THE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE

 

IN FIVE VOLUMES

 

The Raven Edition

 

 

VOLUME I

 

Contents:

 

     Edgar Allan Poe, An Appreciation

     Life of Poe, by James Russell Lowell

     Death of Poe, by N. P. Willis

     The Unparalleled Adventures of One Hans Pfall

     The Gold Bug

     Four Beasts in One

     The Murders in the Rue Morgue

     The Mystery of Marie Rogêt

     The Balloon Hoax

     MS. Found in a Bottle

     The Oval Portrait

 

 

 

 

EDGAR ALLAN POE

 

AN APPRECIATION

 

 

   Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

   Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore--

   Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

         Of "never--never more!"

 

THIS stanza from "The Raven" was recommended by James Russell Lowell as

an inscription upon the Baltimore monument which marks the resting place

of Edgar Allan Poe, the most interesting and original figure in American

letters. And, to signify that peculiar musical quality of Poe's genius

which inthralls every reader, Mr. Lowell suggested this additional

verse, from the "Haunted Palace":

 

   And all with pearl and ruby glowing

    Was the fair palace door,

   Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,

    And sparkling ever more,

   A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty

    Was but to sing,

   In voices of surpassing beauty,

    The wit and wisdom of their king.

 

 

Born in poverty at Boston, January 19 1809, dying under painful

circumstances at Baltimore, October 7, 1849, his whole literary career

of scarcely fifteen years a pitiful struggle for mere subsistence, his

memory malignantly misrepresented by his earliest biographer, Griswold,

how completely has truth at last routed falsehood and how magnificently

has Poe come into his own, For "The Raven," first published in 1845,

and, within a few months, read, recited and parodied wherever the

English language was spoken, the half-starved poet received $10! Less

than a year later his brother poet, N. P. Willis, issued this touching

appeal to the admirers of genius on behalf of the neglected author, his

dying wife and her devoted mother, then living under very straitened

circumstances in a little cottage at Fordham, N. Y.:

 

"Here is one of the finest scholars, one of the most original men of

genius, and one of the most industrious of the literary profession of

our country, whose temporary suspension of labor, from bodily illness,

drops him immediately to a level with the common objects of public

charity. There is no intermediate stopping-place, no respectful shelter,

where, with the delicacy due to genius and culture, he might secure

aid, till, with returning health, he would resume his labors, and his

unmortified sense of independence."

 

And this was the tribute paid by the American public to the master who

had given to it such tales of conjuring charm, of witchery and mystery

as "The Fall of the House of Usher" and "Ligeia"; such fascinating

hoaxes as "The Unparalleled Adventure of Hans Pfaall," "MSS. Found in a

Bottle," "A Descent Into a Maelstrom" and "The Balloon Hoax"; such tales

of conscience as "William Wilson," "The Black Cat" and "The Tell-tale

Heart," wherein the retributions of remorse are portrayed with an awful

fidelity; such tales of natural beauty as "The Island of the Fay" and

"The Domain of Arnheim"; such marvellous studies in ratiocination as the

"Gold-bug," "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "The Purloined Letter"

and "The Mystery of Marie Roget," the latter, a recital of fact,

demonstrating the author's wonderful capability of correctly analyzing

the mysteries of the human mind; such tales of illusion and banter

as "The Premature Burial" and "The System of Dr. Tarr and Professor

Fether"; such bits of extravaganza as "The Devil in the Belfry" and "The

Angel of the Odd"; such tales of adventure as "The Narrative of Arthur

Gordon Pym"; such papers of keen criticism and review as won for Poe the

enthusiastic admiration of Charles Dickens, although they made him many

enemies among the over-puffed minor American writers so mercilessly

exposed by him; such poems of beauty and melody as "The Bells," "The

Haunted Palace," "Tamerlane," "The City in the Sea" and "The Raven."

What delight for the jaded senses of the reader is this enchanted domain

of wonder-pieces! What an atmosphere of beauty, music, color! What

resources of imagination, construction, analysis and absolute art! One

might almost sympathize with Sarah Helen Whitman, who, confessing to

a half faith in the old superstition of the significance of anagrams,

found, in the transposed letters of Edgar Poe's name, the words "a

God-peer." His mind, she says, was indeed a "Haunted Palace," echoing to

the footfalls of angels and demons.

 

"No man," Poe himself wrote, "has recorded, no man has dared to record,

the wonders of his inner life."

 

In these twentieth century days--of lavish recognition--artistic,

popular and material--of genius, what rewards might not a Poe claim!

 

Edgar's father, a son of General David Poe, the American revolutionary

patriot and friend of Lafayette, had married Mrs. Hopkins, an English

actress, and, the match meeting with parental disapproval, had himself

taken to the stage as a profession. Notwithstanding Mrs. Poe's beauty

and talent the young couple had a sorry struggle for existence. When

Edgar, at the age of two years, was orphaned, the family was in the

utmost destitution. Apparently the future poet was to be cast upon the

world homeless and friendless. But fate decreed that a few glimmers of

sunshine were to illumine his life, for the little fellow was adopted

by John Allan, a wealthy merchant of Richmond, Va. A brother and sister,

the remaining children, were cared for by others.

 

In his new home Edgar found all the luxury and advantages money could

provide. He was petted, spoiled and shown off to strangers. In Mrs.

Allan he found all the affection a childless wife could bestow. Mr.

Allan took much pride in the captivating, precocious lad. At the age of

five the boy recited, with fine effect, passages of English poetry to

the visitors at the Allan house.

 

From his eighth to his thirteenth year he attended the Manor House

school, at Stoke-Newington, a suburb of London. It was the Rev. Dr.

Bransby, head of the school, whom Poe so quaintly portrayed in "William

Wilson." Returning to Richmond in 1820 Edgar was sent to the school

of Professor Joseph H. Clarke. He proved an apt pupil. Years afterward

Professor Clarke thus wrote:

 

"While the other boys wrote mere mechanical verses, Poe wrote genuine

poetry; the boy was a born poet. As a scholar he was ambitious to

excel. He was remarkable for self-respect, without haughtiness. He had

a sensitive and tender heart and would do anything for a friend. His

nature was entirely free from selfishness."

 

At the age of seventeen Poe entered the University of Virginia at

Charlottesville. He left that institution after one session. Official

records prove that he was not expelled. On the contrary, he gained

a creditable record as a student, although it is admitted that he

contracted debts and had "an ungovernable passion for card-playing."

These debts may have led to his quarrel with Mr. Allan which eventually

compelled him to make his own way in the world.

 

Early in 1827 Poe made his first literary venture. He induced Calvin

Thomas, a poor and youthful printer, to publish a small volume of his

verses under the title "Tamerlane and Other Poems." In 1829 we find Poe

in Baltimore with another manuscript volume of verses, which was soon

published. Its title was "Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane and Other Poems." Neither

of these ventures seems to have attracted much attention.

 

Soon after Mrs. Allan's death, which occurred in 1829, Poe, through

the aid of Mr. Allan, secured admission to the United States Military

Academy at West Point. Any glamour which may have attached to cadet life

in Poe's eyes was speedily lost, for discipline at West Point was never

so severe nor were the accommodations ever so poor. Poe's bent was

more and more toward literature. Life at the academy daily became

increasingly distasteful. Soon he began to purposely neglect his studies

and to disregard his duties, his aim being to secure his dismissal from

the United States service. In this he succeeded. On March 7, 1831, Poe

found himself free. Mr. Allan's second marriage had thrown the lad on

his own resources. His literary career was to begin.

 

Poe's first genuine victory was won in 1833, when he was the successful

competitor for a prize of $100 offered by a Baltimore periodical for the

best prose story. "A MSS. Found in a Bottle" was the winning tale. Poe

had submitted six stories in a volume. "Our only difficulty," says Mr.

Latrobe, one of the judges, "was in selecting from the rich contents of

the volume."

 

During the fifteen years of his literary life Poe was connected with

various newspapers and magazines in Richmond, Philadelphia and New York.

He was faithful, punctual, industrious, thorough. N. P. Willis, who for

some time employed Poe as critic and sub-editor on the "Evening Mirror,"

wrote thus:

 

"With the highest admiration for Poe's genius, and a willingness to

let it alone for more than ordinary irregularity, we were led by

common report to expect a very capricious attention to his duties, and

occasionally a scene of violence and difficulty. Time went on,

however, and he was invariably punctual and industrious. We saw but

one presentiment of the man-a quiet, patient, industrious and most

gentlemanly person.

 

"We heard, from one who knew him well (what should be stated in all

mention of his lamentable irregularities), that with a single glass of

wine his whole nature was reversed, the demon became uppermost, and,

though none of the usual signs of intoxication were visible, his will

was palpably insane. In this reversed character, we repeat, it was never

our chance to meet him."

 

On September 22, 1835, Poe married his cousin, Virginia Clemm, in

Baltimore. She had barely turned thirteen years, Poe himself was but

twenty-six. He then was a resident of Richmond and a regular contributor

to the "Southern Literary Messenger." It was not until a year later that

the bride and her widowed mother followed him thither.

 

Poe's devotion to his child-wife was one of the most beautiful features

of his life. Many of his famous poetic productions were inspired by her

beauty and charm. Consumption had marked her for its victim, and the

constant efforts of husband and mother were to secure for her all the

comfort and happiness their slender means permitted. Virginia died

January 30, 1847, when but twenty-five years of age. A friend of the

family pictures the death-bed scene--mother and husband trying to impart

warmth to her by chafing her hands and her feet, while her pet cat was

suffered to nestle upon her bosom for the sake of added warmth.

 

These verses from "Annabel Lee," written by Poe in 1849, the last year

of his life, tell of his sorrow at the loss of his child-wife:

 

     I was a child and _she_ was a child,

      In a kingdom by the sea;

 

     But we loved with _a _love that was more than love--

       I and my Annabel Lee;

 

     With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven

      Coveted her and me.

     And this was the reason that, long ago;

      In this kingdom by the sea.

     A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling

      My beautiful Annabel Lee;

 

     So that her high-born kinsmen came

      And bore her away from me,

     To shut her up in a sepulchre

      In this kingdom by the sea,

 

 

Poe was connected at various times and in various capacities with the

"Southern Literary Messenger" in Richmond, Va.; "Graham's Magazine" and

the "Gentleman's Magazine" in Philadelphia.; the "Evening Mirror," the

"Broadway journal," and "Godey's Lady's Book" in New York. Everywhere

Poe's life was one of unremitting toil. No tales and poems were ever

produced at a greater cost of brain and spirit.

 

Poe's initial salary with the "Southern Literary Messenger," to which

he contributed the first drafts of a number of his best-known tales,

was $10 a week! Two years later his salary was but $600 a year. Even in

1844, when his literary reputation was established securely, he wrote to

a friend expressing his pleasure because a magazine to which he was to

contribute had agreed to pay him $20 monthly for two pages of criticism.

 

Those were discouraging times in American literature, but Poe never

lost faith. He was finally to triumph wherever pre-eminent talents win

admirers. His genius has had no better description than in this stanza

from William Winter's poem, read at the dedication exercises of the

Actors' Monument to Poe, May 4, 1885, in New York:

 

     He was the voice of beauty and of woe,

     Passion and mystery and the dread unknown;

     Pure as the mountains of perpetual snow,

     Cold as the icy winds that round them moan,

     Dark as the eaves wherein earth's thunders groan,

     Wild as the tempests of the upper sky,

     Sweet as the faint, far-off celestial tone of angel

         whispers, fluttering from on high,

     And tender as love's tear when youth and beauty die.

 

 

In the two and a half score years that have elapsed since Poe's death

he has come fully into his own. For a while Griswold's malignant

misrepresentations colored the public estimate of Poe as man and as

writer. But, thanks to J. H. Ingram, W. F. Gill, Eugene Didier, Sarah

Helen Whitman and others these scandals have been dispelled and Poe is

seen as he actually was-not as a man without failings, it is true, but

as the finest and most original genius in American letters. As the

years go on his fame increases. His works have been translated into

many foreign languages. His is a household name in France and England-in

fact, the latter nation has often uttered the reproach that Poe's own

country has been slow to appreciate him. But that reproach, if it ever

was warranted, certainly is untrue.

 

                                     W. H. R.

 

 

 

 

EDGAR ALLAN POE

 

By James Russell Lowell

 

 

THE situation of American literature is anomalous. It has no centre, or,

if it have, it is like that of the sphere of Hermes. It is, divided

into many systems, each revolving round its several suns, and often

presenting to the rest only the faint glimmer of a milk-and-water way.

Our capital city, unlike London or Paris, is not a great central heart

from which life and vigor radiate to the extremities, but resembles more

an isolated umbilicus stuck down as near a's may be to the centre of the

land, and seeming rather to tell a legend of former usefulness than to

serve any present need. Boston, New York, Philadelphia, each has its

literature almost more distinct than those of the different dialects

of Germany; and the Young Queen of the West has also one of her own,

of which some articulate rumor barely has reached us dwellers by the

Atlantic.

 

Perhaps there is no task more difficult than the just criticism of

contemporary literature. It is even more grateful to give praise where

it is needed than where it is deserved, and friendship so often seduces

the iron stylus of justice into a vague flourish, that she writes what

seems rather like an epitaph than a criticism. Yet if praise be given

as an alms, we could not drop so poisonous a one into any man's hat. The

critic's ink may suffer equally from too large an infusion of nutgalls

or of sugar. But it is easier to be generous than to be just, and we

might readily put faith in that fabulous direction to the hiding place

of truth, did we judge from the amount of water which we usually find

mixed with it.

 

Remarkable experiences are usually confined to the inner life of

imaginative men, but Mr. Poe's biography displays a vicissitude and

peculiarity of interest such as is rarely met with. The offspring of a

romantic marriage, and left an orphan at an early age, he was adopted

by Mr. Allan, a wealthy Virginian, whose barren marriage-bed seemed the

warranty of a large estate to the young poet.

 

Having received a classical education in England, he returned home and

entered the University of Virginia, where, after an extravagant course,

followed by reformation at the last extremity, he was graduated with

the highest honors of his class. Then came a boyish attempt to join the

fortunes of the insurgent Greeks, which ended at St. Petersburg, where

he got into difficulties through want of a passport, from which he

was rescued by the American consul and sent home. He now entered the

military academy at West Point, from which he obtained a dismissal

on hearing of the birth of a son to his adopted father, by a second

marriage, an event which cut off his expectations as an heir. The death

of Mr. Allan, in whose will his name was not mentioned, soon after

relieved him of all doubt in this regard, and he committed himself at

once to authorship for a support. Previously to this, however, he had

published (in 1827) a small volume of poems, which soon ran through

three editions, and excited high expectations of its author's future

distinction in the minds of many competent judges.

 

That no certain augury can be drawn from a poet's earliest lispings

there are instances enough to prove. Shakespeare's first poems, though

brimful of vigor and youth and picturesqueness, give but a very faint

promise of the directness, condensation and overflowing moral of his

maturer works. Perhaps, however, Shakespeare is hardly a case in

point, his "Venus and Adonis" having been published, we believe, in his

twenty-sixth year. Milton's Latin verses show tenderness, a fine eye for

nature, and a delicate appreciation of classic models, but give no hint

of the author of a new style in poetry. Pope's youthful pieces have

all the sing-song, wholly unrelieved by the glittering malignity

and eloquent irreligion of his later productions. Collins' callow

namby-pamby died and gave no sign of the vigorous and original genius

which he afterward displayed. We have never thought that the world lost

more in the "marvellous boy," Chatterton, than a very ingenious imitator

of obscure and antiquated dulness. Where he becomes original (as it is

called), the interest of ingenuity ceases and he becomes stupid. Kirke

White's promises were indorsed by the respectable name of Mr. Southey,

but surely with no authority from Apollo. They have the merit of a

traditional piety, which to our mind, if uttered at all, had been less

objectionable in the retired closet of a diary, and in the sober raiment

of prose. They do not clutch hold of the memory with the drowning

pertinacity of Watts; neither have they the interest of his occasional

simple, lucky beauty. Burns having fortunately been rescued by his

humble station from the contaminating society of the "Best models,"

wrote well and naturally from the first. Had he been unfortunate enough

to have had an educated taste, we should have had a series of poems from

which, as from his letters, we could sift here and there a kernel from

the mass of chaff. Coleridge's youthful efforts give no promise whatever

of that poetical genius which produced at once the wildest, tenderest,

most original and most purely imaginative poems of modern times. Byron's

"Hours of Idleness" would never find a reader except from an intrepid

and indefatigable curiosity. In Wordsworth's first preludings there

is but a dim foreboding of the creator of an era. From Southey's early

poems, a safer augury might have been drawn. They show the patient

investigator, the close student of history, and the unwearied explorer

of the beauties of predecessors, but they give no assurances of a man

who should add aught to stock of household words, or to the rarer

and more sacred delights of the fireside or the arbor. The earliest

specimens of Shelley's poetic mind already, also, give tokens of that

ethereal sublimation in which the spirit seems to soar above the regions

of words, but leaves its body, the verse, to be entombed, without hope

of resurrection, in a mass of them. Cowley is generally instanced as a

wonder of precocity. But his early insipidities show only a capacity

for rhyming and for the metrical arrangement of certain conventional

combinations of words, a capacity wholly dependent on a delicate

physical organization, and an unhappy memory. An early poem is only

remarkable when it displays an effort of _reason, _and the rudest verses

in which we can trace some conception of the ends of poetry, are worth

all the miracles of smooth juvenile versification. A school-boy, one

would say, might acquire the regular see-saw of Pope merely by an

association with the motion of the play-ground tilt.

 

Mr. Poe's early productions show that he could see through the verse to

the spirit beneath, and that he already had a feeling that all the life

and grace of the one must depend on and be modulated by the will of the

other. We call them the most remarkable boyish poems that we have

ever read. We know of none that can compare with them for maturity of

purpose, and a nice understanding of the effects of language and metre.

Such pieces are only valuable when they display what we can only express

by the contradictory phrase of _innate experience. _We copy one of the

shorter poems, written when the author was only fourteen. There is a

little dimness in the filling up, but the grace and symmetry of the

outline are such as few poets ever attain. There is a smack of ambrosia

about it.

 

     TO HELEN

 

     Helen, thy beauty is to me

       Like those Nicean barks of yore,

     That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,

       The weary, way-worn wanderer bore

     To his own native shore.

 

     On desperate seas long wont to roam,

       Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,

     Thy Naiad airs have brought me home

       To the glory that was Greece

     And the grandeur that was Rome.

 

     Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche

       How statue-like I see thee stand!

     The agate lamp within thy hand,

       Ah! Psyche, from the regions which

     Are Holy Land!

 

 

It is the tendency of the young poet that impresses us. Here is no

"withering scorn," no heart "blighted" ere it has safely got into its

teens, none of the drawing-room sansculottism which Byron had brought

into vogue. All is limpid and serene, with a pleasant dash of the Greek

Helicon in it. The melody of the whole, too, is remarkable. It is not of

that kind which can be demonstrated arithmetically upon the tips of

the fingers. It is of that finer sort which the inner ear alone

_can _estimate. It seems simple, like a Greek column, because of its

perfection. In a poem named "Ligeia," under which title he intended

to personify the music of nature, our boy-poet gives us the following

exquisite picture:

 

       Ligeia! Ligeia!

     My beautiful one,

       Whose harshest idea

     Will to melody run,

       Say, is it thy will,

     On the breezes to toss,

       Or, capriciously still,

     Like the lone albatross,

       Incumbent on night,

     As she on the air,

       To keep watch with delight

     On the harmony there?

 

John Neal, himself a man of genius, and whose lyre has been too long

capriciously silent, appreciated the high merit of these and similar

passages, and drew a proud horoscope for their author.

 

Mr. Poe had that indescribable something which men have agreed to call

_genius_. No man could ever tell us precisely what it is, and yet there

is none who is not inevitably aware of its presence and its power. Let

talent writhe and contort itself as it may, it has no such magnetism.

Larger of bone and sinew it may be, but the wings are wanting. Talent

sticks fast to earth, and its most perfect works have still one foot of

clay. Genius claims kindred with the very workings of Nature herself, so

that a sunset shall seem like a quotation from Dante, and if Shakespeare

be read in the very presence of the sea itself, his verses shall but

seem nobler for the sublime criticism of ocean. Talent may make friends

for itself, but only genius can give to its creations the divine power

of winning love and veneration. Enthusiasm cannot cling to what itself

is unenthusiastic, nor will he ever have disciples who has not himself

impulsive zeal enough to be a disciple. Great wits are allied to madness

only inasmuch as they are possessed and carried away by their demon,

While talent keeps him, as Paracelsus did, securely prisoned in the

pommel of his sword. To the eye of genius, the veil of the spiritual

world is ever rent asunder that it may perceive the ministers of good

and evil who throng continually around it. No man of mere talent ever

flung his inkstand at the devil.

 

When we say that Mr. Poe had genius, we do not mean to say that he has

produced evidence of the highest. But to say that he possesses it at

all is to say that he needs only zeal, industry, and a reverence for the

trust reposed in him, to achieve the proudest triumphs and the greenest

laurels. If we may believe the Longinuses; and Aristotles of our

newspapers, we have quite too many geniuses of the loftiest order to

render a place among them at all desirable, whether for its hardness

of attainment or its seclusion. The highest peak of our Parnassus is,

according to these gentlemen, by far the most thickly settled portion

of the country, a circumstance which must make it an uncomfortable

residence for individuals of a poetical temperament, if love of

solitude be, as immemorial tradition asserts, a necessary part of their

idiosyncrasy.

 

Mr. Poe has two of the prime qualities of genius, a faculty of vigorous

yet minute analysis, and a wonderful fecundity of imagination. The first

of these faculties is as needful to the artist in words, as a knowledge

of anatomy is to the artist in colors or in stone. This enables him to

conceive truly, to maintain a proper relation of parts, and to draw a

correct outline, while the second groups, fills up and colors. Both

of these Mr. Poe has displayed with singular distinctness in his prose

works, the last predominating in his earlier tales, and the first in his

later ones. In judging of the merit of an author, and assigning him his

niche among our household gods, we have a right to regard him from

our own point of view, and to measure him by our own standard. But,

in estimating the amount of power displayed in his works, we must be

governed by his own design, and placing them by the side of his own

ideal, find how much is wanting. We differ from Mr. Poe in his opinions

of the objects of art. He esteems that object to be the creation of

Beauty, and perhaps it is only in the definition of that word that we

disagree with him. But in what we shall say of his writings, we shall

take his own standard as our guide. The temple of the god of song is

equally accessible from every side, and there is room enough in it for

all who bring offerings, or seek in oracle.

 

In his tales, Mr. Poe has chosen to exhibit his power chiefly in that

dim region which stretches from the very utmost limits of the probable

into the weird confines of superstition and unreality. He combines in

a very remarkable manner two faculties which are seldom found united; a

power of influencing the mind of the reader by the impalpable shadows

of mystery, and a minuteness of detail which does not leave a pin or

a button unnoticed. Both are, in truth, the natural results of the

predominating quality of his mind, to which we have before alluded,

analysis. It is this which distinguishes the artist. His mind at once

reaches forward to the effect to be produced. Having resolved to bring

about certain emotions in the reader, he makes all subordinate parts

tend strictly to the common centre. Even his mystery is mathematical

to his own mind. To him X is a known quantity all along. In any picture

that he paints he understands the chemical properties of all his

colors. However vague some of his figures may seem, however formless

the shadows, to him the outline is as clear and distinct as that of

a geometrical diagram. For this reason Mr. Poe has no sympathy with

Mysticism. The Mystic dwells in the mystery, is enveloped with it; it

colors all his thoughts; it affects his optic nerve especially, and the

commonest things get a rainbow edging from it. Mr. Poe, on the other

hand, is a spectator _ab extra_. He analyzes, he dissects, he watches

 

        "with an eye serene,

     The very pulse of the machine,"

 

 

for such it practically is to him, with wheels and cogs and piston-rods,

all working to produce a certain end.

 

This analyzing tendency of his mind balances the poetical, and by giving

him the patience to be minute, enables him to throw a wonderful reality

into his most unreal fancies. A monomania he paints with great power. He

loves to dissect one of these cancers of the mind, and to trace all the

subtle ramifications of its roots. In raising images of horror, also,

he has strange success, conveying to us sometimes by a dusky hint

some terrible _doubt _which is the secret of all horror. He leaves to

imagination the task of finishing the picture, a task to which only she

is competent.

 

     "For much imaginary work was there;

     Conceit deceitful, so compact, so kind,

     That for Achilles' image stood his spear

     Grasped in an armed hand; himself behind

     Was left unseen, save to the eye of mind."

 

Besides the merit of conception, Mr. Poe's writings have also that of

form.

 

His style is highly finished, graceful and truly classical. It would be

hard to find a living author who had displayed such varied powers. As an

example of his style we would refer to one of his tales, "The House

of Usher," in the first volume of his "Tales of the Grotesque and

Arabesque." It has a singular charm for us, and we think that no one

could read it without being strongly moved by its serene and sombre

beauty. Had its author written nothing else, it would alone have been

enough to stamp him as a man of genius, and the master of a classic

style. In this tale occurs, perhaps, the most beautiful of his poems.

 

The great masters of imagination have seldom resorted to the vague and

the unreal as sources of effect. They have not used dread and horror

alone, but only in combination with other qualities, as means of

subjugating the fancies of their readers. The loftiest muse has ever a

household and fireside charm about her. Mr. Poe's secret lies mainly in

the skill with which he has employed the strange fascination of mystery

and terror. In this his success is so great and striking as to deserve

the name of art, not artifice. We cannot call his materials the noblest

or purest, but we must concede to him the highest merit of construction.

 

As a critic, Mr. Poe was aesthetically deficient. Unerring in his

analysis of dictions, metres and plots, he seemed wanting in the faculty

of perceiving the profounder ethics of art. His criticisms are, however,

distinguished for scientific precision and coherence of logic. They

have the exactness, and at the same time, the coldness of mathematical

demonstrations. Yet they stand in strikingly refreshing contrast with

the vague generalisms and sharp personalities of the day. If deficient

in warmth, they are also without the heat of partisanship. They are

especially valuable as illustrating the great truth, too generally

overlooked, that analytic power is a subordinate quality of the critic.

 

On the whole, it may be considered certain that Mr. Poe has attained an

individual eminence in our literature which he will keep. He has given

proof of power and originality. He has done that which could only be

done once with success or safety, and the imitation or repetition of

which would produce weariness.

 

 

 

 

DEATH OF EDGAR A. POE

 

By N. P. Willis

 

 

THE ancient fable of two antagonistic spirits imprisoned in one body,

equally powerful and having the complete mastery by turns-of one man,

that is to say, inhabited by both a devil and an angel seems to

have been realized, if all we hear is true, in the character of the

extraordinary man whose name we have written above. Our own impression

of the nature of Edgar A. Poe, differs in some important degree,

however, from that which has been generally conveyed in the notices of

his death. Let us, before telling what we personally know of him, copy

a graphic and highly finished portraiture, from the pen of Dr. Rufus W.

Griswold, which appeared in a recent number of the "Tribune":

 

"Edgar Allen Poe is dead. He died in Baltimore on Sunday, October 7th.

This announcement will startle many, but few will be grieved by it. The

poet was known, personally or by reputation, in all this country; he had

readers in England and in several of the states of Continental Europe;

but he had few or no friends; and the regrets for his death will be

suggested principally by the consideration that in him literary art has

lost one of its most brilliant but erratic stars.

 

"His conversation was at times almost supramortal in its eloquence. His

voice was modulated with astonishing skill, and his large and variably

expressive eyes looked repose or shot fiery tumult into theirs who

listened, while his own face glowed, or was changeless in pallor, as his

imagination quickened his blood or drew it back frozen to his heart. His

imagery was from the worlds which no mortals can see but with the vision

of genius. Suddenly starting from a proposition, exactly and sharply

defined, in terms of utmost simplicity and clearness, he rejected the

forms of customary logic, and by a crystalline process of accretion,

built up his ocular demonstrations in forms of gloomiest and ghastliest

grandeur, or in those of the most airy and delicious beauty, so minutely

and distinctly, yet so rapidly, that the attention which was yielded

to him was chained till it stood among his wonderful creations, till he

himself dissolved the spell, and brought his hearers back to common

and base existence, by vulgar fancies or exhibitions of the ignoblest

passion.

 

"He was at all times a dreamer-dwelling in ideal realms-in heaven or

hell-peopled with the creatures and the accidents of his brain. He

walked-the streets, in madness or melancholy, with lips moving in

indistinct curses, or with eyes upturned in passionate prayer (never for

himself, for he felt, or professed to feel, that he was already damned,

but) for their happiness who at the moment were objects of his idolatry;

or with his glances introverted to a heart gnawed with anguish, and with

a face shrouded in gloom, he would brave the wildest storms, and all

night, with drenched garments and arms beating the winds and rains,

would speak as if the spirits that at such times only could be evoked by

him from the Aidenn, close by whose portals his disturbed soul sought to

forget the ills to which his constitution subjected him---close by the

Aidenn where were those he loved-the Aidenn which he might never see,

but in fitful glimpses, as its gates opened to receive the less fiery

and more happy natures whose destiny to sin did not involve the doom of

death.

 

"He seemed, except when some fitful pursuit subjugated his will and

engrossed his faculties, always to bear the memory of some controlling

sorrow. The remarkable poem of 'The Raven' was probably much more nearly

than has been supposed, even by those who were very intimate with him, a

reflection and an echo of his own history. _He_ was that bird's

 

     "'Unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster

     Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore--

     Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore

          Of 'Never-never more.'

 

 

"Every genuine author in a greater or less degree leaves in his works,

whatever their design, traces of his personal character: elements of his

immortal being, in which the individual survives the person. While we

read the pages of the 'Fall of the House of Usher,' or of 'Mesmeric

Revelations,' we see in the solemn and stately gloom which invests one,

and in the subtle metaphysical analysis of both, indications of the

idiosyncrasies of what was most remarkable and peculiar in the author's

intellectual nature. But we see here only the better phases of his

nature, only the symbols of his juster action, for his harsh experience

had deprived him of all faith in man or woman. He had made up his mind

upon the numberless complexities of the social world, and the whole

system with him was an imposture. This conviction gave a direction to

his shrewd and naturally unamiable character. Still, though he regarded

society as composed altogether of villains, the sharpness of his

intellect was not of that kind which enabled him to cope with villany,

while it continually caused him by overshots to fail of the success of

honesty. He was in many respects like Francis Vivian in Bulwer's novel

of 'The Caxtons.' Passion, in him, comprehended--many of the worst

emotions which militate against human happiness. You could not

contradict him, but you raised quick choler; you could not speak of

wealth, but his cheek paled with gnawing envy. The astonishing natural

advantages of this poor boy--his beauty, his readiness, the daring

spirit that breathed around him like a fiery atmosphere--had raised his

constitutional self-confidence into an arrogance that turned his

very claims to admiration into prejudices against him. Irascible,

envious--bad enough, but not the worst, for these salient angles were

all varnished over with a cold, repellant cynicism, his passions vented

themselves in sneers. There seemed to him no moral susceptibility; and,

what was more remarkable in a proud nature, little or nothing of the

true point of honor. He had, to a morbid excess, that, desire to rise

which is vulgarly called ambition, but no wish for the esteem or the

love of his species; only the hard wish to succeed-not shine, not

serve--succeed, that he might have the right to despise a world which

galled his self-conceit.

 

"We have suggested the influence of his aims and vicissitudes upon his

literature. It was more conspicuous in his later than in his

earlier writings. Nearly all that he wrote in the last two or three

years-including much of his best poetry-was in some sense biographical;

in draperies of his imagination, those who had taken the trouble to

trace his steps, could perceive, but slightly concealed, the figure of

himself."

 

Apropos of the disparaging portion of the above well-written sketch, let

us truthfully say:

 

Some four or five years since, when editing a daily paper in this

city, Mr. Poe was employed by us, for several months, as critic and

sub-editor. This was our first personal acquaintance with him. He

resided with his wife and mother at Fordham, a few miles out of town,

but was at his desk in the office, from nine in the morning till the

evening paper went to press. With the highest admiration for his genius,

and a willingness to let it atone for more than ordinary irregularity,

we were led by common report to expect a very capricious attention to

his duties, and occasionally a scene of violence and difficulty. Time

went on, however, and he was invariably punctual and industrious. With

his pale, beautiful, and intellectual face, as a reminder of what genius

was in him, it was impossible, of course, not to treat him always with

deferential courtesy, and, to our occasional request that he would not

probe too deep in a criticism, or that he would erase a passage colored

too highly with his resentments against society and mankind, he readily

and courteously assented-far more yielding than most men, we thought,

on points so excusably sensitive. With a prospect of taking the lead in

another periodical, he, at last, voluntarily gave up his employment

with us, and, through all this considerable period, we had seen but

one presentment of the man-a quiet, patient, industrious, and most

gentlemanly person, commanding the utmost respect and good feeling by

his unvarying deportment and ability.

 

Residing as he did in the country, we never met Mr. Poe in hours of

leisure; but he frequently called on us afterward at our place of

business, and we met him often in the street-invariably the same sad

mannered, winning and refined gentleman, such as we had always known

him. It was by rumor only, up to the day of his death, that we knew of

any other development of manner or character. We heard, from one who

knew him well (what should be stated in all mention of his lamentable

irregularities), that, with a single glass of wine, his whole nature

was reversed, the demon became uppermost, and, though none of the

usual signs of intoxication were visible, his will was palpably insane.

Possessing his reasoning faculties in excited activity, at such times,

and seeking his acquaintances with his wonted look and memory, he easily

seemed personating only another phase of his natural character, and was

accused, accordingly, of insulting arrogance and bad-heartedness. In

this reversed character, we repeat, it was never our chance to see him.

We know it from hearsay, and we mention it in connection with this sad

infirmity of physical constitution; which puts it upon very nearly the

ground of a temporary and almost irresponsible insanity.

 

The arrogance, vanity, and depravity of heart, of which Mr. Poe was

generally accused, seem to us referable altogether to this reversed

phase of his character. Under that degree of intoxication which only

acted upon him by demonizing his sense of truth and right, he doubtless

said and did much that was wholly irreconcilable with his better nature;

but, when himself, and as we knew him only, his modesty and unaffected

humility, as to his own deservings, were a constant charm to his

character. His letters, of which the constant application for autographs

has taken from us, we are sorry to confess, the greater portion,

exhibited this quality very strongly. In one of the carelessly written

notes of which we chance still to retain possession, for instance, he

speaks of "The Raven"--that extraordinary poem which electrified the

world of imaginative readers, and has become the type of a school of

poetry of its own-and, in evident earnest, attributes its success to

the few words of commendation with which we had prefaced it in this

paper.--It will throw light on his sane character to give a literal copy

of the note:

 

                                  "FORDHAM, April 20, 1849

 

 

"My DEAR WILLIS--The poem which I inclose, and which I am so vain as to

hope you will like, in some respects, has been just published in a paper

for which sheer necessity compels me to write, now and then. It pays

well as times go-but unquestionably it ought to pay ten prices; for

whatever I send it I feel I am consigning to the tomb of the Capulets.

The verses accompanying this, may I beg you to take out of the tomb, and

bring them to light in the 'Home journal?' If you can oblige me so far

as to copy them, I do not think it will be necessary to say 'From the

----, that would be too bad; and, perhaps, 'From a late ---- paper,'

would do.

 

"I have not forgotten how a 'good word in season' from you made 'The

Raven,' and made 'Ulalume' (which by-the-way, people have done me the

honor of attributing to you), therefore, I would ask you (if I dared) to

say something of these lines if they please you.

 

                      "Truly yours ever,

 

                        "EDGAR A. POE."

 

 

In double proof of his earnest disposition to do the best for himself,

and of the trustful and grateful nature which has been denied him, we

give another of the only three of his notes which we chance to retain:

 

                          "FORDHAM, January 22, 1848.

 

 

"My DEAR MR. WILLIS--I am about to make an effort at re-establishing

myself in the literary world, and _feel _that I may depend upon your

aid.

 

"My general aim is to start a Magazine, to be called 'The Stylus,' but

it would be useless to me, even when established, if not entirely out of

the control of a publisher. I mean, therefore, to get up a journal which

shall be _my own_ at all points. With this end in view, I must get a

list of at least five hundred subscribers to begin with; nearly two

hundred I have already. I propose, however, to go South and West,

among my personal and literary friends--old college and West Point

acquaintances--and see what I can do. In order to get the means of

taking the first step, I propose to lecture at the Society Library,

on Thursday, the 3d of February, and, that there may be no cause of

_squabbling_, my subject shall _not be literary _at all. I have chosen a

broad text: 'The Universe.'

 

"Having thus given you _the facts_ of the case, I leave all the rest

to the suggestions of your own tact and generosity. Gratefully, _most

gratefully,_

 

                         _"Your friend always,_

 

                             _"EDGAR A. POE._"

 

 

Brief and chance-taken as these letters are, we think they sufficiently

prove the existence of the very qualities denied to Mr. Poe-humility,

willingness to persevere, belief in another's friendship, and capability

of cordial and grateful friendship! Such he assuredly was when sane.

Such only he has invariably seemed to us, in all we have happened

personally to know of him, through a friendship of five or six years.

And so much easier is it to believe what we have seen and known, than

what we hear of only, that we remember him but with admiration and

respect; these descriptions of him, when morally insane, seeming to

us like portraits, painted in sickness, of a man we have only known in

health.

 

But there is another, more touching, and far more forcible evidence that

there was _goodness _in Edgar A. Poe. To reveal it we are obliged to

venture upon the lifting of the veil which sacredly covers grief and

refinement in poverty; but we think it may be excused, if so we can

brighten the memory of the poet, even were there not a more needed and

immediate service which it may render to the nearest link broken by his

death.

 

Our first knowledge of Mr. Poe's removal to this city was by a call

which we received from a lady who introduced herself to us as the mother

of his wife. She was in search of employment for him, and she excused

her errand by mentioning that he was ill, that her daughter was a

confirmed invalid, and that their circumstances were such as compelled

her taking it upon herself. The countenance of this lady, made beautiful

and saintly with an evidently complete giving up of her life to

privation and sorrowful tenderness, her gentle and mournful voice urging

its plea, her long-forgotten but habitually and unconsciously refined

manners, and her appealing and yet appreciative mention of the claims

and abilities of her son, disclosed at once the presence of one of those

angels upon earth that women in adversity can be. It was a hard fate

that she was watching over. Mr. Poe wrote with fastidious difficulty,

and in a style too much above the popular level to be well paid. He was

always in pecuniary difficulty, and, with his sick wife, frequently in

want of the merest necessaries of life. Winter after winter, for

years, the most touching sight to us, in this whole city, has been that

tireless minister to genius, thinly and insufficiently clad, going from

office to office with a poem, or an article on some literary subject, to

sell, sometimes simply pleading in a broken voice that he was ill, and

begging for him, mentioning nothing but that "he was ill," whatever

might be the reason for his writing nothing, and never, amid all her

tears and recitals of distress, suffering one syllable to escape her

lips that could convey a doubt of him, or a complaint, or a lessening of

pride in his genius and good intentions. Her daughter died a year and

a half since, but she did not desert him. She continued his ministering

angel--living with him, caring for him, guarding him against exposure,

and when he was carried away by temptation, amid grief and the

loneliness of feelings unreplied to, and awoke from his self abandonment

prostrated in destitution and suffering, _begging _for him still. If

woman's devotion, born with a first love, and fed with human passion,

hallow its object, as it is allowed to do, what does not a devotion

like this-pure, disinterested and holy as the watch of an invisible

spirit-say for him who inspired it?

 

We have a letter before us, written by this lady, Mrs. Clemm, on the

morning in which she heard of the death of this object of her untiring

care. It is merely a request that we would call upon her, but we will

copy a few of its words--sacred as its privacy is--to warrant the truth

of the picture we have drawn above, and add force to the appeal we wish

to make for her:

 

"I have this morning heard of the death of my darling Eddie.... Can you

give me any circumstances or particulars?... Oh! do not desert your

poor friend in his bitter affliction!... Ask Mr. ---- to come, as I must

deliver a message to him from my poor Eddie.... I need not ask you to

notice his death and to speak well of him. I know you will. But say what

an affectionate son he was to me, his poor desolate mother..."

 

To hedge round a grave with respect, what choice is there, between the

relinquished wealth and honors of the world, and the story of such a

woman's unrewarded devotion! Risking what we do, in delicacy, by making

it public, we feel--other reasons aside--that it betters the world to

make known that there are such ministrations to its erring and gifted.

What we have said will speak to some hearts. There are those who will

be glad to know how the lamp, whose light of poetry has beamed on their

far-away recognition, was watched over with care and pain, that they

may send to her, who is more darkened than they by its extinction, some

token of their sympathy. She is destitute and alone. If any, far or

near, will send to us what may aid and cheer her through the remainder

of her life, we will joyfully place it in her bands.

 

 

 

 

 

THE UNPARALLELED ADVENTURES OF ONE HANS PFAAL (*1)

 

BY late accounts from Rotterdam, that city seems to be in a high state

of philosophical excitement. Indeed, phenomena have there occurred of

a nature so completely unexpected--so entirely novel--so utterly at

variance with preconceived opinions--as to leave no doubt on my mind

that long ere this all Europe is in an uproar, all physics in a ferment,

all reason and astronomy together by the ears.

 

It appears that on the---- day of---- (I am not positive about the

date), a vast crowd of people, for purposes not specifically

mentioned, were assembled in the great square of the Exchange in the

well-conditioned city of Rotterdam. The day was warm--unusually so for

the season--there was hardly a breath of air stirring; and the multitude

were in no bad humor at being now and then besprinkled with friendly

showers of momentary duration, that fell from large white masses

of cloud which chequered in a fitful manner the blue vault of the

firmament. Nevertheless, about noon, a slight but remarkable agitation

became apparent in the assembly: the clattering of ten thousand tongues

succeeded; and, in an instant afterward, ten thousand faces were

upturned toward the heavens, ten thousand pipes descended simultaneously

from the corners of ten thousand mouths, and a shout, which could be

compared to nothing but the roaring of Niagara, resounded long, loudly,

and furiously, through all the environs of Rotterdam.

 

The origin of this hubbub soon became sufficiently evident. From behind

the huge bulk of one of those sharply-defined masses of cloud already

mentioned, was seen slowly to emerge into an open area of blue space, a

queer, heterogeneous, but apparently solid substance, so oddly shaped,

so whimsically put together, as not to be in any manner comprehended,

and never to be sufficiently admired, by the host of sturdy burghers who

stood open-mouthed below. What could it be? In the name of all the vrows

and devils in Rotterdam, what could it possibly portend? No one knew, no

one could imagine; no one--not even the burgomaster Mynheer Superbus Von

Underduk--had the slightest clew by which to unravel the mystery; so, as

nothing more reasonable could be done, every one to a man replaced his

pipe carefully in the corner of his mouth, and cocking up his right

eye towards the phenomenon, puffed, paused, waddled about, and grunted

significantly--then waddled back, grunted, paused, and finally--puffed

again.

 

In the meantime, however, lower and still lower toward the goodly city,

came the object of so much curiosity, and the cause of so much smoke. In

a very few minutes it arrived near enough to be accurately discerned. It

appeared to be--yes! it was undoubtedly a species of balloon; but surely

no such balloon had ever been seen in Rotterdam before. For who, let me

ask, ever heard of a balloon manufactured entirely of dirty newspapers?

No man in Holland certainly; yet here, under the very noses of the

people, or rather at some distance above their noses was the identical

thing in question, and composed, I have it on the best authority, of

the precise material which no one had ever before known to be used for

a similar purpose. It was an egregious insult to the good sense of the

burghers of Rotterdam. As to the shape of the phenomenon, it was even

still more reprehensible. Being little or nothing better than a huge

foolscap turned upside down. And this similitude was regarded as by no

means lessened when, upon nearer inspection, there was perceived a large

tassel depending from its apex, and, around the upper rim or base of the

cone, a circle of little instruments, resembling sheep-bells, which kept

up a continual tinkling to the tune of Betty Martin. But still worse.

Suspended by blue ribbons to the end of this fantastic machine,

there hung, by way of car, an enormous drab beaver hat, with a brim

superlatively broad, and a hemispherical crown with a black band and a

silver buckle. It is, however, somewhat remarkable that many citizens

of Rotterdam swore to having seen the same hat repeatedly before; and

indeed the whole assembly seemed to regard it with eyes of familiarity;

while the vrow Grettel Pfaall, upon sight of it, uttered an exclamation

of joyful surprise, and declared it to be the identical hat of her good

man himself. Now this was a circumstance the more to be observed, as

Pfaall, with three companions, had actually disappeared from Rotterdam

about five years before, in a very sudden and unaccountable manner, and

up to the date of this narrative all attempts had failed of obtaining

any intelligence concerning them whatsoever. To be sure, some bones

which were thought to be human, mixed up with a quantity of odd-looking

rubbish, had been lately discovered in a retired situation to the east

of Rotterdam, and some people went so far as to imagine that in this

spot a foul murder had been committed, and that the sufferers were in

all probability Hans Pfaall and his associates. But to return.

 

The balloon (for such no doubt it was) had now descended to within

a hundred feet of the earth, allowing the crowd below a sufficiently

distinct view of the person of its occupant. This was in truth a very

droll little somebody. He could not have been more than two feet in

height; but this altitude, little as it was, would have been sufficient

to destroy his equilibrium, and tilt him over the edge of his tiny

car, but for the intervention of a circular rim reaching as high as

the breast, and rigged on to the cords of the balloon. The body of the

little man was more than proportionately broad, giving to his entire

figure a rotundity highly absurd. His feet, of course, could not be seen

at all, although a horny substance of suspicious nature was occasionally

protruded through a rent in the bottom of the car, or to speak more

properly, in the top of the hat. His hands were enormously large. His

hair was extremely gray, and collected in a cue behind. His nose was

prodigiously long, crooked, and inflammatory; his eyes full, brilliant,

and acute; his chin and cheeks, although wrinkled with age, were broad,

puffy, and double; but of ears of any kind or character there was not a

semblance to be discovered upon any portion of his head. This odd little

gentleman was dressed in a loose surtout of sky-blue satin, with tight

breeches to match, fastened with silver buckles at the knees. His vest

was of some bright yellow material; a white taffety cap was set jauntily

on one side of his head; and, to complete his equipment, a blood-red

silk handkerchief enveloped his throat, and fell down, in a dainty

manner, upon his bosom, in a fantastic bow-knot of super-eminent

dimensions.

 

Having descended, as I said before, to about one hundred feet from the

surface of the earth, the little old gentleman was suddenly seized

with a fit of trepidation, and appeared disinclined to make any nearer

approach to terra firma. Throwing out, therefore, a quantity of sand

from a canvas bag, which, he lifted with great difficulty, he became

stationary in an instant. He then proceeded, in a hurried and agitated

manner, to extract from a side-pocket in his surtout a large morocco

pocket-book. This he poised suspiciously in his hand, then eyed it with

an air of extreme surprise, and was evidently astonished at its weight.

He at length opened it, and drawing there from a huge letter sealed with

red sealing-wax and tied carefully with red tape, let it fall precisely

at the feet of the burgomaster, Superbus Von Underduk. His Excellency

stooped to take it up. But the aeronaut, still greatly discomposed, and

having apparently no farther business to detain him in Rotterdam, began

at this moment to make busy preparations for departure; and it being

necessary to discharge a portion of ballast to enable him to reascend,

the half dozen bags which he threw out, one after another, without

taking the trouble to empty their contents, tumbled, every one of them,

most unfortunately upon the back of the burgomaster, and rolled him over

and over no less than one-and-twenty times, in the face of every man in

Rotterdam. It is not to be supposed, however, that the great Underduk

suffered this impertinence on the part of the little old man to pass off

with impunity. It is said, on the contrary, that during each and every

one of his one-and twenty circumvolutions he emitted no less than

one-and-twenty distinct and furious whiffs from his pipe, to which he

held fast the whole time with all his might, and to which he intends

holding fast until the day of his death.

 

In the meantime the balloon arose like a lark, and, soaring far away

above the city, at length drifted quietly behind a cloud similar to that

from which it had so oddly emerged, and was thus lost forever to the

wondering eyes of the good citizens of Rotterdam. All attention was

now directed to the letter, the descent of which, and the consequences

attending thereupon, had proved so fatally subversive of both person and

personal dignity to his Excellency, the illustrious Burgomaster Mynheer

Superbus Von Underduk. That functionary, however, had not failed, during

his circumgyratory movements, to bestow a thought upon the important

subject of securing the packet in question, which was seen, upon

inspection, to have fallen into the most proper hands, being actually

addressed to himself and Professor Rub-a-dub, in their official

capacities of President and Vice-President of the Rotterdam College of

Astronomy. It was accordingly opened by those dignitaries upon the

spot, and found to contain the following extraordinary, and indeed very

serious, communications.

 

To their Excellencies Von Underduk and Rub-a-dub, President and

Vice-President of the States' College of Astronomers, in the city of

Rotterdam.

 

"Your Excellencies may perhaps be able to remember an humble artizan, by

name Hans Pfaall, and by occupation a mender of bellows, who, with three

others, disappeared from Rotterdam, about five years ago, in a manner

which must have been considered by all parties at once sudden, and

extremely unaccountable. If, however, it so please your Excellencies, I,

the writer of this communication, am the identical Hans Pfaall himself.

It is well known to most of my fellow citizens, that for the period of

forty years I continued to occupy the little square brick building, at

the head of the alley called Sauerkraut, in which I resided at the time

of my disappearance. My ancestors have also resided therein time out of

mind--they, as well as myself, steadily following the respectable and

indeed lucrative profession of mending of bellows. For, to speak the

truth, until of late years, that the heads of all the people have been

set agog with politics, no better business than my own could an

honest citizen of Rotterdam either desire or deserve. Credit was good,

employment was never wanting, and on all hands there was no lack of

either money or good-will. But, as I was saying, we soon began to feel

the effects of liberty and long speeches, and radicalism, and all that

sort of thing. People who were formerly, the very best customers in the

world, had now not a moment of time to think of us at all. They had, so

they said, as much as they could do to read about the revolutions, and

keep up with the march of intellect and the spirit of the age. If a fire

wanted fanning, it could readily be fanned with a newspaper, and as the

government grew weaker, I have no doubt that leather and iron acquired

durability in proportion, for, in a very short time, there was not a

pair of bellows in all Rotterdam that ever stood in need of a stitch or

required the assistance of a hammer. This was a state of things not

to be endured. I soon grew as poor as a rat, and, having a wife and

children to provide for, my burdens at length became intolerable, and I

spent hour after hour in reflecting upon the most convenient method of

putting an end to my life. Duns, in the meantime, left me little leisure

for contemplation. My house was literally besieged from morning till

night, so that I began to rave, and foam, and fret like a caged

tiger against the bars of his enclosure. There were three fellows in

particular who worried me beyond endurance, keeping watch continually

about my door, and threatening me with the law. Upon these three I

internally vowed the bitterest revenge, if ever I should be so happy as

to get them within my clutches; and I believe nothing in the world but

the pleasure of this anticipation prevented me from putting my plan

of suicide into immediate execution, by blowing my brains out with a

blunderbuss. I thought it best, however, to dissemble my wrath, and to

treat them with promises and fair words, until, by some good turn of

fate, an opportunity of vengeance should be afforded me.

 

"One day, having given my creditors the slip, and feeling more than

usually dejected, I continued for a long time to wander about the most

obscure streets without object whatever, until at length I chanced to

stumble against the corner of a bookseller's stall. Seeing a chair close

at hand, for the use of customers, I threw myself doggedly into it,

and, hardly knowing why, opened the pages of the first volume which

came within my reach. It proved to be a small pamphlet treatise on

Speculative Astronomy, written either by Professor Encke of Berlin or

by a Frenchman of somewhat similar name. I had some little tincture of

information on matters of this nature, and soon became more and more

absorbed in the contents of the book, reading it actually through twice

before I awoke to a recollection of what was passing around me. By this

time it began to grow dark, and I directed my steps toward home. But

the treatise had made an indelible impression on my mind, and, as I

sauntered along the dusky streets, I revolved carefully over in my

memory the wild and sometimes unintelligible reasonings of the writer.

There are some particular passages which affected my imagination in a

powerful and extraordinary manner. The longer I meditated upon these

the more intense grew the interest which had been excited within me.

The limited nature of my education in general, and more especially my

ignorance on subjects connected with natural philosophy, so far from

rendering me diffident of my own ability to comprehend what I had read,

or inducing me to mistrust the many vague notions which had arisen in

consequence, merely served as a farther stimulus to imagination; and I

was vain enough, or perhaps reasonable enough, to doubt whether

those crude ideas which, arising in ill-regulated minds, have all the

appearance, may not often in effect possess all the force, the reality,

and other inherent properties, of instinct or intuition; whether, to

proceed a step farther, profundity itself might not, in matters of a

purely speculative nature, be detected as a legitimate source of falsity

and error. In other words, I believed, and still do believe, that truth,

is frequently of its own essence, superficial, and that, in many cases,

the depth lies more in the abysses where we seek her, than in the actual

situations wherein she may be found. Nature herself seemed to afford

me corroboration of these ideas. In the contemplation of the heavenly

bodies it struck me forcibly that I could not distinguish a star with

nearly as much precision, when I gazed on it with earnest, direct and

undeviating attention, as when I suffered my eye only to glance in

its vicinity alone. I was not, of course, at that time aware that this

apparent paradox was occasioned by the center of the visual area being

less susceptible of feeble impressions of light than the exterior

portions of the retina. This knowledge, and some of another kind, came

afterwards in the course of an eventful five years, during which I

have dropped the prejudices of my former humble situation in life, and

forgotten the bellows-mender in far different occupations. But at the

epoch of which I speak, the analogy which a casual observation of a star

offered to the conclusions I had already drawn, struck me with the force

of positive conformation, and I then finally made up my mind to the

course which I afterwards pursued.

 

"It was late when I reached home, and I went immediately to bed. My

mind, however, was too much occupied to sleep, and I lay the whole night

buried in meditation. Arising early in the morning, and contriving

again to escape the vigilance of my creditors, I repaired eagerly to the

bookseller's stall, and laid out what little ready money I possessed,

in the purchase of some volumes of Mechanics and Practical Astronomy.

Having arrived at home safely with these, I devoted every spare moment

to their perusal, and soon made such proficiency in studies of this

nature as I thought sufficient for the execution of my plan. In the

intervals of this period, I made every endeavor to conciliate the

three creditors who had given me so much annoyance. In this I finally

succeeded--partly by selling enough of my household furniture to satisfy

a moiety of their claim, and partly by a promise of paying the balance

upon completion of a little project which I told them I had in view, and

for assistance in which I solicited their services. By these means--for

they were ignorant men--I found little difficulty in gaining them over

to my purpose.

 

"Matters being thus arranged, I contrived, by the aid of my wife and

with the greatest secrecy and caution, to dispose of what property I had

remaining, and to borrow, in small sums, under various pretences,

and without paying any attention to my future means of repayment, no

inconsiderable quantity of ready money. With the means thus accruing I

proceeded to procure at intervals, cambric muslin, very fine, in pieces

of twelve yards each; twine; a lot of the varnish of caoutchouc; a

large and deep basket of wicker-work, made to order; and several other

articles necessary in the construction and equipment of a balloon of

extraordinary dimensions. This I directed my wife to make up as soon as

possible, and gave her all requisite information as to the particular

method of proceeding. In the meantime I worked up the twine into

a net-work of sufficient dimensions; rigged it with a hoop and the

necessary cords; bought a quadrant, a compass, a spy-glass, a common

barometer with some important modifications, and two astronomical

instruments not so generally known. I then took opportunities of

conveying by night, to a retired situation east of Rotterdam, five

iron-bound casks, to contain about fifty gallons each, and one of a

larger size; six tinned ware tubes, three inches in diameter, properly

shaped, and ten feet in length; a quantity of a particular metallic

substance, or semi-metal, which I shall not name, and a dozen demijohns

of a very common acid. The gas to be formed from these latter materials

is a gas never yet generated by any other person than myself--or at

least never applied to any similar purpose. The secret I would make no

difficulty in disclosing, but that it of right belongs to a citizen of

Nantz, in France, by whom it was conditionally communicated to myself.

The same individual submitted to me, without being at all aware of my

intentions, a method of constructing balloons from the membrane of a

certain animal, through which substance any escape of gas was nearly an

impossibility. I found it, however, altogether too expensive, and was

not sure, upon the whole, whether cambric muslin with a coating of

gum caoutchouc, was not equally as good. I mention this circumstance,

because I think it probable that hereafter the individual in question

may attempt a balloon ascension with the novel gas and material I have

spoken of, and I do not wish to deprive him of the honor of a very

singular invention.

 

"On the spot which I intended each of the smaller casks to occupy

respectively during the inflation of the balloon, I privately dug a hole

two feet deep; the holes forming in this manner a circle twenty-five

feet in diameter. In the centre of this circle, being the station

designed for the large cask, I also dug a hole three feet in depth. In

each of the five smaller holes, I deposited a canister containing

fifty pounds, and in the larger one a keg holding one hundred and fifty

pounds, of cannon powder. These--the keg and canisters--I connected in

a proper manner with covered trains; and having let into one of the

canisters the end of about four feet of slow match, I covered up the

hole, and placed the cask over it, leaving the other end of the match

protruding about an inch, and barely visible beyond the cask. I then

filled up the remaining holes, and placed the barrels over them in their

destined situation.

 

"Besides the articles above enumerated, I conveyed to the depot, and

there secreted, one of M. Grimm's improvements upon the apparatus for

condensation of the atmospheric air. I found this machine, however,

to require considerable alteration before it could be adapted to the

purposes to which I intended making it applicable. But, with severe

labor and unremitting perseverance, I at length met with entire success

in all my preparations. My balloon was soon completed. It would contain

more than forty thousand cubic feet of gas; would take me up easily, I

calculated, with all my implements, and, if I managed rightly, with

one hundred and seventy-five pounds of ballast into the bargain. It

had received three coats of varnish, and I found the cambric muslin to

answer all the purposes of silk itself, quite as strong and a good deal

less expensive.

 

"Everything being now ready, I exacted from my wife an oath of secrecy

in relation to all my actions from the day of my first visit to the

bookseller's stall; and promising, on my part, to return as soon as

circumstances would permit, I gave her what little money I had left,

and bade her farewell. Indeed I had no fear on her account. She was

what people call a notable woman, and could manage matters in the world

without my assistance. I believe, to tell the truth, she always looked

upon me as an idle boy, a mere make-weight, good for nothing but

building castles in the air, and was rather glad to get rid of me.

It was a dark night when I bade her good-bye, and taking with me, as

aides-de-camp, the three creditors who had given me so much trouble,

we carried the balloon, with the car and accoutrements, by a roundabout

way, to the station where the other articles were deposited. We there

found them all unmolested, and I proceeded immediately to business.

 

"It was the first of April. The night, as I said before, was dark; there

was not a star to be seen; and a drizzling rain, falling at intervals,

rendered us very uncomfortable. But my chief anxiety was concerning

the balloon, which, in spite of the varnish with which it was defended,

began to grow rather heavy with the moisture; the powder also was liable

to damage. I therefore kept my three duns working with great diligence,

pounding down ice around the central cask, and stirring the acid in the

others. They did not cease, however, importuning me with questions as

to what I intended to do with all this apparatus, and expressed much

dissatisfaction at the terrible labor I made them undergo. They could

not perceive, so they said, what good was likely to result from

their getting wet to the skin, merely to take a part in such horrible

incantations. I began to get uneasy, and worked away with all my might,

for I verily believe the idiots supposed that I had entered into a

compact with the devil, and that, in short, what I was now doing was

nothing better than it should be. I was, therefore, in great fear of

their leaving me altogether. I contrived, however, to pacify them by

promises of payment of all scores in full, as soon as I could bring

the present business to a termination. To these speeches they gave, of

course, their own interpretation; fancying, no doubt, that at all events

I should come into possession of vast quantities of ready money; and

provided I paid them all I owed, and a trifle more, in consideration of

their services, I dare say they cared very little what became of either

my soul or my carcass.

 

"In about four hours and a half I found the balloon sufficiently

inflated. I attached the car, therefore, and put all my implements in

it--not forgetting the condensing apparatus, a copious supply of water,

and a large quantity of provisions, such as pemmican, in which much

nutriment is contained in comparatively little bulk. I also secured in

the car a pair of pigeons and a cat. It was now nearly daybreak, and I

thought it high time to take my departure. Dropping a lighted cigar on

the ground, as if by accident, I took the opportunity, in stooping to

pick it up, of igniting privately the piece of slow match, whose end,

as I said before, protruded a very little beyond the lower rim of one of

the smaller casks. This manoeuvre was totally unperceived on the part of

the three duns; and, jumping into the car, I immediately cut the single

cord which held me to the earth, and was pleased to find that I shot

upward, carrying with all ease one hundred and seventy-five pounds of

leaden ballast, and able to have carried up as many more.

 

"Scarcely, however, had I attained the height of fifty yards, when,

roaring and rumbling up after me in the most horrible and tumultuous

manner, came so dense a hurricane of fire, and smoke, and sulphur, and

legs and arms, and gravel, and burning wood, and blazing metal, that

my very heart sunk within me, and I fell down in the bottom of the car,

trembling with unmitigated terror. Indeed, I now perceived that I had

entirely overdone the business, and that the main consequences of the

shock were yet to be experienced. Accordingly, in less than a second,

I felt all the blood in my body rushing to my temples, and immediately

thereupon, a concussion, which I shall never forget, burst abruptly

through the night and seemed to rip the very firmament asunder. When

I afterward had time for reflection, I did not fail to attribute the

extreme violence of the explosion, as regarded myself, to its proper

cause--my situation directly above it, and in the line of its greatest

power. But at the time, I thought only of preserving my life. The

balloon at first collapsed, then furiously expanded, then whirled round

and round with horrible velocity, and finally, reeling and staggering

like a drunken man, hurled me with great force over the rim of the car,

and left me dangling, at a terrific height, with my head downward, and

my face outwards, by a piece of slender cord about three feet in

length, which hung accidentally through a crevice near the bottom of

the wicker-work, and in which, as I fell, my left foot became most

providentially entangled. It is impossible--utterly impossible--to form

any adequate idea of the horror of my situation. I gasped convulsively

for breath--a shudder resembling a fit of the ague agitated every nerve

and muscle of my frame--I felt my eyes starting from their sockets--a

horrible nausea overwhelmed me--and at length I fainted away.

 

"How long I remained in this state it is impossible to say. It must,

however, have been no inconsiderable time, for when I partially

recovered the sense of existence, I found the day breaking, the balloon

at a prodigious height over a wilderness of ocean, and not a trace

of land to be discovered far and wide within the limits of the vast

horizon. My sensations, however, upon thus recovering, were by no means

so rife with agony as might have been anticipated. Indeed, there was

much of incipient madness in the calm survey which I began to take of my

situation. I drew up to my eyes each of my hands, one after the other,

and wondered what occurrence could have given rise to the swelling of

the veins, and the horrible blackness of the fingernails. I afterward

carefully examined my head, shaking it repeatedly, and feeling it with

minute attention, until I succeeded in satisfying myself that it was

not, as I had more than half suspected, larger than my balloon. Then,

in a knowing manner, I felt in both my breeches pockets, and, missing

therefrom a set of tablets and a toothpick case, endeavored to account

for their disappearance, and not being able to do so, felt inexpressibly

chagrined. It now occurred to me that I suffered great uneasiness in the

joint of my left ankle, and a dim consciousness of my situation began to

glimmer through my mind. But, strange to say! I was neither astonished

nor horror-stricken. If I felt any emotion at all, it was a kind of

chuckling satisfaction at the cleverness I was about to display in

extricating myself from this dilemma; and I never, for a moment, looked

upon my ultimate safety as a question susceptible of doubt. For a few

minutes I remained wrapped in the profoundest meditation. I have a

distinct recollection of frequently compressing my lips, putting

my forefinger to the side of my nose, and making use of other

gesticulations and grimaces common to men who, at ease in their

arm-chairs, meditate upon matters of intricacy or importance. Having,

as I thought, sufficiently collected my ideas, I now, with great caution

and deliberation, put my hands behind my back, and unfastened the large

iron buckle which belonged to the waistband of my inexpressibles. This

buckle had three teeth, which, being somewhat rusty, turned with great

difficulty on their axis. I brought them, however, after some trouble,

at right angles to the body of the buckle, and was glad to find them

remain firm in that position. Holding the instrument thus obtained

within my teeth, I now proceeded to untie the knot of my cravat. I had

to rest several times before I could accomplish this manoeuvre, but it

was at length accomplished. To one end of the cravat I then made fast

the buckle, and the other end I tied, for greater security, tightly

around my wrist. Drawing now my body upwards, with a prodigious exertion

of muscular force, I succeeded, at the very first trial, in throwing

the buckle over the car, and entangling it, as I had anticipated, in the

circular rim of the wicker-work.

 

"My body was now inclined towards the side of the car, at an angle

of about forty-five degrees; but it must not be understood that I was

therefore only forty-five degrees below the perpendicular. So far from

it, I still lay nearly level with the plane of the horizon; for the

change of situation which I had acquired, had forced the bottom of the

car considerably outwards from my position, which was accordingly one

of the most imminent and deadly peril. It should be remembered, however,

that when I fell in the first instance, from the car, if I had fallen

with my face turned toward the balloon, instead of turned outwardly from

it, as it actually was; or if, in the second place, the cord by which

I was suspended had chanced to hang over the upper edge, instead of

through a crevice near the bottom of the car,--I say it may be readily

conceived that, in either of these supposed cases, I should have been

unable to accomplish even as much as I had now accomplished, and the

wonderful adventures of Hans Pfaall would have been utterly lost to

posterity, I had therefore every reason to be grateful; although, in

point of fact, I was still too stupid to be anything at all, and hung

for, perhaps, a quarter of an hour in that extraordinary manner, without

making the slightest farther exertion whatsoever, and in a singularly

tranquil state of idiotic enjoyment. But this feeling did not fail to

die rapidly away, and thereunto succeeded horror, and dismay, and a

chilling sense of utter helplessness and ruin. In fact, the blood so

long accumulating in the vessels of my head and throat, and which had

hitherto buoyed up my spirits with madness and delirium, had now begun

to retire within their proper channels, and the distinctness which was

thus added to my perception of the danger, merely served to deprive me

of the self-possession and courage to encounter it. But this weakness

was, luckily for me, of no very long duration. In good time came to my

rescue the spirit of despair, and, with frantic cries and struggles, I

jerked my way bodily upwards, till at length, clutching with a vise-like

grip the long-desired rim, I writhed my person over it, and fell

headlong and shuddering within the car.

 

"It was not until some time afterward that I recovered myself

sufficiently to attend to the ordinary cares of the balloon. I then,

however, examined it with attention, and found it, to my great relief,

uninjured. My implements were all safe, and, fortunately, I had lost

neither ballast nor provisions. Indeed, I had so well secured them in

their places, that such an accident was entirely out of the question.

Looking at my watch, I found it six o'clock. I was still rapidly

ascending, and my barometer gave a present altitude of three and

three-quarter miles. Immediately beneath me in the ocean, lay a small

black object, slightly oblong in shape, seemingly about the size, and

in every way bearing a great resemblance to one of those childish

toys called a domino. Bringing my telescope to bear upon it, I plainly

discerned it to be a British ninety four-gun ship, close-hauled, and

pitching heavily in the sea with her head to the W.S.W. Besides this

ship, I saw nothing but the ocean and the sky, and the sun, which had

long arisen.

 

"It is now high time that I should explain to your Excellencies the

object of my perilous voyage. Your Excellencies will bear in mind that

distressed circumstances in Rotterdam had at length driven me to the

resolution of committing suicide. It was not, however, that to life

itself I had any, positive disgust, but that I was harassed beyond

endurance by the adventitious miseries attending my situation. In this

state of mind, wishing to live, yet wearied with life, the treatise at

the stall of the bookseller opened a resource to my imagination. I then

finally made up my mind. I determined to depart, yet live--to leave the

world, yet continue to exist--in short, to drop enigmas, I resolved, let

what would ensue, to force a passage, if I could, to the moon. Now, lest

I should be supposed more of a madman than I actually am, I will detail,

as well as I am able, the considerations which led me to believe that

an achievement of this nature, although without doubt difficult, and

incontestably full of danger, was not absolutely, to a bold spirit,

beyond the confines of the possible.

 

"The moon's actual distance from the earth was the first thing to be

attended to. Now, the mean or average interval between the centres of

the two planets is 59.9643 of the earth's equatorial radii, or only

about 237,000 miles. I say the mean or average interval. But it must

be borne in mind that the form of the moon's orbit being an ellipse of

eccentricity amounting to no less than 0.05484 of the major semi-axis of

the ellipse itself, and the earth's centre being situated in its focus,

if I could, in any manner, contrive to meet the moon, as it were, in its

perigee, the above mentioned distance would be materially diminished.

But, to say nothing at present of this possibility, it was very certain

that, at all events, from the 237,000 miles I would have to deduct the

radius of the earth, say 4,000, and the radius of the moon, say 1080,

in all 5,080, leaving an actual interval to be traversed, under average

circumstances, of 231,920 miles. Now this, I reflected, was no

very extraordinary distance. Travelling on land has been repeatedly

accomplished at the rate of thirty miles per hour, and indeed a much

greater speed may be anticipated. But even at this velocity, it would

take me no more than 322 days to reach the surface of the moon. There

were, however, many particulars inducing me to believe that my average

rate of travelling might possibly very much exceed that of thirty miles

per hour, and, as these considerations did not fail to make a deep

impression upon my mind, I will mention them more fully hereafter.

 

"The next point to be regarded was a matter of far greater importance.

From indications afforded by the barometer, we find that, in ascensions

from the surface of the earth we have, at the height of 1,000 feet, left

below us about one-thirtieth of the entire mass of atmospheric air, that

at 10,600 we have ascended through nearly one-third; and that at 18,000,

which is not far from the elevation of Cotopaxi, we have surmounted

one-half the material, or, at all events, one-half the ponderable,

body of air incumbent upon our globe. It is also calculated that at an

altitude not exceeding the hundredth part of the earth's diameter--that

is, not exceeding eighty miles--the rarefaction would be so excessive

that animal life could in no manner be sustained, and, moreover, that

the most delicate means we possess of ascertaining the presence of the

atmosphere would be inadequate to assure us of its existence. But I

did not fail to perceive that these latter calculations are founded

altogether on our experimental knowledge of the properties of air, and

the mechanical laws regulating its dilation and compression, in what may

be called, comparatively speaking, the immediate vicinity of the earth

itself; and, at the same time, it is taken for granted that animal

life is and must be essentially incapable of modification at any given

unattainable distance from the surface. Now, all such reasoning and from

such data must, of course, be simply analogical. The greatest height

ever reached by man was that of 25,000 feet, attained in the aeronautic

expedition of Messieurs Gay-Lussac and Biot. This is a moderate

altitude, even when compared with the eighty miles in question; and I

could not help thinking that the subject admitted room for doubt and

great latitude for speculation.

 

"But, in point of fact, an ascension being made to any given altitude,

the ponderable quantity of air surmounted in any farther ascension is

by no means in proportion to the additional height ascended (as may

be plainly seen from what has been stated before), but in a ratio

constantly decreasing. It is therefore evident that, ascend as high as

we may, we cannot, literally speaking, arrive at a limit beyond which

no atmosphere is to be found. It must exist, I argued; although it may

exist in a state of infinite rarefaction.

 

"On the other hand, I was aware that arguments have not been wanting

to prove the existence of a real and definite limit to the atmosphere,

beyond which there is absolutely no air whatsoever. But a circumstance

which has been left out of view by those who contend for such a limit

seemed to me, although no positive refutation of their creed, still

a point worthy very serious investigation. On comparing the intervals

between the successive arrivals of Encke's comet at its perihelion,

after giving credit, in the most exact manner, for all the disturbances

due to the attractions of the planets, it appears that the periods are

gradually diminishing; that is to say, the major axis of the comet's

ellipse is growing shorter, in a slow but perfectly regular decrease.

Now, this is precisely what ought to be the case, if we suppose a

resistance experienced from the comet from an extremely rare ethereal

medium pervading the regions of its orbit. For it is evident that such

a medium must, in retarding the comet's velocity, increase its

centripetal, by weakening its centrifugal force. In other words, the

sun's attraction would be constantly attaining greater power, and the

comet would be drawn nearer at every revolution. Indeed, there is no

other way of accounting for the variation in question. But again. The

real diameter of the same comet's nebulosity is observed to contract

rapidly as it approaches the sun, and dilate with equal rapidity in its

departure towards its aphelion. Was I not justifiable in supposing with

M. Valz, that this apparent condensation of volume has its origin in

the compression of the same ethereal medium I have spoken of before,

and which is only denser in proportion to its solar vicinity? The

lenticular-shaped phenomenon, also called the zodiacal light, was a

matter worthy of attention. This radiance, so apparent in the tropics,

and which cannot be mistaken for any meteoric lustre, extends from the

horizon obliquely upward, and follows generally the direction of the

sun's equator. It appeared to me evidently in the nature of a rare

atmosphere extending from the sun outward, beyond the orbit of Venus at

least, and I believed indefinitely farther.(*2) Indeed, this medium I

could not suppose confined to the path of the comet's ellipse, or to

the immediate neighborhood of the sun. It was easy, on the contrary,

to imagine it pervading the entire regions of our planetary system,

condensed into what we call atmosphere at the planets themselves, and

perhaps at some of them modified by considerations, so to speak, purely

geological.

 

"Having adopted this view of the subject, I had little further

hesitation. Granting that on my passage I should meet with atmosphere

essentially the same as at the surface of the earth, I conceived that,

by means of the very ingenious apparatus of M. Grimm, I should readily

be enabled to condense it in sufficient quantity for the purposes of

respiration. This would remove the chief obstacle in a journey to the

moon. I had indeed spent some money and great labor in adapting the

apparatus to the object intended, and confidently looked forward to its

successful application, if I could manage to complete the voyage within

any reasonable period. This brings me back to the rate at which it might

be possible to travel.

 

"It is true that balloons, in the first stage of their ascensions from

the earth, are known to rise with a velocity comparatively moderate.

Now, the power of elevation lies altogether in the superior lightness of

the gas in the balloon compared with the atmospheric air; and, at

first sight, it does not appear probable that, as the balloon acquires

altitude, and consequently arrives successively in atmospheric strata

of densities rapidly diminishing--I say, it does not appear at all

reasonable that, in this its progress upwards, the original velocity

should be accelerated. On the other hand, I was not aware that, in any

recorded ascension, a diminution was apparent in the absolute rate

of ascent; although such should have been the case, if on account

of nothing else, on account of the escape of gas through balloons

ill-constructed, and varnished with no better material than the ordinary

varnish. It seemed, therefore, that the effect of such escape was only

sufficient to counterbalance the effect of some accelerating power. I

now considered that, provided in my passage I found the medium I

had imagined, and provided that it should prove to be actually

and essentially what we denominate atmospheric air, it could make

comparatively little difference at what extreme state of rarefaction

I should discover it--that is to say, in regard to my power of

ascending--for the gas in the balloon would not only be itself subject

to rarefaction partially similar (in proportion to the occurrence of

which, I could suffer an escape of so much as would be requisite to

prevent explosion), but, being what it was, would, at all events,

continue specifically lighter than any compound whatever of mere

nitrogen and oxygen. In the meantime, the force of gravitation would be

constantly diminishing, in proportion to the squares of the distances,

and thus, with a velocity prodigiously accelerating, I should at

length arrive in those distant regions where the force of the earth's

attraction would be superseded by that of the moon. In accordance with

these ideas, I did not think it worth while to encumber myself with more

provisions than would be sufficient for a period of forty days.

 

"There was still, however, another difficulty, which occasioned me some

little disquietude. It has been observed, that, in balloon ascensions to

any considerable height, besides the pain attending respiration, great

uneasiness is experienced about the head and body, often accompanied

with bleeding at the nose, and other symptoms of an alarming kind,

and growing more and more inconvenient in proportion to the altitude

attained.(*3) This was a reflection of a nature somewhat startling. Was

it not probable that these symptoms would increase indefinitely, or at

least until terminated by death itself? I finally thought not. Their

origin was to be looked for in the progressive removal of the customary

atmospheric pressure upon the surface of the body, and consequent

distention of the superficial blood-vessels--not in any positive

disorganization of the animal system, as in the case of difficulty in

breathing, where the atmospheric density is chemically insufficient

for the due renovation of blood in a ventricle of the heart. Unless for

default of this renovation, I could see no reason, therefore, why

life could not be sustained even in a vacuum; for the expansion and

compression of chest, commonly called breathing, is action purely

muscular, and the cause, not the effect, of respiration. In a word,

I conceived that, as the body should become habituated to the want

of atmospheric pressure, the sensations of pain would gradually

diminish--and to endure them while they continued, I relied with

confidence upon the iron hardihood of my constitution.

 

"Thus, may it please your Excellencies, I have detailed some, though by

no means all, the considerations which led me to form the project of

a lunar voyage. I shall now proceed to lay before you the result of an

attempt so apparently audacious in conception, and, at all events, so

utterly unparalleled in the annals of mankind.

 

"Having attained the altitude before mentioned, that is to say three

miles and three-quarters, I threw out from the car a quantity of

feathers, and found that I still ascended with sufficient rapidity;

there was, therefore, no necessity for discharging any ballast. I was

glad of this, for I wished to retain with me as much weight as I could

carry, for reasons which will be explained in the sequel. I as yet

suffered no bodily inconvenience, breathing with great freedom, and

feeling no pain whatever in the head. The cat was lying very demurely

upon my coat, which I had taken off, and eyeing the pigeons with an air

of nonchalance. These latter being tied by the leg, to prevent their

escape, were busily employed in picking up some grains of rice scattered

for them in the bottom of the car.

 

"At twenty minutes past six o'clock, the barometer showed an elevation

of 26,400 feet, or five miles to a fraction. The prospect seemed

unbounded. Indeed, it is very easily calculated by means of spherical

geometry, what a great extent of the earth's area I beheld. The convex

surface of any segment of a sphere is, to the entire surface of the

sphere itself, as the versed sine of the segment to the diameter of the

sphere. Now, in my case, the versed sine--that is to say, the thickness

of the segment beneath me--was about equal to my elevation, or the

elevation of the point of sight above the surface. 'As five miles, then,

to eight thousand,' would express the proportion of the earth's area

seen by me. In other words, I beheld as much as a sixteen-hundredth

part of the whole surface of the globe. The sea appeared unruffled as a

mirror, although, by means of the spy-glass, I could perceive it to be

in a state of violent agitation. The ship was no longer visible, having

drifted away, apparently to the eastward. I now began to experience, at

intervals, severe pain in the head, especially about the ears--still,

however, breathing with tolerable freedom. The cat and pigeons seemed to

suffer no inconvenience whatsoever.

 

"At twenty minutes before seven, the balloon entered a long series of

dense cloud, which put me to great trouble, by damaging my condensing

apparatus and wetting me to the skin. This was, to be sure, a singular

recontre, for I had not believed it possible that a cloud of this nature

could be sustained at so great an elevation. I thought it best, however,

to throw out two five-pound pieces of ballast, reserving still a weight

of one hundred and sixty-five pounds. Upon so doing, I soon rose above

the difficulty, and perceived immediately, that I had obtained a great

increase in my rate of ascent. In a few seconds after my leaving the

cloud, a flash of vivid lightning shot from one end of it to the other,

and caused it to kindle up, throughout its vast extent, like a mass of

ignited and glowing charcoal. This, it must be remembered, was in the

broad light of day. No fancy may picture the sublimity which might have

been exhibited by a similar phenomenon taking place amid the darkness of

the night. Hell itself might have been found a fitting image. Even as

it was, my hair stood on end, while I gazed afar down within the yawning

abysses, letting imagination descend, as it were, and stalk about in the

strange vaulted halls, and ruddy gulfs, and red ghastly chasms of the

hideous and unfathomable fire. I had indeed made a narrow escape. Had

the balloon remained a very short while longer within the cloud--that

is to say--had not the inconvenience of getting wet, determined me to

discharge the ballast, inevitable ruin would have been the consequence.

Such perils, although little considered, are perhaps the greatest which

must be encountered in balloons. I had by this time, however, attained

too great an elevation to be any longer uneasy on this head.

 

"I was now rising rapidly, and by seven o'clock the barometer indicated

an altitude of no less than nine miles and a half. I began to find great

difficulty in drawing my breath. My head, too, was excessively painful;

and, having felt for some time a moisture about my cheeks, I at length

discovered it to be blood, which was oozing quite fast from the drums of

my ears. My eyes, also, gave me great uneasiness. Upon passing the

hand over them they seemed to have protruded from their sockets in no

inconsiderable degree; and all objects in the car, and even the balloon

itself, appeared distorted to my vision. These symptoms were more than

I had expected, and occasioned me some alarm. At this juncture, very

imprudently, and without consideration, I threw out from the car three

five-pound pieces of ballast. The accelerated rate of ascent thus

obtained, carried me too rapidly, and without sufficient gradation, into

a highly rarefied stratum of the atmosphere, and the result had nearly

proved fatal to my expedition and to myself. I was suddenly seized with

a spasm which lasted for more than five minutes, and even when this, in

a measure, ceased, I could catch my breath only at long intervals, and

in a gasping manner--bleeding all the while copiously at the nose and

ears, and even slightly at the eyes. The pigeons appeared distressed

in the extreme, and struggled to escape; while the cat mewed piteously,

and, with her tongue hanging out of her mouth, staggered to and fro in

the car as if under the influence of poison. I now too late discovered

the great rashness of which I had been guilty in discharging the

ballast, and my agitation was excessive. I anticipated nothing less than

death, and death in a few minutes. The physical suffering I underwent

contributed also to render me nearly incapable of making any exertion

for the preservation of my life. I had, indeed, little power of

reflection left, and the violence of the pain in my head seemed to be

greatly on the increase. Thus I found that my senses would shortly give

way altogether, and I had already clutched one of the valve ropes with

the view of attempting a descent, when the recollection of the trick I

had played the three creditors, and the possible consequences to myself,

should I return, operated to deter me for the moment. I lay down in the

bottom of the car, and endeavored to collect my faculties. In this I

so far succeeded as to determine upon the experiment of losing blood.

Having no lancet, however, I was constrained to perform the operation in

the best manner I was able, and finally succeeded in opening a vein

in my right arm, with the blade of my penknife. The blood had hardly

commenced flowing when I experienced a sensible relief, and by the time

I had lost about half a moderate basin full, most of the worst symptoms

had abandoned me entirely. I nevertheless did not think it expedient to

attempt getting on my feet immediately; but, having tied up my arm as

well as I could, I lay still for about a quarter of an hour. At the end

of this time I arose, and found myself freer from absolute pain of any

kind than I had been during the last hour and a quarter of my ascension.

The difficulty of breathing, however, was diminished in a very slight

degree, and I found that it would soon be positively necessary to make

use of my condenser. In the meantime, looking toward the cat, who was

again snugly stowed away upon my coat, I discovered to my infinite

surprise, that she had taken the opportunity of my indisposition to

bring into light a litter of three little kittens. This was an addition

to the number of passengers on my part altogether unexpected; but I was

pleased at the occurrence. It would afford me a chance of bringing to a

kind of test the truth of a surmise, which, more than anything else,

had influenced me in attempting this ascension. I had imagined that the

habitual endurance of the atmospheric pressure at the surface of

the earth was the cause, or nearly so, of the pain attending animal

existence at a distance above the surface. Should the kittens be found

to suffer uneasiness in an equal degree with their mother, I must

consider my theory in fault, but a failure to do so I should look upon

as a strong confirmation of my idea.

 

"By eight o'clock I had actually attained an elevation of seventeen

miles above the surface of the earth. Thus it seemed to me evident that

my rate of ascent was not only on the increase, but that the progression

would have been apparent in a slight degree even had I not discharged

the ballast which I did. The pains in my head and ears returned, at

intervals, with violence, and I still continued to bleed occasionally at

the nose; but, upon the whole, I suffered much less than might have

been expected. I breathed, however, at every moment, with more and

more difficulty, and each inhalation was attended with a troublesome

spasmodic action of the chest. I now unpacked the condensing apparatus,

and got it ready for immediate use.

 

"The view of the earth, at this period of my ascension, was beautiful

indeed. To the westward, the northward, and the southward, as far as I

could see, lay a boundless sheet of apparently unruffled ocean, which

every moment gained a deeper and a deeper tint of blue and began already

to assume a slight appearance of convexity. At a vast distance to the

eastward, although perfectly discernible, extended the islands of Great

Britain, the entire Atlantic coasts of France and Spain, with a small

portion of the northern part of the continent of Africa. Of individual

edifices not a trace could be discovered, and the proudest cities of

mankind had utterly faded away from the face of the earth. From the rock

of Gibraltar, now dwindled into a dim speck, the dark Mediterranean sea,

dotted with shining islands as the heaven is dotted with stars, spread

itself out to the eastward as far as my vision extended, until its

entire mass of waters seemed at length to tumble headlong over the abyss

of the horizon, and I found myself listening on tiptoe for the echoes

of the mighty cataract. Overhead, the sky was of a jetty black, and the

stars were brilliantly visible.

 

"The pigeons about this time seeming to undergo much suffering, I

determined upon giving them their liberty. I first untied one of them,

a beautiful gray-mottled pigeon, and placed him upon the rim of the

wicker-work. He appeared extremely uneasy, looking anxiously around him,

fluttering his wings, and making a loud cooing noise, but could not be

persuaded to trust himself from off the car. I took him up at last,

and threw him to about half a dozen yards from the balloon. He made,

however, no attempt to descend as I had expected, but struggled with

great vehemence to get back, uttering at the same time very shrill and

piercing cries. He at length succeeded in regaining his former station

on the rim, but had hardly done so when his head dropped upon his

breast, and he fell dead within the car. The other one did not prove so

unfortunate. To prevent his following the example of his companion, and

accomplishing a return, I threw him downward with all my force, and was

pleased to find him continue his descent, with great velocity, making

use of his wings with ease, and in a perfectly natural manner. In a very

short time he was out of sight, and I have no doubt he reached home in

safety. Puss, who seemed in a great measure recovered from her illness,

now made a hearty meal of the dead bird and then went to sleep with much

apparent satisfaction. Her kittens were quite lively, and so far evinced

not the slightest sign of any uneasiness whatever.

 

"At a quarter-past eight, being no longer able to draw breath without

the most intolerable pain, I proceeded forthwith to adjust around

the car the apparatus belonging to the condenser. This apparatus will

require some little explanation, and your Excellencies will please to

bear in mind that my object, in the first place, was to surround myself

and cat entirely with a barricade against the highly rarefied atmosphere

in which I was existing, with the intention of introducing within this

barricade, by means of my condenser, a quantity of this same atmosphere

sufficiently condensed for the purposes of respiration. With this object

in view I had prepared a very strong perfectly air-tight, but flexible

gum-elastic bag. In this bag, which was of sufficient dimensions, the

entire car was in a manner placed. That is to say, it (the bag) was

drawn over the whole bottom of the car, up its sides, and so on, along

the outside of the ropes, to the upper rim or hoop where the net-work

is attached. Having pulled the bag up in this way, and formed a complete

enclosure on all sides, and at bottom, it was now necessary to fasten

up its top or mouth, by passing its material over the hoop of the

net-work--in other words, between the net-work and the hoop. But if the

net-work were separated from the hoop to admit this passage, what was

to sustain the car in the meantime? Now the net-work was not permanently

fastened to the hoop, but attached by a series of running loops or

nooses. I therefore undid only a few of these loops at one time, leaving

the car suspended by the remainder. Having thus inserted a portion of

the cloth forming the upper part of the bag, I refastened the loops--not

to the hoop, for that would have been impossible, since the cloth

now intervened--but to a series of large buttons, affixed to the cloth

itself, about three feet below the mouth of the bag, the intervals

between the buttons having been made to correspond to the intervals

between the loops. This done, a few more of the loops were unfastened

from the rim, a farther portion of the cloth introduced, and the

disengaged loops then connected with their proper buttons. In this way

it was possible to insert the whole upper part of the bag between the

net-work and the hoop. It is evident that the hoop would now drop down

within the car, while the whole weight of the car itself, with all its

contents, would be held up merely by the strength of the buttons. This,

at first sight, would seem an inadequate dependence; but it was by no

means so, for the buttons were not only very strong in themselves, but

so close together that a very slight portion of the whole weight was

supported by any one of them. Indeed, had the car and contents been

three times heavier than they were, I should not have been at

all uneasy. I now raised up the hoop again within the covering of

gum-elastic, and propped it at nearly its former height by means of

three light poles prepared for the occasion. This was done, of course,

to keep the bag distended at the top, and to preserve the lower part

of the net-work in its proper situation. All that now remained was to

fasten up the mouth of the enclosure; and this was readily accomplished

by gathering the folds of the material together, and twisting them up

very tightly on the inside by means of a kind of stationary tourniquet.

 

"In the sides of the covering thus adjusted round the car, had been

inserted three circular panes of thick but clear glass, through which I

could see without difficulty around me in every horizontal direction.

In that portion of the cloth forming the bottom, was likewise, a fourth

window, of the same kind, and corresponding with a small aperture in the

floor of the car itself. This enabled me to see perpendicularly

down, but having found it impossible to place any similar contrivance

overhead, on account of the peculiar manner of closing up the opening

there, and the consequent wrinkles in the cloth, I could expect to see

no objects situated directly in my zenith. This, of course, was a matter

of little consequence; for had I even been able to place a window at

top, the balloon itself would have prevented my making any use of it.

 

"About a foot below one of the side windows was a circular opening,

eight inches in diameter, and fitted with a brass rim adapted in its

inner edge to the windings of a screw. In this rim was screwed the large

tube of the condenser, the body of the machine being, of course, within

the chamber of gum-elastic. Through this tube a quantity of the rare

atmosphere circumjacent being drawn by means of a vacuum created in the

body of the machine, was thence discharged, in a state of condensation,

to mingle with the thin air already in the chamber. This operation being

repeated several times, at length filled the chamber with atmosphere

proper for all the purposes of respiration. But in so confined a space

it would, in a short time, necessarily become foul, and unfit for use

from frequent contact with the lungs. It was then ejected by a small

valve at the bottom of the car--the dense air readily sinking into the

thinner atmosphere below. To avoid the inconvenience of making a total

vacuum at any moment within the chamber, this purification was never

accomplished all at once, but in a gradual manner--the valve being

opened only for a few seconds, then closed again, until one or two

strokes from the pump of the condenser had supplied the place of the

atmosphere ejected. For the sake of experiment I had put the cat and

kittens in a small basket, and suspended it outside the car to a button

at the bottom, close by the valve, through which I could feed them at

any moment when necessary. I did this at some little risk, and before

closing the mouth of the chamber, by reaching under the car with one of

the poles before mentioned to which a hook had been attached.

 

"By the time I had fully completed these arrangements and filled the

chamber as explained, it wanted only ten minutes of nine o'clock. During

the whole period of my being thus employed, I endured the most terrible

distress from difficulty of respiration, and bitterly did I repent the

negligence or rather fool-hardiness, of which I had been guilty, of

putting off to the last moment a matter of so much importance. But

having at length accomplished it, I soon began to reap the benefit of

my invention. Once again I breathed with perfect freedom and ease--and

indeed why should I not? I was also agreeably surprised to find myself,

in a great measure, relieved from the violent pains which had hitherto

tormented me. A slight headache, accompanied with a sensation of fulness

or distention about the wrists, the ankles, and the throat, was nearly

all of which I had now to complain. Thus it seemed evident that a

greater part of the uneasiness attending the removal of atmospheric

pressure had actually worn off, as I had expected, and that much of

the pain endured for the last two hours should have been attributed

altogether to the effects of a deficient respiration.

 

"At twenty minutes before nine o'clock--that is to say, a short time

prior to my closing up the mouth of the chamber, the mercury attained

its limit, or ran down, in the barometer, which, as I mentioned before,

was one of an extended construction. It then indicated an altitude on

my part of 132,000 feet, or five-and-twenty miles, and I consequently

surveyed at that time an extent of the earth's area amounting to no less

than the three hundred-and-twentieth part of its entire superficies.

At nine o'clock I had again lost sight of land to the eastward, but not

before I became aware that the balloon was drifting rapidly to the N.

N. W. The convexity of the ocean beneath me was very evident indeed,

although my view was often interrupted by the masses of cloud which

floated to and fro. I observed now that even the lightest vapors never

rose to more than ten miles above the level of the sea.

 

"At half past nine I tried the experiment of throwing out a handful of

feathers through the valve. They did not float as I had expected; but

dropped down perpendicularly, like a bullet, en masse, and with the

greatest velocity--being out of sight in a very few seconds. I did not

at first know what to make of this extraordinary phenomenon; not being

able to believe that my rate of ascent had, of a sudden, met with

so prodigious an acceleration. But it soon occurred to me that the

atmosphere was now far too rare to sustain even the feathers; that they

actually fell, as they appeared to do, with great rapidity; and that I

had been surprised by the united velocities of their descent and my own

elevation.

 

"By ten o'clock I found that I had very little to occupy my immediate

attention. Affairs went swimmingly, and I believed the balloon to be

going upward with a speed increasing momently although I had no longer

any means of ascertaining the progression of the increase. I suffered no

pain or uneasiness of any kind, and enjoyed better spirits than I had

at any period since my departure from Rotterdam, busying myself now in

examining the state of my various apparatus, and now in regenerating the

atmosphere within the chamber. This latter point I determined to

attend to at regular intervals of forty minutes, more on account of

the preservation of my health, than from so frequent a renovation

being absolutely necessary. In the meanwhile I could not help making

anticipations. Fancy revelled in the wild and dreamy regions of the

moon. Imagination, feeling herself for once unshackled, roamed at will

among the ever-changing wonders of a shadowy and unstable land. Now

there were hoary and time-honored forests, and craggy precipices, and

waterfalls tumbling with a loud noise into abysses without a bottom.

Then I came suddenly into still noonday solitudes, where no wind of

heaven ever intruded, and where vast meadows of poppies, and slender,

lily-looking flowers spread themselves out a weary distance, all silent

and motionless forever. Then again I journeyed far down away into

another country where it was all one dim and vague lake, with a boundary

line of clouds. And out of this melancholy water arose a forest of tall

eastern trees, like a wilderness of dreams. And I have in mind that

the shadows of the trees which fell upon the lake remained not on

the surface where they fell, but sunk slowly and steadily down, and

commingled with the waves, while from the trunks of the trees other

shadows were continually coming out, and taking the place of their

brothers thus entombed. "This then," I said thoughtfully, "is the very

reason why the waters of this lake grow blacker with age, and more

melancholy as the hours run on." But fancies such as these were not the

sole possessors of my brain. Horrors of a nature most stern and most

appalling would too frequently obtrude themselves upon my mind, and

shake the innermost depths of my soul with the bare supposition of their

possibility. Yet I would not suffer my thoughts for any length of time

to dwell upon these latter speculations, rightly judging the real and

palpable dangers of the voyage sufficient for my undivided attention.

 

"At five o'clock, p.m., being engaged in regenerating the atmosphere

within the chamber, I took that opportunity of observing the cat and

kittens through the valve. The cat herself appeared to suffer again very

much, and I had no hesitation in attributing her uneasiness chiefly to a

difficulty in breathing; but my experiment with the kittens had resulted

very strangely. I had expected, of course, to see them betray a sense of

pain, although in a less degree than their mother, and this would have

been sufficient to confirm my opinion concerning the habitual endurance

of atmospheric pressure. But I was not prepared to find them, upon close

examination, evidently enjoying a high degree of health, breathing with

the greatest ease and perfect regularity, and evincing not the slightest

sign of any uneasiness whatever. I could only account for all this by

extending my theory, and supposing that the highly rarefied atmosphere

around might perhaps not be, as I had taken for granted, chemically

insufficient for the purposes of life, and that a person born in such

a medium might, possibly, be unaware of any inconvenience attending its

inhalation, while, upon removal to the denser strata near the earth,

he might endure tortures of a similar nature to those I had so lately

experienced. It has since been to me a matter of deep regret that an

awkward accident, at this time, occasioned me the loss of my little

family of cats, and deprived me of the insight into this matter which a

continued experiment might have afforded. In passing my hand through

the valve, with a cup of water for the old puss, the sleeves of my shirt

became entangled in the loop which sustained the basket, and thus, in

a moment, loosened it from the bottom. Had the whole actually vanished

into air, it could not have shot from my sight in a more abrupt and

instantaneous manner. Positively, there could not have intervened the

tenth part of a second between the disengagement of the basket and its

absolute and total disappearance with all that it contained. My good

wishes followed it to the earth, but of course, I had no hope that

either cat or kittens would ever live to tell the tale of their

misfortune.

 

"At six o'clock, I perceived a great portion of the earth's visible area

to the eastward involved in thick shadow, which continued to advance

with great rapidity, until, at five minutes before seven, the whole

surface in view was enveloped in the darkness of night. It was not,

however, until long after this time that the rays of the setting sun

ceased to illumine the balloon; and this circumstance, although of

course fully anticipated, did not fail to give me an infinite deal

of pleasure. It was evident that, in the morning, I should behold the

rising luminary many hours at least before the citizens of Rotterdam, in

spite of their situation so much farther to the eastward, and thus, day

after day, in proportion to the height ascended, would I enjoy the light

of the sun for a longer and a longer period. I now determined to keep a

journal of my passage, reckoning the days from one to twenty-four

hours continuously, without taking into consideration the intervals of

darkness.

 

"At ten o'clock, feeling sleepy, I determined to lie down for the rest

of the night; but here a difficulty presented itself, which, obvious as

it may appear, had escaped my attention up to the very moment of which

I am now speaking. If I went to sleep as I proposed, how could the

atmosphere in the chamber be regenerated in the interim? To breathe

it for more than an hour, at the farthest, would be a matter of

impossibility, or, if even this term could be extended to an hour and a

quarter, the most ruinous consequences might ensue. The consideration

of this dilemma gave me no little disquietude; and it will hardly be

believed, that, after the dangers I had undergone, I should look

upon this business in so serious a light, as to give up all hope of

accomplishing my ultimate design, and finally make up my mind to the

necessity of a descent. But this hesitation was only momentary. I

reflected that man is the veriest slave of custom, and that many points

in the routine of his existence are deemed essentially important, which

are only so at all by his having rendered them habitual. It was very

certain that I could not do without sleep; but I might easily bring

myself to feel no inconvenience from being awakened at intervals of an

hour during the whole period of my repose. It would require but five

minutes at most to regenerate the atmosphere in the fullest manner, and

the only real difficulty was to contrive a method of arousing myself

at the proper moment for so doing. But this was a question which, I am

willing to confess, occasioned me no little trouble in its solution. To

be sure, I had heard of the student who, to prevent his falling asleep

over his books, held in one hand a ball of copper, the din of whose

descent into a basin of the same metal on the floor beside his chair,

served effectually to startle him up, if, at any moment, he should

be overcome with drowsiness. My own case, however, was very different

indeed, and left me no room for any similar idea; for I did not wish to

keep awake, but to be aroused from slumber at regular intervals of time.

I at length hit upon the following expedient, which, simple as it may

seem, was hailed by me, at the moment of discovery, as an invention

fully equal to that of the telescope, the steam-engine, or the art of

printing itself.

 

"It is necessary to premise, that the balloon, at the elevation now

attained, continued its course upward with an even and undeviating

ascent, and the car consequently followed with a steadiness so perfect

that it would have been impossible to detect in it the slightest

vacillation whatever. This circumstance favored me greatly in the

project I now determined to adopt. My supply of water had been put on

board in kegs containing five gallons each, and ranged very securely

around the interior of the car. I unfastened one of these, and taking

two ropes tied them tightly across the rim of the wicker-work from one

side to the other; placing them about a foot apart and parallel so as to

form a kind of shelf, upon which I placed the keg, and steadied it in a

horizontal position. About eight inches immediately below these ropes,

and four feet from the bottom of the car I fastened another shelf--but

made of thin plank, being the only similar piece of wood I had. Upon

this latter shelf, and exactly beneath one of the rims of the keg, a

small earthern pitcher was deposited. I now bored a hole in the end of

the keg over the pitcher, and fitted in a plug of soft wood, cut in a

tapering or conical shape. This plug I pushed in or pulled out, as might

happen, until, after a few experiments, it arrived at that exact degree

of tightness, at which the water, oozing from the hole, and falling into

the pitcher below, would fill the latter to the brim in the period

of sixty minutes. This, of course, was a matter briefly and easily

ascertained, by noticing the proportion of the pitcher filled in any

given time. Having arranged all this, the rest of the plan is obvious.

My bed was so contrived upon the floor of the car, as to bring my

head, in lying down, immediately below the mouth of the pitcher. It was

evident, that, at the expiration of an hour, the pitcher, getting full,

would be forced to run over, and to run over at the mouth, which was

somewhat lower than the rim. It was also evident, that the water thus

falling from a height of more than four feet, could not do otherwise

than fall upon my face, and that the sure consequences would be, to

waken me up instantaneously, even from the soundest slumber in the

world.

 

"It was fully eleven by the time I had completed these arrangements,

and I immediately betook myself to bed, with full confidence in the

efficiency of my invention. Nor in this matter was I disappointed.

Punctually every sixty minutes was I aroused by my trusty chronometer,

when, having emptied the pitcher into the bung-hole of the keg, and

performed the duties of the condenser, I retired again to bed. These

regular interruptions to my slumber caused me even less discomfort than

I had anticipated; and when I finally arose for the day, it was seven

o'clock, and the sun had attained many degrees above the line of my

horizon.

 

"April 3d. I found the balloon at an immense height indeed, and the

earth's apparent convexity increased in a material degree. Below me in

the ocean lay a cluster of black specks, which undoubtedly were islands.

Far away to the northward I perceived a thin, white, and exceedingly

brilliant line, or streak, on the edge of the horizon, and I had no

hesitation in supposing it to be the southern disk of the ices of the

Polar Sea. My curiosity was greatly excited, for I had hopes of passing

on much farther to the north, and might possibly, at some period, find

myself placed directly above the Pole itself. I now lamented that my

great elevation would, in this case, prevent my taking as accurate a

survey as I could wish. Much, however, might be ascertained. Nothing

else of an extraordinary nature occurred during the day. My apparatus

all continued in good order, and the balloon still ascended without any

perceptible vacillation. The cold was intense, and obliged me to wrap

up closely in an overcoat. When darkness came over the earth, I betook

myself to bed, although it was for many hours afterward broad daylight

all around my immediate situation. The water-clock was punctual in its

duty, and I slept until next morning soundly, with the exception of the

periodical interruption.

 

"April 4th. Arose in good health and spirits, and was astonished at the

singular change which had taken place in the appearance of the sea.

It had lost, in a great measure, the deep tint of blue it had hitherto

worn, being now of a grayish-white, and of a lustre dazzling to the eye.

The islands were no longer visible; whether they had passed down the

horizon to the southeast, or whether my increasing elevation had left

them out of sight, it is impossible to say. I was inclined, however, to

the latter opinion. The rim of ice to the northward was growing more

and more apparent. Cold by no means so intense. Nothing of importance

occurred, and I passed the day in reading, having taken care to supply

myself with books.

 

"April 5th. Beheld the singular phenomenon of the sun rising while

nearly the whole visible surface of the earth continued to be involved

in darkness. In time, however, the light spread itself over all, and I

again saw the line of ice to the northward. It was now very distinct,

and appeared of a much darker hue than the waters of the ocean. I was

evidently approaching it, and with great rapidity. Fancied I could

again distinguish a strip of land to the eastward, and one also to the

westward, but could not be certain. Weather moderate. Nothing of any

consequence happened during the day. Went early to bed.

 

"April 6th. Was surprised at finding the rim of ice at a very moderate

distance, and an immense field of the same material stretching away off

to the horizon in the north. It was evident that if the balloon held its

present course, it would soon arrive above the Frozen Ocean, and I had

now little doubt of ultimately seeing the Pole. During the whole of the

day I continued to near the ice. Toward night the limits of my horizon

very suddenly and materially increased, owing undoubtedly to the

earth's form being that of an oblate spheroid, and my arriving above the

flattened regions in the vicinity of the Arctic circle. When darkness at

length overtook me, I went to bed in great anxiety, fearing to pass over

the object of so much curiosity when I should have no opportunity of

observing it.

 

"April 7th. Arose early, and, to my great joy, at length beheld what

there could be no hesitation in supposing the northern Pole itself. It

was there, beyond a doubt, and immediately beneath my feet; but, alas! I

had now ascended to so vast a distance, that nothing could with accuracy

be discerned. Indeed, to judge from the progression of the numbers

indicating my various altitudes, respectively, at different periods,

between six A.M. on the second of April, and twenty minutes before nine

A.M. of the same day (at which time the barometer ran down), it might be

fairly inferred that the balloon had now, at four o'clock in the morning

of April the seventh, reached a height of not less, certainly, than

7,254 miles above the surface of the sea. This elevation may appear

immense, but the estimate upon which it is calculated gave a result in

all probability far inferior to the truth. At all events I undoubtedly

beheld the whole of the earth's major diameter; the entire northern

hemisphere lay beneath me like a chart orthographically projected: and

the great circle of the equator itself formed the boundary line of

my horizon. Your Excellencies may, however, readily imagine that the

confined regions hitherto unexplored within the limits of the Arctic

circle, although situated directly beneath me, and therefore seen

without any appearance of being foreshortened, were still, in

themselves, comparatively too diminutive, and at too great a distance

from the point of sight, to admit of any very accurate examination.

Nevertheless, what could be seen was of a nature singular and exciting.

Northwardly from that huge rim before mentioned, and which, with slight

qualification, may be called the limit of human discovery in these

regions, one unbroken, or nearly unbroken, sheet of ice continues to

extend. In the first few degrees of this its progress, its surface is

very sensibly flattened, farther on depressed into a plane, and finally,

becoming not a little concave, it terminates, at the Pole itself, in a

circular centre, sharply defined, whose apparent diameter subtended at

the balloon an angle of about sixty-five seconds, and whose dusky hue,

varying in intensity, was, at all times, darker than any other spot upon

the visible hemisphere, and occasionally deepened into the most

absolute and impenetrable blackness. Farther than this, little could

be ascertained. By twelve o'clock the circular centre had materially

decreased in circumference, and by seven P.M. I lost sight of it

entirely; the balloon passing over the western limb of the ice, and

floating away rapidly in the direction of the equator.

 

"April 8th. Found a sensible diminution in the earth's apparent

diameter, besides a material alteration in its general color and

appearance. The whole visible area partook in different degrees of a

tint of pale yellow, and in some portions had acquired a brilliancy even

painful to the eye. My view downward was also considerably impeded by

the dense atmosphere in the vicinity of the surface being loaded with

clouds, between whose masses I could only now and then obtain a glimpse

of the earth itself. This difficulty of direct vision had troubled me

more or less for the last forty-eight hours; but my present enormous

elevation brought closer together, as it were, the floating bodies of

vapor, and the inconvenience became, of course, more and more palpable

in proportion to my ascent. Nevertheless, I could easily perceive that

the balloon now hovered above the range of great lakes in the continent

of North America, and was holding a course, due south, which would bring

me to the tropics. This circumstance did not fail to give me the most

heartful satisfaction, and I hailed it as a happy omen of ultimate

success. Indeed, the direction I had hitherto taken, had filled me with

uneasiness; for it was evident that, had I continued it much longer,

there would have been no possibility of my arriving at the moon at all,

whose orbit is inclined to the ecliptic at only the small angle of 5

degrees 8' 48".

 

"April 9th. To-day the earth's diameter was greatly diminished, and the

color of the surface assumed hourly a deeper tint of yellow. The balloon

kept steadily on her course to the southward, and arrived, at nine P.M.,

over the northern edge of the Mexican Gulf.

 

"April 10th. I was suddenly aroused from slumber, about five o'clock

this morning, by a loud, crackling, and terrific sound, for which I

could in no manner account. It was of very brief duration, but, while

it lasted resembled nothing in the world of which I had any previous

experience. It is needless to say that I became excessively alarmed,

having, in the first instance, attributed the noise to the bursting of

the balloon. I examined all my apparatus, however, with great attention,

and could discover nothing out of order. Spent a great part of the day

in meditating upon an occurrence so extraordinary, but could find no

means whatever of accounting for it. Went to bed dissatisfied, and in a

state of great anxiety and agitation.

 

"April 11th. Found a startling diminution in the apparent diameter of

the earth, and a considerable increase, now observable for the first

time, in that of the moon itself, which wanted only a few days of being

full. It now required long and excessive labor to condense within the

chamber sufficient atmospheric air for the sustenance of life.

 

"April 12th. A singular alteration took place in regard to the direction

of the balloon, and although fully anticipated, afforded me the most

unequivocal delight. Having reached, in its former course, about the

twentieth parallel of southern latitude, it turned off suddenly, at an

acute angle, to the eastward, and thus proceeded throughout the day,

keeping nearly, if not altogether, in the exact plane of the lunar

elipse. What was worthy of remark, a very perceptible vacillation in

the car was a consequence of this change of route--a vacillation which

prevailed, in a more or less degree, for a period of many hours.

 

"April 13th. Was again very much alarmed by a repetition of the loud,

crackling noise which terrified me on the tenth. Thought long upon

the subject, but was unable to form any satisfactory conclusion. Great

decrease in the earth's apparent diameter, which now subtended from the

balloon an angle of very little more than twenty-five degrees. The moon

could not be seen at all, being nearly in my zenith. I still continued

in the plane of the elipse, but made little progress to the eastward.

 

"April 14th. Extremely rapid decrease in the diameter of the earth.

To-day I became strongly impressed with the idea, that the balloon was

now actually running up the line of apsides to the point of perigee--in

other words, holding the direct course which would bring it immediately

to the moon in that part of its orbit the nearest to the earth. The moon

itself was directly overhead, and consequently hidden from my view.

Great and long-continued labor necessary for the condensation of the

atmosphere.

 

"April 15th. Not even the outlines of continents and seas could now

be traced upon the earth with anything approaching distinctness. About

twelve o'clock I became aware, for the third time, of that appalling

sound which had so astonished me before. It now, however, continued for

some moments, and gathered intensity as it continued. At length, while,

stupefied and terror-stricken, I stood in expectation of I knew not what

hideous destruction, the car vibrated with excessive violence, and

a gigantic and flaming mass of some material which I could not

distinguish, came with a voice of a thousand thunders, roaring and

booming by the balloon. When my fears and astonishment had in some

degree subsided, I had little difficulty in supposing it to be some

mighty volcanic fragment ejected from that world to which I was so

rapidly approaching, and, in all probability, one of that singular class

of substances occasionally picked up on the earth, and termed meteoric

stones for want of a better appellation.

 

"April 16th. To-day, looking upward as well as I could, through each

of the side windows alternately, I beheld, to my great delight, a very

small portion of the moon's disk protruding, as it were, on all sides

beyond the huge circumference of the balloon. My agitation was extreme;

for I had now little doubt of soon reaching the end of my perilous

voyage. Indeed, the labor now required by the condenser had increased

to a most oppressive degree, and allowed me scarcely any respite from

exertion. Sleep was a matter nearly out of the question. I became quite

ill, and my frame trembled with exhaustion. It was impossible that human

nature could endure this state of intense suffering much longer. During

the now brief interval of darkness a meteoric stone again passed in my

vicinity, and the frequency of these phenomena began to occasion me much

apprehension.

 

"April 17th. This morning proved an epoch in my voyage. It will be

remembered that, on the thirteenth, the earth subtended an angular

breadth of twenty-five degrees. On the fourteenth this had greatly

diminished; on the fifteenth a still more remarkable decrease was

observable; and, on retiring on the night of the sixteenth, I had

noticed an angle of no more than about seven degrees and fifteen

minutes. What, therefore, must have been my amazement, on awakening

from a brief and disturbed slumber, on the morning of this day,

the seventeenth, at finding the surface beneath me so suddenly and

wonderfully augmented in volume, as to subtend no less than thirty-nine

degrees in apparent angular diameter! I was thunderstruck! No words

can give any adequate idea of the extreme, the absolute horror and

astonishment, with which I was seized possessed, and altogether

overwhelmed. My knees tottered beneath me--my teeth chattered--my hair

started up on end. "The balloon, then, had actually burst!" These were

the first tumultuous ideas that hurried through my mind: "The balloon

had positively burst!--I was falling--falling with the most impetuous,

the most unparalleled velocity! To judge by the immense distance already

so quickly passed over, it could not be more than ten minutes, at the

farthest, before I should meet the surface of the earth, and be hurled

into annihilation!" But at length reflection came to my relief. I

paused; I considered; and I began to doubt. The matter was impossible.

I could not in any reason have so rapidly come down. Besides, although

I was evidently approaching the surface below me, it was with a speed

by no means commensurate with the velocity I had at first so horribly

conceived. This consideration served to calm the perturbation of my

mind, and I finally succeeded in regarding the phenomenon in its proper

point of view. In fact, amazement must have fairly deprived me of my

senses, when I could not see the vast difference, in appearance, between

the surface below me, and the surface of my mother earth. The latter

was indeed over my head, and completely hidden by the balloon, while the

moon--the moon itself in all its glory--lay beneath me, and at my feet.

 

"The stupor and surprise produced in my mind by this extraordinary

change in the posture of affairs was perhaps, after all, that part of

the adventure least susceptible of explanation. For the bouleversement

in itself was not only natural and inevitable, but had been long

actually anticipated as a circumstance to be expected whenever I should

arrive at that exact point of my voyage where the attraction of the

planet should be superseded by the attraction of the satellite--or, more

precisely, where the gravitation of the balloon toward the earth should

be less powerful than its gravitation toward the moon. To be sure I

arose from a sound slumber, with all my senses in confusion, to the

contemplation of a very startling phenomenon, and one which, although

expected, was not expected at the moment. The revolution itself must, of

course, have taken place in an easy and gradual manner, and it is by no

means clear that, had I even been awake at the time of the occurrence,

I should have been made aware of it by any internal evidence of an

inversion--that is to say, by any inconvenience or disarrangement,

either about my person or about my apparatus.

 

"It is almost needless to say that, upon coming to a due sense of my

situation, and emerging from the terror which had absorbed every faculty

of my soul, my attention was, in the first place, wholly directed to

the contemplation of the general physical appearance of the moon. It

lay beneath me like a chart--and although I judged it to be still at no

inconsiderable distance, the indentures of its surface were defined

to my vision with a most striking and altogether unaccountable

distinctness. The entire absence of ocean or sea, and indeed of any lake

or river, or body of water whatsoever, struck me, at first glance, as

the most extraordinary feature in its geological condition. Yet, strange

to say, I beheld vast level regions of a character decidedly alluvial,

although by far the greater portion of the hemisphere in sight was

covered with innumerable volcanic mountains, conical in shape, and

having more the appearance of artificial than of natural protuberance.

The highest among them does not exceed three and three-quarter miles

in perpendicular elevation; but a map of the volcanic districts of the

Campi Phlegraei would afford to your Excellencies a better idea of their

general surface than any unworthy description I might think proper to

attempt. The greater part of them were in a state of evident eruption,

and gave me fearfully to understand their fury and their power, by the

repeated thunders of the miscalled meteoric stones, which now rushed

upward by the balloon with a frequency more and more appalling.

 

"April 18th. To-day I found an enormous increase in the moon's apparent

bulk--and the evidently accelerated velocity of my descent began to fill

me with alarm. It will be remembered, that, in the earliest stage of

my speculations upon the possibility of a passage to the moon, the

existence, in its vicinity, of an atmosphere, dense in proportion to the

bulk of the planet, had entered largely into my calculations; this too

in spite of many theories to the contrary, and, it may be added, in

spite of a general disbelief in the existence of any lunar atmosphere at

all. But, in addition to what I have already urged in regard to Encke's

comet and the zodiacal light, I had been strengthened in my opinion by

certain observations of Mr. Schroeter, of Lilienthal. He observed the

moon when two days and a half old, in the evening soon after sunset,

before the dark part was visible, and continued to watch it until it

became visible. The two cusps appeared tapering in a very sharp faint

prolongation, each exhibiting its farthest extremity faintly illuminated

by the solar rays, before any part of the dark hemisphere was

visible. Soon afterward, the whole dark limb became illuminated. This

prolongation of the cusps beyond the semicircle, I thought, must have

arisen from the refraction of the sun's rays by the moon's atmosphere. I

computed, also, the height of the atmosphere (which could refract light

enough into its dark hemisphere to produce a twilight more luminous than

the light reflected from the earth when the moon is about 32 degrees

from the new) to be 1,356 Paris feet; in this view, I supposed the

greatest height capable of refracting the solar ray, to be 5,376 feet.

My ideas on this topic had also received confirmation by a passage in

the eighty-second volume of the Philosophical Transactions, in which

it is stated that at an occultation of Jupiter's satellites, the third

disappeared after having been about 1" or 2" of time indistinct, and the

fourth became indiscernible near the limb.(*4)

 

"Cassini frequently observed Saturn, Jupiter, and the fixed stars,

when approaching the moon to occultation, to have their circular figure

changed into an oval one; and, in other occultations, he found no

alteration of figure at all. Hence it might be supposed, that at some

times and not at others, there is a dense matter encompassing the moon

wherein the rays of the stars are refracted.

 

"Upon the resistance or, more properly, upon the support of an

atmosphere, existing in the state of density imagined, I had, of course,

entirely depended for the safety of my ultimate descent. Should I then,

after all, prove to have been mistaken, I had in consequence nothing

better to expect, as a finale to my adventure, than being dashed into

atoms against the rugged surface of the satellite. And, indeed, I

had now every reason to be terrified. My distance from the moon was

comparatively trifling, while the labor required by the condenser was

diminished not at all, and I could discover no indication whatever of a

decreasing rarity in the air.

 

"April 19th. This morning, to my great joy, about nine o'clock, the

surface of the moon being frightfully near, and my apprehensions excited

to the utmost, the pump of my condenser at length gave evident tokens

of an alteration in the atmosphere. By ten, I had reason to believe

its density considerably increased. By eleven, very little labor was

necessary at the apparatus; and at twelve o'clock, with some hesitation,

I ventured to unscrew the tourniquet, when, finding no inconvenience

from having done so, I finally threw open the gum-elastic chamber, and

unrigged it from around the car. As might have been expected, spasms

and violent headache were the immediate consequences of an experiment

so precipitate and full of danger. But these and other difficulties

attending respiration, as they were by no means so great as to put me

in peril of my life, I determined to endure as I best could, in

consideration of my leaving them behind me momently in my approach

to the denser strata near the moon. This approach, however, was still

impetuous in the extreme; and it soon became alarmingly certain that,

although I had probably not been deceived in the expectation of an

atmosphere dense in proportion to the mass of the satellite, still I

had been wrong in supposing this density, even at the surface, at all

adequate to the support of the great weight contained in the car of my

balloon. Yet this should have been the case, and in an equal degree

as at the surface of the earth, the actual gravity of bodies at either

planet supposed in the ratio of the atmospheric condensation. That

it was not the case, however, my precipitous downfall gave testimony

enough; why it was not so, can only be explained by a reference to those

possible geological disturbances to which I have formerly alluded. At

all events I was now close upon the planet, and coming down with the

most terrible impetuosity. I lost not a moment, accordingly, in throwing

overboard first my ballast, then my water-kegs, then my condensing

apparatus and gum-elastic chamber, and finally every article within the

car. But it was all to no purpose. I still fell with horrible rapidity,

and was now not more than half a mile from the surface. As a last

resource, therefore, having got rid of my coat, hat, and boots, I cut

loose from the balloon the car itself, which was of no inconsiderable

weight, and thus, clinging with both hands to the net-work, I had barely

time to observe that the whole country, as far as the eye could reach,

was thickly interspersed with diminutive habitations, ere I tumbled

headlong into the very heart of a fantastical-looking city, and into the

middle of a vast crowd of ugly little people, who none of them uttered

a single syllable, or gave themselves the least trouble to render me

assistance, but stood, like a parcel of idiots, grinning in a ludicrous

manner, and eyeing me and my balloon askant, with their arms set

a-kimbo. I turned from them in contempt, and, gazing upward at the earth

so lately left, and left perhaps for ever, beheld it like a huge, dull,

copper shield, about two degrees in diameter, fixed immovably in the

heavens overhead, and tipped on one of its edges with a crescent

border of the most brilliant gold. No traces of land or water could be

discovered, and the whole was clouded with variable spots, and belted

with tropical and equatorial zones.

 

"Thus, may it please your Excellencies, after a series of great

anxieties, unheard of dangers, and unparalleled escapes, I had, at

length, on the nineteenth day of my departure from Rotterdam, arrived in

safety at the conclusion of a voyage undoubtedly the most extraordinary,

and the most momentous, ever accomplished, undertaken, or conceived by

any denizen of earth. But my adventures yet remain to be related. And

indeed your Excellencies may well imagine that, after a residence of

five years upon a planet not only deeply interesting in its own peculiar

character, but rendered doubly so by its intimate connection, in

capacity of satellite, with the world inhabited by man, I may have

intelligence for the private ear of the States' College of Astronomers

of far more importance than the details, however wonderful, of the mere

voyage which so happily concluded. This is, in fact, the case. I

have much--very much which it would give me the greatest pleasure to

communicate. I have much to say of the climate of the planet; of its

wonderful alternations of heat and cold, of unmitigated and burning

sunshine for one fortnight, and more than polar frigidity for the next;

of a constant transfer of moisture, by distillation like that in vacuo,

from the point beneath the sun to the point the farthest from it; of

a variable zone of running water, of the people themselves; of their

manners, customs, and political institutions; of their peculiar physical

construction; of their ugliness; of their want of ears, those useless

appendages in an atmosphere so peculiarly modified; of their consequent

ignorance of the use and properties of speech; of their substitute

for speech in a singular method of inter-communication; of the

incomprehensible connection between each particular individual in

the moon with some particular individual on the earth--a connection

analogous with, and depending upon, that of the orbs of the planet and

the satellites, and by means of which the lives and destinies of the

inhabitants of the one are interwoven with the lives and destinies

of the inhabitants of the other; and above all, if it so please your

Excellencies--above all, of those dark and hideous mysteries which lie

in the outer regions of the moon--regions which, owing to the almost

miraculous accordance of the satellite's rotation on its own axis with

its sidereal revolution about the earth, have never yet been turned,

and, by God's mercy, never shall be turned, to the scrutiny of the

telescopes of man. All this, and more--much more--would I most

willingly detail. But, to be brief, I must have my reward. I am pining

for a return to my family and to my home, and as the price of any

farther communication on my part--in consideration of the light which

I have it in my power to throw upon many very important branches of

physical and metaphysical science--I must solicit, through the influence

of your honorable body, a pardon for the crime of which I have been

guilty in the death of the creditors upon my departure from Rotterdam.

This, then, is the object of the present paper. Its bearer, an

inhabitant of the moon, whom I have prevailed upon, and properly

instructed, to be my messenger to the earth, will await your

Excellencies' pleasure, and return to me with the pardon in question, if

it can, in any manner, be obtained.

 

"I have the honor to be, etc., your Excellencies' very humble servant,

 

"HANS PFAALL."

 

Upon finishing the perusal of this very extraordinary document,

Professor Rub-a-dub, it is said, dropped his pipe upon the ground in

the extremity of his surprise, and Mynheer Superbus Von Underduk having

taken off his spectacles, wiped them, and deposited them in his pocket,

so far forgot both himself and his dignity, as to turn round three times

upon his heel in the quintessence of astonishment and admiration. There

was no doubt about the matter--the pardon should be obtained. So at

least swore, with a round oath, Professor Rub-a-dub, and so finally

thought the illustrious Von Underduk, as he took the arm of his brother

in science, and without saying a word, began to make the best of his way

home to deliberate upon the measures to be adopted. Having reached the

door, however, of the burgomaster's dwelling, the professor ventured to

suggest that as the messenger had thought proper to disappear--no

doubt frightened to death by the savage appearance of the burghers of

Rotterdam--the pardon would be of little use, as no one but a man of

the moon would undertake a voyage to so vast a distance. To the truth of

this observation the burgomaster assented, and the matter was therefore

at an end. Not so, however, rumors and speculations. The letter, having

been published, gave rise to a variety of gossip and opinion. Some of

the over-wise even made themselves ridiculous by decrying the whole

business; as nothing better than a hoax. But hoax, with these sort

of people, is, I believe, a general term for all matters above their

comprehension. For my part, I cannot conceive upon what data they have

founded such an accusation. Let us see what they say:

 

Imprimus. That certain wags in Rotterdam have certain especial

antipathies to certain burgomasters and astronomers.

 

Don't understand at all.

 

Secondly. That an odd little dwarf and bottle conjurer, both of whose

ears, for some misdemeanor, have been cut off close to his head, has

been missing for several days from the neighboring city of Bruges.

 

Well--what of that?

 

Thirdly. That the newspapers which were stuck all over the little

balloon were newspapers of Holland, and therefore could not have been

made in the moon. They were dirty papers--very dirty--and Gluck, the

printer, would take his Bible oath to their having been printed in

Rotterdam.

 

He was mistaken--undoubtedly--mistaken.

 

Fourthly, That Hans Pfaall himself, the drunken villain, and the three

very idle gentlemen styled his creditors, were all seen, no longer than

two or three days ago, in a tippling house in the suburbs, having just

returned, with money in their pockets, from a trip beyond the sea.

 

Don't believe it--don't believe a word of it.

 

Lastly. That it is an opinion very generally received, or which ought

to be generally received, that the College of Astronomers in the city

of Rotterdam, as well as other colleges in all other parts of the

world,--not to mention colleges and astronomers in general,--are, to say

the least of the matter, not a whit better, nor greater, nor wiser than

they ought to be.

 

~~~ End of Text ~~~

 

Notes to Hans Pfaal

 

(*1) NOTE--Strictly speaking, there is but little similarity between the

above sketchy trifle and the celebrated "Moon-Story" of Mr. Locke; but

as both have the character of _hoaxes _(although the one is in a tone of

banter, the other of downright earnest), and as both hoaxes are on the

same subject, the moon--moreover, as both attempt to give plausibility

by scientific detail--the author of "Hans Pfaall" thinks it necessary to

say, in _self-defence, _that his own _jeu d'esprit _was published in the

"Southern Literary Messenger" about three weeks before the commencement

of Mr. L's in the "New York Sun." Fancying a likeness which, perhaps,

does not exist, some of the New York papers copied "Hans Pfaall," and

collated it with the "Moon-Hoax," by way of detecting the writer of the

one in the writer of the other.

 

As many more persons were actually gulled by the "Moon-Hoax" than would

be willing to acknowledge the fact, it may here afford some little

amusement to show why no one should have been deceived-to point out

those particulars of the story which should have been sufficient to

establish its real character. Indeed, however rich the imagination

displayed in this ingenious fiction, it wanted much of the force which

might have been given it by a more scrupulous attention to facts and

to general analogy. That the public were misled, even for an instant,

merely proves the gross ignorance which is so generally prevalent upon

subjects of an astronomical nature.

 

The moon's distance from the earth is, in round numbers, 240,000 miles.

If we desire to ascertain how near, apparently, a lens would bring the

satellite (or any distant object), we, of course, have but to divide the

distance by the magnifying or, more strictly, by the space-penetrating

power of the glass. Mr. L. makes his lens have a power of 42,000 times.

By this divide 240,000 (the moon's real distance), and we have five

miles and five sevenths, as the apparent distance. No animal at all

could be seen so far; much less the minute points particularized in the

story. Mr. L. speaks about Sir John Herschel's perceiving flowers (the

Papaver rheas, etc.), and even detecting the color and the shape of the

eyes of small birds. Shortly before, too, he has himself observed that

the lens would not render perceptible objects of less than eighteen

inches in diameter; but even this, as I have said, is giving the glass

by far too great power. It may be observed, in passing, that this

prodigious glass is said to have been molded at the glasshouse of

Messrs. Hartley and Grant, in Dumbarton; but Messrs. H. and G.'s

establishment had ceased operations for many years previous to the

publication of the hoax.

 

On page 13, pamphlet edition, speaking of "a hairy veil" over the eyes

of a species of bison, the author says: "It immediately occurred to the

acute mind of Dr. Herschel that this was a providential contrivance

to protect the eyes of the animal from the great extremes of light

and darkness to which all the inhabitants of our side of the moon are

periodically subjected." But this cannot be thought a very "acute"

observation of the Doctor's. The inhabitants of our side of the moon

have, evidently, no darkness at all, so there can be nothing of the

"extremes" mentioned. In the absence of the sun they have a light from

the earth equal to that of thirteen full unclouded moons.

 

The topography throughout, even when professing to accord with Blunt's

Lunar Chart, is entirely at variance with that or any other lunar chart,

and even grossly at variance with itself. The points of the compass,

too, are in inextricable confusion; the writer appearing to be ignorant

that, on a lunar map, these are not in accordance with terrestrial

points; the east being to the left, etc.

 

Deceived, perhaps, by the vague titles, Mare Nubium, Mare

Tranquillitatis, Mare Faecunditatis, etc., given to the dark spots by

former astronomers, Mr. L. has entered into details regarding oceans

and other large bodies of water in the moon; whereas there is no

astronomical point more positively ascertained than that no such bodies

exist there. In examining the boundary between light and darkness (in

the crescent or gibbous moon) where this boundary crosses any of the

dark places, the line of division is found to be rough and jagged; but,

were these dark places liquid, it would evidently be even.

 

The description of the wings of the man-bat, on page 21, is but a

literal copy of Peter Wilkins' account of the wings of his flying

islanders. This simple fact should have induced suspicion, at least, it

might be thought.

 

On page 23, we have the following: "What a prodigious influence must our

thirteen times larger globe have exercised upon this satellite when an

embryo in the womb of time, the passive subject of chemical affinity!"

This is very fine; but it should be observed that no astronomer would

have made such remark, especially to any journal of Science; for the

earth, in the sense intended, is not only thirteen, but forty-nine times

larger than the moon. A similar objection applies to the whole of the

concluding pages, where, by way of introduction to some discoveries in

Saturn, the philosophical correspondent enters into a minute schoolboy

account of that planet--this to the "Edinburgh journal of Science!"

 

But there is one point, in particular, which should have betrayed the

fiction. Let us imagine the power actually possessed of seeing animals

upon the moon's surface--what would first arrest the attention of an

observer from the earth? Certainly neither their shape, size, nor any

other such peculiarity, so soon as their remarkable _situation_. They

would appear to be walking, with heels up and head down, in the manner

of flies on a ceiling. The _real_ observer would have uttered an instant

ejaculation of surprise (however prepared by previous knowledge) at the

singularity of their position; the _fictitious_ observer has not even

mentioned the subject, but speaks of seeing the entire bodies of such

creatures, when it is demonstrable that he could have seen only the

diameter of their heads!

 

It might as well be remarked, in conclusion, that the size, and

particularly the powers of the man-bats (for example, their ability to

fly in so rare an atmosphere--if, indeed, the moon have any), with most

of the other fancies in regard to animal and vegetable existence, are at

variance, generally, with all analogical reasoning on these themes; and

that analogy here will often amount to conclusive demonstration. It is,

perhaps, scarcely necessary to add, that all the suggestions attributed

to Brewster and Herschel, in the beginning of the article, about "a

transfusion of artificial light through the focal object of vision,"

etc., etc., belong to that species of figurative writing which comes,

most properly, under the denomination of rigmarole.

 

There is a real and very definite limit to optical discovery among the

stars--a limit whose nature need only be stated to be understood. If,

indeed, the casting of large lenses were all that is required, man's

ingenuity would ultimately prove equal to the task, and we might have

them of any size demanded. But, unhappily, in proportion to the increase

of size in the lens, and consequently of space-penetrating power, is the

diminution of light from the object, by diffusion of its rays. And for

this evil there is no remedy within human ability; for an object is seen

by means of that light alone which proceeds from itself, whether direct

or reflected. Thus the only "artificial" light which could avail

Mr. Locke, would be some artificial light which he should be able to

throw-not upon the "focal object of vision," but upon the real object

to be viewed-to wit: upon the moon. It has been easily calculated that,

when the light proceeding from a star becomes so diffused as to be as

weak as the natural light proceeding from the whole of the stars, in

a clear and moonless night, then the star is no longer visible for any

practical purpose.

 

The Earl of Ross's telescope, lately constructed in England, has

a _speculum_ with a reflecting surface of 4,071 square inches; the

Herschel telescope having one of only 1,811. The metal of the Earl of

Ross's is 6 feet diameter; it is 5 1/2 inches thick at the edges, and 5

at the centre. The weight is 3 tons. The focal length is 50 feet.

 

I have lately read a singular and somewhat ingenious little book, whose

title-page runs thus: "L'Homme dans la lvne ou le Voyage Chimerique

fait au Monde de la Lvne, nouellement decouvert par Dominique Gonzales,

Aduanturier Espagnol, autremét dit le Courier volant. Mis en notre

langve par J. B. D. A. Paris, chez Francois Piot, pres la Fontaine de

Saint Benoist. Et chez J. Goignard, au premier pilier de la grand'salle

du Palais, proche les Consultations, MDCXLVII." Pp. 76.

 

The writer professes to have translated his work from the English of one

Mr. D'Avisson (Davidson?) although there is a terrible ambiguity in the

statement. "J' en ai eu," says he "l'original de Monsieur D'Avisson,

medecin des mieux versez qui soient aujourd'huy dans la cònoissance des

Belles Lettres, et sur tout de la Philosophic Naturelle. Je lui ai cette

obligation entre les autres, de m' auoir non seulement mis en main

cc Livre en anglois, mais encore le Manuscrit du Sieur Thomas D'Anan,

gentilhomme Eccossois, recommandable pour sa vertu, sur la version

duquel j' advoue que j' ay tiré le plan de la mienne."

 

After some irrelevant adventures, much in the manner of Gil Blas, and

which occupy the first thirty pages, the author relates that, being

ill during a sea voyage, the crew abandoned him, together with a

negro servant, on the island of St. Helena. To increase the chances of

obtaining food, the two separate, and live as far apart as possible.

This brings about a training of birds, to serve the purpose of

carrier-pigeons between them. By and by these are taught to carry

parcels of some weight-and this weight is gradually increased. At length

the idea is entertained of uniting the force of a great number of the

birds, with a view to raising the author himself. A machine is contrived

for the purpose, and we have a minute description of it, which is

materially helped out by a steel engraving. Here we perceive the

Signor Gonzales, with point ruffles and a huge periwig, seated astride

something which resembles very closely a broomstick, and borne aloft by

a multitude of wild swans _(ganzas) _who had strings reaching from their

tails to the machine.

 

The main event detailed in the Signor's narrative depends upon a very

important fact, of which the reader is kept in ignorance until near the

end of the book. The _ganzas, _with whom he had become so familiar, were

not really denizens of St. Helena, but of the moon. Thence it had been

their custom, time out of mind, to migrate annually to some portion of

the earth. In proper season, of course, they would return home; and

the author, happening, one day, to require their services for a short

voyage, is unexpectedly carried straight tip, and in a very brief period

arrives at the satellite. Here he finds, among other odd things, that

the people enjoy extreme happiness; that they have no _law; _that they

die without pain; that they are from ten to thirty feet in height;

that they live five thousand years; that they have an emperor called

Irdonozur; and that they can jump sixty feet high, when, being out of

the gravitating influence, they fly about with fans.

 

I cannot forbear giving a specimen of the general _philosophy _of the

volume.

 

"I must not forget here, that the stars appeared only on that side of

the globe turned toward the moon, and that the closer they were to it

the larger they seemed. I have also me and the earth. As to the

stars, _since there was no night where I was, they always had the same

appearance; not brilliant, as usual, but pale, and very nearly like the

moon of a morning. _But few of them were visible, and these ten times

larger (as well as I could judge) than they seem to the inhabitants

of the earth. The moon, which wanted two days of being full, was of a

terrible bigness.

 

 "I must not forget here, that the stars appeared only on that side

of the globe turned toward the moon, and that the closer they were to it

the larger they seemed. I have also to inform you that, whether it was

calm weather or stormy, I found myself _always immediately between the

moon and the earth._ I_ _was convinced of this for two reasons-because

my birds always flew in a straight line; and because whenever we

attempted to rest, _we were carried insensibly around the globe of the

earth. _For I admit the opinion of Copernicus, who maintains that it

never ceases to revolve _from the east to the west, _not upon the poles

of the Equinoctial, commonly called the poles of the world, but upon

those of the Zodiac, a question of which I propose to speak more at

length here-after, when I shall have leisure to refresh my memory in

regard to the astrology which I learned at Salamanca when young, and

have since forgotten."

 

Notwithstanding the blunders italicized, the book is not without

some claim to attention, as affording a naive specimen of the current

astronomical notions of the time. One of these assumed, that the

"gravitating power" extended but a short distance from the earth's

surface, and, accordingly, we find our voyager "carried insensibly

around the globe," etc.

 

There have been other "voyages to the moon," but none of higher merit

than the one just mentioned. That of Bergerac is utterly meaningless. In

the third volume of the "American Quarterly Review" will be found

quite an elaborate criticism upon a certain "journey" of the kind in

question--a criticism in which it is difficult to say whether the critic

most exposes the stupidity of the book, or his own absurd ignorance of

astronomy. I forget the title of the work; but the _means _of the voyage

are more deplorably ill conceived than are even the _ganzas _of our

friend the Signor Gonzales. The adventurer, in digging the earth,

happens to discover a peculiar metal for which the moon has a strong

attraction, and straightway constructs of it a box, which, when cast

loose from its terrestrial fastenings, flies with him, forthwith, to

the satellite. The "Flight of Thomas O'Rourke," is a _jeu d' esprit _not

altogether contemptible, and has been translated into German. Thomas,

the hero, was, in fact, the gamekeeper of an Irish peer, whose

eccentricities gave rise to the tale. The "flight" is made on an eagle's

back, from Hungry Hill, a lofty mountain at the end of Bantry Bay.

 

In these various _brochures _the aim is always satirical; the theme

being a description of Lunarian customs as compared with ours. In none

is there any effort at _plausibility _in the details of the voyage

itself. The writers seem, in each instance, to be utterly uninformed in

respect to astronomy. In "Hans Pfaall" the design is original, inasmuch

as regards an attempt at _verisimilitude, _in the application of

scientific principles (so far as the whimsical nature of the subject

would permit), to the actual passage between the earth and the moon.

 

(*2) The zodiacal light is probably what the ancients called Trabes.

Emicant Trabes quos docos vocant.--Pliny, lib. 2, p. 26.

 

(*3) Since the original publication of Hans Pfaall, I find that Mr.

Green, of Nassau balloon notoriety, and other late aeronauts, deny

the assertions of Humboldt, in this respect, and speak of a decreasing

inconvenience,--precisely in accordance with the theory here urged in a

mere spirit of banter.

 

(*4) Havelius writes that he has several times found, in skies

perfectly clear, when even stars of the sixth and seventh magnitude

were conspicuous, that, at the same altitude of the moon, at the

same elongation from the earth, and with one and the same excellent

telescope, the moon and its maculae did not appear equally lucid at all

times. From the circumstances of the observation, it is evident that the

cause of this phenomenon is not either in our air, in the tube, in

the moon, or in the eye of the spectator, but must be looked for in

something (an atmosphere?) existing about the moon.

 

 

 

 

THE GOLD-BUG

 

          What ho! what 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 Legrand.

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 favorite resort of the

marsh hen. The vegetation, as might be supposed, is scant, or at least

dwarfish. No trees of any magnitude are to be seen. Near the western

extremity, where Fort Moultrie stands, and where are some miserable

frame buildings, tenanted, during summer, by the fugitives from

Charleston dust and fever, may be found, indeed, the bristly palmetto;

but the whole island, with the exception of this western point, and

a line of hard, white beach on the seacoast, is covered with a dense

undergrowth of the sweet myrtle, so much prized by the horticulturists

of England. The shrub here often attains the height of fifteen or twenty

feet, and forms an almost impenetrable coppice, burthening the air with

its fragrance.

 

In the inmost recesses of this coppice, not far from the eastern or more

remote end of the island, Legrand had built himself a small hut, which

he occupied when I first, by mere accident, made his acquaintance.

This soon ripened into friendship--for there was much in the recluse

to excite interest and esteem. I found him well educated, with unusual

powers of mind, but infected with misanthropy, and subject to perverse

moods of alternate enthusiasm and melancholy. He had with him many

books, but rarely employed them. His chief amusements were gunning and

fishing, or sauntering along the beach and through the myrtles, in quest

of shells or entomological specimens;--his collection of the latter

might have been envied by a Swammerdamm. In these excursions he was

usually accompanied by an old negro, called Jupiter, who had been

manumitted before the reverses of the family, but who could be induced,

neither by threats nor by promises, to abandon what he considered his

right of attendance upon the footsteps of his young "Massa Will." It

is not improbable that the relatives of Legrand, conceiving him to be

somewhat unsettled in intellect, had contrived to instil this obstinacy

into Jupiter, with a view to the supervision and guardianship of the

wanderer.

 

The winters in the latitude of Sullivan's Island are seldom very severe,

and in the fall of the year it is a rare event indeed when a fire is

considered necessary. About the middle of October, 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, 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 supper. Legrand was in one of his fits--how else shall

I term them?--of enthusiasm. He had found an unknown bivalve, forming

a new genus, and, more than this, he had hunted down and secured, with

Jupiter's assistance, a scarabæus 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 scarabæi at the devil.

 

"Ah, if I had only known you were here!" said Legrand, "but it's so long

since I saw you; and how could I foresee that you would pay me a visit

this very night of all others? As I was coming home I met Lieutenant

G--, from the fort, and, very foolishly, I lent him the bug; so it will

be impossible for you to see it until the morning. Stay here to-night,

and I will send 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 color--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 antennæ 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, sep him wing--neber feel half so hebby a bug in my

life."

 

"Well, suppose it is, Jup," replied Legrand, somewhat more earnestly,

it seemed to me, than the case demanded, "is that any reason for your

letting the birds burn? The color"--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 tomorrow. In the mean time I can give you some idea of the shape."

Saying this, he seated himself at a small table, on which were a pen and

ink, but no paper. He looked for some in a drawer, but found none.

 

"Never mind," said 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. When 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, belonging to Legrand, rushed in,

leaped upon my shoulders, and loaded me with caresses; for I had shown

him much attention during previous visits. When his gambols were over, I

looked at the paper, and, to speak the truth, found myself not a little

puzzled at what my friend had depicted.

 

"Well!" I said, after contemplating it for some minutes, "this is a

strange scarabæus, 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 something of

that appearance upon paper, no doubt. The two upper black spots look

like eyes, eh? and the longer one at the bottom like a mouth--and then

the shape of the whole is oval."

 

"Perhaps so," said I; "but, Legrand, I fear you are no artist. I must

wait until I see the beetle itself, if I am to form any idea of its

personal appearance."

 

"Well, I don't know," said he, a little nettled, "I draw

tolerably--should do it at least--have had good masters, and flatter

myself that I am not quite a blockhead."

 

"But, my dear fellow, you are joking then," said I, "this is a very

passable skull--indeed, I may say that it is a very excellent skull,

according to the vulgar notions about such specimens of physiology--and

your scarabæus must be the queerest scarabæus in the world if it

resembles it. Why, we may get up a very thrilling bit of superstition

upon this hint. I presume you will call the bug scarabæus caput hominis,

or something of that kind--there are many similar titles in the Natural

Histories. But where are the antennæ you spoke of?"

 

"The antennæ!" said Legrand, who seemed to be getting unaccountably warm

upon the subject; "I am sure you must see the antennæ. I made them

as distinct as they are in the original insect, and I presume that is

sufficient."

 

"Well, well," I said, "perhaps you have--still I don't see them;" and

I handed him the paper without additional remark, not wishing to ruffle

his temper; but I was much surprised at the turn affairs had taken; his

ill humor puzzled me--and, as for the drawing of the beetle, there

were positively no antennæ visible, and the whole did bear a very close

resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a death's-head.

 

He received the paper very peevishly, and was about to crumple it,

apparently to throw it in the fire, when a casual glance at the design

seemed suddenly to rivet his attention. In an instant his face grew

violently red--in another as excessively pale. For some minutes he

continued to scrutinize the drawing minutely where he sat. At length he

arose, took a candle from the table, and proceeded to seat himself upon

a sea-chest in the farthest corner of the room. Here again he made an

anxious examination of the paper; turning it in all directions. He said

nothing, however, and his conduct greatly astonished me; yet I thought

it prudent not to exacerbate the growing moodiness of his temper by any

comment. Presently he took from his coat pocket a wallet, placed the

paper carefully in it, and deposited both in a writing-desk, which he

locked. He now grew more composed in his demeanor; but his original air

of enthusiasm had quite disappeared. Yet he seemed not so much sulky as

abstracted. As the evening wore away he became more and more absorbed in

reverie, from which no sallies of mine could arouse him. It had been my

intention to pass the night at the hut, as I had frequently done before,

but, seeing my host in this mood, I deemed it proper to take leave. He

did not press me to remain, but, as I departed, he shook my hand with

even more than his usual cordiality.

 

It was about a month after this (and during the interval I had seen

nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at Charleston, from his

man, Jupiter. I had never seen the good old negro look so dispirited,

and I feared that some serious disaster had befallen my friend.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

"Dar! dat's it!--him neber plain of notin--but him berry 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 shoe

pinch--my mind is got to be berry hebby bout poor Massa Will."

 

"Jupiter, I should like to understand what it is you are talking about.

You say your master is sick. Hasn't he told you what ails him?"

 

"Why, massa, taint worf while for to git mad about de matter--Massa

Will say noffin at all aint de matter wid him--but den what make him go

about looking dis here way, wid he head down and he soldiers up, and as

white as a gose? And den he keep a syphon all de time--"

 

"Keeps a what, Jupiter?"

 

"Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on de slate--de queerest figgurs I ebber

did see. Ise gittin to be skeered, I tell you. Hab for to keep mighty

tight eye pon him noovers. Todder day he gib me slip fore de sun up and

was gone de whole ob de blessed day. I had a big stick ready cut for to

gib him deuced good beating when he did come--but Ise sich a fool dat I

hadn't de heart arter all--he look so berry poorly."

 

"Eh?--what?--ah yes!--upon the whole I think you had better not be too

severe with the poor fellow--don't flog him, Jupiter--he can't very well

stand it--but can you form no idea of what has occasioned this illness,

or rather this change of conduct? Has anything unpleasant happened since

I saw you?"

 

"No, massa, dey aint bin noffin unpleasant since den--'twas fore den I'm

feared--'twas de berry day you was dare."

 

"How? what do you mean?"

 

"Why, massa, I mean de bug--dare now."

 

"The what?"

 

"De bug,--I'm 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 mouth too. I nebber did see sick 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 did n't like de look oh de bug

mouff, myself, no how, so I would n't take hold ob him wid my finger,

but I cotch him wid a piece ob paper dat I found. I rap him up in de

paper and stuff piece ob it in he mouff--dat was de way."

 

"And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by the beetle,

and that the bite made him sick?"

 

"I do n'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 honor 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 his well-meant attentions Would you

believe it?--he had prepared a huge stick, the other day, with which

to chastise me for giving him the slip, and spending the day, _solus_,

among the hills on the main land. 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 LEGRAND.

 

There was something in the tone of this note which gave me great

uneasiness. Its whole style differed materially from that of Legrand.

What could he be dreaming of? What new crotchet possessed his excitable

brain? What "business of the highest importance" could he possibly have

to transact? Jupiter's account of him boded no good. I dreaded lest the

continued pressure of misfortune had, at length, fairly unsettled

the reason of my friend. Without a moment's hesitation, therefore, I

prepared to accompany the negro.

 

Upon reaching the wharf, I noticed a scythe and three spades, all

apparently new, lying in the bottom of the boat in which we were to

embark.

 

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

 

"Him syfe, massa, and spade."

 

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

 

"Him de syfe and de spade what Massa Will sis pon my buying for him in

de town, and de debbils 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 blieve 'tis more

dan he know, too. But it's all cum ob do 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 empressement which alarmed me and strengthened

the suspicions already entertained. His countenance was pale even to

ghastliness, and his deep-set eyes glared with unnatural lustre. After

some inquiries respecting his health, I asked him, not knowing what

better to say, if he had yet obtained the scarabæus from Lieutenant

G ----.

 

"Oh, yes," he replied, coloring violently, "I got it from him the next

morning. Nothing should tempt me to part with that scarabæus. 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 scarabæus!"

 

"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 beautiful scarabæus, and, at that time, unknown to

naturalists--of course a great prize in a scientific point of view.

There were two round, black spots near one extremity of the back, and

a long one near the other. The scales were exceedingly hard and glossy,

with all the appearance of burnished gold. The weight of the insect

was very remarkable, and, taking all things into consideration, I could

hardly blame Jupiter for his opinion respecting it; but what to make of

Legrand's concordance with that opinion, I could not, for the life of

me, tell.

 

"I sent for you," said he, in a grandiloquent tone, when I had completed

my examination of the beetle, "I sent for you, that I might have your

counsel and assistance in furthering the views of Fate and of the bug"--

 

"My dear Legrand," I cried, interrupting him, "you are certainly unwell,

and had better use some little precautions. You shall go to bed, and

I will remain with you a few days, until you get over this. You are

feverish and"--

 

"Feel my pulse," said he.

 

I felt it, and, 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 really wish me well, you

will relieve this excitement."

 

"And how is this to be done?"

 

"Very easily. Jupiter and myself are going upon an expedition into the

hills, upon the main land, and, in this expedition we shall need the

aid of some person in whom we can confide. You are the only one we can

trust. Whether we succeed or fail, the excitement which you now perceive

in me will be equally allayed."

 

"I am anxious to oblige you in any way," I replied; "but do you mean to

say that this infernal beetle has any connection with your expedition

into the hills?"

 

"It has."

 

"Then, Legrand, I can become a party to no such absurd 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 honor, that when this freak of yours

is over, and the bug business (good God!) settled to your satisfaction,

you will then return home and follow my advice implicitly, as that of

your physician?"

 

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

 

With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend. We started about four

o'clock--Legrand, Jupiter, the dog, and myself. Jupiter had with him the

scythe and spades--the whole of which he insisted upon carrying--more

through fear, it seemed to me, of trusting either of the implements

within reach of his master, than from any excess of industry or

complaisance. His demeanor was dogged in the extreme, and "dat deuced

bug" were the sole words which escaped his lips during the journey. For

my own part, I had charge of a couple of dark lanterns, while Legrand

contented himself with the scarabæus, 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 humor his fancy, at least for the present,

or until I could adopt some more energetic measures with a chance of

success. In the mean time I endeavored, but all in vain, to sound him in

regard to the object of the expedition. Having succeeded in inducing

me to accompany him, he seemed unwilling to hold conversation upon any

topic of minor 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 main land, proceeded in a

northwesterly direction, through a tract of country excessively wild and

desolate, where no trace of a human footstep was to be seen. Legrand led

the way with decision; pausing only for an instant, here and there, to

consult what appeared to be certain landmarks of his own contrivance

upon a former occasion.

 

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

setting when we entered a region infinitely more dreary than any yet

seen. It was a species of table land, near the summit of an almost

inaccessible hill, densely wooded from base to pinnacle, and

interspersed with huge crags that appeared to lie loosely upon the soil,

and in many cases were prevented from precipitating themselves into the

valleys below, merely by the support of the trees against which they

reclined. Deep ravines, in various directions, gave an air of still

sterner solemnity to the scene.

 

The natural platform to which we had clambered was thickly overgrown

with brambles, through which we soon discovered that it would have

been impossible to force our way but for the scythe; and Jupiter, by

direction of his master, proceeded to clear for us a path to the foot of

an enormously tall tulip-tree, which stood, with some eight or ten oaks,

upon the level, and far surpassed them all, and all other trees which I

had then ever seen, in the beauty of its foliage and form, in the wide

spread of its branches, and in the general majesty of its appearance.

When we reached this tree, Legrand turned to Jupiter, and asked him if

he thought he could climb it. The old man seemed a little staggered

by the question, and for some moments made no reply. At length he

approached the huge trunk, walked slowly around it, and examined it with

minute attention. When he had completed his scrutiny, he merely said,

 

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

 

"Then up with you as soon as possible, for it will soon be too dark to

see what we are about."

 

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

 

"Get up the main trunk first, and then I will tell you which way to

go--and here--stop! 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 afraid, Jup, a great big negro like you, to take hold of

a harmless little dead beetle, why you can carry it up by this

string--but, if you do not take it up with you in some way, 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 fuss wid old nigger. Was only funnin any how.

Me feered de bug! what I keer for de bug?" Here he took cautiously hold

of the extreme end of the string, and, maintaining the insect as far

from his person as circumstances would permit, prepared to ascend the

tree.

 

In youth, the tulip-tree, or Liriodendron Tulipferum, the most

magnificent of American foresters, has a trunk peculiarly smooth, and

often rises to a great height without lateral branches; but, in its

riper age, the bark becomes gnarled and uneven, while many short limbs

make their appearance on the stem. Thus the difficulty of ascension, in

the present case, lay more in semblance than in reality. Embracing the

huge cylinder, as closely as possible, with his arms and knees, seizing

with his hands some projections, and resting his naked toes upon

others, Jupiter, after one or two narrow escapes from falling, at length

wriggled himself into the first great fork, and seemed to consider the

whole business as virtually accomplished. The risk of the achievement

was, in fact, now over, although the climber was some sixty or seventy

feet from the ground.

 

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

 

"Keep up the largest branch--the one on this side," said Legrand. The

negro obeyed him promptly, and apparently with but little trouble;

ascending higher and higher, until no glimpse of his squat figure could

be obtained through the dense foliage which enveloped it. Presently his

voice was heard in a sort of halloo.

 

"How much 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."

 

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

limb was attained.

 

"Now, Jup," cried Legrand, evidently much excited, "I want you to work

your way out upon that limb as far as you can. If you see anything

strange, let me know." By this time what little doubt I might have

entertained of my poor friend's insanity, was put finally at rest. I had

no alternative but to conclude him stricken with lunacy, and I became

seriously anxious about getting him home. While I was pondering upon

what was best to be done, Jupiter's voice was again heard.

 

"Mos feerd for to ventur pon dis limb berry far--tis dead limb putty

much all de way."

 

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

voice.

 

"Yes, massa, him dead as de door-nail--done up for sartain--done

departed dis here life."

 

"What in the name 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!--that's a fine fellow.

It's getting late, and, besides, you remember your promise."

 

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

 

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

 

"Try the wood well, then, with your knife, and see if 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 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 you will venture out on the limb as far as you

think safe, and not let go the beetle, I'll make you a present of a

silver dollar as soon as you get down."

 

"I'm 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! Lor-gol-a-marcy! what is dis

here pon de tree?"

 

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

 

"Why taint noffin but a skull--somebody bin lef him head up de tree, and

de crows done gobble ebery bit ob de meat off."

 

"A skull, you 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?"

 

"Yes, I nose dat--nose all bout dat--tis my lef hand what I chops de

wood wid."

 

"To be sure! you are left-handed; and your left eye is on the same

side as your left hand. Now, I suppose, you can find the left eye of the

skull, or the place where the left eye has been. Have you found it?"

 

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

 

"Is de lef eye 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 scarabæus hung quite clear of

any branches, and, if allowed to fall, would have fallen at our feet.

Legrand immediately took the scythe, and cleared with it a circular

space, three or four yards in diameter, just beneath the insect, and,

having accomplished this, ordered Jupiter to let go the string and come

down from the tree.

 

Driving a peg, with great nicety, into the ground, at the precise spot

where the beetle fell, my friend now produced from his pocket a tape

measure. Fastening one end of this at that point of the trunk, of the

tree which was nearest the peg, he unrolled it till it reached the peg,

and thence farther unrolled it, in the direction already established

by the two points of the tree and the peg, for the distance of fifty

feet--Jupiter clearing away the brambles with the scythe. At the spot

thus attained a second peg was driven, and about this, as a centre, a

rude circle, about four feet in diameter, described. Taking now a spade

himself, and giving one to Jupiter and one to me, Legrand begged us to

set about digging as quickly as possible.

 

To speak the truth, I had no especial relish for such 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 with the

exercise already taken; but I saw no mode of escape, and was fearful

of disturbing my poor friend's equanimity by a refusal. Could I have

depended, indeed, upon Jupiter's aid, I would have had no hesitation in

attempting to get the lunatic home by force; but I was too well assured

of the old negro's disposition, to hope that he would assist me, under

any circumstances, in a personal contest with his master. I made no

doubt that the latter had been infected with some of the innumerable

Southern superstitions about money buried, and that his phantasy had

received confirmation by the finding of the scarabæus, 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 favorite 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 group we

composed, and how strange and suspicious our labors must have appeared

to any interloper who, by chance, might have stumbled upon our

whereabouts.

 

We dug very steadily for two hours. Little was said; and our chief

embarrassment lay in the yelpings of the dog, who took exceeding

interest in our proceedings. He, at length, became so obstreperous

that we grew fearful of his giving the alarm to some stragglers in

the vicinity;--or, rather, this was the apprehension of 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, getting out of the hole with a

dogged air of deliberation, tied the brute's mouth up with one of his

suspenders, and then returned, with a grave chuckle, to 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 disconcerted, wiped his brow

thoughtfully and recommenced. We had excavated the entire circle of four

feet diameter, and now we slightly enlarged the limit, and went to the

farther depth of two feet. Still nothing appeared. The gold-seeker, whom

I sincerely pitied, at length clambered from the pit, with the bitterest

disappointment imprinted upon every feature, and proceeded, slowly

and reluctantly, to put on his coat, which he had thrown off at the

beginning of his labor. In the mean time 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 infernal 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 caracols, much to the

astonishment of his valet, who, arising from his knees, looked, mutely,

from his master to myself, and then from myself to his master.

 

"Come! we must go back," said the latter, "the game's not up yet;" and

he again led the way to the tulip-tree.

 

"Jupiter," said he, when we reached its foot, "come here! was the skull

nailed to the limb with the face outwards, or with the face to the

limb?"

 

"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 indicated.

 

"That will do--must try it again."

 

Here my friend, about whose madness I now saw, or fancied that I saw,

certain indications of method, removed the peg which marked the spot

where the beetle fell, to a spot about three inches to the westward

of its former position. Taking, now, the tape measure from the nearest

point of the trunk to the peg, as before, and continuing the extension

in a straight line to the distance of fifty feet, a spot was indicated,

removed, by several yards, from the point at which we had been digging.

 

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 dreadfully weary, but, scarcely understanding what had occasioned

the change in my thoughts, I felt no longer any great aversion from the

labor imposed. I had become most unaccountably interested--nay, even

excited. Perhaps there was something, amid all the extravagant demeanor

of Legrand--some air of forethought, or of deliberation, which impressed

me. I dug eagerly, and now and then caught myself actually looking,

with something that very much resembled expectation, for the fancied

treasure, the vision of which had demented my unfortunate companion. At

a period when such vagaries of thought most fully possessed me, and

when we had been at work perhaps an hour and a half, we were again

interrupted by the violent 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, intermingled with several buttons of metal, and what appeared

to be the dust of decayed woollen. One or two strokes of a spade

upturned the blade of a large Spanish knife, and, as we dug farther,

three or four loose pieces of gold and silver coin came to light.

 

At sight of these the joy of Jupiter could scarcely be restrained, but

the countenance of his master wore an air of extreme disappointment He

urged us, however, to continue our exertions, and the words were hardly

uttered when I stumbled and fell forward, having caught the toe of my

boot in a large ring of iron that lay half buried in the loose earth.

 

We now worked in earnest, and never did I pass ten minutes of more

intense excitement. During this interval we had fairly unearthed an

oblong chest of wood, which, from its perfect preservation and

wonderful hardness, had plainly been subjected to some mineralizing

process--perhaps that of the Bi-chloride of Mercury. This box was three

feet and a half long, three feet broad, and two and a half feet deep. It

was firmly secured by bands of wrought iron, riveted, and forming a kind

of open trelliswork 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 endeavors served

only to disturb the coffer very slightly in its bed. We at once saw

the impossibility of removing so great a weight. Luckily, the sole

fastenings of the lid consisted of two sliding bolts. These we drew

back--trembling and 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.