retiring to bed late in the night of the 
seventh or eighth day after the placing of the lady Madeline 
within the donjon that I experienced the full power of such 
feelings. Sleep came not near my couch — while the hours 
waned and waned away. I struggled to reason off the nervous- 
ness which had dominion over me. I endeavoured to believe 
that much, if not all, of what I felt was due to the bewildering 
influence of the gloomy furniture of the room— of the dark and 
tattered draperies which, tortured into motion by the breath 
of a rising tempest, swayed fitfully to and fro upon the walls, 
and rustled uneasily about the decorations of the bed. But 
my efforts were fruitless. An irrepressible tremor gradually 
pervaded my frame, and at length there sat upon my very 
heart an incubus of utterly causeless alarm. Shaking this 
off with a gasp and a struggle, I uplifted myself upon the 
pillows, and peering earnestly within the intense darkness of 
the chamber, hearkened — I know not why, except that an 
instinctive spirit prompted me — to certain low and indefinite 
sounds which came, through the pauses of the storm, at long 
intervals, I knew not whence. Overpowered by an intense 
sentiment of horror, unaccountable yet unendurable, I threw 
on my clothes with haste (for I felt that I should sleep no more 
during the night), and endeavoured to arouse myself from the 
pitiable condition into which I had fallen, by pacing rapidly to 
and fro through the apartment 

I had taken but few tiuns in this manner, when a light step 
on an adjoining staircase arrested my attention. I presently 
recognised it as that of Usher. In an instant afterward he 
rapped with a gentle touch at my door, and entered, bearing a 
lamp. His countenance was as usual cadaverously wan — but, 


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moreover, there was a species of mad hilarity in his eyes — an 
evidently restrained hysteria in his whole demeanour. His 
air appalled me — but anything was preferable to the solitude 
which I had so long endured, and I even welcomed his 
presence as a relief. 

" And you have not seen it ? " he said abruptly, after having 
stared about him for some moments in silence — "you have 
not then seen it ?— but, stay ! you shall." Thus speaking, and 
having carefully shaded his lamp, he hurried to one of the 
casements, and threw it freely open to the storm. 

The impetuous fury of the entering gust nearly lifted us from 
our feet. It was indeed a tempestuous yet sternly beautiful 
night, and one wildly singular in its terror and its beauty. A 
whirlwind had apparently collected its force in our vicinity, for 
there were frequent and violent alterations in the direction of 
the wind, and the exceeding density of the clouds (which hung 
so low as to press upon the turrets of the house) did not 
prevent our perceiving the life-like velocity with which they 
flew careering from all points against each other without 
passing away into the distance. 

I say that even their exceeding density did not prevent our 
perceiving this — yet we had no glimpse of the moon or stars — 
nor was there any flashing forth of the lightning. But the 
under surfaces of the huge masses of agitated vapour, as well 
as all terrestrial objects immediately around us, were glowing 
in the unnatural light of a faintly luminous and distinctly visible 
gaseous exhalation which hung about and enshrouded the 

" You must not— you shall not behold this 1 " said I, shud- 
deringly, to Usher, as I led him with a gentle violence from the 
window to a seat. "These appearances which bewilder you 
are merely electrical phenomena not uncommon, or it may be 
that they have their ghastly origin in the rank miasma of the 
tarn. Let us close this casement ; the air is chilling and 
dangerous to your frame. Here is one of your favourite 
romances. I will read, and you shall Ibten ; and so we will 
pass away this terrible night together." 


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The antique volume which I had taken up was the Mad Trist 
of Sir Launcelot Canning, but I had called it a favourite of 
Usher's more in sad jest than in earnest ; for, in truth, there is 
little in its uncouth and unimaginative prolixity which could 
have had interest for the lofty and spiritual ideality of my 
friend. It was, however, the only book immediately at hand, 
and I indulged a vague hope that the excitement which now 
agitated the hypochondriac might find relief (for the history 
of mental disorder is full of similar anomalies) even in the 
extremeness of the folly which I should read. Could I have 
judged, indeed, by the wild overstrained air of vivacity with 
which he hearkened, or apparently hearkened, to the words of 
the tale, I might well have congratulated myself upon the 
success of my design. 

I had arrived at that well-known portion of the story where 
Ethelred, the hero of the Trist, having sought in vain for 
peaceable admission into the dwelling of the hermit, proceeds 
to make good an entrance by force. Here, it will be 
remembered, the words of the narrative run thus : 

" And Ethelred, who was by nature of a doughty heart, and 
who was now mighty withal, on account of the powerful ness of 
the wine which he had drunken, waited no longer to hold 
parley with the hermit, who in sooth was of an obstinate and 
maliceful turn, but feeling the ram upon his shoulders, and 
fearing the rising of the tempest, uplifted his mace outright, and 
with blows made quickly room in the plankings of the door for 
his gauntleted hand ; and now pulling therewith sturdily, he so 
cracked and ripped, and tore all asunder, that the noise of the 
dry and hollow-sounding wood alarummed and reverberated 
throughout the forest" 

At the termination of this sentence I started, and for a 
moment paused, for it appeared to me (although I at once 
concluded that my excited fancy had deceived me) that from 
some very remote portion of the mansion there came indistinctly 
to my ears what might have been, in its exact similarity of 
character, the echo (but a stifled and dull one certainly) of the 
very cracking and ripping sound which Sir Launcelot had so 


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particularly described. It was beyond doubt the coincidence 
alone which had arrested my attention ; for amid the rattling 
of the sashes of the casements, and the ordinary commingled 
noises of the still increasing storm, the sound in itself had 
nothing surely which should have interested or disturbed me. 
I continued the story : 

" But the good champion Ethelred, now entering within the 
door, was soon enraged and amazed to perceive no signal of 
the maliceful hermit ; but in the stead thereof, a dragon of a 
scaly and prodigious demeanour, and of a fiery tongue, which 
sate in guard before a palace of gold, with a floor of silver ; and 
upon the wall there hung a shield of shining brass with this 
legend enwritten — 

** * Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin ; 
Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win.' 

And Ethelred uplifted his mace, and struck upon the head of 
the dragon, which fell before him, and gave up his pesty 
breath, with a shriek so horrid and harsh, and withal so 
piercing, that Ethelred had fain to close his ears with his hands 
against the dreadful noise of it, the like whereof was never 
before heard." 

Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of 
wild amazement — for there could be no doubt whatever that in 
this instance I did actually hear (although from what direction 
it proceeded I found it impossible to say) a low and apparently 
distant, but harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or 
grating sound — the exact counterpart of what my fancy had 
already conjured up for the dragon's unnatural shriek as 
described by the romancer. 

Oppressed, as I certainly was upon the occurrence of this 
second and most extraordinary coincidence, by a thousand 
conflicting sensations, in which wonder and extreme terror were 
predominate, I still retained sufficient presence of mind to 
avoid exciting by any observation the sensitive nervousness of 
my companion. I was by no means certain that he had 


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noticed the sounds in question, although, assuredly, a strange 
alteration had during the last few minutes taken place in his 
demeanour. From a position fronting my own, he had 
gradually brought round his chair, so as to sit with his face to 
the door of the chamber ; and thus I could but partially 
perceive his features, although I saw that his lips trembled as if 
he were murmuring inaudibly. His head had dropped upon 
his breast, yet I knew that he was not asleep, from the wide and 
rigid opening of the eye as I caught a glance of it in profile. 
The motion of his body too was at variance with this idea — for 
he rocked from side to side with a gentle yet constant and 
uniform sway. Having rapidly taken notice of all this, I 
resumed the narrative of Sir Launcelot, which thus proceeded : 

" And now, the champion having escaped from the terrible 
fury of the dragon, bethinking himself of the brazen shield, and 
of the breaking up of the enchantment which was upon it, 
removed the carcase from out of the way before him, and 
approached valorously over the silver pavement of the castle 
to where the shield was upon the wall ; which in sooth tarried 
not for his full coming, but fell down at his feet upon the silver 
floor with a mighty great and terrible ringing sound." 

No sooner had these syllables passed my lips, than — as if a 
shield of brass had indeed at the moment fallen heavily upon a 
floor of silver — I became aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic, 
and clangorous, yet apparently mufiled, reverberation. Com- 
pletely unnerved, I leaped to my feet, but the measured rocking 
movement of Usher was undisturbed. I rushed to the chair in 
which he sat. His eyes were bent fixedly before him, and 
throughout his whole countenance there reigned a stony 
rigidity. But, as I placed my hand upon his shoulder, there 
came a strong shudder over his whole person ; a sickly smile 
quivered about his lips, and I saw that he spok^ in a low, 
hurried, and gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my 
presence. Bending closely over him, I at length drank in the 
hideous import of his words. 

" Not hear it ? — yes, I hear it, and hofve heard it. Long — 
long — long — many minutes, many hours, many days, have I 


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heard it — ^yet I dared not — oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I 
am 1— -I dared not—I dared not speak ! We have put her 
living in the tomb / Said I not that my senses were acute ? I 
now tell you that I heard her first feeble movements in the 
hollow coffin. I heard them— many, many days ago— yet I 
dared not — I dared not speak ! And now— to-night— Ethelred 
— ha I ha ! — the breaking of the hermit's door, and the death- 
cry of the dragon, and the clangour of the shield I — say, rather, 
the rending of her coffin, and the grating of the iron hinges of 
her prison, and her struggles within the coppered archway of 
the vault O whither shall I fly ? Will she not be here anon ? 
Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my hasted Have I not 
heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that 
heavy and horrible beating of her heart ? Madman I " Here 
he sprang furiously to his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, 
as if in the effort he were giving up his soul — " Madman I I 
tell you that she now stands without the door I " 

As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had 
been found the potency of a spell — the huge antique panels to 
which the speaker pointed, threw slowly back, upon the instant, 
their ponderous and ebony jaws. It was the work of the 
rushing gust — but then without those doors there did stand the 
lofty and enshrouded figure of the lady Madeline of Usher. 
There was blood upon her white robes, and the evidence of 
some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated frame. 
For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro 
upon the threshold — then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily 
inward upon the person of her brother, and in her violent and 
now final death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a 
victim to the terrors he had anticipated. 

From that chamber and from that mansion I fled aghast. 
The storm- was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself 
crossing the old causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path 
a wild light, and I turned to see whence a gleam so unusual 
could have issued, for the vast house and its shadows were 
alone behind me. The radiance was that of the full, setting, 
and blood-red moon, which now shone vividly through that 


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once barely-discernible fissure, of which I have before spoken 
as extending from the roof of the building in a zigzag direction 
to the base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly widened ; there 
came a fierce breath of the whirlwind ; the entire orb of the 
satellite burst at once upon my sight ; my brain reeled as I saw 
the mighty walls rushing asunder ; there was a long tumultuous 
shouting sound like the voice of a thousand waters, and the 
deep and dark tarn at my feet closed sullenly and silently over 
the fragments of the " Home of Usher? 


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"And the will therein lieth, which dieth not. Who knoweth the 
mysteries of the will, with its vigour? For God is but a great will 
pervading all things by nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield 
himself to the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through the 
weakness of his feeble wilL" — Joseph GlanvilIi. 

I CANNOT, for my soul, remember how, when, or even 
precisely where, I first became acquainted with the lady 
Ligeia. Long years have since elapsed, and my memory is 
feeble through much suffering. Or, perhaps, I cannot now 
bring these points to mind, because, in truth, the character of 
my beloved, her rare learning, her singular yet placid caste of 
beauty, and the thrilling and enthralling eloquence of her low 
musical language, made their way into my heart, by paces so 
steadily and stealthily progressive, that they have been un- 
noticed and unknown. Yet I believe that I met her first and 
most frequently in some large, old, decaying city near the 
Rhine. Of her family I have surely heard her speak. That it 
is of a remotely ancient date cannot be doubted. Ligeia 1 
Ligeia 1 Buried in studies of a nature more than all else 
adapted to deaden impressions of the outward world, it is by 
that sweet word alone, by Ligeia, that I bring before mine eyes 
in fancy the image of her who is no more. And now, while I 
write, a recollection flashes upon me that I have never known 
the paternal name of her who was my friend and my betrothed, 
and who became the partner of my studies, and finally the wife 
of my bosom. Was it a playful charge on the part of my 
Ligeia? or was it a test of my strength of affection, that I 
should institute no inquiries upon this point ? or was it rather a 
caprice of my own| a wildly romantic offering on the shrine of 


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the most passionate devotion ? I but indistinctly recall the fact 
itself, what wonder that I have utterly forgotten the circum- 
stances which originated or attended it ? And indeed if ever 
that spirit which is entitled Romancey if ever she, the wan and 
the misty-winged Ashtophet of idolatrous Egypt, presided, as 
they tell, over marriages ill-omened, then most surely she 
presided over me. 

There is one dear topic, however, on which my memory fails 
me not It is the person of Ligeia. In stature she was tall, 
somewhat slender, and in her latter days, even emaciated. I 
would in vain attempt to portray the majesty, the quiet ease of 
her demeanour, or the incomprehensible lightness and elasticity 
of her footfall. She came and departed as a shadow. I was 
never made aware of her entrance into my closed study, save by 
the dear music of her low sweet voice, as she placed her marble 
hand upon my shoulder. In beauty of face no maiden ever 
equalled her. It was the radiance of an opium dream, an airy 
and spirit-lifting vision more wildly divine than the phantasies 
which hovered about the slumbering souls of the daughters of 
Delos. Yet her features were not of that regular mould which 
we have been falsely taught to worship in the classical labours 
of the heathen. " There is no exquisite beauty," says Bacon, 
Lord Verulam, speaking truly of all forms and genera of 
beauty, "without some strangeness in the proportion." Yet, 
although I saw that the featiures of Ligeia were not of a classic 
regularity, although I perceived that her loveliness was indeed 
"exquisite," and felt that there was much of "strangeness" 
pervading it, yet I have tried in vain to detect the irregularity 
and to trace home my own perception of "the strange." I 
examined the contour of the lofty and pale forehead — it was 
faultless; how cold indeed that word when applied to a 
majesty so divine I the skin rivalling the purest ivory, the com- 
manding extent and repose, the gentle prominence of the 
regions above the temples ; and then the raven-black, the 
glossy, the luxuriant and naturally-curling tresses, setting forth 
the full force of the Homeric epithet, " hyacinthine I " I 
lopkfd at the ^elic^t^ outline^ qf the nose, and nowhere but in 


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the graceful medallions of the Hebrews had I beheld a similar 
perfection. There were the same luxurious smoothness of 
surface, the same scarcely perceptible tendency to the aquiline, 
the same harmoniously curved nostrils speaking the free spirit 
I regarded the sweet mouth. Here was indeed the triumph of 
all things heavenly, the magnificent turn of the short upper lip, 
the soft, voluptuous slumber of the under, the dimples which 
sported, and the colour which spoke, the teeth glancing back, 
with a brilliancy almost startling, every ray of the holy light 
which fell upon them in her serene and placid, yet most 
exultingly radiant of all smiles. I scrutinised the formation of 
the chin — and here, too, I found the gentleness of breadth, the 
softness and the majesty, the fulness and the spirituality of the 
Greek — the contour which the god Apollo revealed but in a 
dream to Cleomenes, the son of the Athenian. And then I 
peered into the large eyes of Ligeia. 

For eyes we have no models in the remotely antique. It 
might have been, too, that in these eyes of my beloved lay the 
secret to which Lord Verulam alludes. They were, I must 
believe, far larger than the ordinary eyes of our own race. 
They were even fuller than the fullest of the gazelle eyes of the 
tribe of the valley of Nourjahad. Yet it was only at intervals — 
in moments of intense excitement — that this peculiarity became 
more than slightly noticeable in Ligeia. And at such moments 
was her beauty — in my heated fancy thus it appeared perhaps — 
the beauty of beings either above or apart from the earth — ^the 
beauty of the fabulous Houri of the Turk. The hue of the orbs 
was the most brilliant of black, and far over them hung jetty 
lashes of great length. The brows, slightly irregular in outline, 
had the same tint. The " strangeness,** however, which I 
found in the eyes, was of a nature distinct from the formation, 
or the colour, or the brilliancy of the features, and must, after all, 
be referred to the expression. Ah, word of no meaning I 
behind whose vast latitude of mere sound we intrench our 
ignorance of so much of the spiritual. The expression of the 
eyes of Ligeia ! How for long hours have I pondered upon it I 
How have I through the whole of a midsummer ni^ht struggled 


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to fathom it I What was it — that something more profound 
than the well of Democritus — which lay far within the pupils of 
my beloved ? What was it ? I was possessed with a passion 
to discover. Those eyes I those large, those shining, those 
divine orbs I they became to me twin stars of Leda, and I to 
them devoutest of astrologers. 

There is no point among the many incomprehensible 
anomalies of the science of mind more thrillingly exciting than 
the fact — never, I believe, noticed in the schools — that in our 
endeavours to recall to memory something long forgotten, we 
often find ourselves upon the very verge of remembrance, 
without being able in the end to remember. And (hus how 
frequently, in my intense scrutiny of Ligeia's eyes, have I felt 
approaching the full knowledge of their expression — felt it 
approaching — yet not quite be mine— and so at length entirely 
depart 1 And (strange, oh strangest mystery of all I) I found in 
the commonest objects of the universe a circle of analogies to 
that expression. I mean to say that, subsequently to the 
period when Ligeia's beauty passed into my spirit, there 
dwelling as in a shrine, I derived, from many existences in the 
material world, a sentiment such as I felt always around, within 
me, by her large and luminous orbs. Yet not the more could I 
define that sentiment, or analyse, or even steadily view it I 
recognised it, let me repeat, sometimes in the survey of a 
rapidly-growing vine, in the contemplation of a moth, a 
butterfly, a chrysalis, a stream of running water. I have felt it 
in the ocean, in the falling of a meteor. I have felt it in the 
glances of unusually aged people. And there are one or two 
stars in heaven (one especially, a star of the sixth magnitude, 
double and changeable, to be found near the large star in Lyra) 
in a telescopic scrutiny of which I have been made aware of the 
feeling". I have been filled with it by certain sounds from 
stringed instruments, and not unfrequently by passages from 
books. Among innumerable other instances, I well remember 
something in a volume of Joseph Glanvill, which (perhaps 
merely from its quaintness— who shall say?) never failed to 
inspire me with the sentiment : '* And t^e will t)i^rein lieth, 


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which dieth not Who knoweth the mysteries of the will, with 
its vigour ? For God is but a great will pervading all things by 
nature of its intentness. Man doth not yield him to the angels, 
nor unto death utterly, save only through the weakness of his 
feeble will." 

Length of years and subsequent reflection have enabled me 
to trace, indeed, some remote connection between this passage 
in the English moralist and a portion of the character of Ligeia. 
An intensity in thought, action, or speech, was possibly in her a 
result, or at least an index, of that gigantic volition which, 
during our long intercourse, failed to give other and more 
immediate evidence of its existence. Of all the women whom 
I have ever known, she, the outwardly calm, the ever-placid 
Ligeia, was the most violently a prey to the tumultuous vultures 
of stem passion. And of such passion I could form no 
estimate, save by the miraculous expansion of those eyes 
which at once so delighted and appalled me, by the almost 
magical melody, modulation, distinctness, and placidity of her 
very low voice, and by the fierce energy (rendered doubly 
effective by contrast with her manner of utterance) of the wild 
words which she habitually uttered. 

I have spoken of the learning of Ligeia : it was immense — 
such as I have never known in woman. In the classical 
tongues was she deeply proficient, and as far as my own 
acquaintance extended in regard to the modem dialects of 
Europe, I have never known her at fault. Indeed, upon any 
theme of the most admired, because simply the most abstruse 
of the boasted erudition of the academy, have I ever found 
Ligeia at fault? How singularly, how thrillingly, this one 
point in the nature of my wife has forced itself, at this late 
period only, upon my attention I I said her knowledge was such 
as I have never known in woman, but where breathes the man 
who has traversed, and successfully, all the wide areas of moral, 
physical, and mathematical science ? I saw not then what I 
now clearly perceive, that the acquisitions of Ligeia were 
gigantic, were astounding ; yet I was suflficiently aware of her 
infinite supremacy to resign myself, with a child-like confidence^ 


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to her guidance through the chaotic world of metaphysical 
investigation at which I was most busily occupied during the 
earlier years of our marriage. With how vast a triumph — with 
how vivid a delight — with how much of all that is ethereal 
in hope, did I feel^ as she bent over me in studies but 
little sought — but less known — that delicious vista by slow 
degrees expanding before me, down whose long, gorgeous, and 
all untrodden path, I might at length pass onward to the goal 
of a wisdom too divinely precious not to be forbidden ? 

How poignant, then, must have been the grief with which, 
after some years, I beheld my well-grounded expectations take 
wings to themselves and fly away ! Without Ligeia 1 was but 
as a child groping benighted. Her presence, her readings 
alone, rendered vividly luminous the many mysteries of the 
transcendentalism in which we were immersed. Wanting the 
radiant lustre of her eyes, letters, lambent and golden, grew 
duller than Saturnian lead. And now those eyes shone less 
and less frequently upon the pages over which I pored. 
Ligeia grew ilL The wild eyes blazed with a too— too glorious 
effulgence ; the pale fingers became of the transparent waxen 
hue of the grave ; and the blue veins upon the lofty forehead 
swelled and sank impetuously with the tides of the most 
gentle emotion. I saw that she must die->and I struggled 
desperately in spirit with the grim Azrael. And the struggles 
of the passionate wife were, to my astonishment, even more 
energetic than my own. There had been much in her stem 
nature to impress me with the belief that, to her, death 
would have come without its terrors, but not so. Words 
are impotent to convey any just idea of the fierceness 
of resistance with which she wrestled with the Shadow. I 
groaned in anguish at the pitiable spectacle. I would have 
soothed, I would have reasoned ; but in the intensity of her 
wild desire for life — ^for life — but for life — solace and reason 
were alike the uttermost of folly* Yet not until the last 
instance, amid the most convulsive writhings of her fierce 
spirit, was shaken the external placidity of her demeanour. 
Her voice grew more gentle — grew more low — yet I would not 


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wish to dwell upon the wild meaning of the quietly uttered 
words. My brain reeled as I hearkened, entranced, to a 
melody more than mortal — ^to assumptions and aspirations 
which mortality had never before known. 

That she loved me I should not have doubted ; and I might 
have been easily aware that, in a bosom such as hers, love would 
have reigned no ordinary passion. But in death only was I 
fully impressed with the strength of her affection. For long 
hours detaining my hand, would she pour out before me the 
overflowing of a heart whose more than passionate devotion 
amounted to idolatry. How had I deserved to be so blessed 
by such confessions? — how had I deserved to be so cursed 
with the removal of my beloved in the hour of her making 
them? But upon this subject I cannot bear to dilate. Let 
me say only, that in Ligeia's more than womanly abandonment 
to a love, alas 1 all unmerited, all unworthily bestowed, I at 
length recognised the principle of her longing, with so wildly 
earnest a desire, for the life which was now fleeing so rapidly 
away. It is this wild longing — it is this eager vehemence of 
desire for life — but for life — that I have no power to portray- 
no utterance capable of expressing. 

At high noon of the night in which she departed, beckoning 
me peremptorily to her side, she bade me repeat certain verses 
composed by herself not many days before, I obeyed her. 
They were these : — 

Lo ! 'tis a gala night 

Withm the lonesome latter years ! 
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight 

In veils, and drowned in tears* 
Sit in a theatre, to see 

A play of hopes and fears, 
While the orchestra breathes fitfully 

The music of the spheres. 

Mimes, in the form of God on high, 

Matter and mumble low, 
And hither and thither fly ; 

^(ere puppets the^, who come aiid go 


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llGEIA. 29 

At bidding of vast formless things 

That shift the scenery to and fro, 
Flapping from out their Condor wings 

Invisible Woe ! 

That motley drama I—oh, be snre 

It shall not be forgot ! 
With its Phantom chased for evermore, 

By a crowd that seize it not, 
Through a circle that ever retometh in 

To the self-same spot ; 
And much of Madness, and more of Sin 

And Horror, the soul of the plot ! 

But see, amid the mimic ront 

A crawling shape intrude I 
A blood-red thing that writhes from out 

The scenic solitude I 
It writhes ! — ^it writhes ! — ^with mortal pangs 

The mimes become its food. 
And the seraphs sob at vermin fangs 

In human gwe imbued. 

Out— out are the lights— out all I 

And over each quivering form, 
The curtain, a funeral pall. 

Comes down with the rush of a stonn^* 
And the angels, all pallid and wan, 

Uprising, unveiling, afSrm 
That the play is the tragedy, " Man,'* 

And its hero, the Conqueror Worm. 

" O God ! " half-shrieked Ligeia, leaping to her feet and 
extending her arms aloft with a spasmodic movement, as I 
made an end of these lines — " O God I O Divine Father I shall 
these things be undeviatingly so ? shall this conqueror be not 
once conquered ? Are we not part and parcel in Thee ? Who 
— who knoweth the mysteries of the will with its vigour ? Man 
doth not yield bim to the angels, nor unto death uiterfyi save 
only through the weakness of his feeble will." 

And now, as if exhausted with emotion, she suffered her 


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white arms to fall, and returned solemnly to her bed of death. 
And as she breathed her last sighs there came mingled with 
them a low murmur from her lips. I bent to them my ear, and 
distinguished, again, the concluding words of the passage in 
Glanvill : — " Man dotk not yield him to the angels^ nor unto 
death utterly^ save only through the weakness of his feeble 

She died, and I, crushed into the very dust with sorrow, 
could no longer endure the lonely desolation of my dwelling in 
the dim and decaying city by the Rhine. I had no lack of what 
the world calls wealth. Ligeia had brought me far more, very 
far more, than ordinarily falls to the lot of mortals. After a few 
months, therefore, of weary and aimless wandering, I purchased, 
and put in some repair, an abbey, which I shall not name, in 
one of the wildest and least*frequented portions of fair England. 
The gloomy and dreary grandeur of the building, the almost 
savage aspect of the domain, the many melancholy and time- 
honoured memories connected with both, had much in unison 
with the feelings of utter abandonment which had driven me 
into that remote and unsocial region of the country. Yet, 
although the external abbey, with its verdant decay hanging 
about it, suffered but little alteration, I gave way, with a child- 
like perversity, and perchance with a faint hope of alleviating 
my sorrows, to a display of more than regal magnificence 
within. For such follies, even in childhood, I had imbibed a 
taste, and now they came back to me as if in the dotage of 
grief. Alas, I feel how much even of incipient madness might 
have been discovered in the gorgeous and fantastic draperies, 
in the solemn carvings of Egypt, in the wild cornices and 
furniture, in the Bedlam patterns of the carpets of tufted gold I 
I had become a bounden slave in the trammels of opium, and 
my labours and my orders had taken a colouring from my 
dreams. But these absurdities I must not pause to detail. Let 
me speak only of that one chamber, ever accursed, whither in a 
moment of mental alienation I led from the altar as my bride — 
as the successor df the unforgotten Ligeia — the fair-haired and 
blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion of Tremaine. 


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There is no individual portion of the architecture and decora- 
tion of that bridal chamber which is not now visibly before me. 
Where were the souls of the haughty family of the bride, when, 
through thirst of gold, they permitted to pass the threshold of 
an apartment so bedecked, a maiden and a daughter so 
beloved ? I have said that I minutely remember the details of 
the chamber, yet I am sadly forgetful on topics of deep moment, 
and here there was no system, no keeping, in the fantastic 
display, to take hold upon the memory. The room lay in a high 
turret of the castellated abbey, was pentagonal in shape, and of 
capacious size. Occupying the whole southern face of the 
pentagon was the sole window, an immense sheet of unbroken 
glass from Venice — a single pane, and tinted of a leaden hue, so 
that the rays of either the sun or moon passing through it fell 
with a ghastly lustre on the objects within. Over the upper 
portion of this huge window extended the trellis- work of an aged 
vine which clambered up the massy walls of the turret. The 
ceiling, of gloomy-looking oak, was excessively lofty, vaulted, 
and elaborately fretted with the wildest and most grotesque 
specimens of a semi-Gothic, semi-Druidical device* From out 
the most central recess of this melancholy vaulting, depended 
by a single chain of gold with long links, a huge censer of the 
same metal, Saracenic in pattern, and with many perforations 
so contrived that there writhed in and out, as if endued with a 
serpent vitality, a continual succession of parti-coloured fires. 

Some few ottomans and golden candelabra, of Eastern figure, 
were in various stations about, and there was the couch, too, the 
bridal couch, of an Indian model, and low, and sculptiured of 
solid ebony, with a pall-like canopy above. In each of the 
angles of the chamber stood on end a gigantic sarcophagus of 
black granite, from the tombs of the kings over against Luxor, 
with their aged lids full of immemorial sculpture. But in the 
draping of the apartment lay, alas 1 the chief phantasy of all. 
The lofty walls, gigantic in height, even unproportionably so, 
were huug from summit to foot in vast folds with a heavy and 
massive-looking tapestry — tapestry of a material which was 
found alike as a carpet on the floor, as a covering for the 


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ottomans and the ebony bed, as a canopy for the bed, and as 
the gorgeous volutes of the curtains which partially shaded the 
window. The material was the richest cloth of gold. It was 
spotted all over, at irregular intervals, with arabesque figures 
about a foot in diameter, and wrought upon the cloth in 
patterns of the most jetty black. But these figures partook of 
the true character of the arabesque only when regarded from a 
single point of view. By a contrivance now common, and 
indeed traceable to a very remote period of antiquity, they 
were made changeable in aspect To one entering the room 
they bore the appearance of simple monstrosities, but upon a 
farther advance this appearance gradually departed, and, step 
by step, as the visitor nK)ved his station in the chamber, he saw 
himself surrounded by an endless succession of the ghastly 
forms which belong to the superstition of the Norman, or arise 
in the guilty slumbers of the monk. The phantasmagoric 
effect was vastly heightened by the artificial introduction of a 
strong continual current of wind behind the draperies, giving a 
hideous and uneasy animation to the whole. 

In halls such as these, in a bridal chamber such as this, I 
passed with the Lady of Tremaine the unhallowed hours of the 
first month of our marriage, passed them with but little 
disquietude. That my wife dreaded the fierce moodiness of 
my temper, that she shunned me, and loved me but little, I 
could not help perceiving, but it gave me rather pleasure than 
otherwise. I loathed her with a hatred belonging more to 
demon than to man. My memory flew back (oh, with what 
intensity of regret !) to Ligeia, the beloved, the august, the 
beautiful, the entombed. I revelled in recollections of her 
purity, of her wisdom, of her lofty, her ethereal nature, of her 
passionate, her idolatrous love. Now, then, did my spirit fully 
and freely bum with more than all the fires of her own. In the 
excitement of my opium dreams (for I was habitually fettered in 
the shackles of the drug) I would call aloud upon her name 
during the silence of the night, or among the sheltered recesses 
of the glens by day, as i^ through the wild eagerness, the 
solemn passion, the consuming ardour of my longing for the 


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departed, I could restore her to the pathway she had abandoned 
— ah, could it be for ever ? upon the earth. 

About the commencement of the second month of the 
marriage, the Lady Rowena was attacked with sudden illness, 
from which her recovery was slow. The fever which consumed 
her rendered her nights uneasy ; and in her perturbed state of 
half-slumber she spoke of sounds and of motions in and about 
the chamber of the turret, which I concluded had no origin 
save in the distemper of her fancy, or perhaps in the phan- 
tasmagoric influences of the chamber itself. She became at 
length convalescent — finally, well Yet but a brief period 
elapsed, ere a second more violent disorder again threw her 
upon a bed of suffering ; and from this attack her frame, at all 
times feeble, never altogether recovered. Her illnesses were, 
after this epoch, of alarming character, and of more alarming 
recurrence, defying alike the knowledge and the great exertions 
of her physicians. With the increase of the chronic disease 
which had thus, apparently, taken too sure hold upon her con- 
stitution to be eradicated by human means, I could not fail to 
observe a similar increase in the nervous irritation of her 
temperament, and in her excitability by trivial causes of fear. 
She spoke again, and now more frequently and pertinaciously, 
of the sounds — of the slight sounds — and of the unusual motions 
among the tapestries, to which she had formerly alluded. 

One night, near the closing in of September, she pressed this 
distressing subject with more than usual emphasis upon my 
attention. She had just awakened from an unquiet slumber, 
and I had been watching, with feelings half of anxiety, half of 
vague terror, the workings of her emaciated countenance. I 
sat by the side of her ebony bed, upon one of the ottomans of 
India. She partly arose, and spoke, in an earnest low whisper, 
of sounds which she then heard, but which I could not hear — of 
motions which she then saw, but which I could not perceive. 
The wind was rushing hurriedly behind the tapestries, and I 
wished to show her (what, let me confess it, I could not all 
believe) that those almost inarticulate breathings, and those 
very gentle variations of the figures upon the wall, were but the 



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natural effects of that customary rushing of the wind. But a 
deadly pallor, overspreading her face, had proved to me that 
my exertions to reassure her would be fruitless. She appeared 
to be fainting, and no attendants were within call I remem- 
bered where was deposited a decanter of light wine which had 
been ordered by her physicians, and hastened across the 
chamber to procure it But, as I stepped beneath the light of 
the censer, two circumstances of a startling nature attracted my 
attention. I felt that some palpable although invisible object 
had passed lightly by my person ; and I saw that there lay 
upon the golden carpet, in the very middle of the rich lustre 
thrown from the censer, a shadow — ^a faint, indefinite shadow of 
angelic aspect — such as might be fancied for the shadow of a 
shade. But I was wild with the excitement of an immoderate 
dose of opium, and heeded these things but little, nor spoke of 
them to Rowena. Having found the wine, I recrossed the 
chamber, and poured out a goblet-full, which I held to the lips 
of the fainting lady. She had now partially recovered, how- 
ever, and took the vessel herself, while I sank upon an ottoman 
near me, with my eyes fastened upon her person. It was then 
that I became distinctly aware of a gentle foot-fall upon the 
carpet, and near the couch ; and in a second thereafter, as 
Rowena was in the act of raising the wine to her Ijps, I saw, or 
may have dreamed that I saw, fall into the goblet, as if from 
some invisible spring in the atmosphere of the room, three or 
four large drops of a brilliant and ruby-coloured fluid. If this I 
saw — not so Rowena. She swallowed the wine unhesitatingly, 
and I forbore to speak to her of a circumstance which must, 
after all I considered, have been but the suggestion of a vivid 
imagination, rendered morbidly active by the terror of the lady, 
by the opium, and by the hour. 

Yet I cannot conceal it from my own perception that, im- 
mediately subsequent to the fall of the ruby-drops, a rapid 
change for the worse took place in the disorder of my wife ; so 
that, on the third subsequent night, the hands of her menials 
prepared her for the tomb, and on the fourth I sat alone, with 
her shrouded body, in that fantastic chamber which had 


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received her as my bride. — Wild visions, opium-engendered, 
flitted, shadow-like, before me. I gazed with unquiet eye upon 
the sarcophagi in the angles of the room, upon the varying 
figures of the drapery, and upon the writhing of the parti- 
coloured fires in the censer overhead. My eyes then fell, as I 
called to mind the circumstances of a former night, to the spot 
beneath the glare of the censer, where I had seen the faint 
traces of the shadow. It was there, however, no longer ; and 
breathing with greater freedom, I turned my glances to the 
pallid and rigid figure upon the bed. Then rushed upon me a 
thousand memories of Ligeia, and then came back upon my 
heart, with the turbulent violence of a flood, the whole of that 
unutterable woe with which I had regarded her thus enshrouded. 
The night waned; and still, with a bosom full of bitter thoughts 
of the one only and supremely beloved, I remained gazing upon 
the body of Rowena. 

It might have been midnight, or, perhaps, earlier, or later, 
for I had taken no note of time, when a sob, low, gentle, but 
very distinct, startled me from my reverie. I felt that it came 
from the bed of ebony — ^the bed of death. I listened in an 
agony of superstitious terror — but there was no repetition of the 
sound. I strained my vision to detect any motion in the corpse, 
but there was not the slightest perceptible. Yet I could not 
have been deceived. I had heard the noise, however faint, and 
my soul was awakened within me. I resolutely and persever- 
ingly kept my attention riveted upon the body. Many minutes 
elapsed before any circumstance occurred tending to throw 
light upon the mystery. At length it became evident that a 
slight, a very feeble, and barely noticeable tinge of colour had 
flushed up within the cheeks, and along the sunken small veins 
of the eyelids. Through a species of unutterable horror and 
awe, for which the language of mortality has no sufficiently en- 
ergetic expression, I felt my heart cease to beat, my limbs grow 
rigid where I sat. Yet a sense of duty finally operated to restore 
my self-possession. I could no longer doubt that we had been 
precipitate in our preparations — that Rowena still lived. It 
was necessary that some immediate exertion be made ; yet the 


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turret was altogether apart from the portion of the abbey 
tenanted by the servants — there were none within call — I had 
no means of summoning them to my aid without leaving the 
room for many minutes — and this I could not venture to do. I 
therefore struggled alone in my endeavours to call back the 
spirit still hovering. In a short period it was certain, however, 
that a relapse had taken place ; the colour disappeared from 
both eyelid and cheek, leaving a wanness even more than that 
of marble ; the lips became doubly shrivelled and pinched up 
in the ghastly expression of death ; a repulsive clamminess and 
coldness overspread rapidly the surface of the body ; and all 
the usual rigorous stiffness immediately supervened. 1 fell 
back with a shudder upon the couch from which I had been so 
startlingly-aroused, and again gave myself up to passionate 
waking visions of Ligeia. 

An hour thus elapsed, when (could it be possible ?) I was 
a second time aware of some vague sound issuing from the 
region of the bed. 1 listened — ^in extremity of horror. The 
sound came again — it was a sigh. Rushing to the corpse, 
I saw — distinctly saw— a tremor upon the lips. In a minute 
afterwards they relaxed, disclosing a bright line of the pearly 
teeth. Amazement now struggled in my bosom with the 
profound awe which had hitherto reigned there alone. I felt 
that my vision grew dim, that my reason wandered ; and it was 
only by a violent effort that I at length succeeded in nerving 
myself to the task which duty thus once more had pointed out 
There was now a partial glow upon the forehead and upon 
the cheek and throat ; a perceptible warmth pervaded the 
whole frame ; there was even a slight pulsation at the heart 
The lady lived; and with redoubled ardour I betook myself to 
the task of restoration. I chafed and bathed the temples and 
the hands, and used every exertion which experience, and no 
little medical reading, could suggest But in vain. Suddenly, 
the colour fled, the pulsation ceased, the lips resumed the 
expression of the dead, and, in an instant afterwards, the whole 
body took upon itself the icy chilliness, the livid hue, the 
intense rigidity, the sunken outline, and all the loathsome 


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peculiarities of that which has been for many days a tenant of 
the tomb. 

And again I sank into visions of Ligeia — and again (what 
marvel that I shudder while I write ?) — again there reach my 
ears a low sob from the region of the ebony bed. But why 
shall I minutely detail the unspeakable horrors of that night ? 
Why shall I pause to relate how, time after time, until near the 
period of the grey dawn, this hideous drama of revivification 
was repeated ; how each terrific relapse was only into a sterner 
and apparently more irredeemable death ; how each agony 
wore the aspect of a struggle with some invisible foe ; and how 
each struggle was succeeded by I know not what of wild 
change in the personal appearance of the corpse? Let me 
hurry to a conclusion. 

The greater part of the fearful night had worn away, and she 
who had been dead, once again stirred — and now more 
vigorously than hitherto, although arousing from a dissolution 
more appalling in its utter hopelessness than any. I had long 
ceased to struggle or to move, and remained sitting rigidly 
upon the ottoman, a helpless prey to a whirl of violent 
emotions, of which extreme awe was perhaps the least terrible, 
the least consuming. The corpse, I repeat, stirred, and now 
more vigorously than before. The hues of life flushed up with 
unwonted energy into the countenance — the limbs relaxed — 
and, save that the eyelids were yet pressed heavily together, 
and that the bandages and draperies of the g^ave still imparted 
their charnel character to the figure, I might have dreamed that 
Rowena had indeed shaken off, utterly, the fetters of death. 
But if this idea was not, even then, altogether adapted, I could 
at least doubt no longer, when, arising from the bed, tottering, 
with feeble steps, with closed eyes, and with the manner of one 
bewildered in a dream, the thing that was enshrouded advanced 
bodily and palpably into the middle of the apartment. 

I trembled not — I stirred not — for a crowd of unutterable 
fancies connected with the air, the statue, the demeanour of 
the figure, rushing hurriedly through my brain, had paralysed — 
had chilled me into stone. I stirred not— but gazed upon the 


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apparition. There was a mad disorder in my thoughts — a 
tumult unappeasable. Could it, indeed, be the living Rowena 
who confronted me ? Could it indeed be Rowena at all— the 
fair-haired, the blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion of Tre- 
maine? Why, wAy should I doubt it? The bandage lay 
heavily about the mouth — ^but then might it not be the mouth 
of the breathing Lady of Tremaine? And the cheeks — there 
were the roses as in her noon of life — yes, these might indeed 
be the fair cheeks of the living Lady of Tremaine. And the 
chin, with its dimples, as in health, might it not be hers ?— but 
had she then grown taller since her malady t What inexpres- 
sible madness seized me with that thought ? One bound, and I 
had reached her feet I Shrinking from my touch, she let fall 
from her head, unloosened, the ghastly cerements which had 
confined it, and there streamed forth, into the rushing atmos- 
phere of the chamber, huge masses of long and dishevelled hair; 
// was blacker than the raven wings of midnight / And now 
slowly opened the eyes of the figure which stood before me. 
" Here then, at least," I shrieked aloud, " can I never — can I 
never be mistaken — these are the full, and the black, and 
the wild eyes — of my lost love — of the Lady — of the Lady 




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" Ce grand malheur, de ne pouvoir etre seiil." 

—La Bruterb. 

TT was well said of a certain German book that "^j lassi sick 
^ nicht lesen^^ — it does not permit itself to be read. There 
are some secrets which do not permit themselves to be told. 
Men die nightly in their beds, wringing the hands of ghostly 
confessors, and looking them piteously in the eyes — die with 
despair of heart and convulsion of throat, on account of the 
hideousness of mysteries which will not suffer themselves to be 
revealed. Now and then, alas, the conscience of man takes up 
a burthen so heavy in horror that it can be thrown down only 
into the grave. And thus the essence of all crime is undivulged. 
Not long ago, about the closing in of an evening in autumn, I 
sat at the large bow-window of the D CofFee-House in Lon- 
don, For some months I had been ill in health, but was now 
convalescent, and, with returning strength, found myself in one 
of those happy moods which are so precisely the converse of 
^«««/— moods of the keenest appetency, when the film from the 
mental vision departs— the axXiJs ^ vplv iTrijev — and the intellect, 
electrified, surpasses as greatly its every-day condition as 
does the vivid yet candid reason of Leibnitz the mad and flimsy 
rhetoric of Gorgias. Merely to breathe was enjoyment, and I 
derived positive pleasure even from many of the legitimate 
sources of pain. I felt a calm but inquisitive interest in every- 
thing. With a cigar in my mouth and a newspaper in my 
lap, I had been amusing myself for the greater part of the 
afternoon, now in poring over advertisements, now in observing 
the promiscuous company in the room, and now in peering 
through the smoky panes into the street 


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This latter is one of the principal thoroughfares of the city, 
and had been very much crowded during the whole day. But, 
as the darkness came on, the throng momently increased ; and, 
by the time the lamps were well lighted, two dense and con- 
tinuous tides of population were rushing past the door. At this 
particular period of the evening I had never before been in a 
similar situation, and the tumultuous sea of human heads filled 
me therefore with a delicious novelty of emotion, I gave up at 
length all care of things within the hotel, and became absorbed 
in contemplation of the scene without. 

At first my observations took an abstract and generalising turn. 
I looked at the passengers in masses, and thought of them in 
their aggregate relations. Soon, however, I descended to details, 
and regarded with minute interest the innumerable varieties of 
figure, dress, air, gait, visage, and expression of countenance- 
By far the greater number of those who went by had a satis- 
fied business-like demeanour, and seemed to be thinking only 
of making their way through the press. Their brows were knit, 
and their eyes rolled quickly ; when pushed against by fellow- 
wayfarers they evinced no symptom of impatience, but adjusted 
their clothes and hurried on. Others, still a numerous class, 
were restless in their movements, had flushed faces, and talked 
and gesticulated to themselves, as if feeling in solitude on 
account of the very denseness of the company around. When 
impeded in their progress, these people suddenly ceased mutter- 
ing, but redoubled their gesticulations, and awaited, with an 
absent and overdone smile upon the lips, the course of the 
persons impeding them. If jostled, they bowed profusely to the 
jostlers, and appeared overwhelmed with confusion. There was 
nothing very distinctive about these two large classes beyond 
what I have noted. Their habiliments belonged to that order 
which is pointedly termed the decent. They were undoubtedly 
noblemen, merchants, attorneys, tradesmen, stock-jobbers— the 
Eupatrids and the commonplaces of Society — men of leisure 
and men actively engaged in affairs of their own, conducting 
business upon their own responsibility. They did not greatly 
excite my attention. 


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The tribe of clerks was an obvious one ; and here I discerned 
two remarkable divisions There were the junior clerks of 
flash houses, young gentlemen with tight coats> bright boots, 
well-oiled hair, and supercilious lips. Setting aside a certain 
dappemess of carriage, which may be termed deskism for want 
of a better word, the manner of these persons seemed to me an 
exact fac-simile of what had been the perfection of ^;f ion about 
twelve or eighteen months before. They wore the cast-off 
graces of the gentry; and this, I believe, involves the best 
definition of the class. 

The division of the upper clerks of staunch firms, or of the 
"steady old fellows,** it was not possible to mistake. These 
were known by their coats and pantaloons of black or brown, 
made to sit comfortably, with white cravats and waistcoats, 
broad solid-looking shoes, and thick hose or gaiters. They had 
all slightly bald heads, from which the right ears, long used to 
penholding, had an odd habit of standing off on end. I 
observed that they always removed or settled their hats with 
both hands, and wore watches, with short gold chains of a sub- 
stantial and ancient pattern. Theirs was the affectation of 
respectability ; if indeed there be an affectation so honourable. 

There were many individuals of dashing appearance, whom I 
easily understood as belonging to the race of swell pick-pockets, 
with which all great cities are infested. I watched these gentry 
with much inquisitiveness, and found it difiicult to imagine how 
they should ever be mistaken for gentlemen by gentlemen them- 
selves. Their voluminousness of wristband, and an air of 
excessive frankness, should betray them at once. 

The gamblers, of whom I descried not a few, were still more 
easily recognisable. They wore every variety of dress, from 
that of the desperate thimble-rig bully, with velvet waistcoat, 
fancy neckerchief, gilt chains, and filagreed buttons, to that of 
the scrupulously inornate clergyman, than which nothing could 
be less liable to suspicion. Still all were distinguished by a 
certain sodden swarthiness of complexion, a filmy dimness of 
eye, and pallor and compression of lip. There were two other 
traits, moreover, by which I could always detect them; a 


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guarded lowness of tone in conversation, and a more than 
ordinary extension of the thumb in a direction at right angles 
with the fingers. Very often, in company with these sharpers, 
I observed an order of men somewhat different in habits, but 
still birds of a kindred feather. They may be defined as the 
gentlemen who live by their wits. They seem to prey upon 
the public in two battalions — that of the dandies and that of 
the military men. Of the first grade, the leading features are 
long locks and smiles ; of the second, frogged coats and 

Descending in the scale of what is termed gentility, I found 
darker and deeper themes for speculation. I saw Jew pedlars, 
with hawk eyes flashing from countenances whose every other 
feature wore only an expression of abject humility ; sturdy pro- 
fessional street beggars scowling upon mendicants of a better 
stamp, whom despair alone had driven forth into the night for 
charity ; feeble and ghastly invalids upon whom death had 
placed a sure hand, and who sidled and tottered through the 
mob, looking everyone beseechingly in the face as if in search 
of some chance consolation, some lost hope ; modest young 
girls returning from long and late labour to a cheerless home, 
and shrinking more tearfully than indignantly from the glances 
of ruffians, whose direct contact even could not be avoided ; 
women of the town of all kinds and of all ages — the unequivo- 
cal beauty in the prime of her womanhood, putting one in 
mind of the statue in Lucian, with the surface of Parian marble, 
and the interior filled with filth — the loathsome and utterly lost 
leper in rags — the wrinkled, bejewelled and paint-begrimed 
beldame, making a last effort at youth — the mere child of 
immature form, yet, from long association, an adept in the 
dreadful coquetries of her trade, and burning with a rabid 
ambition to be ranked the equal of her elders in vice ; 
drunkards innumerable and indescribable — some in shreds and 
patches, reeling, inarticulate, with bruised visage and lack- 
lustre eyes— some in whole although filthy garments, with a 
slightly unsteady swagger, thick sensual lips, and hearty-look- 
ing rubicund faces — others clothed in materials which had once 


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been good, and which even now were scrupulously well brushed 
— ^men who walked with a more than naturally firm and springy 
step, but whose countenances were fearfully pale, whose eyes 
hideously wild and red, and who clutched with quivering 
fingers, as they strode through the crowd, at every object 
which came within their reach ; besides these, pie-men, porters, 
coal-heavers, sweeps ; organ-grinders, monkey-exhibitors, and 
ballad-mongers, those who vended with those who sang ; 
ragged artisans and exhausted labourers of every description, 
and all full of a noisy and inordinate vivacity which jarred 
discordantly upon the ear, and gave an aching sensation to 
the eye. 

As the night deepened, so deepened to me the interest of 
the scene ; for not only did the general character of the crowd 
materially alter (its gentler features retiring in the gradual 
withdrawal of the more orderly portion of the people, and its 
harsher ones coming out into bolder relief, as the late hour 
brought forth every species of infamy from its den), but the rays 
of the gas-lamps, feeble at first in their struggle with the dying 
day, had now at length gained ascendency, and threw over 
everything a fitful and garish lustre. All was dark yet splendid 
— as that ebony to which has been likened the style of 

The wild effects of the light enchained me to an examination 
of individual faces ; and although the rapidity with which the 
world of light flitted before the window prevented me from 
casting more than a glance upon each visage, still it seemed 
that, in my then peculiar mental state, I could frequently 
read, even in that brief interval of a glance, the history of 
long years. 

With my brow to the glass, I was thus occupied in scrutinis- 
ing the mob, when suddenly there came into view a countenance 
(that of a decrepid old man, some sixty-five or seventy years of 
age) — a countenance which at once arrested and absorbed my 
whole attention on accoimt of the absolute idiosyncrasy of its 
expression. Anything even remotely resembling that expres- 
sion I had never seen before. I well remember that my first 


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thought upon beholding it was that Retzsch, had he viewed it, 
would have greatly preferred it to his own pictorical incarna- 
tions of the fiend. As I endeavoured, during the brief minute 
of my original survey, to form some analysis of the meaning 
conveyed, there arose confusedly and paradoxically within my 
mind the ideas of vast mental power, of caution, of penurious- 
ness, of avarice, of coolness, of malice, of blood-thirstiness, of 
triumph, of merriment, of excessive terror, of intense — of 
supreme despair. I felt singularly aroused, startled, fascinated. 
" How wild a history," I said to myself, " is written within that 
bosom ! " Then came a craving desire to keep the man in view 
— ^to know more of him. Hurriedly putting on an overcoat, and 
seizing my hat and cane, I made my way into the street, and 
pushed through the crowd in the direction which I had seen 
him take ; for he had already disappeared. With some little 
difficulty I at length came within sight of him, approached and 
followed him closely yet cautiously, so as not to attract his 

I had now a good opportunity of examining his person. He 
was short in stature, very thin, and apparently very feeble. 
His clothes, generally, were filthy and ragged ; but as he came, 
now and then, within the strong glare of a lamp, I perceived 
that his linen, although dirty, was of beautiful texture ; and my 
vision deceived me, or, through a rent in a closely-buttoned and 
evidently second-hand roquelaure which enveloped him, I 
caught a glimpse both of a diamond and of a dagger. These 
observations heightened my curiosity, and I resolved to follow 
the stranger whithersoever he should go. 

It was now fully night-fall, and a thick humid fog hung over 
the city, soon ending in a settled and heavy rain. This change 
of weather had an odd effect upon the crowd, the whole of 
which was at once put into new commotion, and overshadowed 
by a world of umbrellas. The waver, the jostle, and the hum 
increased in a tenfold degree. For my own part I did not 
much regard the rain — the lurking of an old fever in my 
system rendering the moisture somewhat too dangerously 
pleasant. Tying a handkerchief about my mouth, I kept on. 


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For half-an-hour the old man held his way with difficulty along 
the great thoroughfare ; and I here walked close at his elbow 
through fear of losing sight of him. Never once turning his 
head to look back, he did not observe me. By-and-by he 
passed into a cross street, which, although densely filled with 
people, was not quite so much thronged as the main one he 
had quitted. Here a change in his demeanour became evident. 
He walked more slowly and with less object than before — 
more hesitatingly. He crossed and re-crossed the way 
repeatedly without apparent aim ; and the press was still so 
thick that, at every such movement, I was obliged to follow 
him closely. The street was a narrow and long one, and his 
course lay within it for nearly an hour, during which the pas- 
sengers had gradually diminished to about that number which 
is ordinarily seen at noon in Broadway near the park — so vast a 
difference is there between a London populace and that of the 
most frequented American city. A second turn brought us into 
a square, brilliantly lighted, and overflowing with life. The old 
manner of the stranger re-appeared. His chin fell upon his 
breast, while his eyes rolled wildly from under his knit brows, 
in every direction, upon those who hemmed him in. He urged 
his way steadily and perseveringly. I was surprised, however, 
to find, upon his having made the circuit of the square, that he 
turned and retraced his steps. Still more was I astonished to 
see him repeat the same walk several times — once nearly 
detecting me as he came round with a sudden movement. 

In this exercise he spent another hour, at the end c' which 
we met with far less interruption from passengers than at first. 
The rain fell fast ; the air grew cool ; and the people were 
retiring to their homes. With a gesture of impatience, the 
wanderer passed into a by-street comparatively deserted. 
Down this, some quarter of a mile long, he rushed with an 
activity I could not have dreamed of seeing in one so aged, and 
which put me to much trouble in pursuit. A few minutes 
brought us to a large and busy bazaar, with the localities of 
which the stranger appeared well acquainted, and where his 
original demeanour again became apparent, as he forced his 


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way to and fro without aim among the host of buyers and 

During the hour and a half, or thereabouts, which we passed 
in this place, it required much caution on my part to keep him 
within reach without attracting his observation. Luckily I 
wore a pair of caoutchouc over-shoes, and could move about in 
perfect silence. At no moment did he see that I watched him. 
He entered shop after shop, priced nothing, spoke no word, 
and looked at all objects with a wild and vacant stare, I was 
now utterly amazed at his behaviour, and firmly resolved that 
we should not part until I had satisfied myself in some measure 
respecting him. 

A loud-toned clock struck eleven, and the company were fast 
deserting the bazaar. A shopkeeper, in putting up a shutter, 
jostled the old man, and at the instant I saw a strong shudder 
come over his frame. He hurried into the street, looked 
anxiously around him for an instant, and then ran with 
incredible swiftness through many crooked and peopleless 
lanes, until we emerged once more upon the great thoroughfare 

whence we had started — the street of the D Hotel. It no 

longer wore, however, the same aspect It was still brilliant 
with gas ; but the rain fell fiercely, and there were few persons 
to be seen. The stranger grew pale. He walked moodily some 
paces up the once populous avenue, then, with a heavy sigh, 
turned in the direction of the river, and, plunging through a 
great variety of devious ways, came out at length in view of one 
of the principal theatres. It was about being closed, and the 
audience were thronging from the doors. I saw the old man 
gasp as if for breath while he threw himself amid the crowd ; 
but I thought that the intense agony of his countenance had in 
some measure abated. His head again fell upon his breast ; he 
appeared as I had seen him at first. I observed that he now 
took the course in which had gone the greater number of the 
audience — but, upon the whole, I was at a loss to comprehend 
the waywardness of his actions. 

As he proceeded, the company grew more scattered, and his 
old uneasiness and vacillation were resumed. For some time he 


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followed closely a party of some ten or twelve roisterers ; but 
from this number one by one dropped off, until three only 
remained together in a narrow and gloomy lane little fre- 
quented. The stranger paused, and for a moment seemed lost 
in thought ; then, with every mark of agitation, pursued rapidly 
a route which brought us to the very verge of the city, amid 
regions very different from those we had hitherto traversed. It 
was the most noisome quarter of London, where everything 
wore the worst impress of the most deplorable poverty, and of 
the most desperate crime. By the dim light of an accidental 
lamp, tall, antique, worm-eaten, wooden tenements were seen 
tottering to their fall, in directions so many and capricious, that 
scarce the semblance of a passage was discernible between 
them. The paving-stones lay at random, displaced from their 
beds by the rankly-growing grass. Horrible filth festered in 
the dammed-up gutters. The whole atmosphere teemed with 
desolation. Yet, as we proceeded, the sounds of human life 
revived by sure degrees, and at length large bands of the 
most abandoned of a London populace were seen reeling to 
and fro. The spirits of the old man again flickered up, as a 
lamp which is near its death-hour. Once more he strode 
onward with elastic tread. Suddenly a comer was turned, a 
blaze of light burst upon our sight, and we stood before one of 
the huge suburban temples of Intemperance— one of the 
palaces of the fiend. Gin. 

It was now nearly day-break ; but a number of wretched 
inebriates still pressed in and out of the flaunting entrance. 
With a half shriek of joy the old man forced a passage within, 
resumed at once his original bearing, and stalked backwards 
and forwards, without apparent object, among the throng. He 
had not been thus long occupied, however, before a rush to the 
doors gave token that the host was closing them for the night 
It was something even more intense than despair that I then 
observed upon the countenance of the singular being whom I 
. had watched so pertinaciously. Yet he did not hesitate in his 
career, but, with a mad energy, retraced his steps at once to the 
heart of- the mighty London. Long and swiftly he fled, while I 


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followed him in the wildest amazement, resolute not to abandon 
a scrutiny in which I now felt an interest all-absorbing. The 
sun arose while we proceeded, and when we had once again 
reached that most thronged part of the populous town, the 

street of the D Hotel, it presented an appearance of human 

bustle and activity scarcely inferior to what I had seen on the 
evening before. And here, long, amid the momently increasing 
confusion, did I persist in my pursuit of the stranger. But, as 
usual, he walked to and fro, and during the day did not pass 
from out the turmoil of that street And as the shades of the 
second evening came on, I grew wearied unto death, and, 
stopping full in front of the wanderer, gazed at him steadfastly 
in the face. He noticed me not, but resumed his solemn walk, 
while I, ceasing to follow, remained absorbed in contemplation. 
** This old man,'' I said at length, ^^ is the type and the genius 
of deep crime. He refuses to be alone. He is the man of the 
crowd. It will be in vain to follow ; for I shall learn no moiie 
of him, nor of his deeds. The worst heart of the world is a 
grosser book than the *Hortulus Animae,'* and perhaps it 
is but one of the great mercies of God that ^ es lasst sich nicht 
lesen: " 

♦ The "Hariultis AninuB cum OroHunculis Aliquibua SeperaddUis" ii 
Griinmoger.— See L D'lsiaeli's Curiositiea qf Literature. 


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" What say of it ? what says conscience grim, 
That spectre in my path ? " 

— W. Chamberlayne'8 " F?iaronnid" 

T ET me call myself, for the present, William Wilson. The 
-Lr fair page now lying before me need not be sullied with 
my real appellation. This has been already too much an object 
for the scorn, for the horror, for the detestation of my race. 
To the uttermost regions of the globe have not the indignant 
winds bruited its unparalleled infamy ? O outcast of all out- 
casts most abandoned ! to the earth art thou not for ever 
dead ? to its honours, to its flowers, to its golden aspirations ? 
— and a cloud, dense, dismal, and limitless, does it not hang 
eternally between thy hopes and heaven ? 

. I would not, if I could, here or to-day, embody a record 
of my later years of unspeakable misery and unpardonable 
crime. This epoch— these later years — took unto themselves 
a sudden elevation in turpitude, whose origin alone it is my 
present purpose to assign. Men usually grow base by degrees 
From me in an instant all virtue dropped bodily as a mantle, 
From comparatively trivial wickedness I passed, with the stride 
of a giant, into more than the enormities of an Elagabalus. 
What chance— what one event brought this evil thing to pass, 
bear with me while I relate. Death approaches, and the 
shadow which foreruns him has thrown a softening influence 
over my spirit. I long in passing through the dim valley for 
the sympathy, I had nearly said for the pity, of my fellow-men. 
I would fain have them believe that I have been in some 
measure the slave of circumstances beyond human control. I 
would wish them to seek out for me, in the details I am about to 



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give, some little oasis oi fatality amid a wilderness of error. I 
would have them allow, what they cannot refrain from allowing, 
that although temptation may have erewhile existed as great, 
man was never thus at least tempted before, certainly never 
thus fell. And is it therefore that he has never thus suffered ? 
Have I not indeed been living in a dream ? And am I not now 
dying a victim to the horror and the mystery of the wildest of 
all sublunary visions ? 

I am the descendant of a race whose imaginative and easily 
excitable temperament has at all times rendered them remark- 
able ; and in my earliest infancy I gave evidence of having 
fully inherited the family character. As I advanced in years it 
was more strongly developed, becoming for many reasons a 
cause of serious disquietude to my friends, and of positive 
injury to myself. I grew self-willed, addicted to the wildest 
caprices, and a prey to the most ungovernable passions. 
Weak-minded, and beset with constitutional infirmities akin to 
my own, my parents could do but little to check the evil 
propensities which distinguished me. Some feeble and ill- 
directed efforts resulted in complete failure on their part, and 
of course in total triumph on mine. Thenceforward my voice 
was a household law, and at an age when few children have 
abandoned their leading-strings, I was left to the guidance of 
my own will, and became in all but name the master of my own 

My earliest recollections of a school-life are connected with a 
large rambling Elizabethan house, in a misty-looking village of 
England, where were a vast number of gigantic and gnarled 
trees, and where all the houses were excessively ancient. In 
truth, it was a dream-like and spirit-soothing place that vener- 
able old town. At this moment, in fancy, I feel the refreshing 
chilliness of its deeply-shadowed avenues, inhale the fragrance 
of its thousand shrubberies, and thrill anew with indefinable 
delight at the deep hollow note of the church-bell, breaking 
each hour with sullen and sudden roar upon the stillness of the 
dusky atmosphere in which the fretted Gothic steeple lay 
Imbedded and asleep. 


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It gives me perhaps as much of pleasure as I can now in any 
manner experience to dwell upon minute recollections of the 
school and its concerns. Steeped in misery as I am — ^misery, 
alas ! only too real— I shall be pardoned for seeking relief, 
however slight and temporary, in the weakness of a few 
rambling details. These, moreover, utterly trivial, and even 
ridiculous in themselves, assume to my fancy adventitious 
importance, as connected with a period and a locality when 
and where I recognise the first ambiguous monitions of the 
destiny which afterwards so fully overshadowed me. Let me 
then remember. 

The house, I have said, was old and irregular. The grounds 
were extensive, and a high and solid brick wall, topped with 
a bed of mortar and broken glass, encompassed the whole. 
This prison-like rampart formed the limit of our domain : 
beyond it we saw but thrice-a-week, once every Saturday 
afternoon, when, attended by two ushers, we were permitted to 
take brief walks in a body through some of the neighbouring 
fields ; and twice during Sunday, when we paraded in the same 
formal manner to the morning and evening service in the one 
church of the village. Of this church the principal of our 
school was pastor. With how deep a spirit of wonder and 
perplexity was I wont to regard him from our remote pew in 
the gallery, as with step solemn and slow he ascended the 
pulpit I This reverend man, with countenance so demurely 
benign, with robes so glossy and so clerically flowing, with 
wig so minutely powdered, so rigid and so vast — could this 
be he who, of late, with sour visage, and in snuffy habiliments, 
administered, ferule in hand, the Draconian laws of the 
academy? O gigantic paradox, too utterly monstrous for 
solution 1 

At an angle of the ponderous wall frowned a more ponderous 
gate. It was riveted and studded with iron bolts, and sur- 
mounted with jagged iron spikes. What impressions of deep 
awe did it inspire 1 It was never opened save for the three 
periodical egressions and ingressions already mentioned ; then 
in every creak of its mighty hinges we found a plenitude of 


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mystery, a world of matter for solemn remark, or for more 
solemn meditation. 

The extensive enclosure was irregular in form, having many 
capacious recesses. Of these, three or four of the largest 
constituted the play-ground. It was level, and covered with 
fine hard gravel. I well remember it had no trees nor benches, 
nor anything similar within it. Of course it was in the rear of 
the house. In front lay a small parterre, planted with box and 
other shrubs, but through this sacred division we passed only 
ifpon rare occasions indeed, such as a first advent to school or 
final departure thence, or perhaps, when a parent or friend 
having called for us, we joyfully took our way home for the 
Christmas or Midsummer holidays. 

But the house I — how quaint an old building was this 1 to me 
how veritably a palace of enchantment 1 There was really no 
end to its windings, to its incomprehensible subdivisions. It 
was difficult, at any given time, to say with certainty upon 
which of its two stories one happened to be. From each room 
to every other there were sure to be found three or four steps 
either in ascent or descent. Then the lateral branches were 
innumerable, inconceivable, and so returning in upon them- 
selves that our most exact ideas in regard to the whole mansion 
were not very far different from those with which we pondered 
upon infinity. During the five years of my residence here I 
was never able to ascertain with precision in what remote 
locality lay the little sleeping apartment assigned to myself 
and some eighteen or twenty other scholars. 

The school-room was the largest in the house, I could not 
help thinking, in the world. It was very long, narrow, and 
dismally low, with pointed Gothic windows and a ceiling of 
oak. In a remote and terror-inspiring angle was a square 
enclosure of eight or ten feet, comprising the sanctum^ " during 
hours," of our principal, the Reverend Dr. Bransby. It was a 
solid structure, with massy door, sooner than open which in the 
absence of the " dominie " we would all have willingly perished 
by the peine forte et dure. In other angles were two other 
similar boxes, far less reverenced, indeed, but still greatly 

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■L I 


matters of awe. One of these was the pulpit of the " classical " 
usher, one of the " English and mathematical." Interspersed 
about the room, crossing and recrossing in endless irregularity, 
were innumerable benches and desks, black, ancient, and time- 
worn, piled desperately with much-bethumbed books, and so 
beseamed with initial letters, names at full length, grotesque 
figures, and other multiplied efforts of the knife, as to have 
entirely lost what little of original form might have been their 
portion in days long departed. A huge bucket with water 
stood at one extremity of the room, and a clock of stupendous 
dimensions at the other. 

Encompassed by the massy walls of this venerable academy, 
I passed, yet not in a tedium or disgust, the years of the third 
lustrum of my life. The teeming brain of childhood requires 
no external world of incident to occupy or amuse it ; and 
the apparently dismal monotony of a school was replete 
with more intense excitement than my riper youth has derived 
from luxury, or my full manhood from crime. Yet I must 
believe that my first mental development had in it much of 
the uncommon— even much of the ouM, Upon mankind 
at large the events of very early existence rarely leave in 
mature age any definite impression. All is grey shadow — a 
weak and irregular remembrance — an indistinct regathering of 
feeble pleasures and phantasmagoric pains. With me this is 
not so. In childhood I must have felt with the energy of a 
man what I know find stamped upon memory in lines as vivid, 
as deep, and as durable as the exergues of the Carthaginian 

Yet in fact— in the fact of the world's view — how little 
was there to remember ! The morning's awakening, the 
nightly summons to bed ; the connings, the recitations ; the 
periodical half-holidays, and perambulations ; the play-ground, 
with its broils, its pastimes, its intrigues ; — these, by a mental 
sorcery long forgotten, were made to involve a wilderness 
of sensation, a world of rich incident, a universe of varied 
emotion, of excitement the most passionate and spirit-stirring. 
" O le bon temps ^ que ce silcle defer J " 


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In truth, the ardour, the enthusiasm, and the imperiousness 
of my disposition, soon rendered me a marked character 
among my schoolmates, and by slow but natural gradations 
gave me an ascendency over all not greatly older than myself 
— over all with a single exception. This exception was found 
in the person of a scholar, who, although no relation, bore 
the same christian and surname as myself, a circumstance, 
in fact, little remarkable ; for notwithstanding a noble descent, 
mine was one of those every-day appellations which seem, 
by prescriptive right, to have been, time out of mind, the 
common property of the mob. In this narrative I have there- 
fore designated myself as William Wilson — a fictitious title 
not very dissimilar to the real. My namesake alone, of those 
who in school phraseology constituted "our set," presumed 
to compete with me in the studies of the class— in the sports 
and broils of the play-ground — to refuse implicit belief in 
my assertions, and submission to my will — indeed, to interfere 
with my arbitrary dictation in any respect whatsoever. If 
there is on earth a supreme and unqualified despotism, it 
is the despotism of the master-mind in boyhood over the 
less energetic spirits of its companions. 

Wilson's rebellion was to me a source of the greatest 
embarrassment : the more so as, in spite of the bravado with 
which in public I made a point of treating him and his 
pretensions, I secretly felt that I feared him, and could not 
help thinking the equality which he maintained so easily 
with myself a proof of his true superiority, since not to be 
overcome cost me a perpetual struggle. Yet this superiority 
— even this equality — was in truth acknowledged by no one 
but myself; our associates, by some unaccountable blindness, 
seemed not even to suspect it Indeed, his competition, his 
resistance, and especially his impertinent and dogged inter- 
ference with my purposes, were not more pointed than private. 
He appeared to be destitute alike of the ambition which urged, 
and of the passionate energy of mind which enabled me to 
excel In this rivalry he might have been supposed actuated 
solely by a whimsical desire to thwart, astonish, or mortify 

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myself; although there were times when I could not help 
observing, with a feeling made up of wonder, abasement, 
and pique, that he mingled with his injuries, his insults, or 
his contradictions, a certain most inappropriate, and assuredly 
most unwelcome affectionateness of manner. I could only 
conceive this singular behaviour to arise from a consum- 
mate self-conceit assuming the vulgar airs of patronage and 

Perhaps it was this latter trait in Wilson's conduct, conjoined 
with our identity of name, and the mere accident of our 
having entered the school upon the same day, which set afloat 
the notion that we were brothers among the senior classes in 
the academy. These do not usually inquire with much strict- 
ness into the affairs of their juniors. I have before said, or 
should have said, that Wilson was not, in the most remote 
degree, connected with my family. But assuredly if we had 
been brothers we must have been twins ; for, after leaving Dr. 
Bransby's, I casually learned that my namesake was bom on 
the nineteenth of January 1813 — and this is a somewhat 
remarkable coincidence, for the day is precisely that of my own 

It may seem strange that in spite of the continual anxiety 
occasioned me by the rivalry of Wilson, and his intolerable 
spirit of contradiction, I could not bring myself to hate him 
altogether. We had, to be sure, nearly every day a quarrel, in 
which, yielding me publicly the palm of victory, he in some 
manner contrived to make me feel that it was he who had 
deserved it, yet a sense of pride on my part and a veritable 
dignity on his own, kept us always upon what are called 
"speaking terms," while there were many points of strong 
congeniality in our tempers, operating to awake in me a 
sentiment which our position alone, perhaps, prevented from 
ripening into friendship. It is difficult indeed to define or even 
to describe my real feelings towards him. They formed a 
motley and heterogeneous admixture ; some petulant animosity, 
which was not yet hatred, some esteem, more respect, much 
fear, with a world of uneasy curiosity. To the moralist it will 


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be unnecessary to say in addition that Wilson and myself were 
the most inseparable of companions. 

It was no doubt the anomalous state of affairs existing 
between us which turned all my attacks upon him (and they 
were many, either open or covert) into the channel of banter or 
practical joke (giving pain while assuming the aspect of mere 
fun), rather than into a more serious and determined hostility. 
But my endeavours on this head were by no means uniformly 
successful, even when my plans were the most wittily concocted ; 
for my namesake had much about him in character of that 
unassuming and quiet austerity which, while enjoying the 
poignancy of its own jokes, has no heel of Achilles in itself, and 
absolutely refuses to be laughed at. I could find indeed but 
one vulnerable point, and that lying in a personal peculiarity, 
arising perhaps from constitutional disease, would have been 
spared by any antagonist less at his wit's end than myself ; my 
rival had a weakness in the faucial or guttural organs which 
precluded him from raising his voice at any time above a very 
low whisper. Of this defect I did not fail to take what poor 
advantage lay in my power. 

Wilson's retaliations in kind were many ; and there was one 
form of his practical wit that disturbed me beyond measure. 
How his sagacity first discovered at all that so petty a thing 
would vex me is a question I never could solve, but having 
discovered, he habitually practised the annoyance. I had 
always felt aversion to my uncourtly patronymic and its very 
common, if not plebeian praenomen. The words were venom 
in my ears ; and when, upon the day of my arrival, a second 
William Wilson came also to the academy, I felt angry with 
him for bearing the name, and doubly disgusted with the name 
because a stranger bore it, who would be the cause of its two- 
fold repetition, who would be constantly in my presence, and 
whose concerns, in the ordinary routine of the school business, 
must inevitably, on account of the detestable coincidence, be 
often confounded with my own. 

The feeling of vexation thus engendered grew stronger with 
every circumstance tending to show resemblance, moral or 


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physical, between my rival and myself. I had not then 
discovered the remarkable fact that we were of the same age ; 
but I saw that we were of the same height, and I perceived 
that we were even singularly alike in general contour of person 
and outline of feature. I was galled, too, by the rumour 
touching a relationship, which had grown current in the upper 
forms. In a word, nothing could more seriously disturb me 
(although I scrupulously concealed such disturbance), than any 
allusion to a similarity of mind, person, or condition existing 
between us. But, in truth, I had no reason to believe that 
(with the exception of the matter of relationship, and in the 
case of Wilson himself) this similarity had ever been made a 
subject of comment, or even observed at all, by our school- 
fellows. That he observed it in all its bearings, and as fixedly 
as I, was apparent ; but that he could discover in such 
circumstances so fruitful a field of annoyance can only be 
attributed, as I said before, to his more than ordinary 

His cue, which was to perfect an imitation of myself, lay both 
in words and in actions, and most admirably did he play his 
part. My dress it was an easy matter to copy ; my gait and 
general manner were without difficulty appropriated ; in spite of 
his constitutional defect, even my voice did not escape him. My 
louder tones were of course unattempted, but then the key, it 
was identical ; and his singular whisper^ it grew the very echo 
of my own. 

How greatly this most exquisite portraiture harassed me (for 
it could not justly be termed a caricature), I will not now 
venture to describe. I had but one consolation — in the fact 
that the imitation, apparently, was noticed by myself alone, and 
that I had to endure only the knowing and strangely sarcastic 
smiles of my namesake himself. Satisfied with having pro- 
duced in my bosom the intended effect, he seemed to chuckle in 
secret over the sting he had inflicted, and was characteristically 
disregardful of the public applause which the success of his 
witty endeavours might have so easily elicited. That the school, 
indeed, did not feel his design, perceive its accomplishment, 


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and participate in his sneer, was for many anxious 
months a riddle I could not resolve. Perhaps the gradation of 
his copy rendered it not so readily perceptible, or more possibly 
I owed my security to the masterly air of the copyist, who, 
disdaining the letter (which in a painting is all the obtuse can 
see), gave but the full spirit of his original for my individual 
contemplation and chagrin. 

I have already more than once spoken of the disgusting air 
of patronage which he assumed toward me, and of his frequent 
officious interference with my will This interference often 
took the ungracious character of advice — advice not openly 
given, but hinted or insinuated. I received it with a repugnance 
which gained strength as I grew in years. Yet at this distant 
day, let me do him the simple justice to acknowledge that I can 
recall no occasion when the suggestions of my rival were on the 
side of those errors or follies so usual to his immature age and 
seeming inexperience ; that his moral sense, at least, if not his 
general talents and worldly wisdom, was far keener than my 
own ; and that I might to-day have been a better, and thus 
a happier man, had I less frequently rejected the counsels 
embodied in those meaning whispers which I then but too 
cordially hated and too bitterly despised. 

As it was, I at length grew restive in the extreme under his 
distasteful supervision, and daily resented more and more 
openly what I considered his intolerable arrogance. I have 
said that in the first years of our connection as schoolmates, 
my feelings in regard to him might have been easily ripened 
into friendship ; but, in the latter months of my residence at 
the academy, although the intrusion of his ordinary manner 
had, beyond doubt, in some measure abated, my sentiments in 
nearly similar proportion partook very much of positive hatred. 
Upon one occasion he saw this, I think, and afterwards avoided, 
or made a show of avoiding me. 

It was about the same period, if I remember aright, that, in 
an altercation of violence with him, in which he was more than 
usually thrown off his guard, and spoke and acted with an 
openness of demeanour rather foreign to his nature, I 


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discovered, or fancied I discovered, in his accent, his air, and 
general appearance, a something which first startled, and then 
deeply interested me, by bringing to mind dim visions of my 
earliest infancy — wild, confused, and thronging memories of a 
time when memory herself was yet unborn. I cannot better 
describe the sensation which oppressed me than by saying that 
I could with difficulty shake off the belief of my having been 
acquainted with the being who stood before me at some epoch 
very long ago, some point of the past even infinitely remote. 
The delusion, however, faded rapidly as it came, and I mention 
it at all but to define the day of the last conversation I there 
held with my singular namesake. 

The huge old house, with its countless subdivisions, had 
several large chambers communicating with each other, where 
slept the greater number of the students. There were, however 
(as must necessarily happen in a building so awkwardly 
planned), many little nooks or recesses, the odds and ends of 
the structure, and these the economic ingenuity of Dr. Bransby 
had also fitted up as dormitories, although, being the merest 
closets, they were capable of accommodating but a single indi- 
vidual. One of these small apartments was occupied by Wilson. 

One night, about the close of my fifth year at the school, and 
immediately after the altercation just mentioned, finding every 
one wrapped in sleep, I arose from bed, and, lamp in hand, 
stole through a wilderness of narrow passages from my own 
bedroom to that of my rivaL I had long been plotting one of 
those ill-natured pieces of practical wit at his expense in which 
I had hitherto been so uniformly unsuccessful It was my 
intention now to put my scheme in operation, and I resolved to 
make him feel the whole extent of the malice with which I was 
imbued. Having reached his closet, I noiselessly entered, leav- 
ing the lamp, with a shade over it, on the outside. I advanced 
a step, and listened to the sound of his tranquil breathing. 
Assured of his being asleep, I returned, took the light, and with 
it again approached the bed. Close curtains were around it, 
which, in the prosecution of my plan, I slowly and quietly with- 
drew, when the bright rays fell vividly upon the sleeper, and my 


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eyes, at the same moment, upon his countenance. I looked 
and a numbness, an iciness of feeling, instantly pervaded my 
frame. My breast heaved, my knees tottered, my whole spirit 
became possessed with an objectless yet intolerable horror. 
Gasping for breath, I lowered the lamp in still nearer proximity 
to the face. Were these — these the lineaments of William 
Wilson ? I saw, indeed, that they were his, but I shook as if 
with a fit of the ague in fancying they were not. What was 
there about them to confound me in this manner? I gazed, 
while my brain reeled with a multitude of incoherent thoughts. 
Not thus he appeared, assuredly not thus^ in the vivacity of his 
waking hours. The same name, the same contour of person, 
the same day of arrival at the academy ; and then his dogged 
and meaningless imitation of my gait, my voice, my habits, 
and my manner. Was it, in truth, within the bounds of human 
possibility that what I now saw was the result merely of the 
habitual practice of this sarcastic imitation. Awe-stricken, and 
with a creeping shudder, I extinguished the lamp, passed 
silently from the chamber, and left at once the halls of that old 
academy, never to enter them again. 

After a lapse of some months, spent at home in mere idleness, 
I found myself a student at Eton. The brief interval had been 
sufficient to enfeeble my remembrance of the events at Dr. 
Bransb/s, or at least to effect a material change in the nature 
of the feelings with which I remembered them. The truth, the 
tragedy, of the drama was no more. I could now find room to 
doubt the evidence of my senses, and seldom called up the sub- 
ject at all but with wonder at the extent of human credulity, and ^ 
a smile at the vivid force of the imagination which I hereditarily 
possessed. Neither was this species of scepticism likely to be 
diminished by the character of the life I led at Eton. The 
vortex of thoughtless folly into which I there so immediately 
and so recklessly plunged washed away all but the froth of my 
past hours, engulfed at once every solid or serious impression, 
and left to memory only the veriest levities of a former 

I do not wish, however, to trace the course of my miserable 


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profligacy here—a profligacy which set at defiance the laws, 
while it eluded the vigilance of the institution. Three years of 
folly, passed without profit, had but given me rooted habits of 
vice, and added, in a somewhat unusual degree, to my bodily 
stature, when, after a week of soulless dissipation, I invited a 
small party of the most dissolute students to a secret carousal 
in my chambers. We met at a late hour of the night, for our 
debaucheries were to be faithfully protracted until morning. 
The wine flowed freely, and there were not wanting other and 
perhaps more dangerous seductions, so that the grey dawn had 
already faintly appeared in the east, while our delirious extrava- 
gance was at its height. Madly flushed with cards and intoxica- 
tion, I was in the act of insisting upon a toast of more than 
wonted profanity, when my attention was suddenly diverted by 
the violent, although partial, unclosing of the door of the apart- 
ment, and by the eager voice of a servant from without. He 
said that some person, apparently in great haste, demanded to 
speak with me in the hall. 

Wildly excited with wine, the unexpected interruption rather 
delighted than surprised me. I staggered forward at once, and 
a few steps brought me to the vestibule of the building. In 
this low and small room there hung no lamp, and now no light 
at all was admitted, save that of the exceedingly feeble dawn 
which made its way through the semi-circular window. As 
I put my foot over the threshold I became aware of the figure 
of a youth about my own height, and habited in a white 
kerseymere morning frock, cut in the novel fashion of the one I 
myself wore at the moment. This the faint light enabled me 
to perceive, but the features of his face I could not distinguish. 
Upon my entering he strode hurriedly up to me, and seizing me 
by the arm with a gesture of petulant impatience, whispered the 
words " William Wilson 1 " in my ear. 

I grew perfectly sober in an instant. 

There was that in the manner of the stranger, and in the 
tremulous shake of his uplifted finger, as he held it between 
my eyes and the light, which filled me with unqualified amaze- 
ment ; but it was not this which had so violently moved me. 


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It was the pregnancy of solemn admonition in the singular, low, 
hissing utterance, and, above all, it was the character, the tone, 
the key^ of those few, simple, and familiar, yet whispered 
syllables, which came with a thousand thronging memories 
of by-gone days, and struck upon my soul with the shock of a 
galvanic battery. Ere I could recover the use of my senses he 
was gone. 

Although this event failed not of a vivid effect upon my 
disordered imagination, yet was it evanescent as vivid. For 
some weeks, indeed, I busied myself in earnest inquiry, or was 
wrapped in a cloud of morbid speculation. I did not pretend 
to disguise from my perception the identity of the singular 
individual who thus perseveringly interfered with my affairs, 
and harassed me with his insinuated counsel. But who and 
what was this Wilson ? — and whence came he ? — and what were 
his purposes? Upon neither of these points could I be 
satisfied —merely ascertaining in regard to him, that a sudden 
accident in his family had caused his removal from Dr. 
Bransb/s academy on the afternoon of the day in which I 
myself had eloped. But in a brief period I ceased to think 
upon the subject, my attention being all absorbed in a con- 
templated departure for Oxford. Thither I soon went, the 
uncalculating vanity of my parents furnishing me with an 
outfit and annual establishment which would enable me to 
indulge at will in the luxury already so dear to my heart— to 
vie in profuseness of expenditure with the haughtiest heirs of 
the wealthiest earldoms in Great Britain. 

Excited by such appliances to vice, my constitutional tem- 
perament broke forth with redoubled ardour, and I spurned 
even the common restraints of decency in the mad infatuation 
of my revels. But it were absurd to pause in the detail of my 
extravagance. Let it suffice, that among spendthrifts I out- 
Heroded Herod, and that giving name to a multitude of novel 
follies, I added no brief appendix to the long catalogue of vices 
then usual in the most dissolute university of Europe. 

It could hardly be credited, however, that I had, even here^ 
so utterly fallen from the gentlemanly estate as to seek 

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acquaintance with the vilest arts of the gambler by profession, 
and having become an adept in his despicable science, to 
practise it habitually as a means of increasing my already 
enormous income at the expense of the weak-minded among 
my fellow-collegians. Such, nevertheless, was the fact; and 
the very enormity of this offence against all manly and honour- 
able sentiment proved, beyond doubt, the main, if not the sole 
reason of the impunity with which it was committed. Who, 
indeed, among my most abandoned associates, would not rather 
have disputed the clearest evidence of his senses than have 
suspected of such courses the gay, the frank, the generous 
William Wilson— the noblest and most liberal commoner at 
Oxford — him whose follies (said his parasites) were but the 
follies of youth and unbridled fancy — whose errors but inimit- 
able whim— whose darkest vice but a careless and dashing 
extravagance ? 

I had been now two years successfully busied in this way 
when there came to the university a young parvenu nobleman, 
Glendinning— rich, said report, as Herodes Atticus — his riches, 
too, as easily acquired. I soon found him of weak intellect, and 
of course marked him as a fitting subject for my skill. I 
frequently engaged him in play, and contrived with the 
gambler's usual art to let him win considerable sums, the 
more effectually to entangle him in my snares. At length, 
my schemes being ripe, I met him (with the full intention that 
this meeting should be final and decisive) at the chambers of a 
fellow-commoner (Mr. Preston) equally intimate with both, but 
who, to do him justice, entertained not even a remote suspicion 
of my design. To give to this a better colouring I had con- 
trived to have assembled a party of some eight or ten, and was 
solicitously careful that the introduction of cards should appear 
accidental, and originate in the proposal of my contemplated 
dupe himself. To be brief upon a vile topic, none of the low 
finesse was omitted, so customary upon similar occasions, that 
it is a just matter for wonder how any are still found so 
besotted as to fall its victim. 

We had protracted our sitting far into the night, and I had at 


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length effected the manoeuvre of getting Glendinning as my 
sole antagonist The game, too, was my favourite icartd. 
The rest of the company, interested in the extent of our play, 
had abandoned their own cards, and were standing around us 
as spectators. The parvenu^ who had been induced by my 
artifices in the early part of the evening to drink deeply, now 
shuffled, dealt, or played with a wild nervousness of manner for 
which his intoxication, I thought, might partially but could not 
altogether account. In a very short period he had become my 
debtor to a large amount, when, having taken a long draught of 
port, he did precisely what I had been coolly anticipating — he 
proposed to double our already extravagant stakes. With a 
well-feigned show of reluctance, and not until after my repeated 
refusal had seduced him into some angry words which gave a 
colour of pique to my compliance, did I finally comply. The 
result of course did but prove how entirely the prey was in my 
toils : in less than an hour he had quadrupled his debt. For 
some time his countenance had been losing the florid tinge 
lent it by the wine, but now, to my astonishment, I perceived 
that it had grown to a pallor truly fearful. I say to my 
astonishment. Glendinning had been represented to my eager 
inquiries as immeasurably wealthy ; and the sums which he 
had as yet lost, although in themselves vast, could not, I 
supposed, very seriously annoy, much less so violently affect 
him. That he was overcome by the wine just swallowed was 
the idea which most readily presented itself; and, rather with a 
view to the preservation of my own character in the eyes of my 
associates, than from any less interested motive, I was about to 
insist peremptorily upon a discontinuance of the play, when 
some expressions at my elbow from among the company, and 
an ejaculation evincing utter despair on the part of Glen- 
dinning, gave me to understand that I had effected his total 
ruin under circumstances which, rendering him an object for 
the pity of all, should have protected him from the ill offices 
even of a fiend. 

What now might have been my conduct it is difficult to say. 
The pitiable condition of my dupe had thrown an air of 


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embarrassed gloom over all, and for some moments a profound 
silence was maintained, during which I could not help feeling 
my cheeks tingle with the many burning glances of scorn or 
reproach cast upon me by the less abandoned of the party. I 
will even own that an intolerable weight of anxiety was a brief 
instant lifted from my bosom by the sudden and extraordinary 
interruption which ensued. The wide heavy folding-doors of 
the apartment were all at once thrown open to their full extent, 
with a vigorous and rushing impetuosity that extinguished, as 
if by magic, every candle in the room. Their light, in dying, 
enabled us just to perceive that a stranger had entered, about 
my own height, and closely muffled in a cloak. The darkness, 
however, was now total, and we could only feel that he was 
standing in our midst. Before any one of us could recover 
from the extreme astonishment into which this rudeness had 
thrown all, we heard the voice of the intruder. 

"Gentlemen," he said, in a low, distinct, and never-to-be- 
forgotten whisper which thrilled to the very marrow of my 
bones, "Gentlemen, I make no apology for this behaviour, 
because in thus behaving, I am but fulfilling my duty. You 
are, beyond doubt, uninformed of the true character of the 
person who has to-night won at icartd a large sum of money 
from Lord Glendinning. I will therefore put you upon an 
expeditious and decisive plan of obtaining this very necessary 
information. Please to examine at your leisure the inner 
linings of the cuff of his left sleeve, and the several little 
packages which may be found in the somewhat capacious 
pockets of his embroidered morning wrapper." 

While he spoke, so profound was the stillness that one might 
have heard a pin drop upon the floor. In ceasing, he departed 
at once, and as abruptly as he had entered. Can I — shall I 
describe my sensations ? Must I say that I felt all the horrors 
of the damned? Most assuredly I had little time for reflection. 
Many hands roughly seized me upon the spot, and lights were 
immediately reprocured. A search ensued. In the lining of 
my sleeve were found all the court cards essential in dcartd^ and 
in the pockets of my wrapper a number of packs, fac-similes of 



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those used at our sittings, with the single exception that mine 
were of the species called, technically, arroncUesj the honours 
being slightly convex at the ends, the lower cards slightly 
convex at the sides. In this disposition, the dupe who cuts, as 
customary, at the length of the pack, will invariably find that he 
cuts his antagonist an honour; while the gambler, cutting at 
the breadth, will as certainly cut nothing for his victim which 
may count in the records of the game. 

Any burst of indignation upon this discovery would have 
affected me less than the silent contempt, or the sarcastic 
composure, with which it was received. 

"Mr. Wilson,*' said our host, stooping to remove from 
beneath his feet an exceedingly luxurious cloak of rare furs, 
" Mr. Wilson, this is your property." (The weather was cold ; 
and, upon quitting my own room, I had thrown a cloak over 
my dressing wrapper, putting it off upon reaching the scene of 
play.) "I presume it is supererogatory to seek here (eyeing 
the folds of the garment with a bitter smile) for any further 
evidence of your skill. Indeed, we have had enough. You will 
see the necessity, I hope, of quitting Oxford — at all events, of 
quitting instantly my chambers." 

Abased, humbled to the dust as I then was, it is probable 
that I should have resented this galling language by immediate 
personal violence, had not my whole attention been at the 
moment arrested by a fact of the most startling character. 
The cloak which I had worn was of a rare description of fur ; 
how rare, how extravagantly costly, I shall not venture to say. 
Its fashion, too, was of my own fantastic invention, for I was 
fastidious to an absurd degree of coxcombry in matters of this 
frivolous nature. When, therefore, Mr. Preston reached me 
that which he had picked up upon the floor, and near the 
folding doors of the apartment, it was with an astonishment 
nearly bordering upon terror that I perceived my own already 
hanging on my arm (where I had no doubt unwittingly 
placed it), and that the one presented me was but its exact 
counterpart in every, in even the minutest possible particular. 
The singular being who had so disastrously exposed me had 


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been muffled, I remembered, in a cloak, and none had been 
worn at all by any of the members of our party with the 
exception of myself. Retaining some presence of mind, I took 
the one offered me by Preston, placed it unnoticed over my 
own, left the apartment with a resolute scowl of defiance, and 
next morning, ere dawn of day, commenced a hurried journey 
from Oxford to the Continent in a perfect agony of horror and 
of shame. 

I fled in vain. My evil destiny pursued me as if in exulta- 
tion, and proved indeed that the exercise of its mysterious 
dominion had as yet only begun. Scarcely had I set foot in 
Paris ere I had fresh evidence of the detestable interest taken 
by this Wilson in my concerns. Years flew while I experienced 
no relief. Villain ! — at Rome, with how untimely, yet with how 
spectral an officiousness, stepped he in between me and my 
ambition I At Vienna, too — at Berlin — and at Moscow ! 
Where, in truth, had I not bitter cause to curse him within my 
heart? From his inscrutable tyranny did I at length flee, 
panic-stricken, as from a pestilence ; and to the very ends of 
the earth I fled in vain. 

And again and again, in secret communion with my own 
spirit, would I demand the questions, " Who is he ? — whence 
came he ? — and what are his objects ? " But no answer was 
there found. And now I scrutinised, with a minute scrutiny, 
the forms, and the methods, and the leading traits of his 
impertinent supervision. But even here there was very little 
upon which to base a conjecture. It was noticeable, indeed, 
that in no one of the multiplied instances in which he had of 
late crossed my path had he so crossed it except to frustrate 
those schemes, or to disturb those actions, which, if fully 
carried out, might have resulted in bitter mischief. Poor 
justification this, in truth, for an authority so imperiously 
assumed 1 Poor indemnity for natural rights of self-agency so 
pertinaciously, so insultingly denied ! 

I had also been forced to notice that my tormentor for a very 
long period of time (while scrupulously and with miraculous 
dexterity maintaining his whim of an identity of apparel with 


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myself) had so contrived it, in the execution of his varied 
interference with my will, that I saw not at any moment the 
features of his face. Be Wilson what he might, this at least 
was but the veriest of affectation or of folly. Could he for an 
instant have supposed that in my admonisher at Eton— -in the 
destroyer of my honour at Oxford — in him who thwarted my 
ambition at Rome, my revenge at Paris, my passionate love at 
Naples, or what he falsely termed my avarice in Egypt, — that 
in this, my arch-enemy and evil genius, I could fail to recognise 
the William Wilson of my school-boy days, — the namesake, the 
companion, the rival, — the hated and dreaded rival at Dr. 
Bransby's ? Impossible !— -But let me hasten to the last 
eventful scene of the drama. 

Thus far had I succumbed supinely to this imperious 
domination. The sentiment of deep awe with which I 
habitually regarded the elevated character, the majestic 
wisdom, the apparent omnipresence and omnipotence of 
Wilson, added to a feeling of even terror, with which certain 
other traits in his nature and assumptions inspired me, had 
operated hitherto to impress me with an idea of my own 
utter weakness and helplessness, and to suggest an implicit, 
although bitterly reluctant submission to his arbitrary will But 
of late days I had given myself up entirely to wine, and its 
maddening influence upon my hereditary temper rendered me 
more and more impatient of control. I began to murmur, — 
to hesitate, — to resist And was it only fancy which induced 
me to believe that, with the increase of my own firmness, that 
of my tormentor underwent a proportional diminution? Be 
this as it may, I now began to feel the inspiration of a burning 
hope, and at length nurtured in my secret thoughts a stem 
and desperate resolution that I would submit no longer to be 

It was at Rome, during the Carnival of i8 — ^ that I attended 
a masquerade in the palazzo of the Neapolitan Duke Di 
Broglio. I had indulged more freely than usual in the excesses 
of the wine-table, and now the suffocating atmosphere of the 
crowded rooms irritated me beyond endurance. The difficulty, 


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too, of forcing my way through the mazes of the company 
contributed not a little to the ruffling of my temper ; for I 
was anxiously seeking (let me not say with what unworthy 
motive) the young, the gay, the beautiful wife of the aged and 
doting Di Broglio. With a too unscrupulous confidence she 
had previously communicated to me the secret of the costume 
in which she would be habited, and now, having caught a 
glimpse of her person, I was hurrying to make my way into her 
presence. At this moment I felt a light hand placed upon my 
shoulder, and that ever-remembered, low, damnable whisper 
within my ear. 

In an absolute frenzy of wrath I turned at once upon him 
who had thus interrupted me, and seized him violently by the 
collar. He was attired, as I had expected, in a costume 
altogether similar to my own ; wearing a Spanish cloak of blue 
velvet, begirt about the waist with a crimson belt sustaining a 
rapier. A mask of black silk entirely covered his face. 

" Scoundrel ! " I said, in a voice husky with rage, while every 
syllable I uttered seemed as new fuel to my fury ; " scoundrel ! 
impostor ! accursed villain I you shall not — ^you shall not dog 
me unto death ! Follow me, or I will stab you where you 
stand ! " — and I broke my way from the ball-room into a small 
ante-chamber adjoining, dragging him unresistingly with me as 
I went. 

Upon entering, I thrust him furiously from me. He 
staggered against the wall, whfle I closed the door with an 
oath, and commanded him to draw. He hesitated but for an 
instant ; then, with a slight sigh, drew in silence, and put 
himself upon his defence. 

The contest was brief indeed. I was frantic with every 
species of wild excitement, and felt within my single arm the 
energy and power of a multitude. In a few seconds I forced 
him by sheer strength against the wainscoting, and thus, 
getting him at mercy, plunged my sword, with brute ferocity, 
repeatedly through and through his bosom. 

At that instant some person tried the latch of the door. I 
hastened to prevent an intrusion, and then immediately returned 


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to my dying antagonist But what human language can 
adequately portray thai astonishment, that horror which pos- 
sessed me at the spectacle then presented to view ? The brief 
moment in which I averted my eyes had been sufficient to 
produce apparently a material change in the arrangements at 
the upper or farther end of the room. A large mirror— so at 
first it seemed to me in my confusion — 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 to meet me with a feeble and 
tottering gait 

Thus it appeared, I say, but was not It was my antagonist 
— ^it was Wilson who then stood before me in the agonies of 
his dissolution. His mask and cloak lay where he had thrown 
them upon the floor. Not a thread in all his raiment — not a 
line in all the marked and singular lineaments of his face which 
was not, even in the most absolute identity, mine own / 

It was Wilson ; but he spoke no longer in a whisper, and I 
could have fancied that I myself was speaking while he said : 

" You have conquered and 1 yield. Yet, henceforward art 
thou also dead^dead to the Worlds to Heaven^ and to Hope / 
In me didst thou exist — and, in my deafh^ see by this image^ 
which is thine own^ how utterly thou hast murdered thyselfi^ 


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THE "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No 
pestilence had ever been so fatal or so hideous. Blood 
was its Avator and its seal — the redness and the horror of 
blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and 
then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The 
scarlet stains upon the body, and especially upon the face of 
the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid 
and from the sympathy of his fellow-men ; and the whole 
seizure, progress, and termination of the disease, were the 
incidents of half-an-hour. 

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and 
sagacious. When his dominions were half-depopulated, he 
sununoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted 
friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and 
with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated 
abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the 
creation of the prince's own eccentric yet august taste. A 
strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of 
iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and 
massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to 
leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden 
impulses of despair from without or of frenzy from within. 
The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions 
the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external 
world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly 
to grieve or to think. The prince had provided all the 
appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were 
improvisator!, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, 


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there was beauty, there was wine. All these and security were 
within. Without was the " Red Death." 

It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his 
seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, 
that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a 
masked ball of the most unusual magnificence. 

It was a voluptuous scene that masquerade. But first let me 
tell of the rooms in which it was held. There were seven — an 
imperial suite. In many palaces, however, such suites form a 
long and straight vista, while the folding-doors slide back 
nearly to the walls on either hand, so that the view of the 
whole extent is scarcely impeded. Here the case was very 
different, as might have been expected from the duke's love of 
the bizarre. The apartments were so irregularly disposed that 
the vision embraced but little more than one at a time. There 
was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each 
turn a novel effect. To the right and left, in the middle of 
each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a 
closed corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. 
These windows were of stained glass, whose colour varied in 
accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations of the 
chamber into which it opened. That at the eastern extremity 
was hung, for example, in blue, and vividly blue were its 
windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments 
and tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was 
green throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was 
furnished and lighted with orange, the fifth with white, the sixth 
with violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in 
black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down 
the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same 
material and hue. But in this chamber only the colour of the 
windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes 
here were scarlet — a deep blood colour. Now in no one of 
the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum 
amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to 
and fro or depended from the roof. There was no light of any 
kind emanating from lamp or candle within the suite of 


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chambers ; but in the corridors that followed the suite there 
stood opposite to each window a heavy tripod bearing a brazier 
of fire that projected its rays through the tinted glass, and so 
glaringly illumined the room. And thus were produced a 
multitude of gaudy and fantastic appearances. But in the 
western or black chamber the effect of the fire-light that 
streamed upon the dark hangings, through the blood-tinted 
panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a 
look upon the countenances of those who entered that there 
were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its 
precincts at all. 

It was in this apartment also that there stood against the 
western wall a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung 
to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous dang; and when 
the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour 
was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the 
clock a sound which was clear and loud, and deep, and 
exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis 
that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra 
were constrained to pause momentarily in their performance 
to hearken to the sound ; and thus the waltzers perforce 
ceased their evolutions, and there was a brief disconcert of 
the whole gay company, and while the chimes of the clock 
yet rang it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the 
more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows 
as if in confused reverie or meditation ; but when the echoes 
had fully ceased a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; 
the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their 
own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows each 
to the other that the next chiming of the clock should produce 
in them no similar emotion, and then, after the lapse of sixty 
minutes (which embrace three thousand and six hundred 
seconds of the time that flies), there came yet another 
chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and 
tremulousness and meditation as before. 

But in spite of these things it was a gay and magnificent 
revel. The tastes of the duke were peculiar. He had a fine 


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eye for colours and effects. He disregarded the decora of 
mere fashion. His plans were bold and fiery, and his con- 
ceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There are some who 
would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was 
not It was necessary to hear, and see, and touch him to be 
sure that he was not. 

He had directed, in great part, the movable embellishments 
of the seven chambers, upon occasion of this great fHe; and 
it was his own guiding taste which had given character to 
the masqueraders. Be sure they were grotesque. There were 
much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm — much of 
what has been since seen in " Hemani." There were arabesque 
figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were 
delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There were 
much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the 
bizarre^ something of the terrible, and not a little of that which 
might have excited disgust To and fro in the seven chambers 
there stalked, in fact, a multitude of dreams. And these — the 
dreams — writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms, 
and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the 
echo of their steps. And, anon, there strikes the ebony clock 
which stands in the hall of the velvet ; and then, for a moment, 
all is still, and all is silent, save the voice of the clock. The 
dreams are stiff-frozen as they stand. But the echoes of the 
chime die away — ^they have endured but an instant — and alight, 
half-subdued laughter floats after them as they depart And 
now again the music swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to 
and fro more merrily than ever, taking hue from the many- 
tinted windows through which stream the rays from the tripods. 
But to the chamber which lies more eastwardly of the seven 
there are now none of the maskers who venture ; for the night 
is waning away ; and there flows a ruddier light through the 
blood-coloured panes ; and the blackness of the sable drapery 
appals; and to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet 
there comes from the near clock of ebony a muffled peal more 
solemnly emphatic than any which reaches their ears who 
indulge in the more remote gaieties of the other apartments. 


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But these other apartments were densely crowded, and 
in them beat feverishly the heart of life. And the revel 
went whirlingly on, until at length there commenced the 
sounding of midnight upon the clock. And then the music 
ceased, as I have told ; and the evolutions of the waltzers were 
quieted ; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as 
before. But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by 
the bell of the clock ; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more 
of thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of 
the thoughtful among those who revelled. And thus, too, it 
happened, perhaps, that before the last echoes of the last chime 
had utterly sunk into silence, there were many individuals in 
the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the 
presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of 
no single individual before. And the rumour of this new 
presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose 
at length from the whole company a buzz, or murmur, expressive 
of disapprobation and surprise — ^then, finally, of terror, of horror, 
and of disgust. 

In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may 
well be supposed that no ordinary appearance could have 
excited such sensation. In truth the masquerade license of 
the night was nearly unlimited ; but the figure in question had 
out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the bounds of even the 
prince's indefinite decorum. There are chords in the hearts of 
the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. 
Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally 
jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made. The 
whole company indeed seemed now deeply to feel that in the 
costume and bearing of the stranger neither wit nor propriety 
existed. The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from 
head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The mask which 
concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the 
countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must 
have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. And yet all this 
might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers 
around. But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the 


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type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood— 
and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was 
besprinkled with the scarlet horror. 

When the eyes of Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral 
image (which with a slow and solemn movement, as if more 
fully to sustain its rdle^ stalked to and fro among the waltzers), 
he was seen to be convulsed in the first moment with a strong 
shudder either of terror or distaste ; but in the next his brow 
reddened with rage. 

" Who dares ? " he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who 
stood near him — " who dares insult us with this blasphemous 
mockery? Seize him and unmask him, that we may know 
v/hom we have to hang at sunrise from the battlements ! " 

It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood the 
Prince Prospero as he uttered these words. They rang 
throughout the seven rooms loudly and clearly — for the prince 
was a bold and robust man, and the music had become hushed 
at the waving of his hand. 

It was in the blue room where stood the prince, with a group 
of pale courtiers by his side. At first, as he spoke, there was a 
slight rushing movement of this group in the direction of the 
intruder, who at the moment was also near at hand, and now, 
with deliberate and stately step, made closer approach to the 
speaker. But, from a certain nameless awe with which the 
mad assumption of the mummer had inspired the whole party, 
there were found none who put forth hand to seize him ; so 
that unimpeded he passed within a yard of the prince's person ; 
and while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank 
from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made his way 
uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step 
which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue 
chamber to the purple — through the purple to the green — 
through the green to the orange — through this again to the 
white— and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement 
had been made to arrest him. It was then, however, that the 
Prince Prospero, maddening with rage and the shame of his 
own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six 


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chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly 
terror that had seized upon them all. He bore aloft a drawn 
dagger, and had approached in rapid impetuosity to within 
three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, 
having attained the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned 
suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There was a sharp cry — 
and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon 
which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince 
Prospero. Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a 
throng of revellers at once threw themselves into the black 
apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose tall figure $tood 
erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, 
gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave cerements 
and corpse-like mask which they handled with so violent a 
rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form. 

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. 
He had come like a thief in the night ; and one by one dropped 
the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died 
each in the despairing posture of his fall ; and the life of the 
ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay ; and the 
flames of the tripods expired ; and darkness and decay and the 
Red Death held illimitable dominion over all 


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THE thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best 
could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed 
revenge. You, who so well know the nature of my soul, will 
not suppose, however, that I gave utterance to a threat. At 
length I would be avenged ; this was a point definitively settled 
— but the very definitiveness with which it was resolved pre- 
cluded the idea of risk. I must not only punish, but punish with 
impunity. A wrong is unredressed when retribution over- 
takes its redresser. It is equally unredressed when the avenger 
fails to make himself felt as such to him who has done the 

It must be understood that neither by word nor deed had I 
given Fortunato cause to doubt my good-will. I continued, as 
was my wont, to smile in his face, and he did not perceive that 
my smile now was at the thought of his immolation. 

He had a weak point — this Fortunato — ^although in other 
regards he was a man to be respected and even feared. He 
prided himself on his connoisseurship in wine. Few Italians 
have the true virtuoso spirit. For the most part their 
enthusiasm is adopted to suit the time and opportunity to 
practise imposture upon the British and Austrian millionaires. 
In painting and gemmary Fortunato, like his countrymen, was 
a quack, but in the matter of old wines he was sincere. In this 
respect I did not differ from him materially ; I was skilful in 
the Italian vintages myself, and bought largely whenever I 

It was about dusk, one evening during the supreme madness 
of the carnival season, that I encountered my friend. He 
accosted me with excessive warmth, for he had been drinking 


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much. The man wore motley. He had on a tight-fitting parti- 
striped dress, and his head was surmounted by the conical cap 
and bells. I was so pleased to see him, that I thought I should 
never have done wringing his hand. 

I said to him — " My dear Fortunato, you are luckily met 
How remarkably well you are looking to-day ! But I have 
received a pipe of what passes for Amontillado, and I have 
my doubts.^ 

" How ? " said he, " Amontillado ? A pipe ? Impossible ? 
And in the middle of the carnival ? " 

" I have my doubts," I replied ; " and I was silly enough to 
pay the full Amontillado price without consulting you in the 
matter. You were not to be found, and I was fearful of losing 
a bargain." 


" I have my doubts." 
. "Amontillado!" 

"And I must satisfy them." 


"As you are engaged, I am on my way to Luchesi. If any 
one has a critical turn, it is he. He will tell me ^" 

" Luchesi cannot tell Amontillado from Sherry." 

"And yet some fools will have it that his taste is a match for 
your own." 

" Come, let us go." 


" To your vaults." 

" My friend, no ; I will not impose upon your good nature. 
I perceive you have an engagement Luchesi ^" 

" I have no engagement ; come." 

" My friend, no. It is not the engagement, but the severe 
cold with which I perceive you are afflicted. The vaults are 
insufferably damp. They are encrusted with nitre." 

"Let us go, nevertheless. The cold is merely nothing. 
Amontillado ! You have been imposed upon ; and as for 
Luchesi, he cannot distinguish Sherry from Amontillado." 

Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my arm. 


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Putting on a mask of black silk, and drawing a roquelcmre 
closely about my person, I suffered him to hurry me to my 

There were no attendants at home ; they had absconded to 
make merry in honour of the time. I had told them that I 
should not return until the morning, and had given them 
explicit orders not to stir from the house, '^hese orders were 
sufficient, I well knew, to insure their immediate disappearance, 
one and all, as soon as my back was turned. 

I took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving one 
to Fortunato, bowed him through several suites of rooms to 
the archway that led into the vaults. I passed down a long 
and winding staircase, requesting him to be cautious as he 
followed. We came at length to the foot of the descent, and 
stood together on the damp ground of the catacombs of the 

The gait of my friend was unsteady, and the bells upon his 
cap jingled as he strode. 

" The pipe," he said. 

" It is farther on," said I ; " but observe the white web-work 
which gleams from these cavern walls." 

He turned towards me, and looked into my eyes with two 
filmy orbs that distilled the rheum of intoxication. 

" Nitre ?" he asked, at length. 

" Nitre," I replied. " How long have you had that cough 1 " 

" Ugh ! ugh ! ugh l—ugh ! ugh ! ugh 1 — ugh ! ugh ! ugh 1 — 
ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! — ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! " 

My poor friend found it impossible to reply for many 

" It is nothing," he said, at last. 

" Come," I said, with decision, " we will go back ; your 
health is precious. You are rich, respected, admired, beloved ; 
you are happy, as once I was. You are a man to be missed. 
For me it is no matter. We will go back ; you will be ill, and 
I cannot be responsible. Besides, there is Luchesi ^" 

" Enough," he said ; " the cough is a mere nothing ; it will 
not kill me. I shall not die of a cough." 


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"True— true," I replied; "and, indeed, I had no intention 
of alarming you unnecessarily — ^but you should use all proper 
caution. A draught of this Medoc will defend us from the 

Here I knocked off the neck of a bottle which I drew from a 
long row of its fellows that lay upon the mould. 

" Drink," I said, presenting him the wine. 

He raised it to his lips with a leer. He paused and nodded 
to me familiarly, while his bells jingled. 

" I drink," he said, " to the buried that repose around us.'*^ 

" And I to your long life." 

He again took my arm, and we proceeded. 

" These vaults," he said, " are extensive." 

" The Montresors," I replied, " were a great and numerous 

" I forgot your arms." 

A huge human foot d'or, in a field azure ; the foot crushes a 
serpent rampant whose fangs are imbedded in the heel." 

"And the motto?" 

" Nemo me impune lacessitP 

"Good!'* he said. 

The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. My 
own fancy grew warm with the Medoc We had passed 
through walls of piled bones, with casks and puncheons inter- 
mingling, into the inmost recesses of the catacombs. I paused 
again, and this time I made bold to seize Fortunate by an 
arm above the elbow. 

" The nitre 1 " I said; " see, it increases. It hangs like moss 
upon the vaults. We are below the river's bed. The drops 
of moisture trickle among the bones. Come, we will go back 
ere it is too late. Your cough " 

"It is nothing," he said ; " let us go on. But first, another 
draught of the Medoc" 

I broke and reached him a flacon of De Grave. He emptied 
it at a breath. His eyes flashed -with a fierce light. He 
laughed and threw the bottle upwards with a gesticulation 
I did not understand. 



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I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the movement 
— a grotesque one. 

" You do not comprehend ? " he said. 

" Not I," I replied. 

"Then you are not of the brotherhood." 


" You are not of the masons." 

"Yes, yes," I said, "yes, yes." 

" You ? Impossible I A mason ? ^ 

" A mason," I replied. 

" A sign," he said. 

" It is this," I answered, producing a trowel from beneath 
the folds of my roquelaure, 

" You jest,* he exclaimed, recoiling a few paces. " But let 
us proceed to the Amontillado." 

"Be it so," I said, replacing the tool beneath the cloak, 
and again offering him my arm. He leaned upon it heavily. 
We continued our route in search of the Amantillado. We 
passed through a range of low arches, descended, passed on, 
and descended again, arrived at a deep crypt, in which the 
foulness of the air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than 

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared another 
less spacious. Its walls had been lined with human remains 
piled to the vault overhead, in the fashion of the great cata- 
combs of Paris. Three sides of this interior crypt were still 
ornamented in this manner. From the fourth the bones had 
been thrown down, and lay promiscuously upon the earth, 
forming at one point a mound of some size. Within the wall 
thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we perceived a 
still inferior recess, in depth about four feet, in width three, in ^ 
height six or seven. It seemed to have been constructed for 
no especial use within itself, but formed merely the interval 
between two of the colossal supports of the roof of the 
catacombs, and was backed by one of their circumscribing 
walls of solid granite. 

It was in vain that Fortunato, uplifting his dull torch, 


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n !>■ 


endeavoured to pry into the depths of the recess. Its ter- 
niination the feeble light did not enable us to see. 

" Proceed," I said ; " herein is the Amontillado. As for 
Luchesi " 

" He is an ignoramus," interrupted my friend, as he stepped 
unsteadily forward, while I followed immediately at his heels. 
In an instant he had reached the extremity of the niche, and 
finding his progress arrested by the rock, stood stupidly 
bewildered. A moment more and I had fettered him to the 
granite. In its surface were two iron staples, distant from 
each other about two feet, horizontally. From one of these 
depended a short chain, from the other a padlock. Throwing 
the links about his waist, it was but the work of a few seconds 
to secure it. He was too much astounded to resist. With- 
drawing the key, I stepped back from the recess. 

" Pass your hand," I said, " over the wall ; you cannot help 
feeling the nitre. Indeed it is very damp. Once more let me 
implore you to return. No ? Then I must positively leave 
you. But I must first render you all the little attentions in my 

" The Amontillado ! " ejaculated my friend, not yet recovered 
from his astonishment. 

" True," I replied ; " the Amontillado." 

As I said these words I busied myself among the pile of 
bones of which I have before spoken. Throwing them aside, 
I soon uncovered a quantity of building stone and mortar. 
With these materials and with the aid of my trowel, I began 
vigorously to wall up the entrance of the niche. 

I had scarcely laid the first tier of the masonry when I 
discovered that the intoxication of Fortunato had in a great 
measure worn off. The earliest indication I had of this was a 
low moaning cry from the depth of the recess. It was not the 
cry of a drunken man. There was then a long and obstinate 
silence. I laid the second tier, and the third, and the fourth ; 
and then I heard the furious vibrations of the chain. The 
noise lasted for several minutes, during which, that I might 
hearken to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased my labours 


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and sat down upon the bones. When at last the clanking 
subsided, I resumed the trowel, and finished without interrup- 
tion the fifth, the sixth, and the seventh tier. The wall was 
now nearly upon a level with my breast I again paused, and 
holding the flambeaux over the mason-work, threw a few feeble 
rays upon the figure within. 

A succession of loud and shrill screams, bursting suddenly 
from the throat of the chained form, seemed to thrust me 
violently back. For a brief moment I hesitated — I trembled. 
Unsheathing my rapier, I began to grope with it about the 
recess ; but the thought of an instant reassured me. I placed 
my hand upon the solid fabric of the catacombs, and felt 
satisfied. I reapproached the wall. I replied to the yells of 
him who clamoured. I re-echoed — I aided — I surpassed them 
in volume and in strength. I did this, and the damourer grew 

It was now midnight, and my task was drawing to a close. 
I had completed the eighth, the ninth, and the tenth tier. I 
had finished a portion of the last and the eleventh; there 
remained but a single stone to be fitted and plastered in. I 
struggled with its weight ; I placed it partially in its destined 
position. But now there came from out the niche a low laugh 
that erected the hairs upon my head. It was succeeded by a 
sad voice, which I had difficulty in recognising as that of the 
noble Fortimato. The voice said — 

" Ha ! ha 1 ha 1 — he ! he 1 — a very good joke indeed— an 
excellent jest. We will have many a rich laugh about it at 
the palazzo — he 1 he ! he 1 — over our wine — he ! he 1 he 1 " 

" The Amontillado ! " I said. 

" He I he 1 he 1— he I he ! he I— yes, the Amontillado. But 
is it not getting late? Will not they be awaiting us at the 
palazzo, the Lady Fortunato and the rest ? Let us be gone." 

" Yes," I said, " let us be gone." 

" For the love of God^ Moniresor I " 

" Yes," I said, " for the love of God I " 

But to these words I hearkened in vain for a reply. I grew 
impatient I called aloud — 


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'' Fortunato I " 

No answer. I called again — 

"Fortunato !" 

No answer still. I thrust a torch through the remaining 
aperture and let it fall within. There came forth in return 
only a jingling of the bells. My heart grew sick — on account 
of the dampness of the catacombs. I hastened to make an end 
of my labour. I forced the last stone into its position ; I 
plastered it up. Against the new masonry I re-erected the old 
rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal has 
disturbed them. In pace re^uiescatl 


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" Sub conservatione formae specificae salva anima." 

—Raymond Lully. 

I AM come of a race noted for vigour of fancy and ardour 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 Th^y who 
dream by day are cognisant of many things which escape those 
who dream only by night In their grey visions they obtain 
glimpses of eternity, and thrill, in waking, 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 tenebrarumy quid in eo esset 

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 CEdipu§. 

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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 dwelt together, beneath 
a tropical sun, in the Valley of the Many-Coloured Grass. No 
unguided footstep ever came upon that vale, for it lay far 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 for ever. 

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 besprinkle4 
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 thfs love an4 of tjie 
glory of Go<J, 


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And here and there, in groves about this grass, like wilder- 
nesses of dreams, sprang up fantastic trees, whose tall slender 
stems stood not upright, but slanted gracefully towards the 
light that peered at noon-day into the centre of the valley. 
Their bark was speckled with the vivid alternate splendour 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 waters 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- Coloured Grass. A change fell upon all 
things. Strange, brilliant flowers, star-shaped, burst 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 iEolus, 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 
put thence, all gorgeous in crimson and gold^ an 4 spttjing in 


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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 
for ever within a magic prison-house of grandeur and of 

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 fervour of love 
which animated her heart, and she examined with me its 
inmost recesses as we walked together in the Valley of the 
Many-Coloured 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- 
Coloured Grass, I would quit for ever its happy recesses, 
transferring the love which now was so passionately her own to 
some maiden of the outer and every-day 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 
Hirmxid. of her, a saint in Elusion, 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 


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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 accept- 
ance 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 afterwards, 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 
Time's 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- 
Coloured Grass ; but a second change had come upon all 
things. The star-shaped fiowers 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 encum- 
bered with dew. And Life departed from our paths ; for the 
tall flamingo flaunted no longer his scarlet plumage before us, 
but fiew 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 i£olus, and more divine than all save the voice of 
Eleonora, it died little by little away, in murmurs growing 
iQ^er ^Ji4 lower, until the stream returned, at length, utterly 


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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-Coloured Grass. 

Yet the promises %i 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 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-Coloured Grass. 
The pomps and pageantries of a stately court, and the mad 
clangour of arms, and the radiant loveliness of woman, 
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 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 


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the fervour 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 1 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." 


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" The garden like a lady fair was cut, 

That lay as if she slumbered in delight, 

And to the open skies her eyes did shut. 
The azure fields of Heaven were 'sembled right 
In a large round, set with the flowers of light. 

The flowers-de-luce, and the round sparks of dew, 

That hung upon their azure leaves, did show 

Like twinkling stars, that sparkle in the evening blue." 


FROM his cradle to his grave a gale of prosperity bore my 
friend Ellison along. Nor do I use the word prosperity 
in its mere worldly sense. I mean it as synonymous with 
happiness. The person of whom I speak seemed bom for 
the purpose of foreshadowing the doctrines of Turgot, Price, 
Priestley, and Condorcet — of exemplifying by individual in- 
stance what has been deemed the chimera of the perfectionists. 
In the brief existence of Ellison I fancy that 1 have seen 
refuted the dogma, that in man's very nature lies some hidden 
principle, the antagonist of bliss. An anxious examination of 
his career has given me to understand that in general, from the 
violation of a few simple laws of humanity, arises the wretched- 
ness of mankind — ^that as a species we have in our possession 
the as yet unwrought elements of content — ^and that, even now, 
in the present darkness and madness of all thought on the 
great question of the social condition, it is not impossible that 
man, the individual, under certain unusual and highly fortuitous 
conditions, may be happy. 

With opinions such as these my young friend, too, was fully 
imbued; and thus it is worthy of observation that the unin- 
terrupted enjoyment which distinguished his life was, in great 


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measure, the result of preconcert. It is indeed evident, that 
with less of the instinctive philosophy, which now and then 
stands so well in the stead of experience, Mr. Ellison would 
have found himself precipitated by the very extraordinary 
success of his life into the common vortex of unhappiness 
which yawns for those of pre-eminent endowments. But it is 
by no means my object to pen an essay on happiness. The 
ideas of my friend may be summed up in a few words. He 
admitted but four elementary principles, or, more strictly, 
conditions of bliss. That which he considered chief was 
(strange to say I) the simple and purely physical one of free 
exercise in the open air. " The health," he said, " attainable by 
other means is scarcely worth the name." He instanced the 
ecstasies of the fox-hunter, and pointed to the tillers of the 
earth, the only people who, as a class, can be foirly considered 
happier than others. His second condition was the love of 
woman. His third, and most difficult of realisation, was the 
contempt of ambition. His fourth was an object of unceasing 
pursuit ; and he held that, other things being equal, the extent 
of attainable happiness was in proportion to the spirituality of 
this object 

Ellison was remarkable in the continuous profusion of good 
gifts lavished upon him by fortune. In personal grace and 
beauty he exceeded all men. His intellect was of that order to 
which the acquisition of knowledge is less a labour than an 
intuition and a necessity. His family was one of the most 
illustrious of the empire. His bride was the loveliest and most 
devoted of women. His possessions had been always ample ; 
but, on the attainment of his majority, it was discovered that 
one of those extraordinary freaks of fate had been played in his 
behalf which startle the whole social world amid which they 
occur, and seldom fail radically to alter the moral constitution 
of those who are their objects. 

It appears that, about a hundred years before Mr. Ellison's 
coming of age, there had died, in a remote province, one Mr. 
Seabright Ellison. This gentleman had amassed a princely 
fortune, and, having no immediate connections, conceived the 


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whim of suffering his wealth to accumulate for a century after 
his decease. Minutely and sagaciously directing the various 
modes of investment, he bequeathed the aggregate amount to 
the nearest of blood bearing the name Ellison, who should be 
alive at the end of the hundred years. Many attempts had 
been made to set aside this singular bequest ; their ex post facto 
character rendered them abortive ; but the attention of a jealous 
government was aroused, and a legislative act finally obtained, 
forbidding all similar accumulations. This act, however, 
did not prevent young Ellison from entering into possession, 
on his twenty-first birthday, as the heir of his ancestor 
Seabright, of a fortune of four hundred and fifty millions of 

When it had become known that such was the enormous 
wealth inherited, there were, of cpurse, many speculations as 
to the mode of its disposal. The magnitude and the imme- 
diate availability of the sum bewildered all who thought on 
the topic The possessor of any appreciable amount of money 
might have been imagined to perform any one of a thousand 
things. With riches merely surpassing those of any citizen, 
it would have been easy to suppose him engaging to supreme 
excess in the fashionable extravagances of his time — or busy- 
ing himself with political intrigue — or aiming at ministerial 
power—or purchasing increase of nobility — or collecting large 
museums of virtu — or playing the munificent patron of letters, 
of science, of art— or endowing and bestowing his name upon 

* An incident, similar in outline to the one here imagined, occurred not 
very long ago in England. The name of the fortunate heir was Thelluson. 
I first saw an account of this matter in the Tow of Prince Puckler 
Muskau, who makes the sum inherited ninety milliona qf pounds, and 
justly observes that "in the contemplation of so vast a sum, and of the 
services to which it might he applied, there is something even of the 
suhlime." To suit the views of this article I have followed the Prince's 
statement, although a grossly exaggerated one. The germ, and in fact 
the commencement of the present paper was published many years ago — 
previous to the issue of the first number of Sue's admirable Juif Errant^ 
which may possibly have been suggested to him by Muskau's account. 


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extensive institutions of charity. But for the inconceivable 
wealth in the actual possession of the heir, these objects and 
all ordinary objects were felt to afford too limited a field. 
Recourse was had to figures, and these but sufficed to confound. 
It was seen that, even at three per cent., the annual income of 
the inheritance amounted to no less than thirteen millions and 
five hundred thousand dollars ; which was one million and one 
hundred and twenty-five thousand per month ; or thirty-six 
thousand nine hundred and eighty-six per day; or one 
thousand five hundred and forty-one per hour ; or six and 
twenty dollars for every minute that flew. Thus the usual 
track of supposition was thoroughly broken up. Men knew 
not what to imagine. There were some who even conceived 
that Mr. Ellison would divest himself of at least one-half of 
his fortune, as of utterly surperfluous opulence — enriching- 
whole troops of his relatives by division of his superabundance. 
To the nearest of these he did, in fact, abandon the very 
unusual wealth which was his own before the inheritance. 

I was not surprised, however, to perceive that he had long 
made up his mind on a point which had occasioned so much 
discussion to his friends. Nor was I greatly astonished at the 
nature of his decision. In regard to individual charities he 
had satisfied his conscience. In the possibility of any improve- 
ment, properly so called, being effected by man himself in the 
g^eneral condition of man, he had (I am sorry to confess) little 
faith. Upon the whole, whether happily or unhappily, he was 
thrown back, in very great measure, upon self. 

In the widest and noblest sense he was a poet. He compre- 
hended, moreover, the true character, the august aims, the 
supreme majesty and dignity of the poetic sentiment. The 
fullest, if not the sole proper satisfaction of this sentiment he 
instinctively felt to lie in the creation of novel forms of beauty. 
Some peculiarities, either in his early education or in the 
nature of his intellect, had tinged with what is termed material- 
ism all his ethical speculations ; and it was this bias, perhaps, 
which led him to believe that the most advantageous at least, 
if not the sole legitimate field for the poetic exercise, lies in 


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the creation of novel moods of purely physical loveliness. 
Thus it happened he became neither musician nor poet — if 
we use this latter term in its every-day acceptation. Or it 
might have been that he neglected to become either, merely 
in pursuance of his idea that in contempt of ambition is to 
be found one of the essential principles of happiness on earth. 
Is it not, indeed, possible that, while a high order of genius is 
necessarily ambitious, the highest is above that which is termed 
ambition ? And may it not thus happen that many far greater 
than Milton have contentedly remained "mute and inglorious?" 
I believe that the world has never seen — and that, unless 
through some series of accidents goading the noblest order, 
of mind into distasteful exertion, the world will never see — 
that full extent of triumphant execution, in the richer domains 
of art, of which the human nature is absolutely capable. 

Ellison became neither musician nor poet ; although no man 
lived more profoundly enamoured of music and poetry. Under 
other circumstances than those which invested him, it is not 
impossible that he would have become a painter. Sculpture, 
although in its nature rigorously poetical, was too limited in its 
extent and consequences, to have occupied, at any time, much 
of his attention. And I have now mentioned all the provinces 
in which the common understanding of the poetic sentiment 
has declared it capable of expatiating. But Ellison maintained 
that the richest, the truest, and most natural, if not altogether 
the most extensive province, had been unaccountably neglected. 
No definition had spoken of the landscape-gardener as of the 
poet ; yet it seemed to my friend that the creation of the 
landscape-garden offered to the proper Muse the most magnifi- 
cent of opportunities. Here, indeed, was the fairest field for 
the display of imagination in the endless combining of forms 
of novel beauty ; the elements to enter into combination being, 
by a vast superiority, the most glorious which the earth could 
afford. In the multiform and multicolour of the flower and the 
tree, he recognised the most direct and energetic efforts of 
Nature at physical loveliness. And in the direction or concen- 
tration of this effort — or, more properly, in its adaptation to the 



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eyes which were to behold it on earth— he perceived that he 
should be employing the best means— labouring to the greatest 
advantage— in the fulfilment, not only of his own destiny as 
poet, but of the august purposes for which the Deity had 
implanted the poetic sentiment in man. 

" Its adaptation to the eyes which were to behold it on 
earth." In his explanation of this phraseology, Mr. Ellison 
did much towards solving what has always seemed to me an 
enigma — I mean the fact (which none but the ignorant dispute) 
that no such combination of scenery exists in nature as the 
painter of genius may produce. No such paradises are to be^ 
found in reality as have glowed on the canvas of Claude. In 
the most enchanting of natural landscapes there will always be 
found a defect or an excess — many excesses and defects. 
While the component parts may defy, individually, the highest 
skill of the artist, the arrangement of these parts will always 
be susceptible of improvement. In short, no position can be 
attained on the wide surface of the natural earth, from which 
an artistical eye, looking steadily, will not find matter of offence 
in what is termed the " composition " of the landscape. And 
yet how unintelligible is this ! In all other matters we are 
justly instructed to regard nature as supreme. With her details 
we shrink from competition. Who shall presume to imitate the 
colours of the tulip, or to improve the proportions of the lily 
of the valley? The criticism which says, of sculpture or 
portraiture, that here nature is to be exalted or idealised rather 
than imitated, is in error. No pictorial or sculptural combina- 
tions of points of human loveliness do more than approach 
the living and breathing beauty. In landscape alone is the 
principle of the critic true ; and having felt its truth here, it is 
but the headlong spirit of generalisation which has led him to 
pronounce it true throughout all the domains of art Having, 
I say,y^// its truth here ; for the feeling is no affectation or 
chimera. The mathematics afford no more absolute demon- 
strations than the sentiment of his art yields the artist. He 
not only believes, but positively knows, that such and such 
apparently arbitrary arrangements of matter constitute, and 


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alone constitute, the true beauty. His reasons, however, have 
not yet been matured into expression. It remains for a more 
profound analysis than the world has yet seen, fully to 
investigate and express them. Nevertheless he is confirmed in 
his instinctive opinions by the voice of all his brethren. Let a 
"composition" be defective ; let an emendation be wrought in 
its mere arrangement of form ; let this emendation be sub- 
mitted to every artist in the world ; by each will its necessity 
be admitted. And even far more than this : in remedy of the 
defective composition each insulated member of the fraternity 
would have suggested the identical emendation. 

I repeat that in landscape arrangements alone is the physical 
nature susceptible of exaltation, and that therefore her sus- 
ceptibility of improvement at this one point was a mystery I 
had been unable to solve. My own thoughts on the subject 
had rested in the idea that the primitive intention of nature 
would have so arranged the earth's surface as to have fulfilled 
at all points man's sense of perfection in the beautiful, the 
sublime, or the picturesque ; but that this primitive intention 
had been frustrated by the known geological disturbances — 
disturbances of form and colour-grouping, in the correction or 
allaying of which lies the soul of art. The force of this idea 
was much weakened, however, by the necessity which it 
involved of considering the disturbances abnormal and un- 
adapted to any purpose. It was Ellison who suggested that 
they were prognostic of death. He thus explained : — Admit 
the earthly immortality of man to have been the first intention. 
We have then the primitive arrangement of the earth's surface 
adapted to his blissful estate, as not existent but designed. 
The disturbances were the preparations for his subsequently 
conceived deathful condition. 

"Now," said my friend, "what we regard as exaltation of 
the landscape may be really such, as respects only the moral or 
human /<?/;?/ of view. Each alternation of the natural scenery 
may possibly effect a blemish in the picture, if we can suppose 
this picture viewed at large — in mass — from some point distant 
from the earth's surface, although not beyond the limits of its 


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atmosphere. It is easily understood that what might improve 
a closely-scrutinised detail, may at the same time injure a 
general or more distantly observed effect There may be a 
class of beings, human once, but now invisible to humanity, to 
whom, from afar, our disorder way seem order— our unpictur- 
esqueness picturesque ; in a word, the earth-angels, for whose 
scrutiny more especially than our own, and for whose death- 
refined appreciation of the beautiful, may have been set in array 
by God the wide landscape-gardens of the hemispheres." 

In the course of discussion, my friend quoted some passages 
from a writer on landscape-gardening, who has been supposed 
to have well treated his theme : — 

" There are properly but two styles of landscape-gardening — 
the natural and the artificial. One seeks to recall the original 
beauty of the country, by adapting its means to the surround- 
ing scenery; cultivating trees in harmony with the hills or 
plain of the neighbouring land ; detecting and bringing into 
practice those nice relations of size, proportion, and colour 
which, hid from the common observer, are revealed everywhere 
to the experienced student of nature. The result of the natural 
style of gardening is seen rather in the absence of all defects 
and incongruities — in the prevalence of a healthy harmony and 
order — than in the creation of any special wonders or miracles. 
The artificial style has as many varieties as there are different 
tastes to gratify. It has a certain general relation to the 
various styles of building. There are the stately avenues and 
retirements of Versailles ; Italian terraces ; and a various 
mixed old-English style, which bears some relation to the 
Domestic Gothic or English Elizabethan architecture. What- 
ever may be said against the abuses of the artificial landscape- 
gardening, a mixture of pure art in a garden scene adds to it a 
great beauty. This is partly pleasing to the eye, by the show 
of order and design, and partly moral A terrace with an old 
moss-covered balustrade calls up at once to the eye the fair 
forms that have passed there in other days. The slightest 
exhibition of art is an evidence of care and human interest." 

"From what I have already observed," said Ellison, "you 


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fitk DdMAtN OF ARiSTHEiM, loi 

will understand that I reject the idea, here expressed, of recall- 
ing the original beauty of the country. The original beauty is 
never so great as that which may be introduced. Of course, 
everything depends on the selection of a spot with capabilities. 
What is said about detecting and bringing into practice nice 
relations of size, proportion, and colour is one of those mere 
vaguenesses of speech which serve to veil inaccuracy of thought. 
The phrase quoted may mean anything, or nothing, and guides 
in no degree. That the true result of the natural style of 
gardening is seen rather in the absence of all defects and incon- 
gruities than in the creation of any special wonders or miracles, 
is a proposition better suited to the grovelling apprehension of 
the herd than to the fervid dreams of the man of genius. The 
negative merit suggested appertains to that hobbling criticism 
which, in letters, would elevate Addison into apotheosis. In 
truth, while that virtue which consists in the mere avoidance of 
vice appeals directly to the understanding, and can thus be cir- 
cumscribed in ruhy the loftier virtue, which flames in creation, 
can be apprehended in its results alone. Rule applies but to 
the merits of denial — to the excellences which refrain. Beyond 
these, the critical art can but suggest. We may be instructed 
to build a * Cato,' but we are in vain told how to conceive a 
Parthenon or an * Inferno.' The thing done, however — the 
wonder accomplished — and the capacity for apprehension 
becomes universal. The sophists of the negative school who, 
through inability to create, have scoffed at creation, are now 
found the loudest in applause. What, in its chrysalis condition 
of principle, affronted their demure reason, never fails, in its 
maturity of accomplishment, to extort admiration from their 
instinct of beauty. 

" The author's observations on the artificial style," continued 
Ellison, " are less objectionable. A mixture of pure art in a 
garden scene adds to it a great beauty. This is just ; as also is 
the reference to the sense of human interest. The principle 
expressed is incontrovertible — ^but there may be something 
beyond it There may be an object in keeping with the 
principle—an object unattamable by the means ordinarily 


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possessed by individuals, yet which, if attained, would lend a 
charm to the landscape-garden far surpassing that which a 
sense of merely human interest could bestow. A poet, having 
very unusual pecuniary resources, might, while retaining the 
necessary idea of art, or culture, or, as our author expresses it, 
of interest, so imbue his designs at once with extent and novelty 
of beauty as to convey the sentiment of spiritual interference. 
It will be seen that, in bringing about such result, he secures 
all the advantages of interest or design^ while relieving his work 
of the harshness or technicality of the worldly art. In the 
most rugged of wildernesses — in the most savage of the scenes 
of pure nature — there is apparent the art of a creator ; yet this 
art is apparent to reflection only ; in no respect has it the 
obvious force of a feeling. Now, let us suppose this sense of 
the Almighty design to be one step depressed — to be brought 
into something like harmony or consistency with the sense of 
human art — to form an intermedium between the two ; — let us 
imagine, for example, a landscape whose combined vastness 
and definitiveness — whose united beauty, magnificence, and 
strangenesSy shall convey the idea of care, or culture, or superin- 
tendence, on the part of beings superior, yet akin to humanity 
— then the sentiment of interest is preserved, while the art 
intervolved is made to assume the air of an intermediate or 
secondary nature — a nature which is not God, nor an emana- 
tion from God, but which still* is nature in the sense of the 
handiwork of the angels that hover between man and God." 

It was in devoting his enormous wealth to the embodiment 
of a vision such as this — in the free exercise in the open air 
ensured by the personal superintendence of his plans — in the 
unceasing object which these plans afforded, in the high spiritu- 
ality of the object, in the contempt of ambition which it enabled 
him truly to feel, in the perennial springs with which it gratified, 
without possibility of satiating, that one master-passion of his 
soul, the thirst for beauty ; above all, it was in the sympathy of 
a woman, not unwomanly, whose loveliness and love enveloped 
his existence in the purple atmosphere of Paradise, that Ellison 
thought to find, and founds exemption from the ordinary cares 


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of humanity, with a far greater amount of positive happiness 
than ever glowed in the rapt day-dreams of De Stael. 

I despair of conveying to the reader any distinct conception 
of the marvels which my friend did actually accomplish. I 
wish to describe, but am disheartened by the difficulty of 
description, and hesitate between detail and generality. 
Perhaps the better course will be to unite the two in their 

Mr. Ellison's first step regarded, of course, the choice of a 
locality ; and scarcely had he commenced thinking on this 
point, when the luxuriant nature of the Pacific Islands arrested 
his attention. In fact he had made up his mind for a voyage 
to the South Seas, when a night's reflection induced him to 
abandon the idea. " Were I misanthropic," he said, " such a 
locale would suit me. The thoroughness of its insulation and 
seclusion, and the difficulty of ingress and egress, would in 
such case be the charm of charms ; but as yet I am not Timon. 
I wish the composure but not the depression of solitude. 
There must remain with me a certain control over the extent 
and duration of my repose. There will be frequent hours in 
which I shall need, too, the sympathy of the poetic in what I 
have done. Let me seek then a spot not far from a populous 
city — whose vicinity also will best enable me to execute my 

In search of a suitable place so situated Ellison travelled for 
several years, and I was permitted to accompany him. A 
thousand spots with which I was enraptured he rejected with- 
out hesitation for reasons which satisfied me in the end that he 
was right We came at length to an elevated table-land of 
wonderful fertility and beauty, affording a panoramic prospect 
very little less in extent than that of ^Etna, and, in Ellison's 
opinion as well as my own, surpassing the far-famed view from 
that mountain in all the true elements of the picturesque. 

*' I am aware," said the traveller, as he drew a sigh of deep 
delight after gazing on this scene, entranced, for nearly an 
hour, " I know that here, in my circumstances, nine-tenths of 
the most fastidious of men would rest content This panorama 


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is indeed glorious, and I should rejoice in it but for the excess 
of its glory. The taste of all the architects I have ever known 
leads them, for the sake of ' prospect/ to put up buildings on 
hill-tops. The error is obvious. Grandeur in any of its moods, 
but especially in that of extent, startles, excites— and then 
fatigues, depresses. For the occasional scene nothing can be 
better — for the constant view nothing worse. And, in the 
constant view, the most objectionable phase of grandeur is that 
of extent ; the worst phase of extent that of distance. It is at 
war with the sentiment and with the sense of seclusion — the 
sentiment and sense which we seek to humour in ' retiring to 
the country.' In looking from the summit of a mountain we 
cannot help feeling abroad in the world. The heart-sick avoid 
distant prospects as a pestilence." 

It was not until towards the close of the fourth year of our 
search that we found a locality with which Ellison professed 
himself satisfied. It is of course needless to say where was the 
locality. The late death of my friend, in causing his domain to 
be thrown open to certain classes of visitors, has given to 
Amheim a species ot secret and subdued if not solemn 
celebrity, similar in kind, although infinitely superior in degree, 
to that which so long distinguished Fonthill. 

The usual approach to Amheim was by the river. The 
visitor left the city in the early morning. During the forenoon 
he passed between shores of a tranquil and domestic beauty, on 
which grazed innumerable sheep, their white fleeces spotting 
the vivid green of rolling meadows. By degrees the idea of 
cultivation subsided into that of merely pastoral care. This 
slowly became merged in a sense of retirement — this again in a 
consciousness of solitude. As the evening approached the 
channel grew more narrow ; the banks more and more pre- 
cipitous ; and these latter were clothed in richer, more profuse, 
and more sombre foliage. The water increased in transparency. 
The stream took a thousand turns, so that at no moment could 
its gleaming surface be seen for a greater distance than a 
furlong. At every instant the vessel seemed imprisoned within 
an enchanted circle, having insuperable and impenetrable walls 


of foliage, a roof of ultra-marine satin, and no floor — the keel 
balancing itself with admirable nicety on that of a phantom 
bark which, by some accident having been turned upside 
down, floated in constant company with the substantial one 
for the purpose of sustaining it. The channel now became 
a gorge — although the term is somewhat inapplicable, and I 
employ it merely because the language has no word which 
better represents the most striking — not the most distinctive — 
feature of the scene. The character of gorge was maintained 
only in the height and parallelism of the shores ; it was lost 
altogether in their other traits. The walls of the ravine 
(through which the clear water still tranquilly flowed) arose 
to an elevation of a hundred and occasionally of a hundred 
and fifty feet, and inclined so much towards each other as 
in a great measure to shut out the light of day ; while the 
long plume-like moss which depended densely from the inter- 
twining shrubberies overhead gave the whole chasm an 
air of funereal gloom. The windings became more frequent 
and intricate, and seemed often as if returning in upon them- 
selves, so that the voyager had long lost all idea of direction. 
He was, moreover, enwrapt in an exquisite sense of the 
strange. The thought of nature still remained, but her 
character seemed to have undergone modification ; there 
was a weird symmetry, a thrilling uniformity, a wizard pro- 
priety, in these her works. Not a dead branch — not a 
withered leaf — not a stray pebble — not a patch of the brown 
earth was anywhere visible. The crystal water welled up 
against the clean granite or the unblemished moss with a 
sharpness of outline that delighted while it bewildered the eye. 
Having threaded the mazes of this channel for some hours, 
the gloom deepening every moment, a sharp and unexpected 
turn of the vessel brought it suddenly, as if dropped from 
heaven, into a circular basin of very considerable extent 
when compared with the width of the gorge. It was about 
two hundred yards in diameter, and girt in at all points but 
one, that immediately fronting the vessel as it entered, by 
hills equal in general height to the walls of the chasm, although 


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of a thoroughly different character. Their sides sloped from 
the water's edge at an angle of some forty -five degrees j and 
they were clothed from base to suniniit— not a perceptible 
point escaping — in a drapery of the most gorgeous flower 
blossoms ; scarcely a green leaf being visible among the sea 
of odorous and fluctuating colour. This basin was of great 
depth, but so transparent was the water that the bottom, 
which seemed to consist of a thick mass of small round 
alabaster pebbles, was distinctly visible by glimpses, that is 
to say, whenever the eye could permit itself not to see far 
down in the inverted heaven the duplicate blooming of the 
hills. On these latter there were no trees, nor even shrubs 
of any size. The impressions wrought on the observer were 
those of richness, warmth, colour, quietude, uniformiiyj soft- 
ness, delicacy, daintiness, voluptuousness, and a miraculous 
extremeness of culture that suggested dreams of a new race 
of fairies, laborious, tasteful, magnificent, and fastidious ; but 
as the eye traced upward the myriad- tinted slope, from its 
sharp junction with the water to its vague termination amid 
the folds of overhanginjj cloud, it became indeed difficult 
not to fancy a panoramic cataract of rubies, sapphires, opals, 
and golden onyxes, rolling silently out of the sky. 

The visitor, shooting suddenly into this bay from out tbe 
gloom of the ravine, is delighted, but astounded by the full 
orb of the declining sun, which he had supposed to be already 
far below the horizon, but which now confronts him and forms 
the sole termination of an otherwise limitless vista seen through 
another chasm-like rift in the hills. 

But here the voyager quits the vessel which has borne him so 
far, and descends into a light canoe of ivory, stained witb ara- 
besque devices in vivid scarlet, both within and without, Tbe 
poop and beak of this boat arise high above tlie water with 
sharp points, so that the general form is that of an irregular 
crescent. It lies on the surface of the bay with the proud 
grace of a swan. On its ermined floor reposes a single 
feathery paddle of satin-wood ; but no oarsman or attendant 
is to be seen. The guest is bidden to be of good cheer— that 


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the fates will take care of him. The larger vessel disappears, 
and he is left alone in the canoe, which lies apparently motion- 
less in the middle of the lake. While he considers what 
course to pursue, however, he becomes aware of a gentle 
movement in the fairy bark. It slowly swings itself around 
until its prow points towards the sun. It advances with a 
gentle but gradually accelerated velocity, while the slight 
ripples it creates seem to break about the ivory sides in 
divinest melody — seem to offer the only possible explanation 
of the soothing yet melancholy music for whose unseen origin 
the bewildered voyager looks around him in vain. 

The canoe steadily proceeds, and the rocky gate of the vista 
is approached, so that its depths can be more distinctly seen. 
To the right arise a chain of lofty hills rudely and luxuriantly 
wooded. It is observed, however, that the trait of exquisite 
cleanness where the bank dips into the water still prevails. 
There is not one token of the usual river debris. To the 
left the character of the scene is softer and more obviously 
artificial. Here the bank slopes upward from the stream in a 
very gentle ascent, forming a broad sward of grass, of a 
texture resembling nothing so much as velvet, and of a 
brilliancy of green which would bear comparison with the tint 
of the purest emerald. This plateau varies in width from ten 
to three hundred yards ; reaching from the river bank to a wall, 
fifty feet high, which extends in an infinity of curves, but 
following the general direction of the river until lost in the 
distance to the westward. This wall is of one continuous rock, 
and has been formed by cutting perpendicularly the once 
rugged precipice of the stream's southern bank ; but no trace 
of the labour has been suffered to remain. The chiselled 
stone has the hue of ages, and is profusely overhung and 
overspread with the ivy, the coral honeysuckle, the eglantine, 
and the clematis. The uniformity of the top and bottom lines 
of the wall is fully relieved by occasional trees of gigantic 
height, growing singly or in small groups, both along the 
plateau and in the domain behind the wall, but in close 
proximity to it | so that frequent limbs (of the black walnut 


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log Ttl^ DOMAllsr OP ARl^HPlM, 

especially) reach over and dip their pendent extremities into 
the water. Farther back within the domain the vision is 
impeded by an impenetrable screen of foliage. 

These things are observed during the canoe's gradual 
approach to what I have called the gate of the vista. On 
drawing nearer to this, however, its chasm-like appearance 
vanishes ; a new outlet from the bay is discovered to the left, 
in which direction the wall is also seen to sweep, still following 
the general course of the stream. Down this new opening the 
eye cannot penetrate very far ; for the stream, accompanied by 
the wall, still bends to the left until both are swallowed up by 
the leaves. 

The boat, nevertheless, glides magically into the winding 
channel; and here the shore opposite the wall is found to 
resemble that opposite the wall in the straight vista. Lofty 
hills, rising occasionally into mountains, and covered with 
vegetation in wild luxuriance, still shut in the scene. 

Floating gently onward, but with a velocity slightly aug- 
mented, the voyager, after many short turns, finds his progress 
apparently barred by a gigantic gate or rather door of 
burnished gold, elaborately carved and fretted, and reflecting 
the direct rays of the now fast sinking sun with an effulgence 
that seems to wreath the whole surrounding forest in flames. 
This gate is inserted in the lofty wall ; which here appears to 
cross the river at right angles. In a few moments, however, 
it is seen that the main body of the water still sweeps in a 
gentle and extensive curve to the left, the wall following it as 
before, while a stream of considerable volume, diverging from 
the principal one, makes its way with a slight ripple, under the 
door, and is thus hidden from sight The canoe falls into the 
lesser channel and approaches the gate. Its ponderous wings 
are slowly and musically expanded. The boat glides between 
them, and commences a rapid descent into a vast amphitheatre 
entirely begirt with purple mountains, whose bases are laved 
by a gleaming river throughout the full extent of their circuit 
Meantime the whole Paradise of Amheim bursts upon the 
view. There is a gush of entrancing melody; there is an 


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kda i 


oppressive sense of strange sweet odour ; — there is a dream-like 
intermingling to the eye of tall slender Eastern trees, bosky 
shrubberies, flocks of golden and crimson birds, lily-fringed 
lakes, meadows of violets, tulips, poppies, hyacinths, and 
tuberoses, long intertangled lines of silver streamlets, and, 
upspringing confusedly from amid all, a mass of semi- Gothic, 
semi- Saracenic architecture, sustaining itself as if by miracle 
in mid air, glittering in the red sunlight with a hundred oriels, 
minarets, and pinnacles ; and seeming the phantom handiwork 
conjointly of the Sylphs, of the Fairies, of the Genii, and of the 


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DURING a pedestrian tour last summer through one or two 
of the river counties of New York, I found myself as the 
day declined, somewhat embarrassed about the road I was 
pursuing. The land undulated very remarkably ; and my path 
for the last hour had wound about and about so confusedly in 
its effort to keep in the valleys, that I no longer knew in what 

direction lay the sweet village of B , where I had determined 

to stop for the night. The sun had scarcely shone^ strictly 
speaking, during the day, which nevertheless had been un- 
pleasantly warm. A smoky mist, resembling that of the Indian 
summer, enveloped all things, and, of course, added to my 
uncertainty. Not that I cared much about the matter. If I 
did not hit upon the village before sunset, or even before dark, 
it was more than possible that a little Dutch farm-house, or 
something of that kind, would soon make its appearance, 
although, in fact, the neighbourhood (perhaps on account of 
being more picturesque than fertile) was very sparsely inhabited. 
At all events, with my knapsack for a pillow, and my hound as 
a sentry, a bivouac in the open air was just the thing which 
would have amused me. I sauntered on, therefore, quite at 
ease, Ponto taking charge of my gun, until at length, just as I 
had begun to consider whether the numerous little glades that 
led hither and thither were intended to be paths at all, I was 
conducted by one of the most promising of them into an 
unquestionable carriage track. There could be no mistaking 
it The traces of light wheels were evident ; and although the 
tall shrubberies and overgrown undergrowth met overhead, 
there was no obstruction whatever below, even to the passage 


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of a Virginian mountain waggon, the most aspiring vehicle, I 
take it, of its kind. The road, however, except in being open 
through the wood, if wood be not too weighty a name for such 
an assemblage of light trees, and except in the particulars of 
evident wheel-tracks, bore no resemblance to any road I had 
before seen. The tracks of which I speak were but faintly 
perceptible, having been impressed upon the firm, yet pleasantly 
moist surface of what looked more like green Genoese velvet 
than anything else. It was grass, clearly, but grass such as 
we seldom see out of England, so short, so thick, so even, and 
so vivid in colour. Not a single impediment lay in the wheel- 
rut, not even a chip or a dead twig. The stones that once 
obstructed the way had been carefully placed^ not thrown, 
along the sides of the lane, so as to define its boundaries at 
bottom with a kind of half-precise, half-negligent, and wholly 
picturesque definition. Clumps of wild flowers grew everywhere 
luxuriantly in the interspaces. 

What to make of all this, of course, I knew not Here was 
art undoubtedly, that did not surprise me, all roads, in the 
ordinary sense, are works of art ; nor can I say there was much 
to wonder at in the mere excess of art manifested ; all that 
seemed to have been done, might have been done here^ with 
such natural "capabilities" (as they have it in the books on 
Landscape Gardening), with very little labour and expense. 
No, it was not the amount but the character of the art which 
caused me to take a seat on one of the blossomy stones, and 
gaze up and down this fairy-like avenue for half an-hour or more 
in bewildered admiration. One thing became more and more 
evident the longer I gazed : an artist, and one with a most 
scrupulous eye for form, had superintended all these arrange- 
ments. The greatest care had been taken to preserve a due 
medium between the neat and graceful on the one hand, and 
the pittoresque^ in the true sense of the Italian term, on the 
other. There were few straight, and no long uninterrupted 
lines. The same effect of curvature or of colour appeared 
twice usually but not oftener, at any one point of view. 
Everywhere was variety in uniformity. It was a piece of 


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"composition," in which the most fastidiously critical taste 
could scarcely have suggested an emendation. 

I had turned to the right as I entered this road, and now, 
arising, I continued in the same direction. The path was so 
serpentine that at no moment could I trace its course for more 
than two or three paces in advance. Its character did not 
undergo any material change. 

Presently the murmur of water fell gently upon my ear, and 
in a few moments afterwards, as I turned with the road some- 
what more abruptly than hitherto, I became aware that a 
building of some kind lay at the foot of a gentle declivity just 
before me. I could see nothing distinctly on account of the 
mist which occupied all the little valley below. A gentle 
breeze, however, now arose, as the sun "was about descending; 
and while I remained standing on the brow of the slope, the 
fog gradually became dissipated into wreaths, and so floated 
over the scene. 

As it came fully into view, thus gradually as I describe it, 
piece by piece, here a tree, there a glimpse of water, and here 
again the summit of a chimney, I could scarcely help fancying 
that the whole was one of the ingenious illusions sometimes 
exhibited under the name of " vanishing pictures." 

By the time, however, that the fog had thoroughly disap- 
peared, the sun had made its way down behind the gentle hills, 
and thence, as if with a slight chassez to the south, had come 
again fully into sight, glaring with a purplish lustre through a 
chasm that entered the valley from the west. Suddenly, there- 
fore, and as if by the hand of magic, this whole valley and 
everything in it became brilliantly visible. 

The first coup d^ceil^ as the sun slid into the position 
described, impressed me very much as I have been impressed 
when a boy by the concluding scene of some well-arranged 
theatrical spectacle or melodrama. Not even the monstrosity 
of colour was wanting, for the sunlight came out through the 
chasm, tinted all orange and purple ; while the vivid green of 
the grass in the valley was reflected more or less upon all 
objects, from the curtain of vapour that still hung overhead, as 


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If loth to take its total departure from a scene so enchantingly 

The little vale into which I thus peered down from under 
the fog canopy could not have been more than four hundred 
yards long ; while in breadth it varied from fifty to one 
hundred and fifty, or perhaps two hundred. It was most 
narrow at its northern extremity, opening out as it tended 
southwardly, but with no very precise regularity. The widest 
portion was within eighty yards of the southern extreme. 
The slopes which encompassed the vale could not fairly be 
called hills, unless at their northern face. Here a precipitous 
ledge of granite arose to a height of some ninety feet ; and, 
as I have mentioned, the valley at this point was Hot inore 
than fifty feet wide ; but as the visitor proceeded southwardly 
from this cliff, he found on his right hand and on his left 
declivities at once less high, less precipitous, and less rocky. 
All, in a word, sloped and softened to the south ; and yet 
the whole vale was engirdled by eminences, more or less 
high, except at two points. One of these I have already 
spoken of. It lay consideiably to the north of west, and was 
where the setting sun made its way, as I have before described, 
into the amphitheatre, through a cleanly-cut natural cleft in 
the granite embankment ; this fissure might have been ten 
yards wide at its widest point, so far as the eye could trace 
it It seemed to lead up, up, like a natural causeway, into 
the recesses of unexplored mountains and forests. The other 
opening was directly at the southern end of the vale. Here, 
generally, the slopes were nothing more than gentle inclina- 
tions, extending from east to west about one hundred and 
fifty yards. In the middle of this extent was a depression, 
level with the ordinary floor of the valley. As regards vegeta- 
tion, as well as in respect to everything else, the scene 
softened and sloped to the south. To the north, on the craggy 
precipice, a few paces from the verge, upsprang the magnificent 
trunks of numerous hickories, black walnuts, and chestnuts, 
interspersed with occasional oak ; and the strong lateral 
branches thrown out by the walnuts especially, spread far 



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over the edge of the cliff. Proceeding southwardly, the explorer 
saw at first the same class of trees, but less and less lofty and 
Salvatorish in character; then he saw the gentler elm, succeeded 
by the sassafras and locust — these again by the softer linden, 
redbud, catalpa, and maple — these yet again by still more 
graceful and more modest varieties. The whole face of the 
southern declivity was covered with wild shrubbery alone, an 
occasional silver willow or white poplar excepted. In the 
bottom of the valley itself (for it must be borne in mind that 
the vegetation hitherto mentioned grew only on the cliffs or 
hill-sides) were to be seen three insulated trees. One was an 
elm of fine size and exquisite form ; it stood guard over the 
southern gate of the vale. Another was a hickory, much larger 
than the elm, and altogether a much finer tree, although both 
were exceedingly beautiful ; it seemed to have taken charge of 
the north-western entrance, springing from a group of rocks in 
the very jaws of the ravine, and throwing its graceful body, at 
an angle of nearly forty-five degrees, far out into the sunshine 
of the amphitheatre. About thirty yards east of this tree stood, 
however, the pride of the valley, and beyond all question the 
most magnificent tree I have ever seen, unless perhaps among 
the cypresses of the Itchiatuckanee. It was a triple-stemmed 
tulip-tree — the Uriodendron tuUpiferum — one of the natural 
order of magnolias. Its three trunks separated from the parent 
at about three feet from the soil, and, diverging very slightly 
and gradually, were not more than four feet apart at the point 
where the largest stem shot out into foliage : this was at an 
elevation of about eighty feet. The whole height of the 
principal division was one hundred and twenty feet Nothing 
can surpass in beauty the form or the glossy vivid green of the 
leaves of the tulip-tree. In the present instance they were fully 
eight inches wide ; but their glory was altogether eclipsed by 
the gorgeous splendour of the profuse blossoms. Conceive, 
closely congregated, a million of the largest and most 
resplendent tulips 1 Only thus can the reader get any idea of 
the picture I would convey. And then the stately grace of the 
clean, delicately-granulated columnar stems, the largest four 


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-rjii- i 


feet in diameter at twenty from the ground. The innumerable 
blossoms, mingling with those of other trees scarcely less 
beautiful, although infinitely less majestic, filled the valley with 
more than Arabian perfumes. 

The general floor of the amphitheatre was grass of the same 
character as that I had found in the road ; if anything, more 
deliciously soft, thick, velvety, and miraculously green. It was 
hard to conceive how all this beauty had been attained. 

I have spoken of the two openings into the vale. From the 
one to the north-west issued a rivulet, which came gently 
murmuring and slightly foaming down the ravine, until it 
dashed against the group of rocks out of which sprang the 
insulated hickory. Here, after encircling the tree, it passed 
on a little to the north of east, leaving the tulip tree some 
twenty feet to the south, and making no decided alteration 
in its course until it came near the midway between the eastern 
and western boundaries of the valley. At this point, after a 
series of sweeps, it turned off at right angles and pursued a 
generally souUiem direction, meandering as it went, until it 
became lost in a small lake of irregular figure (although roughly 
oval) that lay gleaming near the lower extremity of the vale* 
This lakelet was, perhaps, a hundred yards in diameter at its 
widest part No crystal could be clearer than its waters. Its 
bottomi which could be distinctly seen, consisted altogether of 
pebbles brilliantly white. Its banks, of the emerald grass 
already described, rounded^ rather than sloped, off into the 
clear heaven below ; and so dear was this heaven, so perfectly 
at times did it reflect all objects above it, that where the true 
bank ended and where the mimic one commenced, it was a 
point of no little difficulty to determine. The trout and some 
other varieties of fish, with which this pond seemed to be 
almost inconveniently crowded, had all the appearance of 
veritable flying-fish. It was almost impossible to believe that 
they were not absolutely suspended in the air. A light birch 
canoe, that lay placidly on the water, was reflected in its 
minutest fibres with a fidelity unsurpassed by the most 
exquisitely polished mirror. A small island, fairly laughing 


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with flowers in full bloom, and affording little more space than 
just enough for a picturesque little building, seemingly a fowl- 
house— arose from the lake not far from its northern shore — ^to 
which it was connected by means of an inconceivably light- 
looking and yet very primitive bridge. It was formed of a 
single broad and thidc plank of the tulip wood. This was forty 
feet long, and spanned the interval between shore and shore 
with a slight but very perceptible arch, preventing all oscilla- 
tion. From the southern extreme of the lake issued a con- 
tinuation of the rivulet, which, after meandering for perhaps 
thirty yards, finally passed through the ^' depression " (already 
described) in the middle of the southern declivity, and tumbling 
down a sheer precipice of a hundred feet, made its devious and 
unnoticed way to the Hudson. 

The lake was deep— at some points thirty feet— but the 
rivulet seldom exceeded three, while its greatest width was 
about eight Its bottom and banks were as those of the pond 
— if a defect could have been attributed to them, in point of 
picturesqueness, it was that of excessive neatness. 

The expanse of the green turf was relieved, here and there, 
by an occasional showy shrub, such as the hydrangea, or the 
conmion snow-ball, or the aromatic syringa; or more fre- 
quently by a clump of geraniums blossoming gorgeously in 
great varieties. These latter grew in pots which were care- 
fully buried in the soil, so as to give the plants the appearance 
of being indigenous. Besides all this the lawn's velvet was 
exquisitely spotted with sheep, a considerable flock of which 
roamed about the vale, in company with three tamed deer, and 
a vast number of brilliantly-plumed ducks. A very large mastiff 
seemed to be in vigilant attendance upon these animals, each 
and all 

Along the eastern and western cliffs — ^where, towards the 
upper portion of the amphitheatre, the boundaries were more 
or less precipitous — grew ivy in great profusion — so that only 
here and there could even a glimpse of the naked rock be 
obtained. The northern precipice, in like manner, was almost 
entirely clothed by grape-vines of rare luxuriance, some 


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springing from the soil at the base of the cliff, and others from 
ledges on its face. 

The slight elevation which formed the lower boundary of 
this little domain was crowned by a neat stone wall, of sufficient 
height to prevent the escape of the deer. Nothing of the fence 
kind was observable elsewhere ; for nowhere else was an 
artificial enclosure needed: any stray sheep, for example, 
which should attempt to make its way out of the vale by means 
of the ravine, would find its progress arrested, after a few 
yards' advance, by the precipitous ledge of rock over which 
tumbled the cascade that had arrested my attention as I first 
drew near the domain. In short, the only ingress or egress 
was through a gate occupying a rocky pass in the road, a few 
paces below the point at which I stopped to reconnoitre the 

I have described the brook as meandering very irregularly 
through the whole of its course. Its two general directions, as 
I have said, were first from west to east, and then from north 
to south. At the tum^ the stream, sweeping backwards, made 
an almost circular loop^ so as to form a peninsula which was 
very nearly an island, and which included about the sixteenth 
of an acre. On this peninsula stood a dwelling-house — and 
when I say that this house, like the infernal terrace seen by 
Vathek, ^^itcdt cPune architecture inconnue dans les amtales de 
la terre^ I mean merely that its tout ensemble struck me with 
the keenest sense of combined novelty and propriety — in a 
word, of poetry — (for, than in the words just employed, I could 
scarcely give, of poetry in the abstract, a more rigorous 
definition)— and I do not mean that the merely outri was 
perceptible in any respect 

In fact, nothing could well be more simple — more utterly 
unpretending than this cottage. Its marvellous effect lay 
altogether in its artistic arrangement as a picture. I could 
have fancied, while I looked at it, that some eminent landscape- 
painter had built it with his brush. 

The point of view from which I first saw the valley was not 
altogether^ although it was nearly, the best point from which tg 


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survey the house. I will, therefore, describe it as I afterwards 
saw it — ^from a position on the stone wall at the southern 
extreme of the amphitheatre. 

The main building was about twenty-four feet long and 
sixteen broad— certainly not more. Its total height, from the 
ground to the apex of the roof, could not have exceeded 
eighteen feet To the west end of this structure was attached 
one about a third smaller in all its proportions-^the line of its 
front standing back about two yards from that of the larger 
house ; and the line of its roof, of course, being considerably 
depressed below that of the roof adjoining. At right angles to 
these buildings, and from the rear of the main one — ^not exactly 
in the middle — extended a third compartment, very small — 
being, in general, one-third less than the western wing. The 
roofs of the two larger were very steep — sweeping down from the 
ridge-beam with a long concave curve, and extending at least 
four feet beyond the walls in front, so as to form the roofs of 
two piazzas. These latter roofs, of course, needed no support ; 
but as they had the cdr of needing it, slight and perfectly plain 
pillars were inserted at the corners alone. The roof of the 
northern wing was merely an extension of a portion of the 
main roof. Between the chief building and western wing arose 
a very tall and rather slender square chimney of hard Dutch 
bricks, alternately black and red — a slight cornice of project- 
ing bricks at the top. Over the gables, the roofs also projected 
very much — in the main building about four feet to the east 
and two to the west. The principal door was not exactly in 
the main division, being a little to the east — while the two 
windows were to the west These latter did not extend to the 
floor, but were much longer and narrower than usual — they 
had single shutters like doors — ^the panes were of lozenge form, 
but quite large. The door itself had its upper half of glass, 
also in lozenge panes — a moveable shutter secured it at night 
The door to the west wing was in its gable, and quite simple ; 
a single window looked out to the south. There was no 
external door to the north wing, and it also had only one 
window to th^ east 


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The blank wall of the eastern gable was relieved by stairs 
(with a balustrade) running diagonally across it — ^the ascent 
being from the south. Under cover of the widely-projecting 
eave these steps gave access to a door leading into the garret, 
or rather loft — for it was lighted only by a single window to the 
north, and seemed to have been intended as a store-room. 

The piazzas of the main building and western wing had no 
floors, as is usual ; but at the doors and at each window, large, 
flat, irregular slabs of granite lay imbedded in the delicious 
turf, affording comfortable footing in all weather. Excellent 
paths of the same material — ^not nicely adapted, but with the 
velvety sod filling frequent intervals between the stones, led 
hither and thither from the house, to a crystal spring about live 
paces off, to the road, or to one or two out-houses that lay to 
the north, beyond the brook, and were thoroughly concealed by 
a few locusts and catalpas. 

Not more than six steps from the main door of the cottage 
stood the dead trunk of a fantastic pear-tree, so clothed from 
head to foot in the gorgeous bignonia blossoms that one 
required no little scrutiny to determine what manner of sweet 
thing it could be. From various arms of this tree hung cages 
of different kinds. In one, a large wicker cylinder with a ring 
at top, revelled a mocking-bird ; in another, an oriole ; in a 
third, the impudent bobalink— while three or four more delicate 
prisons were loudly vocal with canaries. 

The pillars of the piazza were enwreathed in jasmine and 
sweet honeysuckle, while from the angle formed by the main 
structure and its west wing in front sprang a grape-vine of 
unexampled luxuriance. Scorning all restraint, it had clam- 
bered first to the lower roof, then to the higher, and along the 
ridge of this latter it continued to writhe on, throwing out 
tendrils to the right and left, until at length it fairly attained 
the east gable, and fell trailing over the stairs. 

The whole house, with its wings, was constructed of the 
old-fashioned Dutch shingles, broad, and with unrounded 
comers. It is a peculiarity of this material to give houses 
built of it the appearance of bein|^ wider at bottom than at top, 


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after the manner of Egyptian architecture ; and in the present 
instance this exceedingly picturesque effect was aided by 
numerous pots of gorgeous flowers that almost encompassed 
the base of the buildings. 

The shingles were painted a dull grey, and the happiness 
with which this neutral tint melted into the vivid green of the 
tulip tree leaves that partially overshadowed the cottage can 
readily be conceived by an artist. 

From the position near the stone wall, as described, the 
buildings were seen at great advantage, for the south-eastern 
angle was thrown forward, so that the eye took in at once the 
whole of the two fronts, with the picturesque eastern gable, and 
at the same time obtained just a sufficient glimpse of the 
northern wing, with parts of a pretty roof to the spring-house, 
and nearly half of a light bridge that spanned the brook in the 
near vicinity of the main buildings. 

I did not remain very long on the brow of the hill, although 
long enough to make a thorough survey of the scene at my feet 
It was clear that I had wandered from the road to the village, 
and I had thus good travellers' excuse to open the gate before 
me and inquire my way at all events ; so, without more ado", I 

The road, after passing the gate, seemed to lie upon a natural 
ledge, sloping gradually down along the face of the north- 
eastern cliffs. It led me on to the foot of the northern 
precipice, and thence over the bridge, round by the eastern 
gable to the front door. In this progress, I took notice that no 
sight of the out-houses could be obtained. 

As I turned the corner of the gable the mastiff bounded 
towards me in stern silence, but with the eye and the whole air 
of a tiger. I held him out my hand, however, in token of amity, 
and I never yet knew the dog who was proof against such an 
appeal to his courtesy. He not only shut his mouth and 
wagged his tail, but absolutely offered me his paw, afterwards 
extending his civilities to Ponto. 

As no bell was discernible, I rapped with my stick against 
the door which stood half open. Instantly a figure advanced 


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to the threshold — that of a young woman about twenty-eight 
years of age — slender, or rather slight, and somewhat above the 
medium height. As she approached with a certain modest 
decision of step altogether indescribable, I said to myself, 
" Surely here I have found the perfection of natural in contra- 
distinction from artificial grace^^ The second impression which 
she made on me, but by far the more vivid of the two, was that 
of enthusiasm. So intense an expression of romance^ perhaps 
I should call it, or of unworldiness, as that which gleamed from 
her deep-set eyes, had never so sunk into my heart of hearts 
before. I know not how it is, but this peculiar expression of 
the eye, wreathing itself occasionally into the lips, is the most 
powerful, if not absolutely the sole spell, which rivets my 
interest in woman. *''' Romance^^ provided my readers fully 
comprehend what I would here imply by the word — "romance" 
and "womanliness'' seem to me convertible terms, and, after 
all, what man truly loves in woman is simply her womanhood. 
The eyes of Annie (I heard some one from the interior call her 
" Annie, darling I **) were " spiritual grey," her hair a light 
chestnut ; this is all I had time to observe of her. 

At her most courteous of invitations I entered, passing first 
into a tolerably wide vestibule. Having come mainly to 
observe^ I took notice that to my right, as I stepped in, was a 
window such as those in front of the house, to the left, a door 
leading into the principal room, while, opposite me, an open 
door enabled me to see a small apartment, just the size of the 
vestibule, arranged as a study, and having a large bow window 
looking to the north. 

Passing into the parlour I found myself with Mr. Landor, for 
this I afterwards found was his name. He was civil, even 
cordial, in his manner, but just then I was more intent 
on observing the arrangements of the dwelling which had so 
much interested me than the personal appearance of the 

The north wing I now saw was a bedchamber, its door 
opened into the parlour. West of this door was a single 
window looking towards the brook. At the west end of the 


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parlour were a fire-place and a door leading^ into the west wing, 
probably a kitchen. 

Nothing could be more rig^orotisly simple tban the fumitnie 
of the parlour. On the floor was an ingrain carpet of excellent 
texture^ a white ground spotted with small circular green 
figures- At the windows were curtains of snowy white jaconet 
muslin ; they were tolerably full, and hung decisively^ perhaps 
rather formally, in sharp parallel plaits to the fioox—just to the 
floor. The walls were papered with a French paper of great 
delicacy, a silver ground with a faint g^een cord running zigzag 
throughout* Its expanse was relieved merely by three of 
Julien's exquisite lithographs i trcis crayons^ fastened to the 
wall without frames. One of these drawings was a scene of 
Oriental luKury^ or rather voluptuousnest ; another was a 
" carnival piecOj" spirited beyond compare i the third was a 
Greek female head ; a face so divinely beautiful, and yet of an 
expression so provokingly indeterminate^ never before arrested 
my attention. 

The more substantial furniture consisted of a round table, a 
few chairs (including a large rocking-chatr), and a sofa, or 
rather ** settee ; " its material was plain maple painted a creamy 
white, slightly interstriped with green \ the seat of cane. The 
chairs and table were "to match," but ^^ forms of all had 
evidently been designed by the same brain which planned " the 
grounds " — it is impossible to conceive anything more graceful. 

On the table were a few books, a large, square, crystal bottle 
of some novel perfume, a plain ground-glass asiral (not solar) 
lamp with an Italian shade, and a large vase of resplendently- 
blooming flowers* Flowers, indeed, of gorgeous colours and 
delicate odour formed the sole mere decoration of the apart- 
ment. The fire-place was nearly filled with a vase of brilliant 
geranium. On a triangular shelf in each angle of the room 
stood also a similar vase, varied only as to its lovely contents. 
One or two smaller houqttets adorned the mantel, and late 
\4olets clustered about the open windows. 

It is not the purpose of this work to do more than give, in 
detail, a picture of LandoHs residence as /found iL 


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« Qui n'a pins qn'nn moment a yiyre 
N'a plus rien a dissimnler." — Qtjinaxjlt— Atys. 

OF my country and of my family I have little to say. 
Ill-usage an<J length of years have driven me from the 
one, and estranged me from the other. Hereditary wealth 
afforded me an education of no common order, and a contem< 
plative turn of mind enabled me to methodise the stores which 
early study very diligently garnered up. Beyond all things, the 
works of the German moralists gave me great delight ; not 
from any ill-advised admiration of their eloquent madness, but 
from the ease with which my habits of rigid thought enabled 
me to detect their falsities. I have often been reproached with 
the aridity of my genius ; a deficiency of imagination has been 
imputed to me as a crime ; and the Pjnrhonism of my opinions 
has at all times rendered me notorious. Indeed, a strong relish 
for physical philosophy has, I fear, tinctured my mind with a 
very common error of this age — I mean the habit of referring 
occurrences, even the least susceptible of such reference, to the 
principles of that science. Upon the whole, no person could be 
less liable than myself to be led away from the severe precincts 
of truth by the ignes fatui of superstition. I have thought 
proper to premise thus much, lest the incredible tale I have to 
tell should be considered rather the raving of a crude imagina* 
tion than the positive experience of a mind to which the 
reveries of fancy have been a dead letter and a nullity. 

After many years spent in foreign travel, I sailed in the year 
1 8 — from the port of Batavia, in the rich and populous 
island of Java, on a voyage to the Archipelago of the Sunda 
Islands. J went as passenger — havings no other inducement 


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than a kind of nervous restlessness which haunted me as a 

Our vessel was a beautiful ship of about four hundred tons, 
copper-fastened, and built at Bombay of Malabar teak. She 
was freighted with cotton-wool and oil, from the Lachadive 
islands. We had also on board coir, jaggeree, ghee, cocoa-nuts, 
and a few cases of opiunL The stowage was clumsily done, 
and the vessel consequently crank. 

We got under way with a mere breath of wind, and for many 
days stood along the eastern coast of Java, without any other 
incident to beguile the monotony of our course than the occa- 
sional meeting with some of the small grabs of the Archipelago 
to which we were bound. 

One evening, leaning over the taffrail, I observed a very 
singular isolated cloud to the N.W. It was remarkable, 
as well for its colour as from its being the first we had seen 
since our departure from Batavia. I watched it attentively 
until sunset, when it spread all at once to the eastward and 
westward, girting in the horizon with a narrow strip of vapour, 
and looking like a long line of low beach. My notice was soon 
afterwards attracted by the dusky-red appearance of the moon, 
and the peculiar character of the sea. The latter was under- 
going a rapid change, and the water seemed more than usually 
transparent. Although I could distinctly see the bottom, yet, 
heaving the lead, I found the ship in fifteen fathoms The air 
now became intolerably hot, and was loaded with spiral exhala- 
tions similar to those arising from heated iron. As night came 
on, every breath of wind died away, and a more entire calm it 
is impossible to conceive. The flame of a candle burned upon 
the poop without the least perceptible motion, and a long hair, 
held between the finger and thumb, hung without the possibility 
of detecting a vibration. However, as the captain said he could 
perceive no indication of danger, and as we were drifting in 
bodily to shore, he ordered the sails to be furled, and the 
anchor let go. No watch was set, and the crew, consisting 
principally of Malays, stretched themselves deliberately upon 
deck. I went below— not without a full presentiment of evil 


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Indeed, every appearance warranted me in apprehending a 
simoouL I told the captain my fears ; but he paid no attention 
to what I said, and left me without deigning to give a reply. 
My uneasiness, however, prevented me from sleeping, and 
about midnight I went upon deck. As I placed my foot upon 
the upper step of the companion-ladder, I was startled by a 
loud, humming noise, like that occasioned by the rapid revolu- 
tion of a mill-wheel, and before I could ascertain its meaning, 
I foimd the ship quivering to its centre. In the next instant, 
a wilderness of foam hurled us upon our beam-ends, and, 
rushing over us fore and aft, swept the entire decks from stem 
to stem. 

The extreme fury of the blast proved, in a great measure, the 
salvation of the ship. Although completely water-logged, yet, 
as her masts had gone by the board, she rose, after a minute, 
heavily from the sea, and, staggering awhile beneath the 
inunense pressure of the tempest, finally righted. 

By what miracle I escaped destruction it is impossible to say. 
Stunned by the shock of the water, I found myself, upon 
recovery, jammed in between the stem-post and rudder. With 
great difficulty I gained my feet, and, looking dizzily around, 
was at first stmck with the idea of our being among breakers; 
so terrific, beyond the wildest imagination, was the whirlpool 
of mountainous and foaming ocean within which we were 
engulfed. After a while, I heard the voice of an old Swede, 
who bad shipped with us at the moment of our leaving port I 
hallooed to him with all my strength, and presently he came 
reeling aft We soon discovered that we were the sole 
survivors of the accident All on deck, with the exception 
of ourselves, had been swept overboard ; the captain and 
mates must have perished as they slept, for the cabins were 
deluged with water. Without assistance we could expect 
to do little for the security of the ship, and our exertions were 
at first paralysed by the momentary expectation of going 
down. Our cable had, of course, parted like pack-thread, 
at the first breath of the hurricane, or we should have been 
instantaneously overwhelmed. We scudded with frightful 


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velodly before the sea, and the water made dear breaches ovier 
us. The framework of our stern was shattered excesssively, 
and in almost every respect we had received considerable 
injury ; but to our extreme joy we found the pumps unchoked, 
and that wa had made no great shifting of our ballast. The 
main fury of the blast had already blown over» and we appre- 
hended little danger from the violence of the wind ; but we 
looked forward to its total cessation with dismay \ well 
believing, that in our shattered condition, we should inevitably 
perish in the tremendous swell which would ensue. But this 
very just apprehension seemed by no means likely to be soon 
verified. For five entire days and nights — during which our 
only subsistence was a small quantity of jaggeree, procured 
with great difficulty from the forecastle— the hulk flew at a rate 
defying computationj before rapidly succeeding flaws of wind, 
which, without equalling the first violence of the simoom, were 
still more terrific than any tempest I had before encountered- 
Our course for the first four days was, with trifliog variations, 
S.E. and by S. ; and we must have run down the coast of New 
Holland. On the fifth day the cold became extreme, although 
the wind had hauled round a point more to the northward. 
The sun arose with a sickly yellow lustrej and clambered a very 
few degrees above the horizon— emitting no decisive light 
There were no clouds apparent, yet the wind was upon the 
increase, and blew with a fitful and unsteady fury. About 
noon, as nearly as we could guess, our attention was again 
arrested by the appearance of the sun. It gave out no light, 
properly so called, but a dull and sullen glow without reflection, 
as if all its rays were polarised. Just before sinking within the 
turgid sea, its central fires suddenly went out, as if hurriedly 
extinguished by some unaccountable power. It was a dim, 
silver-like rim, alone, as it rushed down the unfathomable 

We waited in vain for the arrival of the sixth day— that day 
to me has not arrived— to the Swede never did arrive. 
Thenceforward we were enshrouded in pitchy darkness, so 
that we could not have seen an object at twenty paces from 



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the ship. Eternal night continued to envelop us, all un- 
relieved by the phosphoric sea-brilliancy to which we had 
been accustomed in the tropics. We observed too, that, 
although the tempest continued to rage with unabated violence, 
there was no longer to be discovered the usual appearance of 
surf, or foam, which had hitherto attended us. All around 
were horror, and thick gloom, and a black sweltering desert of 
ebony. Superstitious terror crept by degrees into the spirit 
of the old Swede, and my own soul was wrapped up in silent 
wonder. We neglected all care of the ship as worse than 
useless, and securing ourselves, as well as possible, to the 
stump of the mizen-mast, looked out bitterly into the world 
of ocean. We had no means of calculating time, nor could we 
form any guess of our situation. We were, however, well 
aware of having made farther to the southward than any 
previous navigators, and felt great amazement at not meeting 
with the usual impediments of ice. In the meantime every 
moment threatened to be our last — every mountainous billow 
hurried to overwhelm us. The swell surpassed anything I 
had imagined possible, and that we were not instantly buried 
is a miracle. My companion spoke of the lightness of our 
cargo, and reminded me of the excellent qualities of our ship ; 
but I could not help feeling the utter hopelessness of hope 
itself, and prepared myself gloomily for that death which I 
thought nothing could defer beyond an hour, as, with every 
knot of way the ship made, the swelling of the black stupendous 
seas became more dismally appalling. At times we gasped for 
breath at an elevation beyond the albatross — at times became 
dizzy with the velocity of our descent into some watery hell, 
where the air grew stagnant, and no sound distiurbed the 
slumbers of the kraken. 

We were at the bottom of one of the abysses, when a quick 
scream from my companion broke fearfully upon the night 
"See I see 1" cried he, shrieking in my ears, "Almighty God ! 
see 1 see 1 " As he spoke, I became aware of a dull, sullen 
glare of red light which streamed down the sides of the vast 
chasm where we lay, and threw a fitful brilliancy upon our 


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deck. Casting my eyes upwards, I beheld ia spectacle which 
froze the current of my blood. At a terrific height directly 
above us, and upon the very verge of the precipitous descent, 
hovered a gigantic ship, of perhaps four thousand tons. 
Although upreared upon the summit of a wave more than a 
hundred times her own altitude, her apparent size still exceeded 
that of any ship of the line or East Indiaman in existence. 
Her huge hull was of a deep dingy black, unrelieved by any of 
the customary carvings of a ship. A single row of brass 
cannon protruded from her open ports, and dashed from their 
polished surfaces the fires of innumerable battle-lanterns, 
which swung to and fro about her rigging. But what mainly 
inspired us with horror and astonishment was, that she bore up 
under a press of sail in the very teeth of that supernatural sea, 
and of that ungovernable hurricane. When we first discovered 
her, her bows were alone to be seen, as she rose slowly from 
the dim and horrible gulf beyond her. For a monient of 
intense terror she paused upon the giddy pinnacle, as if in 
contemplation of her own sublimity, then trembled and 
tottered, and— came down. 

At this instant I know not what sudden self-possession came 
over my spirit. Staggering as far aft as I could, I awaited 
fearlessly the ruin that was to overwhelm. Our own vessel was 
at length ceasing from her struggles, and sinking with her head 
to the sea. The shock of the descending mass struck her, 
consequently, in that portion of her frame which was already 
under water, and the inevitable result was to hurl me, with 
irresistible violence, upon the rigging of the stranger. 

As I fell, the ship hove in stays, and went about ; and to the 
confusion ensuing I attributed my escape from the notice of the 
crew. With little difficulty I made my way, unperceived, to the 
main hatchway, which was partially open, and soon found an 
opportunity of secreting myself in the hold. Why I did so I 
can hardly tell. An indefinite sense of awe, which at first sight 
of the navigators of the ship had taken hold of my mind, was 
perhaps the principle of my concealment I was unwilling to 
trust myself with a race of people who had offered, to the 


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Cursory glance I had taken, so many points of vague novelty, 
doubt, and apprehension. I therefore thought proper to con- 
trive a hiding-place in the hold. This I did by removing a 
small portion of the shifting-boards, in such a manner as to 
afford me a convenient retreat between the huge timbers of the 

I had scarcely completed my work, when a footstep in the 
hold forced me to make use of it. A man passed by my place 
of concealment with a feeble and unsteady gait. I could not 
see his face, but had an opportunity of observing his general 
appearance. There was about it an evidence of great age and 
infirmity. His knees tottered beneath a load of years, and his 
entire frame quivered under the burden. He muttered to 
himself, in a low, broken tone, some words of a language which 
I could not understand, and groped in a comer among a pile of 
singular-looking instruments, and decayed charts of navigation* 
His manner was a wild mixture of the peevishness of second 
childhood and the solemn dignity of a God. He at length 
went on deck, and I saw him no more. 

A feeling, for which I have no name, has taken possession of 
my soul — a sensation which will admit of no analysis, to which 
the lessons of bygone times are inadequate, and for which I fear 
futurity itself will offer me no key. To a mind constituted like 
my own, the latter consideration is an evil. I shall never — I 
know that I shall never—be satisfied with regard to the nature 
of my conceptions. Yet it is not wonderful that these concep- 
tions are indefinite, since they have their origin in sources so 
utterly noveL A new sense — a new entity is added to my souL 

It is long since I first trod ^he deck of this terrible ship, 
and the rays of my destiny are, I think, gathering to a focus. 
Incomprehensible men I Wrapped up in meditations of a kind 
which I cannot divine, they pass me by unnoticed. Concealment 
is utter folly on my part, for the people will not see. It was 



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but just now that I passed directly before the eyes of the mate j 
it was no long' wtiile ago tliat I ventured into the caplain's own 
private cabin ^ and took thence the materials with which I write, 
and have written. I shall from time to time continue this 
journal It is true that I may not find an opportunity of trans- 
mitting it to the world, but I will not fail to make the endeavour. 
At the last moment I will enclose the MS. in a bottle and cast 
it within the sea. 

An incident has occurred which has given me new room for 
meditation. Are such things the operation of ungoverned 
chance ? I had ventured upon deck and thrown myself down, 
without attracting any notice, among a pile of ratline-stuff and 
old sails, in the bottom of the yawl. While musing upon the 
singularity of my fate, I unwittingly daubed with a tar-brush 
the edges of a neatly-folded studding-sail which 3 ay near me on 
a barrel The studding-sail is now bent upon the ship, and the 
thoughtless touches of the brash are spread ont into the word 

1 have made many observations lately upon the structure of 
the vessel Although weli armed, she is not^ I think, a ship of 
wan Her riggings build, and general equipment, all negative a 
supposition of tills kind. What she is noi^ 1 can easily per- 
ceive J what she /j, 1 fear it is impossible to say. I know not 
how it is, but in scrutinising her strange model and singular 
cast of spars, her huge size and overgrown suits of canvas, her 
severely simple how and antiquated stern, there will occasion- 
ally flash across my mind a sensation of familiar things, and 
there is always mixed up with such indistinct shadows of 
recollection an unaccountable memory of old foreign chronicles 
and ages long ago. 

I have been looking at the limbers of the ship. She is built 
of a material to which I am a stranger. There is a peculiar 
character about the wood which strikes me as rendering it 
unfit for the purpose to which it has been applied. 1 mean its 


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extreme porousness^ considered independently of the worm- 
eaten condition which is a consequence of navigation in these 
seas, and apart from the rottenness attendant upon age. It 
will appear perhaps an observation somewhat over-curious, but 
this wood would have every characteristic of Spanish oak, if 
Spanish oak were distended by any unnatural means. 

In reading the above sentence, a curious apothegm of an old 
weather-beaten Dutch navigator comes full upon my recollec- 
tion. " It is as sure,'* he was wont to say, when any doubt was 
entertained of his veracity, " as sure as there is a sea where 
the ship itself will grow in bulk like the living body of the 

About an hour ago, I made bold to thrust myself among a 
group of the crew. They paid me no manner of attention, and, 
although I stood in the very midst of them all, seemed utterly 
unconscious of my presence. Like the one I had first seen in 
the hold, they all bore about them the marks of a hoary old 
age. Their knees trembled with infirmity ; their shoulders 
were bent double with decrepitude ; their shrivelled skins 
rattled in the wind ; their voices were low, tremulous, and 
broken ; their eyes glistened with the rheum of years ; and 
their grey hairs streamed terribly in the tempest Around 
them, on every part of the deck, lay scattered mathematical 
instruments of the most quaint and obsolete construction. 

I mentioned some time ago the bending of a studding-sail. 
From that period the ship, being thrown dead off the wind, has 
continued her terrific course due south, with every rag of 
canvas packed upon her, from her trucks to her lower studding- 
sail booms, and rolling every moment her top-gallant yard-arms 
into the most appalling hell of water which it can enter into the 
mind of man to imagine. I have just left the deck, where I find 
it impossible to maintain a footing, although the crew seem to 
experience little inconvenience. It appears to me a miracle of 
miracles that our enormous bulk is not swallowed up at once 


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and for ever. We are surely doomed to hover continually upon 
the brink of eternity, without taking a final plunge into the 
abyss. From billows a thousand times more stupendous than 
any I have ever seen, we glide away with the facility of the 
arrowy sea-gull ; and the colossal waters rear their heads above 
us like demons of the deep, but like demons confined to simple 
threats, and forbidden to destroy. I am led to attribute these 
frequent escapes to the only natural cause which can account 
for such effect. I must suppose the ship to be within the 
influence of some strong current, or impetuous under-tow. 

I have seen the captain face to face, and in his own cabin — 
but, as I expected, he paid me no attention. Although in his 
appearance there is, to a casual observer, nothing which might 
bespeak him more or less than man, still, a feeling of irrepres- 
sible reverence and awe mingled with the sensation of wonder 
with which I regarded him. In stature, he is nearly my own 
height ; that is, about five feet eight inches. He is of a well- 
knit and compact frame of body, neither robust nor remarkable 
otherwise. But it is the singularity of the expression which 
reigns upon the face — it is the intense, the wonderful, the 
thrilling evidence of old age, so utter, so extreme, which excites 
within my spirit a sense — a sentiment ineffable. His forehead, 
although little wrinkled, seems to bear upon it the stamp of a 
myriad of years. His grey hairs are records of the past, and 
his greyer eyes are sybils of the future. The cabin floor was 
thickly strewn with strange, iron-clasped folios, and mouldering 
instruments of science, and obsolete long-forgotten charts. His 
head was bowed down upon his hands, and he pored with a 
fiery, unquiet eye over a paper which I took to be a commission, 
and which, at all events, bore the signature of a monarch. He 
muttered to himself— as did the first seaman whom I saw in the 
hold — some low, peevish syllables of a foreign tongue ; and 
although the speaker was close at my elbow, his voice seemed 
to reach my ears from the distance of a mile. 



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The ship and all in it are imbued with the spirit of Eld. The 
crew glide to and fro like the ghosts of buried centuries ; their 
eyes have an eager and uneasy meaning ; and when their 
figures fall athwart my path in the wild glare of the battle- 
lanterns, I feel as I have never felt before, although I have 
been all my life a dealer in antiquities, and have imbibed the 
shadows of fallen columns at Balbec, and Tadmor, and 
Persepolis, until my very soul has become a ruin. 

When I look around me I feel ashamed of my former 
apprehensions. If I trembled at the blast which has hitherto 
attended us, shall I not stand aghast at a warring of wind and 
ocean, to convey any idea of which the words tornado and 
simoom are trivial and ineffective? All in the immediate 
vicinity of the ship is the blackness of eternal night, and a 
chaos of foamless water ; but, about a league on either side of 
us, may be seen, indistinctly and at intervals, stupendous ram- 
parts of ice towering away into the desolate sky, and looking 
like the walls of the universe. 

As I imagined, the ship proves to be in a current— if that 
appellation can properly be g^ven to a tide which, howling and 
shrieking by the white ice, thunders on to the southward with a 
velocity like the headlong dashing of a cataract. 


To conceive the horror of my sensations is, I presume, 
utterly impossible ; yet a curiosity to penetrate the mysteries of 
those awful regions predominates even over my despair, and 
will reconcile me to the most hideous aspect of death. It is 
evident that we are hurrying onwards to some exciting know- 
ledge—some never-to-be-imparted secret, whose attainment is 
destruction. Perhaps this current leads us to the southern pole 
itself. It must be confessed that a supposition apparently so 
wild has every probability in its favour. 

The crew pace the deck with unquiet and tremulous step ; 

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but there is upon their countenances an expression more of the 
eagerness of hope than of the apathy of despair. 

In the meantime the wind is still in our poop, and as we 
carry a crowd of canvas the ship is at times lifted bodily from 
out the sea I Oh, horror upon horror ! — ^the ice opens suddenly 
to the right, and to the left, and we are whirling dizzily, in 
immense concentric circles, round and round the borders of a 
gigantic amphitheatre, the summit of whose walls is lost in the 
darkness and the distance. But little time will be left me to 
ponder upon my destiny I The circles rapidly grow small — we 
are plunging madly within the grasp of the whirlpool — and 
amid a roaring, and bellowing, and thundering of ocean and 

of tempest, the ship is quivering — Oh God! and going 

down 1 

NOTB.— The ** MS. Found in a Bottle" was originally published in 1831, 
and it was not until many years afterwards that I became acquainted with 
the maps of Mercator, in which the ocean is represented as rushing, by 
four mouths, into the (northern) Polar Gulf, to be absorbed into the bowels 
of the earth ; the Pole itself being represented by a black rock towering to 
a prodigious height. 


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" The ways of God in Nature, as in Providence, are not as owr ways ; 
nor are the models that we frame any way commensurate to the vast* 
ness, profundity, and unsearchableness of His works, which have a depth 
in Viem greater than the well of DemcxyrUua" 

—Joseph Glanvill. 

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 vefy 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 

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 


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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 
Ihe very foundations of the rnouhlain were in danger from the 
fury of the winds. It was Jong before I could reason myself 
into sufficient courage to sit tip and look out into the distance, 

"You must gel 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 particularising 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— arid 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 vapour 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 beethng cliffy whose character of gloom was 
but the more forcibly illustrated by the surf which reared high 
up against it its white and ghastly crest, howhng 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 j 
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 



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it Although at the time so strong a gale was blowing land- 
ward 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 Islesen, 
Hotholm, Keildhelm, Suarven, and Buckholm. Farther off— 
between Moskoe and Vurrgh — ^are Otterholm, Flimen, Sand- 
flesen, and Stockholm. 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 
anything ? 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 sunmfiit 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 frenzied 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 


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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 them- 
selves 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 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-strQm, from the island of Moskoe in the 

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 horrors 
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 descrip- 
tion, nevertheless, which may be quoted for their details, 
although their effect is exceedingly feeble in conveying an 
impression of the spectacle. 


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" Between Lofoden and Moskoe," he says, "the depth of the 
water is between thirty-five 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 bowlings and bellow- 
ings 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 Sexa- 
gesima 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 


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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 ship 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 

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 Ferroe 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 thai 
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 
b sufficiently known by lesser experiments." — These are the 
words of the EncylopCBcUa 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 Bothnki 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, men- 
tioning 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 compre- 
hend it ; and here I agreed with him — ^for, however conclusive 


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on paper, it becomes altogether unintelligible, and even absurp 
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 

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 specu- 
lation — the risk of life standing instead of labour, and courage 
answering for capital 

" We kept the smack in a cove about ^w^ miles higher up 
the coast than this j 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 Otter- 
holm, or Sandflesen, where the eddies are not so violent as 
elsewhere. Here we used to remain until nearly time for 
slack- water 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 fail us 
before our return — and we seldom made a miscalculation upon 
this point. Twice during six years we were forced to stay all 


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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 grounds ' — 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 then 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 is 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 day of July 
1 8 — ^ 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 2 o'clock P.M., and had soon nearly 


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loaded the smack with fine fish, which, we all remarked, were 
more plentiful 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 firesh 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 appre- 
hend it. All at once we were taken aback by a breeze from 
over Helseggen. This was the 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 put upon the point of proposing to return to the anchorage, 
when, looking astern, we saw the whole horizon covered with 
a singular copper-coloured 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 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 describ- 
ing. The oldest seaman in Norway never experienced anything 
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 
as if they had been sawed off— the mainmast taking with it my 
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 circum- 
stance we should have foundered at once — ^for we lay entirely 
buried for some moments. How my elder brother escaped 


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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 fore-mast 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 

" 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 commg 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 ' Moskoc'- 
Strom I ' 

"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 under- 
stand. With the wind that now drove us on we were bound for 
the whirl of the Str5m, and nothing could save us ! 

"Your 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. 


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" 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 fiat 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 1 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, O God, 
what a scene it was to light up 1 

" 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 if 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 at its face by the moon- 
light, and then burst into tears as I flung it far away into the 
ocean. // had run down at seven d clock I We v^e behind 
the time of the slacks and the whirl of the Strom i0ns in full 

" 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 ridings 
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 higlu 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 



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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 every-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 afterward 
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 waste-pipes of many thousand steam- 
vessels letting off their steam altogether. 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 


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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- 

" 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 spray together. They blind, 
deafen, and strangle you, and take away all power of action or 
reflection. But we were now, in a great n^ieasure, 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 stem, holding on to a small 
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 endeavoured 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 


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knew 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 dosed 
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 rifTamid 
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 


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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 

" The rays of the moon seemed to search the very bottom of 
the profound gulf; but still I could make out nothing dis- 
tinctly, on account of a thick mist in which everything there 
was enveloped, and over which there hung a magnificent rain- 
bow, like that narrow and tottering bridge which Musselmen 
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 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 yards — 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 


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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 absorbedr-i^2X the others had entered the whirl at 
so late a period of the tide, or, for 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. 


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Since my escape I have had several conversations on this 
subject with an old schoolmaster 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.* 

" 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 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 des- 
pairingly, and refused to move from his station by the ring-bolt 
It was impossible to reach him, the emergency admitted of 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 

* See Archimedes' De Inddentibus in Fluido, lib. 2. 

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all that I have further 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 for ever 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 daily 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 j^^w, and I can 
scarcely expect you to put more faith in it than did the merry 
fishermen of Lofoden." 


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" Stay for me there ! I will not fail 
To meet thee in that hollow Tale." 
Exequy on the death of his vrife, by Hbnrt King, Bishop qf Chichester. 

ILL-FATED and mysterious man ! — bewildered in the bril- 
liancy of thine own imagination, and fallen in the flames 
of thine own youth I Again in fancy I behold thee ! Once 
more thy form hath risen before me I — not — O not as thou art 
—in the cold valley and shadow — but as thou shouldst be — 
squandering away a life of magnificent meditation in that city 
of dim visions, thine own Venice — which is a star-beloved 
Elysium of the sea, and the wide windows of whose Palladian 
palaces look down with a deep and bitter meaning upon the 
secrets of her silent waters. Yes ! I repeat it — as thou shouldst 
be. There are surely other worlds than this — other thoughts 
than the thoughts of the multitude— other speculations than the 
speculations of the sophist. Who then shall call thy conduct 
into question? who blame thee for thy visionary hours, or 
denounce those occupations as a wasting away of life, which 
were but the overflowings of thine everlasting energies ? 

It was at Venice, beneath the covered archway there called 
the Ponte di Sosptri, that I met for the third or fourth time the 
person of whom I speak. It is with a confused recollection that 
I bring to mind the circumstances of that meeting. Yet I 
remember — ah ! how should I forget ? — the deep midnight, the 
Bridge of Sighs, the beauty of woman, and the Genius of 
Romance, that stalked up and down the narrow canal. 

It was a night of unusual gloom. The great clock of the 
Piazza had sounded the fifth hour of the Italian evening. The 
square of the Campanile lay silent and deserted, and the lights 


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in the old Ducal Palace were dying fast away. I was returning 
home from the Piazetta by way of the Grand Canal. But as 
my gondola arrived opposite the mouth of the canal San 
Marco, a female voice from its recesses broke suddenly upon 
the night in one wild, hysterical, and long-continued shriek. 
Startled at the sound, I sprang upon my feet; while the 
gondolier, letting slip his single oar, lost it in the pitchy 
darkness beyond a chance of recovery, and we were conse- 
quently left to the guidance of the current which here sets from 
the greater into the smaller channel. Like some huge and 
sable-feathered condor, we were slowly drifting down towards 
the Bridge of Sighs, when a thousand flambeaux flashing from 
the windows, and down the staircases of the Ducal Palace, 
turned all at once that deep gloom into a livid and preternatural 

A child, slipping from the arms of its own mother, had fallen 
from an upper window of the lofty structure into the deep and 
dim canal The quiet waters had closed placidly over their 
victim ; and although my own gondola was the only one in 
sight, many a stout swimmer, already in the stream, was 
seeking in vain upon the surface the treasure which was to 
be found, alas I only within the abyss. Upon the broad black 
marble flagstones at the entrance of the palace, and a few steps 
above the water, stood a figure which none who then saw can 
have ever since forgotten. It was the Marchesa Aphrodite — 
the adoration of all Venice — the gayest of the gay— the most 
lovely where all were beautiful — but still the young wife of the 
old and intriguing Mentoni, and the mother of that fair child, 
her first and only one, who now, deep beneath the murky 
water, was thinking in bitterness of heart upon her sweet 
caresses, and exhausting its little life in struggles to call upon 
her name. 

She stood alone. Her small, bare, and silvery feet gleamed 
in the black marble beneath her. Her hair, not as yet more 
than half loosened for the night from its ball-room array, 
clustered amid a shower of diamonds round and round her 
classical head, in curls like those of the yoimg hyacinth. A 


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snowy-wbite and gauze-like drapery seemed to be nearly the 
sole covering to her delicate form ; but the mid-summer and 
midnight air was hot, sullen, and still, and no motion in the 
statue-like form itself stirred even the folds of that raiment of 
very vapour which hung around it as the heavy marble hangs 
around the Niobe. Yet— strange to say ! — her large lustrous 
eyes were not turned downwards upon tliat grave wherein her 
brightest hope lay buried — but riveted in a widely different 
direction I The prison of the Old Republic is, I think, the 
stateliest building in all Venice ; but how could that lady gaze 
so fixedly upon it, when beneath her lay stifling her own child ? 
Yon dark gloomy niche, too, yawns right opposite her chamber 
window — ^what then could there be in its shadows, in its archi- 
tecture, in its ivy-wreathed and solemn cornices — that the 
Marchesa di Mentoni had not wondered at a thousand times 
before ? Nonsense I — Who does not remember, that at such a 
time as this, the eye, like a shattered mirror, multiplies the 
images of its sorrow, and sees in innumerable far-off places, the 
woe which is close at hand ? 

Many steps above the Marchesa, and within the arch of the 
water-gate, stood, in full dress, the Satyr-like figure of Mentoni 
himself. He was occasionally occupied in thrumming a guitar, 
and seemed ennuyi to the very death, as at intervals he gave 
directions for the recovery of his child. Stupefied and aghast 
I had myself no power to move from the upright position I had 
assumed upon first hearing the shriek, and must have presented 
to the eyes of the agitated group a spectral and ominous 
appearance, as with pale countenance and rigid limbs I floated 
down among them in that funereal gondola. 

All efforts proved in vain. Many of the most energetic in 
the search were relaxing their exertions, and yielding to a 
gloomy sorrow. There seemed but little hope for the child 
(how much less then for the mother!) but now, from the 
interior of that dark niche which has been already mentioned 
as forming a part of the Old Republican prison, and as fronting 
the lattice of the Marchesa, a figure muffled in a cloak stepped 
out within reach of the light, and pausing a moment upon the 


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verge of the giddy descent, plunged headlong into the canal. 
As in an instant afterwards he stood with the still living and 
breathing child within his grasp upon the marble flagstones by 
the side of the Marchesa, his cloak heavy with the drenching 
water became unfastened, and, falling in folds about his feet, 
discovered to the wonder-stricken spectators the graceful 
person of a very young man, with the sound of whose name the 
greater part of Europe was then ringing. 

No word spoke the deliverer. But the Marchesa ! She will 
now receive her child — she will press it to her heart — she will 
cling to its little form, and smother it with her caresses. Alas ! 
another^ s arms have taken it from the stranger — another's arms 
have taken it away, and borne it afar off, unnoticed, into 
the palace ! And the Marchesa ! Her lip — her beautiful lip 
trembles: tears are gathering in her eyes — those eyes which, 
like Pliny's acanthus, are " soft and almost liquid." Yes ! tears 
are gathering in those eyes — and see ! the entire woman thrills 
throughout the soul, and the statue has started into life I The 
pallor of the marble countenance, the swelling of the marble 
bosom, the very purity of the marble feet, we behold suddenly 
flushed over with a tide of ungovernable crimson ; and a slight 
shudder quivers about her delicate frame, as a gentle air at 
Napoli about the rich silver lilies in the grass. 

Why should that lady blush? To this demand there is no 
answer — except that having left, in the eager haste and terror 
of a mother's heart, the privacy of her own boudoir^ she has 
neglected to enthral her tiny feet in their slippers, and utterly 
forgotten to throw over her Venetian shoulders that drapery 
which is their due. What other possible reason could there 
have been for her so blushing?— for the glance of those wild 
appealing eyes? — for the unusual tumult of that throbbing 
bosom?— for the convulsive pressure of that trembling hand? — 
that hand which fell, as Mentoni turned into the palace, acci- 
dentally, upon the hand of the stranger. What reason could 
there have been for the low — the singularly low tone of those 
unmeaning words which the lady uttered hurriedly in bidding 
him adieu? " Thou hast conquered,* she said, " or the murmurs 


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of the water deceived me; thou hast conquered — one hour 
after sunrise — we shall meet— so let it be!" 

The tumult had subsided, the lights had died away within the 
palace, and the stranger whom I now recognised stood alone 
upon the flags. He shook with inconceivable agitation, and 
his eye glanced around in search of a gondola. I could not do 
less than offer him the service of my own ; and he accepted the 
civility. Having obtained an oar at the water-gate, we pro- 
ceeded together to his residence, while he rapidly recovered his 
self-possession, and spoke of our former slight acquaintance in 
terms of great apparent cordiality. 

There are some subjects upon which I take pleasure in being 
minute. The person of the stranger — let me call him by this 
title, who to all the world was still a stranger — the person of 
the stranger is one of these subjects. In height he might have 
been below rather than above the medium size : although there 
were moments of intense passion when his frame actually 
expanded and belied the assertion. The light, almost slender, 
symmetry of his figure promised more of that ready activity 
which he evinced at the Bridge of Sighs, than of that Herculean 
strength which he has been known to wield without an effort 
upon occasions of more dangerous emergency. With the 
mouth and chin of a deity — singular, wild, full, liquid eyes, 
whose shadows varied from pure hazel to intense and brilliant 
jet — and a profusion of curling black hair, from which a fore- 
head of unusual breadth gleamed forth at intervals all light and 
ivory — ^his were features than which I have seen none more 
classically regular, except, perhaps, the marble ones of the 
Emperor Commodus. Yet his coimtenance was, nevertheless, 
one of those which all men have seen at some period of their 
lives, and have never afterwards seen again. It had no peculiar 
— it had no settled predominant expression to be fastened upon 
the memory; a countenance seen and instantly forgotten — but 
forgotten with a vague and never-ceasing desire of recalling it 
to mind. Not that the spirit of each rapid passion £%iled, at 


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any time, to throw its own distinct image upon the mirror of 
that face— but that the mirror, mirror-like, retained no vestige 
of the passion when the passion had departed. 

Upon leaving him on the night of our adventure, he 
solicited me, in what I thought an urgent manner, to call upon 
him very early the next morning. Shortly after sunrise I 
found myself accordingly at his Palazzo, one of those huge 
structures of gloomy, yet fantastic pomp, which tower above the 
waters of the Grand Canal in the vicinity of the Rialto. I was 
shown up a broad winding staircase of mosaics into an apart- 
ment whose unparalleled splendour burst through the opening 
door with an actual glare, making me blind and dizzy with 

I knew my acquaintance to be wealthy. Report had spoken 
of his possessions in terms which I had even ventured to call 
terms of ridiculous exaggeration. But as I gazed about me, 
I could not bring myself to believe that the wealth of any 
subject in Europe could have supplied the princely magnificence 
which burned and blazed around. 

Although, as I say, the sun had arisen, yet the room was still 
brilliantly lighted up. I judge from this circumstance, as well 
as from an air of exhaustion in the countenance of my friend, 
that he had not retired to bed during the whole of the preced- 
ing night. In the architecture and embellishments of the 
chamber, the evident design had been to dazzle and astound. 
Little attention had been paid to the decora of what is 
technically called keepingy or to the proprieties of nationality. 
The eye wandered from object to object, and rested upon 
none — neither the grotesques of the Greek painters, nor the 
sculptures of the best Italian days, nor the huge carvings of 
untutored Egypt. Rich draperies in every part of the room 
trembled to the vibration of low, melancholy music, whose 
origin was not to be discovered. The senses were oppressed 
by mingled and conflicting perfumes, reeking up from strange 
convolute censers, together with multitudinous flaring and 
flickering tongues of emerald and violet fire. The rays of the 
newly-risen sun poured in upon the whole, through windows, 


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formed each of a single pane of crimson-tinted glass. Glancing 
to and fro, in a thousand reflections, from curtains which rolled 
from their cornices like cataracts of molten silver, the beams of 
natural glory mingled at length fitfully with the artificial light, 
and lay weltering in subdued masses upon a carpet <^ rich, 
liquid-looking cloth of Chili gold. 

" Ha ! ha ! ha ! — ^ba ! ha ! ha ! " — ^laughed the proprietor, 
motioning me to a seat as I entered the room, and throwing 
himself back at full-length upon an ottoman. ** I see," said he, 
perceiving that I could not immediately reconcile myself to the 
bienseance of so singular a welcome — " I see you are astonished 
at my apartment — at my statues — my pictures — my originality 
of conception in architecture and upholstery I absolutely drunk, 
eh, with my magnificence ? But pardon me, my dear sir (here 
his tone of voice dropped to the very spirit of cordiality), 
pardon me for my uncharitable laughter. You appeared so 
utterly astonished. Besides, some things are so completely 
ludicrous that a man must laugh or die. To die laughing must 
be the most glorious of all glorious deaths ! Sir Thomas More 
— a very fine man was Sir Thomas More — Sir Thomas More 
died laughing, you remember. Also in the Absurdities of 
Ravisius Textor there is a long list of characters who came to 
the same magnificent end. Do you know, however," continued 
he, musingly, ^* that at Sparta (which is now Palseochori), at 
Sparta, I say, to the west of the citadel, among a chaos of 
scarcely visible ruins, is a kind of socle upon which are still 
legible the letters AASM. They are undoubtedly part of 
FEAASMA. Now, at Sparta were a thousand temples and 
shrines to a thousand different divinites. How exceedingly 
strange that the altar of Laughter should have survived all the 
others 1 But in the present instance," he resumed, with a 
singular alteration of voice and manner, " I have no right to be 
merry at your expense. You might well have been amazed. 
Europe cannot produce anything so fine as this my little regal 
cabinet. My other apartments are by no means of the same 
order — mere ultras of fashionable insipidity. This is better 
than fashion — is it not ? Yet this has but to be seen to become 


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the rage—that is with those who could afford it at the cost of 
their entire patrimony. I have guarded, however, against 
any such profanation. With one exception you are the only 
human being, besides myself and my valet^ who has been 
admitted within the mysteries of these imperial precincts since 
they have been bedizened as you see ! " 

I bowed in acknowledgment — ^for the overpowering sense of 
splendour, and perfume, and music, together with the unex- 
pected eccentricity of his address and manner, prevented me 
from expressing in words my appreciation of what I might 
have construed into a compliment 

" Here," he resumed, arising and leaning on my arm as he 
sauntered around the apartment, " here are paintings from the 
Greeks to Cimabue, and from Cimabue to the present hour. 
Many are chosen, as you see, with little deference to the 
opinions of Virtu. They are all, however, fitting tapestry for a 
chamber such as this. Here, too, are some chef (Tosuvres of 
the unknown great ; and here unfinished designs by men 
celebrated in their day, whose very names the perspicacity of 
the academies has left to silence and to me. What think you," 
said he, turning abruptly as he spoke — " what think you of this 
Madonna della Pieta ?'' 

" It is Guido's own," I said, with all the enthusiasm of my 
nature, for I had been poring intently over its surpassing 
loveliness. " It is Guido's own I — ^how could "^ow. have obtained 
it? she is undoubtedly in painting what the Venus is in 

"Hal" said he, thoughtfully, "the Venus—the beautiftil 
Venus ? — the Venus of the Medici ? — she of the diminutive head 
and the gilded hair? Part of the left arm (here his voice 
dropped so as to be heard with difficulty) and all the right are 
restorations ; and in the coquetry of that right arm lies, I think, 
the quintessence of all affectation. Give me the Canova ! The 
Apollo, too, is a copy — there can be no doubt of it — blind fool 
that I am who cannot behold the boasted inspiration of the 
Apollo I I cannot help — ^pity me I — I cannot help preferring 
the Antinous. Was it not Socrates who said that the statuary 


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found his statue in the block of marble ? Then Michael Angelo 
was by no means original in his couplet — 

* Non ha rottimo artista alcun concetto 
Che un marmo solo in se non circonscriva.' " 

It has been or should be remarked that in the manner of the 
true gentleman we are always aware of a difference from the 
bearing of the vulgar, without being at once precisely able to 
determine in what such difference consists. Allowing the 
remark to have applied in its full force to the outward 
demeanour of my acquaintance, I felt it on that eventful 
morning still more fully applicable to his moral temperament 
and character. Nor can I better define that peculiarity of 
spirit which seemed to place him so essentially apart from all 
other human beings, than by calling it a habit of intense and 
continual thought pervading even his most trivial actions — 
intruding upon his moments of dalliance, and interweaving 
itself with his very flashes of merriment — like adders which 
writhe from out the eyes of thfe grinning masks in the cornices 
around the temples of Persepolis. 

I could not help, however, repeatedly observing through the 
mingled tone of levity and solemnity with which he rapidly 
descanted upon matters of little importance, a certain air of 
trepidation— a degree of nervous unction in action and in 
speech — ^an unquiet excitability of manner which appeared to 
me at all times unaccountable, and upon some occasions even 
filled me with alarm. Frequently, too, pausing in the middle 
of a sentence whose commencement he had apparently for- 
gotten, he seemed to be listening in the deepest attention as if 
either in momentary expectation of a visitor, or to sounds which 
must have had existence in his imagination alone. 

It was during one of these reveries or pauses of apparent 
abstraction, that, in turning over a page of the poet and scholar 
Politian's beautiful tragedy, "The Orfeo" (the first native 
Italian tragedy), which lay near me upon an ottoman, I dis- 
covered a passage underlined in pencil. It was a passage 
towards the end of the third act— a passage of the most heart- 



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stirring excitement— a passage which, although tainted with 
impurity, no man shall read without a thrill of novel emotion — 
no woman without a sigh. The whole page was blotted with 
fresh tears ; and upon the opposite interleaf were the follow- 
ing English lines, written in a hand so very different from 
the peculiar characters of my acquaintance, tiiat I had some 
difficulty in recognising it as his own :— 

Thou wast that all to me, love, 

For which my soul did pine^ 
A green isle in the sea, love, 

A fountain and a shrine, 
All wreathed with fairy firuits and flowers ; 

And all the flowers were mine« 

Ah, dream too bright to last 1 

Ah, starry Hope, that didst arise 
But to be overcast I 

A voice from out the Future cries, 
" Onward I " — ^but o'er the past 

(Dim gulf I) my spirit hovering lies, 
Mute — motionless— aghast I 

For alas! alasl with me 

The light of life is o'er. 
*' No more— no more — ^no more," 

(Such language holds the solemn sea 
To the sands upon the shore), 

Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree, 
Or the stricken eagle soar ! 

Now all my hours are trances ; 

And all my nightly dreams 
Are where thy dark eye glances. 

And where thy footstep gleams — 
In what ethereid dances — 

By what Italian streams ! 

Alas I for that accursed time 

They bore thee o'er the billow, 
From Love to titled age and crime, 

And an unholy pillow ! — 
From me, and from our misty clime, 

Where weeps the silver willow ! 


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That these lines were written in English — a language with 
which I had not believed their author acquainted — afforded me 
little matter for surprise. I was too well aware of the extent of 
his acquirements, and of the singular pleasure he took in con- 
cealing them from observation, to be astonished at any similar 
discovery ; but the place of date, I must confess, occasioned me 
no little amazement It had been originally written in London^ 
and afterwards carefully overscored — not, however, so effec- 
tually as to conceal the word from a scrutinising eye. I say 
this occasioned me no little amazement ; for I well remember 
that, in a former conversation with my friend, I particularly 
inquired if he had at any time met in London the Marchesa di 
Mentoni (who for some years previous to her marriage had 
resided in that city), when his answer, if I mistake not, gave me 
to understand that he had never visited the metropolis of Great 
Britain. I might as well here mention that I have more than 
once heard (without, of course, giving credit to a report 
involving so many improbabilities) that the person of whom I 
speak, was not only by birth, but in education, an Englishman, 

" There is one painting," said he, without being aware of my 
notice of the tragedy — " there is still one painting which you 
have not seen." And throwing aside a drapery, he discovered 
a full-length portrait of the Marchesa Aphrodite. 

Human art could have done no more in the delineation of her 
superhuman beauty. The same ethereal figure which stood 
before me the preceding night upon the steps of the Ducal 
Palace, stood before me once again. But in the expression of 
the countenance, which was beaming all over with smiles, 
there still lurked (incomprehensible anomaly !) that fitful stain 
of melancholy which will ever be found inseparable from the 
perfection of the beautiful. Her right arm lay folded over her 
bosom. With her left she pointed downward to a curiously- 
fashioned vase. One small, fairy foot, alone visible, barely 
touched the earth ; and, scarcely discernible in the brilliant 
atmosphere which seemed to encircle and enshrine her loveli- 
ness, fioated a pair of the most delicately-imagined wings. My 


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glance fell from the painting to the figure of my friend, and 
the vigorous words of Chapman's " Bussy D'Ambois " quivered 
instinctively upon my lips ; — 

"He is up 
There like a Boman statue 1 He will stand 
'Till Death hath made him marhle I " 

" Come," he said at length, turning towards a table of richly 
enamelled and massive silver, upon which were a few goblets 
fantastically stained, together with two large Etruscan vases, 
fashioned in the same extraordinary model as that in the fore- 
ground of the portrait, and filled with what I supposed to be 
Johannisberger. " Come," he said abruptly, " let us drink 1 It 
is early — but let us drink. It is indeed ea,rly" he continued, 
musingly, as a cherub with a heavy golden hammer made the 
apartment ring with the first hour after sunrise : " it is indeed 
early — but what matters it ? let us drink 1 Let us pour out an 
offering to yon solemn sun which these gaudy lamps and 
censers are so eager to subdue 1 " And, having made me 
pledge him in a bumper, he swallowed in rapid succession 
several goblets of the wine. 

" To dream," he continued, resuming the tone of his desultory 
conversation, as he held up to the rich light of a censer one of 
the magnificent vases — " to dream has been the business of my 
life. I have therefore framed for myself, as you see, a bower of 
dreams. In the heart of Venice could I have erected a better ? 
You behold around you, it is true, a medley of architectural 
embellishments. The chastity of Ionia is offended by ante- 
diluvian devices, and the sphinxes of Egypt are outstretched 
upon carpets of gold. Yet the effect is incongruous to the 
timid alone. Proprieties of place, and especially of time, are 
the bugbears which terrify mankind from the contemplation of 
the magnificent. Once I was myself a decorist ; but that 
sublimation of folly has palled upon my soul. All this is now 
the fitter for my purpose. Like these arabesque censers, my 
spirit is writhing in fire, and the delirium of this scene is 
f^hioning me for the wilder visions of that land of real dreams 


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whither I am now rapidly departing.'* He here paused abruptly, 
bent his head to his bosoni, and seemed to listen to a sound 
which I could not hear. At length, erecting his frame, he 
looked upwards, and ejaculated the lines of the Bishop of 
Chichester : — 

" Stay for me there ! I vnU not fail 
To meet thee in that hollow vale" 

In the next instant, confessing the power of the wine, he threw 
himself at full length upon an ottoman. 

A quick step was now heard upon the staircase, and a loud 
knock at the door rapidly succeeded. I was hastening to 
anticipate a second disturbance, when a page of Mentoni's 
household burst into the room, and faltered out, in a voice 
choking with emotion, the incoherent words : " My mistress 1 — 
my mistress 1 — Poisoned — poisoned I Oh, beautiful — oh, 
beautiful Aphrodite ! " 

Bewildered, I flew to the ottoman, and endeavoured to arouse 
the sleeper to a sense of the startling intelligence. But his 
limbs were rigid — his lips were livid — his lately beaming eyes 
were riveted in death. I staggered back towards the table — 
my hand fell upon a cracked and blackened goblet — and a 
consciousness of the entire and terrible truth flashed suddenly 
over my souL 




"Yea ! thougli I walk through the valley of the Shadow^^Psdlm of 

YE who read are still among the living; but I who write shall 
have long since gon^ my way into the region of shadows. 
For indeed strange things shall happen, and secret things be 
known, and many centuries shall pass away, ere these 
memorials be seen of men. And, when seen, there will be 
some to disbelieve and some to doubt, and yet a few who will 
find much to ponder upon in the characters here graven with a 
stylus of iron. 

The year had been a year of terror, and or feelings more 
intense than terror for which there is no name upon the earth. 
For many prodigies and signs had taken place, and far and 
wide, over sea and land, the black wings of the Pestilence were 
spread abroad. To those, nevertheless, cunning in the stars, it 
was not unknown that the heavens wore an aspect of ill ; and 
to me, the Greek Oinos, among others, it was evident that now 
had arrived the alternation of that seven hundred and ninety- 
fourth year when, at the entrance of Aries, the planet Jupiter 
is conjoined with the red ring of the terrible Satumus. The 
peculiar spirit of the skies, if I mistake not greatly, made itself 
manifest, not only in the physical orb of the earth, but in the 
souls, imaginations, and meditations of mankind. 

Over some flasks of the red Chian wine, within the walls of a 
noble hall, in a dim city called Ptolemais, we sat, at night, 
a company of seven. And to our chamber there was no 
entrance save by a lofty door of brass : and the door was 
fashioned by the artisan Corinnos, and, being of rare workman- 
ship, was fastened from within. Black draperies, likewise, ia 


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the gloomy room, shut out from our view the moon, the lurid 
stars, and the peopleless streets— but the boding and the 
memory of Evil, they would not be so excluded. There were 
things around us and about of which I can render no distinct 
account — things material and spiritual — heaviness in the 
atmosphere — a sense of suffocation — ^anxiety— and, above all, 
that terrible state of existence which the nervous experience 
when the senses are keenly living and awake, and meanwhile 
the powers of thought lie dormant. A dead weight hung upon 
us. It hung upon our limbs — ^upon the household furniture — 
upon the goblets from which we drank; and all things were 
depressed, and, borne down thereby — all things save only the 
flames of the seven iron lamps which illumined our revel 
Uprearing themselves in tall slender lines of light, they thus 
remained burning all pallid and motionless ; and in the mirror 
which their lustre formed upon the round table of ebony at 
which we sat, each of us there assembled beheld the pallor of 
his own countenance, and the unquiet glare in the downcast 
eyes of his companions. Yet we laughed and were merry in 
our proper way — which was hysterical ; and sang the songs of 
Anacreon — which are madness ; and drank deeply — although 
the purple wine reminded us of blood. For there was yet 
another tenant of our chamber in the person of young Zoilus, 
Dead, and at full length he lay, enshrouded ; — the genius and 
the demon of the scene. Alas I he bore no portion in our 
mirth, save that his countenance, distorted with the plague, and 
his eyes in which Death had but half extinguished the fire of 
the pestilence, seemed to take such interest in our merriment 
as the dead may haply take in the merriment of those who are 
to die. But although I, Oinos, felt that the eyes of the departed 
were upon me, still I forced myself not to perceive the bitterness 
of their expression, and gazing down steadily into the depths of 
the ebony mirror, sang with a loud and sonorous voice the 
songs of the son of Teios. But gradually my songs they 
ceased, and their echoes, rolling afar off among the sable 
draperies of the chamber, became weak and undistinguishable, 
and so faded away. And lol from among those sable 


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draperies where the sounds of the song departed there caiiid 
forth a dark and undefined shadow — a shadow such as the 
moon, when low in heaven, might fashion from the figure of 
a man : but it was the shadow neither of man, nor of God, nor 
of any familiar thing. And quivering awhile among the 
draperies of the room, it at length rested in full view upon the 
surface of the door of brass. But the shadow was vague, and 
formless, and indefinite, and was the shadow neither of man 
nor God — neither God of Greece, nor God of Chaldsea, nor any 
Egyptian God. And the shadow rested upon the brazen door- 
way, and under the arch of the entablature of the door and 
moved not, nor spoke any word, but there became stationary 
and remained. And the door whereupon the shadow rested 
was, if I remember aright, over against the feet of the young 
Zoilus enshrouded. But we, the seven there assembled, having 
seen the shadow as it came out from among the draperies, 
dared not steadily behold it, but cast down our eyes, and gazed 
continually into the depths of the mirror of ebony. And at 
length I, Oinos, speaking some low words, demanded of the 
shadow its dwelling and its appellation. And the shadow 
answered, " I am SHADOW, and my dwelling is near to the 
Catacombs of Ptolemais, and hard by those dim plains of 
Elusion which border upon the foul Charonian canal." And 
then did we, the seven, start from our seats in horror, and 
stand trembling, and shuddering, and aghast ; for the tones in 
the voice of the shadow were not the tones of any one being, 
but of a multitude of beings, and varying in their cadences 
from syllable to syllable, fell duskily upon our ears in the well- 
remembered and familiar accents of many thousand departed 


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" yLiWovra Tcivra,** 

Sophocles— -4 ntigone. 
"Tliese things are in the near future." 

[/no, " Bom again ?" 

Monos. Yes, fairest and best beloved Una, "born again." 
These were the words upon whose mystical meaning I had so 
long pondered, rejecting the explanations of the priesthood, 
until Death itself resolved for me the secret. 

Una. Death I 

Monos, How strangely, sweet Una, you echo my words ! I 
observe, too, a vacillation in your step, a joyous inquietude in 
your eyes. You are confused and oppressed by the majestic 
novelty of the Life Eternal. Yes, it was of Death I spoke. 
And here how singularly sotmds that word which of old was 
wont to bring terror to all hearts, throwing a mildew upon all 
pleasures I 

Una. Ah, Death, the spectre which sat at all feasts I How 
often, Monos, did we lose ourselves in speculations upon its 
nature! How mysteriously did it act as a check to human 
bliss, saying unto it, " thus far, and no farther ! " That earnest, 
mutual love, my own Monos, which burned within our bosoms, 
how vainly did we flatter ourselves, feeling happy in its first 
upspringing that our happiness would strengthen with its 
strength ! Alas 1 as it grew, so grew in our hearts the dread of 
that evil hour which was hurrying to separate us for ever I 
Thus in time it became painful to love. Hate would have been 
mercy then. 


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Monos. Speak not here of these griefs, dear Una— mine, 
mine for ever now I 

UncL But the memory of past sorrow, is it not present joy ? 
I have much to say yet of the things which have been. Above 
all, I bum to know the incidents of your own passage through 
the dark Valley and Shadow. 

Monos. And when did the radiant Una ask anything of her 
Monos in vain ? I will be minute in relating all, but at what 
point shall the weird narrative begin ? 

Una. At what point ? 

Monos. You have said. 

Una. Monos, I comprehend you. In Death we have both 
learned the propensity of man to define the indefinable. I 
will not say, then, commence with the moment of life's cessation 
— ^but commence with that sad, sad instant when, the fever 
having abandoned you, you sank into a breathless and motion- 
less torpor, and I pressed down your pallid eyelids with the 
passionate fingers of love. 

Monos, One word first, my Una, in regard to man's general 
condition at this epoch. You will remember that one or two 
of the wise among our forefathers — wise in fact, although 
not in the world's esteem — had ventured to doubt the propriety 
of the term " improvement," as applied to the progress ot 
our civilisation. There were periods in each of the five or 
six centuries immediately preceding our dissolution when 
arose some vigorous intellect, boldly contending for those 
principles whose truth appears now, to our disenfranchised 
reason, so utterly obvious — principles which should have 
taught our race to submit to the guidance of the natural 
laws rather than attempt their control At long intervals 
some master-minds appeared, looking upon each advance in 
practical science as a retrogradation in the true utility. Occa- 
sionally the poetic intellect — that intellect which we now feel 
to have been the most exalted of all — since those truths which 
to us were of the most enduring importance could only be 
reached by that analogy which speaks in proof-tones to the 
imagination alone, and to the unaided reason bears no weight 


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^-occasionally did this poetic intellect proceed a step farther 
in the evolving of the vague idea of the philosophic, and find 
in the mystic parable that tells of the tree of knowledge, and 
of its forbidden fruit, death -producing, a distinct intimation 
that knowledge was not meet for man in the infant condition 
of his soul. And these men — the poets — living and perish- 
ing amid the scorn of the " utilitarians " — of rough pedants, 
who arrogated to themselves a title which could have been 
properly applied only to the scorned — these men, the poets, 
pondered piningly, yet not unwisely, upon the ancient days 
when our wants were not more simple than our enjoyments 
were keen — days when tnirth was a word unknown, so solemnly 
deep-toned was happiness — ^holy, august, and blissful days, 
when blue rivers ran undammed, between hills unhewn, into 
far forest solitudes, primaeval, odorous, and unexplored. Yet 
these noble exceptions from the general misrule served but 
to strengthen it by opposition. Alasl we had fallen upon 
the most evil of all our evil days. The great "movement" — 
that was the cant term— went on : a diseased commotion, 
moral and physical. Art — the Arts— arose supreme, and once 
enthroned, cast chains upon the intellect which had elevated 
them to power. Man, because he could not but acknowledge 
the majesty of Nature, fell into childish exultation at his 
acquired and still-increasing dominion over her elements. 
Even while he stalked a God in his own fancy, an infantine 
imbecility came over him. As might be supposed from the 
origin of his disorder, he grew infected with system, and with 
abstraction. He enwrapped himself in generalities. Among 
other odd ideas, that of universal equality gained ground: 
and in the face of analogy and of God — in despite of the loud 
warning voice of the laws of gradation so visibly pervading 
all things in Earth and Heaven— wild attempts at an omni- 
prevalent Democracy were made. Yet this evil sprang neces- 
sarily from the leading evil, Knowledge. Man could not both 
know and succumb. Meantime huge smoking cities arose, 
innumerable. Green leaves shrank before the hot breath of 
furnaces. The fair face of Nature was deformed as with the 


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ravages of some loathsome disease. And methinks, sweet 
Una, even our slumbering sense of the forced and of the 
far-fetched might have arrested us here. But now it appears 
that we had worked out our own destruction in the perversion 
of our taste^ or rather in the blind neglect of its culture in 
the schools. For, in truth, it was at this crisis that taste 
alone— that faculty which, holding a middle position between 
the pure intellect and the moral sense, could never safely have 
been disregarded — ^it was now that taste alone could have 
led us gently back to Beauty, to Nature, and to Life. But 
alas for the pure contemplative spirit and majestic intuition 
of Plato I Alas for the fiovcriKij which he justly regarded as an 
all-sufficient education for the soul 1 Alas for him and foi it 1 — 
since both were most desperately needed when both were most 
entirely forgotten or despised.* 

Pascal, a philosopher whom we both love, has said, how 
truly! — ^^^ue tout notre raisonnement se riduit d cider au 
sentiment ;^^ and it is not impossible that the sentiment of the 
natural, had time permitted it, would have regained its old 
ascendency over the harsh mathematical reason of the schools. 
But this thing was not to be. Prematurely induced by intem- 
perance of knowledge, the old age of the world drew on. This 
the mass of mankind saw not, or, living lustily although 

* "It will be hard to discover abetter [method of education] than that 
which the experience of so many ages has already discovered ; and this 
may he summed up as consisting in gymnastics for the body, and music 
for the soul." — Repvb, lib. 2. "For this reason is a musical education 
most essential ; since it causes Rhythm and Harmony to penetrate most 
intimately into the soul, taking the strongest hold upon it, filling it with 
heauty, and making the man heavt^vl-mivded. ... He will praise and 
admire the beautiful ; will receive it with joy into his soul, will feed upon 
it, and assimilate his own condition with it. " — Ibid. lib. 3. Musio {fjuovcrucri) 
had, however, among the Athenians, a far more comprehensive signification 
than with us. It included not only the harmonies of time and of tune, hut 
the poetic diction, sentiment, and creation, each in its widest sense. The 
study of music was with them, in fact, the general cultivation of the 
taste— of that which recognises the beantifol — ^in oontradistinction from 
reason, which deals only with the true. 


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unhappily, affected not to see. But, for myself, the Earth's 
records had taught me to look for widest ruin as the price of 
highest civilisation, I had imbibed a prescience of our Fate 
from comparison of China, the simple and enduring, with 
Assyria, the architect, with Egypt, the astrologer, with Nubia, 
more crafty than either, the turbulent mother of all Arts. In 
the history* of these regions I met with a ray from the Future. 
The individual artificialities of the three latter were local 
diseases of the Earth, and in their individual overthrows we 
had seen local remedies applied ; but for the infected world at 
large I could anticipate no regeneration save in death. That 
man, as a race, should not become extinct, I saw that he must 
be " born againP 

And now it was, fairest and dearest, that we wrapped our 
spirits daily in dreams. Now it was that, in twilight, we dis- 
coursed of the days to come, when the Art-scarred surface of 
the Earth, having undergone that purification f which alone 
could efface its rectangular obscenities, should clothe itself 
anew in the verdure and the mountain-slopes and the smiling 
waters of Paradise, and be rendered at length a fit dwelling- 
place for man : — for man the Death-purged — ^for man to whose 
now exalted intellect there should be poison in knowledge no 
more — ^for the redeemed, regenerated, blissful, and now 
immortal, but still for the material^ man. 

Una, Well do I remember these conversations, dear Monos ; 
but the epoch of the fiery overthrow was not so near at hand 
as we believed, and as the corruption you indicate did surely 
warrant us in belieying. Men lived and died individually. 
You yourself sickened, and passed into the grave ; and thither 
your constant Una speedily followed you. And though the 
century which has since elapsed, and whose conclusion brings 
us thus together once more, tortured our slumbering senses with 
no impatience of duration, yet, my Monos, it was a century still. 

* ** History," from \<nop€.Vy to inquire. 

t The word ^^ 'purification'' seems here to be used with reference to its 
root in the Greek TrOp, fire. 


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Monos. Say, rather, a point in the vague infinity. Un- 
questionably, it was in the Earth's dotage that I died. Wearied 
at heart with anxieties which had their origin in the general 
turmoil and decay, I succumbed to the fierce fever. After 
some few days of pain, and many of dreamy delirium replete 
with ecstasy, the manifestations of which you mistook for pain, 
while I longed but was impotent to undeceive you — after some 
days there came upon me, as you have said, a breathless and 
motionless torpor; and this was termed Death by those who 
stood around me. 

Words are vague things. My condition did not deprive me 
of sentience. It appeared to me not greatly dissimilar to the 
extreme quiescence of him, who, having slumbered long and 
profoundly, lying motionless and fully prostrate in a midsum- 
mer noon, begins to steal slowly back into consciousness, 
through the mere sufficiency of his sleep, and without being 
awakened by external disturbances. 

I breathed no longer. The pulses were still. The heart had 
ceased to beat. Volition had not departed, but was powerless. 
The senses were unusually active, although eccentrically so — 
assuming often each other's functions at random. The taste 
and the smell were inextricably confounded, and became one 
sentiment, abnormal and intense. The rose-water with which 
your tenderness had moistened my lips to the last, affected me 
with sweet fancies of flowers — fantastic flowers, far more lovely 
than any of the old Earth, but whose prototypes we have here 
blooming around us. The eyelids, transparent and bloodless, 
offered no complete impediment to vision. As volition was in 
abeyance, the balls could not roll in their sockets — but all 
objects within the range of the visual hemisphere were seen 
with more or less distinctness ; the rays which fell upon the 
external retina, or into the comer of the eye, producing a more 
vivid effect than those which struck the front or interior sur- 
face. Yet, in the former instance, this effect was so far 
anomalous that I appreciated it only as sound—so\xnd sweet or 
discordant as the matters presenting themselves at my side 
were light or dark in shade— curved or angular in outline. 


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The hearing, at the same time, although excited in degree, was 
not irregular in action — estimating real sounds with an extrava- 
gance of precision, not less than of sensibility. Touch had 
undergone a modification more peculiar. Its impressions were 
tardily received, but pertinaciously retained, and resulted 
always in the highest physical pleasure. Thus the pressure of 
your sweet fingers upon my eyelids, at first only recognised 
through vision, at length, long after their removal, filled my 
whole being with a sensuous delight immeasurable. I say with 
a sensuous delight All my perceptions were purely sensuous. 
The materials furnished the passive brain by the senses were 
not in the least degree wrought into shape by the deceased 
understanding. Of pain there was some little; of pleasure 
there was much ; but of moral pain or pleasure none at all. 
Thus your wild sobs floated into my ear with all their mournful 
cadences, and were appreciated in their every variation of sad 
tone ; but they were soft musical sounds and no more ; they 
conveyed to the extinct reason no intimation of the sorrows 
which gave them birth ; while the large and constant tears 
which fell upon my face telling the bystanders of a heart which 
broke, thrilled every fibre of my frame with ecstasy alone. 
And this was in truth the Death of which these bystanders 
spoke reverently, in low whispers — ^you, sweet Una, gaspingly, 
with loud cries. 

They attired me for the coffin — three or four dark figures 
which flitted busily to and fro. As these crossed the direct line 
of my vision they aflected me as forms j but upon passing to 
my side their images impressed me with the idea of shrieks, - 
groans, and other dismal expressions of terror, of horror, or of 
woe. You alone, habited in a white robe, passed in all 
directions musically about me. 

The day waned ; and, as its light faded away, I became pos- 
sessed by a vague uneasiness — an anxiety such as the sleeper 
feels when sad real sounds fall continuously within his ear — 
low distant bell-tones, solemn, at long but equal intervals, and 
commingling with melancholy dreams. Night arrived, and 
with its shadows a heavy discomfort. It oppressed my limbs 


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with the oppression of some dull weight, and was palpable. 
There was also a moaning sound, not unlike the distant rever- 
beration of surf, but more continuous, which, beginning with the 
first twilight, had grown in strength with the darkness. Sud- 
denly lights were brought into the room, and this reverberation 
became forthwith interrupted into frequent unequal bursts of 
the same sound, but less dreary and less distinct The pon- 
derous oppression was in a great measure relieved ; and, 
issuing from the flame of each lamp (for there were many) there 
flowed unbrokenly into my ears a strain of melodious monotone. 
And when now, dear Una, approaching the bed upon which I 
lay outstretched, you sat gently by my side, breathing odour 
from your sweet lips, and pressing them upon my brow, there 
arose tremulously within my bosom, and mingling with the 
merely physical sensations which circumstances had called 
forth, a something akin to sentiment itself—- a feeling that, half 
appreciating, half responded to your earnest love and sorrow ; 
but this feeling took no root in the pulseless heart, and seemed 
indeed rather a shadow than a reality, and faded quickly away, 
flrst into extreme quiescence, and then into a purely sensuous 
pleasure as before. 

• And now, from the wreck and the chaos of the usual senses, 
there appeared to have arisen within me a sixth, all perfect 
In its exercise I found a wild delight — ^yet a delight still 
physical, inasmuch as the understanding had in it no part 
Motion in the animal frame had fully ceased. No muscle 
quivered ; no nerve thrilled ; no artery throbbed. But there 
seemed to have sprung up in the brain that of which no words 
could convey to the merely human intelligence even an indistinct 
conception. Let me term it a mental pendulous pulsation. It 
was the moral embodiment of man's abstract idea of Time, 
By the absolute equalisation of this movement-— or of such as 
this — had the cycles of the firmamental orbs themselves been 
adjusted. By its aid I measured the irregularities of the clock 
upon the mantel, and of the watches of the attendants. Their 
tickings came sonorously to my ears. The slighest devia- 
tions from the true proportion— and these deviations were 


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omniprevalent — affected me just as violations of abstract truth 
were wont on earth to affect the moral sense. Ahhough no two 
of the time-pieces in the chamber struck the individual seconds 
accurately together, yet I had no difficulty in holding steadily 
in mind the tones, and the respective momentary errors of each. 
And this — this keen, perfect self-existing sentiment of duration 
— ^this sentiment existing (as man could not possibly have con- 
ceived it to exist) independently of any succession of events — 
this idea — ^this sixth sense, upspringing from the ashes of the 
rest, was the first obvious and certain step of the intemporal 
soul upon the threshold of the temporal Eternity. 

It was midnight ; and you still sat by my side. AH others 
had departed from the chamber of Death. They had deposited 
me in the coffin. The lamps burned flickeringly ; for this I 
knew by the tretnulousness of the monotonous strains. But 
suddenly these strains diminished in distinctness and in volume. 
Finally they ceased. The perfume in my nostrils died away. 
Forms affected my vision no longer. The oppression of the 
Darkness uplifted itself from my bosom. A dull shot like that 
of electricity pervaded my frame, and was followed by total loss 
of the idea of contact. All of what man has termed sense was 
merged in the sole consciousness of entity, and in the one 
abiding sentiment of duration. The mortal body had been at 
length stricken with the hand of the deadly Decay, 

Yet had not all of sentience departed ; for the consciousness 
and the sentiment remaining supplied some of its functions by 
a lethargic intuition. I appreciated the direful change now in 
operation upon the flesh, and, as the dreamer is sometimes 
aware of the bodily presence of one who leans over him, 
so, sweet Una, I still duly felt that you sat by my side. So, 
too, when the noon of the second day came, I was not uncon- 
scious of those movements which displaced you from my side, 
which confined me within the coffin, which deposited me within 
the hearse, which bore me to the grave, which lowered me 
within it, which heaped heavily the mould upon me, and which 
thus left me, in blackness and corruption, to my sad and solemn 
slumbers with the worm. 



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And here, in the prison-house which has few secrets to 
disclose, there rolled away days and weeks and months ; and 
the soul watched narrowly each second as it flew, and, without 
effort, took record of its flight— without effort and without 

A year passed. The consciousness of being had grown 
hourly more indistinct, and that of mere locality had, in 
great measure, usurped its position. The idea of entity 
was becoming merged in that of place. The narrow space 
immediately surrounding what had been the body was now 
growing to be the body itself. At length, as often happens to 
the sleeper (by sleep and its world alone is Death imaged) — ^at 
length, as sometimes happened on Earth to the deep slumberer, 
when some flitting light half startled him into awaking, yet left 
him half enveloped in dreams — so to me, in the strict embrace 
of the Shadow^ came that light which alone might have had 
power to startle — the light of enduring Love, Men toiled at 
the grave in which I lay darkling. They upthrew the damp 
earth. Upon my mouldering bones there descended the coffin 
of Una. 

And now again all was void. That nebulous light had been 
extinguished. That feeble thrill had vibrated itself into 
quiescence. Many lustra had supervened. Dust had returned 
to dust. The worm had food no more. The sense of being 
had at length utterly departed, and there reigned in its stead — 
instead of all things, dominant and perpetual — the autocrats 
Place and Ttme. For that which was not — for that which had 
no form — ^for that which had no thought — for that which had no 
sentience — for that which was soundless, yet of which matter 
formed no portion — for all this nothingness, yet for all this 
immortality, the grave was still a home, and the corrosive 
hours, co-mates. 


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** "What ho 1 what ho ! this fellow is dancfaig mad ! 
He hath been bitten by the Tarantula.'' 

^AU in the Wrong. 

MANY years ago I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. 
William Legrand. He was of an ancient Huguenot 
family, and had once been wealthy ; but a series of mis- 
fortunes had reduced him to want To avoid the mortification 
consequent upon his disasters, he left New Orleans, the city of 
his forefathers, and took up his residence at Sullivan's Island, 
near Charleston, South Carolina. 

This island is a very singular one. It consists of little else 
than the sea sand, and is about three miles long. Its breadth 
at no point exceeds a quarter of a mile. It is separated from 
the mainland by a scarcely perceptible creek, oozing its way 
through a wilderness of reeds and slime, a favourite resort of 
the marsh-hen. The vegetation, as might be supposed, is 
scant, or at least dwarfish. • No trees of any magnitude are to 
be seen. Near the western extremity, where Fort Moultrie 
stands, and where are some miserable frame buildings, tenanted, 
during summer, by the fugitives from Charleston dust and 
fever, may be found, indeed, the bristly palmetto ; but the 
whole island, with the exception of this western point, and a line 
of hard, white beach on the sea-coast, is covered with a dense 
undergrowth of the sweet myrtle, so much prized by the 
horticulturists of England. The shrub here often attains the 
height of fifteen or twenty feet, and forms an almost impene- 
trable coppice, burthening the air with its fragrance. 

In the inmost recesses of this coppice, not far from the 
eastern or more remote end of the island, Legrand had built 


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himself a small hut, which he occupied when I first, by mere 
accident, made his acquaintance. This soon ripened into 
friendship— for there was much in the recluse to excite interest 
and esteem . I found him well educated, with unusual powers 
of mind, but infected with misanthropy, and subject to perverse 
moods of alternate enthusiasm and melancholy. He had with 
him many books, but rarely employed them. His chief amuse- 
ments were gunning and fishing, or sauntering along the beach 
and through the myrtles, in quest of shells or entomological 
specimens ; — ^his collection of the latter might have been envied 
by a SwammerdamnL In these excursions he was usually 
accompanied by an old negro, called Jupiter, who had been 
manumitted before the reverses of the family, but who could be 
induced, neither by threats nor by promises, to abandon what 
he considered his right of attendance upon the footsteps of his 
young " Massa Will" It is not improbable that the relatives 
of Legrand, conceiving him to be somewhat unsettled in intellect, 
had contrived to instil this obstinacy into Jupiter, with a view to 
the supervision and guardianship of the wanderer. 

The winters in the latitude of Sullivan's Island are seldom 
very severe, and in the fall of the year it is a rare event indeed 
when a fire is considered necessary. About the middle of 
October i8 — there occurred, however, a day of remarkable 
chilliness. Just before sunset I scrambled my way through the 
evergreens to the hut of my friend, whom I had not visited for 
several weeks — my residence being at that time in Charleston, 
a distance of nine miles from the island, while the facilities of 
passage and re-passage were very far behind those of the 
present day. Upon reaching the hut I rapped, as was my 
custom, and getting no reply, sought for the key where I knew 
it was secreted, unlocked the door and went in. A fine fire was 
blazing upon the hearth. It was a novelty, and by no means an 
ungrateful one. I threw oflf my overcoat, took an arm-chair by 
the crackling logs, and awaited patiently the arrival of my 

Soon after dark they arrived, and gave me a most cordial 
welcome. Jupiter, grinning from ear to ear, bustled about to 


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prepare some marsh-hens for supper. Legrand was in one of 
his fits — ^how else shall I term them?— of enthusiasm. He had 
found an unknown bivalve, forming a new genus, and, more 
than this, he bad hunted down and secured, with Jupiter's 
assistance, a scarabcms which he believed to be totally new, 
but in respect to which he wished to have my opinion on the 

" And why not to-night ? " I asked, rubbing my hands over 
the blaze, and wishing the whole tribe oiscarabcsi at the devil. 

" Ah, if I had only known you were here 1 " said Legrand, 
" but it^s so long since I saw you; and how could I foresee that 
you would pay me a visit this very night of all others? As I 

was coming home I met Lieutenant G y from the fort, and, 

very foolishly, I lent him the bug ; so it will be impossible for 
you to see it until the morning. Stay here to-night, and I will 
send J up down for it at sunrise. It is the loveliest thing in 
creation ! " 

"What!— sunrise?* 

" Nonsense 1 no 1 — the bug. It is of a brilliant gold colour — 
about the size of a large hickory-nut — with two jet black spots 
near one extremity of the back, and another, somewhat longer, 
at the other. The anienncB are ^ 

" Dey aint no tin in him, Massa Will, I keep a tellin on you," 
here interrupted Jupiter; "dc bug is a goole bug, solid, ebery 
bit of him, inside and all, sep him wing— neber feel half so 
hebby a bug in my life." 

" Well, suppose it is, Jup,** replied Legrand, somewhat more 
earnestly, it seemed to me, than the case demanded, " is that 
any reason for your letting the birds burn ? The colour'' — here 
he turned to me — " is really almost enough to warrant Jupiter's 
idea. You never saw a more brilliant metallic lustre than the 
scales emit — but of this you cannot judge till to-morrow. In 
the meantime I can give you some idea of the shape." Saying 
this, he seated himself at a small table, on which were a pen 
and ink, but no paper. He looked for some in a drawer, but 
found none. 

" Never mind," said l^e ^t length, " this wilj answer^" and he 


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drew from his waistcoat pocket a scrap of what I took to be 
very dirty foolscap, and made upon it a rough drawing with the 
pen. While he did this, I retained my seat by the fire, for I 
was still chilly. When the design was complete, be handed it 
to me without rising. As I received it, a loud growl was heard, 
succeeded by a scratching at the door. Jupiter opened it, and 
a large Newfoundland, belonging to Legrand, rushed in, leaped 
upon my shoulders, and loaded me with caresses ; for I had 
shown him much attention during previous visits. When his 
gambols were over, I looked at the paper, and, to speak the 
truth, found myself not a little puzzled at what my friend had 

" Well 1 '' I said, after contemplating it for some minutes, 
^* this is a strange scarabaus^ I must confess : new to me : 
never saw anything like it before — unless it was a skull, or a 
death's-head — which it more nearly resembles than anything 
else that has come under my observation." 

" A death's-head 1 '^ echoed Legrand — " Oh — yes — well, it has 
something of that appearance upon paper, no doubt The two 
upper black spots look like eyes, eh ? and the longer one at 
the bottom like a mouth — and then the shape of the whole is 

" Perhaps so,** said I ; " but, Legrand, I fear you are no 
artist. I must wait until I see the beetle itself, if I am to form 
any idea of its personal appearance." 

" Well, I don't know," said he, a little nettled, " I draw toler- 
ably — should do it at least — ^have had good masters, and flatter 
myself that I am not quite a blockhead." 

" But, my dear fellow, you are joking then," said I ; " this is 
a very passable ji^«//— indeed, I may say that it is a very 
excellent skull, according to the vulgar notions about such 
specimens of physiology — and your scarabceus must be the 
queerest scarabceus in the world if it resembles it. Why, we 
may get up a very thriUing bit of superstition upon this hint 
I presume you will call the bug scarabceus caput hominis^ or 
something of that kind— there are many similar titles in the 
Natural Histories. But where are the cmtennce you spoke of?" 


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"The antenncEp^ said Legrand, who seemed to be getting 
unaccountably warm upon the subject ; ** I am sure you must 
see the antenna. I made them as distinct as they are in the 
original insect, and I presume that is sufficient'' 

"Well, well," I said, "perhaps you have — still I don't see 
them ;" and I handed him the paper without additional remark, 
not wishing to ruffle his temper ; but I was much surprised at 
the turn affairs had taken ; his ill-humour puzzled me— and, as 
for the drawing of the beetle, there were positively no antennce 
visible, and the whole did bear a very close resemblance to the 
ordinary cuts of a death's-head. 

He received the paper very peevishly, and was about to 
crumple it, apparently to throw it in the fire, when a casual 
glance at the design seemed suddenly to rivet his attention. 
In an instant his face grew violently red — in another as 
excessively pale. For some minutes he continued to scrutinise 
the drawing minutely where he sat. At length he arose, took a 
candle from the table, and proceeded to seat himself upon a 
sea-chest in the farthest corner of the room. Here again he 
made an anxious examination of the paper ; turning it in all 
directions. He said nothing, however, and his conduct greatly 
astonished me ; yet I thought it prudent not to exacerbate the 
growing moodiness of his temper by any comment. Presently 
he took from his coat pocket a wallet, placed the paper carefully 
in it, and deposited both in a writing-desk, which he locked. 
He now grew more composed in his demeanour ; but his 
original air of enthusiasm had quite disappeared. Yet he 
seemed not so much sulky as abstracted. As the evening wore 
away he became more and more absorbed in reverie, from 
which no sallies of mine could arouse him. It had been my 
intention to pass the night at the hut, as I had frequently done 
before, but, seeing my host in this mood, I deemed it proper to 
take leave. He did not press me to remain, but, as I departed, 
he shook my hand with even more than his usual cordiality. 

It was about a month after this (and during the interval I had 
seen nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at Charleston, 
from his man, Jupiter. I had never seen the good old negro 


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look so dispirited, and I feared that some serious disaster had 
befallen my friend. 

" Well, Jup," said I, " what is the matter now ? — ^how is your 
master ? " 

" Why, to speak de troof, massa, him not so berry well as 
mought be." 

"Not welll I am truly sorry to hear it. What does he 
complain of?" 

" Dar 1 daf s it ! — him nebber plain of notin — but him berry 
sick for all dat." 

" Very sick, Jupiter 1 — why didn't you say so at once ? Is he 
confined to bed ? " 

" No, dat he aint 1 — ^he aint find nowhar — dat's just whar de 
shoe pinch — my mind is got to be berry hebby bout poor Massa 

"Jupiter, I should like to understand what it is you are 
talking about. You say your master is sick. Hasn't he told 
you what ails him ? " 

"Why, massa, taint worf while for to git mad about de 
matter — Massa Will say noffin at all aint de matter wid him — 
but den what make him go about looking dis here way, wid he 
head down and he soldiers up, and as white as a gose ? And 
den he keep a syphon all de time " 

" Keeps a what, Jupiter ? " 

"Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on de slate— de queerest 
figgurs I ebber did see. Ise gittin to be skeered, I tell you. 
Hab for to keep mighty tight eye pon him noovers. Todder 
day he gib me slip fore de sun up, and was gone de whole ob de 
blessed day. I had a big stick ready cut for to gib him deuced 
good beating when he did come — but Ise sich a fool dat I 
hadn't de heart arter all— he look so berry poorly." 

" Eh ? — what ? — ah yes 1— upon the whole I think you had 
better not be too severe with the poor fellow — don't flog him, 
Jupiter — he can't very well stand it — but can you form no idea 
of what has occasioned this illness, or rather this change of 
conduct? Has anything unpleasant happened sjnce \ saw 


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** No, massa, dey aint bin noffin onpleasant since den— 'twas 
fore den Pm feared — ^'twas de berry day you was dare." 

" How ? what do you mean ? " 

" Why, Massa, I mean de bug — dare now.** 

"The what P** 

" De bug— Pm berry sartain dat Massa Will bin bit some- 
where bout de head by dat goole-bug.'* 

"And what cause have you, Jupiter, for such a supposition?" 

" Claws enuff, massa, and mouff too. I nebber did see sich 
a deuced bug — he kick and he bite ebery ting what cum near 
him. Massa Will cotch him fuss, but had for to let him go gin 
mighty quick, I tell you— den was de time he must ha got de 
bite. I didn't like de look ob de bug mouff, myself, no how, so 
I wouldn't take hold ob him wid my finger, but I cotch him wid 
a piece ob paper dat I found. I rap him up in de paper and 
stuff piece ob it in he mouflf— dat was de way." 

" And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by 
the beetle, and that the bite made him sick ?" 

*' I don't tink noffin about it — I nose it. What make him 
dream bout de goole so much, if taint cause he bit by de goole- 
bug ? Ise heerd bout dem goole-bugs fore dis." 

" But how do you know he dreams about gold ?" 

" How I know ? why, cause he talk about it in he sleep — dat's 
how I nose." 

"Well, Jup, perhaps you are right; but to what fortunate 
circumstances am I to attribute the honour of a visit from you 

" What de matter, massa ?" 

" Did you bring any message from Mr. Legrand ?" 

"No, Massa, I bring dis here pissel;" and here Jupiter 
handed me a note which ran thus : — 

" My Dear 

" Why have I not seen you for so long a time ? I hope you 
have not been so foolish as to take offence at any little 
brusquerie of mine ; but no, that is improbable. 

"Since I saw you I have had great cause for anxiety. I 


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have something to tell you, yet scarcely know how to tell it, or 
whether I should tell it at alL 

*' I have not been quite well for some days past, and poor old 
Jup annoys me, almost beyond endurance, by his well-meant 
attentions. Would you believe it? — ^he had prepared a huge 
stick, the other day, with which to chastise me for giving him 
the slip, and spending the day, solus ^ among the hills on the 
mainland. I verily believe that my ill looks alone saved me a 

^^ I have made no addition to my cabinet since we met. 

" If you can, in any way, make it convenient, come over with 
Jupiter. Do come. I wish to see you to-night^ upon business 
of importance. I assure you that it is of the highest import- 
ance.— Ever yours, "William Legrand." 

There was something in the tone of this note which gave me 
great uneasiness. Its whole style differed materially from that 
of Legrand. What could he be dreaming of? What new 
crotchet possessed his excitable brain? What "business of 
the highest importance" could he possibly have to transact? 
Jupiter's account of him boded no good. I dreaded lest the 
continued pressure of misfortune had, at length, fairly unsettled 
the reason of my friend. Without a moment's hesitation, 
therefore, I prepared to accompany the negro. 

Upon reaching the wharf, I noticed a scythe and three 
spades, all apparently new, lying in the bottom of the boat in 
which we were to embark. 

" What is the meaning of all this, Jup?" I inquired. 

" Him syfe, massa, and spade." 

" Very true ; but what are they doing here ? " 

" Him de syfe and de spade what Massa Will sis pon my 
buying for him in de town, and de debbil's own lot of money I 
had to gib for em." 

" But what, in the name of all that is mysterious, is your 
* Massa Will ' going to do with scythes and spades ?" 

" Dat's more dan / know, and debbil take me if I don't 
blieve 'tis more dan he know too. But it'w all cum ob de bug." 


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Finding that no satisfaction was to be obtained of Jupiter, 
whose whole intellect seemed to be absorbed by *^ de bug," I 
now stepped into the boat and made sail. With a fair and 
strong breeze we soon ran into the little cove to the northward 
of Fort Moultrie, and a walk of some two miles brought us to 
the hut. It was about three in the afternoon when we arrived. 
Legrand had been awaiting us in eager expectation. He 
grasped my hand with a nervous empressement which alarmed 
me and strengthened the suspicions already entertained. His 
countenance was pale even to ghastliness, and his deep-set eyes 
glared with unnatural lustre. After some inquiries respecting 
his health, I asked him, not knowing what better to say, if he 
had yet obtained the scarabceus from Lieutenant G . 

" Oh, yes," he replied, colouring violently, " I got it from him 
the next morning. Nothing should tempt me to part with that 
scarabceus. Do you know that Jupiter is quite right about it i " 

'^ In what way ?" I asked, with a sad foreboding at heart. 

" In supposing it to be a bug of real goW^ He said this 
with an air of profound seriousness, and I felt inexpressibly 

"This bug is to make my fortune," he continued, with a 
triumphant smile, " to reinstate me in my family possessions. 
Is it any wonder, then, that I prize it? Since Fortune has 
thought fit to bestow it upon me, I have only to use it properly 
and I shall arrive at the gold of which it is the index. Jupiter, 
bring me that scarabceus I " 

" What 1 de bug, massa ? I'd rudder not go fer trubble dat 
bug — you mus git him for your own self." Hereupon Legrand 
arose, with a grave and stately air, and brought me the beetle 
from a glass case in which it was enclosed. It was a beautiful 
scarabceus^ and, at that time, unknown to naturalists — of course 
a great prize in a scientific point of view. There were two 
round black spots near one extremity of the back, and a long 
one near the other. The scales were exceedingly hard and 
glossy, with all the appearance of burnished gold. The weight 
of the insect was very remarkable, and, taking all things into 
consideration, I could hardly blame Jupiter for his opinion 


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respecting it ; but what to make of Legrand's concordance with 
that opinion, I could not, for the life of me, tell 

" I sent for you,* said he, in a grandiloquent tone, when I 
had completed my examination of the beetle, " I sent for you, 
that I might have your counsel and assistance in furthering the 
views of Fate and of the bug ^*' 

"My dear Legrand," I cried, interrupting him, "you are 
certainly unwell, and had better use some little precautions. 
You shall go to bed, and I will remain with you a few days, 
until you get over this. You are feverish and ^ 

" Feel my pulse,'* said he. 

I felt it, and found not the slightest indication of fever. 

" But you may be ill and yet have no fever. Allow me this 
once to prescribe for you. In the first place, go to bed. In the 
next ^" 

*^ You are mistaken," he interposed ; " I am as well as I can 
expect to be under the excitement which I suffer. If you really 
wish me well, you will relieve this excitement" 

" And how is this to be done ? " 

" Very easily. Jupiter and myself are going upon an expedi- 
tion into the hills, upon the main land, and, in this expedition, 
we shall need the aid of some person in whom we can confide. 
You are the only one we can trust. Whether we succeed or 
fail, the excitement which you now perceive in me will be 
equally allayed.*' 

" I am anxious to oblige you in any way," I replied ; " but do 
you mean to say that this infernal beetle has any connection 
with your expedition into the hills ? " 

« It has." 

"Then, Legrand, I can become a party to no such absurd 

" I am sorry— very sorry — ^for we shall have to try it by 

" Try it by yourselves I The man is surely mad 1— but stay I 
— how long do you propose to be absent?" 

" Probably all night. We shall start immediately, and be 
back, at all events, by sunrise," 


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" And will you promise me upon your honour, that when this 
freak of yours is over, and the bug business (good God!) 
settled to your satisfaction, you will then return home and 
follow my advice implicitly, as that of your physician ? " 

"Yes ; I promise ; and now let us be off, for we have no 
time to lose." 

With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend. We started 
about four o'clock — Legrand, Jupiter, the dog, and myself. 
Jupiter had with him the scythe and spades — the whole of 
which he insisted upon carrying — more through fear, it seemed 
to me, of trusting either of the implements within reach of his 
master, than from any excess of industry or complaisance. His 
demeanour was dogged in the extreme, and " dat deuced bug '* 
were the sole words which escaped his lips during the journey. 
For my own part, I had charge of a couple of dark lanterns, 
while Legrand contented himself with the scarabcnis^ which he 
carried attached to the end of a bit of whip-cord, twirling it to 
and fro, with the air of a conjuror, as he went. When I 
observed this last plain evidence of my friend's aberration of 
mind I could scarcely refrain from tears. I thought it best, 
however, to humour his fancy, at least for the present, or until 
I could adopt some more energetic measures with a chance of 
success. In the meantime I endeavoured, but all in vain, to 
sound him in regard to the object of the expedition. Having 
succeeded in inducing me to accompany him, he seemed 
unwilling to hold conversation upon any topic of minor import- 
ance, and to all my questions vouchsafed no other reply than 
"We shall seel" 

We crossed the creek at the head of the island by means of a 
skiff, and, ascending the high grounds on the shore of the main 
land, proceeded in a north-westerly direction, through a tract of 
country excessively wild and desolate, where no trace of a 
human footstep was to be seen. Legrand led the way with 
decision ; pausing only for an instant, here and there, to consult 
what appeared to be certain landmarks of his own contrivance 
upon a former occasion. 

In this manner we journeyed for about two hours, and the 


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sun was just setting when we entered a region infinitely more 
dreary than any yet seen. It was a species of table-land, near 
the summit of an almost inaccessible hill, densely wooded from 
base to pinnacle, and interspersed with huge crags that appeared 
to lie loosely upon the soil, and in many cases were prevented 
from precipitating themselves into the valleys below, merely by 
the support of the trees against which they reclined. Deep 
ravines, in various directions, gave an air of still sterner 
solemnity to the scene. 

The natural platform to which we had clambered was thickly 
overgrown with brambles, through which we soon discovered 
that it would have been impossible to force our way but for the 
scythe ; and Jupiter, by direction of his master, proceeded to 
clear for us a path to the foot of an enormously tall tulip-tree, 
which stood, with some eight or ten oaks, upon the level, and 
far surpassed them all, and all other trees which I had then 
ever seen, in the beauty of its foliage and form, in the wide 
spread of its branches, and in the general majesty of its 
appearance. When we reached this tree, Legrand turned to 
Jupiter, and asked him if he thought he could climb it The 
old man seemed a little staggered by the question, and for 
some moments made no reply. At length he approached the 
huge trunk, walked slowly around it, and examined it with 
minute attention. When he had completed his scrutiny, he 
merely said, 

"Yes, massa, Jup climb any tree he ebber see in he life." 

" Then up with you as soon as possible, for it will soon be too 
dark to see what we are about" 

" How far mus go up, massa ?" inquired Jupiter, 

" Get up the main trunk first, and then I will tell you which 
way to go— and here— stop 1 take this beetle with you." 

" De bug, Massa Will 1— de goole bug I " cried the negro, 
drawing back in dismay — " what for mus tote de bug way up 
de tree ?— d— n if I do 1 " 

" If you are afraid, Jup, a great big negro like you, to take 
hold of a harmless little dead beetle, why you can carry it up by 
this string — but if you do not take it up with you in some way, 


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TH^ GOLD-BVG. 101 

\ shall be under the necessity of breaking your head with this 

"What de matter now, massa ? '' said Jup, evidently shamed 
into compliance ; " always want for to raise fuss wid old nigger. 
Was only funnin anyhow. Me feered de bug ! what I keer for 
de bug?" Here he took cautiously hold of the extreme end 
of the string, and, maintaining the insect as far from his 
person as circumstances would permit, prepared to ascend the 

In youth, the tulip-tree, or Liriodendron tuUpiferum^ the 
most magnificent of American foresters, has a trunk peculiarly 
smooth, and often rises to a great height without lateral 
branches ; but, in its riper age, the bark becomes gnarled and 
uneven, while many short limbs make their appearance on the 
stem. Thus the difficulty of ascension, in the present case, lay 
more in semblance than in reality. Embracing the huge 
cylinder, as closely as possible, with his arms and knees, 
seizing With his hands some projections, and resting his naked 
toes upon others, Jupiter, after one or two narrow escapes from 
falling, at length wriggled himself into the first great fork, and 
seemed to consider the whole business as virtually accomplished. 
The risk of the achievement was, in fact, now over, although 
the climber was some sixty or seventy feet from the ground. 

" Which way mus go now, Massa Will ?" he asked. 

" Keep up the largest branch — ^the one on this side," said 
Legrand. The negro obeyed him promptly, and apparently 
with but little trouble ; ascending higher and higher, until no 
glimpse of his squat figure could be obtained through the dense 
foliage which enveloped it Presently his voice was heard in a 
sort of halloo. 

" How much fuddei is got for go ? " 

" How high up are you ?" asked Legrand 

" Ebber so fur," replied the negro ; " can see de sky fru de 
top ob de tree." 

" Never mind the sky, but attend to what I say. Look down 
the trunk and count the limbs below you on this side. How 
many limbs have you passed ?" 


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"One, two, three, four, fibe — I done pass fibe big limb, 
massa, pon dis side." 

" Then go one limb higher." 

In a few minutes the voice was heard again, announcing that 
the seventh limb was attained. 

" Now, Jup," cried Legrand, evidently much excited, " I want 
you to work your way out upon that limb as far as you can. If 
you see anything strange, let me know." 

By this time what little doubt I might have entertained of my 
poor friend's insanity was put finally at rest. I had no alter- 
native but to conclude him stricken with lunacy, and I became 
seriously anxious about getting him home. While I was 
pondering upon what was best to be done, Jupiter's voice was 
again heard. 

" Mos feerd for to ventur pon dis limb berry far — tis dead 
limb putty much all de way." 

" Did you say it was a dead limb, Jupiter?" cried Legrand in 
a quavering voice. 

" Yes, massa, him dead as de door-nail— done up for sartain 
— done departed dis here life." 

" What in the name of heaven shall I do ? " asked Legrand, 
seemingly in the greatest distress. 

" Do 1 " said I, glad of an opportunity to interpose a word, 
" why come home and go to bed. Come now ! — that's a fine fellow. 
It's getting late, and, besides, you remember your promise." 

"Jupiter," cried he, without heeding me in the least, "do 
you hear me?" 

" Yes, Massa Will, hear you ebber so plain." 

" Try the wood well, then, with your knife, and see if yon 
think it very rotten." 

" Him rotten, massa, sure nuff," replied the negro in a few 
moments, "but not so berry rotten as mought be. Mought 
ventur out leetle way pon de limb by myself, dat's true." 

" By yourself I — What do you mean ?" 

" Why, I mean de bug. 'Tis berry hebby bug. Spose I drop 
him down fuss, and den de limb won't break wid just de weight 
ob one nigger." 


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Tlik GOLD-BUG. 193 

" You infernal scoundrel ! " cried Legrand, apparently much 
relieved, " what do you mean by telling me such nonsense as 
that ? As sure as you drop that beetle PU break your neck. 
Look here, Jupiter, do you hear mfe ? " 

" Yes, Massa, needn't hollo at poor nigger dat style." 

" Well ! now listen ! — if you will venture out on the limb as 
far as you think safe, and not let go the beetle, PU make you a 
present of a silver dollar as soon as you get down.*' 

" Pm gwine, Massa Will — deed I is," replied the negro very 
promptly — " mos out to de eend now." 

" Out to the endP^ here fairly screamed Legrand ; "do you 
say you are out to the end of that limb ? " 

" Soon be to de eend, massa, — o-o-o-o-oh 1 Lor-gol-a- 
marcy I what is dis here pon de tree ?" 

"Well," cried Legrand, highly delighted, "what is it ?'* 

" Why, taint noffin but a skull— somebody bin lef him head 
up de tree, and de crows done gobble ebery bit ob de meat off." 

"A skull, you sayl — very well I — how is it fastened to the 
limb ? — what holds it on ?" 

" Sure nuff, massa ; mus look. Why dis berry curous 
sarcumstance, pon my word— dare's a great big nail in de skull, 
what fastens ob it on to de tree." 

"Well now, Jupiter, do exactly as I tell you — do you 

" Yes, massa." 

" Pay attention, then 1— find the left eye of the skull." 

" Hum ! hoo ! dat's good 1 why dare aint no eye lef at all." 

" Curse your stupidity I do you know your right hand from 
your left?" 

" Yes, I nose dat — nose all about dat — tis my lef hand what I 
chops de wood wid." 

" To be sure I you are left-handed ; and your left eye is on 
the same side as your left hand. Now, I suppose you can find 
the left eye of the skull, or the place where the left eye has 
been. Have you found it ?" 

Here was a long pause. At length the negro asked, 

" Is de lef eye ob de skull pon de same side as de lef hand 



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of de skull, too ? — cause de skull aint got not a bit ob a hand at 
all— nebber mind I 1 got de lef eye ndw— here de lef eye 1 
what miis do wid it ?" 

" Let the beetle drop through it, as far as the string will 
reach— but be careful and not let go your hold of the string." 

" All dat done, Massa Will ; mighty easy ting for to put de 
bug fru de hole — ^look out for him dare below I * 

During this colloquy no portion of Jupiter's person could be 
seen ; but the beetle, which he had suffered to descend, was 
now visible at the end of the string, and glistened, like a globe 
of burnished gold, in the last rays of the setting sun, some of 
which still faintly illumined the eminence upon which we stood 
The scarahcms hung quite clear of any branches, and, if allowed 
to fall, would have fallen at our feet. Legrand immediately 
took the scythe, and cleared with it a circular space, three or 
four yards in diameter, just beneath the insect, and, having 
accomplished this, ordered Jupiter to let go the string and 
come down from the tree. 

Driving a peg, with great nicety, into the ground, at the 
precise spot where the beetle fell, my friend now produced from 
his pocket a tape-measure. Fastening one end of this at that 
point of the trunk of the tree which was nearest the peg, he 
unrolled it till it reached the peg, and thence farther unrolled it, 
in the direction already established by the two points of the 
tree and the peg, for the distance of fifty feet — ^Jupiter clearing 
away the brambles with the scythe. At the spot thus attained 
a second peg was driven, and about this, as a centre, a rude 
circle, about four feet in diameter, described. Taking now a 
spade himself, and giving one to Jupiter and one to me, Legrand 
begged us to set about digging as quickly as possible. 

To speak the truth, I had no especial relish for such amuse- 
ment at any time, and, at that particular moment, would most 
willingly have declined it ; for the night was coming on, and I 
felt much fatigued with the exercise already taken ; but I saw 
no mode of escape, and was fearful of disturbing my poor 
friend's equanimity by a refusal Could I have depended, 
indeed, upon Jupiter's sud, I would have had no hesitation in 


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attempting to get the lunatic home by force ; but I was too well 
assured of the old negro's disposition, to hope that he would 
assist me, under any circumstances, in a personal contest with 
his master. I made no doubt that the latter had been infected 
with some of the innumerable Southern superstitions about 
money buried, and that his fantasy had received confirmation 
by the finding of the scarabceus^ or, perhaps, by Jupiter's obsti- 
nacy in maintaining it to be " a bug of real gold." A mind dis- 
posed to lunacy would readily be led away by such suggestions 
— especially if chiming in with favourite preconceived ideas — 
and then I called to mind the poor fellow's speech about the 
bettle's being " the index of his fortune." Upon the whole, I 
was sadly vexed and puzzled, but, at length, I concluded to 
make a virtue of necessity — ^to dig with a good will, and thus 
the sooner to convince the visionary, by ocular demonstration, 
of the fallacy of the opinions he entertained. 

The lanterns having been lit, we all fell to work with a zeal 
worthy a more rational cause ; and, as the glare fell upon our 
persons and implements, I could not help thinking how pictur- 
esque a group we composed, and how strange and suspicious 
our labours must have appeared to any interloper who, by 
chance, might have stumbled upon our whereabouts. 

We dug very steadily for two hours. Little was said ; and 
our chief embarrassment lay in the yelpings of the dog, who 
took exceeding interest in our proceedings. He at length 
became so obstreperous, that we grew fearful of his giving the 
alarm to some stragglers in the vicinity ; or, rather, this was 
the apprehension of Lcgrand ; — ^for myself, I should have 
rejoiced at any interruption which might have enabled me to 
get the wanderer home. The noise was, at length, very 
effectually silenced by Jupiter, who, getting out of the hole 
with a dogged air of deliberation, tied the brute's mouth up 
with one of his suspenders, and then returned, with a grave 
chuckle, to bis task. 

When the time mentioned had expired, we had reached a 
depth of five feet, and yet no signs of any treasure became 
manifest A general pause ensued, and I began to hope that 


by GOO^' ,j| 

196 TB& GOID-Bt/G, 

the farce was at an end. Legrand, however, although evidently 
much disconcerted, wiped his brow thoughtfully and recom- 
menced. We had excavated the entire circle of four feet 
diameter, and now we slightly enlarged the limit, and went to 
the farther depth of two feet Still nothing appeared. The 
gold-seeker, whom I sincerely pitied, at length clambered from 
the pit, with the bitterest disappointment imprinted upon every 
feature, and proceeded, slowly and reluctantly, to put on his 
coat, which he had thrown off at the beginning of his labour. 
In the meantime I made no remark. Jupiter, at a signal from 
his master, began to gather up his tools. This done, and the 
dog having been unmuzzled, we turned in profound silence 
towards home. 

We had taken, perhaps, a dozen steps in this direction, when, 
with a loud oath, Legrand strode up to Jupiter, and seized him 
by the collar. The astonished negro opened his eyes and 
mouth to the fullest extent, let fall the spades, and fell upon his 

"You scoundrel," said Legrand, hissing out the syllables 
from between his clenched teeth — " you infernal black villain ! 
— speak, I tell you ! — answer me this instant, without pre- 
varication 1 — which — which is your left eye ?" 

" Oh, my golly, Massa Will 1 aint dis here my lef eye for 
sartain ?" roared the terrified Jupiter, placing his hand upon his 
right organ of vision, and holding it there with a 'desperate 
pertinacity, as if in immediate dread of his master's attempt at 
a gouge. 

" I thought so \ — I knew it 1 hurrah 1 " vociferated Legrand, 
letting the negro go, and executing a series of curvets and 
caracols, much to the astonishment of his valet, who, arising 
from his knees, looked, mutely, from his master to myself, and 
then from myself to his master. 

"Come! we must go back," said the latter; "the game's 
not up yet ; " and he again led the way to the tulip-tree. 

" Jupiter," said he, when he reached its foot, " come here ! 
was the skull nailed to the limb with the face outwards, or 
with the face to the limb ?" 


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"De face was out, massa, so dat de crows could get at de 
eyes good, widout any trouble." 

"Well, then, was it this eye or that through which you 
dropped the beetle ? " — here Legrand touched each of Jupiter's 

" Twas dis eye, massa— de lef eye— jis as you tell me," and 
here it was his right eye that the negro indicated. 

" That will do — we must try it again." 

Here my friend, about whose madness I now saw, or fancied 
that I saw, certain indications of method, removed the peg 
which marked the spot where the beetle fell, to a spot about 
three inches to the westward of its former position. Taking, 
now, the tape-measure from the nearest point of the trunk to 
the peg, as before, and continuing the extension in a straight 
line to the distance of fifty feet, a spot was indicated, removed 
by several yards from the point at which we had been digging. 

Arouad the new position a circle, somewhat larger than in 
the former instance, was now described, and we again set to 
work with the spades. I was dreadfully weary, but scarcely 
understanding what had occasioned the change in my thoughts, 
I felt no longer any great aversion from the labour imposed. I 
had become most unaccountably interested — nay, even excited. 
Perhaps there was something, amid all the extravagant demean- 
our of Legrand — some air of forethought, or of deliberation, 
which impressed me. I dug eagerly, and now and then caught 
myself actually looking, with something that very much 
resembled expectation, for the fancied treasure, the vision of 
which had demented my unfortunate companion. At a period 
when such vagaries of thought most fully possessed me, and 
when we had been at work perhaps an hour and a half, we were 
again interrupted by the violent bowlings of the dog. His 
uneasiness, in the first instance, had been, evidently, but the 
result of playfulness or caprice, but he now assumed a bitter and 
serious tone. Upon Jupiter again attempting to muzzle him, 
he made furious resistance, and, leaping into the hole, tore up 
the mould frantically with his claws. In a few seconds he had 
uncovered 4 mas^ pf hum^ bones, for^iing two complete 


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skeletons, intermingled with several buttons of metal, and what 
appeared to be the dust of decayed woollen. One or two 
strokes of a spade upturned the blade of a large Spanish knife, 
and, as we dug farther, three or four loose pieces of gold and 
silver coin came to light. 

At the sight of these the joy of Jupiter could scarcely be 
restrained, but the countenance of his master wore an air of 
extreme disappointment He urged us, however, to continue 
our exertions, and the words were hardly uttered when I 
stumbled and fell forward, having caught the toe of my boot in 
a large ring of iron that lay half-buried in the loose earth. 

We now worked in earnest, and never did I pass ten minutes 
of more intense excitement During this interval we had fairly 
unearthed an oblong chest of wood, which from its perfect 
preservation and wonderful hardness, had plainly been subjected 
to some mineralising process^perhaps that of the bichloride of 
mercury. This box was three feet and a half long, three feet 
broad, and two and a half feet deep. It was firmly secured by 
bands of wrought iron, rivetted, and forming a kind of open 
trellis-work over the whole. On each side of the chest, near 
the top, were three rings of iron — ^six in all — by means of which 
a firm hold could be obtained by six persons. Our utmost 
united endeavours served only to disturb the coffer very slightly 
in its bed. We at once saw the impossibility of removing so 
great a weight. Luckily, the sole fastenings of the lid consisted 
of two sliding bolts. These we drew back — trembling and pant- 
ing with anxiety. In an instant, a treasure of incalculable value 
lay gleaming before us. As the rays of the lanterns fell within 
the pit, there Hashed upwards a glow and a glare, from a confiised 
heap of gold and of jewels, that absolutely dazzled our eyes. 

I shall not pretend to describe the feelings with which I 
gazed. Amazement was, of course, predominant Legrand 
appeared exhausted with excitement, and spoke very few words. 
Jupiter's countenance wore, for some minutes, as deadly a pallor 
as it is possible, in the nature of things, for any negro's visage 
to assume. He seemed stupefied — thunderstricken. Presently 
he fell upon his knees in the pit, and, burying his naked arms 


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up to the elbows in gold, let them there remain, as if enjoy- 
ing the luxury of a bath. At length, with a deep sigh, he 
exclaimed, as if in a soliloquy, 

" And dis all cum ob de goole-bug 1 de putty goole-bug ! de 
poor little goole-bug, what I boosed in dat sabage kind ob 
style! Aint you shamed ob yourself, nigger? — answer me 

It became necessary, at last, that I should arouse both 
master and valet to the expediency of removing the treasure. 
It was growing late, and it behoved us to make exertion, that 
we might get everything housed before daylight. It was 
difficult to say what should be done, and much time was spent 
in deliberation — so confused were the ideas of all. We, finally, 
lightened the box by removing two-thirds of its contents, when 
we were enabled, with some trouble, to raise it from the hole. 
The articles taken out were deposited among the brambles, and 
the dog left to guard them, with strict orders from Jupiter 
neither, upon any pretence, to stir from the spot, nor to open 
his mouth until our return. We then hurriedly made for home 
with the chest, reaching the hut in safety, but after excessive 
toil, at one o'clock in the morning. Worn out as we were, it 
was not in human nature to do more immediately. We rested 
until two, and had supper, starting for the hills immediately 
afterwards, armed with three stout sacks, which, by good luck, 
were upon the premises. A little before four we arrived at the 
pit, divided the remainder of the booty, as equally as might be 
among us, and, leaving the holes unfilled, again set out for the 
hut, at which, for the second time, we deposited our golden 
burthens, just 2^ the first faint streaks of the dawn gleamed 
from over the tree-tops in the East. 

We were now thoroughly broken down 5 but the intense 
excitement of the time denied us repose. After an unquiet 
slumber of some three or four hours' duration, we arose, as if 
by preconcert, to make examination of our treasure. 

The chest had been full to the brim, and we spent the whole 
day, and the greater part of the next night, in a scrutiny of its 
contents. There had been nothing like order pr arrangement, 


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Everything had been heaped in promiscuously. Having assorted 
all .with care, we found ourselves possessed of even vaster 
wealth than we had at first supposed. In coin there was rather 
more than four hundred and fifty thousand dollars— estimating 
the value of the pieces, as accurately as we could, by the jtables 
of the period. There was not a particle of silver. All was gold 
of antique date and of great variety — French, Spanish, and 
German money, with a few English guineas, and some 
counters, of which we had never seen specimens before. There 
were several very large aijd heavy coins, so worn that we could 
make nothing of their inscriptions. There was no American 
money. The value of the jewels we found more difficulty in 
estimating. There were diamonds— some of them exceedingly 
large and fine — a hundred and ten in all, and not one of them 
small; eighteen rubies of remarkable brilliancy; — three 
hundred and ten emeralds, all very beautiful ; and twenty-one 
sapphires, with an opal. These stones had all been broken 
from their settings and thrown loose in the chest. The settings 
themselves, which we picked out from among the other gold, 
appeared to have been beaten up with hammers, as if to prevent 
identification. Besides all this, there was a vast quantity of 
solid gold ornaments ; — nearly two hundred massive finger and 
ear rings ; — rich chains — thirty of these, if I remember ; — 
eighty-three very large and heavy crucifixes ; — five gold censers 
of great value ; — z, prodigious golden punch-bowl, ornamented 
with richly-chased vine-leaves and Bacchanalian figures ; with 
two sword-handles exquisitely embossed, and many other 
smaller articles which I cannot recollect. The weight of these 
valuables exceeded three hundred and fifty pounds avoirdupois ; 
and in this estimate I have not included one hundred and 
ninety-seven superb gold watches ; three of the number being 
worth each five hundred dollars, if one. Many of them wpre 
very old, and as time-keepers valueless, the works haying 
suffered, more or less, from corrosion — but all were richly 
jewelled and in cases of great worth. We estimated the entire 
contents of the chest, that night, at a million and a half of 
dollars ; and, upon the subsequent dis^ppsal of the trinkejs and 

Digitized by LjOOQ IC 


jewels (a few being retained for our own use), it was found that 
we h^d greatly undervalued the treasure. 

When, at length, we had concluded our examination, and the 
intense excitement of the time had in some measure subsided, 
Legrand, who saw thgt I was dying with impatience for a 
solution of this most extraordinary riddle, entered into a full 
detail of all the circumstances connected with it. 

" You remember," said he, " the night when I handed you 
the rough sketch I had made of the scarabceus. You recollect 
also, that I became quite vexed at you for insisting that my 
drawing resembled a death's-head. When you first made this 
assertion I thought you were jesting ; but afterwards I called to 
mind the peculiar spots on the back of the insect, and admitted 
to myself that your remark had some little foundation in fact. 
Still, the sneer at my graphic powers irritated me — for I am 
considered a good artist — and, therefore, when you handed me 
the scrap of parchment, I was about to crumplp it up and throw 
it angrily into the fire." 

" The scrap of paper, you mean," said I, 

" No ; it had much of the appearance of paper, and at first 
I supposed it to be such, but when I came to draw upon it, I 
discovered it at once to be a piece of very thin parchment. It 
was quite dirty, you remember. Well, as I >yas in the very act 
of crumpling it up, my glance fell upon the sketch at which you 
had been looking, and you may imagine my astonishment when 
I perceived, in fact, the figure of a death's-head just where, it 
seemed to me, I had made the drawing of the beetle. For a 
moment I was too much amazed to think with accuracy. I 
knew that my design was very different in detail from this — 
although there was a certain similarity in general outline. 
Presently I took a candle, and seating myself at the other 
end of the room, proceeded to scrutinise the parchment more 
closely. Upon turning it over, I saw my own sketch upon the 
reverse, just as I had made it. My first idea, now, was mere 
surprise at the really remarkable similarity of outline — at the 
singular coincidence involved in the fact that, unknown to me, 
(here should have been a skull upon the other sid^ of thp 


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2o:i THE GOLD'S UG. 

parchment, immediately beneath my figure of the scarahcBUS^ 
and that this skull, not only in outline, but in size, should so 
closely resemble my drawing. I say the singularity of this 
coincidence absolutely stupefied me for a time. This is the 
usual effect of such coincidences. The mind struggles to 
establish a connection — a sequence of cause and effect — and, 
being unable to do so, suffers a species of temporary paralysis. 
But when I recovered from this stupor, there dawned upon me 
gradually a convictiqn which startled me even far more than 
the coincidence. I began distinctly, positively, to remember 
that there had been no drawing upon the parchment when I 
made my sketch gf the $carab(BUs, I became perfectly certain 
of this ; for I recollected turning up first one side and then the 
other, in search of the cleanest spot. Had the skull been then 
there, of course, I could not have failed to notice it Here was 
indeed a mystery which \ felt it impossible to explain ; but, 
even at that early moment, there seemed to glimmer, faintly, 
within the most remote and secret chan^bers of my intellect, 
a glowworm-like conception of that truth which last night's 
adventure brought to so magnificent a demonstration. I arose 
at once, and putting the parchment securely away, dismissed 
all farther reflection until I should be alone. 

" When you had gone, and when Jupiter was fast asleep, I 
betook myself to a more methodical investigation of the affair. 
In the first place I considered the manner in which the parch- 
ment had come into my possession. The spot where we dis- 
covered the scarabcpus was on the coast of the mainland, about 
a mile eastward of the island, and but a short distance above 
high-water mark. Upon my taking hold of it, it gave me a 
sharp bite, which caused me to let it drop. Jupiter, with his 
accustomed caution, before seizing the insect, which had flown 
towards him, looked about him for a leaf, or something of that 
nature, by which to take hold of it. It was at this moment that 
his eyes, and mine also, fell upon the scrap of parchment, which 
I then supposed to be paper. It was lying half buried in the 
sand, a corner sticking up. Near the spot where we found it, I 
observed the remnants of the hull of what appeared to have 


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been a ship's long boat. The wreck seemed to have been 
there for a very great while; for the resemblance to boat 
timbers could scarcely be traced. 

" Well, Jupiter picked up the parchment, wrapped the beetle 
in it, and gave it to me. Soon afterwards we turned to go 

home, and on the way met Lieutenant G . I showed him 

the insect, and he begged me to let him take it to the fort. 
Upon my consenting, he thrust it forthwith into his waistcoat 
pocket, without the parchment in which it had been wrapped, 
and which I had continued to hold in my hand during his 
inspection. Perhaps he dreaded my changing my mind, and 
thought it best to make sure of the prize at once — ^you know 
how enthusiastic he is on all subjects connected with Natural 
History. At the same time, without being conscious of it, I 
must have deposited the parchment in my own pocket 

"You remember that when I went to the table, for the 
purpose of making a sketch of the beetle, I found no paper 
where it was usually kept. I looked in the drawer, and found 
none there. I searched my pockets, hoping to find an old 
letter, when my hand fell upon the parchment I thus detail 
the precise mode in which it came into my possession ; for the 
circumstances impressed me with peculiar force. 

"No doubt you will think me fanciful— but I had already 
established a kind of connection. I had put together two links 
of a great chain. There was a boat lying upon a sea-coast, and 
not far from the boat was a parchment — not a paper — with a 
skull depicted upon it You will, of course, ask * Where is the 
connection?* I reply that the skull, or death's-head, is the 
well-known emblem of the pirate. The flag of the death's-head 
is hoisted in all engagements. 

" I have said that the scrap was parchment, and not paper. 
Parchment is durable — almost imperishable. Matters of little 
moment are rarely consigned to parchment ; since, for the mere 
ordinary purposes of drawing or writing, it is not nearly so well 
adapted as paper. This reflection suggested some meaning — 
some relevancy — in the death's-head. I did not fail to observe, 
also, the form of the parchment Although one of its comers 


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had been, by some accident, destroyed, it could be seen that 
the original form was oblong. It was just such a slip, indeed, 
as might have been chosen for a memorandum — for a record of 
something to be long remembered and carefully preserved." 

" But," I interposed, " you say that the skull was not upon 
the parchment when you made the drawing of the beetle. 
How then do you trace any connection between the boat and 
the skull — since this latter, according to your own admission, 
must have been designed (God only knows how or by whom) 
at some period subsequent to your sketching the scarabceusf^^ 

"Ah, hereupon turns the whole mystery ; although the secret, 
at this point, I had comparatively little difficulty in solving. 
My steps were sure, and could afford but a single result. I 
reasoned, for example, thus : When I drew the scarabceus^ there 
was no skull apparent upon the parchment When I had 
completed the drawing I gave it to you, and observed you 
narrowly until you returned it, You^ therefore, did not design 
the skull, and no one else was present to do it. Then it was 
not done by human agency. And nevertheless it was done. 

" At this stage of my reflections I endeavoured to remember, 
and did remember, with entire distinctness, every incident 
which occurred about the period in question. The weather 
was chilly (oh rare and happy accident !), and a fire was blazing 
upon the hearth. I was heated with exercise, and sat near the 
table. You, however, had drawn a chair close to the chimney. 
Just as I placed the parchment in your hand, and as you were 
in the act of inspecting it. Wolf, the Newfoundland, entered, 
and leaped upon your shoulders. With your left hand you 
caressed him and kept him off, while your right, holding the 
parchment, was permitted to fall listlessly between your knees, 
and in close proximity to the fire. At one moment I thought 
the blaze had caught it, and was about to caution you, but, 
before I could speak, you had withdrawn it, and were engaged 
in its examination. When I considered all these particulars, I 
doubted not for a moment that heat had been the agent 
in bringing to light, upon the parchment, the skull which I 
?aw designed upon it. You are well ^w^re ths^t chemical 


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preparations exist, and have existed time out of mind, by means 
of which it is possible to write upon either paper or vellum, so 
that the characters shall become visible only when subjected to 
the action of fire. Zaffre, digested in aqua regia^ and diluted 
with four times its weight of water, is sometimes employed ; a 
green tint results. The regulus of cobalt, dissolved in spirit of 
nitre, gives a red. These colours disappear at longer or shorter 
intervals after the material written upon cools, but again become 
apparent upon the re-application of heat. 

" I now scrutinised the death's-head with care. Its outer 
edges — the edges of the drawing nearest the edge of the vellum 
-—'were far more distinct than the others. It was clear that the 
action of the caloric had been imperfect or unequal. I imme- 
diately kindled a fire, and subjected every portion of the parch- 
ment to a glowing heat. At first, the only effect was the 
strengthening of the faint lines in the skull ; but, upon per- 
severing in the experiment, there became visible, at the corner 
of the slip, diagonally opposite to the spot in which the death's- 
head was delineated, the figure of what I at first supposed to be 
a goat. A closer scrutiny, however, satisfied me that it was 
intended for a kid." 

" Ha 1 ha ! " said I, " to be sure I have no right to laugh at 
you — a million and a half of money is too serious a matter for 
mirth — but you are not about to establish a third link in your 
chain — ^you will not find any especial connection between your 
pirates and a goat — pirates, you know, have nothing to do with 
goats ; they appertain to the farming interest." 
"But I have said that the figure was not that of a goat." 
" Well, a kid, then — pretty much the same thing." 
"Pretty much, but not altogether," said Legrand. "You 
may have heard of one Captain Kidd. I at once looked upon 
the figure of the animal as a kind of punning or hieroglyphical 
signature. I say signature ; because its position upon the 
vellum suggested this idea. The death's-head at the comer 
diagonally opposite had, in the same manner, the air of a stamp, 
or seal. But I was sorely put out by the absence of all else — of 
the body to my imagined instrument— of the text for my context* 


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" I presume you expected to find a letter between the stamp 
and the signature." 

" Something of that kind. The fact is, I felt irresistibly 
impressed with a presentiment of some vast good fortune 
impending. I can scarcely say why. Perhaps, after all, it was 
radier a desire than an actual belief; but do you know that 
Jupiter's silly words, about the bug being of solid gold, had a 
remarkable effect upon my fancy? And then the series of 
accidents and coincidences — these were so very extraordinary. 
Do you observe how mere an accident it was that these events 
should have occurred upon the sole day of all the year in which 
it has been, or may be, sufficiently cool for fire, and that 
without the fire, or without the intervention of the dog at the 
precise moment in which he appeared, I should never have 
become aware oi the death's-head, and so never the possessor 
of the treasure?** 

" But proceed — I am all mpatience. 

"Well ; you have heard, of course, the many stories current 
— the thousand vague rumours afloat about money buried, 
somewhere upon the Atlantic coast, by Kidd and his associates. 
These rumours must have had some foundation in fact And 
that the rumours have existed so long and so continuous, could 
have resulted, it appeared to me, only from the circumstance of 
the buried treasure still remaining entombed. Had Kidd con- 
cealed his plunder for a time, and afterwards reclaimed it, the 
rumours would scarcely have reached us in their present 
unvarying form. You will observe that the stories told are all 
about money-seekers, not about money-finders. Had the 
pirate recovered his money, there the affair would have 
dropped. It seemed to me that some accident— say the loss 
of a memorandum indicating its locality — ^had deprived him 
of the means of recovering it, and that this accident had become 
known to his followers, who otherwise might never have heard 
that treasure had been concealed at all, and who, busying 
themselves in vain, because of unguided attempts, to regain 
it, had given first birth, and then universal currency, to 
the reports which are now so common. Have you ever 


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THk GOLD-BUG. 207 

heard of any important treasure being unearthed along the 
coast ? '* 


"But that Kidd's accumulations were immense is well 
known. I took it for granted, therefore, that the earth still 
held them ; and you will scarcely be surprised when I tell you 
that I felt a hope, nearly amounting to certainty, that the 
parchment so strangely found, involved a lost record of the 
place of deposit." 

" But how did you proceed ? " 

"I held the vellum again to the fire, after increasing the 
heat ; but nothing appeared. I now thought it possible that 
the coating of dirt might have something to do with the failure ; 
so I carefully rinsed the parchment by pouring warm water 
over it, and, having done this, I placed it in a tin pan, with the 
skull downwards, and put the pan upon a furnace of lighted 
charcoal. In a few minutes, the pan having become thoroughly 
heated, I removed the slip, and, to my inexpressible joy, 
found it spotted, in several places, with what appeared to be 
figures arranged in lines. Again I placed it in the pan, and 
suffered it to remain another minute. Upon taking it off, the 
whole was just as you see it now." 

Here Legrand, having re-heated the parchment, submitted 
it to my inspection. The following characters were rudely 
traced, in a red tint, between the death's-head and the 

?;8)*:t:(;485);6*1^:n(;4956*2(6*— 4)8ir8*;4()69286);)6t8)4«:;l(t9;48081;8:8Jl; 

" But," said I, returning him the slip, " I am as much in the 
dark as ever. Were all the jewels of Golconda awaiting me 
upon my solution of this enigma, I am quite sure that I should 
be unable to earn them." 

" And yet," said Legrand, " the solution is by no means so 
difficult as you might be led to imagine from the ^t hasty 
inspection of the characters. These characters, as anyone 


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might readily guess, form a cipher — that is to say, they convey 
a meaning : but then, from what is known of Kidd, I could not 
suppose him capable of constructing any of the more abstruse 
cryptographs. I made up my mind, at once, that this was of a 
simple species — such, however, as would appear, to the crude 
intellect of the sailor, absolutely insoluble without the key." 

" And you really solved it ? " 

" Readily ; I have solved others of an abstruseness ten 
thousand times greater. Circumstances, and a certain bias of 
mind, have led me to take interest in such riddles, and it may 
well be doubted whether human ingenuity can construct an 
enigma of the kind which human ingenuity may not, by proper 
application, resolve. In fact, having once established connected 
and legible characters, I scarcely gave a thought to the itiere 
difficulty of developing their import 

"In the present case — indeed in all cases of secret writing — 
the first question regards the language of the cipher ; for 
the principles of solution, so far, especially as the more simple 
ciphers are concerned, depend upon, and are varied by, 
the genius of the particular idiom. In general, there is no 
alternative but experiment (directed by probabilities) of every 
tongue known to him who attempts the solution, until the true 
one be attained. But, with the cipher now before us, all 
difficulty was removed by the signature. The pun upon 
the word ' Kidd ' is appreciable in no other language than 
the English. But for this consideration I should have begun 
my attempts with the Spanish and French, as the tongues 
in which a secret of this kind would most naturally have 
been written by a pirate of the Spanish main. As it was, 
I assumed the cryptograph to be English. 

"You observe there are no divisions between the words. 
Had there been divisions, the task would have been com- 
paratively easy. In such case I should have commenced 
with a collation and analysis of the shorter words ; and had 
a word of a single letter occurred, as is most likely (a or 
J^ for example), I should have considered the solution as 
assured. But, there being no division, my first step was to 


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ascertain the predominant letters, as well as the least frequent 
Counting all, I constructed a table thus :— 

Of the character 8 there 

are 33. 


























— . 


" Now, in English, the letter which most frequently occurs 
is e. Afterwards, the succession runs thus : aoi dhnrst 
^ycfglmwbkpqxz. E predominates so remarkably 
that an individual sentence of any length is rarely seen, in 
which it is not the prevailing character, 

" Here, then, we have, in the very beginning, the ground- 
work for something more than a mere guess. The general 
use which may be made of the table is obvious— but in 
this particular cipher we shall only very partially require its 
aid. As our predominant character is 8, we will commence 
by assuming it as the e of the natural alphabet, To verify 
the supposition, let us observe if the 8 be seen often in couples 
— for e is doubled with great frequency in English — in such 
words, for example, as * meet,' * fleet,' * speed,' *seen,' *been,' 
* agree,' etc. In the present instance we see it doubled no 
less than five times, although the cr)rptograph is briet 

**Let us assume 8 then, as e. Now, of all words in the 
language, *the' is most usual; let us see, therefore, whether 
there are not repetitions of any three characters, in the same 
order of collocation, the last of them being 8. If we dis- 
cover repetitions of such letters, so arranged, they will most 
probably represent the word *the.' Upon inspection, we 



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find no less than seven such arrangements, the characters 
being ;48. We may, therefore, assume that ; represents *, 
4 represents h^ and 8 represents e — the last being now 
well confirmed. Thus a great step has been taken. 

"But, having established a single word, we are enabled 
to establish a vastly important point ; that is to say, several 
commencements and terminations of other words. Let us 
refer, for example, to the last instance but one, in which the 
combination ;48 occurs — not far from the end of the cipher. 
We know that the ; immediately ensuing is the commence- 
ment of a word, and, of the six characters succeeding this 
*the,' we are cognisant of no less than five. Let us set 
these characters down, thus, by the letters we know them 
to represent, leaving a space for the unknown— 

t eeth. 

** Here we are enabled, at once, to discard the * th^ as 
forming no portion of the word commencing with the first 
t; since, by experiment of the entire alphabet for a letter 
adapted to the vacancy, we perceive that no word can be 
formed of which this th can be a part. We are thus narrowed 

t ee, 
and, going through the alphabet, if necessary, as before, we 
arrive at the word * tree,* as the sole possible reading. We 
thus gain another letter, r, represented by (, with the words 
* the tree ' in juxtaposition. 

"Looking beyond these words, for a short distance, we 
again see the combination ;48, and employ it by way of ter- 
mination to what immediately precedes. We have thus this 
arrangement : 

the tree ;4(+?34 the, 

or, substituting the natural letters, where known, it reads thus : 

the tree thrJFjh the. 

" Now, if, in place of the unknown characters, we leave blank 
spaces, or substitute dots, we read thus : 

the tree thr...h the, 
when the word Uhrough^ makes itself evident at once. But this 


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discovery gives us three new letters, ^, u and gy represented 
by t ? and 3. 

" Looking now, narrowly, through the cipher for combina- 
tions of known characters, we find, not very far, from the 
beginning, this arrangement, 

83(88, or egree, 
which, plainly, is the conclusion of the word 'degree,* and 
gives us another letter, //, represented by t. 

"Four letters beyond the word 'degree,' we perceive the 


"Translating the known characters, and representing the 
unknown by dots, as before, we read thus : 

th rtee. 
an arrangement immediately suggestive of the word, * thirteen,' 
and again furnishing us with two new characters, / and n, 
represented by 6 and *. 

" Referring, now, to the beginning of the cryptograph, we 
find the combination, 


" Translating, as before, we obtain 
. good, 
which assures us that the first letter is A^ and that the first two 
words are * A good.' 

"It is now time that we arrange our key, as far as dis- 
covered, in a tabular form, to avoid confusion. It will stand 


5 represents a 

















*' We have, therefore, no less than ten of the most important 

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letters represented, and it will be unnecessary to proceed with 
the details of the solution. I have said enough to convince 
you that ciphers of this nature are readily soluble, and to give 
you some insight into the rationale of their development But 
be assured that the specimen before us appertains to the very 
simplest species of cryptograph. It now only remains to give 
you the full translation of the characters upon the parchment, 
as unriddled. Here it is : — 

<< ^A good glass in the bishops hostel in the devils seat 
forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes north-east and by north 
main branch seventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of 
the death^s-head a bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty 
feet out.''' 

'* But," said I, '* the enigma seems still in as bad a condition 
as ever. How is it possible to extort a meaning from all this 
jargon about 'devil's seats,' Meath's-heads,' and 'bishop's 

" I confess," replied Legrand, " that the matter still wears a 
serious aspect, when regarded with a casual glance. My first 
endeavour was to divide the sentence into the natural division 
intended by the cryptographist" 

" You mean to punctuate it ?" 

" Something of that kind." 

" But how was it possible to effect this ? 

" I reflected that it had been a point with the writer to run 
his words together without division, so as to increase the 
difficulty of solution. Now, a not over-acute man, in pursuing 
such an object, would be nearly certain to overdo the matter. 
When, in the course of his composition, he arrived at a break 
in his subject which would naturally require a pause, or a 
point, he would be exceedingly apt to run his characters, at 
this place, more than usually dose together. If you will 
observe the MS. in the present instance you will easily detect 
five such cases of unusual crowding. Acting upon this hint, I 
made the division thus : — 

" * A good glass in the bishops hostel in the devil's seat^ 
forty^one degrees and thirteen minutes — north-east and by north 


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— main branch seventh limb east side — shoot from the left eye of 
the deaths-head— a bee-line from the tree through the shot fifty 

"Even this division," said I, "leaves me still in the 

"It left me also in the dark," replied Legrand, " for a few 
days, during which I made diligent inquiry, in the neighbour- 
hood of Sullivan's Island, for any building which went by the 
name of the * Bishop's Hotel ; ' for, of course, I dropped the 
obsolete word * hostel.' Gaining no information on the subject, 
I was on the point of extending my sphere of search, and 
proceeding in a more systematic manner, when, one morning, 
it entered into my head, quite suddenly, that this ' Bishop's 
Hostel' might have some reference to an old family, of the 
name of Bessop, which, time out of mind, had held possession 
of an ancient manor-house, about four miles to the north- 
ward of the Island. I accordingly went over to the plantation, 
and re-instituted my inquiries among the older negroes of the 
place. At length one of the most aged of. the women said 
that she had heard of such a place as Bessofs Castle^ and 
thought that she could guide me to it, but that it was not a 
castle, nor a tavern, but a high rock. 

" I offered to pay her well for her trouble, and, after some 
demur, she consented to accompany me to the spot. We 
found it without much difficulty, when, dismissing her, I 
proceeded to examine the place. The * castle' consisted of 
an irregular assemblage of cliffs and rocks— one of the latter 
being quite remarkable for its height as well as for its insulated 
and artificial appearance. I clambered to its apex, and then 
felt much at a loss as to what should be next done. 

"While I was busied in reflection, my eyes fell upon a 
narrow ledge in the eastern face of the rock, perhaps a yard 
below the sunmiit upon which I stood. This ledge projected 
about eighteen inches, and was not more than a foot wide, 
while a niche in the cliff just above it gave it a rude resem- 
blance to one of the hollow-backed chairs used by our 
ancestors. I made no doubt that here wad the 'devil's seat' 


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alluded to in the MS., and now I seemed to grasp the full 
secret of the riddle. 

" The * good glass/ I knew, could have reference to nothing 
but a telescope ; for the word * glass ' is rarely employed in 
any other sense by seamen. Now here, I at once saw, was a 
telescope to be used, and a definite point of view, admitting 
no variation^ from which to use it Nor did I hesitate to 
believe that the phrases, 'forty-one degrees and thirteen 
minutes,' and * north-east and by north,' were intended as 
directions for the levelling of the glass. Greatly excited by 
these discoveries, I hurried home, procured a telescope, and 
returned to the rock. 

"I let myself down to the ledge, and found that it was 
impossible to retain a seat upon it except in one particular 
position. This fact confirmed my preconceived idea. I 
proceeded to use the glass. Of course, the * forty-one degrees 
and thirteen minutes' could allude to nothing but elevation 
above the visible horizon, since the horizontal direction was 
clearly indicated by the words, * north-east and by north.' 
This latter direction I at once established by means of a 
pocket-compass ; then, pointing the glass as nearly at an angle 
of forty-one degrees of elevation as I could do it by guess, I 
moved it cautiously up or down, until my attention was arrested 
by a circular rift or opening in the foliage of a large tree that 
overtopped its fellows in the distance. In the centre of this rift 
I perceived a white spot, but could not, at first, distinguish 
what it was. Adjusting the focus of the telescope, I again 
looked, and now made it out to be a human skulL 

" Upon this discovery I was so sanguine as to consider the 
enigma solved ; for the phrase * main branch, seventh limb, 
east side,' could refer only to the position of the skull upon the 
tree, while 'shoot from the left eye of the death's-head' 
admitted also of but one interpretation, in regard to a search 
for buried treasure. I perceived that the design was to drop a 
bullet from the left eye of the skull, and that a bee-line, or, in 
other words, a straight line, drawn from the nearest point of 
the trunk through ' the shot ' (or the spot where the buUet fellX 


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and thence extended to a distance of fifty feet, would indicate a. 
definite point — and beneath this point I thought it at least 
possible that a deposit of value lay concealed." 

"All this," I said, "is exceedingly clear, and, although 
ingenious, still simple and explicit. When you left the 'Bishop's 
Hotel,* what then?" 

"Why, having carefully taken the bearings of the tree, I 
turned homewards. The instant that I left the * devil's seat,' 
however, the circular rift vanished ; nor could I get a glimpse 
of it afterwards, turn as I would. What seems to me the chief 
ingenuity in this whole business is the fact (for repeated 
experiment has convinced me it is a fact) that the circular 
opening in question is visible from no other attainable point of 
view than that afforded by the narrow ledge upon the fece of 
the rock. 

"In this expedition to the 'Bishop's Hotel' I had been 
attended by Jupiter, who had no doubt observed for some 
weeks past the abstraction of my demeanour, and took especial 
care not to leave me alone. But, on the next day, getting up 
very early, I contrived to give him the slip, and went into the 
hills in search of the tree. After much toil I found it. When I 
came home at night my valet proposed to give me a flogging. 
With the rest of the adventure I believe you are as well 
acquainted as mysel£" 

" I suppose," said I, "you missed the spot, in the first attempt 
at digging, through Jupitei^s stupidity in letting the bug fall 
through the right instead of through the left eye of the 

" Precisely. This mistake made a difference of about two 
inches and a half in the * shot ' — that is to say, in the position of 
the peg nearest the tree ; and had the treasure been beneath the 

* shot,' the error would have been of little moment ; but the 

• shot,' together with the nearest point of the tree, were merely 
two points for the establishment of a line of direction ; of course 
the error, however trivial in the beginning, increased as we 
proceeded with the line, and by the time we had gone fifty 
feet, threw us quite oflF the scent. But for my deep-seated 


tized by Google , 

ii6 The GOLD-BUG. 

impressions that treasure was here somewhere actually buried, 
we might have had all our labour in vain.'' 

" But your grandiloquence, and your conduct in swinging the 
beetle — how excessively odd 1 I was sure you were mad. And 
why did you insist upon letting fall the bug, instead of a bullet, 
from the skull ? " 

** Why, to be frank, I felt somewhat annoyed by your evident 
suspicions touching my sanity, and so resolved to punish you 
quietly, in my own way, by a little bit of sober mystification. 
For this reason I swung the beetle, and for this reason I let it 
fall from the tree. An observation of yours about its great 
weight suggested the latter idea." 

"Yes, I perceive; and now there is only one point which 
puzzles me. What are we to make of the skeletons found in 
the hole?" 

"That is a question I am no more able to answer than 
yourself. There seems, however, only one plausible way of 
accounting for them — and yet it is dreadful to believe in such 
atrocity as my suggestion would imply. It is clear that Kidd — 
if Kidd indeed secreted this treasure, which I doubt not — it is 
clear that he must have had assistance in the labour. But this 
labour concluded, he may have thought it expedient to remove 
all Iparticipants in his secret Perhaps a couple of blows with 
a mattock were sufficient, while his coadjutors were busy in the 
pit ; perhaps it required a dozen— who shall tell? 


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"Nil sapientiae odiosiud acumine nimio." 

— Sbnboa. 

AT Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the autumn 
of 1 8 — , I was enjoying the twofold luxury of meditation 
and a meerschaum, in company with my friend C. Augusta 
Dupin, in his little back library, or book-closet, au iroisilme^ 
No, 33 Rue Donoty Faubourg St Germain, For one hour at 
least we had maintained a profound silence; while each, to 
any casual observer, might have seemed intently and exclu- 
sively occupied with the curling eddies of smoke that oppressed 
the atmosphere of the chamber. For myself, however, I was 
mentally discussing certain topics which had formed matter 
for conversation between us at an earlier period of the even- 
ing ; I mean the affair of the Rue Morgue, and the mystery 
attending the murder of Marie Rog6t. I looked upon it, 
therefore, as something of a coincidence, when the door of 
our apartment was thrown open and admitted our old acquaint- 
ance, Monsieur G , the Prefect of the Parisian police. 

We gave him a hearty welcome ; for there was nearly half 
as much of the entertaining as of the contemptible about the 
man, and we had not seen him for several years. We had 
been sitting in the dark, and Dupin now arose for the purpose 
of lighting a lamp, but sat down again, without doing so, 
upon G.'s saying that he had called to consult us, or rather 
to ask the opinion of my friend, about some official business 
which had occasioned a great deal of trouble. 

" If it is any point requiring reflection,** observed Dupin, 
as he forebore to enkindle the wick, *'we shall examine it to 
better purpose in the dark." 





" That is another of your odd notions," said the Prefect, who 
had a fashion of calling everything " odd " that was beyond 
his comprehension, and thus lived amid an absolute legion of 
" oddities." . 

" Very true," said Dupin, as he supplied his visitor with a 
pipe, and rolled towards him a comfortable chair. 

" And what is the difficulty now ? " I asked. " Nothing more 
in the assassination way, I hope ?" 

" Oh no ; nothing of that nature. The fact is, the business 
is very simple indeed, and I make no doubt that we can 
manage it sufficiently well ourselves ; but then I thought Dupin 
would like to hear the details of it, because it is so excessively 

" Simple and odd," said Dupin. 

" Why, yes ; and not exactly that either. The fact is, we 
have all been a good deal puzzled because the affair is so 
simple, and yet baffles us altogether." 

" Perhaps it is the very simplicity of the thing which puts yoo 
at fault," said my friend. 

"What nonsense you do talk!*' replied the Prefect, laugh- 
ing heartily. 

" Perhaps the mystery is a little too plain," said Dupin. 

" Oh, good heavens I whoever heard of such an idea ?" 

" A little too self-evident" 

" Ha ! ha 1 ha I— ha ! ha ! ha !— ho I ho 1 ho 1" roared our 
visitor, profoundly amused, " Oh, Dupin, you will be the death 
of me yet I " 

"And what, after all, is the matter on hand?" I asked. 

" Why, I will tell you," replied the Prefect, as he gave a long, 
steady, and contemplative puff, and settled himself in his chair. 
" I will tell you in a few words ; but, before I begin, let me 
caution you that this is an affair demanding the greatest 
secrecy, and that I should most probably lose the position I 
now hold were it known that I confided it to anyone." 

" Proceed," said I. 

" Or not," said Dupin. 

" Well, then ; I have received personal information, from a 


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very high quarter that a certain document of the last import- 
ance has been purloined from the royal apartments. The 
individual who purloined it is known ; this beyond a doubt ; he 
was seen to take it It is known, also, that it still remains in 
his possession." 

'* How is this known ?'' asked Dupin. 

" It is clearly inferred," replied the Prefect, " from the nature 
of the document, and from the non-appearance of certain 
results which would at once arise from its passing out of the 
robber's possession ; — that is to say, from his employing it as 
he must design in the end to employ it." 

'' Be a little more explicit," I said. 

'' Well, I may venture so far as to say that the paper gives its 
holder a certain power in a certain quarter where such power 
is immensely valuable." The Prefect was fond of the cant of 

" Still I do not quite understand," said Dupin. 

"No? Well; the disclosure of the document to a third 
person, who shall be nameless, would bring in question the 
honour of a personage of most exalted station ; and this fact 
gives the holder of the document an ascendency over the 
illustrious personage whose honour and peace are so jeopar- 

"But this ascendency," I interposed, "would depend upon 
the robber's knowledge of the loser's knowledge of the robber. 
Who would dare " 

**The thief," said G ^ "is the Minister D ^ who dares 

all things, those unbecoming as well as those becoming a man. 
The method of the theft was not less ingenious than bold. The 
document in question — a letter, to be frank — had been received 
by the personage robbed while alone in the royal boudoir. 
During its perusal she was suddenly interrupted by the 
entrance of the other exalted personage from whom especially 
it was her wish to conceal it. After a hurried and vain 
endeavour to thrust it in a drawer, she was forced to place it, 
open as it was, upon a table. The address, however, was 
uppermost, and the contents thus unexposed, the letter escaped 


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notice. At this juncture enters the Minister D . His lynx 

eye immediately perceives the paper, recognises the hand- 
writing of the address, observes the confusion of the personage 
addressed, and fathoms her secret. After some business tran- 
sactions, hurried through in his ordinary manner, he produces 
a letter somewhat similar to the one in question, opens it, 
pretends to read it, and then places it in dose ju3ctaposition 
to the other. Again he converses for some fifteen minutes 
upon the public affairs. At length, in taking leave, he takes 
also from the table the letter to which he had no claim. Its 
rightful owner saw, but oi course dared not call attention to the 
act in the presence of the third personage, who stood at her 
elbow. The minister decamped, leaving his own letter — one 
of no importance — upon the table." 

" Here, then," said Dupin to me, " you have precisely what 
you demand to make the ascendency complete — the robber's 
knowledge of the loser's knowledge of the robber." 

"Yes," replied the Prefect; "and the power thus attained 
has, for some months past, been wielded for political purposes 
to a very dangerous extent The personage robbed is more 
thoroughly convinced every day of the necessity of reclaim- 
ing her letter. But this of course cannot be done openly. 
In fine, driven to despair, she has committed the matter to 

"Than whom," said Dupin, amid a perfect whirlwind of 
smoke, " no more sagacious agent could, I suppose, be desired, 
or even imagined." 

" You flatter me," replied the Prefect ; " but it b possible 
that some such opinion may have been entertained." 

" It is clear," said I, " as you observe, that the letter is still in 
possession of the minister ; since it is this possession, and not 
any employment of the letter, which bestows the power. With 
the employment the power departs." 

" True," said G ; " and upon this conviction I proceeded. 

My first care was to make thorough search of the minister's 
hotel ; and here my chief embarrassment lay in the necessity of 
searching without his knowledge; Beyond all things, I have 


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been warned of the danger which would result from giving him 
reason to suspect our design." 

*' But/' said I, *' you are quite au fait in these investigations. 
The Parisian police have done this thing often before." 

*< O yes ; and for this reason I did not despair. The habits of 
the minister gave me, too, a great advantage. He is frequently 
absent from home all night. His servants are by no means 
numerous. They sleep at a distance from their master's apart- 
ment, and being chiefly Neapolitans, are readily made drunk. 
I have keys, as you know, with which I can open any chamber 
or cabinet in Paris. For three months a night has not passed, 
during the greater part of which I have not been engaged, 

personally, in ransacking the D Hotel My honour is 

interested, and, to mention a great secret, the reward is enor- 
mous. So I did not abandon the search until I had become 
fully satisfied that the thief is a more astute man than myself. 
I £Eincy that I have investigated every nook and comer of the 
premises in which it is possible that the paper can be con- 

''But is it not possible," I suggested, ''that although the 
letter may be in possession of the minister, as it unquestionably 
is, he may have concealed it elsewhere than upon his own 

" This is barely possible," said Dupin. " The present peculiar 
condition of affairs at court, and especially of those intrigues in 

which D is known to be involved, would render the instant 

availability of the document—its susceptibility of being pro- 
duced at a moment's notice — a point of nearly equal importance 
with its possession." 

" Its susceptibility of being produced ?" said I. 
. " That is to say of being destroyed^^ said Dupin. 

" True," I observed ; " the paper is clearly then upon the 
premises. As for its being upon the person of the minister, we 
may consider that as out of the question." 

" Entirely," said the Prefect. " He has been twice waylaid, 
as if by footpads, and his person rigorously searched under my 
own inspection." 


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" You might have spared yourself this trouble," said Dupm. 

" D , I presume, is not altogether a fool, and, if not, must 

have anticipated these waylayings as a matter of course." 

" Not altogether a fool," said G ; " but then he's a poet, 

which I take to be only one remove from a fooL" 

" True," said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful whiflf from 
his meerschaum, *' although I have been guilty of certain 
doggerel myself.* 

"Suppose you detail," said I, "the particulars of your 

" Why, the fact is, we took our time, and we searched every- 
where, I have had long experience in these affairs. I took 
the entire building, room by room ; devoting the nights of a 
whole week to each. We examined, first, the furniture of each 
apartment We opened every possible drawer ; and I presume 
you know that, to a properly trained police-agent, such a thing 
as a secret drawer is impossible. Any man is a dolt who 
permits a * secret' drawer to escape him in a search of this 
kind. The thing is so plain. There is a certain amount of 
bulk — of space — to be accounted for in every cabinet Then 
we have accurate rules. The fiftieth part of a line could not 
escape us. After the cabinets we took the chairs. The 
cushions we probed with the fine long needles you have seen 
me employ. From the tables we removed the tops." 

"Why so?" 

" Sometimes the top of a table, or other similarly arranged 
piece of furniture, is removed by the person wishing to con- 
ceal an article ; then the leg is excavated, the article deposited 
within the cavity, and the top replaced. The bottoms and 
tops of bedposts are employed in the same way." 

"But could not the cavity be detected by sounding?" I 

" By no means, if, when the article is deposited, a sufficient 
wadding of cotton be placed around it Besides, in our case, 
we were obliged to proceed without noise." 

" But you could not have removed — you could not have 
taken to pieces all articles of furniture in which it would have 


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been possible to make a deposit in the manner you mention. 
A letter may be compressed into a thin spiral roll, not differing 
much in shape or bulk from a large knitting-needle, and in this 
form it might be inserted into the rung of a chair, for example. 
You did not take to pieces all the chairs ? " 

" Certainly not ; but we did better — we examined the rungs 
of every chair in the hotel, and, indeed, the jointings of every 
description of furniture, by the aid of a most powerful micros- 
cope. Had there been any traces of recent disturbance we 
should not have failed to detect it instantly. A single grain 
of gimlet-dust, for example, would have been as obvious as an 
apple. Any disorder in the glueing — ^any unusual gaping in 
the joints — would have sufficed to insure detection." 

^ I presume you looked to the mirrors, between the boards 
and the plates, and you probed the beds and the bedclothes, as 
well as the curtains and carpets." 

"That of course; and when we had absolutely completed 
every particle of the furniture in this way, then we examined 
the house itself. We divided its entire surface into compart- 
ments, which we numbered, so that none might be missed ; 
then we scrutinised each individual square inch throughout the 
premises, including the two houses immediately adjoining, with 
the microscope, as before." 

" The two houses adjoining ? " I exclaimed ; '' you must have 
had a great deal of trouble." 

" We had ; but the reward offered is prodigious." 

" You include the grounds about the houses ? " 

"All the grounds are paved with brick. They gave us com- 
paratively little trouble. We examined the moss between the 
bricks, and found it undisturbed." 

"You looked among D ^'s papers, of course, and into the 

books of the library ?" 

" Certainly ; we opened every package and parcel ; we not 
only opened every book, but we turned over every leaf in each 
volume, not contenting ourselves with a mere shake, according 
to the fashion of some of our police-officers. We also measured 
the thickness of every hook'cover^ with the most accurate 

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admeasurement, and applied to each the most jealous scrutiny 
of the microscope. Had any of the bindings been recently 
meddled with, it would have been utterly impossible that the 
fact should have escaped observation. Some five or six 
volumes, just from the hands of the binder, we carefully 
probed, longitudinally, with the needles." 

"You explored the floors beneath the carpets ? " 

" Beyond doubt. We removed every carpet, and examined 
the boards with the microscope.'' 

"And the paper on the walls ?" 


"You looked into the cellars?" 

"We did." 

"Then," I said, "you have been making a miscalculation, 
and the letter is not upon the premises, as you suppose." 

" I fear you are right there," said the Prefect " And now, 
Dupin, what would you advise me to do ? " 

" To make a thorough re-search of the premises." 

"That is absolutely needless," replied G , "I am not 

more sure that I breathe than I am that the letter is not at the 

" I have no better advice to give you," said Dupin. " You 
have, of course, an accurate description of the letter?" 

" Oh yes ! "—And here the Prefect, producing a memo- 
randum-book, proceeded to read aloud a minute account of the 
internal, and especially of the external appearance of the miss- 
ing document Soon after finishing the perusal of this descrip- 
tion, he took his departure, more entirely depressed in spirits 
than I had ever known the good gentleman before. 

In about a month afterwards he paid us another visit, and 
found us occupied very nearly as before. He took a pipe and 
a chair and entered into some ordinary conversation. At 
length I said, — 

" Well, but G ^ what of the purloined letter ? I presume 

you have at last made up your mind that there is no such thing 
as overreaching the Minister ? " 

"Confound him, say I — ^yes; I made the re-examinatioQ| 


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however, as Dupin suggested — but it was all labour lost, as I 
knew it would be." 

"How much was the reward offered, did you say?" asked 

" Why, a very great deal — a vety liberal reward — I don't like 
to say how much, precisely ; but one thing I will say, that I 
wouldn't mind giving my individual cheque for fifty thousand 
francs to anyone who could obtain me that letter. The £act is, 
it is becoming of more and more importance every day ; and 
the reward has been lately doubled If it were trebled, how- 
ever, I could do no more than I have done." 

"Why, yes," said Dupin, drawlingly, between the whififs of his 

meerschaum, "I really— think, G ^ you have not exerted 

yoursdf— to the utmost in this matter. You might— do a little 
more, I think, eh?" 

" How ? — in what way ?" 

" Why — ^puff, puff— you might — ^puff, puff— employ counsel in 
the matter, eh ? — puff, puff, pufil Do you remember the story 
they tell of Abemethy ? " 

"No; hang Abemethy I " 

" To be sure 1 hang him and welcome. But, once upon a 
time, a certain rich miser conceived the design of sponging 
upon this Abemethy for a medical opinion. Getting up, for 
this purpose, an ordinary conversation in a private company, he 
insinuated the case to his physician as that of an imaginary 

" ' We will suppose,' said the miser, ' that his symptcmis are 
such and such ; now, doctor, what would you have directed 
him to take ?* 

" * Take ! * said Abemethy, * why, take advice^ to be sure.' " 

" But," said the Prefect, a little discomposed, "/ 2an. perfectly 
willing to take advice, and to pay for it I would really give 
fifty thousand francs to any who would aid me in the matter." 

" In that case," replied Dupin, opening a drawer, and pro- 
ducing a cheque-book, " you may as well fill me up a cheque 
for the amount mentioned. When you have signed it, I will 
hand you the letter." 



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I was astounded. The Prefect appeared absolutely thunder- 
stricken. For some minutes he remained speechless and 
motionless, looking incredulously at my friend with open mouth, 
and eyes that seemed starting from their sockets ; then, 
apparently recovering himself in some measure, he seized a 
pen, and after several pauses and vacant stares, finally filled up 
and signed a cheque for fifty thousand francs, and handed it 
across the table to Dupin. The latter examined it carefully 
and deposited it in his pocket-book ; then, unlocking an 
escritoire^ took thence a letter and gave it to the Prefect. This 
functionary grasped it in a perfect agony of joy, opened it with 
a trembling hand, cast a rapid glance at its contents, and then 
scrambling and struggling to the door, rushed at length 
unceremoniously from the room and from the house, without 
having uttered a syllable since Dupin had requested him to fill 
up the cheque. 

When he had gone my friend entered into some explanations. 

"The Parisian police," he said **are exceedingly able in 
their way. They are persevering, ingenious, cunning, and 
thoroughly versed in the knowledge which their duties seem 
chiefly to demand. Thus, when G— detailed to us his mode 

of searching the premises at the Hotel D ^ I felt entire 

confidence in his having made a satisfactory investigation — 
so far as his labours extended." 

" So far as his labours extended ? " said I. 

" Yes,* said Dupin. " The measures adopted were not only 
the best of their kind, but carried out to absolute perfection. 
Had the letter been deposited within the range of their search, 
these fellows would, beyond question, have found it. 

I merely laughed, but he seemed quite serious in aU that 
he said. 

"The measures, then," he continued, "were good in their 
kind, and well executed ; their defect lay in their being inap- 
plicable to the case, and to the man. A certain set of highly- 
ingenious resources are with the Prefect a sort of Procrustean 
bed, to which he forcibly adapts his designs. But he per- 
petually errs by being too deep or too shallow for the matter in 


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hand, and many a schoolboy is a better reasoner than he. I 
knew one about eight years of age, whose success at guessing 
in the game of *even and odd' attracted universal admiration. 
This game is simple, and is played with marbles. One player 
holds in his hand a number of these toys, and demands of 
another whether that number is even or odd. If the guess 
is right the guesser wins one, if wrong, he loses one. The 
boy to whom I allude won all the marbles of the school. Of 
course he had some principle of guessing, and this lay in 
mere observation and admeasurement of the astuteness of 
his opponents. For example, an arrant simpleton is his op- 
ponent, and holding up his closed hand asks, ' are they even 
or odd?' Our schoolboy replies 'odd,' and loses, but upon 
the second trial he wins, for he then says to himself 'the 
simpleton had them even upon the first trial, and his amount 
of cunning is just sufficient to make him have them odd upon 
the second, I will therefore guess odd;' he guesses odd, and 
wins. Now, with a simpleton a degree above the first he would 
have reasoned thus : ' This fellow finds that in the first in- 
stance I guessed odd, and in the second he will propose to 
himself upon the first impulse, a simple variation from even 
to odd, as did the first simpleton, but then a second thought 
will suggest that this is too simple a variation, and finally 
he will decide upon putting it even as before. I will therefore 
guess even ;' he guesses even, and wins. Now, this mode of 
reasoning in the schoolboy, whom his fellows termed * lucky,' 
what in its last analysis is it?" 

"It is merely," I said, " an indentification of the reasoner's 
intellect with that of his opponent." 

"It is," said Dupin, "and upon inquiring of the boy by 
what means he effected the thorough identification in which 
his success consisted, I received answer as follows: *When 
I wish to find out how wise, or how stupid, or how good, or 
how wicked is anyone, or what are his thoughts at the moment, 
I fashion the expression of my face as accurately as possible 
in accordance with the expression of his, and then wait to 
see what thoughts or sentiments arise in my mind or heart, 


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as if to match or correspond with the expression.' This 
response of the schoolboy lies at the bottom of all the spurious 
profundity which has been attributed to Rochefoucauld, to La 
Bruy^re, to Machiavelli, and to Campanella." 

" And the identification," I said, " of the reasoner's intellect 
with that of his opponent depends, if I understand you 
aright, upon the accuracy with which the opponent's intellect 
is admeasured." 

" For its practical value it depends upon this," replied Dupin ; 
''and the Prefect and his cohort fail so frequently, first, by 
default of this identification, and secondly, by ill-admeasure- 
ment, or rather through non-admeasurement of the intellect 
with which they are engaged. They consider only their own 
ideas of ingenuity; and in searching for anything hidden, 
advert only to the modes in which ihey would have hidden it 
They are right in this much — that their own ingenuity is a 
faithful representative of that of the mass; but when the cun- 
ning of the individual felon is diverse in character from their 
own, the felon foils them of course. This always happens when 
it is above their own, and very usually when it is below. They 
have no variation of principle in their investigations ; at best^ 
when urged by some unusual emergency, by some extraordinary 
reward, they extend or exaggerate their old modes of practice^ 
without touching their principles. What, for example, in this 

case of D has been done to vary the principle of action % 

What is all this boring, and probing, and soimding, and scru- 
tinising with the microscope, and dividing the surface of the 
building into registered square inches — what is it all but an 
exaggeration of the application of the one principle or set of 
principles of search, which are based upon the one set of 
notions regarding human ingenuity, to which the Prefect in the 
long routine of his duty has been accustomed ? Do you not 
see he has taken it for granted that all men proceed to conceal 
a letter — not exactly in a gimlet-hole bored in a chair-leg — ^but, 
at least, in some out-of-the-way hole or comer suggested by the 
same tenor of thought which would urge a man to secrete a 
letter in a gimlet-hole bored in a chair-leg ? And do you not 


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see also that such reckerchi nooks for concealment are adapted 
only for ordinary occasions, and would be adopted only by 
ordinary intellects, for, in all cases of concealment, a disposal 
of the article concealed, a disposal of it in this recherchd man- 
ner, is in the very first instance presumable and presumed, and 
thus its discovery depends, not at all upon the acumen, but 
altogether upon the mere care, patience, and determination of 
the seekers, and where the case is of importance, or what 
amounts to the same thing in the policial eyes, when the 
reward is of magnitude, the qualities in question have never 
been known to fail 1 You will now understand what I meant 
in suggesting that had the purloined letter been hidden any- 
where within the limits of the Prefect's examination — in other 
words, had the principle of its concealment been comprehended 
within the principles of the Prefect — its discovery would have 
been a matter altogether beyond question. This functionary 
however, has been thoroughly mystified, and the remote source 
of his defeat lies in the supposition that the Minister is a fool 
because he has acquired renown as a poet All fools are poets, 
this the Prefect y^^/f, and he is merely guilty of a non distributio 
medii in thence inferring that all poets are fools." 

"But is this really the poet?" I asked. "There are two 
brothers, I know, and both have attained reputation in letters. 
The Minister, I believe, has written learnedly on the Differential 
Calculus. He is a mathematician and no poet." 

" You are mistaken ; I know him well ; he is both. As poet 
and mathematician he would reason well ; as mere mathema- 
tician he could not have reasoned at all, and thus would have 
been at the mercy of the Prefect." 

" You surprise me," I said, " by these opinions, which have 
been contradicted by the voice of the world. You do not 
mean to set at naught the well-digested idea of centuries. The 
mathematical reason has long been regarded as the reason par 

" ^11 y a d parier} " replied Dupin, quoting from Chamfort, 
" ^que toute idiepublique^ taute convention regue^ est une sottise^ 
car elU a convenu au plus grand nombre^ The mathematicians. 


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I grant you, have done their best to promulgate the popular 
error to which you allude, and which is none the less an error 
for its promulgation as truth. With an art worthy a better 
cause, for example, they have insinuated the term * analysis'- 
into application to algebra. The French are the originators of 
this particular deception, but if a term is of any importance, if 
words derive any value from applicability, then 'analysis' con- 
veys * algebra ' about as much as, in Latin, * ambitus ' implies 
'ambition,' ^religio^ 'religion,' or ^homines honestii a set of 
honourable men." 

" You have a quarrel on hand, I see," said I, " with some of 
the algebraists of Paris — ^but proceed." 

" I dispute the availability, and thus the value of that reason 
which is cultivated in any especial form other than the 
abstractly logical. I dispute in particular the reason educed 
by mathematical study. The mathematics are the science of 
form and quantity, mathematical reasoning is merely logic 
applied to observation upon form and quantity. The great 
error lies in supposing that even the truths of what is called 
pure algebra are abstract or general truths. And this error is 
so egregious that I am confounded at the universality with 
which it has been received. Mathematical axioms are not 
axioms of general truth. What is true of relation — of form and 
quantity — is often grossly false in regard to morals, for example. 
In this latter science it is very usually f^;itrue that the aggre- 
gated parts are equal to the whole. In chemistry also the 
axiom fails. In the consideration of motive it fails, for two 
motives, each of a given value, have not necessarily a value 
when united equal to the sum of their values apart There are 
numerous other mathematical truths which are only truths 
within the limits of relation. But the mathematician argues 
from his finite truths^ through habit, as if they were of an 
absolutely general applicability — as the world indeed imagines 
them to be. Bryant, in his very learned Mythology mentions 
an analogous source of error, when he says that ' ^though the 
Pagan fables are not believed, yet we foi^get ourselves con- 
tinually, and make inferences from them as existing realities.' 


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With the algebraists, however, who are Pagans themselves, the 
* Pagan fables ' are believed, and the inferences are made, not 
so much through lapse of memory as through an unaccountable 
addling of the brains. In short, I never yet encountered the 
mere mathematician who could be trusted out of equal roots, or 
one who did not clandestinely hold it as a point of his faith that 
^+fx was absolutely and unconditionally equal to q. Say to 
one of these gentlemen, by way of experiment, if you please, 
that you believe occasions may occur where :^+px is not 
altogether equal to ^, and having made him understand what 
you mean, get out of his reach as speedily as convenient, for 
beyond doubt he will endeavour to knock you down. 

" I mean to say," continued Dupin, while I merely laughed at 
his last observations, *^that if the Minister had been no more 
than a mathematician, the Prefect would have been under no 
necessity of giving me this check. I knew him, however, as 
both mathematician and poet, and my measures were adapted 
to his capacity, with reference to the circumstances by which he 
was surrounded. I knew him as a courtier, too, and as a bold 
intrigant Such a man, I considered, could not fail to be 
aware of the ordinary policial modes of action. He could not 
have failed to anticipate — and events have proved that he did 
not fail to anticipate — the waylayings to which he was sub- 
jected. He must have foreseen, I reflected, the secret investi- 
gations of his premises. His frequent absences from home at 
night, which were hailed by the Prefect as certain aids to his 
success, I regarded only as ruses^ to afford opportunity for 
thorough search to the police, and thus the sooner to impress 
them with the conviction to which G— — , in fact, did finally 
arrive — ^the conviction that the letter was not upon the premises. 
I felt, also, .that the whole train of thought which I was at some 
pains in detailing to you just now, concerning the invariable 
principle of policial action in searches for articles concealed—I 
felt that this whole train of thought would necessarily pass 
through the mind of the Minister. It would imperatively lead 
him to despise all the ordinary nooks of concealment He 
could not, I reflected, be so weak as not to see that the most 


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intricate and remote recess of his hotel would be as open as his 
commonest closets to the eyes, to the probes, to the gimlets, 
and to the microscopes of the Prefect I saw, in fine, that he 
would be driven, as a matter of course, to simplicity^ if not 
deliberately induced to it as a matter of choice. You will 
remember, perhaps, how desperately the Prefect laughed when 
I suggested, upon our first interview, that it was just possible 
this mystery troubled him so much on account of its being so 
very self-evident** 

"Yes," said I, "I remember his merriment well I really 
thought he would have fallen into convulsions." 

" The material world," continued Dupin, " abounds with very 
strict analogies to the immaterial ; and thus some colour of 
truth has been given to the rhetorical dogma that metaphor or 
simile may be made to strengthen an aigument as well as to 
embellbh a description. The principle of the vis inertia^ for 
example, 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 subse- 
quent momentum is commensurate with this difficulty, than it 
is, in the latter, that intellects of the vaster capacity, while more 
forcible, more constant, and more eventful in their movements 
than those of inferior grade, are yet the less readily moved, and 
more embarrassed and full of hesitation in the first few steps of 
their progress. Again ; have you ever noticed which of the 
street signs over the shop-doors are the most attractive of 

" I have never given the matter a thought," I said. 

" There is a game of puzzles," he resumed, " which is played 
upon a map. One party playing requires another to find a 
given word— the name of town, river, state, or eijppire— any 
word, in short, upon the motley and perplexed surface of the 
chart A novice in the game generally seeks to embarrass his 
opponents by giving them the most minutely lettered names, 
but the adept selects such words as stretch, in large characters, 
from one end of the chart to the other. These, like the 
over-largely lettered signs and placards of the street, escape 


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observation by dint of being excessively obvious ; and here 
the physical oversight is precisely analogous with the moral 
inapprehension by which the intellect suffers to pass unnoticed 
those considerations which are too obtrusively and too palpably 
self-evident But this is a point, it appears, somewhat above or 
beneath the understanding of the Prefect He never once 
thought it probable, or possible, that the Minister had deposited 
the letter immediately beneath the nose of the whole world, by 
way of best preventing any portion of that world from perceiv- 
ing it 

*^But the more I reflected upon the daring, dashing, and 

discriminating ingenuity of D ; upon the fact that the 

document must always have been at hand if he intended to use 
it to good purpose ; and upon the decisive evidence, obtained 
by the Prefect, that it was not hidden within the limits of that 
dignitary's ordinary search — the more satisfied I became that, 
to conceal this letter, the Minister had resorted to the compre- 
hensive and sagacious expedient of not attempting to conceal it 
at all. 

" Full of these ideas, I prepared myself with a pair of green 
spectacles, and called one fine morning, quite by accident, at 
the Ministerial hotel. I found D at home, yawning, loung- 
ing, and dawdling, as usual, and pretending to be in the last 
extremity of ennui. He is, perhaps, the most really energetic 
human being now alive — ^but that is only when nobody sees 

" To be even with him, I complained of my weak eyes, and 
lamented the necessity of the spectacles, under cover of which 
I cautiously and thoroughly surveyed the whole apartment, 
while seemingly intent only upon the conversation of my host 

" I paid especial attention to a large writing-table near which 
he sat, and upon which lay confusedly some miscellaneous letters 
and other papers, with one or two musical instruments and a 
few books. Here, however, after a long and very deliberate 
scrutiny, I saw nothing to excite particular suspicion. 

" At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, fell 
upon a trumpery filigree card-rack of pasteboard that hung 


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dangling by a dirty blue ribbon from a little brass knob just 
beneath the middle of the mantelpiece. In this rack, which 
had three or four compartments, were five or six visiting cards 
and a solitary letter. This last was much soiled and crumpled. 
It was torn nearly in two, across the middle — as if a design, in 
the first instance, to tear it entirely up as worthless, had been 
altered, or stayed, in the second. It had a large black 
seal, bearing the D— cipher very conspicuously, and was 

addressed, in a diminutive female hand, to D ^ the Minister, 

himself. It was thrust carelessly, and even, as it seemed, con- 
temptuously, into one of the uppermost divisions of the rack. 

'^ No sooner had I glanced at this letter than I concluded it 
to be that of which I was in search. To be sure, it was to all 
appearance radically different firom the one of which the 
Prefect had read us so minute a description. Here the seal 

was large and black, with the D cipher; there it was 

small and red, with the ducal arms of the S family. Here 

the address, to the Minister, was diminutive and feminine ; 
there the superscription, to a certain royal personage, was 
markedly bold and decided ; the size alone formed a point of 
correspondence. But, then, the radicalness of these differ- 
ences, which was excessive ; the dirt ; the soiled and torn 
condition of the paper, so inconsistent with the true methodical 

habits of D ^ and so suggestive of a design to delude the 

beholder into an idea of the worthlessness of the document ; 
these things, together with the hyper-obtrusive situation of 
this document, full in the view of every visitor, and thus 
exactly in accordance with the conclusions to which I had 
previously arrived : these things, I say, were strongly cor- 
roborative of suspicion in one who came with the intention to 

" I protracted my visit as long as possible, and while I 
maintained a most animated discussion with the Minister upon 
a topic which I knew well had never failed to interest and 
excite him, I kept my attention really rivetted upon the letter. 
In this examination I committed to memory its external 
appearance and arrangement in the rack; and also fell, at 


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length, upon a discovery which set at rest whatever trivial 
doubt I might have entertained. In scrutinising the edges of 
the paper I observed them to be more chafed than seemed 
necessary. They presented the broken appearance which is 
manifested when a stiff paper, having been once folded and 
pressed with a folder, is refolded in a reversed direction, in the 
same creases or edges which had formed the original fold. 
This discovery was sufficient. It was clear to me that the 
letter had been turned as a glove, inside out, re-directed and 
re-sealed. I bade the Minister good morning and took my 
departure at once, leaving a gold snuff-box upon the table. 

"The next morning I called for the snuff-box, when we 
resumed quite eagerly the conversation of the preceding day. 
While thus engaged, however, a loud report as if of a pistol, 
was heard immediately beneath the windows of the hotel, and 
was succeeded by a series of fearful screams, and the shoutings 

of a terrified mob. D rushed to a casement, threw it 

open, and looked out In the meantime I stepped to the card- 
rack, took the letter, put it in my pocket, and replaced it by a 
facsimile (so far as regards externals), which I had carefully 
prepared at my lodgings — imitating the D— - cipher very 
readily by means of a seal formed of bread. 

" The disturbance in the street had been occasioned by the 
frantic behaviour of a man with a musket. He had fired it 
among a crowd of women and children. It proved, however, 
to have been without ball, and the fellow was suffered to go his 

way as a lunatic or a drunkard When he had gone, D 

came from the window, whither I had followed him immedi- 
ately upon securing the object in view. Soon afterwards I bade 
him farewell. The pretended lunatic was a man in my own pay.** 

"But what purpose had you," I asked, "in replacing the 
letter by a facsimile t Would it not have been better at the 
first visit to have seized it openly, and departed ?" 

" D ^," replied Dupin, " is a desperate man and a man of 

nerve. His hotel, too, is not without attendants devoted to his 
interests. Had I made the wild attempt you suggest I might 
never have left the Ministerial presence alive. The good 


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people of Paris might have heard of me no more. But I had 
an object apart from these considerations. You know my 
political prepossessions. In this matter, I act as a partisan of 
the lady concerned. For eighteen months the Minister has 
had her in his power. She has now him in hers — since, being 
unaware that the letter is not in his possession, he will proceed 
with his exactions as if it was. Thus will he inevitably commit 
himself at once to his political destruction. His downfall, too, 
will not be more precipitate than awkward. It is all very well 
to talk about the facilis descensus Avemi^ but in all kinds of 
climbing, as Catalan! said of singing, it is far more easy to get 
up than to come down. In the present instance I have no 
sympathy— at least no pity — for him who descends. He is 
that monstrum horrendum^ an unprincipled man of genius. I 
confess, however, that I should like very well to know the 
precise character of his thoughts, when, being defied by her 
whom the Prefect terms *a certain personage,' he is reduced to 
opening the letter which I left for him in the card-rack." 
" How ? did you put anything particular in it ? " 
"Why — ^it did not seem altogether right to leave the 

interior blank— that would have been insulting. D , at 

Vienna, once did me an evil turn, which I told him, quite 
good-humouredly, that I should remember. So, as I knew 
he would feel some curiosity in regard to the identity of the 
person who had outwitted him, I thought it a pity not 
to give him a clue. He is well acquainted with my MS., 
and I just copied into the middle of the blank sheet the 
words — 

" * Un -dessein si funeste, 

S'il n'est digne d'Atree, est digne de Thyeste.' 

They are to be found in Crdbillon's * Atrde.'" 


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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 eflect, 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 


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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 
alternation 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 pre-judgment 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 admir- 
able which we before condenmed — that damnable which we 
had prievously so much admired. It follows from all this that 
the ultimate, aggregrate, or absolute effect of even the best epic 
under the sun, is a nullity — and this is precisely the £ict 

In regard to the lUady we have, if not positive proo( 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 modem epic is, of the 
suppositional 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 I A moun- 
tain, 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 
fifrandeur of even "The Columbiad.'' Even the Quarterlies 


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have not instructed us to be so impressed by it. As yety 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 continued 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 just been urging, will be received 
as self-evident In the meantime, by being generally con- 
demned as falsities, they will not be essentially damaged as 

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 Bdranger has wrought innumerable things, pungent 
and spirit-stirring, but in general they have been too imponder- 
ous 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. 



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I arise from dreams of thee, 

And a spirit in my feet 
Has led me— who knows how ? — 

To thy chamber-window, sweet I 

The wandering airs they faint 

On the dark, the silent stream — 
The champak odours fail 

like sweet thoughts in a dream ; 
The nightingale's complaint, 

It dies upon her heart. 
As I must die on thine, 

0, beloved as thou art 1 

0, lift me from the grass 1 

I die, I faint, I fail I 
Let thy love in kisses rain 

On my lips and eyelids pale. 
My cheek is cold and white, alas t 

My heart beats loud and fast : 
Oh ! press it close to thine again, 

Where it will break at last 1 " 

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. 


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Peace cliarm'dthe 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 — 
Her heart was cold to all but gold, 

And the rich came not to woo~ 
But honour'd well are 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 — 
Twizt Want and Scorn she walk'd forlorn. 

And nothing could avaiL 

No mei-cy now can clear her brow 

From this world's peace to pray, 
For as love's wild prayer dissolved in air. 

Her woman's heart gave way I — 
But the sin foigiven by Christ in Heaven 

By man is cursed alway 1 " 

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 accom- 
plished more in the corruption of our Poetical Literature 




than all its other enemies combined. I allude to the heresy 
of The Didactic. It has been assumed, tacitly and avowedly, 
directly ^nd 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 patronised 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 our- 
selves 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, unimpas- 
sioned. 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 differences 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 


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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 it occupies in the mind. 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 display- 
ing 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 

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 
odours, 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 colours, and odours, 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 odours, and 
colours, and sentiments, which greet him in common with 
all mankind — he, I say, has yet failed 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 unquench- 
able, 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 


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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 Abbat^ 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 Xofeel 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, rh3rthm, 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 


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development. The old Bards and Minnesingers had advan- 
tages 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 souly 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 
Mr. 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. 

Bead 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 labour, 
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. 


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And the night shall be filled with musie, 

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 snblime 

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 ecLse 
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 wax-works. 

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. 


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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, hi 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 light and bloom 
Should keep them lingering by my tomb. 

These to their soften'd hearts should bear 

The thought 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 


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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 manifesta- 
tions 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 Coote Pinkney : — 

" I fill this cup to one made np 

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 music's own, 

Like those of morning birds, 
And something more than melody 

Dwells ever in her words ; 
The coinage of her heart are they. 

And f^om her lips each flows 
As one may see the burden'd bee 

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 ! 


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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 this cup to one made up 

Of loveliness alone, 
A woman, of her gentle sez 

The seeming paragon — 
Her health t and would on earth there stood 

Some more of such a frame. 
That life might be all poetry, 

And weariness a name 1 " 

It was the misfortune of Mr. Pinkney 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 iot 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 


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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 /«/, 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 1 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 too 1 " 

h. has been the fashion of late days to deny Moore Imagina- 
tion, 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. 


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the idea that be 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 
imaginaiivey in the best sense, than the lines commencing — 
'^ I would I were by that dim lake" — which are the composition 
of Thomas Moore. I regret that I am unable to remember 

One of the noblest— and, speaking of Fancy, one of the most 
singular fanciful of modem poets, was Thomas Hood. 
His "Fair Ines" had always for me an inexpressible 
charm: — 

*' saw ye not fair Ines I 
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 

I dare not even write I 

Would I had been, fair Ines, 

That gallant cavalier. 
Who rode so gaily by liiy side, 

And whispered 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 ? 


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I saw thee, lovely Ines, 

Descend along the shore, 
With bands of noble gentlemen, 

And banners wav'd 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 I 

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 t " 

** 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 ofifer 
the universally appreciated " Bridge of Sighs." 

" One more Unfortunate, 
Weary of breath, 
Bashly importunate. 
Gone to her death 1 

Take her up tenderly, 
Lift her with care ; — 
Fashion'd so slenderly. 
Young, and so fair I 






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 staias of her. 
All that remains of her 
Now is pure womanly. 

Make no deep scrutiny 
Into her mutiny 
Eash and undutiful ; 
Past all dishonour, 
Death has left on her 
Only the beautiful. 

Still, for all slips of hers, 
One of Eve's 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 ; 
Even God's providence 
Seeming estranged. 

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 
Out of 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 1 

Take her up tenderly 
Lift her with care 


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Fashion'd so slenderly, 
Young, and so fair 1 
Ere her limbs frigidly 
Stiffen too rigidly, 
Decently,— kindly, — 
Smooth, and compose them ; 
And her eyes, close them. 
Staring so blindly ! 

Dreadfully staring 
Through muddy impurity, 
As when with the daring 
Last look of despairing 
Fixed on futurity. 

Perishing gloomilyi 
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 canying the fanciful to 
the very verge of the fantastic, is nevertheless admirably 
adapted to the wild insanity which is the thesis of the 

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 the^ 



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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 ihu. 

From the wreck of the past, which hath perished, 

Thus much I at least may recall. 
It hath taught me that which I most cherifihed, 

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 


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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 he 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 remembered 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 ; 
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 


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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 1 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 Dionsean 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 wa$ 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 

We shall reach, however, more immediately a distinct con- 
ception 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 shrub- 
beries, 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 iEolus, 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-sacri- 
ficing 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 


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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 modem and altogether 
rational ideas of the absurdity and impiety of warfare, we are 
not precisely in that frame of mind best adapted to sym- 
pathise with the sentiments, and thus to appreciate the real 
excellence of the poem. To do this fully we must identify 
ourselves in £ancy with the soul of the old cavalier. 

'* A steed 1 a steed ! of matchless speed ! 

A sword of metal keen I 
All else to noble hearts is dross — 

All else on earth is mean. 
The neighing of the war-horse proud, 

The rolling of the drum. 
The clangonr of the tmmpet loud— 

Be sounds from heaven that come. 
And oh ! the thundering press of knights, 

When as their war-cries swell, 
May toll firom heaven an angel bright, 

And rouse a fiend from hell. 

Then mount 1 then mount, brave gallants, all. 

And don your helms amain : 
Death's couriers. Fame and Honour, call 

Us to the field again. 
No shrewish tears shall fill our eye 

When the sword-hilt's in our hand, — 
Heart-whole well part, and no whit sigh 

For the fairest of the land ; 
Let piping swain, and craven wight. 

Thus weep and puling cry, 
Our business is like men to fight. 

And hero-like to die!" 

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CHARLES DICKENS, in a note now lying before me, 
alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism 
of Bamaby 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's 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 con- 
stantly 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 

There is a radical error, I think, in the usual mode of con- 
structing 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 authorial comment, 
whatever crevices of fact or action may, from page to page, 
render themselves apparent 

I prefer commencing with the consideration of ain effecL 


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Keeping originality always in view — for he is false to himself 
who ventures to dispense with so obvious and so easily attain- 
able a source of interest — I say to myself, in the first place, 
" Of the innumerable effects or impressions of which the he 
the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, ^hat^ 
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 — ^afterwards 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 authorial 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 com- 
pose 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 rejec- 
tions — 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 the 
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. 


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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 pro- 
ceeded 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 circum- 
stance — 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 essen- 
tially 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 


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The philosophy op composition, 265 

It appears evident, then, that there is a distinct limit, as 
regards length, to all works of literary art^he limit of a single 
sitting — and that, although in certain classes of pure composi- 
tion, 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 i^i intellect, or of heart — upon 
which I have commented, and which is experienced in con- 
sequence of contemplating ** the beautiful.'' Now I designate 
Beauty as the province of the poem, merely because it is an 


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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 excite- 
ment, 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. Melandioly is thus the most 
legitimate of all the poetical tones. 

The length, the province, and the tone, being thus deter- 
mined, 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 /^//i/lr, 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 submittmg 
it to analysis. I considered it, however, with regard to its 


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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 con- 
tinuously 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 pro- 
portion 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 refrainy the division of the poem 
into stanzas was, of course, a corollary, the refrain forming the 
close of 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 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 predetermined 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 at once found in inventing a sufficiently plausible reason for 
its continuous repetition, I did not fail to perceive that this 


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difficulty arose solely from the preassumption that the word was 
to be so continuously or monotonously spoken by a human 
being — I did not iiaul 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 «^«-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 the poem of melancholy 
tone, and in length about one hundred lines. Now, never 
losing sight of the oh)tcXsupremeness 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 pro- 
pounded by the lover — the first query to which the Raven 
should reply "Nevermore" — that I could make this first 


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query a commonplace one, the second less so, the third 
still less, and so on, until at length the lover, starded 
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 " Never- 
more'' 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 con- 
struction, I first established in my mind the climax or con- 
cluding 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 1 " said I, " thing of evil I prophet still if bird or devU I 
By that Heaven that bends above ns— by that Grod 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 establish- 
ing 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^ 


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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 

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 cata- 
lectio repeated in the refrain of the fifth verse, and terminating 
with tetrametre catalectic Less pedantically — the feet em- 
ployed 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 com- 
bination 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^ 


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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 indis- 
putable moral power in keeping concentrated the attention, 
and, of course, must not be confounded with mere unity of 

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 *Uapping" 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 sonor- 
ousness of the word, Pallas, itsel£ 

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 


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Raven's entrance. He comes in "with many a flirt and 

Not the Uast obeisance made Ae— not a moment stopped or stayed he, 
Butf vnih 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 grane and stem decorum qf the countenance it wore, 
« Though thy orest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, *' art sore no 

Ghastly grim and ancient Baven wandering from the Nightly shore — 
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore ! *' 
Quoth the Baven, " Nevermore." 

Much I marvelled this ungainly foiol 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 cha'inber door- 
Bird or beast upon the sctUptured bust above Ms charnber door, 
With such name as " Nevermore." 

The effect of the ddnouement 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 Baven, 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 thou^ght, 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— yfhXcYi is now brought about as rapidly and as 
directly as possible. 


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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, "Never- 
more " — 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 skilfully, 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 



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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 lines — 

«f Take thy beak from out my hea/rty and take thy form from off my door J " 
Quoth the Raven, ** Nevermore 1" 

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 emblematical — but it is not 
until the very last line of the very last stanza that the intention 
or 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's that is dreaming, 
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor ; 
And my soul from, out thai shadow that lies floating on the floor 
Shall be lifted — ^nevermore. 


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THE tale proper, in my 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 
I bidden to say how the highest genius could be most 
advantageously employed for the best display of its own 
powers, I should answer, without hesitation— in the composi- 
tion 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 I 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 composi- 
tion, 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 \» 
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 


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27^ ITAWTirORJ^M'S ''TlVICE'TOLD tales:' 

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 I called upon, however, to designate that class of 
composition which, next to such a poem as I have suggested 
should best fulfil the demands of high genius — should offer it 
the most advantageous field of exertion — I should unhesitat- 
ingly speak of the prose tale, as Mr. Hawthorne has here 
exemplified it. I 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 outbringing 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 


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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 bis 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 antago- 
nistical 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 
parenth^se^ that the author who aims at the purely beautiful 
in a prose tale is labouring at a 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 
)>Ut 46m^n4 th^t th^ design intended be accomplished, to 


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the fullest extent, by the means most advantageously applic- 

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 vigour 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— an Art sub- 
servient 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 pur- 
pose 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. Hawthorne's 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 
the 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 in cUl 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 quit- 
ting his wife and residing incognito^ for twenty years, in her 
immediate neighbourhood. Something of this kind actually 


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happened in London. The force of Mr. HaAvthorne's 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 cavaire. 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 pene- 
trating 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 height- 
ened 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 


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intelligence. Throughout this article also, the artist is con- 
spicuous—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 tellsy and there is not a 
word which does not tell 

In the way of objection I 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. I only regret that my limits will not permit me to 
pay him that full tribute of commendation which, under other 
circumstances, I should be so eager to pay. 

The reputation of the author of Twice- Told Tales has been 
confined, until very lately, to literary society ; and I have not 
been wrong, perhaps, in citing him as the exsLmplCy par excet' 
tence, in this country, of the privately-admired and publicly- 
unappreciated man of genius 

Beyond doubt, this inappreciation of him on the part of 
the public arose chiefly from the two causes to which I have 
referred — from the facts that he is neither a man of wealth 
nor a quack ; but these are insufficient to account for the 
whole effect. No small portion of it is attributable to the 
very marked idiosyncrasy of Mr. Hawthorne himself. In one 
sense, and in great measure, to be peculiar is to be original, 
and than the true originality there is no higher literary virtue. 
This true or commendable originality, however, implies not 
the uniform, but the continuous peculiarity — a peculiarity 
springing from ever-active vigour of fancy — ^better still if from 
ever-present force of imagination, giving its own hue, its own 
character to everything it touches, and especially, self-impelled 
to touch everything, ....,.,.,, 


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The "peculiarity," or sameness, or monotone of Hawthorne, 
would, in its mere character of "peculiarity," and without 
reference to what is the peculiarity, suffice to deprive him of all 
chance of popular appreciation. But at his failure to be appre- 
ciated, we can, of course^ no longer wonder, when we find him 
monotonous at decidedly the worst of all possible points — at 
that point which, having the least concern with Nature, is the 
farthest removed from the popular intellect, from the popular 
sentiment, and from the popular taste. I allude to the strain of 
allegory which completely overwhelms the greater number of 
his subjects, and which in some measure interferes with the 
direct conduct of absolutely all. 

In defence of allegory (however, or for whatever object 
employed), there is scarcely one respectable word to be said. 
Its best appeals are made to the fancy — that is to say, to our 
sense of adaptation, not of matters proper, but of matters 
improper for the purpose, of the real with the unreal ; having 
never more of intelligible connection than has something with 
nothing, never half so much of effective affinity as has the 
substance for the shadow. The deepest emotion aroused 
within us by the happiest allegory, as allegory, is a very, very 
imperfectly satisfied sense of the writer's ingenuity in over- 
coming a difficulty we should have preferred his not having 
attempted to overcome. The fallacy of the idea that allegory, 
in any of its moods, can be made to enforce a truth — that 
metaphor, for example, may illustrate as well as embellish an 
argument— could be promptly demonstrated ; the converse of 
the supposed fact might be shown, indeed, with very little 
trouble — but these are topics foreign to my present purpose. 
One thing is clear, that if allegory ever establishes a fact, it is 
by dint of overturning a fiction. Where the suggested meaning 
runs through the obvious one in a very profound under-current, 
so as never to interfere with the upper one without our own 
volition, so as never to show itself unless ccilled to the surface, 
there only, for the proper uses of fictitious narrative, is it avail- 
able at all. Under the best circumstances, it must always 
interfere with that unity of effect which, to th^ artist, is worth 


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all the allegory in the world. Its vital injury, however, is 
rendered to the most vitally important point in fiction — ^that of 
earnestness or verisimilitude. That The Pilgrinis Progress is 
a ludicrously over-rated book, owing its seeming popularity to 
one or two of those accidents in critical literature, which by the 
critical are sufficiently well understood, is a matter upon which 
no two thinking people disagree; but the pleasure derivable 
from it, in any sense, will be found in the direct ratio of the 
reader's capacity to smother its true purpose, in the direct ratio 
of his ability to keep the allegory out of sight, or of his /Viability 
to comprehend it Of allegory properly handled, judiciously 
subdued, seen only as a shadow or by suggestive glimpses, and 
making its nearest approach to truth in a not obtrusive, and 
therefore not unpleasant, appositeness^ the Undine of De La 
Motte Fouqud is the best, and undoubtedly a very remarkable 

The obvious causes, however, which have prevented Mr. 
Hawthorne's popularity^ do not suffice to condemn him in the 
eyes of the few who belong properly to books, and to whom 
books, perhaps, do not quite so properly belong. These few 
estimate an author, not as do the public, altogether by what he 
does, but in great measure — indeed, even in the greatest 
measure — by what he evinces a capability of doing. In this 
view, Hawthorne stands among literary people in America 
much in the same light as did Coleridge in England. The few 
also, through a certain warping of the taste, which long ponder- 
ing upon books as books merely never fails to induce, are not 
in condition to view the errors of a scholar as errors altogether. 
At any time these gentlemen are prone to think the public not 
right rather than an educated author wrong. But the simple 
truth is, that the writer who aims at impressing the people, is 
always wrong wTien he fails in forcing that people to receive the 
impression. How far Mr. Hawthorne has addressed the people 
at all, is, of course, not a question for me to decide. His books 
afford strong internal evidence of having been written to himself 
and his particular friends alone. 

There has long ej^ist^d in literature a fatal and unfounded 


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prejudice, which it will be the office of this age to overthrow — 
the idea that the mere bulk of a work must enter largely into 
our estimate of its merit. I do not suppose even the weakest 
of the Quarterly reviewers weak enough to maintain that in a 
book's size or mass, abstractly considered, there is anything 
which especially calls for our admiration. A mountain, simply 
through the sensation of physical magnitude which it conveys, 
does indeed affect us with a sense of the sublime, but we cannot 
admit any such influence in the contemplation even of " The 
Columbiad." The Quarterlies themselves will not admit it. 
And yet, what else are we to understand by their continual 
prating about "sustained efforts?" Granted that this sus- 
tained effort has accomplished an epic — let us then admire the 
effort (if this be a thing admirable), but certainly not the epic 
on the effort's account. Common-sense, in the time to come, 
may possibly insist upon measuring a work of art rather by the 
object it fulfils, by the impression it makes, than by the time it 
took to fulfil the object, or by the extent of " sustained effort " 
which became necessary to produce the impression. The fact 
is, that perseverance is one thing and genius quite another ; 
nor can all the transcendentalists in Heathendom confound 
them. — [Review of Hawthorne. "l 


Of the Essays [included in the volume of Twice- Told Tales], I 
must be content to speak in brief. They are each and all 
beautiful, without being characterised by the polish and adapta- 
tion 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 repose 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 ^s we read | ^nd wit^ial i? ^ calm z^tQuighment that 


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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 Hawthorne have in common that 
tranquil and subdued manner which I have chosen to denom- 
inate 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 me the absence of effort is too obvious to be 
mistaken, and a strong under-current of suggestion runs con- 
tinuously 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 melan- 
choly, and by indolence. — [Review of Hawthorne^ 


That Miss Barrett* has done more, in poetry, than any 
woman, living or dead, will scarcely be questioned ; that she 
has surpassed all her poetical contemporaries of either sex 
(with a single exception), is our deliberate opinion— not idly 

♦ This review w^ wrUte« before \<st marriage to My. Browning.— Ep, 


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entertained, we think, nor founded on any visionary basis. It 
may not be uninteresting, therefore, in closing this examination 
of her claims, to determine in what manner she holds poetical 
relation with these contemporaries, or with her immediate pre- 
decessors, and especially with the great exception to which we 
have alluded — if at all. 

If ever mortal "wrecked his thoughts upon expression " it 
was Shelley. If ever poet sang (as a bird sings) impulsively, 
earnestly, with utter abandonment, to himself solely, and for 
the mere joy of his own song, that poet was the author of the 
" Sensitive Plant" Of Art— beyond that which is the inalien- 
able instinct of Genius — he either had little or disdained all. 
He really disdained that Rule which is the emanation from 
Law, because his own soul was law in itself. His rhapsodies 
are but the rough notes — the stenographic memoranda of 
poems— memoranda which, because they were all-sufficient for 
his own intelligence, he cared not to be at the trouble of 
transcribing in full for mankind. In all his works we find no 
conception thoroughly wrought out. For this reason it is that 
he is the most fatiguing of poets. Yet he wearies in having 
done too little rather than too much ; what seems in him the 
diffuseness of one idea, is the conglomerate concision of many; 
— and this concision it is which renders him obscure. With 
such a man, to imitate was out of the question ; it would have 
answered no purpose — for he spoke to his own spirit alone, 
which would have comprehended no alien tongue ; — he was, 
therefore, profoundly original His quaintness arose from 
intuitive perception of that truth to which Lord Verulam alone 
has given distinct voice : — " There is no exquisite beauty which 
has not some strangeness in its proportion.*' But whether 
obscure, original, or quaint, he was at all times sincere. He 
had no affectations. 

From the ruins of Shelley there sprang into existence, 
affronting the Heavens, a tottering and fantastic pagoda, in 
which the salient angles, tipped with mad jangling bells, were 
the idiosyncratic faults of the great original — faults which 
cannot be called such in view of his purposes, but which are 


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monstrous when we regard his works as addressed to man- 
kind. A "school" arose — if that absurd term must still be 
employed — a school — a system of rules — upon the basis of the 
Shelley who had none. Young men innumerable, dazzled with 
the glare and bewildered with the bizarrerie of the divine 
lightning that flickered through the clouds of the Prometheus, 
had no trouble whatever in heaping up imitative vapours, but 
for the lightning were content, perforce, with its spectrum^ in 
which the bizarrerie appeared without the fire. Nor were 
great and mature minds unimpressed by the contemplation of 
a greater and more mature ; and thus gradually were inter- 
woven into this school of all lawlessness — of obscurity, quaint- 
ness, exaggeration — the misplaced didacticism of Wordsworth, 
and the even more preposterously anomalous metaphysicianism 
of Coleridge. Matters were now fast verging to their worst, 
and at length, in Tennyson, poetic inconsistency attained its 
extreme. But it was precisely this extreme which, following 
the law of all extremes, wrought in him a natural and inevitable 
revulsion, leading him first to contemn and secondly to investi- 
gate his early manner, and, finally, to winnow from its 
magnificent elements the truest and purest of all poetical 
styles. But not even yet is the process complete, and for this 
reason in part, but chiefiy on account of the mere fortuitousness 
of that mental and moral combination which shall unite in one 
person (if ever it shall) the Shelleyan abandon^ the Tennysonian 
poetic sense, the most profound instinct of Art, and the sternest 
Will properly to blend and vigorously to control all ; — chiefly, 
we say, because such combination of antagonisms must be 
purely fortuitous, has the world never yet seen the noblest 
of the poems of which it is possible that it may be put in 

And yet Miss Barrett has narrowly missed the fulfilment of 
these conditions. Her poetic inspiration is the highest — we 
can conceive nothing more august. Her sense of Art is pure 
in itself, but has been contaminated by pedantic study of false 
models — a study which has the more easily led her astray, 
because she placed an undue value upon it as rare — ^as alien to 


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her character of woman. The accident of having been long 
secluded by ill-health from the world has effected, moreover, in 
her behalf, what an innate recklessness did for Shelley— has 
imparted to her, if not precisely that abandon to which I have 
referred, at least a something that stands well in its stead— a 
comparative independence of men and opinions with which she 
did not come personally in contact — ^a happy audacity of 
thought and expression never before known in one of her sex. 
It is, however, this same accident of ill-health, perhaps, which 
has invalidated her original Will— diverted her from proper 
individuality of purpose — and seduced her into the sin of imita- 
tion. Thus what she might have done we cannot altogether 
determine. What she has actually accomplished is before us. 
With Tennyson's works beside her, and a keen appreciation of 
them in her soul — appreciation too keen to be discriminative ; — 
with an imagination even more vigorous than his, although 
somewhat less ethereally delicate ; with inferior art and more 
feeble volition ; she has written poems such as he could not 
writey but such as he, under her conditions of ill-health and 
seclusion, would have written during the epoch of his pupildom 
in that school which arose out of Shelley, and from which, over 
a disgustful gulf of utter incongruity and absurdity, lit only by 
miasmatic flashes, into the broad open meadows of Natural 
Art and Divine Genius, he, Tennyson, is at once the bridge 
and the transition. — [Review of Mrs, Browning^s " Drama in 


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 j at 
present it would be a work of supererogation. The wise must 


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bow to the wisdom of such men as Coleridge and Soul hey, but 
being wise, have laughed at poetical theories so prosaically 

Aristotle, with singular assurance, has declared poetry the 
most philosophical of all writings — ^but it required a Words- 
worth 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 con- 
nected with our existence should be still 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 
which 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 judgment ; 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 conmion 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 contemplation 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 


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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 bel^w," 

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; the depth 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 profoundity, 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 poef s 
own kingdom — ^his El Dorado)— hut 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 poetising in his manhood. With the increase 
of his judgmeiit 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 



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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 
f/«worthy 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 inmiemorial, and Barrington, 
the pick-pocket, in point of genius, would have thought hard of 

a comparison with William Wordsworth, the poet 

^Letter to B ^.]» 


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 concep- 
tion 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 

We have said that Mr. Longfellow's conception of the 
aims of poesy is erroneous ; and that thus, labouring at a 

» Prefixed to the 1881 Edition of Poe's Poems. 


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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 ctf 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 
didacticisim 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. 

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 truths 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, unim- 
passioned, nnexcited — 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 
conventionalism who, in spite of this difference, shall still 
attempt to reconcile the obstinate oils and waters of Poetry and 


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Dividing the world of mind into its most obvious and 
immediately recognisable distinctions, we have the pure 
intellect, taste, and moral sense. We place taste between the 
intellect and the moral sense, because it is just this inter- 
mediate 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 con- 
science, or the moral sense, recognises duty; just as the 
intellect deals with truth; so is it the part of taste alone 
to inform us of Beaxjty. And Poesy is the handmaiden 
but of Taste. Yet we would not be misunderstood. This 
handmiuden 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 rh kq>Jx¥, 

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 unquench- 
able, which to allay he has shown us no crystal springs. This 


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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. Man- 
kind 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 licence 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 


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irrepressible demand. Man being what he is, the thne 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 com- 
binations which our predecessors^ toiling in chase of the same- 
phantom^ have already set in order. We thus clearly deduce 
the novelty, the originaUty, 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 pressed. We do 
nothing more than present tangibly the vague clouds of the 
world's idea. We recognise 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 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 irolri<ns 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 pensies 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, never- 
theless, in the combination of the two omni-prevalent ideas that 
the novelty and, we believe^ the force of our own proposition is 
to be found. 


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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 has been found absolutely futile. Contenting our- 
selves, 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 


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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 comptetion as 

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 inci- 
dentally, 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 con- 
tradiction 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 Armstrongs 
on Healthy 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 corro- 
borate 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 

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 bis themes. Beauty is always his aim. 


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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 
la prose t" If it may^ then it is 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, — 


I AM not sure that Tennyson is not the greatest of poets. The 
uncertainty attending the public conception of the term " poet " 
alone prevents me from demonstrating that he is. Other bards 
produce effects which are, now and then, otherwise produced 
than by what we call poems ; but Tennyson an effect which 
only a poem does. His alone are idiosyncratic poems. By 
the enjoyment or non-enjoyment of the " Morte D'Arthur," or 
of the " CEnone," I would test any one's ideal sense. There 
are passages in his works which rivet a conviction I had long 
entertained, that the indefinite is an element in the true volrins. 
Why do some persons fatigue themselves in attempts to 
unravel such fantasy-pieces as the "Lady of Shalott"? As 
well unweave the ^^ventus textilis!* If the author did not 
deliberately propose to himself a suggestive indefinitiveness 
of meaning with the view of bringing about a definitiveness of 
vague and therefore of spiritual effect — this at least arose from 
the silent analytical promptings of that poetic genius which, in 
its supreme development, embodies all orders of intellectual 
capacity. I know that indefinitiveness is an element of the 


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true music — I mean of the true musical expression. Give to it 
any undue decision — imbue it with any very determinate tone 
— and you deprive it at once of its ethereal, its ideal, its intrinsic 
and essential character. You dispel its luxury of dream. You 
dissolve the atmosphere of the mystic upon which it floats. 
You exhaust it of its breath of faery. It now becomes a 
tangible and easily appreciable idea — a thing of the earth, 
earthy. It has not, indeed, lost its power to please^ but all 
which I consider the distinctiveness of that power. And to the 
uncultivated talent, or to the imimaginative apprehension, this 
deprivation of its most delicate air will be, not unfrequently, 
a recommendation. A determinateness of expression is sought 
— ^and often by composers who should know better — is sought 
as a beauty rather than rejected as a blemish. Thus we have, 
even from high authorities, attempts at absolute imitation in 
music. Who can forget the silliness of the " Battle of 
Prague " ? What man of taste but must laugh at the intermin- 
able drums, trumpets, blunderbusses, and thunder? '* Vocal 
music," says L'Abbate Gravina, who would have said the same 
thing of instrumental, " ought to imitate the natural language of 
the human feelings and passions, rather than the warblings of 
Canary birds, which our singers, nowadays, affect so vastly to 
mimic with their quaverings and boasted cadences." This is 
true only so far as the " rather " is concerned. If any music 
must imitate anything, it were assuredly better to limit the 
imitation as Gravina suggests. Tennyson's shorter pieces 
abound in minute rhythmical lapses sufficient to assure me that 
— in common with all poets living or dead — he has neglected to 
make precise investigation of the principles of metre ; but, on 
the other hand, so perfect is his rhythmical instinct in general 
that, like the present Viscount Canterbury, he seems to see 
with his ear, — [Marginalia^l 


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A NEW poem from Moore calls to mind that critical opinion 
respecting him which had its origin, we believe, in the dog- 
matism of Coleridge — we mean the opinion that he is essentially 
the poet of fancy — ^the term being employed in contradistinc- 
tion to imagination, "The fancy," says the author of the 
"Ancient Mariner," in his Biographia LiterariOy "the fancy 
combines, the imagination creates." And this was intended, 
and has been received, as a distinction. If so at all, it is one 
without a difference ; without even a difference of degree. The 
fancy as nearly creates as the imagination ; and neither creates 
in any respect All novel conceptions are merely unusual com- 
binations. The mind of man can imagine nothing which has 
not really existed ; and this point is susceptible of the most 
positive demonstration — sec the Baron de Bielfeld, in his Pre- 
miers Traits de r Erudition Universelle^ 1767. It will be said, 
perhaps, that we can imagine a griffin^ and that a griiHn does 
not exist. Not the grifiin certainly, but its component parts. 
It is a mere compendium of known limbs and features — of 
known qualities. Thus with all which seems to be new — 
which appears to be a creation of intellect. It is resoluble 
into the old. The wildest and most vigorous effort of mind 

cannot stand the test of this analysis 

The truth is, that the just distinction between the fancy and 
the imagination (and which is still but a distinction of degree) 
is involved in the consideration of the mystic. We give this as 
an idea of our own altogether. We have no authority for our 
opinion— but do not the less firmly hold it The term mystic is 
here employed in the sense of Augustus William Schlegel, and 
of most other German critics. It is applied by them to that 
class of composition in which there lies beneath the trans- 
parent upper current of meaning an under or suggestive one. 
What we vaguely term the morctl of any sentiment is its 
mystic or secondary expression. It has the vast force of an 


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accompaniment in music This vivifies the air ; that spiritualises 
the ,/iwwr>i// conception, and lifts it into the ideal. 

This theory will bear, we think, the most rigorous tests 
which can be made applicable to it, and will be acknowledged 
as tenable by all who are themselves imaginative. If we care- 
fully examine those poems, or portions of poems, or those prose 
romances which mankind have been accustomed to designate 
as imaginative (for an instinctive feeling leads us to employ 
properly the term whose full import we have still never been 
able to define), it will be seen that all so designated are remark- 
able for the suggestive character which we have discussed. 
They are strongly mystic-An the proper sense of the word. 
We will here only call to the reader's mind the " Prometheus 
Vinctus" of iCschylus; the " Inferno »* of Dante; the "De- 
struction of Numantia," by Cervantes ; the " Comus " of 
Milton ; the " Ancient Mariner," the " Christabel," and the 
"Kubla Khan,» of Coleridge; the "Nightingale" of Keats; 
and, most especially, the " Sensitive Plant" of Shelley, and the 
"Undine" of De la Motte Fouqu^. These two latter poems 
(for we call them both such) are the finest possible examples of 
the purely idedl. There is little of fancy here, and everything 
of imagination. With each note of the lyre is heard a ghostly, 
and not always a distinct, but an august and soul-exalting echo. 
In every glimpse of beauty presented we catch, through long 
and wild vistas, dim bewildering visions of a far more ethereal 
beauty beyond. But not so in poems which the world has 
always persisted in terming /anci/uL Here the upper current 
is often exceedingly brilliant and beautiful ; but then men feet 
that this upper current is all. No Naiad voice addresses them 
from below. The notes of the air of the song do not tremble 
with the according tones of the accompaniment 

It is the failure to perceive these truths which has occasioned 
the embarrassment experienced by our critics while discussing 
the topic of Moore's station in the poetic world — ^that hesitation 
with which we are obliged to refuse him the loftiest rank 
among the most noble. The popular voice, and the popular 
heart, have denied him that happiest quality, imagination— and 


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here the popular voice (because for once it is gone with the 
popular heart) is right — but yet only relatively so. Imagination 
is not the leading feature of the poetry of Moore ; but he pos- 
sesses it in no little degree. — [Review of Moore^s ^^ Alciphron,'*^ 


, . . The most remarkable poems, however, are those which 
we have still to speak o£ They convey, too, most distinctly the 
genius of the author — nor can any one thoughtfully read them 
without a conviction that hitherto that genius has been greatly 
misconceived — without perceiving that even the wit of Hood 
had its birth in a taint of melancholy, perhaps hereditary, and 
nearly amounting to monomania. 

"The Song of the Shirt" is such a composition as only 
Hood could have conceived or written. ... Its effect arises 
from that grotesquerie which we have referred to the vivid 
fancy of the author, impelled by hypochondriasis; but "The 
Song of the Shirt " has scarcely a claim to the title of poem. 
This, however, is a mere question of words, and can by no 
means affect the high merit of the composition, to whatever 
appellation it may be considered entitled. 

" The Bridge of Sighs,*' on the contrary, is a poem of the 
loftiest order, and, with one exception, the finest written by 
Hood — being very far superior to "The Dream of Eugene 
Aram." Not its least merit is the effective rush and whirl of 
its singular versification — so thoroughly in accordance with the 
wild insanity which is the thesis of the whole. 

"The Haunted House" we prefer to any composition of 
its author. It is a masterpiece of its kind — and that kind 
belongs to a very lofty — if not to the very loftiest order of 
poetical literature. Had we seen this piece before penning our 
first notice of Hood* we should have had much hesitation in 

* This Review of Hood's appeared originally in two parts. 


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speaking of Fancy and Fantasy as his predominant features. 
At all events we should have given him credit for much more 
of true imagination than we did. Not the least merit of the 
work is its rigorous simplicity. There is no narrative, and no 
doggerel philosophy. The whole subject is the description of 
a deserted house which the popular superstition considers 
haunted. The thesis is one of the truest in all poetry. As a 
mere thesis it is really difficult to conceive anything better. 
The strength of the poet is put forth in the invention of traits in 
keeping with the ideas of crime, abandonment, and ghostly 
visitation. Every legitimate art is brought in to aid in con- 
veying the intended effects ; and (what is quite remarkable in 
the case of Hood) nothing discordant is at any point intro- 
duced. He has here very little of what we have designated as 
the fantastic — little which is not strictly harmonious. The 
metre and rhythm are not only in themselves admirably 
adapted to the whole design, but, with a true artistic feeling, 
the poet has preserved a thorough monotone throughout, and 
renders its effect more impressive by the repetition (gradually 
increasing in frequency towards the finale) of one of the most 
pregnant and effective of the stanzas : — 

" O'er all there hung a shadow and a fear, 
A sense of mystery the spirit daunted, 
And said, as plain as whisper in the ear. 
The place is haunted 1 " 

Had Hood only written "The Haunted House** it would 
have sufficed to render him immortal. — \Reviews!\ 


The great feature of the Curiosity Shop is its chaste, vigor- 
ous, 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 


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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 re-read 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 

Had we room to particularise, 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 Punch-men 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 skillfully 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 — every- 
thing in rigid consonance with the one impression to be con- 
veyed — 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 
further inthe 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 of De La Motte Fouqud The imagination is perhaps 


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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 demand our ftill 
sympathies, as can a simple denizen of earth. In saying 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. — \MarginaliaI\ 


As a novelist Bulwer is far more than respectable, although 
generally inferior to Scott, Godwin, D'Israeli, Miss Burney, 
Sue, Dumas, Dickens, the author of Ellen Wareham^ the 
author of Jane Eyre^ and several others. From the list of 
foreign novels I could select a hundred which he could neither 
have written nor conceived. As a dramatist, he deserves more 
credit although he receives less. His Richelieu^ Money^ 
and Lady of Lyons have done much in the way of opening 
the public eyes to the true value of what is superciliously 
termed "stage effect*' m the hands of one able to manage it 
But if conmiendable at this point, his dramas fail egregiously in 
points more important ; so that upon the whole, he can be said 
to have written a good play, only when we think of him in 
connection with the still more contemptible "old dramatist" 
imitators who are his contemporaries and friends. As historian, 


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he is sufficiently dignified, sufficiently ornate, and more than 
sufficiently self-sufficient His Athens would have received an 
Etonian prize, and has all the happy air of an Etonian prize 
essay re- vamped. His political pamphlets are very good as 
political pamphlets, and very disreputable as anything else. 
His essays leave no doubt upon anybod/s mind that, with the 
writer, they have been essays indeed. His criticism is really 
beneath contempt His moral philosophy is the most ridiculous 
of ail the moral philosophies that ever have been imagined upon 

"The men of sense," says Helvetius, "those idols of the 
unthinking, are very far inferior to the men of passions. It is 
the strong passions which, rescuing us from sloth, can alone 
impart to us that continuous and earnest attention necessary to 
great intellectual efforts.** 

When the Swiss philosopher here speaks of " inferiority " he 
refers to inferiority in worldly success ; by " men of sense " he 
intends indolent men of genius. And Bulwer is, emphatically, 
one of the " men of passions " contemplated in the apothegm. 
His passions, with opportunities, have made him what he is. 
Urged by a rapid ambition to do much, in doing nothing he 
would merely have proved himself an idiot Something he has 
done. In aiming at Crichton, he has hit the target an inch or 
two above Harrison Ainsworth. Not to such intellects belong 
the honours of universality. His works bear about them the 
unmistakable indications of mere talent — talent, I grant, of an 
unusual order, and nurtured to its extreme of development with 
a very tender and elaborate care. Nevertheless, it is talent 
still. Genius it is not. 

And the proof is, that while we often fancy ourselves 
about to be enkindled beneath its influence, fairly enkindled 
we never are. That Bulwer is no poet follows as a corollary 
from what has been already said ; — for to speak of a poet 
without genius is merely to put forth a flat contradiction 
in terms. — \Matginalicu\ 



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I HAVE just finished the Mysteries of Paris— di. work of unques- 
tionable power — a museum of novel and ingenious incident — 
a paradox of childish folly and consummate skill. It has this 
point in common with all the " convulsive " fictions — that the 
incidents are consequential from the premises, while the premises 
themselves are laughably incredible. Admitting, for instance, 
the possibility of such a man as Rodolphe, and of such a state 
of society as would tolerate his perpetual interference, we have 
no difficulty in agreeing to admit the possibility of. his accom- 
plishing all that is accomplished. Another pomt which dis- 
tinguishes the Sue school is the total want of the ars celare 
artem. In effect the writer is always saying to the reader, 
" Now — in one moment — ^you shall see what you shall see. I 
am about to produce on you a remarkable impression. Prepare 
to have your imagination, or your pity, greatly excited." The 
wires are not only not concealed, but displayed as things to be 
admired, equally with the puppets they set in motion. The 
result is, that in perusing, for example, a pathetic chapter in 
the Mysteries of Paris we say to ourselves, without shedding a 
tear — " Now, here is something which will be sure to move 
every reader to tears." The philosophical motives attributed 
to Sue are absurd in the extreme. His first, and in fact his 
sole object, is to make an exciting, and therefore saleable book. 
The cant (implied or direct) about the amelioration of society, 
etc., is but a very usual trick among authors, whereby they 
hope to add such a tone of dignity or utilitarianism to their 
pages as shall gild the pill of their licentiousness. The ruse is 
even more generally employed by way of engrafting a meaning 
upon the otherwise unintelligible. In the latter case, however, 
this ruse is an afterthought, manifested in the shape of a moral, 
either appended (as in ^Esop) or dovetailed into the body of the 
work, piece by piece, with great care, but never without leaving 
evidence of its after-insertion. — {Marginalia^ 


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We have been among the earliest readers of Mr. Home — 
among the most earnest admirers of his high genius ;— for a 
man of high, of the highest genius, he unquestionably is. With 
an eager wish to do justice to his Gregory the Seventh^ we 
have never yet found exactly that opportunity we desired. 
Meantime we looked with curiosity for what the British critics 
would say of a work which, in the boldness of its conception 
and in the fresh originality of its management, would necessarily 
fall beyond the routine of their customary verbiage. We saw 
nothing, however, that either could or should be understood — 
nothing, certainly, that was worth understanding. The tragedy 
itself was, unhappily, not devoid of the ruling cant of the day, 
and its critics (that cant incarnate) took their cue from some of 
its infected passages, and proceeded forthwith to rhapsody and 
aesthetics, by way of giving a common-sense public an intel- 
ligible idea of the book. 

We have already said that Gregory the Seventh was 
unhappily infected with the customary cant of the day — the 
cant of the muddle-pates who dishonour a profound and 
ennobling philosophy by styling themselves Transcendentalists. 
In fact, there are few highly sensitive or imaginative intellects 
for which the vortex of mysticism^ in any shape, has not an 
almost irresistible influence, on account of the shadowy confines 
which separate the Unknown from the Sublime. Mr. Home 
then is, in some measure, infected. The success of his previous 
works has led him to attempt, zealously, the production of a 
poem which should be worthy his high powers. We have no 
doubt that he revolved carefully in his mind a variety of august 
conceptions, and from these thoughtfully selected what his 
judgment, rather than what his impulses, designated as the 
noblest and the best In a word, he has weakly yielded his 
own poetic sentiment of the poetic— yielded it, in some degree, 
to the pertinacious opinion and tcUk of a certain junto by which 


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he is surrounded — a junto of dreamers whose absolute intellect 
may, perhaps, compare with his own very much after the 
fashion of an ant-hill with the Andes. . . ,—\Marginalia^ 


Thb style of Bolingbroke is unrivalled. No library is perfect 
without his works, and they should be studied by the public 
speaker, or the author, night and day. We boldly aver that 
there does not exist a writer in the language the reading of 
whose works, so far as diction is concerned, would be more 
beneficial to young men. Bolingbroke's choice of words is 
singularly fine. Nothing can be clearer, stronger, or more 
copious than his language. Terse, nervous, epigrammatic; 
difiused in general, but condensed when necessary ; at times 
racy, at times vehement, at times compact as iron ; rhe- 
torical, yet easy ; elegant, yet convincing ; bold, rapid, and 
declamatory, his writings carry one away, like a spoken 
harangue, without betraying the carelessness of an extem- 
poraneous style. The very absence of method, which, in 
others, would be faulty, is in Bolingbroke, from the air of 
frankness it gives to his cause, and its consistency with his 
essentially oratorial style, a merit— at least not a defect In 
grace he has no equal The euphony of his sentences is like 
the liquid flow of a river. No writer in the English tongue so 
much resembles Cicero — ^to our mind — as Bolingbroke. Burke 
has been called his rival here ; but Burke wanted the ease, the 
elegance, the chastened imagery of TuUy, and in all of these 
St John rivalled the friend of Atticus. Deeply imbued with 
the Latin literature, Bolingbroke has caught, as it were, the 
spirit of the Augustan age ; and we feel in perusing his pages 
the same chastened delight which we enjoy over no modem, 
and only over Tully among the ancients. — iAfarginaUa,} 


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[Dedication and Conclusion.] 

[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 
fut faith in dreams as in the only realities — / 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 fi 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."] 

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 by-gone time, and infinitely 

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 


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310 EUREKA. 

difficulty in tinderstanding. Why we should not exist is, up to 
the epoch of our 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 y 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 surpass- 
ing 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 reconstitution of the purely Spiritual and Individual 

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 whidi we ourselves have imposed 
upon ourselves, in furtherance of our own purposes — with a 


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view — if even with a futile view — to the extension of our own 

I have spoken of Memories that haunt us during our youth. 
They isometimes 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. 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 perpetml 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 inconceiv- 
ably numerous things which you designate as his creatures, but 
which are really but infinite individualisations 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 — all 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. 


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312 EUREKA. 

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 awful triumphant epoch when he shall recognise his 
existence as that of Jehovah. In the meantime bear in mind 
that all is Life — Life — Life within Life — ^the less within the 
greatw, and all within the Spirit Dvvine. 

Printed by Walter Scott, Feaing, NeuHHuae-m-Tym, 


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Edited by William Sharp. 


In SHILLING Monthly Volumes, Square 8vo. Well printed on fine 
toned paper, with Red-line Border, and strongly bound in Cloth. Each 
Volume contains from 300 to 350 pages. 

Clotht Red Edges - Is, I Red Roan, Gilt Edgei 2s. 6d. 
Clothe Uncut Edges - Is. | /W. Morocco y Gilt Edges - 5s. 

th:e following volumes are now ready. 


Ey lUv. John Keble. 
COLER IDGi:. EtU by J. Sti mey. 
liONGE^LI-OW. Ed. liy E. il ope. 
CAMPBELL, Ed- by J. Hnf^bwL 
SHELLEY. Edited by J. Skipaey. 

EtUttiil by A. J. Syiiiiii|E:toii. 
BLAltB. Ed> by Joseph Skm^ey. 
WHITTIER. Kd- by Eva Hope, 
POli^ Kditdd by Joseph Skipwy< 


Edited by John Rlcbmnnti 

BURNS, Poems \ Editt^d by 
BURNS. So ngs /JoaepbakiiHey. 

Edited by P. E. Pinkerton. 
KEATS. Edited by John Hogben. 
HERBERT. Edited by E. Bhys. 

Translated by Dean Carrington. 
COWPER. Edited by ETaHope. 

SonLgSk Poems, and Sonnotv. 

E(UWd tiy WilUain .SliFirp, 

EftTERSON. Edited bv W. Jiewin. 


Editctl by Williaui Shiirp. 

WHXTBIAK. Edited by K. EhyB, 

SCOTT. MannioQ, etc. 

SCOTT, Lady of th s Lake, etc 

Editod by Willijuii Sharp. 

PRAEDp Edi i^ d hj Fred. Conpe f . 

HOCK*. By Ilia DaiiffhtBT. Mrs QardGn. 

GOLDSBIITH. W.'lHrobiuk. 


SPENSER. Eilited by Hou. R. Noel. 


Kdit-t'd by Eriu S. HoberUoa. 

JONSON. Edited by J. A. Symonds. 

BVRON (2 Volft.) Ed.byM.Bbnl 


Edited by K Wiiddin^tun. 

RAMSAY, Ed. by J, L. Roborttioii. 

DOBSLL. EdiLed by Mi>b. DobalL 

\\'\i\\ liitroduction by Wm, Sharp. 
POPE, Edited by Johu Hoj^hon. 
HEINEL Edited by Mni, Kroekdir, 

EUitvil by J. E), Fiotcher. 
]aOWI.ES, LAMB, &o. 

Editeil by Wiiilam TirnbTick. 
Edited by H. Macau lav i■■■it/.^;illU^n. 
SEA MUSIC Erlited by Hxa ^hsLrp. 
HEREIClC Edited by ETne^tKliys. 
Editud by J. Gloeaon Whita 

Kditod bv II. 1lainda.y Sparling. 
Kill ted liv J. l:Ern.dsli;iw, M. A., LL,I>.. 

Editc{l by a. S, Maonioid. 

Edited by I>. B, W, hiaden, B,A. 
MOORE. Edited by Jobn Di>rriim. 

EiKr^d by Gmhatu K Tomi^n^ 
SONG-TIDE, \i^ V. K Maratoii. 

Trans! LLtiotm by Sir ij. de Vere, Bt. 
OSSIAK, EdftedbyO, E.Todd. 
ELFIN BIUSIC. Ed, by A. Waite. 
SOXTTHEY. Ed. byS, Eu Thorn paon. 
CHAUCER. Editisdby [r. N^ Paton. 
Edited by Cbaa, O. U. nalisirta, M.A. 
Edited by J. Eradshdw, M,A., LL.D. 
CR ABBE. Ed i ted i>y E , Lamplough . 

Edited by WilUam Dorling. 
FAUST. Edited by E. Oraigmyle. 

Edited by William Sharp. 

London : WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row. 


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Edited by Professor Eric S. Bobertson, M.A. 


LIFE OP LONGFELLOW. By Prof. Eric S. Robertson. 
"A most readable little work.**— -Wwrpoo? Mercury, 


*' Brief and vigorous, written throughout with spirit and great literary 
skilL"— jSlsottman. 
LIFE OF DICKENS. By Frank T. Marzials. 

" Notwithstanding the mass of matter that has been printed relating to 
Dickens and his works ... we should, until we came across this volume, 
have been at a loss to recommend any popular life of England's most 
popular novelist as being really satisfactory. The difficulty is removed 
by Mr. Marzials's little book."— ^tA^rusum. 


" Mr. Knight's picture of the great poet and painter is the fullest and 
best yet presented to the public.' —TAe Oraphie. 

** Colonel Grant has performed his task with dihgence, sound judgment, 
good taste, and auccaT&cj.'*— Illustrated London News. 
LIFE OF DARWIN. By G. T. Bettany. 

" Mr. G. T. Bettany's Li^fe of Darwin is a sound and conscientious work." 
'^Satiwday Buoiew* 


" Those who know much of Charlotte BrontS will learn more, and those 
who know nothing about her indll find all that is best worth learning in 
Mr. Birrell's pleasant book."— fit. Jamet^ Oazette. 

" This is an admirable book. Nothing could be more felicitous and fairer 
than the way in which he takes us through Carlyle's life and works."— Po^ 
LIFE OF ADAM SMITH. By R. B. Haldane, M.P. 

" Written vdth a perspicuity seldom exemplified when dealing with 
economic science."— iScofmium. 
LIFE OF KEATS. By W. M. Rossetti. 

*' Valuable for the ample information which it contains."— Cam&r£t^« 
LIFE OF SHELLEY. By William Sharp. 

"The criticisms . . . entitle this capital monograph to be ranked with 
the best biographies of Shelley." — Westminster Review. 

LIFE OF SMOLLETT. By David Hannay. 

" A capable record of a writer who still remains one of the great masters 
of the English noYftL"— Saturday Review. 

LIFE OF GOLDSMITH. Bv Austin Dobson. 

'* The story of his literary and social life in London, with all its humorous 
and pathetic vicissitude*, is here retold, as none could tell it better."— 
DaUy News. 


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LIFB OP SOOTT. Bv I^rofessor Yongc. 

"For readen and lorera <» the poems and noTels of Sir Walter Seott, thfa 
is a most enjoyable hook^^AUraun Free Preu, 

LIFE OF BURNS. By Professor Blackie. 

" Hie editor certainly made a hit when he persuaded Bladde to write 
about Bums."— Poff MaU OiUttU. 

LIFB OF VICTOR HUGO. By Frank T. Marzials. 

" Mr. Mar^als's Tolume presents to us, in a more bandy form than any 
English, or even French handbook gives, the summary of what, up to the 
moment in which we write, is known or conjectured about the life of the 
great poet."— ^Slatttrday Review, 

LIFE OF EMERSON. By Richard Gamett, LL.D. 

"As to the larger section of the public, to whom the series of Great 
Writers is addressed, no record of Emerson^s life and work could be more 
desirable, both in breadth of treatment and lucidity of style, than Dr. 
Gamett's."— Saturday Review. 

LIFE OF GOETHE. By James Sime. 

*<Mr. James Sime's compf'tence as a biographer of Goethe, both in 
respect of knowledge of hh special subject, and of German literature 
generally, is beyond qnesHon^—Mcmeheeter CfuardUm. 

LIFE OF CONGRBVB. By Edmund Gosse. 

" Mr. Gosse has writtMi an admirable and most interesting biography 
of a man of letters who is of particular interest to other men of letters."— 
The Academy. 

LIFE OF BUNYAN. By Canon Vcnables. 

"A most intelligent, appreciative, and valuable memoit,"^8eot8man, 
LIFE OF GRABBE. By T. E. Kebbel. 

**No English poet since Shakespeare has observed certain aspects of 
nature and of human life more closely ; and in the qualities of manliness 
and of sincerity he is surpassed by none. . . . Mr. Kebbel's monograph is 
worthy of the Bohiect.**^Athencewm, 

LIFE OF HEINE. By William Sharp. 

**This is an admirable monograph. . . more fully written up to the 
level of recent knowledge and criticism of its theme than any other English 
work.**— iSNOO^ifnofk 

LIFE OF MILL. By W. L. Courtney. 

** A most sympathetic and discriminating memoir."— Qlaegow Herald. 
LIFE OF SCHILLER. By Henry W. Nevison. 

" This a well- written little volume, whicn presents the leading &ot8 of 
the poet's life in a neatly rounded picture, and gives an adequate critical 
estimate of each of Schiller's separate works and the effect of the whole 
upon literature.**— tSSootttnan. 

Complete Bibliogn4>hy to each volume, by J. P. Anderson, British Museum. 

Volumes are in preparation by Goldwin Smith, I^ederick Wedmore, Oscar 
Browning, Arthur Bymons, W. E. Henley, Barclay Squire, Hermann Merivale, 
p. E. watts, T. w. BoUeston. Cosmo Monkhouse, Dr. Gamett, Frank T. 
l^tfzials, W. H. Pollock, John Addington Symonds, etc, etc. 


large paper of extra quality, in handsome binding. Demy 8vo, price 2s. 6d. 

London: WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Eow. 


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Monthly Shilling^ Volumes. Cleih, eui 9r uncut edga. 


Edited by Ernest Rhys. 


ROMANCE OF KINa ARTHUR^ Edited by E. Rhys. 

THOREAU S WALDER Edited by W. H. Dircks. 

ENGLISH OPIUM-EATER. Indited by WiUiam Sharp. 


PLUTARCH'S LIVBS^ Edited by B. J. Snell, M.A. 

/> RELIGIO MEDICI, etc. Edited by X-A-^^aaooadSi^ 

'^ SHELLEY'S LETTERS, Edited by Ernest Rhys. 

PROSE V7RITINGS OF SWIFT. Edited by W. Lewin. 

MY STUDY ^W'lNDOWS. Edited by R Gamett, LL.D. 


LORD BYRON'S LETTERS. Edited by M. Blind. 

ESSAYS BY LEIGH HUNT. Edited by A. Symons. 

LONGFELLO^WS PROSE^ Edited l^ W. Turebuck. 


MARCUS AURELIUS. Edited by Alice Zimmern. 


Edited, with Introduction, by Richard JefFenes, 

DEEOB'S SINGLETON, Edited by H. HalUday SparUng. 

MAZZINrS ESSAYS. ^^'^^ ^iJS^^^^^J9ji?S' 

Edited, with Introduction, by Havelock EUis. 
REYNOLDS' DISOOnRSBS. Edited by Helen Zimmern. 
BURNS^S LETTERS. Edited by J. Logie Robertson, M.A. 
VOLSUNGA SAGA. Edited by H. H. Sparling. 

SARTOR RESARTUS^ Edited by Ernest Rhys. 

WRITINGS OF EMERSON* Edited by Perdval Chubb. 
SENEGAS MORALS- Edited by Walter Clode. 

DEMO CR ATIC VISTAS. By Walt Whitman. 

LIFE OF LORD HERBERT. Edited by Will H. Dircks. 
ENGLISH PROSE. Edited by Arthur Galton. 

FAIRY AND FOLK TALES. Edited by W. B. Yeats. 
EPICTETUS. Edited by T. W. Rolleston. 

THE ENGLISH POETS. By Tames Russell Lowell. 

ESHAYS OP DR~ JOHNSON. Edited by Stuart J. Reid. 
LANDOR'S PENTAMBRON, &c. Edited by H. Ellis. 
POE'S TALES AND ESSAYS. Edited by Ernest Rhys. 

London : WALTER SCOTT, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row. 

Digitized by LjOOQ IC 

* — ^^^— — — ^-^— 

To be Issued early in February^ in White Embossed Boards, 
Gilt Lettering, One Shilling each. 

By count LEO TOLSTOI. 




Published originally in Russia, as tracts for the people, 
these little stories, which Mr. Walter Scott will issue 
separately early in February, in "booklet" form, possess all 
the grace, naivet^, and power which characterise the work of 
Coimt Tolstoi, and while inculcating in the most penetrating 
way the Christian ideas of love, humility, and charity, are 
perfect in their art form as stories pure and simple. 


"■-■ ■.-....■-_■■ 

London : Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane. 


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Squmn Zvo, Pries One Shilling sack* 



**The plot is ingenloui, the interest is well sasteined throughont. and the 
style is oistlnetly above that of the ordinary *shiUing shocker.' At times, 
indeed, Mr. Bamett reminds ns of Gaborian, whose M. Lecoq (as M. Lecoq waa 
in his yoonger days) the policeman-hero resembles in a conrnderable degree." — 


By B. M. DAVT, Author of **A Prince of Como," A& 

** Hie tale is written with excellent skill, and succeeds in holding the interest 
well up from first to last."— iSootenum. 


Stories and Sketohea by Auatraliona in England. 

** A collection of interesting stories."— i^itorory World. 


** The story is ci^itally told."— iSbotfttum. 



By JAMXS GREENWOOD, "The Amfttear CMoaL" 

**llie stories are merrily told in a light spontaneous style, which touches off 
the bizarre aspects of life on the city s&eets, or among the ' shady ' members of 
a city populauon."— rA« SeoU Obtervtr, 


Bt florbncb latard. 


Bt RICHARD 7RT0B, Aathor of •• An Bva Sphit." Aa 
London : WALTER SCOTT» 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row. 


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Uniform In size and style with the Camelot Series, 





No collection of tales published in a serial form ever enjoyed so 
great a popularity as " The Tales of the Borders ; *' and 
the secret of their success lies in the fact that they are stories 
in the truest sense of the word, illustrating in a graphic and 
natural style the manners and customs, trials and sorrows, 
sins and backslidings, of the men and women of whom they 
treat The heroes and heroines of these admirable stories belong 
to every rank of life, from the king and noble to the humble 

"The Tales of the Borders" have always been immensely 
popular with the young, and whether we view them in their 
moral aspect, or as vehicles for instruction and amusement, the 
collected series forms a repertory of healthy and interesting 
literature unrivalled in the language. 

The Scotsman says: — ** Those who have read the tales in the 
unwieldy tomes in which they are to be found in the libraries will 
welcome the publication of this neat, handy, and well-printed edition." 

Tlie Dundee Advertiser ssiys : — "Considering how attractive are these 
tales, whether regarded as illustrating Scottish life, or as entertaining 
items of romance, there can be no doubt of their continued popularity. 
We last read them in volumes the size of a family Bible, and we are 
glad to have an opportunity to renew our acquaintance with them in a 
form so much more handy and el^;ant" 

London: Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row. 


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Recent Volumes of Verse. 


By WILLIAM SHARP. Second Edition. 3s. 

Author of *^ The Human InhorUanui' ^* Earth's Voices,'' '* Dante 

Gabriel Rossetti: a Record and a Study," ** Shelley: A 

Biographical Study," ** Life of Heine,** etc., etc. 

" Verse of this kind is so ezceptional that one can only speak of it in terms of 
sratefol appreciation. We shall naturally look for more of the same qnality 
from the same source ; hut no fountain, howeTor affluent, yields such streams 
every day.^^-TA^ AeoMmy, 


By JOSEPH SKIPSEY. (New Edition.) Crown 8vo, 
blue cloth, 39. 6d. 

" Mr. Skipsey can find music for every mood, whether he is deaJing with the 
real experiences of the pitman, or with the ima^matiTe experiences of the poet, 
and his verse has a nch vitality about it. In these latter days of shallow 
rhymes, it is pleasant to come across soEtie one to whom poetry is a passion, 
not a profession.''^i*aft MiM QautU. 


By frank T. MARZIALS. Parchment limp, 3/- 

" Mr. Frank T. Marzials* charming and finely wrought little book of poems." 


By mark ANDRlfe RAFFALOVICH, Author of '• In Fancy 
Dress," '* Cyril and Lionel," etc Crown 8vo, 3/6, 

A Popular Essay. 

£t CHARLES GIBSON, M.D., Lecturer and Examiner in the 
Faculty of Medtdne of the Univeisity of Durham. Crown 8vO| 
blue cloth, 38. 6d. 

London : Walter Scott, 24 Warwick Lane, Paternoster Row. 


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