THE WORKS OF EDGAR ALLAN POE

 

IN FIVE VOLUMES

 

The Raven Edition

 

CONTENTS:

 

     Philosophy of Furniture

     A Tale of Jerusalem

     The Sphinx

     Hop Frog

     The Man of the Crowd

     Never Bet the Devill Your Head

     Thou Art the Man

     Why the Little Frenchman Wears his Hand in a Sling

     Bon-Bon

     Some words with a Mummy

     The Poetic Principle

     Old English Poetry

 

 

POEMS:

 

     Dedication

     Preface

 

     Poems of Later Life

 

     The Raven

     The Bells

     Ulalume

     To Helen

     Annabel Lee

     A Valentine

     An Enigma

     To my Mother

     For Annie

     To F----     To Frances S. Osgood

     Eldorado

     Eulalie

     A Dream within a Dream

     To Marie Louise (Shew)

     To the Same

     The City in the Sea

     The Sleeper

     Bridal Ballad

     Notes

 

     Poems of Manhood

 

     Lenore

     To One in Paradise

     The Coliseum

     The Haunted Palace

     The Conqueror Worm

     Silence

     Dreamland

     Hymn

     To Zante

     Scenes from "Politian"

     Note

 

     Poems of Youth

 

     Introduction (1831)

     Sonnet--To Science

     Al Aaraaf

     Tamerlane

     To Helen

     The Valley of Unrest

     Israfel

     To -- ("The Bowers Whereat, in Dreams I See")

     To -- ("I Heed not That my Earthly Lot")

     To the River --     Song

     A Dream

     Romance

     Fairyland

     The Lake To--     "The Happiest Day"

     Imitation

     Hymn. Translation from the Greek

     "In Youth I Have Known One"

     A Paean

     Notes

 

     Doubtful Poems

 

     Alone

     To Isadore

     The Village Street

     The Forest Reverie

     Notes

 

 

 

 

PHILOSOPHY OF FURNITURE.

 

In the internal decoration, if not in the external architecture of

their residences, the English are supreme. The Italians have but little

sentiment beyond marbles and colours. In France, _meliora probant,

deteriora _sequuntur--the people are too much a race of gadabouts to

maintain those household proprieties of which, indeed, they have a

delicate appreciation, or at least the elements of a proper sense. The

Chinese and most of the eastern races have a warm but inappropriate

fancy. The Scotch are _poor _decorists. The Dutch have, perhaps, an

indeterminate idea that a curtain is not a cabbage. In Spain they are

_all _curtains--a nation of hangmen. The Russians do not furnish. The

Hottentots and Kickapoos are very well in their way. The Yankees alone

are preposterous.

 

How this happens, it is not difficult to see. We have no aristocracy of

blood, and having therefore as a natural, and indeed as an inevitable

thing, fashioned for ourselves an aristocracy of dollars, the _display

of wealth _has here to take the place and perform the office of the

heraldic display in monarchical countries. By a transition readily

understood, and which might have been as readily foreseen, we have been

brought to merge in simple _show_ our notions of taste itself.

 

To speak less abstractly. In England, for example, no mere parade

of costly appurtenances would be so likely as with us, to create

an impression of the beautiful in respect to the appurtenances

themselves--or of taste as regards the proprietor:--this for the reason,

first, that wealth is not, in England, the loftiest object of ambition

as constituting a nobility; and secondly, that there, the true nobility

of blood, confining itself within the strict limits of legitimate taste,

rather avoids than affects that mere costliness in which a _parvenu

_rivalry may at any time be successfully attempted.

 

The people _will _imitate the nobles, and the result is a thorough

diffusion of the proper feeling. But in America, the coins current being

the sole arms of the aristocracy, their display may be said, in general,

to be the sole means of the aristocratic distinction; and the populace,

looking always upward for models, are insensibly led to confound the two

entirely separate ideas of magnificence and beauty. In short, the cost

of an article of furniture has at length come to be, with us, nearly

the sole test of its merit in a decorative point of view--and this test,

once established, has led the way to many analogous errors, readily

traceable to the one primitive folly.

 

There could be nothing more directly offensive to the eye of an artist

than the interior of what is termed in the United States--that is to

say, in Appallachia--a well-furnished apartment. Its most usual defect

is a want of keeping. We speak of the keeping of a room as we would of

the keeping of a picture--for both the picture and the room are amenable

to those undeviating principles which regulate all varieties of art; and

very nearly the same laws by which we decide on the higher merits of a

painting, suffice for decision on the adjustment of a chamber.

 

A want of keeping is observable sometimes in the character of the

several pieces of furniture, but generally in their colours or modes of

adaptation to use _Very _often the eye is offended by their inartistic

arrangement. Straight lines are too prevalent--too uninterruptedly

continued--or clumsily interrupted at right angles. If curved lines

occur, they are repeated into unpleasant uniformity. By undue precision,

the appearance of many a fine apartment is utterly spoiled.

 

Curtains are rarely well disposed, or well chosen in respect to other

decorations. With formal furniture, curtains are out of place; and an

extensive volume of drapery of any kind is, under any circumstance,

irreconcilable with good taste--the proper quantum, as well as the

proper adjustment, depending upon the character of the general effect.

 

Carpets are better understood of late than of ancient days, but we

still very frequently err in their patterns and colours. The soul of the

apartment is the carpet. From it are deduced not only the hues but the

forms of all objects incumbent. A judge at common law may be an ordinary

man; a good judge of a carpet _must be _a genius. Yet we have heard

discoursing of carpets, with the air "_d'un mouton qui reve," _fellows

who should not and who could not be entrusted with the management of

their own _moustaches. _Every one knows that a large floor _may _have a

covering of large figures, and that a small one must have a covering

of small--yet this is not all the knowledge in the world. As

regards texture, the Saxony is alone admissible. Brussels is the

preterpluperfect tense of fashion, and Turkey is taste in its dying

agonies. Touching pattern--a carpet should _not _be bedizzened out like

a Riccaree Indian--all red chalk, yellow ochre, and cock's feathers. In

brief--distinct grounds, and vivid circular or cycloid figures, _of

no meaning, _are here Median laws. The abomination of flowers, or

representations of well-known objects of any kind, should not be

endured within the limits of Christendom. Indeed, whether on carpets,

or curtains, or tapestry, or ottoman coverings, all upholstery of this

nature should be rigidly Arabesque. As for those antique floor-cloth &

still occasionally seen in the dwellings of the rabble--cloths of huge,

sprawling, and radiating devises, stripe-interspersed, and glorious

with all hues, among which no ground is intelligible--these are but the

wicked invention of a race of time-servers and money-lovers--children

of Baal and worshippers of Mammon--Benthams, who, to spare thought

and economize fancy, first cruelly invented the Kaleidoscope, and then

established joint-stock companies to twirl it by steam.

 

 _Glare_ is a leading error in the philosophy of American household

decoration--an error easily recognised as deduced from the perversion of

taste just specified., We are violently enamoured of gas and of glass.

The former is totally inadmissible within doors. Its harsh and unsteady

light offends. No one having both brains and eyes will use it. A mild,

or what artists term a cool light, with its consequent warm shadows,

will do wonders for even an ill-furnished apartment. Never was a more

lovely thought than that of the astral lamp. We mean, of course,

the astral lamp proper--the lamp of Argand, with its original plain

ground-glass shade, and its tempered and uniform moonlight rays. The

cut-glass shade is a weak invention of the enemy. The eagerness with

which we have adopted it, partly on account of its _flashiness,_ but

principally on account of its _greater rest,_ is a good commentary on

the proposition with which we began. It is not too much to say, that the

deliberate employer of a cut-glass shade, is either radically deficient

in taste, or blindly subservient to the caprices of fashion. The light

proceeding from one of these gaudy abominations is unequal broken, and

painful. It alone is sufficient to mar a world of good effect in the

furniture subjected to its influence. Female loveliness, in especial, is

more than one-half disenchanted beneath its evil eye.

 

In the matter of glass, generally, we proceed upon false principles. Its

leading feature is _glitter--_and in that one word how much of all that

is detestable do we express! Flickering, unquiet lights, are _sometimes

_pleasing--to children and idiots always so--but in the embellishment

of a room they should be scrupulously avoided. In truth, even strong

_steady _lights are inadmissible. The huge and unmeaning glass

chandeliers, prism-cut, gas-lighted, and without shade, which dangle in

our most fashionable drawing-rooms, may be cited as the quintessence of

all that is false in taste or preposterous in folly.

 

The rage for _glitter-_because its idea has become as we before

observed, confounded with that of magnificence in the abstract--has

led us, also, to the exaggerated employment of mirrors. We line our

dwellings with great British plates, and then imagine we have done a

fine thing. Now the slightest thought will be sufficient to convince

any one who has an eye at all, of the ill effect of numerous

looking-glasses, and especially of large ones. Regarded apart from

its reflection, the mirror presents a continuous, flat, colourless,

unrelieved surface,--a thing always and obviously unpleasant. Considered

as a reflector, it is potent in producing a monstrous and odious

uniformity: and the evil is here aggravated, not in merely direct

proportion with the augmentation of its sources, but in a ratio

constantly increasing. In fact, a room with four or five mirrors

arranged at random, is, for all purposes of artistic show, a room of

no shape at all. If we add to this evil, the attendant glitter upon

glitter, we have a perfect farrago of discordant and displeasing

effects. The veriest bumpkin, on entering an apartment so bedizzened,

would be instantly aware of something wrong, although he might be

altogether unable to assign a cause for his dissatisfaction. But let

the same person be led into a room tastefully furnished, and he would be

startled into an exclamation of pleasure and surprise.

 

It is an evil growing out of our republican institutions, that here a

man of large purse has usually a very little soul which he keeps in

it. The corruption of taste is a portion or a pendant of the

dollar-manufacture. As we grow rich, our ideas grow rusty. It is,

therefore, not among _our _aristocracy that we must look (if at all, in

Appallachia), for the spirituality of a British _boudoir. _But we have

seen apartments in the tenure of Americans of moderns [possibly "modest"

or "moderate"] means, which, in negative merit at least, might vie with

any of the _or-molu'd _cabinets of our friends across the water. Even

_now_, there is present to our mind's eye a small and not, ostentatious

chamber with whose decorations no fault can be found. The proprietor

lies asleep on a sofa--the weather is cool--the time is near midnight:

we will make a sketch of the room during his slumber.

 

It is oblong--some thirty feet in length and twenty-five in breadth--a

shape affording the best(ordinary) opportunities for the adjustment of

furniture. It has but one door--by no means a wide one--which is at one

end of the parallelogram, and but two windows, which are at the

other. These latter are large, reaching down to the floor--have deep

recesses--and open on an Italian _veranda. _Their panes are of a

crimson-tinted glass, set in rose-wood framings, more massive than

usual. They are curtained within the recess, by a thick silver tissue

adapted to the shape of the window, and hanging loosely in small

volumes. Without the recess are curtains of an exceedingly rich crimson

silk, fringed with a deep network of gold, and lined with silver tissue,

which is the material of the exterior blind. There are no cornices; but

the folds of the whole fabric (which are sharp rather than massive, and

have an airy appearance), issue from beneath a broad entablature of rich

giltwork, which encircles the room at the junction of the ceiling and

walls. The drapery is thrown open also, or closed, by means of a thick

rope of gold loosely enveloping it, and resolving itself readily into

a knot; no pins or other such devices are apparent. The colours of

the curtains and their fringe--the tints of crimson and gold--appear

everywhere in profusion, and determine the _character _of the room. The

carpet--of Saxony material--is quite half an inch thick, and is of the

same crimson ground, relieved simply by the appearance of a gold cord

(like that festooning the curtains) slightly relieved above the surface

of the _ground, _and thrown upon it in such a manner as to form a

succession of short irregular curves--one occasionally overlaying the

other. The walls are prepared with a glossy paper of a silver gray tint,

spotted with small Arabesque devices of a fainter hue of the prevalent

crimson. Many paintings relieve the expanse of paper. These are chiefly

landscapes of an imaginative cast--such as the fairy grottoes of

Stanfield, or the lake of the Dismal Swamp of Chapman. There

are, nevertheless, three or four female heads, of an ethereal

beauty-portraits in the manner of Sully. The tone of each picture is

warm, but dark. There are no "brilliant effects." _Repose _speaks in

all. Not one is of small size. Diminutive paintings give that _spotty

_look to a room, which is the blemish of so many a fine work of Art

overtouched. The frames are broad but not deep, and richly carved,

without being _dulled _or filagreed. They have the whole lustre of

burnished gold. They lie flat on the walls, and do not hang off with

cords. The designs themselves are often seen to better advantage in this

latter position, but the general appearance of the chamber is injured.

But one mirror--and this not a very large one--is visible. In shape it

is nearly circular--and it is hung so that a reflection of the person

can be obtained from it in none of the ordinary sitting-places of the

room. Two large low sofas of rosewood and crimson silk, gold-flowered,

form the only seats, with the exception of two light conversation

chairs, also of rose-wood. There is a pianoforte (rose-wood, also),

without cover, and thrown open. An octagonal table, formed altogether of

the richest gold-threaded marble, is placed near one of the sofas. This

is also without cover--the drapery of the curtains has been thought

sufficient.. Four large and gorgeous Sevres vases, in which bloom a

profusion of sweet and vivid flowers, occupy the slightly rounded angles

of the room. A tall candelabrum, bearing a small antique lamp with

highly perfumed oil, is standing near the head of my sleeping friend.

Some light and graceful hanging shelves, with golden edges and crimson

silk cords with gold tassels, sustain two or three hundred magnificently

bound books. Beyond these things, there is no furniture, if we except

an Argand lamp, with a plain crimson-tinted ground glass shade, which

depends from He lofty vaulted ceiling by a single slender gold chain,

and throws a tranquil but magical radiance over all.

 

 

 

 

A TALE OF JERUSALEM

 

     Intensos rigidarn in frontern ascendere canos

 

     Passus erat----

        --Lucan--De Catone

 

    ----a bristly bore.

 

"LET us hurry to the walls," said Abel-Phittim to Buzi-Ben-Levi and

Simeon the Pharisee, on the tenth day of the month Thammuz, in the year

of the world three thousand nine hundred and forty-one--let us hasten

to the ramparts adjoining the gate of Benjamin, which is in the city of

David, and overlooking the camp of the uncircumcised; for it is the

last hour of the fourth watch, being sunrise; and the idolaters, in

fulfilment of the promise of Pompey, should be awaiting us with the

lambs for the sacrifices."

 

Simeon, Abel-Phittim, and Duzi-Ben-Levi were the Gizbarim, or

sub-collectors of the offering, in the holy city of Jerusalem.

 

"Verily," replied the Pharisee; "let us hasten: for this generosity

in the heathen is unwonted; and fickle-mindedness has ever been an

attribute of the worshippers of Baal."

 

"'That they are fickle-minded and treacherous is as true as the

Pentateuch," said Buzi-Ben-Levi, "but that is only toward the people

of Adonai. When was it ever known that the Ammonites proved wanting to

their own interests? Methinks it is no great stretch of generosity to

allow us lambs for the altar of the Lord, receiving in lieu thereof

thirty silver shekels per head!"

 

"Thou forgettest, however, Ben-Levi," replied Abel-Phittim, "that the

Roman Pompey, who is now impiously besieging the city of the Most High,

has no assurity that we apply not the lambs thus purchased for the

altar, to the sustenance of the body, rather than of the spirit."

 

"Now, by the five corners of my beard!" shouted the Pharisee, who

belonged to the sect called The Dashers (that little knot of saints

whose manner of _dashing _and lacerating the feet against the

pavement was long a thorn and a reproach to less zealous devotees-a

stumbling-block to less gifted perambulators)--"by the five corners of

that beard which, as a priest, I am forbidden to shave!-have we lived

to see the day when a blaspheming and idolatrous upstart of Rome shall

accuse us of appropriating to the appetites of the flesh the most holy

and consecrated elements? Have we lived to see the day when--"'

 

"Let us not question the motives of the Philistine," interrupted

Abel-Phittim' "for to-day we profit for the first time by his avarice

or by his generosity; but rather let us hurry to the ramparts, lest

offerings should be wanting for that altar whose fire the rains of

heaven can not extinguish, and whose pillars of smoke no tempest can

turn aside."

 

That part of the city to which our worthy Gizbarim now hastened, and

which bore the name of its architect, King David, was esteemed the most

strongly fortified district of Jerusalem; being situated upon the steep

and lofty hill of Zion. Here, a broad, deep, circumvallatory trench,

hewn from the solid rock, was defended by a wall of great strength

erected upon its inner edge. This wall was adorned, at regular

interspaces, by square towers of white marble; the lowest sixty, and the

highest one hundred and twenty cubits in height. But, in the vicinity of

the gate of Benjamin, the wall arose by no means from the margin of the

fosse. On the contrary, between the level of the ditch and the basement

of the rampart sprang up a perpendicular cliff of two hundred and fifty

cubits, forming part of the precipitous Mount Moriah. So that when

Simeon and his associates arrived on the summit of the tower called

Adoni-Bezek-the loftiest of all the turrets around about Jerusalem, and

the usual place of conference with the besieging army-they looked down

upon the camp of the enemy from an eminence excelling by many feet that

of the Pyramid of Cheops, and, by several, that of the temple of Belus.

 

"Verily," sighed the Pharisee, as he peered dizzily over the precipice,

"the uncircumcised are as the sands by the seashore-as the locusts

in the wilderness! The valley of the King hath become the valley of

Adommin."

 

"And yet," added Ben-Levi, "thou canst not point me out a Philistine-no,

not one-from Aleph to Tau-from the wilderness to the battlements--who

seemeth any bigger than the letter Jod!"

 

"Lower away the basket with the shekels of silver!" here shouted a

Roman soldier in a hoarse, rough voice, which appeared to issue from the

regions of Pluto--"lower away the basket with the accursed coin which it

has broken the jaw of a noble Roman to pronounce! Is it thus you evince

your gratitude to our master Pompeius, who, in his condescension, has

thought fit to listen to your idolatrous importunities? The god Phoebus,

who is a true god, has been charioted for an hour-and were you not to

be on the ramparts by sunrise? Aedepol! do you think that we, the

conquerors of the world, have nothing better to do than stand waiting by

the walls of every kennel, to traffic with the dogs of the earth? Lower

away! I say--and see that your trumpery be bright in color and just in

weight!"

 

"El Elohim!" ejaculated the Pharisee, as the discordant tones of the

centurion rattled up the crags of the precipice, and fainted away

against the temple--"El Elohim!--who is the god Phoebus?--whom doth the

blasphemer invoke? Thou, Buzi-Ben-Levi! who art read in the laws of

the Gentiles, and hast sojourned among them who dabble with the

Teraphim!--is it Nergal of whom the idolater speaketh?---or

Ashimah?--or Nibhaz,--or Tartak?--or Adramalech?--or Anamalech?--or

Succoth-Benith?--or Dagon?--or Belial?--or Baal-Perith?--or

Baal-Peor?--or Baal-Zebub?"

 

"Verily it is neither-but beware how thou lettest the rope slip too

rapidly through thy fingers; for should the wicker-work chance to hang

on the projection of Yonder crag, there will be a woful outpouring of

the holy things of the sanctuary."

 

By the assistance of some rudely constructed machinery, the heavily

laden basket was now carefully lowered down among the multitude; and,

from the giddy pinnacle, the Romans were seen gathering confusedly

round it; but owing to the vast height and the prevalence of a fog, no

distinct view of their operations could be obtained.

 

Half an hour had already elapsed.

 

"We shall be too late!" sighed the Pharisee, as at the expiration of

this period he looked over into the abyss-"we shall be too late! we

shall be turned out of office by the Katholim."

 

 "No more," responded Abel-Phittim---"no more shall we feast upon the fat

of the land-no longer shall our beards be odorous with frankincense--our

loins girded up with fine linen from the Temple."

 

"Racal" swore Ben-Levi, "Racal do they mean to defraud us of the

purchase money? or, Holy Moses! are they weighing the shekels of the

tabernacle?"

 

"They have given the signal at last!" cried the Pharisee-----"they

have given the signal at last! pull away, Abel-Phittim!--and thou,

Buzi-Ben-Levi, pull away!--for verily the Philistines have either still

hold upon the basket, or the Lord hath softened their hearts to place

therein a beast of good weight!" And the Gizbarim pulled away, while

their burden swung heavily upward through the still increasing mist.

 

"Booshoh he!"--as, at the conclusion of an hour, some object at the

extremity of the rope became indistinctly visible--"Booshoh he!" was the

exclamation which burst from the lips of Ben-Levi.

 

*****

 

"Booshoh he!--for shame!--it is a ram from the thickets of Engedi, and as

rugged as the valley of jehosaphat!"

 

"It is a firstling of the flock," said Abel-Phittim, "I know him by the

bleating of his lips, and the innocent folding of his limbs. His eyes

are more beautiful than the jewels of the Pectoral, and his flesh is

like the honey of Hebron."

 

"It is a fatted calf from the pastures of Bashan," said the Pharisee,

"the heathen have dealt wonderfully with us----let us raise up

our voices in a psalm--let us give thanks on the shawm and on the

psaltery-on the harp and on the huggab-on the cythern and on the

sackbut!"

 

It was not until the basket had arrived within a few feet of the

Gizbarim that a low grunt betrayed to their perception a hog of no

common size.

 

"Now El Emanu!" slowly and with upturned eyes ejaculated the trio, as,

letting go their hold, the emancipated porker tumbled headlong among the

Philistines, "El Emanu!-God be with us--it is _the unutterable flesh!"_

 

 

 

 

THE SPHINX

 

DURING the dread reign of the Cholera in New York, I had accepted the

invitation of a relative to spend a fortnight with him in the retirement

of his _cottage ornee_ on the banks of the Hudson. We had here around

us all the ordinary means of summer amusement; and what with rambling

in the woods, sketching, boating, fishing, bathing, music, and books,

we should have passed the time pleasantly enough, but for the fearful

intelligence which reached us every morning from the populous city.

Not a day elapsed which did not bring us news of the decease of some

acquaintance. Then as the fatality increased, we learned to expect daily

the loss of some friend. At length we trembled at the approach of every

messenger. The very air from the South seemed to us redolent with death.

That palsying thought, indeed, took entire possession of my soul. I

could neither speak, think, nor dream of any thing else. My host was

of a less excitable temperament, and, although greatly depressed in

spirits, exerted himself to sustain my own. His richly philosophical

intellect was not at any time affected by unrealities. To the substances

of terror he was sufficiently alive, but of its shadows he had no

apprehension.

 

His endeavors to arouse me from the condition of abnormal gloom into

which I had fallen, were frustrated, in great measure, by certain

volumes which I had found in his library. These were of a character to

force into germination whatever seeds of hereditary superstition

lay latent in my bosom. I had been reading these books without his

knowledge, and thus he was often at a loss to account for the forcible

impressions which had been made upon my fancy.

 

A favorite topic with me was the popular belief in omens--a belief

which, at this one epoch of my life, I was almost seriously disposed

to defend. On this subject we had long and animated discussions--he

maintaining the utter groundlessness of faith in such matters,--I

contending that a popular sentiment arising with absolute spontaneity-

that is to say, without apparent traces of suggestion--had in itself the

unmistakable elements of truth, and was entitled to as much respect

as that intuition which is the idiosyncrasy of the individual man of

genius.

 

The fact is, that soon after my arrival at the cottage there had

occurred to myself an incident so entirely inexplicable, and which had

in it so much of the portentous character, that I might well have been

excused for regarding it as an omen. It appalled, and at the same time

so confounded and bewildered me, that many days elapsed before I could

make up my mind to communicate the circumstances to my friend.

 

Near the close of exceedingly warm day, I was sitting, book in hand, at

an open window, commanding, through a long vista of the river banks, a

view of a distant hill, the face of which nearest my position had been

denuded by what is termed a land-slide, of the principal portion of its

trees. My thoughts had been long wandering from the volume before me to

the gloom and desolation of the neighboring city. Uplifting my eyes

from the page, they fell upon the naked face of the bill, and upon an

object--upon some living monster of hideous conformation, which very

rapidly made its way from the summit to the bottom, disappearing finally

in the dense forest below. As this creature first came in sight, I

doubted my own sanity--or at least the evidence of my own eyes; and

many minutes passed before I succeeded in convincing myself that I was

neither mad nor in a dream. Yet when I described the monster (which

I distinctly saw, and calmly surveyed through the whole period of

its progress), my readers, I fear, will feel more difficulty in being

convinced of these points than even I did myself.

 

Estimating the size of the creature by comparison with the diameter of

the large trees near which it passed--the few giants of the forest which

had escaped the fury of the land-slide--I concluded it to be far larger

than any ship of the line in existence. I say ship of the line, because

the shape of the monster suggested the idea--the hull of one of our

seventy-four might convey a very tolerable conception of the general

outline. The mouth of the animal was situated at the extremity of a

proboscis some sixty or seventy feet in length, and about as thick as

the body of an ordinary elephant. Near the root of this trunk was

an immense quantity of black shaggy hair--more than could have been

supplied by the coats of a score of buffaloes; and projecting from this

hair downwardly and laterally, sprang two gleaming tusks not unlike

those of the wild boar, but of infinitely greater dimensions. Extending

forward, parallel with the proboscis, and on each side of it, was a

gigantic staff, thirty or forty feet in length, formed seemingly of pure

crystal and in shape a perfect prism,--it reflected in the most gorgeous

manner the rays of the declining sun. The trunk was fashioned like a

wedge with the apex to the earth. From it there were outspread two pairs

of wings--each wing nearly one hundred yards in length--one pair being

placed above the other, and all thickly covered with metal scales; each

scale apparently some ten or twelve feet in diameter. I observed that

the upper and lower tiers of wings were connected by a strong chain. But

the chief peculiarity of this horrible thing was the representation of a

Death's Head, which covered nearly the whole surface of its breast, and

which was as accurately traced in glaring white, upon the dark ground of

the body, as if it had been there carefully designed by an artist. While

I regarded the terrific animal, and more especially the appearance

on its breast, with a feeling or horror and awe--with a sentiment of

forthcoming evil, which I found it impossible to quell by any effort of

the reason, I perceived the huge jaws at the extremity of the proboscis

suddenly expand themselves, and from them there proceeded a sound so

loud and so expressive of wo, that it struck upon my nerves like a knell

and as the monster disappeared at the foot of the hill, I fell at once,

fainting, to the floor.

 

Upon recovering, my first impulse, of course, was to inform my friend

of what I had seen and heard--and I can scarcely explain what feeling of

repugnance it was which, in the end, operated to prevent me.

 

At length, one evening, some three or four days after the occurrence, we

were sitting together in the room in which I had seen the apparition--I

occupying the same seat at the same window, and he lounging on a sofa

near at hand. The association of the place and time impelled me to

give him an account of the phenomenon. He heard me to the end--at first

laughed heartily--and then lapsed into an excessively grave demeanor, as

if my insanity was a thing beyond suspicion. At this instant I again

had a distinct view of the monster--to which, with a shout of absolute

terror, I now directed his attention. He looked eagerly--but maintained

that he saw nothing--although I designated minutely the course of the

creature, as it made its way down the naked face of the hill.

 

I was now immeasurably alarmed, for I considered the vision either as an

omen of my death, or, worse, as the fore-runner of an attack of mania. I

threw myself passionately back in my chair, and for some moments buried

my face in my hands. When I uncovered my eyes, the apparition was no

longer apparent.

 

My host, however, had in some degree resumed the calmness of his

demeanor, and questioned me very rigorously in respect to the

conformation of the visionary creature. When I had fully satisfied

him on this head, he sighed deeply, as if relieved of some intolerable

burden, and went on to talk, with what I thought a cruel calmness, of

various points of speculative philosophy, which had heretofore formed

subject of discussion between us. I remember his insisting very

especially (among other things) upon the idea that the principle

source of error in all human investigations lay in the liability of

the understanding to under-rate or to over-value the importance of an

object, through mere mis-admeasurement of its propinquity. "To estimate

properly, for example," he said, "the influence to be exercised on

mankind at large by the thorough diffusion of Democracy, the distance

of the epoch at which such diffusion may possibly be accomplished should

not fail to form an item in the estimate. Yet can you tell me one writer

on the subject of government who has ever thought this particular branch

of the subject worthy of discussion at all?"

 

He here paused for a moment, stepped to a book-case, and brought forth

one of the ordinary synopses of Natural History. Requesting me then to

exchange seats with him, that he might the better distinguish the fine

print of the volume, he took my armchair at the window, and, opening the

book, resumed his discourse very much in the same tone as before.

 

"But for your exceeding minuteness," he said, "in describing the

monster, I might never have had it in my power to demonstrate to you

what it was. In the first place, let me read to you a schoolboy

account of the genus Sphinx, of the family Crepuscularia of the order

Lepidoptera, of the class of Insecta--or insects. The account runs thus:

 

"'Four membranous wings covered with little colored scales of metallic

appearance; mouth forming a rolled proboscis, produced by an elongation

of the jaws, upon the sides of which are found the rudiments of

mandibles and downy palpi; the inferior wings retained to the superior

by a stiff hair; antennae in the form of an elongated club, prismatic;

abdomen pointed, The Death's--headed Sphinx has occasioned much terror

among the vulgar, at times, by the melancholy kind of cry which it

utters, and the insignia of death which it wears upon its corslet.'"

 

He here closed the book and leaned forward in the chair, placing

himself accurately in the position which I had occupied at the moment of

beholding "the monster."

 

"Ah, here it is," he presently exclaimed--"it is reascending the face

of the hill, and a very remarkable looking creature I admit it to be.

Still, it is by no means so large or so distant as you imagined it,--for

the fact is that, as it wriggles its way up this thread, which some

spider has wrought along the window-sash, I find it to be about the

sixteenth of an inch in its extreme length, and also about the sixteenth

of an inch distant from the pupil of my eye."

 

 

 

 

HOP-FROG

 

I never knew anyone so keenly alive to a joke as the king was. He seemed

to live only for joking. To tell a good story of the joke kind, and to

tell it well, was the surest road to his favor. Thus it happened that

his seven ministers were all noted for their accomplishments as jokers.

They all took after the king, too, in being large, corpulent, oily men,

as well as inimitable jokers. Whether people grow fat by joking, or

whether there is something in fat itself which predisposes to a joke, I

have never been quite able to determine; but certain it is that a lean

joker is a rara avis in terris.

 

About the refinements, or, as he called them, the 'ghost' of wit, the

king troubled himself very little. He had an especial admiration for

breadth in a jest, and would often put up with length, for the sake

of it. Over-niceties wearied him. He would have preferred Rabelais'

'Gargantua' to the 'Zadig' of Voltaire: and, upon the whole, practical

jokes suited his taste far better than verbal ones.

 

At the date of my narrative, professing jesters had not altogether gone

out of fashion at court. Several of the great continental 'powers' still

retain their 'fools,' who wore motley, with caps and bells, and who were

expected to be always ready with sharp witticisms, at a moment's notice,

in consideration of the crumbs that fell from the royal table.

 

Our king, as a matter of course, retained his 'fool.' The fact is, he

required something in the way of folly--if only to counterbalance

the heavy wisdom of the seven wise men who were his ministers--not to

mention himself.

 

His fool, or professional jester, was not only a fool, however. His

value was trebled in the eyes of the king, by the fact of his being also

a dwarf and a cripple. Dwarfs were as common at court, in those days,

as fools; and many monarchs would have found it difficult to get through

their days (days are rather longer at court than elsewhere) without both

a jester to laugh with, and a dwarf to laugh at. But, as I have already

observed, your jesters, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, are fat,

round, and unwieldy--so that it was no small source of self-gratulation

with our king that, in Hop-Frog (this was the fool's name), he possessed

a triplicate treasure in one person.

 

I believe the name 'Hop-Frog' was not that given to the dwarf by his

sponsors at baptism, but it was conferred upon him, by general consent

of the several ministers, on account of his inability to walk as

other men do. In fact, Hop-Frog could only get along by a sort of

interjectional gait--something between a leap and a wriggle--a movement

that afforded illimitable amusement, and of course consolation, to

the king, for (notwithstanding the protuberance of his stomach and a

constitutional swelling of the head) the king, by his whole court, was

accounted a capital figure.

 

But although Hop-Frog, through the distortion of his legs, could

move only with great pain and difficulty along a road or floor, the

prodigious muscular power which nature seemed to have bestowed upon his

arms, by way of compensation for deficiency in the lower limbs, enabled

him to perform many feats of wonderful dexterity, where trees or ropes

were in question, or any thing else to climb. At such exercises he

certainly much more resembled a squirrel, or a small monkey, than a

frog.

 

I am not able to say, with precision, from what country Hop-Frog

originally came. It was from some barbarous region, however, that

no person ever heard of--a vast distance from the court of our king.

Hop-Frog, and a young girl very little less dwarfish than himself

(although of exquisite proportions, and a marvellous dancer), had been

forcibly carried off from their respective homes in adjoining provinces,

and sent as presents to the king, by one of his ever-victorious

generals.

 

Under these circumstances, it is not to be wondered at that a close

intimacy arose between the two little captives. Indeed, they soon became

sworn friends. Hop-Frog, who, although he made a great deal of sport,

was by no means popular, had it not in his power to render Trippetta

many services; but she, on account of her grace and exquisite beauty

(although a dwarf), was universally admired and petted; so she possessed

much influence; and never failed to use it, whenever she could, for the

benefit of Hop-Frog.

 

On some grand state occasion--I forgot what--the king determined to

have a masquerade, and whenever a masquerade or any thing of that kind,

occurred at our court, then the talents, both of Hop-Frog and Trippetta

were sure to be called into play. Hop-Frog, in especial, was so

inventive in the way of getting up pageants, suggesting novel

characters, and arranging costumes, for masked balls, that nothing could

be done, it seems, without his assistance.

 

The night appointed for the fete had arrived. A gorgeous hall had been

fitted up, under Trippetta's eye, with every kind of device which could

possibly give eclat to a masquerade. The whole court was in a fever of

expectation. As for costumes and characters, it might well be supposed

that everybody had come to a decision on such points. Many had made

up their minds (as to what roles they should assume) a week, or even a

month, in advance; and, in fact, there was not a particle of indecision

anywhere--except in the case of the king and his seven minsters. Why

they hesitated I never could tell, unless they did it by way of a joke.

More probably, they found it difficult, on account of being so fat, to

make up their minds. At all events, time flew; and, as a last resort

they sent for Trippetta and Hop-Frog.

 

When the two little friends obeyed the summons of the king they found

him sitting at his wine with the seven members of his cabinet council;

but the monarch appeared to be in a very ill humor. He knew that

Hop-Frog was not fond of wine, for it excited the poor cripple almost to

madness; and madness is no comfortable feeling. But the king loved his

practical jokes, and took pleasure in forcing Hop-Frog to drink and (as

the king called it) 'to be merry.'

 

"Come here, Hop-Frog," said he, as the jester and his friend entered the

room; "swallow this bumper to the health of your absent friends, [here

Hop-Frog sighed,] and then let us have the benefit of your invention.

We want characters--characters, man--something novel--out of the way. We

are wearied with this everlasting sameness. Come, drink! the wine will

brighten your wits."

 

Hop-Frog endeavored, as usual, to get up a jest in reply to these

advances from the king; but the effort was too much. It happened to

be the poor dwarf's birthday, and the command to drink to his 'absent

friends' forced the tears to his eyes. Many large, bitter drops fell

into the goblet as he took it, humbly, from the hand of the tyrant.

 

"Ah! ha! ha!" roared the latter, as the dwarf reluctantly drained the

beaker.--"See what a glass of good wine can do! Why, your eyes are

shining already!"

 

Poor fellow! his large eyes gleamed, rather than shone; for the effect

of wine on his excitable brain was not more powerful than instantaneous.

He placed the goblet nervously on the table, and looked round upon the

company with a half--insane stare. They all seemed highly amused at the

success of the king's 'joke.'

 

"And now to business," said the prime minister, a very fat man.

 

"Yes," said the King; "Come lend us your assistance. Characters, my fine

fellow; we stand in need of characters--all of us--ha! ha! ha!" and

as this was seriously meant for a joke, his laugh was chorused by the

seven.

 

Hop-Frog also laughed although feebly and somewhat vacantly.

 

"Come, come," said the king, impatiently, "have you nothing to suggest?"

 

"I am endeavoring to think of something novel," replied the dwarf,

abstractedly, for he was quite bewildered by the wine.

 

"Endeavoring!" cried the tyrant, fiercely; "what do you mean by that?

Ah, I perceive. You are Sulky, and want more wine. Here, drink this!"

and he poured out another goblet full and offered it to the cripple, who

merely gazed at it, gasping for breath.

 

"Drink, I say!" shouted the monster, "or by the fiends-"

 

The dwarf hesitated. The king grew purple with rage. The courtiers

smirked. Trippetta, pale as a corpse, advanced to the monarch's seat,

and, falling on her knees before him, implored him to spare her friend.

 

The tyrant regarded her, for some moments, in evident wonder at

her audacity. He seemed quite at a loss what to do or say--how most

becomingly to express his indignation. At last, without uttering a

syllable, he pushed her violently from him, and threw the contents of

the brimming goblet in her face.

 

The poor girl got up the best she could, and, not daring even to sigh,

resumed her position at the foot of the table.

 

There was a dead silence for about half a minute, during which the

falling of a leaf, or of a feather, might have been heard. It was

interrupted by a low, but harsh and protracted grating sound which

seemed to come at once from every corner of the room.

 

"What--what--what are you making that noise for?" demanded the king,

turning furiously to the dwarf.

 

The latter seemed to have recovered, in great measure, from his

intoxication, and looking fixedly but quietly into the tyrant's face,

merely ejaculated:

 

"I--I? How could it have been me?"

 

"The sound appeared to come from without," observed one of the

courtiers. "I fancy it was the parrot at the window, whetting his bill

upon his cage-wires."

 

"True," replied the monarch, as if much relieved by the suggestion;

"but, on the honor of a knight, I could have sworn that it was the

gritting of this vagabond's teeth."

 

Hereupon the dwarf laughed (the king was too confirmed a joker to object

to any one's laughing), and displayed a set of large, powerful, and very

repulsive teeth. Moreover, he avowed his perfect willingness to swallow

as much wine as desired. The monarch was pacified; and having drained

another bumper with no very perceptible ill effect, Hop-Frog entered at

once, and with spirit, into the plans for the masquerade.

 

"I cannot tell what was the association of idea," observed he, very

tranquilly, and as if he had never tasted wine in his life, "but just

after your majesty, had struck the girl and thrown the wine in her

face--just after your majesty had done this, and while the parrot was

making that odd noise outside the window, there came into my mind a

capital diversion--one of my own country frolics--often enacted

among us, at our masquerades: but here it will be new altogether.

Unfortunately, however, it requires a company of eight persons and-"

 

"Here we are!" cried the king, laughing at his acute discovery of the

coincidence; "eight to a fraction--I and my seven ministers. Come! what

is the diversion?"

 

"We call it," replied the cripple, "the Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs,

and it really is excellent sport if well enacted."

 

"We will enact it," remarked the king, drawing himself up, and lowering

his eyelids.

 

"The beauty of the game," continued Hop-Frog, "lies in the fright it

occasions among the women."

 

"Capital!" roared in chorus the monarch and his ministry.

 

"I will equip you as ourang-outangs," proceeded the dwarf; "leave all

that to me. The resemblance shall be so striking, that the company of

masqueraders will take you for real beasts--and of course, they will be

as much terrified as astonished."

 

"Oh, this is exquisite!" exclaimed the king. "Hop-Frog! I will make a

man of you."

 

"The chains are for the purpose of increasing the confusion by their

jangling. You are supposed to have escaped, en masse, from your keepers.

Your majesty cannot conceive the effect produced, at a masquerade, by

eight chained ourang-outangs, imagined to be real ones by most of the

company; and rushing in with savage cries, among the crowd of delicately

and gorgeously habited men and women. The contrast is inimitable!"

 

"It must be," said the king: and the council arose hurriedly (as it was

growing late), to put in execution the scheme of Hop-Frog.

 

His mode of equipping the party as ourang-outangs was very simple, but

effective enough for his purposes. The animals in question had, at the

epoch of my story, very rarely been seen in any part of the civilized

world; and as the imitations made by the dwarf were sufficiently

beast-like and more than sufficiently hideous, their truthfulness to

nature was thus thought to be secured.

 

The king and his ministers were first encased in tight-fitting stockinet

shirts and drawers. They were then saturated with tar. At this stage

of the process, some one of the party suggested feathers; but the

suggestion was at once overruled by the dwarf, who soon convinced the

eight, by ocular demonstration, that the hair of such a brute as the

ourang-outang was much more efficiently represented by flu. A thick

coating of the latter was accordingly plastered upon the coating of tar.

A long chain was now procured. First, it was passed about the waist of

the king, and tied, then about another of the party, and also tied;

then about all successively, in the same manner. When this chaining

arrangement was complete, and the party stood as far apart from each

other as possible, they formed a circle; and to make all things appear

natural, Hop-Frog passed the residue of the chain in two diameters,

at right angles, across the circle, after the fashion adopted, at the

present day, by those who capture Chimpanzees, or other large apes, in

Borneo.

 

The grand saloon in which the masquerade was to take place, was a

circular room, very lofty, and receiving the light of the sun only

through a single window at top. At night (the season for which the

apartment was especially designed) it was illuminated principally by a

large chandelier, depending by a chain from the centre of the sky-light,

and lowered, or elevated, by means of a counter-balance as usual; but

(in order not to look unsightly) this latter passed outside the cupola

and over the roof.

 

The arrangements of the room had been left to Trippetta's

superintendence; but, in some particulars, it seems, she had been guided

by the calmer judgment of her friend the dwarf. At his suggestion it was

that, on this occasion, the chandelier was removed. Its waxen drippings

(which, in weather so warm, it was quite impossible to prevent) would

have been seriously detrimental to the rich dresses of the guests, who,

on account of the crowded state of the saloon, could not all be expected

to keep from out its centre; that is to say, from under the chandelier.

Additional sconces were set in various parts of the hall, out of the

war, and a flambeau, emitting sweet odor, was placed in the right hand

of each of the Caryaides [Caryatides] that stood against the wall--some

fifty or sixty altogether.

 

The eight ourang-outangs, taking Hop-Frog's advice, waited patiently

until midnight (when the room was thoroughly filled with masqueraders)

before making their appearance. No sooner had the clock ceased striking,

however, than they rushed, or rather rolled in, all together--for the

impediments of their chains caused most of the party to fall, and all to

stumble as they entered.

 

The excitement among the masqueraders was prodigious, and filled the

heart of the king with glee. As had been anticipated, there were not

a few of the guests who supposed the ferocious-looking creatures to be

beasts of some kind in reality, if not precisely ourang-outangs. Many

of the women swooned with affright; and had not the king taken the

precaution to exclude all weapons from the saloon, his party might soon

have expiated their frolic in their blood. As it was, a general rush

was made for the doors; but the king had ordered them to be locked

immediately upon his entrance; and, at the dwarf's suggestion, the keys

had been deposited with him.

 

While the tumult was at its height, and each masquerader attentive only

to his own safety (for, in fact, there was much real danger from the

pressure of the excited crowd), the chain by which the chandelier

ordinarily hung, and which had been drawn up on its removal, might have

been seen very gradually to descend, until its hooked extremity came

within three feet of the floor.

 

Soon after this, the king and his seven friends having reeled about the

hall in all directions, found themselves, at length, in its centre, and,

of course, in immediate contact with the chain. While they were thus

situated, the dwarf, who had followed noiselessly at their heels,

inciting them to keep up the commotion, took hold of their own chain

at the intersection of the two portions which crossed the circle

diametrically and at right angles. Here, with the rapidity of thought,

he inserted the hook from which the chandelier had been wont to depend;

and, in an instant, by some unseen agency, the chandelier-chain was

drawn so far upward as to take the hook out of reach, and, as an

inevitable consequence, to drag the ourang-outangs together in close

connection, and face to face.

 

The masqueraders, by this time, had recovered, in some measure,

from their alarm; and, beginning to regard the whole matter as a

well-contrived pleasantry, set up a loud shout of laughter at the

predicament of the apes.

 

"Leave them to me!" now screamed Hop-Frog, his shrill voice making

itself easily heard through all the din. "Leave them to me. I fancy I

know them. If I can only get a good look at them, I can soon tell who

they are."

 

Here, scrambling over the heads of the crowd, he managed to get to the

wall; when, seizing a flambeau from one of the Caryatides, he returned,

as he went, to the centre of the room-leaping, with the agility of a

monkey, upon the kings head, and thence clambered a few feet up the

chain; holding down the torch to examine the group of ourang-outangs,

and still screaming: "I shall soon find out who they are!"

 

And now, while the whole assembly (the apes included) were convulsed

with laughter, the jester suddenly uttered a shrill whistle; when the

chain flew violently up for about thirty feet--dragging with it the

dismayed and struggling ourang-outangs, and leaving them suspended in

mid-air between the sky-light and the floor. Hop-Frog, clinging to the

chain as it rose, still maintained his relative position in respect to

the eight maskers, and still (as if nothing were the matter) continued

to thrust his torch down toward them, as though endeavoring to discover

who they were.

 

So thoroughly astonished was the whole company at this ascent, that a

dead silence, of about a minute's duration, ensued. It was broken by

just such a low, harsh, grating sound, as had before attracted the

attention of the king and his councillors when the former threw the wine

in the face of Trippetta. But, on the present occasion, there could be

no question as to whence the sound issued. It came from the fang--like

teeth of the dwarf, who ground them and gnashed them as he foamed at

the mouth, and glared, with an expression of maniacal rage, into the

upturned countenances of the king and his seven companions.

 

"Ah, ha!" said at length the infuriated jester. "Ah, ha! I begin to see

who these people are now!" Here, pretending to scrutinize the king more

closely, he held the flambeau to the flaxen coat which enveloped him,

and which instantly burst into a sheet of vivid flame. In less than half

a minute the whole eight ourang-outangs were blazing fiercely, amid the

shrieks of the multitude who gazed at them from below, horror-stricken,

and without the power to render them the slightest assistance.

 

At length the flames, suddenly increasing in virulence, forced the

jester to climb higher up the chain, to be out of their reach; and, as

he made this movement, the crowd again sank, for a brief instant, into

silence. The dwarf seized his opportunity, and once more spoke:

 

"I now see distinctly." he said, "what manner of people these maskers

are. They are a great king and his seven privy-councillors,--a king who

does not scruple to strike a defenceless girl and his seven councillors

who abet him in the outrage. As for myself, I am simply Hop-Frog, the

jester--and this is my last jest."

 

Owing to the high combustibility of both the flax and the tar to which

it adhered, the dwarf had scarcely made an end of his brief speech

before the work of vengeance was complete. The eight corpses swung in

their chains, a fetid, blackened, hideous, and indistinguishable

mass. The cripple hurled his torch at them, clambered leisurely to the

ceiling, and disappeared through the sky-light.

 

It is supposed that Trippetta, stationed on the roof of the saloon,

had been the accomplice of her friend in his fiery revenge, and that,

together, they effected their escape to their own country: for neither

was seen again.

 

 

 

 

THE MAN OF THE CROWD.

 

     Ce grand malheur, de ne pouvoir etre seul.

 

              _La Bruyere_.

 

IT was well said of a certain German book that "_er lasst sich nicht

lesen_"--it does not permit itself to be read. There are some secrets

which do not permit themselves to be told. Men die nightly in their

beds, wringing the hands of ghostly confessors and looking them

piteously in the eyes--die with despair of heart and convulsion of

throat, on account of the hideousness of mysteries which will not suffer

themselves to be revealed. Now and then, alas, the conscience of man

takes up a burthen so heavy in horror that it can be thrown down only

into the grave. And thus the essence of all crime is undivulged.

 

Not long ago, about the closing in of an evening in autumn, I sat at the

large bow window of the D----- Coffee-House in London. For some months

I had been ill in health, but was now convalescent, and, with returning

strength, found myself in one of those happy moods which are so

precisely the converse of ennui--moods of the keenest appetency, when

the film from the mental vision departs--the [Greek phrase]--and the

intellect, electrified, surpasses as greatly its every-day condition,

as does the vivid yet candid reason of Leibnitz, the mad and flimsy

rhetoric of Gorgias. Merely to breathe was enjoyment; and I derived

positive pleasure even from many of the legitimate sources of pain. I

felt a calm but inquisitive interest in every thing. With a cigar in

my mouth and a newspaper in my lap, I had been amusing myself for the

greater part of the afternoon, now in poring over advertisements, now

in observing the promiscuous company in the room, and now in peering

through the smoky panes into the street.

 

This latter is one of the principal thoroughfares of the city, and had

been very much crowded during the whole day. But, as the darkness came

on, the throng momently increased; and, by the time the lamps were well

lighted, two dense and continuous tides of population were rushing past

the door. At this particular period of the evening I had never before

been in a similar situation, and the tumultuous sea of human heads

filled me, therefore, with a delicious novelty of emotion. I gave up,

at length, all care of things within the hotel, and became absorbed in

contemplation of the scene without.

 

At first my observations took an abstract and generalizing turn.

I looked at the passengers in masses, and thought of them in their

aggregate relations. Soon, however, I descended to details, and regarded

with minute interest the innumerable varieties of figure, dress, air,

gait, visage, and expression of countenance.

 

By far the greater number of those who went by had a satisfied

business-like demeanor, and seemed to be thinking only of making their

way through the press. Their brows were knit, and their eyes rolled

quickly; when pushed against by fellow-wayfarers they evinced no symptom

of impatience, but adjusted their clothes and hurried on. Others, still

a numerous class, were restless in their movements, had flushed faces,

and talked and gesticulated to themselves, as if feeling in solitude

on account of the very denseness of the company around. When impeded in

their progress, these people suddenly ceased muttering, but re-doubled

their gesticulations, and awaited, with an absent and overdone smile

upon the lips, the course of the persons impeding them. If jostled,

they bowed profusely to the jostlers, and appeared overwhelmed with

confusion.--There was nothing very distinctive about these two large

classes beyond what I have noted. Their habiliments belonged to that

order which is pointedly termed the decent. They were undoubtedly

noblemen, merchants, attorneys, tradesmen, stock-jobbers--the Eupatrids

and the common-places of society--men of leisure and men actively

engaged in affairs of their own--conducting business upon their own

responsibility. They did not greatly excite my attention.

 

The tribe of clerks was an obvious one and here I discerned

two remarkable divisions. There were the junior clerks of flash

houses--young gentlemen with tight coats, bright boots, well-oiled hair,

and supercilious lips. Setting aside a certain dapperness of carriage,

which may be termed deskism for want of a better word, the manner of

these persons seemed to me an exact fac-simile of what had been the

perfection of bon ton about twelve or eighteen months before. They wore

the cast-off graces of the gentry;--and this, I believe, involves the

best definition of the class.

 

The division of the upper clerks of staunch firms, or of the "steady

old fellows," it was not possible to mistake. These were known by their

coats and pantaloons of black or brown, made to sit comfortably, with

white cravats and waistcoats, broad solid-looking shoes, and thick hose

or gaiters.--They had all slightly bald heads, from which the right

ears, long used to pen-holding, had an odd habit of standing off on

end. I observed that they always removed or settled their hats with both

hands, and wore watches, with short gold chains of a substantial and

ancient pattern. Theirs was the affectation of respectability;--if

indeed there be an affectation so honorable.

 

There were many individuals of dashing appearance, whom I easily

understood as belonging to the race of swell pick-pockets with which

all great cities are infested. I watched these gentry with much

inquisitiveness, and found it difficult to imagine how they should ever

be mistaken for gentlemen by gentlemen themselves. Their voluminousness

of wristband, with an air of excessive frankness, should betray them at

once.

 

The gamblers, of whom I descried not a few, were still more easily

recognisable. They wore every variety of dress, from that of the

desperate thimble-rig bully, with velvet waistcoat, fancy neckerchief,

gilt chains, and filagreed buttons, to that of the scrupulously inornate

clergyman, than which nothing could be less liable to suspicion. Still

all were distinguished by a certain sodden swarthiness of complexion, a

filmy dimness of eye, and pallor and compression of lip. There were two

other traits, moreover, by which I could always detect them;--a guarded

lowness of tone in conversation, and a more than ordinary extension of

the thumb in a direction at right angles with the fingers.--Very often,

in company with these sharpers, I observed an order of men somewhat

different in habits, but still birds of a kindred feather. They may be

defined as the gentlemen who live by their wits. They seem to prey

upon the public in two battalions--that of the dandies and that of the

military men. Of the first grade the leading features are long locks and

smiles; of the second frogged coats and frowns.

 

Descending in the scale of what is termed gentility, I found darker

and deeper themes for speculation. I saw Jew pedlars, with hawk eyes

flashing from countenances whose every other feature wore only an

expression of abject humility; sturdy professional street beggars

scowling upon mendicants of a better stamp, whom despair alone had

driven forth into the night for charity; feeble and ghastly invalids,

upon whom death had placed a sure hand, and who sidled and tottered

through the mob, looking every one beseechingly in the face, as if in

search of some chance consolation, some lost hope; modest young girls

returning from long and late labor to a cheerless home, and shrinking

more tearfully than indignantly from the glances of ruffians, whose

direct contact, even, could not be avoided; women of the town of all

kinds and of all ages--the unequivocal beauty in the prime of her

womanhood, putting one in mind of the statue in Lucian, with the surface

of Parian marble, and the interior filled with filth--the loathsome and

utterly lost leper in rags--the wrinkled, bejewelled and paint-begrimed

beldame, making a last effort at youth--the mere child of immature form,

yet, from long association, an adept in the dreadful coquetries of her

trade, and burning with a rabid ambition to be ranked the equal of her

elders in vice; drunkards innumerable and indescribable--some in shreds

and patches, reeling, inarticulate, with bruised visage and lack-lustre

eyes--some in whole although filthy garments, with a slightly unsteady

swagger, thick sensual lips, and hearty-looking rubicund faces--others

clothed in materials which had once been good, and which even now were

scrupulously well brushed--men who walked with a more than naturally

firm and springy step, but whose countenances were fearfully pale, whose

eyes hideously wild and red, and who clutched with quivering fingers, as

they strode through the crowd, at every object which came within

their reach; beside these, pie-men, porters, coal--heavers, sweeps;

organ-grinders, monkey-exhibiters and ballad mongers, those who vended

with those who sang; ragged artizans and exhausted laborers of every

description, and all full of a noisy and inordinate vivacity which

jarred discordantly upon the ear, and gave an aching sensation to the

eye.

 

As the night deepened, so deepened to me the interest of the scene; for

not only did the general character of the crowd materially alter (its

gentler features retiring in the gradual withdrawal of the more orderly

portion of the people, and its harsher ones coming out into bolder

relief, as the late hour brought forth every species of infamy from its

den,) but the rays of the gas-lamps, feeble at first in their struggle

with the dying day, had now at length gained ascendancy, and threw over

every thing a fitful and garish lustre. All was dark yet splendid--as

that ebony to which has been likened the style of Tertullian.

 

The wild effects of the light enchained me to an examination of

individual faces; and although the rapidity with which the world of

light flitted before the window, prevented me from casting more than

a glance upon each visage, still it seemed that, in my then peculiar

mental state, I could frequently read, even in that brief interval of a

glance, the history of long years.

 

With my brow to the glass, I was thus occupied in scrutinizing the mob,

when suddenly there came into view a countenance (that of a decrepid old

man, some sixty-five or seventy years of age,)--a countenance which

at once arrested and absorbed my whole attention, on account of the

absolute idiosyncrasy of its expression. Any thing even remotely

resembling that expression I had never seen before. I well remember that

my first thought, upon beholding it, was that Retzch, had he viewed it,

would have greatly preferred it to his own pictural incarnations of the

fiend. As I endeavored, during the brief minute of my original survey,

to form some analysis of the meaning conveyed, there arose confusedly

and paradoxically within my mind, the ideas of vast mental power, of

caution, of penuriousness, of avarice, of coolness, of malice, of

blood thirstiness, of triumph, of merriment, of excessive terror,

of intense--of supreme despair. I felt singularly aroused, startled,

fascinated. "How wild a history," I said to myself, "is written within

that bosom!" Then came a craving desire to keep the man in view--to know

more of him. Hurriedly putting on an overcoat, and seizing my hat and

cane, I made my way into the street, and pushed through the crowd in

the direction which I had seen him take; for he had already disappeared.

With some little difficulty I at length came within sight of him,

approached, and followed him closely, yet cautiously, so as not to

attract his attention.

 

I had now a good opportunity of examining his person. He was short in

stature, very thin, and apparently very feeble. His clothes, generally,

were filthy and ragged; but as he came, now and then, within the strong

glare of a lamp, I perceived that his linen, although dirty, was of

beautiful texture; and my vision deceived me, or, through a rent in a

closely-buttoned and evidently second-handed roquelaire which enveloped

him, I caught a glimpse both of a diamond and of a dagger. These

observations heightened my curiosity, and I resolved to follow the

stranger whithersoever he should go.

 

It was now fully night-fall, and a thick humid fog hung over the city,

soon ending in a settled and heavy rain. This change of weather had an

odd effect upon the crowd, the whole of which was at once put into new

commotion, and overshadowed by a world of umbrellas. The waver, the

jostle, and the hum increased in a tenfold degree. For my own part I

did not much regard the rain--the lurking of an old fever in my system

rendering the moisture somewhat too dangerously pleasant. Tying a

handkerchief about my mouth, I kept on. For half an hour the old man

held his way with difficulty along the great thoroughfare; and I here

walked close at his elbow through fear of losing sight of him. Never

once turning his head to look back, he did not observe me. By and bye he

passed into a cross street, which, although densely filled with people,

was not quite so much thronged as the main one he had quitted. Here a

change in his demeanor became evident. He walked more slowly and with

less object than before--more hesitatingly. He crossed and re-crossed

the way repeatedly without apparent aim; and the press was still so

thick that, at every such movement, I was obliged to follow him closely.

The street was a narrow and long one, and his course lay within it for

nearly an hour, during which the passengers had gradually diminished to

about that number which is ordinarily seen at noon in Broadway near the

Park--so vast a difference is there between a London populace and that

of the most frequented American city. A second turn brought us into a

square, brilliantly lighted, and overflowing with life. The old manner

of the stranger re-appeared. His chin fell upon his breast, while his

eyes rolled wildly from under his knit brows, in every direction, upon

those who hemmed him in. He urged his way steadily and perseveringly. I

was surprised, however, to find, upon his having made the circuit of

the square, that he turned and retraced his steps. Still more was I

astonished to see him repeat the same walk several times--once nearly

detecting me as he came round with a sudden movement.

 

In this exercise he spent another hour, at the end of which we met with

far less interruption from passengers than at first. The rain fell fast;

the air grew cool; and the people were retiring to their homes. With

a gesture of impatience, the wanderer passed into a bye-street

comparatively deserted. Down this, some quarter of a mile long, he

rushed with an activity I could not have dreamed of seeing in one so

aged, and which put me to much trouble in pursuit. A few minutes brought

us to a large and busy bazaar, with the localities of which the stranger

appeared well acquainted, and where his original demeanor again became

apparent, as he forced his way to and fro, without aim, among the host

of buyers and sellers.

 

During the hour and a half, or thereabouts, which we passed in this

place, it required much caution on my part to keep him within reach

without attracting his observation. Luckily I wore a pair of caoutchouc

over-shoes, and could move about in perfect silence. At no moment did

he see that I watched him. He entered shop after shop, priced nothing,

spoke no word, and looked at all objects with a wild and vacant stare.

I was now utterly amazed at his behavior, and firmly resolved that we

should not part until I had satisfied myself in some measure respecting

him.

 

A loud-toned clock struck eleven, and the company were fast deserting

the bazaar. A shop-keeper, in putting up a shutter, jostled the old

man, and at the instant I saw a strong shudder come over his frame. He

hurried into the street, looked anxiously around him for an instant, and

then ran with incredible swiftness through many crooked and people-less

lanes, until we emerged once more upon the great thoroughfare whence we

had started--the street of the D---- Hotel. It no longer wore, however,

the same aspect. It was still brilliant with gas; but the rain fell

fiercely, and there were few persons to be seen. The stranger grew pale.

He walked moodily some paces up the once populous avenue, then, with a

heavy sigh, turned in the direction of the river, and, plunging through

a great variety of devious ways, came out, at length, in view of one of

the principal theatres. It was about being closed, and the audience were

thronging from the doors. I saw the old man gasp as if for breath while

he threw himself amid the crowd; but I thought that the intense agony of

his countenance had, in some measure, abated. His head again fell upon

his breast; he appeared as I had seen him at first. I observed that

he now took the course in which had gone the greater number of the

audience--but, upon the whole, I was at a loss to comprehend the

waywardness of his actions.

 

As he proceeded, the company grew more scattered, and his old uneasiness

and vacillation were resumed. For some time he followed closely a

party of some ten or twelve roisterers; but from this number one by one

dropped off, until three only remained together, in a narrow and gloomy

lane little frequented. The stranger paused, and, for a moment, seemed

lost in thought; then, with every mark of agitation, pursued rapidly

a route which brought us to the verge of the city, amid regions very

different from those we had hitherto traversed. It was the most noisome

quarter of London, where every thing wore the worst impress of the most

deplorable poverty, and of the most desperate crime. By the dim light

of an accidental lamp, tall, antique, worm-eaten, wooden tenements were

seen tottering to their fall, in directions so many and capricious that

scarce the semblance of a passage was discernible between them.

The paving-stones lay at random, displaced from their beds by the

rankly-growing grass. Horrible filth festered in the dammed-up gutters.

The whole atmosphere teemed with desolation. Yet, as we proceeded, the

sounds of human life revived by sure degrees, and at length large bands

of the most abandoned of a London populace were seen reeling to and fro.

The spirits of the old man again flickered up, as a lamp which is near

its death hour. Once more he strode onward with elastic tread. Suddenly

a corner was turned, a blaze of light burst upon our sight, and we stood

before one of the huge suburban temples of Intemperance--one of the

palaces of the fiend, Gin.

 

It was now nearly day-break; but a number of wretched inebriates still

pressed in and out of the flaunting entrance. With a half shriek of

joy the old man forced a passage within, resumed at once his original

bearing, and stalked backward and forward, without apparent object,

among the throng. He had not been thus long occupied, however, before

a rush to the doors gave token that the host was closing them for the

night. It was something even more intense than despair that I then

observed upon the countenance of the singular being whom I had watched

so pertinaciously. Yet he did not hesitate in his career, but, with

a mad energy, retraced his steps at once, to the heart of the mighty

London. Long and swiftly he fled, while I followed him in the wildest

amazement, resolute not to abandon a scrutiny in which I now felt an

interest all-absorbing. The sun arose while we proceeded, and, when we

had once again reached that most thronged mart of the populous town, the

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

and activity scarcely inferior to what I had seen on the evening before.

And here, long, amid the momently increasing confusion, did I persist

in my pursuit of the stranger. But, as usual, he walked to and fro, and

during the day did not pass from out the turmoil of that street. And,

as the shades of the second evening came on, I grew wearied unto death,

and, stopping fully in front of the wanderer, gazed at him steadfastly

in the face. He noticed me not, but resumed his solemn walk, while I,

ceasing to follow, remained absorbed in contemplation. "This old man," I

said at length, "is the type and the genius of deep crime. He refuses to

be alone. [page 228:] He is the man of the crowd. It will be in vain to

follow; for I shall learn no more of him, nor of his deeds. The worst

heart of the world is a grosser book than the 'Hortulus Animae,' {*1} and

perhaps it is but one of the great mercies of God that 'er lasst sich

nicht lesen.'"

 

{*1} The "_Hortulus Animae cum Oratiunculis Aliquibus Superadditis_" of

Gruenninger

 

 

 

 

NEVER BET THE DEVIL YOUR HEAD

 

A Tale With a Moral.

 

"_CON tal que las costumbres de un autor_," says Don Thomas de las

Torres, in the preface to his "Amatory Poems" _"sean puras y castas,

importo muy poco que no sean igualmente severas sus obras"_--meaning,

in plain English, that, provided the morals of an author are pure

personally, it signifies nothing what are the morals of his books. We

presume that Don Thomas is now in Purgatory for the assertion. It would

be a clever thing, too, in the way of poetical justice, to keep him

there until his "Amatory Poems" get out of print, or are laid definitely

upon the shelf through lack of readers. Every fiction should have a

moral; and, what is more to the purpose, the critics have discovered

that every fiction has. Philip Melanchthon, some time ago, wrote a

commentary upon the "Batrachomyomachia," and proved that the poet's

object was to excite a distaste for sedition. Pierre la Seine, going

a step farther, shows that the intention was to recommend to young

men temperance in eating and drinking. Just so, too, Jacobus Hugo has

satisfied himself that, by Euenis, Homer meant to insinuate John Calvin;

by Antinous, Martin Luther; by the Lotophagi, Protestants in general;

and, by the Harpies, the Dutch. Our more modern Scholiasts are

equally acute. These fellows demonstrate a hidden meaning in "The

Antediluvians," a parable in Powhatan, "new views in Cock Robin," and

transcendentalism in "Hop O' My Thumb." In short, it has been shown that

no man can sit down to write without a very profound design. Thus to

authors in general much trouble is spared. A novelist, for example,

need have no care of his moral. It is there--that is to say, it is

somewhere--and the moral and the critics can take care of themselves.

When the proper time arrives, all that the gentleman intended, and all

that he did not intend, will be brought to light, in the "Dial," or the

"Down-Easter," together with all that he ought to have intended, and

the rest that he clearly meant to intend:--so that it will all come very

straight in the end.

 

There is no just ground, therefore, for the charge brought against me by

certain ignoramuses--that I have never written a moral tale, or, in more

precise words, a tale with a moral. They are not the critics predestined

to bring me out, and develop my morals:--that is the secret. By and by

the "North American Quarterly Humdrum" will make them ashamed of their

stupidity. In the meantime, by way of staying execution--by way

of mitigating the accusations against me--I offer the sad history

appended,--a history about whose obvious moral there can be no question

whatever, since he who runs may read it in the large capitals which form

the title of the tale. I should have credit for this arrangement--a

far wiser one than that of La Fontaine and others, who reserve the

impression to be conveyed until the last moment, and thus sneak it in at

the fag end of their fables.

 

Defuncti injuria ne afficiantur was a law of the twelve tables, and De

mortuis nil nisi bonum is an excellent injunction--even if the dead in

question be nothing but dead small beer. It is not my design, therefore,

to vituperate my deceased friend, Toby Dammit. He was a sad dog, it is

true, and a dog's death it was that he died; but he himself was not to

blame for his vices. They grew out of a personal defect in his mother.

She did her best in the way of flogging him while an infant--for duties

to her well--regulated mind were always pleasures, and babies, like

tough steaks, or the modern Greek olive trees, are invariably the better

for beating--but, poor woman! she had the misfortune to be left-handed,

and a child flogged left-handedly had better be left unflogged. The

world revolves from right to left. It will not do to whip a baby from

left to right. If each blow in the proper direction drives an evil

propensity out, it follows that every thump in an opposite one knocks

its quota of wickedness in. I was often present at Toby's chastisements,

and, even by the way in which he kicked, I could perceive that he was

getting worse and worse every day. At last I saw, through the tears in

my eyes, that there was no hope of the villain at all, and one day when

he had been cuffed until he grew so black in the face that one might

have mistaken him for a little African, and no effect had been produced

beyond that of making him wriggle himself into a fit, I could stand

it no longer, but went down upon my knees forthwith, and, uplifting my

voice, made prophecy of his ruin.

 

The fact is that his precocity in vice was awful. At five months of age

he used to get into such passions that he was unable to articulate. At

six months, I caught him gnawing a pack of cards. At seven months he

was in the constant habit of catching and kissing the female babies.

At eight months he peremptorily refused to put his signature to the

Temperance pledge. Thus he went on increasing in iniquity, month after

month, until, at the close of the first year, he not only insisted upon

wearing moustaches, but had contracted a propensity for cursing and

swearing, and for backing his assertions by bets.

 

Through this latter most ungentlemanly practice, the ruin which I had

predicted to Toby Dammit overtook him at last. The fashion had "grown

with his growth and strengthened with his strength," so that, when

he came to be a man, he could scarcely utter a sentence without

interlarding it with a proposition to gamble. Not that he actually laid

wagers--no. I will do my friend the justice to say that he would as soon

have laid eggs. With him the thing was a mere formula--nothing more. His

expressions on this head had no meaning attached to them whatever. They

were simple if not altogether innocent expletives--imaginative phrases

wherewith to round off a sentence. When he said "I'll bet you so and

so," nobody ever thought of taking him up; but still I could not help

thinking it my duty to put him down. The habit was an immoral one, and

so I told him. It was a vulgar one--this I begged him to believe. It was

discountenanced by society--here I said nothing but the truth. It was

forbidden by act of Congress--here I had not the slightest intention

of telling a lie. I remonstrated--but to no purpose. I demonstrated--in

vain. I entreated--he smiled. I implored--he laughed. I preached--he

sneered. I threatened--he swore. I kicked him--he called for the police.

I pulled his nose--he blew it, and offered to bet the Devil his head

that I would not venture to try that experiment again.

 

Poverty was another vice which the peculiar physical deficiency of

Dammit's mother had entailed upon her son. He was detestably poor, and

this was the reason, no doubt, that his expletive expressions about

betting, seldom took a pecuniary turn. I will not be bound to say that

I ever heard him make use of such a figure of speech as "I'll bet you a

dollar." It was usually "I'll bet you what you please," or "I'll bet you

what you dare," or "I'll bet you a trifle," or else, more significantly

still, "I'll bet the Devil my head."

 

This latter form seemed to please him best;--perhaps because it involved

the least risk; for Dammit had become excessively parsimonious. Had any

one taken him up, his head was small, and thus his loss would have been

small too. But these are my own reflections and I am by no means sure

that I am right in attributing them to him. At all events the phrase in

question grew daily in favor, notwithstanding the gross impropriety of

a man betting his brains like bank-notes:--but this was a point which my

friend's perversity of disposition would not permit him to comprehend.

In the end, he abandoned all other forms of wager, and gave himself up

to "I'll bet the Devil my head," with a pertinacity and exclusiveness

of devotion that displeased not less than it surprised me. I am always

displeased by circumstances for which I cannot account. Mysteries

force a man to think, and so injure his health. The truth is, there was

something in the air with which Mr. Dammit was wont to give utterance to

his offensive expression--something in his manner of enunciation--which

at first interested, and afterwards made me very uneasy--something

which, for want of a more definite term at present, I must be permitted

to call queer; but which Mr. Coleridge would have called mystical,

Mr. Kant pantheistical, Mr. Carlyle twistical, and Mr. Emerson

hyperquizzitistical. I began not to like it at all. Mr. Dammits soul was

in a perilous state. I resolved to bring all my eloquence into play to

save it. I vowed to serve him as St. Patrick, in the Irish chronicle, is

said to have served the toad,--that is to say, "awaken him to a sense

of his situation." I addressed myself to the task forthwith. Once more I

betook myself to remonstrance. Again I collected my energies for a final

attempt at expostulation.

 

When I had made an end of my lecture, Mr. Dammit indulged himself in

some very equivocal behavior. For some moments he remained silent,

merely looking me inquisitively in the face. But presently he threw his

head to one side, and elevated his eyebrows to a great extent. Then he

spread out the palms of his hands and shrugged up his shoulders. Then he

winked with the right eye. Then he repeated the operation with the left.

Then he shut them both up very tight. Then he opened them both so

very wide that I became seriously alarmed for the consequences.

Then, applying his thumb to his nose, he thought proper to make an

indescribable movement with the rest of his fingers. Finally, setting

his arms a-kimbo, he condescended to reply.

 

I can call to mind only the beads of his discourse. He would be obliged

to me if I would hold my tongue. He wished none of my advice. He

despised all my insinuations. He was old enough to take care of himself.

Did I still think him baby Dammit? Did I mean to say any thing against

his character? Did I intend to insult him? Was I a fool? Was my maternal

parent aware, in a word, of my absence from the domiciliary residence?

He would put this latter question to me as to a man of veracity, and

he would bind himself to abide by my reply. Once more he would demand

explicitly if my mother knew that I was out. My confusion, he said,

betrayed me, and he would be willing to bet the Devil his head that she

did not.

 

Mr. Dammit did not pause for my rejoinder. Turning upon his heel, he

left my presence with undignified precipitation. It was well for him

that he did so. My feelings had been wounded. Even my anger had been

aroused. For once I would have taken him up upon his insulting wager. I

would have won for the Arch-Enemy Mr. Dammit's little head--for the fact

is, my mamma was very well aware of my merely temporary absence from

home.

 

But Khoda shefa midehed--Heaven gives relief--as the Mussulmans say when

you tread upon their toes. It was in pursuance of my duty that I had

been insulted, and I bore the insult like a man. It now seemed to me,

however, that I had done all that could be required of me, in the case

of this miserable individual, and I resolved to trouble him no longer

with my counsel, but to leave him to his conscience and himself. But

although I forebore to intrude with my advice, I could not bring myself

to give up his society altogether. I even went so far as to humor some

of his less reprehensible propensities; and there were times when I

found myself lauding his wicked jokes, as epicures do mustard, with

tears in my eyes:--so profoundly did it grieve me to hear his evil talk.

 

One fine day, having strolled out together, arm in arm, our route led

us in the direction of a river. There was a bridge, and we resolved to

cross it. It was roofed over, by way of protection from the weather, and

the archway, having but few windows, was thus very uncomfortably dark.

As we entered the passage, the contrast between the external glare and

the interior gloom struck heavily upon my spirits. Not so upon those

of the unhappy Dammit, who offered to bet the Devil his head that I was

hipped. He seemed to be in an unusual good humor. He was excessively

lively--so much so that I entertained I know not what of uneasy

suspicion. It is not impossible that he was affected with the

transcendentals. I am not well enough versed, however, in the diagnosis

of this disease to speak with decision upon the point; and unhappily

there were none of my friends of the "Dial" present. I suggest the idea,

nevertheless, because of a certain species of austere Merry-Andrewism

which seemed to beset my poor friend, and caused him to make quite a

Tom-Fool of himself. Nothing would serve him but wriggling and skipping

about under and over every thing that came in his way; now shouting

out, and now lisping out, all manner of odd little and big words, yet

preserving the gravest face in the world all the time. I really could

not make up my mind whether to kick or to pity him. At length, having

passed nearly across the bridge, we approached the termination of the

footway, when our progress was impeded by a turnstile of some height.

Through this I made my way quietly, pushing it around as usual. But this

turn would not serve the turn of Mr. Dammit. He insisted upon leaping

the stile, and said he could cut a pigeon-wing over it in the air. Now

this, conscientiously speaking, I did not think he could do. The best

pigeon-winger over all kinds of style was my friend Mr. Carlyle, and as

I knew he could not do it, I would not believe that it could be done

by Toby Dammit. I therefore told him, in so many words, that he was a

braggadocio, and could not do what he said. For this I had reason to be

sorry afterward;--for he straightway offered to bet the Devil his head

that he could.

 

I was about to reply, notwithstanding my previous resolutions, with some

remonstrance against his impiety, when I heard, close at my elbow, a

slight cough, which sounded very much like the ejaculation "ahem!" I

started, and looked about me in surprise. My glance at length fell into

a nook of the frame--work of the bridge, and upon the figure of a little

lame old gentleman of venerable aspect. Nothing could be more reverend

than his whole appearance; for he not only had on a full suit of black,

but his shirt was perfectly clean and the collar turned very neatly down

over a white cravat, while his hair was parted in front like a girl's.

His hands were clasped pensively together over his stomach, and his two

eyes were carefully rolled up into the top of his head.

 

Upon observing him more closely, I perceived that he wore a black silk

apron over his small-clothes; and this was a thing which I thought very

odd. Before I had time to make any remark, however, upon so singular a

circumstance, he interrupted me with a second "ahem!"

 

To this observation I was not immediately prepared to reply. The fact

is, remarks of this laconic nature are nearly unanswerable. I have known

a Quarterly Review non-plussed by the word "Fudge!" I am not ashamed to

say, therefore, that I turned to Mr. Dammit for assistance.

 

"Dammit," said I, "what are you about? don't you hear?--the gentleman

says 'ahem!'" I looked sternly at my friend while I thus addressed him;

for, to say the truth, I felt particularly puzzled, and when a man is

particularly puzzled he must knit his brows and look savage, or else he

is pretty sure to look like a fool.

 

"Dammit," observed I--although this sounded very much like an oath, than

which nothing was further from my thoughts--"Dammit," I suggested--"the

gentleman says 'ahem!'"

 

I do not attempt to defend my remark on the score of profundity; I did

not think it profound myself; but I have noticed that the effect of our

speeches is not always proportionate with their importance in our own

eyes; and if I had shot Mr. D. through and through with a Paixhan bomb,

or knocked him in the head with the "Poets and Poetry of America," he

could hardly have been more discomfited than when I addressed him with

those simple words: "Dammit, what are you about?--don't you hear?--the

gentleman says 'ahem!'"

 

"You don't say so?" gasped he at length, after turning more colors than

a pirate runs up, one after the other, when chased by a man-of-war. "Are

you quite sure he said that? Well, at all events I am in for it now, and

may as well put a bold face upon the matter. Here goes, then--ahem!"

 

At this the little old gentleman seemed pleased--God only knows why.

He left his station at the nook of the bridge, limped forward with a

gracious air, took Dammit by the hand and shook it cordially,

looking all the while straight up in his face with an air of the most

unadulterated benignity which it is possible for the mind of man to

imagine.

 

"I am quite sure you will win it, Dammit," said he, with the frankest of

all smiles, "but we are obliged to have a trial, you know, for the sake

of mere form."

 

"Ahem!" replied my friend, taking off his coat, with a deep sigh, tying

a pocket-handkerchief around his waist, and producing an unaccountable

alteration in his countenance by twisting up his eyes and bringing down

the corners of his mouth--"ahem!" And "ahem!" said he again, after a

pause; and not another word more than "ahem!" did I ever know him to say

after that. "Aha!" thought I, without expressing myself aloud--"this is

quite a remarkable silence on the part of Toby Dammit, and is no doubt

a consequence of his verbosity upon a previous occasion. One extreme

induces another. I wonder if he has forgotten the many unanswerable

questions which he propounded to me so fluently on the day when I gave

him my last lecture? At all events, he is cured of the transcendentals."

 

"Ahem!" here replied Toby, just as if he had been reading my thoughts,

and looking like a very old sheep in a revery.

 

The old gentleman now took him by the arm, and led him more into the

shade of the bridge--a few paces back from the turnstile. "My good

fellow," said he, "I make it a point of conscience to allow you this

much run. Wait here, till I take my place by the stile, so that I may

see whether you go over it handsomely, and transcendentally, and don't

omit any flourishes of the pigeon-wing. A mere form, you know. I will

say 'one, two, three, and away.' Mind you, start at the word 'away'"

Here he took his position by the stile, paused a moment as if in

profound reflection, then looked up and, I thought, smiled very

slightly, then tightened the strings of his apron, then took a long look

at Dammit, and finally gave the word as agreed upon-

 

            _One--two--three--and--away!_

 

Punctually at the word "away," my poor friend set off in a strong

gallop. The stile was not very high, like Mr. Lord's--nor yet very low,

like that of Mr. Lord's reviewers, but upon the whole I made sure

that he would clear it. And then what if he did not?--ah, that was

the question--what if he did not? "What right," said I, "had the

old gentleman to make any other gentleman jump? The little old

dot-and-carry-one! who is he? If he asks me to jump, I won't do it,

that's flat, and I don't care who the devil he is." The bridge, as I

say, was arched and covered in, in a very ridiculous manner, and there

was a most uncomfortable echo about it at all times--an echo which I

never before so particularly observed as when I uttered the four last

words of my remark.

 

But what I said, or what I thought, or what I heard, occupied only an

instant. In less than five seconds from his starting, my poor Toby had

taken the leap. I saw him run nimbly, and spring grandly from the floor

of the bridge, cutting the most awful flourishes with his legs as he

went up. I saw him high in the air, pigeon-winging it to admiration

just over the top of the stile; and of course I thought it an unusually

singular thing that he did not continue to go over. But the whole leap

was the affair of a moment, and, before I had a chance to make any

profound reflections, down came Mr. Dammit on the flat of his back,

on the same side of the stile from which he had started. At the same

instant I saw the old gentleman limping off at the top of his speed,

having caught and wrapt up in his apron something that fell heavily into

it from the darkness of the arch just over the turnstile. At all this

I was much astonished; but I had no leisure to think, for Dammit lay

particularly still, and I concluded that his feelings had been hurt, and

that he stood in need of my assistance. I hurried up to him and found

that he had received what might be termed a serious injury. The truth

is, he had been deprived of his head, which after a close search I could

not find anywhere; so I determined to take him home and send for the

homoeopathists. In the meantime a thought struck me, and I threw open

an adjacent window of the bridge, when the sad truth flashed upon me at

once. About five feet just above the top of the turnstile, and crossing

the arch of the foot-path so as to constitute a brace, there extended a

flat iron bar, lying with its breadth horizontally, and forming one of

a series that served to strengthen the structure throughout its extent.

With the edge of this brace it appeared evident that the neck of my

unfortunate friend had come precisely in contact.

 

He did not long survive his terrible loss. The homoeopathists did not

give him little enough physic, and what little they did give him he

hesitated to take. So in the end he grew worse, and at length died, a

lesson to all riotous livers. I bedewed his grave with my tears, worked

a bar sinister on his family escutcheon, and, for the general expenses

of his funeral, sent in my very moderate bill to the transcendentalists.

The scoundrels refused to pay it, so I had Mr. Dammit dug up at once,

and sold him for dog's meat.

 

 

 

 

THOU ART THE MAN

 

I will now play the Oedipus to the Rattleborough enigma. I will expound

to you--as I alone can--the secret of the enginery that effected the

Rattleborough miracle--the one, the true, the admitted, the undisputed,

the indisputable miracle, which put a definite end to infidelity among

the Rattleburghers and converted to the orthodoxy of the grandames all

the carnal-minded who had ventured to be sceptical before.

 

This event--which I should be sorry to discuss in a tone of unsuitable

levity--occurred in the summer of 18--. Mr. Barnabas Shuttleworthy--one

of the wealthiest and most respectable citizens of the borough--had

been missing for several days under circumstances which gave rise to

suspicion of foul play. Mr. Shuttleworthy had set out from Rattleborough

very early one Saturday morning, on horseback, with the avowed intention

of proceeding to the city of-, about fifteen miles distant, and of

returning the night of the same day. Two hours after his departure,

however, his horse returned without him, and without the saddle-bags

which had been strapped on his back at starting. The animal was wounded,

too, and covered with mud. These circumstances naturally gave rise to

much alarm among the friends of the missing man; and when it was found,

on Sunday morning, that he had not yet made his appearance, the whole

borough arose en masse to go and look for his body.

 

The foremost and most energetic in instituting this search was the bosom

friend of Mr. Shuttleworthy--a Mr. Charles Goodfellow, or, as he was

universally called, "Charley Goodfellow," or "Old Charley Goodfellow."

Now, whether it is a marvellous coincidence, or whether it is that the

name itself has an imperceptible effect upon the character, I have never

yet been able to ascertain; but the fact is unquestionable, that there

never yet was any person named Charles who was not an open, manly,

honest, good-natured, and frank-hearted fellow, with a rich, clear

voice, that did you good to hear it, and an eye that looked you always

straight in the face, as much as to say: "I have a clear conscience

myself, am afraid of no man, and am altogether above doing a mean

action." And thus all the hearty, careless, "walking gentlemen" of the

stage are very certain to be called Charles.

 

Now, "Old Charley Goodfellow," although he had been in Rattleborough

not longer than six months or thereabouts, and although nobody knew

any thing about him before he came to settle in the neighborhood, had

experienced no difficulty in the world in making the acquaintance of all

the respectable people in the borough. Not a man of them but would have

taken his bare word for a thousand at any moment; and as for the women,

there is no saying what they would not have done to oblige him. And all

this came of his having been christened Charles, and of his possessing,

in consequence, that ingenuous face which is proverbially the very "best

letter of recommendation."

 

I have already said that Mr. Shuttleworthy was one of the most

respectable and, undoubtedly, he was the most wealthy man in

Rattleborough, while "Old Charley Goodfellow" was upon as intimate terms

with him as if he had been his own brother. The two old gentlemen were

next-door neighbours, and, although Mr. Shuttleworthy seldom, if ever,

visited "Old Charley," and never was known to take a meal in his house,

still this did not prevent the two friends from being exceedingly

intimate, as I have just observed; for "Old Charley" never let a day

pass without stepping in three or four times to see how his neighbour

came on, and very often he would stay to breakfast or tea, and almost

always to dinner, and then the amount of wine that was made way with by

the two cronies at a sitting, it would really be a difficult thing to

ascertain. "Old Charleys" favorite beverage was Chateau-Margaux, and

it appeared to do Mr. Shuttleworthy's heart good to see the old fellow

swallow it, as he did, quart after quart; so that, one day, when the

wine was in and the wit as a natural consequence, somewhat out, he said

to his crony, as he slapped him upon the back--"I tell you what it is,

'Old Charley,' you are, by all odds, the heartiest old fellow I ever

came across in all my born days; and, since you love to guzzle the wine

at that fashion, I'll be darned if I don't have to make thee a present

of a big box of the Chateau-Margaux. Od rot me,"--(Mr. Shuttleworthy had

a sad habit of swearing, although he seldom went beyond "Od rot me," or

"By gosh," or "By the jolly golly,")--"Od rot me," says he, "if I don't

send an order to town this very afternoon for a double box of the best

that can be got, and I'll make ye a present of it, I will!--ye needn't

say a word now--I will, I tell ye, and there's an end of it; so look out

for it--it will come to hand some of these fine days, precisely when ye

are looking for it the least!" I mention this little bit of liberality

on the part of Mr. Shuttleworthy, just by way of showing you how very

intimate an understanding existed between the two friends.

 

Well, on the Sunday morning in question, when it came to be fairly

understood that Mr. Shuttleworthy had met with foul play, I never saw

any one so profoundly affected as "Old Charley Goodfellow." When he

first heard that the horse had come home without his master, and without

his master's saddle-bags, and all bloody from a pistol-shot, that had

gone clean through and through the poor animal's chest without quite

killing him; when he heard all this, he turned as pale as if the missing

man had been his own dear brother or father, and shivered and shook all

over as if he had had a fit of the ague.

 

At first he was too much overpowered with grief to be able to do any

thing at all, or to concert upon any plan of action; so that for a long

time he endeavored to dissuade Mr. Shuttleworthy's other friends from

making a stir about the matter, thinking it best to wait awhile--say for

a week or two, or a month, or two--to see if something wouldn't turn up,

or if Mr. Shuttleworthy wouldn't come in the natural way, and explain

his reasons for sending his horse on before. I dare say you have often

observed this disposition to temporize, or to procrastinate, in people

who are labouring under any very poignant sorrow. Their powers of mind

seem to be rendered torpid, so that they have a horror of any thing like

action, and like nothing in the world so well as to lie quietly in bed

and "nurse their grief," as the old ladies express it--that is to say,

ruminate over the trouble.

 

The people of Rattleborough had, indeed, so high an opinion of the

wisdom and discretion of "Old Charley," that the greater part of them

felt disposed to agree with him, and not make a stir in the business

"until something should turn up," as the honest old gentleman worded

it; and I believe that, after all this would have been the general

determination, but for the very suspicious interference of Mr.

Shuttleworthy's nephew, a young man of very dissipated habits,

and otherwise of rather bad character. This nephew, whose name was

Pennifeather, would listen to nothing like reason in the matter of

"lying quiet," but insisted upon making immediate search for the "corpse

of the murdered man."--This was the expression he employed; and Mr.

Goodfellow acutely remarked at the time, that it was "a singular

expression, to say no more." This remark of 'Old Charley's,' too, had

great effect upon the crowd; and one of the party was heard to ask,

very impressively, "how it happened that young Mr. Pennifeather was so

intimately cognizant of all the circumstances connected with his wealthy

uncle's disappearance, as to feel authorized to assert, distinctly

and unequivocally, that his uncle was 'a murdered man.'" Hereupon some

little squibbing and bickering occurred among various members of

the crowd, and especially between "Old Charley" and Mr.

Pennifeather--although this latter occurrence was, indeed, by no means a

novelty, for no good will had subsisted between the parties for the

last three or four months; and matters had even gone so far that Mr.

Pennifeather had actually knocked down his uncles friend for some

alleged excess of liberty that the latter had taken in the uncle's

house, of which the nephew was an inmate. Upon this occasion "Old

Charley" is said to have behaved with exemplary moderation and Christian

charity. He arose from the blow, adjusted his clothes, and made no

attempt at retaliation at all--merely muttering a few words about

"taking summary vengeance at the first convenient opportunity,"--a

natural and very justifiable ebullition of anger, which meant nothing,

however, and, beyond doubt, was no sooner given vent to than forgotten.

 

However these matters may be (which have no reference to the point

now at issue), it is quite certain that the people of Rattleborough,

principally through the persuasion of Mr. Pennifeather, came at length

to the determination of dispersion over the adjacent country in search

of the missing Mr. Shuttleworthy. I say they came to this determination

in the first instance. After it had been fully resolved that a search

should be made, it was considered almost a matter of course that the

seekers should disperse--that is to say, distribute themselves in

parties--for the more thorough examination of the region round about. I

forget, however, by what ingenious train of reasoning it was that

"Old Charley" finally convinced the assembly that this was the most

injudicious plan that could be pursued. Convince them, however, he

did--all except Mr. Pennifeather, and, in the end, it was arranged that

a search should be instituted, carefully and very thoroughly, by the

burghers en masse, "Old Charley" himself leading the way.

 

As for the matter of that, there could have been no better pioneer

than "Old Charley," whom everybody knew to have the eye of a lynx;

but, although he led them into all manner of out-of-the-way holes and

corners, by routes that nobody had ever suspected of existing in the

neighbourhood, and although the search was incessantly kept up day and

night for nearly a week, still no trace of Mr. Shuttleworthy could be

discovered. When I say no trace, however, I must not be understood to

speak literally, for trace, to some extent, there certainly was.

The poor gentleman had been tracked, by his horses shoes (which were

peculiar), to a spot about three miles to the east of the borough,

on the main road leading to the city. Here the track made off into a

by-path through a piece of woodland--the path coming out again into the

main road, and cutting off about half a mile of the regular distance.

Following the shoe-marks down this lane, the party came at length to a

pool of stagnant water, half hidden by the brambles, to the right of the

lane, and opposite this pool all vestige of the track was lost sight

of. It appeared, however, that a struggle of some nature had here taken

place, and it seemed as if some large and heavy body, much larger and

heavier than a man, had been drawn from the by-path to the pool. This

latter was carefully dragged twice, but nothing was found; and the party

was upon the point of going away, in despair of coming to any result,

when Providence suggested to Mr. Goodfellow the expediency of draining

the water off altogether. This project was received with cheers,

and many high compliments to "Old Charley" upon his sagacity and

consideration. As many of the burghers had brought spades with them,

supposing that they might possibly be called upon to disinter a corpse,

the drain was easily and speedily effected; and no sooner was the

bottom visible, than right in the middle of the mud that remained was

discovered a black silk velvet waistcoat, which nearly every one

present immediately recognized as the property of Mr. Pennifeather. This

waistcoat was much torn and stained with blood, and there were several

persons among the party who had a distinct remembrance of its having

been worn by its owner on the very morning of Mr. Shuttleworthy's

departure for the city; while there were others, again, ready to testify

upon oath, if required, that Mr. P. did not wear the garment in question

at any period during the remainder of that memorable day, nor could

any one be found to say that he had seen it upon Mr. P.'s person at any

period at all subsequent to Mr. Shuttleworthy's disappearance.

 

Matters now wore a very serious aspect for Mr. Pennifeather, and it was

observed, as an indubitable confirmation of the suspicions which were

excited against him, that he grew exceedingly pale, and when asked

what he had to say for himself, was utterly incapable of saying a word.

Hereupon, the few friends his riotous mode of living had left him,

deserted him at once to a man, and were even more clamorous than his

ancient and avowed enemies for his instantaneous arrest. But, on the

other hand, the magnanimity of Mr. Goodfellow shone forth with only the

more brilliant lustre through contrast. He made a warm and intensely

eloquent defence of Mr. Pennifeather, in which he alluded more than once

to his own sincere forgiveness of that wild young gentleman--"the heir

of the worthy Mr. Shuttleworthy,"--for the insult which he (the young

gentleman) had, no doubt in the heat of passion, thought proper to put

upon him (Mr. Goodfellow). "He forgave him for it," he said, "from the

very bottom of his heart; and for himself (Mr. Goodfellow), so far from

pushing the suspicious circumstances to extremity, which he was sorry

to say, really had arisen against Mr. Pennifeather, he (Mr. Goodfellow)

would make every exertion in his power, would employ all the little

eloquence in his possession to--to--to--soften down, as much as he could

conscientiously do so, the worst features of this really exceedingly

perplexing piece of business."

 

Mr. Goodfellow went on for some half hour longer in this strain,

very much to the credit both of his head and of his heart; but your

warm-hearted people are seldom apposite in their observations--they run

into all sorts of blunders, contre-temps and mal apropos-isms, in the

hot-headedness of their zeal to serve a friend--thus, often with the

kindest intentions in the world, doing infinitely more to prejudice his

cause than to advance it.

 

So, in the present instance, it turned out with all the eloquence of

"Old Charley"; for, although he laboured earnestly in behalf of the

suspected, yet it so happened, somehow or other, that every syllable he

uttered of which the direct but unwitting tendency was not to exalt the

speaker in the good opinion of his audience, had the effect to deepen

the suspicion already attached to the individual whose cause he pleaded,

and to arouse against him the fury of the mob.

 

One of the most unaccountable errors committed by the orator was his

allusion to the suspected as "the heir of the worthy old gentleman Mr.

Shuttleworthy." The people had really never thought of this before. They

had only remembered certain threats of disinheritance uttered a year

or two previously by the uncle (who had no living relative except the

nephew), and they had, therefore, always looked upon this disinheritance

as a matter that was settled--so single-minded a race of beings were the

Rattleburghers; but the remark of "Old Charley" brought them at once to

a consideration of this point, and thus gave them to see the possibility

of the threats having been nothing more than a threat. And straightway

hereupon, arose the natural question of cui bono?--a question that

tended even more than the waistcoat to fasten the terrible crime upon

the young man. And here, lest I may be misunderstood, permit me to

digress for one moment merely to observe that the exceedingly brief and

simple Latin phrase which I have employed, is invariably mistranslated

and misconceived. "Cui bono?" in all the crack novels and elsewhere,--in

those of Mrs. Gore, for example, (the author of "Cecil,") a lady who

quotes all tongues from the Chaldaean to Chickasaw, and is helped to her

learning, "as needed," upon a systematic plan, by Mr. Beckford,--in all

the crack novels, I say, from those of Bulwer and Dickens to those of

Bulwer and Dickens to those of Turnapenny and Ainsworth, the two little

Latin words cui bono are rendered "to what purpose?" or, (as if quo

bono,) "to what good." Their true meaning, nevertheless, is "for whose

advantage." Cui, to whom; bono, is it for a benefit. It is a purely

legal phrase, and applicable precisely in cases such as we have now

under consideration, where the probability of the doer of a deed hinges

upon the probability of the benefit accruing to this individual or to

that from the deed's accomplishment. Now in the present instance, the

question cui bono? very pointedly implicated Mr. Pennifeather. His

uncle had threatened him, after making a will in his favour, with

disinheritance. But the threat had not been actually kept; the original

will, it appeared, had not been altered. Had it been altered, the only

supposable motive for murder on the part of the suspected would

have been the ordinary one of revenge; and even this would have been

counteracted by the hope of reinstation into the good graces of the

uncle. But the will being unaltered, while the threat to alter remained

suspended over the nephew's head, there appears at once the very

strongest possible inducement for the atrocity, and so concluded, very

sagaciously, the worthy citizens of the borough of Rattle.

 

Mr. Pennifeather was, accordingly, arrested upon the spot, and the

crowd, after some further search, proceeded homeward, having him in

custody. On the route, however, another circumstance occurred tending to

confirm the suspicion entertained. Mr. Goodfellow, whose zeal led him

to be always a little in advance of the party, was seen suddenly to run

forward a few paces, stoop, and then apparently to pick up some small

object from the grass. Having quickly examined it he was observed, too,

to make a sort of half attempt at concealing it in his coat pocket; but

this action was noticed, as I say, and consequently prevented, when the

object picked up was found to be a Spanish knife which a dozen persons

at once recognized as belonging to Mr. Pennifeather. Moreover, his

initials were engraved upon the handle. The blade of this knife was open

and bloody.

 

No doubt now remained of the guilt of the nephew, and immediately upon

reaching Rattleborough he was taken before a magistrate for examination.

 

Here matters again took a most unfavourable turn. The prisoner, being

questioned as to his whereabouts on the morning of Mr. Shuttleworthy's

disappearance, had absolutely the audacity to acknowledge that on

that very morning he had been out with his rifle deer-stalking, in the

immediate neighbourhood of the pool where the blood-stained waistcoat

had been discovered through the sagacity of Mr. Goodfellow.

 

This latter now came forward, and, with tears in his eyes, asked

permission to be examined. He said that a stern sense of the duty he

owed his Maker, not less than his fellow-men, would permit him no longer

to remain silent. Hitherto, the sincerest affection for the young man

(notwithstanding the latter's ill-treatment of himself, Mr. Goodfellow)

had induced him to make every hypothesis which imagination could

suggest, by way of endeavoring to account for what appeared suspicious

in the circumstances that told so seriously against Mr. Pennifeather,

but these circumstances were now altogether too convincing--too damning,

he would hesitate no longer--he would tell all he knew, although his

heart (Mr. Goodfellow's) should absolutely burst asunder in the effort.

He then went on to state that, on the afternoon of the day previous to

Mr. Shuttleworthy's departure for the city, that worthy old gentleman

had mentioned to his nephew, in his hearing (Mr. Goodfellow's), that

his object in going to town on the morrow was to make a deposit of an

unusually large sum of money in the "Farmers and Mechanics' Bank," and

that, then and there, the said Mr. Shuttleworthy had distinctly avowed

to the said nephew his irrevocable determination of rescinding the

will originally made, and of cutting him off with a shilling. He (the

witness) now solemnly called upon the accused to state whether what

he (the witness) had just stated was or was not the truth in every

substantial particular. Much to the astonishment of every one present,

Mr. Pennifeather frankly admitted that it was.

 

The magistrate now considered it his duty to send a couple of constables

to search the chamber of the accused in the house of his uncle. From

this search they almost immediately returned with the well-known

steel-bound, russet leather pocket-book which the old gentleman had been

in the habit of carrying for years. Its valuable contents, however, had

been abstracted, and the magistrate in vain endeavored to extort from

the prisoner the use which had been made of them, or the place of their

concealment. Indeed, he obstinately denied all knowledge of the matter.

The constables, also, discovered, between the bed and sacking of the

unhappy man, a shirt and neck-handkerchief both marked with the initials

of his name, and both hideously besmeared with the blood of the victim.

 

At this juncture, it was announced that the horse of the murdered man

had just expired in the stable from the effects of the wound he had

received, and it was proposed by Mr. Goodfellow that a post mortem

examination of the beast should be immediately made, with the view, if

possible, of discovering the ball. This was accordingly done; and, as

if to demonstrate beyond a question the guilt of the accused, Mr.

Goodfellow, after considerable searching in the cavity of the chest was

enabled to detect and to pull forth a bullet of very extraordinary size,

which, upon trial, was found to be exactly adapted to the bore of Mr.

Pennifeather's rifle, while it was far too large for that of any other

person in the borough or its vicinity. To render the matter even surer

yet, however, this bullet was discovered to have a flaw or seam at right

angles to the usual suture, and upon examination, this seam corresponded

precisely with an accidental ridge or elevation in a pair of moulds

acknowledged by the accused himself to be his own property. Upon finding

of this bullet, the examining magistrate refused to listen to

any farther testimony, and immediately committed the prisoner for

trial-declining resolutely to take any bail in the case, although

against this severity Mr. Goodfellow very warmly remonstrated, and

offered to become surety in whatever amount might be required. This

generosity on the part of "Old Charley" was only in accordance with the

whole tenour of his amiable and chivalrous conduct during the entire

period of his sojourn in the borough of Rattle. In the present instance

the worthy man was so entirely carried away by the excessive warmth of

his sympathy, that he seemed to have quite forgotten, when he offered to

go bail for his young friend, that he himself (Mr. Goodfellow) did not

possess a single dollar's worth of property upon the face of the earth.

 

The result of the committal may be readily foreseen. Mr. Pennifeather,

amid the loud execrations of all Rattleborough, was brought to trial at

the next criminal sessions, when the chain of circumstantial evidence

(strengthened as it was by some additional damning facts, which Mr.

Goodfellow's sensitive conscientiousness forbade him to withhold from

the court) was considered so unbroken and so thoroughly conclusive, that

the jury, without leaving their seats, returned an immediate verdict

of "Guilty of murder in the first degree." Soon afterward the unhappy

wretch received sentence of death, and was remanded to the county jail

to await the inexorable vengeance of the law.

 

In the meantime, the noble behavior of "Old Charley Goodfellow," had

doubly endeared him to the honest citizens of the borough. He became

ten times a greater favorite than ever, and, as a natural result of the

hospitality with which he was treated, he relaxed, as it were, perforce,

the extremely parsimonious habits which his poverty had hitherto

impelled him to observe, and very frequently had little reunions at his

own house, when wit and jollity reigned supreme-dampened a little, of

course, by the occasional remembrance of the untoward and melancholy

fate which impended over the nephew of the late lamented bosom friend of

the generous host.

 

One fine day, this magnanimous old gentleman was agreeably surprised at

the receipt of the following letter:-

 

 Charles Goodfellow, Esq., Rattleborough

 From H.F.B. & Co.

 Chat. Mar. A--No. 1.--6 doz. bottles (1/2 Gross)

 

 "Charles Goodfellow, Esquire.

 

 "Dear Sir--In conformity with an order transmitted to our firm about

 two months since, by our esteemed correspondent, Mr. Barnabus

 Shuttleworthy, we have the honor of forwarding this morning, to your

 address, a double box of Chateau-Margaux of the antelope brand, violet

 seal. Box numbered and marked as per margin.

 

 "We remain, sir,

         "Your most ob'nt ser'ts,

                 "HOGGS, FROGS, BOGS, & CO.

 

 "City of--, June 21, 18--.

 

 "P.S.--The box will reach you by wagon, on the day after your receipt

 of this letter. Our respects to Mr. Shuttleworthy.

 

                  "H., F., B., & CO."

 

The fact is, that Mr. Goodfellow had, since the death of Mr.

Shuttleworthy, given over all expectation of ever receiving the promised

Chateau-Margaux; and he, therefore, looked upon it now as a sort

of especial dispensation of Providence in his behalf. He was highly

delighted, of course, and in the exuberance of his joy invited a large

party of friends to a petit souper on the morrow, for the purpose of

broaching the good old Mr. Shuttleworthy's present. Not that he said

any thing about "the good old Mr. Shuttleworthy" when he issued the

invitations. The fact is, he thought much and concluded to say nothing

at all. He did not mention to any one--if I remember aright--that he had

received a present of Chateau-Margaux. He merely asked his friends to

come and help him drink some, of a remarkable fine quality and rich

flavour, that he had ordered up from the city a couple of months ago,

and of which he would be in the receipt upon the morrow. I have often

puzzled myself to imagine why it was that "Old Charley" came to the

conclusion to say nothing about having received the wine from his

old friend, but I could never precisely understand his reason for the

silence, although he had some excellent and very magnanimous reason, no

doubt.

 

The morrow at length arrived, and with it a very large and highly

respectable company at Mr. Goodfellow's house. Indeed, half the borough

was there,--I myself among the number,--but, much to the vexation of the

host, the Chateau-Margaux did not arrive until a late hour, and when

the sumptuous supper supplied by "Old Charley" had been done very ample

justice by the guests. It came at length, however,--a monstrously big

box of it there was, too--and as the whole party were in excessively

good humor, it was decided, nem. con., that it should be lifted upon the

table and its contents disembowelled forthwith.

 

No sooner said than done. I lent a helping hand; and, in a trice we had

the box upon the table, in the midst of all the bottles and glasses, not

a few of which were demolished in the scuffle. "Old Charley," who was

pretty much intoxicated, and excessively red in the face, now took a

seat, with an air of mock dignity, at the head of the board, and thumped

furiously upon it with a decanter, calling upon the company to keep

order "during the ceremony of disinterring the treasure."

 

After some vociferation, quiet was at length fully restored, and, as

very often happens in similar cases, a profound and remarkable silence

ensued. Being then requested to force open the lid, I complied, of

course, "with an infinite deal of pleasure." I inserted a chisel, and

giving it a few slight taps with a hammer, the top of the box flew

suddenly off, and at the same instant, there sprang up into a sitting

position, directly facing the host, the bruised, bloody, and nearly

putrid corpse of the murdered Mr. Shuttleworthy himself. It gazed for a

few seconds, fixedly and sorrowfully, with its decaying and lack-lustre

eyes, full into the countenance of Mr. Goodfellow; uttered slowly,

but clearly and impressively, the words--"Thou art the man!" and then,

falling over the side of the chest as if thoroughly satisfied, stretched

out its limbs quiveringly upon the table.

 

The scene that ensued is altogether beyond description. The rush for the

doors and windows was terrific, and many of the most robust men in the

room fainted outright through sheer horror. But after the first wild,

shrieking burst of affright, all eyes were directed to Mr. Goodfellow.

If I live a thousand years, I can never forget the more than mortal

agony which was depicted in that ghastly face of his, so lately rubicund

with triumph and wine. For several minutes he sat rigidly as a statue

of marble; his eyes seeming, in the intense vacancy of their gaze, to

be turned inward and absorbed in the contemplation of his own miserable,

murderous soul. At length their expression appeared to flash suddenly

out into the external world, when, with a quick leap, he sprang from his

chair, and falling heavily with his head and shoulders upon the table,

and in contact with the corpse, poured out rapidly and vehemently a

detailed confession of the hideous crime for which Mr. Pennifeather was

then imprisoned and doomed to die.

 

What he recounted was in substance this:--He followed his victim to the

vicinity of the pool; there shot his horse with a pistol; despatched

its rider with the butt end; possessed himself of the pocket-book, and,

supposing the horse dead, dragged it with great labour to the

brambles by the pond. Upon his own beast he slung the corpse of Mr.

Shuttleworthy, and thus bore it to a secure place of concealment a long

distance off through the woods.

 

The waistcoat, the knife, the pocket-book, and bullet, had been placed

by himself where found, with the view of avenging himself upon Mr.

Pennifeather. He had also contrived the discovery of the stained

handkerchief and shirt.

 

Towards the end of the blood-churning recital the words of the guilty

wretch faltered and grew hollow. When the record was finally exhausted,

he arose, staggered backward from the table, and fell-dead.

 

                   *****

 

The means by which this happily-timed confession was extorted, although

efficient, were simple indeed. Mr. Goodfellow's excess of frankness had

disgusted me, and excited my suspicions from the first. I was present

when Mr. Pennifeather had struck him, and the fiendish expression which

then arose upon his countenance, although momentary, assured me that his

threat of vengeance would, if possible, be rigidly fulfilled. I was thus

prepared to view the manoeuvering of "Old Charley" in a very different

light from that in which it was regarded by the good citizens of

Rattleborough. I saw at once that all the criminating discoveries arose,

either directly or indirectly, from himself. But the fact which clearly

opened my eyes to the true state of the case, was the affair of

the bullet, found by Mr. G. in the carcass of the horse. I had not

forgotten, although the Rattleburghers had, that there was a hole where

the ball had entered the horse, and another where it went out. If it

were found in the animal then, after having made its exit, I saw clearly

that it must have been deposited by the person who found it. The bloody

shirt and handkerchief confirmed the idea suggested by the bullet; for

the blood on examination proved to be capital claret, and no more.

When I came to think of these things, and also of the late increase of

liberality and expenditure on the part of Mr. Goodfellow, I entertained

a suspicion which was none the less strong because I kept it altogether

to myself.

 

In the meantime, I instituted a rigorous private search for the corpse

of Mr. Shuttleworthy, and, for good reasons, searched in quarters as

divergent as possible from those to which Mr. Goodfellow conducted his

party. The result was that, after some days, I came across an old dry

well, the mouth of which was nearly hidden by brambles; and here, at the

bottom, I discovered what I sought.

 

Now it so happened that I had overheard the colloquy between the two

cronies, when Mr. Goodfellow had contrived to cajole his host into the

promise of a box of Chateaux-Margaux. Upon this hint I acted. I procured

a stiff piece of whalebone, thrust it down the throat of the corpse,

and deposited the latter in an old wine box-taking care so to double

the body up as to double the whalebone with it. In this manner I had

to press forcibly upon the lid to keep it down while I secured it with

nails; and I anticipated, of course, that as soon as these latter were

removed, the top would fly off and the body up.

 

Having thus arranged the box, I marked, numbered, and addressed it

as already told; and then writing a letter in the name of the wine

merchants with whom Mr. Shuttleworthy dealt, I gave instructions to my

servant to wheel the box to Mr. Goodfellow's door, in a barrow, at a

given signal from myself. For the words which I intended the corpse to

speak, I confidently depended upon my ventriloquial abilities; for their

effect, I counted upon the conscience of the murderous wretch.

 

I believe there is nothing more to be explained. Mr. Pennifeather was

released upon the spot, inherited the fortune of his uncle, profited by

the lessons of experience, turned over a new leaf, and led happily ever

afterward a new life.

 

 

 

 

WHY THE LITTLE FRENCHMAN WEARS HIS HAND IN A SLING

 

IT'S on my visiting cards sure enough (and it's them that's all o'

pink satin paper) that inny gintleman that plases may behould the

intheristhin words, "Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, 39 Southampton

Row, Russell Square, Parrish o' Bloomsbury." And shud ye be wantin' to

diskiver who is the pink of purliteness quite, and the laider of the hot

tun in the houl city o' Lonon--why it's jist mesilf. And fait that same

is no wonder at all at all (so be plased to stop curlin your nose), for

every inch o' the six wakes that I've been a gintleman, and left aff

wid the bogthrothing to take up wid the Barronissy, it's Pathrick that's

been living like a houly imperor, and gitting the iddication and the

graces. Och! and wouldn't it be a blessed thing for your spirrits if ye

cud lay your two peepers jist, upon Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt,

when he is all riddy drissed for the hopperer, or stipping into the

Brisky for the drive into the Hyde Park. But it's the illigant big

figgur that I ave, for the rason o' which all the ladies fall in love

wid me. Isn't it my own swate silf now that'll missure the six fut, and

the three inches more nor that, in me stockins, and that am excadingly

will proportioned all over to match? And it is ralelly more than three

fut and a bit that there is, inny how, of the little ould furrener

Frinchman that lives jist over the way, and that's a oggling and

a goggling the houl day, (and bad luck to him,) at the purty widdy

Misthress Tracle that's my own nixt-door neighbor, (God bliss her!)

and a most particuller frind and acquaintance? You percave the little

spalpeen is summat down in the mouth, and wears his lift hand in a

sling, and it's for that same thing, by yur lave, that I'm going to give

you the good rason.

 

The truth of the houl matter is jist simple enough; for the very first

day that I com'd from Connaught, and showd my swate little silf in the

strait to the widdy, who was looking through the windy, it was a

gone case althegither with the heart o' the purty Misthress Tracle.

I percaved it, ye see, all at once, and no mistake, and that's God's

truth. First of all it was up wid the windy in a jiffy, and thin she

threw open her two peepers to the itmost, and thin it was a little gould

spy-glass that she clapped tight to one o' them and divil may burn me

if it didn't spake to me as plain as a peeper cud spake, and says it,

through the spy-glass: "Och! the tip o' the mornin' to ye, Sir Pathrick

O'Grandison, Barronitt, mavourneen; and it's a nate gintleman that ye

are, sure enough, and it's mesilf and me forten jist that'll be at yur

sarvice, dear, inny time o' day at all at all for the asking." And it's

not mesilf ye wud have to be bate in the purliteness; so I made her

a bow that wud ha' broken yur heart altegither to behould, and thin I

pulled aff me hat with a flourish, and thin I winked at her hard wid

both eyes, as much as to say, "True for you, yer a swate little crature,

Mrs. Tracle, me darlint, and I wish I may be drownthed dead in a bog,

if it's not mesilf, Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, that'll make a

houl bushel o' love to yur leddyship, in the twinkling o' the eye of a

Londonderry purraty."

 

And it was the nixt mornin', sure, jist as I was making up me mind

whither it wouldn't be the purlite thing to sind a bit o' writin' to the

widdy by way of a love-litter, when up com'd the delivery servant wid

an illigant card, and he tould me that the name on it (for I niver could

rade the copperplate printin on account of being lift handed) was all

about Mounseer, the Count, A Goose, Look--aisy, Maiter-di-dauns, and

that the houl of the divilish lingo was the spalpeeny long name of the

little ould furrener Frinchman as lived over the way.

 

And jist wid that in cum'd the little willian himself, and then he made

me a broth of a bow, and thin he said he had ounly taken the liberty

of doing me the honor of the giving me a call, and thin he went on to

palaver at a great rate, and divil the bit did I comprehind what he wud

be afther the tilling me at all at all, excipting and saving that he

said "pully wou, woolly wou," and tould me, among a bushel o' lies, bad

luck to him, that he was mad for the love o' my widdy Misthress Tracle,

and that my widdy Mrs. Tracle had a puncheon for him.

 

At the hearin' of this, ye may swear, though, I was as mad as a

grasshopper, but I remimbered that I was Sir Pathrick O'Grandison,

Barronitt, and that it wasn't althegither gentaal to lit the anger git

the upper hand o' the purliteness, so I made light o' the matter and

kipt dark, and got quite sociable wid the little chap, and afther a

while what did he do but ask me to go wid him to the widdy's, saying he

wud give me the feshionable inthroduction to her leddyship.

 

"Is it there ye are?" said I thin to mesilf, "and it's thrue for you,

Pathrick, that ye're the fortunittest mortal in life. We'll soon see

now whither it's your swate silf, or whither it's little Mounseer

Maiter-di-dauns, that Misthress Tracle is head and ears in the love

wid."

 

Wid that we wint aff to the widdy's, next door, and ye may well say it

was an illigant place; so it was. There was a carpet all over the floor,

and in one corner there was a forty-pinny and a Jew's harp and the divil

knows what ilse, and in another corner was a sofy, the beautifullest

thing in all natur, and sitting on the sofy, sure enough, there was the

swate little angel, Misthress Tracle.

 

"The tip o' the mornin' to ye," says I, "Mrs. Tracle," and thin I made

sich an illigant obaysance that it wud ha quite althegither bewildered

the brain o' ye.

 

"Wully woo, pully woo, plump in the mud," says the little furrenner

Frinchman, "and sure Mrs. Tracle," says he, that he did, "isn't this

gintleman here jist his reverence Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt,

and isn't he althegither and entirely the most particular frind and

acquaintance that I have in the houl world?"

 

And wid that the widdy, she gits up from the sofy, and makes the swatest

curthchy nor iver was seen; and thin down she sits like an angel;

and thin, by the powers, it was that little spalpeen Mounseer

Maiter-di-dauns that plumped his silf right down by the right side of

her. Och hon! I ixpicted the two eyes o' me wud ha cum'd out of my head

on the spot, I was so dispirate mad! Howiver, "Bait who!" says I, after

awhile. "Is it there ye are, Mounseer Maiter-di-dauns?" and so down I

plumped on the lift side of her leddyship, to be aven with the willain.

Botheration! it wud ha done your heart good to percave the illigant

double wink that I gived her jist thin right in the face with both eyes.

 

But the little ould Frinchman he niver beginned to suspict me at all

at all, and disperate hard it was he made the love to her leddyship.

"Woully wou," says he, "Pully wou," says he, "Plump in the mud," says he.

 

"That's all to no use, Mounseer Frog, mavourneen," thinks I; and I

talked as hard and as fast as I could all the while, and throth it was

mesilf jist that divarted her leddyship complately and intirely, by

rason of the illigant conversation that I kipt up wid her all about the

dear bogs of Connaught. And by and by she gived me such a swate smile,

from one ind of her mouth to the ither, that it made me as bould as a

pig, and I jist took hould of the ind of her little finger in the most

dillikitest manner in natur, looking at her all the while out o' the

whites of my eyes.

 

And then ounly percave the cuteness of the swate angel, for no sooner

did she obsarve that I was afther the squazing of her flipper, than she

up wid it in a jiffy, and put it away behind her back, jist as much as

to say, "Now thin, Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, there's a bitther chance

for ye, mavourneen, for it's not altogether the gentaal thing to be

afther the squazing of my flipper right full in the sight of that little

furrenner Frinchman, Mounseer Maiter-di-dauns."

 

Wid that I giv'd her a big wink jist to say, "lit Sir Pathrick alone for

the likes o' them thricks," and thin I wint aisy to work, and you'd have

died wid the divarsion to behould how cliverly I slipped my right arm

betwane the back o' the sofy, and the back of her leddyship, and there,

sure enough, I found a swate little flipper all a waiting to say, "the

tip o' the mornin' to ye, Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt." And

wasn't it mesilf, sure, that jist giv'd it the laste little bit of a

squaze in the world, all in the way of a commincement, and not to be too

rough wid her leddyship? and och, botheration, wasn't it the gentaalest

and dilikittest of all the little squazes that I got in return? "Blood

and thunder, Sir Pathrick, mavourneen," thinks I to mesilf, "fait it's

jist the mother's son of you, and nobody else at all at all, that's the

handsomest and the fortunittest young bog-throtter that ever cum'd out

of Connaught!" And with that I givd the flipper a big squaze, and a big

squaze it was, by the powers, that her leddyship giv'd to me back. But

it would ha split the seven sides of you wid the laffin' to

behould, jist then all at once, the consated behavior of Mounseer

Maiter-di-dauns. The likes o' sich a jabbering, and a smirking, and a

parley-wouing as he begin'd wid her leddyship, niver was known before

upon arth; and divil may burn me if it wasn't me own very two peepers

that cotch'd him tipping her the wink out of one eye. Och, hon! if it

wasn't mesilf thin that was mad as a Kilkenny cat I shud like to be

tould who it was!

 

"Let me infarm you, Mounseer Maiter-di-dauns," said I, as purlite as

iver ye seed, "that it's not the gintaal thing at all at all, and not

for the likes o' you inny how, to be afther the oggling and a goggling

at her leddyship in that fashion," and jist wid that such another squaze

as it was I giv'd her flipper, all as much as to say, "isn't it Sir

Pathrick now, my jewel, that'll be able to the proticting o' you, my

darlint?" and then there cum'd another squaze back, all by way of the

answer. "Thrue for you, Sir Pathrick," it said as plain as iver a squaze

said in the world, "Thrue for you, Sir Pathrick, mavourneen, and it's

a proper nate gintleman ye are--that's God's truth," and with that she

opened her two beautiful peepers till I belaved they wud ha' cum'd out

of her hid althegither and intirely, and she looked first as mad as a

cat at Mounseer Frog, and thin as smiling as all out o' doors at mesilf.

 

"Thin," says he, the willian, "Och hon! and a wolly-wou, pully-wou," and

then wid that he shoved up his two shoulders till the divil the bit of

his hid was to be diskivered, and then he let down the two corners of

his purraty-trap, and thin not a haporth more of the satisfaction could

I git out o' the spalpeen.

 

Belave me, my jewel, it was Sir Pathrick that was unreasonable mad thin,

and the more by token that the Frinchman kipt an wid his winking at the

widdy; and the widdy she kept an wid the squazing of my flipper, as much

as to say, "At him again, Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, mavourneen:" so I

just ripped out wid a big oath, and says I;

 

"Ye little spalpeeny frog of a bog-throtting son of a bloody noun!"--and

jist thin what d'ye think it was that her leddyship did? Troth she

jumped up from the sofy as if she was bit, and made off through

the door, while I turned my head round afther her, in a complate

bewilderment and botheration, and followed her wid me two peepers. You

percave I had a reason of my own for knowing that she couldn't git down

the stares althegither and intirely; for I knew very well that I had

hould of her hand, for the divil the bit had I iver lit it go. And says

I; "Isn't it the laste little bit of a mistake in the world that ye've

been afther the making, yer leddyship? Come back now, that's a darlint,

and I'll give ye yur flipper." But aff she wint down the stairs like a

shot, and thin I turned round to the little Frinch furrenner. Och hon!

if it wasn't his spalpeeny little paw that I had hould of in my own--why

thin--thin it wasn't--that's all.

 

And maybe it wasn't mesilf that jist died then outright wid the laffin',

to behold the little chap when he found out that it wasn't the widdy at

all at all that he had had hould of all the time, but only Sir Pathrick

O'Grandison. The ould divil himself niver behild sich a long face as he

pet an! As for Sir Pathrick O'Grandison, Barronitt, it wasn't for

the likes of his riverence to be afther the minding of a thrifle of a

mistake. Ye may jist say, though (for it's God's thruth), that afore I

left hould of the flipper of the spalpeen (which was not till afther her

leddyship's futman had kicked us both down the stairs), I giv'd it such a

nate little broth of a squaze as made it all up into raspberry jam.

 

"Woully wou," says he, "pully wou," says he--"Cot tam!"

 

And that's jist the thruth of the rason why he wears his lift hand in a

sling.

 

 

 

BON-BON.

 

          Quand un bon vin meuble mon estomac,

          Je suis plus savant que Balzac--          Plus sage que Pibrac;

          Mon brass seul faisant l'attaque

          De la nation Coseaque,

          La mettroit au sac;

          De Charon je passerois le lac,

          En dormant dans son bac;

          J'irois au fier Eac,

          Sans que mon coeur fit tic ni tac,

          Presenter du tabac.

                      French Vaudeville

 

THAT Pierre Bon-Bon was a _restaurateur_ of uncommon qualifications,

no man who, during the reign of----, frequented the little Cafe in the

cul-de-sac Le Febvre at Rouen, will, I imagine, feel himself at liberty

to dispute. That Pierre Bon-Bon was, in an equal degree, skilled in

the philosophy of that period is, I presume, still more especially

undeniable. His _pates a la fois_ were beyond doubt immaculate; but

what pen can do justice to his essays _sur la Nature_--his thoughts sur

_l'Ame_--his observations _sur l'Esprit?_ If his _omelettes_--if his

_fricandeaux_ were inestimable, what _litterateur_ of that day would not

have given twice as much for an "_Idee de Bon-Bon_" as for all the trash

of "_Idees_" of all the rest of the _savants?_ Bon-Bon had ransacked

libraries which no other man had ransacked--had more than any other

would have entertained a notion of reading--had understood more than

any other would have conceived the possibility of understanding; and

although, while he flourished, there were not wanting some authors at

Rouen to assert "that his _dicta_ evinced neither the purity of the

Academy, nor the depth of the Lyceum"--although, mark me, his doctrines

were by no means very generally comprehended, still it did not follow

that they were difficult of comprehension. It was, I think, on account

of their self-evidency that many persons were led to consider them

abstruse. It is to Bon-Bon--but let this go no farther--it is to Bon-Bon

that Kant himself is mainly indebted for his metaphysics. The former was

indeed not a Platonist, nor strictly speaking an Aristotelian--nor did

he, like the modern Leibnitz, waste those precious hours which might

be employed in the invention of a _fricasee_ or, _facili gradu_, the

analysis of a sensation, in frivolous attempts at reconciling the

obstinate oils and waters of ethical discussion. Not at all. Bon-Bon was

Ionic--Bon-Bon was equally Italic. He reasoned _a priori_--He reasoned

also _a posteriori_. His ideas were innate--or otherwise. He believed in

George of Trebizonde--He believed in Bossarion [Bessarion]. Bon-Bon was

emphatically a--Bon-Bonist.

 

I have spoken of the philosopher in his capacity of _restaurateur_. I

would not, however, have any friend of mine imagine that, in fulfilling

his hereditary duties in that line, our hero wanted a proper estimation

of their dignity and importance. Far from it. It was impossible to say

in which branch of his profession he took the greater pride. In his

opinion the powers of the intellect held intimate connection with the

capabilities of the stomach. I am not sure, indeed, that he greatly

disagreed with the Chinese, who held that the soul lies in the abdomen.

The Greeks at all events were right, he thought, who employed the same

words for the mind and the diaphragm. (*1) By this I do not mean to

insinuate a charge of gluttony, or indeed any other serious charge

to the prejudice of the metaphysician. If Pierre Bon-Bon had his

failings--and what great man has not a thousand?--if Pierre Bon-Bon,

I say, had his failings, they were failings of very little

importance--faults indeed which, in other tempers, have often been

looked upon rather in the light of virtues. As regards one of these

foibles, I should not even have mentioned it in this history but for the

remarkable prominency--the extreme _alto relievo_--in which it jutted

out from the plane of his general disposition. He could never let slip

an opportunity of making a bargain.

 

{*1} MD

 

Not that he was avaricious--no. It was by no means necessary to the

satisfaction of the philosopher, that the bargain should be to his own

proper advantage. Provided a trade could be effected--a trade of any

kind, upon any terms, or under any circumstances--a triumphant smile

was seen for many days thereafter to enlighten his countenance, and a

knowing wink of the eye to give evidence of his sagacity.

 

At any epoch it would not be very wonderful if a humor so peculiar as

the one I have just mentioned, should elicit attention and remark.

At the epoch of our narrative, had this peculiarity not attracted

observation, there would have been room for wonder indeed. It was soon

reported that, upon all occasions of the kind, the smile of Bon-Bon was

wont to differ widely from the downright grin with which he would laugh

at his own jokes, or welcome an acquaintance. Hints were thrown out of

an exciting nature; stories were told of perilous bargains made in

a hurry and repented of at leisure; and instances were adduced of

unaccountable capacities, vague longings, and unnatural inclinations

implanted by the author of all evil for wise purposes of his own.

 

The philosopher had other weaknesses--but they are scarcely worthy our

serious examination. For example, there are few men of extraordinary

profundity who are found wanting in an inclination for the bottle.

Whether this inclination be an exciting cause, or rather a valid proof

of such profundity, it is a nice thing to say. Bon-Bon, as far as I can

learn, did not think the subject adapted to minute investigation;--nor

do I. Yet in the indulgence of a propensity so truly classical, it

is not to be supposed that the restaurateur would lose sight of that

intuitive discrimination which was wont to characterize, at one and the

same time, his essais and his omelettes. In his seclusions the Vin de

Bourgogne had its allotted hour, and there were appropriate moments for

the Cotes du Rhone. With him Sauterne was to Medoc what Catullus was to

Homer. He would sport with a syllogism in sipping St. Peray, but unravel

an argument over Clos de Vougeot, and upset a theory in a torrent of

Chambertin. Well had it been if the same quick sense of propriety

had attended him in the peddling propensity to which I have formerly

alluded--but this was by no means the case. Indeed to say the truth,

that trait of mind in the philosophic Bon-Bon did begin at length to

assume a character of strange intensity and mysticism, and appeared

deeply tinctured with the diablerie of his favorite German studies.

 

To enter the little Cafe in the cul-de-sac Le Febvre was, at the period

of our tale, to enter the sanctum of a man of genius. Bon-Bon was a man

of genius. There was not a sous-cusinier in Rouen, who could not have

told you that Bon-Bon was a man of genius. His very cat knew it, and

forebore to whisk her tail in the presence of the man of genius. His

large water-dog was acquainted with the fact, and upon the approach

of his master, betrayed his sense of inferiority by a sanctity of

deportment, a debasement of the ears, and a dropping of the lower jaw

not altogether unworthy of a dog. It is, however, true that much of this

habitual respect might have been attributed to the personal appearance

of the metaphysician. A distinguished exterior will, I am constrained to

say, have its way even with a beast; and I am willing to allow much

in the outward man of the restaurateur calculated to impress the

imagination of the quadruped. There is a peculiar majesty about the

atmosphere of the little great--if I may be permitted so equivocal an

expression--which mere physical bulk alone will be found at all times

inefficient in creating. If, however, Bon-Bon was barely three feet in

height, and if his head was diminutively small, still it was impossible

to behold the rotundity of his stomach without a sense of magnificence

nearly bordering upon the sublime. In its size both dogs and men

must have seen a type of his acquirements--in its immensity a fitting

habitation for his immortal soul.

 

I might here--if it so pleased me--dilate upon the matter of habiliment,

and other mere circumstances of the external metaphysician. I might

hint that the hair of our hero was worn short, combed smoothly over

his forehead, and surmounted by a conical-shaped white flannel cap and

tassels--that his pea-green jerkin was not after the fashion of those

worn by the common class of restaurateurs at that day--that the sleeves

were something fuller than the reigning costume permitted--that the

cuffs were turned up, not as usual in that barbarous period, with

cloth of the same quality and color as the garment, but faced in a more

fanciful manner with the particolored velvet of Genoa--that his slippers

were of a bright purple, curiously filigreed, and might have been

manufactured in Japan, but for the exquisite pointing of the toes, and

the brilliant tints of the binding and embroidery--that his breeches

were of the yellow satin-like material called aimable--that his sky-blue

cloak, resembling in form a dressing-wrapper, and richly bestudded all

over with crimson devices, floated cavalierly upon his shoulders like

a mist of the morning--and that his tout ensemble gave rise to the

remarkable words of Benevenuta, the Improvisatrice of Florence, "that

it was difficult to say whether Pierre Bon-Bon was indeed a bird of

Paradise, or rather a very Paradise of perfection." I might, I say,

expatiate upon all these points if I pleased,--but I forbear, merely

personal details may be left to historical novelists,--they are beneath

the moral dignity of matter-of-fact.

 

I have said that "to enter the Cafe in the cul-de-sac Le Febvre was to

enter the sanctum of a man of genius"--but then it was only the man

of genius who could duly estimate the merits of the sanctum. A sign,

consisting of a vast folio, swung before the entrance. On one side of

the volume was painted a bottle; on the reverse a pate. On the back

were visible in large letters Oeuvres de Bon-Bon. Thus was delicately

shadowed forth the two-fold occupation of the proprietor.

 

Upon stepping over the threshold, the whole interior of the building

presented itself to view. A long, low-pitched room, of antique

construction, was indeed all the accommodation afforded by the Cafe. In

a corner of the apartment stood the bed of the metaphysician. An army

of curtains, together with a canopy a la Grecque, gave it an air at once

classic and comfortable. In the corner diagonary opposite, appeared,

in direct family communion, the properties of the kitchen and the

bibliotheque. A dish of polemics stood peacefully upon the dresser.

Here lay an ovenful of the latest ethics--there a kettle of dudecimo

melanges. Volumes of German morality were hand and glove with

the gridiron--a toasting-fork might be discovered by the side of

Eusebius--Plato reclined at his ease in the frying-pan--and contemporary

manuscripts were filed away upon the spit.

 

In other respects the Cafe de Bon-Bon might be said to differ little

from the usual restaurants of the period. A fireplace yawned opposite

the door. On the right of the fireplace an open cupboard displayed a

formidable array of labelled bottles.

 

It was here, about twelve o'clock one night during the severe winter

the comments of his neighbours upon his singular propensity--that Pierre

Bon-Bon, I say, having turned them all out of his house, locked the door

upon them with an oath, and betook himself in no very pacific mood to

the comforts of a leather-bottomed arm-chair, and a fire of blazing

fagots.

 

It was one of those terrific nights which are only met with once or

twice during a century. It snowed fiercely, and the house tottered to

its centre with the floods of wind that, rushing through the crannies

in the wall, and pouring impetuously down the chimney, shook awfully the

curtains of the philosopher's bed, and disorganized the economy of his

pate-pans and papers. The huge folio sign that swung without, exposed to

the fury of the tempest, creaked ominously, and gave out a moaning sound

from its stanchions of solid oak.

 

It was in no placid temper, I say, that the metaphysician drew up his

chair to its customary station by the hearth. Many circumstances of a

perplexing nature had occurred during the day, to disturb the serenity

of his meditations. In attempting des oeufs a la Princesse, he had

unfortunately perpetrated an omelette a la Reine; the discovery of a

principle in ethics had been frustrated by the overturning of a stew;

and last, not least, he had been thwarted in one of those admirable

bargains which he at all times took such especial delight in bringing

to a successful termination. But in the chafing of his mind at these

unaccountable vicissitudes, there did not fail to be mingled some degree

of that nervous anxiety which the fury of a boisterous night is so well

calculated to produce. Whistling to his more immediate vicinity the

large black water-dog we have spoken of before, and settling himself

uneasily in his chair, he could not help casting a wary and unquiet eye

toward those distant recesses of the apartment whose inexorable shadows

not even the red firelight itself could more than partially succeed in

overcoming. Having completed a scrutiny whose exact purpose was perhaps

unintelligible to himself, he drew close to his seat a small table

covered with books and papers, and soon became absorbed in the task

of retouching a voluminous manuscript, intended for publication on the

morrow.

 

He had been thus occupied for some minutes when "I am in no hurry,

Monsieur Bon-Bon," suddenly whispered a whining voice in the apartment.

 

"The devil!" ejaculated our hero, starting to his feet, overturning the

table at his side, and staring around him in astonishment.

 

"Very true," calmly replied the voice.

 

"Very true!--what is very true?--how came you here?" vociferated the

metaphysician, as his eye fell upon something which lay stretched at

full length upon the bed.

 

"I was saying," said the intruder, without attending to the

interrogatives,--"I was saying that I am not at all pushed for

time--that the business upon which I took the liberty of calling, is of

no pressing importance--in short, that I can very well wait until you

have finished your Exposition."

 

"My Exposition!--there now!--how do you know?--how came you to

understand that I was writing an Exposition?--good God!"

 

"Hush!" replied the figure, in a shrill undertone; and, arising quickly

from the bed, he made a single step toward our hero, while an iron lamp

that depended over-head swung convulsively back from his approach.

 

The philosopher's amazement did not prevent a narrow scrutiny of the

stranger's dress and appearance. The outlines of his figure, exceedingly

lean, but much above the common height, were rendered minutely distinct,

by means of a faded suit of black cloth which fitted tight to the skin,

but was otherwise cut very much in the style of a century ago. These

garments had evidently been intended for a much shorter person than

their present owner. His ankles and wrists were left naked for several

inches. In his shoes, however, a pair of very brilliant buckles gave the

lie to the extreme poverty implied by the other portions of his dress.

His head was bare, and entirely bald, with the exception of a hinder

part, from which depended a queue of considerable length. A pair

of green spectacles, with side glasses, protected his eyes from the

influence of the light, and at the same time prevented our hero from

ascertaining either their color or their conformation. About the entire

person there was no evidence of a shirt, but a white cravat, of filthy

appearance, was tied with extreme precision around the throat and

the ends hanging down formally side by side gave (although I dare say

unintentionally) the idea of an ecclesiastic. Indeed, many other points

both in his appearance and demeanor might have very well sustained a

conception of that nature. Over his left ear, he carried, after the

fashion of a modern clerk, an instrument resembling the stylus of the

ancients. In a breast-pocket of his coat appeared conspicuously a

small black volume fastened with clasps of steel. This book, whether

accidentally or not, was so turned outwardly from the person as to

discover the words "Rituel Catholique" in white letters upon the back.

His entire physiognomy was interestingly saturnine--even cadaverously

pale. The forehead was lofty, and deeply furrowed with the ridges

of contemplation. The corners of the mouth were drawn down into an

expression of the most submissive humility. There was also a clasping of

the hands, as he stepped toward our hero--a deep sigh--and altogether a

look of such utter sanctity as could not have failed to be unequivocally

preposessing. Every shadow of anger faded from the countenance of

the metaphysician, as, having completed a satisfactory survey of his

visiter's person, he shook him cordially by the hand, and conducted him

to a seat.

 

There would however be a radical error in attributing this instantaneous

transition of feeling in the philosopher, to any one of those causes

which might naturally be supposed to have had an influence. Indeed,

Pierre Bon-Bon, from what I have been able to understand of his

disposition, was of all men the least likely to be imposed upon by any

speciousness of exterior deportment. It was impossible that so accurate

an observer of men and things should have failed to discover, upon the

moment, the real character of the personage who had thus intruded upon

his hospitality. To say no more, the conformation of his visiter's feet

was sufficiently remarkable--he maintained lightly upon his head an

inordinately tall hat--there was a tremulous swelling about the hinder

part of his breeches--and the vibration of his coat tail was a palpable

fact. Judge, then, with what feelings of satisfaction our hero found

himself thrown thus at once into the society of a person for whom he had

at all times entertained the most unqualified respect. He was, however,

too much of the diplomatist to let escape him any intimation of his

suspicions in regard to the true state of affairs. It was not his cue to

appear at all conscious of the high honor he thus unexpectedly enjoyed;

but, by leading his guest into the conversation, to elicit some

important ethical ideas, which might, in obtaining a place in his

contemplated publication, enlighten the human race, and at the same time

immortalize himself--ideas which, I should have added, his visitor's

great age, and well-known proficiency in the science of morals, might

very well have enabled him to afford.

 

Actuated by these enlightened views, our hero bade the gentleman sit

down, while he himself took occasion to throw some fagots upon the fire,

and place upon the now re-established table some bottles of Mousseux.

Having quickly completed these operations, he drew his chair vis-a-vis

to his companion's, and waited until the latter should open the

conversation. But plans even the most skilfully matured are often

thwarted in the outset of their application--and the restaurateur found

himself nonplussed by the very first words of his visiter's speech.

 

"I see you know me, Bon-Bon," said he; "ha! ha! ha!--he! he! he!--hi!

hi! hi!--ho! ho! ho!--hu! hu! hu!"--and the devil, dropping at once the

sanctity of his demeanor, opened to its fullest extent a mouth from

ear to ear, so as to display a set of jagged and fang-like teeth,

and, throwing back his head, laughed long, loudly, wickedly, and

uproariously, while the black dog, crouching down upon his haunches,

joined lustily in the chorus, and the tabby cat, flying off at a

tangent, stood up on end, and shrieked in the farthest corner of the

apartment.

 

Not so the philosopher; he was too much a man of the world either to

laugh like the dog, or by shrieks to betray the indecorous trepidation

of the cat. It must be confessed, he felt a little astonishment to see

the white letters which formed the words "Rituel Catholique" on the

book in his guest's pocket, momently changing both their color and their

import, and in a few seconds, in place of the original title the words

Regitre des Condamnes blazed forth in characters of red. This startling

circumstance, when Bon-Bon replied to his visiter's remark, imparted to

his manner an air of embarrassment which probably might, not otherwise

have been observed.

 

"Why sir," said the philosopher, "why sir, to speak sincerely--I I

imagine--I have some faint--some very faint idea--of the remarkable

honor-"

 

"Oh!--ah!--yes!--very well!" interrupted his Majesty; "say no more--I

see how it is." And hereupon, taking off his green spectacles, he wiped

the glasses carefully with the sleeve of his coat, and deposited them in

his pocket.

 

If Bon-Bon had been astonished at the incident of the book, his

amazement was now much increased by the spectacle which here presented

itself to view. In raising his eyes, with a strong feeling of curiosity

to ascertain the color of his guest's, he found them by no means black,

as he had anticipated--nor gray, as might have been imagined--nor yet

hazel nor blue--nor indeed yellow nor red--nor purple--nor white--nor

green--nor any other color in the heavens above, or in the earth

beneath, or in the waters under the earth. In short, Pierre Bon-Bon

not only saw plainly that his Majesty had no eyes whatsoever, but

could discover no indications of their having existed at any previous

period--for the space where eyes should naturally have been was, I am

constrained to say, simply a dead level of flesh.

 

It was not in the nature of the metaphysician to forbear making some

inquiry into the sources of so strange a phenomenon, and the reply of

his Majesty was at once prompt, dignified, and satisfactory.

 

"Eyes! my dear Bon-Bon--eyes! did you say?--oh!--ah!--I perceive! The

ridiculous prints, eh, which are in, circulation, have given you a false

idea of my personal appearance? Eyes!--true. Eyes, Pierre Bon-Bon,

are very well in their proper place--that, you would say, is the

head?--right--the head of a worm. To you, likewise, these optics

are indispensable--yet I will convince you that my vision is more

penetrating than your own. There is a cat I see in the corner--a pretty

cat--look at her--observe her well. Now, Bon-Bon, do you behold the

thoughts--the thoughts, I say,--the ideas--the reflections--which are

being engendered in her pericranium? There it is, now--you do not! She

is thinking we admire the length of her tail and the profundity of

her mind. She has just concluded that I am the most distinguished of

ecclesiastics, and that you are the most superficial of metaphysicians.

Thus you see I am not altogether blind; but to one of my profession, the

eyes you speak of would be merely an incumbrance, liable at any time to

be put out by a toasting-iron, or a pitchfork. To you, I allow, these

optical affairs are indispensable. Endeavor, Bon-Bon, to use them

well;--my vision is the soul."

 

Hereupon the guest helped himself to the wine upon the table, and

pouring out a bumper for Bon-Bon, requested him to drink it without

scruple, and make himself perfectly at home.

 

"A clever book that of yours, Pierre," resumed his Majesty, tapping our

friend knowingly upon the shoulder, as the latter put down his glass

after a thorough compliance with his visiter's injunction. "A clever

book that of yours, upon my honor. It's a work after my own heart. Your

arrangement of the matter, I think, however, might be improved, and many

of your notions remind me of Aristotle. That philosopher was one of my

most intimate acquaintances. I liked him as much for his terrible ill

temper, as for his happy knack at making a blunder. There is only one

solid truth in all that he has written, and for that I gave him the hint

out of pure compassion for his absurdity. I suppose, Pierre Bon-Bon, you

very well know to what divine moral truth I am alluding?"

 

"Cannot say that I--"

 

"Indeed!--why it was I who told Aristotle that by sneezing, men expelled

superfluous ideas through the proboscis."

 

"Which is--hiccup!--undoubtedly the case," said the metaphysician, while

he poured out for himself another bumper of Mousseux, and offered his

snuff-box to the fingers of his visiter.

 

"There was Plato, too," continued his Majesty, modestly declining the

snuff-box and the compliment it implied--"there was Plato, too, for

whom I, at one time, felt all the affection of a friend. You knew Plato,

Bon-Bon?--ah, no, I beg a thousand pardons. He met me at Athens, one

day, in the Parthenon, and told me he was distressed for an idea. I bade

him write, down that o nous estin aulos. He said that he would do so,

and went home, while I stepped over to the pyramids. But my conscience

smote me for having uttered a truth, even to aid a friend, and hastening

back to Athens, I arrived behind the philosopher's chair as he was

inditing the 'aulos.'"

 

"Giving the lambda a fillip with my finger, I turned it upside down. So

the sentence now read 'o nous estin augos', and is, you perceive, the

fundamental doctrines in his metaphysics."

 

"Were you ever at Rome?" asked the restaurateur, as he finished his

second bottle of Mousseux, and drew from the closet a larger supply of

Chambertin.

 

"But once, Monsieur Bon-Bon, but once. There was a time," said the devil,

as if reciting some passage from a book--"there was a time when occurred

an anarchy of five years, during which the republic, bereft of all its

officers, had no magistracy besides the tribunes of the people, and

these were not legally vested with any degree of executive power--at

that time, Monsieur Bon-Bon--at that time only I was in Rome, and I have

no earthly acquaintance, consequently, with any of its philosophy." (*2)

 

     {*2} Ils ecrivaient sur la Philosophie (_Cicero, Lucretius,

     Seneca_) mais c'etait la Philosophie Grecque.--_Condorcet_.

 

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

 

"What do I think of whom?" said the devil, in astonishment, "you

cannot surely mean to find any fault with Epicurus! What do I think of

Epicurus! Do you mean me, sir?--I am Epicurus! I am the same philosopher

who wrote each of the three hundred treatises commemorated by Diogenes

Laertes."

 

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

into his head.

 

"Very well!--very well, sir!--very well, indeed, sir!" said his Majesty,

apparently much flattered.

 

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

a--hiccup!--a lie!"

 

"Well, well, have it your own way!" said the devil, pacifically, and

Bon-Bon, having beaten his Majesty at argument, thought it his duty to

conclude a second bottle of Chambertin.

 

"As I was saying," resumed the visiter--"as I was observing a little

while ago, there are some very outre notions in that book of yours

Monsieur Bon-Bon. What, for instance, do you mean by all that humbug

about the soul? Pray, sir, what is the soul?"

 

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

"is undoubtedly-"

 

"No, sir!"

 

"Indubitably-"

 

"No, sir!"

 

"Indisputably-"

 

"No, sir!"

 

"Evidently-"

 

"No, sir!"

 

"Incontrovertibly-"

 

"No, sir!"

 

"Hiccup!--"

 

"No, sir!"

 

"And beyond all question, a-"

 

"No sir, the soul is no such thing!" (Here the philosopher, looking

daggers, took occasion to make an end, upon the spot, of his third

bottle of Chambertin.)

 

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

 

"That is neither here nor there, Monsieur Bon-Bon," replied his Majesty,

musingly. "I have tasted--that is to say, I have known some very bad

souls, and some too--pretty good ones." Here he smacked his lips, and,

having unconsciously let fall his hand upon the volume in his pocket,

was seized with a violent fit of sneezing.

 

He continued.

 

"There was the soul of Cratinus--passable: Aristophanes--racy:

Plato--exquisite--not your Plato, but Plato the comic poet; your Plato

would have turned the stomach of Cerberus--faugh! Then let me see! there

were Naevius, and Andronicus, and Plautus, and Terentius. Then there

were Lucilius, and Catullus, and Naso, and Quintus Flaccus,--dear

Quinty! as I called him when he sung a seculare for my amusement, while

I toasted him, in pure good humor, on a fork. But they want flavor,

these Romans. One fat Greek is worth a dozen of them, and besides will

keep, which cannot be said of a Quirite.--Let us taste your Sauterne."

 

Bon-Bon had by this time made up his mind to nil admirari and endeavored

to hand down the bottles in question. He was, however, conscious of a

strange sound in the room like the wagging of a tail. Of this,

although extremely indecent in his Majesty, the philosopher took no

notice:--simply kicking the dog, and requesting him to be quiet. The

visiter continued:

 

"I found that Horace tasted very much like Aristotle;--you know I am

fond of variety. Terentius I could not have told from Menander. Naso, to

my astonishment, was Nicander in disguise. Virgilius had a strong twang

of Theocritus. Martial put me much in mind of Archilochus--and Titus

Livius was positively Polybius and none other."

 

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

 

"But if I have a penchant, Monsieur Bon-Bon--if I have a penchant, it

is for a philosopher. Yet, let me tell you, sir, it is not every dev--I

mean it is not every gentleman who knows how to choose a philosopher.

Long ones are not good; and the best, if not carefully shelled, are apt

to be a little rancid on account of the gall!"

 

"Shelled!"

 

"I mean taken out of the carcass."

 

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

 

"Don't mention them!--ugh! ugh! ugh!" (Here his Majesty retched

violently.) "I never tasted but one--that rascal Hippocrates!--smelt of

asafoetida--ugh! ugh! ugh!--caught a wretched cold washing him in the

Styx--and after all he gave me the cholera morbus."

 

"The--hiccup--wretch!" ejaculated Bon-Bon, "the--hic-cup!--absorption of

a pill-box!"--and the philosopher dropped a tear.

 

"After all," continued the visiter, "after all, if a dev--if a gentleman

wishes to live, he must have more talents than one or two; and with us a

fat face is an evidence of diplomacy."

 

"How so?"

 

"Why, we are sometimes exceedingly pushed for provisions. You must know

that, in a climate so sultry as mine, it is frequently impossible to

keep a spirit alive for more than two or three hours; and after death,

unless pickled immediately (and a pickled spirit is not good),

they will--smell--you understand, eh? Putrefaction is always to be

apprehended when the souls are consigned to us in the usual way."

 

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

 

Here the iron lamp commenced swinging with redoubled violence, and

the devil half started from his seat;--however, with a slight sigh, he

recovered his composure, merely saying to our hero in a low tone: "I

tell you what, Pierre Bon-Bon, we must have no more swearing."

 

The host swallowed another bumper, by way of denoting thorough

comprehension and acquiescence, and the visiter continued.

 

"Why, there are several ways of managing. The most of us starve: some

put up with the pickle: for my part I purchase my spirits vivente

corpore, in which case I find they keep very well."

 

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

 

"The body, the body--well, what of the body?--oh! ah! I perceive. Why,

sir, the body is not at all affected by the transaction. I have made

innumerable purchases of the kind in my day, and the parties never

experienced any inconvenience. There were Cain and Nimrod, and Nero, and

Caligula, and Dionysius, and Pisistratus, and--and a thousand others,

who never knew what it was to have a soul during the latter part of

their lives; yet, sir, these men adorned society. Why possession of

his faculties, mental and corporeal? Who writes a keener epigram?

Who reasons more wittily? Who--but stay! I have his agreement in my

pocket-book."

 

Thus saying, he produced a red leather wallet, and took from it a number

of papers. Upon some of these Bon-Bon caught a glimpse of the letters

Machi--Maza--Robesp--with the words Caligula, George, Elizabeth. His

Majesty selected a narrow slip of parchment, and from it read aloud the

following words:

 

"In consideration of certain mental endowments which it is unnecessary

to specify, and in further consideration of one thousand louis d'or, I

being aged one year and one month, do hereby make over to the bearer

of this agreement all my right, title, and appurtenance in the shadow

called my soul. (Signed) A...." {*4} (Here His Majesty repeated a name

which I did not feel justified in indicating more unequivocally.)

 

{*4} Quere-Arouet?

 

"A clever fellow that," resumed he; "but like you, Monsieur Bon-Bon,

he was mistaken about the soul. The soul a shadow, truly! The soul a

shadow; Ha! ha! ha!--he! he! he!--hu! hu! hu! Only think of a fricasseed

shadow!"

 

"Only think--hiccup!--of a fricasseed shadow!" exclaimed our hero,

whose faculties were becoming much illuminated by the profundity of his

Majesty's discourse.

 

"Only think of a hiccup!--fricasseed shadow!! Now,

damme!--hiccup!--humph! If I would have been such

a--hiccup!--nincompoop! My soul, Mr.--humph!"

 

"Your soul, Monsieur Bon-Bon?"

 

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

 

"What, sir?"

 

"No shadow, damme!"

 

"Did you mean to say-"

 

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

 

"Did you not intend to assert-"

 

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

 

"What, sir?"

 

"Stew."

 

"Ha!"

 

"Soufflee."

 

"Eh!"

 

"Fricassee."

 

"Indeed!"

 

"Ragout and fricandeau--and see here, my good fellow! I'll let you have

it--hiccup!--a bargain." Here the philosopher slapped his Majesty upon

the back.

 

"Couldn't think of such a thing," said the latter calmly, at the same

time rising from his seat. The metaphysician stared.

 

"Am supplied at present," said his Majesty.

 

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

 

"Have no funds on hand."

 

"What?"

 

"Besides, very unhandsome in me--"

 

"Sir!"

 

"To take advantage of-"

 

"Hiccup!"

 

"Your present disgusting and ungentlemanly situation."

 

Here the visiter bowed and withdrew--in what manner could not precisely

be ascertained--but in a well-concerted effort to discharge a bottle

at "the villain," the slender chain was severed that depended from the

ceiling, and the metaphysician prostrated by the downfall of the lamp.

 

 

 

 

SOME WORDS WITH A MUMMY.

 

THE _symposium_ of the preceding evening had been a little too much

for my nerves. I had a wretched headache, and was desperately drowsy.

Instead of going out therefore to spend the evening as I had proposed,

it occurred to me that I could not do a wiser thing than just eat a

mouthful of supper and go immediately to bed.

 

A light supper of course. I am exceedingly fond of Welsh rabbit. More

than a pound at once, however, may not at all times be advisable. Still,

there can be no material objection to two. And really between two and

three, there is merely a single unit of difference. I ventured, perhaps,

upon four. My wife will have it five;--but, clearly, she has confounded

two very distinct affairs. The abstract number, five, I am willing to

admit; but, concretely, it has reference to bottles of Brown Stout,

without which, in the way of condiment, Welsh rabbit is to be eschewed.

 

Having thus concluded a frugal meal, and donned my night-cap, with the

serene hope of enjoying it till noon the next day, I placed my head upon

the pillow, and, through the aid of a capital conscience, fell into a

profound slumber forthwith.

 

But when were the hopes of humanity fulfilled? I could not have

completed my third snore when there came a furious ringing at the

street-door bell, and then an impatient thumping at the knocker, which

awakened me at once. In a minute afterward, and while I was still

rubbing my eyes, my wife thrust in my face a note, from my old friend,

Doctor Ponnonner. It ran thus:

 

      "Come to me, by all means, my dear good friend, as soon as you

 receive this. Come and help us to rejoice. At last, by long persevering

 diplomacy, I have gained the assent of the Directors of the City Museum,

 to my examination of the Mummy--you know the one I mean. I have

 permission to unswathe it and open it, if desirable. A few friends only

 will be present--you, of course. The Mummy is now at my house, and we

 shall begin to unroll it at eleven to-night.

 

           "Yours, ever,

 

                   PONNONNER.

 

By the time I had reached the "Ponnonner," it struck me that I was

as wide awake as a man need be. I leaped out of bed in an ecstacy,

overthrowing all in my way; dressed myself with a rapidity truly

marvellous; and set off, at the top of my speed, for the doctor's.

 

There I found a very eager company assembled. They had been awaiting me

with much impatience; the Mummy was extended upon the dining-table; and

the moment I entered its examination was commenced.

 

It was one of a pair brought, several years previously, by Captain

Arthur Sabretash, a cousin of Ponnonner's from a tomb near Eleithias, in

the Lybian mountains, a considerable distance above Thebes on the Nile.

The grottoes at this point, although less magnificent than the Theban

sepulchres, are of higher interest, on account of affording more

numerous illustrations of the private life of the Egyptians. The chamber

from which our specimen was taken, was said to be very rich in such

illustrations; the walls being completely covered with fresco paintings

and bas-reliefs, while statues, vases, and Mosaic work of rich patterns,

indicated the vast wealth of the deceased.

 

The treasure had been deposited in the Museum precisely in the same

condition in which Captain Sabretash had found it;--that is to say,

the coffin had not been disturbed. For eight years it had thus stood,

subject only externally to public inspection. We had now, therefore,

the complete Mummy at our disposal; and to those who are aware how very

rarely the unransacked antique reaches our shores, it will be evident,

at once that we had great reason to congratulate ourselves upon our good

fortune.

 

Approaching the table, I saw on it a large box, or case, nearly seven

feet long, and perhaps three feet wide, by two feet and a half deep. It

was oblong--not coffin-shaped. The material was at first supposed to

be the wood of the sycamore (_platanus_), but, upon cutting into it, we

found it to be pasteboard, or, more properly, _papier mache_, composed

of papyrus. It was thickly ornamented with paintings, representing

funeral scenes, and other mournful subjects--interspersed among which,

in every variety of position, were certain series of hieroglyphical

characters, intended, no doubt, for the name of the departed. By good

luck, Mr. Gliddon formed one of our party; and he had no difficulty in

translating the letters, which were simply phonetic, and represented the

word _Allamistakeo_.

 

We had some difficulty in getting this case open without injury;

but having at length accomplished the task, we came to a second,

coffin-shaped, and very considerably less in size than the exterior one,

but resembling it precisely in every other respect. The interval between

the two was filled with resin, which had, in some degree, defaced the

colors of the interior box.

 

Upon opening this latter (which we did quite easily), we arrived at a

third case, also coffin-shaped, and varying from the second one in no

particular, except in that of its material, which was cedar, and still

emitted the peculiar and highly aromatic odor of that wood. Between

the second and the third case there was no interval--the one fitting

accurately within the other.

 

Removing the third case, we discovered and took out the body itself.

We had expected to find it, as usual, enveloped in frequent rolls, or

bandages, of linen; but, in place of these, we found a sort of sheath,

made of papyrus, and coated with a layer of plaster, thickly gilt and

painted. The paintings represented subjects connected with the

various supposed duties of the soul, and its presentation to different

divinities, with numerous identical human figures, intended, very

probably, as portraits of the persons embalmed. Extending from head

to foot was a columnar, or perpendicular, inscription, in phonetic

hieroglyphics, giving again his name and titles, and the names and

titles of his relations.

 

Around the neck thus ensheathed, was a collar of cylindrical glass

beads, diverse in color, and so arranged as to form images of deities,

of the scarabaeus, etc, with the winged globe. Around the small of the

waist was a similar collar or belt.

 

Stripping off the papyrus, we found the flesh in excellent preservation,

with no perceptible odor. The color was reddish. The skin was hard,

smooth, and glossy. The teeth and hair were in good condition. The eyes

(it seemed) had been removed, and glass ones substituted, which were

very beautiful and wonderfully life-like, with the exception of somewhat

too determined a stare. The fingers and the nails were brilliantly

gilded.

 

Mr. Gliddon was of opinion, from the redness of the epidermis, that the

embalmment had been effected altogether by asphaltum; but, on scraping

the surface with a steel instrument, and throwing into the fire some of

the powder thus obtained, the flavor of camphor and other sweet-scented

gums became apparent.

 

We searched the corpse very carefully for the usual openings through

which the entrails are extracted, but, to our surprise, we could

discover none. No member of the party was at that period aware that

entire or unopened mummies are not infrequently met. The brain it

was customary to withdraw through the nose; the intestines through an

incision in the side; the body was then shaved, washed, and salted; then

laid aside for several weeks, when the operation of embalming, properly

so called, began.

 

As no trace of an opening could be found, Doctor Ponnonner was preparing

his instruments for dissection, when I observed that it was then past

two o'clock. Hereupon it was agreed to postpone the internal examination

until the next evening; and we were about to separate for the present,

when some one suggested an experiment or two with the Voltaic pile.

 

The application of electricity to a mummy three or four thousand years

old at the least, was an idea, if not very sage, still sufficiently

original, and we all caught it at once. About one-tenth in earnest and

nine-tenths in jest, we arranged a battery in the Doctor's study, and

conveyed thither the Egyptian.

 

It was only after much trouble that we succeeded in laying bare some

portions of the temporal muscle which appeared of less stony rigidity

than other parts of the frame, but which, as we had anticipated, of

course, gave no indication of galvanic susceptibility when brought in

contact with the wire. This, the first trial, indeed, seemed decisive,

and, with a hearty laugh at our own absurdity, we were bidding each

other good night, when my eyes, happening to fall upon those of the

Mummy, were there immediately riveted in amazement. My brief glance, in

fact, had sufficed to assure me that the orbs which we had all supposed

to be glass, and which were originally noticeable for a certain wild

stare, were now so far covered by the lids, that only a small portion of

the _tunica albuginea_ remained visible.

 

With a shout I called attention to the fact, and it became immediately

obvious to all.

 

I cannot say that I was alarmed at the phenomenon, because "alarmed" is,

in my case, not exactly the word. It is possible, however, that, but for

the Brown Stout, I might have been a little nervous. As for the rest

of the company, they really made no attempt at concealing the downright

fright which possessed them. Doctor Ponnonner was a man to be pitied.

Mr. Gliddon, by some peculiar process, rendered himself invisible. Mr.

Silk Buckingham, I fancy, will scarcely be so bold as to deny that he

made his way, upon all fours, under the table.

 

After the first shock of astonishment, however, we resolved, as a matter

of course, upon further experiment forthwith. Our operations were now

directed against the great toe of the right foot. We made an incision

over the outside of the exterior _os sesamoideum pollicis pedis,_ and

thus got at the root of the abductor muscle. Readjusting the battery, we

now applied the fluid to the bisected nerves--when, with a movement of

exceeding life-likeness, the Mummy first drew up its right knee so as to

bring it nearly in contact with the abdomen, and then, straightening the

limb with inconceivable force, bestowed a kick upon Doctor Ponnonner,

which had the effect of discharging that gentleman, like an arrow from a

catapult, through a window into the street below.

 

We rushed out _en masse_ to bring in the mangled remains of the victim,

but had the happiness to meet him upon the staircase, coming up in an

unaccountable hurry, brimful of the most ardent philosophy, and more

than ever impressed with the necessity of prosecuting our experiment

with vigor and with zeal.

 

It was by his advice, accordingly, that we made, upon the spot, a

profound incision into the tip of the subject's nose, while the Doctor

himself, laying violent hands upon it, pulled it into vehement contact

with the wire.

 

Morally and physically--figuratively and literally--was the effect

electric. In the first place, the corpse opened its eyes and winked very

rapidly for several minutes, as does Mr. Barnes in the pantomime, in the

second place, it sneezed; in the third, it sat upon end; in the fourth,

it shook its fist in Doctor Ponnonner's face; in the fifth, turning to

Messieurs Gliddon and Buckingham, it addressed them, in very capital

Egyptian, thus:

 

"I must say, gentlemen, that I am as much surprised as I am mortified at

your behavior. Of Doctor Ponnonner nothing better was to be expected. He

is a poor little fat fool who knows no better. I pity and forgive him.

But you, Mr. Gliddon--and you, Silk--who have travelled and resided in

Egypt until one might imagine you to the manner born--you, I say who

have been so much among us that you speak Egyptian fully as well, I

think, as you write your mother tongue--you, whom I have always been

led to regard as the firm friend of the mummies--I really did anticipate

more gentlemanly conduct from you. What am I to think of your standing

quietly by and seeing me thus unhandsomely used? What am I to suppose by

your permitting Tom, Dick, and Harry to strip me of my coffins, and my

clothes, in this wretchedly cold climate? In what light (to come to the

point) am I to regard your aiding and abetting that miserable little

villain, Doctor Ponnonner, in pulling me by the nose?"

 

It will be taken for granted, no doubt, that upon hearing this speech

under the circumstances, we all either made for the door, or fell into

violent hysterics, or went off in a general swoon. One of these three

things was, I say, to be expected. Indeed each and all of these lines of

conduct might have been very plausibly pursued. And, upon my word, I am

at a loss to know how or why it was that we pursued neither the one nor

the other. But, perhaps, the true reason is to be sought in the spirit

of the age, which proceeds by the rule of contraries altogether, and

is now usually admitted as the solution of every thing in the way of

paradox and impossibility. Or, perhaps, after all, it was only the

Mummy's exceedingly natural and matter-of-course air that divested his

words of the terrible. However this may be, the facts are clear, and no

member of our party betrayed any very particular trepidation, or seemed

to consider that any thing had gone very especially wrong.

 

For my part I was convinced it was all right, and merely stepped aside,

out of the range of the Egyptian's fist. Doctor Ponnonner thrust his

hands into his breeches' pockets, looked hard at the Mummy, and grew

excessively red in the face. Mr. Glidden stroked his whiskers and drew

up the collar of his shirt. Mr. Buckingham hung down his head, and put

his right thumb into the left corner of his mouth.

 

The Egyptian regarded him with a severe countenance for some minutes and

at length, with a sneer, said:

 

"Why don't you speak, Mr. Buckingham? Did you hear what I asked you, or

not? Do take your thumb out of your mouth!"

 

Mr. Buckingham, hereupon, gave a slight start, took his right thumb out

of the left corner of his mouth, and, by way of indemnification inserted

his left thumb in the right corner of the aperture above-mentioned.

 

Not being able to get an answer from Mr. B., the figure turned peevishly

to Mr. Gliddon, and, in a peremptory tone, demanded in general terms

what we all meant.

 

Mr. Gliddon replied at great length, in phonetics; and but for the

deficiency of American printing-offices in hieroglyphical type, it would

afford me much pleasure to record here, in the original, the whole of

his very excellent speech.

 

I may as well take this occasion to remark, that all the subsequent

conversation in which the Mummy took a part, was carried on in primitive

Egyptian, through the medium (so far as concerned myself and other

untravelled members of the company)--through the medium, I say, of

Messieurs Gliddon and Buckingham, as interpreters. These gentlemen spoke

the mother tongue of the Mummy with inimitable fluency and grace; but I

could not help observing that (owing, no doubt, to the introduction of

images entirely modern, and, of course, entirely novel to the stranger)

the two travellers were reduced, occasionally, to the employment of

sensible forms for the purpose of conveying a particular meaning.

Mr. Gliddon, at one period, for example, could not make the Egyptian

comprehend the term "politics," until he sketched upon the wall, with

a bit of charcoal a little carbuncle-nosed gentleman, out at elbows,

standing upon a stump, with his left leg drawn back, right arm thrown

forward, with his fist shut, the eyes rolled up toward Heaven, and

the mouth open at an angle of ninety degrees. Just in the same way Mr.

Buckingham failed to convey the absolutely modern idea "wig," until

(at Doctor Ponnonner's suggestion) he grew very pale in the face, and

consented to take off his own.

 

It will be readily understood that Mr. Gliddon's discourse turned

chiefly upon the vast benefits accruing to science from the unrolling

and disembowelling of mummies; apologizing, upon this score, for any

disturbance that might have been occasioned him, in particular, the

individual Mummy called Allamistakeo; and concluding with a mere hint

(for it could scarcely be considered more) that, as these little

matters were now explained, it might be as well to proceed with

the investigation intended. Here Doctor Ponnonner made ready his

instruments.

 

In regard to the latter suggestions of the orator, it appears that

Allamistakeo had certain scruples of conscience, the nature of which I

did not distinctly learn; but he expressed himself satisfied with the

apologies tendered, and, getting down from the table, shook hands with

the company all round.

 

When this ceremony was at an end, we immediately busied ourselves in

repairing the damages which our subject had sustained from the scalpel.

We sewed up the wound in his temple, bandaged his foot, and applied a

square inch of black plaster to the tip of his nose.

 

It was now observed that the Count (this was the title, it seems, of

Allamistakeo) had a slight fit of shivering--no doubt from the cold. The

Doctor immediately repaired to his wardrobe, and soon returned with

a black dress coat, made in Jennings' best manner, a pair of sky-blue

plaid pantaloons with straps, a pink gingham chemise, a flapped vest of

brocade, a white sack overcoat, a walking cane with a hook, a hat with

no brim, patent-leather boots, straw-colored kid gloves, an eye-glass, a

pair of whiskers, and a waterfall cravat. Owing to the disparity of size

between the Count and the doctor (the proportion being as two to one),

there was some little difficulty in adjusting these habiliments upon the

person of the Egyptian; but when all was arranged, he might have been

said to be dressed. Mr. Gliddon, therefore, gave him his arm, and led

him to a comfortable chair by the fire, while the Doctor rang the bell

upon the spot and ordered a supply of cigars and wine.

 

The conversation soon grew animated. Much curiosity was, of course,

expressed in regard to the somewhat remarkable fact of Allamistakeo's

still remaining alive.

 

"I should have thought," observed Mr. Buckingham, "that it is high time

you were dead."

 

"Why," replied the Count, very much astonished, "I am little more than

seven hundred years old! My father lived a thousand, and was by no means

in his dotage when he died."

 

Here ensued a brisk series of questions and computations, by means of

which it became evident that the antiquity of the Mummy had been grossly

misjudged. It had been five thousand and fifty years and some months

since he had been consigned to the catacombs at Eleithias.

 

"But my remark," resumed Mr. Buckingham, "had no reference to your age

at the period of interment (I am willing to grant, in fact, that you are

still a young man), and my illusion was to the immensity of time during

which, by your own showing, you must have been done up in asphaltum."

 

"In what?" said the Count.

 

"In asphaltum," persisted Mr. B.

 

"Ah, yes; I have some faint notion of what you mean; it might be made

to answer, no doubt--but in my time we employed scarcely any thing else

than the Bichloride of Mercury."

 

"But what we are especially at a loss to understand," said Doctor

Ponnonner, "is how it happens that, having been dead and buried in Egypt

five thousand years ago, you are here to-day all alive and looking so

delightfully well."

 

"Had I been, as you say, dead," replied the Count, "it is more than

probable that dead, I should still be; for I perceive you are yet in the

infancy of Calvanism, and cannot accomplish with it what was a common

thing among us in the old days. But the fact is, I fell into catalepsy,

and it was considered by my best friends that I was either dead or

should be; they accordingly embalmed me at once--I presume you are aware

of the chief principle of the embalming process?"

 

"Why not altogether."

 

"Why, I perceive--a deplorable condition of ignorance! Well I cannot

enter into details just now: but it is necessary to explain that to

embalm (properly speaking), in Egypt, was to arrest indefinitely all the

animal functions subjected to the process. I use the word 'animal' in

its widest sense, as including the physical not more than the moral

and vital being. I repeat that the leading principle of embalmment

consisted, with us, in the immediately arresting, and holding in

perpetual abeyance, all the animal functions subjected to the process.

To be brief, in whatever condition the individual was, at the period of

embalmment, in that condition he remained. Now, as it is my good fortune

to be of the blood of the Scarabaeus, I was embalmed alive, as you see

me at present."

 

"The blood of the Scarabaeus!" exclaimed Doctor Ponnonner.

 

"Yes. The Scarabaeus was the insignium or the 'arms,' of a very

distinguished and very rare patrician family. To be 'of the blood of the

Scarabaeus,' is merely to be one of that family of which the Scarabaeus

is the insignium. I speak figuratively."

 

"But what has this to do with you being alive?"

 

"Why, it is the general custom in Egypt to deprive a corpse, before

embalmment, of its bowels and brains; the race of the Scarabaei alone

did not coincide with the custom. Had I not been a Scarabeus, therefore,

I should have been without bowels and brains; and without either it is

inconvenient to live."

 

"I perceive that," said Mr. Buckingham, "and I presume that all the

entire mummies that come to hand are of the race of Scarabaei."

 

"Beyond doubt."

 

"I thought," said Mr. Gliddon, very meekly, "that the Scarabaeus was one

of the Egyptian gods."

 

"One of the Egyptian _what?"_ exclaimed the Mummy, starting to its feet.

 

"Gods!" repeated the traveller.

 

"Mr. Gliddon, I really am astonished to hear you talk in this style,"

said the Count, resuming his chair. "No nation upon the face of the

earth has ever acknowledged more than one god. The Scarabaeus, the Ibis,

etc., were with us (as similar creatures have been with others) the

symbols, or media, through which we offered worship to the Creator too

august to be more directly approached."

 

There was here a pause. At length the colloquy was renewed by Doctor

Ponnonner.

 

"It is not improbable, then, from what you have explained," said he,

"that among the catacombs near the Nile there may exist other mummies of

the Scarabaeus tribe, in a condition of vitality?"

 

"There can be no question of it," replied the Count; "all the Scarabaei

embalmed accidentally while alive, are alive now. Even some of those

purposely so embalmed, may have been overlooked by their executors, and

still remain in the tomb."

 

"Will you be kind enough to explain," I said, "what you mean by

'purposely so embalmed'?"

 

"With great pleasure!" answered the Mummy, after surveying me leisurely

through his eye-glass--for it was the first time I had ventured to

address him a direct question.

 

"With great pleasure," he said. "The usual duration of man's life, in

my time, was about eight hundred years. Few men died, unless by most

extraordinary accident, before the age of six hundred; few lived longer

than a decade of centuries; but eight were considered the natural

term. After the discovery of the embalming principle, as I have already

described it to you, it occurred to our philosophers that a laudable

curiosity might be gratified, and, at the same time, the interests of

science much advanced, by living this natural term in installments. In

the case of history, indeed, experience demonstrated that something of

this kind was indispensable. An historian, for example, having attained

the age of five hundred, would write a book with great labor and then

get himself carefully embalmed; leaving instructions to his executors

pro tem., that they should cause him to be revivified after the lapse of

a certain period--say five or six hundred years. Resuming existence at

the expiration of this time, he would invariably find his great work

converted into a species of hap-hazard note-book--that is to say, into

a kind of literary arena for the conflicting guesses, riddles, and

personal squabbles of whole herds of exasperated commentators.

These guesses, etc., which passed under the name of annotations, or

emendations, were found so completely to have enveloped, distorted, and

overwhelmed the text, that the author had to go about with a lantern to

discover his own book. When discovered, it was never worth the trouble

of the search. After re-writing it throughout, it was regarded as the

bounden duty of the historian to set himself to work immediately

in correcting, from his own private knowledge and experience, the

traditions of the day concerning the epoch at which he had originally

lived. Now this process of re-scription and personal rectification,

pursued by various individual sages from time to time, had the effect of

preventing our history from degenerating into absolute fable."

 

"I beg your pardon," said Doctor Ponnonner at this point, laying his

hand gently upon the arm of the Egyptian--"I beg your pardon, sir, but

may I presume to interrupt you for one moment?"

 

"By all means, sir," replied the Count, drawing up.

 

"I merely wished to ask you a question," said the Doctor. "You mentioned

the historian's personal correction of traditions respecting his own

epoch. Pray, sir, upon an average what proportion of these Kabbala were

usually found to be right?"

 

"The Kabbala, as you properly term them, sir, were generally discovered

to be precisely on a par with the facts recorded in the un-re-written

histories themselves;--that is to say, not one individual iota of either

was ever known, under any circumstances, to be not totally and radically

wrong."

 

"But since it is quite clear," resumed the Doctor, "that at least five

thousand years have elapsed since your entombment, I take it for

granted that your histories at that period, if not your traditions

were sufficiently explicit on that one topic of universal interest, the

Creation, which took place, as I presume you are aware, only about ten

centuries before."

 

"Sir!" said the Count Allamistakeo.

 

The Doctor repeated his remarks, but it was only after much additional

explanation that the foreigner could be made to comprehend them. The

latter at length said, hesitatingly:

 

"The ideas you have suggested are to me, I confess, utterly novel.

During my time I never knew any one to entertain so singular a fancy

as that the universe (or this world if you will have it so) ever had

a beginning at all. I remember once, and once only, hearing something

remotely hinted, by a man of many speculations, concerning the origin

_of the human race;_ and by this individual, the very word _Adam_

(or Red Earth), which you make use of, was employed. He employed

it, however, in a generical sense, with reference to the spontaneous

germination from rank soil (just as a thousand of the lower genera of

creatures are germinated)--the spontaneous germination, I say, of five

vast hordes of men, simultaneously upspringing in five distinct and

nearly equal divisions of the globe."

 

Here, in general, the company shrugged their shoulders, and one or

two of us touched our foreheads with a very significant air. Mr. Silk

Buckingham, first glancing slightly at the occiput and then at the

sinciput of Allamistakeo, spoke as follows:

 

"The long duration of human life in your time, together with

the occasional practice of passing it, as you have explained, in

installments, must have had, indeed, a strong tendency to the general

development and conglomeration of knowledge. I presume, therefore, that

we are to attribute the marked inferiority of the old Egyptians in

all particulars of science, when compared with the moderns, and more

especially with the Yankees, altogether to the superior solidity of the

Egyptian skull."

 

"I confess again," replied the Count, with much suavity, "that I am

somewhat at a loss to comprehend you; pray, to what particulars of

science do you allude?"

 

Here our whole party, joining voices, detailed, at great length, the

assumptions of phrenology and the marvels of animal magnetism.

 

Having heard us to an end, the Count proceeded to relate a few

anecdotes, which rendered it evident that prototypes of Gall and

Spurzheim had flourished and faded in Egypt so long ago as to have been

nearly forgotten, and that the manoeuvres of Mesmer were really very

contemptible tricks when put in collation with the positive miracles

of the Theban savans, who created lice and a great many other similar

things.

 

I here asked the Count if his people were able to calculate eclipses. He

smiled rather contemptuously, and said they were.

 

This put me a little out, but I began to make other inquiries in regard

to his astronomical knowledge, when a member of the company, who had

never as yet opened his mouth, whispered in my ear, that for information

on this head, I had better consult Ptolemy (whoever Ptolemy is), as well

as one Plutarch de facie lunae.

 

I then questioned the Mummy about burning-glasses and lenses, and, in

general, about the manufacture of glass; but I had not made an end of my

queries before the silent member again touched me quietly on the elbow,

and begged me for God's sake to take a peep at Diodorus Siculus. As

for the Count, he merely asked me, in the way of reply, if we moderns

possessed any such microscopes as would enable us to cut cameos in the

style of the Egyptians. While I was thinking how I should answer

this question, little Doctor Ponnonner committed himself in a very

extraordinary way.

 

"Look at our architecture!" he exclaimed, greatly to the indignation of

both the travellers, who pinched him black and blue to no purpose.

 

"Look," he cried with enthusiasm, "at the Bowling-Green Fountain in New

York! or if this be too vast a contemplation, regard for a moment the

Capitol at Washington, D. C.!"--and the good little medical man went

on to detail very minutely, the proportions of the fabric to which he

referred. He explained that the portico alone was adorned with no less

than four and twenty columns, five feet in diameter, and ten feet apart.

 

The Count said that he regretted not being able to remember, just

at that moment, the precise dimensions of any one of the principal

buildings of the city of Aznac, whose foundations were laid in the night

of Time, but the ruins of which were still standing, at the epoch of

his entombment, in a vast plain of sand to the westward of Thebes. He

recollected, however, (talking of the porticoes,) that one affixed to

an inferior palace in a kind of suburb called Carnac, consisted of a

hundred and forty-four columns, thirty-seven feet in circumference, and

twenty-five feet apart. The approach to this portico, from the Nile,

was through an avenue two miles long, composed of sphynxes, statues, and

obelisks, twenty, sixty, and a hundred feet in height. The palace itself

(as well as he could remember) was, in one direction, two miles long,

and might have been altogether about seven in circuit. Its walls were

richly painted all over, within and without, with hieroglyphics. He

would not pretend to assert that even fifty or sixty of the Doctor's

Capitols might have been built within these walls, but he was by

no means sure that two or three hundred of them might not have

been squeezed in with some trouble. That palace at Carnac was an

insignificant little building after all. He (the Count), however, could

not conscientiously refuse to admit the ingenuity, magnificence, and

superiority of the Fountain at the Bowling Green, as described by the

Doctor. Nothing like it, he was forced to allow, had ever been seen in

Egypt or elsewhere.

 

I here asked the Count what he had to say to our railroads.

 

"Nothing," he replied, "in particular." They were rather slight, rather

ill-conceived, and clumsily put together. They could not be compared, of

course, with the vast, level, direct, iron-grooved causeways upon which

the Egyptians conveyed entire temples and solid obelisks of a hundred

and fifty feet in altitude.

 

I spoke of our gigantic mechanical forces.

 

He agreed that we knew something in that way, but inquired how I should

have gone to work in getting up the imposts on the lintels of even the

little palace at Carnac.

 

This question I concluded not to hear, and demanded if he had any idea

of Artesian wells; but he simply raised his eyebrows; while Mr. Gliddon

winked at me very hard and said, in a low tone, that one had been

recently discovered by the engineers employed to bore for water in the

Great Oasis.

 

I then mentioned our steel; but the foreigner elevated his nose, and

asked me if our steel could have executed the sharp carved work seen on

the obelisks, and which was wrought altogether by edge-tools of copper.

 

This disconcerted us so greatly that we thought it advisable to vary the

attack to Metaphysics. We sent for a copy of a book called the "Dial,"

and read out of it a chapter or two about something that is not very

clear, but which the Bostonians call the Great Movement of Progress.

 

The Count merely said that Great Movements were awfully common things in

his day, and as for Progress, it was at one time quite a nuisance, but

it never progressed.

 

We then spoke of the great beauty and importance of Democracy, and

were at much trouble in impressing the Count with a due sense of the

advantages we enjoyed in living where there was suffrage ad libitum, and

no king.

 

He listened with marked interest, and in fact seemed not a little

amused. When we had done, he said that, a great while ago, there had

occurred something of a very similar sort. Thirteen Egyptian provinces

determined all at once to be free, and to set a magnificent example to

the rest of mankind. They assembled their wise men, and concocted the

most ingenious constitution it is possible to conceive. For a while they

managed remarkably well; only their habit of bragging was prodigious.

The thing ended, however, in the consolidation of the thirteen states,

with some fifteen or twenty others, in the most odious and insupportable

despotism that was ever heard of upon the face of the Earth.

 

I asked what was the name of the usurping tyrant.

 

As well as the Count could recollect, it was Mob.

 

Not knowing what to say to this, I raised my voice, and deplored the

Egyptian ignorance of steam.

 

The Count looked at me with much astonishment, but made no answer. The

silent gentleman, however, gave me a violent nudge in the ribs with his

elbows--told me I had sufficiently exposed myself for once--and demanded

if I was really such a fool as not to know that the modern steam-engine

is derived from the invention of Hero, through Solomon de Caus.

 

We were now in imminent danger of being discomfited; but, as good luck

would have it, Doctor Ponnonner, having rallied, returned to our rescue,

and inquired if the people of Egypt would seriously pretend to rival the

moderns in the all--important particular of dress.

 

The Count, at this, glanced downward to the straps of his pantaloons,

and then taking hold of the end of one of his coat-tails, held it up

close to his eyes for some minutes. Letting it fall, at last, his mouth

extended itself very gradually from ear to ear; but I do not remember

that he said any thing in the way of reply.

 

Hereupon we recovered our spirits, and the Doctor, approaching the Mummy

with great dignity, desired it to say candidly, upon its honor as

a gentleman, if the Egyptians had comprehended, at any period, the

manufacture of either Ponnonner's lozenges or Brandreth's pills.

 

We looked, with profound anxiety, for an answer--but in vain. It was

not forthcoming. The Egyptian blushed and hung down his head. Never was

triumph more consummate; never was defeat borne with so ill a

grace. Indeed, I could not endure the spectacle of the poor Mummy's

mortification. I reached my hat, bowed to him stiffly, and took leave.

 

Upon getting home I found it past four o'clock, and went immediately

to bed. It is now ten A.M. I have been up since seven, penning these

memoranda for the benefit of my family and of mankind. The former I

shall behold no more. My wife is a shrew. The truth is, I am heartily

sick of this life and of the nineteenth century in general. I am

convinced that every thing is going wrong. Besides, I am anxious to

know who will be President in 2045. As soon, therefore, as I shave and

swallow a cup of coffee, I shall just step over to Ponnonner's and get

embalmed for a couple of hundred years.

 

 

 

 

THE POETIC PRINCIPLE

 

IN speaking of the Poetic Principle, I have no design to be either

thorough or profound. While discussing, very much at random, the

essentiality of what we call Poetry, my principal purpose will be to

cite for consideration, some few of those minor English or American

poems which best suit my own taste, or which, upon my own fancy, have

left the most definite impression. By "minor poems" I mean, of course,

poems of little length. And here, in the beginning, permit me to say

a few words in regard to a somewhat peculiar principle, which, whether

rightfully or wrongfully, has always had its influence in my own

critical estimate of the poem. I hold that a long poem does not exist. I

maintain that the phrase, "a long poem," is simply a flat contradiction

in terms.

 

I need scarcely observe that a poem deserves its title only inasmuch as

it excites, by elevating the soul. The value of the poem is in the ratio

of this elevating excitement. But all excitements are, through a psychal

necessity, transient. That degree of excitement which would entitle

a poem to be so called at all, cannot be sustained throughout a

composition of any great length. After the lapse of half an hour, at the

very utmost, it flags--fails--a revulsion ensues--and then the poem is,

in effect, and in fact, no longer such.

 

There are, no doubt, many who have found difficulty in reconciling

the critical dictum that the "Paradise Lost" is to be devoutly admired

throughout, with the absolute impossibility of maintaining for it,

during perusal, the amount of enthusiasm which that critical dictum

would demand. This great work, in fact, is to be regarded as poetical,

only when, losing sight of that vital requisite in all works of Art,

Unity, we view it merely as a series of minor poems. If, to preserve

its Unity--its totality of effect or impression--we read it (as would be

necessary) at a single sitting, the result is but a constant alternation

of excitement and depression. After a passage of what we feel to be

true poetry, there follows, inevitably, a passage of platitude which no

critical prejudgment can force us to admire; but if, upon completing

the work, we read it again, omitting the first book--that is to say,

commencing with the second--we shall be surprised at now finding

that admirable which we before condemned--that damnable which we had

previously so much admired. It follows from all this that the ultimate,

aggregate, or absolute effect of even the best epic under the sun, is a

nullity:--and this is precisely the fact.

 

In regard to the Iliad, we have, if not positive proof, at least very

good reason for believing it intended as a series of lyrics; but,

granting the epic intention, I can say only that the work is based in an

imperfect sense of art. The modern epic is, of the supposititious ancient

model, but an inconsiderate and blindfold imitation. But the day of

these artistic anomalies is over. If, at any time, any very long poem

_were _popular in reality, which I doubt, it is at least clear that no

very long poem will ever be popular again.

 

That the extent of a poetical work is, _ceteris paribus, _the measure

of its merit, seems undoubtedly, when we thus state it, a proposition

sufficiently absurd--yet we are indebted for it to the Quarterly

Reviews. Surely there can be nothing in mere _size, _abstractly

considered--there can be nothing in mere _bulk, so _far as a volume

is concerned, which has so continuously elicited admiration from these

saturnine pamphlets! A mountain, to be sure, by the mere sentiment of

physical magnitude which it conveys, _does _impress us with a sense

of the sublime--but no man is impressed after _this _fashion by the

material grandeur of even "The Columbiad." Even the Quarterlies have

not instructed us to be so impressed by it. As _yet, _they have not

_insisted _on our estimating "Lamar" tine by the cubic foot, or Pollock

by the pound--but what else are we to _infer _from their continual

plating about "sustained effort"? If, by "sustained effort," any little

gentleman has accomplished an epic, let us frankly commend him for the

effort--if this indeed be a thing conk mendable--but let us forbear

praising the epic on the effort's account. It is to be hoped that common

sense, in the time to come, will prefer deciding upon a work of Art

rather by the impression it makes--by the effect it produces--than by

the time it took to impress the effect, or by the amount of "sustained

effort" which had been found necessary in effecting the impression. The

fact is, that perseverance is one thing and genius quite another--nor

can all the Quarterlies in Christendom confound them. By and by, this

proposition, with many which I have been just urging, will be received

as self-evident. In the meantime, by being generally condemned as

falsities, they will not be essentially damaged as truths.

 

On the other hand, it is clear that a poem may be improperly brief.

Undue brevity degenerates into mere epigrammatism. A very short poem,

while now and then producing a brilliant or vivid, never produces a

profound or enduring effect. There must be the steady pressing down

of the stamp upon the wax. De Beranger has wrought innumerable

things, pungent and spirit-stirring, but in general they have been too

imponderous to stamp themselves deeply into the public attention, and

thus, as so many feathers of fancy, have been blown aloft only to be

whistled down the wind.

 

A remarkable instance of the effect of undue brevity in depressing

a poem, in keeping it out of the popular view, is afforded by the

following exquisite little Serenade--

 

     I arise from dreams of thee

         In the first sweet sleep of night,

     When the winds are breathing low,

         And the stars are shining bright.

     I arise from dreams of thee,

         And a spirit in my feet

     Has led me--who knows how?--

         To thy chamber-window, sweet!

 

     The wandering airs they faint

         On the dark the silent stream--

     The champak odors fail

         Like sweet thoughts in a dream;

     The nightingale's complaint,

         It dies upon her heart,

     As I must die on shine,

         O, beloved as thou art!

 

     O, lift me from the grass!

         I die, I faint, I fail!

     Let thy love in kisses rain

         On my lips and eyelids pale.

     My cheek is cold and white, alas!

         My heart beats loud and fast:

     O, press it close to shine again,

         Where it will break at last.

 

Very few perhaps are familiar with these lines--yet no less a poet

than Shelley is their author. Their warm, yet delicate and ethereal

imagination will be appreciated by all, but by none so thoroughly as by

him who has himself arisen from sweet dreams of one beloved to bathe in

the aromatic air of a southern midsummer night.

 

One of the finest poems by Willis--the very best in my opinion which

he has ever written--has no doubt, through this same defect of undue

brevity, been kept back from its proper position. not less in the

 

     The shadows lay along Broadway,

         'Twas near the twilight-tide--

     And slowly there a lady fair

         Was walking in her pride.

     Alone walk'd she; but, viewlessly,

         Walk'd spirits at her side.

 

     Peace charm'd the street beneath her feet,

         And Honor charm'd the air;

     And all astir looked kind on her,

         And called her good as fair--

     For all God ever gave to her

         She kept with chary care.

 

     She kept with care her beauties rare

         From lovers warm and true--

     For heart was cold to all but gold,

         And the rich came not to won,

     But honor'd well her charms to sell.

         If priests the selling do.

 

     Now walking there was one more fair--

         A slight girl, lily-pale;

     And she had unseen company

         To make the spirit quail--

     'Twixt Want and Scorn she walk'd forlorn,

         And nothing could avail.

 

     No mercy now can clear her brow

         From this world's peace to pray

     For as love's wild prayer dissolved in air,

         Her woman's heart gave way!--

     But the sin forgiven by Christ in Heaven

         By man is cursed alway!

 

In this composition we find it difficult to recognize the Willis who has

written so many mere "verses of society." The lines are not only richly

ideal, but full of energy, while they breathe an earnestness, an evident

sincerity of sentiment, for which we look in vain throughout all the

other works of this author.

 

While the epic mania, while the idea that to merit in poetry prolixity

is indispensable, has for some years past been gradually dying out of

the public mind, by mere dint of its own absurdity, we find it succeeded

by a heresy too palpably false to be long tolerated, but one which,

in the brief period it has already endured, may be said to have

accomplished more in the corruption of our Poetical Literature than all

its other enemies combined. I allude to the heresy of _The Didactic. _It

has been assumed, tacitly and avowedly, directly and indirectly, that

the ultimate object of all Poetry is Truth. Every poem, it is said,

should inculcate a morals and by this moral is the poetical merit of the

work to be adjudged. We Americans especially have patronized this happy

idea, and we Bostonians very especially have developed it in full. We

have taken it into our heads that to write a poem simply for the poem's

sake, and to acknowledge such to have been our design, would be to

confess ourselves radically wanting in the true poetic dignity and

force:--but the simple fact is that would we but permit ourselves to

look into our own souls we should immediately there discover that under

the sun there neither exists nor _can _exist any work more thoroughly

dignified, more supremely noble, than this very poem, this poem _per se,

_this poem which is a poem and nothing more, this poem written solely

for the poem's sake.

 

With as deep a reverence for the True as ever inspired the bosom of man,

I would nevertheless limit, in some measure, its modes of inculcation.

I would limit to enforce them. I would not enfeeble them by dissipation.

The demands of Truth are severe. She has no sympathy with the myrtles.

All _that _which is so indispensable in Song is precisely all _that

_with which _she _has nothing whatever to do. It is but making her a

flaunting paradox to wreathe her in gems and flowers. In enforcing a

truth we need severity rather than efflorescence of language. We must be

simple, precise, terse. We must be cool, calm, unimpassioned. In a

word, we must be in that mood which, as nearly as possible, is the

exact converse of the poetical. _He _must be blind indeed who does not

perceive the radical and chasmal difference between the truthful and the

poetical modes of inculcation. He must be theory-mad beyond redemption

who, in spite of these differences, shall still persist in attempting to

reconcile the obstinate oils and waters of Poetry and Truth.

 

Dividing the world of mind into its three most immediately obvious

distinctions, we have the Pure Intellect, Taste, and the Moral Sense. I

place Taste in the middle, because it is just this position which in the

mind it occupies. It holds intimate relations with either extreme;

but from the Moral Sense is separated by so faint a difference that

Aristotle has not hesitated to place some of its operations among the

virtues themselves. Nevertheless we find the _offices _of the trio

marked with a sufficient distinction. Just as the Intellect concerns

itself with Truth, so Taste informs us of the Beautiful, while the Moral

Sense is regardful of Duty. Of this latter, while Conscience teaches

the obligation, and Reason the expediency, Taste contents herself with

displaying the charms:--waging war upon Vice solely on the ground of

her deformity--her disproportion--her animosity to the fitting, to the

appropriate, to the harmonious--in a word, to Beauty.

 

An immortal instinct deep within the spirit of man is thus plainly a

sense of the Beautiful. This it is which administers to his delight in

the manifold forms, and sounds, and odors and sentiments amid which he

exists. And just as the lily is repeated in the lake, or the eyes of

Amaryllis in the mirror, so is the mere oral or written repetition

of these forms, and sounds, and colors, and odors, and sentiments a

duplicate source of the light. But this mere repetition is not poetry.

He who shall simply sing, with however glowing enthusiasm, or with

however vivid a truth of description, of the sights, and sounds, and

odors, and colors, and sentiments which greet _him _in common with all

mankind--he, I say, has yet failed to prove his divine title. There is

still a something in the distance which he has been unable to attain. We

have still a thirst unquenchable, to allay which he has not shown us the

crystal springs. This thirst belongs to the immortality of Man. It is at

once a consequence and an indication of his perennial existence. It is

the desire of the moth for the star. It is no mere appreciation of the

Beauty before us, but a wild effort to reach the Beauty above. Inspired

by an ecstatic prescience of the glories beyond the grave, we struggle

by multiform combinations among the things and thoughts of Time

to attain a portion of that Loveliness whose very elements perhaps

appertain to eternity alone. And thus when by Poetry, or when by Music,

the most entrancing of the poetic moods, we find ourselves melted into

tears, we weep then, not as the Abbate Gravina supposes, through excess

of pleasure, but through a certain petulant, impatient sorrow at our

inability to grasp now, wholly, here on earth, at once and for ever,

those divine and rapturous joys of which _through' _the poem, or

_through _the music, we attain to but brief and indeterminate glimpses.

 

The struggle to apprehend the supernal Loveliness--this struggle, on the

part of souls fittingly constituted--has given to the world all _that

_which it (the world) has ever been enabled at once to understand and

_to feel _as poetic.

 

The Poetic Sentiment, of course, may develop itself in various modes--in

Painting, in Sculpture, in Architecture, in the Dance--very especially

in Music--and very peculiarly, and with a wide field, in the com

position of the Landscape Garden. Our present theme, however, has regard

only to its manifestation in words. And here let me speak briefly on the

topic of rhythm. Contenting myself with the certainty that Music, in

its various modes of metre, rhythm, and rhyme, is of so vast a moment

in Poetry as never to be wisely rejected--is so vitally important an

adjunct, that he is simply silly who declines its assistance, I will not

now pause to maintain its absolute essentiality. It is in Music perhaps

that the soul most nearly attains the great end for which, when inspired

by the Poetic Sentiment, it struggles--the creation of supernal Beauty.

It _may _be, indeed, that here this sublime end is, now and then,

attained in _fact. _We are often made to feel, with a shivering delight,

that from an earthly harp are stricken notes which _cannot _have been

unfamiliar to the angels. And thus there can be little doubt that in

the union of Poetry with Music in its popular sense, we shall find the

widest field for the Poetic development. The old Bards and Minnesingers

had advantages which we do not possess--and Thomas Moore, singing his

own songs, was, in the most legitimate manner, perfecting them as poems.

 

To recapitulate then:--I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as

_The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty. _Its sole arbiter is Taste. With

the Intellect or with the Conscience it has only collateral relations.

Unless incidentally, it has no concern whatever either with Duty or with

Truth.

 

A few words, however, in explanation. _That _pleasure which is at once

the most pure, the most elevating, and the most intense, is derived, I

maintain, from the contemplation of the Beautiful. In the contemplation

of Beauty we alone find it possible to attain that pleasurable

elevation, or excitement _of the soul, _which we recognize as the Poetic

Sentiment, and which is so easily distinguished from Truth, which is the

satisfaction of the Reason, or from Passion, which is the excitement of

the heart. I make Beauty, therefore--using the word as inclusive of the

sublime--I make Beauty the province of the poem, simply because it is an

obvious rule of Art that effects should be made to spring as directly

as possible from their causes:--no one as yet having been weak enough to

deny that the peculiar elevation in question is at least _most readily

_attainable in the poem. It by no means follows, however, that the

incitements of Passion' or the precepts of Duty, or even the lessons of

Truth, may not be introduced into a poem, and with advantage; for they

may subserve incidentally, in various ways, the general purposes of

the work: but the true artist will always contrive to tone them down in

proper subjection to that _Beauty _which is the atmosphere and the real

essence of the poem.

 

I cannot better introduce the few poems which I shall present for

your consideration, than by the citation of the Proem to Longfellow's

"Waif":--

 

     The day is done, and the darkness

         Falls from the wings of Night,

     As a feather is wafted downward

         From an Eagle in his flight.

 

     I see the lights of the village

         Gleam through the rain and the mist,

     And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me,

         That my soul cannot resist;

 

     A feeling of sadness and longing,

         That is not akin to pain,

     And resembles sorrow only

         As the mist resembles the rain.

 

     Come, read to me some poem,

         Some simple and heartfelt lay,

     That shall soothe this restless feeling,

         And banish the thoughts of day.

 

     Not from the grand old masters,

         Not from the bards sublime,

     Whose distant footsteps echo

         Through the corridors of Time.

 

     For, like strains of martial music,

         Their mighty thoughts suggest

     Life's endless toil and endeavor;

         And to-night I long for rest.

 

     Read from some humbler poet,

         Whose songs gushed from his heart,

     As showers from the clouds of summer,

         Or tears from the eyelids start;

 

     Who through long days of labor,

         And nights devoid of ease,

     Still heard in his soul the music

         Of wonderful melodies.

 

     Such songs have power to quiet

         The restless pulse of care,

     And come like the benediction

         That follows after prayer.

 

     Then read from the treasured volume

         The poem of thy choice,

     And lend to the rhyme of the poet

         The beauty of thy voice.

 

     And the night shall be filled with music,

         And the cares that infest the day

     Shall fold their tents like the Arabs,

         And as silently steal away.

 

With no great range of imagination, these lines have been justly admired

for their delicacy of expression. Some of the images are very effective.

Nothing can be better than--

 

    ---------------the bards sublime,

         Whose distant footsteps echo

     Down the corridors of Time.

 

The idea of the last quatrain is also very effective. The poem on the

whole, however, is chiefly to be admired for the graceful _insouciance

_of its metre, so well in accordance with the character of the

sentiments, and especially for the _ease _of the general manner. This

"ease" or naturalness, in a literary style, it has long been the fashion

to regard as ease in appearance alone--as a point of really difficult

attainment. But not so:--a natural manner is difficult only to him who

should never meddle with it--to the unnatural. It is but the result of

writing with the understanding, or with the instinct, that _the tone,

_in composition, should always be that which the mass of mankind would

adopt--and must perpetually vary, of course, with the occasion. The

author who, after the fashion of "The North American Review," should

be upon _all _occasions merely "quiet," must necessarily upon _many

_occasions be simply silly, or stupid; and has no more right to be

considered "easy" or "natural" than a Cockney exquisite, or than the

sleeping Beauty in the waxworks.

 

Among the minor poems of Bryant, none has so much impressed me as the

one which he entitles "June." I quote only a portion of it:--

 

     There, through the long, long summer hours,

         The golden light should lie,

     And thick young herbs and groups of flowers

         Stand in their beauty by.

     The oriole should build and tell

     His love-tale, close beside my cell;

         The idle butterfly

     Should rest him there, and there be heard

     The housewife-bee and humming bird.

 

     And what, if cheerful shouts at noon,

         Come, from the village sent,

     Or songs of maids, beneath the moon,

         With fairy laughter blent?

     And what if, in the evening light,

     Betrothed lovers walk in sight

         Of my low monument?

     I would the lovely scene around

     Might know no sadder sight nor sound.

 

     I know, I know I should not see

         The season's glorious show,

     Nor would its brightness shine for me;

         Nor its wild music flow;

     But if, around my place of sleep,

     The friends I love should come to weep,

         They might not haste to go.

     Soft airs and song, and the light and bloom,

     Should keep them lingering by my tomb.

 

     These to their soften'd hearts should bear

         The thoughts of what has been,

     And speak of one who cannot share

         The gladness of the scene;

     Whose part in all the pomp that fills

     The circuit of the summer hills,

         Is--that his grave is green;

     And deeply would their hearts rejoice

     To hear again his living voice.

 

The rhythmical flow here is even voluptuous--nothing could be more

melodious. The poem has always affected me in a remarkable manner. The

intense melancholy which seems to well up, perforce, to the surface of

all the poet's cheerful sayings about his grave, we find thrilling us to

the soul--while there is the truest poetic elevation in the thrill.

The impression left is one of a pleasurable sadness. And if, in the

remaining compositions which I shall introduce to you, there be more or

less of a similar tone always apparent, let me remind you that (how or

why we know not) this certain taint of sadness is inseparably connected

with all the higher manifestations of true Beauty. It is, nevertheless,

 

     A feeling of sadness and longing

         That is not akin to pain,

     And resembles sorrow only

         As the mist resembles the rain.

 

The taint of which I speak is clearly perceptible even in a poem so full

of brilliancy and spirit as "The Health" of Edward Coate Pinckney:--

 

     I fill this cup to one made up

         Of loveliness alone,

     A woman, of her gentle sex

         The seeming paragon;

     To whom the better elements

         And kindly stars have given

     A form so fair that, like the air,

         'Tis less of earth than heaven.

 

     Her every tone is music's own,

         Like those of morning birds,

     And something more than melody

         Dwells ever in her words;

     The coinage of her heart are they,

         And from her lips each flows

     As one may see the burden'd bee

         Forth issue from the rose.

 

     Affections are as thoughts to her,

         The measures of her hours;

     Her feelings have the flagrancy,

         The freshness of young flowers;

     And lovely passions, changing oft,

         So fill her, she appears

     The image of themselves by turns,--

         The idol of past years!

 

     Of her bright face one glance will trace

         A picture on the brain,

     And of her voice in echoing hearts

         A sound must long remain;

     But memory, such as mine of her,

         So very much endears,

     When death is nigh my latest sigh

         Will not be life's, but hers.

 

     I fill'd this cup to one made up

         Of loveliness alone,

     A woman, of her gentle sex

         The seeming paragon--

     Her health! and would on earth there stood,

         Some more of such a frame,

     That life might be all poetry,

         And weariness a name.

 

It was the misfortune of Mr. Pinckney to have been born too far south.

Had he been a New Englander, it is probable that he would have been

ranked as the first of American lyrists by that magnanimous cabal which

has so long controlled the destinies of American Letters, in conducting

the thing called "The North American Review." The poem just cited is

especially beautiful; but the poetic elevation which it induces we must

refer chiefly to our sympathy in the poet's enthusiasm. We pardon his

hyperboles for the evident earnestness with which they are uttered.

 

It was by no means my design, however, to expatiate upon the _merits

_of what I should read you. These will necessarily speak for themselves.

Boccalini, in his "Advertisements from Parnassus," tells us that Zoilus

once presented Apollo a very caustic criticism upon a very admirable

book:--whereupon the god asked him for the beauties of the work. He

replied that he only busied himself about the errors. On hearing this,

Apollo, handing him a sack of unwinnowed wheat, bade him pick out _all

the chaff _for his reward.

 

Now this fable answers very well as a hit at the critics--but I am by no

means sure that the god was in the right. I am by no means certain that

the true limits of the critical duty are not grossly misunderstood.

Excellence, in a poem especially, may be considered in the light of an

axiom, which need only be properly _put, _to become self-evident. It is

_not _excellence if it require to be demonstrated as such:--and thus to

point out too particularly the merits of a work of Art, is to admit that

they are _not _merits altogether.

 

Among the "Melodies" of Thomas Moore is one whose distinguished

character as a poem proper seems to have been singularly left out of