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JSbc motlVs Classics 



XXI 

THE WORKS OF EDGAR 
ALLAN POE 

I 

TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION 



XCbe MorlO's Classics 



X. Charlotte BrontS'i Jane Eyre. 

Third Impression. 
a. Lamb' I Euayi of Elia. Fourth 

Impression. 

3. Tennyeoii'i Poems. 1830-1858. 

Fourth ItnpressioH. 

4. GoldBmith'i vlear of Wakefield. 

second Impression. 

5. HasUtt'i TaUe Talk. Third hn- 

pressiOH, 

6. Emenon'f Euayi. Fourth Im- 

pressioH. 

7. Keats' Poems. Third Impression, 

8. Dickemi' Oliver Twist. Second 

Impression. 

9. The Ingoldsby Legends. Third 

Impression. 

xa EmilyBrontd'sWnthering Heights. 
Second Impression. 

zx. Darwin's Origin of Species. Third 
Impression. 

Z3. Banyan's Pilgrim's Progress. 
Second Impressioti. 

Z3. English Songs and Ballads. Com- 
piled by T. W. 11. Ckoslanu. 
Second Impression, 

14. Oluirlotto Bronte's Sblrlof. 

Second Impression. 

15. Hazlitt's Sketches and Essays. 

Secomi Impression. 
x6. Herrick's Poems. Second ImpreS' 

sion. 
17. Defoe's Robinson Cnisoe. Second 

Impression. 

/K., 

19. Oarlyle's Sartor Besartns. Second 
Impression. 

aa Swift's Gnlliver'g Travels. Sea^nd 
Impression, 

31. Poe's Tales of Mysterv and 
Imagination. Second Impres- 
sion. 

93. White's History of Selbome. 
Second Impression. 

33. De Quincey's Opinm Eater. 

Second Jmpression. 

34. Bacon's Essays. Second Impres- 

sion. "■ 

95. Hazlitt's Wlnterslow. 

36. Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter 

Second Jmpression. 

37. Hacaulay's Lays of Ancient 

Rome. 
s8. Thackeray's Henry Esmond. 

Second Impression. 
29. Scott's Ivauhoe. Second Impres- 
sion, 
jx Emerson's English Traits. Second 

Impression, 
31. George Eliot's Mill on the Flosa. 

Second Impression. 
33. Selected English Essajrs. Chosen 

and ArnuiRcd by W. PBACOCR. 

Second Impression. 

33. Jtumt'M'EMMa.jn. Second Impression. 

34. Burns' Poems. Second Impression. 



18. Pope^i lUad of Homer. Second 
Impression. 



35. Gibbon's Roman Empire. Vol. I. 

(Complete in seven Twlumes.) 

Second Impression. 
^fi. Pope's Odyssey of Homer. 
yj. Dryden's VirgU. 
3B. Dickens' Tale of Two Cities. 

Second Impression. 
39. Longfellow's Poems. Vol. I. 
ifi. Sterne's Tristram Shandy, second 

Impression, 
4Z. Buckle's History of Civilization. 

VoL I. {Complete in three 

volumes.) Second Impression. 

42. Chaucer's Works. Vol. I. From 

the Text of Professor Skeat. 
{Compute in three voiutnes. ) 

43. Machiavelli's Prince. Translated 

by LUIGI RICCI. > 

44. Gibbon's Roman Empire. Vol. IT. 

Second Impression. 
IK. English Prose, firom Mandeville 
to Raskin. Edited by \V. Tha- 

46. Essays and Letters. By T.RO 

TOLSTOY. Translated by AYL- 
WMIK J^IaUDII;, iunittti ffiifi\x- 
Jil'fl. 

47. PliAtlotti Brontu's VUletto. 

4^ Bucklft'a Hlatory of ClvlllutldP&, 

V I iL 1 1. .1 rt i/fiti i'Hpresiiif'f. 
49, Tb^inKB L iCDnipIi'Or the Indta- 

tion qE Chrlit. 
■^, Tli&£:lLBrKy'i Sook sf Hnaba 
^1. Otbban'i KOfafui Empire. Vttl. T|I. 
jir, Witta-Duntqn'i Aylwln. 
■ji, fucjLla'i History of ClvIIlzatloD. 
^' Vor. ill. 
54, AdsiB Smith'! Wealth of No-tloEii. 

Vul. L {Ci>tKpiile i/t tivit 

vaiftjuci.) 



sC Cliaocer's WorkJi Vol, Jl, 
57, KiLzlitti'i Bplrib of the Ac«, 
ija. &lC'0Krbi]i<r'B ?ueiBA. YoS. 1. 
in. Jia^iu &mitli i Wealth, ot 2iatlanz, 

dfx The Meditailaiis of MiXRua 

Aureliiu. 
til. Hi>[mi!t' The Autocrat oT tlie 

SrafckfaAt T4.blfl. 
fi3. Cvrlylq'i Oa HerooBJ and Hero 

Womlilp. 
6^ OMri^e niot'i Adftm BtdA. 
i^\, Olbhoa'i ndmLn. Emsitro. Vol, V. 
65. MoutA.tEfls'1 E»afty», \\'\. 1. 

[i'ifr^pttU in thrrr Vi^lumis,) 
C/jy, BOTXOW'l LavvifTo. 

/» Preparation 

Gibbon's Roman Empire. Vol. VI. 
Gibbon's Roman Empire. Vol. 

VII. (with Index). 
Montaigne's Essays. Vol. II. 
Montaigne's Essays. Vol.111. 
Chaoeer's Works. Vol. III. 
&c., Slc, Slc 



TALES OF MYSTERY 
AND IMAGINATION 



BY 

EDGAR ALLAN POE 




HENRY FROWDE 

LONDON, Ki:)INJUJRGII, GLASGOW 

NEW YORK AND TORONTO 






v'.J%/. li^ 



This eoUectum of **Poe*i TaUi" wai firtt 
publisJisd in " The World's CUusict*' in 190g, 
and reprinted in 190$. 




V ^■- f \ ■■ ^ 



Printed by Ballanttni, Hanson &» Co. 
At the Ballantyna Press 



CONTENTS 

"N. PAQl 

^ The Gold Bug 1 

•' The Facts in the Case qf M, Valdemar . 41 

'' MS. Found in a Bottle 51 

A Descent into the Maelstrom .... 64 

The Murders in the Rue Morgue ... 83 

The Mystery of Marie Roget .... 122 

The Purloined Letter 178 

The Fall of the House of Us/ier .... 199 
The Pit and the Pendulum . . . .220 

Tlw Premature Burial 237 

The Black Cat 253 

The Masque of the Bed Death .... 204 

The Cask of Amontillado 271 

The Oval Portrait 278 

The Oblong Box 282 

The Tell-Tale Heart 295 

Ligcia 300 

Loss of Breath 318 

Shadow— A Parable 332 

Silence— A Fable 335 

The Man qf the Crowd 339 

Some Words with a Mummy .... 349 



TALES OF MYSTERY AND 
IMAGINATION 

THE GOLD BUG 

What ho ! vrh&t ho ! this fellow is dancing mad ! 
He hath been bitten by the Tarantula. 

— All in the Wrong, 

Many years ago I contracted an intimacy with a Mr; 
William Legraiid. He was of an ancient Huguenot 
family^ and had once been wealthy; but a series of 
misfortunes 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 main land 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 build- 
ings, tenanted, during summer, by the fugitives from 
Charleston dust and fever, may be found, indeed, the 
bristly palmetto ; but the whole island, with the excep- 
tion of this western point, and a line of hard, white 

A 



2 THE GOLD BUG 

beach on the sea-coast^ is covered with a denfee under- 
growth of the sweet myrtle, so much prized by the 
horticulturists of England. The shrub here often 
attains the height of iifteen or twenty feet, and forms 
an almost impenetrable coppice, burdening the air with 
its fragrance. 

In the inmost recesses of this conpice, not far from 
the eastern or more remote end of the island, Legrand 
had built 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 in- 
fected with misanthropy, and subject to perverse moods 
of alternate enthusiasm and melancholy. He had with 
him many books, but rarely employed them. His 
chief amusements were gunning and fishing, or saunter- 
ing 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 Swam- 
merdamm. In these excursions he was usually accom- 
panied 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, conceiv- 
ing 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, 18 — , 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, 



THE GOLD BUG 3 

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 off an overcoat^ took an 
arm-chair by the crackling logs^ and awaited patiently 
the arrival of my hosts. 

Soon after dark they arrived^ and gave me a most 
cordial welcome. Jupiter, grinning from ear to ear, 
bustled about to prepare some marsh-hens for su])per. 
Legrand was in one of his fits — how else shall 1 term 
them.? — of enthusiasm. He had found an unknown 
bivalve, forming a new genus, and, more than this, he 
had hunted down and secured, with Jupiter's assistance, 
a scarabcBus which he believed to be totally new, but 
in respect to which he wished to have my opinion on 
the morrow. 

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

'^ Ah, if I had only known you were here ! " Siiid 
Legrand, " but it's so long since 1 saw you ; and how 
could 1 foresee that you would pay me a visit this very 
night of all others r As I was coming home 1 met 

Lieutenant G , from the fort, and, very foolishly, 

I lent him the bug ; so it will bo impossible for you 
to see it until the morning. Stay here to-night, and 
I will send Jup down for it at sunrise. It is the 
loveliest thing in creation?" 

"What.?— sunrise?" 

" Nonsense ! no ! — 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 
anteniuB are " 

^^Dey aint no tin in him, Massa Will, I keep 
a-tellin on you," here interrupted Jupiter ; *' de bug 
is a goole bug, solid, ebery bit of him, inside and all. 



4 THE GOLD BUG 

sep him wing — ^neber feel half so hebby a bug in my 
life." 

** Well, suppose it is, Jup,*' replied Legrand, some- 
what 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 
nona 

^^ Never mind," said he at length,. *^this will 
answer;" and he 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. Wlien the design was complete, he 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, belongs 
ing 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 depicted. 

^^Well!" I said, after contemplating it for some 
minutes, '^ this is a strange scarahcBtis, 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 ! " echoed Legrand. ^' Oh — yes — 
well, it has sometliing 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 oval." 



THE GOLD BUG 5 

"Perhaps so," said 1; ''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 tolerably — should do it at least — have had good 
masters, and flatter myself that I am not quite a block- 
head." 

" But, my dear fellow, you are joking then," said I, 
" this is a very passable skull — indeed, I may say that 
it is a very excellent skull, according to the vulgar 
notions about such specimens of physiology — and your 
scarahcBUs must be the queerest scarabceus in the world 
if it resembles it. Why, we may get up a very thril- 
ling bit of superstition upon this hint I presume you 
will call the bug scarah<BU9 caput hominis, or something 
of that kind — there are many similar titles in the 
Natural Histories. But where are the antenruB you 
spoke of?" 

"The antennof!" said Legrand, who seemed to be 
getting unaccountably warm upon the subject ; " I 
am sure you must see the antentKB. I made them as 
distinct as they are in the original insect, and I pre- 
sume th«'it is sufficient" 

" Well, well," 1 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 tlie turn affairs had 
taken ; his ill humour puzzled me — and, as for the 
drawing of the beetle, there were positively no antenna 
visible, and the whole did bear a very close resem- 
blance 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 



G THE GOLD BUG 

made an anxious examination of the paper^ turning 
it in all directions. He said nothing^ however^ and 
his conduct greatly astonished me ; vet I thought it 
prudent not to exacerbate the growing moodiness of 
nis 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 de- 
meanour ; 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 
iKofe 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 

Eress me to remain, but, as I departed, he shook my 
and with eveu 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 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 ? " 

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

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

'* Dar ! dat's it ! — him neber plain of notin — but him 
bery sick for all dat." 

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

^^ No, dat he aint !— he aint find nowhar — dat's just 
whar de shoo pinch. My mind is got to be berry hebby 
bout poor Massa Will." 

^^ Jiipiter, 1 should like to understand what it is you 
are talking about You say your master is sick. Hasn't 
he told you what ails himr" 



THE GOLD BUG 7 

*^ 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! — 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 any- 
thing unpleasant happened since I saw you ? " 

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

" How ? what do you mean ? " 

''Why, massa, 1 mean de bug — dare now." 

"Tliewhat.?" 

" De bug — Fm berry sartain dat Massa Will bin bit 
somewhere 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 flnger, but I cotch him wid a 
piece ob paper dat I found. I wrap him up in de paper 
and stuff piece ob it in he mouff — dat was de way." 



8 THE GOLD BUG 

'^And you thinks 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 circumstance am I to attribute the honour 
of a visit from you to-day?" 

^' 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 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 
nis 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, soluSy among the hills on the mainland. I 
verily believe that my ill looks alone saved me a 
flogging. 

''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 importance. — Ever yours, 

*' William Leorand." 



THE GOLD BUG 9 

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 excit- 
able brain ? What '' business of the highest import- 
ance" could he possibly have to transact? Jupiter's 
account of him boded no good. I dreaded lest the 
continued pressure of misfortune had^ at lengthy fairly 
unsettled the reiison 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. 

^' AVhat 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 I know, and debbil take me if I 
don't believe 'tis more dan he know, too. But it's all 
cum ob de bug." 

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 enipressement which 
alarmed me and strengthened the suspicions already 
entertained. His countenance was pale even to ghastli- 
ness, 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 
obtsiined the scarabeeus from Lieutenant G . 

" Oh yes," he replied, colouring violently, " I got it 



10 THE GOLD BUG 

from him the next morning. Nothing should tempt 
me to part witli that scarahceus. Do you know that 
Jupiter is quite right about it ? " 

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

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

^^ 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 scarahceus I " 

" What ! 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 heanii f ul scarabauSy 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 rem&rkable, 
and, taking all things into consideration, I could 
hardly blame Jupiter for his opinion respecting it ; but 
what to make of Legrand's concordance with that 
opinion, I could not, &r 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 Leffrand," 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 " 



THE GOLD BUG 11 

'' Feel my pulse," said he. 

I felt it, and, to say the truth, 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 rejilly wish me well, you will relieve 
this excitement" 

*' And how is this to be done } " 

'* Very easily. Jupiter and myself are going upon 
an expedition into the hills, upon the mainland, 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." 

'' I'hon, Lcgrand, I can become a party to no such 
absurd proceeding." 

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

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

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

'^ 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 — Lcgrand, Jupiter, the 
dog, and myself. Jupiter had with him the scythe 



12 THE GOLD BUG 

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 com- 
plaisance. 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 
party I had charge of a couple of dark lanterns, while 
Legrand contented himself with the scarabisusy 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 con- 
versation upon any topic of minor importance, and to 
all my questions vouchsafed no other reply than ^^ we 
shall see ! " 

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 mainland, proceeded in a north- 
westerly direction, through a tract of country exces- 
sively 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 sun was just setting when we entered a region 
infinitely more ^reary than any yet seen. It was a 
species of tjiblemud, 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 pre- 
vented from precipitating themselves into the valleys 



THE GOLD BUG 13 

below, merely by the support of the trees against 
which they reclined. Deep ravines, in various direc- 
tions, 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, bv 
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 ! take this beetle 
with you." 

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

*^ If you are afniid, 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, I shall be under the 
necessity of breaking your head with this shovel." 

*' What de matter now, massa ? " said Jup, evidently 
shamed into compliance ; *' always want for to raise 



14 THE GOLD BUG 

fuss wid old niffger. Was ouly funnin any how. Me 
feered de bug-! what I keer for de bug? ' Here he 
took cautiously hold of the extreme end of the stringy 
and^ maintaining the insect as far from his person tis 
circumstances would permit^ prepared to ascend the 
tree. 

In youth, the tuli^J^^eej^qr Liriod^udzQikJrulipiferum, 
the most_jnagnrficeut^f , Ameriijuii Joresters, 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. Tlie 
risk of the achievement was, in fact, now over, although 
the climber was some sixty or seventy feet from the 
ground. 

'' Which wav 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 fudder 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 ? " 

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

'' Then go one limb higher." 



THE GOLD BUG 16 

In a few minutes the voice was heard again^ announc- 
ing 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 enter- 
tained of my poor friend's insanity was put finally at 
rest. I had no alternative but to conclude him stricken 
with lunacy, and I became seriously anxious about 
getting him home. AVhile 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 ! " said I, glad of an opportunity to interpose a 
word, '^ why, come home and go to bed. Come now ! 
tliat's a fnie fellow. It's getting late, and besides, you 
remember your promise." 

"Jupiter," cried he, without heeding me in the 
least, '^do you he«ir me?" 

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

" Try the wood well, then, with your knife, and see 
if you 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 ! — 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." 

"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 



16 THE GOLD BUG 

I'll break your neck. Look here^ Jupiter^ do you 
hear me ? " 

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

'^ Well! now listen ! — if vou will venture out on the 
limb as far as you think sate^ and not let go the beetle^ 
rU 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 the eend now." 

"Out to the end!" 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 I Lor-gol- 
a-marcy ! what is dis here pon de tree ? " 

" Well I " cried Legrand, highly delighted, " what 
is it?" 

*^Why, taint nuffin 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 say ! — very well ! — 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 hear.^" 

"Yes, massa." 

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

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

'^ Curse your stupidity! do you know your right 
hand from your left r " 

^'Yes, I nose dat — nose all bout 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 — 



THE GOLD BUG 17 

'' Is de lef eye of de skull pon de same side as de lef 
hand of de skull^ too ? — cause de skull aint got not a 
bit ob a hand at all — nebber mind ! I got de lef eye 
now — here de lef eye ! what mus 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 ! " 

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 scarabteus 
hung quite clear of any branches^ and^ if allowed to 
fall^ would have fallen at our feet Legrand immedi- 
ately 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, de- 
scribed. 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 amusement 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 



18 THE GOLD BUG 

wi^h 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 aid^ I would have had no hesi- 
tation in attempting to get the lunatic home by force ; 
but I was too well assured of the old negro's disposi- 
tion^ to hope that lie would assist me^ under any cir- 
cumstances^ in a personal contest with his master. 1 
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 con- 
firmation by the finding of the scarabatts, or, perhaps, 
by Jupiter's obstinacy in maintaining it to be " a bug 
of real gold." A mind disposed 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 beetle'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 picturesque a ^oup we com- 
posed, 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 pro- 
ceedings. 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 Legrand — 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, get- 



THE GOLD BUG 19 

ting 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 his 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 the farce was at an end. 
Legrand^ however^ although evidently much discon- 
certed, wiped his brow thoughtfully and recommenced. 
We had excavated the entire circle of four feet 
diameter^ and now we slightly enlarged the limits and 
went to the farther depth of two feet Still nothing 
appeared. Tlie 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 
knees. 

" You scoundrel ! " said Legrand, hissing out the 
syllables from between his clenched teeth — ^'you in- 
fernal black villain ! — speak, I tell you ! — answer me 
this instant, without prevarication ! — which — which is 
your left eye ? " 

" Oh, my golly, Massa Will ! 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 ! hurrah !" vociferated 
Legrand, letting the negro go, and executing a series 
of curvets and caracoles, much to the astonishment of 



20 THE GOLD BUG 

his valet^ who^ arising from his knees^ looked mutely 
from his master to myself^ and then from myself to 
his master. 

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

" Jupiter," said he, when we reached its foot, ^^ come 
here ! Was the skull nailed to the limh with the face 
outwards, or with the face to the limh ? " 

^^ 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 eyes. 

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

^^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, re- 
moved the peg wliich 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. 

Around 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 dread- 
fully 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 demeanour of Legrand — some air of fore- 
thought, or of deliberation, which impressed me. I 
dug eagerly, and now and then caught myself actually 
looking, with something that very much resembled ex- 



THE GOLD BUG 21 

pectation^ for the &ucied treasure^ the vision of which 
had demented my unfortunate companion. At a 
period when such vagaries of thought most fully pos- 
sessed me^ and when we had heen at work perhaps an 
hour and a half^ we were again interrupted by the 
violent howlings 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's 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 a mass of 
human bones, forming two complete skeletons, inter- 
mingled 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 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, how- 
ever, to continue our exertions, and the words were 
hardly uttered when 1 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 wonder- 
ful hardness, had plainly been subjected to some 
mineralising process — perhaps th at of the bi-ch loride 
of mercurg r^^hifl hfiY vvi'^-^rhr^^^^f, q"i1 » ^9^^ ^"'Tj 
'^ihfee feet broad, and two and a half feet deep. It was 
firmly secured by bands of wrought iron, riveted, and 
formnig 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 impossi- 



22 THE GOLD BUG 

bility of removing^ so great a weight. Luckily^ the 
sole fastenings of the lid consisted of two sliding bolts. 
These we drew back — trembling and panting 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 flashed upwards a 
glow and a glare, from a confused 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^ predomi- 
nant. 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 nsiture of things, for any negro's visage 
to assume. He seemed stupefied — thunderstricken. 
Presently he fell upon his knees in the pit, and, bury- 
ing his naked arms up to the elbows in gold^ let them 
there remain, as if eujoving tlie luxury of a bath. At 
lengthy with a deep sigh, he exclaimed, as if in a 



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

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 difHcult 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 



THE GOLD BUG 23 

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 tho-Jioles unjfilled, 
again set out for the hut, at vrtilch, for the Second 
time, we deposited our golden burdens, just as the first 
faint streaks of the dawn gleamed from over the tree- 
tops in the east 

We were now thoroughly broken down; 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 greaterpart of the next night, 
in a scrutiny of its contents. There had been nothing 
like order or arrangement. 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 tables 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 and heavy coins, so worn that 
we could make nothing of their inscriptions. There 
wa8iyL..American money. The value of the jewels 
^weround more^'drfRirtrfty^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 



24 THE GOLD BUG 

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; a prodigious golden 

Imnch-bowl^ ornamented with richly-chased vine- 
eaves 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 were very old, and as 
time-keepers valueless; the works having suffered^ 
more or less^ from corrosion — but all were richly 
jewelled and in cases of great worth. We estimated 
the entire contents of the chesty that nighty at a million 
and a half of dollars ; and upon the subsequent dis- 
posal of the trinkets and jewels (a few being retained 
for our own use)^ it was found that we had greatly 
undervalued the treasure. 

When^ at lengthy we had concluded our examination^ 
and the intense excitement of the time had^ in some 
measure^ subsided^ Legrand^ who saw that I was dying 
with impatience for a solution of this most extraor- 
dinary riddle^ entered into a full detail of all the circum- 
stances connected with it 

'^You remember," said he, "the night when I 
handed you the rough sketch I had made of the scara- 
hcBus, You recollect also, that I became quite vexed 
at you for insisting that my drawing resembled a 
death's-head. When you first made tnis 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 vour remark had some little 
foundation in fact Stil^ the sneer at my graphic 



THE GOLD BUG 26 

powers irritated me — for I «m-in>ngidftred a ggod artf"*" - 
— and^ therefore^ when you handed me the scrap of 
parchment^ J was about to crumple 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^ 1 discovered it^ at once^ to be a piece 
of very thin parchntent It was quite dirty, you re- 
member. Well, as I was iu the very act of crumpling 
it up, my glance fell upon the sketch at which you 
had been looking, and you may imagine my astonish- 
ment when I perceived iu 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 — althougn 
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 1 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, 
there should have been a skull upon the other side of 
the parchment, immediately beneath my figure of the 
scarabceus, 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 tempomry paralysis. 
But, when I recovered from this stupor, there dawned 
upon me gradually a conviction which startled me 
even far more than the coincidence. I began dis- 
tinctly, positively, to remember that there had been 
(tio drawnig upon the parchment when I made my 
fiketch of the scarahteus, I became perfectly certain 



26 THE GOLD BUG 

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 1 could not have 
failed to notice it Here was indeed a mystery which 
I felt it impossible to explain ; but even at that early 
moment^ there seemed to glimmer^ faintly^ within the 
most remote and secret chambers of my intellect, a 
glow-worm-like conception of that truth which last 
night's adventure brought to so magnificent a demon- 
stration. I arose at once, and putting the parchment 
securely away, dismissed all further reflection until I 
should be alone. 

^^When you had gone,' and when Jupiter was fast 
asleep, I betook myself to a more methodical investi- 
gation of the affair. In the first place I considered 
the manner in which the parchment had come into 
my possession. The spot where we discovered the 
acarahcBus was on the coast of the mainland, about a 
mile eastward of the island, and but a shoi*t 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 been a ship's long-boat. The wreck seemed to 
have been there for a very great while ; for the re- 
semblance to boat timbers could scarcely be traced. 

^^Well, Jupiter picked up the parchment, wrapped 
the beetle in it, and gave it to me. Soon after- 
wards 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 



THE GOLD BUG 27 

wrapped^ and which I had continued to hold in my 
hand during his inspection. Perliaps he dreaded my 
changing my mind, and thought it best to make sure 
of tlie 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 thera 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 circum- 
stances 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 
ui>on it You will, of course, ask ' where is the con- 
nection?' 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 parch- 
ment; since, for the mere ordinary purposes of drawing 
or writing, it is not nearly so well adapted as paper. 
Tliis reflection suggested some meaning — some rele- 
vancy — in the death's-head. I did not fail to observe, 
also,. the ybrm of the parchment. Although one of its 
corners had l>een, by some accident, destroyed, it could 
bo soon tliat 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 



28 THE GOLD BUG 

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 scarabausf* 

^^ Ah^ hereupon turns the whole mystery ; although 
the secret^ at this pointy I had comparatively little 
difficulty in solving. My steps were sure^ and could 
afford but a single result. 1 reasoned^ for example^ 
thus : When I drew the scarahceusy there was no skull 
apparent upon the parchment. When 1 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 (oli^ rare and liappy 
accident !)^ and a iire was blazing upon the hearth. 1 
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 New- 
foundland, entered, and leaped upon your shoulders. 
With vour 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 eng^aged in its examination. When I considered 
all these particulars, I doubted not for a moment that 
heat hsA been the agent in bringing to light, upon the 
I parchment, the skiill which I saw designed upon it. 
I You are well aware that chemical preparations exist, 
! and have existed time out of mind, oy 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 



THE GOLD BUG 29 

aqua reffia, and diluted with four times its weight of 
water^ is sometimes employed ; a green tint results. 
The regulus of cohalt^ 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 reapplication 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 immediately kindled a iire, 
and subjected every portion of the parchment to a glow- 
ing heat. At first, the only effect was the strengthening 
of the faint lines in the skull ; but, upon persevering 
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 ! 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 special 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 just 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 ; 
oecause its position upon the vellum suggested this 
idea. The death's-head at the corner 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 
olso — of tho \nu\y to my imagined instrument — of the 
text for my context" 



30 THE GOLD BUG 

^' I presume you expected to find a letter between 
the stamp and the signature." 

^^ Something of that kind. The fact is, I felt irre- 
sistibly impressed with a presentiment of some vast 
good fortune impending. I can scarcely say why. 
Perhaps^ after all, it was rather 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 acci- 
dents and coincidences — these were so very extra- 
ordinary. 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 iire, 
or without the intervention of the dog at the precise 
moment in which he appeared, I should never have 
become aware of the death's-head, and so never the 
possessor of the treasure ?" 

^^ But proceed — I am all impatience." 

^^ 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 cir- 
cumstance of the buried treasure still remaining en- 
tombed. Had Kidd concealed 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 

E irate recovered his money, there the affair would 
ave 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 them- 
selves in vain, because unguided attempts, to regain 



THE GOLD BUG 31 

it, had given first birth, and then universal currency, 
to the reports which are now so common. Have you 
ever heard of any important treasure being unearthed 
along the coast?" 

"Never." 

^^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 sur- 
prised 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 vou proceed ? " 

^' I hold 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 parch- 
ment by pouring warm water over it, and, having 
done this, I pished 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, ana, 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 reheated the parchment, 
submitted it to my inspection. The following char- 
acters were rudely traced, in a red tint, between the 
death Vhead and the goat : — 

53ttt305))6»; 4826)4t. )4t);806»;48t8l[60))85;l t(; :t*8t 
83(88)5*t;46(;88*96*?;8)*J(;485);5*t2:*t(;4956»2(6»— 
4)8ir8*;40C9285) ;)6t8)4| | ;1( t9;48081 ;8 ;8t 1 ;48t85;4)48 
5t628806*81(j9;48;(88;4(|.?34;48)4|;161;:188;J?; 

^' 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." 



32 THE GOLD BUG 

^'And yet/' said Legrand^ ^*the solution is by no 
means so difficult as you might be led to imagine from 
the first hasty inspection of the characters. These 
characters^ as any one 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 iTT 
such riddles^ and it may well be doubted whether 
Tiuman ingenuity can construct an enigma of the kind 
which human ingenuity may not, by proper applica- 
tion, resolve. In fact, having once established con- 
nected and legible characters, 1 sciircely gave a thought 
to the mere difficulty of developing their import 

** In the present case — indeed in all cases of secret 
writing — the first question regards the language iJf'tlie 
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 considera- 
tion 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 tlie 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 



THE GOLD BUG 38 

been comparatively 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 / for example)^ I should have con- 
sidered the solution as assurea. But^ there being no 
division^ my first step was to ascertain the predominant 
letters^ as well as the least frequent. Counting all^ I 
constructed a table^ thus : — 



'' Of the character 8 there arc 


I 33. 


> 




26. 


4 




19. 


n 




16. 
13. 


6 




12. 


6 




11. 


f 1 




8. 







6. 


92 




5. 


:3 




4. 


? 




3. 


IT 




2. 


— . 




1. 



''Now, in English, the letter which most frequently 
occurs is e. Afterwards, the succession runs thus : a 
oidhnrstuycfglmwhkpqxx, E predomi- 
n<ites so remarkably that an individutil sentence of any 
length is rarely seen, in which it is not the prevailing 
character. 

'* Here, then, we have, in the very beginning, the 
groundwork for something more than a mere guess. 
'File general use which may be made of the tiible 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,' &c In the present instance we see it 





34 THE GOLD BUG 

doubled no less than five times^ although the crypto- 
^aph is brief. 

" Let us assume 8, then, as «. N ow, of all tpoi^ ^ in 
V. • the language ' the ' is the jnost-^sual ; let us see, 

X' therefore, whether there are not repetitions of any 

three characters, in the same order of collocation, the 
last of them being 8. If we discover repetitions of 
«uch letters, so arranged, they will most probably rep- 
resent the word ^the/ Upon inspection, we find no 
less than seven such arrangements, the characters 

^ being ;48. We may therefore assume that ; represents 

i, 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 en- 
abled to establish a vastly important point ; that is to 
say, several commencements and terminations of other 

^ words. Let us refer, for exum])le, t(» the last instjinco 

but one, in which the combination ;48 occurs — not far 
from the end of the cipher. We know that the ; im- 
mediately ensuing is the commencement of a word, and 
of the six characters succeeding this ^the,' we are 
cognisant of no less than five. Let us set these char- 
acters down, thus, by the letters we know them to rep- 
resent, 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 
ivord can be formed of which this th can be a part 
We are thus narrowed into 

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. 



THE GOLD BUG 35 

we again see the combination ;48^ and employ it by 
way of termination 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 thrj?3h 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 ' through' makes itself evident at once. 
But this discovery gives us three new letters, o, w, and 
g, represented by J ? and 3. 

''Looking now, narrowly, through the cipher for 
combinations 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, <f, represented by t. 

" Four letters beyond the word ' degree,' wo perceive 
the combination 

;(48;88. 

" Translating the known characters, and represent- 
ing 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, t and n, represented by and * 

" Referring, now, to the beginning of the crypto- 
graph, we find the combination 

63U+. 
" Translating, as before, we obtain 
. good, 

vhich assures us that tlie first letter is A, and that the 
first two words are ' A good.' 



36 THE GOLD BUG 

" It is now time that we arrange our key, as far as 
discovered, in a tabular form, to avoid confusion. It 
will stand thus — 

5 represents a 



t 


f} 


d 


8 


yy 


e 


3 
4 


99 
99 


1 


6 


99 


i 


♦ 


99 


n 


t 


99 


o 


( 


99 


r 


f 


39 


t 



'' We have, therefore, no less than ten of the most 
important letters represented, and it will be unneces- 
sary 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 in- 
sight 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 re- 
mains to g^ve you the full translation of the characters 
upon the parchment, as unriddled. Here it is : — 

" ^ A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devifs seat 
forty-one degrees and thirteen minutes north-east and by 
north main branch seventh limb east side shoot frwn the 
left eye of the death's-head a bee line from the tree through 
tlte shot Jifty feet out,' " 

'^ But," said I, '^ the enigpma seems still in as bad a 
condition as ever. How is it possible to extort a mean- 
ing from all this jargon about ' devil's seats,' ' death's- 
heads,' and ' bishop's hotels ' ? " 

"1 confess," replied Legrand, ''that the matter 
still wears a serious aspect, when regarded with a 
casual glance. My ii]*st endeavour wiis to divide the 
sentence into the natural division intended by the 
cry ptographist " 

"You mean to punctuate it?" 

"Something of that kind." 



THE GOLD BUG 37 

''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 ae 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 char- 
acters, at this place, more than usually close together. 
If you will observe the MS., in the present instance, 
YOU will easily detect five such cases of unusual crowd- 
ing. Acting upon this hint, I made the division thus : — 

" ' A good glass in the Bishop's hostel in the Devifs 
seat— 'forty-one degrees and thirteen mintUes — north-east 
and by north — main branch seventh limb east side — shoot 
from the lefl eye of the death* s-head— a bee-line from the 
tree through the shot fifty feet out* " 

*' Even this division," said I, " leaves me still in the 
dark." 

''It left me also in the dark," replied Legrand, "for 
ft few days ; during wliich I made diligent inquiry, in 
the neighbourhood of Sullivan's Island, for any build- 
ing 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 northward of the island. 1 
accordingly went over to the plantation, and re-insti- 
tuted 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 Bessop's 
Castle, and thought that she could guide me to it, but 
that it was not a castle, nor a tavern, but a high rock. 



38 THE GOLD BUG 

'^ 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, dis- 
missing 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 summit upon which 1 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 resemblance to one of the 
hollow-backed chairs used by our ancestors. I made 
no doubt that here was the 'devil's-seat' 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 fflass. Greatly excited by these 
discoveries, I hurried liome, 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 pre- 
conceived 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 



THE GOLD BUG 3^ 

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 bullet fell), 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," 1 "said,' "Is exceedingly clear, and, al- 
though 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 aiforded by the narrow ledge upon the 
face 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 



40 THE GOLD BUG 

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 helieve you are as 
well acquainted as myself." 

'^ I suppose," said I, ^^ you missed tlie spot, in the 
first attempt at digging, through Jupiter's stupidity in 
letting the hug fall through the right instead of 
through the left eye of the skull." 

^^ Precisely. This mistake made a difference of 
ahout 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 
off the scent But for my deep-seated 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 ! I was sure 
you were mad. And why did you insist upon letting 
fall the bug, instead of a bullet from the shell?" 

"Why, to be frank, I felt somewhat annoyed by 
your evident suspicions touching my sanity, and so 
resolved to pujaisli_.yfiji.j|uietly, in my own way, by a 
little bit of sober mystification. For this reason 1 
swung the beetle; arid 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 



FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 41 

dreadful to believe in such atrocity as my suggestion 
would imply. It is clear that Kidd — if fcidd 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 ex- 
pedient to remove all participants in his secret 
Perhaps a couple of blows with a mattock were suffi- 
cient^ while his coadjutors were busy in the pit ; 
perhaps it required a dozen — who shall tell?" 



THE FACTS IN THE CASE OF 
M. VALDEMAR 

Op cour-sfiXshaU-not pretend to consider it any matter 
for wonder that the extraordinary case of M. Valdemar 
has excited discussion. It would have been a miracle 
had it not — especially under the circumstances. 
Through the desire of all parties concerned to keep 
the affair from the public^ at least for the present, or 
until we had further o])purtunities for investigation — 
through our endeavours to effect this — a garbled or 
exaggerated account made its way into society^ and 
became the source of many unpleasant misrepresenta- 
tions ; and, very naturally, of a great deal of disbelief. 

It is now rendered necessary that I give the Jacts — 
as far as I comprehend them myself. They are, 
succinctly, these : — 

My attention, for the last three years, had been re- 
peatedly drawn to the subject of mesmerism ; and, 
about nine montlis ago, it occurred to me, quite 
suddenly, that in the series of experiments made 
hitherto, there had been a very remarkable and most 
unaccountable omission — no person had as yet been 
mesmerised in articulo mortis. It remained to be seen, 
first, whether, in such condition, there existed in the 
patient any susceptibility to the magnetic influence ; 
secondly, whether, if any existed, it was impaired or 



42 FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 

increased by the condition ; thirdly^ to what extent^ 
or for how lon^ a period^ the encroachments of Death 
mi^ht be arrested by the process. There were other 
points to be ascertained^ but these most excited my 
curiosity — the last in especial^ from the immensely 
important character of its consequences. 

In looking around me for some subject by whose 
, means I might test these particulars, I was brought to 

^ .0 think of my friend, M. Ernest Valdemar, tl\ewell- 

^/' ,-' '. known compiler of the '' Bibliotheca. J'orensicaT^^iTll" 

-^i author (under the nom de plume of Issachar Marx) of 

the Polish versions of " Wallehstein" and "Gargantua." 
M. Valdemar, who has resided principally at Harlem, 
N. Y., since the year 1839, is (or was) particularly 
noticeable for the extreme spareness of his person — 
his lower limbs much resembling those of John Ran- 
dolph ; and, also, for the whiteness of his whiskers, 
in violent contrast to the blackness of his hair — the 
latter, in consequence, being very generally mistaken 
for a wig. His temperament was markedly nervous, 
and rendered him a good subject for mesmeric experi- 
ment. On two or three occasions I had put him to 
sleep with little difficulty, but was disappointed in 
other results which his peculiar constitution had 
naturally led me to anticipate. His will was at no 
period positively, or thoroughly, under my control; 
and in regard to clairvoyance, I could accomplish with 
him nothing to be relied upon. I always attributed 
my failure at these points to the disordered sbite of 
his health. For some months previous to my becom- 
ing acquainted with him, his physicians had declared 
him in a confirmed phthisis. It was his custom, indeed, 
to speak calmly of his approaching dissolution, as of a 
matter neither to be avoided nor regretted. 

AVhen the ideas to which I have alluded first occurred 
to me, it was of course very natural that I should think 
of M. Valdemar. I knew the steady philosophy of the 
man too well to apprehend any scruples from him; 
and he had no relatives in America who..jKauld be 
likely to interfere. I spoke to him frankly upon the 



FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 43 

subject; and, to my surprise, his interest seemed 
vividly excited^_J[ say to my surprise ; for, although 
he ^nd al wgys yielded his person freely to my experi- 
ments, he had never liefore given me any tokens of 
sympathy with what I did. His disease was of that 
character which would admit of exact calculation in 
respect to the epoch of its termination in death ; and 
it was finally arranged between us that he would send 
for me about twenty-four hours before the period 
announced by-h i s phy sictans a8 that of his decease. 

It is now rather more than seven months since I 
received, from M. Valdemar himself, the subjoined 
note : — 

''My dear P , You may as well come now. 

D and F are agreed that I cannot hold out 

beyond to-morrow midnight; and I think they have 
hit^he time very nearly. VAiJ)EBiAR." 



I received this note within half-an-hour after it was 
written, and in fifteen minutes more I was in the dying 
man's chamber. I had not seen him for ten days, and 
was apnalled by the fearful alteration which the brief 
interval had wrought in him. His face wore a leaden 
hue ; the eyes were utterly lustreless ; and the emacia- 
tion was so extreme, that the skin had been broken 
through by the cheek-bones. His expectoration was 
excessive. The pulse was barely perceptible. He 
retained, nevertheless, in a very remarkable manner, 
both his mental power and a certain degree of physical 
strength. He spoke with distinctness — took some 
palliative medicines without aid — and, when I entered 
the room, was occupied in pencilling memoranda in a 
pocket-book. He was propped up in the bed by pillows. 

Doctoi-s D and F were in attendance. After 

pressing Valdemar 's hand, I took these gentlemen 
aside, and obtained from them a minute account of 
the patient's condition. The left lung had been for 
eighteen months in a semi-osseous or cartilaginous 
state, and was, of course, entirely useless for all pur- 
poses of vitality. The right, in its upper portion, was 



44 FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 

also partially, if not thoroughly, ossified, while the 
lower region was merely a mass of purulent tubercles, 
running one into another. Several extensive perfora- 
tions existed ; and, at one point, permanent adhesion 
to the ribs had/taken place. These appearances in the 
right lobe were of comparatively recent date. The 
ossification had proceeded with very unusual rapidity ; 
no sign of it had been discovered a month before, and 
the adhesion had only been observed during the three 
previous days. Independently of the phthisis, the 
patient was suspected of aneurism of the aorta ; but 
on this point the osseous symptoms rendered an exact 
diagnosis impossible. It was the opinion of both 
physicians that M. Valdemar would die about mid- 
night on the morrow (Sunday). It was then seven 
o'clock on Saturday evening. 

On quitting the invalid's bedside to hold conversa- 
tion with myself. Doctors D and F had bidden 

him a final farewell. It had not been their intention 
to return ; but, at my request, they agreed to look 
in upon the patient about ten the next night. 

When they had gone, I spoke freely with M. Val- 
demar on the subject of his approaching dissolution, 
as well as, more particularly, of the experiment pro- 
posed. He still professed himself quite willing and 
even anxious to have it made, and urged me to com- 
mence it at once. A male and a female nurse were in 
attendance; but I did not feel myself altogether at 
liberty to engage in a task of this character with no 
more reliable witnesses than these people, in case of 
sudden accident, might prove. I therefore postponed 
operations until about eight the next night, when the 
arrival of a medical student, with whom I had some 

acquaintance (Mr. Theodore L 1), relieved me from 

further embarrassment. It had been my design, 
originally, to wait for the physicians ; but I was in- 
duced to proceed, first, by the urgent entreaties of 
M. Valdemar, and secondly, by my conviction that I 
had not a moment to lose, as he was evidently sink- 
ing fast. 



FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 45 

Mr. L ^1 was so kind as to accede to my desire 

that he would take notes of all that occurred ; and it 
is from his memoranda that what I now have to relate 
is, for the most part, either condensed or copied 
verbatim. 

It wanted about five minutes of eight when, taking- 
the patient's hand, I begged him to stato, as distinctly 
as he could, to Mr. LI, whether he (M. Valdemar) 
was entirely willing that I should make the experiment 
of mesmerising him in his then condition. 

He replied feebly, yet quite audibly, *' Yes, I wish 
to be mesmerised" — adding immediately afterwards,. 
^'I fear you have deferred it too long." 

While he spoke thus, I commenced the passes which 
I had already found most effectual in suoduing him. 
He was evidently influenced with the first lateral stroke- 
of my hand across his forehead ; but although I ex- 
erted all my powers, no further perceptible effect was- 
induced until some minutes after ten o'clock, when 
Doctors D and F called, according to appoint- 
ment I explained to them, in a few words, what I 
designed, and as they opposed no objection, saying 
that the patient was already in the death agony, I 
proceeded without hesitation — exchanging, however, 
the lateral passes for downward ones, and directing^ 
my gaze entirely into the right eye of the sufferer. 

By this time his pulse was imperceptible and his* 
breathing was stertorous, and at intervals of half & 
minute. 

This condition was nearly unaltered for a quarter of 
an hour. At the expiration of this period, however, a 
natural, although a very deep sigh, escaped the bosom 
of the dying man, and the stertorous breathing ceased 
— that is to say, its stertorousness was no longer 
apparent ; the intervals were undiminished. The 
patient's extremities were of an icy coldness. 

At five minutes before eleven I perceived unequivocal 
signs of the mesmeric influence. The glassy roll of 
the eye was clianged for that expression of uneasy 
inward examination which is never seen except in case» 



46 FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 

of sleep-waking^ and which it is quite impossihle to 
mistake. With a few ra))id lateral passes I made the 
lids quiver^ as in incipient sleep^ and with a few more 
I closed them altogether. I was not satisfied^ however^ 
with this, hut continued the manipulations vigorously^ 
and with the fullest exei*tion of the will^ until I had 
completely stiiFeued the limbs of the slumberer^ after 
placing them in a seemingly easy position. The legs 
were at full length ; the arms were nearly so^ and 
reposed on the bed at a moderate distance from the 
loins. The head was very slightly elevated. 

^VTien I had accomplished this, it was fully midnight, 
and I requested the gentlemen present to examine M. 
Valdemar's condition. After a few experiments, they 
admitted him to be in an unusually perfect state of 
mesmeric trance. The curiosity of both the physicians 

was greatly excited. Dr. D resolved at once to 

remain with the patient all night, while Dr. F 

took leave with a promise to return at daybreak. Mr. 
L 1 and the nurses remained. 

We left M. Valdemar entirely undisturbed until 
about three o'clock in the morning, when I approached 
him, and found him in precisely the same condition as 

when Dr. F went away — that is to say, he lay in 

the same position. The pulse was imperceptible ; 
the breathing was gentle (scarcely noticeable, unless 
through the application of a mirror to the lips) ; the 
eyes were closed naturally ; and the limbs were as rigid 
and tis cold as marble. Still, the general appearance 
was certainly not that of death. 

As I approached M. Valdemar I made a kind of half 
effort to influence his right arm into pursuit of my 
own, as I passed the latter gently to and fro above his 
person. In such experiments with this patient I had 
never perfectly succeeded before, and assuredly I had 
little thought of succeeding now ; but to my astonish- 
ment, his arm very readily, although feebly, followed 
every direction I assigned it with mine. I determined 
to hazard a few words of conversation. 

"M. Valdemar," I said, "are you asleep?" He 



FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 47 

made no answer^ but I perceived a tremor about the 
lips^ and was thus induced to repeat the question^ 
again and again. At its third repetition^ his whole 
frame was agitated by a very slight shivering; the 
eyelids unclosed themselves so far as to display a white 
line of a ball; the lips moved sluggishly^ and from 
between them^ in a barely audible whisper^ issued the 
words — 

'* Yes ; asleep now. Do not wake me ! — let me 
die so ! " 

I here felt the limbs and found them as rigid as ever. 
The right arm, as before^ obeyed the direction of my 
hand. I questioned the sleep-waker again — 

^' Do you still feel pain in the breast, M. Valdemar?" 

The answer now was immediate, but even less audible 
than before — 

" No pain — I am dying." 

I did not think it advisable to disturb him further 
just then, and nothing more was said or done until 

the arrival of Dr. F , wlio came a little before 

sunrise, and expressed unbounded astonishment at 
finding the patient still alive. After feeling the pulse 
and applying a mirror to the lips, he requested me to 
speak to the sleep-waker again. I did so, saying — 

^^ M. Valdemar, do you still sleep ? " 

As before, some minutes elapsed ere a reply was 
made ; and during the interval the dying man seemed 
to be collecting his energies to speak. At my fourth 
repetition of the question, he said very faintly, almost 
inaudibly — 

*^Yes; still asleep — dying.' 

It was now the opinion, or rather the wish, of the 
physicians, that M. Valdemar should be suffered to 
remain undisturbed in his present apparently tranquil 
condition, until death should supervene — and this, it * 
was generally agreed, must now take place within a 
few minutes. I concluded, however, to speak to him 
once more, and merely repeated my previous question. 

While I spoke, there came a marked change over the 
countenance of the sleep-waker. The eyes rolled 



48 FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 

themselves slowly open^ the pupils disappearing up- 
wardly ; the skin generally assumed a cadaverous hue^ 
resembling not so much parchment as white paper; 
and the circular hectic spots which^ hitherto^ had been 
strongly defined in the centre of each cheeky went out 
at once. I use this expression^ because the suddenness 
of their departure put me in mind of nothing so much 
as the extinguishment of a candle by a puff of the 
breath. The upper lip^ at the same time^ writhed 
itself away from the teeth, which it had previously 
covered completely ; while the lower jaw fell with an 
audible jerk, leaving the mouth widely extended, and 
disclosing in full view the swollen and blackened 
tongue. I presume that no member of the party then 
present had been unaccustomed to death-bed horrors ; 
but so hideous beyond conception was the appearance 
of M. Valdemar at this moment, that there was a general 
shrinking back from the region of the bed. 

I now feel that I have reached a point of this 
narrative at which every reader will be startled iiitc^ 
positive disbelief. Itjs *my bjusines Sj however^ ^implv 
fto proceed. 

There was no longer the faintest sign of vitality in 
M. Valdemar ; and concluding him to be dead, we were 
consigning him to the charge of the nurses^ when a 
strong vibratory motion was observable in the tongue. 
This continued for perhaps a minute. At the expira- 
tion of this period, there issued from the distended and 
motionless jaws a voice — such as it would be madness 
in me to attempt describing. There are, indeed, two 
or three epithets which might be considered as applic- 
able to it in part ; I might say, for example, that the 
sound was harsh, and broken, and hoUov^; but the 
hideous whole is indescribable, for the simple reason 
that no similar sounds have ever jarred upon the ear 
of humanity. There were two particulars, nevertheless, 
which I thouglit then, and still think, might fairly be 
stated as characteristic of the intonation — as well 
adapted to convey some idea of its unearthly pecu- 
liarity. In the first place, the voice seemed to reach 



FACTS IN THE CASE OF M. VALDEMAR 49 

our ears — at least mine — from a vast distance^ or from 
some deep cavern within the earth. In the second 
place^ it impressed me (I fear^ indeed^ that it will he 
impossihle to make myself comprehended) as gelatinous 
or glutinous matters impress tne sense of touch. 

I have spoken hoth of "sound" and of "voice," I 
mean to say that the sound was one of distinct — of 
even wonderfully, thrillinglv distinct — syllabification. 
M. Valdemar itpoke — obviously in reply to the question 
I had propounded to him a few minutes before. I had 
asked him, it will be remembered, if he still slept He 
now said — 

"Yes — no — I have been sleeping — and now — now 
— I am dead" 

No person present even affected to deny, or at- 
tempted to repress, the unutterable, shuddering horror 
which these few words, thus uttered, were so well cal- 
culated to convey. Mr. L 1 (the student) swooned. 

The nurses immediately left the chamber, and could 
not be induced to return. My own impressions I 
would-^ot pretend \<\jrM\t\f^r \x\\£^\\^\ h\pi t^ th ^ rea der. 
For nenrTjOnr-innirpwe busied ourselves, silently — 
without the uttenince of a word — in endeavours to 

revive Mr. L 1. When he came to himself, we 

addressed ourselves again to an investigation of M. 
Valdemar's condition. 

It remained in all respects as I have last described it, 
with the exception that the mirror no longer afforded 
evidence of respiration. An attempt to draw blood 
from the arm failed. I should mention, too, that this 
limb was no further subject to my will. I endeavoured 
in vain to make it follow the direction of my hand. 
The only real indication, indeed, of the mesmeric in- 
fluence was now found in the vibratory movement of 
the tongue, whenever I addressed M. Valdemar a 
question. He seemed to be making an eflFort to reply, 
but had no longer sufficient volition. To queries put 
to him by any other person than myself he seemed 
utterly Insensible — although I endeavoured to place 
each member of the company in mesmeric rapport with 



60 FACTS IN THE CASE OP M. VALDEMAR 

him. I believe that I have now related all that is 
necessary to an understanding of the sleep- waker's state 
at this epoch. Other nurses were procured ; and at 
ten o'clock I left the house in company with the two 
physicians and Mr. L 1. 

In the afternoon we all called again to see the patient 
His condition remained precisely the same. We had 
now some discussion as to the propriety and feasibility 
of awakening him; but we had little difficulty in 
agreeing that no good purpose would be served by so 
doing. It was evident that^ so far^ death (or what 
is usually termed death) had been arrested by the 
mesmeric process. It seemed clear to us all that to 
awaken M. Valdemar would be merely to insure his 
instant^ or at least his speedy dissolution. 

From this period until the close of last week — an 
interval of nearly seven months — we continued to make 
daily calls at M. Valdemar's house, accomnanidd, now 
and then, by medical and other friends. AH this time 
the sleep-waker remained exactly as I have last de- 
scribed him. The nurses' attentions were continual. 

It was on Friday last that we finally resolved to 
make the experiment of awakening, or attempting to 
awaken him ; and it is the (perhaps) unfortunate result 
of this latter experiment which has given rise to so 
much discussion in private circles — to so much of 
what I cannot help thinking unwarranted popular 
feeling. 

For the purpose of relieving M. Valdemar from the 
mesmeric Irance, I made use of the customary passes. 
These for a time were unsuccessful. The first indica- 
tion of revival was afforded by a partial descent of the 
iris. It was observed, as especially remarkable, that 
this lowering of the pupil was accompanied by the 
profuse outflowing of a yellowish ichor (from beneath 
the lids) of a pungent and highly offensive odour. 

It was now suggested that I should attempt to in- 
fluence the patient's arm as heretofore. I made the 

attempt and failed. Dr. F then intimated a desire 

to have me put a question. I did so, as follows — 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 51 

^^ M. Valdemar^ can you explain to us what are your 
feelings or wishes now ? " 

There was an instant return of the hectic circles on 
the cheeks; tlie tongue nuivered^ or rather rolled 
violently in the mouth (although the jaws and lips 
remained rigid as hefore); and at length the same 
hideous voice which I have already described^ broke 
forth— 

^' For God's sake ! — quick ! — quick — put me to sleep 
— or quick ! — ^waken me ! — quick ! — / say to you that I 
am dead ! " 

I was thoroughly unnerved^ and for an instant re- 
mained undecided what to do. At first I made an 
endeavour to re-compose the patient; but, failing in 
this through total abeyance of the will, I retraced my 
steps, and as earnestly struggled to awaken him. In 
this attempt I soon saw that I should be successful — or 
at least I soon fancied that my success would be com- 
plete — and I am sure that all in the room were pre- 
pared to see the patient awaken. 

For what really occurred, however, it is quite impos- 
sible that any humiin being could have been prepared. 

As I rapidly made the mesmeric passes, amid ejacu- 
lations of '^ Dead ! dead ! " absolutely bursting from the 
tongue and not from the lips of the sufferer, his whole 
frame at once — within the space of a single minute, or 
even less, shrunk — crumbled — absolutely rotted away 
beneath my hands. Upon the bed, before that whole 
company, there lay a nearly liquid mass of loathsome 
—of detestable putrescence. 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 

" Qui n'a plus qu'un moment ^ vivro 
N'a plus rien k dissimuler." — Quinault, Atys, 

Op my country and of my family I have litUe to say. 
Ill usage and length of years have driven me from the 
one, and estranged me from the other. Hereditary 



62 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 

wealth afforded me an education of no common order, 
and a contemplative turn of mind enabled me to 
methodise the stories which early study diligently 

girnered up. Beyond all things, the works of the 
erman moralists gave me a great delight; not from 
my 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 Pyrrhonism 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 igiws fatui of super- 
stition. I have thought proper to premise thus much, 
lest the incredible tale I have to tell should be con- 
sidered rather the raving of a crude imagination, than 
the positive experience of a mind to whi^ the reveries 
of fancy have been a dead letter and a nullity. 

After many years spent in foreign travel, I sailed in 
the year 18 — , from the port of Batavia, in the rich 
and populous island of Java, on a voyage to the 
Archipelago of the Sunda Islands. I went as passenger 
— having no other inducement than a kind of nervous 
restlessness which haunted me as a fiend. 

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 
opium. 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 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 63 

of our course than the occasional meeting with some 
of the small grabs of the Archipelago to which we were 
bound. 

One evening, leaning over the tafFrail, f observed a 
very singular isolated cloud, to the N.vn 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^d" appearance of 
the moon, and the peculiar character of the sea. The 
latter was undergoing 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 
Nt>ecame intolerably hot, and was loaded with spiral 
exh;ilations similar to those arising from heated iron. 
As night came on, every breath of wind died away, 
and a more entire calm i t is im possible.. tpconcflive. — 
The flame of a candle bufiied lipon 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 fu ll prese ntiment of eviL Indeed, 
every appearance warranted" me ""lii apprehending a i^vt- 

simoom. I told the captain my fears ; out hejaia no_ 
**t£Sil25.i2J^i^.^t.t^^^^ and left me without Signing : ; ^' 

to g^ve a reply.. My uneasine^, however, prevented 
me from sleepiiig, 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 revolution of a 
inill-wlicel, and before I could ascertain its mining. 



54 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 

I found 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 stern. 

The extreme fury of the blast proved^ in a great 
measure^ the salvation of the siiip. Altliough com- 
pletely water-logged^ yet^ as her masts had gone by 
the boards she rose^ aner a minute^ heavily from the 
sea^ and, staggering awhile beneath the immense 
pressure of the tempest, finally righted. 

By what miracle I escaped destruction, it is im- 
possible to sajr. Stunned by the shock of th^ water, i 
flOTund myself, upon recovery, jammed in between the 
stern-post and rudder. With great difficulty I gained 
my feet, and looking dizzily around, was at first struck 
with the idea of our being among breitkers ; 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 had shipped with us at the moment of 
leaving port I hallooed to him with all my strength, 
and presently he came reeling aft We soon dis- 
covered 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 velocity before the sea, and 
the water made clear breaches over us. The frame- 
work of our stern was shattered excessively, and, in 
almost every respect, we had received considerable 
injury ; but to our extreme joy we found the pumps 
unchoked, and that we had made no great shifting of 
our ballast. The main fury of the blast had already 
blown over, and we apprehended little danger from the 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 66 

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 
jnst^ap py'fthpnRin ii seemed by no means likely to be 
sooiT verified. For five entire days and nights — during 
wlirclr-T)ll?"only subsistence was a small quantity of 
jaggeree, procured with great difficulty from the fore- 
castle — the hulk fiew at a rate defying computation, 
before rapidly succeeding fl<iws 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 trifling 
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 lustre, 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 ex- 
tinguished by some unaccountable power. It was a 
dim, silver-like rim, alone, as it rushed down the un- 
fathomable ocean. 

We waited in vain for the arrival of the sixth day — 
that day to me has not arrived — to the Swede, never 
did arrive. Thenceibrward we were enshrouded in 
pitchy darkness, so that we could not have seen an 
object at twenty paces from the ship. Eternal night 
continued to envelop us, all unrelieved by the phos- 
phoric 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 appear- 



56 MS. POUND IN A BOTTLE 

ance 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 mizzen-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 excel- 
lent 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 disturbed the slumbers of the krakeu. 

We were at the bottom of one of these abysses, 
when a quick scream from my companion broke fear- 
fully uppn the night. " See ! see ! ' cried he, shriek- 
ing in my ears, '' Almighty God ! see ! see ! " As he 
spoke, I uecame aware of a dull, sullen glare of red 
light which streamed down the sides of the vast chasm 
where we lay, and threw a iitful brilliancy upon our 
deck. Casting my eyes upwards, I beheld a 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 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 67 

perhaps four thousand tons. Although upreared upon 
the summit of a wave more than a hundred times ner 
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 hlack^ unrelieved 
hy 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 iires 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 moment of intense terror she 
paused upon the giddy pinnacle, as if in contempla- 
tion of her own sublimity, then trembled and tottered, 
and — came down. 

At this instant, I know not what sudden self-posses- 
sion came over my spirit. Staggering as far aft as I 
could, I awaited fearlessly the ruin that was to over- 
whelm. 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, con- 
sequently, in that portion of her frame which was 
nearly 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 Wtiy, unperceived, to the main hatchway, 
which was partially open, and soon found an oppor- 
tunity 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 
conccnlnient. I was unwilling to trust myself with a 
race of people who had offered, to the cursory glance 



58 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 

I had taken, so many points of vague novelty, ^oubt, 
and apprehension'. I therefore thou^t jproper to 
contrive a hidinfi^-place in the hold. This I did by 
removing a smaU portion of the shifting-boards, in 
such a manner as to afford me a convenient retreat 
between the huge timbers of the ship. 

I had scarcely completed my woric, 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 £ice, 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 burthen. He 
muttered to himself, in a low broken tone, some words 
of a language which I could nqt understand, and 
groped in a corner among a pile of singular-looking 
rnstrumonts, and decayed charts of navigation. His 
manner was a wild mixture of the peevishness of 
second childhood and the solemn dignity ^i^f^^ir-g^d. 
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 thlf^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 conceptions 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 the deck of this terrible 
ship, and the rays of my destinv are, I think, gather- 
ing to a focus. Incomprehensible men ! Wrapped up 
in meditations of a kind which I cannot divine, they 
pass me by unnoticed. Concealment is utter folly on 



MS. FOUND IN A BOrfLE 69 

my part^ for the people tot*// not see. It was but just 
now that I passed directly before the eyes of the 
mate ; it was no long while ago that I ventured into 
the captain'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 worlds but I will not fail to make 
the endeavour. At the last moment I will enclose 
the MS. in a bottle^ and cast ijt within the sea. 

An incident has occurred which has given me new 
room for meditation. Are such things the operation 
of ungovemed chance ? I had ventured upon deck and 
thrown myself down, without attracting any notice, 
among a pile of ratlin-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 lay near 
me on a barrel. The studding-sail is now bent upon 
the ship, and the thoughtless touches of the brush are 
spread out into the word Discovery. 

1 have made many observations lately upon the 
structure of the vessel. Although well armed, she is 
not, I think, a ship of war. Her rigging, build, and 
general equipment, all negative a supposition of this 
kind. What she is not, 1 can easily perceive; what 
she is, I 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 
cnuvsis, her severely simple bow and antiquated stern, 
there will occ^'usionally flash across my mind a sensation 
of familiar things, and there is always mixed up with 
such indistinct shadows of recollection, an unaccount- 
able memory of old foreign chro nicles an d ages long ago. 

I have been looking at the timbers 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 



60 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 

me as rendering it unlit for the purpose to which it 
has been applied. I mean its 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 recollection. ** It is as sure," he was wont to 
say, when any doubt was entertained of his veracity^ 
^^ as sure as tliere is a sea where the ship itself will grow 
in bulk like the living body of the seaman." 

About an hour ago I made bold to trust 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 at hrst seen in the hold, thev all 
bore about them the marks of a hoary old age. 1 heir 
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 aeck, 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 oiF the wind, has continued her terrific 
course due south, with every rag of canvas ])acked 
upon her, from her truck 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 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 61 

left the deck^ where I find it impossible to maintain a 
footings 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 
and for ever. We are surely doomed to hover continu- 
ally 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 
colo^al waters rearjthgir iieads ^bove us like demons» ; 
of the^^BgM^trtiike^^ confined Jpjsiihnl© tBreats,| 
and \forbuSreiiTo"destroyr~^ attrioute these \i 

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 im- 
petuous under-tow. 



I have seen the captain face to face^ and in his own 
cabin — but, as I expected, he paid -me. jio . atten tion.^ 
Although in his appearance there is, to a casual observer, 
nothing which might bespeak him more or less than 
man, still a feeling of irrepressible 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 sbimp of a 
myriad of years. His grey hairs are records of the 
past, and his greyer eves are sibyls 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 



62 MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 

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. 

The ship and all in it are imbued with the spirit of 
Eld. The crew glide to and fro like the ghosts oi buried 
centuries ; their eyes have an eager and uneasv meaning; 
and when their fingers fall athwart my path in the wild 
glare of the battle-lanterns^ I feel as 1 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 ramparts 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 given to a tide 
which, howling and shrieking bv 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 pre- 
sume, utterly impossible ; yet a curiosity to penetrate 



MS. FOUND IN A BOTTLE 63 

the mysteries of these 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 knowledge — 
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 ; but there is upon their countenance an expres- 
sion 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 ! Oh, horror upon 
horror ! — the ice opens suddenly to the right, and to 
the left, and we are whirling dizzily, in immense con- 
centric 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 ! 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 tempest, 
the ship is quivering — O God .' and agoing down ! 

Note. — The " MS. Found in a Bottle" was originally pub- 
lished 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 bo absorbed into the bowels of the 
earth ; the Pole itself hcitig represented by a black rock, 
towering to a prodigious height. 



64 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

"The ways of God in Nature, as in Providence, are not as 
our ways ; nor are the models that we frame any way com- 
mensurate to the vastness, profundity, and unsearchableness 
of His works, which have a depth in them greater than the well 
of Democrtiii*."— Joseph Glanvillb. 

We had now reached the summit of the loftiest crag. 
For some minutes the old man seemed too much ex- 
hausted 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 
twry old man — but I am not. It took less than a single 
day to change these hairs from a jetty black to white, 
to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so 
that I tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened 
at a shadow. Do you know I can scarcely look over 
this little cliff without getting giddy.'*" 

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



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 65 

winds. It was long before I could reason myself into 
sufficient courage to sit up and look out into the 
distance. 

" You must get over these fancies/* said the guide^ 
''for I have brought you here that you might have 
the best possible view of the scene of that event 1 
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 — and 
in the dreary district of Lofoden. The mountain upon 
whose top we sit is Helseggen, the Cloudy. Now raise 
yourself up a little higher — hold on to the grass if 
you feel giddy — so — and look out, beyond the belt of 
vapour beneath us, into the sea." 

I looked dizzily, and beheld a wide expanse of />cean, 
whose waters wore so inky a hue as to bring at once to 
my mind the Nubian geographer s account of the Mare 
Tetiebrarum, A panorama more deplorably desolate no 
human imagination can conceive. 1 o the right and left, 
as far as the eye could reach, there lay out-stretched, 
like ramparts of the world, lines of horribly black and 
beetling cliiF, whose character of gloom was but the 
more forcibly illustrated by the surf which reared high 
up against it its white and ghastly crest, howling 
and shrieking for ever. Just opposite the promontory 
upon whose apex we were placed, and at a distance of 
some five or six miles out at sea, there was visible a 
small, bleak-looking island ; or, more properly, its 
position was discernible through the wilderness of 
surge in which it was enveloped. About two miles 
nearer the land, arose another of smaller size, hideously 
craggy and barren, and encompassed at various intervals 
by a cluster of dark rocks. 

The appearance of the ocean, in the space between 
the more distant island and the shore, had something 
very unusual about it. Although, at the time, so 
strong a gale was blowing landward that a brig in the 



66 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

remote offinff lay to under a double-reefed trysail^ and 
constantly plunged her whole hull out of sights still 
there was here nothing like a regular swell, but only a 
shorty quick^ angry cross dashing of water in every 
direction — as well in the teeth of the wind as other- 
wise. 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 mid- 
way is Moskoe. That a mile to the northward is 
Ambaaren. Yonder are Islesen, Hotholm, Keildhelm, 
Suarven, and Buckholm . Farther oflF — ^between Moskoe 
and Vurrgh — are Otterholm, Flimen^ Sandflesen^ and 
Stockholm. Those 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 in- 
terior of Lofoden, so that we had caught no glimpse 
of the sea until it had burst upon us from the summit 
As the old man spoke^ I became aware of a loud and 
gradually increasing sounds like the moaning of a vast 
herd of buffaloes upon an American prairie; and at 
the same moment I perceived 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^ boilings 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. 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 67 

In a few minutes more^ there came over the scene 
another radical alteration. The general surface grew 
somewhat more smooth^ and the whirlpools, one hy 
one, disappeared, while prodigious streaks of foam 
became apparent where none had been seen before. 
These streaks, at length, spreading out to a great 
distance, and entering into combination, took unto 
themselves the gyratory motion of the subsided vor- 
tices, 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 repre- 
sented 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, «id jet-black wall of water, 
inclined to the horizon at an angle of some forty-five 
degrees, speeding dizzily round and round with a 
swaying and sweltering motion, and sending forth to 
the winds an appalling voice, half-shriek, half-roar, 
such as not even the mighty cataract of Niagara ever 
lifts up in its agony to Heaven. 

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

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

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

The ordinary accounts of this vortex had by no 
means prepared me for what I saw. That of Jonas 
Ramus, which is perhaps the most circumstantial of 
any, cannot impart the faintest conception either of 
the magnificence, or of the horror of the scene — or ot 
the wild bewildering sense of the novel which confounds 
the boholdor, 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 i^'om the summit of 



68 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

Helseggen^ nor during^ a storm. There nre some 
passages of bis description^ nevertheless^ which may be 
quoted for their details^ although their effect is exceed- 
ingly feeble in conveying an impression of the 
spectacle. 

*^ Between Lofoden and Moskoe/' he says, ^'the 
depth of the water is between thirtynsix 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, tne 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 impos- 
sible to describe their bowlings and bellowings in tneir 
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 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 69 

which they are whirled to and fro. This stream is 
regulated by the flux and reflux of the sea — it being 
constantly high and low water every six hours. In 
the year 1645^ early in the morning of Sexagesima 
Sunday^ it raged with such noise and impetuosity that 
the very stones of the houses on the coast fell to the 
ground." 

In regard to the depth of the water, I could not 
see how this could have been ascertained at all in the 
immediate vicinity of the vortex. The " forty fathoms " 
must have reference only to portions of the channel 
close upon the shore either of Moskoe or Lofoden. 
The depth in the centre of the Moskoe-strom must be 
immeasurably greater ; and no better proof of this fact 
is necessary than can be obtained from even the side- 
long 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 llamus records^ as a matter 
difficult of belief, the anecdotes of the whales and the 
bears; for it appeared to me^ in fact, a self-evident 
thing, that the largest ships of the line in existence^ 
coming within the influence of that deadly attraction^ 
could resist it as little as a feather the hurricane^ and 
must disappear bodily and at once. 

The attempts to account for the phenomenon — some 
of which^ I remember, seemed to me sufficiently 
plausible in perusal — now wore a very different and 
unsatisfactory aspect. The idea generally received is 
that this, as well as three smaller vortices among the 
Faroe 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 tliat it precipitates itself like a cataract ; and thus 
the higher the flood rises, the deeper must the fall be, 
and the natural result of all is a whirlpool or vortex, 
the prodigious suction of which is sufficiently known 
by lesser experiments." — ^l^'hese are the words of the 
Encyclopaedia Britannica. Kircher and others imagine 



70 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

that in the centre of the channel of the Maelstrom is 
an ahyss penetrating the glohe^ and issuing in some 
very remote part — tlie Gulf of Bothnia being somewhat 
decidedly named in one instance. This opinion^ idle 
in itself^ was the one to which^ as I gazed, my imagina- 
tion most readily assented ; and^ mentioning it to the 
guide^ I was rather surprised to hear him say that^ 
although it was the view almost universally entertained 
of the subject by the Norwegians^ it nevertheless was 
not his own. As to the former notion^ he confessed 
his inability to comprehend it ; and here I agreed with 
him — for^ however conclusive on paper^ it becomes 
altogether unintelligible^ and even absurd^ amid the 
thunder of the abyss. 

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

I placed myself as desired^ and he proceeded. 

'^ Myself and my two brothers once owned a schooner- 
rigged smack ofabout seventy tons burden^ with which 
we were in the habit of fishing among the islands beyond 
Moskoe^ nearly to Vurrgh. In aU violent eddies at 
sea there is good fishings at proper opportunities^ if 
one has only the courage to attempt it; but among 
the* whole ot 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 houi*s^ without much risk^ and there- 
fore these places are preferred. The choice spots over 
here among the rocks, however, not only yield the 
finest variety, but in far greater abundance; so that 
we often got in a single day, what the more timid of 
the craft could not scrape together in a week. In fact, 
we made it a matter of desperate speculation — tlie risk 
of life standing instead of labour, and courage answer- 
ing for capital. 

"We kept the smack in a cove about five miles 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 71 

higher up the coast than this ; and it was our practice^ 
in fine weather^ to take advantage of the fifteen minutes' 
slack to push across the main channel of the Moskoe- 
strom^ far ahove the pool^ and then drop down upon 
anchorage somewhere near Otterholm^ or Sandflesen^ 
where the eddies are not so violent as elsewhere. Here 
we used to remain until nearly time for 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 mis- 
calculation upon this point. Twice^ during six years^ 
we were forced to stay all night at anchor on account 
of a dead calm^ which is a rare thing indeed just about 
here ; and once we had to remain on the grounds 
nearly a week, starving to death, owing to a gale 
which blew up shortly a^er 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 wo drifted into one of the innumerable cross 
currents — here to-day and gone to-morrow — which 
drove us under the lee of Flimen, where, by good 
luck, we brought up. 

**I could not tell you the twentieth part of the 
difficulties we encountered ^on the ground' — it is a 
bad spot to be in, even in good weather — but we made 
shift always to run the gauntlet of the Moskoe-strom 
itself without accident; although at times my heart 
has been in my mouth when we happened to be a 
minute or so behind or before the slack. The wind 
sometimes was not as strong as we thought it at start- 
ing, and then we made rather less way than we could 
wish, while the current rendered the smack unmanage- 
able. 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 afterwards in fishing — but. 



72 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

somehow^ although we ran the risk ourselves^ we had 
not the heart to let the young ones get into danger — 
for^ after all said and done^ it was a horrible danger^ 
and that is the truth. 

^^It is now within a few days of three years since 
what I am going to tell you occurred. It was on the 
10th of July 18 — , a day which the people of this 
part of the world will never forget — for it was one in 
which blew the most terrible hurricane that ever came 
out of the heavens. And yet all the mornings and 
indeed until late in the afternoon^ there was a gentle 
and steady breeze from the south-west^ while the sun 
shone brightly^ so that the oldest seaman among us 
could not have foreseen what was to follow. 

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

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



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 73 

In less than a minute the storm was upon us — in less 
than two the sky was entirely overcast—and what with 
this and the driving* spray^ it became suddenly so dark 
that we could not see each other in the smack. 

** Such a hurricane as then blew it is folly to attempt 
describing. The oldest seamen in Norway never ex- 
perienced 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 circumstance we 
should have foundered at once — for we lay entirely 
buried for some moments. How my elder brother 
escaped destruction I cannot say, for I never had an 
opportunity of ascertaining. For my part, as soon as 
I had let the foresail run, I threw myself flat on deck, 
with my feet against the narrow gunwale of the bow, 
and with my hands grasping a ring-bolt near the foot 
of the foremast. It was mere instinct that prompted 
me to do this — which was undoubtedly the very best 
thing I could have done — for I was too much flurried 
to think. 

'^For some moments we were completely deluged, 
as I say, and all this time I held my breath, and clung 
to the bolt. When I could stand it no longer, I 
raised myself upon my knees, still keeping hold with 
my hands, and thus got my head clear. Presently our 
little boat gave herself a shake, just as a dog does in 
coming out of the water, and thus rid herself, in some 
measure, of the seas. I was now trying to get the 
better of the stupor that had come over me, and to 
collect my senses, so as to see what was to be done, 
when I felt somebody grasp my arm. It was my elder 



74 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

brother^ and my heart leaped for joy^ for I had made 
sure that he was overboard ; but the next moment all 
this joy was turned into horror^ for he put his mouth 
close to my ear^ and screamed out the word 'Moskoe- 
strUml' 

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

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

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

" I now made one or two attempts to speak to my 
brother — but in some manner which I could not under- 
stand, the din had so increased that I could not make 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 75 

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 deaths 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 moonlight, and then burst into tears 
as 1 flung it far away into the ocean. It had run down 
at seven o* clock I We were behind the time of the slack, 
and the whirl of the Strom was in full fury! 

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

*' Well, so far we had ridden the swells very cleverly ; 
but presently a gigantic sea happened to take us right 
under the counter, and bore us with it as it rose — up 
— up — as if into the sky. I would not have believed 
that any wave could rise so high. And then down we 
came with a sweep, a slide, and a plunge, that made 
mo feel sick and dizzy, as if I was falling from some 
lofty mountain-top in a dream. But while we were up 
I had thrown a quick glance around — and that one 
glance was all sufficient. I saw our exact position in 
an instant. The Moskoe-Strom whirlpool was about a 
quarter of a mile dead ahead — but no more like the 
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 
afterwards until we suddenly felt the waves subside, 
and were enveloped in foam. The boat made a sharp 
half turn to larboard, and then shot off in its new 
direction like a thunderbolt. At the same moment 
the roaring noise of the water was completely drowned 



76 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

in a kind of shrill shriek — such a sound as you might 
imagine given out by the water-pipes of many thousand 
steam-vessels^ letting off their steam all together. We 
were now in the belt of surf that always surrounds the 
whirl ; and I thought^ of course^ that another moment 
would plunge us into the abyss — down which we could 
only see indistinctly on account of the amazing velocity 
with which we were borne along. Tlie 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 star- 
board side was next the whirls and on the larboard 
arose the world of ocean we had lefL 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 supposed it 
was despair that strung my nerves. 

^' It may look like boasting — but what I tell you is 
truth — I began to reflect how magnificent a thing it 
was to die in such a manner, and how foolish it was in 
me to think of so paltry a consideration as my own 
individual life, in view of so wonderful a manifestation 
of God's power. I do believe that I blushed with 
shame when this idea crossed my mind. After a little 
while I became possessed with the keenest curiosity 
about the whirl itself. I positively felt a wish to ex- 
plore 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 1 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 tlie pool might have rendered me a 
little light-headed. 

^' There was another circumstance which tended to 
restore my self-possession ; and this was the cessation 
of the wind, which could not reach us in our present 
situation — for, as you saw yourself, the belt of surf is 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 77 

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

^^IIow often we made the circurt of the belt it is 
impossible to say. VV^e 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 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 difliculty 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. 



78 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

" As I felt the sickening sweep of the descent^ I had 
instinctively tightened my hold upon the barrel^ and 
closed my eyes. For some seconds I dared not open 
them — while I expected instant destruction^ and 
wondered that I was not already in my death-struggles 
with the water. But moment after moment elapsed. 
I still lived. The sense of falling had ceased ; and the 
motion of the vessel seemed much as it had been 
before^ while in the belt of foam^ with the exception 
that she now lay more along. I took courage and 
looked once a^ain 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 hangings as if by magic^ midway 
down^ upon the interior surface of a funnel^ vast in 
circumference, prodigious in depth, and whose perfectly 
smooth sides might have been mistaken for ebony^ but 
for the bewildering rapidity with which they spun 
around^ and for the gleaming and ghastly radiance 
they shot forth, as the rays of the full moon, from that 
circular rift amid the clouds which I have already de- 
scribed, 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 any- 
thing accurately. The general burst of terrific grandeur 
was all that I beheld. When I recovered myself a 
little, however, my gaze fell instinctively downward. 
In this direction I was able to obtain an unobstructed 
view, from the manner in which the smack hung on the 
inclined surface of the pool. She was quite upon an 
even keel — that is to say, her deck lay in a plane 
parallel with that of the water — but this latter sloped 
at an angle of more than forty-five degrees^ so that we 
seemed to be lying upon our beam-ends. I could not 
help observing, nevertheless, that I had scarcely more 
difficulty in maintaining my hold and footing in this 
situation, than if we had been upon a dead level ; and 
this, I suppose, was owing to liie speed at which we 
revolved. 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 79 

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

*' Our first slide into the abyss itself, from the belt 
of foam above, had carried us to a great distance down 
the slope ; but our farther descent was by no means 
proportionate. Round and round we swept — not with 
any uniform movement — but in dizzying swings and 
jerks, that sent us sometimes only a few hundred 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 frag- 
ments of vessels, large masses of building timber and 
trunks of trees, with many smaller articles, such as 
pieces of house furniture, broken boxes, barrels and 
staves. I have already described the unnatural curiosity 
which had taken the place of my original terrors. It 
appeared to grow upon me as I drew nearer and nearer 
. to my dreadful doom. I now began to watch, with a 
strange interest, the numerous things that floated in 
our company. I must have been delirious — for I even 
sought amusement in speculating upon the relative 
velocities of their several descents toward the foam 
below. 'This fir tree,' I found myself at one time 
saying, 'will certainly be the next thing that takes 
the awful plunge and disappears,* and then I was 
disappointed to find that the wreck of a Dutch mer- 
chant ship overtook it and went down before. At 



80 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

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 liope. This hope arose 
partly from memory and partly from present observa- 
tion. 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 fuU of splinters — but then I distinctly recollected 
that there were some of them which were not disfigured 
at all. Now I could not account for this difference 
except by supposing that the roughened fragments 
were the only ones which had been completely absorbed 
— that the others had entered the whirl at so late a 
period of the tide, or, from some reason, had descended 
so slowly after entering, that they did not reach the 
bottom before the turn of the flood came, or of the ebb 
as the case might be. I conceived it possible, in either 
instance, that they might thus be whirled up again to 
the level of the ocean, without undergoing the fate of 
those which had been drawn in more early or absorbed 
more rapidly. I made, also, three important observa- 
tions, llie first was, that as a general rule, the larger 
the bodies were, the more rapid their descent — the 
second, that, between two masses of equal extent, the 
one spherical, and the other of any other shape, the 
superiority in speed of descent was with the sphere — 
the third, that, between two masses of equal size, the 
one cylindrical, and the other of any other shape, the 
cylinder was absorbed the more slowly. Since my 
escape, I have had several conversations on this subject 
with an old 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 



A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 81 

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 ren- 
dering 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 wliether tliis was the case or not, he shook his 
head despairingly, and refused to move from his station 
by the ring-bolt It was impossible to 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. 

" Tlie 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 pos- 
session of the mode in which this escape was effected, 
and must therefore anticipate all that I have further to 

1 See Archimedes, De Jncidentibus in Fluido, lib. 2. 

p 



82 A DESCENT INTO THE MAELSTROM 

8av — ^I will bring my story quickly to conclusion. It 
might have been an hour^ or thereabout, after my quit- 
ting the smack^ when, having descended to a vast dis- 
tance 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 momentarily less and 
less steep, the gyrations of the whirl g^ew 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 com- 

Cions — but they knew me no more than they would 
e known a traveller from the spirit-land. My hair, 
which had been raven-black the day before, was as 
white as you see it now. They say, too, that the whole 
expression of my countenance had changed. I told 
them my story — ^they did not believe it I now tell 
it to you — and I can scarcely expect you to put more 
faith in it than did the merry fishermen of Lofoden." 



TH£ MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 83 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

" What Bong the Syrens sang, or what name Achilles assumed 
when he hid nimself among women, although puzzling ques- 
tions, are not beyond aU conjecture."— Sir &omab Browmb. 

The mental features discoursed of as the anal3rtical^ 
are^ in themselves^ but little susceptible of analysis. 
We appreciate them only in their effects. We know 
of them^ among other things^ that they are always to 
their possessor^ when inordinately possessed^ a source 
of the liveliest enjoyment. As the strong man exults 
in his physical ability^ delighting in such exercises as 
. call his muscles into action^ so glories the analyst in 
that moral activity which disentangles. He derives 
pleasure from even the most trivial occupations bring- 
ing his talent into play. He is fond of enigmas^ of 
conundrums, of hieroglyphics ; exhibiting in his solu- 
tions of each a degree of acumen which appears to 
the ordinary apprehension preternatural. His results^ 
brought about by the very soul and essence of method^ 
have, in truth, the whole air of intuition. 

The faculty of re-solution is possibly much invigo- 
rated by mathematical study, and especially by that 
highest branch of it which, unjustly, and merely on 
account of its retrograde operations, has been called, 
as if par excellence^ analysis. Yet to calculate is not 
in itself to analyse. A chess-player, for example, 
does the one, witnout effort at the other. It follows 
that the game of chess, in its effects upon mental 
character, is greatly misunderstood. I am not now 
writing a treatise, but simply prefacing a somewhat 
peculiar narrative by observations very much at random ; 
I will, therefore, take occasion to assert that the higher 
powers of the reflective intellect are more decidedly 
and more usefully tasked by the unostentatious game 
of draughts than by all the elaborate frivolity of chess. 
In this latter, where the pieces have different and 



84 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

bizarre motions^ with various and variable values^ what 
is only complex^ is mistaken (a not unusual error) for 
what is profound. The attention is here called power- 
fully into play. If it Hag for an instant^ an oversight is 
committed, resulting in injury or defeat. The possible 
moves being not only manifold, but involute^ the 
chances of such oversights are multiplied ; and in nine 
cases out of ten, it is the more concentrative rather 
than the more acute player who conquers. In draughts^ 
on the contrary, where the moves are unique and have 
but little variation, the probabilities of inadvertence 
are diminished, and the mere attention being left com- 
paratively unemployed, what advantages are obtained 
ny either party are obtained by superior acumen. To 
be less abstract — Let us suppose a game of draughts 
where the pieces are reducea to four kings, and where^ 
of course, no oversight is to be expected. It is obvious 
that here the victory can be decided (the players being 
at all eoual) only by some recfierche movement, the 
result of some strong exertion of the intellect. De- 
prived of ordinary resources, the analyst throws himself 
into the spirit of nis opponent, identifies himself there- 
with, and not unfrequently sees thus, at a glance, the 
sole methods (sometimes indeed absurdly simple ones) 
by which he may seduce into error or hurry into mis- 
calculation. 

Whist has long been noted for its influence upon 
what is termed the calculating power ; and men of the 
highest order of intellect have been known to take an 
apparently unaccountable delight in it, while eschewing 
chess as frivolous. Beyond doubt there is nothing of a 
similar nature so greatly tasking the faculty of ana- 
lysis. The best chess-player in Christendom may be 
little more than the best player of chess ; but profici- 
ency in whist implies capacity for success in all these 
more important undertakings where mind struggles 
with mind. When I say proficiency, I mean that per- 
fection in the game which includes a comprehension of 
all the sources whence legitimate advantage may be 
derived. These are not only manifold, but multiform. 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 85 

and lie frequently among recesses of thought altogether 
inaccessible to the ordinary understanding, lo ob- 
serve attentively is to remember distinctly; and^ so 
far^ the concentrative chess-player will do very well at 
whist ; while the rules of Hoyle (themselves based upon 
the mere mechanism of the game) are sufficiently and 
generally comprehensible. Thus to have a retentive 
memory, and to proceed by 'Hhe book," are points 
comnionly'regarded as the sum total of good playihtf. 
But it is in matters beyond the limits of mere rule 
that the skill of the analyst is evinced. He makes, in 
silence, a host of observations and , inferences. So, 
perhaps, do his companions ; and the difference in the 
extent of the information obtained, lies not so much 
in the validity of the inference as in the quality of the 
observation, llie necessary knowledge is that of what 
to observe. Our player confiues himself not at all ; 
nor, because the game is the object, does he reject de- 
ductions from things external to the game. He exa- 
mines the countenance of his partner, comparing it 
carefullv with that of each of his opponents. He con- 
siders the mode of assorting the cards in each hand ; 
often counting trump by trump, and honour by honour, 
through the glances bestowed by their holders upon 
each. He notes every variation of face as the play 
progresses, gathering a fund of thought from the 
differences in the expression of certainty, of surprise, 
of triumph, or chagrin. From the manner of gathering 
up a trick he judges whether the person taking it can 
make another in the suit. He recognises what is 
played through feint, by the air with which it is thrown 
upon the tiible. A casual or inadvertent word ; the 
accidental dropping or turning of a card, with the ac- 
companying anxiety or carelessness in regard to its con- 
cealment ; the counting of the tricks, with the order 
of their arrangement ; embarrassment, hesitation, eager- 
ness or trepidation— all afford, to his apparently in- 
tuitive perception, indications of the true state of 
affairs. The first two or three rounds having been 
played, he is in full possession of the contents of each 



86 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

hand^ and thenceforward puts down his cards with as 
absolute a precision of purpose as if the rest of the 
party had turned outward the fades of their own. 

The analytical power should not be confounded with 
simple-ing^enuity; forwhlle the analyst~is necessarily 
ingenious^ the ingenious man is often remarkably 
incapable of analysis. The constructive or combining 
power^ by which ingenuity is usually manifested^ and 
to which the phrenologists (I believe erroneously) 
have assigned a separate organ^ supposing it a primitive 
faculty^ has been so frequently seen in those whose 
intellect bordered otherwise upon idiotcy^ as to have 
attracted general observation among writers on morals. 
Between ingenuity and the analytic ability there exists 
a difference far greater^ indeed^ than that between the 
fancy and the imagination^ but of a character very 
strictly analogous. It will be founds in fact^ that the 
ingenious are always fanciful^ and the truly imaginative 
never otherwise than analytic. 

The narrative which follows will appear to the 
reader somewhat in the light of a commentary upon 
the propositions just advanced. 

Residing in Paris during the spring and part of the 
summer of 18 — , 1 there became acquainted with a 
Monsieur C. Ausfuste Dupin. This young gentleman 
was of an excel&nt — indeed of an illustrious family^ 
but^ by a variety of untoward events^ had been reduced 
to such poverty that the energy of his character 
succumbed beneath it^ and he ceased to bestir himself 
in the worlds or to care for the retrieval of his fortunes. 
By courtesy of his creditors there still remained in his 
possession a small remnant of his patrimony; and^ 
upon the income arising from this^ he managed^ by 
means of a rigorous economy^ to procure the neces- 
saries of life^ without troubling himself about its 
superfluities. Books^ indeed^ were his sole luxuries^ 
and in Paris these are easily obtained. 

Our first meeting was at an obscure library in the 
Rue Mbntmartre^ where the accident of our both 
being in search of the same very rare and very remark- 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 87 

able volume^ brought us into closer communion. We 
saw each other again and again. I^was deeply inte- 
rested in the little family history which he detailed to 
me with all that candour which a Frenchman indulges 
whenever mere self is the theme. I was astonished^ 
too^ at the vast extent of his reading ; and^ above all^ 
I felt my soul enkindled within me by the wild fervour^ 
and the vivid freshness of his imagination. Seeking 
in Paris the objects I then sought^ I felt that the 
society of such a man would be to me a treasure 
beyond price; and this feeling I frankly confided to 
him. It was at length arranged that we should live 
together during my stay in the city; and as my 
worldly circumstances were somewhat less embarrassed 
than his own^ I was permitted to be at the expense of 
renting^ and furnishing in a style which suited the 
rather fantastic gloom of our common temper^ a time- 
eaten and grotesque mansion^ long deserted through 
superstitions into which we did not inquire^ and totter- 
ing to its fall in a retired and desolate portion of the 
Faubourg St. Germain. 

Had the routine of our life at this place been known 
to the world^ we should hnvo been regarded as madmen 
— although, perhaps, as madmen of a harmless nature. 
Our seclusion was perfect. We admitted no visitors. 
Indeed the locality of our retirement had been care- 
fully kept a secret from my own former associates; 
and it had been many years since Dupin had ceased 
to know or be known in Paris. We existed within 
ourselves alone. 

It was a freak of fancy in my friend (for what else 
shall I call it ?) to be enamoured of the night for her 
own sake; and into this bixarrerie, as into all his 
others, I quietly fell, giving myself up to his wild 
whims with a perfect abandon. The sable divinity 
would not herself dwell with us always ; but we could 
counterfeit her presence. At the nrst dawn of the 
morning we closed all the massy shutters of our old 
building; lighted a couple of tapers which, strongly 
perfumed, threw out only the ghastliest and feeblest 



88 THE MURDEES IN THE RUE MORGUE 

of rays. By the aid of these we then husied our souls 
in dreams — readings writings or conversing^ until 
warned by the clock of the advent of the true Dark- 
ness. Then we sallied forth into the streets^ arm in 
arm^ continuing the topics of the day^ or roaming far 
and wide until a late hour^ seeking^ amid the wild 
lights and shadows of the»populous city^ that infinity 
of mental excitement which quiet observation can 
afford. 

At such times I could not help remarking and 
admiring (although from his rich ideality I had been 
prepared to expect it) a peculiar analytic ability in 
Dupin. He seemed^ too^ to take an eager delight in 
iCTexercise — if not exactly in its display — and did not 
hesitate to confess the pleasure tnus derived. He 
boasted to me^ with a low chuckling laugh^ that most 
men^ in respect to himself^ wore windows in their 
bosoms^ and was wont to follow up such assertions by 
direct and very^slartling proofs of his intimate know- 
ledge of my own. His manner at these moments was 
frigid and abstract ; his eyes were vacant in expression ; 
while his voice^ usually a rich tenor^ rose into a treble 
which would have sounded petulantly but for the 
deliberateness and entire distinctness of the enuncia- 
tion. Observing him in these moods^ I often dwelt 
meditatively upon the old philosophy of the Hi-Part 
Soul, and amused myself with the fancy of a double 
Dupin — the creative and the resolvent. 

Let it not be supposed^ from what I have just suid^ 
that I am detailing any mystery^ or penning any 
romance. What I have described in the Frenchman^ 
was merely the result of an excited^ or perhaps of a 
diseased intelligence. But of the character of his 
remarks at the periods in question an example will 
best convey the idea. 

We were strolling one night down a long dirty 
street^ in the vicinity of the Palais Royal. Being 
both^ apparently^ occupied with thought^ neither of us 
had spoken a syllable for fifteen minutes at least. All 
at once Dupin hroke forth with these words — 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 89 

'^ He is a very little fellow, that's true^ and would 
do better for the Theatre des VarieUs" 

"There can be no doubt of that," I replied un- 
wittingly, and not at first observing (so much had I 
been absorbed in reflection) the extraordinary manner 
in which the speaker had chimed in with my medita- 
tions. In an instant afterward I recollected myself, 
and my astonishment was profound. 

^^Dupin," said I, gravely, *'this is beyond my 
comprehension. I do not hesitate to say that I am 
am«ized, and can scarcely credit my senses. How was 

it possible you should know I was thinking of ?" 

Here I paused, to ascertain beyond a doubt whether 
he retilly knew of whom I thought. 

'* Of Chantilly," said he ; " why do you pause ? You 
were remarking to yourself that his diminutive figure 
unfitted him for tragedy." 

lliis was precisely what had formed the subject of 
my reflections. Chantilly was a quondam cobbler of 
the Rue St. Denis, who, becoming stage-mad, had 
attempted the role of Xerxes, in Crebillon's tragedy 
so called, and been notoriously pasquinaded for his 
pains. 

^'Tell me, for Heaven's sake," 1 exclaimed, ^'the 
method — if method there is — by which you have been 
enabled to fathom my soul in this matter." In fact I 
was even more startled than I would have been willing 
to express. 

''It was the fruiterer," replied my friend, ''who 
brought you to the conclusion that the mender of 
soles was not of sufficient height for Xerxes et id genus 
omne" 

"The fruiterer! — you astonish me — I know no 
fruiterer whomsoever." 

" The man who ran up 'against you as we entered 
the street — it may have been fifteen minutes ago." 

I now remembered that, in fact, a fruiterer, carrying 
upon his head a large basket of apples, had nearly 
thrown me down, by accident, as we passed from the 
Rue C into the thoroughfare where we stood; 



00 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

but what this had to do with Chantilly I could not 
possibly understand. 

Ther e was not a particle o{ charlatanerie about Dupin. 
" I will explain," he said, *' and that you may compre- 
hend all clearly, we will first retrace the course of 
your meditations, from the moment in which I spoke 
to you until that of the rencontre with the fruiterer in 
question. The larger links of the chain run thus — 
Chantilly, Orion, Dr. Nichols, Epicurus, Stereotomy, 
the street stones, the fruiterer." 

There are few persons who have not, at some period 
of their lives, amused themselves in retracing the 
steps by which particular conclusions of their own 
minds have been attained. The occupation is often 
full of interest ; and he who attempts it for the first 
time is astonished by the apparently illimitable distance 
and incoherence between the starting-point and the 
goal. What, then, must have been my amazement 
when I heard the Frenchman speak what he had just 
spoken, and when I could not help acknowledging 
that he had spoken the truth ! He continued — 

'^We had oeen talking of horses, if I remember 

aright, just before leaving the Rue C . This 

was the last subject we discussed. As we crossed into 
the street, a fruiterer, with a large basket upon his 
head, brushing quickly past us, thrust you upon a pile 
of paving-stones collected at a spot where the causeway 
is undergoing repair. You stepped upon one of the 
loose fragments, slipped, slightly strained your ankle, 
appeared vexed or sulky, muttered a few words, turned 
to look at the pile, and then proceeded in silence. I was 
not particularly attentive to what you did ; but observa- 
tion has become with me, of late, a species of necessity. 

"You kept your eyes upon the ground — glancing, 
with a petulant expression, at the holes and ruts in 
the pavement (so that I saw you were still thinking of 
the stones), until we reached the little alley ciiTled 
Lamartine, which has been paved, by way of experi- 
ment, with the overlapping and riveted blocks. Here 
your countenance brightened up, and, perceiving your 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 91 

lips move^ I could not doubt that you murmured the 
word ' stereotomy^' a term very affectedly applied, to 
this species of pavement. I knew that you could not 
say to yourself ' stereotomy ' without being brought to 
think of atomies^ and thus of the theories of Epicurus ; 
and since, when we discussed this subject not very long 
ago, I mentioned to you how singularly, yet with how 
little notice, the vague guesses of that noble Greek 
had met with confirmation in the late nebular cos- 
mogony, I felt that you could not avoid casting your 
eyes upward to the great nebula in Orion, and I 
certainly expected that you would do so. You did 
look up ; and I was now assured that I had correctly 
followed your steps. But in that bitter tirade upon 
Chantilly, which appeared in yesterday's MuseCj the 
satirist, making some disgraceful allusions to the 
cobbler's change of name upon assuming the buskin, 
quoted a Latin line about which we have often con- 
versed. I mean the line 

* Perdidit antiquum litera prima sonum.* 

I had told you that this was in reference to Orion^ 
formerly written Urion ; and, from certain pungencies 
connected with this explanation, I was aware that you 
could not have forgotten it. It was clear, therefore, 
that you would not fail to combine the two ideas of 
Orion and Chantilly. That you did combine them I 
saw by the character of the smile which passed over 
your lips. You thought of the poor cobbler's immolar 
tion. So far, you had been stooping in your gait; 
but now I saw you draw yourself up to your full 
height. I was then sure that you reflected upon the 
diminutive figure of Chantilly. At this point I in- 
terrupted your meditations to remark that as, in fact^ 
he was a very little fellow, that Chantilly, he would 
do better at the Theatre des Varietes" 

Not long after this, we were looking over an evening 
edition of the Gazette des Tribunaujc when the following 
paragraphs arrested our attention : — 

^'Extraordinary Murders. — ^l^his morning, about 



92 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

three o'clock^ the inhabitants of the Quartier St. Roch 
were aroused from sleep by a succession of terrific 
shrieks^ issuing^ apparently^ from the fourth story of 
a house in the Rue Morgue, known to be in the 
sole occupancy of one Madame L'Espanaye^ and her 
daughter^ Mademoiselle Camille L'Espanaye. After 
some delay^ occasioned by a fruitless attempt to procure 
admission in the usual manner^ the gateway was broken 
in with a crowbar^ and eight or ten of the neighbours 
entered^ accompanied by two gendarmes. By this time 
the cries had ceased ; but^ as the party rushed up the 
first flight of stairs, two or more rough voices, in angry 
contention, were distinguished, and seemed to proceed 
from the upper part of the house. As the second 
landing was reached, these sounds, also, had ceased, 
and everjrthing remained perfectly quiet. The party 
spread themselves, and hurried from room to room. 
Upon arriving at a large back chamber in the fourth 
story (the door of which, being found locked, with 
the key inside, was forced open), a spectacle presented 
itself which struck every one present not less with 
horror than with astonishment. 

'^The apartment was in the wildest disorder — the 
furniture broken and thrown about in all directions. 
There was only one bedstead ; and from this the bed 
had been removed, and thrown into the middle of the 
floor. On a chair lay a razor^ besmeared with blood. 
On the hearth were two or three long and thick tresses 
of grey human hair, also dabbled in blood, and seem- 
ing to have been pulled out by the roots. Upon the 
floor were found four napoleons, an earring of topaz, 
three large silver spoons, three smaller of metal d^ Algety 
and two bag^, containing nearly four thousand francs 
in gold. The drawers of a bureau, which stood in one 
comer, were open, and had been, apparently, rifled, 
although many articles still remained in them. A 
small iron safe was discovered under the bed (not under 
the bedstead). It was open, with a key still in the 
door. It had no contents beyond a few old letters, 
and other papers of little consequence. 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 93 

^^ Of Madame L'Espanaye no traces were here seen ; 
but an unusual quantity of soot being observed in the 
fireplace^ a search was made in the chimney^ and 
(horrible to relate !) the corpse of the daughter^ head 
downward^ was dragged therefrom ; it having been 
thus forced up the narrow aperture for a considerable 
distance. The body was quite warm. Upon examining 
it^ many excoriations were perceived^ no doubt occa- 
sioned by the violence with which it had been thrust 
up and disengaged. Upon the face were many severe 
scratches^ and, upon the throat, dark bruises, and 
deep indentations of finger nails, as if the deceased 
had been throttled to death. 

" After a thorough investigation of every portion of 
the house, without further discovery, the party made 
its way into a small paved yard in the rear of the 
building, where lay the corpse of the old lady, with 
her throat so entirely cut that, upon an attempt to 
raise her, the head fell off. The body, as well as the 
head, was fearfully mutilated — the former so much so 
as scarcely to retain any semblance of humanity. 

*^ To this horrible mystery there is not as yet, we 
believe, the slightest clew." 

The next day's paper had these additional parti- 
culars : — 

"The Tragedy in the Rub Morgue. — Many indi- 
viduals have been examined in relation to this most 
extraordinary and frightful affair " [the word ^ affaire ' 
has not yet in France that levity of import which it 
conveys with us], " but nothing whatever has transpired 
to throw light upon it. We give below all the material 
testimony elicited. 

'^ Pauline Dubourg, laundress, deposes that she has 
known both the deceased for three years, having washed 
for them during that period. The old lady and her 
daughter seemed on good terms — very affectionate 
towards each other. They were excellent pay. Could 
not speak in regard to their mode or means of living. 
Believed that Madame L. told fortunes for a living. 
Was reputed to have money put by. Never met any 



94 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

persons in the house when she called for the clothes or 
took them home. Was sure that they had no servant 
in employ. There appeared to he no furniture in any 
part of the huilding^ except in the fourth story. 

^^ Pierre Moreau, tohacconist^ deposes that he has 
been in the hahit of sellings small quantities of tobacco 
and snuff to Madame L'Espanayo for nearly four years. 
Was born in the neighbourhood^ and has always re- 
sided there. The deceased and her daughter had 
occupied the house in which the corpses were found for 
more than six years. It was formerly occupied by a 
jeweller^ who under-let the upper rooms to various 

Sersons. The house was the property of Madame L. 
he became dissatisfied with the abuse of the premises 
by her tenant^ and moved into them herself^ refusing 
to let any portion. The old lady was childish. Witness 
had seen the daughter some five or six times during Uie 
six years. The two lived an exceedingly retired life — 
were reputed to have money. Had heard it said among 
the neighbours that Madame L. told fortunes — did not 
believe it. Had never seen any person enter the door 
except the old lady and her daughter^ a porter once or 
twice^ and a physician some eight or ten times. 

^^Many other persons^ neighbours^ gave evidence 
to the same effect. No one was spoken of as frequent- 
ing the house. It was not known whether there were 
any living connections of Madame L. and her daughter. 
The shutters of the front windows were seldom opened. 
Those in the rear were always closed^ with the excep- 
tion of the large back room^ fourth story. The house 
was a good house — not very old. 

^^ Isidore Muste, gendarme^ deposes that he was called 
to the house about three o'clock in the mornings and 
found some twenty or thirty persons at the gateway^ 
endeavouring to g^in admittance. Forced it open^ at 
lengthy with a bayonet — not with a crowbar. Had but 
little difficulty in getting it open, on account of its being 
a double or folding gate^ and bolted neither at bottom 
nor top. The shrieks were continued until the gate 
was forced — and then suddenly ceased. They seemed 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 95 

to be screams of some person (or persons) in great agony 
— ^were loud and drawn out^ not short and quick. 
Witness led the way upstairs. Upon reaching the 
first landing^ heard two voices in loud and angry con- 
tention — the one a gruff voice^ the other much shriller 
— a very strange voice. Could distinguish some words 
of the former, which was that of a Frenchman. Was 
positive that it was not a woman's voice. Could dis- 
tinguish the words ^mcrS* and ^diable,* The shrill 
voice was that of a foreigner. Could not be sure 
whether it was the voice of a man or of a woman. 
Could not make out what was said^ but believed the 
language to be Spanish. The state of the room and of 
the bodies was described by this witness as we described 
them yesterday. 

*' Henri Dutxil, a neighbour^ and by trade a silver- 
smith, deposes that he was one of the party who first 
entered the house. Corroborates the testimony of 
Muste in general. As soon as they forced an en- 
trance^ they reclosed the door, to keep out the crowd, 
which collected very fast, notwithstanding the lateness 
of the hour. The shrill voice, this witness thinks, was 
that of an Italian. Was certain it was not French. 
Could not be sure that it was a man's voice. It might 
have been a woman's. Was not acquainted with the 
Italian language. Could not distingfuish the words, 
but was convinced by the intonation that the speaker 
was an Italian. Knew Madame L. and her daughter. 
Had conversed with both frequently. Was sure that 
the shrill voice was not that of either of the deceased. 

" Odenheimer, restaurateur. This witness 

volunteered his testimony. Not speaking French, 
was examined through an interpreter. Is a native 
of Amsterdam. Was passing the house at the time of 
the shrieks. They lasted for several minutes — probably 
ten. They were long and loud — very awful and dis- 
tressing. Was one of those who entered the building. 
Corroborated the previous evidence in every respect 
but one. Was sure that the shrill voice was that of 
a man— of a Frenchman. Could not distinguish the 



96 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

words uttered. They were loud and quick — unequal 
— spoken apparently in fear as well as in anger. The 
voice was harsh — not so much shrill as harsh. Could 
not call it a shrill voice. The g^uiF voice said repeatedly 
' sacriy ^ diahley and once ' m<m Dieu* 

'^ Jules Mignaud, banker^ of the firm of Mignaud et 
Fils^ Rue Deloraine. Is the elder Mignaud. Madame 
L'Espanaye had some property. Had opened an 
account with his banking house in the spring of the 

year (eight years previously). Made frequent 

deposits in small sums. Had checked for nothing 
until the third day before her deaths when she took 
out in person the sum of 4000 francs. This sum was 
paid in gold^ and a clerk sent home with the money. 

^' Adolphe Le Bon, clerk to Mignaud et Fils, deposes 
that on the day in question^ about noon^ he accom- 
panied Madame L'Espanaye to her residence with the 
4000 francs put up in two bags. Upon the door being 
opened^ Mademoiselle L. appeared and took from his 
hands one of the bags^ while the old lady relieved him 
of the other. He then bowed and departed. Did not 
see any person in the street at the time. It is a by- 
street — very lonely. 

" William Bird, tailor^ deposes that he was one of 
the party who entered the house. Is an Englishman. 
Has lived in Paris two years. Was one of the first to 
ascend the stairs. Heard the voices in contention. 
The gruff voice was that of a Frenchman. Could make 
out several words^ but cannot now remember all. 
Heard distinctly ^ sacre ' and ^ mon Dieu,' There was a 
sound at the moment as if of severalpersons struggling 
— a scraping and scuffling sound, lue shrill voice was 
very loud — louder than the gruff one. Is sure that it 
was not the voice of an Englishman. Appeared to be 
that of a German. Might have been a woman's voice. 
Does not understand German. 

^' Four of the above-named witnesses^ being recalled^ 
deposed that the door of the chamber in which was 
found the body of Mademoiselle L. was locked on the 
inside when the party reached it. Everything was 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 97 

^rfectly silent — no groans or noises of any kind. 
Upon forcing the door no person was seen. The 
windows^ both of the back and front room^ were down 
and firmly fastened from within. A door between the 
two rooms was closed^ but not locked. The. door 
leading from the front room into the passage was 
locked^ with the key on the inside. A small room in 
the front of the house^ on the fourth story^ at the head 
of the passage^ was open^ the door being ajar. This 
room was crowded with old beds^ boxes^ and so forth. 
These were carefully removed and searched. There 
was not an inch of any portion of the house which was 
not carefully searched. Sweeps were sent up and down 
the chimneys. The house was a four-story one, with 
garrets (mansardes), A trap-door on the roof was 
nailed down very securely — did not appear to have 
been opened for years. The time elapsing between the 
hearing of the voices in contention and the breaking 
open of the room door, was variously stated by the wit- 
nesses. Some made it as short as three minutes — some 
as long as five. The door was opened with difficulty. 

" Alfonxo GarciOy undertaker, deposes that he resides 
in the Rue Morgue. Is a native of Spain. Was one 
of the party who entered the house. Did not proceed 
upstairs. Is nervous, and was apprehensive of the 
consequences of agitation. Heard the voices in con- 
tention. The gruff voice was that of a Frenchman. 
Could not distinguish what was said. The shrill voice 
was that of an Englishman — is sure of this. Does not 
understand the English language, but judges by the 
intonation. 

'' Alberto Montani, confectioner, deposes that he was 
among the first to ascend the stairs. Heard the voices 
in question. The gruff voice was that of a Frenchman. 
Distinguished several words. The speaker appeared to 
be expostulating. Could not make out the words of 
the shrill voice. Spoke quick and unevenly. Thinks, 
it the voice of a Russian. Corroborates the general 
testimony. Is an Italian. Never conversed with a 
native of Russia. 



98 THE MURDEllS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

^' Several witnesses^ recalled^ here testified that the 
chimueyt) of all the rooms on the fourth story were too 
narrow to admit the passage of a human being, l^y 
'sweeps' were meant cylindrical sweeping-brushes^ 
such as are employed by those who clean chimneys. 
These brushes were passed up and down every flue in 
the house. There is no back passage by which any one 
could have descended while the party proceeded up- 
stairs. The body of Mademoiselle L'Espanaye was so 
firmly wedged in the chimney that it could not be 
got down until four or five of the party united their 
strength. 

^^ Paul Dumas, physician^ deposes that he was called 
to view the bodies about daybreak. They were both 
then lying on the sacking of the bedstead in the 
chamber where Mademoiselle L. was found. The 
corpse of the young lady was much bruised and ex- 
coriated. The fact that it had been thrust up the 
chimney would sufhciently account for these appear- 
ances. The throat was greatly chafed. There were 
several deep scratches just below the chin^ together 
with a series of livid spots which were evidently the 
impression of fingers. The face was fearfully dis- 
coloured^ and the eyeballs protruded. The tongue 
had been partially bitten through. A large bruise was 
•discovered upon the pit of the stomachy produced^ 
Apparently^ by the pressure of a knee. In the opinion 
of M. Dumas^ Mademoiselle L'Espanaye had been 
throttled to death by some person or persons unknown. 
The corpse of the mother was horribly mutilated. All 
the bones of the right leg and arm were more or less 
shuttered. Tlie left tibia much splintered^ as well as 
•all the ribs of the left side. Whole body dreadfully 
bruised and discoloured. It was not possible to say 
how the injuries had been inflicted. A heavy club of 
wood, or a broad bar of iron — ^a chair — any large, 
heavy, and obtuse weapon would have produced such 
results, if wielded by the hands of a very powerful 
man. No woman could have inflicted the blows with 
any weapon. The head of the deceased, when seen by 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 99 

witness^ was entirely separated from the body^ and was 
also greatly shattered. The throat had evidently been 
cut with some very sharp instrument — probably with a 
razor. 

'^Alexandre Etienne, surgeon, was called with M. 
Dumas, to view the bodies. Corroborated the testi- 
mony, and the opinions of M. Dumas. 

^^Nothing further of importance was elicited, although 
several other persons were examined. A murder so 
mysterious, and so perplexing in all its particulars, 
was never before committed in Paris — if indeed a 
murder has been committed at all. The police are 
entirely at fault — an unusual occurrence in affairs of 
this nature. There is not, however, the shadow of a 
clew apparent." 

The evening edition of the paper stated that the 
grcjitest excitement still continued in the Quartier St. 
lloch — that the premises in question had been carefully 
re-searched, and fresh examinations of witnesses insti- 
tuted, but all to no purpose. A postscript, however, 
mentioned that Adolphe Le Bon had been arrested 
and imprisoned — although nothing appeared to crimi- 
nate him, beyond the facts already detailed. 

Dupin seemed singularly interested in the progress 
of this affair — at least so I judged from his manner, 
for he made no comments. It was only after the an- 
nouncement that Le Bon had been imprisoned, that he 
asked me my opinion respecting the murders. 

I could merely agree with all Paris in considering 
them an insoluble mystery. I saw no means by which 
it would be possible to trace the murderer. 

'^We must not judge of the means," said Dupin, 
" by this shell of an examination, llie Parisian police, 
so much extolled for acumen, are cunning, but no more. 
There is no method in their proceedings, beyond the 
method of the moment. They make a vast parade 
of measures ; but, not unfrequently, these are so ill 
adapted to the objects proposed, as to put us in mind 
of Monsieur Jourdain's calling for his rohe-de-chambre 
— pour mieua? entendre la musique. The results attained 



100 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

by them are not unfrequently surprising'^ but, for the 
most part, are brought about by simple diligence 
and activity. When these qualities are unavailing, 
their schemes fail. Vidpcq, lor example, was a good 
guesser, and a persevering man. But, without edu- 
cated thought, he erred continually by the very inten- 
sity of his investigations. He impaired his vision by 
holding the object too close. He might see, perhaps, 
one or two points with unusual clearness, but in so 
doing, he, necessarily, lost sight of the matter as a 
whole. Thus there is such a thing as being too pro- 
found. Truth is not always in a well. In fact, as re- 
gards the more important knowledge, I do believe that 
she is invariably superficial. The depth lies in the 
valleys where we seek her, and not upon the mountain- 
top where she is found. The modes and sources of 
this kind of error are well typified in the contemplation 
of the heavenly bodies. To look at a star by glances 
— to view it in a sidelong way, by turning toward it 
the exterior portions of the retina (more susceptible of 
feeble impressions of light than the interior), is to 
behold the star distinctly — is to have the best apprecia- 
tion of its lustre — a lustre which grows dim just in 
proportion as we turn our vision fully upon it. A 
greater number of rays actually fall upon the eye in 
the latter case, but, in the former, there is the more 
refined capacity for comprehension. By undue pro- 
fundity we perplex and enfeeble thought ; and it is 
possible to make even Venus hersdlf vanish from the 
firmament by a scrutiny too sustained, too concentrated, 
or too direct. 

'^As for these murders, let us enter into some 
examinations for ourselves, before we make up an 
opinion respecting them. An inquiry will afford us 
amusement ' [I thought this an odd term, so applied, 
but said nothing], ^^ and, besides, I^ Bon once rendered 
me a service for which I am not ungrateful. We will 
go and see the premises with our own eyes. I know 
G , the Prefect of Police, and shall have no diffi- 
culty in obtaining the necessary permission." - 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 101 

The permission was obtained^ and we proceeded at 
once to the Rue Morgue. This is one of those miser- 
able thoroughfares which intervene between the Rue 
Richelieu and the Rue St. Roch. It was late in the 
afternoon when we reached it ; as this quarter is at 
a great distance from that in which we resided. The 
house was readily found ; for there were still many 
persons gazing up at the closed shutters^ with an 
objectless curiosity, from the opposite side of the way. 
It was an ordinary Parisian house, with a gateway, on 
one side of which was a glazed watch-box, with a 
sliding panel in the window, indicating a loge de 
concierge. Before going in we walked up the street, 
turned down an alley, and then, again turning, passed 
in the rear of tlie building — Dupin, meanwhile, exa- 
mining the whole neighbourhood, as well as the house, 
with a minuteness of attention for which I could see 
no possible object 

Retracing our steps, we came again to the front of 
the dwelling, rang, and having shown our credentials, 
were admitted by the agents in charge. We went 
upstairs — into the chamber where the body of Made- 
moiselle L'Espanaye had been found, and where both 
the deceased still lay. Tlie disorders of the room had, 
as usual, been suffered to exist. I saw nothing beyond 
what had been stated in the Gazette des Tribunaux, 
Dupin scrutinised everything — not excepting the bodies 
of the victims. We then went into the other rooms, and 
into the yard ; a gendarme accompanying us through- 
out. The examination occupied us until dark, when 
we took our departure. On our way home my com- 
panion stepped in for a moment at the office of one of 
the daily papers. 

I have sjiid that the whims of my friend were mani- 
fold, and that Je lea tnenagdis— for this phrase there 
Is no English equivalent It was his humour, now, to 
decline all conversation on the subject of the murders, 
until about noon the next day. He then asked me, 
suddenly, if I had observed anything peculiar at the 
scene of the atrocity. 



102 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

There was something^ in his manner of emphasising 
the word '* peculiar/' which caused me to shudder^ 
without knowing why. 

*^ No, nothing peculiar" I said ; ^' nothing more^ at 
least, than we both saw stated in the paper." 

^*The Gazette" he replied, "has not entered, I 
fear, into the unusual horror of the thing. But 
dismiss the idle opinions of this print It appears to 
me that this mystery is considered insoluble, for the 
very reason which should cause it to be regarded as 
easy of solution — I mean for the outrS character of 
its features. The police are confounded by the seem- 
ing absence of motive — not for the murder itself — but 
for the atrocity of the murder. They are puzzled, 
too, by the seeming impossibility of reconciling the 
voices heard in contention, with the facts that no one 
was discovered upstairs but the assassinated Made- 
moiselle UEspanaye, and that there were no me<ins of 
egress without the notice of the party ascending, llie 
wild disorder of the room ; the corpse thrust, with 
the head downward, up the chimney; the frightful 
mutilation of the body of the old lady ; these con- 
siderations, with those just mentioned, and others 
which I need not mention, have sufficed to paralyse 
the powers, by putting completely at fault the boasted 
acumen of the government agents. They have fallen 
into the gross but common error of confounding the 
^ unusual with the abstruse. But it is by these devia- 
tions from the plane of the ordinary, that reason feels 
its way, if at alt, in its search for the true. In investi- 
gations such as we are now pursuing, it should not 
be so much asked ^what has occurred?' as ^what 
has occurred that has never occurred before?' In 
r fact, the facility with which I shall arrive, or have 
I arrived, at the solution of this mystery, is in the direct 
I ratio of its apparent insolubility in the eyes of the 
( police." 

I stared at the speaker in mute astonishment 
^^ I am now awaiting," continued he, looking toward 
the door of our apartment — "I am now awaiting a 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 103 

person who, although perhaps not the perpetrator of 
these butcheries, must have been in some measure 
implicated in their perpetration. Of the worst portion 
of the crimes committed, it is probable that he is 
innocent. I hope that I am right in this supposition ; 
for upon it I build my expectation of reading the 
entire riddle. I look for the man here — in this room 
— every moment. It is true that he may not arrive ; 
but the probability is that he will. Should he come, 
it will be necessary to detain him. Here are pistols ; 
and we both know how to use them when occasion 
demands their use." 

I took the pistols, scarcely knowing what I did, or 
believing what 1 heard, while Dupin went on, very 
much as if in a soliloquy. I have already spoken of 
his abstract manner at such times. His discourse was 
addressed to myself; but his voice, although by no means 
loud, had that intonation which is commonly employed 
in speaking to some one at a great distance. His eyes, 
vacant in expression, regarded only the wall. 

^'That the voices heard in contention," he said, '^by 
the party upon the stsiirs, were not the voices of the 
women themselves, was fully proved by the evidence. 
This relieves us of all doubt upon the question whether 
the old lady could have first destroyed the daughter, 
and afterward have committed suicide. I speak of this 
point chiefly for the sake of method ; for the strength 
of Madame L'Espanaye would have been utterly un- 
equal to the task of thrusting her daughter's corpse up 
the chimney as it was found ; and the nature of the 
wounds upon her own person entirely precludes the idea 
of self-destruction. Murder, then, has been committed 
by some third party ; and the voices of this third party 
were those heard in contention. Let me now advert — * 
not to the whole testimony respecting these voices — 
but to what was peculiar in that testimony. Did you 
observe anything peculiar about it ? " 

I remarked that, while all the witnesses agreed 
in supposing the gruff voice to be that of a French- 
man, there was much disagreement in regard to the 



104 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

shrilly or^ as one individual termed it^ the harsh 
voice. 

" That was the evidence itself/' said Dupin^ ^^ hut it 
was not the peculiarity of the evidence. You have ob- 
served nothing distinctive. Yet there wis something 
to be observed. The witnesses^ as you remark^ agreed 
about the gruff voice; they were here unanimous. 
But in regard to the shrill voice, the peculiarity is — 
not that they disagreed — but that, while an Italian, an 
Englishman, a Spaniard, a Hollander, and a Frenchman 
attempted to describe it, each one spoke of it as that qf 
a foreigner. Each is sure that it was not the voice of one 
of his own countrymen. Each likens it — ^not to the 
voice of an individual of any nation with whose language 
he is conversant — but the converse. The Frenchman 
supposes it the voice of a Spaniard, and ^ might have 
distinguished some words had he been acqtminted with the 
Spaiiish,' The Dutchman maintains it to have been 
that of a Frenchman ; but we find it stated that, ^ not 
understanding French, this witness was examined through 
an interpreter* llie Englishman thinks it the voice of 
a German, and ^ does not understand Oerman* The 
Spaniard ^ is sure ' that it was that of an English- 
man, but ^judges by the intonation' altogether, 'as 
he has no knowledge of the English* The Italian be- 
lieves it the voice of a Russian, but ^ has never con- 
versed with a native of Russia,* A second Frenchman 
differs, moreover, with the first, and is positive that the 
voice was that of an Italian ; but, not being cognisant of 
that tongue, is, like the Spaniard, ^ convinced by the in- 
tonation.' Now, how strangely unusual must that 
voice have really been, about which such testimony as 
this could have been elicited ! — in whose tones, even, 
denizens of the five great divisions of Europe could 
recognise nothing familiar ! You will say that it 
might have been the voice of an Asiatic — of an African. 
Neither Asiatics nor Africans abound in Paris; but, 
without denying the inference, I will now merely call 
your attention to three points. The voice is termed 
by one witness ^ harsluathe r than sh rill.' It is repre- 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 105 

seated by two others to have been ' quick a,nd unequal,' 
No words — no sounds resembling words — were by any 
witness mentioned as distinguishable. 

" I know not," continued Dupin, " what impression 
I may have made, so far, upon your own understanding ; 
but I do not hesitate to say that legitimate deductions 
even from this portion of the testimony — the portion 
respecting the gruff and shrill voices — are in themselves 
sufficient to engender a suspicion which should give 
direction to all further progress in the investigation of 
the mystery. I said ^ legitimate deductions * ; but my 
meaning is not thus fully expressed. I designed to 
imply that the deductions are the sole proper ones, and 
that the suspicion arises inevitably from them as the 
single result. What tlie suspicion is, however, I will 
not say just yet. I merely wish you to bear in mind 
that, with myself, it was sufficiently forcible to give a 
definite form — a certain tendency — to my inquiries in 
the chamber. 

" Let us now transport ourselves, in fancy, to this 
chamber. What shall we first seek here ? The means 
of egress employed by the murderers. It is not too 
much to say that neither of us believe in preternatural 
events. Madame and Mademoiselle L'Espanaye were 
not destroyed by spirits. The doers of the deed were 
material, and escaped materially. Then how? For- 
tunately, there is but one mode of reasoning upon the 
point, and that mode must lead us'to a definite decision. 
Let us examine, each by each, the possible means of 
egress. It is clear that the assassins were in the room 
where Mademoiselle L'Espanaye was found, or at least 
in the room adjoining, when the party ascended the 
stairs. It is, then, only from these two apartments that 
we have to seek issues. The police have laid bare the 
floors, the ceilings, and the masonry of the walls, in 
every direction. No secret issues could have escaped 
their vigilance. But, not trusting to tkeir eyes^ I 
examined with my own. There were, then, no secret 
issues. Both doors leading from the rooms into the^ 
passage were securely locked, with the keys inside. 



106 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

Let us turn to the chimneys. These^ although of ordi- 
nary width for some eight or ten feet above the hearths^ 
will not admits throughout their extent^ the body of a 
large cat. The impossibility of egress^ by means already 
stated^ being thus absolute^ we are reduced to the 
windows. Through those of the front room no one could 
have escaped without notice from the crowd in the street. 
The murderers 7nuitt have piissed^ then^ through those 
of the back room. Now^ brought to this conclusion in so 
unequivocal a manner as we are^ it is not our part^ as 
reasoners^ to reject it on account of apparent impossi- 
bilities. It is only left for us to prove tnat these appa- 
rent ' impossibilities ' are^ in reality^ not such. 

''There are two windows in the chamber. One of 
them is unobstructed by furniture, and is wholly 
visible. The lower portion of the other is hidden from 
view by the head of the unwieldy bedstead which is 
thrust close up against it. The former was found 
securely fastened from within. It resisted the utmost 
force of those who endeavoured to raise it. A large 
gimlet hole had been pierced in its frame to the left^ 
and a very stout nail was found fitted therein, nearly 
to the head. Upon examining the other window, a 
similar nail was seen similarly fitted in it; and a 
vigorous attempt to raise this sash, failed also. The 

Eolice were now entirely satisfied that egress had not 
een in these directions. And, there/ore, it was 
thought a matter of supererogation to withdraw the 
nails and open the windows. 

''My own examination was somewhat more par- 
ticular, and was so for the reason I have just given — 
because here it was, I knew, that all apparent impos- 
sibilities must be proved to be not such in reality. 

"I proceeded to think thus — a posteriori. The 
murderers did escape from one of these windows. 
This being so, they could not have re-fastened the 
sashes from the inside, as they were found fastened — 
the consideration which put a stop, through its obvious- 
ness, to the scrutiny of the police in this quarter. 
Yet the sashes were fastened. They must^ then, have 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 107 

the power of fastening themselves. There was no 
escape from this conclusion. I stepped to the un- 
obstructed casement^ withdrew the nail with some 
difficulty^ and attempted to raise the sash. It resisted 
all my efforts^ as I had anticipated. A concealed 
spring must^ I now knew^ exist ; and this corroboration 
of my idea convinced me that my premises^ at leasts 
were correct^ however mysterious still appeared the 
circumstances attending the nails. A careful search 
soon brought to light the hidden spring. I pressed it, 
and, satisned with the discovery, forbore to upraise 
the sash. 

" I now replaced the nail and regarded it attentively. 
A person passing out through this window might have 
reclosed it, and the spring would have caught — but the 
nail could not have been replaced. The conclusion was 
plain, and again narrowed in the field of my inves- 
tigations. The assassins must have escaped through 
the other window. Supposing, then^ the springs upon 
each sash to be the same, as was probable, there 
must be found a difference between the nails, or at 
least between the modes of their fixture. Getting 
upon the sacking of the bedstead, I looked over the 
head-board minutely at the second casement. Passing 
my hand down behind the board, I readily discovered 
and pressed the spring, which was, as I had supposed, 
identical in character with its neighbour. 1 now 
looked at the nail. It was as stout as the other, and 
apparently fitted in the same manner—- driven in nearly 
up to the head. 

'' You will say that I was puzzled ; but^ if you think 
so, you must have misunderstood the nature of the 
inductions. To use a sporting phrase, I had not been 
once ^at fault' The scent had never for an instant 
been lost There was no flaw in any link of the chain. 
I had traced the secret to its ultimate result — and that 
result was the nail. It had, X say, in every respect, the^; 
appearance of its fellow in the other window ; but this 
fact was an absolute nullity (conclusive as it might 
seem to be) when compared with tlie consideration that 



108 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

here^ at this pointy terminated the clew. ' There must 
be something wrong/ I said^ 'about the nail.' I 
touched it ; and the head^ with about a quarter of an 
inch of the shank^ came off in my fingers. The rest of 
the shank was in the gimlet hole^ where it had been 
broken off. The fracture was an old one (for its edges 
were incrusted with rust)^ and hud apparently been 
accomplished by the blow of a hammer^ which had 
partially embedded^ in the top of the bottom sash^ the 
head portion of the nail. I now carefully replaced 
this head portion in the indentation whence I had 
taken it^ and the resemblance to a perfect nail was 
complete — the fissure was invisible. Pressing the 
spring, I gently raised the sash for a few inches ; the 
head went up with it^ remaining firm in its bed. I 
closed the window^ and the semblance of the whole 
nail was again perfect. 

" The riddle^ so far^ wsis now unriddled. The assassin 
had escaped through the window which looked upon 
the bed. Dropping of its own accord upon his exit (or 
.perhaps purposely closed ), it had become fastened by 
the spring; and it was the retention of this spring 
which had been mistaken by the police for that of the 
nail — further inquiry being thus considered unneces- 
sary. 

''The next question is that of the mode of descent. 
Upon this point 1 had been satisfied in my walk with 
you around the building. About five feet and a half 
from the casement in question there runs a lightning- 
rod. From this rod it would have been impossible for 
any one to reach the window itself, to say nothing of 
entering it I observed, however^ that the shutters of 
the fourth story were of the peculiar kind called by 
Parisian carpenters ferrades — a kind rarely employed 
at the present day, but frequently seen upon very old 
mansions at Lyons and Bordeaux. Tliev are in the 
form of an ordinary door (a single, not a rolding door), 
except that the lower half is latticed or worked in open 
trellis — thus affording an excellent hold for the hands. 
In the present instance these shutters are fully three 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 10& 

feet and a half broad. When we saw them from the 
rear of the house^ they were both about half open — 
that is to say^ they stood off at right angles from the 
wall. It is probable that the police^ as well as myself^ 
extimined the back of the tenement; but^ if so, in- 
looking at these ferrades in the line of their breadth (as. 
they must have done)^ they did not perceive this great 
breadth itself^ or^ svt all events^ failed to take it inta 
due consideration. In fact^ having once satisfied them- 
selves that no egress could have been made in this- 
quarter^ they would naturally bestow here a very- 
cursory examination. It was clear to me, howev€;r„ 
that the shutter belonging to the window at the head 
of the bed, would, if swung fully back to the wall, 
reach to within two feet of the lightning-rod. It was 
also evident that, by exertion of a very unusual degree 
of activity and courage^ an' entrance into the window,, 
from the rod, might have been thus effected. By 
reaching to the distance of two feet and a half (we now 
suppose the shutter open to its whole extent) a robber 
might have taken a firm grasp upon the trellis-work, 
letting go, then, his hold unon the rod, placing his 
feet securely against the wall, and springing boldly 
from it, he might have swung the shutter so as to- 
close it, and, if we imagine the window open at the 
time, might even have swung himself into the room. 

"I wish you to bear especially in mind that I have 
spoken of a very unusual degree of activity as requisite- 
to success in so hazardous and so difficult a feat. It is- 
my design to show you, first, that the thing might 
possibly have been accomplished ; but, secondly and 
chiefly, I wish to impress upon your understanding the 
very extraordinary — the almost preternatural character 
of that agility which could have accomplished it 

'^ You will say, no doubt, using the language of the- 
law, that *to make out my case,' I should rather 
undervalue, than insist upon a full estimation of the 
activity required in this matter. This may be the 
practice in law, but it is not the usage of reason. My 
ultimate object is only the truth. My immediate. 



110 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

purpose is to lead you to place in juxtaposition^ that 
very unusual activity of which I have just spoken^ with 
that very peculiar shrill (or harsh) and unequal voice^ 
about whose nationality no two persons could be found 
to agree^ and in whose utterance no syllabification 
€Ould be detected." 

At these words a vague and half-formed conception 
of the meaning of Dupin ilitted over my mind. I 
seemed to be upon the verge of comprehension^ without 
power to comprehend — as men, at times, find them- 
selves upon the brink of remembrance, without being 
able in the end, to remember. My friend went on 
with his discourse. 

'* You will see," he said, *' that I have shifted the 
* -question from the mode of egress to that of ingress. 
It was my design to convey the idea that both were 
effected in the same manner, at the same ]>oint I^t 
us now rovort to the interior of the room. Jjet us 
Burvey the appearances here. The drawers of the 
bureau, it is said, had been rifled, although many 
articles of apparel still remained within them. The 
conclusion here is absurd. It is a mere guess — a very 
silly one — and no more. How are we to know that 
the articles found in the drawers were not all these 
drawers had originally contained ? Madame L'Espanaye 
and her daughter lived an exceedingly retired life — 
saw no company — seldom went out — had little use for 
numerous changes of habiliment. Those found were 
at least of as good quality as any likely to be possessed 
by these ladies. If a thief had taken any, why did he 
not take the best — why did he not take all.^ In a 
word, why did he abandon four thousand francs in gold 
to encumber himself with a bundle of linen? Tlie 
^old v}as abandoned. Nearly the whole sum mentioned 
by Monsieur Mignaud, the banker, was discovered, in 
bags, upon the floor. I wish you, therefore, to discard 
from your thoughts the blundering idea of motive, en- 
gendered in the brains of the police by that portion of 
the evidence which speaks of money delivered at the 
door of the house. Coincidences ten times as remark- 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 111 

able as this (the delivery of the money, and murder 
committed within three days upon the party receiving 
it), happen to all of us every hour of our lives, without 
attracting even momentary notice. Coincidences, in 
general, are great stumbling-blocks in the way of that 
class of thinkers who have been educated to know 
nothing of the theory of probabilities — that theory to 
which the most glorious objects of human research are 
indebted for the most glorious of illustration. In the 
present instance, had the gold been gone, the fact of 
its delivery three days before would have formed some- 
thing more than a coincidence. It would have been 
corroborative of this idea of motive. But, under the 
real circumstances of the case, if we are to suppose 
gold the motive of this outrage, we must also imagine 
the perpetrator so Vacillating an idiot as to have 
abandoned his gold and his motive together. 

^^ Keeping now steadily in mind the points to which 
I have drawn your attention — that peculiar voice, that 
unusual agility, and that startling absence of motive in 
a murder so singuhirly atrocious as this — let us glance 
at the butchery itself. Here is a woman strangled to 
death by manual strength, and thrust up a chimney, 
head downward. Ordinary assassins employ no such 
modes of murder as this. Least of all, do they thus 
dispose of the murdered. In the manner of thrusting 
the corpse up the chimney, you will admit that there 
was something ejccessively outre — something altogether ; 
irreconcilable with our common notions of humanaction, j 
even when we suppose the actors the most depraved of 
men. Think, too, how great must have been that 
strength which could have thrust the body up such an 
aperture so forcibly that the united vigour of several 
persons was found barely sufficient to dnig it down ! 

'^ Turn, now, to other indications of the employment 
of a vigour most marvellous. On the hearth were 
thick tresses — very thick tresses — of grey human- hair./ 
These had been torn out by the roots. You are aware 
of the great force necessary in tearing thus from the 
head even twenty or thirty hairs together. You saw 



112 THE MURDJSRS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

the locks in question as well as myself. Their roots 
(a hideous sight !) were clotted with fragments of the 
flesh of the scalp— sure token of the prodigious power 
which had been exerted in uprooting perhaps half a 
million of hairs at a time. The throat of the old lady 
was not merely cut^ but the head absolutely severed 
from the body : the instrument was a mere razor. I 
wish you also to look at the brutal ferocity of these 
deeds. Of the bruises upon the body of Madame 
L'Espanaye I do not speak. Monsieur Dumas^ and his 
worthy coadjutor Monsieur Etienne^ have pronounced 
that they were inflicted by some obtuse instrument ; 
and so far these gentlemen are very correct. The 
obtuse instrument was clearly the stone pavement in 
the yard^ upon which the victim had fallen from the 
window which looked in upon the bed. This idea^ 
however simple it may now seem^ escaped the police 
for the same reason that the breadth of the shutters 
escaped them — because^ by the affair of the nails^ their 
perceptions had been hermetically sealed against the 
possibility of the windows having ever been opened 
at all. 

" If now, in addition to all these things^ you have 
properly reflected upon the odd disorder of the chamber^ 
we have gone so far as to combine the ideas of an 
agility astounding^ a strength superhuman^ a ferocity 
brutal^ a butchery without motive^ a grotesquerie in 
horror absolutely alien from humanity, and a voice 
foreign in tone to the ears of men of many nations, 
and devoid of all distinct or intelligible syllabification. 
AVliat result^ then^ has ensued.^ What impression 
have I made upon your fancy?" 

I felt a creeping of the flesh as Dupin asked me the 
question. '^ A madman/' I said^ " has done this deed 
— some raving maniac escaped from a neighbouring 
Maison de Sante" 

*' In some respects/* he replied, ^' your idea is not 
irrelevant But the voices of madmen^ even in their 
wildest paroxysms, are never found to tally with that 
peculiar voice heard upon the stairs. Madmen are of 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 113 

some nation^ and their language^ however incoherent 
in its words^ has always the coherence of syllabification. 
Besides^ the hair of a madman is not such as I now 
hold in my hand. I disentangled this little tuft from 
the rigidly clutched fingers of Madame L'Espanaye. 
Tell me what you can make of it," 

'^Dupin/' I said, completely unnerved; ^'this hair 
is most unusual — this is no human hair." 

^^I have not asserted that it is" said he; ^'but^ 
before we decide this point, J wish you to glance at 
the little sketch I have here traced upon this paper. 
It is n, facsimile drawing of what has been descrioed in 
one portion of the testimony as ^dark bruises, and 
deep indentations of finger nails,' upon the throat of 
Mademoiselle L'Espanaye, and in another (by Messrs. 
Dumas and Etienne), as a ^series of livid spots, 
evidently the impression of fingers.' 

^^ You will perceive," continued my friend, spreading 
out the paper upon the table before us, ^^that this 
drawing gives the idea of a firm and fixed hold. There . 
is no slipping apparent. Each finger has retained — ^"^^ 
possibly until the death of the victim — the fearful 
grasp by which it origin«'il]y embedded itself. Attempt, 
now, to place all your fingers, at the same time, in the 
respective impressions as you see them," 

I made the attempt in vain. 

" We are possibly not giving this matter a fair trial," 
he said. ^'The paper is spread out upon a plane 
surface; but the human throat is cylindrical. Here 
is a billet of wood, the circumference of which is about 
that of the throat Wrap the drawing round it, and 
try the experiment again.' 

I did so ; but the difficulty was even more obvious 
than before. "This," I said, "is the mark of no 
human hand." 

*^Read now," replied Dupin, "this passage from 
Cuvier." 

It was a minute anatomical and generally descriptive 
account of the large fulvous Ourang-Outang of the 
East Indian Islands. The gigantic stature, the pro- 



114 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

digious strength and activity, the wild ferocity, and 
the imitative propensities of these mammalia are suffi- 
ciently well known to all. I understood the full 
horrors of the murder at once. 

^^The description of the digits^" said I^ as I made an 
end of readings ^^is in exact accordance with this 
drawing. I see that no animal hut an Ourang-Outang, 
of the species here mentioned^ could have impressed 
the indentations as you have traced them. This tuft 
of tawny hair^ too, is identical in character with that of 
the beast of Cuvier. But I cannot possibly compre- 
hend the particulars of this frightful mystery. Be- 
sides, there were two voices heard in contention^ and 
one of them was unquestionably the voice of a 
Frenchman." 

'^True; and you will remember an expression 
attributed almost unanimously, by the evidence^ to 
this voice — ^the expression ^ Mon Dieu!' This^ under 
the circumstances, has been justly characterised by 
one of the witnesses (Montani^ the confectioner) as 
an expression of remonstrance or expostulation. Upon 
these two words, therefore, I have mainly built my 
hopes of a full solution of the riddle. A Frenchman 
was cognisant of the murder. It is possible — indeed 
it is far more than probable — that he was innocent of 
all participation in the bloody transactions which took 
place. The Ourang-Outang may have escaped from 
him. He may have traced it to the chamber; but^ 
under the agitating circumstances which ensued, he 
could never have re-captured it. It is still at large. 
I will not pursue these guesses — for 1 have no right to 
call them more — since the shades of reflection upon 
which they are based are scarcely of sufficient depth to 
be appreciable to my own intellect, and since I could 
not pretend to make them intelligible to the under- 
standing of another. We will call them guesses, then, 
and speak of them as such. If the Frenchman in 
question is indeed, as I suppose, innocent of this 
atrocity, this advertisement, which I left last night, 
upon our return home^ at the office of Le Monde (a 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 116 

paper devoted to the shipping interest^ and much 
sought by sailors)^ will bring him to our residence." 
. He handed me a paper^ and I read thus : — 

'* Caught — In the Bois de Boulogne^ early in the 

morning of the inst. [the morning of the murder], a 

ijery Itirge, tawny Ourang-Outang qf the Bomese species. 
The owner (who is ascertained to be a sailor, belonging 
to a Maltese vessel)^ may have tlie animal again, upon 
identifying it satisfactorily, and paying a few charges 

arising from its capture and keeping. Call at No, , 

Mue , Faubourg SL Germain — an troisieme." 

" How was it possible," I asked, " that you should 
know the man to be a sailor, and belonging to a 
Maltese vessel ? " 

*^ I do not know it," said Dupiu. *' I am not sure 
of it. Here, however, is a small piece of ribbon, which ( ^ 
from its form, and from its creasy appearance, has 
evidently been used in tying tne hair in one of those 
long queues of which sailors are so fond. Moreover, j 
this knot is one which few besides sailors can tie, and / 
ifl peculiar to the Maltese. I picked the ribbon up at 
the foot of the lightning-rod. It could not have 
belonged to either of the deceased. Now if, after all, 
I am wrong in my induction from this ribbon, that the 
Frenchman was a sailor belonging to a Maltese vessel, . 
still I can have done no harm in saying what I did in 
the advertisement. If I am in error, ne will merely 
suppose that I have been misled by some circumstance 
into which he will not take the trouble to inquire. 
But if I am right, a great point is gained. Cognisant 
although innocent of the murder, the Frenchman will 
naturally hesitate about replying to the advertise- 
ment — about demanding the Ourang-Outang. He 
will reason thus ; * I am innocent ; I am poor ; my 
Ourang-Outang is of great value — to one in my 
circumstances a fortune of itself— why should I lose 
it through idle apprehensions of danger? Here it 
is within my grasp. It was found in the Bois de 
Boulogne — at a vast distance from the scene of that 



116 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

butchery. How can it ever be suspected that a brute 
beast should have done the deed? The police are at 
fault — they have failed to procure the slightest clew. 
Should they even trace the animal, it would be impos- 
sible to prove me cognisant of the murder^ or to 
implicate me in guilt on account of that cognisance. 
Above all^ / am known. The advertiser designates me 
as the possessor of the beast. I am not sure to what 
limit his knowledge may extend. Should I avoid 
claiming a property of so great value^ which it is known 
that I possess^ I will render the animal at least liable 
to suspicion. It is not my policy to attract attention 
either to myself or to the oeast. I will answer the 
advertisement^ get the Ourang-Outang^ and keep it 
close until this matter has blown over.' " 

At this moment we heard a step upon the stairs. 

**Be ready," said Dupin, *^with your pistols, but 
neither use them nor show them until at a signal from 
myself." 

Tiie front door of the house had been left open, and 
the visitor had entered, without ringing, and advanced 
several steps upon the staircase. Now, however, he 
seemed to iiesitate. Presently we heard him descend- 
ing. Dupin was moving quickly to the door, when we 
again heard him coming up. He did not turn back a 
second time, but stepped up with decision, and rapped 
at the door of our chamber. 

''Come in," said Dupin, in a cheerful and hearty 
tone. 

A man entered. He was a sailor, evidently — a tall, 
stout, and muscular-looking person, with a certain 
dare-devil expression of countenance, not altogether 
unprepossessing. His face, greatly sunburnt, was 
more than half hidden by whisker and mustachio. 
He had with him a huge oaken cudgel, but appeared 
to be otherwise unarmed. He bowed awkwardly, and 
bade us ''good evening," in French accents, which, 
although somewhat Neufchatelish, were still sufficiently 
indicative of a Parisian origin. 

"Sit down, my friend," said Dupin. "I suppose 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 117 

you have called about the Ourang-Outaug. Upon my 
word^ I almost envy you the possession of dim ; a 
remarkably fine, and no doubt a very valuable animal. 
How old do you suppose him to be ? ' 

The sailor drew a long breath, with the air of a man 
relieved of some intolerable burden, and then replied, 
in an assured tone — 

^^I have no way of telling — but he can't be more 
than four or five years old. Have you got him here?" 

^^ Oh no ; we had no conveniences for keeping him 
here. He is at a livery stable in the Rue Dubourg, 
just by. You can get him in the morning. Of course 
you are prepared to identify the property ? " 

^' To be sure 1 am, sir." 

" I shall be sorry to part with him," said Dupin. 

'^ I don't mean that you should be at all this trouble 
for nothing, sir," said the man. " Couldn't expect it. 
Am very willing to pay a reward for the finding of the 
animal — that is to say, anything in reason." 

** Well," replied my friend, " that is all very fair, to 
be sure. Let me think ! — what should I have ? Oh ! 
I will tell you. My reward shall be this. You shall 
give ino all the information in your power about these 
murdei-s in the Rue Morgue." 

Dupin said the last words in a very low tone, and very 
quietly. Just as quietly, too, he walked toward the 
door, locked it, and put the key in his pocket. He 
then drew a pistol from his bosom, and placed it, with- 
out the least flurry, upon the table. 

The sailor's face flushed up as if he were struggling 
with suffocation. He started to his feet and grasped 
his cudgel ; but the next moment he fell back into his 
seat, trembling violently, and with the countenance of 
death itself. lie spoke not a word. I pitied him from 
the bottom of my heart. 

**My friend," said Dupin, in a kind tone, ''you are 
alarming yourself unnecessarily — vou are indeed. We 
mean you no harm whatever. 1 pledge you the honour 
of a gentleman, and of a Frencnman, that we intend 
you no injury. I perfectly well know that you are 



118 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

innocent of the atrocities in the Rue Morgue. It will 
not do, however^ to deny that vou are in some measure 
implicated in them. 1^ rom what 1 have already said^ 
you must know that I have had means of information 
ahout this matter — means of which you could never 
have dreamed. Now the thing stands thus. You have 
done nothing which you could have avoided — nothing, 
certainly, which renders you culpable. You were not 
even guilty of robbery^ when you might have robbed 
with impunity. You have nothing to conceal. You 
have no reason for concealment On the other hand^ 
you are bound by every principle of honour to confess 
all you know. An innocent man is now imprisoned^ 
charged with that crime of which you can point out 

The sailor had recovered his presence of mhid^ in a 
great measure, while Dupin uttered these words ; but 
his original boldness of bearing was all gone. 

'' So help me God," said he, after a brief pause, '' I 
will tell you all I know about this affair ; but I do not 
expect you to believe one half I say — I would be a fool 
indeed if I did. Still, I am innocent, and I will make 
a clean breast if I die for it." 

What he stated was, in substance, this. He had 
lately made a voyage to the Indian Archipelago. A 
party, of which he wrmed one, landed at Borneo, and 

Massed into the interior on an excursion of pleasure, 
[imself and a companion had captured the Ourang- 
Outang. This companion dying, the animal fell into 
his own exclusive possession. After great trouble, 
occasioned by the intractable ferocity of his captive 
during the home voyage, he at length succeeded in 
lodging it safely at his own residence in Paris, where, 
not to attract toward himself the unpleasant curiosity 
of his neighbours, he kept it carefully secluded, until 
such time as it should recover from a wound in the foot, 
received from a splinter on board ship. His ultimate 
design was to sell it. 

Returning home from some sailors' frolic on the 
night, or rather in the morning of the murder, he 



THE MORDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 119 

found the beast occupying his own bedroom^ into which 
it had broken from a closet adjoining^ where it had 
been^ as was thought, securely confined. Razor in 
hand, and fully lathered, it was sitting before a looking- 
glass^ attempting the operation of shavings in which it 
had no doubt previously watched its master through 
the key-hole of the closet. Terrified at the sight of so 
dangerous a weapon in the possession of an animal so 
ferocious^ and so well able to use it^ the man^ for some 
moments, was at a loss what to do. He had been 
accustomed^ however, to quiet the creature^ even in 
its fiercest moods, by the use of a whip^ and to this he 
now resorted. Upon sight of it, the Ourang-Outang 
sprang at once through the door of the chamber, down 
the stairs, and thence^ through a window^ unfortunately 
open^ into the street. 

The Frenchman followed in despair ; the ape, razor 
still in hand, occasionally stopping to look back and 
gesticulate at its pursuer, until the latter had nearly 
come up with it It then again made off. In this 
manner the chase continued for a long time. The 
streets were profoundly quiet, as it was nearly three 
o'clock in the morning, in passing down an alley in 
the rear of the Rue Morgue, the fugitive's attention 
was arrested by a light gleaming from the open window 
of Madame L'Espanaye s chamber, in the fourth story 
of her house. Rushing to the building, it perceived 
the lightning-rod, clambered up with inconceivable 
agility, grasped the shutter, which was thrown fully 
back against the wall, and, by its means, swung itself 
directly upon the headboard of the bed. The whole 
feat did not occupy a minute. The shutter was kicked 
open again by the Ourang-Outang as it entered the 
room. 

The sailor, in the meantime, was both rejoiced and 
perplexed. He had strong hopes of now recapturing 
the brute, as it could scarcely escape from the trap 
into which it had ventured, except by the rod, where 
it might be intercepted as it Ccime down. On the 
other hand, there was much cause for anxiety as to 



120 THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 

what it mijj^ht do iu the house. This latter reflection 
urged the man still to follow the fugitive. A lightuing- 
rod is ascended without difficulty^ especially hy a sailor ; 
hut^ when he had arrived as high as the window^ which 
lay far to his left^ his career was stopped ; the most 
that he could accomplish was to reach over so as to 
obtain a glimpse of the interior of the room. At this 
glimpse he nearly fell from his hold through excess of 
horror. Now it was that those hideous shrieks arose 
upon the nighty which had startled from slumber the 
inmates of the Rue Morgue. Madame L'Espauaye and 
her dauffhter^ habited in their night clothes, had 
apparently been occupied in arranging some papers in 
the iron chest already mentioned, which had been 
wheeled into the middle of the room. It was open, 
and its contents lay beside it on the floor. The victims 
must have been sitting with their backs toward the 
window; and^ from the time elapsing between the 
ingress of the beast and the screams, it seems probable 
that it was not immediately perceived. The flapping-to 
of the shutter would naturally have been attributed to 
the wind. 

As the sailor looked in, the gigantic animal had 
seized Madame L'Espanaye by the hair (which was 
loose, as she had been combing it), and was flourishing 
the razor about her face, in imitation of the motions of 
a barber. The daughter lay prostrate and motionless ; 
she had swooned. The screams and struggles of the 
old lady (during which the hair was torn from her head) 
had the effect of changing the probably pacific purposes 
of the Ourang-Outang into those of wrath. With one 
determined sweep of its muscular arm it nearly severed 
her head from her body. The sight of blood inflamed 
its anger into frenzy. Gnashing its teeth, and flashing 
fire from its eyes, it flew upon the body of the girl, and 
embedded its fearful talons in her throat, retaining its 
grasp until she expired. Its wandering and wild 
glances fell at this moment upon the head of the bed, 
over which the face of its master, rigid with horror^ 
was just discernible. The fury of the beast, who no 



THE MURDERS IN THE RUE MORGUE 121 

doubt bore still in mind the dreaded whip^ was instautly 
converted into fear. Conscious of having deserved 
punishment, it seemed desirous of concealing its bloody 
deeds^ and skipped about the chamber in an agony of 
nervous agitation; throwing down and breaking the 
furniture as it moved, and dragging the bed from the 
bedstead. In conclusion^ it seized first the corpse of 
the daughter^ and thrust it up the chimney, as it was 
found ; then that of the old lady, which it immediately 
hurled through the window headlong. 

As the ape approached the casement with its mutilated 
burden, the sailor shrank aghast to the rod, and rather 
gliding than clambering down it, hurried at once home 
— -dreadiitg the consequences of the butchery, and 
gladly abandoning, in his terror, all solicitude about 
the fate of the Ourang-Outaug. The words heard by 
the party upon the staircase were the Frenchman's 
exclamations of horror and affright, commingled with 
the fiendish jabberings of the brute. 

I have scarcely anything to add. The Ourang- 
Outang must have escaped from the chamber, by the 
rod, just before the breaking of the door. It must 
have closed the window as it passed through it It 
was subsequently caught by the owner himself, who 
obtained for it a very large sum at the Jardin des 
Plantes. Le Bon was instantly released upon our narra- 
tion of the circumstances (with some comments from 
Dupiu) at the bureau of the Prefect of Police. This 
functionary, however well disposed to my friend, could 
not altogether conceal his chagrin at tne turn which 
affairs had taken, and was fain to indulge in a sarcasm 
or two, about the propriety of every person minding 
his own business. 

'^ Let him talk," said Dupin, who had not thought 
it necessary to reply. ^^Let him discourse; it will 
ease his conscience. I am satisfied with having defeated 
him in his own castle. Nevertheless, that he failed in 
the solution of this mystery is by no means that 
matter for wonder which he supposes it ; for, in truth, 
our friend the Prefect is somewhat too cunning to be 



122 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGJfcT 

profound. la his wisdom is no stamen. It is all head 
and no body^ like the pictures of the goddess Laverna 
— or, at best^ all head and shoulders^ like a codfish. 
But he is a good creature after all. I like him especially 
for one master-stroke of cant^ by which he has attained 
his reputation for ingenuity. I mean the way he has 
' de nier ce qui est, et d*expliquer ce qui n*est pas,' " ^ 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET^ 

A SEQUEL TO *'THB MURDERS IN THE 
RUE morgue" 

'*Es giebt eine Reibe idealisoher Begebenheiten, die der 
Wirkliohkeit parallel lauft. Selten fallen sie zusammen. 
Mensohen una zufalle modifioiren gewohulioh die idoalisoho 
Begebenheit, so doss sie unyollkommen ersoheint, und ihre 
Folgengleiohfalls unyollkommen sind. So bei der Reformation ; 
statt des Protestantismus kam das Lutherthum horror. " 

('* There are ideal series of events which run parallel with the 
real ones. They rarely coincide. Men and circumstances 
generally modify the ideal train of events, so that it seems im- 
perfect, and its conse<^uences are equally imperfect. Thus 
with the Reformation ; instead of Protestantism came Luther- 
anism."— NovALis (the nom de plume of Von Hardenburg), 
Moral Ansichten,) 

There are few persons^ even amongst the calmest 
thinkers^ who have not occasionally been startled into 
a vague yet thrilling half-credence m the supernatural, 
by coincidences of so seemingly marvellous a character 

1 Rousseau, Nouvelle Hilolie, 

3 Upon the original publication of " Marie Rogit/' the foot- 
notes now appended were considered unnecessary ; but the 
lapse of several years since the tragedy upon which the tale is 
based, renders it expedient to give them, and also to say a 
few words in explanation of the general design. A young girl, 
Mary Cecilia Rogers, was murdered in the vicinity of New 
York ; and although her death occasioned an intense and long> 
enduring excitement, the mystery attending it had remained 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 123 

that, as mere coincidences, the intellect has been 
unable to receive them. Such sentiments — for the 
half credences of which I speak have never the full 
force of thought — such sentiments are seldom thoroughly 
stifled unless by reference to the doctrine of chance, or, 
as it is technically termed, the Calculus of Proba- 
bilities. Now this Calculus is, in its essence, purely 
mathematical ; and thus we have the anomaly of the 
most rigidly exact in science applied to the shadow and 
spirituality of the most intangible in speculation. 

The extraordinary details which 1 am now called 
upon to make public, will be found to form, as regards 
sequence of time, the primary branch of a series of 
scarcely intelligible coincidences, whose secondary or 
concluding branch will be recognised by all readers in 
the late murder of Mart Cecilia Rogers, at New 
York. 

When, in an article entitled ''The Murders in the 
Rue Morgue," I endeavoured, about a year ago, to 
depict some very remarkable features in the mental 
character of my friend, the Chevalier C. A uguste 
Dupin, it did not occur to me tHat I should ever 
resume the subject lliis depicting of character con- 
stituted my design ; and this design was thoroughly 

unsolved fit the period when the present paper won written 
and published (November 1842). Herein, under pretence of 
relating the fate of a Parisian gritet*e^ the author has followed, 
in minute detail, the essential, while merely paralleling the 
unessential facts of the real murder of Mary Kogers. Thus 
all ar^ment founded upon the fiction is applicable to the truth : 
and the investigation of the truth was the object. 

l*he •* Mystery of Marie Koget " was composed at a distance 
from the scene of the atrocity, and with no other means of in- 
vestigation than the newspapers afforded. Thus much escaped 
tho writer of which he could have availed himself had he 
been upon the spot, and visited the localities. It may not be 
improper to record, nevertheless, that the confessions oltwo 
persons (one of them the Madame Deluc of the narrative), 
made at different periods, long subsequent to the publication, 
confirmed, in full, not only the general conclusion, but abso- 
lutely all tho chief hypothetical details by which that con- 
clusion was attained. 



124 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfiT 

fulfilled in the wild train of circumstances brought to 
instance Dupin's idiosyncrasy. 1 might have adduced 
other examples, but I should have proven no more. 
Late events^ however, in their surprising development, 
have startled me into some further details, which will 
carry with them the air of extorted confession. Hear- 
ing what I have lately heard, it would bo indeed 
strange should I remain silent in regard to what 1 
both heard and saw so long ago. 

Upon the winding up of the tragedy involved in the 
deaths of Madame L'Lspanaye and her daughter, the 
Chevalier dismissed the affair at once from his atten- 
tion, and relapsed into his ol d habits o f moody reverie. 
Prone, at all times, to abstraction, Freadlly TelT in 
with his humour ; and continuing to occupy our 
chambers in the Faubourg Saint Germain, wegavethe 
Future .tQ_the.winds, and . slumbered, tranqiulfy in^he 
Present, weaving the dull world around us into dreams. 

But these dreams were not altogether uninterrupted. 
It may readily be supposed that the part played by my 
friend, in the drama at the Rue Morgue, had not 
failed of its impression upon the fancies of the Parisian 
police. With its emissaries, the name of Dupin had 
grown into a household word. The simple character 
of those inductfons by which he had disentangled the 
mystery never having been explained even to the Prefect, 
or to any other individual than myself, of course it is 
not surprising that the affair was regarded as little less 
than miraculous, or that the Chevalier's analytical 
abilities acquired for him the credit of intuition. His 
frankness would have led him to disabuse every in- 
quirer of such prejudice; but his indolent humour 
forbade all further agitation of a topic whose interest 
to himself had long ceased. It thus happened that he 
found himself the cynosure of the policial eyes ; and 
the cases were not few in which attempt was made to 
engage his services at the Prefecture. One of the 
most remarkable instances was that of the murder of 
a young girl named Marie Roget. 

This event occurred about two years after the atrocity 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROG&T 125 

in the Rue Morgue. Marie, whose Christian and family 
name will at once arrest attention from their resem- 
blance to those of the unfortunate '^ cigar-girl," was 
the only daughter of the widow Estelle Roget The 
father had died durine^ the child's infancy, and from 
the period of his death, until within eighteen months 
before the assassination which forms the subject of our 
narrative, the mother and daughter had dwelt together 
in the Rue Pavee Saint Andree ; * Madame there keep- 
ing a pension, assisted by Marie. Affairs went on thus 
until the latter had attained her twenty-second year, 
when her great beauty attracted the notice of a per- 
fumer, who occupied one of the shops in the basement 
of the Palais Royal, and whose custom lay chiefly 
among the desperate adventurers infesting that neigh- 
bourhood. Monsieur Le Blanc ^ was not unaware of the 
advantages to be derived from the attendance of the 
fair Marie in his perfumery ; and his liberal proposals 
were accepted eagerlv by the girl, although with some- 
what more of hesitation by Madame. 

The anticipations of the shopkeeper were realised, 
and his rooms soon became notorious through the 
cliarms of the sprightly griseiie. She had been in his 
employ about a year, when her admirers were thrown 
into confusion by her sudden disappearance from the 
shop. Monsieur Le Blanc was unable to account for 
her absence, and Madame Roget was distracted with 
anxiety and terror. The public papers immediately 
took up the theme, and the police were upon the point 
of making serious investigations, when, one line morn- 
ing, afler the lapse of a week, Marie, in good health, 
but with a somewhat saddened air, made her re-appear- 
ance at lier usual counter in the perfumery. All 
inquiry, except that of a private character, was of 
course immediately hushed. Monsieur lie Blanc 
professed total ignorance, as before. Marie, with 
Madame, replied to all questions, that the last week 
had been spent at the house of a relation in the country. 

1 Nassau Street. > Anderson. 



126 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 

Thus the affair died away, and was g^eiierallv forgotten ; 
for the girl, ostensiblv to relieve herself from the 
impertinence of curiosity, soon bade a final adieu to 
the perfumer, and sought the shelter of her mother's 
residence in the Rue Pavee Saint Andre'e. 

It was about fiv e months after this return home, 
that her friend s were alarmgg"^^'(CTr§gd4on~di5appear- 
ance for theTsecpiid time. Three days elapsed, and 
nothtiigwas heard of her. On the fourth her corpse 
was found floating in the Seine,^ near the shore which 
is opposite the Quartier of the Rue Saint Andree, and 
at a point not very far distant from the secluded 
neighbourhood of the Barriere du Roule.' 

Ihe atrocity of this murder (for it was at once 
evident that murder had been committed), the youth 
and beauty of the victim, and, above all, her previous 
notoriety, conspired to produce intense excitement in 
the minds of the sensitive Parisians. I can call to mind 
no similar occurrence producing so general and so 
intense an effect For several weeks, in tlie discussion 
of this one absorbing theme, even the momentous 
political topics of the day were forgotten. The Prefect 
made unusual exertions ; and the powers of the whole 
Parisian police were, of course, tasked to the utmost 
extent 

Upon the first discovery of the corpse, it was not 
supposed that the murderer would be able to elude, 
for more than a very brief period, the inquisition which 
was immediately set on foot. It was not until the 
expiration of a week that it was deemed necessary to 
offer a reward ; and even then this reward was limited 
to a thousand francs. In the meantime the investiga- 
tion proceeded with vigour, if not always with judgment^ 
and numerous individuals were examined to no pur- 
pose ; while, owing to the continual absence of all 
clew to the mystery, the popular excitement greatly 
increased. At the end of tne tenth day it was thought 
advisable to double the sum originally proposed ; and, 

1 The Hudson. 9 Weehawken. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 127 

at lengthy the second week having elapsed without 
leading to any discoveries^ and the prejudice which 
always exists in Paris against the police having given 
vent to itself in several serious emeutes, the rrefect 
took it upon himself to offer the sum of twenty 
thousand francs " for the conviction of the assassin^^' 
or, if more than one should prove to have been 
implicated, ''for the conviction of any one of the 
assassins." In the proclamation setting forth this 
reward, a full pardon was promised to any accomplice 
who should come forward in evidence against his 
fellow ; and to the whole was appended, wherever it 
appeared, the private placard of a committee of citizens, 
offering ten thousand francs, in addition to the amount 
proposed by the Prefecture. The entire reward thus 
stood at no less than thirty thousand francs, which 
will be regarded as an extraordinary sum when we 
consider the humble condition of the girl, and the 
great frequency, in large cities, of such atrocities as 
the one described. 

No one doubted now that the mystery of this murder 
would be immediately brought to light But although, 
in one or two instances, arrests were made which 
promised elucidation, yet nothing was elicited which 
could implicate the parties suspected ; and they were 
discharged forthwith. Strange as it may appear, the 
third week from the discovery of the body had passed, 
and passed without any light being thrown upon the 
subject, before even a rumour of the events which had 
so agitated the public mind reached the ears of Dupin 
and myself. Engaged in researches which had absorbed 
our whole attention, it had been nearly a month since 
either of us had gone abroad, or received a visitor, or 
more than glanced at the leading political articles in 
one of the daily papers. The first intelligence of the 

murder was brought us by G , in person. He called 

upon us early in the afternoon of the 13th of July 18 — , 
and remained with us until late in the night. He had 
been piqued by the failure of all his endeavours to 
ferret out the assassins. His reputation — so he said, 



128 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfiT 

with a peculiarly Parisian air — was at stake. Even 
his honour wad concerned. The eyes of the public 
were upon him ; and there was really no sacrifice which 
he would not be willing to make for the development 
of the mystery. He concluded a somewhat droll speech 
with a compliment upon what he was pleased to term 
the tact of Dupin^ and made him a direct^ and certainly 
a liberal proposition^ the precise nature of which I do 
not feel myself at liberty to disclose^ but which has no 
bearing upon the proper subject of my narrative. 

The compliment my friend rebutted as best he could^ 
but the proposition he accepted at once, although its 
advantages were altogether provisional. This point 
being settled, the Prefect broke forth at once into 
explanations of his own views, interspersing them with 
long comments upon the evidence ; of which latter we 
were not yet in possession. He discoursed much, and 
lieyond doubt learnedly; while 1 hazarded an occa- 
sional suggestion as the night wore drowsily away. 
Dupin, sitting steadily in his accustomed arm-chair, 
was the embodiment of respectful attention. He wore 
spectacles during the whole interview; and an occa- 
sional glance beneath their green glasses sufficed to 
convince me that he slept not the less soundly, because 
silently, throughout the seven or eight leaden-footed 
hours which immediately preceded the departure of 
the Prefect* 

In the morning I procured, at the Prefecture, a full 
report of all the evidence elicited, and, at the various 
newspaper offices, a copy of every paper in which, 
from first to last, had been published any decisive 
information in regard to this sad affair. Freed from 
all that was positively disproved, this mass of informa- 
tion stood thus : — 

Marie Roget left the residence of her mother, in 
thfi Rue Pavee St Andree, about nine o'clock in the 
morning of Sunday, June the 22nd, 18 — . In going out 
she gave notice to a Monsieur Jacques St. Eustache,^ 

1 Payne. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET 129 

and to him only, of her intention to spend the day 
with an aunt who resided in the Rue des Dromes, 
llie Rue des Dromes is a short and narrow but populous 
thoroughfare, not far from the banks of the river, and 
at a distance of some two miles, in the most direct 
course possible from the pension of Madame Roget 
St Kus tach e was the accep ted su itor of Marie, and 
lodgeJy AS well as took his meals, at tKe pension. He 
was to have gone for his betrothed at dusk, and to 
have escorted her home. In the afternoon, however, * 
it came on to rain heavily ; and, supposing that she 
would remain all night at her aunt's (as she had done 
under similar circumstances before), he did not think 
it necessary to keep his promise. As niffht drew on, 
Madame Roget (who was an infirm old lady, seventy 
years of age) was heard to express a fear ''that she 
should never see Marie again " ; but this observation 
attracted little attention at the time. 

On Monday, it was ascertained that the girl had not 
been to the Rue des Dromes ; and when the day elapsed ^ 
without tidings of her, a tardy search was instituted at 
several points in the city and its environs. It was 
not, however, until the fourth day from the period 
of her disappearance that anything satisfactory was 
ascertained respecting her. On this day (Wednesday, 
the 25th of June), a Monsieur Beauvais,^ who, with a 
friend, had been making inquiries for Marie near the 
Barriere du Roule, on the shore of the Seine which is 
opposite the Rue Pavee St Andree, was informed that 
a corpse had just been towed ashore by some fishermen, 
who had found it floating in the river. Upon seeing 
the body, Beauvais, after some hesitation, identified it 
as that of the perfumery girl. His friend recognised 
it more promptly. 

The face was suffused with dark blood, some of 
which issued from the mouth. No foam was seen, as 
in the case of the merely drowned. There was no 
discoloration in the cellular tissue. About the throat 

1 Crommelin. 



130 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE R0G6T 

were bruises and impressions of fingers. The arms 
were bent over on tne chesty and were riffid. The 
right hand was clenched; the left partially open. 
On the left wrist were two circular excoriations, ap- 
parently the effect of ropes^ or of a rope in more than 
one volution. A part of the right wrist^ also^ was 
much chafed^ as well as the back throughout its extent^ 
but more especially at the shoulder-blades. In bringing 
the body to the snore the fishermen had attached to it 
a rope^ but none of the excoriations had been effected 
by this. The flesh of the neck was much swollen. 
There were no cuts apparent^ or bruises which appeared 
the effect of blows. A piece of lace was found tied so 
tightly around the neck as to be hidden from sight ; 
it was completely buried in the fleshy and was fastened 
by a knot which lay just under the left ear. This 
alone would have sufficed to produce death. The 
medical testimony spoke confidently of the virtuous 
character of the deceased. She had been subjected, 
it said, to brutal violence. The corpse was in such 
condition when found that there could have been no 
difficulty in its recognition by friends. 

The dress was much torn and otherwise disordered. 
In the outer garment, a slip, about a foot wide, had 
been torn upward from the bottom hem to the waist, 
but not torn off. It was wound three times around 
the waist, and secured by a sort of hitch in the back. 
The dress immediately beneath the frock was of fine 
muslin ; and from this a slip eighteen inches wide had 
been torn entirely out — torn very evenly and with 
great care. It was found around her neck, fitting 
loosely, and secured with a hard knot Over this 
muslin slip and the slip of lace, the strings of a bonnet 
were attached, the bonnet being appended. The knot 
by which the strings of the bonnet were fastened, was 
not a lady's, but a_slipLfirj5il5E^flJ^iio^ 

After the recognition of the corpse, it was not, as 
usual, taken to the Morgue (this formality being 
superfluous)) but hastily interred not far from the spot 
at which it was brought ashore. Through the exertions 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROG^ 131 

of Beauvais the matter was industriously hushed up^ 
as far as possible ; and several days had elapsed before 
any public emotion resulted. A weekly paper,' how- 
ever, at length took up the theme ; the corpse was dis- 
interred, and a re-examination instituted ; but nothing 
was elicited beyond what has been already noted. The 
clothes, however, were now submitted to the mother 
and friends of the deceased, and fully identified as 
those worn by the girl upon leaving home. 

Meantime, the excitement increased hourly. Several 
individuals were arrested and discharged. St Eustache 
fell especially under suspicion ; and he failed, at first, 
to give an intelligible account of his whereabouts 
during the Sunday on which Marie left home. Subse- 
quently, however, he submitted to Monsieur G , 

affidavits, accounting satisfactorily for every hour of 
the day in question. As time passed and no discovery 
ensued, a thousand contradictory rumours were circu- 
lated, and journalists busied themselves in suggestions. 
Among these, the one which attracted the most notice, 
was the idea that Marie Roget still lived — that the 
corpse found in the Seine was tliat of some other 
unfortunate. It will be proper that I submit to the 
reader some passages which embody the suggestion 
alluded to. These passages are literal translations 
from L'Etoile,^ a paper conducted, in general, with 
much ability : — 

'^Mademoiselle Roget left her mother's house on 
Sunday morning, June the 22nd, 18 — , with the osten- 
sible purpose of going to see her aunt, or some other 
connection, in the Rue des Dromes. From that hour 
nobody is proved to have seen her. There is no 
trace or tidings of her at all. . . . There has no per- 
son, whatever, come forward, so far, who saw her at 
all, on that day, after she left her mother's door. . . . 
Now, though we have no evidence that Marie Roget 

« 

1 The jY. Y. Mercury, 

s The y. Y. Brother Jonathan, edited by H. Hastings 
Weld, Esq. 



132 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 

was in the land of the living after nine o'clock on 
Sunday^ June the 22nd, we have proof that, up to that 
hour, she was alive. On Wednesday noon, at twelve, 
a female body was discovered afloat on the shore 
of the Barriere du Roule. This was, even if we pre- 
sume that Marie Roget was thrown into the river 
within three hours after she left her mother s house, 
only three days from the time she left her home — three 
days to an hour. But it is folly to suppose that the 
murder, if murder was committed on her body, could 
have been consummated soon enough to have enabled 
her murderers to throw the body into the river before 
midnight Those who are guilty of such horrid crimes, 
choose darkness rather than light . . . Thus we see 
that if the body found in the river was that of Marie 
Roget, it could only have been in the water two and a 
half days, or three at the outside. All experience has 
shown that drowned bodies, or bodies thrown into the 
water immediately after death by violence, require 
from six to ten days for sufficient decomposition to 
take place to bring them to the top of the water. Even 
where a cannon is fired over a corpse, and it rises before 
at least five or six days' immersion, it sinks again, if 
let alone. Now, we ask, what was there in this case 
to cause a departure from the ordinary course of 
nature .^ ... If the body had been kept in its mangled 
state on shore until Tuesday night, some trace would 
be found on shore of the murderei*s. It is a doubtful 
point, ^o, whethe r the body would be so~sdon afloat, 
even were it thrown~iii' after havinglieeiiudeaiLlwo 
days. And, furthermore, it is exceedingly improbable 
that any villains who had committed such a murder as 
is here supposed, would have thrown the body in 
without weight to sink it, when such a precaution could 
have so easily been taken." 

The editor here proceeds to argue that the body 
must have been in the water ^^ not three days merely, 
but, at least, five times three days," because it was so 
far decomposed that Beauvais had great difficulty in 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGJfcT 133 

recognising it This latter pointy however, was fully 
disproved. I continue the translation : — 

^' What, then, are the facts on which M. Beauvais 
says that he has no doubt the body was that of Marie 
Roget? Ho ripped up the gown sleeve, and says he 
found marks which satisfied him of the identity. The 
public generally supposed those marks to have consisted 
of some description of scars. He rubbed the arm and 
found hair upon it — something as indefinite, we think, 
as can readily be imagined — as little conclusive as 
finding an arm in the sleeve. M. Beauvais did not 
return that night, but sent word to Madame Roget, at 
seven o'clock on Wednesday evening, that an investiga- 
tion was still in progress respecting her daughter. If 
we allow that Madame Roget, from her age and grief, 
could not go over (which is allowing a great deal), 
there certainly must have been some one who would 
have thought it worth while to go over and attend the 
investigation, if they thought the body was that of 
Marie. Nobody went over, lliere was nothing said 
or heard about the matter in the Rue Pavee St. 
Andree, that reached even the occupants of the same 
building. M. St. Eustache, the lover and intended 
husband of Marie, who boarded in her mother's house, 
deposes that he did not hear of the discovery of the 
body of his intended until the next morning, when 
M. Beauvais came into his chamber and told him of it. 
For an item of news like this, it strikes us it was very 
coolly received.*' 

In this way the journal endeavoured to create the 
impression of an apathy on the part of the relatives of 
Marie, inconsistent with the supposition that these 
relatives believed the corpse to be hers. Its insinua- 
tions amount to this — that Marie, with the connivance 
of her friends, had absented herself from the city for 
reasons involving a charge against her chastity ; and 
that these friends, upon the discovery of a corpse in 
the Seine, somewhat resembling that of the girl, had 
availed themselves of the opportunity to impress the 



134 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 

public With the belief of her death. But VEtoile was 
again over-hasty. It was distinctly proved that no 
apathy^ such as was imagined^ existed ; that the old 
lady was exceedingly feeble^ and so agitated as to be 
unable to attend to any duty; that St Eustache, so 
far from receiving the news coolly, was distracted with 
grief, and bore himself so frantically, that M. Beauvais 
prevailed upon a friend and relative to take charge of 
nim, and prevent his attending the examination at the 
disinterment Moreover, although it was stated by 
VEtoile that the corpse was reinterred at the public 
expense — that an advantageous offer of private sepul- 
ture was absolutely declined by the family — and that 
no member of the family attended the ceremonial — 
although, I say, all this was asserted by VEtoile in 
furtherance of the impression it designed to convey — 
yet all this was satisfactorily disproved. In a sub- 
sequent number of the paper an attempt was made to 
throw suspicion upon Beauvais himself. The editor 
says : — 

" Now, then, a change comes over the matter. We 

are told that, on one occasion, while a Madame B 

was at Madame Roget's house, M. Beauvais, who was 
going out, told her that a gendarme was expected there, 
and that she, Madame B., must not say anything to 
the gendarme until he returned, but let the matter be 
for him. ... In the present posture of affairs, M. 
Beauvais appears to have the whole matter locked up 
in his head. A single step cannot be taken without 
M. Beauvais ; for, go which way you will, you run 
against him. . . . For some reason, he determined 
that nobody shall have anything to do with the pro- 
ceedings but himself, and he )ias elbowed the male 
relatives out of the way, according to their representa- 
tions, in a very singular manner. He seems to have 
been very much averse to permitting the relatives to 
see the body." 

By the following fact, some colour was given to the 
suspicion thus thrown upon Beauvais. A visitor at his 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 136 

office^ a few days prior to the girl's disappearance^ 
and during the absence of its occupant^ had observed 
a rose in the keyhole of the door^ and the name 
'^ Marie" inscribed upon a slate which hung near at 
hand. 

The general impression, so far as we were enabled 
to glean it from the newspapers, seemed to be, that 
Mar ie had been the victim of a gang of desperadoes — 
thaT'by tKese she ha3~beeri borne across ' the river, 
maltreated and murdered. Le Commerciel,^ however, 
a print of extensive influence, was earnest in combating 
this popular idea. I quote a passage or two from its 
columns : — 

'' We are persuaded that pursuit has hitherto been 
on a false scent^ so far as it has been directed to the 
Barriere du Roule. It is impossible that a person so 
well known to thousands as this young woman was, 
should have passed three blocks without some one 
having seen her ; and any one who saw her would 
have remembered it, for she interested all who knew 
her. It was when the streets were full of people, when 
she went out ... it is impossible that she could have 
gone to the Barriere du Roule, or to the Rue des 
Dromes, without being recognised by a dozen persons ; 
et no one has come forward who saw her outside of 
ler mother's door, and there is no evidence, except 
the testimony concerning her expressed intentions, 
that she did go out at all. Her gown was torn, bound 
round her, and tied ; and by that the body was carried 
as a bundle. If the murder had been committed at 
the Barriere du Roule, there would have been no 
necessity for any such arrangement. The fact that 
the body was found floating near the Barriere, is no 
proof as to where it was thrown into the water. . . . 
A piece of one of the unfortunate girl's petticoats, 
two feet long and one foot wide, was torn out and tied 
under her chin around the back of her head, probably 

1 N. Y. Journal of Commerce. 



h( 



136 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE R0G6t 

to prevent screams. This was done by fellows who had 
no pocket-handkerchief." 

A day or two before the Prefect called upon us^ 
however^ some important information reached the 
police^ which seemed to overthrow^ at least, the chief 
portion of Le Commerciefs argument. Two small boys, 
sons of a Madame Deluc, while roaming among the 
woods near the Barriere du Roule^ chanced to penetrate 
a close thicket, within which were three or four large 
stones, forming a kind of seat, with a back and foot- 
stool. On the upper stone lay a white petticoat ; on 
the second a silk scarf. A parasol, gloves, and a 
pocket-handkerchief were also here found. The hand- 
kerchief bore the name '^ Marie Roget." Fragments 
of dress were discovered on the brambles around. The 
earth was trampled, the bushes were broken, and there 
was every evidence of a struggle. Between the thicket 
and tl^e river, the fences were found taken down, and 
the ground bore evidence of some heavy burden having 
been dragged along it. 

A weekly paper, Le Soleii,^ had the following com- 
ments upon this discovery — comments which merely 
echoed the sentiment of the whole Parisian press : — 

^^The things had all evidently been there at least 
three or four weeks; they were all mildewed down 
hard with the action of the rain, and stuck together 
from mildew. The grass had grown around and ov^r 
some of them. The silk on the parasol was strong, 
but the threads of it were run together within. The 
upper part, where it had been doubled and folded, was 
all mildewed and rotten, and tore on its being opened. 
. . . The pieces of her frock torn out by the bushes 
were about three inches wide and six inches long. 
One part was the hem of the frock, and it had been 
mended ; the other piece was part of the skirt, not the 
hem. They looked like strips torn off, and were on 
the thorn bush, about a foot from the ground. . . . 

1 Pha. Sat. Evening Post. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE R0G6t 137 

There can be no doubt^ therefore^ that the spot of jthis 
appallin^^iitragre_^h_as^^ 

Consequent upon this discovery, new evidence ap- 
peared. Madame Deluc testified that she keeps a 
roadside inn not far from the bank of the river, 
opposite the Barriere du Roule. The neighbourhood 
is secluded — particularly so. It is the usual Sunday 
resort of blackguards from the city, who cross the 
river in boats. About three o'clock, in the afternoon 
of the Sunday in question, a young girl arrived at the 
inn, accompanied by a young man of dark complexion. 
Tlie two remained here for some time. On their de- 
parture, they took the road to some thick woods in 
the vicinity. Madame Deluc's attention was called to 
the dress worn by the girl on account of its resemblance 
to one worn by a deceased relative. A scarf was 
particularly noticed. Soon after the departure of the 
couple, a gang of miscreants made their appearance, 
behaved boisterously, ate and drank without making 
payment, followed in the route of the young man and 
girl, returned to the inn about dusk, and rccrossed 
the river as if in great haste. 

It was soon after dark, upon this same evening, 
that Madame Deluc, as well as her eldest son, heard 
the screams of .a_female_in.the vicinity of the inn. 
The sfcreams were violent but brief. Madame D. 
recognised not only the scarf which was found in the 
thicket, but the dress which was discovered upon the 
corpse. An omnibus-driver. Valence,^ now also testified 
that he saw Marie Roget cross a ferry on the Seine, on 
the Sunday in question, in company with a young man 
of dark complexion. He, Valence, knew Marie, and 
could not be mistaken in her identity. The articles 
found in the thicket were fully identified by the 
relatives of Marie. 

The items of evidence and information thus collected 
by myself, from the newspapers, at the suggestion of 
Dupin, embraced only one more point — but this was a 

1 Adam. 



138 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGJfcT 

point of seemingly vast consequence. It appears that^ 
immediately after the jdiscovery of the clotnes as ahove 
descrilbed^ the Iffeless, or nearty^lifeTess body of St. 
£ustache7~Marie's betrothed^ was found in the vicinity 
of whalall now supposed the scene of the outrage. A 
phial labelled ^^laudanum/' and emptied^ was found 
near him. His breath gave evidence of the poison. 
He died without speaking. Upon his person was found 
a letter, briefly stating his love for Marie, with his 
design, of self-destruction. 

" I need scarcely tell you," said Dupin, as he finished 
the perusal of my notes, ^^that this is a far more 
intricate case than that of the Rue Morgue; from 
which it differs in one important respect. This is an 
ordinary, although an atrocious instance of crime. 
There is nothing peculiarly outre about it. You will 
observe that, for this reason, the mystery has been 
considered easy, when, for this reason, it should 
have been considered difficult of solution. Thus, at 
first, it was thought unnecessary to offer a reward. 
The myrmidons of G were able at once to compre- 
hend now and why such an atrocity might have been 
committed. They could picture to their imaginations 
a mode — many modes — and a motive — many motives ; 
and because it was not impossible that either of these 
numerous modes and motives could have been the actual 
one, they have taken it for granted that one of them 
must. But the ease with which these variable fancies 
were entertained, and the very plausibility which each 
assumed, should have been understood as indicative 
rather of the difficulties than of the facilities which 
must attend elucidation. I have before observed that 
it is by prominences above the plane of the ordinary, 
that reason feels her way, if at all, in her search for 
the true, and that the proper question in cases such as 
this, is not so much *what has occurred.^* as 'what 
has occurred that has never occurred before ? ' In the 
investigations at the house of Madame L'Espanaye,^ 
the agents of G were discouraged and confounded 

1 See "The Murders in the Rue Morgue." 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 139 

by that very unnsualness which^ to a properlyTegujated 
inteHect7~ would have afforded the surest omen of 
success; while this same intellect might have been 
plunged in despair at the ordinary character of all that 
met the eye in the case of the perfumery girl^ and yet 
told of nothing but easy triumph to the functionaries 
of the Prefecture. 

^'In the case of Madame L'Espanaye and her 
daughter^ there was^ even at the beginning of our 
investigation^ no doubt that murder had been com- 
mitted. The idea of suicide was excluded at once. 
Here^ too^ we are freed^ at the commencement^ from 
alljiupposition of self-murder. The body found at 
the Barriere du Roule, was found under such circum- 
stances as to leave us no room for embarrassment upon 
this important point. But it has been_suggested that 
the corpse discovered is not that oT the Marie Roget 
for the conviction of whose assassin^ or assassins^ the 
reward is offered^ and respecting whom, solely^ our 
agreement has been arranged with the Prefect. We 
both know this gentleman well. It will not do to 
trust him too far. If, dating our inquiries from the 
body found, and thence tracing a murderer, we yet 
discover this body to be that of some other individual 
than Marie ; or if, starting from the living Marie, we 
find her, yet find her unassassinated — in either case we 

lose our labour ; since it is Monsieur G with whom 

we have to deal. For our own purpose, therefore, if 
not for the purpose of justice, it is indispensable that our 
first step should be the determination of the identity 
of the corpse with the Marie Roget who is missing. 

'^VYith the public the arguments of VEtoile have 
had weight ; and that the journal itself is convinced of 
their importance would appear from the manner in 
which it commences one of its essays upon the subject : 
' Several of the morning papers of the day,' it says, 
'speak of the conclusive article in Monday's Etoile,* 
To me, this article appears conclusive of little beyond 
the zeal of its inditer. We should hear in mind that, 
in general, it is the object of our newspapers rather to 



140 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGlfcT 

creat&A.sensation — to make a point — than to further 
the cause of truth. The latter end is onlypursued 
when it seems coincident with the former. The print 
which merely falls in with ordinary opinion (however 
well-founded this opinion may he) earns for itself no 
credit with the moh. The mass of the people regard 
as profound only him who suggests pungent contradic- 
tions of the general idea. In ratiocination^ not less 
than in literature^ it is the epigram which is the most 
immediately and the most univei*8ally appreciated. In 
hoth^ it is of the lowest order of merit. 

'^What I mean to say is, that it is the min^^led 
epigram and melodrame of the idea that MarieHoget 
still lives, rather than any true plaiisihility in this idea^ 
which have suggested it to VEtoile, and secured it a 
favourable reception with the public. Let us examine 
the heads of this journal's argument; endeavouring 
to avoid the incoherence with which it is originally 
set forth. 

''The first aim of the writer is to show, from the 
brevity of the interval between Marie's disappearance 
and the finding of the floating corpse^ that this corpse 
cannot be that of Marie. The reduction of this interval 
to its smallest possible dimension^ becomes thus, at 
once, an object with the reasoner. In the rash pursuit 
of this object, he rushes into mere assumption at the 
outset 'It is folly to suppose,' he says, 'that the 
murder, if murder was committed on her body, could 
have been consummated soon enough to have enabled 
her murderers to throw the body into the river before 
midnight' We demand at once, and very naturally, 
why? Why is it folly to suppose that the murder was 
committed within five minutes after the girl's quitting 
her mother's house? Why is it folly to suppose that 
the murder was committed at any given period of the 
day? There have been assassinations at all hours. 
But, had the murder taken place at any moment 
between nine o'clock in the morning of Sunday, and a 
quarter before midnight, there would still have been 
time enough ' to throw the body into the river before 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGIjT 141- 

midnight.' This assumption^ then^ amounts precisely 
to this — that the murder was not committed on Sunday 
at all — and, if we allow L'Etoile to assume this, we 
may permit it any liherties whatever. The paragraph 
beginning ^ It is folly to suppose that the murder,' &c., 
however it appears as printed in L*Etoile, may be 
imagined to have existed actually thus in the brain of 
its inditer : ' It is folly to suppose that the murder, if 
murder was committed on the body, could have been 
committed soon enough to have enabled her murderers 
to throw the body into the river before midnight ; it is 
folly, we say, to suppose all this, and to suppose at the 
same time (as we are resolved to suppose), that the 
body was not thrown in until after midnight' — a 
sentence sufficiently inconsequential in itself, but not 
so utterly preposterous as the one printed. 

" Were it my purpose," continued Dupin, " merely 
to make out a case against this passage of L*Etoile*s 
argument, I might safely le<ive it where it is. It is 
not, however, with VEtoile that we have to do, but 
with the truth. The sentence in question has but one 
meaning, as it stands ; and this meaning I have fairly 
stated : but it is material that we go behind the mere 
words for an idea which these words h<ive obviously in- 
tended, and failed to convey. It was the design of the 
journalist to say that, at whatever period of the day or 
night of Sunday this murder was committed, it was 
improbable that the assassins would have ventured to 
bear the corpse to the river before midnight. And 
herein lies, really, the assumption of which I complain. 
It is assumed that the murder was committed at such 
a position, and under such circumstances that the hear- 
ing it to the river became necessary. Now, the assas- 
sination might have taken place upon the river's brink, 
or on the river itself; and, thus, the throwing the 
corpse in the water might have been resorted to, at any 
period of the day or night, as the most obvious and 
most immediate mode of disposal. You will under- 
stand that I suggest nothing here as probable, or as 
coincident with my own opinion. My design, so far. 



142 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET 

has no reference to the facts of the case. I wish merely 
to caution you against the whole tone of VEtoiles 
suggestion^ hy calliug your attention to its ex parte 
character at the outset 

^^ Having prescribed thus a limit to suit its own pre- 
conceived notions ; having assumed that^ if this were 
the body of Marie^ it could have been in the water but 
a very brief time ; the journal goes on to say : — 

" ' All experience has shown that drowned bodies^ or 
bodies thrown into the water immediately after death 
by violence, require from six to ten days for sufficient 
decomposition to take place to bring them to the top of 
the water. Even when a cannon is fired over a corpse^ 
and it rises before at least five or six days' immersion^ 
it sinks again if let alone.' 

^^ These assertions have been tacitly received by every 
paper in Paris^ with the exception of Le Monitmr,^ 
This latter print endeavours to combat that portion of 
the paragraph which has reference to ' drowned bodies ' 
only^ by citing some five or six instances in which the 
bodies of individuals known to be Browned were found 
floating after the lapse of less time than is insisted upon 
by VEtoile, But there is something excessively un- 
philosophical in the attempt on the part of Le Moniteur, 
to rebut the general assertion of L'Etoile, by a citation 
of particular instances militating against that assertion. 
Had it been possible to adduce fifty instead of five 
examples of bodies found floating at the end«of two or 
three days^ these fifty examples could still have been 
properly regarded only as exceptions to L'EtoUe's rule^ 
until such time as the rule itself should be confuted. 
Admitting the rule (and this Le Moniteur does not deny^ 
insisting merely upon its exceptions)^ the argument of 
L'Etoile b sufifered to remain in full force; for this 
argument does not pretend to involve more than a 

Suestion of the probability of the body having risen to 
le surface in less than three days ; and this probability 

1 The N. Y. (hmmercial Advertiser, 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROG^T 143 

will be in favour of VEtoile*s position until the instances 
so childishly adduced shall be sufficient in number to 
establish an antagonistical rule. 

" You will see at once that all argument upon this 
head should be urged, if at all, against the rule itself, 
and for this end we must examine the rationale of the 
rule. Now the human body, in general, is neither 
much lighter nor much heavier that the water of the 
Seine ; that is to say, the specific gravity of the human 
body, in its natural condition, is about equal to the 
bulk of fresh water which it displaces. The bodies of 
fat and fleshy pei*sons, with small bones, and of women 
generally, are lighter than those of the lean and large- 
boned, and of men ; and the specific gravity of the 
water of a river is somewhat influenced by the presence 
of the tide from sea. But, leaving this tide out of the 
question, it may be said that very few human bodies 
will sink at all, even in fresh water, of their own accord. 
Almost any one, falling into a river, will be enabled to 
float, if he suffer the specific gravity of the water fairly to 
be adduced in comparison with his own — that is to say, if 
he suffer his whole person to be immersed with as little 
exception as possible. The proper position for one who 
cannot swim, is the upright position of the walker on 
land, with the head thrown fully back, and immersed ; the 
mouth and nostrils alone remaining above the surface. 
Thus circumstanced, we shall find that we float without 
difficulty and without exertion. It is evident, however, 
that the gravities of the body, and of the bulk of water 
displaced, are very nicely balanced, and that a trifle 
will cause either to preponderate. An arm, for instance, 
uplifted from the water, and thus deprived of its sup- 
port, is an additional weight sufficient to immerse the 
whole head, while the accidental aid of the smallest 
piece of timber will enable us to elevate the head so as 
to look about - Now, in the struggles of one unused to 
swimming, the arms are invariably thrown upwards, 
while an attempt is made to keep the head in its usual 
perpendicular position. The result is the immersion 
of the mouth and nostrils, and the inception, during 



144 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET 

efforts to breathe while beneath the surface^ of water 
into the lungs. Much is also received into the stomach, 
and the whole body becomes heavier by the difference 
between the weight of the air originally distending 
these cavities^ and that of the fluid which now fills 
them. This difference is sufficient to cause the body 
to sink, as a general rule ; but it is insufficient in the 
cases of individuals with small bones and an abnormal 
quantity of flaccid or fatty matter. Such individuals 
float even after drowning. 

"The corpse, being supposed at the bottom of the 
river, will there remain until, by some means, its 
specific gravity again becomes less than that of the 
bulk of water which it displaces. This effect is brought 
about by decomposition, or otherwise. The result of 
decomposition is the generation of gas, distending the 
cellular' tissues and all the cavities, and giving the 
puffed appearaiice which is so )H)rril)le. When this 
distension has so far progressed that the bulk of the 
corpse is materially increased without a corresponding 
increase of mass or weight, its specific gravity becomes 
less than that of the water displaced, and it forthwith 
makes its appearance at the surface. But decomposi- 
tion is modified by innumerable circumstances — is 
hastened or retarded by innumerable agencies; for 
example, by the heat or cold of the season, by the 
mineral impregnation or purity of the water, by its 
depth or shallowness, by its currency or stagnation, 
by the temperament of the body, bv its infection or 
freedom from disease before death. Thus it is evident 
that we can assign no period, with anything like 
accuracy, at which the corpse shall rise through de- 
composition. Under certain conditions this result 
would be brought about within an hour ; under others, 
it might not take place at all. There are chemical 
infusions by which the animal frame can be preserved 
/or ever from corruption ; the bi-chloride of mercury 
is one. But, apart from decomposition, there may be, 
and very usually is, generation of gas within the 
siDomach, from the acetous fermentation of vegetable 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGtT 146 

matter (or within other cavities from other causes) 
sufficient to induce a distension which will hring the < 
hody to the surface. The effect produced hy the firing 
of a cannon is that of simple vibration. This may 
either loosen the corpse from the soft mud or ooze in 
which it is embedded^ thus permitting it to rise when 
other agencies have already prepared it for so doing ; 
or it may overcome the tenacity of some putrescent 
portions of the cellular tissue^ allowing the cavities 
to distend under the influence of the gas. 

*' Having thus before us the whole philosophy of 
this subject^ we can easily test by it the assertions of 
VEtoile. 'All experience shows/ says this paper^ 
' that drowned bodies^ or bodies thrown into the water 
immediately after death by violence, require from six 
to ten days for sufficient decomposition to take place 
to bring them to the top of the water. Even when a 
cannon is fired over a corpse, and it rises before at 
least five or six days' immersion, it sinks again if let 
alone.' 

''The whole of this paragraph must now appear a 
tissue of inconsequence and incoherence. All experi- 
ence does not show tli.it ' drowned bodies' require from 
six to ten days for sufficient decomposition to take 
place to bring them to the surface. Both science and 
experience show that the period of their rising is, and 
necessarily must be, indeterminate. If, moreover, a 
body has risen to the surface through firing of cannon, 
it will 720^ ' sink again if let alone,' until decomposition 
has so far progressed as to permit the escape of the 
generated gas. But I wish to call your attention to 
the distinction which is made between 'drowned 
bodies,' and 'bodies thrown into the water invmedi- 
ately after death by violence.' Although the writer 
admits the distinction, he yet includes them all in the 
same category. I have shqwxi how jJLijJkhatJthe body 
of a drowning mainbecbmes specifically heavier than 
its biilk of water, and that he would nof sinlTat all, 
except for the struggles by which he elevates his arms 
above the surface, and his gasps for breath while 



146 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGifcT 

beneath the surface — gasps which supply by water the 
place of the original air in the lungs. But these 
struggles and these gasps would not occur in the body 
^thrown into the water immediately after death by 
violence.' Thus^ in the latter instance^ the body, as a 
general rule, would not sink at all — a fact-of which 
VEtoile is evidently ignorant When decomposition 
had proceeded to a very great extent — when the flesh 
had in a great measure left the bones — then^ indeed, 
but not till then^ should we lose sight of the corpse. 

" And now what are we to make of the argument^ 
that the body found could not be that of Marie Roget^ 
because three days only having elapsed^ the body was 
found floating? If drowned^ being a woman^ she 
might never have sunk ; or having sunk^ might have 
reappeared in twenty-four hours^ or less. But no one 
supposes her to have been drowned ; and^ dying before 
being thrown into the river^ she might have been found 
floating at any period afterwards whatever. 

^* * But,' says VEtoile, ' if the body had been kept in 
its mangled state on shore until Tuesday night, some 
trace would be found on shore of the murderers.' 
Here it is at first difficult to perceive the intention of 
the reasoner. He means to anticipate what he imagines 
would be an objection to his tneory — viz., that the 
body was kept on shore two days, suffering rapid de- 
composition — more rapid than if immersed in water. 
He supposes that, had this been the case, it might have 
appeared at the surface on the ^Vednesday, and thinks 
tnat only under such circumstances it could so have 
appeared. He is accordingly in haste to show that it 
was not kept on shore ; for, if so, ' some trace would 
be found on shore of the murderers.' I presume you 
smile at the sequitur. You cannot be made to see how 
the mere duration of the corpse on the shore could 
operate to"9}iu//t/)/2/ traces of the assassins. Nor can I. 

" ' And furthermore, it is exceedingly improbable,' 
continues our journal, 'that any villains who had 
committed such a murder as is here supposed, would 
have thrown the body in without weight to sink it. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROG^T 147 

when such a precaution could have so easily been 
taken.' Observe^ here^ the laughable confusion of 
thought ! No one — not even VEtoUe — disputes the 
murder committed on tlie body found. The marks of 
violence are too obvious. It is our reasoner's object 
merely to show that this body is not Marie's. He 
wishes to prove that Marie is not assassinated — not 
that the corpse was not. Yet his observation proves 
only the latter point. Here is a corpse without weight 
attached. Murderers, casting it in, would not have 
failed to attach a weight Therefore it wasnot thrown 
in by murderers. This is all which"ls proved, if 
anything is. The question of identity is not even 
approached, and VEtoUe has been at great pains merely 
to gainsay now what it has admitted only a moment 
before, 'We are perfectly convinced,' it says, 'that 
the body found was that of the murdered female.' 

''Nor is this the sole instance, even in this division 
of his subject, where our reasoner unwittingly reasons 
against himself. His evident ob'ect, I have already 
said, is to reduce, as much as possible, the interval 
between Marie's disappearance and the finding of the 
corpse. Yet we find him urging the point that no 
person saw the girl from the moment of her leaving 
her mother's house. ' We have no evidence,' he says, 
'that Marie Roget was in the land of the living after 
nine o'clock on Sunday, June the 22nd.' As his 
argument is obviously an ex parte one, he should, 
at least, have left this matter out of sight; for had 
any one been known to see Marie, say on Monday, or 
on Tuesday, the interval in question would have been 
much reduced, and, by his own ratiocination, the 
probability much diminished of the corpse being that 
of the grisette. It is, nevertheless, amusing to observe 
that VEtoUe insists upon its point in the full belief of 
its furthering its general argument. 

" Reperuse now that portion of this argument which 
has reference to the identification of the corpse by 
Beauvais. In regard to the hair upon the arm, UEtoile 
has been obviously disingenuous. M. Beauvais, not 



148 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGJfcT 

being an idiot, could never have urged^ in identifi- 
cajiou-pf. the corpse, simply hair upon its arm. No 
arm is wtthouiHi&ir, The generaiity of the expression 
of VEtoile 18 a mere perversion of the witness's phrase- 
ology. He must have spoken of some peculiarity in 
this hair. It must have been a peculiarity of colour^ 
of quantity^ of lengthy or of situation. 

"'Her foot/ says the journal, 'was small — so are 
thousands of feet. Her garter is no proof whatever — 
nor is her shoe — for shoes and garters are sold in 
packages. The same may be said of the flowers in her 
hat. One thing upon which M. Beauvais strongly 
insists is, that the clasp on the garter found had been 
set back to take it in. This amounts to nothing ; for 
most women find it proper to take a pair of garters 
home and fit them to the size of the limbs they are to 
encircle, rather than to try them in the store where 
they purchase.' Here it is difficult to suppose the 
reasoner in earnest Had M. Ueauvais, in iiis search 
for the body of Marie, discovered a corpse correspond- 
ing in general size and appearance to the missing girl, 
he would have been warranted (without reference to 
the question of habiliment at all) in forming an opinion 
that his search had been successful. If, in addition 
to the point of general size and contour, he had found 
upon the arm a peculiar hairy appearance which he 
had observed upon the living Marie, his opinion might 
have been justly strengthened ; and the increase of 
positiveness might well have been in the ratio of the 
peculiarity, or unusualness, of the hairy mark. If, the 
feet of Marie being small, those of the corpse were 
also small, the increase of probability that the body 
was that of Marie would not be an increase in a ratio 
merely arithmetical, but in one highly geometrical, or 
accumulative. Add to all this, shoes such as she had 
been known to wear upon the day of her disappearance, 
and, although these shoes may be ' sold in packages,' 
you so far augment the probability as to verge upon 
the certain. What, of itself, would be no evidence of 
identity, becomes through its corroborative position. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGJfeT 149 

proof most sure. Give us^ then^ flowers in the hat 
corresponding to those worn by the missing girl^ and 
we seek for nothing further. If only one flower, we 
seek for nothing further — what then if two or three, 
or more } Each successive one is multiple evidence — 
proof not added to proof, but mvUtiplied by hundreds or 
thousands. Let . us Jiow discover, upon the deceased, 
garters such as the living used, and it is almost folly 
to proceed. But these garters are found to be 
tightened, by the setting back of a clasp, in just 
such a manner as her own had been tightened by 
Marie shortly previous to her leaving home. It is 
now madness or hypocrisy to doubt. What VEtoile 
says in respect to this abbreviation of the garters 
being an usual occurrence, shows nothing beyond its 
own pertinacity in error. The elastic nature of the 
clasp-garter is self-demonstration of the unusual- 
ness of the abbreviation. AVhat is made to adjust 
itself, must of necessity require foreign adjustment 
but rarely. It must have been by an accident, in 
its strictest sense, that these garters of Marie needed 
the tightening described. They alone would have 
amply established her identity. But it is not that the 
corpse was found to have the garters of the missing 
girl, or found to have her shoes, or lier bonnet, or the 
flowers of her bonnet, or her feet, or a peculiar mark 
upon the arm, or her general size and appearance — it 
is that the corpse had each and all collectively. Could 
it be proved that the editor oi^ VEtoile really enter- 
tained a doubt, under the circumstances, there would 
be no need, in his ca^e, of a commission de lunatico 
inquirendo. He has thought it sagacious to echo the 
small-talk of the lawyers, who^ for the most part, 
content themselves with echoing the rectangular pre- 
cepts of the courts. I would here observe that very 
much of what is rejected as evidence by a court, is the 
best of evidence to the intellect. For the court, 
guiding itself by the general principles of evidence — 
tlie recognised and booked principles — is averse from 
swerving at particular instances. And this steadfast 



150 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 

adherence to principle^ with rigorous disregard of the 
conflicting exception^ is a sure mode of attaining the 
maonmum of attainable truths in any long sequence of 
time. The practice^ en masse, is therefore philosophical ; 
but it is not the less certain that it engenders vast in- 
dividual error. ^ 

*' In respect to the insinuations levelled at Beauyais^ 

}rou will be willing to dismiss them in a breath. You 
lave already fathomed the true character of this good 
gentleman. He is a busybody , with muchjof romance 
and little of wit: "Any one so constituted will readily 
so conduct himself^ upon occasion of real excitement^ 
as to render himself liable to suspicion on the part of 
the over-acute^ or the ill-disposed. M. Beauvais (as it 
appears from your notes) had some personal interviews 
with the editor of L Etoile, and offended him by 
venturing an opinion that the corpse^ notwithstanding 
the theory of the editor, was^ in sober fact^ that of 
Marie. ^He persists,' says the paper, 'in asserting 
the corpse to be that of Marie, but cannot give a 
circumstance, in addition to those which we have com- 
mented upon, to make others believe.' Now, without 
readverting to the fact that stronger evidence 'to 
make others believe,' could never have been adduced, 
it may be remarked that a man may very well be 
understood to believe, in a case of this kind, without 
the ability to advance a single reason for the belief of 
a second party. Nothing is more vague than impres- 
sions of individual identity. Each man recognises his 
neighbour, yet there are few instances in which any one 
is prepared to give a reason for his recognition. The 

1 " A theory based on the qualities of an object, will prevent 
its being unfolded according to its objects; and he who 
arranges topics in reference to their causas, will cease to 
value them aocording to their results. Thus the jurisprudence 
of every nation will show that, when law becomes a science 
and a svstem, it ceases to be justice. The errors into which a 
blind devotion to principleB of classification has led the 
common law, will be seen by observing how often the leg^ 
lature has been obliged to come forward to restore the equity 
its scheme had lost"— Landob. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE R0G6T 161 

editor of VEtoUe had no right to he offended at M. 
Beauvais' unreasoning belief. 

*' The suspicious circumstances which invest him will 
be found to tally much better with my hypothesis of 
romantic husybodyism, than with the reasoner's sugges- 
tion of guilt. Once adopting the more charitable 
interpretation^ we shall find no difHculty in compre- 
hending the rose in the keyhole; the 'Marie' upon 
the slate ; the ' elbowing the male relatives out of the 
way*; the 'aversion to permitting them to see the 

body ' ; the caution given to Madame B , that she 

must hold no conversation with the gendarme until his 
return (Beauvais'); and, lastly, his apparent deter- 
mination 'that nobody should have anything to do 
with the proceedings except himself.' It seems to mc 
unquestionable that Beauvais was a suitor of Marie's ; 
that she coquetted with him ; and that he was ambitious 
of being thought to enjoy her fullest intimacy and 
confidence. I shall say nothing more upon this point ; 
and, as the evidence fully rebuts the assertion of 
VEtoUe y touching the matter of ajnithy on the part of 
the mother and other relatives — an apathy inconsistent 
with the supposition of their believing the corpse to be 
that of the perfumery girl — we shall now proceed as if 
the question of identity were settled to our perfect 
satisfaction." 

"And what," I here demanded, "do you think of 
the opinions of Zc Commercielf* 

"That, in spirit, they are far more worthy of atten- 
tion than any which have been promulgated upon the 
subject. The deductions from the premises are philo- 
sophical and acute ; but the premises, in two instances 
at least, are founded in imperfect observation. Le 
Commerciel wishes to intimate that Marie was seized by 
some gang of low rufHans not far from her mother's 
door. 'It is impossible,' it urges, Uhat a person so 
well known to thousands as this young woman was, 
should have passed three blocks without some one 
having seen ner.' This is the idea of a man long 
resident in Paris — a public man — and one whose walks 



162 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfiT 

to and fro in the city have been mostly limited to the 
vicinity of the public offices. He is aware that he 
seldom passes so far as a dozen blocks from his own 
bureau^ without being recognised and accosted. And, 
knowing the extent of his personal acquaintance with 
others, and of othera with him, he compares his 
notoriety with that of the perfumery girl, finds no 
great difference between them, and reaches at once 
the conclusion that she^ in her w alka^jrottld. be equally 
liable to recognition with himself in his. This could 
only bethecase were her walks of the same unvarying, 
methodical character, and within the same species of 
limited region as are his own. "He passes to and fro, 
at regular intervals, within a confined periphery, 
abounding in individuals who are led to observation of 
his person through interest in the kindred nature of 
his occupation with their own. But the walks of Marie 
may, in general, be supposed discursive, hi this 
particular insUmce, it will be understood as most 
probable, that she proceeded upon a route of more 
than average diversity from her accustomed ones. The 
parallel which we imagine to have existed in the mind 
of Le Commerciel would only be sustained in the event 
of the two individuals traversing the whole city. In 
this case, granting the personal acquaintances to be 
equal, the chances would be also equal that an eoual 
number of personal rencounters would be made. For 
my own part, I should hold it not only as possible, but 
as very far more than probable, that Marie mifi^ht have 
proceeded, at any given period, by any one of the many 
routes between her own residence and that of her aunt, 
without meeting a single individual whom she knew, 
or by whom she was known. In viewing this question 
in its full and proper light, we must hold steadily in 
mind the great disproportion between the personal 
acquaintances of even the most noted individual in 
Paris, and the entire population of Paris itself. 

^'But whatever force there may still appear to be 
in the suggestion of Le Commerciel, will be much 
diminished when we take into consideration the hour 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 153 

at which the firl went abroad. 'It was when the 
streets were full of people^' says Le Commerciei, ' that 
she went out' But not so. It was at nine o'clock in 
the morning. Now at nine o'clock of every morning 
in the week^ with the exception of Sunday, the streets of 
the city are^ it is true, thronged with people. At nine 
on Sunday, the populace are chiefly within doors pre- 
paring for church. No observing person can have failed 
to notice the peculiarly deserted air of the town, from 
about eight until ten on the morning of every Sabbath. 
Between ten and eleven the streets are thronged, but 
not at 80 eiirly a period as that designated. 

''There is another point at which there seems a 
deficiency of observation on the part of Le Commerciei. 
'A piece,' it says, 'of one of the unfortunate girl's 
petticoats, two feet long, and one foot wide, was torn 
out and tied under her chin, and around the back of 
her head, probably to prevent screams. This was done 
by fellows who had no pocket-handkerchiefs.' Whether 
this idea is, or is not well founded, we will endeavour 
to see hereafter ; but by 'fellows who have no pocket- 
handkerchiefs,' the editor intends the lowest class of 
rufhans. These, however, are the very description of 
people who will always be found to have handkerchiefs 
even when destitute of shirts. You must have had 
occasion to observe how absolutely indispensable, of 
late years, to the thorough blackguard, nas become 
the pocket-handkerchief.'' 

"And what are we to think," 1 asked, "of the 
article in Le Soleilf*' 

"That it is a vast pity its inditer was not born a 
parrot — in which case he would have been the most 
illustrious parrot of his race. He has merely repeated 
the individual items of the already published opinion ; 
collecting them, with a laudable industry, from this 
paper and from that. 'The things had all evidently 
been there,' he says, ' at least three or four weeks, and 
there can be no doubt that the spot of this appalling 
outrage lias been discovered.* The facts here re-stated 
by Le Soieil, are very far indeed from removing my 



154 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROG^T 

own doubts upon this subject^ and we will examine 
them more particularly hereafter in connection with 
another division of the theme. 

" At present we must occupy ourselves with other 
investigations. You cannot fail to have remarked the 
extreme laxity of the examination of the corpse. To 
be sure the question of identity was readily determined, 
or should have been ; but there were other points to 
be ascertained. Had Jhe body been in any respect 
despoiled f Had the'%ceased any articles of jewellery 
about her person upon leaving home? if so^ had she 
any when found? These are important questions 
utterly untouched by t)ie evidence; and there are 
others of equal moment^ which have met with no 
attention. We must endeavour to satisfy ourselves by 
personal inquiry. The case of St Eustache must be 
reexamined. I have no suspicion of this person ; but 
let us proceed methodically. We will ascertain 
beyond a doubt tbe validity of the affidavits in regard 
to his whereabouts on the Sunday. Affidavits of this 
character are readily made matter of mystification. 
Should there be nothing wrong here^ however^ we will 
dismiss St Eustache from our investigations. His 
suicide^ however corroborative of suspicion^ were 
there found to be deceit in the affidavits, is^ without 
such deceit^ in no respect an unaccountable circum- 
stance, or one which need cause us to deflect from the 
line of ordinary analysis. 

" In that which I now propose, we will discard the 
interior points of this tragedy, and concentrate our 
attention upon its outskirts, ^ot the least usual error, 
in investigations such as this, is the limiting of inquiry 
< to the immediate, with total disregard of the collateral 
or circumstantial events. It is the malpractice of the 
courts to confine evidence and discussion to the bounds 
of apparent relevancy. Yet experience has shown, and 
a true philosophy will always show^ that a vast, perhaps 
the larger portion of truth, arises from.tfie1seemingly 
irrelevant. It is through the spirit of this principle, 
if not precisely through its letter, that modern science 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGKT 155 

resolved to calctilate upon, the ur\foreseen. But perhaps 
you do not comprehend me. The history of human 
knowledge has so uninterruptedly shown that to col- 
lateral^ or incidentiil^ or accidental events we are 
indebted for the most numerous and most valuable 
discoveries^ that it has at length become necessary^ in 
any prospective view of improvement, to make not only 
large, but the largest allowances for inventions that 
shall arise by chance, and quite out of the range of 
ordinary expectation. It is no longer philosophical to 
base, upon what h<is been, a vision of what is to be. 
Accident is admitted as a portion of the substructure. 
We make chance a matter of absolute calculation. 
We subject the unlooked-for and unimagined, to the 
mathematical formulaB of the schools. 

''1 repeat that it is no more than fact, that the 
larger portion of all truth has sprung from the col- 
lateral ; and it is but in accordance with the spirit of 
the principle involved in this fact, that I would divert 
inquiry, in the present case, from the trodden and 
hitherto unfruitful ground of the event itself, to the 
cotemporary circumstances which surround it While 
you ascerUiin the validity of the affidavits, I will 
examine the newspapers more generally than you have 
as yet done. So far, we have only reconnoitred the 
field of investigation ; but it will be strange indeed if 
a comprehensive survey, such as I propose, of the 
public prints, will not afford us some minute points 
which shall establish a direction for inquiry." 

In pursuance of Dupin's suggestions, I made scrupu- 
lous examination of the affair of the affidavits. The 
result was a firm conviction of their validity, and of 
the consequent innocence of St. Eustache. In the 
meantime my friend occupied himself, with what 
seemed to me a minuteness altogether objectless, in 
a scrutiny of the various newspaper files. At the end 
of a week he placed before me the following extracts : — 

^' About three years and a half ago, a disturbance 
very similar to the present was caused by the dis- 



166 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROG6t 

appearance of this same Marie Roget^ from the par- 
/umerie of Monsieur Le Blanc in the Palais Royal. 
At the end of a week, however, she reappeared 
at her customary comptoir, as well as ever, with the 
exception of a slight paleness not altogether usual. 
It was given out hy Monsieur Le Blanc and her 
mother, that she had merely been on a visit to 
some friend in the country; and the affair was 
speedily hushed up. We presume that the present 
absence is a freak of the same nature, and that, at 
the expiration of a week, or perhaps of a month, 
we shall have her among us again." — Evening Paper, 
Monday, June 23.^ 

'* An evening journal of yesterday, refers to a former 
mysterious disappearance of Mademoiselle Roget It 
is well known that, during the week of her absence 
from Le Blanc's par/umerie, she was in the company of 
a young naval officer, much noted for his debaucheries. 
A quarrel, it is supposed, providentially led to her 
return home. We have the name of the Lothario in 
question, who is, at present, stationed in Parish but, 
for obvious reasons, forbear to make it public." — Le 
Mercurie, Tuesday Morning, June 24. ^ 

^^An outrage of the most atrocious character was 
perpetrated near this city the day before yesterday. A 
gentleman, with his wife and daughter, engaged about 
dusk the services of six young men, who were idly rowing 
a boat to and fro near the banks of the Seine, to convey 
him across the river. Upon reaching the opposite 
shore, the three passengers stepped out, and had pro- 
ceeded so far as to be beyond the view of the bout, 
when the daughter discovered that she had left in it 
her parasoL She returned for it, was seized by the 
gang, carried out into the stream, gagged, brutally 
treated, and finally taken to the shore at a point not 
far from that at which she had originally entered the 
boat with her parents. The villains have escaped for 
the time, but the police are upon their trail, and 

1 JSr, y. JSxpress. a N. Y. Herald. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE R0G£:T 167 

some of them will soon be taken." — Morning Paper, 
June 26.1 

'* We have received one or two communications^ the 
object of which is to fasten the crime of the late 
atrocity upon Mennais;^ but as this gentleman has 
been fully exonerated by a legal inquiry^ and as the 
arguments of our several correspondents appear to be 
more zealous than profound^ we do not think it 
advisable to make them public." — Morning Paper, 
June 28.3 

'*We have received several forcibly written com- 
munications^ apparently from various sources^ and 
which go far to render it a matter of certainty that the 
unfortunateMarle Roget- has become a victim of one 
of the numerous bai^ds of blackguards which infest the 
vicinity of the city ^pon Sunday. Our own opinion is 
decidedly in favoui* of this supposition. We shall 
endeavour to make! room for some of these arguments 
hereafter." — Evening Paper, June 30.* 

'^On Monday, one of the bargemen connected with 
the revenue service, saw an empty boat floating down 
the Seine. Sails were lying in the bottom of the boat. ' 
The bargemen towed it under the barge oflfice. The 
next morning it was taken from thence, without the 
knowledge of any of the officers. The rudder is now at 
the barge office.' — Le Diligence, Thursday, June 26.^ 

Upon reading these various extracts, they not only 
seemed to me irrelevant, but I could perceive no mode 
in which any one of them could be brought to bear 
upon the matter in hand. I waited for some explana- 
tion from Dupin. 

^' It is not my present design," he said, " to dwell 
upon the first and second of these extracts. I have 

^ iV. Y. Courier and Inquirer, 

> Mennais was one of the parties originally suspected and 
arrested, but discharged through total lack of evidence. 
' JV. Y. Courier and Inquirer. 
< N. Y. Evening Pott. 
6 N. Y. Standard. 



158 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeP 

copied them chiefly to show you the extreme re- 
missness of the police^ who^ as far as I can understand 
from the Prefect, have not troubled themselves, in any 
respect, with an examination of the naval officer 
alluded to. Yet it is mere folly to say that between 
the first and second disappearance of Marie, there is 
no supposable connection. Let us admit the first elope- 
ment to have resulted in a quarrel between the lovers, 
and the return home of the betrayed. We are now 
prepared to view a second elopement (if we know that 
an elopement has again taken place) as indicating a 
renewal of the betrayer's advances, rather than as the 
result of new proposals by a second individual — we are 
prepared to regard it as a 'making up' of the old 
amour, rather than as the commencement of a new one. 
The chances are ten to one, that he who had once 
eloped with Marie, would again propose an elopement, 
rather than that she to whom proposals of elopement 
had been made by one individual, should have them 
made to her by another. And here let me call your 
attention to the fact, that the time elapsing between 
the first ascertained, and the second supposed elope- 
ment, is a few months more than the general period 
of the cruises of our men-of-war. Had the lover been 
interrupted in his first villainy by the necessity of 
departure to sea, and had he seized the first moment 
of his return to renew the base designs not yet altogether 
accomplished-— oi: not yet altogether accomplished by 
him ? Of all these things we know nothing. 

'^ You will say, however, that, in the second instance, 
there was no elopement as imagined. Certainly not — 
but are we prepared to say that there was not the 
frustrated design ? Beyond St Eustache, and perhaps 
Beauvais, we find no recognised, no open, no honour- 
able suitors of Marie. Of none other is there anything 
said. Who, then, is the secret lover, of whom the 
relatives (at least most of them) know nothing, but 
whom Marie meets upon the morning of Sunday, and 
who is so deeply in her confidence, that she hesitates 
not to remain with him until the shades of the evening 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 169 

descend, amid the solitary groves of the Barriere du 
Roule ? Who is that secret lover, I ask, of whom, at 
least, most of the relatives know nothing? And what 
means the singular prophecy of Madame Roget on the 
morning of Marie's departure — *1 fear that I shall 
never see Marie again ' ? 

" But if we cannot imagine Madame Roget privy to 
the design of elopement, may we not at least suppose 
this design entertained hy the girl? Upon quitting 
home, she gave it to be understood that sne was about 
to visit her aunt in the Rue des Dromes, and St. 
Eustache was reuuested to call for her at dark. Now, 
at first glance, this fact strongly militates against my 
suggestion; but let us reflect. That she did meet 
some companion, and proceed with him across the 
river, reaching the Barriere du Roule at so late an 
hour as three o'clock in the afternoon, is known. But 
in consenting so to accompany this individual (/or 
whatever purpose — to her mother known or unknown), 
she must have thought of her expressed intention when 
leaving home, and of the surprise and suspicion aroused 
in the bosom of her affianced suitor, St. Eustache, 
when, calling for her at the hour appointed, in the 
Rue des Dromes, he should find that she had not been 
there, and when, moreover, upon returning to the 
pension with this alarming intelligence, he should 
become aware of her continued absence from home. 
She must have thought of these things, I say. She 
must have foreseen the chagrin of St. Eustache, the 
suspicion of all. She could not have thought of return- 
ing to brave this suspicion ; but the suspicion becomes 
a point of trivial importance to her, if.jEfi_suppo.se. her 
not intending to return. 

''We may imagine her thinking thus — 'I am to 
meet a certain person for the purpose of elopement, or 
for certain other purposes known only to myself. It 
is necessary that there be no chance of interruption — 
there must be sufficient time given us to elude pursuit 
— I will give it to be understood that I shall visit and 
spend the day with my aunt at the Rue des Dromes — 



160 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGJfeT 

I will tell St Eustache not to call for me until dark — 
in this yra,y, my absence from homo for the longest 
possible period^ without causing* suspicion or anxiety^ 
will be accounted for^ and I shall gain more time than 
in any other manner. If I bid St. Eustache call for 
me at dark, he will be sure not to call before ; but^ if 
I wholly neglect to bid him call^ my time for escape 
will be diminished^ since it will be expected that I 
return the earlier, and my absence will the sooner 
excite anxiety. Now, if it were my design to return 
at all — if I had in contemplation merely a stroll with 
the individual in question — it would not be my policy 
to bid St. Eustache call ; for, calling he will be sure to 
ascertain that I have played him false — a fact of which 
I might keep him for ever in ignorance, by leaving 
home without notifying him of my intention, by 
returning before dark, and by then stating that I had 
been to visit my aunt in the Rue des Dromes. But, as 
it iq jny-design never to return — or not for some weeks 
— or not until certain concealments are effected — the 
gaining of time is the only point about which I need 
give myself any concern.* 

" Yoii have observed, in your notes, that the most 

f general opinion in relation to this sad affair is, and was 
rom the first, that the girl had been the victim of a 
gang of blackguards. Now, the popular opinion, under 
certain conditions, is not to be disregarded. When 
arising of itself — when manifesting itself in a strictly 
spontaneous manner — we should look upon it as 
analogous with that intuition which is the idiosyncnisy 
of the individual man of genius. In ninety-nine cases 
from the hundred I would abide by its decision. But 
it is important that we find no palpable traces of 
suggestion. The opinion must be rigorously the public's 
own ; and the distinction is often exceedingly difficult 
to perceive and to maintain. In the present instance, 
it appears to me that this ^ public opinion,', in respect 
to a gang^ has. been, superinduced by the collateral 
everit'wliich is detailed in the thirfl of my extracts. 
All Paris is excited by the discovered corpse of Marie, 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROG^ 161 

a girl youngs beautiful^ and notorious. This corpse is 
founds bearing marks of violence^ and floating in the 
river. But it is now made known that, at the very 
|>eriod, or about the very period, in which it is supposed 
that the girl was assassinated, an outrage similar in 
nature to that endured by the deceased, although less 
in extent, was perpetrated, by a gang of young ruffians, 
upon the person of a second young ^male. Is it 
wonderful that the one known atrocity should influence 
the popular judgment in regard to the other unknown ? 
This judgment awaited direction, and the known out- 
rage seemed so opportunely to afford it ? Marie, too, 
was found in the river ; and upon this very river was 
this known outrage committed. The connection of the 
two events had about it so much of the palpable, that 
the true wonder would have been a failure of the 
populace to appreciate and to seize it. But, in fact, 
the one atrocity, known ^o be sp_ committed, is^ if 
anythiiig, evideiice that the oilier, committed ai a time 
nearlv coincident, was not so commftted.~lt- would 
have been a miracle indeed, if, while a g<ing of ruffians 
were |)eri)ctratiiig,at a given locality, a most unheard-of 
wrong, there should have been another similar gang, 
in a similar locality, in the same city, under the same 
circumstances, with the same means and appliances, 
engaged in a wrong of precisely the same aspect, at 
precisely the same period of time ! Yet in what, if 
not in this marvellous train of coincidence, does the 
accidentally suggested opinion of the populace call upon 
us to believe ? 

*^ Before proceeding farther, let us consider the 
supposed scene oLtheassjissination, in the thicket at 
the Barrle're dii itoule. This thicket, although dense, 
was iii the close vicinity of a public road. Within 
were three or four large stones, forming a kind of seat, 
with a back and footstool. On the upper stone was 
discovered a white petticoat; on the second, a silk 
scarf. A parasol, gloves, and a ])ocket-handkerchief, 
were also here found. The handkerchief bore the 
name, * Marie Roget' Fragments of dress were seen 

If 



162 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROG^ 

on the branches around. The earth was trampled, the 
bushes were broken, and there was every evidence of a 
violent struggle. 

^^Notwithstanding the acclamation with which the 
discovery of this thicket was received by the press, and 
the unanimity with which it was supposed to indicate 
the precise scene of the outrage, it must be admitted 
that there was some very good reason for doubt That 
it U2g«_the. scene,.! may or 1 may not believe — but there 
was excellent reason for doubt. Had the true scene 
been, as Le Cammerciel suggested, in the neighbourhood 
of the Rue Pavee St Andree, the perpetrators of the 
crime, supposing them still resident in Paris, would 
naturally have been stricken with terror at the public 
attention thus acutely directed into the proper channel ; 
and, in certain classes of minds, there would have 
arisen, at once, a sense of the necessitv of some exer- 
tion to redivert this attention. And thus, the thicket 
of the Barriere du lloule having been already suspected, 
the idea of placing the articles where they were found, 
might have been naturally entertained. There is no 
real evidence, although Le Soleil so supposes, that the 
articles discovered had been more than a very few days 
in the thicket ; while there is much circumstantial 
proof that they could not have remained there, without 
attracting attention, during the twenty days elapsing 
between the fatal Sunday and the afternoon upon 
which they were found by the boys. ^ They were all 
mildewed down hard,' says Le Soleil, adopting the 
opinions of its predecessors, ' with the action of the 
rain, and stuck together from mildew. The grass had 
grown around and over some of them. The silk of the 
parasol was strong, but the threads of it were run 
together within. The upper part, where it had been 
doubled and folded, was all mildewed and rotten, and 
tore on being opened.' In respect to the grass having 
'grown around and over some of them,' it is obvious 
that the fact could only have been ascertained from 
the words, and thus from the recollections, of two 
small boys; for these boys removed the articles and 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGJfcT 163 

took them home before they had been seen by a third 
party. But grass will grow^ especially in warm and 
damp weather (such as was that of the period of the 
murder)^ as much as two or three inches in a single 
day. A parasol lying upon a newly turfed ground^ 
mighty in a single week^ be entirely concealed from 
sight by the upspringing grass. And touching that 
mildew upon which the editor of Le Soleil so pertina- 
ciously insists that he employs the word no less than 
three times in the brief paragraph just quoted^ is he 
really unaware of the nature of this mildew? Is he to 
be told that it is one of ^he^many.classes of fungus, of 
which the most ordinary feature is its upspringing and 
decadence within twenty-four hours ? 

'^Thus we see, at a glance, that what has been most 
triumphantly adduced in support of the idea that the 
articles had been ' for at least three or four weeks ' in 
the thicket, is most absurdly null as regards any 
evidence of that fact. On the other hand, it is ex- 
ceedingly difficult to believe th<it these articles could 
have remained in the thicket specified, for a longer 
period than a single week — for a longer period than 
from one Sunday to the next. Those who know 
anything of tlie vicinity of Paris, know the ex- 
treme difficulty of finding seclusion unless at a great 
distance from its suburbs. Such a thing as an un- 
explored, or even an unfrequently visited recess, amid 
its woods or groves, is not for a moment to be imagined. 
Let any one who, being at heart a lover of nature, is 
yet chained by duty to tlie dust and heat of this great 
metropolis — let any such one attempt, even during the 
week-days, to slake his thirst for solitude amid the 
scenes of natural loveliness which immediately sur- 
round us. At every second step, he will find the 
growing charm dispelled by the voice and personal 
intrusion of some ruffian or party of carousing black- 
guards. He will seek privacy amid the densest foliage, 
all in vain. Here are the very nooks where the un- 
washed most abound — here are the temples most 
desecrate. With sickness of the heart tlie wanderer 



164 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 

will flee back to the polluted Paris as to a less odious 
liecause less incongruous sink of pollution. But if the 
vicinity of the city is so beset during the working days 
of the week^ how much more so on the Sabbath ! It 
IS now especially that^ released from the claims of 
labour^ or deprived of the customary opportunities of 
crime^ the town blackguard seeks the precincts of the 
town, not through love of the rural, which in his heart 
he despises, but by way of escape from the restraints 
and conventionalities of society. He desires less the 
fresh air and the green trees, than the utter license of 
the country. Here, at the roadside inn, or beneath 
the foliage of the woods, he indulges, unchecked by 
any eye except those of his boon companions, in all 
the mad excess of a counterfeit hilarity — the joint 
offispring of liberty and of rum. I say nothing more 
ith^ii-what. must dq obvious to every dispassionate 
observer, when I repeat that the circumstance of the 
articles in question naving remained undiscovered, for 
a longer period than from one Sunday to another, in 
any thicket in the immediate neighbourhood of Paris^ 
is to be looked upon as little less than miraculous. 

'* But there are not wanting other grounds for the 
suspicion that the articles were placed in the thicket 
witn the view of diverting attention from the real 
scene of the outrager And^ lirst, let me direct your 
notic^"~to— khe-t/ate of the discovery of the articles. 
Collate this with the date of the iifth extract made 
by myself from the newspapers. You will find that 
the discovery followed, almost immediately, the urgent 
communications sent to the evening paper. These 
communications, although various, and apparently 
from various sources, tended all to the same point 
— viz., the directing of attention to a gang as the 
perpetrators of the outrage, and to the neighbourhood 
of the Barriere du Roule as its scene. Now here, of 
course, the suspicion is nut that, in consequence of 
these communications, or of the public attention by 
them directed, the articles were lound by the boys; 
but the suspicion might and may well have been, that 



THE MYSTEllY OF MARIE ROGjfeX 165 

the articles were uot before found by the boys^ for 
the reasou that the articles had not before been in 
the thicket; having been deposited there only at so 
late a period as at the date^ or shortly prior to the 
date of the communications^ by the guilty authors of 
these communications themselves. 

^^This thicket was a singular — an exceedingly 
singular one. It was unusually dense. Within ite 
naturally walled enclosure were three extraordinary 
stones^ forming a seat with a hack and footstool. And 
this thicket^ so full of a natural art^ was in the 
immediate vicinity^ toithin a few rods, of the dwelling 
of Madame Deluc^ whose boys were in the habit of 
closely examining the shrubberies about them in search 
of the bark of the sassiifras. Would it be a rash 
wager — a wager of one thousand to one — that a day 
never passed over the heads of these boys without find- 
ing at least one of them ensconced in the umbrageous 
hall^ and enthroned upon its natural throne? Those 
who would hesitate at such a wager^ have either never 
been boys themselves^ or have forgotten the boyish 
nature. I repeat — it is exceedingly hard to compre- 
hend how the articles could have remained in this 
thicket^ undiscovered^ for a longer period than one 
or two days ; and that thus there is good ground for 
suspicion^ in spite of the dogmatic ignorance of Le 
Soleil, that they were^ at a comparatively late date, 
deposited where found. 

^^ But there are still other and stronger reasons for 
believing them so deposited^ than any which I have 
as yet urged. And now, let me beg your notice to 
the highly artificial arrangement of the articles. On 
the upper stone lay a white petticoat ; on the second a 
silk scarf; "BCittered around, were a parasol; gloves, 
and a pocket-handkercliief bearing the name> ^ Marie 
Roget. Here is just such an arrangement as would 
naturally be made by a not over acute person wishing 
to dispose the articles naturally. But it is by no means 
a really natural arrangement. I should rather have 
looked to see the things all lying on the ground and 



166 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE R0G6T 

trampled under foot. In the narrow limits of that 
bower^ it would have been scarcely possible that the 
petticoat and scarf should have retained a position 
upon the stones^ when subjected to the brushing to 
and fro of manv struggling persons. 'There was 
evidence^' it is said, ^ of a struggle ; and the earth was 
trampled^ the bushes were broken ' — but the petticoat 
and scarf are found deposited as if upon shelves. ' The 
pieces of the frock torn out by the bushes were about 
three inches wide and six inches long. One part was 
the hem of the frock^ and it had been mended. They 
looked like strips torn off* Here, inadvertently, Le 
Soleil has employed an exceedingly suspicious phrase. 
The pi eces, as d escribed. -da- indeed. i. look „like strips 
torn off' ; but purposely and by hand. It is one of 
the rarest of accidents that a piece is 'torn off,' from 
any garment such as is now in question, by thQ agency 
qf a thorn. From the very nature of such fabrics, 
a thorn or nail becoming entangled in them, tears 
them rectangularly — divides them into two longitudinal 
rents, at right angles with each other, and meeting at 
an apex wnere the thorn enters — but it is scarcely 
possible to conceive the piece 'torn off.' I never so 
Knew it, nor did you. lo tear a piece (>^from such 
fabric, two distinct forces, in different directions, will 
be, in almost every cose, required. If there be two 
edges to the fabric — if, for example, it be a pocket- 
handkerchief, and it is desired to tear from it a slip, 
then, and then only will the one force serve the 
purpose. But in the present case the question is of 
a dress, presenting but one edge. To tear a piece 
from the interior, where no edge is presented, could 
only be effected by a miracle through the agency of 
thorns, and no one thorn could accomplish it. But^ 
even where an edge is presented, two thorns will be 
necessary, operating, the one in two distinct directions, 
and the other in one. And this in the supposition 
that the edge is unhemmed. If hemmed, the matter 
is nearly out of the question. We thus see the 
numerous and great obstacles in the way of pieces 



I 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 167 

being ' torn off' through the simple agency of 'thorns ' ; 
et we are required to believe not only that one piece 
lut that many have been so torn. 'And one part/ 
too, ' was the hem of the frock * I Another piece was 
'part of the skirt, not the hem' — that is to say, was 
torn completely out throjjgh the _agency of thorns^ 
from the uuedged interior of the dress I These, I say, 
are things which one may well be pardoned for dis- 
believing ; yet, taken collectedly, they form, perhaps, 
less of reasonable ground for suspicion, than the one 
startling circumstance of the articles having been left 
in this tliicket at all, by any murderers who had enough 
precaution to think of removing the corpse. You will 
not have apprehended me rightly, however, if you 
suppose it my design to deny this thicket as the scene 
of the outrage. There might have been a wrong here, 
or, more possibly, an accident at Madame Deluc's. 
But, in fact, this is a part of minor importance. We 
are not engaged in an attempt to discover the scene, 
but to produce the perpetrators of the murder. What 
I have adduced, notwithstanding the minuteness with 
which I have adduced it, has been with the view, first, 
to show the folly of the positive and headlong asser- 
tions of Le Soleil, but secondly and chiefly, to bring 
you, by the most natural route, to a further con- 
templation of the doubt whether this assassination has, 
or has not, been the work of a gang. 

We will resume this question by mere allusion to the 
revolting details of the surgeon examined at the inquest 
It is only necessary to say that his published inferences, 
in regard to the number of the ruffians, have been 
properly ridiculed as unjust and totally baseless, by all 
the reputable anatomists of Paris. Not that the matter 
might not have been as inferred, but that there M'as no 
ground for the inference — was there not much for 
another? 

'' Let us reflect now upon ' the traces of a struggle * ; 
and let me ask what these traces have been supposed 
to demonstrate. A gang. But do they not rather 
demonstrate the absence of a gang? W hat st ruggle 



168 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGET 

could have taken place— what strugg^le so violent and 
60 ensuring as to' jiaVe left its ^traces' in all directions 
— between a weak and defenceless girl and the gang 
of rufiaoaimagined ? The silent grasp of a few rough 
arms and all would have been over^ the victim must 
have been absolutely passive at their will. You will 
here bear in mind that the arguments urged against 
the thicket as the scene^ are applicable^ in chief part^ 
only against it as the scene of an outrage committed 
by more than a single individual. If we imagine but 
one violator^ we can conceive^ and thus only conceive^ 
the struggle of so violent and so obstinate a nature as 
to have left the ^ traces' apparent. 

*^ And again. I have already mentioned the suspicion 
to be excited by the fact that the articles in question 
were suffered to remain at all in the thicket where 
discovered. It seems almost impossible that these 
evidences of guilt should have been accidentally left 
where found. There was sufficient presence of mind 
(it is supposed) to remove the corpse ; and yet a more 
positive evidence than the corpse itself (whose features 
might have been quickly obliterated by decay)^ is 
allowed to lie conspicuously in the scene of the outrage 
— I allude to the handkerchief with the name of the 
deceased. If this was accident^ it was not the accident 
o/a gang. We can imagine it only the accident of an 
individual. Let us see. An individual has committed 
the murder. He is alone with the ghost of the 
departed. He is appalled by what lies motionless 
before him. The fury of his passion is over^ and there 
is abundant room in his heart for the natural awe of 
the deed. His is none of that confidence which the 
presence of numbers inevitably inspires. He is alone 
with the dead. He trembles and is bewildered. Yet 
there is a necessity for disposing of the corpse. He 
bears it to the river^ but leaves behind him the other 
evidences of guilt ; for it is difficulty if not impossible 
to carry all the burden at once^ and it will be easy to 
return for what is left But in his toilsomejourney to 
the water his fears redouble within him. The sounds 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROG^T 169 

of life encompass his path. A dozen times he hears or 
fancies the step of an observer. Even the very lights 
from the city bewilder him. Yet, in time, and by long 
and frequent pauses of deep agoiiy^ he reaches the 
river's brink^ and disposes of his ghastly charge — 
perhaps through the medium of a boat. But now what 
treasure does the world hold — what threat of vengeance 
could it hold out — which would have power to urge the 
return of that lonely murderer over that toilsome and 
perilous path^ to the thicket and its blood-chilling 
recollections? He returns not, let the consequences 
be what they may. He could not return if he would. 
His sole thought is immediate escape. He turns his 
back /or ever upon those dreadful shrubberies^ and flees 
as from the wrath to come. 

" But how with a gang ? ITieir number would have 
inspired them with confidence ; if, indeed^ confidence 
is ever wanting in the breast of the arrant blackguard ; 
and of arrant blackguards alone are the supposed gangs 
ever constituted. Their number^ I say, would have 
prevented the bewildering and unreasoning terror 
which I have imagined to paralyse the single man. 
Could we suppose an oversight in one, or two, or three, 
this oversight would have been remedied by a fourth. 
They would have left nothing behind them ; for their 
number would have enabled them to carry ail at once. 
There would have been no need of return. 

" Consider now the ciitsumstance that, in the outer 
garment of the corpse when found, 'a slip, about a 
foot wide, had been torn upward from the bottom hem 
to the waist, wound three times round the waist, and 
secured by a sort of hitch in the back.' This was done 
with the obvious design of affording a handle by which 
to carry the body. But would any number of men 
have dreamed of resorting to such an expedient? To 
three or four, the limbs of the corpse would have 
afforded not only a sufficient, but the best possible 
hold. The device is that of a single individual ; and 
this brings us to the fact that ^between the thicket 
and the river, the rails of the fences were found taken 



170 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfiT 

down^ and the ground bore evident traces of some 
heavy burden having been dragged along it' ! But 
would a number of men have put themselves to the 
superfluous trouble of taking down a fence^ for the 
purpose of dragging through it a corpse which they 
might have lifted over any fence in an instant? Would 
a number of men have so dragged a corpse at all as to 
have left evident traces of the dragging ? 

*^ And here we must refer to an observation of Le 
Cammerciel; an observation upon which I have already^ 
in some measure^ commented. ^A piece^' says this 
journal^ ^of one of the unfortunate girl's petticoats 
was torn out and tied under her chin^ and around the 
back of her head^ probably to prevent screams. This 
was done by fellows who had no pocket-handkerchiefs.' 

^^ I have before suggested that a genuine blackguard 
is never without a pocket-handkerchief. But it is not 
to this fact tliat I now especially advert That it was 
not through want of a handkerchief for the purpose 
imagined by Le Commerciel, that this bandage was 
employed^ is rendered apparent by the handkerchief 
left in the thicket ; and that the object was not ^ to 

Erevent screams' appears^ also^ from the bandage 
aving been employed in preference to what would so 
much better have answered the purpose. But the 
language of the evidence speaks of the strip in question 
as ^ found around the neck^ fitting loosely, and secured 
with a hard knot' These words are sufficiently vague^ 
but differ materially from those of Le Commerciel, The 
slip was eighteen inches wide, and therefore, although 
of muslin, would form a strong band when folded or 
rumpled longitudinally. And thus rumpled it was 
discovered. My inference is this. The solitary mur- 
derer, having borne the corpse, for some distance 
(whether from the thicket or elsewhere), by means of 
the bandage hitched around its middle, found the 
weight, in this mode of procedure, too much for his 
strength. He resolved to drag the burthen — the evi- 
dence g^es to show that it was dragged. With this 
object in view, it became necessary to attach something 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfeT 171 

like a rope to one of the extremities. It could be 
best attached about the neck^ where the head would 
prevent it slippin^i^ off. And now the murderer be* 
thought him^ unquestionably^ of the bandage about the 
loins. He would have used this^ but for Its volution 
about the corpse^ the hitch which embarrassed it, and 
the reflection that it had not been 'torn off' from the 
garment. It was easier to tear a new slip from the 
petticoat. He tore it^ made it fast about the neck, 
and so dragged his victim to the brink of the river. 
That this ' bandage^' only attainable with trouble and 
delay, and but imperfectly answering its purpose — that 
this bandage was employed at all, demonstrates that 
the necessity for its employment sprang from circum- 
stances arising at a period when the handkerchief was 
no longer attainable — that is to say, arising, as we 
have imagined, after quitting the thicket (if the 
thicket it was), and on the road between the thicket 
and the river. 

'* But the evidence, you will say, of Madame Deluc ( !) 
points especially to the presence of a gang, in the vici- 
nity of the thicket, at or about the epoch of the 
murder, lliis I grant I doubt if there were not a 
dozen gangs, such as described by Madame Deluc, in 
and about the vicinity of the Barricre du Roule at or 
about the period of this tragedy. But the gang which 
has drawn upon itself the pointed animadversion, 
although the somewhat tardy and very suspicious 
evidence of Madame Deluc, is the only gang which 
is represented by that honest and scrupulous old lady 
as having eaten her cakes and swallowed her brandy, 
without putting themselves to the trouble of making 
her payment. Et hinc ilia tree f 

" But what is the precise evidence of Madame Deluc ? 
'A gang of miscreants made their appearance, behaved 
boisterously, ate and drank without making payment, 
followed in the route of the young man and girl, re- 
turned to the inn about dusk, and recrossed the river 
as if in great haste. ' 

**Now this 'great haste' very possibly seemed 



172 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfiT 

greater haste in the eyes of Madame Deluc^ since she 
dwelt liug^ering^ly and lamentingly upon her viohited 
cakes and ale — cakes and ale for which she might still 
have entertained a faint hope of compensation. Why^ 
otherwise^ since it was abotU dask^ should she make a 
point of the haste? It is no cause for wonder^ surely^ 
that even a gang of blackguards should make haste 
to get home^ when a wide river is to be crossed in 
small boats^ when storm impends^ and when night 
approaches, 

" I say approaches ; for the night had not yet arrived. 
It was only about dusk that the indecent haste of these 
' miscreants ' offended the sober eyes of Madame Deluc. 
But we are told that it was upon this very evening 
that Madame Deluc^ as well as her eldest son^ ' heard 
the screams of a female in the vicinity of the inn.' 
And in^hafwords does Madame Deluc designate the 

}>eriod of the evening at which these screams were 
leard ? It was ^ soon after dark,* she says. But ^ soon 
after dark/ is at 'least" cfar/r; and * about dusk' is as 
oertainlv daylight Thus it is abundantly clear that the 
gang quittied the Barriere du Roule prior to the screams 
overheard (?) by Madame Deluc. And although^ in 
all the -many reports of the evidence^ the relative 
expressions in question are distinctly and invariably 
emploved just as I have employed them in this con- 
versation with yourself^ no notice whatever of the 
gross discrepancy has^ as yet^ been taken by any of 
the public journals^ or by any of the myrmidons of 
police. 

^^ I shall add but one to the arguments against a 
gang ; but this one has^ to my own understanding at 
least, a weight altogether irresistible. Under the cir- 
cumstances of large reward offered^ and full pardon 
to any king's evidence, it is not to be imagined, for a 
moment, that some member of a gang of low ruffians, 
or of any body of men, would not long ago have 
betrayed his accomplices. £ach~i)ne_of a. gang so 
placed is not so much_ greedy of reward, or anxious 
for 'CS^Lpe^aTftia^JvJqf betrayal. He betrays eagerly 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfiT 173 

and early that he may not himself he betrayed. That 
the secret has not heen divulged^ is the very best of 
proof that it is, in fact, a secret The horrors of this 
dark deed are known only to one^ or two, living human 
henigs, and to God. 

" Let us sum up now the meagre yet certain fruits 
of our long analysis. We have attained the idea 
either of a fatal accident under the roof of Madame 
Deluc, or of a murder perpetrated, in the thicket at 
the Barriere du Roule, by a lover, or at least by an 
intimate and secret associate of the deceased. This 
associate is of swarthy complexion. This complexion, 
the * hitch ' in the bandage, and the * sailor's knot* with 
which the bonnet-ribbon is tied, point to a seaman. 
His companionship with the deceased, a gay, but not 
an abject young girl, designates him as above the 
grade of the common sailor. Here the well-written 
and urgent communications to the journals are much 
in the way of corroboration. The circumstance of 
the first elopement, as mentioned by Le Merctirie, 
tends to blend the idea of this seaman with that of the 
'naval officer' who is first known to have led the 
unfortunate into crime. 

'*And here, most fitly, comes the consideration of 
the continued absence of him of the dark complexion. 
Let me pause to observe that the complexion of this 
man is dark and swarthy ; it was no common swarthi- 
ness which constituted the sole point of remembrance, 
both as regards Valence and Madame Deluc. But why^ 
is this man absent.^ Was he murdered by the gang? 
If so, why are there only traces of the assassinated 
girl ? The scene of the two outrages will naturallybe 
supposed identical. And where is his corpse.^ The 
assassins would most probably have disposed of both in 
the same way. But it may be said that this man lives, 
and is deterred from making himself known, through*' 
dread of being charged with the murder. This con- 
sideration might be supposed to operate upon him now 
— fit this late period — since it has been given in 
evidence that he was seen with Marie — but it would. 



174 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGftT 

hav^ had no force at the period of the deed. The first 
impulse of an innocent man would have heen to 
announce the outrage^ and to aid in identifying the 
ruffians. Thls^ policy would liave suggested. lie had 
been seen with the girl. He had crossed the river 
with her in an open ferry-boat. The denouncing of 
the assassins would have appeared^ even to an idiot, 
the surest and sole means of relieving himself from 
suspicion. We cannot suppose him, on the night of 
the fatal Sunday, both innocent himself and incog- 
nisant of an outrage committed. Yet only under such 
circumstances is it possible to imagine that he would 
have failed, if alive, in the denouncement of the 



^'And what means are ours of attaining the truth? 
We shall And these means multiplying and gathering 
distinctness as we proceed. Let us sift to the bottom 
this affair of the first elopement. I^t us know the full 
liistory of ^the oflicer,' with his present circumstances, 
and his .whereabouts at the precise period of the 
murder. Let us carefully compare with each other 
the various communications sent to the evening paper, 
in which the object was to inculpate a gang. This 
<lone, let us compare these communications, both as 
regards style and MS., with those sent to the morning 
paper, at a previous period, and insisting so vehe- 
mently upon the guilt of Mennais. And, all this 
done, let us again compare these various communi- 
cations with the known MSS. of the officer. Let us 
endeavour to ascertain, by repeated questionings of 
Madame Deluc and her boys, as well as of the omnibus- 
driver, Valence, something more of the personal appear- 
ance and bearing of the ^man of dark complexion.' 
Queries, skilfully directed, will not fail to elicit, from 
some of these parties, information on this particular 
point (or upon others) — information which the parties 
themselves may not even be aware of possessing. And 
let us now trace the boat picked up by the bargeman on 
the morning of Monday the 2.3rd of June, and which 
was removed from the barge-office, without the cogni- 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGftT 176 

sance of the officer in attendance^ and without the 
rudder, at some period prior to the discovery of the 
corpse. With a proper caution and perseverance wo 
shall infallibly trace this boat ; for not only can the 
bargeman who picked it up identify it, but the rudder 
is at hand. The rudder qf a sail-boat would not have 
been abandoned, without inquiry, by one altogether at 
ease in heart And here let me pause to insinuate a 
question. Tliere was no advertisement of the picking 
up of this boat. It was silently taken to the barge- 
office, and as silently removed. But its owner or 
employer — how happened he, at so early a period as 
Tuesday morning, to be informed, without the agency 
of advertisement, of the locality of the boat taken up 
on Monday, unless we imagine some connection witn 
the navy — some personal permanent connection leading 
to'co^nisance of its minute interests — its petty local 
newsr 

''In speaking of the lonely assassin dragging his 
burden to the shore, I have already suggested the 
probability of his availing himself of a boat. Now we 
are to understind that IVlario Uogct ivas precipitated 
from a boat. This would naturally have been the case. 
The corpse could not have been trusted to the shallow 
waters of the shore. The peculiar marks on the back 
and shoulders of the victim tell of the bottom ribs of a 
boat. That the body was found without weight is also 
corroborative of the idea. If thrown from the shore 
a weight would have been attached. We can only 
account for its absence by supposing the murderer to 
have neglected the precaution of supplying himself 
with it before pushing off. In the act of consigning 
the corpse to the water, he would unquestionably have 
noticed his oversight ; but then no remedy would have 
been at hand. Any risk would have been preferred to 
a return to that accursed shore. Having rid himself 
of his ghastly charge, the murderer would have 
hastened to the city. There, at some obscure wharf, 
he would have leaped on land. But the boat — would 
he have secured it.^ He would have been in too great 



176 THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfiT 

haste for such things as securing a hoat. Moreover^ 
in fastening it to the wharf^ he would have felt as 
if securing evidence against himself. His natural 
thought would have heen to cast from him^ as far as 
possible^ all that had held connection with his crime. 
He would not only have fled from the wharf, but he 
would not have permitted the hont to remain. Assuredly 
he would have cast it adrift. Let us ])ui*sue our 
fancies. In the morning, the wretch is stricken with 
unutterable horror at finding that the boat has been 
picked up and detained at a locality which he is in the 
daily habit of frequenting — at a locality, perhaps, which 
his duty compels him to frequent. The next night, 
without daring to ask for the rudder^ he removes it. 
Now where is that rudderless boat? Let it be one of 
our first purposes to discover. With the first glimpse 
we obtain of it, the dawn of our success shall begin. 
This boat shall guide us, with a rapidity which will 
surprise even ourselves, to him who employed it in the 
midnight of the fatal Sabbath. Corroboration will rise 
upon corroboration, and the murderer will be traced." 

[For reasons which we shall not specify, but which 
to many readers will appear obvious, we have taken the 
liberty of here omitting, from the MSS. placed in our 
hands, such portion as details the following up of the 
apparently slight clew obtained bv Dupin. We feel it 
advisable only to state, in brief, that tne result desired 
was brought to pass ; and that the Prefect fulfilled 
punctually, although with reluctance, the terms of his 
compact with the Chevalier. Mr, Poe's article con- 
cludes with the following words, — Eds,^"] 

It will be understood that I speak of coincidence and 
no more. What I have said above upon this topic must 
suffice. In my own heart there dwells no faith in 
pra)ter-nature. That Nature and its God are two, no 
man who thinks will deny. That the latter, creating 

1 Of the magazine in which the article was originally pab> 
lished. 



THE MYSTERY OF MARIE ROGfJT 177 

the former, can, at will, control or modify it, is all un- 
questionable. I say '^ at will" ; for the question is of 
will, and not, as the insanity of logic has assumed, of 
power. It is not that the Deity cannot modify His 
laws, but that we insult Him in imagining a possible 
necessity for modification. In their origin these laws 
were fashioned to embrace all contingencies which 
could lie in the Future. With God all is Now, 

I repeat, then, that I speak of these things only as 
of coincidences. And further : in what I relate it will 
be seen that between the fate of the unhappy Marie 
Cecilia Rogers, so far as that fate is known, and the 
fate of one Marie Roget up to a certain epoch in her 
history, there has existed a parallel in the contempla- 
tion of whose wonderful exactitude the reason becomes 
embarrassed. I say all this will be seen. But let it 
not for a moment be supposed that, in proceeding with 
the sad narrative of Marie from the epoch just men- 
tioned, and in tracing to its denouement the mystery 
which enshrouded her, it is my covert design to hint 
at an extension of the parallel, or even to suggest 
that the measures adopted in Paris for the discovery 
of the assassin of a grisette, or measures founded in 
any similar ratiocination, would produce any similar 
result. 

For, in respect to the latter branch of the supposition, 
it should be considered that the most trifling variation 
in the facts of the two cases might give rise to the 
most important miscalculations, by diverting thoroughly 
the two courses of events ; very much as, in arithmetic, 
an error which, in its own individuality, may be inap- 
preciable, produces, at length, by dint of multiplication 
at all points of the process, a result enormously at 
variance with truth. And, in regard to the former 
branch, we must not fail to hold in view that the very 
Calculus of Probabilities to which I have referred, 
forbids all idea of the extension of the parallel — 
forbids it with a positiveness strong and decided just 
in proportion as this parallel has already been long- 
drawn and exact. This is one of those anomalous pro- 



178 THE PURLOINED LETTER 

positions which^ seemingly appealing to thought al- 
together apart from the mathematical^ is yet one which 
omy the mathematician can fully entertain. Nothing, 
for example^ is more difficult than to convince the 
merely general reader that the fact of sixes having 
heen thrown twice in succession hy a player at dice> 
is sufficient cause for betting the largest odds that sixes 
will not be thrown in the third attempt. A suggestion 
to this effect is usually rejected by the intellect at 
once. It does not appear that the two throws which 
have been completed^ and which lie now absolutely in 
the Past^ can have influence upon the throw which 
exists only in the Future. The chance for throwing 
sixes seems to be precisely as it was at any ordinary 
time — that is to say^ subject only to the influence of the 
various other throws which may be made by the dice. 
And this is a reflection which appears so exceedingly 
obvious that attempts to controvert it are received 
more frequently with a derisive smile than with any- 
thing like respectful attention. The error here in- 
volved — a gross error redolent of mischief— I cannot 
pretend to expose within the limits assigned me at 
present; and with the philosophical it needs no ex- 
posure. It may be sufficient here to say that it forms 
one of an infinite series of mistakes which arise in the 
path of Reason through her propensity for seeking 
truth in detail. 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 

'* Nil sapientisd odiosius acumine nimio."— Seneca. 

At Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the 
autumn of 18 — , I was enjoying the twofold luxury of 
meditation and a meerschaum, in company with my 
friend, C. Auguste Dupin, in his little back library or 
book-closet, au troisihne, No. 83 Rue Dunot, Faubourg 
St. Germain. For one hour at least we had maintained 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 179 

a profound silence; while each^ to any casual ob- 
server^ might have seemed intently and exclusively 
occupied with the curling eddies of smoke that op- 
pressed 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 evening ; I mean the affair of the 
Rue Morgue^ and the mystery attending the murder of 
Marie Roget. I looked upon it^ therefore^ as some- 
thing of a coincidence^ when the door of our apartment 
was thrown open and admitted our old acquaintance, 
Monsieur G , the Prefect of the Parisian police. 

We gave him a hearty welcome ; for tnere was 
nearly half as much of the entertaining as of the con- 
temptible about the man^ and we had not seen him for 
several years. We had been sitting in the dark^ and 
Dupiu now arose for the purpose of lighting a lamp, 
but sat down affaiu^ 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 ho forbore 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 } " 1 asked. " No- 
thing 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 Diipin would like to hear the details of 
it, because it is so excessively odd," 

" Simple and odd," said Dupin. 

" Why, yes ; and not exactly that, either. The 



180 THE PURLOINED LETTER 

fact is^ we have all been a good deal puzzled because 
the affair is so simple^ and yet baffl^ us altogether." 

''Perhaps it is the very simplicity of the thing 
which puts you at fault/' said mv friend. 

*' What nonsense you do talk I" replied the Prefect, 
laughing heartily. 

''Perhaps the mystery is a little too plain/' said 
Dupin. 

" Oh, good heavens ! who ever heard of such an 
idea?" 

"A little too self-evident" 

"Ha! ha! ha!--ha! ha! ha!— ho! ho! ho!" 
roared our visitor, profoundly amused ; " O Dupin, 
you will be the death of me yet ! " 

"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 any one." 

J' Proceed," said L 
'*"' ''f Or not/' said Dupin. 

" Well, then ; I have received personal information, 
from a very high quarter, that a certain document of 
the last importance 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 clearlv inferred," replied tne Prefect, " from 
the nature of the document, and from the non-appear- 
ance 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 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 181 

gives its holder a certain power in a certain quarter 
where such power is immensely valuable." The Pre- 
fect was fond of the cant of diplomacy. 

^' Still I do not quite understand^" said Dupin. 

^^ No } Well ; the disclosure of the document to a 
third person^ who shall be nameless^ would brin? 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 jeopardised." 

'' 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., *Ms 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 person^_ 
age robbed while alone in the royal b oudoi r: 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^ 
iiowever, was uppermost, and, the contents thus un- 
exposed, the lettei^ escaped notice. At this juncture 

enters the Minister D ^. His lynx eye immediately 

perceives the paper, recognises the handwriting of the 
address, observes the confusion^ the personage ad- 
dressed, and fathoms her secret^^fter some business 
transactions^ 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 close juxtaposition to the other. Again he con- 
verses, 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, of course, dared not call 
attention to the act, in the presence of the third 
personage who stood at her elbow. The Minister 



182 THE PURLOIIJED LETTER 

decamped^ leaving his own letter — one of no import- 
ance — 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 mouths past, been wielded, for 
political purposes, to a very dangerous extent. The 

Sersonage robbed is more thoroughly convinced, every 
ay, of the necessity of reclaiming her letter. But 
this, of course, cannot be done openly. In fine, driven 
to despair, she has committed the matter to me." 

'* 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 is 
possible that some such opinion may have been 
entertained." 

"It is clear," said 1, "as you observe, that the letter 
is still in the possession of the Minister ; since it is this 
possession, and not any employment of the letter, 
which bestbws the power. With the employment the 
power departs." 

" True," said G. ; " and upon this conviction I pro- 
ceeded. 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 been warned of the^danger 
which would result from giving hinv reason tosuspect 
our design." ^v , / 

" But," said I, " you are quite au fait in these 
investigations. The Parisian police have done this 
thing often before." 

" Oh yes ; and for this reason I did not despair. Thei 
habits 01 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 apartment, and, being 
chiefly Neapolitans, are readily made drunk. I have 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 183 

keys^ as you know, with which I can open any chamber 
or cabinet in Paris. For three months a nignt 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 enormous. So I did not 
abandon the search until I had become fully satisfied 
that the thief is a more astute man than myself. I 
fancy that I have investigated every nook and corner 
of the premises in which it is possible that the paper 
can be concealed." 

'' But is it not possible," I suggested, '' that although 
the letter may be in possession of the Minister, as it 
uu (questionably is, he may have concealed it elsewhere 
than upon his own premises?" 

*' 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 instaiit availability of the document 
— its susceptibility of being produced at a moment's 
notice — a point of nearly equal importance with its 
possession. ' 

''Its susceptibility of being produced?" said L 

''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." 

" You might have spared yourself this trouble," said 

Dupin. " 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 removejfrom a fool." 

"True," said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful 
whiff from his meerschaum, "although I have been 
guilty of certain doggerel myself." 



184 THE PURLOINED LETTER 

''Suppose you detail/' said I, ''the particulars of 
your search." 

" Why, the fact is we took our time, and we searched 
everywhere. I have had long experience in these affairs. 
I took the entire buildings 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^ules. The fiftieth 
part of a line could not escape u^ 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 conceal an article ; then the leg is excavated, 
the article deposited within the cavity, and the top 
replaced. The bottoms and tops of bedposts are em- 
ployed in the same way." 

" But could not the cavity be detected by sounding.?" 
I asked. 

" 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 with- 
out noise." 

" But you could not have removed — you could not 
have taken to pieces all articles of furniture in which 
it would have oeen 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; out we did better — we examined 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 185 

the rungs of every chair in the hotels and^ indeed^ the 
jointings of every description of furniture, by the aid 
of a most powerful microscope. 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 ensure 
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 com- 
pleted every particle of the furniture in this way, then 
we examined the house itself. We divided its entire 
surface into compartments^ which we numbered, so 
that none might be missed ; then we scrutinised each 
individual square inch throughout the premises^ in- 
cluding 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 comparatively 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. Wo also measured the thickness 
of every book-cowr, with the most accurate admeasure- 
ment, 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 



186 THE PURLOINED LETTER 

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 .^" 

"Yes." 

'' You looked into the cellars?" 

"We did." 

" Then," I said, " you have been making a miscal- 
culation, 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 research 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 hotel." 

" 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 
memorandum-book, proceeded to read aloud a minute 
account of the internal, and especially of the external ■ 
appearance of the missing document. Soon after finish- 
ing the perusal of this description, 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-exa- 
mination, 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 Dupin. 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 187 

*^ Why, a very great deal — a very liberal reward — I 
don't like to say how much, precisely ; but I will say, 
that 1 wouldn't mind giving my individual cheque for 
fifty thousand francs to any one who could obtain me 
that letter. The fact is^ it is becoming of more and 
more importance every day ; and the reward has been 
lately doubled. If it were trebled^ however^ I could do 
no more than I have done." 

" Why, yes," said Dupin drawlingly, between the 

whiiFs of his meerschaum, "I really — think, G , 

you have not exerted yourself — 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, puff. Do you 
remember the story they tell of Abernethy ? " 

"No; hang Abernethy ! " 

''To be sure ! hang him and welcome. But once 
upon a time, a certain rich miser conceived the design 
of sponging upon this Abernethy for a medical opinion. 
Getting up, for this purpose, an ordinary conversation 
in a private company, lie insinuated his case to the 
physician, as that of an imaginary individual. 

"'We will suppose,' said the miser, 'that his 
symptoms are such and such ; now, doctor, what would 
you have directed him to take ? ' 

" 'Take !' said Abernethy, ' why, take advice, to be 
sure.' " 

"But," said the Prefect, a little discomposed, "I 
am perfectly willing to take advice, and to pay for it. 
I would really give fifty thousand francs to any one 
who would aid me in the matter." 

"In that case," replied Dupin, opening a drawer, 
and producing 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." 

I was astounded. The Prefect appeared absolutely 
thunderstricken. For some minutes he remained speech- 
less and motionless, looking incredulously at my friend 



188 THE PURLOINED LElTEll 

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 de- 
posited it in his pocket-hook ; 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 aj^ 
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 ex- 
planations. 

''The Parisian police," he said, ''are exceedingly 
able in their way. They are persevering, ingenious, 
cunning, and tlioroughly 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 hav- 
ing 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 a question, have found it." 

I merely laughed — but he seemed quite serious in 
all that he said. 

"The measures, then," he continued, "were good 
in their kind, and well executed ; their defect lay in 
their being inapplicable to the case, and to the man. 
A certain set of higlily ingenious resources are, with 
the Prefect, a sort of Procrustean bed, to which he 
forcibly adapts his designs. But he perpetually errs by 
being too deep or too shallow for the matter in hand ; 
and many a schoolboy is a better reasoner than he. I 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 109 

knew one about eight years of nge, whose success at 
guessing in the game of ' even and odd ' attracted uni- 
versal 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 rights 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 iii mere observation and admeasurement of the 
astuteness of his opponents. For example, an arrant 
simpleton is his opponent, 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 fii*st, he would have reasoned thus : 
'This fellow finds that in the first instance 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 varia- 
tion, 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 'llVcky — what, 
in its last analysis, is it?" 

''It is merely," I said, "an identification of the 
reasoner's intellect with that of his opponent." 

" It is," said Dupin ; " and upon inquiring of the 
boy by what means he eflfected the thorough identifica- 
tion in which his success consisted, 1 received answer 
as follows : ' When I wish to find out how wise, or 
how stupid, or how good, or how wicked is any one, or 
what are his thoughts at the moment, I fashion the 
expression of my face, as accurately as possible, in ac- 
cordance with the expression of his, and then wait to 



190 THE PURLOINED LETTER 

866 what thoughts or sentiments arise in my mind or 
heart> as if to matcli 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 Bougive. to Machiavelli, and to 
Campanella. ** ' " ** 

• '* And the identification/' I said, '^ of the reasoner's 
intellect with that of his opponent, depends, if I under- 
stand you aright, upon the accuracy with which the 
opponent's intellect is admeasured." 

" For its practical value it depends upon this," re- 
plied Dupin ; ^^ and the Prefect and his cohort fail so 
frequently, first, by default of his identification, and, 
secondly, by ill-admeasurement, or rather through 
non-admeasurement, of the intellect with which they 
are engaged. They consider only their oum ideas of 
ingenuity ; and, in searching for anything hidden, 
advert only to the modes in which they would have 
hidden it. They are right in this much — that their 
own ingenuity is a faithful representative of that of /A« 
mass; but when the cunning 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 exag- 
gerate 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 sounding, 
and scrutinising with the microscope, and dividing the 
surface of the building into registered square inches — 
what is it all but an exaggeration qf the application of 
the one principle or set of principles of search, which 
are basea upon the one set of notions regarding human 
higenuity, to which the Prefect, in the long routine of 
his duty, has been accustomed? Do you not see he 
• has tiiken it for granted that all men proceed to conceal 
a letter — not exactly in a gimlet-hole bored in a chair- 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 191 

leg — but^ at least, in ^ome out-of-tlie-way hole or comer 
suggested by the same tenor of thought which would 
urge a man to secrete a letter in a g^mlet-hble bored 
in a chair-leg? And do you not see also^ that such 
recherches 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 recherche manner — is, in the very first instance, 
presumable and presumed ; and thus its discovery de- 
pends, 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 
I question have never been known to faiL You will now 
understand what I meant in suggesting that, had the 
purloined letter been hidden anywhere 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, h.is been thoroughly mysti- 
. fled ; and the remote source of his defeat lies in the 
supposition that the Minister i^ a fool, because he has 
acquired renown as a poet. All Foo)s are poets — this 
the Prefectyec/* ; and he is merely guilty of a non distri- 
hutio nwdii 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 ; 1 know him well ; he is both. 
As poet and mathematician, he would reason well ; as 
mere mathematician, he could not have reasoned at 
all, and thus would have been at the mercy of the 
Prefect." 

"You surprise me," I said, ^'hy these opinions, 
which have been contradicted by the voice of the world. 



192 THE PURLOINED LETTER 

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 excellence" 

*^^ 11 y a a parier/** replied Dupin^ quoting from 
Chamfort^ '^ ^ que toute idee publique, toute convention 
re^ue, est une sottise, car elle a convenue au plus grand 
nombre.* The mathematicians, 1 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 oi this particular deception ; but if a 
term is of any importance — if words derive any value 
from applicability — then ' analysis ' conveys ' algebra ' 
about as much as, in Latin, 'ambitus' implies 'ambi- 
tion,' ' religio' 'religion,' or 'homines honesti* 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 par- 
ticular, the reason educed by mathematical study. The 
mathematics are the science of form and quantity ; 
mathematical reasoning is merely Wic 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. Mathe- 
matical axioms are not axioms of genera^ 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 untrue that the 
aggregated 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. Tliere are numerous other mathe* 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 193 

matical 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 ' although the Pagan fables are not 
believed, yet we forget ourselves continually, and make 
inferences from them as existing realities.' 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 a^-^-px 
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 
jfi+pjp is not altogether equal to q, 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. 

'^ 1 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 
cheque. I knew him, however, as both mathematician 
^nd poet, and my measures were adapted to his capacity, 
with reference to the circumstances by which ne was 
surrounded. I knew him as a courtier, too, and as a 
, bpld tntripuiint. Such a man, 1 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 subjected. He must have 
foreseen, I reflected, the secret investigations of his 
premises. His frequent absences from home at night, 
which were hailed by the Prefect as certain aids to his 
success, 1 regarded only as ruses, to afford opportunity 

N 



194 THE PURLOINED LETTER 

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. 1 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 impera- 
tively 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 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 argument, as well as to embellish a 
description. The principle of the vis inertia, for 
example, seems to be identical in physics and meta- 
physics. It is not more true in the former, that a large 
body is with more difficulty set in motion than a smaller 
one, and that its subsequent momentum is commen- 
surate 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 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 195 

ever noticed which of the street signs over the shop- 
doors are the most attractive of attention ? " 

" 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 And a given word — the name of town, river, 
state or empire — any word, in short, upon the motley 
and perplexed surface of the chart. A novice in the 
game generallv 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 observation by dint of being 
excessively obvious ; and here the physical oversight 
is precisely analogous with the moral inapprehension 
hy 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 tlio whole world, by way of 
best preventing any portion of that world from per- 
ceiving 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 hecame that, to conceal 
this letter, the Minister had resorted to the compre- 
hensive and sagacious expedient of not attempting to 
conceal it atalL 

^^ 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. 1 found D 

at home, yawning, lounging, and dawdling, as usual, 
and pretending to be in the last extremity of ennuu 



196 THE PURLOINED LETTER 

He is^ perhaps^ the most really energetic human being 
now ahve — but that is only when nobody sees him. 

''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 paste- 
board, that hung dandling 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, contemptu- 
ously, 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 
from 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 differencesj which was 



THE PURLOINED LETTER 197 

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 de- 
lude 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 visitorj and thus exactly in accordance with 
the conclusions to which I had previously arrived ; 
these thin^^ I say, were strongly corroborative of 
suspicion, in one who came with the intention to 
suspect 

^'l protracted my visit as long as possible, and, 
while 1 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 riveted upon the letter. In this 
examination, I committed to memory its external ^ 
appearance and arrangement in the rack; and also* 
fell, at length, upon a discovery, which set at rest 
whatever trivial doubt I might have enterbiiued. In 
scrutinising the edges of the paper, I observed them 
to be more chafed than seemea necessary. They pre- 
sented 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 resealed. I bade the Minister good* 
morning, and took my departure at once, leaving a 
gold snuif-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 succeeaed 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. 



198 THE PURLOINED LETTER 

and replaced It by a fac-simile (so far as regards ex- 
ternals; 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 immediately 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 re- 
placing the letter by a fac-similer 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 people of Paris 
might have heard of me no more. But I had an 
object apart from these considerations. You know my 
political prepossession^. 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 Catalani 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 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 199 

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 1 should 
remember. So^ as I knew he would feel some curiosity 
in regard to the identity of the person who had out- 
witted him^ I thought it a pity not to give him a clew. 
He is well acquainted with my MS.^ and I just copied 
into the middle of the blank sheet the words : — 



-Un dessein si f uneste, 



S'il n'est digne d'AtrSe, est digne de Thyeste.' 
They are to be found in Crebillon's ' Atr^e.*" 

THE FALL OF THE HOUSE 
OF USHER 

" Son coDur est un luth suspendu ; 
Sit6t qu'on le touohe il risonne." 

— Db Bbranqeb. 

During the whole of a dull^ dark^ and soundless day 
in the autumn of the year^ when the clouds hung 
oppressively 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 insufferable 
gloom pervaded my spirit. 1 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 deso- 



J 
200 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 

late or terrible. I looked upon the scene before me — 
upon the mere house, and the simple landscape features 
or 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 soul which I can compare to no earthly 
sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the 
reveller upon opium — the bitter lapse into every-day 
life — ^the hideous dropping off of the veil. There was 
an iciness, a sinking, a sickening of the heart — an 
unredeemed dreariness of thought 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 sufficient 
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 even 
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 windows. 

Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now pro- 
posed to myself a sojourn of some weeks. Its pro- 
prietor, 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 the personal reply. 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 201 

The MS. ffave 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 tliat 
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 asso- 
ciates^ yet I really knew little of my friend. His 
reserve had 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 unobtrusive 
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 time-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 trans- 
mission, 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 



202 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 

of the peasantry who used it^ both the family and the 
family mansion. 

I have said that the sole effect 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 

Cadoxical law of all sentiments having terror as a 
is. 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, there grew in my 
mind a strange fancy — a 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 to believe that about 
the whole mansion and domain there hung an atmos- 
phere 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 off 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 discoloration of ages had 
been great Minute fungi overspread the whole ex- 
terior^ hanging in a fine tangled webwork 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 specious totality of old 
woodwork which has rotted for long years in some 
neglected vaults with no disturbance from the breath 
of the external air. Beyond this indication of extensive 
decay, however, the fabric gave little token of in- 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 203 

stability. Perhaps the eye of a scrutinisinff 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 passives 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 ceilings, 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, 
1 had been accustomed from my infancy — while I 
hesitated 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. llie 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 instru- 
ments lay scattered about, but failed to give any vitality 



204 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 

to the scene. I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of 
sorrow. An air of stern, 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 lengthy and greeted me with 
a vivacious warmth which had much in it^ I at first 
thought^ of an overdone cordiality — of the constrained 
effort of the ennuy^ man of the world. A glance^ how- 
ever^ 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 terrioly altered, in so brief a period, as had Roderick 
Usher ! It was with difficulty that I could bring myself 
to admit the identity of the wan being before me with 
the companion of mv early bovhood. Yet the charac- 
ter 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 in similar formations; a finely 
moulded chin, speaking, in its want of prominence, of 
a want of moral energy ; hair of a more than weblike 
softness and tenuity ; tnese features, with an inordinate 
expansion above the regions of the temple, made up 
altogether a countenance not easily to oe forgotten. 
And now in the mere exaggeration of the prevailing 
character of these features, and of the expresision they 
were wont to convey, lay so much of change that 1 
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 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 205 

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 conclu- 
sions 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 excitement. 

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 off. It displayed 
itself in a host of 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. 



206 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 

incident, which may operate upon this intolerahle 
agitation of soul 1 have, indeed, no ahhorrence of 
danger, except in its absolute e£fect — 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 condition. 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 restated — 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 loolced down, had at length 
brought about upon the morale of his existence. 

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 ill- 
ness — indeed to the evidently approaching 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 astonish- 
ment 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 re- 
treating steps. When a door at length closed upon 
her, my glance sought instinctively and eagerly the 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 207 

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 betalkeu 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 ob- 
tained 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 to- 
gether ; 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 
unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit, the more 
bitterly did I perceive the futility of all attempt at 
cheering a mind from which darkness, as if an in- 
herent positive quality, poured forth 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 for ever in my ears. Among 
other things, 1 hold painfully in mind a certain siugu- 



208 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 

lar 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 simpli- 
city, by the nakedness 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 hypo- 
chondriac 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 glow- 
ing yet too concrete reveries of Fuseli. 

One of the phantasmagoric conceptitms of my friend, 
partaking 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 exceed- 
ing 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. 

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 g^eat measure, to the 
fantastic character of his performances. But the fervid 
facility of his impromptus could not be so accounted 
for. They must have oeen, and were, in the notes, as 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 209 

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 col- 
lectedness and concentration to which I have previ- 
ously 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 oi' its 
meanings 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 : — 

I. 

In the greenest of our Talleys, 
By good angels tenanted, 

Once a fair and stately palace- 
Radiant palace — reared its head. 

In the monarch Thought's dominion- 
It stood there t 

Never seraph spread a pinion 
Over fabric half so fair. 



Banners yellow, glorious, ^ 

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. 

ni. 

Wanderers in that happy valley 

Through two luminous windows saw 
Spirits moving musically 

To a lute's well-tundd law, 
Bound about a throne, where sitting 

(Porphyrogene 1) 
In state his glory well befitting, 

The ruler of the realm was seen. 

O 



210 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 



And all with pearl and rubj 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 sur^mssing 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 \) 
And, round about his home, the glory 

That blushed and bloomed 
Is but a dim-remembered story 

Of the old time entombed. 

VI. 

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. 

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 whicn 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 in- 
organisation. I lack words to express the full extent, 
or the earnest abandon of his persuasion. The belief, 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 211 

however^ was connected (as I have previously hinted) 
with the grey stones of the home of his forefathers. 
The conditions of the sentience had heen 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 
arrangement^ 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 had moulded the destinies of his 
family^ and which made him what 1 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 Belphegor of Machiavelli ; the Heaven and Hell of 
Swedenborg; the Subterranean Voyage of Nicholas 
Klimn, by Holberg ; the Chiromancy of Robert Flud, 
of Jean D'Indagine, and of De la Chambre; the 
Journey into the Blue Distance of Tieck ; and the 
City of the Sun of CampanelU- One favourite volume 
was a small octavo edition of the Directorium Inquisi- 
torium, by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne ; and 
there were passages in Pomponius Mela, about the 
old African Satyrs and (Egipans, 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 Vigiliae MortTiorum secun' 
dum Chorum Ecclesiae Maguntinae. 

I could not help thinking of the wild ritual of this 



212 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 

work^ and of its probable influence upon the hypo- 
chondriac^ when, one evening, having informed me 
abraptly that the Ladv Madeline was no more, he 
stated his intention or preserving her corpse for a 
fortnight (previously to its Anal 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 men, and of the remote and exposed 
situation of the burial-ground of the family. 1 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, pre- 
caution. 

At the request of Usher, I personally aided him in 
the arrangements for the temporary entombment The 
body having been encoffined, 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, damn, and entirely with- 
out means of admission for light; lying, at great 
depth, immediately beneath that portion of the build- 
ing in which was mv own sleeping apartment It had 
been used, apparently, in remote feudal times, for the 
worst purposes of a donjon-keep, and, in latter days, 
as a place of 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 pro- 
tected. Its immense weight caused an unusually sharp 
gratfng sound, t^ it moved upon its hinges. 

Having deposited our mournful burden upon tressels 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 213 

within this region of horror^ we partially turned aside 
the vet unscrewed lid of the coffin^ and looked upon 
the race 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 sym- 
pathies 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 
una wed. The disease which had thus entombed the 
ladv 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 apart- 
ments of the upper portion of the house. 

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 eye had 
utterly gone out. The more 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, I was obliged to 
resolve all into the mere inexplicable vagaries of mad- 
ness, 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 



214 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 

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 nervousness which had 
dominion over me. I endeavoured to believe that 
much^ if not all of what I felt^ was due to the bewilder- 
ing influence of the gloomy furniture of the room-— of 
t9ie 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 mv very 
heart an incubus of utterly causeless alarm. Shaking 
this off with a gasp and a struggle, I unlifted 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 senti- 
ment 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 turns in this manner, when a 
light step on an adjoining staircase arrested my atten- 
tion. 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 counte- 
nance was, as usual, cadaverously wan — but, 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 FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 21$ 

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 
mansion. 

^' You must not — you shall not behold this ! " said I, 
shudderingly, to Usher, as I led him, with a gentle 
violence, from the window to a seat ''These ap- 
pearances, 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 listen 
— and so we will p&ss away this terrible night together." 

The antique volume which I had taken Up was the 
''Mad Trist" of Sir Launcelot Canning; but I had 



216 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 

called it a favourite of Usher's more in sad jest than in 
earnest; for^ in truths 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 
tiie history of mental disorder is full of similar anoma- 
lies) 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. 

• 1 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 
hearty and who was now mighty withal^ on account of 
the powerfulness 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 rain upon his shoulders, and fearing the 
risinff of the tempest, uplifted his mace outright, and, 
with dIows, made quickly room in the plankings of the 
door for his gauntleted hand ; and now pulling there- 
with 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 1 started, and 
for a moment paused ; for it appeared to me (although 
I at once concluded that my excited fancy had deceived 
me)— it appeared to me that, from som^ very remote 
portion or 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) 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 217 

of the very cracking and rippinfi: sound which Sir 
Launcelot had so particularly described. It was, beyond 
doubt^ the coincidence alone which had arrests my 
attention ; for^ amid the rattling of the sashes of the 
casements^ and the ordinary commingled noises of the 
still increasing storm^ the sounds in itself, had nothing, 
surely, which should have interested or disturbed me. 
1 continued the story : — 

'^But the good champion Ethelred, now entering 
within the door, was sore enraged and amazed to per- 
ceive no signal of the maliceful hermit ; but, in the 
stead thereof, a dragon of a scaly and prodigious de- 
meanour, and of a fiery tongue, which sate in guard 
before a palace of gold, witn 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 shaU win.* 

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

Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling 
of wild amaasement — for there could be no doubt what>' 
ever 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, pro- 
tracted, 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 de- 
scribed 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 predominant, I still retained 
sufficient presence of mind to avoid exciting, by any 
observation, the sensitive nervousness of my companion. 



218 THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 

I was by no means certain that he had noticed the 
sound 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 tiie breaking up of the enchant- 
ment which was upon it, removed the carcass 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 dis- 
tinct, hollow, metallic, and clangorous, yet apparently 
muffled reverberation. Completely unnerved, 1 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 on his lips ; and I saw 
that he spoke in a low, hurried, and gibbering murmur, 
as if unconscious of my presence. Bending closely 



THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER 219 

over him^ I at length drank in the hideous import of 
his words. 

''Not hear it? — yes, I hear it, and have heard it. 
Long— long — long — many minutes, many hours, many 
days, have 1 heard it — yet I dared not— oh, pity me, 
miserable wretch that I am ! — I dared not — I dared not 
speak ! We have put her living in the tomb I Said I 
not that my senses were acute ? I now tell you that I 
heard her nrst feeble movements in the hollow coffin. 
I heard them — many, many days ago — yet I dared not 
— I dared not speak f 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 !^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 ! 
Oh, whither shall I fly ? Will she not be here anon ? 
Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste ? Have 
I not heard her footstep on the stair? Do I not dis- 
tinguish that heavy and horrible beating of her heart? 
Madman !" — 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 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 tremb- 
ling and reeling to and fro upon the threshold — then, 
witn 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 



220 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

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 lights 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 once 
barely-discernible fissure^ of which I have before spoken 
as extending from the roof of the buildings 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 a voice of a thousand 
waters— and the deep and dank tarn at my feet closed 
sullenly and silently over the fragments of the ^^ House 
of Usher." 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

" Impia tortorum longas hio turba furores 
Sanguinis innocui, non satiata, aluit. 
Sospite nunc patria, fraoto nunc f uneris antro, 
Mors ubi dira fuit vita salusque patent" 

[Quatrain compo$edfor the gates of a market to be erected upon 
the site of the Jacobin Club House at Paris,] 

I WAS sick — sick unto death with that long agony ; and 
when they at length unbound me^ and I was permitted 
to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me. The 
sentence — the dread sentence of death — was the last of 
distinct accentuation which reached my ears. After 
that, the sound of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged 
in one dreamy indeterminate hum. It conveyed to my 
soul the idea of revolution — perhaps from its association 
in fancy with the burr of a mill-wheel. This only for 
a brief period ; for presently I heard no more. Yet, 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 221 

for a while^ I saw ; but with how terrible an exaggera- 
tion ! I saw the lips of the black-robed judges. They 
appeared to me white — whiter than the sheet upon 
which I trace these words — and thin even to grotesque- 
ness ; thin with the intensity of their expression of 
firmness — of immovable resolution — of stern contempt 
of human torture. I saw that the decrees of what to 
me was Fate^ were still issuing from those lips. I 
saw them writhe with a deadly locution. I saw them 
fashion the syllables of my name ; and I shuddered 
because no sound succeeded. I saw, too, for a few 
moments of delirious horror, the soft and nearly im- 
perceptible waving of the sable draperies which en- 
wrapped the walls of the apartment And then my 
vision fell upon the seven tall candles upon the table. 
At first they wore the aspect of charity, and seemed 
white slender angels who would save me ; but then, all 
at once, there came a most deadly nausea over my 
spirit, and I felt every fibre in my frame thrill as if 1 
had touched the wire of a galvanic battery, while the 
angel forms became meaningless spectres, with heads 
of flame, and I saw that from them there would be no 
help. And then there stole into my fancy, like a rich 
musical note, the thought of what sweet rest there 
must be in the grave. The thought came gently and 
stealthily, and it seemed long before it attained full 
appreciation; but just as my spirit came at length 
properly to feel and entertain it, the figures of the 
judges vanished, as if magically, from before me ; the 
tall candles sank into nothingness ; their flames went 
out utterly ; the blackness of darkness supervened ; 
all sensations appeared swallowed up in a mad rushing 
descent as of the soul into Hades. Then silence^ and 
stillness, and nigtit were the universe. 

I had swooned ; but still will not say that all of con- 
sciousness was lost. What of it there remained I will 
not attempt to define, or even to describe ; yet all was 
not lost. In the deepest slumber — no ! In delirium 
— no ! In a swoon — no ! In death — no ! even in the 
grave all is not lost. Else there is no immortality for 



222 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

man. Arousing from the most profound of slumbers, 
we break the gossamer web of some dream. Yet in a 
second afterward (so frail may that web have been) we 
remember not that we have dreamed. In the return 
to life from the swoon there are two stages : first, that 
of the sense of mental or spiritual ; secondly, that of 
the sense of physical existence. It seems probable 
that if, upon reaching the second stage, we could re- 
call the impressions of the first, we should find these 
impressions eloquent in memories of the gulf beyond. 
And that gulf is — what? How at least shall we dis- 
tinguish its shadows from those of the tomb ? But if 
the impressions of what I have termed the first stage 
are not, at will, recalled, yet, after long interval, do 
they not come unbidden, while we marvel whence 
they come? He who haf, never swooned, is not he 
who finds strange palaces and wildly familiar faces in 
coals that glow ; is not he who beholds floating in mid- 
air the sad visions that the many may not view ; is 
not he who ponders over the perfume of some novel 
flower — is not he whose brain grows bewildered with 
the meaning of some musical cadence which has never 
before arrested his attention. 

Amid frequent and thoughtful endeavours to re- 
member; amid earnest struggles to regather some 
token of the state of seeming nothingness into which 
my soul had lapsed, there have been moments when I 
have dreamed of success ; there have been brief, very 
brief periods when I have conjured up remembrances 
which the lucid reason of a later epoch assures me could 
have had reference only to that condition of seeming 
unconsciousness. These shadows of memory tell, 
indistinctly, of tall figures that lifted and bore me in 
silence down — down — still down — till a hideous dizzi- 
ness oppressed me at the mere idea of the interminable- 
ness of the descent They tell also of a vague horror 
at my heart, on account of that heart's unnatural still- 
ness. Then comes a sense of sudden motionlessness 
throughout all things; as if those who bore me (a 
ghastly train !) had outrun, in their descent, the limits 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 223 

of the limitless^ and paused from the wearisomeness of 
their toil. After this I call to mind flatness and damp- 
ness; and then all is madness — the madness of a 
memory which busies itself among forbidden things. 

Very suddenly there came back to my soul motion 
and sound — the tumultuous motion of the hearty and^ 
in my ears^ the sound of its beating. Then a pause^ 
in which all is blank. Then again sounds and motion^ 
and touch — a tingling sensation pervading my frame. 
Then the mere consciousness of existence^ without 
thought — a condition which lasted long. Then, very 
suddenly, thought, and shuddering terror, and earnest 
endeavour to comprehend my true state. Then a 
strong desire to lapse into insensibility. Then a rush- 
ing revival of soul and a successful effort to move. And 
now a full memory of the trial, of the judges, of the 
sable draperies, of the sentence, of the sickness, of the 
swoon. Then entire forgetfulness of all that followed ; 
of all that a later day and much earnestness of endea- 
vour have enabled me vaguely to recall. 

So far, I had not opened my eyes. I felt that I lay 
upon my back, unbound. I reached out my hand, and 
it fell heavily upon something damp and hard. There 
I suffered it to remain for many minutes, while I strove 
to imagine where and what I could be. I longed, yet 
dared not to employ my vision. I dreaded the flrst 
glance at objects around me. It was not that I feared 
to look upon things horrible, but that I grew aghast 
lest there should be nothing to see. At length, with a 
wild desperation at heart, I quickly unclosed my eyes. 
My worst thoughts, then, were confirmed. The black- 
ness of eternal night encompassed me. I struggled 
for breath. The intensity of the darkness seemed to 
oppress and stifle me. The atmosphere was intolerably 
close. I still lay quietly, and made effort to exercise 
my reason. I brought to mind the inquisitorial pro- 
ceedings, and attempted from that point to deduce 
my real condition. The sentence had passed ; and it 
appeared to me that a very long interval of time had 
since elapsed. Yet not for a moment did I suppose 



224 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

myself actually dead. Such a supposition, notwith- 
standing what we read in fiction^ is altogether incon- 
sistent with real existence— but where and in what 
state was I? The condemned to death, I knew, perished 
usually at the autos da fe, and one of these had been 
held on the very night of the day of my trial. Had I 
been remanded to my. dungeon, to await the next 
sacrifice, which would not take place for many months? 
This I at once saw could not be. Victims had been in 
immediate demand. Moreover, my dungeon^ as well 
as all the condemned cells at Toledo^ had stone floors, 
and lijB^ht was not altogether excluded. 

A fearful idea now suddenly drove the blood in 
torrents upon my heart, and for a brief period I once 
more relapsed into insensibility. Upon recovering, I 
at once started to my feet, trembling convulsively in 
every fibre. I thrust my arms wildly above and around 
me in all directions. 1 felt nothing ; yet dreaded to 
move' a step, lest I should be impeded by the walls of 
a tomb. Perspiration burst from every pore, and 
stood in cold beads upon my forehead. The agony of 
suspense grew at length intolerable, and I cautiously 
moved forward, with my arms extended^ and my eves 
straining from their sockets, in the hope of catching 
some &int ray of light. I proceeded for many paces ; 
but still all was blackness and vacancv. I breathed 
more freely. It seemed evident that mine was not, nt 
least, the most hideous of fates. 

And now, as I still continued to step cautiously 
onward, there came thronging upon my recollection a 
thousand vague rumours of the horrors of Toledo. Of 
the dungeons there had been strange things narrated 
— fables I had always deemed them — but yet strange, 
and too ghastly to repeat, save in a whisper. Was I 
left to perish of starvation in this subterranean world 
of darkness ; or what fate, perhaps even more fearful, 
awaited me ? That the result would be death, and a 
death of more than customary bitterness, I knew too 
well the character of my judges to doubt The mode 
and the hour were all that occupied or distracted me. 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 225 

My outstretched hands at length encountered some 
solid obstruction. It was a wall^ seemingly of stone 
masonry — very smooth^ slimy^ and cold. I followed 
it up, stepping with all the careful distrust with which 
certain antique narratives had inspired me. This 
process, however, afforded me no means of ascertaining 
the dimensions of my dungeon, as I might make its 
circuit, and return to the point whence I set out, 
without being aware of the fact, so perfectly uniform 
seemed the wall. I therefore sought the knife which 
had been in my pocket, when led into the inquisitorial 
chamber, but it was gone; my clothes had been ex- 
changed for a wrapper of coarse serge. I had thought 
of forcing the blade in some minute crevice of the 
masonry, so as to identify my point of departure. The 
difficulty, nevertheless, was but trivial; although, in 
the disorder of my fancy, it seemed at first insuperable. 
I tore a part of the hem from the robe and placed the 
fragment at full length, and at right angles to the wall. 
In groping my way around the prison, I could not fail 
to encounter this rag upon completing the circuit. 
So, at least, I thought ; but I had not counted upoa 
the extent of the dungeon, or upon my own weakness. 
The ground was moist and slippery. I staggered 
onward for some time, when I stumbled and felC My 
excessive fatigue induced me to remain prostrate ; and 
sleep soon overtook me as I lay. 

Upon awaking, and stretching forth an arm, I found 
beside me a loaf and a pitcher with water. I was too 
much exhausted to reflect upon this circumstance, but 
ate and drank with avidity. Shortly afterward I 
resumed my tour around the prison, and, with much 
toil, came at last upon the fragment of the serge. Up 
to the period when I fell, I hacTcounted fifty-two paces, 
and, upon resuming my walk, I had counted forty-eight 
more — when I arrived at the rag. There were in all, 
then, a hundred paces; and, admitting two paces to* 
the yard, 1 presumed the dungeon to be fifty yards, 
in circuit. I had met, however, with many angles, 
in the wall, and thus I could form no guess at the 

p 



526 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

«hape of the vault ; for vault I could not help supposing 
it to be. 

I had little object — certainly no hope — in these re- 
searches ; but a vague curiosity prompted me to con- 
tinue them. Quitting the wall^ I resolved to cross the 
area of the enclosure. At firsts I proceeded with 
•extreme caution, for the» floor, although seemingly of 
:8olid material, was treacherous with slime. At length, 
however, I took courage, and did not hesitate to step 
:firmlv — endeavouring to cross in as direct a line as 
|)ossiDle. I had advanced some ten or twelve paces in 
this manner, when the remnant of the torn hem of my 
robe became entangled between my legs. I stepped 
*on it, and fell violently on my face. 

In the confusion attending my fall, I did not imme- 
*diately apprehend a somewhat startling circumstance, 
which yet, in a few seconds afterward, and while I still 
lay prostrate, arrested my attention. It was this : my 
chin rested upon the floor of the prison, but my lips, 
4ind the upper portion of my head, although seemingly 
.at a less elevation than the chin, touched nothing. At 
'the same time, my forehead seemed bathed in a clammy 
vapour, and the peculiar smell of decayed fungus arose 
to my nostrils. I put forward my arm, and shuddered 
to find that I had fallen at the very brink of a circular 
-pit, whose extent, of course, I had no means of ascer- 
taining at the moment. Groping about the masonry 
Just below the margin, I succeeded in dislodging a 
small fragment, and let it fall into the abyss. For 
many seconds I hearkened to its reverberations as it 
•dashed against the sides of the chasm in its descent. 
At length, there was a sullen plunge into water, suc- 
*ceeded by loud echoes. At the same moment, there 
eame a sound resembling the quick opening, and as 
rapid closing of a door overhead, while a faint gleam 
•of light flasned suddenly through the gloom, and as 
suddenly faded away. 

I saw clearly the doom which had been prepared for 
:me, and congratulated myself upon the timely accident 
.by which I had escaped. Another step before my fall. 



THE PIT A^a) THE PENDULUM 227 

and the world had seen me no more. And the death 
just avoided was of that very character which I had re- 
garded as fabulous and frivolous in the tales respecting 
the Inquisition. To the victims of its tyranny^ there 
was the choice of death with its direst physical agonies, 
or death with its most hideous moral horrors. I had 
been reserved for the latter. By long suffering my 
nerves had been unstrung^ until I trembled at the 
sound of my own voice^ and had become in every 
respect a fitting subject for the species of torture which 
awaited me. 

Shaking in every limb^ I groped my way back to the 
wall — resolving there to perish rather than risk the 
terrors of the wells, of which my imagination now 
pictured many in various positions about the dungeon. 
In other conditions of mind, I might have had courage 
to end my misery at once, by a plunge into one of 
these abysses ; but now I was the veriest of cowards. 
Neither could I forget what I had read of these pits — 
that the sudden extinction of life formed no part of 
their most horrible plan. 

Agitation of spirit kept me awake for many long 
houre ; but at length I again slumbered. Upon arous- 
ing, I found by my side, as before, a loaf and a pitcher 
of water. A burning thirst consumed me, and I 
emptied the vessel at a draught. It must have been 
drugged — for scarcely had I drunk, before I became 
irresistibly drowsy. A deep sleep fell upon me — a 
sleep like that of death. How long it lasted, of course, 
I know not; but when, once again, I unclosed my 
eyes, the objects around me were visible. By a wild, 
sulphurous lustre, the origin of which I could not at 
first determine, I was enabled to see the extent and 
aspect of the prison. 

In its size I had been greatly mistaken. The whole 
circuit of its walls did not exceed twenty-five yards. 
For some minutes this fact occasioned me a world of 
vain trouble ; vain indeed — for what could be of less 
importance, under the terrible circumstances which 
environed me, than the mere dimensions of my 



228 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

duneeon ? But mv soul took a wild interest in trifles, 
and I busied myself in endeavours to account for the 
error I had committed in my measurement. The truth 
at length flashed upon me. In my first attempt at 
exploration I had counted fifty-two paces, up to the 
period when I fell ; I must then have been within a 
pace or two of the fragment of serge ; in fact, I had 
nearly performed the circuit of the vault. I then 
slept — and, upon awaking, I must have returned upon 
my steps — ^thus supposing the circuit nearly double 
what it actually was. My confusion of mind prevented 
me from observing that I began my tour with the wall 
to the left, and ended it with the wall to the right 

I had been deceived, too, in respect to the shape of 
the enclosure. In feeling my way, I had found many 
angles, and thus deduced an idea of great irregularity ; 
so potent is the effect of total darkness upon one 
arousing from lethargy or sleep! The angles were 
simply those of a few slight depressions, or niches, at 
odd intervals. The general shape of the prison was 
square. What I had taken for masonry seemed now 
to be iron, or some other metal, in huge plates, whose 
sutures or joints occasioned the depression. The entire 
surface of this metallic enclosure was rudely daubed in 
all the hideous and repulsive devices to which the 
charnel superstition of the monks has given rise. The 
figures of fiends in aspects of menace, with skeleton 
forms, and other more really fearful images, overspread 
and disfigured the walls. I observed that the outlines 
of these monstrosities were sufficiently distinct, but 
that the colours seemed faded and blurred, as if from 
the effects of a damp atmosphere. I now noticed the 
floor, too, which was of stone. In the centre yawned 
the circular pit from whose jaws I had escaped ; but it 
was the only one in the dungeon. 

All this I saw indistinctly and by much effort — for 
my personal condition had been greatly changed during 
slumber. I now lay upon my back, and at full length, 
on a species of low framework of wood. To this I was 
securely bound by a long strap resembling a surcingle. 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 229 

It passed in many convolutions about my limbs and 
body^ leaving at liberty only my head and my left arm 
to such extent^ that I could^ by dint of much exertion^ 
supply myself with food from an earthen dish which 
lay oy my side on the floor. I saw^ to my horror^ that 
the pitcher had been removed. 1 say, to my horror — 
for 1 was consumed with intolerable thirst. This thirst 
it appeared to be the design of my persecutors to 
stimulate — for the food in the dish was meat pungently 
seasoned. 

Looking upward, I surveyed the ceiling of my prison. 
It was some thirty or forty feet overhead, and con- 
structed much as the side walls. In one of its panels 
a very singular figure riveted my whole attention. It 
was the painted figure of Time as he is commonly rep- 
resented, save that, in lieu of a scythe, he held what, 
at a casual glance, I supposed to be the pictured image 
of a huge pendulum, such as we see on antique clocks. 
There was something, however, in the appearance of 
this machine which caused me to regard it more atten- 
tively. While I gazed directly upward at it (for its 
r)8ition was immediately over my own), I fancied that 
saw it in motion. In an instant afterward the fancy 
was confirmed. Its sweep was brief, and, of course, 
slow. I watched it for some minutes, somewhat in 
fear, but more in wonder. Wearied at length with 
observing its dull movement, I turned my eyes upon 
the other objects in the cell. 

A slight noise attracted my notice, and looking to 
the floor, I saw several enormous rats traversing it. 
They had issued from the well, which lay just within 
view to my right. Even then, while I gazed, they 
came up in troops, hurriedly, with ravenous eyes, 
allured by the scent of the meat. From this it required 
much effort and attention to scare them away. 

It might have been half-an-hour, perhaps even an 
hour (for I could take but imperfect note of time) 
before I again cast my eyes upward. What I then 
saw, confounded and amazed me. The sweep of the 
pendulum had increased in extent by nearly a yard* 



230 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

As a natural consequence^ its velocity was also much 
greater. But what mainly disturbed me, was the idea 
that it had perceptibly descended, I now observed — 
with what horror it is needless to say — that its nether 
extremitv was formed of a crescent of glittering steel, 
about a foot in length from horn to horn ; the horns 
upward, and the under edge evidently as keen as that 
01 a razor. Like a razor also, it seemed massy and 
heavy, tapering from the edge into a solid and broad 
structure above. It was appended to a weighty rod of 
brass, and the whole hissed as it swung through the air. 

I could no longer doubt the doom prepared for me 
by monkish ingenuity in torture. My cognisance of 
the pit had become known to the inquisitorial agents 
— thiB pit, whose horrors had been destined for so bold 
a recusant as myself — the pit, typical of hell, and re- 
garded by rumour as the Ultima Thule of all their 
punishments. The plunge into this pit I had avoided 
by the merest of accidents, and I knew that surprise^ 
or entrapment into torment, formed an important 
portion of all the ffrotesquerie of these dungeon deaths. 
Havinfi^ failed to fall, it was no part of the demon plan 
to hurl me into the abyss ; and thus (there being no 
alternative) a different and a milder destruction awaited 
me. Milder ! I half smiled in my agony as I thought 
of such application of such a term. 

What lK>ots it to tell of the long, long hours of 
horror more than mortal, during' which I counted the 
rushing oscillations of the steel! Inch by inch — line 
by line — with a descent only appreciable at intervals 
that seemed ages— down and still down it came ! Dajrs 
passed — it might have been that many days passed — 
ere it swept so closely over me as to fan me with its 
acrid breath. The odour of the sharp steel forced 
itself into my nostrils. I prayed — I wearied heaven 
with my prayer for its more speedy descent. I grew 
frantically mad, and struggled to force myself upward 
against the sweep of the tearful scimitar. And then I 
fell suddenly calm, and lay smiling at the glittering 
death, as a child at some rare bauble. 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 23t 

There was another interval of utter insensibility ; it 
was brief; for, upon again lapsing into life, there had 
been no perceptible descent in the pendulum. But it 
might have been long — for I knew there were demons> 
who took note of my swoon, aud who could have- 
arrested the vibration at pleasure. Upon my recovery, 
too, I felt very — oh, inexpressibly — sick and weak, as 
if through long inanition. Even amid the agonies of 
that period the human nature craved food. With 
painful effort I outstretched my left arm as far as my- 
trends permitted, and took possession of the small 
remnant which had been spared me by the rats. As I 
put a portion of it within my lips, there rushed to my 
mind a half-formed thouffut of joy — of hope. Yet 
what business had / with hope? It was, as I say, a 
half-formed thought — man has many such, which are 
never completed. I felt that it was of joy — of hope ; 
but I felt also that it had perished in its formation. 
In vain I struggled to perfect — to regain it. Long 
suffering had nearly annihilated all my ordinary powers 
of mind. I was an imbecile — an idiot. 

The vibration of the pendulum was at right angles 
to my length. I saw that the crescent was designed to 
cross the region of the heart It would fray the serge 
of my robe — it would return and repeat its operations 
— again — and again. Notwithstanding its terrifically 
wide sweep (some thirty feet or more), and the hissings 
vigour of its descent, sufHcient to sunder these very 
wdlls of iron, still the fraying of my robe would be all 
that, for several minutes, it would accomplish. And 
at this thought I paused. I dared not go farther than 
this reflection. I dwelt upon it with a pertinacity of 
attention — as if, in so dwelling, I could arrest here the 
descent of the steel. I forced myself to ponder upon 
the sound of the crescent as it should pass across the* 
garment — upon the peculiar thrilling sensation which 
the friction of cloth produces on the nerves. I pondered 
upon all this frivolity until my teeth were on edge. ^ 

Down — steadily down it crept I took a frenzied 
pleasure in contrasting its downward with its lateral 



232 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

velocity. To the right — ^to the left — far and wide — 
with the shriek of a damned spirit ! to my hearty with 
the Btealthv pace of the tiger 1 1 alternately laughed 
and howled^ as the one or the other idea grew pre- 
dominant. 

Down — certainly^ relentlessly down I It vibrated 
within three inches of my bosom ! I struggled vio- 
lently — furiously — to free my left arm. This was free 
only from the elbow to the hand. I could reach the 
latter^ from the platter beside me^ to my mouthy with 
great effort^ but no farther. Could I have broken the 
fastenings above the elbow^ I would have seized and 
attempteid to arrest the pendulum. I might as well 
have attempted to arrest an avalanche ! 

Down — still unceasingly — still inevitably down ! I 
gasped and struggled at each vibration. I shrunk con- 
vulsively at its every sweep. My eyes followed its 
outward or upward whirls with tne eagerness of the 
most unmeaning despair; they closed themselves 
spasmodically at the descent^ although death would 
have been a relief^ oh^ how unspeakable ! Still I 
quivered in every nerve to think how slight a sinking 
of the machinery would precipitate that keen^ glisten- 
ing axe upon my bosom. It was hope that prompted 
the nerve to quiver — the frame to shrink. It was hope 
— the hope that triumphs on the rack — that whispers 
to the death-condemned even in the dungeons of the 
Inquisition. 

I saw that some ten or twelve vibrations would bring 
the steel in actual contact with my rob^ — ^and with 
this observation there suddenly came over my spirit 
all the keen^ collected calmness of despair. For the 
first time during many hours — or perhaps days — I 
thought. It now occurred to me^ that the bandage, or 
surcingle, which enveloped me, was unique, I was 
tied by no separate cord. The first stroke of the 
razor-like crescent athwart any portion of the band, 
would so detach it that it might be unwound from my 
person by means of my left hand. But how fearful, in 
that case, the proximity of the steel ! The result of 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 233 

the slightest struggle, how deadly ! Was it likely, 
moreover, that the minions of the torturer had not 
foreseen and provided for this possibility? WaS it 
probable that the bandage crossed my 5 bosom in the 
track of the pendulum ? Dreading to find my faint, 
and, as it seemed, my last hope frustrated, I so far 
elevated my head as to obtain a distinct view of my 
breast The surcingle enveloped my limbs and body 
close in all directions— «at>6 in the path of the destroying 
crescent. 

Scarcely had I dropped my head back into its 
original position, when there flashed upon my mind 
what I cannot better describe than as the unformed 
half of that idea of deliverance to which I have pre- 
viously alluded, and of which a moiety only^ floated 
indeterminately through my brain when I raised food 
to my burning lips. The whole thought was now 
present — feeble, scarcely sane, scarcely definite — but. 
still entire. I proceeded at once, with the nervous 
energy of despair, to attempt its execution. 

For many hours the immediate vicinity of the low 
framework upon which I lay, had been literally swarm- 
ing with rats. They were wild, bold, ravenous — their 
red eyes glaring upon me as if they waited but for 
motionlessness on mv part to make me their prey. 
''To what food," I thought, ''have they been accus- 
tomed in the well } " 

They had devoured, in spite of all my efforts to 
prevent them, all but a small remnant of the contents 
of the dish. I had fallen into an habitual see-saw, or 
wave of the hand, about the platter ; and at length the 
unconscious uniformity of the movement deprived it 
of effect. In their voracity, the vermin frequently 
fastened their sharp fangs hi my fingers. With the 
particles of the oilv and spicy viand which now re- 
mained, I thoroughly rubbed the bandage wherever I 
could reach it ; then, raising my hand from the floor, 
I lay breathlessly still. 

At first, the ravenous animals were startled and 
terrified at the change— at the cessation of movement. 



234 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

They shrank alarmedly back ; many sought the well. 
But this was only for a moment 1 had not counted 
in vain upon their voracity. Observing that I re- 
mained without motion^ one or two of the boldest 
leaped upon the framework^ and smelt at the sur- 
cingle. This seemed the signal for a general rush. 
Forth from the well they hurried in fresh troops. 
They clung to the wood — they overran it, and leaped 
in hundreds upon my person. The measured move- 
ment of the pendulum disturbed them not at all. 
Avoiding its strokes^ they busied themselves with the 
anointed bandage. They pressed — they swarmed upon 
me in ever accumulating heaps. They writhed upon 
my throat; their cold lips sought my own; I was 
half stifled by th^ir thronging pressure ; disgust, for 
which the world has no name, swelled my bosom, and 
chilled, with a heavy clamminess, my heart. Yet one 
minute, and I felt that the struggle would be over. 
Plainly I perceived the loosening ofthe bandage. I knew 
that in more than one place it must be already severed. 
With a more than human resolution I lay still. 

Nor had I erred in my calculations — nor had I en- 
dured in vain. I at length felt that I was free. The 
surcingle hung in ribands from my body. But the 
stroke of the pendulum already pressed upon my 
bosom. It had divided the serge of the robe. It had 
cut through the linen beneath. Twice again it swung, 
and a sharp sense of pain shot through every nerve. 
But the moment of escape had arrived. At a wave of 
my hand my deliverers hurried tumultuously away. 
With a steady movement — cautious, sidelong, shrink- 
ing, and slow — I slid from the embrace of the ban- 
dage and beyond the reach ofthe scimitar. For the 
moment, at least, / was free. 

Free !— and in the grasp of the Inquisition ! I had 
scarcely stepped from my wooden bed of horror upon 
the stone floor of the prison, when the motion of the 
hellish machine ceased, and I beheld it drawn up, by 
some invisible force, through the ceiling. This was a 
lesson which I took desperately to heart. My every 



THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 235 

motion was undoubtedly watched. Free ! — I had but 
escaped death in one form of agony^ to be delivered 
unto worse than death in some other. With that 
thought I rolled my eyes nervously around on the 
barriers of iron that hemmed me in. Something un- 
usual — some change which^ at iirst^ I could not 
appreciate distinctly — it was obvious^ had taken place 
in the apartment. For many minutes of a dreamy 
and trembling abstraction^ I busied myself in vain^ 
unconnected conjecture. During this period, I became 
aware^ for the first time, of the origin of the sulphurous 
light which illumined the cell. It proceeded from a. 
fissure, about half an inch in width, extending entirely 
around the prison at the base of the walls, which thus 
appeared, and were completely separated from the 
floor. I endeavoured, but of course in vain^ to look 
through the aperture. 

As I arose from the attempt, the mystery of the 
alteration in the chamber broke at once upon my 
understanding. I have observed that, although the 
outlines of the figures upon the walls were sufHciently 
distinct, yet the colours seemed blurred and indefinite. 
Tliese colours had now assumed^ and were momentarily 
assuming, a startling and most intense brilliancy, that 
gave to the spectral and fiendish portraitures an aspect 
that might have thrilled even firmer nerves than my 
own. Demon eyes, of a wild and ghastly vivacity^ 
flared upon me in a thousand directions^ where none 
had been visible before, and gleamed with the lurid 
lustre of a fire that I could not force my imagination 
to regard as unreal. 

Unreal! Even while I breathed there came to my 
nostrils the breath of the vapour of heated iron ! A 
suffocating odour pervaded the prison ! A deeper glow 
settled each moment in the eyes that glared at my 
agonies ! A richer tint of crimson diffused itself over 
the pictured horrors of blood. I panted !, I gasped - 
for breath 1 There could be no doubt of the design 
of my tormentors — oh ! most unrelenting 1 oh ! most 
demoniac of men ! I shrank from the glowing metal 



236 THE PIT AND THE PENDULUM 

to the centre of the celL Amid the thought of the 
fiery destruction that impended^ the idea of the cool- 
ness of the well came over my soul like balm. I 
rushed to its deadly brink. I threw my straining 
vision below. The glare from the enkindled roof 
illumined its inmost recesses. Yet^ for a wild moment^ 
did my spirit refuse to comprehend the meaning of 
what I saw. At length it forced — it wrestled its way 
into my soul — it burned itself in upon my shuddering 
reason. Oh! for a voice to speak ! — oh ! horror ! — 
oh ! any horror but this ! With a shriek^ I rushed 
from the margin^ and buried my face in my hands — 
weeping bitterly. 

The heat rapidly increased^ and once again I looked 
up^ shuddering as with a fit of the ague. There had 
been a second change in the cell — and now \he change 
was obviously in the form. As before^ it was in vam 
that I at first endeavoured to appreciate or understand 
what was taking place. But not long was I left in 
doubt The inquisitorial vengeance had been hurried 
by my twofold escape^ and there was to be no more 
dallying with the King of Terrors. The room had 
been square. I saw that two of its iron angles were 
now acute — two^ consequently^ obtuse. The fearful 
difference quickly increased with a low rumbling or 
moaning sound. In an instant the apartment had 
shifted its form into that of a lozenge. But the 
alteration stopped not here — I neither hoped nor 
desired it to stop. I could have clasped the red walls 
to mv bosom as a fi;arment of eternal peace. ^^ Death," 
I said, " any death but that of the pit ! " Fool ! might 
I not have known that into the pit it was the object 
of the burning iron to urge me? Could I resist its 
glow? or if even that, could I withstand its pressure? 
And now, flatter and flatter grew the lozenge, with a 
rapidity that left me no time for contemplation. Its 
centre, and of course, its greatest width, came just 
over the yawning gulf I shrank back — but the 
closing walls pressed me resistlessly onward. At length 
for my seared and writhing body there was no longer 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL 237 

an inch of foothold on the firm floor of the prison. 
I struggled no rnore^ hut the agony of my soul found 
vent in one loud^ long, and final scream of despair. 
I felt that I tottered upon the brink — I averted my 

eyes 

There was a discordant hum of human voices ! 
There was a loud blast as of many trumpets 1 There 
was a harsh grating as of a thousand thunders ! The 
fiery walls rushed back ! An outstretched arm caught 
my own as I fell, fainting, into the abyss. It was 
that of General Lasalle. The French army had 
entered Toledo. The Inquisition was in the hands of 
its enemies. 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL 

There are certain themes of which the interest is 
all-absorbing, but which are too entirely horrible for 
the purposes of legitimate fiction. These the mere 
romanticist must eschew, if he do not wish to offend, 
or to disgust. Tliey are with propriety handled only 
when the severity and majesty of truth sanctify and 
sustain them. We thrill, for example, with the most 
intense of '^pleasurable pain," over the accounts of 
the Passage of the Beresina, of the Earthquake at 
Lisbon, of the Plague at London, of the Massacre of 
St. Bartholomew, or of the stifling of the hundred and 
twenty-three prisoners in the Black Hole at Calcutta. 
But, in these accounts, it is the fact — it is the reality 
— it is the history which excites. As inventions, we 
should regard them with sample abhorrence. 

I have mentioned some few of the more prominent 
and august calamities on record; but in these it is 
the extent, not less than the character of the calamity, 
which so vividly impresses the fancv. I need not 
remind the reader that, from the long and weird 
catalogue of human miseries, I miffht have selected 
many individual instances more replete with essential 



238 THE PREMATURE BURIAL 

nufFering than any of these vast genera^ties of disaster. 
The true wretchedness^ indeed — the ultimate woe — is 
particular^ not diffuse. That the ghastly extremes of 
agony are endured by man the unit^ and never by 
man the mass — for this let us thank a merciful God ! 

To be buried while alive is^ beyond question^ the 
most terrific of these extremes whiph has ever fallen 
to the lot of mere mortality. That it has frequently^ 
very frequently^ so fallen^ will scarcely be denied by 
those who think. The boundaries which divide Life 
from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who 
«hall say where the one ends^ and where the other 
begins? We know that there are diseases in which 
occur total cessations of all the apparent functions of 
vitality^ and yet in which these cessations are merely 
suspensions, properly so called. They are only tem- 
porary pauses in the incomprehensible mechanism. A 
certain period elapses, and some unseen mysterious 
principle again sets in motion the magic pinions and 
the wizard wheels. The silver cord was not for ever 
loosed, nor the golden bowl irreparably broken. But 
where, meantime, was the soul ? 

Apart, however, from the inevitable conclusion, a 
priori, that such causes must produce such effects — 
that the well-known occurrence of such cases of 
suspended animation must naturally give rise, now 
and then, to premature interments — apart from this 
consideration, we have the direct testimony of medical 
and ordinary experience, to prove that a vast number 
of such interments have actually taken place. I might 
refer at once, if necessary, to a hundred well-authenti- 
•cated instances. One of very remarkable character, 
and of which the circumstances may be fresh in the 
memory of some of my readers, occurred, not very 
Jong ago, in the neighbouring city of Baltimore, where 
it occasioned a painful, intense, and widely extended 
excitement The wife of one of the most respectable 
citizens^— a lawyer of eminence and a member of 
Congress — was seized with a sudden and unaccount- 
.able illness, which completely baffled the skill of her 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL 239 

physicians. After much sufferings she died^ or was 
supposed to die. No one suspected^ indeed^ or had 
reason to suspect^ that she was not actually dead. 
She presented all the ordinary appearances of death. 
The face assumed the usual pinched and sunken out- 
line. The lips were of the usual marble pallor. The 
eyes were lustreless. There was no warmth. Pulsation 
had ceased. For three days the body was preserved 
unburied^ during which it had acquired a stony rigidity. 
The funeral, in short, was hastened> on account of the 
rapid advance of what was supposed to be decomposition. 

rhe lady was deposited in her family vault, which, 
for three subsequent years, was undisturbed. At the 
expiration of this term, it was opened for the reception 
of a sarcophagus — but, alas ! how fearful a shock 
awaited the husband, who, personally, threw open the 
door. As its portals swung outwardly back, some 
white-apparelled object fell rattling within his arms. 
It was the skeleton of his wife in her yet unmouldered 
shroud. 

A careful investigation rendered it evident that she 
had revived within two days after her entombment — 
that her struggles within the coffin had caused it to 
fall from a ledge, or shelf, to the floor, where it was 
60 broken as to permit her escape. A lamp which had 
been accidentally left, full of oil, within the tomb, was 
found empty ; it might have been exhausted, however, 
by evaporation. On the uppermost of the steps which 
led down into the dread chamber, was a large fragment 
of the coffin, with which it seemed that she had en- 
deavoured to arrest attention, by striking the iron 
doon While thus occupied, she probably swooned, 
or possibly died, through sheer terror ; and, in falling, 
her shroud became entangled in some ironwork which 
projected interiorly. Thus she remained, and thus 
she rotted, erect. 

In the year 1810, a case of living inhumation 
happened in France, attended with circumstances which 
go far to warrant the assertion that truth is, indeed, 
fftranger than fiction. The heroine of the story was a 



240 THE PREMATURE BURIAL 

Mademoiselle Victorine Lafourcade, a young girl of 
illustriouB family^ of wealth, and of great personal 
beauty. Among her numerous suitors was Juliea 
Bossuet^ a poor litterateur, or journalist^ of Paris. His 
talents and general amiability had recommended him 
to the notice of the heiress^ by whom he seems to have 
been truly beloved ; but her pride of birth decided her^ 
finally^ to reject him^ and to wed a Monsieur Renelle^ 
a banker^ and a diplomatist of some eminence. After 
marriage^ however^ this gentleman neglected^ and^ 

{perhaps, even more positively ill-treated ner. Having 
massed with him some wretched years, she died — at 
east her condition so closely resembled death as to 
deceive every one who saw her. She was buried — not 
in a vault — but in an ordinary grave in the village of 
her nativity. Filled with despair, and still inflamed by 
the memory of a profouna attachment, the lover 
journeys from the capital to the remote province in 
which the village lies, with the romantic purpose of 
disinterring the corpse, and possessing himself of its 
luxuriant tresses. He reaches the grave. At midnight 
he unearths the coffin, opens it, and is in the act of de- 
taching the hair, when he is arrested by the unclosing 
of the beloved eyes. In fact, the lady had been buried 
alive. Vitality had not altogether departed ; and she 
was aroused, by the caresses of her lover, from the 
lethargy which had been mistaken for death. He bore 
her frantically to his lodgings in the village. He 
employed certain powerful restoratives suggested by 
no little medical learning. In fine, she revived. She 
recognised her preserver. She remained with him 
until, by slow degrees, she fully recovered her original 
health. Her woman's heart was not adamant, and this 
last lesson of love sufficed to soften it She bestowed 
it upon Bossuet She returned no more to her husband, 
but concealing from him her resurrection, fled with 
her lover to America. Twenty years afterwards, the 
two returned to France, in the persuasion that time 
had so greatly altered the lady's appearance, that her 
friends would be unable to recognise her. They were 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL 241 

mistaken^ however ; for^ at the first meetinfi^. Monsieur 
Renelle did actually recognise and make claim to his 
wife. This claim she resisted ; and a judicial tribunal 
sustained her in her resistance ; deciding that the 

Eeculiar circumstances^ with the long lapse of years^ 
ad extinguished^ not only equitably^ but legally^ the 
authority of the husband. 

The Chirurgical Journal of Leipsic — a periodical 
of high authority and merit, whicn some American 
bookseller would do well to translate and republish — 
records, in a late number, a very distressing event of 
the character in question. 

An officer of artillery, a man of gigantic stature and 
of robust health, being thrown from an unmanageable 
horse, received a very severe contusion upon the head, 
which rendered him insensible at once ; the skull was 
slightly fractured ; but no immediate danger was ap- 
prehended. Trepanning was accomplished successfully. 
He was bled, and many other of the ordinary means of 
relief were adopted. Gradually, however, he fell into 
a more and more hopeless state of stupor ; and, finally^ 
it was thought that he died. 

The weather was warm ; and he was buried, with in- 
decent haste, in one of the public cemeteries. His 
funeral took place on Thursday. On the Sunday 
following, the ^rounds of the cemetery were, as usual, 
much thronged with visitors; and about noon, an 
intense excitement was created by the declaration of 
a peasant, that, while sitting upon the grave of the 
officer, he had distinctly felt a commotion of the earth, 
as if occasioned by some one struggling beneath. At 
first, little attention was paid to the man s asseveration ; 
but his evident terror, ancl the dogged obstinacy with 
which he persisted in his story, had at length their 
natural effect upon the crowd. Spades were^ hurriedly 
procured, and tne grave, which was shamefully shallow, 
waS|.in a few minutes, so far thrown open that the head 
of its occupant appeared. He was then, seemingly, 
dead ; but he sat nearly erect within his cofHn, the lid of 
which, in his furious struggles, he had partially uplifted. 

Q 



2142 THE PREMATURE BURIAL 

He was forthwith conveyed to the nearest hospital^ 
and there pronounced to be still livings although in 
an asphytic condition. After some hours he revived^ 
recognised individuals of his acquaintance^ and^ in 
broken sentences^ spoke of his agonies in the grave. 

From what he related^ it was clear that he must 
have been conscious of life for more than an hour^ 
while inhumed, before lapsing into insensibility. The 
ffrave was carelessly and loosely filled with an exceed- 
ingly porous soil ; and thus some air was necessarily 
admitted. He heard the footsteps of the crowd over- 
head, and endeavoured to make himself heard in turn. 
It was the tumult within the grounds of the cemetery, 
he said, which appeared to awaken him from a deep 
sleep — but no sooner was he awake than he became 
fiillv aware of the awful horrors of his position. 

This patient, it is recorded, was doing well, and 
seemed to be in a fair way of ultimate recovery, but 
fell a victim to the quackeries of medical experiment. 
The galvanic battery was applied, and he suddenly 
expired in one of those ecstatic paroxysms which, 
occasionally, it superinduces. 

The mention or the galvanic battery, nevertheless, 
recalls to my memory a well-known and very extra- 
ordinary case in point, where its action proved the 
means of restoring to animation a young attorney of 
London, who had been interred for two days. This 
occurred in 1831, and created, at the time, a very pro- 
found sensation wherever it was made the subject of 
converse. 

The patient, Mr. Edward Stapleton, had died, ap- 
parently, of tjrphus fever, accompanied with some 
anomalous symptoms which had excited the curiosity 
of his medical attendants. Upon his seeming decease, 
his friends were requested to sanction a post-m&rtem 
examination, but declined to permit it. As often 
happens, when such refusals are made, the practitioners 
resolved to disinter the body and dissect it at leisure, 
in private. Arrangements were easily effected witii 
some of the numerous corps of body-snatchers with 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL 243 

which London abounds; and^ upon the third night 
after the funeral^ the supposed corpse was unearthed 
from a grave eight feet deep^ and deposited in the 
operating chamber of one of the private hospitals. 

An incision of some extent had been actually made 
in the abdomen^ when the fresh and undecayed appear- 
ance of the subject suggested an application of the 
battery. One experiment succeeded another^ and the 
customary effects supervened^ with nothing to charac- 
terise them in any respect^ except^ upon one or two 
occasions^ a more than ordinary degree of life-likeness 
in the convulsive action. 

It grew late. The day was about to dawn ; and it was 
thought expedient^ at lengthy to proceed at once to the 
dissection. A student^ however^ was especially desirous 
of testing a theory of his own^ and insisted upon apply- 
ing the battery to one of the pectoral muscles. A 
rough gash was made> and a wire hastily brought in 
contact ; when the patient^ with a hurried^ but quite 
unconvulsive movement^ arose from the table^ stepped 
into the middle of the floor^ gazed about him uneasily 
for a few seconds^ and then — spoke. What he said 
was unintelligible; but words were uttered; the 
syllabification was distinct. Having spoken^ he fell 
heavily to the floor. 

For some moments all were paralysed with awe — but 
the urgency of the case soon restored them their 
presence of mind. It was seen that Mr. Stapleton was 
alive^ although in a swoon. Upon exhibition of ether 
he revived and was rapidly restored to healthy and to 
the society of his friends — from whom^ however^ all 
knowledge of his resuscitation was withheld^ until 
a relapse was no longer to be apprehended. Their 
wonder — their rapturous astonishment — may be con- 
ceived. 

The most thrilling peculiarity of this incident^ never- 
theless^ is involved in what Mr. S. himself asserts. He 
declares that at no period was he altogether insensible 
— that, dully and confusedly^ he was aware of everything 
which happened to him^ from the moment in which he 



244 THE PREMATURE BURIAL 

was pronounced dead by his phjrsicians^ to that in 
which he fell swooning to the floor of the hospital. 
/* I am alive," were the uncomprehended words which^ 
upon recognising the locality of the dissecting-room, 
he had endeavoured, in his extremity, to utter. 

It were an easv matter to multiply such histories as 
these — but I forbear — for, indeed, we have no need of 
such to establish the fact that premature interments 
occur. When we reflect how very rarely, from the 
nature of the case, we have it in our power to detect 
them, we must admit that they may /reauently occur 
without our cognisance. Scarcely, in trutn, is a grave- 
yard ever encroached upon, for any purpose, to any 
great extent, that skeletons are not found in postures 
which surest the most fearful of suspicions. 

Fearful indeed the suspicion — but more fearful the 
doom ! It may be asserted, without hesitation, that 
no event is so terribly well adapted to inspire the 
supremeness of bodily and of mental distress, as is 
burial before death. The unendurable oppression of 
the lungs — the stifling fumes of the damp earth — the 
clinging to the death garments — the rigia embrace of 
the narrow house — ^the blackness of the absolute Night 
— the silence like a sea that overwhelms — ^the unseen 
but palpable presence of the Conqueror Worm — these 
things, with thoughts of the air and grass above, with 
memory of dear friends who would fly to save us if but 
informed of our fate, and with consciousness that of 
this fate they can never be informed— that our hopeless 

r»rtion is that of the really dead — these considerations, 
say, carry into the heart, which still palpitates, a 
degree of appalling and intolerable horror from which 
the most daring imagination must recoil. We know 
of nothing so agonising upon Earth — we can dream of 
nothinghalf so hideous in the realms of the nethermost 
Hell. And thus all narratives upon this topic have an 
interest profound; an interest, nevertheless, which, 
through tiie sacred awe of the topic itself, very properly 
and very peculiarly depends upon our conviction of the 
truth of tne matter narrated. What I have now to tell. 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL 246 

is of my own actual knowledge — of my own positive 
and personal experience. 

For several years I had been subject to attacks of 
the singular disorder which physicians have agreed to 
term catalepsv> in default of a more definite title. 
Although both the immediate and the predisposing 
causes^ and even the actual diagnosis of this disease^ 
are stUl mysteries^ its obvious and apparent character 
is sufficiently well understood. Its variations seem to 
be chiefly of degree. Sometimes the patient lies^ for a 
day ouly^ or even for a shorter period^ in a species of 
exaggerated lethargy. He is senseless and extemall v 
motionless; but the pulsation of the heart is stiU 
faintly perceptible ; some traces of warmth remain ; a 
slight colour lingers within the centre of the cheek ; 
and^ upon application of a mirror to the lips, we can 
detect a torpid^ unequal^ and vacillating action of the 
lungs. Then^ &gain^ the duration of the trance is for 
weeks — even for months; while the closest scrutiny, 
and the most rigorous medical tests, fail to establish 
any material distinction between the state of the 
sufferer and what we conceive of absolute death. Very 
usually, he is saved from premature interment solelv 
by the knowledge of his friends that he has been previ- 
ously subject to catalepsy, by the consequent suspicion 
excited, and, above all, by the non-appearance of decay. 
The advances of the malady are, luckily, gradual. The 
first manifestations, although marked, are unequivocal. 
The fits grow successively more and more distinctive, 
and endure each for a longer term than the preceding. 
In this lies the principal security from innumation. 
The unfortunate whose first attack should be of the 
extreme character which Js occasionally seen, would 
almost inevitably be consigned alive to the toipb. 

My own case differed in no important particular 
from those mentioned in medical books. Sometimes, 
without any apparent cause, I sank, little by little, 
into a condition of semi-syncope, or half swoon ; and, 
in this condition, without pain, without ability to stir, 
or strictly speaking, to think, but with a dull lethargic 



246 THE PREMATURE BURIAL 

consciousness of life and of the, presence of those who 
surroonded my bed^ I remained^ until the crisis of the 
disease restored me, suddenly, to perfect sensation. 
At other times I was quickly and impetuously smitten. 
I grew sick, and numb, ana chilly, and dizzy, and so 
fell prostrate at once. Then, for weeks, all was void, 
and black, and silent, and Nothing became the universe. 
Total annihilation could be no more. From these 
latter attacks I awoke, however, with a gradation slow 
in proportion to the suddenness of the seizure. Just 
as the day dawns to the friendless and houseless beggar 
who roams the streets throughout the long desolate 
winter night — just so tardily — just so wearily — just so 
cheerily came back the light of the Soul to me. 

Apart from the tendency to trance, however, my 
general health appeared to be good ; nor could I per- 
ceive that it was at all affected by the one prevalent 
malady — unless, indeed, an idiosjrncrasy in an ordinary 
Bleep may be looked upon as superinduced. Upon 
awaking from slumber, I could never gain, at once, 
thorough possession of my senses, and alwajrs remained, 
for many minutes, in much bewilderment and per- 
plexity — the mental faculties in general, but the 
memory in especial, being in a condition of absolute 
abeyance. 

In all that I endured there was no physical suffering, 
but of moral distress an infinitude. My fancy grew 
chamel. I talked ^' of worms, of tombs and epitaphs." 
I was lost in reveries of death, and the idea of pre- 
mature burial held continual possession of my brain. 
The ghastly danger to which I was subjected haunted 
me day and night. In the former, the torture of medi- 
tation was excessive — in the latter, supreme. When 
the grim darkness overspread the earth, then, with 
very horror of thought, I shook — shook as the quiver- 
ing plumes upon the hearse. Wlien nature could 
endure wakefulness no longer, it was with a struggle 
that I consented to sleep — for I shuddered to reflect 
that, upon awaking, I might find mjrself the tenant 
of a grave. And when, finally, I sank into slumber, 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL 247 

it was only to rush at once into a world of phantasms^ 
above which^ with vast^ sable^ overshadowing wings^ 
hovered^ predominant^ the one sepulchral Idea. 

From the innumerable images of gloom which thus 
oppressed me in dreams^ I select for record but a 
solitary vision. Methought I was immersed in a 
cataleptic trance of more than usual duration and 
profundity. Suddenly there came an icy hand upon my 
forehead^ and an impatient^ gibbering voice whisperea 
the word *' Arise !" within my ear. 

I sat erect The darkness was totaL I could not 
see the figure of him who had aroused me. I could 
call to mind neither the period at which I had fallen 
into the trance^ nor the locality in which I then lay. 
While I remained motionless^ and busied in endeavours 
to collect my thoughts^ the cold hand grasped me 
fiercely by the wrist, shaking it petulantly^ while the 
gibbering voice said again — 

*' Arise ! did I not bid thee arise?" 
'* And who," 1 demanded^ *' art thou ? " 
^' I have no name in the regions which I inhabit^" 
replied the voice mournfully ; ^' I was mortal^ but am 
fiend. I was merciless^ but am pitiful. Thou dost 
feel that I shudder. My teeth chatter as I speak^ yet 
it is not with the chilliness of the night — of the night 
without end. But this hideousness is insufferable. 
How canst thou tranquilly sleep? I cannot rest for 
the cry of these great agonies. These sights are more 
than I can bear. Get thee up ! Come with me into 
the outer Nighty and let me unfold to thee the graves. 
Is not this a spectacle of woe ? Behold 1 " 

I looked ; and the unseen figure, which still grasped 
me by the wrist, had caused to be thrown open the 
graves of all mankind ; and from each issued the faint 
phosphoric radiance of decay^ so that I could see into 
the innermost recesses, and there view the shrouded 
bodies in their sad and solemn slumbers with the 
worm. But, alas ! the real sleepers were fewer, by 
many millions, than those who slumbered not at all ; 
and there was a feeble struggling^ and there was a 



248 THE PREMATURE BURIAL 

general sad unrest ; and from out the depths of the 
countless pits there came a melancholy rustling from 
the garments of the huried. Aud^ of those who seemed 
tranquilly to repose^ I saw that a vast number had 
changed^ in a greater or less degree^ the riffid and 
uneasy position in which they had originally been 
entombed. And the voice again said to me^ as I 
gazed — 

^^Is it not — oh, is it not a pitiful sight?" But, 
before I could find words to reply, the figure had 
ceased to grasp my wrist, the phosphoric lights expired, 
and the graves were closed with a sudden violence, 
while from out them arose a tumult of despairing 
cries, saying again, '^ Is it not — O God ! is it not a 
very pitiful sight?" 

Phantasies such as these, presenting themselves at 
night, extended their terrific influence far into my 
waking hours. My nerves became thoroughly un- 
strung, and I fell a prey to perpetual horror. 1 
hesitated to ride, or to walk, or to indulge in any 
exercise that would carry me from home. In fact, I 
no longer dared trust myself out of the immediate 
presence of those who were aware of my proneness to 
catalepsy, lest, falling into one of my usual fits, I 
should be buried before my real condition could be 
ascertained. I doubted the care, the fidelity of my 
dearest friends. 1 dreaded that, in some trance of 
more than customary duration, thev might be prevailed 
upon to regard me as irrecoverable. I even went so 
far as to fear that, as I occasioned much trouble, thev 
might be glad to consider any very protracted attack 
as sufficient excuse for getting rid of me altogether. 
It was in vain they endeavoured to reassure me by the 
most solemn promises. I exacted the most sacred 
oaths, that under no circumstances they would bury 
me until decomposition had so materially advanced as 
to render further preservation impossible. And, even 
then, my mortal terrors would listen to no reason— 
would accept no consolation. I entered into a series 
of elaborate precautions. Among other things, I had 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL 249 

the family vault so remodelled as to admit of being 
readily opened from within. The slightest pressure 
upon a long lever that extended far into the tomb would 
cause the iron portals to ily back. There were arrange- 
ments also for the free admission of air and lights 
and convenient receptacles for food and water^ within 
immediate reach of the coffin intended for my recep- 
tion. This coffin was warmly and softly padded^ and 
was provided with a lid^ fashioned upon the principle 
of the vault-door^ with the addition of springs so con- 
trived that the feeblest movement of the body would 
be sufficient to set it at liberty. Besides all this, 
there was suspended from the roof of the tomb a large 
bell, the rope of which, it was designed, should extend 
through a hole in the coffin, and so be fastened to one 
of the hands of the corpse. But, alas ! what avails 
the vigilance against the Destiny of man ? Not even 
these well-contrived securities sufficed to save from 
the uttermost agonies of living inhumation a wretch 
to these agonies foredoomed ! 

There arrived an epoch — as often before there had 
arrived—in which I found myself emerging from total 
unconsciousness into the first feeble and indefinite 
sense of existence. Slowly — with a tortoise gradation 
— approached the faint grey dawn of the psychal 
day. A torpid uneasiness. An apathetic endurance 
of dull pain. No care — no hope — no effort. Then, 
after long interval, a ringing in the ears ; then, after 
a lapse still longer, a prickling or tingling sensation 
in the extremities; then a seemingly eternal period 
of pleasurable quiescence, during which the awakening 
feelings are struggling into thought ; then a brief re- 
sinking into nonentity ; then a sudden recovery. At 
length the slight quivering of an eyelid, and imme- 
diately thereupon an electric shock of a terror, deadly 
and indefinite, which sends the blood in torrents from 
the temples to the heart. And now the first positive 
effort to think. And now the first endeavour to re- 
member. And now a partial and evanescent success. 
And now the memory has so far regained its dominion, 



2(M) THE PREMATURE BURIAL . 

that^ in some measure^ I am cognisant of my state. 
I feel that I am not awaking from ordinary sleep. 
I recollect that I have been subject to catalepsy. 
And now, at last^ as if by the rush of an ocean^ my 
shuddering spirit is overwhelmed by the one grim 
Danger — by the one spectral and ever- prevalent 
Idea. 

For some minutes after this fancy possessed me^ I 
remained without motion. And why? I could not 
summon courage to move. I dared not make the 
effort which was to satisfy me of my fate — and yet 
there was something at my heart which whispered me 
U was sure. Despair — such as no other species of 
wretchedness ever calls into being — despair alone 
urged me^ after long irresolution^ to uplift the heavy 
lids of my eyes. I uplifted them. It was dark — all 
dark. I knew that the fit was over. I knew that 
the crisis of my disorder had long passed. I knew 
that I had now fully recovered the use of my visual 
faculties — and yet it was dark — all dark — ^the intense 
and utter raylessness of the Night that endureth for 
evermore. 

I endeavoured to shriek; and my lips and my 
parched tongue moved convulsively together in the 
attempt — but no voice issued from uie cavernous 
lungs^ which^ oppressed as if by the weight of some 
incumbent mountain^ gasped and palpitated^ with the 
hearty at every elaborate and struggling inspiration. 

The movement of the iaws^ in this effort to cry 
aloud^ showed me that they were bound up^ as is 
usual with the dead. I felt, too, that I lay upon some 
hard substance ; and by something similar my sides 
were^ also, closely compressed. So far, I had not 
ventured to stir any of my limbs — but now I violently 
threw up my arms, which had been lying at lengthy 
with the wrists crossed. They struck a solid wooden 
substance^ which extended above my person at an 
elevation of not more than six inches from my face. 
I could no longer doubt that I reposed within a coffin 
at last 



THE PREMATURE BURIAL 251 

And now, amid all my infinite miseries^ came sweetly 
the cherub Hope — for I thought of my precautions. 
1 writhed^ and made spasmodic exertions to force open 
the lid ; it would not move. I felt my wrists for the 
bell-rope; it was not to be found. And now the 
Comforter fled for ever^ and a still sterner Despair 
reigned triumphant ; for I could not help perceiving 
the absence ot the paddings which I had so carefully 
prepared — and then^ too, there came suddenly to my 
nostrils the strong peculiar odour of moist earth. The 
conclusion was irresistible. 1 was not within the vault. 
I had fallen into a trance while absent from home — 
while among strangers — when^ or how, I could not 
remember — and it was they who had buried me as a 
dog — nailed up in some common coffin — and thrust^ 
deep, deep, and for ever, into some ordinary and 
nameless grave, ^ 

As this awful conviction forced itself, thus^ into the 
^ innermost chambers of mv soul, I once again struggled 
to cry aloud. And in this second endeavour 1 suc- 
ceeded. A long, wild, and continuous shriek, or yell^ 
of agony, resounded through the realms of the suoter- 
rene Night 

^'Hillo ! hillo, there !" said a gruff voice, in reply. 

'' What the devil's the matter now? " said a second. 

" Get out o' that ! " said a third. 

^'What do you mean by yowling in that ere kind 
of style, like a cattymount?" said a fourth; and 
hereupon I was seized and shaken without ceremony, 
for several minutes, by a junto of very rough-looking 
individuals. They did not arouse me from my slumber 
— for I was wide awake when I screamed — but they 
restored me to full possession of my memory. 

This adventure occurred near Richmond, m Virginia. 
Accompanied by a friend, I had proceeded, upon a 
gunning expedition, some miles down the banks of 
James River. Night approached, and we were over- 
taken by a storm. The cabin of a small sloop lying 
at anchor in the stream, and laden with warden mouldy 
afforded us the only available shelter. We made the 



252 THE PREMATURE BURIAL 

best of it, and passed the night on board. I slept in 
one of the only two berths in the vessel — and the 
berths of a sloop of sixty or seventy tons need scarcely 
be described. That which I occupied had no bedding 
of any kind. Its extreme width was eighteen inches. 
The distance of its bottom from the deck overhead, 
was precisely the same. I found it a matter of exceed- 
ing difficulty to squeeze myself in. Nevertheless, I 
slept soundly; and the whole of my vision — for it 
was no dream, and no nightmare — arose naturally 
from the circumstances of my position — from my 
ordinary bias of thought — and from the difficulty, to 
which I have alluded, of collecting my senses, and 
especially of regaining my memory, for a long time 
after awaking from slumber. The men who shook me 
were the crew of the sloop, and some labourers engaged 
to unload it From the load itself came the eaithy 
smell. The bandage about the jaws was a silk hana- 
kerchief in which I bound up my head, in default of ' 
my customary nightcap. 

The tortures endured, however, were indubitably 
quite equal, for the time, to those of actual sepulture. 
They were fearfully — they were inconceivably hideous ; 
but out of evil proceeded good ; for their very excess 
wrought in my spirit an inevitable revulsion. My 
soul acquired tone — acquired temper. I went abroad 
I took vigorous exercise. I breathed the free air of 
heaven. I thought upon other subjects than death. 
I discarded my medical books. ^^Buchan" I burned. 
I read no ^' Night Thoughts " — no fustian about church- 
yards — no bugaboo tales — such as this. In short I 
became a new man, and lived a man's life. From that 
memorable night I dismissed for ever my chamel 
apprehensions, and with them vanished the cataleptic 
disorder, of which, perhaps, they had been less the 
consequence than the cause. 

There are moments when, even to the sober eye of 
Reason, the world of our sad Humanity may assume 
the semblance of a Hell — but the imagination of man 
is no Carathis, to explore with impunity its every 



THE BLACK CAT 253 

cavern. Alas ! the grim legion of sepulchral terrors 
cannot be regarded as altogether fanciful — but^ like 
the Demons in whose company Afrashib made his 
voyage down the Oxus, they must sleep^ or they will 
devour us — they must be suffered to slumber^ or we 
perish. 



THE BLACK CAT 

For the most wild^ yet most homely narrative which 
I am about to pen^ 1 neither expect nor solicit belief 
Mad indeed would I be to expect it^ in a case where 
my very senses reject their own evidence. Yet^ mad 
am I not — and very surely do 1 not dream. But to- 
morrow I die^ and to-day I would unburden my souL 
My immediate purpose is to place before the world, 
plainlv, succinctly, and without comment, a series of 
mere household events. In their consequences, these 
events have terrified — have tortured — have destroyed 
me. Yet I will not attempt to expound them. To 
me, tliev have presented little but horror — to many 
they will seem less terrible than baroques. Hereafter, 
perhaps, some intellect may be found which will 
reduce my phantasm to the commonplace — some 
intellect more calm, more logical, and far less excit- 
able than my own, which will perceive, in the circum- 
stances I detail with awe, nothing more than an ordi- 
nary succession of very natural causes and effects. 

From my infancy 1 was noted for the docility and 
humanity of my disposition. My tenderness of heart 
was even so conspicuous as to make me the jest of my 
companions. I was especially fond of animals, and 
was indulged by my parents with a great variety of 
pets. With these 1 spent most of my time, and never 
was so happy as when feeding and caressing them. 
This peculiarity of character grew with my growth, 
and, in my manhood, I derived from it one of my 
principal sources of pleasure. To those who have 



254 THE BLACK CAT 

cherished an affection for a faithful and sagacious dog^ 
I need hardly he at the trouble of explaining the 
nature or the intensity of the gratification thus deriy- 
able. There is something in the unselfish and self- 
sacrificing love of a brute^ which goes directly to the 
heart of him who has had frequent occasion to test the 
paltry friendship and gossaiper fidelity of mere Man, 

I married early^ and was happy to find in my wife a 
disposition not uncongenial witn my owil Observing 
my partiality for domestic pets^ she lost no opportunity 
of procuring those of the most agreeable kind. We 
haa birds^ gold-fish^ a fine dog^ rabbits^ a small 
monkey, and a cat. 

This latter was a remarkably large and beautiful 
animal^ entirely blacky and sagacious to an astonishing 
degree. In speaking of his intelligence^ my wife, 
who at heart was not a little tinctured with supersti- 
tion, made frequent allusion to the ancient popular 
notion, which regarded all black cats as witches in 
disguise. Not that she was ever serious upon this 
point — and I mention the matter at all for no better 
reason than that it happens, just now, to be 
remembered. 

Pluto — ^this was the cat's name — was my favourite 
pet and playmate. I alone fed him, and he attended 
me wherever I went about the house. It was even 
with difficulty that I could prevent him from following 
me through the streets. 

Our friendship lasted, in this manner, for several 
years, during which my general temperament and 
character — through the instrumentality of the fiend 
Intemperance — had (I blush to confess it) experienced 
a radical alteration for the worse. I grew, day by day, 
more moody, more irritable, more regardless of the 
feelings of others. I suffered myself to use intem- 

Eerate language to my wife. At length, I even offered 
er personal violence. My pets, of course, were made 
to foel the change in my disposition. I not only 
neglected, but ill-used them. For Pluto, however, 1 
still retained sufficient regard to restrain me from mal- 



THE BLACK CAT 265 

treating him^ as I made no scruple of maltreating the 
rabbits^ the monkey, or even the dog^ when by acci* 
dent^ or through affection^ they came in my way. 
But my disease grew upon me — for what disease is like 
alcohol ? — and at lengtn even Fluto^ who was now be- 
coming old^ and consequently somewhat peevish — even 
Pluto began to experience the effects of my ill temper. 

One nighty returning home^ much intoxicated^ from 
one of my haunts about town, I fancied that the cat 
avoided my presence. I seized him; when, in his 
fright at my violence, he inflicted a slight wound upon 
my hand with his teeth. The fury of a demon in- 
stantly possessed me. I knew myself no longer. My 
original soul seemed, at once, to take its flight from 
my body ; and a more than fiendish malevolence, gin- 
nurtured, thrilled every fibre of, my frame. I took 
from my waistcoat pocket a pen-knife, opened it, 
grasped the poor beast by the throat, and deliberately 
cut one of its eyes from the socket ! I blush, I bum, 
I shudder, while I pen the damnable atrocity. 

When reason returned with the morning — when I 
had slept off the fumes of the night's debauch — I ex- 
perienced a sentiment half of horror, half of remorse, 
for the crime of which I had been guilty ; but it was, 
at best, a feeble and equivocal feeling, and the soul 
remained untouched. I again plung^ into excess, 
and soon drowned in wine sSl memory of tibe deed. 

In the meantime the cat slowly recovered. The 
socket of the lost eye presented, it is true, a frightful 
appearance, but he no longer appeared to su^er any 
pain. He went about the house as usual, but, as 
might be expected, fled in extreme terror at my ap- 
proach. I had so much of my old heart left, as to be 
at first grieved by this evident dislike on the part of a 
creature which had once so loved me. But this feel- 
ing soon gave place to irritation. And then came, as 
if to my final and irrevocable overthrow, the spirit of 
Perverseness. Of this spirit philosophy takes no 
account. Yet I am not more sure that my soul lives, 
than I am that perverseness is one of the primitive 



256 THE BLACK CAT 

impulses of the human heart—one of the indivisible 
primary faculties^ or sentiments^ which give direction 
to the ' character of man. Who has not^ a hundred 
times^ found himself committing a vile or a silly 
action^ for no other reason than because he knows he 
should not? Have we not a perpetual inclination, in 
the teeth of our best judgment^ to violate that which 
is Law^ merely because we understand it to be such ? 
This spirit of perverseness^ I say^ came to my final 
overthrow. It was this unfathomable longing of the 
soul to vex itseff'—to offer violence to its own nature — 
to do wrong for the wrong's sake only — that urged me 
to continue and finally to consummate the injury I 
had inflicted upon the unoffending brute. One morn- 
ings in cool blood, I slipped a noose about its neck and 
hung it to the limb of a tree — hung it with the tears 
streaming from my eyes^ and with the bitterest re- 
morse at my heart — nung it because I knew that it 
had loved me, and because I felt it had given me no 
reason of offence — ^hung it because I knew that in so 
doing I was committing a sin — a deadly sin that would 
so jeopardise my immortal soul as to place it — if such 
a thing were possible — even beyond the reach of the 
infinite mercy of the Most Merciful and Most Terrible 
God. 

On the night of the day on which this cruel deed 
was done^ I was aroused from sleep by the cry of 
'*Fire!" The curtains of my bed were in flames. 
The whole house was blazing. It was with great diffi- 
culty that my wife^ a servant^ and myself^ made our 
escape from the conflagration. The destruction was 
complete. My entire worldly wealth was swallowed 
up, and I resigned myself thenceforward to despair. 

I am above the weakness of seeking to establish |i 
sequence of cause and effect between Uie disaster and 
the atrocity. But I am detailing a chain of facts, and 
wish not to leave evto a possible link imperfect. On 
the day succeeding the fire, I visited the ruins. The 
walls, with one exception, had fallen in. This ex- 
ception wl» found in a compartment wall, not very 



THE BLACK CAT 257 

thick^ which stood ahout the middle of the house^ and 

Xinst which had rested the head of my bed. The 
iteringr had here^ in sreat measure^ resisted the 
action of the fire — a fact which I attributed to its havinff 
been recently spread. About this wall a dense crowd 
were collected^ and many persons seemed to be exa- 
mining a particular portion of it with very minute and 
eager attention. The words " strange ! " '* singular ! " 
and other similar expressions, excited my curiosity. I 
approached and sa^^ as if graven in bas-relief upon the 
white surface^ the figure of a gigantic cat The im- 
pression was given with an accuracy truly marvellous. 
There was a rope about the animal's neck. 

When I first beheld this apparition — for I could 
scarcely regard it as less — my wonder and my terror 
were extreme. But at length reflectibn came to my 
aid. The cat, I remembered^ had been hung in a 
garden adjacent to the house. Upon the alarm of fire, 
this garden had been immediately filled by the crowd 
— by some one of whom the animal must have been 
cut from the tree and thrown^ through an open window^ 
into my chamber. This had probably been done with 
the view of arousing me from sleep. The falling of 
other walls had compressed the victim of my cruelty 
into the substance of the freshlynspread plaster ; the 
lime of which^ with the flames and the ammonia from 
the carcass^ had then accomplished the portraiture as I 
saw it. 

Although I thus readily accounted to my reason^ if 
not altogether to my conscience^ for the startling fact 
just detailed^ it did not the less fail to make a deep im- 
pression upon my fancy. For months I could not rid 
myself of the phantasm of the cat ; and^ durinff this 
period^ there came back into my spirit a half-sentiment 
that seemed^ but was not^ remorse. I went so far as 
to regret the loss of the animal^ and to look about me^ 
among the vile haunts which I now habitually fre- 
quented^ for another pet of the same species^ and of 
somewhat similar appearance^ with which to supply its 
place. 

n 



258 THE BLACK CAT 

One night mI lat, half stupefied^ in a den of mora 
than infiuny, my attention was auddenlj drawn to 
some blaelc object, repoeing upon the head of one of 
the immense hogsheads of gin, or of mm, which con- 
stituted the chief furniture of the apartment. I had 
been looking steadily at the top of this hogshead for 
some minutes, and what now caused me snrnrise was 
the fact that I had not sooner perceived tne object 
thereupon. I approached it, and touched it with my 
hand. It was a blaclc cat~a very large one— fiilly as 
large as Pluto, and closely resembling him in every 
respect but one. Pluto had not a white hair upon any 
portion of his body ; but this cat had a larse, although 
indefinite, splotch of white, covering nearly the whole 
region of the breast 

Upon mv touching him, he immediately arose, 

Surred loudly, rubbed against my hand, and appeared 
elighted with my notice. This, then, was tne very 
creature of which I was in search. 1 at once offered 
to purchase it of the landlord ; but this person made 
no claim to it — knew nothing of it — had never seen it 
before. 

I continued my caresses, and when I prepared to go 
home, the animal evinced a disposition to accompany 
me. I permitted it to do so; occasionally stooping 
and patting it as I proceeded. When it reached the 
house it domesticated itself at once, and became im- 
mediately a great favourite with my wife. 

For my own part, I soon found a dislike to it arising 
within me. This was just the reverse of what I had 
anticipated ; but — I know not how or why it was — its 
evident fondness for myself rather disgusted and 
annoyed me. By slow degrees, these feelings of dis- 

fust and annoyance rose into the bitterness of hatred, 
avoided the creature ; a certain sense of shame, and 
the remembrance of my former deed of cruelty, pre- 
venting me from physically abusing it I did not, 
for some weeks, strike, or otherwise violently ill-use 
it; but gradually — very gradually — I came to look 
upon it with unutterable loathing, and to flee silently 



THE BLACK CAT 269 

from its odious presence^ as from the breath of a 
pestilence. 

What addedj no doubt^ to my hatred of the heftst^ 
was the discovery, on the morninff after I brought it 
home^ that> lilce rluto^ it also had been deprived of 
one of its eyes. This circumstance^ however, only en- 
deared it to my wife^ who^ as I have already said^ 
possessed, in a high degree^ that humanity of feeling 
which had once been my distinguishing trait^ and the 
source of many of my simplest and purest pleasures. 

With mv aversion to this cat^ however^ its partiality 
for myself seemed to increase. It followed my foot- 
steps with a pertinacity which it would be difficult to 
make the reader comprehend. Whenever I sat^ it 
would crouch beneath mv chair, or spring upon my 
knees^ covering me with its loatnsome caresses. If I 
arose to walk^ it would get between my feet^ and thus 
nearly throw me down, or^ fastening its long and 
sharp claws in my dress^ clamber, in this manner^ to 
my oreast At such times^ although I longed to 
d^troy it with a blow^ I was .yet withheld from so 
doing, partly by a memory of my former crime^ but 
chiefly — let me confess it at once — by absolute dread 
of the beast 

This dread was not exactly a dread of physical evil 
— and yet I should be at a loss how otherwise to define 
it I am almost ashamed to own — yes, even in this 
felon's cell^ I am almost ashamed to own — that the 
terror and horror with which the animal inspired me^ 
had been heightened by one df the merest chimeras 
it would be possible to conceive. My wife had called 
my attention^ more than once> to the character of 
the mark of white hair^ of which I have spoken^ and 
which constituted the sole visible difference between 
the strange beast and the one I had destroyed. The 
reader will remember that this mark^ although large> 
had been originally very indefinite ; but^ bv skw 
degrees — degrees nearly imperceptible^ and which for 
a long time my reason struggled to reject as fanciful 
— it had> at lengthy assumea a rigorous distinctness of 



260 THE BLACK CAT 

outlina It was now the representation of an object 
that I shudder to name— and for this^ above all^ I 
loathed^ and dreaded^ and would have rid myself of 
the monster had I dared — it was now^ I say. the image 
of a hideous— of a ghastly thing — of the Uallows ! — 
oh^ mournful and terrible engine of horror and of 
crime— of agony and of death ! 

And now was I indeed wretched beyond the wretched- 
ness of mere humanity. And a brute beast — whose 
fellow I had contemptuously destroyed — a brute beast 
to work out for iii«— for me^ a man, foshioned in the 
image of the High God— so much of insufferable woe ! 
Alas ! neither by day nor by night knew I the blessing 
of rest any more ! During the former the creature 
left me no moment alone ; and, in the latter, I started, 
hourly, from dreams of unutterable fear, to find the 
hot breath of the thing upon my face, and its vast 
weight — an incarnate nightmare that I had no power 
to sliake off— incumbent eternally upon my heart i 

Beneath the pressure of torments such as these, the 
feeble remnant of the good within me succumbed. 
Evil thoughts became my sole intimates — ^the darkest 
and most evil of thoughts. The moodiness of my 
usual temper increased to hatred of all things and of 
all mankind ; while, from the sudden, frequent, and un- 
governable outbursts of a fury to which I now blindly 
abandoned myself, my uncomplaining wife, alas I was 
the most usual and the most patient of sufferers. 

One day she accompanied me, upon some household 
errand, into the cellar of the old building which our 
poverty compelled us to inhabit The cat followed 
me down the steep stairs, and, nearly throwing roe 
headlong, exasperated me to madness. Uplifting an 
axe, and forgetting, in my wrath, the childish dread 
which had hitherto stayed my hand, I aimed a blow 
at the animal which, of course, would have proved 
instantly fatal had it descended as I wished. But tills 
blow was arrested bv the hand of my wife. Goaded, 
by the interference, into a rage more than demoniacal, 
I withdrew my arm from her grasp, and buried the 



THE BLACK CAT 261 

axe in her brain. She fell dead upon the spot^ with- 
out a groan. 

This hideous murder accomplished^ I set myself 
forthwith^ and with entire deliberation^ to the task of 
concealing the body. I knew that I could not remove 
it from the house^ either by day or by nighty without 
the risk of being observed by the neighbours. Many 
projects entered my mind. At one period I thought 
of cutting the corpse into minute frafments^ and 
destroying them by fire. At another^ I resolved to 
diff a grave for it in the floor of the cellar. Again> I 
deliberated about casting it into the well in the yard 
— about packing it in a box, as if merchandise^ with 
the usual arrangements^ ana so getting a porter to 
take it from the house. Finally I hit upon what I 
considered a far better expedient than either of these. 
I determined to wall it up in the cellar — as the 
monks of the Middle Ages are recorded to have walled 
up their victims. 

For a purpose such as this the cellar was well 
adapted. Its walls were loosely constructed, and had 
lately been plastered throughout with a rough plaster, 
which the dampness of the atmosphere had prevented 
from hardening. Moreover, in one of the walls was 
a projection, caused by a false chimney, or fireplace, 
that had been filled up, and made to resemble the rest 
of the cellar. I made no doubt that I could readily 
displace the bricks at this point, insert the corpse, 
and wall the whole up as betore, so that no eye could 
detect an3rthing suspicious. 

And in this calculation I was not deceived. B^ 



7 

id, 



means of a crowbar I easily dislodged the bricks, an( , 
having carefully deposited the body against the inner 
wall^ I propped it in that position, while, with little 
trouble, I relaid the whole structure as it originally 
stood. Having procured mortar, sand, and hair, with 
every possible precaution, I prepared a plaster which 
could not be distinguished from the old, and with this 
I very carefully went over the new briclcwork. When 
I had finished, I felt satisfied that all was right. The 



262 THE BLACK CAT 

wall did not present the slightest appearance of having 
been disturbed. The rubbish on tne floor was picked 
up with the minutest care. I looked around triumph- 
antly, and said to myself, '' Here at least, then, my 
labour has not been in vain.'* 

My next step was to look for the beast which had 
been the cause of so much wretchedness ; for I had, at 
length, firmly resolved to put it to death. Had I been 
able to meet with it, at the moment, there could have 
been no doubt of its fate ; but it appeared that the 
crafty animal had been alarmed at the violence of my 
previous anger, and forbore to present itself in my 
present mood. It is impossible to describe, or to 
imagine, the deep, the blissful sense of relief which 
the absence of the detested creature occasioned in my 
bosom. It did not make its appearance during the 
night — and thus for one night at least, since its intro- 
duction into the house, I soundly and tranquilly slept : 
aye, slept even with the burden of murder upon m^ soul! 

The second and the third day passed, and still my 
tormentor came not. Once again I breathed as a free 
man. The monster, in terror, had fled the premises 
for ever ! I should behold it no more ! Mv happiness 
was supreme 1 The gnilt of my dark deea disturbed 
me but little. Some few inquiries had been made, but 
these had been readily answered. Even a search had 
been instituted — but of course nothing was to be dis- 
covered. I looked upon mv future felicity as secured. 

Upon the fourth day of the assassination, a party of 
the police came, very unexpectedly, into the house, 
and proceeded again to make rigorous investigation of 
the premises. Secure, however, in the inscrutability 
of my place of concealment, I felt no embarrassment 
whatever. The officers bade me accompany them in 
their search. They left no nook or comer unexplored. 
At length, for the third or fourth time, they descended 
into the cellar. I quivered not in a muscle. My heart 
beat calmly as that of one who slumbers in Innocence. 
I walked the cellar from end to end. I folded my 
arms upon my bosom, and roamed easily to and fro. 



THE BLACK CAT 263 

The police were thoroughlv satisfied^ and prepared to 
depart The glee at my heart was too strong to be 
restrained. I burned to say if but one word^ oy way 
of triumph, and to render doubly sure their assurance 
of my guilUessness. 

. '' uentlemen^" I said at last^ as the party ascended 
the steps^ " I delisht to have allayed your suspicions. 
I wish you all health, and a little more courtesy. By- 
the-bye, gentlemen^ this — this is a very well-<x)n8tructed 
house." (In the rabid desire to say something easily^ 
I scarcely knew what I uttered at all*)N " I mav say an 
exoeUently well-constructed house. These wails — ^are 
you goinff^ gentlemen ? — these walls are solidly put to- 

fither ; ' and here, through the mere frenzy of bravado, 
rapped heavily, with a cane which I held in my hand> 
upon that very portion of the brickwork behind which 
stood the corpse of the wife of my bosom. 

But may God shield and deliver me from the fangs 
of the Arch-Fiend ! No sooner had the reverberation 
of my blows sunk into silence^ than I was answered by 
a voice from within the tomb ! — by a cry, at first 
muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child^ and 
then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and con- 
tinuous scream, utterly anomalous and inhuman — a t 
howl — a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of 
triumph, such as might have arisen only out of hell^ 
conjointly from the throats of the damned in their 
agony and of the demons that exult in the damnation. 

Of my own thoughts it is follv to speak. Swooning, 
I staggered to the opposite wall. For one instant the 
party upon the stairs remained motionless, through 
extremity of terror and of awe. In the next^ a dozen 
stout arms were toiling at the wall. It fell bodily. 
The corpse, already greatly decayed and clotted with 

fore, stood erect before the eyes of the spectators 
fpon its head^ with red extended mouth and solitary 
eye of fire^ sat the hideous beast whose craft had 
seduced me into murder, and whose informing voice 
had consigned me to the hangman. I Lad waUed the 
monster up within the tomb ! 



264 THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 



THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 

Thb '^ Red Death " had long devastated the country. 
No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. 
Blood was its Avatar and its seal — the redness and 
the horror of blood. There were sharp painsj and 
sudden dizziness^ and then profuse bleeding at the 
pores^ with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the 
l>ody 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 inciaents of half-an-hour. 

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless 
and sagacious. When his dominions were half de- 
populated, he summoned to his presence a thousand 
nale 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. Tliis 
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 
ffates ofiron. 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 or of frenzv 
from within, llie abbey was amply provisionea. 
With such precautions the courtiers might bid de- 
fiance 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 appli- 
ances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were 
improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were 
musicians, 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 



THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 265 

niriously 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 
scarcelv 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 dis- 
posed 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. 
Hiat 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 case- 
•ments. 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 pro- 
fusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and 
fro, or depended from the roof. Tliere was no light 
of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the 
suite of chambers. But in the corridors that followed 



TH£: masque of the red death 267 

But^ in spite of iJiese things^ it was a gay and 
magnificent revel. Tiie tast^ of the duke were 

Eiouliar. He liad a fine eye for colours and effects, 
e disregarded tlie decora of mere fashion. His plans 
were bold and fiei7> and his conceptions 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 
iure that he was not. 

He had directed^ in great part^ the movable em- 
bellishments of the seven chambers^ upon occasion of 
this gretii f^te; and it was his own guiaing taste which 
had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure 
they were grotesque. There were much fflare and 
fflitter and piquancy and phantasm — much of what has 
been since seen in " Hernaiii." There were arabesque 
figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There 
were delirious fancies 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 stallced, 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 eohoes of the chime die away — they have 
endured but an instant — and a liffht, half-subdued 
lauffhter 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 most 
westwardly 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 



268 THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 

appals; and to him who^e foot falls upon the sahle 
carpet^ there comes from the near cIock of ehony a 
muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which 
reaches their ears who indulge in the more remote 
gaieties of the other apartments. 

But these other apartments were densely crowded, 
and in them heat feverishly the heart of life. And 
the revel went whirlingly on^ until at length there 
commenced the sounding of midnight upon the dock. 
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^ itliappened^ 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, tnere arose at length from the 
whole company a bussz, or murmur, expressive of di^ap- 

>robation and surprise — then, finally, of terror^ of 

lorror, 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 jests 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 



hi 



THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 269 

existed. The figure was tall and gaunt^ and shrouded 
from head to foot in the habiliments of the ffrave. 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 detect- 
ing the cheat. And yet all this might have been 
endured^ if not approved^ by the mad revellers around. 
But the mummer nad gone so far as to assume the type 
of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in bhod 
— 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 move- 
mentj as if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to 
and fro among the waltzers)^ he was seen to be con- 
vulsedj in the first moment^ with a strong shudder 
either of terror or distaste ; but^ in the nezt^ 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 un- 
mask him — that we may know whom 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 firsts 
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 assumptions of the mummer had in- 
spired 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^ 



270 THE MASQUE OF THE RED DEATH 

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 firsts through the blue chamber to the purple- 
through the purple to the green — through tne green 
to the orange-rtnrough this again to the white — and 
even thence to tiie violet^ ere a decided movement 
had been made to arrest him. It was then, how- 
ever, that the Prince Prospero, maddened with rage 
and the shame of his own momentary cowardice, 
rushed hurriedly through the six chambers, while none 
followed him on account of a deadly terror that had 
seized upon all. He bore aloft a drawn dagger, aud had 
approached, in rapid impetuosity, to wi&in 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, instanuy after- 
wards, fell prostrate in aeath the Prince Prospero. 
Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a 
throng of the revellers at once threw themselves into 
the blaclc apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose 
tall figure stood 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 Dark- 
ness and Decay and the Ked Death held illimitable 
dominion over all. 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 271 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 

Trb thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borae 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 Jt length I would be 
avenged ; this was a point definitely settled — but 
the very definitiveness with which it was resolved^ 

Precluded the idea of risk. I must not only pun- 
ih, but punish with impunity. A wrong is unre- 
dressed when retribution overtakes its reoresser. It 
is equally unredressed when the avenger fails to 
make himself felt as such to him who has done the 
wrong. 

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 
fiu», 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 adapted to suit the 
time and opportunity — to practise imposture upon the 
British ana 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 could. 

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 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 



272 THE CASK OP AMONTILLADO 

was go pleased to see him^ that I thought I should 
never have done wringing his hand. 

I said to him> ** M v dear Fortunato, you are luckily 
met How remarlcaDly well you are looking to-day I 
But I have received a pipe of what passes for Amontil- 
lado, and I have my douots." 

'^How?" said he; ^'Amontillado? A pipe? Im- 
possible ! 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 con- 
sulting you in the matter. You were not to be found, 
and I was fearful of losing a bargain." 

"Amontillado I" 

" I have my doubts." 

"Amontillado!" 

" And I must satisfy them." 

"Amontillado!" 

" 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." 

"Whither?" 

"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 
Snerry from Amontillado." 

Thus speaking, Fortunato possessed himself of my 
arm. Putting on a mask of black silk, and drawing a 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 273 

roqueiaire closely about my persoiii I suffered him to 
hurry me to my palazzo. 

There were no attendants at home; they had ah- 
Bconded to make merry in honour of tlie 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. These orders were sufficient, 1 well knew, 
to ensure their immediate disappearance, one and all, 
as soon as my back was turned. 

1 took from their sconces two flambeaux, and giving 
one to Fortunate, 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 Montresors. 

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

''The pipe," said he. 

'^ It is farther on," said I ; '^ but observe the white 
webwork 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 ? " 

" Ugh ! ugh ! ugh ! — ugh ! ugh ! uffh ! — ugh I ugh 1 
ugh ! — ugh r ugh r ugh !;— ugh ! uffh T ugh ! 

My poor friend found it impossiUe to reply for many 
minutes. 

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

"Come," I said, with decision, "we will go back ; 
your health is precious. You are rich, respected, ad- 
mired, beloved ; you are happy, as once I was. You are 
a man to be missed. For me it is no matter. We will 
ffo back ; you will be ill, and I cannot be responsiblot 
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." 

"True— true," I replied; "and, indeed, I had no 

8 



274 THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 

intention of alarming you unnecessarily — but you 
should use all proper caution. A draught of this 
Medoo will defend us from the damps." 

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

*' Drink/' I said^ presenting him tne 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 family." 

" I forget your arms." 
• " A huge numan foot d'or, in a field azure ; the foot 
crushes a serpent rampant whose fangs are embedded 
in the heel." 

"And the motto?" 

" Nemo me impune laceseit," 

"Good!" he said. 

The wine sparkled in his eyes and the bells jingled. 
My own fancy gi*ew warm with the Medoc. We had 
passed through walls of piled bones^ with casks and 
puncheons intermingling^ into the inmost recesses 
of the catacombs. 1 paused again^ and this time 
I made bold to seize Fortunate by an arm above the 
elbow. 

"The nitre ! " 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 " 

'Ot is nothing," he said ; " let us go on. But firstj 
another drauffht of the Medoc." 

I broke and reached him a flagon of De Gr&ve. 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. 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 276 

I looked at him in surprise. He repeated the move- 
ment — a grotesque one. 

" You do not comprehend ? " he said. 

''Not I," I replied. 

''Then you are not of the brotherhood." 

"How?" 

" You are not of the masons." 

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

"Youi* Impossible! A mason?" 

" A mason," I replied. 

" A sign," he said. 

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

"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 asain offering him my arm. He leaned 
upon it heavily. We continued our route in search of 
the Amontillado. We passed through a range of low 
arches, descended, passed on, and descending affain, 
arrived at a deep crypt, in which the foulnesfi of the 
air caused our flambeaux rather to glow than iiame. 

At the most remote end of the crypt there appeared 
another less spacious. Its walls haa been lined with 
human remains, piled to the vault overhead, in the 
fashion of the great catacombs bf Paris. Three sides 
of this interior crypt were still ornamented in tibis 
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 waU 
thus exposed by the displacing of the bones, we per- 
ceived a still interior recess, in depth about four teet, 
in width ihree, 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, endeavoured to pry into the depth of the recess. 



276 THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 

Its*^ termination the feeble light did not enable us to 
see. 

'^Proceed/' I said; '^herein is the Amontillado. 
As for Luchesi " 

''He is an ignoramus/' interrupted mv friend^ as 
he stepped unsteadily forward^ while I followed 'im- 
mediately at his heels. In an instant he had reached 
the extremity of the niche^ and finding his prcM^ress 
arrested by the rock^ stood stupidly bewildereo. 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 Withdrawing 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 power." 

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

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

As I said these words I busied myself among the 

(>ile of bones of which I have before spoken. Throw- 
ng 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 Fortunate had in 
a great measure worn ofi; The earliest indication I 
had of this was a low moaning cry from the depth of 
Uie 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 



THE CASK OF AMONTILLADO 277 

might hearkeu to it with the more satisfaction, I ceased 
my labours and sat down upon the bones. When at 
last the clanking subsided, 1 resumed the trowel, and 
finished without interruption 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 
satisfiea. I rcapproached the wall. 1 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 clamourer grew still. 

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 mv head. It was succeeded by a sad 
voice, which I had difficulty in recognising as that of 
the noble Fortunate. The voice said — 

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

''The Amontillado !" I said. 

'' He I he ! he !— he ! he ! he ! — yes, the Amon- 
tillado. 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." 

" Farthehveqf Qod, MorUresar I " 



278 THE OVAL PORTRAIT 

'^ Yes," I aaid, '' for the love of God !" 

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

*' Fortunate!" 

No answer. I called again — 

"Fortunate!" 

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 cata- 
combs. I hastened to make an end of my labour. I 
forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it 
up. Against the new masonrv I re-erected the old 
rampart of bones. For the half of a century no mortal 
has disturbed them. In pace requiescatl 



THE OVAL PORTRAIT 

Thb ch&teau into which my valet had ventured to 
make forcible entrance^ rather than permit me, in my 
desperately wounded condition^ to pass a nieht in the 
open air^ was one of those piles of commingled gloom 
and grandeur which have so long frowned among the 
Appeniues^ not less in fact than in the fancy of Mrs. 
Radcliffe. To all appearance it had been temporarily 
and very lately abaadoned. We established ourselves 
in one of the smallest and least sumptuously furnished 
apartments. It lay in a remote turret of the building. 
Its decorations were rich^ yet tattered and antique. 
Its walls were hung with tapestry and bedecked with 
manifold and multiform armorial trophies^ together 
with an unusuallv great number or very spirited 
modern paintings in frames of rich golden arabesque. 
In these paintings^ which depended from the walls 
not only in their main surjKices^ but in very many 
nooks which the bizarre architecture of the chAteau 
rendered necessary — in these paintings my incipient 
delirium^ perhaps^ had caused me to take deep interest; 



THE OVAL PORTRAIT 279 

BO that I bade Pedro to close the heavy shutters of the 
room — since it was already night — to light the tongues 
of a tall candelabrum which stood by the head of my 
bed — and to throw open far and wide the fringed 
curtains of black velvet which enveloped the bed itself. 
I wished all this done that I might resign myself, if 
not to sleep^ at least alternately to the contemplation 
of these pictures^ and the perusal of a small volume 
which had been found upon the pillow^ and which 
purported to criticise and describe them. 

Long^ long I read — and devoutly, devotedly I gazed. 
Rapidly and gloriously the hours ilew by^ and tiie 
deep midnight came. The position of the candelabrum 
displeased me^ and outreaching my hand with difficulty, 
rather than disturb my slumbering valet, I placed it so 
as to throw its rays more fully upon the book. 

But the action produced an effect altogether un- 
anticipated. The rays of the numerous candles (for 
there were many) now fell within a niche of the room 
which had hitherto been thrown into deep shade by 
one of the bedposts. I thus saw in vivid light a 
picture all unnoticed before. It was the portrait of 
a young girl just ripening into womanhood. I glanced 
at the painting hurriedly, and then closed my eyes. 
Why I did this was not at first apparent even to my 
own perception. But while my lids remained thus 
shut, I ran over in mind my reason for so shutting 
them. It was an impulsive movement to gain ti^ie 
for thought — to make sure that my vision had not 
deceived me — ^to calm and subdue my fancy for a more 
sober and more certain gaze. In a very few moments 
.1 again looked fixedly at the painting. 

That I now saw aright I could not and would not 
doubt ; for the first flashing pf the candles upon that 
canvas had seemed to dissipate the dreamy stupor 
which was stealing over my senses, and to startle me 
at once into waking life. 

The portrait, I have already said, was that of a 
young girl. It was a mere head and shoulders, done 
m what is technically termed a vignette manner — ^much 



280 THE OVAL PORTRAIT 

in the Btyle of the favourite heads of Sully. The arms^ 
the bosom^ and even the ends of the radiant hair^ 
melted imperceptibly into the vague vet deen shadow 
which formed the background of tne whole. The 
frame was oval^ richly gilded and iiligreed in Moresque. 
As a thing of art nothing could be more admirable 
than the painting itself. But it could have been 
neither the execution of the work^ nor the immortal 
beauty of the countenance, which had so suddenly and 
so vehemently moved me. Least of all could it have 
been that my fancy^ shaken from its half slumber^ 
had mistaken the head for that of a living person. I 
saw at once that the peculiarities of the design^ of 
the viffnettinff^ and of the frame^ must have instantly 
dispelled such idea — must have prevented even its 
momentary entertainment. Thinking earnestly upon 
these points^ I remained for an hour^ perhaps^ half 
sittings half reclining^ with my vision riveted upon 
the portrait. At length, satisfied with the true secret 
of its effect, I fell back within the bed. 1 had found 
the spell of the picture in an absolute l\fe4ik€neu of 
expression^ which, at first startlinff^ finally confounded, 
subdued, and appalled me. WiUi deep and reverent 
awe I replaced the candelabrum in its rormer position. 
The cause of my deep agitation being thus shut from 
view, I sought ea^erlv the volume which discussed the 
paintings and their histories. Turning to the number 
which designated the oval portrait, I there read the 
vague and quaint words which follow : — 

^^ She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more • 
lovely than full of glee. And evil was the hour when 
she saw, and loved, and wedded the painter. He, 
passionate, studious, austere, and having already a 
bride in his Art. She, a maiden of rarest beauty, and 
not more lovely than full of glee-— all light and smiles, 
and frolicsome as the young mwn ; lovinff and cherish- 
ing all things; hating only the Art iniich was her 
rival ; dreading only the palette and brushes and other 
untoward instruments which deprived her of the 
countenance of her lover. It was thus a terrible 



THE OVAL PORTRAIT 281 

thing for tiiis lady to hear the painter spealc of his 
desire to pourtray even his young bride. But she waft 
humble and obedient, and sat meekly for many weeks 
in the .dark high turret-chamber where the light 
dripped upon the pale canvas only from overhead. 
But he^ the painter, took glory in his work, which 
went on from hour to hour, and from day to day. 
And he was a passionate, and wild, and moody man, 
who became lost in reveries ; so that he would not see 
that the light which fell so ghastlily in that lone turret 
withered the health and the spirits of his bride, who 
pined visibly to all but him. Yet she smiled on and 
still on, uncomplainingly, because she saw that the 
painter (who had high renown), took a fervid and 
burning pleasure in his task, and wrought day and 
night to depict her who so loved him, yet who grew 
daily more dispirited and weak. And in sooth some 
who beheld the portrait spoke of its resemblance in 
low words, as of a mighty marvel, and a proof not less 
of the power of the painter than of his deep love for 
her whom he depicted so surpassingly well. But at 
lehgth, as the labour drew nearer to its conclusion, 
there were admitted none into the turret; for the 
painter had grown wild with the ardour of his work, 
and turned his eyes from the canvas rarely, even to 
regard the countenance of his wife. And he would not 
see that the tints which he spread upon the canvas 
were drawn from the cheeks of her who sat beside 
him. And when many weeks had passed, and but 
little remained to do, save one brush upon the mouth 
and one tint upon the eye, the spirit of the lady again 
flickered up as the flame within ttie socket of the lamp. 
And then the brush was given, and then the tint was 
placed; and, for one moment, the painter stood en- 
tranced before the work which he had wrought; but 
in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew tremulous 
and very pallid, and aghas]^ and crying with a loud 
voice, ' This is indeed L\fe itself ! ' turned suddenly to 
regard his beloved — ihe wm dead I** 



THE OBLONG BOX 



THE OBLONG BOX 



SoMB years ago, I engaged passage from Charleston^ 
S. C.^ to the city of New York^ in the fine packet- 
ship Independence, Captain Hardy. We were to sail 
on the fifteenth of the month (June)^ weather per- 
mitting; and on the fourteenth^ I went on board to 
arrange some matters in my state-room. 

I found that we were to have a great manv pas- 
sengers^ including a more than usual number of ladiea 
On the list were several of my acquaintances; and 
among other names^ I was rejoiced to see that of Mr. 
Cornelius Wyatt^ a ]^oung artist, for whom I entertained 
feelings of warm friendship. He had been with me a 

fellow-student at C University^ where we were 

very much together. He had the ordinary tempera- 
ment of genius, and was a compound of misanthropy^ 
sensibility, and enthusiasm. To these Qualities he 
united the warmest and truest heart which ever beat 
in a human bosom. 

I observed that his name was carded upon three 
state-rooms ; and, upon again referring to the list of 
passengers, I found that he had engaged passage for 
nimself, wife, and two sisters — ^his own. The state- 
rooms were sufficiently roomy, and each had two 
berths, one above the other. These berths, to be 
sure, were so exceedingly narrow as to be insufficient 
for more than one person ; still, I could not compre- 
hend why there were three state-rooms for these tour 
persons. I was, just at that epoch, in one of those 
moody frames of mind which make a man abnormally 
inquisitive about trifles; and 1 confess, with shame, 
that I busied myself in a variety of ill-bred and 
preposterous conjectures about this matter of the 
supernumerary state-room. It was no business of 
mine, to be sure ; but with none the less pertinacity 
did I occupy myself in attempts to resolve tne enigma. 
At last I reached a conclusion which wrought in me 



THE OBLONG BOX 283 

nt wonder why I had not arrived at it before. '' It 
servant^ of course," I said ; ^^ what a fool I am 
not sooner to have thought of so obvious a solution 1" 
And then I again repaired to the list — but here I saw 
distinctly that no servant was to come with the party ; 
although, in fact, it had been the original design to 
bring one — for the words " and servant had been first 
written and then over-scored. ^^Oh, extra baggage, 
to be sure," 1 now said to myself— '^ something he 
wishes not to be put in the hold — something to be 
kept under his own eye— ah, I have it— a painting 
or so — and this is what he has been bargaining abotit 
with Nicolino, the Italian Jew." This idea satisfied 
me, and I dismissed my curiosity for the nonce. 

WVatt's two sisters I knew very well, and most 
amiable and clever girls they were. His wife he had 
newly married, and I had never yet seen her. He had 
often talked about her in my presence, however, and 
in his usual style of enthusiasm. He described her as 
of surpassing beauty, wit, and accomplishment. I was, 
therefore, quite anxious to make her acquaintance. 

On the day in which I visited the snip (the four- 
teenth), Wyatt and party were also to visit it — so the 
captain informed me — and I waited on board an hour 
longer than I had designed, in hope of being presented 
to the bride; but then an apology came. '^Mrs. W» 
was a little indisposed, and woula decline coming on 
board until to-morrow, at the hour of sailing." 

The morrow having arrived, I was going from my 
hotel to the wharf, when Captain Hardy met me 
and said that, '^ owing to circumstances" (a stupid 
but convenient phrase), ^'he rather thought the 
Independence would not sail for a day or two, and 
that when all was ready, he would send up and let 
me know." This I thought strange, for there was a 
stiff southerly breeze; but as ''the circumstances" 
were not forthcoming, although I pumped for them 
with much perseverance, I had nothing to do but to 
return home and digest my impatience at leisure. 

I did not receive the expected message from the 



284 THE OBLONG BOX 

captain for nearly a week. It came at lengthy how- 
ever^ and I immediately went on board. The ship 
was crowded with passengers^ and everjrthing was in 
the bustle attendant upon making sail. Wyatt's party 
arrived in about ten minutes after myself. There 
were the two sisters, the bride, and the artist — ^the 
latter in one of his customary fits of moody misan- 
thropy. I was too well used to these, however, to 
pay tnem any special attention. He did not even 
introduce me to his wife; this courtesy devolving, 
perforce, upon his sister Marian — a very sweet and 
intelligent girl, who, in a few hurried words, made 
us acquainted. 

Mrs. Wyatt had been closely veiled ; and when she 
raised her veil, in acknowledging my bow, I confess 
that I was very profoundly astonished. I should have 
been much more so, however, had not long experience 
advised me not to trust, with too implicit a reliance, 
the enthusiastic description of my friend, the artist, 
when indulging in comments upon the loveliness of 
woman. \^en beauty was the theme, I well knew 
with what facility he soared into the regions of the 
purely ideal. 

Tlie truth is, I could not help regarding Mrs. Wyatt 
as a decidedly plain-looking woman. If not positively 
ugly, she was not, I think, very fiir from it She was 
dressed, however, in exquisite taste — and then I had 
no doubt that she had captivated m^ friend's heart by 
the more enduring graces of the intellect and souL 
She said very few words, and passed at Qnce into her 
state-room with Mr. W. 

My old inquisitiveness now returned. There was 
no servant — that was a settled point I looked, there- 
fore, for the extra baggage. After some delay, a cart 
arrived at the wharf with an oblong pine box, which 
was everything that seemed to be expected. Immedi- 
ately upon its arrival we made sail, and in a short 
time were safely over the bar and standing out at sea. 

Tlie box in question was, as I say, oblong. It was 
about six feet in length by two and a half in breadth ; 



THE OBLONG BOX 285 

I observed it attentively, and like to be precise. Now 
this shape was peculiar; and no sooner nad I seen it, 
than I tooic credit to myself for the accuracy of my 
guessing. I had reached the conclusion, it will be 
rememfiered, that the extra baggage of my friend, 
the artist, would prove to be pictures, or at least a 
picture — for I knew he had been for several weeks in 
conference with Nicolino; and now here was a host 
which, from its shape, could possibly contain nothing 
in the world but a copy of Leonardo's '^ Last Supper" ; 
and a copy of this very '^Last Supper," done by 
Rubini the younger, at Florence, I iiad known, for 
some time, to be in the possession of Nicolino. This 
point, therefore, I considered as sufficiently settled. 
I chuckled excessively when I thought of my acumen. 
It was the first time 1 had ever known Wyatt to keep 
from me any of his artistical secrets; I>ut here he 
evidently intended to steal a march upon me, and 
smuggle a fine picture to New York, under my very 
nose; expecting me to know nothing of the matter. 
I resolvea to quiz him well, now and hereafter. 

One thing, however, annoyed me not a little. The 
box did not go into the extra state-room. It was de- 
posited in Wyatt's own ; and there, too, it remained, 
occupying very nearly the whole of the floor — no doubt 
to the exceeding discomfort of the artist and his wife ; 
this the more especially as the tar or paint with which 
it was lettered in sprawling capitals emitted a strong, 
disagreeable, and, to my fancy, a peculiarly disgusting 
odour. On the lid were painted the words — "Mrs, 
Adelaide Curtis^ Albany^ New York, Charge qf Cornelius 
Wyatt, Eftq, This side up. To he handled with care," 

Now, I was aware that Mrs. Adelaide Curtis, of 
Albany, was the artist's wife's mother; but then I 
lookea upon the whole address as a mystification, in- 
tended especially for myself. I made up my mind, of 
course, that the box and contents would never get 
farther north than the studio of my misanthropic friend 
in Chambers Street, New York. 

For the first three or four days we had fine weather. 



286 THE OBLONG BOX 

although the wind was dead ahead; having chopped 
round to the northward^ immediately upon our losing 
sight of the coast The passengers were^ consequently, 
in high spirits^ and disposed to be social I must 
except, however, Wyatt and his sisters^ who behaved 
stiffly^ and I could not help thinkings uncourteously 
to the rest of the party. Wyatt*9 conduct. I did not 
so much regard. He was gloomy^ even beyond his 
usual habit — in fact he was morose — but In him I was 
prepared for eccentricity. For the sisters^ however, I 
could make no excuse. They secluded themselves in 
their state-rooms durine' the greater part of the passagSL 
and absolutely refused, although I repeatedly urgea 
them, to hold communication with any person on board. 
Mrs. Wyatt herself was far more agreeable. That 
is to say, she was chatty ; and to be chatty is no slight 
recommendation at sea. She became escestivehf in- 
timate with most of the ladies ; and, to my protound 
astonishment, evinced no equivocal disposition to 
coquet with the men. She amused us all very much, 
I say '^amused" — and scarcely know how to explain 
myself. The truth is, I soon found that Mrs. W. was 
far oftener laughed at than with. The gentlemen said 
little about her ; but the ladies, in a little while, pro- 
nounced her '^a good-hearted thing, rather indi£Ferent* 
looking, totally uneducated, and decidedly vulgar." 
The great wonder was how Wyatt had been entrapped 
into such a match. Wealth was the general solution 
— but this 1 knew to be no solution at all ; for Wyatt 
had told me she neither brought him a dollar nor nad 
any expectations from any source whatever. ''He 
had married," he said, '' for love, and for love only ; 
and his bride was fux more than worthy of his love." 
When I thought of these expressions, on the part of 
my friend, 1 confess that I felt indescribably puzzled. 
Could it be possible that he was taking leave of his 
senses? What else could I think? He, so refined, so 
intellectual, so fastidious, with so exquisite a percep- 
tion of the faulty, and so keen an appreciation of Uio 
beautiful ! To oe sure, the lady seemed especially 



THE OBLONG BOX 287 

fond of Aim — particularly so in his absence — when she 
made herself ridiculous by freauent quotations of what 
had been said by her '^ belovea husband^ Mr. Wyati" 
The word '^ husoand " seemed for ever — to use one of 
her own delicate expressions — for ever '^ on the tip of 
her tongue." In the meantime, it was observed by all 
on board, that he avoided her in the most pointed 
manner, and^ for the most part^ shut himself up alone 
in his state-room, where^ in fact, he might have been 
said to live altogether^ leaving his wife at full liberty 
to amuse herself as she thought best, in the public 
society of the main cabin. 

My conclusion^ from what I saw and heard^ was, that 
the artist, by some unaccountable freak of fate^ or 
perhaps in some fit of enthusiastic and fanciful passion, 
nad been induced to unite himself with a person alto- 
gether beneath him, and that the natural result, entire 
and speedy disgust, had ensued. I pitied him from the 
bottom of my heart — but could not, for that reason, 
quite forgive his incommunicativeness in the matter of 
the '' Last Supper." For this I resolved to have my 
revenge. 

One day he came upon deck, and, taking his ami 
as had been my wont, 1 sauntered with him backwards 
and forwards. His gloom, however (which I considered 
quite natural under the circumstances), seemed entirely 
unabated. He said little, and that moodily, and with 
evident effort I ventured a jest or two, and he made 
a sickening attempt at a smile. Poor fellow ! — as I 
thought 01 hU wife, I wondered that he could have 
heart to put on even the semblance of mirth. At last 
I ventured a home thrust. I determined to commence 
a series of covert insinuations, or innuendoes, about 
the oblong box — just to let him perceive, p^radually, 
that I was not altogether the butt, or victim, of his 
little bit of pleasant mystification. My first observa- 
tion was by way of opening a masked battery. I said 
something about the ''peculiar shape of that box"; 
and, as I spoke the words, I smiled knowingly, winked, 
and touched him gently with my forefinger in the ribs. 



288 THE OBLONG BOX 

The manner in which Wyatt received thig harmless 
pleasantry cfonvinced me at once that he was mad. 
At first he stared at me as if he found it imnossihle to 
comprehend the witticism of my remark ; out as its 
point seemed slowly to make its way into his hrain^ 
nis eyes in the same proportion seemed protruding 
from their sockets. Then he grew very red — then 
hideously pale — then^ as if highly amused with what I 
had insinuated, he began a loud and boisterous lauffhj 
whichj to my astonishment, he kept up with graduiuly 
increasing vigour, for ten minutes or more. In con- 
clusion, he fell flat and heavily upon the deck. When 
I ran to uplift him, to all appearance he was dead, 

I called assistance, and, with much difficulty, we 
brought him to himself. Upon reviving, he spoke 
incoherently for some time. At length we bled him 
and put him to bed. The tiexi morning he was quite 
recovered, so far as re^rded his mere bodilv health. 
Of his mind I sav nothing, of course. I avoided him 
during the rest of the passage, by advice of the captain, 
who seemed to coincide with me altogether in my 
views of his insanity, but cautioned me to say nothing 
on this head to any person on board. 

Several circumstances occurred immediately after 
this fit of Wyatt's, which contributed to heighten the 
curiosity with which I was already possessed. Among 
other things, this : 1 had been nervous— drank too 
much strong green tea, and slept ill at night — in &ct, 
for two nights I could not be properly said to sleep at 
all. Now, my state-room opened into the main caoin, 
or dininff-room, as did those of all the single men on 
board. Wyatt's three rooms were in the after-cabin, 
which was separated from the main one by a slight 
sliding door, never locked even at night. As we were 
almost coastantlv on a wind, and the breeze was not a 
little stiff, the ship heeled to leeward very considerably ; 
and whenever her starboard side was to leeward, the 
sliding door between the cabins slid open, and so 
remained, nobody taking the trouble to get up and 
shut it But my berth was in such a position, that 



THE OBLONG BOX 280 

when my own state-room door was open^ as well as the 
sliding door in question (and my own door was altvayi 
open on account of the heat)^ I could see into the 
atter-cahin quite distinctly^ and just at that portion of 
it^ too^ where were, situated the state-rooms of Mr. 
W)ratt Well, durinff two nights (not consecutive) 
while I lay awake, I clearly saw Mrs. W,, ahout eleven 
o'clock upon each night, steal cautiously from the 
state-room of Mr. W., and enter the extra room, where 
she remained until daybreak, when she was called by 
her husband and went back. That they were virtually 
separated was clear. They had separate apartments — 
no doubt in contemplation of a more permanent divorce ; 
and here after all, I thought, was the mystery of the 
extra state-room. 

There was another circumstance, too, which interested 
me much. During the two wakeful nights in question, 
and immediately after the disltppearance of Mrs. Wyatt 
into the extra state-room j I was attracted by certain 
singular, cautious, subdued noises in that of her 
husband. After listening to them for some time, with 
thoughtful attention, I at length succeeded peifectly 
in translating their import They were sounds occa- 
sioned by the artist in prising open the oblong box by 
means of a chisel and mallet — the latter being appar- 
ently mufHed or deadened bv some soft woollen or cotton 
substance in which its head was enveloped. 

In this manner I fancied I could distinguish the 
precise moment when he fairly disengaged the lid — 
also, that I could determine when he removed it 
altogether, and when he deposited it upon the lower 
bertn in his room ; this latter point I knew, for 
example, by certain slight taps which the lid made in 
striking against the wooden edges of the berth, as he 
endeavoured to lay it down very gently — there being 
no room for it on the floor. After this there was a 
dead stillness, and I heard nothing more, upon either 
occasion, until nearly daybreak; unless, perhaps, I 
may mention a low sobbing or murmuring sound, so 
very much suppressed as to be nearly inaudible— ifj 



290 THE OBLONG BOX 

indeed^ the whole of this latter noise were not rather 
produced hv my own imagination. I say it seemed to 
resemble sobbing or sighing — but^ of course^ it coodd 
not have been either. I rather think it was a ringing 
in my own ears. Mr. Wyatt^ no doubt, according to 
custom, was merely giving the rein to one of his 
hobbies — indulging in one of his fits of artistic en* 
thusiasm. He had opened his oblong box in order 
to feast his eyes on the pictorial treasure within. There 
was nothing in this, however, to make him eob. I 
repeat, therefore, that it must have been simply a freak 
of my own fancy, distempered by good Captain Hardy's 
green tea. Just before dawn, on each of the two 
nights of which I speak, I distinctly heard Mr. Wyatt 
replace the lid upon the oblong box, and force ike nails 
into their old places, by means of the mufBed mallet. 
Havinff done tnis, he issued from his state-room, fuUy 
dressed, and proceeded to call Mrs. W. from hers. 

We had been at sea seven days, and were now off 
Cape Hatteras, when there came a tremendously heavy 
blow from the south-west We were, in a measure, 

Erepared for it, however, as the weather had been 
olding out threats for some time. Everything was 
made snug, alow and aloft ; and as the wind steadily 
freshened, we lay to, at length, under spanker and 
foretopsail, both double-reefed. 

In this trim we rode safely enough for forty-eight 
hours — the ship proving herself an excellent sea-boat, 
in many respects, and shipping no water of any con- 
seauence. At the end or this period, however, the 
gale had freshened into a hurricane, and our after-sail 
split into ribbons, bringing us so much in the trough 
of the water that we shipped several prodigious seas, 
one immediately after the other. By this accident we 
lost three men overboard with the caboose, and nearly 
the whole of the larboard bulwarks. Scarcely had we 
recovered our senses before the foretopsail went into 
shreds, when we got up a storm stay-sail, and with this 
did pretty well ror some hours, the ship heading the 
sea much more steadily than before. 



THE OBLONG BOX 291 

The ffale still held on^ however^ and we saw no signs 
of its abating. The rigg^iug was found to be ill-fitted 
and greatly strained; and on the third day of the 
blow^ about five in the afternoon^ our mizzen-mast. in 
a heavy lurch to windward^ went by the board. For 
an hour or more we tried in vain to get rid of it on 
account of the prodigious rolling of the ship ; and, 
before we had succeeded, the carpenter came aft and 
announced four feet of water in tne hold. To add to 
our dilemma, we found the pumps choked and nearly 
useless. 

All was now confusion and despair — ^but an effort 
was made to lighten the ship by throwing overboard as 
much of her cargo as could be reached, and by cutting 
away the two masts that remained. This we at last 
accomplished — but we were still unable to do anything 
at the pumps ; and, in the meantime, the leak gained 
on us nist. 

At sundown, the gale had sensibly diminished in 
violence, and, as the sea went down with it, we still 
entertained &int hopes of saving ourselves in the 
boats. At eight p.bi. the clouds broke awav to wind- 
ward, and we had the advantage of a full moon — a 
piece of good fortune which served wonderfully to 
cheer our drooping spirits. 

After incredible labour we succeeded, at length, in 
getting the long-boat over the side without material 
accident, and into this we crowded the whole of the 
crew and most of the passengers. This party made off 
immediately, and, after undergoing much suffering, 
finally arrived, in safety, at Ocracoke Inlet, on the 
third day after the wreck. 

Fourteen passengers, with the captain, remained on 
board, resolving to trust their fortunes to the jolly- 
boat at the stem. We lowered it without difficulty, 
although it was only by a miracle that we prevented it 
from swampinff as it touched the water. It contained, 
when afloat, the captain and his wife, Mr. Wyatt and 
party, a Mexican officer, wife, four children, and my- 
self, with a negro valet. 



292 THE OBLONG BOX 

We had no room^ of course^ for anything except a 
few positively necessary instruments^ some provisions, 
and the clothes upon our backs. No one had thought 
of even attempting to save anything more. What 
must have been the astonishment of all then, when, 
having proceeded a few fathoms from the ship, Mr. 
Wyatt stood up in the stem-sheets, and coolly de- 
manded of Captain Hardy that the boat should l>e put 
back for the purpose of taking in his oblong box ! 

'^ Sit down, Mr. Wyatt," replied the captain, some- 
what stemlv, 'Wou will capsize us if you do not 
sit quite still. Our gunwale is almost in the water 
now." 

''The box!" vociferated Mr. Wyatt, still stand- 
ing — '' the box, I say 1 Captain Hardy, you cannot, 
you wUl not refuse me. Its weight will be but a 
trifle — it is nothing — ^mere nothing. By the mother 
who bore you — ror the love of Heaven — by your 
hope of salvation, I implore you to put back for the 
box!" 

The captain, for a moment, seemed touched by the 
earnest appeal of the artist ; but he regained his stern 
comnosure^ and merely said — 

''Mr. Wyatt, you are mad. I cannot listen to you. 
Sit down, I say, or you will swamp the boat. Stay — 
hold him — seize him ! — he is about to spring over- 
board ! There — I knew it — he is over ! " 

As the captain said this, Mr. Wyatt, in ^t, sprang 
from the boat, and, as we were yet in the lee of the 
wreck, succeeded, by almost superhuman exertion, in 
getting hold of a rope which hung from the fore- 
chains. In another moment he was on board, and 
rushing frantically down into the cabin. 

In the meantime, we had been swept astern of the 
ship, and being quite out of her lee, were at the mercy 
of the tremendous sea which was still running. We 
made a determined effort to put back, but our little 
boat was like a feather in the breath of the tempest 
We saw at a glance that the doom of the unfortunate 
artist was sealed. 



THE OBLONG BOX 293 

As our distance from the wreck rapidly increased, 
the madman (for as such only could we regard him) 
was seen to emerge from the companion-way^ up 
which^ by dint of a strength that appeared gigantic, 
he dragged^ bodily^ the oblong box. While we gazed 
in the extremity of astonishment^ he passed^ rapidly, 
several turns of a three-inch rope^ first around the box 
and then around his body. In another instant both 
body and box were in the sea — disappearing suddenly^ 
at once and for ever. 

We lingered awhile sadly upon our oars^ with our 
eyes riveted upon the spot At length we pulled 
away. The silence remained unbroken for an hour. 
Finally^ I hazarded a remark. 

''Did you observe^ captain^ how suddenly they 
sank? was not that an exceedingly singular thins; r 
I confess that I entertained some feeble hope of his 
final deliverance^ when I saw him lash himself to the 
box^ and commit himself to the sea." 

''They sank as a matter of course^" replied the 
captain^ "and that like a shot. They will soon rise 
again^ however~6ti/ not till the mli melts" 

^'Tlie salt!" I ejaculated. 

"Hush !" said the captain^ pointing to the wife 
and sisters of the deceasea. " We must talk of these 
things at some more appropriate time." 

We suffered much^ and made a narrow escape ; but 
fortune befriended us, as well as our mates in the 
long-boat. We landed^ in iine^ more dead than alive, 
after four days of intense distress, upon the beach 
opposite Roanoke Island. We remained here a week, 
were not ill-treated by the wreckers, and at length 
obteined a passage to New York. 

About a month after the loss of the Independence, 
I happened to meet Captain Hardy in Broadway. 
Our conversation turned, naturally, upon the disaster, 
and especially upon the sad fate of poor ^Vyatt I 
thus learned the following particulars. 

The artist had engaged passage for himself, wife^ 



294 THE OBLONG BOX 

two sisters^ and a servant. His wife was^ indeed^ as 
she had been represented^ a most lovely and most 
accomplished woman. On the morning of the four- 
teenth of June (the day in which I first visited the 
ship)^ the lady suddenly sickened and died. The young 
husband was frantic with grief— but circumstances 
imperatively forbade the deferring his voyage to New 
York. It was necessary to take to her mother the 
corpse of his adored wite^ and on the other hand^ the 
universal prejudice which would prevent his doing so 
openly was well known. Nine-tenths of the passengers 
would have abandoned the ship rather than take pas- 
sage with a dead body. 

In this dilemma^ Captain Hardy arranged that the 
corpse, being first partially embalmed^ and packed, 
with a large quantity of salt, in a box of suitable 
dimensions, should be conveyed on board as merchan- 
dise. Nothing was to be said of the lad/s decease ; 
and, as it was well understood that Mr. Wyatt had 
engaged passage for his wife, it became necessary that 
some person snould personate her during the voyage. 
This tne deceased's lady's-maid was easily prevailed on 
to do. The extra state-room, originally engaged for 
this girl, during her mistress' lira, was now merely 
retained. In this state-room the pseudo wife slept, of 
course, every night. In the day-time she performed, 
to the best of her ability, the part of her mistress — 
whose person, it had been carefully ascertained, was 
unknown to any of the passengers on board. 

My own mistakes arose, naturally enough, through 
too careless, too inquisitive, and too impulsive a 
temperament. But of late, it is a rare thing that I 
sleep soundly at night. There is a countenance which 
haunts me, turn as I will. There is an hysterical laugh 
which will for ever ring within my ears. 



THE TELL-TALE HEART 205 



THE TELL-TALE HEART 

TViUB i — nervous — very, very dreadfully nervous I had 
been and am ; but why tot*// you say that I am mad ? 
The disease had sharpened my senses — not destroyed 
— not dulled them. Above all was the sense of hearing 
acute. 1 heard all things in the heaven and in the 
earth. I heard many things in hell. How^ then^ am 
I mad? Hearken! and observe how healthily) — how 
calmly I can tell you the whole story. 

It is impossible to say how first the idea entered my 
brain; but once conceived^ it haunted me day and 
night. Object there was none. Passion there was 
none. I loved the old man. He had never wronged 
me. He had never given me insult For his gold I 
had no desire. I think it was his eye ! yes^ it was this \ 
One of his eyes resembled that of a vulture-'-^ pale 
blue eye, with a film over it Whenever it fell upon 
me^ mv blood ran cold; and so by degrees — very 
gradually — I made up my mind to take the life of the 
old man^ and thus rid myself of the eye for ever. 

Now this is the point You fancy me mad. Madmen 
know nothing. But you should nave seen me. You 
should have seen how wisely I proceeded — with what 
caution — with what foresight — with what dissimulation 
I went to work ! I was never kinder to the old man 
than during the whole week before I killed him. And 
every night, about midnight, I turned the latch of his 
door and opened it — oh, so p^ently ! And then, when I 
had made an opening sufiicient ror my head. I put in a 
dark lantern, all closed, closed, so that no light shone 
out, and then I thrust in my head. Oh, you would 
have laughed to see how cunningly I thrust it in ! I 
moved it slowly — very, very slowly, so that I might 
not disturb the old man's sleep. It took me an hour 
to place my whole head within the opening so far that 
I could see him as he lay upon his bed. Ha ! — would 
a madman have been so wise as this ? And then, when 



206 THE TELL-TALE HEART 

my head was well in the room^ I undid the lantern, 
cautiously — oh^ so cautiously — cautiously (for the 
hinges creaked) J undid it just so much that a sinele 
thin ray fell upon the vulture eye. And this I did for 
seven long nights — every night just at midnight — ^but 
I found the eye always closed ; and so it was impossible 
to do the work ; for it was not the old man who vexed 
me^ but his Evil Eye. And every mornings when the 
day broke, I went boldly into the chamber, and spoke 
courageously to him^ calling him by name in a hearty 
tone, and inquiring how he had pa^ed the night. So 
vou see he would have been a very profoun4 old man, 
indeed, to suspect that every night, just at twelve, I 
looked in upon him while he slept. 

Upon the eighth night I was more than usually 
cautious in opening the door. A watch's minute hand 
moves more quickly than did mine. Never before that 
night had l/eit the extent of my own powers— of my 
sagacity. I could scarcely contain my feelings of 
triumpn. To think that there I was, opening the door, 
little oy little, and he not even to dream of my secret 
deeds or thoughts. I fairly chuckled at the idea ; and 
perhaps he heard me — for he moved on the bed 
suddenly, as if startled. Now you may think that I 
drew back — but no. His room was as black as pitch 
with the thick darkness (for the shutters were oioee- 
fastened, through fear of robbers), and so I knew tiiat 
he could not see the opening of the door, and I kept 
pushing it on steadily, steadily. 

I had my head in, and was about to open the lantern, 
when my thumb slipped upon the tin fastening, and 
the old man sprang up in the bed, crying outy 
''Who's there P''^ 

I kept quite still and said nothing. For a whole 
hour I did not move a muscle, and in the meantime I 
did not hear him lie down. He was still sitting up in 
the bed, listening— just as I have done, night after 
night, hearkening to the death-watches in thd walL 

Presently I heard a groan, and I knew it was the 
groan of mortal terror. It was not a groan of pain or 



THE TELL-TALE HEART 297 

of grief— oh^ no ! — it was the low stifled sonnd that 
arises from the hottom of the soul when overcharged 
with awe. I knew the sound welL Many a nignt^ 
Just at midnight^ when all the world slept^ it has 
weUed up from my own hosom^ deepening, with its 
dreadful echo, the terrors that distracted me. I say I 
knew it well. I knew what the old man felt, and pitied 
him, although I chuckled at heart I knew that he 
had been l3nng awake ever since the first slight noise, 
when he had turned in the bed. His fears had been 
ever since growing upon him. He had been trying to 
fancy them causeless, but could not He had been 
saying to himself, '^ It is nothing but the wind in the 
chimney — ^it is only a mouse crossing the floor," or^ 
'^ It is merely a cricket which has made a single chirp." 
Yes, he had been trying to comfort himself with these 
suppositions ; but he had found all in vain. All in vain ; 
because Death, in approaching him, had stalked with 
his black shadow before him, and enveloped the victim. 
And it was the mournful influence of the unperceived 
shadow that caused him to feel — ^although he neither 
saw nor heard — io/eel the presence of my head within 
the room. 

When I had waited a long time, very patiently, 
without hearing him lie down, I resolved to open a 
little — a very, very little crevice in the lantern. So I 
opened it — you cannot imagine how stealthily;^ stealthily 
— until, at length, a single dim ray, like the thread of 
the spider, shot from out the crevice and fell upon the 
vulture eye. 

It was open — wide, wide open — and I ^rew furious as 
I gazed upon it I saw it with perfect distinctness — all 
a dull blue, with a hideous veil over it that chilled the 
very marrow in my bones ; but I could see nothing else 
of the old man's face &r person, for I had directed the 
ray, as if by instinct, precisely upon the damned spot 

And now have I not told you that what you mistake 
foi* madness is but over-acuteness of the senses ? — now, 
I say, tiiere came to my ears a low, dull, quick sound, 
such as a watch makes when enveloped in cotton. I 



298 THE TELL-TALE HEART 

knew that sound well^ too. It was the beating of the 
old man's heart It increased my fury, as the beating 
of a drum stimulates the soldier into courage. 

But even yet I refrained and kept still. I scarcely 
breathed. I held the lantern motionless. I tried how 
steadily I could maintain the ray upon the eye. Mean- 
time the hellish tattoo of the heart increased. It grew 
quicker and quicker, and louder and louder every 
instant The old man's terror must have been extreme I 
It grew louder, I say, louder every moment ! — do you 
mark me well ? I have told vou that I am nervous : 
so I am. And now, at the dead hour of the nighty 
amid the dreadful silence of that old house, so strange 
a noise as this excited me to uncontrollable terror. 
Yet, for some minutes longer, I refrained and stood 
ftill. But the beating grew louder, louder ! I thought 
the heart must burst And now a new anxiety seized 
me — the sound would be heard by a neighbour 1 The 
old man's hour had come ! With a loud yell I threw 
open the lantern and leaped into the room. He 
shrieked once — once only. In an instant I dragged 
him to the floor, and pulled the heavy bed over nim. 
I then smiled gaily, to find the deed so far done. But, 
for many minutes, the heart beat on with a muffled 
sound. This, however, did not vex me ; it would not 
be heard through the wall. At length it ceased. The 
old man was dead. I removed the bed and examined 
the corpse. Yes, he was stone, stone dead. I placed 
mv hand upon the heart and held it there many 
minutes. There was no pulsation. He was stone 
dead. His eye would trouble me no more. 

If still you think me mad, you will think so no 
longer when I describe the wise precautions I took for 
the concealment of the bodv. The night waned, and 
I worked hastily, but in silence. First of all I dis- 
membered the corpse. I cut off the head and the arms 
imd the legs. 

I then took up three planks from the flooring of the 
chamber and deposited all between the scantlmgi. I 
then replaced the boards so cleverly, so cunningly, that 



THE TELL-TALE HEART 299 

no human eye — not even Ai^-— could have detected any- 
thing wrong. There was nothing to wash out — no stain 
of any kind — no blood*«pot whatever. I had been 
too wary for that. A tub had caufht all — ha ! ha ! 

When I had made an end of these labours^ it was 
four o'clock — still dark as midnight. As the bell 
sounded the hour^ there came a knocking at the street 
door. I went down to open it with a light heart-^for 
what had 1 now to fearr Hiere entered three men^ 
who introduced themselves^ with perfect suavity^ as 
officers of the police. A shriek had been heard by a 
neighbour during the night-; suspicion of foul play 
had been aroused ; information had been lodged at the 
police office^ and they (the officers) had been deputed 
to search the premises. 

I smiled — for what had I to fear ? I bade the gentle- 
men welcome. The shriek^ I said, was my own in a 
dream. The old man, I mentioned^ was absent in the 
country. I took my visitors all over the house. I 
bade them search — search weiL I led them^ at lengthy 
to his chamber. I showed them his treasures^ secure, 
undisturbed. In the enthusiasm of my confidence^ 
I brought chairs into the room^ and desired them here 
to rest from their fatigues^ while I myself^ in the wild 
audacity of my perfect triumph^ placed my own seat 
upon the very spot- beneath which reposed the corpse 
01 the victim. 

The officers were satisfied. My manner had con- 
vinced them. I was singularly at ease. They sat^ 
and while I answered cheerily^ they chatted of familiar 
things. But^ ere lonr^ I felt myself getting pale and 
wished them gone. My head ached^ and 1 .fancied a 
ringinff in my ears ; but still they sat and still chatted. 
The ringing became more distinct — it continued and 
became more distinct I talked more freely to get rid 
of the feeling ; but it continued and gained definitive- 
ness — until^ at lengthy I found that the noise was not 
within my ears. 

No doubt I now grew very pale ; but I talked more 
fluently^ and with a heightened voice. Yet the sound 



300 LIGEIA 

increased — and what could I do? It was a hw, duU, 
quick sound — much tuck a tound as a watch makes when 
enveloped in cotton, I gasped for breath — and yet the 
officers heard it not I talked more quioldy — ^more 
vehemently ; but the noise steadily increased. I arose 
and arflrued about trifles^ in a high key and with violent 
gesticulations ; but the noise steadily increased. Why 
would they not be gone? I paced the floor to and fro 
with heavy strides^ as if excited to furv by the observa- 
tions of the men — but the noise steadily increased. O 
God ! what could I do ? I foamed — I raved — I swore I 
I swung the chair upon which I had been sittings and 
grated it upon the boards^ but the noise arose over all 
apd continually increased. It grew louder — ^louder — 
louder f And still the men chatted pleasantly^ and 
smiled. Was it possible they heard not ? Almighty God I 
— no^ no ! They heard ! — they susoected ! — ^they knew ! 
— ^they were making a mockery or my horror !— this I 
thought^ and this I think. But anything was better 
than this agony ! Anything was more tolerable than 
this derision ! I could bear those hypocritical smiles no 
longer ! I felt that I must scream or die ! — and now — 
again! hark! louder! louder! louder! louder f-^-^ 

*^ Villains I " I shrieked^ ^* dissemble no more I I 
admit the deed I — tear up the planks I — here^ here I — 
it is the beating of his hideous heart !'* 



LIGEIA 

** And tho will thorein lieth, which dieth not Who knoweth 
tho mytteriM of tho will, with its yigour f For Qod if but a 
mat will peryadina^ all things by nature of its intantnass. 
Man doth not vield himself to tho angels, nor unto death 
utterly, save only through the weakness of his feeble will.'* — 

JOSBFH GLANVILL. • 

I CANNOT^ for my soul^ remember how^ when^ or even 
precisely where^ I first became acquainted with the 
iLady Ligeia. Long years have since elapsed, and my 



LIGEIA 301 

memory is feeble through much suffering. Or^ 
perhaps^ I cannot now bring these points to mind^ 
because^ in truths the character of my beloved^ her 
rare learning^^ her singular vet placid cast 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 unnoticed and unknown. Yet I believe 
that I met her first and most frequently in some large^ 
old^ decayinff citv near the Rhine. Of her family — I 
have surely heard her speak. That it is of a remotely 
ancient date cannot be doubted. Ligeia ! Ligeia ! 
Buried in studies of a nature more than all else adapted 
to deaden impressions of the outWard worlds 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 knoum 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 the most passionate 
devotion? I but indistinctly recall the fact itself — 
what wonder that I have utterly forgotten the cir- 
cumstances which originated or attended it? And^ 
indeed^ if ever that spirit which is entitled Romance 
— if ever she, the wan and the misty-winged Ashtophet 
of idolatrous Egypt, presided, as they tell^ over 
marriages ill-omened^ tnen most surely she presided 
over mine. 

There is one dear topic^ however, on which my 
memory fails me not It is the person of Liffeia. 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 de- 
meanour, or the incomprehensible lightness and 
elasticity of her footfall. She came and departed as 



d02 LIGEIA 

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-liftiug vision more wildly divine 
than the fantasies which hovered about the slumbering 
souls of the daughters of Delos. Yet her features 
were not of that regular mould which we have been 
wisely taught to worship in the classical labours of 
the heathen. ^' There is no exquisite beauty," says 
Bacon, Lord Verulam, sneaking truly of all the forma 
and genera of beauty, *^ without some etrangensst in 
the proportion." Yet, although I saw that the fea- 
tures or Ligeia were not of a classic regularity — 
although I perceived that her loveliness was indeed 
'^ exquisite," and felt that there was much of '' strange- 
ness 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 for^ead — it was faultless — ^how cold indeed 
that word when applied to a majesty so divine ! — the 
skin rivalling the purest ivory, the commanding 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 forUi 
the full force of the Homeric epithet, '^ hyacinthine !" 
I looked at the delicate outlines of the nose — and 
nowhere but in the graceful medallions of the Hebrews 
had I beheld a similar perfection. There were the 
same luxurious smoothness of surface, the same 
scarcely perceptible tendencv 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 son, voluptuous slumber of 
the under — the dimples which sported, and the colour 
which spoke — the teeth glancing back, with a brilliancy 
almost startlinff, every ray of the holy light which feu 
upon them in ner serene and placid, yet most exult* 



LI6EIA 303 

ingly radiant of all smiles. I scrutinised tlie forma- 
tion of the chin — and here^ too. I found the ffentleness 
of breadth^ the soilness 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 tbe 
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 blacky 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 ! 
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 ! How have I, through the 
whole of a midsummer night, struggled to fathom it ! 
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 possessea with a 
passion to discover. Those eyes, those large, those 
shining, those divine orbs? they became to me twin 
stars of Leda, and 1 to them devoutest o^ astrologers. 

There is no point, among the many incomprehensible 
anomalies of the science of mind, more thrilllngly 



d04 LIGEIA 

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 thus 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 ! And (strange — oh^ strangest 
mysterv of all !) 1 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 
Dgeia's beauty passed into my spirit, there dwelling 
as in a shrine, 1 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 oi 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 Ailed to inspire me with the sentiment: 
^^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 him to 
the angels, nor unto death utterly, save only through 
the weakness of his feeble will." 
Length o^ years and subsequent reflection have 



U6£IA Q06 

enabled me to trace, indeed^ some remote connection - 
between this passage in the English moralist and n 
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, tailed 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 eves which 
at once so delighted and appalled me — by tiie almost 
maffical melody^ modulation, distinctness^ and placidity 
of her very low voice— and by the fierce energy (ren- 
dered 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 im- 
mense — 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 
modern 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 erudi- 
tion of the academy, have 1 ever found Ligeia at fault? 
How siuffularly — how thrillingly^ this one point in the 
nature of my wife has forced itself, at this late period 
only, upon my attention ! I said her knowledge was 
sucti as I have never known in woman — but where 
breathes the man who has traversed^ and successfully. 
ail the wide areas of moral, physical^ and mathematical 
flcience? I saw not then wnat 1 now clearly perceive, 
that the acquisitions of Ligeia were gigantic, were 
astounding ; yet I was sufficiently aware of her infinite 
supremacy to resign myself, with a childlike con- 
fidence, to her guidance through the chaotic world of 
metaph3rsical 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 — 



d06 LIGEIA 

with how much of all that is bthereal in hope— did l/eel^ 
as she hent 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 I 

How poignant, then, must have been the grief with 
which, after some years, I beheld my well-grounded 
expectations talce wings to themselves and ny away ! 
Without Ligeia I 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 Satumian 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 glonous effulgence ; the pale fingers became of 
the transparent waxen hue of the grave ; and the blue 
veins upon the lofty forehead swelled and sank im- 

r)tupusly with the tides of the most ffentle emotion, 
saw that she must die — and I strumed desperately 
in spirit with the ffrim AzraeL And the struggles of 
the passionate wire were, to my astonishment, even 
more energetic than my own. There had been much 
in her stern 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 piti- 
able 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 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 assump- 



LI6EIA 907 

tione and aspirations which mortality had never before 
known. 

That she lored 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 overflow- 
ing 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 I all unmerited, all unworthily bestowed, 1 at length 
recognised the principle of her longing, wiUi so wildly 
earnest a desire, for the life which was now fleeing so 
rapidly away. It is this wild longinff — it is this eager 
vehemence of desire for Ufe — but for life — that I have no 
power to portray — no utterance capable of expressing. 

At hign noon of the day in which she departs, 
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 ! *ti8 a eala night 

Within toe lonesome latter years 1 
An angel throne, 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 musio of the spheres. 

Mimes, in the form of God on high. 

Matter and mnmble low, 
And hither and thither fly ; 

Mere puppets they, who come and go 
At biddinff of vast formless things 

That shift the scenery to and fro. 
Flapping from out their condor wings 

Invisible Woe 1 



308 LIGEIA 

That motley drama ! — oh, be sure 

It shall not be forgot 1 
With its Phantom chased for eFermore, 

By a crowd that seize it not^ 
Through a circle that e?er retumeth in 

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

And Horror, the soul of the plot 1 

Bat see, amid the mimio rout 

A crawling shape intrude 1 
A blood-red thing that writhes from out 

The scenic solitude 1 
It writhes 1 — it writhes !— with mortal pangs 

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

In human gore imbued. 

Out — out are the lights— out all 1 

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

Comes down with the rush of a storm — ' 
And the angels, all pallid and wan. 

Uprising, unveiling, affirm 
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 move- 
ment^ as I made an end of these lines — ^^ O God ! O 
Divine Father ! — shall these things be undeviatinffly 
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 him to the angels^ nor unto death utterly, save ' 
only through the weakness of his feeble will." 

And now^ as if exhausted with emotion^ she suffered 
her white arms to fall^ and returned solemnly to her 
hed of death. And as she breathed her last sighs, 
there came mingled with them a low murmur from her 
lips. I hent to them my ear, and distinguished again 
the concluding words of the passage in Glanvill : '^ Man 
doth not yield him to the angels, nor unto death uUerly, 
eave only through the weakness qf hie fettle wiU." 



LIGEIA 300 

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 decayinff city hy the 
Rhine. I had no lack of what the world calls wealth. 
Liffeia had hrought 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 ahbey^ which I 
shall not name^ in one of the wildest and least fre- 

Suented portions of fair England. The gloomy and 
reary grandeur of the buildings 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 regnl 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 
fl^orgeous and fantastic draperies, in the solemn carv- 
ings of Egypt, in the wild cornices and furniture, in 
the Bedlam patterns of the carpets of tufted gold ? I 
had become a bounden slave in the trammels of opium, 
and my labours and my orders had taken a colour- 
ing 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 of the unforgotten Ligeia — the fair-haired 
and blue-eyed Lady Rowena Trevanion, of Tremaine. 

There is no individual portion of the architecture 
and decoration of that bridal chamber which is not 
now visibly before me. Where were the souls of the 
hauffhty family of the bride, when, through thirst of 
gold, uiey permitted to pass the threshold of an 



810 LIGEIA 

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 svstem, 
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 gloomv-looking oak, was ex- 
cessively 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 nattem, and 
with many perforations so contrived that there writhed 
in and out of them, 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 sculptured 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 
ffranite, from the tombs of the kings over against 
Luxor, with their aged lids full of immemorial sculp- 
ture. But in the draping of the apartment lay, alas ! 
the chief fantasy of all. The lofty walls, gigantic in 
height — even uuproportionably so^were bung from 
summit to foot, in vast folds, with a heav^ and massive- 
looking tapestry — tapestry of a matenal which was 
found alike as a carpet on the floor, as a covering for 
the ottomans and the ebony bed, as a canopy for the 



LI6EIA 311 

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 wrouffht upon the cloth in 
patterns of the most ietty 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 mdeed traceable to a 
very remote period Of antiquity^ they were made 
changeable in aspect To one entering the room^ 
they l>ore the appearance of simple monstrosities ; but 
upon a farther advance^ this appearance gradually 
departed ; and^ step by step, as the visitor moved 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 
stronff continual current of wind behind the draperies 
— Rivmg a hideous and uneasy animation to the whole. 
In hiuls such as these — in a bridal chamber such as 
this — I passed^ with the Lady of Tremaine^ the un- 
hallowed 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 auffust, the beautinil, 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 burn 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 nighty or among the sheltered recesses of the glens 



312 LIGEU 

by day, as if^ through the wild eagerness^ the eolemn 
passion^ the consuming ardour of my longing for the 
departed^ I could restore her to the pathway she had 
abandoned — ah^ coiild 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 niffhts 
uneasy; and in her perturbed state of half-slumber^ 
she spoke of sounds, and of motions^ in and about tJie 
chamber of the turret, which I concluded had no origin 
save in the distemper of her fancy, or perhaps in the 
phantasmagoric influences of the chamber itself. She 
Decame 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 tihis 
epocn, 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 constitution 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 rear. She 
spoke again, and now more freouently and pertina- 
ciously, 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 



LI6EIA 313 

which I could not perceive. The wind was rushing 
hurriedly hehind the tapestries^ and I wished to show 
her (what, let me confess it^ I could not all helieve) 
that those almost inarticulate hreathings, and those 
very gentle variations of the figures upon the wall, 
were but the 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 remembered 
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 had 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 J 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 gobletful, which I held to 
the lips of the fainting lady. She had now partially 
recovered, however, 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 footfall upon the carpet, 
and near the couch ; and in a second thereafter, as 
Rowena was in the act of raising the wine to her lipHB, 
I saw, or may have dreamed tnat 1 saw, fall within 
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 sur- 
gestion of a vivid imagination, rendered morbidly 



814 LIGEiA 

active by the terror of the lady, by the opium, and by 
the hour. 

Yet I cannot conceal it from my own perception 
that^ immediately subsequent to the £ill or the ruby 
drops, a rapid change for the worse took place in the 
disorder or my wire; so that, on the tnird subse- 
Guent 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 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 crlare of the censer where 1 had seen the 
fiunt traces of the shadow. It was there, however, no 
longer ; and breathing with greater freedom, I turned 
my glances to the jMillid 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 un- 
utterable 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 Roweua. 

It might have been midnight, or perhaps earlier, or 
later, for I had token no note of time, when a sob, 
low, gentle, but very distinct, stortled me from my 
reverie. I feii that it came from the bed of ebony — 
the bed of death. I listened in an agon^ of super- 
stitious 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 perseverin^ly kept my attention 
riveted upon the body. Many minutes elapsed before 



LIGEIA 315 

Btif circumstance occurred tending to throw liffht 
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 sufficiency enerfi^etic 
expression, I felt my heart cease to beat, my limbs 
grow nVid where I sat. Yet a sense of duty finally 
operated to restore my self-possession. 1 could no 
longer doubt that we had been precipitate in our 
preparations — ^that Rowena still lived, it was neces-^ 
sary that some immediate exertion be made ; yet the 
turret was altogether apart from the portion of the 
abbe^ 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 1 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. I 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 — distinctlv saw— a tremor 
upon the lips. In a minute afterwards they relaxed, 
disclosing a bright line of the pearlv teeth. Amaze- 
ment now struggled in my bosom with the profound 
awe which had nitherto reigned there alone. I felt 



316 LIGEIA 

that my vision grew dim^ tiiat my reason wandered ; 
and it was only by a violent effort that I at leng^ 
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 
sus'gest But in vain. Suddenly, the colour fled, the 
puT«ition ceased, the lips resumed the expression of 
the dead, and, in an instant afterward, the whole body 
took upon itself the icy chilliness, the livid hue, the 
intense rigiditv, the sunken outline, and all the loath- 
some peculiarities of that which has been, for many 
days, a tenant of the tomb. 

And again I sunk into visions of Ligeia — and again 
(what marvel that I shudder while I write?) again 
there reached my ears a low sob from the region of 
the ebonv bed. But why shall I minutely detail the 
unspeakaole 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 revivi- 
fication 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 hopeless- 
ness 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 



LIGEIA 317 

consuming. The corpse^ I repeat^ stirred, and now 
more vigorously than oefore. The hues of life flushed 
up with unwonted energy into the countenance — the 
limhs relaxed — and^ save that the eyelids were yet 
pressed heavily together and that the bandages and 
draperies of the grave still imparted their chamel 
character to the ngure^ 1 might have dreamed that 
Rowena had indeed shaken off, utterly^ the fetters of 
death. But if this idea was not^ even then^ alto-' 
gether adopted, 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 boldly and palpably into the middle of the 
apartment 

I trembled not — I stirred not — for a crowd of un- 
utterable fancies connected with the air, the stature, 
the demeanour of the figure, rushing hurriedly through 
my brain, had paralysed — had chilled me into stone. 
I stirred not — but gazed upon the apparition. There 
was a mad disorder in my thoughts — a tumult un- 
appeasable. Could it, indeed, be the liviiw Rowena 
who confronted me? Could it indeed be Rowena at 
aU — the fair-haired, the blue-eyed Lady Rowena 
Trevanion of Tremaine? Why, why should I doubt 
it? The bandage lay heavily about the mouth — but 
then might it not be the mouth of the breathing Ladjr 
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 f 
What inexpressible madness seized me with that 
thought? One bound, and I had reached her feet! 
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; it was blacker than the raven wings 
qf midnight! And now slowly' opened the eyes of 



pl8 LOSS OF BREATH 

the fiffure which stood before me. ''Here then, at 
leasts I shrieked aloud^ ''can I never — can I never 
be mistaken — these are the full^ and the blacky and 
the wild eyes — of my lost love— of the Lady— of the 
Lady Liobia." 



LOSS OF BREATH 

A TALE NEITHER IN NOB OUT OP " BLACKWOOD." 

'*0b, breathe not," &o.— Moorb's Melodiei, 

The most notorious ill-fortune must in the end yield 
to the untiring courage of philosophy — as the most 
stubborn city to the ceaseless vigilance of an enemy. 
Shalmaneser^ as we have it in the holy writings^ lay 
three years before Samaria ; yet it fell. Sardanapalus 
— see biodorus — maintained himself seven in Nineveh ; 
but to no purpose. Trov expired at the close of the 
second lustrum ; and Azoth^ as Aristasus declares 
upon hb honour as a gentleman^ opened at last her 
gates to Psammetichus^ after having barred them for 
uie fifth part of a century. 

" Thou wretch ! — thou vixen — ^thou shrew ! " sud J 
to my wife on the morning after our wedding. " thou 
witch ! — thou hafi" ! — thou whipper-snapper ! — thou 
6ink of iniquity ! — ^thou fiery>faced oumtessence of 
all that is abominable ! — thou — ^thou — here standing 
upon tiptoe^ seizing her by the throaty and placing mv 
mouth close to her ear^ I was preparing to launch 
forth a new and more decided epithet of opprobrium^ 
which should not fail^ if ejaculated^ to convince her 
of her insignificance^ when^ to my extreme horror and 
astonish mentj I discovered that / had iost my breath. 

The phrases "I am out of breath/' "1 have lost 
my breathy" &c, are often enough repeated in common 
conversation ; but it had never occurred to me that 
the torrible accident of which I speak could bona fide 



LOSS OF BREATH 319 

and actually happen ! Imagine — that is, if you have 
a fenciful turn — imagine^ 1 say, my wonder — my con- 
sternation — my despair I 

There is a good genius^ however^ which has never 
entirely deserted me. In my most ungovernable moods 
I still retain a sense of propriety^ et le ehemin dee ' 
passions me conduit — as Lord Edouard in the ''Julie" 
sajrs it did him — d la philosophie veritable. 

Although I could not at first precisely ascertain to 
what degree the occurrence had affected me^ I deter- 
mined^ at all events^ to conceal the matter from my 
wife until further experience should discover to me 
the extent of this my unheard-of calamity. Altering 
my countenance, therefore^ in a moment^ from ito 
bepuffed and distorted appearance, to an expression 
of arch and coquettish benignity^ I gave my lady a 
pat on the one cheek, and a kiss on the other, and 
without saying one syllable (Furies 1 I could not), left 
her astonished at my drollery^ as I pirouetted out of 
the room in a Fas de Zephyr, 

Behold me, then, safely ensconced in my private 
boudoir, a fearful instance of the ill consequences 
attending upon irascibility — alive, with the qualifica- 
tions of the dead — dead, with the propensities of the 
living — an anomaly on the fisice of the earth — being 
very calm, yet breathless. 

Yes ! breathless. I am serious in asserting that my 
breath was entirely gone. I could not have stirred 
with it a feather if my life had been at issue, or sullied 
even the delicacy of a mirror. Hard fate ! — yet there 
was some alleviation to the first overwhelming paroxysm 
of my sorrow. I found, upon trial, that the powers of 
utterance which, upon my inability to proceed in the 
conversation with my wife, I then concluded to be 
totally destroyed, were in fact only partially impeded, 
and I discovered that had I at that interesting crisis 
dropped my voice to a singularly deep guttural^^ I 
might still have continued to her the communication 
of my sentiments; this pitch of voice (the guttural) 
depending, I find, not upon the current of the breath. 



320 LOSS OF BREATH 

but upon a certain spasmodic action of the muscles of 
the throat 

Throwing^ myself upon a chair^ I remained for some 
time absorbed in meditation. My reflections^ be sure^ 
were of no consolatory kind. A thoiisand vague and 
lachrymatory fancies took possession of my soul — and 
even the idea of suicide flitted across my brain ; but it 
is a trait in the perversity of human nature to reject 
the obvious and the ready^ for the far-distant and 
equivocal. Thus I shuddered at self-murder as the 
most decided of atrocities^ while the tabby cat purred 
strenuously upon the rug^ and the very water-dog 
wheezed assiduously under the table ; each taking to 
itself much merit for the strength of its lungs^ and all 
obviously done in derision of my own pulmonary 
incapacity. 

Oppressed with a tumult of vague hopes and fears^ I 
at length heard the footsteps of my wife descending 
the staircase. Being now assured of her absence^ I 
returned with a palpitating heart to the scene of my 
disaster. 

Carefully locking the door in the inside^ I com- 
menced a vigorous search. It was possible^ I thought^ 
that concealed in some obscure corner^ or lurking in 
some closet or drawer^ might be found the lost object 
of my inquiry. It might have a vapoury — it might 
even have a tangible form. Most philosophers^ upon 
many points of philosoph^^ are still very unphilo- 
sophical William Godwin^ however^ 8a3r8 in his 
'' Mandeville/' that '^ invisible things are the only 
realities," and this, all will allow, is a case in point. 
I would have the judicious reader pause before ac- 
cusing such asseverations of an undue quantum of 
absurdity. Anaxagoras, it will be remembered^ 
maintained that snow is black, and this I have since 
found to be the case. 

Long and earnestly did I continue the investigation ; 
but the contemptible reward of my industry and per- 
severance proved to be onlv a set of false teeth^ two 
pair of hips, an eye, and a bundle of biUeU-iUnuo from 



LOSS OF BREATH 321 

Mr. Windenough to my wife. I might as well herd 
observe that this confirmation of my ladv's partiality 
for Mr. W. occasioned me little uneasiness. That 
Mrs. Lackobreath should admire anything so dissimilar 
to mvself was a natural and necessary evil. I am^ it 
is well known^ of a robust and corpulent appearance, 
and at the same time somewhat diminutive in stature. 
What wonder, then, that the lath-like tenuity of my 
acquaintance, and his altitude, which has grown into a 
proverb, should have met with all due estimation in 
the eyes of Mrs. Lackobreath. But to return. 

My exertions, as I have before said, proved fruitless. 
Closet after closet— drawer after drawer — comer after 
comer— were scrutinised to no purpose. At one time, 
however, I thought myself sure of my prize, having, in 
rummaging a dressing-case, accidentally demolished a 
bottle of Grandjean's Oil of Archangels — which, as 
an agreeable perfume, I here take the liberty of re- 
commending. 

With a heavy heart I returned to my boudoir — there 
to ponder upon some method of eluding my wife's 
penetration, until I could make arrangements prior to 
my leaving the country, for to this I had already made 
up my mind. In a foreign climate, being unknown, I 
might, with some probability of success, endeavour to 
conc^ my unhappy calamity — a calamity calculated, 
even more than beggary, to estrange the affections 
of the multitude, and to draw down upon the wretch 
the well-merited indignation of the virtuous and the 
happy. I was not long in hesitation. Being naturally 
quick, I coipmitted to memory the entire tragedv of 
'^Metamora." I had the good fortune to recollect 
that in the accentuation of this drama, or at least of 
such portion of it as is allotted to the hero, the tones 
of voice in which I found myself deficient were alto- 
gether unnebessary, and that the deep guttural was 
expected to reijni monotonously throughout. 

I practised for some time by the borders of a well- 
frequented marsh — herein, however, having no refer- 
ence to a similar proceeding of Demosthenes, but from 



d22 LOSS OF BREATH 

a design peculiarly and conscientiously my own. 
Thus armed at all points^ I determined to make my 
wife believe that I was suddenly smitten with a passion 
for the stage. In this I succeeded to a miracle ; and 
to every question or suggestion found mvself at liberty 
to reply in my most frog-like and sepulchral tones witn 
some passage from the tragedy — ^any portion of which ^ 
as I soon took great pleasure in observing^ would 
apply equally well to any particular subject It is not 
to DC supposed^ however, that in the delivery of such 
passages I was found at all deficient in the looking 
asquint — the showing my teeth — ^the working my knees 
— ^the shuffling my feet — or in any of those unmention- 
able graces which are now justly considered the charac- 
teristics of a popular performer. To be sure thev spoke 
of confining me in a strait-jacket — but, good God! 
they never suspected me of having lost my breath. 

Having at length put my affairs in order^ I took my 
seat very early one morning in the mail stage for 
, giving it to be understood^ among my acquaint- 
ances, that business of the last importance required 
my immediate personal attendance in that city. 

The coach was crammed to repletion; but, in the 
uncertain twilight, the features of my companions 
could not be distinguished. Without making any 
effectual resistance, I suffered myself to be placed 
between two gentlemen of colossal dimensions ; while 
a third, of a size larger, requesting pardon for the 
liberty he was about to take, threw himself u|K>n my 
body at full length, and falling asleep in an instant^ 
drowned all my guttural ejaculations for relief in a 
snore which would have put to blush the roarings of 
the bull of Phalaris. Happily the state of my respira- 
tory faculties rendered suffocation an accident entirely 
out of the question. 

As, however, the da^ broke more distinctly in our 
approach to the outsku'ts of the city, my tormentor 
arose, and adjusting his shirt-collar, thanked me in 
a very friendly manner for my civility. Seeing that I 
remained motionless (all my limbs were diuocated 



LOSS OF BREATH 323 

and my bead twisted on one side)^ his apprehensions 
began to be excited ; and arousing the rest of the pas- 
sengers, he communicated^ in a very decided manner^ 
his opinion that a dead man had been palmed upon them 
durinr the night for a living and responsible fellow- 
traveller ; here giving me a thump on the right eye, by 
way o^ demonstrating the truth of his suggestion. 

Hereupon all^ one after another (there were nine in 
company), believed it their duty to pull me by the ear. 
A young practising physician^ too^ having applied a 
pocket-mirror to my mouthy and found me without 
Dreiii;h^ the assertion of my persecutor was pronounced 
a true bill; and the whole party expressed a deter- 
mination to endure tamely no such impositions for 
the future^ and to proceed no farther with any such 
carcasses for the present. 

I was here^ accordingly^ thrown out at the sign of 
the ''Crow" (by which tavern the coach happened to 
be passing)^ without meeting with any further accident 
than the breaking of both my arms^ under the left 
hind wheel of the vehicle. I must^ besides^ do tiie 
driver the justice to state that he did not forget to 
throw after me the largest of my trunks^ which^ un- 
fortunately falling on my head^ fractured my skull in 
a manner at once interesting and extraordinary. 

The landlord of the ''Crow/' who is a hospitable 
man^ finding that my trunk contained sufficient to 
indemni^ him for any little trouble he might take in 
my behalf^ sent forthwith for a surgeon of his ac- 
quaintance^ and delivered me to his care with a bill 
and receipt for ten dollars. 

The purchaser took me to his apartments and com- 
menced operations immediately. Having cut off my 
ears^ however, he discovered signs of animation. He 
now rang the bell, and sent for a neighbouring apothe- 
cary with whom to consult in the emergency. In case 
of nis suspicions with regard to my existence proving 
ultimately correct^ he^ in the meantime^ made an 
incision in my stomachy and removed several of my 
viscera for private dissection. 



324 LOSS OF BREATH 

The apothecary had an idea that I was actually 
dead. This idea I endeavoured to confute^ kicking 
and plunging with all my might, and making the most 
furious contortions— for the operations of the surgeon 
had^ in a measure^ restored me to the possession of 
my faculties. AU^ however, was attributed to the 
effects of a new galvanic Wtery^ wherewith the 
apothecary^ who was really a man of information^ net' 
formed several curious experiments^ in which, from 
my personal share in their fulfilment^ I could not 
help feeling deeply interested. It was a source of 
morti^cation to me, nevertheless^ that^ although I 
made several attempts at conversation^ my powers of 
speech were so entirely in abeyance that I could not 
even open my mouth ; much less then make reply to 
some inj^enious but fanciful theories of which^ under 
other circumstances^ mv minute acquaintance with' 
the Hippooratian pathology would have afforded me 
a ready confutation. 

Not being able to arrive at a conclusion^ the 

fractitioners remanded me for further examination, 
was taken up into a garret ; and the suigeon's lady 
having accommodated me with drawers and stockings^ 
the surgeon himself fastened mv hands^ and tied up 
my jaws with a pocket handkercnief— then bolted the 
door on the outside as he hurried to his dinner^ leaving 
me to silence and to meditation. 

I now discovered^ to my extreme delight^ that I 
could have spoken had not my mouth been tied up by 
ttie pocket handkerchief. Consoling myself with this 
reflection^ I was mentally repeating some passages of 
the '' Omnipresence of the Deity^ as is my custom 
before resigning myself to sleep^ when two cats^ of a 
greedy and vituperative turn^ entering at a hole in 
the wall^ leaped up with a flourish d la Catakmi, and 
alighting opposite one another on my visage^ betook 
themselves to indecorous contention for the paltry 
consideration of my nose. 

But. as the loss of his ears proved the means of 
elevating to the throne of Cyrus the Magian or Mige- 



LOSS OF BREATH 325 

Gush of Persia^ and as the cutting off his nose gave 
Zopyrus possession of Babylon^ so the loss of a few 
ounces of my countenance proved the salvation of my 
body. Aroused by the pain, and burning with indigna- 
tion. I bursty at a single effort^ the listenings and Uie 
bandage. Stallcing across the room I cast a glance of 
contempt at the belligerents^ and throwing open the 
sash^ to their extreme horror and disappointment^ pre- 
cipitated m3r8elf very dexterously from the window. 

The mail-robber W , to whom I bore a singular 

resemblance^ was at this moment passing from the city 
jail to the scaffold erected for his execution in the 
suburbs. His extreme infirmity^ and lonff-continued 
ill-health, had obtained him the privilege of remaining 
unmanacled ; and habited in his gallows costume — one 
very similar to my own — he lay at full length in the 
bottom of the hangman's cart (which happened to be 
under the windows of the surgeon at the moment of 
my precipitation) without any other guard than the 
driver^ who was asleep, and two recruits of the sixth 
infantrv^ who were drunk. 

As ill-luck would have it, I alit upon my feet within 
the vehicla W , who was an acute fellow, per- 
ceived his opportunity. Leaping up immediately, he 
bolted out behind, and turning down an alley, was out 
of sight in the twinkling of an eye. The recruits, 
aroused by the bustle, could not exactly comprehend 
the merits of the transaction. Seeing, however, a man, 
the precise counterpart of the felon, standing upright 
in the cart before their eyes, they were of opinion that 

the rascal (meaning W ) was after making his 

escape (so they expressed themselves), and, havinff 
communicated this opinion to one another, they took 
each a dram, and then knocked me down with the 
butt-ends of their muskets. 

It was not long ere we arrived at the place of 
destination. Of course nothing could be said in my 
defenca Hanging was my inevitable fate. I resigned 
myself thereto with a feeling half stupid, half acri- 
monious. Being little of a cynic, I had all the senti- 



326 LOSS OF BREATH 

ments of a dog. The hangman^ however^ adjusted the 
noose about my neck. The drop felL 

I forbear to depict my sensations upon the gallows ; 
although here^ undoubtedly^ I could speak to the point, 
and it is a topic upon which nothing has been well 
said. In fact^ to write upon such a theme^ it is 
necessary to have been hanged. Every author should 
confine himself to matters of experience. Thus Mark 
Antony composed a treatise upon getting drunk. 

I may just mention^ however^ that die I did not. 
My body was, but I had no breath to be suspended ; 
and but for the knot under my left ear (which had the 
feel of a military stock)^ I dare say that I should have 
experienced very little inconvenience. As for the jerk 
given to my neck upon the falling of the drop^ it 
merely proved a corrective to the twist afforded me by 
the fat gentleman in the coach. 

For good reasons^ however^ I did my best to give 
the crowd the worth of their trouble. My convulfiaons 
were said to have been extraordinary. My spasms it 
would have been difficult to beat. The populace 
encored. Several gentlemen swooned ; and a multitude 
of ladies were carried home in hysterics. Pinxit 
availed himself of the opportunity to retouch^ from a 
sketch taken upon the spot^ his admirable painting of 
the '' Marsyas Flayed Alive." 

When I had afforded sufficient amusement^ it was 
thought proper to remove my body from the gallows ; 
this the more especially as the real culprit had in the 
meantime been retaken and recognised — ^a fact which 
I was so unlucky as not to know. 

Much svmpathy was^ of course^ exercised in my 
behalf^ and as no one made claim to my corpse, it was 
ordered that I should be interred in a public vault. 

Here^ after due interval^ I was deposited. The 
sexton departed^ and I was left alone. A line of 
Marston's ^ ^ Malcontent " — 

*' Death's a good follow and keeps open house—** 

struck me at that moment as a palpable lie. 



LOSS OF BREATH 327 

I knocked off, however^ the lid of my coffin^ and 
Btepped out Tlie place was dreadfully dreary and 
damp^ and I became troubled with ennui. By way of 
amusement^ I felt my way among the numerous coffins 
ranged in order around. I lifted them down^ on^ by 
one, and breaking open their lids, busied mywlf in 
speculations about the mortality within. 

','This/' I soliloquised, tumbling over a carcass, 
puffy, bloated, and rotund — '^ this has been, no doubt, 
m every sense of the word, an unhappy — an unfortunate 
man. It has been his terrible lot not to walk, but to 
waddle — ^to pass through life not like a human being, 
but like an elephantr--not like a man, but like a 
rhinoceros. 

" His attempts at getting on have been mere abor- 
tions, and his circumgyratory proceedinffs a palpable 
failure. Taking a step forward, it has been iiis mis- 
fortune to take two towards the right, and three 
towards the left His studies have been confined to 
the poetry of Crabbe. He can have no idea of a 
pirouette. To him a pas de pajnUon has been an 
abstract conception. He has never ascended the 
summit of a hill. He has never viewed from any 
steeple the glories of a metropolis. Heat has been 
his mortal enemy. In the dog-days his dap have been 
the days of a dog. Therein, ne has dreamed of flames 
and suffocation — of mountains upon mountains — of 
Pelion upon Ossa. He was short of breath — to say all 
in a word, he was short of breath. He thought it 
extravagant to play upon wind instruments. He was 
the inventor of self-moving fans, wind-sails, and venti- 
lators. He patronised Du Pont, the bellows-maker, 
and died miserably in attempting to smoke a cigar. 
His was a case in which I feel a deep interest — a lot in 
which I sincerely sympathise. 

''But here," said I — ''here" — and I dragged spite- 
fully from its receptacle a gaunt, tall, ana peculiar- 
looking form, whose remlirkable appearance struck me 
with a sense of unwelcome familiarity — " here is a 
wretch entitled to no earthly commiseration." Thus 



328 LOSS OF BREATH 

sayings in order to obtain a more distinct view of my 
auDJect^ I applied my thumb and forefinger to its nose, 
and causing it to assume a sitting position on the 
ground^ held it thus^ at the length of my anUj while I 
continued my soliloquy — 

'' Entitled^" I repeated, ^' to no earthly commisera- 
tion. Who, indeed, would think of compassionating a 
shadow ? Besides, has he not had his fuU share of the 
blessings of mortality? He was the orinnator of taU 
monuments — shot-towers — lightning-rods — Lombardy 
poplars. His treatise upon 'Shades and Shadows' 
nas immortalised him. He edited with distinguished 
ability the last edition of 'South on the Bones.' He 
went early to college and studied pneumatics. He 
then came home, talked eternally, and played upon 
the French -horn. He patronised the bagpipes. 
Captain Barclay, who walked against Hme, would 
not walk against him. Windham and Allbreath were 
his favourite writers — his favourite artist. Phiz. He 
died gloriously while inhaling gas — levique JUUu eor^ 
rujdtor, like the /ama pudicitia in Hieronymus. He 
was indubitably a " 

•'How can you? — how — can — you?** interrupted 
the object of my animadversions, gasping for breathy 
and tearing off, with a desperate exertion, the baudaffe 
around its jaws — " how can you, Mr. Lackobreath, be 
so infernally cruel us to pinch me in that manner by 
the nose ? Did you not see how they had fastened up 
my mouth — and you mtist know — if you know any- 
thing — how vast a superfluity of breath I have to 
dispose of ! If you do not know, however, sit down 
ana you shall see. In my situation it is really a great 
relief to be able to open one's mouth — ^to be able to 
expatiate — to be able to communicate with a person 
like yourself, who do not think yourself called upon 
at every period to interrupt the thread of a gentleman's 
discourse. Interruptions are annoying, and should 
undoubtedly be abolished — don't you think so? — no 
reply, I beg you—- one person is enough to be speaking 
at a time. I shall be done by-and-by, and then you 



LOSS OF BREATH 329 

ma^ begin. How the devil^ sir, did you get into this 
place? — not a word^ I beseech you — been here some 
time myself— terrible accident ! — heard of it^ I suppose 
— ^awful calamity! — ^walking under your windows — 
some short while ago — about the time vou were stage^ 
struck — horrible occurrence ! — heard of * catching one's 
breathy' eh ? — hold your tongue^ 1 tell you ! — I caught 
somebody else's ! — had always too much of my own — 
met Blab at the corner of the street — wouldn't give 
me a chance for a word— couldn't get in a syllable 
edgeways — attacked^ consequently^ with epilepsis — 
Blab made his escapcK-damn all fools ! — they took me 
up for dead^ and put me in this place — pretty doings 
all of them 1 — heard all you said about me— every 
word a lie — horrible ! — wonderful ! — outrageous !-- 
hideous 1 — incomprehensible !— et cetera— et cetera^— 
et cetera — et cetera " 

It is impossible to conceive my astonishment at 
so unexpected a discourse; or the joy with which 
I became gradually convinced that the breath so 
fortunately caught by the gentleman (whom I soon 
recognised as my neighbour Windenough) was^ in 
fact^ the identical expiration mislaid by myself in the 
conversation with my wife. Time, place^ and circum- 
stance rendered it a matter beyona question. I did 
not^ however, immediately release my hold upon Mr. 
W.'s proboscis — not at least during the long period in 
' which the inventor of Lombardy poplars continued to 
favour me with his explanations. 

In this respect I was actuated by that habitual 
prudence which has ever' been my predominating 
trait I reflected that many difficulties might stifl 
lie in the path of my preservation which only extreme 
exertion on my part would be able to surmount 
Many persons^ I considered, are prone to estimate 
commodities in their possession — however valueless to 
the then proprietor^ however troublesome^ or distress- 
ing — in direct ratio with the advantages to be derived 
by others from their attainment^ or by themselves 
from their abandonment Might not this be the i 



ddO LOSS OF BREATH 

with Mr. Windenoueh ? In displaTing anxiety for 
the breath of which he was at present so willing to 
. get rid, might I not lay myself open to the exactions 
of his avarice ? There are scoundrels in this world, I 
remembered with a sigh, who will not scruple to take 
un&ir opportunities with even a next-door neighbour, 
and (this remark is from Epictetus) it is precisely at 
that time when men are most anxious to throw off the 
burden of their own calamities that they feel the least 
desirous of relieving them in others. 

Upon considerations similar to these, and still 
retaining my grasp upon the nose of Mr. W., I 
accordingly thought proper to model my reply. 

'' Monster ! " I b^n, in a tone of tne deepest 
indignation, '' monster ! and double-winded idiot I — 
dost thou, whom for thine iuiauities it has pleased 
heaven to accurse with a two-fold respiration — dost 
thou, I say, presume to address me in the familiar 
language of an old acquaintance? 'I lie,' forsooth 1 
and 'hold my tongue,' to be sure ! — pretty conversation, 
indeed, to a gentleman with a single breath ! — all 
this, too, when I have it in my power to relieve the 
calamity under which thou dost so justly suffer — to 
curtail the superfluities of thine unhappy respiration." 

Like Brutus, I paused for a reply — with wnich, like 
a tornado, Mr. Wmdenough immediately overwhelmed 
me. Protestation followed upon protestation, and 
apology upon apology. There were no terms with 
which he was unwilling to comply, and there were 
none of which I failed to take the fullest advantajgpe. 

Preliminaries being at length arrai^ed, my acquaint- 
ance delivered me the respiration ; ror which (having 
carefully examined it) I gave him afterwards a receipt 

I am aware that by many I shall be held to blame 
for speaking, in a manner so cursorv, of a transaction 
so impalpalHe. It will be thought that I should have 
entered more minutely into the details of an occurrence 
by which — and this is very true — much new light 
might be thrown upon a highly interesting branch of 
physical philosophy. 



LOSS OF BREATH 331 

To all this I am sorry that I cannot reply. A hint 
is the only answer which I am permitted to make. 
There were cireumstancM — hut I uiink it much safer 

Xn consideration to say as little as possible about an 
ir so delicate — so delicate, I repeat^ and at the 
time involving the interests of a tnird party whose 
sulphurous resentment I have not the least desire^ at 
this moment^ of incurring. 

We were not long after this necessary arrangement 
in effecting an escape from the dungeons of the 
sepulchre. The united strength of our resuscitated 
voices was 6oon sufficiently apparent. Scissors, the 
Whig editor^ republished a treatise upon ''The Nature 
and Origin of Subterranean Noises." A reply — re* 
joinder — confutation — and justification — followed in 
the columns of a Democratic gazette. It was not 
until the opening of the vault to decide the contro- 
versy, that the appearance of Mr. Windenough and 
mjTself proved both parties to have been decidedly in 
the wrong. 

I cannot conclude these details of some very singular 
passages in a life at all times sufficiently eventful, 
without again recalling to the attention of the reader 
the merits of that indiscriminate philosophy which is 
a sure and ready shield against those shafts of calamity 
which can neither be seen^ felt^ nor fully understood. 
It was in the spirit of this wisdom that, among the 
ancient Hebrews, it was believed the gates of heaven 
would be inevitably opened to that sinner, or saint, 
who, with good lungs and implicit confidence, should 
vociferate the word ''Amen I It was in the spirit 
of this wisdom that, when a great plague raged at 
Athens, and every means had been attempted for its 
removal, Epimenides, as Laertius relates in his second 
book of that philosopher, advised the erection of a 
shrine and temple '' to the proper God." 



SHADOW— A PARABLE 



SHADOW— A PARABLE 

** Yea 1 though I walk through the valley of the Shadow,^ 

—PMimofDaina. 

Yb who read are still among the living; but I who 
write shall have long since gone xay vr^y into the region 
of shadows. For indeed strange things shall happen, 
and secret things he 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 of 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 bv a lofty door 
of brass ; and the door was fashioned oy the artisan 
Corinuos, and, being of rare workmanship, was fastened 
from within. Black draperies, likewise, in the gloomy 
room, shut out from our view the moon, the lurid 



SHADOW— A PARABLE 333 

stars^ and the peopleless streets — but the boding and 
the memory of Evil^ they would not be so excluded. 
There were thinffs 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 meanwhUe 
the powers of thought lie dormant A dead weight 
hung upon us. It nung upon our limbs — upon the 
household furniture — upon the goblets from which we 
drank ; and all things were depressed^ and borne down 
thereby — all thinffs save only the flames of the seven 
iron lamps which illumined our revel. Uprearing 
themselves in tall slender lines of lights they thus 
remained burnings all nallid 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 sanff 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 ! 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 



334 SHADOWr-A PARABLE 

chamber^ became weak^ and undistinguishable^ and so 
fkded away. And lo ! from among those sable draperies, 
where the sounds of the song departed, there ^ame 
forth a dark and undefined shadow-— a shadow such as 
the moon, when low in heaven, might fiishion from 
the figure of a man : but it was the shadow neither of 
man nor of God, nor of any fiimiliar thing. And 
quiverinff awhile among the draperies of the room, it 
at lengtn rested in full view upon the sur&oe of the 
door of brass. But the shadow was vitf ue, and form- 
less, and indefinite, and was the shadow neither of 
man nor God — neither God of Greece, nor God of 
Chaldea, nor any Egyptian God. And the shadow 
rested upon the brazen doorway, 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 snadow 
rested was, if I remember aright, over against the feet 
of the younff Zoilus enshrouded. But we, the seven 
there assembled, having seen the shadow as it came 
out fr6m among the draperies, dared not steadily 
behold it, but cast down our eyes, and gazed continu- 
ally 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 Helusion which border 
upon the foul Charoniau 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 svUaole, fell duskily 
upon our ears in the well-remembered and familiar 
accents of many thousand departed friends. 



SILENCB-A FABLE 335 



SILENC3E— A FABLE 

I 

" ^vicvatp 6*opeta9f Kopv^ re Kat ^apayytt 
Upvpts re irat x^P^^P*^*** — ALOMAN. 

" The mountain pinnacle? slumber ; Talleys, crags, and oayes 
aretOent" 

'' Listen to fit«/' said the Demon^ as he placed his hand 
upon my head. ''The region of which I speak is a 
dreary region in Libya^ b^ the borders of the river 
Zfiire. And there is no quiet there^ nor silence. 

''The waters of the river have a saffron and sickly 
hue ; and they flow not onward to the sea^ but palpi- 
tate for ever and for ever beneath the red eye of the 
sun with a tumultuous and convulsive motion. For 
many miles on either side of the river's oozy bed is a 
pale desert of gigantic water-lilies. They sigh one 
unto the other m that solitude^ and stretch towards 
the heaven their long and ghastly necks^ and nod to 
and fro their everlasting heads. And there is an in- 
distinct murmur which cometh out from among them 
like the rushing of subterrene water. And tiiey sigh 
one unto the other. 

"But there is a boundary to their realm — the 
boundary of the dark, horrible^ lofty forest. There^ 
like the waves about the Hebrides^ the low underwood 
is agitated continually. But there is no wind through- 
out the heaven. And the tall primeval trees rock 
eternally hither and thither with a crashing and mighty 
sound. And from their high summits, one by one^ 
drop everlasting dews. And at the roots strange 
poisonous flowers lie writhing in perturbed slumber. 
And overhead^ with a rustling and loud noise^ the 
grey clouds rush westwardly for ever^ until iJiey roll^ a 
cataract^ over the flery wall of the horizon. But there 
is no wind throughout the heaven. And by the shores 
of the river ZHire there is neither quiet nor silence. 

"It was night, and the rain fell ; and, falling, it was ' 



830 SILENCE— A FABLE 

rain, but> having fallen^ it was blood. And I stood in 
tlie morass among the tall lilies, and the rain fell upon 
my head — and the lilies sighed one unto the other in 
the solemnity of their desolation. 

^' And, all at once, the moon arose through the thin 
ghastly mist, and was crimson in colour. And mine 
eves fell upon a huge grey rock which stood by the 
shore of the river, and was lighted by the light of the 
moon. And the rock was grey, and ffhastly, and tall 
— and the rock was spcey. Upon its front were char- 
acters engraven in the stone ; and I walked through 
the morass of water-lilies, until I came close unto the 
shore, that I might read the characters upon the stone. 
But I could not decipher them. And I was going back 
into the morass, when the moon shone with a- fuller 
red, and I turned and looked again upon the rock, 
and upon the characters — and the characters were 
' Desolation.' 

'^And I looked upwards, and there stood a man 
upon the summit of the rock ; and I hid myself among 
the water-lilies that I might discover the actions of 
the man. And the man was tall and stately in form, 
and was wrapped up from his shoulders to nis feet in 
the toga of old Rome. And the outlines of his figure 
were indistinct — but his features were the features of 
a deitv ; for the mantle of the night, and of the mist, 
and or the moon, and of the dew, had left uncovered 
the features of his face. And his brow was lofty with 
thought, and his eye wild with care ; and in the few 
furrows upon his cheek I read the fables of sorrow, 
and weariness, and disgust with mankind, and a long- 
ing after solitude. 

^^And the man sat upon the rock, and leaned hit 
head upon his hand, and looked out upon the desola- 
tion. He looked down into the low unquiet shrubbery, 
and up into the tall primeval trees, and up higher at 
the rustling heaven, and into the crimson moon. And 
I lay close within shelter of the lilies, and observed the 
actions of the man. And the man trembled in the eoU- 
tude ; but the night waned, and he sat upon the rock. 



SILENCE— A FABLE 337 

'^ And the man turned his attention from the heaven, 
and looked out upon the dreary river Zftire^ and upon 
the yellow ghastly waters, and ^pon the pale legions 
of the water-lilies. And the man listened to the sighs 
of the water-lilies, and to the murmur that came up 
from among them. And I lay close within my covert, 
and observed the actions of the man. And the man 
trembled in the solilude ; but the night waned and 
he sat upon the rock. 

''Then I went down into the recesses of the morass, 
and waded far in among the wilderness of the lilies^ 
and called unto the hippopotami which dwelt amonff the 
fens in the recesses of the morass. And the hippo- 
potami heard my call, and came, with the behemoth, 
unto the foot of the rock, and roared loudly and fear- 
fully beneath the moon. And 1 lav close within my 
covert, and observed the actions of tne man. And the 
man trembled in the solitude ; but the night waned^ 
and he sat upon the rock. 

''Then I cursed the elements with the curse of 
tumult; and a frightful tempest gathered in the 
heaven, where, before, there had been no wind. And 
the heaven became livid with the violence of the 
tempest — and the rain beat upon the head of the 
man — and the floods of the river came down — and 
the river was tormented into foam — and the water- 
lilies shrieked within their beds — and the forest 
crumbled before the wind — and the thunder rolled — 
and the lightning fell — and the rock rocked to its 
foundation. And I lay close within my covert, and 
observed the actions of the man. And the man 
trembled in the solitude ; but the night waned, and 
he sat upon the rock. 

" Then I grew angry and cursed, with the curse of 
silence, the river, and the lilies, and the wind, and the 
forest, and the heaven, and the thunder, and the sighs 
of the water-lilies. And they became accursed, and 
were stili. And the moon ceased to totter up its path- 
way to heaven— and the thunder died away — and the 
lightning did not flash — and the clouds hung motion- 

Y 



838 SILENCE— A FABLE 

less — and the waters sunk to their level and renudned 
^-and the trees ceased to rock — and the water-liliee 
sighed no more — and the murmur was heard no longer 
from among them^ nor any shadow of sound throughout 
the vast ifiimitahle desert And I looked upon the 
characters of the rock^ and they were changed ; and 
the characters were * Silencb.' 

'^ And mine eyes fell upon the countenance of the 
man^ and his countenance was wan with terror. And^ 
hurriedly, he raised his head from his hand, and stood 
forth upon the rock and listened. But there was no 
voice throughout the vast illimitahle desert, and the 
characters upon the rock were 'Silbncb.' And the 
man shuddered, and turned his fiice away, and fled 
a&r off, in haste, so that I beheld him no more." 



Now there are fine tales in the volumes of the Magi 
— in the iron-bound, melancholy volumes of the Magu 
Therein, I say, are glorious histories of the heaven, 
and of the earth, and of the mighty sea — and of the 
Genii that over-ruled the sea, and the earth, and the 
lofty heaven. There was much lore, too, in the sayings 
which were said by the Sibyls ; and holy, holy things 
were heard of old by the dim leaves that bumbled 
around Dodona — but, as Allah liveth, that fable which 
the Demon told me as he sat by my side in the shadow 
of the tomb, I hold to be the most wonderful of all 1 
And as the Demon made an end of his story, he fell 
back within the cavity of the tomb and laughed. And 
I could not laugh with the Demon, and he cursed me 
because I could not laugh. And the lynx which 
dwelleth for ever in the tomb came out therefrom, 
and lay down at the feet of the Demon, and looked at 
him steadily in the £eu^ 



THE MAN OF THE CROWD 339 

THE MAN OF THE CROWD 

" Oe grmnd malheur, de ne pouToir %tn leul.** — La BBUTJkBii 

It was well said of a certain German book that '*er 
ItuH 9ich Tuchi laen" — 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 throaty on account of the hideous- 
ness of mysteries which will not tuffhr thenuelves to be 
revealed. Now and then^ alas, the conscience of man 
takes up a burden so heavy in horror that it can be 
thrown down only into tLe 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 London. For some months I had 
been ill in health, but was now convalescent, and, with 
returning stren^fth, found myself in one of those 
happy moods which are so precisely the converse of 
ennui — moods of the keenest appetency, when the film 
from the mental vision departs — the ax^vs os vpw tmjtv 
— 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 legiti- 
mate sources of pain. I felt a calm but inquisitive 
interest in everything. With a cigar in my mouth 
and a newspaper in my lap, I had been amusing m3rself 
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. 

This latter is one of the principal thoroughfares of 
the city, and had been very much crowded during the 



m THE MAN OF THE CROWD 

whole day. But^ as the darkness came on, the throng 
momently increased ; and, by the time the lamps were 
well lighted, two dense and continuous tides of popu- 
lation 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 un, at length, all care of things 
within the hotel, ana became absorbed in contempla- 
tion 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 re- 
lations. Soon, however, I descended to details, and 
regarded with minute interest the innumerable 
varieties of figure, dress, air, gait, visage, and ex- 
pression of countenance. 

By far the greater number of those who went by 
had a satisfied business-like demeanour, and seemed to 
be thinking only of making their way through the 
press. Their brows were knit, and their eyes roUed 
quickly; when pushed against by fellow-wavfi&rers 
the^ 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 pro- 
gress, these people suddenly ceased muttering, but 
redoubled their gesjticulations, and awaited, with <ui 
absent and overdone smile upon their 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, trades- 
men, stock-jobbers — the Eupatrids and the common- 
places of society — men of leisure and men actively 



THE MAN OF THE CROWD 341 

engaged in affairs of their oWn— conducting businese 
upon their own responsibility. They did not greatly 
excite m^ attention. 

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 super- 
cilious lips. Setting aside a certain dappemess of 
carriage^ which may be termed deskUm for want of a 
better word, the manner of these persons seemed to 
me an exact facsimile of what had been the perfection 
of bon ton about twelve or eiffhteen months before. 
They wore the cast-off graces of the gentry — and thisj 
I believe, involves the best definition of the class. 

The division of the uoper clerks of staunch firms^ or 
of the '' steady old fellows/' it was not possible to 
mistake. These were known by their coats and panta- 
loons of black or brown^ made to sit comfortably^ with 
white cravats and waistcoats^ broad^ solid-lookinff 
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 ffold chains of a substantial and ancient 
pattern. Theirs was the affectation of respectability ; 
if indeed there be an affectation so honourable. 

There were manv individuals of dashing appearance^ 
whom I easily understood as belonging to the race of 
swell pick-pockets, with which ail great cities are 
infested. I watched these gentry with much inqiiisi- 
tiveness, and found it difficult to imagine how they 
should ever be mistaken for gentlemen by jfi^entlemen 
themselves. Their voluminousness of wristband, with 
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 



342 THE MAN OF THE CROWD 

chains, and iiligreed buttons, to that of the scrupu- 
lously inornate clergyman, than which nothing could 
be less liable to suspicion. Still all were distinguished 
bv 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 alwa]rs detect them — ^a 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 tbe gentlemen who live by their wits. 
They seem to prey upon the public in two battalions 
— ^tbat 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 
frowns. 

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 coun- 
tenances whose every other feature wore only an ex- 
pression of abject humility ; sturdy professional street 
beggars scowling upon mendicants of a better stamp, 
whom despair alone had driven forth into the night 
for charitv; feeble and gbastlv invalids, upon whom 
death had placed a sure hand, and who sidled and 
tottered through the mob, looking every one beseech- 
ingly in the face, as if in search of some chance conso- 
lation, 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 unequivocal beauty in the prime of her 
womanhood, putting one in mind of tne 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 



THE MAN OF THE CROWD 843 

mere child of immature form^ yet^ from long associa- 
tion, an adept in the dreadful coquetries of her trade^ 
and burning with a rabid ambition to be ranlced 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 swagjp^er, thick sensual lips, and hearty-look- 
ing rubicund races — others clothea in materials which 
had once been good, and which even now were scrupu- 
lously well brushed — men who walked with a more 
than naturally firm and springy step, but whose coun- 
tenances were fearfully pale, whose eyes were hideously 
wild and red, and who clutched with quivering fingers, 
as they strode through the crowd, at every object 
which came within their reach ; beside 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 wnich 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 u\e 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 vet splendid — as that ebony 
to which has been likened the style of Tertullian. 

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^ 



Q4A THE MAN OF THE CROWD 

even in that brief interval of a glance^ the history of 
lonff years. 

With my brow to the ghiss, I was thus occupied in 
scrutinising the mob^ when suddenly there came into 
view a countenance (that of a decrenit old man, some 
sixty-five or seventy years of age)— a countenance 
which at once arrested and absorbed my whole atten- 
tion, on account of the absolute idiosyncrasy of its 
expression. Anything even remotely resembling that 
expression I had never seen before. I well remember 
that my first thought, upon beholding it, was that 
Retzch, had he viewed it, would have greatly preferred 
it to his own pictorial incarnations of the fiend. As 
I endeavoured, during the brief minute of my original 
survey, to form some anal]rsis of the meaning conveyed, 
there arose confusedly and paradoxically within my 
mind, the ideas of vast mental power, of caution, of 
penuriousness, of avarice, of (coolness, of malice, of 
blood-thirstiness, of triumph, of meiriment, of ex- 
cessive 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 
utting on an overcoat, and seizing my hat and cane, 

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 attention. 

I had now a good opportunity of examining' his 
person. He was short m 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 roquelaire which 
enveloped him, I caught a glimpse both of a diamond 



r 



THE MAN OF THE CROWD 346 

and of a dagger. These observations heightened my 
curiosity, and I resolved to follow the stranger whither- 
soever he should go. 

It was now fully nightfall^ and a thick humid fog 
hung over the city^ soon ending in a settled and heavy 
rain. This change of weather nad an odd effect upon 
the crowds 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 in- 
creased in a tenfold degree. For my own part I did 
not much regard the rain — the lurking of an old fevbr 
in my system rendering the moisture somewhat too 
dangerously pleasant Tjring a handkerchief about my 
mouthy I kept on. For hal^an-hour the old man held 
his way with difficulty along th^ 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 acl 
the main one he had quitted. Here a change In his 
demeanour became evident He walked piore slowly^ 
and with less object than before — more hesitatingly. 
He crossed and recrossed 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 passengers 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 souare. brilliantly lighted, and overflowing with 
life. Tne old manner of the stranger reappeared. 
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. 



846 THE MAN OF THE CROWD 

that he turned and retraced his steps. Still more was 
1 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 of 
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 sti'anger appeared well 
acquainted, and where his original demeanour again 
became apparent, as he forced his way to and fro, 
without aim, among the host of buyers and sellers. 

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 nothinff, spoke no 
word, and looked at all objects with a wild and vacant 
stare. I was now utterly amazed at his behaviour, and 
firmlv resolved that we should not part until 1 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 swift- 
ness through many crooked and peopleless lanes, until 
we emerged once more upon the great thoroughfare 

whence we had started — the street of the D lioteL 

It no longer wore, however, the same aspect It was 
still brilliant with gas ; but the rain feU fiercely, and 



THE MAN OF THE CROWD 347 

there were few persons to be seen. The stranger grew 
pale. He walkeid moodily some paces up the once popu- 
lous avenue, then, with a neavy siffh, turned in the direc- 
tion of the river, and, plunging through a ffreat 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 him- 
self amid the crowd ; but I thought that the intense 
agony of his countenance had in some measure abated. 
His head a^ain fell upon his breast; he appeared as I 
had seen him at first I observed that lie 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 followed closely a party of some 
ten or twelve roisterers ; but from this number one by 
one dropped off, until three only remained toffether, 
in a narrow and gloomy lane little frequented. 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 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 tiie 
rankly-ffrowing 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 lenfftii 
laige bands of the most abandoned of a London 
populace were seen reeling to and fro. The spirits of 



S4a THE MAN OF THE CROWD 

the old maa again flickered up, as a lamp which is 
near its death-hour. Once more he strode onward 
with elastic tread. Suddenly a corner was turned, a 
blaze of light burst upon our sight, and we stood 
before one of the huge suburban temples of Intempei^- 
ance — one of the palaces of the fiend. Gin. 

It was now nearly daybreak; 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 backward and forward, 
wiuiout apparent object, amonff 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 
■o 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 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 mart of the populous 

town, the street of the D Hotel, it presented an 

appearance of human bustle and activity scarcely 
interior to what I had seen on the evening before. 
And here, long, amid the momently increasing con- 
fusion, did I persist in my pursuit of the stranger. 
But, as u^ual, he walked to and Aro, 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 fully in 
front of the wanderer, gazed at him steieuifastly in the 
face. He noticed me not^ but resumed his solemn 
walk, while I, ceasing to follow, remaiued 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 qf the crowd. It 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 349 

will be in vain to follow ; for I shall learn no more of 
him, nor of his deeds. The worst heart of the world 
ii a grosser book than the Hortulua Anitna;^ and 
perhaps it is but one of the great mercies of God that 
' er iasst tick nicht leeen.' " 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

The symponum of the preceding evening had beeh a 
little too much for my nerves. I had a wretched 
headache, and was desperately drowsy. Instead of 
going out, therefore, to spend the evening, as I had 
proposed, it occurred to me that I could not do a wiser 
thing than just eat a mouthful of supper and go 
immediately to bed. 

A light supper, of course. I am exceedingly fond of 
Welsh rabbit More than a pound at once, nowever, 
may not at all times be advisable. Still, there can be 
no material objection to two. And really between two 
and three, there is merely a single unit of difference. 
I ventured, perhaps, upon four. My wife will have it 
Rve ; but, clearly, she has confounded two very distinct 
affairs. The abstract number, five, I am willing to 
admit; but, concretely, it has reference to bottles of 
brown stout, without which, in the way of condiment, 
Welsh rabbit is to be eschewed. 

Having thus concluded a frugal meal and donned 
my nightcap, with the serene hope of enjoying it till 
noon the next day, I placed my head upon the pillow^ 
and through the aid of a capital conscience, fell into a 
profound slumber forthwith. 

But when were the hopes of humanity fulfilled P I 
could not have completed my third snore when there 
came a furious ringing at the street-door bell, and 
then an impatient thumping at the knocker, which 

1 The HortuluB Animm own OratiuneulU AUquHbui Super* 
odditis of Granninger. 



350 SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

awakened me at once. In a minute afterward, and 
while I was still rubbing my eyes^ my wife thrust in 
my face a note, from my old friend. Doctor Pounonner. 
It ran thus : — 

''Come to me, by all means, my dear good friend, 
as soon as you receive this. Come and help us to 
rejoice. At last, by long persevering diplomacy, I 
have gained the assent of the Directors of the CSty 
Museum, to my examination of the Mummy — you 
know the one I mean. I have permission to unswathe 
it, and open it, if desirable. A few friends only will 
bo present — you, of course. The Mummy is now at 
my house, and we shall begin to unroll it at eleven 
to-night — Yours ever, Fonnonnbr." 

By the time I had reached the '' Ponnonner," it 
struck me that I was as wide awake as a man need be. 
I leaped out of bed in an ecstasy, overthrowing all in 
my way ; dressed myself with a rapidity truly marvel- 
lous; and set off, at the top of my speed, for the 
doctor's. 

There I found a very eager company assembled. 
They had been awaiting me with much impatience. 
The Mummy was extended upon the dining-table ; and 
the moment I entered, its examination was commenced. 

It was one of a pair brought, several years previously, 
by Captain Arthur Sabretash, a cousin of Ponnonner s, 
from a tomb near Eleithias, in the Lybian Mountains, 
a considerable distance above Thebes on the Nile. 
The grottoes at this point, although less magnificent 
than the Theban sepulchres, are of higher interest, on 
account of affording more numerous illustrations of 
the private life of the Egyptians. The chamber from 
which our specimen was taken, was said to be very rich 
in such illustrations — the walls being completely 
covered with fresco-paintings and bas-reliefs, while 
statues, vases, and mosaic work of rich patterns, indi- 
cated the vast wealth of the deceased. 

The treasure had been deposited in the Museum 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 351 

precisely in the same condition in which Captain 
Sabretash had found it — that is to say, the coffin had 
not been disturbed. For eight vears it had thus stood, 
subject onlj externally to public inspection. We had 
now, therefore, the complete Mummy at our disposal ; 
and to those who are aware how very rarely the 
unransacked antique reaches our shores, it will be 
evident, at once, that we had great reason to con- 
gratulate ourselves upon our good fortune. 

Approaching the table, I saw on it a large box, or 
case, nearly seven feet long, and perhaps three feet 
wide, by two feet and a half deep. It was oblong — not 
coffin-shaped. The material was at first supposed to 
be the wood of the sycamore (platanus), out upon 
cutting into it, we found it to be pasteboard, or, more 
properly, papier-mdck^, composed of papyrus. It was 
thickly ornamented with paintings, representing fune- 
ral scenes, and other mournful subjects — interspersed 
among which, in every variety of position, were certain 
series of hieroglyphical characters, intended, no doubt, 
for the name or ^ the departed. By good luck, Mr. 
Gliddon formed one of our party; and he had no 
difficulty in translating the letters, which were simply 
phonetic, and represented the word, AUamistakeo, 

We had some difficulty in getting this case open 
without injury; but, having at length accomplished 
the task, we came to a second, coffin-shaped, and very 
considerably less in size than the exterior one, but 
resembling it precisely in every other respect The 
interval between the two was filled with resin, which 
had, in some degree, defaced the colours of the inte- 
rior box. 

Upon opening this latter (which we did quite 
easily) we arrived at a third case, also coffin-shaped, 
and varying from the second one in no particular, 
except in that of its material, which was cedar, and 
still emitted the peculiar and highly aromatic odour of 
that wood. Between the second and the third case 
there was no interval — the one fitting accurately within 
the other. 



d52 SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

Removing the third case^ we discovered and took 
out the hody itself. We had expected to find it, as 
usual^ enveloped in frequent rolls or bandaffes of linen ; 
but^ in place of these^ we found a sort of sheath, made 
of papyrus^ and coated with a layer of plaster, thickly 
gilt and nainted. The paintings represented subjects 
connected with the various supposed duties of the 
■oul^ and its presentation to different divinities, with 
numerous identical human figures, intended, very 
probably, as portraits of the persons embalmed. 
Extending from head to foot, was a columnar, or 
perpendicular inscription, in phonetic hieroglyphics, 
giving again his name and titles, and the names and 
titles of his relations. 

Around the neck thus ensheathed, was a collar of 
cylindrical glass beads, diverse in colour, and so 
arranged as to form images of deities, of the scara- 
bffius, &o., with the winged globe. Around the small 
of the waist was a similar collar or beH. 

Stripping off the papyrus, we found the flesh in 
excellent preservation, with no perceptible odour. 
The colour was reddish. The skin was iiard, smooth, 
and glossy. The teeth and hair were in good condi- 
tion, llie eves (it seemed) had been removed, and 
glass ones substituted, which were very beautiful, and 
wonderfully life-like, with the exception of somewhat 
too determined a stare. The fingers and the nails 
were brilliantly gilded. 

Mr. Gliddon was of opinion^ from the redness of the 
epidermis, that the embalmment had been effected 
altogether by asphaltum ; but^ on scraping the surfisM^ 
with a steel instrument, and throwing into the fire some 
of the powder thus obtained, the flavour of camphor 
and other sweet-scented gums became apparent 

We searched the corpse very carefully for the usual 
openings through which the entrails are extracted, 
but, to our surprise, we could discover none. No 
member of the party was at that period aware that 
entire or unopened mummies are not unfreouently 
met. The brain it was customary to withdraw through 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 353 

the nose; the intestines through an incision in the 
side ; the body was then shaved, washed, and salted ; 
then laid aside for several weeks, when the operation 
of embalming, properly so called, began. 

As no trace of an opening could be found, Doctor 
Pounonner was preparing his instruments for dissec- 
tion, when I observed that it was then past two o'clock. 
Hereupon it was agreed to postpone tne internal exa- 
mination until the next evening ; and we were about 
to separate for the present, when some one suggested 
an experiment or two with the Voltaic pile. 

The application of electricity to a mummy three or 
four thousand years old at the least, was an idea, if 
not very sage, still sufficiently original, and we all 
caught it at onca About one-tenth in earnest and 
nine-tenths in jest, we arranged a battery in the 
doctor's study, and conveyed thither the Egyptian. 

It was only after much trouble that we succeeded in 
laving bare some portions of the temporal muscle 
which appeared of less stony rigidity than other parts 
of the frame, but which, as we had anticipated, of 
course, gave no indication of galvanic susceptibility 
when brought in contact with the wire. Tnis, the 
first trial, indeed, seemed decisive, and, with a hearty 
laugh at our own absurdity; we were bidding each 
other good-night, when my eyes, happening to fall 
upon those of the Mummy, were there immediately 
riveted in amazement My brief glance, in fact, had 
sufficed to assure me that the orbs which we had all 
supposed to be glass, and which were originally notice- 
able for a certain wild stare, were now so far covered 
by the lids, that only a small portion of the tunica 
albuginea remained visible. 

With a shout I called attention to the fact, and it 
became immediately obvious to all. 

I cannot say that I was alarmed at the phenomenon, 
because ''alarmed" is, in my case, not exactly the 
word. It is possible, however, that, but for the brown 
stout, I might have been a little nervous. As for the 
rest of the company, they really made no attempt at 



354 SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

concealing the downright fright which possessed them. 
Doctor Ponnonner was a man to be pitied. Mr. 
Gliddon^ by some peculiar process^ renaered himself 
invisible. Mr. Silk Buckingham^ I fancy, will scarcely 
be so bold as to deny that he made his way, upon aU 
fours, under the table. 

After the first shock of astonishment, however, we 
resolved, as a matter of cc^urse, upon further experi- 
ment forthwith. Our operations were now directed 
against the great toe of the right foot. We made an 
incision over the outside of the exterior as sesamoideum 
poUids pedis, and thus got at the root of the abductor 
muscle. Readjusting the battery, we now applied the 
fluid to the bisected nerves, when, with a movement of 
exceeding life-likeness, the Mummy first drew up its 
right knee so as to bring it nearly in contact with the 
abdomen, and then, straightening the limb with in- 
conceivable force, bestowed a kick upon Doctor Pon- 
nonner, which had the effect of discharging that 
gentleman, like an arrow from a catapult, tiirough a 
window into the street below. 

We rushed out en masse to bring in the mangled re- 
mains of the victim, but had the happiness to meet 
him upon the staircase, coming up in an unaccount- 
able hurry, brimful of the most ardent philosophy, 
and more than ever impressed with the necessity of 
prosecuting our experiments with vigour and with 
zeal. 

It was by his advice, accordingly, that we made, 
upon the spot, a profound incision into the tip of the 
subject's nose, while the doctor himself, laying violent 
hands upon it, pulled it into vehement contact with 
the wire. 

Morally and physically— figuratively and literally — 
was the effect electric. In the first place, the corpse 
opened its eyes, and winked very rapidly for several 
minutes, as does Mr. Barnes in the pantomime ; in the 
second place, it sneezed; in the tnird, it sat up on 
end ; in the fourth, it shook its fist in Doctor Ponnon- 
ner's face ; in the fifth, turning to Messieurs Gliddon 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 366 

and Buckingham^ it addressed them^ in very capital 
Egyptian^ thus — 

^'I must say^ gentlemen^ that I am as much sur- 
prised as I am mortified, at your behaviour. Of Doctor 
Ponnonner nothing better was to be expected. He it 
a poor little fat fool who knows no better. I pity and 
forgive him. But you, Mr. Gliddon — and you. Silk — 
who have travelled and resided in Egypt until one 
might imagine you to the manner born — you, I say, who 
have been so much amoiig us that you speak Egyptian 
fully as well, I think, as you write your mother tongue 
— you, whom I have always been led to regard as the 
firm friend of the mummies — J really did anticipate 
more gentlemanly conduct from yoti. What am I to 
think of your standing auietly by and seeing me thus 
unhandsomely used ? • What am I to suppose by vour 
permitting Tom, Dick, and Harry to strip me of my 
coffins, and my clothes, in this wretchedly cold climater 
In what light (to come to the point) am I to r^^d 
your aiding and abetting that miserable little villain. 
Doctor Ponnonner, in pulling me by the nose P " 

It will be taken for granted, no doubt, that upon 
hearing this speech under the circumstances, we all 
either made for the door, or fell into violent hysterics, 
or went off in a general swoon. One of these three 
things, was, I say, to be expected. Indeed each and all 
of these lines of conduct might have been very plausibly 

Eursued. And, upon my word, I am at a loss to know 
ow or why it was that we pursued neither the one nor 
the other. But, perhaps, the true reason is to be 
sought in the spirit of the age, which proceeds by the 
rule of contranes altogether, and is now usually ad- 
mitted as the solution of everything in the way of 
paradox and impossibility. Or perhaps, after all, it 
was only the Mummy's exceedingly natural and matter- 
of-course air that divested his words of the terrible. 
However this may be, the facts are clear, and no 
member of our |)arty betrayed any very particular 
trepidation, or seemed to consider that anything had 
gone very especially wrong. 



856 SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

For my part I was convinced it was all rights and 
merely stepped aside^ out of the range of the Egyptian's 
fist Doctor Ponnonner thrust his hands into his 
breeches pockets^ looked hard at the Mummy^ and 
grew excessively red in the face. Mr. Gliddon stroked 
his whiskers and drew up the collar of his shirt. Mr. 
Buckingham hung down his head, and put his right 
thumb into the left corner of his mouth. 

The Egyptian regarded him with a severe coun- 
tenance for some minutes, and at length, with a sneer, 
said — 

'^ Why don't you speak, Mr. Buckingham ? Did you 
hear what I asked you, or not? Do take your thumb 
out of your mouth l" 

Mr. Buckingham, hereupon, gave a slight start, took 
his right thumb out of the left comer of his mouth, 
and, by way of indemnification, inserted his left thumb 
in the right corner of the aperture above mentioned. 

Not being able to c^et an answer from Mr. B., the 
figure turned peevishUr to Mr. Gliddon, and, in a per- 
emptory tone, demanded in general terms what we all 
meant 

Mr. Gliddon replied at great length, in phonetics; 
and but for the deficiency of American printing^filces 
In hieroglyphical type, it would afford me much 
pleasure to record here, in the original, the whole of his 
very excellent speech. 

I may as well take this occasion to remark, that all 
the subsequent conversation in which the Mummy took 
a part, was carried on in primitive Egyptian, through 
the medium (so far as concerned myself and other 
untravelled members of the company) — ^through the 
medium, I say, of Messieurs Gliddon and Buckingham, 
as interpreters. These gentlemen spoke tibe mother- 
tongue of the mummy with inimitable fluency and grace; 
but I could not help observing that (owing, no doubt, 
to the introduction of images entirely modem, and, 
of course, entirely novel to the stranger) the two 
travellers were reduced, occasionally, to the employ- 
ment of sensible forms for the purpose of conveying a 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 367 

particular meaning. Mr. Gliddon, at one period, for 
example, could not make the Egyptian comprehend 
the term '^ politics," until he sketched upon the wall, 
with a bit ot charcoal, a little carbuncle-nosed gentle- 
man, out at elbows, standing upon a stump, with his 
left leg drawn back, his right arm thrown forward, 
with his fist shut, the eyes rolled up toward heaven, 
and the mouth open at an angle of ninety degrees. 
Just in the same way Mr. Buckingham failed to convey 
the absolutely modern idea, ^^ Whig," until (at Doctor 
Poiinonuer's suggestion) he grew very pale in the 
face, and consented to take off his own. 

It will be readily understood that Mr. Gliddon's 
discourse turned chiefly upon the vast benefits accruing 
to science from the unrolling and disembowelling of 
mummies; apologising, upon this score, for any dis- 
turbance that miffht have been occasioned him, iq 
particular, the individual mummy called Allamistakeo ; 
and concluding with a mere hint (for it could scarcely 
be considered more) that, as these little matters were 
now explained, it might be as well to proceed with the 
investigation intended. Here Doctor Ponnonner made 
ready his instruments. 

In regard to the latter suggestions of the orator, it 
appears that Allamistakeo had certain scruples of 
conscience, the nature of which I did not distinctly 
learn; but he expressed himself satisfied with the 
apologies tendered, and, getting down from the table, 
snook hands with the company all round. 

When this ceremony was at an end, we immediately 
busied ourselves in repairing the damages which our 
subject had sustained from the scalpel. We sewed up 
the wound in his temple, bandagea his foot, and ap- 
plied a square inch ot black plaster to the tip of his 
nose. 

It was now observed that the Count (this was the 
title, it seems, of Allamistakeo) had a slight fit of 
shiveriiiff — no doubt from the cold. The doctor im- 
mediately repaired to his wardrobe, and soon returned 
with a black dress coat, made in Jennings' best manner, 



868 SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

a pair of sky-blue plaid pantaloons^ with straps, a pink 
ginffham ehemUe, a flapped vest of brocade, a white 
sack overcoat, a walking cane with a hook, a hat with 
no brim, patent-leather boots, straw-coloured kid 
gloves, an eye-glass, a pair of whiskers, and a water- 
rail cravat Owing to the disparity of size between 
the Count and the doctor (the proportion bcdng as 
two to one), there was some little aifficulty in adjusting 
these habiliments upon the person of the Egyptian ; 
but when all was arranged, ne might have l^n said 
to be dressed. Mr. Gliddon, therefore, gave him his 
arm, and led him to a comfortable chair by the fire, 
while the doctor rang the bell upon the spot and 
ordered a supply of cigars and wine. 

The conversation soon grew animated. Much curi- 
osity was, of course, expressed in regard to the some- 
what remarkable fact or Allamistakeo's still remaining 
alive. 

" I should have thought," observed Mr. Buckingham, 
** that it is Jiigh time you were dead." 

'^ Whv," replied the Count, very much astonished, 
" I am little more than seven hundred years old I My 
father lived a thousand, and was by no means in his 
dotage when he died." 

Here ensued a brisk series of questions and compu- 
tations, by means of which it became evident that the 
antiquity of the Mummy had been grossly misjudged. 
It had been five thousand and fifty years, and some 
months, since he had been consigned to the catacombs 
at Eleithias. 

*' But my remark," resumed Mr. Buckingham, '^ had 
no reference to your age at the period of interment (I 
am willing to grant, in fact, that you are still a voung 
man) ; and my allusion was to the immensity of time 
durinff which, by your own showing, you must have 
been done up in asphaltum." 

'* In what? " said the Count. 

^' In asphaltum," persisted Mr. B. 

'^Ah, yes; I have some faint notion of what you 
mean ; it might be made to answer, no doubt — ^but in 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 359 

my time we employed scarcely anything else than the 
Bichloride of Mercury." 

" But what we are especially at a loss to understand^" 
said Doctor Ponnonner^ '' is, how it happens that, 
having been dead and buried in Egypt Rye thousand 
years ago, you are here to-day all alive, and loolcing 
so deligbtfully well." 

" Had I been, as you say, dead," replied the Count, 
'' it is more than probable that dead I should still be ; 
for I perceive you are yet in the infancy of galvanism, 
and cannot accomplish with it what was a common 
thing among us in the old days. But the fact is, I 
fell into catalepsy, and it was considered by my best 
friends that I was either dead or should be; they 
accordingly embalmed me at once — I presume you are 
aware of the chief principle of the embalming process? " 

" Why, not altogether." 

^'Ah, I perceive— a deplorable condition of ignor- 
ance 1 Well, I cannot enter into details just now ; 
but it is necessary to explain that to embalm (properly 
speaking) in Egypt, was to arrest indefinitely aU the 
animal functions subjected to the process. I use the 
word 'animal' in its widest sense, as including the 
ph3rsical not more than the moral and vital being. I 
repeat that the leading principle of embalmment con- 
sisted, with us, in tne immediately arresting, and 
holding in perpetual abeyance, ali the animal functions ^ 
subjected to the process. To be brief, in whatever 
condition the individual was, at the period of embalm- 
ment, in that condition he remained. Now, as it is 
my good fortune to be of the blood of the Scarabseus, 
I was embalmed alive, as you see me at present" 

''The blood of the Scarabseus !" exclaimed Doctor 
Fonnonner. 

"Yes. The ScarabsBus was the insignium, or the 
'arms,' of a very distinguished and very rare patrician 
family. To be 'of the blood of the ScarabsBUS,' is 
merely to be one of that family of which the Scarabseus 
is the imignium. I speak figuratively." 

"But what has this to do with your being alive?" 



»360 SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

^' Why, it is the general custom in Egypt, to deprive 
a corpse^ before embalmment, of its bowels and brains ; 
the race of the Scarabsei alone did not coincide with 
the custom. Had I not been a Scarabseus^ therefore^ 
I should have been without bowels and brains; and 
without either it is inconvenient to live." 

^'I perceive that/' said Mr. Buckingham; ''and I 

E resume that all the entire mummies that come to 
and are of the race of Scarabffii." 

''Beyond doubt" 

" I thought," said Mr. Gliddon^ very meekly, " that 
the Scarabseus was one of the Egyptian gods." 

, " One of the Egyptian what / " exclaim^ the Mummy^ 
starting to its feet 

"Gods 1" repeated the traveller. 

" Mr. Gliddon^ I really am astonished to hear you 
talk in this style^" said the Count, resuming his seat 
" No nation upon the face of the earth has ever ac- 
knowledged more than one god. The Scarabffius, the 
Ibis, <&c., were with us (as similar creatures have been 
with others) the symbols, or media, through which we 
offered worship to the Creator too august to be more 
directly approached." 

There was here a pause. At length the colloquy 
was renewed by Doctor Ponnonner. 

"It is not imnrobable, then, from what you have 
explained," said ne, " that among the catacombs near 
the Nile, there may exist other mummies of the 
Scarabffius tribe, in a condition of yiiality.** 

''There can be no question of it," replied the Count ; 
" all the Scarabffii embalmed accidentally while alive, 
are alive. Even some of those purposeig so embalmed, 
may have been overlooked by their executors, and still 
remain in the tombs." 

"Will you be kind enough to explain," I said, 
" what you mean by ' purposely so embalmed ' ?" 

" With great pleasure," answered the Mummy, after 
surveying me leisurely through his eye-glass — for it was 
the first time I had ventured to address him a direct 
' question. 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 361 

'' With great pleasure^" he said. " The usual dura- 
tioa of man's life^ in my time, was about eight hundred 
years. Few men died^ unless by most extraordinary 
accident^ before the Bge of six hundred; few lived 
longer than a decade of centuries; but eight were 
considered the natural term. After the discovery of 
the embalming principle, as 1 have already described it 
to you, it occurred to our philosophers that a laudable 
curiosity might be gratified, and, nt the same time, the 
interests of science much advanced^ by living Ihis 
natural term in instalments. Jn the case of history^ 
indeed, experience demonstrated that something of 
this kind was indispensable. An historian, for example^ 
having attained the age of five hundred, would write a 
book with great labour and then get himself carefully 
embalmed ; leaving instructions to his executors pro 
tern,, that they should cause him to be revivified after ' 
the lapse of a certain period — say five or six hundred 
years. Resuming existence at the expiration of this 
time, he would invariably find his great work converted 
into a species of hap-hazard note-book — that is to say, 
into a kind of literarv arena for the conflicting guesses, 
riddles, and personal squabbles of whole herds of ex- 
asperated commentators. These guesses, &c, which 
passed under the name of annotations^ or emendations, 
were found so completely to have enveloped, distorted^ 
and overwhelmed the text, that the author had to go 
about with a lantern to discover his own book. When 
discovered, it was never worth the trouble of the 
search. After rewriting it throughout, it was re- 

farded as the bounden duty of the historian to set 
imself to work, immediately, in correcting, from his 
own private knowledge and experience, the traditions 
of the day concerning the epoch at which he had 
originally lived. Now this process of rescription and 
personal rectification, pursued by various individual 
sages, from time to time, had the efiect of preventing 
our history from degeneratinff into absolute fable." 

"1 beg your pardon," said Doctor Ponnonner at 
this point, laying his hand gently upon the arm of 



362 SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

the Egyptiaa — ^'I beg your pardon^ sir^ but may I 
presume to interrupt vou for one moment?" 

'^ By all means. «tr, replied the Count, drawing up. 

'^ I merely wished to asK you a (juestion^" said the 
doctor. ^^Vou mentioned the historian's personal 
correction of traditioiu respecting his own epoch. 
Pray^ sir^ upon an average, what proportion of these 
Kabbala were usually found to be right?" 

''The Kabbala^ as you properly term them^ sir^ 
were generally discovered to be precisely on a par 
with uie facts recorded in the un-rewritten histories 
themselves; that is to say^ not one individual iota 
of either was ever known, under anv circumstances^ 
to be not totally and radically wrong. ' 

''But since it is quite clear," resumed the doctor^ 
" that at least five thousand years have elapsed since 
vour entombment^ I take it for granted that your 
Histories at that period, if not your traditions were 
sufficiently explicit on that one topic of universal 
interest^ the Creation, which took place^ as I presume 
you are aware, only about ten centuries before." 

" Sir ! " said the Count Allamistakeo. 

The doctor repeated his remarks, but it was only 
after much additional explanation that the foreigner 
could be made to comprehend them. The latter at 
length said, hesitatingly — 

''The ideas you have suggested are to me^ I confess^ 
utterly novel. During my time I never knew any 
one to entertain so singular a fancy as that the 
universe (or this worlds if you will have it so) ever 
had a beginning at all. I remember once^ and once 
only, hearing something remotely hinted by a man 
of many speculations concerning the origin qf the 
human race; and by this individual the very word 
Adam (or Red £artn), which you make use of, was 
employed. He employed it, however, in a generical 
sense, with reference to the spontaneous germination 
from rank soil (just as a thousand of the lower ^0fiera 
of creatures are germinated) — the spontaneous germi- 
nation, I say, of five vast hordes of men, simultaneously 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 363 

upsprinffing in five distinct and nearly equal divisions 
oftheglol>e." 

Here^ in general^ the company shruffged their 
shoulders^ and one or two of us touched our fore- 
heads with a very significant air. Mr. Silk Bucking- 
ham^ first glancing slightly at the occiput and then 
at the siniciput of AUamistakeo^ spoke as follows — 

''The long duration of human life in your time, 
together with the occasional practice of passing it, as 
you have explained, in instalments, must have had, 
indeed, a strong tendency to the general development 
and conglomeration of knowledge. I presume, there- 
fore, that we are to attribute tne marked inferiority 
of the old Egyptians in all particulars of science, 
when compared with the moderns, and more especially 
with the Yankees, altogether to the superior solidity 
of the Egyptian skull." 

** I con^ss again/' replied the Count, with much sua- 
vity, " that I am somewnat at a loss to comprehend you ; 
pray, to what particulars of science do you allude r" 

Here our wnole party, joining voices, detailed, at 
great length, the assumptions of phrenology and the 
marvels of animal magnetism. 

Having heard us to an end, the Count proceeded to 
relate a tew anecdotes^ which rendered it evident that 
prototypes of Gall and Spurzheim had flourished and 
raded in Egypt so long ago as to have been nearly 
forgotten, ana that the manoeuvres of Mesmer were 
really very contemptible tricks when put in collation 
with the positive miracles of the Theoan aavans, who 
created lice, and a great many other similar things. 

I here asked the Count if his people were able to 
calculate eclipses. He smiled rather contemptuously, 
and said they were. 

This put me a little out ; but I began to make other in- 
quiries in regard to his astronomical knowledge, when a 
member of tne company, who had never as yet opened 
his mouth, whispered m my ear, that for information 
on this head I liad better consult Ptolemy (whoever 
Ptolemy is), as well as one Plutarch defade iuna. 



364 SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

I then questioned the Mummy about burning-glasses 
and lenses^ and^ in general^ about the mauufiusture of 
gkss ; but I had net made an end of my queries before 
the silent member again touched me quietly on the 
elbow^ and begged me> for God's sake^ to take a peep 
at Diodorus Siculus. As for the County he merely 
asked me^ in the way of reply, if we modems possessed 
any such microscopes as would enable us to ciit cameos 
in the style of the Egyptians. While I was thinking 
how I should answer this question, little Doctor Pon- 
nonner committed himself in a very extraordinary way. 

^^Look at our architecture !" he exclaimed, ^eatly 
to the indignation of both the travellers, who pinched 
him black and blue to no purpose. 

^'Look!" he cried, with enthusiasm, ^^at the* 
Bowling-green Fountain in New York ! or, if this be 
too vast a contemplation, regard for a moment the 
Capitol at Washington, D.C. !"— and the good little 
medical man went on to detail, very minutely, the 
proportions of the fabric to which he referred. He 
explained that the portico alone was adorned with no 
less than four and twenty columns, five feet in dia- 
meter, and ten feet apart. 

The Count said that he regretted not being able to 
remember, just at that moment, the precise dimensions 
of any one of the principal buildings of the City of 
Aznac, whose foundations were laid in the night of 
Time, but the ruins of which were still standing, at 
the epoch of his entombment, in a vast plain of sand 
to the westward of Thebes. He recollected, however 
(talking of porticoes), that one affixed to an inferior 
palace in a kind of suburb called Carnac, consisted of 
a hundred and forty-four columns, thirty-seven feet 
each in circumference, and twenly-five feet apart The 
approach of this portico, from the Nile, was through 
an avenue two miles long, composed of sphynxes, 
statues, and obelisks, twenty, sixty, and a hundred feet 
in height The pidace itself (as well as he could 
rememoer) was, in one direction, two miles long, and 
might have been, altogether, about seven in curcuit 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 365 

Its walls were richly painted all over^ within and with- 
out, with hieroglyphics. He would not pretend to asseri 
that even fifty or sixty of the doctor's Capitols might 
have heen huilt within these walls^ hut he was hy no 
means sure that two or three hundred of them might not 
have heen squeezed in with some trouble. That palace 
at Camac was an insignificant little building after all. 
He (the Count), however^ could not conscientiously re- 
fuse to admit the ingenuity, magnificence^ and superi- 
ority of the fountain at the Bowling-green^ as described 
by the doctor. Nothing like it, he was forced to allow, 
had ever been seen in Egypt or elsewhere. 

I here asked the Count what he had to say to our 
railroads. 

" Nothing," he replied, " in particular." They were 
rather slight, rather ill-conceived, and clumsily put 
together. They could not be compared, of course, with 
the vast, level, direct, iron -grooved causeways, upon 
which the Egyptians conveyed entire temples and solid 
obelisks of a hundred and fifty feet in altitude. 

I spoke of our gigantic mechanical forces. 

He agreed that we k new something in that way, but in- 
quired now I should have gone to work in getting up the 
imposts on the lintels of even the little palace at Camac. 

This question I concluded not to hear, and demanded 
if he had any idea of Artesian wells ; but he simply 
raised his eyebrows ; while Mr. Gliddon winked at me 
very hard and said, in a low tone, that one had been 
recently discovered by the engineers employed to bore 
for water in the Great Oasis. 

I then mentioned our steel ; but the foreigner ele- 
vated his nose, and asked me if our steel could have exe- 
cuted the sharp carved work seen on the obelisks, and 
which was wrought altogether by edge-tools of copper. 

This disconcerted us so greatly that we thougnt it 
advisable to vary the attack to Metaphysics. We sent 
for a copy of a book called the " Dial," and read out 
of it a cnapter or two about something which is not 
very clear, but which the Bostonians call the Great 
Movement or Progress. 



366 SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 

The Count merely said that Great Movements were 
awfully common things in his day, and as for Progress, 
it was at one time quite a nuisance^ but it never 
progressed. 

We then spoke of the great beautv and importance of 
Democracy, and were at much trouble in impressing the 
Count with a due sense of the advantages we enjoyed in 
living where there was suffrage ad Hbitum and no king. 

He listened with marked interest^ and in fiict 
seemed not a little amused. When we had done he 
said that^ a great while ago^ there had occurred some- 
thing of a very similar sort Thirteen Egyptian 
provinces determined all at once to be free^ and so set 
a magnificent example to the rest of mankind. They 
assembled their wise meu^ and concocted the most 
ingenious constitution it is possible to conceive. For 
a while they managed remarkably well; only their 
habit of bragging was prodigious. The tiling ended^ 
however^ in the consolidation of the thirteen states^ 
with some fifteen or twenty others^ in the most odious 
and insupportable despotism that ever was heard of 
upon the lace of the Earth. 

I asked what was the name of the usurping tyrant. 

As well as the Count could recollect^ it was ifob. 

Not knowing what to say to this^ I raised my voice^ 
and deplored tiie Egyptian ignorance of steam. 

The Count looked at me with much astonishment^ 
but made no answer. The silent gentleman^ however^ 
gave me a violent nudge in the ribs with his elbows — 
told me I had sufficiently exposed myself for once — 
and demanded if I was really such a fool as not to 
know that the modem steam-engine is derived from 
the invention of Hero^ through Solomon de Cans. 

We were now in imminent danger of being dis- 
comfited ; but, as good luck would have it. Doctor 
Ponnonner^ having rallied^ returned to our rescue^ 
and inquired if the people of Efi^ypt would seriously 
pretend to rival the moderns in the all-important 
particular of dress. 

The Count, at this^ glanced downwards to the straps 



SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY 367 

of his pantaloons, and then taking hold of the end of 
one of his coat-tails, held it up close to his eyes for 
some minutes. Letting it fall, at last, his mouth ex- 
tended itself very gradually from ear to ear ; but J do nat 
remember that he said anything in the way of reply. 

Hereupon we recovered our spirits, and the doctor, 
approaching the Mummy with great dignity, desired it 
to say candidly, upon its honour as a gentleman, if the 
Egyptians had comprehended at any period the manufac- 
ture of either Ponnonner's lozenges, or Brandreth's pills. 

We loolced, with profound anxiety, for an answer — 
but in vain. It was not forthcoming. The Egyptian 
blushed and hung down his head. Never was triumph 
more consummate ; never was defeat borne with so ill 
a grace. Indeed, I could not endure the spectacle of 
the poor Mummy's mortification. I reached my hat, 
bowed to him stiffly, and took leave. 

Upon getting home I found it past four o'clock, and 
went immediately to bed. It is now ten a.m. I have 
been up since seven, penning these memoranda for the 
benefit of my family and oi mankind. The former I 
shall behold no more. My wife is a shrew. The 
truth is, I am heartily sick of this life, and of the 
nineteenth century in general. I am convinced that 
everything is going wrong. Besides, I am anxious to 
know who will be President in 2046. As soon, there- 
fore, as I shave and swallow a cup of coffee, I shall 
just step over to Ponnonner s and get embalmed for a 
couple of hundred years. 



THE END 



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