The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 5

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Title: The Works of Edgar Allan Poe — Volume 5

Author: Edgar Allan Poe

Release date: April 1, 2000 [eBook #2151]
Most recently updated: January 25, 2023

Language: English

Credits: David Widger
Revised by Richard Tonsing.


The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

by Edgar Allan Poe
The Raven Edition



TO F——

TO ——
TO ——



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.


Intensos rigidam in frontem ascendere canos
Passus erat——
                    —Lucan—De Catone

——a bristly bore.                     Translation.

“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 Phœbus, who is a true god, has been charioted for an hour—and were you not to be on the ramparts by sunrise? Ædepol! 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 Phœbus?—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.”

“Raca!” swore Ben-Levi, “Raca! 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!”


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 ornée 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 woe, 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 misadmeasurement 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; antennæ 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.”


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 seven 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! 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, Hop-Frog, 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 flax. 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—leaped, 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.


Ce grand malheur, de ne pouvoir être seul.—La Bruyère.

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 αχλυξ η πριυ επῆευ—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-exhibitors, 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 by he passed into a cross street, which, although densely filled with people, was not quite so much thronged as the main one he had quitted. Here a change in his 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 by-street comparatively deserted. Down this, some quarter of a mile long, he rushed with an activity I could not have dreamed of seeing in one so aged, and which put me to much trouble in pursuit. A few minutes brought us to a large and busy bazaar, with the localities of which the stranger appeared well acquainted, and where his original 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. 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 Animæ,’ {*1} and perhaps it is but one of the great mercies of God that ‘er lasst sich nicht lesen.’”

{*1} The “Hortulus Animæ cum Oratiunculis Aliquibus Superadditis” of Grünninger.


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 injuriâ 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 heads 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 midêhed—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—


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 homœopathists. 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 homœopathists 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.


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 little 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 uncle’s 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 horse’s 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 tenor 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,    

“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.

Toward the end of the blood-chilling 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.


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 bog-throthing 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 dilikittest 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 protectin’ 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.


Quand un bon vin meuble mon estomac,
Je suis plus savant que Balzac—
Plus sage que Pibrac;
Mon bras seul faisant l’attaque
De la nation Cossaque,
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,
Présenter du tabac.
                    —French Vaudeville

That Pierre Bon-Bon was a restaurateur of uncommon qualifications, no man who, during the reign of——, frequented the little Câfé in the cul-de-sac Le Febre 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 patés à 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 littérateur of that day would not have given twice as much for an “Idée de Bon-Bon” as for all the trash of “Idées” 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 fricasée or, facili gradú, 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 à priori—He reasoned also à 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 café in the cul-de-sac Le Febre 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 café in the cul-de-sac Le Febre 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 paté. On the back were visible in large letters Œuvres 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 café. In a corner of the apartment stood the bed of the metaphysician. An army of curtains, together with a canopy à la Grècque, 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 mélanges. 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 Café 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 of ——, that Pierre Bon-Bon, after having listened to 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 à la Princesse, he had unfortunately perpetrated an omelette à 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 visitor’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 visitor’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-à-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 visitor’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 Régitre des Condamnes blazed forth in characters of red. This startling circumstance, when Bon-Bon replied to his visitor’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 believe you are—upon my word—the d——dest—that is to say, I think—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 visitor’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 visitor.

“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 δ υοῦς εστιν αυλος. 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 ‘αυλος.’

“Giving the lambda a fillip with my finger, I turned it upside down. So the sentence now read ‘δ υοῦς εστιν αυγος’, 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 visitor—“as I was observing a little while ago, there are some very outré 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!”


“No, sir!”


“No, sir!”


“No, sir!”


“No, sir!”


“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 the 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 visitor 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!”


“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!—abortion of a pill-box!”—and the philosopher dropped a tear.

“After all,” continued the visitor, “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 visitor 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 isn’t there A——, now, who you know as well as I? Is he not in 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 fricasséed shadow!” exclaimed our hero, whose faculties were becoming much illuminated by the profundity of his Majesty’s discourse.

“Only think of a hiccup!—fricasséed 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?”







“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.”


“Besides, very unhandsome in me—”


“To take advantage of—”


“Your present disgusting and ungentlemanly situation.”

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


The 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,

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 manor 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 Galvanism, and cannot accomplish with it what was a common thing among us in the old days. But the fact is, I fell into catalepsy, and it was considered by my best friends that I was either dead or should be; they accordingly embalmed me at once—I presume you are aware of the chief principle of the embalming process?”

“Why, not altogether.”

“Ah, I perceive—a deplorable condition of 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.


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 view. I allude to his lines beginning—“Come, rest in this bosom.” The intense energy of their expression is not surpassed by anything in Byron. There are two of the lines in which a sentiment is conveyed that embodies the all in all of the divine passion of Love—a sentiment which, perhaps, has found its echo in more, and in more passionate, human hearts than any other single sentiment ever embodied in words:—

     Come, rest in this bosom, my own stricken deer
     Though the herd have fled from thee, thy home is still here;
     Here still is the smile, that no cloud can o’ercast,
     And a heart and a hand all thy own to the last.

     Oh! what was love made for, if ’tis not the same
     Through joy and through torment, through glory and shame?
     I know not, I ask not, if guilt’s in that heart,
     I but know that I love thee, whatever thou art.

     Thou hast call’d me thy Angel in moments of bliss,
     And thy Angel I’ll be, ‘mid the horrors of this,—
     Through the furnace, unshrinking, thy steps to pursue,
     And shield thee, and save thee,—or perish there too!

It has been the fashion of late days to deny Moore Imagination, while granting him Fancy—a distinction originating with Coleridge—than whom no man more fully comprehended the great powers of Moore. The fact is, that the fancy of this poet so far predominates over all his other faculties, and over the fancy of all other men, as to have induced, very naturally, the idea that he is fanciful only. But never was there a greater mistake. Never was a grosser wrong done the fame of a true poet. In the compass of the English language I can call to mind no poem more profoundly—more weirdly imaginative, in the best sense, than the lines commencing—“I would I were by that dim lake”—which are the com. position of Thomas Moore. I regret that I am unable to remember them.

One of the noblest—and, speaking of Fancy—one of the most singularly fanciful of modern poets, was Thomas Hood. His “Fair Ines” had always for me an inexpressible charm:—

     O saw ye not fair Ines?
         She’s gone into the West,
     To dazzle when the sun is down,
         And rob the world of rest;
     She took our daylight with her,
         The smiles that we love best,
     With morning blushes on her cheek,
         And pearls upon her breast.

     O turn again, fair Ines,
         Before the fall of night,
     For fear the moon should shine alone,
         And stars unrivalltd bright;
     And blessed will the lover be
         That walks beneath their light,
     And breathes the love against thy cheek
         I dare not even write!

     Would I had been, fair Ines,
         That gallant cavalier,
     Who rode so gaily by thy side,
         And whisper’d thee so near!
     Were there no bonny dames at home
         Or no true lovers here,
     That he should cross the seas to win
         The dearest of the dear?

     I saw thee, lovely Ines,
         Descend along the shore,
     With bands of noble gentlemen,
         And banners waved before;
     And gentle youth and maidens gay,
         And snowy plumes they wore;
     It would have been a beauteous dream,
         If it had been no more!

     Alas, alas, fair Ines,
         She went away with song,
     With music waiting on her steps,
         And shootings of the throng;
     But some were sad and felt no mirth,
         But only Music’s wrong,
     In sounds that sang Farewell, Farewell,
         To her you’ve loved so long.

     Farewell, farewell, fair Ines,
         That vessel never bore
     So fair a lady on its deck,
         Nor danced so light before,—
     Alas for pleasure on the sea,
         And sorrow on the shorel
     The smile that blest one lover’s heart
         Has broken many more!

“The Haunted House,” by the same author, is one of the truest poems ever written,—one of the truest, one of the most unexceptionable, one of the most thoroughly artistic, both in its theme and in its execution. It is, moreover, powerfully ideal—imaginative. I regret that its length renders it unsuitable for the purposes of this lecture. In place of it permit me to offer the universally appreciated “Bridge of Sighs”:—

     One more Unfortunate,
     Weary of breath,
     Rashly importunate
     Gone to her death!

     Take her up tenderly,
     Lift her with care;—
     Fashion’d so slenderly,
     Young and so fair!

     Look at her garments
     Clinging like cerements;
     Whilst the wave constantly
     Drips from her clothing;
     Take her up instantly,
     Loving not loathing.

     Touch her not scornfully;
     Think of her mournfully,
     Gently and humanly;
     Not of the stains of her,
     All that remains of her
     Now is pure womanly.

     Make no deep scrutiny
     Into her mutiny
     Rash and undutiful;
     Past all dishonor,
     Death has left on her
     Only the beautiful.

     Where the lamps quiver
     So far in the river,
     With many a light
     From window and casement
     From garret to basement,
     She stood, with amazement,
     Houseless by night.

     The bleak wind of March
     Made her tremble and shiver,
     But not the dark arch,
     Or the black flowing river:
     Mad from life’s history,
     Glad to death’s mystery,
     Swift to be hurl’d—
     Anywhere, anywhere
     Out of the world!

     In she plunged boldly,
     No matter how coldly
     The rough river ran,—
     Over the brink of it,
     Picture it,—think of it,
     Dissolute Man!
     Lave in it, drink of it
     Then, if you can!

     Still, for all slips of hers,
     One of Eve’s family—
     Wipe those poor lips of hers
     Oozing so clammily,
     Loop up her tresses
     Escaped from the comb,
     Her fair auburn tresses;
     Whilst wonderment guesses
     Where was her home?

     Who was her father?
     Who was her mother?
     Had she a sister?
     Had she a brother?
     Or was there a dearer one
     Still, and a nearer one
     Yet, than all other?

     Alas! for the rarity
     Of Christian charity
     Under the sun!
     Oh! it was pitiful!
     Near a whole city full,
     Home she had none.

     Sisterly, brotherly,
     Fatherly, motherly,
     Feelings had changed:
     Love, by harsh evidence,
     Thrown from its eminence;
     Even God’s providence
     Seeming estranged.

     Take her up tenderly;
     Lift her with care;
     Fashion’d so slenderly,
     Young, and so fair!
     Ere her limbs frigidly
     Stiffen too rigidly,
     Smooth and compose them;
     And her eyes, close them,
     Staring so blindly!

     Dreadfully staring
     Through muddy impurity,
     As when with the daring
     Last look of despairing
     Fixed on futurity.

     Perhishing gloomily,
     Spurred by contumely,
     Cold inhumanity,
     Burning insanity,
     Into her rest,—
     Cross her hands humbly,
     As if praying dumbly,
     Over her breast!
     Owning her weakness,
     Her evil behavior,
     And leaving, with meekness,
     Her sins to her Saviour!

The vigor of this poem is no less remarkable than its pathos. The versification although carrying the fanciful to the very verge of the fantastic, is nevertheless admirably adapted to the wild insanity which is the thesis of the poem.

Among the minor poems of Lord Byron is one which has never received from the critics the praise which it undoubtedly deserves:—

     Though the day of my destiny’s over,
         And the star of my fate bath declined
     Thy soft heart refused to discover
         The faults which so many could find;
     Though thy soul with my grief was acquainted,
         It shrunk not to share it with me,
     And the love which my spirit bath painted
         It never bath found but in thee.

     Then when nature around me is smiling,
         The last smile which answers to mine,
     I do not believe it beguiling,
         Because it reminds me of shine;
     And when winds are at war with the ocean,
         As the breasts I believed in with me,
     If their billows excite an emotion,
         It is that they bear me from thee.

     Though the rock of my last hope is shivered,
         And its fragments are sunk in the wave,
     Though I feel that my soul is delivered
         To pain—it shall not be its slave.
     There is many a pang to pursue me:
         They may crush, but they shall not contemn—
     They may torture, but shall not subdue me—
         ’Tis of thee that I think—not of them.

     Though human, thou didst not deceive me,
         Though woman, thou didst not forsake,
     Though loved, thou forborest to grieve me,
         Though slandered, thou never couldst shake,—
     Though trusted, thou didst not disclaim me,
         Though parted, it was not to fly,
     Though watchful, ’twas not to defame me,
         Nor mute, that the world might belie.

     Yet I blame not the world, nor despise it,
         Nor the war of the many with one—
     If my soul was not fitted to prize it,
         ’Twas folly not sooner to shun:
     And if dearly that error bath cost me,
         And more than I once could foresee,
     I have found that whatever it lost me,
         It could not deprive me of thee.

     From the wreck of the past, which bath perished,
         Thus much I at least may recall,
     It bath taught me that which I most cherished
         Deserved to be dearest of all:
     In the desert a fountain is springing,
         In the wide waste there still is a tree,
     And a bird in the solitude singing,
        Which speaks to my spirit of thee.

Although the rhythm here is one of the most difficult, the versification could scarcely be improved. No nobler theme ever engaged the pen of poet. It is the soul-elevating idea that no man can consider himself entitled to complain of Fate while in his adversity he still retains the unwavering love of woman.

From Alfred Tennyson, although in perfect sincerity I regard him as the noblest poet that ever lived, I have left myself time to cite only a very brief specimen. I call him, and think him the noblest of poets, not because the impressions he produces are at all times the most profound—not because the poetical excitement which he induces is at all times the most intense—but because it is at all times the most ethereal—in other words, the most elevating and most pure. No poet is so little of the earth, earthy. What I am about to read is from his last long poem, “The Princess”:—

         Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
     Tears from the depth of some divine despair
     Rise in the heart, and gather to the eyes,
     In looking on the happy Autumn fields,
     And thinking of the days that are no more.

         Fresh as the first beam glittering on a sail,
     That brings our friends up from the underworld,
     Sad as the last which reddens over one
     That sinks with all we love below the verge;
     So sad, so fresh, the days that are no more.

         Ah, sad and strange as in dark summer dawns
     The earliest pipe of half-awaken’d birds
     To dying ears, when unto dying eyes
     The casement slowly grows a glimmering square;
     So sad, so strange, the days that are no more.

         Dear as remember’d kisses after death,
     And sweet as those by hopeless fancy feign’d
     On lips that are for others; deep as love,
     Deep as first love, and wild with all regret;
     O Death in Life, the days that are no more.

Thus, although in a very cursory and imperfect manner, I have endeavored to convey to you my conception of the Poetic Principle. It has been my purpose to suggest that, while this principle itself is strictly and simply the Human Aspiration for Supernal Beauty, the manifestation of the Principle is always found in an elevating excitement of the soul, quite independent of that passion which is the intoxication of the Heart, or of that truth which is the satisfaction of the Reason. For in regard to passion, alas! its tendency is to degrade rather than to elevate the Soul. Love, on the contrary—Love—the true, the divine Eros—the Uranian as distinguished from the Diona an Venus—is unquestionably the purest and truest of all poetical themes. And in regard to Truth, if, to be sure, through the attainment of a truth we are led to perceive a harmony where none was apparent before, we experience at once the true poetical effect; but this effect is referable to the harmony alone, and not in the least degree to the truth which merely served to render the harmony manifest.

We shall reach, however, more immediately a distinct conception of what the true Poetry is, by mere reference to a few of the simple elements which induce in the Poet himself the poetical effect He recognizes the ambrosia which nourishes his soul in the bright orbs that shine in Heaven—in the volutes of the flower—in the clustering of low shrubberies—in the waving of the grain-fields—in the slanting of tall eastern trees—in the blue distance of mountains—in the grouping of clouds—in the twinkling of half-hidden brooks—in the gleaming of silver rivers—in the repose of sequestered lakes—in the star-mirroring depths of lonely wells. He perceives it in the songs of birds—in the harp of Bolos—in the sighing of the night-wind—in the repining voice of the forest—in the surf that complains to the shore—in the fresh breath of the woods—in the scent of the violet—in the voluptuous perfume of the hyacinth—in the suggestive odour that comes to him at eventide from far distant undiscovered islands, over dim oceans, illimitable and unexplored. He owns it in all noble thoughts—in all unworldly motives—in all holy impulses—in all chivalrous, generous, and self-sacrificing deeds. He feels it in the beauty of woman—in the grace of her step—in the lustre of her eye—in the melody of her voice—in her soft laughter, in her sigh—in the harmony of the rustling of her robes. He deeply feels it in her winning endearments—in her burning enthusiasms—in her gentle charities—in her meek and devotional endurances—but above all—ah, far above all, he kneels to it—he worships it in the faith, in the purity, in the strength, in the altogether divine majesty—of her love.

Let me conclude by—the recitation of yet another brief poem—one very different in character from any that I have before quoted. It is by Motherwell, and is called “The Song of the Cavalier.” With our modern and altogether rational ideas of the absurdity and impiety of warfare, we are not precisely in that frame of mind best adapted to sympathize with the sentiments, and thus to appreciate the real excellence of the poem. To do this fully we must identify ourselves in fancy with the soul of the old cavalier:—

     Then mounte! then mounte, brave gallants all,
         And don your helmes amaine:
     Deathe’s couriers. Fame and Honor call
         No shrewish teares shall fill your eye
     When the sword-hilt’s in our hand,—
         Heart-whole we’ll part, and no whit sighe
     For the fayrest of the land;
         Let piping swaine, and craven wight,
     Thus weepe and poling crye,
         Our business is like men to fight.


It should not be doubted that at least one-third of the affection with which we regard the elder poets of Great Britain should be-attributed to what is, in itself, a thing apart from poetry-we mean to the simple love of the antique-and that, again, a third of even the proper poetic sentiment inspiredby their writings should be ascribed to a fact which, while it has strict connection with poetry in the abstract, and with the old British poems themselves, should not be looked upon as a merit appertaining to the authors of the poems. Almost every devout admirer of the old bards, if demanded his opinion of their productions, would mention vaguely, yet with perfect sincerity, a sense of dreamy, wild, indefinite, and he would perhaps say, indefinable delight; on being required to point out the source of this so shadowy pleasure, he would be apt to speak of the quaint in phraseology and in general handling. This quaintness is, in fact, a very powerful adjunct to ideality, but in the case in question it arises independently of the author’s will, and is altogether apart from his intention. Words and their rhythm have varied. Verses which affect us to-day with a vivid delight, and which delight, in many instances, may be traced to the one source, quaintness, must have worn in the days of their construction, a very commonplace air. This is, of course, no argument against the poems now-we mean it only as against the poets thew. There is a growing desire to overrate them. The old English muse was frank, guileless, sincere, and although very learned, still learned without art. No general error evinces a more thorough confusion of ideas than the error of supposing Donne and Cowley metaphysical in the sense wherein Wordsworth and Coleridge are so. With the two former ethics were the end-with the two latter the means. The poet of the “Creation” wished, by highly artificial verse, to inculcate what he supposed to be moral truth-the poet of the “Ancient Mariner” to infuse the Poetic Sentiment through channels suggested by analysis. The one finished by complete failure what he commenced in the grossest misconception; the other, by a path which could not possibly lead him astray, arrived at a triumph which is not the less glorious because hidden from the profane eyes of the multitude. But in this view even the “metaphysical verse” of Cowley is but evidence of the simplicity and single-heartedness of the man. And he was in this but a type of his school-for we may as well designate in this way the entire class of writers whose poems are bound up in the volume before us, and throughout all of whom there runs a very perceptible general character. They used little art in composition. Their writings sprang immediately from the soul-and partook intensely of that soul’s nature. Nor is it difficult to perceive the tendency of this abandon-to elevate immeasurably all the energies of mind-but, again, so to mingle the greatest possible fire, force, delicacy, and all good things, with the lowest possible bathos, baldness, and imbecility, as to render it not a matter of doubt that the average results of mind in such a school will be found inferior to those results in one (ceteris paribus) more artificial.

We can not bring ourselves to believe that the selections of the “Book of Gems” are such as will impart to a poetical reader the clearest possible idea of the beauty of the school-but if the intention had been merely to show the school’s character, the attempt might have been considered successful in the highest degree. There are long passages now before us of the most despicable trash, with no merit whatever beyond that of their antiquity. The criticisms of the editor do not particularly please us. His enthusiasm is too general and too vivid not to be false. His opinion, for example, of Sir Henry Wotton’s “Verses on the Queen of Bohemia”—that “there are few finer things in our language,” is untenable and absurd.

In such lines we can perceive not one of those higher attributes of Poesy which belong to her in all circumstances and throughout all time. Here every thing is art, nakedly, or but awkwardly concealed. No prepossession for the mere antique (and in this case we can imagine no other prepossession) should induce us to dignify with the sacred name of poetry, a series, such as this, of elaborate and threadbare compliments, stitched, apparently, together, without fancy, without plausibility, and without even an attempt at adaptation.

In common with all the world, we have been much delighted with “The Shepherd’s Hunting” by Withers—a poem partaking, in a remarkable degree, of the peculiarities of “Il Penseroso.” Speaking of Poesy the author says:

     “By the murmur of a spring,
     Or the least boughs rustleling,
     By a daisy whose leaves spread,
     Shut when Titan goes to bed,
     Or a shady bush or tree,
     She could more infuse in me
     Than all Nature’s beauties can
     In some other wiser man.
     By her help I also now
     Make this churlish place allow
     Something that may sweeten gladness
     In the very gall of sadness—
     The dull loneness, the black shade,
     That these hanging vaults have made
     The strange music of the waves
     Beating on these hollow caves,
     This black den which rocks emboss,
     Overgrown with eldest moss,
     The rude portals that give light
     More to terror than delight,
     This my chamber of neglect

     Walled about with disrespect;
     From all these and this dull air
     A fit object for despair,
     She hath taught me by her might
     To draw comfort and delight.”

But these lines, however good, do not bear with them much of the general character of the English antique. Something more of this will be found in Corbet’s “Farewell to the Fairies!” We copy a portion of Marvell’s “Maiden lamenting for her Fawn,” which we prefer-not only as a specimen of the elder poets, but in itself as a beautiful poem, abounding in pathos, exquisitely delicate imagination and truthfulness-to anything of its species:

     “It is a wondrous thing how fleet
     ’Twas on those little silver feet,
     With what a pretty skipping grace
     It oft would challenge me the race,
     And when’t had left me far away
     ’Twould stay, and run again, and stay;
     For it was nimbler much than hinds,
     And trod as if on the four winds.
     I have a garden of my own,
     But so with roses overgrown,
     And lilies, that you would it guess
     To be a little wilderness;
     And all the spring-time of the year
     It only loved to be there.
     Among the beds of lilies I
     Have sought it oft where it should lie,
     Yet could not, till itself would rise,
     Find it, although before mine eyes.
     For in the flaxen lilies’ shade
     It like a bank of lilies laid;
     Upon the roses it would feed
     Until its lips even seemed to bleed,
     And then to me ’twould boldly trip,
     And print those roses on my lip,
     But all its chief delight was still
     With roses thus itself to fill,
     And its pure virgin limbs to fold
     In whitest sheets of lilies cold.
     Had it lived long, it would have been
     Lilies without, roses within.”

How truthful an air of lamentations hangs here upon every syllable! It pervades all. It comes over the sweet melody of the words-over the gentleness and grace which we fancy in the little maiden herself-even over the half-playful, half-petulant air with which she lingers on the beauties and good qualities of her favorite-like the cool shadow of a summer cloud over a bed of lilies and violets, “and all sweet flowers.” The whole is redolent with poetry of a very lofty order. Every line is an idea conveying either the beauty and playfulness of the fawn, or the artlessness of the maiden, or her love, or her admiration, or her grief, or the fragrance and warmth and appropriateness of the little nest-like bed of lilies and roses which the fawn devoured as it lay upon them, and could scarcely be distinguished from them by the once happy little damsel who went to seek her pet with an arch and rosy smile on her face. Consider the great variety of truthful and delicate thought in the few lines we have quoted the wonder of the little maiden at the fleetness of her favorite-the “little silver feet”—the fawn challenging his mistress to a race with “a pretty skipping grace,” running on before, and then, with head turned back, awaiting her approach only to fly from it again-can we not distinctly perceive all these things? How exceedingly vigorous, too, is the line,

“And trod as if on the four winds!”

A vigor apparent only when we keep in mind the artless character of the speaker and the four feet of the favorite, one for each wind. Then consider the garden of “my own,” so overgrown, entangled with roses and lilies, as to be “a little wilderness”—the fawn loving to be there, and there “only”—the maiden seeking it “where it should lie”—and not being able to distinguish it from the flowers until “itself would rise”—the lying among the lilies “like a bank of lilies”—the loving to “fill itself with roses,”

        “And its pure virgin limbs to fold
        In whitest sheets of lilies cold,”

and these things being its “chief” delights-and then the pre-eminent beauty and naturalness of the concluding lines, whose very hyperbole only renders them more true to nature when we consider the innocence, the artlessness, the enthusiasm, the passionate girl, and more passionate admiration of the bereaved child—

“Had it lived long, it would have been Lilies without, roses within.”

* “Book of Gems,” Edited by S. C. Hall




                  THE AUTHOR OF

            “THE DRAMA OF EXILE”—



                   OF ENGLAND




      1845                      E.A.P.


These trifles are collected and republished chiefly with a view to their redemption from the many improvements to which they have been subjected while going at random the “rounds of the press.” I am naturally anxious that what I have written should circulate as I wrote it, if it circulate at all. In defence of my own taste, nevertheless, it is incumbent upon me to say that I think nothing in this volume of much value to the public, or very creditable to myself. Events not to be controlled have prevented me from making, at any time, any serious effort in what, under happier circumstances, would have been the field of my choice. With me poetry has been not a purpose, but a passion; and the passions should be held in reverence: they must not-they can not at will be excited, with an eye to the paltry compensations, or the more paltry commendations, of man-kind.

                           E. A. P.




 Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
 Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
 While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
 As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
 “’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door—
                          Only this, and nothing more.”

 Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
 And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
 Eagerly I wished the morrow;—vainly I had sought to borrow
 From my books surcease of sorrow—sorrow for the lost Lenore—
 For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
                          Nameless here for evermore.

 And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
 Thrilled me—filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
 So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
 “’Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door—
 Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door;—
                          This it is, and nothing more.”

 Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
 “Sir,” said I, “or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
 But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
 And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
 That I scarce was sure I heard you”—here I opened wide the door:——
                          Darkness there and nothing more.

 Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
 Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
 But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
 And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, “Lenore!”
  This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, “Lenore!”
                          Merely this, and nothing more.

 Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
 Soon I heard again a tapping somewhat louder than before.
 “Surely,” said I, “surely that is something at my window lattice;
 Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore—
 Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore;—
                          ’Tis the wind and nothing more!”

 Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
 In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
 Not the least obeisance made he; not an instant stopped or stayed he;
 But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door—
 Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door—
                          Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

 Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
 By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
 “Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,” I said, “art sure no craven,
 Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore—
 Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night’s Plutonian shore!”
                          Quoth the raven “Nevermore.”

 Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
 Though its answer little meaning—little relevancy bore;
 For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
 Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door—
 Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
                         With such name as “Nevermore.”

 But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
 That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
 Nothing farther then he uttered—not a feather then he fluttered—
 Till I scarcely more than muttered “Other friends have flown before—
 On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.”
                          Then the bird said “Nevermore.”

 Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
 “Doubtless,” said I, “what it utters is its only stock and store
 Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
 Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore—
 Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
                         Of ‘Never—nevermore.’”

 But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
 Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
 Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
 Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore—
 What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
                         Meant in croaking “Nevermore.”

 This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
 To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom’s core;
 This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
 On the cushion’s velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o’er,
 But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o’er,
                          She shall press, ah, nevermore!

 Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
 Swung by Angels whose faint foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
 “Wretch,” I cried, “thy God hath lent thee—by these angels he hath sent
 Respite—respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore;
 Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!”
                           Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

 “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil!—prophet still, if bird or devil!—
 Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
 Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted—
 On this home by Horror haunted—tell me truly, I implore—
 Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!”
                           Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

 “Prophet!” said I, “thing of evil—prophet still, if bird or devil!
 By that Heaven that bends above us—by that God we both adore—
 Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
 It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore—
 Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore.”
                           Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

 “Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!” I shrieked, upstarting—
 “Get thee back into the tempest and the Night’s Plutonian shore!
 Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
 Leave my loneliness unbroken!—quit the bust above my door!
 Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!”
                          Quoth the raven, “Nevermore.”

 And the raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
 On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
 And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon’s that is dreaming,
 And the lamp-light o’er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
 And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                          Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Published 1845.



                    Hear the sledges with the bells—
                          Silver bells!
     What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
                How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
                      In the icy air of night!
                While the stars that oversprinkle
                All the heavens, seem to twinkle
                      With a crystalline delight;
                   Keeping time, time, time,
                   In a sort of Runic rhyme,
     To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
           From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
                          Bells, bells, bells—
        From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


                    Hear the mellow wedding-bells
                          Golden bells!
     What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
                Through the balmy air of night
                How they ring out their delight!—
                      From the molten golden-notes,
                          And all in tune,
                      What a liquid ditty floats
           To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
                          On the moon!
                  Oh, from out the sounding cells,
     What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
                          How it swells!
                          How it dwells
                      On the Future!—how it tells
                      Of the rapture that impels
                  To the swinging and the ringing
                      Of the bells, bells, bells—
           Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
                          Bells, bells, bells—
        To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!


                    Hear the loud alarum bells—
                          Brazen bells!
     What a tale of terror now their turbulency tells!
                In the startled ear of night
                How they scream out their affright!
                    Too much horrified to speak,
                    They can only shriek, shriek,
                       Out of tune,
     In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
     In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
                       Leaping higher, higher, higher,
                       With a desperate desire,
                    And a resolute endeavor
                    Now—now to sit, or never,
                By the side of the pale-faced moon.
                       Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
                       What a tale their terror tells
                          Of Despair!
             How they clang, and clash, and roar!
             What a horror they outpour
     On the bosom of the palpitating air!
                Yet the ear, it fully knows,
                      By the twanging
                      And the clanging,
                 How the danger ebbs and flows;
             Yet, the ear distinctly tells,
                   In the jangling
                   And the wrangling,
             How the danger sinks and swells,
     By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells—
                   Of the bells—
           Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
                          Bells, bells, bells—
        In the clamour and the clangour of the bells!


                    Hear the tolling of the bells—
                          Iron bells!
     What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
             In the silence of the night,
             How we shiver with affright
         At the melancholy meaning of their tone!
                 For every sound that floats
                 From the rust within their throats
                         Is a groan.
                     And the people—ah, the people—
                     They that dwell up in the steeple,
                         All alone,
                 And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
                     In that muffled monotone,
                 Feel a glory in so rolling
                     On the human heart a stone—
             They are neither man nor woman—
             They are neither brute nor human—
                         They are Ghouls:—
                 And their king it is who tolls:—
                 And he rolls, rolls, rolls, rolls,
                     A pæan from the bells!
                 And his merry bosom swells
                     With the pæan of the bells!
                 And he dances, and he yells;
             Keeping time, time, time,
             In a sort of Runic rhyme,
                     To the pæan of the bells—
                          Of the bells:—
             Keeping time, time, time,
             In a sort of Runic rhyme,
                     To the throbbing of the bells—
                 Of the bells, bells, bells—
                     To the sobbing of the bells:—
             Keeping time, time, time,
                 As he knells, knells, knells,
             In a happy Runic rhyme,
                     To the rolling of the bells—
                 Of the bells, bells, bells:—
                     To the tolling of the bells—
           Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
                          Bells, bells, bells—
        To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.



     The skies they were ashen and sober;
         The leaves they were crispèd and sere—
         The leaves they were withering and sere;
     It was night in the lonesome October
         Of my most immemorial year:
     It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
         In the misty mid region of Weir:—
     It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
         In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

     Here once, through an alley Titanic,
         Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul—
         Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
     There were days when my heart was volcanic
         As the scoriac rivers that roll—
         As the lavas that restlessly roll
     Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek,
         In the ultimate climes of the Pole—
     That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
         In the realms of the Boreal Pole.

     Our talk had been serious and sober,
         But our thoughts they were palsied and sere—
         Our memories were treacherous and sere;
     For we knew not the month was October,
         And we marked not the night of the year—
         (Ah, night of all nights in the year!)
     We noted not the dim lake of Auber,
         (Though once we had journeyed down here)
     We remembered not the dank tarn of Auber,
         Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

     And now, as the night was senescent,
         And star-dials pointed to morn—
         As the star-dials hinted of morn—
     At the end of our path a liquescent
         And nebulous lustre was born,
     Out of which a miraculous crescent
         Arose with a duplicate horn—
     Astarte’s bediamonded crescent,
         Distinct with its duplicate horn.

     And I said—“She is warmer than Dian:
         She rolls through an ether of sighs—
         She revels in a region of sighs.
     She has seen that the tears are not dry on
         These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
     And has come past the stars of the Lion,
         To point us the path to the skies—
         To the Lethean peace of the skies—
     Come up, in despite of the Lion,
         To shine on us with her bright eyes—
     Come up, through the lair of the Lion,
         With love in her luminous eyes.”

     But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
         Said—“Sadly this star I mistrust—
         Her pallor I strangely mistrust—
     Ah, hasten!—ah, let us not linger!
         Ah, fly!—let us fly!—for we must.”
      In terror she spoke; letting sink her
         Wings till they trailed in the dust—
     In agony sobbed, letting sink her
         Plumes till they trailed in the dust—
         Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.

     I replied—“This is nothing but dreaming.
         Let us on, by this tremulous light!
         Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
     Its Sybillic splendor is beaming
         With Hope and in Beauty to-night—
         See!—it flickers up the sky through the night!
     Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
         And be sure it will lead us aright—
     We safely may trust to a gleaming
         That cannot but guide us aright,
         Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night.”

     Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
         And tempted her out of her gloom—
         And conquered her scruples and gloom;
     And we passed to the end of the vista—
         But were stopped by the door of a tomb—
         By the door of a legended tomb:—
     And I said—“What is written, sweet sister,
         On the door of this legended tomb?”
          She replied—“Ulalume—Ulalume—
         ’Tis the vault of thy lost Ulalume!”

     Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
         As the leaves that were crispèd and sere—
         As the leaves that were withering and sere—
     And I cried—“It was surely October
         On this very night of last year,
         That I journeyed—I journeyed down here!—
         That I brought a dread burden down here—
         On this night, of all nights in the year,
         Ah, what demon has tempted me here?
     Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber—
         This misty mid region of Weir:—
     Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber—
         This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”



     I saw thee once—once only—years ago:
     I must not say how many—but not many.
     It was a July midnight; and from out
     A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring,
     Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,
     There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
     With quietude, and sultriness, and slumber,
     Upon the upturned faces of a thousand
     Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,
     Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe—
     Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses
     That gave out, in return for the love-light,
     Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death—
     Fell on the upturn’d faces of these roses
     That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted
     By thee, and by the poetry of thy presence.

     Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
     I saw thee half reclining; while the moon
     Fell on the upturn’d faces of the roses,
     And on thine own, upturn’d—alas, in sorrow!

     Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight—
     Was it not Fate, (whose name is also Sorrow,)
     That bade me pause before that garden-gate,
     To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?
     No footstep stirred: the hated world all slept,
     Save only thee and me. (Oh, Heaven!—oh, God!
     How my heart beats in coupling those two words!)
     Save only thee and me. I paused—I looked—
     And in an instant all things disappeared.
     (Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)

     The pearly lustre of the moon went out:
     The mossy banks and the meandering paths,
     The happy flowers and the repining trees,
     Were seen no more: the very roses’ odors
     Died in the arms of the adoring airs.
     All—all expired save thee—save less than thou:
     Save only the divine light in thine eyes—
     Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.
     I saw but them—they were the world to me!
     I saw but them—saw only them for hours,
     Saw only them until the moon went down.
     What wild heart-histories seemed to lie enwritten

     Upon those crystalline, celestial spheres!
     How dark a woe, yet how sublime a hope!
     How silently serene a sea of pride!
     How daring an ambition; yet how deep—
     How fathomless a capacity for love!

     But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,
     Into a western couch of thunder-cloud;
     And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing trees
     Didst glide away. Only thine eyes remained;
     They would not go—they never yet have gone;
     Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,
     They have not left me (as my hopes have) since;
     They follow me—they lead me through the years.
     They are my ministers—yet I their slave.
     Their office is to illumine and enkindle—
     My duty, to be saved by their bright light,
     And purified in their electric fire,
     And sanctified in their elysian fire.
     They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope),
     And are far up in Heaven—the stars I kneel to
     In the sad, silent watches of my night;
     While even in the meridian glare of day
     I see them still—two sweetly scintillant
     Venuses, unextinguished by the sun!


     It was many and many a year ago,
         In a kingdom by the sea,
     That a maiden lived whom you may know
         By the name of ANNABEL LEE;—
     And this maiden she lived with no other thought
         Than to love and be loved by me.

     I was a child and She was a child,
         In this kingdom by the sea,
     But we loved with a love that was more than love—
         I and my ANNABEL LEE—
     With a love that the wingéd seraphs of Heaven
         Coveted her and me.

     And this was the reason that, long ago,
         In this kingdom by the sea,
     A wind blew out of a cloud by night
         Chilling my ANNABEL LEE;
     So that her high-born kinsmen came
         And bore her away from me,
     To shut her up, in a sepulchre
         In this kingdom by the sea.

     The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
         Went envying her and me;
     Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
         In this kingdom by the sea)
     That the wind came out of the cloud, chilling
         And killing my ANNABEL LEE.

     But our love it was stronger by far than the love
         Of those who were older than we—
         Of many far wiser than we—
     And neither the angels in Heaven above
         Nor the demons down under the sea
     Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
         Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE:—

     For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
         Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
     And the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes
         Of the beautiful ANNABEL LEE;
     And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
     Of my darling, my darling, my life and my bride
         In her sepulchre there by the sea—
         In her tomb by the side of the sea.



     For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
         Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
     Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies
         Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
     Search narrowly the lines!—they hold a treasure
         Divine—a talisman—an amulet
     That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure—
         The words—the syllables! Do not forget
     The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!
         And yet there is in this no Gordian knot

     Which one might not undo without a sabre,
         If one could merely comprehend the plot.
     Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
         Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
     Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
         Of poets, by poets—as the name is a poet’s, too.
     Its letters, although naturally lying
         Like the knight Pinto—Mendez Ferdinando—
     Still form a synonym for Truth—Cease trying!
         You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.


[To discover the names in this and the following poem read the first letter of the first line in connection with the second letter of the second line, the third letter of the third line, the fourth of the fourth and so on to the end.]


     “Seldom we find,” says Solomon Don Dunce,
         “Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.
     Through all the flimsy things we see at once
         As easily as through a Naples bonnet—
         Trash of all trash!—how can a lady don it?
     Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff—
     Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff
         Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it.”
      And, veritably, Sol is right enough.
     The general tuckermanities are arrant
     Bubbles—ephemeral and so transparent—
         But this is, now,—you may depend upon it—
     Stable, opaque, immortal—all by dint
     Of the dear names that lie concealed within ‘t.


     Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
         The angels, whispering to one another,
     Can find, among their burning terms of love,
         None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
      Therefore by that dear name I long have called you—
         You who are more than mother unto me,
     And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
         In setting my Virginia’s spirit free.
     My mother—my own mother, who died early,
         Was but the mother of myself; but you
     Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
         And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
     By that infinity with which my wife
         Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.


[The above was addressed to the poet’s mother-in-law, Mrs. Clemm—Ed.]


     Thank Heaven! the crisis—
         The danger is past,
     And the lingering illness
         Is over at last—
     And the fever called “Living”
          Is conquered at last.

     Sadly, I know
         I am shorn of my strength,
     And no muscle I move
         As I lie at full length—
     But no matter!—I feel
         I am better at length.

     And I rest so composedly,
         Now, in my bed,
     That any beholder
         Might fancy me dead—
     Might start at beholding me,
         Thinking me dead.

     The moaning and groaning,
         The sighing and sobbing,
     Are quieted now,
         With that horrible throbbing
     At heart:—ah, that horrible,
         Horrible throbbing!

     The sickness—the nausea—
         The pitiless pain—
     Have ceased, with the fever
         That maddened my brain—
     With the fever called “Living”
          That burned in my brain.

     And oh! of all tortures
         That torture the worst
     Has abated—the terrible
         Torture of thirst
     For the naphthaline river
         Of Passion accurst:—
     I have drank of a water
         That quenches all thirst:—

     Of a water that flows,
         With a lullaby sound,
     From a spring but a very few
         Feet under ground—
     From a cavern not very far
         Down under ground.

     And ah! let it never
         Be foolishly said
     That my room it is gloomy
         And narrow my bed;
     For man never slept
         In a different bed—
     And, to sleep, you must slumber
         In just such a bed.

     My tantalized spirit
         Here blandly reposes,
     Forgetting, or never
         Regretting its roses—
     Its old agitations
         Of myrtles and roses:

     For now, while so quietly
         Lying, it fancies
     A holier odor
         About it, of pansies—
     A rosemary odor,
         Commingled with pansies—
     With rue and the beautiful
         Puritan pansies.

     And so it lies happily,
         Bathing in many
     A dream of the truth
         And the beauty of Annie—
     Drowned in a bath
         Of the tresses of Annie.

     She tenderly kissed me,
         She fondly caressed,
     And then I fell gently
         To sleep on her breast—
     Deeply to sleep
         From the heaven of her breast.

     When the light was extinguished,
         She covered me warm,
     And she prayed to the angels
         To keep me from harm—
     To the queen of the angels
         To shield me from harm.

     And I lie so composedly,
         Now in my bed,
     (Knowing her love)
         That you fancy me dead—
     And I rest so contentedly,
         Now in my bed,
     (With her love at my breast)
         That you fancy me dead—
     That you shudder to look at me,
         Thinking me dead:—

     But my heart it is brighter
         Than all of the many
     Stars in the sky,
         For it sparkles with Annie—
     It glows with the light
         Of the love of my Annie—
     With the thought of the light
         Of the eyes of my Annie.


TO F——.

     Beloved! amid the earnest woes
         That crowd around my earthly path—
     (Drear path, alas! where grows
     Not even one lonely rose)—
         My soul at least a solace hath
     In dreams of thee, and therein knows
     An Eden of bland repose.

     And thus thy memory is to me
         Like some enchanted far-off isle
     In some tumultuous sea—
     Some ocean throbbing far and free
         With storms—but where meanwhile
     Serenest skies continually
         Just o’er that one bright island smile.



     Thou wouldst be loved?—then let thy heart
         From its present pathway part not!
     Being everything which now thou art,
         Be nothing which thou art not.
     So with the world thy gentle ways,
         Thy grace, thy more than beauty,
     Shall be an endless theme of praise,
         And love—a simple duty.



         Gaily bedight,
         A gallant knight,
     In sunshine and in shadow,
         Had journeyed long,
         Singing a song,
     In search of Eldorado.

         But he grew old—
         This knight so bold—
     And o’er his heart a shadow
         Fell, as he found
         No spot of ground
     That looked like Eldorado.

         And, as his strength
         Failed him at length,
     He met a pilgrim shadow—
         “Shadow,” said he,
         “Where can it be—
     This land of Eldorado?”

         “Over the Mountains
         Of the Moon,
     Down the Valley of the Shadow,
         Ride, boldly ride,”
         The shade replied,—
     “If you seek for Eldorado!”



                          I  DWELT alone
                         In a world of moan,
             And my soul was a stagnant tide,
     Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride—
     Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride.

                         Ah, less—less bright
                         The stars of the night
                 Than the eyes of the radiant girl!
                         And never a flake
                         That the vapour can make
                 With the moon-tints of purple and pearl,
     Can vie with the modest Eulalie’s most unregarded curl—
     Can compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie’s most humble and careless curl.

                    Now Doubt—now Pain
                    Come never again,
            For her soul gives me sigh for sigh,
                    And all day long
                    Shines, bright and strong,
            Astarté within the sky,
     While ever to her dear Eulalie upturns her matron eye—
     While ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye.



     Take this kiss upon the brow!
     And, in parting from you now,
     Thus much let me avow—
     You are not wrong, who deem
     That my days have been a dream;
     Yet if hope has flown away
     In a night, or in a day,
     In a vision, or in none,
     Is it therefore the less gone?
     All that we see or seem
     Is but a dream within a dream.

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



     Of all who hail thy presence as the morning—
     Of all to whom thine absence is the night—
     The blotting utterly from out high heaven
     The sacred sun—of all who, weeping, bless thee
     Hourly for hope—for life—ah! above all,
     For the resurrection of deep-buried faith
     In Truth—in Virtue—in Humanity—
     Of all who, on Despair’s unhallowed bed
     Lying down to die, have suddenly arisen
     At thy soft-murmured words, “Let there be light!”
      At the soft-murmured words that were fulfilled
     In the seraphic glancing of thine eyes—
     Of all who owe thee most—whose gratitude
     Nearest resembles worship—oh, remember
     The truest—the most fervently devoted,
     And think that these weak lines are written by him—
     By him who, as he pens them, thrills to think
     His spirit is communing with an angel’s.



     Not long ago, the writer of these lines,
     In the mad pride of intellectuality,
     Maintained “the power of words”—denied that ever
     A thought arose within the human brain
     Beyond the utterance of the human tongue:
     And now, as if in mockery of that boast,
     Two words—two foreign soft dissyllables—
     Italian tones, made only to be murmured
     By angels dreaming in the moonlit “dew
     That hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill,”—
     Have stirred from out the abysses of his heart,
     Unthought-like thoughts that are the souls of thought,
     Richer, far wider, far diviner visions
     Than even the seraph harper, Israfel,
     (Who has “the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures”)
     Could hope to utter. And I! my spells are broken.
     The pen falls powerless from my shivering hand.
     With thy dear name as text, though bidden by thee,
     I can not write—I can not speak or think—
     Alas, I can not feel; for ’tis not feeling,
     This standing motionless upon the golden
     Threshold of the wide-open gate of dreams,
     Gazing, entranced, adown the gorgeous vista,
     And thrilling as I see, upon the right,
     Upon the left, and all the way along,
     Amid empurpled vapors, far away
     To where the prospect terminates—thee only!



     Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
     In a strange city lying alone
     Far down within the dim West,
     Wherethe good and the bad and the worst and the best
     Have gone to their eternal rest.
     There shrines and palaces and towers
     (Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
     Resemble nothing that is ours.
     Around, by lifting winds forgot,
     Resignedly beneath the sky
     The melancholy waters lie.

     No rays from the holy heaven come down
     On the long night-time of that town;
     But light from out the lurid sea
     Streams up the turrets silently—
     Gleams up the pinnacles far and free—
     Up domes—up spires—up kingly halls—
     Up fanes—up Babylon-like walls—
     Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
     Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers—
     Up many and many a marvellous shrine
     Whose wreathèd friezes intertwine
     The viol, the violet, and the vine.

     Resignedly beneath the sky
     The melancholy waters lie.
     So blend the turrets and shadows there
     That all seem pendulous in air,
     While from a proud tower in the town
     Death looks gigantically down.

     There open fanes and gaping graves
     Yawn level with the luminous waves;
     But not the riches there that lie
     In each idol’s diamond eye—
     Not the gaily-jewelled dead
     Tempt the waters from their bed;
     For no ripples curl, alas!
     Along that wilderness of glass—
     No swellings tell that winds may be
     Upon some far-off happier sea—
     No heavings hint that winds have been
     On seas less hideously serene.

     But lo, a stir is in the air!
     The wave—there is a movement there!
     As if the towers had thrown aside,
     In slightly sinking, the dull tide—
     As if their tops had feebly given
     A void within the filmy Heaven.
     The waves have now a redder glow—
     The hours are breathing faint and low—
     And when, amid no earthly moans,
     Down, down that town shall settle hence,
     Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
     Shall do it reverence.



     At midnight in the month of June,
     I stand beneath the mystic moon.
     An opiate vapour, dewy, dim,
     Exhales from out her golden rim,
     And, softly dripping, drop by drop,
     Upon the quiet mountain top.
     Steals drowsily and musically
     Into the universal valley.
     The rosemary nods upon the grave;
     The lily lolls upon the wave;
     Wrapping the fog about its breast,
     The ruin moulders into rest;
     Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
     A conscious slumber seems to take,
     And would not, for the world, awake.
     All Beauty sleeps!—and lo! where lies
     (Her casement open to the skies)
     Irene, with her Destinies!

     Oh, lady bright! can it be right—
     This window open to the night?
     The wanton airs, from the tree-top,
     Laughingly through the lattice drop—
     The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
     Flit through thy chamber in and out,
     And wave the curtain canopy
     So fitfully—so fearfully—
     Above the closed and fringèd lid
     ‘Neath which thy slumb’ring soul lies hid,
     That o’er the floor and down the wall,
     Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall!
     Oh, lady dear, hast thou no fear?
     Why and what art thou dreaming here?
     Sure thou art come o’er far-off seas,
     A wonder to these garden trees!
     Strange is thy pallor! strange thy dress!
     Strange, above all, thy length of tress,
     And this all solemn silentness!

     The lady sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
     Which is enduring, so be deep!
     Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
     This chamber changed for one more holy,
     This bed for one more melancholy,
     I pray to God that she may lie
     Forever with unopened eye,
     While the dim sheeted ghosts go by!

     My love, she sleeps! Oh, may her sleep,
     As it is lasting, so be deep!
     Soft may the worms about her creep!
     Far in the forest, dim and old,
     For her may some tall vault unfold—
     Some vault that oft hath flung its black
     And wingèd panels fluttering back,
     Triumphant, o’er the crested palls,
     Of her grand family funerals—
     Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
     Against whose portal she hath thrown,
     In childhood, many an idle stone—
     Some tomb from out whose sounding door
     She ne’er shall force an echo more,
     Thrilling to think, poor child of sin!
     It was the dead who groaned within.



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

     And my lord he loves me well;
         But, when first he breathed his vow,
     I felt my bosom swell—
     For the words rang as a knell,
     And the voice seemed his who fell
     In the battle down the dell,
         And who is happy now.

     But he spoke to reasure me,
         And he kissed my pallid brow,
     While a reverie came o’er me,
     And to the church-yard bore me,
     And I sighed to him before me,
     Thinking him dead D’Elormie,
         “Oh, I am happy now!”

     And thus the words were spoken,
         And thus the plighted vow,
     And, though my faith be broken,
     And, though my heart be broken,
     Behold the golden token
         That proves me happy now!

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



1. “The Raven” was first published on the 29th January, 1845, in the New York “Evening Mirror”-a paper its author was then assistant editor of. It was prefaced by the following words, understood to have been written by N. P. Willis: “We are permitted to copy (in advance of publication) from the second number of the “American Review,” the following remarkable poem by Edgar Poe. In our opinion, it is the most effective single example of ‘fugitive poetry’ ever published in this country, and unsurpassed in English poetry for subtle conception, masterly ingenuity of versification, and consistent sustaining of imaginative lift and ‘pokerishness.’ It is one of those ‘dainties bred in a book’ which we feed on. It will stick to the memory of everybody who reads it.” In the February number of the “American Review” the poem was published as by “Quarles,” and it was introduced by the following note, evidently suggested if not written by Poe himself.

[“The following lines from a correspondent-besides the deep, quaint strain of the sentiment, and the curious introduction of some ludicrous touches amidst the serious and impressive, as was doubtless intended by the author-appears to us one of the most felicitous specimens of unique rhyming which has for some time met our eye. The resources of English rhythm for varieties of melody, measure, and sound, producing corresponding diversities of effect, having been thoroughly studied, much more perceived, by very few poets in the language. While the classic tongues, especially the Greek, possess, by power of accent, several advantages for versification over our own, chiefly through greater abundance of spondaic feet, we have other and very great advantages of sound by the modern usage of rhyme. Alliteration is nearly the only effect of that kind which the ancients had in common with us. It will be seen that much of the melody of ‘The Raven’ arises from alliteration, and the studious use of similar sounds in unusual places. In regard to its measure, it may be noted that if all the verses were like the second, they might properly be placed merely in short lines, producing a not uncommon form; but the presence in all the others of one line-mostly the second in the verse” (stanza?)—“which flows continuously, with only an aspirate pause in the middle, like that before the short line in the Sapphic Adonic, while the fifth has at the middle pause no similarity of sound with any part besides, gives the versification an entirely different effect. We could wish the capacities of our noble language in prosody were better understood.”—ED. “Am. Rev.”]

2. The bibliographical history of “The Bells” is curious. The subject, and some lines of the original version, having been suggested by the poet’s friend, Mrs. Shew, Poe, when he wrote out the first draft of the poem, headed it, “The Bells, By Mrs. M. A. Shew.” This draft, now the editor’s property, consists of only seventeen lines, and read thus:


     The bells!-ah, the bells!
     The little silver bells!
     How fairy-like a melody there floats
     From their throats—
     From their merry little throats—
     From the silver, tinkling throats
     Of the bells, bells, bells—
     Of the bells!


     The bells!-ah, the bells!

     The heavy iron bells!
     How horrible a monody there floats
     From their throats—
     From their deep-toned throats—
     From their melancholy throats!
     How I shudder at the notes Of the bells, bells, bells—
     Of the bells!

In the autumn of 1848 Poe added another line to this poem, and sent it to the editor of the “Union Magazine.” It was not published. So, in the following February, the poet forwarded to the same periodical a much enlarged and altered transcript. Three months having elapsed without publication, another revision of the poem, similar to the current version, was sent, and in the following October was published in the “Union Magazine.”

3. This poem was first published in Colton’s “American Review” for December, 1847, as “To—Ulalume: a Ballad.” Being reprinted immediately in the “Home Journal,” it was copied into various publications with the name of the editor, N. P. Willis, appended, and was ascribed to him. When first published, it contained the following additional stanza which Poe subsequently, at the suggestion of Mrs. Whitman, wisely suppressed:

     Said we then—we two, then—“Ah, can it
     Have been that the woodlandish ghouls—
     The pitiful, the merciful ghouls—
     To bar up our path and to ban it
     From the secret that lies in these wolds—
     Had drawn up the spectre of a planet
     From the limbo of lunary souls—
     This sinfully scintillant planet
     From the Hell of the planetary souls?”

4. “To Helen” (Mrs. S. Helen Whitman) was not published until November, 1848, although written several months earlier. It first appeared in the “Union Magazine,” and with the omission, contrary to the knowledge or desire of Poe, of the line, “Oh, God! oh, Heaven—how my heart beats in coupling those two words.”

5. “Annabel Lee” was written early in 1849, and is evidently an expression of the poet’s undying love for his deceased bride, although at least one of his lady admirers deemed it a response to her admiration. Poe sent a copy of the ballad to the “Union Magazine,” in which publication it appeared in January, 1850, three months after the author’s death. While suffering from “hope deferred” as to its fate, Poe presented a copy of “Annabel Lee” to the editor of the “Southern Literary Messenger,” who published it in the November number of his periodical, a month after Poe’s death. In the meantime the poet’s own copy, left among his papers, passed into the hands of the person engaged to edit his works, and he quoted the poem in an obituary of Poe, in the New York “Tribune,” before any one else had an opportunity of publishing it.

6. “A Valentine,” one of three poems addressed to Mrs. Osgood, appears to have been written early in 1846.

7. “An Enigma,” addressed to Mrs. Sarah Anna Lewis (“Stella”), was sent to that lady in a letter, in November, 1847, and the following March appeared in Sartain’s “Union Magazine.”

8. The sonnet, “To My Mother” (Maria Clemm), was sent for publication to the short-lived “Flag of our Union,” early in 1849, but does not appear to have been issued until after its author’s death, when it appeared in the “Leaflets of Memory” for 1850.

9. “For Annie” was first published in the “Flag of our Union,” in the spring of 1849. Poe, annoyed at some misprints in this issue, shortly afterwards caused a corrected copy to be inserted in the “Home Journal.”

10. “To F——” (Frances Sargeant Osgood) appeared in the “Broadway Journal” for April, 1845. These lines are but slightly varied from those inscribed “To Mary,” in the “Southern Literary Messenger” for July, 1835, and subsequently republished, with the two stanzas transposed, in “Graham’s Magazine” for March, 1842, as “To One Departed.”

11. “To F——s S. O—d,” a portion of the poet’s triune tribute to Mrs. Osgood, was published in the “Broadway Journal” for September, 1845. The earliest version of these lines appeared in the “Southern Literary Messenger” for September, 1835, as “Lines written in an Album,” and was addressed to Eliza White, the proprietor’s daughter. Slightly revised, the poem reappeared in Burton’s “Gentleman’s Magazine” for August, 1839, as “To——.”

12. Although “Eldorado” was published during Poe’s lifetime, in 1849, in the “Flag of our Union,” it does not appear to have ever received the author’s finishing touches.



     Ah broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever!
     Let the bell toll!—a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
     And, Guy De Vere, hast thou no tear?—weep now or never more!
     See! on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
     Come! let the burial rite be read—the funeral song be sung!—
     An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young—
     A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

     “Wretches! ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
     And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her—that she died!
     How shall the ritual, then, be read?—the requiem how be sung
     By you—by yours, the evil eye,—by yours, the slanderous tongue
     That did to death the innocent that died, and died so young?”

      Peccavimus; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
     Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong!
     The sweet Lenore hath “gone before,” with Hope, that flew beside
     Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride—
     For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
     The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes—
     The life still there, upon her hair—the death upon her eyes.

     “Avaunt! to-night my heart is light. No dirge will I upraise,
     But waft the angel on her flight with a Paean of old days!
     Let no bell toll!—lest her sweet soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
     Should catch the note, as it doth float up from the damned Earth.
     To friends above, from fiends below, the indignant ghost is riven—
     From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven—
     From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven.”


     Thou wast all that to me, love,
         For which my soul did pine—
     A green isle in the sea, love,
         A fountain and a shrine,
     All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,
         And all the flowers were mine.

     Ah, dream too bright to last!
         Ah, starry Hope! that didst arise
     But to be overcast!
         A voice from out the Future cries,
     “On! on!”—but o’er the Past
         (Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
     Mute, motionless, aghast!

     For, alas! alas! with me
         The light of Life is o’er!
         No more—no more—no more—
     (Such language holds the solemn sea
         To the sands upon the shore)
     Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
         Or the stricken eagle soar!

     And all my days are trances,
         And all my nightly dreams
     Are where thy dark eye glances,
         And where thy footstep gleams—
     In what ethereal dances,
         By what eternal streams.



     Type of the antique Rome! Rich reliquary
     Of lofty contemplation left to Time
     By buried centuries of pomp and power!
     At length—at length—after so many days
     Of weary pilgrimage and burning thirst,
     (Thirst for the springs of lore that in thee lie,)
     I kneel, an altered and an humble man,
     Amid thy shadows, and so drink within
     My very soul thy grandeur, gloom, and glory!

     Vastness! and Age! and Memories of Eld!
     Silence! and Desolation! and dim Night!
     I feel ye now—I feel ye in your strength—
     O spells more sure than e’er Judæan king
     Taught in the gardens of Gethsemane!
     O charms more potent than the rapt Chaldee
     Ever drew down from out the quiet stars!

     Here, where a hero fell, a column falls!
     Here, where the mimic eagle glared in gold,
     A midnight vigil holds the swarthy bat!
     Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair
     Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle!
     Here, where on golden throne the monarch lolled,
     Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home,
     Lit by the wanlight—wan light of the horned moon,
     The swift and silent lizard of the stones!

     But stay! these walls—these ivy-clad arcades—
     These mouldering plinths—these sad and blackened shafts—
     These vague entablatures—this crumbling frieze—
     These shattered cornices—this wreck—this ruin—
     These stones—alas! these gray stones—are they all—
     All of the famed, and the colossal left
     By the corrosive Hours to Fate and me?

     “Not all”—the Echoes answer me—“not all!
     Prophetic sounds and loud, arise forever
     From us, and from all Ruin, unto the wise,
     As melody from Memnon to the Sun.
     We rule the hearts of mightiest men—we rule
     With a despotic sway all giant minds.
     We are not impotent—we pallid stones.
     Not all our power is gone—not all our fame—
     Not all the magic of our high renown—
     Not all the wonder that encircles us—
     Not all the mysteries that in us lie—
     Not all the memories that hang upon
     And cling around about us as a garment,
     Clothing us in a robe of more than glory.”



     In the greenest of our valleys
         By good angels tenanted,
     Once a fair and stately palace—
         Radiant palace—reared its head.
     In the monarch Thought’s dominion—
         It stood there!
     Never seraph spread a pinion
         Over fabric half so fair.

     Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
         On its roof did float and flow,
     (This—all this—was in the olden
         Time long ago,)
     And every gentle air that dallied,
         In that sweet day,
     Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
         A wingèd odor went away.

     Wanderers in that happy valley,
         Through two luminous windows, saw
     Spirits moving musically,
         To a lute’s well-tunèd law,
     Round about a throne where, sitting
     In state his glory well befitting,
         The ruler of the realm was seen.

     And all with pearl and ruby glowing
         Was the fair palace door,
     Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
         And sparkling evermore,
     A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
         Was but to sing,
     In voices of surpassing beauty,
         The wit and wisdom of their king.

     But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
         Assailed the monarch’s high estate.
     (Ah, let us mourn!—for never morrow
         Shall dawn upon him desolate!)
     And round about his home the glory
         That blushed and bloomed,
     Is but a dim-remembered story
         Of the old time entombed.

     And travellers, now, within that valley,
         Through the red-litten windows see
     Vast forms, that move fantastically
         To a discordant melody,
     While, like a ghastly rapid river,
         Through the pale door
     A hideous throng rush out forever
         And laugh—but smile no more.



     Lo! ’tis a gala night
         Within the lonesome latter years!
     An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
         In veils, and drowned in tears,
     Sit in a theatre, to see
         A play of hopes and fears,
     While the orchestra breathes fitfully
         The music of the spheres.

     Mimes, in the form of God on high,
         Mutter and mumble low,
     And hither and thither fly—
         Mere puppets they, who come and go
     At bidding of vast formless things
         That shift the scenery to and fro,
     Flapping from out their Condor wings
        Invisible Woe!

     That motley drama—oh, be sure
         It shall not be forgot!
     With its Phantom chased for evermore,
         By a crowd that seize it not,
     Through a circle that ever returneth in
         To the self-same spot,
     And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
         And Horror the soul of the plot.

     But see, amid the mimic rout
         A crawling shape intrude!
     A blood-red thing that writhes from out
         The scenic solitude!
     It writhes!—it writhes!—with mortal pangs
         The mimes become its food,
     And the angels sob at vermin fangs
         In human gore imbued.

     Out—out are the lights—out all!
         And, over each quivering form,
     The curtain, a funeral pall,
         Comes down with the rush of a storm
     And the angels, all pallid and wan,
         Uprising, unveiling, affirm
     That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”
          And its hero the Conqueror Worm.



     There are some qualities—some incorporate things,
         That have a double life, which thus is made
     A type of that twin entity which springs
         From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
     There is a two-fold Silence—sea and shore—
         Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
         Newly with grass o’ergrown; some solemn graces,
     Some human memories and tearful lore,
     Render him terrorless: his name’s “No More.”
      He is the corporate Silence: dread him not!
         No power hath he of evil in himself;
     But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
         Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
     That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
     No foot of man,) commend thyself to God!



        By a route obscure and lonely,
         Haunted by ill angels only,
         Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
         On a black throne reigns upright,
         I have reached these lands but newly
         From an ultimate dim Thule—
         From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
               Out of SPACE—out of TIME.

         Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
         And chasms, and caves, and Titan woods,
         With forms that no man can discover
         For the dews that drip all over;
         Mountains toppling evermore
         Into seas without a shore;
         Seas that restlessly aspire,
         Surging, unto skies of fire;
         Lakes that endlessly outspread
         Their lone waters—lone and dead,—
         Their still waters—still and chilly
         With the snows of the lolling lily.

         By the lakes that thus outspread
         Their lone waters, lone and dead,—
         Their sad waters, sad and chilly
         With the snows of the lolling lily,—
         By the mountains—near the river
         Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever,—
         By the grey woods,—by the swamp
         Where the toad and the newt encamp,—
         By the dismal tarns and pools
                 Where dwell the Ghouls,—
         By each spot the most unholy—
         In each nook most melancholy,—
         There the traveller meets aghast
         Sheeted Memories of the Past—
         Shrouded forms that start and sigh
         As they pass the wanderer by—
         White-robed forms of friends long given,
         In agony, to the Earth—and Heaven.

         For the heart whose woes are legion
         ’Tis a peaceful, soothing region—
         For the spirit that walks in shadow
         ’Tis—oh ’tis an Eldorado!
         But the traveller, travelling through it,
         May not—dare not openly view it;
         Never its mysteries are exposed
         To the weak human eye unclosed;
         So wills its King, who hath forbid
         The uplifting of the fringèd lid;
         And thus the sad Soul that here passes
         Beholds it but through darkened glasses.

         By a route obscure and lonely,
         Haunted by ill angels only,
         Where an Eidolon, named NIGHT,
         On a black throne reigns upright,
         I have wandered home but newly
         From this ultimate dim Thule.



     At morn—at noon—at twilight dim—
     Maria! thou hast heard my hymn!
     In joy and woe—in good and ill—
     Mother of God, be with me still!
     When the Hours flew brightly by
     And not a cloud obscured the sky,
     My soul, lest it should truant be,
     Thy grace did guide to thine and thee;
     Now, when storms of Fate o’ercast
     Darkly my Present and my Past,
     Let my Future radiant shine
     With sweet hopes of thee and thine!



     Fair isle, that from the fairest of all flowers,
         Thy gentlest of all gentle names dost take
     How many memories of what radiant hours
         At sight of thee and thine at once awake!
     How many scenes of what departed bliss!
         How many thoughts of what entombed hopes!
     How many visions of a maiden that is
         No more—no more upon thy verdant slopes!
     No more! alas, that magical sad sound
         Transforming all! Thy charms shall please no more—
     Thy memory no more! Accursed ground
         Henceforth I hold thy flower-enamelled shore,
     O hyacinthine isle! O purple Zante!
         “Isola d’oro! Fior di Levante!”





              Rome.—A Hall in a Palace  Alessandra and Castiglione.

      Alessandra.  Thou art sad, Castiglione.

      Castiglione.  Sad!—not I.
  Oh, I’m the happiest, happiest man in Rome!
  A few days more, thou knowest, my Alessandra,
  Will make thee mine. Oh, I am very happy!

      Aless.  Methinks thou hast a singular way of showing
  Thy happiness!—what ails thee, cousin of mine?
  Why didst thou sigh so deeply?

      Cas.  Did I sign?
  I was not conscious of it. It is a fashion,
  A silly—a most silly fashion I have
  When I am very happy. Did I sigh?                         (sighing.)

      Aless. Thou didst. Thou art not well. Thou hast indulged
  Too much of late, and I am vexed to see it.
  Late hours and wine, Castiglione,—these
  Will ruin thee! thou art already altered—
  Thy looks are haggard—nothing so wears away
  The constitution as late hours and wine.

      Cas. (musing.)  Nothing, fair cousin, nothing—not even deep
  Wears it away like evil hours and wine.
  I will amend.

      Aless. Do it! I would have thee drop
  Thy riotous company, too—fellows low born—
  Ill suit the like with old Di Broglio’s heir
  And Alessandra’s husband.

      Cas.  I will drop them.

      Aless.   Thou wilt—thou must. Attend thou also more
  To thy dress and equipage—they are over plain
  For thy lofty rank and fashion—much depends
  Upon appearances.

      Cas.  I’ll see to it.

      Aless. Then see to it!—pay more attention, sir,
  To a becoming carriage—much thou wantest
  In dignity.

      Cas.  Much, much, oh! much I want
    In proper dignity.

      Aless.(haughtily)  Thou mockest me, sir!

      Cas. (abstractedly.)  Sweet, gentle Lalage!

      Aless. Heard I aright?
  I speak to him—he speaks of Lalage!
  Sir Count! (places her hand on his shoulder) what art thou dreaming?
  he’s not well!
  What ails thee, sir?

      Cas. (startling.)  Cousin! fair cousin!—madam!
  I crave thy pardon—indeed I am not well—
  Your hand from off my shoulder, if you please.
  This air is most oppressive!—Madam—the Duke!

                                                     Enter Di Broglio.

      Di Broglio.  My son, I’ve news for thee!—hey?—what’s the
  matter? (observing Alessandra)
  I’ the pouts? Kiss her, Castiglione! kiss her,
  You dog! and make it up, I say, this minute!
  I’ve news for you both. Politian is expected
  Hourly in Rome—Politian, Earl of Leicester!
  We’ll have him at the wedding. ’Tis his first visit
  To the imperial city.

      Aless. What! Politian
  Of Britain, Earl of Leicester?

      Di Brog.  The same, my love.
  We’ll have him at the wedding. A man quite young
  In years, but grey in fame. I have not seen him,
  But Rumour speaks of him as of a prodigy
  Pre-eminent in arts and arms, and wealth,
  And high descent. We’ll have him at the wedding.

      Aless. I have heard much of this Politian.
  Gay, volatile and giddy—is he not?
  And little given to thinking.

      Di Brog.  Far from it, love.
  No branch, they say, of all philosophy
  So deep abstruse he has not mastered it.
  Learned as few are learned.

      Aless. ’Tis very strange!
  I have known men have seen Politian
  And sought his company. They speak of him
  As of one who entered madly into life,
  Drinking the cup of pleasure to the dregs.

      Cas.  Ridiculous! Now I have seen Politian
  And know him well—nor learned nor mirthful he.
  He is a dreamer and a man shut out
  From common passions.

      Di Brog.  Children, we disagree.
  Let us go forth and taste the fragrant air
  Of the garden. Did I dream, or did I hear
  Politian was a melancholy man?                             (exeunt.)


    ROME. A Lady’s apartment, with a window open and looking into a garden.
  Lalage, in deep mourning, reading at a table on which lie some books and a
  hand mirror. In the background Jacinta (a servant maid) leans carelessly
  upon a chair.

      Lal. [Lalage] Jacinta! is it thou?

      Jac. [Jacinta] (pertly.) Yes, Ma’am, I’m here.

      Lal.   I did not know, Jacinta, you were in waiting.
  Sit down!—Let not my presence trouble you—
  Sit down!—for I am humble, most humble.

      Jac. (aside.) ’Tis time.
  (Jacinta seats herself in a side-long manner upon the chair, resting her
  elbows upon the back, and regarding her mistress with a contemptuous look.
  Lalage continues to read. )

      Lal. “It in another climate, so he said,
  Bore a bright golden flower, but not i’ this soil!”
  (pauses—turns over some leaves, and resumes)
  No lingering winters there, nor snow, nor shower—
  But Ocean ever to refresh mankind
  Breathes the shrill spirit of the western wind.”
   O, beautiful!—most beautiful—how like
  To what my fevered soul doth dream of Heaven!
  O happy land (pauses) She died!—the maiden died!
  A still more happy maiden who couldst die!
  (Jacinta returns no answer, and Lalage presently resumes.)
  Again!—a similar tale
  Told of a beauteous dame beyond the sea!
  Thus speaketh one Ferdinand in the words of the play—
  “She died full young”—one Bossola answers him—
  “I think not so—her infelicity
  Seemed to have years too many”—Ah luckless lady!
  Jacinta! (still no answer)

      Here ’s a far sterner story,
  But like—oh, very like in its despair—
  Of that Egyptian queen, winning so easily
  A thousand hearts—losing at length her own.
  She died. Thus endeth the history—and her maids
  Lean over and weep—two gentle maids
  With gentle names—Eiros and Charmion!
  Rainbow and Dove!——Jacinta!

      Jac. (pettishly.) Madam, what is it?

      Lal.  Wilt thou, my good Jacinta, be so kind
  As go down in the library and bring me
  The Holy Evangelists.

      Jac. Pshaw!   (exit.)

      Lal. If there be balm
  For the wounded spirit in Gilead it is there!
  Dew in the night time of my bitter trouble
  Will there be found—“dew sweeter far than that
  Which hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill.”
   (re-enter Jacinta, and throws a volume on the table.)
  There, ma’am, ’s the book. Indeed she is very troublesome.  (aside.)

      Lal. (astonished.)  What didst thou say, Jacinta? Have I done aught
  To grieve thee or to vex thee?—I am sorry.
  For thou hast served me long and ever been
  Trust-worthy and respectful.                   (resumes her reading.)

      Jac. I can’t believe
  She has any more jewels—no—no—she gave me all.    (aside.)

      Lal. What didst thou say, Jacinta? Now I bethink me
  Thou hast not spoken lately of thy wedding.
  How fares good Ugo?—and when is it to be?
  Can I do aught?—is there no farther aid
  Thou needest, Jacinta?

      Jac. Is there no farther aid!
  That’s meant for me. (aside) I’m sure, madam, you need not
  Be always throwing those jewels in my teeth.

      Lal. Jewels! Jacinta,—now indeed, Jacinta,
  I thought not of the jewels.

      Jac. Oh! perhaps not!
  But then I might have sworn it. After all,
  There ’s Ugo says the ring is only paste,
  For he ’s sure the Count Castiglione never
  Would have given a real diamond to such as you;
  And at the best I’m certain, Madam, you cannot
  Have use for jewels now. But I might have sworn it.          (exit.)
  (Lalage bursts into tears and leans her head upon the table—after a
  short pause raises it.)

      Lal.  Poor Lalage!—and is it come to this?
  Thy servant maid!—but courage!—’tis but a viper
  Whom thou hast cherished to sting thee to the soul!
  (taking up the mirror)
  Ha! here at least ’s a friend—too much a friend
  In earlier days—a friend will not deceive thee.
  Fair mirror and true! now tell me (for thou canst)
  A tale—a pretty tale—and heed thou not
  Though it be rife with woe: It answers me.
  It speaks of sunken eyes, and wasted cheeks,
  And Beauty long deceased—remembers me
  Of Joy departed—Hope, the Seraph Hope,
  Inurned and entombed:—now, in a tone
  Low, sad, and solemn, but most audible,
  Whispers of early grave untimely yawning
  For ruined maid. Fair mirror and true—thou liest not!
  Thou hast no end to gain—no heart to break—
  Castiglione lied who said he loved—
  Thou true—he false!—false!—false!
  (While she speaks, a monk enters her apartment, and approaches

      Monk. Refuge thou hast,
  Sweet daughter, in Heaven. Think of eternal things!
  Give up thy soul to penitence, and pray!

      Lal. (arising hurriedly.)  I cannot pray!—My soul is at war
  with God!
  The frightful sounds of merriment below
  Disturb my senses—go! I cannot pray—
  The sweet airs from the garden worry me!
  Thy presence grieves me—go!—thy priestly raiment
  Fills me with dread—thy ebony crucifix
  With horror and awe!

      Monk. Think of thy precious soul!

      Lal.  Think of my early days!—think of my father
  And mother in Heaven think of our quiet home,
  And the rivulet that ran before the door!
  Think of my little sisters!—think of them!
  And think of me!—think of my trusting love
  And confidence—his vows—my ruin—think—think
  Of my unspeakable misery!—begone!
  Yet stay! yet stay!—what was it thou saidst of prayer
  And penitence? Didst thou not speak of faith
  And vows before the throne?

      Monk.  I did.

      Lal. Lal. ’Tis well.
  There is a vow were fitting should be made—
  A sacred vow, imperative, and urgent,
  A solemn vow!

      Monk. Daughter, this zeal is well!

      Lal.  Father, this zeal is anything but well!
  Hast thou a crucifix fit for this thing?
  A crucifix whereon to register
  This sacred vow?                             (he hands her his own)
  Not that—Oh! no!—no!—no!                            (shuddering)
  Not that! Not that!—I tell thee, holy man,
  Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me!
  Stand back! I have a crucifix myself,—
  I have a crucifix Methinks ’twere fitting
  The deed—the vow—the symbol of the deed—
  And the deed’s register should tally, father!

                  (draws a cross-handled dagger, and raises it on high)
  Behold the cross wherewith a vow like mine
  Is written in Heaven!

      Monk. Thy words are madness, daughter,
  And speak a purpose unholy—thy lips are livid—
  Thine eyes are wild—tempt not the wrath divine!
  Pause ere too late!—oh, be not—be not rash!
  Swear not the oath—oh, swear it not!

      Lal. ’Tis sworn!


        An apartment in a Palace. Politian and Baldazzar.

       Baldazzar.—Arouse thee now, Politian!
  Thou must not—nay indeed, indeed, shalt not
  Give away unto these humors. Be thyself!
  Shake off the idle fancies that beset thee,
  And live, for now thou diest!

       Politian.  Not so, Baldazzar! Surely I live.

       Bal. Politian, it doth grieve me
  To see thee thus.

      Pol.  Baldazzar, it doth grieve me
  To give thee cause for grief, my honoured friend.
  Command me, sir! what wouldst thou have me do?
  At thy behest I will shake off that nature
  Which from my forefathers I did inherit,
  Which with my mother’s milk I did imbibe,
  And be no more Politian, but some other.
  Command me, sir!

      Bal.  To the field, then—to the field—
  To the senate or the field.

      Pol. Alas! Alas!
  There is an imp would follow me even there!
  There is an imp hath followed me even there!
  There is—what voice was that?

      Bal.  I heard it not.
  I heard not any voice except thine own,
  And the echo of thine own.

      Pol.  Then I but dreamed.

      Bal.  Give not thy soul to dreams: the camp—the court,
  Befit thee—Fame awaits thee—Glory calls—
  And her the trumpet-tongued thou wilt not hear
  In hearkening to imaginary sounds
  And phantom voices.

      Pol.  It is a phantom voice!
  Didst thou not hear it then?

      Bal.  I heard it not.

      Pol.  Thou heardst it not!—Baldazaar, speak no more
  To me, Politian, of thy camps and courts.
  Oh! I am sick, sick, sick, even unto death,
  Of the hollow and high-sounding vanities
  Of the populous Earth! Bear with me yet awhile!
  We have been boys together—schoolfellows—
  And now are friends—yet shall not be so long—
  For in the eternal city thou shalt do me
  A kind and gentle office, and a Power—
  A Power august, benignant and supreme—
  Shall then absolve thee of all further duties
  Unto thy friend.

      Bal.  Thou speakest a fearful riddle
  I will not understand.

      Pol.  Yet now as Fate
  Approaches, and the Hours are breathing low,
  The sands of Time are changed to golden grains,
  And dazzle me, Baldazzar. Alas! alas!
  I cannot die, having within my heart
  So keen a relish for the beautiful
  As hath been kindled within it. Methinks the air
  Is balmier now than it was wont to be—
  Rich melodies are floating in the winds—
  A rarer loveliness bedecks the earth—
  And with a holier lustre the quiet moon
  Sitteth in Heaven.—Hist! hist! thou canst not say
  Thou hearest not now, Baldazzar?

      Bal.  Indeed I hear not.

      Pol.  Not hear it!—listen now!—listen!—the faintest sound
  And yet the sweetest that ear ever heard!
  A lady’s voice!—and sorrow in the tone!
  Baldazzar, it oppresses me like a spell!
  Again!—again!—how solemnly it falls
  Into my heart of hearts! that eloquent voice
  Surely I never heard—yet it were well
  Had I but heard it with its thrilling tones
  In earlier days!

      Bal.  I myself hear it now.
  Be still!—the voice, if I mistake not greatly,
  Proceeds from yonder lattice—which you may see
  Very plainly through the window—it belongs,
  Does it not? unto this palace of the Duke.
  The singer is undoubtedly beneath
  The roof of his Excellency—and perhaps
  Is even that Alessandra of whom he spoke
  As the betrothed of Castiglione,
  His son and heir.

      Pol.  Be still!—it comes again!

      Voice        “And is thy heart so strong
  (very faintly)   As for to leave me thus
              Who hath loved thee so long

              In wealth and woe among?
              And is thy heart so strong
              As for to leave me thus?
                  Say nay—say nay!”

      Bal.  The song is English, and I oft have heard it
  In merry England—never so plaintively—
  Hist! hist! it comes again!

      Voice            “Is it so strong
  (more loudly)    As for to leave me thus
              Who hath loved thee so long
              In wealth and woe among?
              And is thy heart so strong
              As for to leave me thus?
                  Say nay—say nay!”

      Bal.  ’Tis hushed and all is still!

      Pol.  All is not still!

      Bal.  Let us go down.

      Pol.  Go down, Baldazzar, go!

      Bal.  The hour is growing late—the Duke awaits use—
  Thy presence is expected in the hall
  Below. What ails thee, Earl Politian?

      Voice           “Who hath loved thee so long
  (distinctly)        In wealth and woe among,

                          And is thy heart so strong?

                               Say nay—say nay!”

      Bal.  Let us descend!—’tis time. Politian, give
  These fancies to the wind. Remember, pray,
  Your bearing lately savored much of rudeness
  Unto the Duke. Arouse thee! and remember

      Pol.  Remember? I do. Lead on! I do remember.

  Let us descend. Believe me I would give,
  Freely would give the broad lands of my earldom
  To look upon the face hidden by yon lattice—
  “To gaze upon that veiled face, and hear
  Once more that silent tongue.”

      Bal.  Let me beg you, sir,
  Descend with me—the Duke may be offended.
  Let us go down, I pray you.

      (Voice loudly) Say nay!—say nay!

      Pol. (aside)  ’Tis strange!—’tis very strange—methought the
  Chimed in with my desires, and bade me stay!

                                     (approaching the window.)
  Sweet voice! I heed thee, and will surely stay.
  Now be this Fancy, by Heaven, or be it Fate,
  Still will I not descend. Baldazzar, make
  Apology unto the Duke for me;
  I go not down to-night.

      Bal.  Your lordship’s pleasure
  Shall be attended to. Good-night, Politian.

      Pol.  Good-night, my friend, good-night.


             The gardens of a Palace—Moonlight Lalage and Politian.

      Lalge.  And dost thou speak of love
  To me, Politian?—dost thou speak of love
  To Lalage?—ah, woe—ah, woe is me!
  This mockery is most cruel—most cruel indeed!

      Politian.  Weep not! oh, sob not thus!—thy bitter tears
  Will madden me. Oh, mourn not, Lalage—
  Be comforted! I know—I know it all,
  And still I speak of love. Look at me, brightest
  And beautiful Lalage!—turn here thine eyes!
  Thou askest me if I could speak of love,
  Knowing what I know, and seeing what I have seen.
  Thou askest me that—and thus I answer thee—
  Thus on my bended knee I answer thee.                    (kneeling.)
  Sweet Lalage, I love thee—love thee—love thee;
  Thro’ good and ill—thro’ weal and wo I love thee.
  Not mother, with her first-born on her knee,
  Thrills with intenser love than I for thee.
  Not on God’s altar, in any time or clime,
  Burned there a holier fire than burneth now
  Within my spirit for thee. And do I love?                 (arising.)
  Even for thy woes I love thee—even for thy woes—
  Thy beauty and thy woes.

      Lal.  Alas, proud Earl,
  Thou dost forget thyself, remembering me!
  How, in thy father’s halls, among the maidens
  Pure and reproachless of thy princely line,
  Could the dishonored Lalage abide?
  Thy wife, and with a tainted memory—
  MY seared and blighted name, how would it tally
  With the ancestral honors of thy house,
  And with thy glory?

      Pol.  Speak not to me of glory!
  I hate—I loathe the name; I do abhor
  The unsatisfactory and ideal thing.
  Art thou not Lalage and I Politian?
  Do I not love—art thou not beautiful—
  What need we more? Ha! glory!—now speak not of it.
  By all I hold most sacred and most solemn—
  By all my wishes now—my fears hereafter—
  By all I scorn on earth and hope in heaven—
  There is no deed I would more glory in,
  Than in thy cause to scoff at this same glory
  And trample it under foot. What matters it—
  What matters it, my fairest, and my best,
  That we go down unhonored and forgotten
  Into the dust—so we descend together.
  Descend together—and then—and then, perchance—

      Lal.  Why dost thou pause, Politian?

      Pol.  And then, perchance
  Arise together, Lalage, and roam
  The starry and quiet dwellings of the blest,
  And still—

      Lal.  Why dost thou pause, Politian?

      Pol.  And still together—together.

      Lal.  Now Earl of Leicester!
  Thou lovest me, and in my heart of hearts
  I feel thou lovest me truly.

      Pol.  Oh, Lalage!

                                       (throwing himself upon his knee.)
  And lovest thou me?

      Lal.  Hist! hush! within the gloom
  Of yonder trees methought a figure passed—
  A spectral figure, solemn, and slow, and noiseless—
  Like the grim shadow Conscience, solemn and noiseless.

                                             (walks across and returns.)
  I was mistaken—’twas but a giant bough
  Stirred by the autumn wind. Politian!

      Pol.  My Lalage—my love! why art thou moved?
  Why dost thou turn so pale? Not Conscience’ self,
  Far less a shadow which thou likenest to it,
  Should shake the firm spirit thus. But the night wind
  Is chilly—and these melancholy boughs
  Throw over all things a gloom.

      Lal.  Politian!
  Thou speakest to me of love. Knowest thou the land
  With which all tongues are busy—a land new found—
  Miraculously found by one of Genoa—
  A thousand leagues within the golden west?
  A fairy land of flowers, and fruit, and sunshine,
  And crystal lakes, and over-arching forests,
  And mountains, around whose towering summits the winds
  Of Heaven untrammelled flow—which air to breathe
  Is Happiness now, and will be Freedom hereafter
  In days that are to come?

      Pol.  O, wilt thou—wilt thou
  Fly to that Paradise—my Lalage, wilt thou
  Fly thither with me? There Care shall be forgotten,
  And Sorrow shall be no more, and Eros be all.
  And life shall then be mine, for I will live
  For thee, and in thine eyes—and thou shalt be
  No more a mourner—but the radiant Joys
  Shall wait upon thee, and the angel Hope
  Attend thee ever; and I will kneel to thee
  And worship thee, and call thee my beloved,
  My own, my beautiful, my love, my wife,
  My all;—oh, wilt thou—wilt thou, Lalage,
  Fly thither with me?

      Lal.  A deed is to be done—
  Castiglione lives!

      Pol.  And he shall die!                                (exit)

      Lal. (after a pause.)  And—he—shall—die!—alas!
  Castiglione die? Who spoke the words?
  Where am I?—what was it he said?—Politian!
  Thou art not gone—thou are not gone, Politian!
  I feel thou art not gone—yet dare not look,
  Lest I behold thee not; thou couldst not go
  With those words upon thy lips—O, speak to me!
  And let me hear thy voice—one word—one word,
  To say thou art not gone,—one little sentence,
  To say how thou dost scorn—how thou dost hate
  My womanly weakness. Ha! ha! thou art not gone—
  O speak to me! I knew thou wouldst not go!
  I knew thou wouldst not, couldst not, durst not go.
  Villain, thou art not gone—thou mockest me!
  And thus I clutch thee—thus!—He is gone, he is gone
  Gone—gone. Where am I?—’tis well—’tis very well!
  So that the blade be keen—the blow be sure,
  ’Tis well, ’tis very well—alas! alas!


                 The suburbs. Politian alone.

      Politian.  This weakness grows upon me. I am faint,
  And much I fear me ill—it will not do
  To die ere I have lived!—Stay, stay thy hand,
  O Azrael, yet awhile!—Prince of the Powers
  Of Darkness and the Tomb, O pity me!
  O pity me! let me not perish now,
  In the budding of my Paradisal Hope!
  Give me to live yet—yet a little while:
  ’Tis I who pray for life—I who so late
  Demanded but to die!—what sayeth the Count?

                    Enter Baldazzar.

      Baldazzar.  That knowing no cause of quarrel or of feud
  Between the Earl Politian and himself.
  He doth decline your cartel.

      Pol.  What didst thou say?
  What answer was it you brought me, good Baldazzar?
  With what excessive fragrance the zephyr comes
  Laden from yonder bowers!—a fairer day,
  Or one more worthy Italy, methinks
  No mortal eyes have seen!—what said the Count?

      Bal.  That he, Castiglione’ not being aware
  Of any feud existing, or any cause
  Of quarrel between your lordship and himself,
  Cannot accept the challenge.

      Pol.  It is most true—
  All this is very true. When saw you, sir,
  When saw you now, Baldazzar, in the frigid
  Ungenial Britain which we left so lately,
  A heaven so calm as this—so utterly free
  From the evil taint of clouds?—and he did say?

      Bal.  No more, my lord, than I have told you, sir:
  The Count Castiglione will not fight,
  Having no cause for quarrel.

      Pol.  Now this is true—
  All very true. Thou art my friend, Baldazzar,
  And I have not forgotten it—thou’lt do me
  A piece of service; wilt thou go back and say
  Unto this man, that I, the Earl of Leicester,
  Hold him a villain?—thus much, I prythee, say
  Unto the Count—it is exceeding just
  He should have cause for quarrel.

      Bal.  My lord!—my friend!—

      Pol.  (aside.) ’Tis he!—he comes himself? (aloud) Thou reasonest
  I know what thou wouldst say—not send the message—
  Well!—I will think of it—I will not send it.
  Now prythee, leave me—hither doth come a person
  With whom affairs of a most private nature
  I would adjust.

      Bal.  I go—to-morrow we meet,
  Do we not?—at the Vatican.

      Pol.  At the Vatican.                                     (exit

                    Enter Castigilone.

      Cas.  The Earl of Leicester here!

      Pol.  I am the Earl of Leicester, and thou seest,
  Dost thou not? that I am here.

      Cas.  My lord, some strange,
  Some singular mistake—misunderstanding—
  Hath without doubt arisen: thou hast been urged
  Thereby, in heat of anger, to address
  Some words most unaccountable, in writing,
  To me, Castiglione; the bearer being
  Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. I am aware
  Of nothing which might warrant thee in this thing,
  Having given thee no offence. Ha!—am I right?
  ’Twas a mistake?—undoubtedly—we all
  Do err at times.

      Pol.  Draw, villain, and prate no more!

      Cas.  Ha!—draw?—and villain? have at thee then at once,
  Proud Earl!                                   (draws.)

      Pol.  (drawing.)  Thus to the expiatory tomb,
  Untimely sepulchre, I do devote thee
  In the name of Lalage!

      Cas.  (letting fall his sword and recoiling to the extremity of the

                      Of Lalage!
  Hold off—thy sacred hand!—avaunt, I say!
  Avaunt—I will not fight thee—indeed I dare not.

      Pol.  Thou wilt not fight with me didst say, Sir Count?
  Shall I be baffled thus?—now this is well;
  Didst say thou darest not? Ha!

      Cas.  I dare not—dare not—
  Hold off thy hand—with that beloved name
  So fresh upon thy lips I will not fight thee—
  I cannot—dare not.

      Pol.  Now by my halidom
  I do believe thee!—coward, I do believe thee!

      Cas.  Ha!—coward!—this may not be!

       (clutches his sword and staggers towards POLITIAN, but his purpose
  is changed before reaching him, and he falls upon his knee at the feet of
  the Earl)

                             Alas! my lord,
  It is—it is—most true. In such a cause
  I am the veriest coward. O pity me!

      Pol.  (greatly softened.)  Alas!—I do—indeed I pity thee.

      Cas.  And Lalage—

      Pol.  Scoundrel!—arise and die!

      Cas.  It needeth not be—thus—thus—O let me die
  Thus on my bended knee. It were most fitting
  That in this deep humiliation I perish.
  For in the fight I will not raise a hand
  Against thee, Earl of Leicester. Strike thou home—

                                                     (baring his bosom.)
  Here is no let or hindrance to thy weapon—
  Strike home. I will not fight thee.

      Pol.  Now, s’ Death and Hell!
  Am I not—am I not sorely—grievously tempted
  To take thee at thy word? But mark me, sir,
  Think not to fly me thus. Do thou prepare
  For public insult in the streets—before
  The eyes of the citizens. I’ll follow thee
  Like an avenging spirit I’ll follow thee
  Even unto death. Before those whom thou lovest—
  Before all Rome I’ll taunt thee, villain,—I’ll taunt thee,
  Dost hear? with cowardice—thou wilt not fight me?
  Thou liest! thou shalt!                                      (exit.)

      Cas.  Now this indeed is just!
  Most righteous, and most just, avenging Heaven!

  {In the book there is a gap in numbering the notes between 12 and 29.


29. Such portions of “Politian” as are known to the public first saw the light of publicity in the “Southern Literary Messenger” for December, 1835, and January, 1836, being styled “Scenes from Politian: an unpublished drama.” These scenes were included, unaltered, in the 1845 collection of Poems, by Poe. The larger portion of the original draft subsequently became the property of the present editor, but it is not considered just to the poet’s memory to publish it. The work is a hasty and unrevised production of its author’s earlier days of literary labor; and, beyond the scenes already known, scarcely calculated to enhance his reputation. As a specimen, however, of the parts unpublished, the following fragment from the first scene of Act II. may be offered. The Duke, it should be premised, is uncle to Alessandra, and father of Castiglione her betrothed.

      Duke. Why do you laugh?

      Castiglione. Indeed

  I hardly know myself. Stay! Was it not
  On yesterday we were speaking of the Earl?
  Of the Earl Politian? Yes! it was yesterday.
  Alessandra, you and 1, you must remember!
  We were walking in the garden.

      Duke, Perfectly.
  I do remember it-what of it-what then?

      Cas. O nothing-nothing at all.

      Duke. Nothing at all!
  It is most singular that you should laugh
  ‘At nothing at all!

      Cas. Most singular-singular!

      Duke. Look you, Castiglione, be so kind
  As tell me, sir, at once what ’tis you mean.
  What are you talking of?

      Cas. Was it not so?
  We differed in opinion touching him.

      Duke. Him!—Whom?

      Cas. Why, sir, the Earl Politian.

      Duke. The Earl of Leicester! Yes!—is it he you mean?
  We differed, indeed. If I now recollect
  The words you used were that the Earl you knew
  Was neither learned nor mirthful.

      Cas. Ha! ha!—now did I?

      Duke. That did you, sir, and well I knew at the time
  You were wrong, it being not the character
  Of the Earl-whom all the world allows to be
  A most hilarious man. Be not, my son,
  Too positive again.

      Cas. ’Tis singular!
  Most singular! I could not think it possible
  So little time could so much alter one!
  To say the truth about an hour ago,
  As I was walking with the Count San Ozzo,
  All arm in arm, we met this very man
  The Earl-he, with his friend Baldazzar,
  Having just arrived in Rome. Hal ha! he is altered!
  Such an account he gave me of his journey!
  ’Twould have made you die with laughter-such tales he told
  Of his caprices and his merry freaks
  Along the road-such oddity-such humor—
  Such wit-such whim-such flashes of wild merriment
  Set off too in such full relief by the grave
  Demeanor of his friend-who, to speak the truth,
  Was gravity itself—

      Duke. Did I not tell you?

      Cas. You did-and yet ’tis strange! but true as strange,
  How much I was mistaken! I always thought
  The Earl a gloomy man.

      Duke. So, so, you see! Be not too positive. Whom have we here?
  It can not be the Earl?

      Cas. The Earl! Oh, no! ’Tis not the Earl-but yet it is-and leaning
  Upon his friend Baldazzar. AM welcome, sir!

  (Enter Politian and Baldazzar.)
  My lord, a second welcome let me give you
  To Rome-his Grace the Duke of Broglio.
  Father! this is the Earl Politian, Earl
  Of Leicester in Great Britain. [Politian bows haughtily.]
      That, his friend
  Baldazzar, Duke of Surrey. The Earl has letters,
  So please you, for Your Grace.

      Duke. Hal ha! Most welcome
  To Rome and to our palace, Earl Politian!
  And you, most noble Duke! I am glad to see you!
  I knew your father well, my Lord Politian.
  Castiglione! call your cousin hither,
  And let me make the noble Earl acquainted
  With your betrothed. You come, sir, at a time
  Most seasonable. The wedding—

      Politian. Touching those letters, sir,
  Your son made mention of—your son, is he not?
  Touching those letters, sir, I wot not of them.
  If such there be, my friend Baldazzar here—
  Baldazzar! ah!—my friend Baldazzar here
  Will hand them to Your Grace. I would retire.

      Duke. Retire!—So soon?

  Came What ho! Benito! Rupert!
  His lordship’s chambers-show his lordship to them!
  His lordship is unwell.     (Enter Benito.)

      Ben. This way, my lord! (Exit, followed by Politian.)

      Duke. Retire! Unwell!

      Bal. So please you, sir. I fear me
  ’Tis as you say—his lordship is unwell.
  The damp air of the evening-the fatigue
  Of a long journey—the—indeed I had better
  Follow his lordship. He must be unwell.
  I will return anon.

      Duke. Return anon!
  Now this is very strange! Castiglione!
  This way, my son, I wish to speak with thee.
  You surely were mistaken in what you said
  Of the Earl, mirthful, indeed!—which of us said
  Politian was a melancholy man?    (Exeunt.)




                                  “WEST POINT, 1831.

“Dear B...... Believing only a portion of my former volume to be worthy a second edition-that small portion I thought it as well to include in the present book as to republish by itself. I have therefore herein combined ‘Al Aaraaf’ and ‘Tamerlane’ with other poems hitherto unprinted. Nor have I hesitated to insert from the ‘Minor Poems,’ now omitted, whole lines, and even passages, to the end that being placed in a fairer light, and the trash shaken from them in which they were imbedded, they may have some chance of being seen by posterity.

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

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

“I mentioned just now a vulgar error as regards criticism. I think the notion that no poet can form a correct estimate of his own writings is another. I remarked before that in proportion to the poetical talent would be the justice of a critique upon poetry. Therefore a bad poet would, I grant, make a false critique, and his self-love would infallibly bias his little judgment in his favor; but a poet, who is indeed a poet, could not, I think, fail of making-a just critique; whatever should be deducted on the score of self-love might be replaced on account of his intimate acquaintance with the subject; in short, we have more instances of false criticism than of just where one’s own writings are the test, simply because we have more bad poets than good. There are, of course, many objections to what I say: Milton is a great example of the contrary; but his opinion with respect to the ‘Paradise Regained’ is by no means fairly ascertained. By what trivial circumstances men are often led to assert what they do not really believe! Perhaps an inadvertent word has descended to posterity. But, in fact, the ‘Paradise Regained’ is little, if at all, inferior to the ‘Paradise Lost,’ and is only supposed so to be because men do not like epics, whatever they may say to the contrary, and, reading those of Milton in their natural order, are too much wearied with the first to derive any pleasure from the second.

“I dare say Milton preferred ‘Comus’ to either-. if so-justly.

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

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

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

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

“Against the subtleties which would make poetry a study-not a passion-it
becomes the metaphysician to reason-but the poet to protest.
Yet Wordsworth and Coleridge are men in years; the one imbued in
contemplation from his childhood; the other a giant in intellect and
learning. The diffidence, then, with which I venture to dispute their
authority would be overwhelming did I not feel, from the bottom of my
heart, that learning has little to do with the imagination-intellect
with the passions-or age with poetry.

     “‘Trifles, like straws, upon the surface flow;
     He who would search for pearls must dive below,’

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

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

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

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

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

“Again, in estimating the merit of certain poems, whether they be Ossian’s or Macpherson’s can surely be of little consequence, yet, in order to prove their worthlessness, Mr. W. has expended many pages in the controversy. Tantaene animis? Can great minds descend to such absurdity? But worse still: that he may bear down every argument in favor of these poems, he triumphantly drags forward a passage, in his abomination with which he expects the reader to sympathize. It is the beginning of the epic poem ‘Temora.’ ‘The blue waves of Ullin roll in light; the green hills are covered with day; trees shake their dusty heads in the breeze.’ And this this gorgeous, yet simple imagery, where all is alive and panting with immortality-this, William Wordsworth, the author of ‘Peter Bell,’ has selected for his contempt. We shall see what better he, in his own person, has to offer. Imprimis:

     “‘And now she’s at the pony’s tail,
     And now she’s at the pony’s head,
     On that side now, and now on this;
     And, almost stifled with her bliss,

     A few sad tears does Betty shed....
     She pats the pony, where or when
     She knows not.... happy Betty Foy!
     Oh, Johnny, never mind the doctor!’


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

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

“But there are occasions, dear B-, there are occasions when even Wordsworth is reasonable. Even Stamboul, it is said, shall have an end, and the most unlucky blunders must come to a conclusion. Here is an extract from his preface:—

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

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

“Of Coleridge, I can not speak but with reverence. His towering intellect! his gigantic power! To use an author quoted by himself, ‘Tai trouvé souvent que la plupart des sectes ont raison dans une bonne partie de ce qu’elles avancent, mais non pas en ce qu’elles nient,’ and to employ his own language, he has imprisoned his own conceptions by the barrier he has erected against those of others. It is lamentable to think that such a mind should be buried in metaphysics, and, like the Nyctanthes, waste its perfume upon the night alone. In reading that man’s poetry, I tremble like one who stands upon a volcano, conscious from the very darkness bursting from the crater, of the fire and the light that are weltering below.

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

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

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

“To sum up this long rigmarole, I have, dear B—, what you, no doubt, perceive, for the metaphysical poets as poets, the most sovereign contempt. That they have followers proves nothing—

     “‘No Indian prince has to his palace
     More followers than a thief to the gallows.


     Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art!
         Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
     Why preyest thou thus upon the poet’s heart,
         Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
     How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,
         Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
     To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies
         Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
     Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car?
         And driven the Hamadryad from the wood
     To seek a shelter in some happier star?
         Hast thous not torn the Naiad from her flood,
     The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
         The summer dream beneath the tamarind tree?


     PART I.

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

     * A star was discovered by Tycho Brahe which appeared
     suddenly in the heavens—attained, in a few days, a
     brilliancy surpassing that of Jupiter—then as suddenly
     disappeared, and has never been seen since.

             ’Twas a sweet time for Nesace—for there
          Her world lay lolling on the golden air,
          Near four bright suns—a temporary rest—
          An oasis in desert of the blest.

          Away—away—’mid seas of rays that roll
          Empyrean splendor o’er th’ unchained soul—
          The soul that scarce (the billows are so dense)
          Can struggle to its destin’d eminence—
          To distant spheres, from time to time, she rode,
          And late to ours, the favour’d one of God—
          But, now, the ruler of an anchor’d realm,
          She throws aside the sceptre—leaves the helm,
          And, amid incense and high spiritual hymns,
          Laves in quadruple light her angel limbs.

              Now happiest, loveliest in yon lovely Earth,
          Whence sprang the “Idea of Beauty” into birth,
          (Falling in wreaths thro’ many a startled star,
          Like woman’s hair ‘mid pearls, until, afar,
          It lit on hills Achaian, and there dwelt)
          She look’d into Infinity—and knelt.
          Rich clouds, for canopies, about her curled—
          Fit emblems of the model of her world—
          Seen but in beauty—not impeding sight
          Of other beauty glittering thro’ the light—
          A wreath that twined each starry form around,
          And all the opal’d air in color bound.

              All hurriedly she knelt upon a bed
          Of flowers:  of lilies such as rear’d the head
          *On the fair Capo Deucato, and sprang
          So eagerly around about to hang
          Upon the flying footsteps of—deep pride—
          **Of her who lov’d a mortal—and so died.
          The Sephalica, budding with young bees,
          Uprear’d its purple stem around her knees:

          * On Santa Maura—olim Deucadia.

          **And gemmy flower, of Trebizond misnam’d—
          Inmate of highest stars, where erst it sham’d
          All other loveliness: its honied dew
          (The fabled nectar that the heathen knew)
          Deliriously sweet, was dropp’d from Heaven,
          And fell on gardens of the unforgiven
          In Trebizond—and on a sunny flower
          So like its own above that, to this hour,
          It still remaineth, torturing the bee
          With madness, and unwonted reverie:
          In Heaven, and all its environs, the leaf
          And blossom of the fairy plant, in grief
          Disconsolate linger—grief that hangs her head,
          Repenting follies that full long have fled,
          Heaving her white breast to the balmy air,
          Like guilty beauty, chasten’d, and more fair:
          Nyctanthes too, as sacred as the light
          She fears to perfume, perfuming the night:
          **And Clytia pondering between many a sun,
          While pettish tears adown her petals run:
          ***And that aspiring flower that sprang on Earth—
          And died, ere scarce exalted into birth,
          Bursting its odorous heart in spirit to wing
          Its way to Heaven, from garden of a king:

     * This flower is much noticed by Lewenhoeck and Tournefort.
     The bee, feeding upon its blossom, becomes intoxicated.

     ** Clytia—The Chrysanthemum Peruvianum, or, to employ a
     better-known term, the turnsol—which continually turns
     towards the sun, covers itself, like Peru, the country from
     which it comes, with dewy clouds which cool and refresh its
     flowers during the most violent heat of the day.—B. de St.

     *** There is cultivated in the king’s garden at Paris, a
     species of serpentine aloes without prickles, whose large
     and beautiful flower exhales a strong odour of the vanilla,
     during the time of its expansion, which is very short. It
     does not blow till towards the month of July—you then
     perceive it gradually open its petals—expand them—fade
     and die.—St. Pierre.

     *And Valisnerian lotus thither flown
     From struggling with the waters of the Rhone:
     **And thy most lovely purple perfume, Zante!
     Isola d’oro!—Fior di Levante!
     ***And the Nelumbo bud that floats for ever
     With Indian Cupid down the holy river—
     Fair flowers, and fairy! to whose care is given
     ****To bear the Goddess’ song, in odors, up to Heaven:

        “Spirit! that dwellest where,
              In the deep sky,
          The terrible and fair,
              In beauty vie!
          Beyond the line of blue—
              The boundary of the star
          Which turneth at the view
              Of thy barrier and thy bar—
          Of the barrier overgone
             By the comets who were cast
          From their pride, and from their throne
             To be drudges till the last—
          To be carriers of fire
             (The red fire of their heart)
          With speed that may not tire
             And with pain that shall not part—

     * There is found, in the Rhone, a beautiful lily of the
     Valisnerian kind. Its stem will stretch to the length of
     three or four feet—thus preserving its head above water
     in the swellings of the river.

     ** The Hyacinth.

     *** It is a fiction of the Indians, that Cupid was first
     seen floating in one of these down the river Ganges—and
     that he still loves the cradle of his childhood.

    **** And golden vials full of odors which are the prayers of the saints.
   —Rev. St. John.

          Who livest—that we know—
              In Eternity—we feel—
          But the shadow of whose brow
              What spirit shall reveal?
          Tho’ the beings whom thy Nesace,
              Thy messenger hath known
          Have dream’d for thy Infinity
              *A model of their own—
          Thy will is done, Oh, God!
              The star hath ridden high
          Thro’ many a tempest, but she rode
              Beneath thy burning eye;
          And here, in thought, to thee—
              In thought that can alone
          Ascend thy empire and so be
              A partner of thy throne—

     * The Humanitarians held that God was to be understood as
     having a really human form.—Vide Clarke’s Sermons, vol.
     1, page 26, fol. edit.

     The drift of Milton’s argument, leads him to employ language
     which would appear, at first sight, to verge upon their
     doctrine;  but it will be seen immediately, that he guards
     himself against the charge of having adopted one of the most
     ignorant errors of the dark ages of the church.—Dr.
     Sumner’s Notes on Milton’s Christian Doctrine.

     This opinion, in spite of many testimonies to the contrary,
     could never have been very general. Andeus, a Syrian of
     Mesopotamia, was condemned for the opinion, as heretical. He
     lived in the beginning of the fourth century. His disciples
     were called Anthropmorphites.—Vide Du Pin.

     Among Milton’s poems are these lines:—
                Dicite sacrorum præsides nemorum Deæ, &c.
                Quis ille primus cujus ex imagine
                Natura solers finxit humanum genus?
                Eternus, incorruptus, æquævus polo,
                Unusque et universus exemplar Dei.—And afterwards,
                Non cui profundum Cæcitas lumen dedit
                Dircæus augur vidit hunc alto sinu, &c.

          By wingèd Fantasy,*
              My embassy is given,
          Till secrecy shall knowledge be
              In the environs of Heaven.”

          She ceas’d—and buried then her burning cheek
          Abash’d, amid the lilies there, to seek
          A shelter from the fervour of His eye;
          For the stars trembled at the Deity.
          She stirr’d not—breath’d not—for a voice was there
          How solemnly pervading the calm air!
          A sound of silence on the startled ear
          Which dreamy poets name “the music of the sphere.”
           Ours is a world of words:  Quiet we call
          “Silence”—which is the merest word of all.
          All Nature speaks, and ev’n ideal things
          Flap shadowy sounds from visionary wings—
          But ah! not so when, thus, in realms on high
          The eternal voice of God is passing by,
          And the red winds are withering in the sky!

          ** “What tho’ in worlds which sightless cycles run,
          Link’d to a little system, and one sun—
          Where all my love is folly and the crowd
          Still think my terrors but the thunder cloud,
          The storm, the earthquake, and the ocean-wrath—
          (Ah! will they cross me in my angrier path?)
          What tho’ in worlds which own a single sun
          The sands of Time grow dimmer as they run,

     * Seltsamen Tochter Jovis
       Seinem Schosskinde
       Der Phantasie.—Göethe.

    ** Sightless—too small to be seen—Legge.

          Yet thine is my resplendency, so given
          To bear my secrets thro’ the upper Heaven.
          Leave tenantless thy crystal home, and fly,
          With all thy train, athwart the moony sky—
          *Apart—like fire-flies in Sicilian night,
          And wing to other worlds another light!
          Divulge the secrets of thy embassy
          To the proud orbs that twinkle—and so be
          To ev’ry heart a barrier and a ban
          Lest the stars totter in the guilt of man!”

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

     * I have often noticed a peculiar movement of the fire-flies;
    —they will collect in a body and fly off, from a common
     centre, into innumerable radii.

     ** Therasæa, or Therasea, the island mentioned by Seneca,
     which, in a moment, arose from the sea to the eyes of
     astonished mariners.
                         Part II.

          HIGH on a mountain of enamell’d head—
          Such as the drowsy shepherd on his bed
          Of giant pasturage lying at his ease,
          Raising his heavy eyelid, starts and sees
          With many a mutter’d “hope to be forgiven”
           What time the moon is quadrated in Heaven—
          Of rosy head, that towering far away
          Into the sunlit ether, caught the ray
          Of sunken suns at eve—at noon of night,
          While the moon danc’d with the fair stranger light—
          Uprear’d upon such height arose a pile
          Of gorgeous columns on th’ unburthen’d air,
          Flashing from Parian marble that twin smile
          Far down upon the wave that sparkled there,
          And nursled the young mountain in its lair.
          *Of molten stars their pavement, such as fall
          Thro’ the ebon air, besilvering the pall
          Of their own dissolution, while they die—
          Adorning then the dwellings of the sky.
          A dome, by linkèd light from Heaven let down,
          Sat gently on these columns as a crown—
          A window of one circular diamond, there,
          Look’d out above into the purple air,

     * Some star which, from the ruin’d roof Of shak’d Olympus,
     by mischance, did fall.—Milton.

          And rays from God shot down that meteor chain
          And hallow’d all the beauty twice again,
          Save when, between th’ Empyrean and that ring,
          Some eager spirit flapp’d his dusky wing.
          But on the pillars Seraph eyes have seen
          The dimness of this world:  that greyish green
          That Nature loves the best for Beauty’s grave
          Lurk’d in each cornice, round each architrave—
          And every sculptur’d cherub thereabout
          That from his marble dwelling peerèd out,
          Seem’d earthly in the shadow of his niche—
          Achaian statues in a world so rich?
          *Friezes from Tadmor and Persepolis—
          From Balbec, and the stilly, clear abyss
          **Of beautiful Gomorrah!  O, the wave
          Is now upon thee—but too late to save!

          Sound loves to revel in a summer night:
          Witness the murmur of the grey twilight

     * Voltaire, in speaking of Persepolis, says, “Je connois
     bien l’admiration qu’inspirent ces ruines—mais un palais
     érigé au pied d’une chaine des rochers sterils—peut il
     être un chef d’œuvre des arts!” [Voila les arguments de M.

     ** “Oh! the wave”—Ula Degusi is the Turkish appellation;
     but, on its own shores, it is called Bahar Loth, or
     Almotanah. There were undoubtedly more than two cities
     engulfed in the “dead sea.” In the valley of Siddim were
     five—Adrah, Zeboin, Zoar, Sodom and Gomorrah. Stephen of
     Byzantium mentions eight, and Strabo thirteeen, (engulphed)
    —but the last is out of all reason.

    It is said, (Tacitus, Strabo, Josephus, Daniel of St. Saba, Nau,
Maundrell, Troilo, D’Arvieux) that after an excessive drought, the
vestiges of columns, walls, &c. are seen above the surface. At any
season, such remains may be discovered by looking down into the
transparent lake, and at such distances as would argue the existence of
many settlements in the space now usurped by the ‘Asphaltites.’

          *That stole upon the ear, in Eyraco,
          Of many a wild star-gazer long ago—
          That stealeth ever on the ear of him
          Who, musing, gazeth on the distance dim.
          And sees the darkness coming as a cloud—
          ***Is not its form—its voice—most palpable and loud?

              But what is this?—it cometh—and it brings
          A music with it—’tis the rush of wings—
          A pause—and then a sweeping, falling strain
          And Nesace is in her halls again.
          From the wild energy of wanton haste
              Her cheeks were flushing, and her lips apart;
          And zone that clung around her gentle waist
              Had burst beneath the heaving of her heart.
          Within the centre of that hall to breathe
          She paus’d and panted, Zanthe!  all beneath,
          The fairy light that kiss’d her golden hair
          And long’d to rest, yet could but sparkle there!

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

     * Eyraco—Chaldea.

     ** I have often thought I could distinctly hear the sound of
     the darkness as it stole over the horizon.

     *** Fairies use flowers for their charactery.—Merry Wives
     of Windsor.  [William Shakespeare]

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

     * In Scripture is this passage—“The sun shall not harm
     thee by day, nor the moon by night.” It is perhaps not
     generally known that the moon, in Egypt, has the effect of
     producing blindness to those who sleep with the face exposed
     to its rays, to which circumstance the passage evidently

          They are light on the tresses,
              But lead on the heart.

          Ligeia!  Ligeia!
              My beautiful one!
          Whose harshest idea
              Will to melody run,
          O!  is it thy will
              On the breezes to toss?
          Or, capriciously still,
              *Like the lone Albatross,
          Incumbent on night
              (As she on the air)
          To keep watch with delight
              On the harmony there?

          Ligeia!  whatever
              Thy image may be,
          No magic shall sever
              Thy music from thee.
          Thou hast bound many eyes
              In a dreamy sleep—
          But the strains still arise
              Which thy vigilance keep—
          The sound of the rain
              Which leaps down to the flower,
          And dances again
              In the rhythm of the shower—
          **The murmur that springs
              From the growing of grass

     * The Albatross is said to sleep on the wing.

     ** I met with this idea in an old English tale, which I am
     now unable to obtain and quote from memory:—“The verie
     essence and, as it were, springe-heade, and origine of all
     musiche is the verie pleasaunte sounde which the trees of
     the forest do make when they growe.”

          Are the music of things—
              But are modell’d, alas!—
          Away, then my dearest,
              O!  hie thee away
          To springs that lie clearest
              Beneath the moon-ray—
           To lone lake that smiles,
              In its dream of deep rest,
          At the many star-isles
              That enjewel its breast—
          Where wild flowers, creeping,
              Have mingled their shade,
          On its margin is sleeping
              Full many a maid—
          Some have left the cool glade, and
              * Have slept with the bee—
          Arouse them my maiden,
              On moorland and lea—
          Go!  breathe on their slumber,
              All softly in ear,
          The musical number
              They slumber’d to hear—
          For what can awaken
              An angel so soon

     * The wild bee will not sleep in the shade if there be
     moonlight. The rhyme in this verse, as in one about sixty
     lines before, has an appearance of affectation. It is,
     however, imitated from Sir W. Scott, or rather from Claud
     Halcro—in whose mouth I admired its effect:

                O!  were there an island,
                    Tho’ ever so wild
                Where woman might smile, and
                    No man be beguil’d, &c.

          Whose sleep hath been taken
              Beneath the cold moon,
          As the spell which no slumber
              Of witchery may test,
          The rhythmical number
              Which lull’d him to rest?”

          Spirits in wing, and angels to the view,
          A thousand seraphs burst th’ Empyrean thro’,
          Young dreams still hovering on their drowsy flight—
          Seraphs in all but “Knowledge,” the keen light
          That fell, refracted, thro’ thy bounds, afar
          O Death!  from eye of God upon that star:
          Sweet was that error—sweeter still that death—
          Sweet was that error—ev’n with us the breath
          Of science dims the mirror of our joy—
          To them ’twere the Simoom, and would destroy—
          For what (to them) availeth it to know
          That Truth is Falsehood—or that Bliss is Woe?
          Sweet was their death—with them to die was rife
          With the last ecstacy of satiate life—
          Beyond that death no immortality—
          But sleep that pondereth and is not “to be”—
          And there—oh!  may my weary spirit dwell—
          *Apart from Heaven’s Eternity—and yet how far from Hell!

     * With the Arabians there is a medium between Heaven and
     Hell, where men suffer no punishment, but yet do not attain
     that tranquil and even happiness which they suppose to be
     characteristic of heavenly enjoyment.

            Un no rompido sueno—
            Un dia puro—allegre—libre
            Libre de amor—de zelo—
            De odio—de esperanza—de rezelo.—Luis Ponce de Leon.

     Sorrow is not excluded from “Al Aaraaf,” but it is that
     sorrow which the living love to cherish for the dead, and
     which, in some minds, resembles the delirium of opium. The
     passionate excitement of Love and the buoyancy of spirit
     attendant upon intoxication are its less holy pleasures—
     the price of which, to those souls who make choice of “Al
     Aaraaf” as their residence after life, is final death and

          What guilty spirit, in what shrubbery dim,
          Heard not the stirring summons of that hymn?
          But two:  they fell:  for Heaven no grace imparts
          To those who hear not for their beating hearts.
          A maiden-angel and her seraph-lover—
          O!  where (and ye may seek the wide skies over)
          Was Love, the blind, near sober Duty known?

     *Unguided Love hath fallen—‘mid “tears of perfect moan.”

          He was a goodly spirit—he who fell:
          A wanderer by mossy-mantled well—
          A gazer on the lights that shine above—
          A dreamer in the moonbeam by his love:
          What wonder?  For each star is eye-like there,
          And looks so sweetly down on Beauty’s hair—
          And they, and ev’ry mossy spring were holy
          To his love-haunted heart and melancholy.
          The night had found (to him a night of woe)
          Upon a mountain crag, young Angelo—
          Beetling it bends athwart the solemn sky,
          And scowls on starry worlds that down beneath it lie.
          Here sate he with his love—his dark eye bent
          With eagle gaze along the firmament:
          Now turn’d it upon her—but ever then
          It trembled to the orb of EARTH again.

          “Iante, dearest, see!  how dim that ray!
          How lovely ’tis to look so far away!

     * There be tears of perfect moan
         Wept for thee in Helicon.—Milton.

          She seem’d not thus upon that autumn eve
          I left her gorgeous halls—nor mourn’d to leave.
          That eve—that eve—I should remember well—
          The sun-ray dropp’d, in Lemnos, with a spell
          On th’Arabesque carving of a gilded hall
          Wherein I sate, and on the draperied wall—
          And on my eye-lids—O the heavy light!
          How drowsily it weigh’d them into night!
          On flowers, before, and mist, and love they ran
          With Persian Saadi in his Gulistan:
          But O that light!—I slumber’d—Death, the while,
          Stole o’er my senses in that lovely isle
          So softly that no single silken hair
          Awoke that slept—or knew that it was there.

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

          “My Angelo! and why of them to be?
          A brighter dwelling-place is here for thee—

    * It was entire in 1687—the most elevated spot in Athens.

    ** Shadowing more beauty in their airy brows
       Than have the white breasts of the Queen of Love.—Marlowe.

           And greener fields than in yon world above,
           And women’s loveliness—and passionate love.”

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

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

     * Pennon—for pinion.—Milton.

           We paus’d before the heritage of men,
           And thy star trembled—as doth Beauty then!”

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


     Kind solace in a dying hour!
         Such, father, is not (now) my theme—
     I will not madly deem that power
             Of Earth may shrive me of the sin
             Unearthly pride hath revell’d in—
         I have no time to dote or dream:
     You call it hope—that fire of fire!
     It is but agony of desire:
     If I can hope—Oh God! I can—
         Its fount is holier—more divine—
     I would not call thee fool, old man,
         But such is not a gift of thine.

     Know thou the secret of a spirit
         Bow’d from its wild pride into shame.
     O! yearning heart! I did inherit
         Thy withering portion with the fame,
     The searing glory which hath shone
     Amid the jewels of my throne,
     Halo of Hell! and with a pain
     Not Hell shall make me fear again—
     O! craving heart, for the lost flowers
     And sunshine of my summer hours!
     Th’ undying voice of that dead time,
     With its interminable chime,
     Rings, in the spirit of a spell,
     Upon thy emptiness—a knell.

     I have not always been as now:
     The fever’d diadem on my brow
         I claim’d and won usurpingly—
     Hath not the same fierce heirdom given
         Rome to the Caesar—this to me?
             The heritage of a kingly mind,
     And a proud spirit which hath striven
             Triumphantly with human kind.

     On mountain soil I first drew life:
         The mists of the Taglay have shed
         Nightly their dews upon my head,
     And, I believe, the wingèd strife
     And tumult of the headlong air
     Have nestled in my very hair.

     So late from Heaven—that dew—it fell
         (’Mid dreams of an unholy night)
     Upon me—with the touch of Hell,
         While the red flashing of the light
     From clouds that hung, like banners, o’er,
         Appeared to my half-closing eye
         The pageantry of monarchy,
     And the deep trumpet-thunder’s roar
         Came hurriedly upon me, telling
             Of human battle, where my voice,
         My own voice, silly child!—was swelling
             (O! how my spirit would rejoice,
     And leap within me at the cry)
     The battle-cry of Victory!

     The rain came down upon my head
         Unshelter’d—and the heavy wind
         Was giantlike—so thou, my mind!—
     It was but man, I thought, who shed
         Laurels upon me: and the rush—
     The torrent of the chilly air
     Gurgled within my ear the crush
         Of empires—with the captive’s prayer—
     The hum of suitors—and the tone
     Of flattery ‘round a sovereign’s throne.

     My passions, from that hapless hour,
         Usurp’d a tyranny which men
     Have deem’d, since I have reach’d to power;
             My innate nature—be it so:
         But, father, there liv’d one who, then,
     Then—in my boyhood—when their fire
             Burn’d with a still intenser glow,
     (For passion must, with youth, expire)
         E’en then who knew this iron heart
         In woman’s weakness had a part.

     I have no words—alas!—to tell
     The loveliness of loving well!
     Nor would I now attempt to trace
     The more than beauty of a face
     Whose lineaments, upon my mind,
     Are—shadows on th’ unstable wind:
     Thus I remember having dwelt
     Some page of early lore upon,
     With loitering eye, till I have felt
     The letters—with their meaning—melt
     To fantasies—with none.

     O, she was worthy of all love!
     Love—as in infancy was mine—
     ’Twas such as angel minds above
     Might envy; her young heart the shrine
     On which my ev’ry hope and thought
         Were incense—then a goodly gift,
             For they were childish—and upright—
     Pure—as her young example taught:
         Why did I leave it, and, adrift,
             Trust to the fire within, for light?

     We grew in age—and love—together,
         Roaming the forest, and the wild;
     My breast her shield in wintry weather—
         And, when the friendly sunshine smil’d,
     And she would mark the opening skies,
     I saw no Heaven—but in her eyes.

     Young Love’s first lesson is—the heart:
         For ‘mid that sunshine, and those smiles,
     When, from our little cares apart,
         And laughing at her girlish wiles,
     I’d throw me on her throbbing breast,
         And pour my spirit out in tears—
     There was no need to speak the rest—
         No need to quiet any fears
     Of her—who ask’d no reason why,
     But turn’d on me her quiet eye!

     Yet more than worthy of the love
     My spirit struggled with, and strove,
     When, on the mountain peak, alone,
     Ambition lent it a new tone—
     I had no being—but in thee:
         The world, and all it did contain
     In the earth—the air—the sea—
         Its joy—its little lot of pain
     That was new pleasure—the ideal,
         Dim, vanities of dreams by night—
     And dimmer nothings which were real—
         (Shadows—and a more shadowy light!)
     Parted upon their misty wings,
             And, so, confusedly, became
             Thine image, and—a name—a name!
     Two separate—yet most intimate things.

     I was ambitious—have you known
             The passion, father? You have not:
     A cottager, I mark’d a throne
     Of half the world as all my own,
             And murmur’d at such lowly lot—
     But, just like any other dream,
             Upon the vapour of the dew
     My own had past, did not the beam
             Of beauty which did while it thro’
     The minute—the hour—the day—oppress
     My mind with double loveliness.

     We walk’d together on the crown
     Of a high mountain which look’d down
     Afar from its proud natural towers
         Of rock and forest, on the hills—
     The dwindled hills! begirt with bowers
         And shouting with a thousand rills.

     I spoke to her of power and pride,
         But mystically—in such guise
     That she might deem it naught beside
         The moment’s converse; in her eyes
     I read, perhaps too carelessly—
         A mingled feeling with my own—
     The flush on her bright cheek, to me
         Seem’d to become a queenly throne
     Too well that I should let it be
         Light in the wilderness alone.

     I wrapp’d myself in grandeur then,
         And donn’d a visionary crown—
             Yet it was not that Fantasy
             Had thrown her mantle over me—
     But that, among the rabble—men,
             Lion ambition is chain’d down—
     And crouches to a keeper’s hand—
     Not so in deserts where the grand
     The wild—the terrible conspire
     With their own breath to fan his fire.

     Look ‘round thee now on Samarcand!—
         Is not she queen of Earth? her pride
     Above all cities? in her hand
         Their destinies? in all beside
     Of glory which the world hath known
     Stands she not nobly and alone?
     Falling—her veriest stepping-stone
     Shall form the pedestal of a throne—
     And who her sovereign? Timour—he
         Whom the astonished people saw
     Striding o’er empires haughtily
         A diadem’d outlaw—

     O! human love! thou spirit given,
     On Earth, of all we hope in Heaven!
     Which fall’st into the soul like rain
     Upon the Siroc wither’d plain,
     And failing in thy power to bless
     But leav’st the heart a wilderness!
     Idea! which bindest life around
     With music of so strange a sound
     And beauty of so wild a birth—
     Farewell! for I have won the Earth!

     When Hope, the eagle that tower’d, could see
         No cliff beyond him in the sky,
     His pinions were bent droopingly—
         And homeward turn’d his soften’d eye.
     ’Twas sunset: when the sun will part
     There comes a sullenness of heart
     To him who still would look upon
     The glory of the summer sun.
     That soul will hate the ev’ning mist,
     So often lovely, and will list
     To the sound of the coming darkness (known
     To those whose spirits hearken) as one
     Who, in a dream of night, would fly
     But cannot from a danger nigh.

     What tho’ the moon—tho’ the white moon
     Shed all the splendour of her noon,
     Her smile is chilly—and her beam,
     In that time of dreariness, will seem
     (So like you gather in your breath)
     A portrait taken after death.
     And boyhood is a summer sun
     Whose waning is the dreariest one—
     For all we live to know is known,
     And all we seek to keep hath flown—
     Let life, then, as the day-flower, fall
     With the noon-day beauty—which is all.

     I reach’d my home—my home no more—
         For all had flown who made it so—
     I pass’d from out its mossy door,
         And, tho’ my tread was soft and low,
     A voice came from the threshold stone
     Of one whom I had earlier known—
         O! I defy thee, Hell, to show
         On beds of fire that burn below,
         A humbler heart—a deeper woe.

     Father, I firmly do believe—
         I know—for Death, who comes for me
             From regions of the blest afar,
     Where there is nothing to deceive,
             Hath left his iron gate ajar,
         And rays of truth you cannot see
         Are flashing thro’ Eternity—
     I do believe that Eblis hath
     A snare in ev’ry human path—
     Else how, when in the holy grove
     I wandered of the idol, Love,
     Who daily scents his snowy wings
     With incense of burnt offerings
     From the most unpolluted things,
     Whose pleasant bowers are yet so riven
     Above with trelliced rays from Heaven
     No mote may shun—no tiniest fly
     The light’ning of his eagle eye—
     How was it that Ambition crept,
         Unseen, amid the revels there,
     Till growing bold, he laughed and leapt
         In the tangles of Love’s very hair?



     Helen, thy beauty is to me
         Like those Nicean barks of yore,
     That gently, o’er a perfumed sea,
         The weary way-worn wanderer bore
         To his own native shore.

     On desperate seas long wont to roam,
         Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
     Thy Naiad airs have brought me home
         To the glory that was Greece,
     And the grandeur that was Rome.

     Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
         How statue-like I me thee stand,
     The agate lamp within thy hand!
         Ah, Psyche, from the regions which
         Are Holy-land!



     Once it smiled a silent dell
     Where the people did not dwell;
     They had gone unto the wars,
     Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
     Nightly, from their azure towers,
     To keep watch above the flowers,
     In the midst of which all day
     The red sun-light lazily lay.
     Now each visitor shall confess
     The sad valley’s restlessness.
     Nothing there is motionless—
     Nothing save the airs that brood
     Over the magic solitude.
     Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
     That palpitate like the chill seas
     Around the misty Hebrides!
     Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
     That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
     Uneasily, from morn till even,
     Over the violets there that lie
     In myriad types of the human eye—
     Over the lilies there that wave
     And weep above a nameless grave!
     They wave:—from out their fragrant tops
     Eternal dews come down in drops.
     They weep:—from off their delicate stems
     Perennial tears descend in gems.



     In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
         “Whose heart-strings are a lute;”
      None sing so wildly well
     As the angel Israfel,
     And the giddy stars (so legends tell)
     Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
         Of his voice, all mute.

     Tottering above
         In her highest noon
         The enamoured moon
     Blushes with love,
         While, to listen, the red levin
         (With the rapid Pleiads, even,
         Which were seven,)
         Pauses in Heaven

     And they say (the starry choir
         And all the listening things)
     That Israfeli’s fire
     Is owing to that lyre
         By which he sits and sings—
     The trembling living wire
     Of those unusual strings.

  * And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are a lut, and
  who has the sweetest voice of all God’s creatures.—KORAN.

     But the skies that angel trod,
         Where deep thoughts are a duty—
     Where Love’s a grown up God—
         Where the Houri glances are
     Imbued with all the beauty
         Which we worship in a star.

     Therefore, thou art not wrong,
         Israfeli, who despisest
     An unimpassion’d song:
     To thee the laurels belong
         Best bard, because the wisest!
     Merrily live, and long!

     The extacies above
         With thy burning measures suit—
     Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
         With the fervor of thy lute—
         Well may the stars be mute!

     Yes, Heaven is thine; but this
         Is a world of sweets and sours;
         Our flowers are merely—flowers,
     And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
         Is the sunshine of ours.

     If I could dwell
     Where Israfel
         Hath dwelt, and he where I,
     He might not sing so wildly well
         A mortal melody,
     While a bolder note than this might swell
         From my lyre within the sky.


TO ——


     The bowers whereat, in dreams, I see
         The wantonest singing birds
     Are lips—and all thy melody
         Of lip-begotten words—


     Thine eyes, in Heaven of heart enshrin’d
         Then desolately fall,
     O! God! on my funereal mind
         Like starlight on a pall—


     Thy heart—thy heart!—I wake and sigh,
         And sleep to dream till day
     Of truth that gold can never buy—
         Of the trifles that it may.


TO ——

     I heed not that my earthly lot

         Hath-little of Earth in it—

     That years of love have been forgot

     In the hatred of a minute:—

     I mourn not that the desolate

         Are happier, sweet, than I,

     But that you sorrow for my fate

     Who am a passer-by.



     Fair river! in thy bright, clear flow
         Of crystal, wandering water,
     Thou art an emblem of the glow
             Of beauty—the unhidden heart—
             The playful maziness of art
     In old Alberto’s daughter;

     But when within thy wave she looks—
             Which glistens then, and trembles—
     Why, then, the prettiest of brooks
             Her worshipper resembles;
     For in my heart, as in thy stream,
         Her image deeply lies—
     His heart which trembles at the beam
         Of her soul-searching eyes.



     I saw thee on thy bridal day—
         When a burning blush came o’er thee,
     Though happiness around thee lay,
         The world all love before thee:

     And in thine eye a kindling light
         (Whatever it might be)
     Was all on Earth my aching sight
        Of Loveliness could see.

     That blush, perhaps, was maiden shame—
         As such it well may pass—
     Though its glow hath raised a fiercer flame
         In the breast of him, alas!

     Who saw thee on that bridal day,
         When that deep blush would come o’er thee,
     Though happiness around thee lay,
         The world all love before thee.




     Thy soul shall find itself alone
     ‘Mid dark thoughts of the grey tomb-stone—
     Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
     Into thine hour of secrecy:


     Be silent in that solitude
         Which is not loneliness—for then
     The spirits of the dead who stood
         In life before thee are again
     In death around thee—and their will
     Shall then overshadow thee: be still.


     For the night—tho’ clear—shall frown—
     And the stars shall look not down,
     From their high thrones in the Heaven,
     With light like Hope to mortals given—
     But their red orbs, without beam,
     To thy weariness shall seem
     As a burning and a fever
     Which would cling to thee for ever:


     Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish—
     Now are visions ne’er to vanish—
     From thy spirit shall they pass
     No more—like dew-drop from the grass:


     The breeze—the breath of God—is still—
     And the mist upon the hill
     Shadowy—shadowy—yet unbroken,
     Is a symbol and a token—
     How it hangs upon the trees,
     A mystery of mysteries!—



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

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

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

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



     Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
     With drowsy head and folded wing,
     Among the green leaves as they shake
     Far down within some shadowy lake,
     To me a painted paroquet
     Hath been—a most familiar bird—
     Taught me my alphabet to say—
     To lisp my very earliest word
     While in the wild wood I did lie,
     A child—with a most knowing eye.

     Of late, eternal Condor years
     So shake the very Heaven on high
     With tumult as they thunder by,
     I have no time for idle cares
     Through gazing on the unquiet sky.
     And when an hour with calmer wings
     Its down upon thy spirit flings—
     That little time with lyre and rhyme
     To while away—forbidden things!
     My heart would feel to be a crime
     Unless it trembled with the strings.



     Dim vales—and shadowy floods—
     And cloudy-looking woods,
     Whose forms we can’t discover
     For the tears that drip all over
     Huge moons there wax and wane—
     Every moment of the night—
     Forever changing places—
     And they put out the star-light
     With the breath from their pale faces.
     About twelve by the moon-dial
     One, more filmy than the rest
     (A kind which, upon trial,
     They have found to be the best)
     Comes down—still down—and down
     With its centre on the crown
     Of a mountain’s eminence,
     While its wide circumference
     In easy drapery falls
     Over hamlets, over halls,
     Wherever they may be—
     O’er the strange woods—o’er the sea—
     Over spirits on the wing—
     Over every drowsy thing—
     And buries them up quite
     In a labyrinth of light—
     And then, how deep!—O, deep!
     Is the passion of their sleep.
     In the morning they arise,
     And their moony covering
     Is soaring in the skies,
     With the tempests as they toss,
     Like—almost any thing—
     Or a yellow Albatross.
     They use that moon no more
     For the same end as before—
     Videlicet a tent—
     Which I think extravagant:
     Its atomies, however,
     Into a shower dissever,
     Of which those butterflies,
     Of Earth, who seek the skies,
     And so come down again
     (Never-contented things!)
     Have brought a specimen
     Upon their quivering wings.



     In spring of youth it was my lot
     To haunt of the wide earth a spot
     The which I could not love the less—
     So lovely was the loneliness
     Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
     And the tall pines that tower’d around.

     But when the Night had thrown her pall
     Upon that spot, as upon all,
     And the mystic wind went by
     Murmuring in melody—
     Then—ah then I would awake
     To the terror of the lone lake.

     Yet that terror was not fright,
     But a tremulous delight—
     A feeling not the jewelled mine
     Could teach or bribe me to define—
     Nor Love—although the Love were thine.

     Death was in that poisonous wave,
     And in its gulf a fitting grave
     For him who thence could solace bring
     To his lone imagining—
     Whose solitary soul could make
     An Eden of that dim lake.



     ’Twas noontide of summer,
        And midtime of night,
     And stars, in their orbits,
        Shone pale, through the light
     Of the brighter, cold moon.
        ‘Mid planets her slaves,
     Herself in the Heavens,
        Her beam on the waves.

        I gazed awhile
        On her cold smile;
     Too cold—too cold for me—
        There passed, as a shroud,
        A fleecy cloud,
     And I turned away to thee,

        Proud Evening Star,
        In thy glory afar
     And dearer thy beam shall be;
        For joy to my heart
        Is the proud part
     Thou bearest in Heaven at night.,
        And more I admire
        Thy distant fire,
     Than that colder, lowly light.




     The happiest day—the happiest hour
     My seared and blighted heart hath known,
     The highest hope of pride and power,
     I feel hath flown.

     Of power! said I? Yes! such I ween
     But they have vanished long, alas!
     The visions of my youth have been
     But let them pass.


     And pride, what have I now with thee?
     Another brow may ev’n inherit
     The venom thou hast poured on me
     Be still my spirit!


     The happiest day—the happiest hour
     Mine eyes shall see—have ever seen
     The brightest glance of pride and power
     I feet have been:


     But were that hope of pride and power
     Now offered with the pain
     Ev’n then I felt—that brightest hour
     I would not live again:


     For on its wing was dark alloy
     And as it fluttered—fell
     An essence—powerful to destroy
     A soul that knew it well.



     A dark unfathom’d tide
     Of interminable pride—
     A mystery, and a dream,
     Should my early life seem;
     I say that dream was fraught
     With a wild, and waking thought
     Of beings that have been,
     Which my spirit hath not seen,
     Had I let them pass me by,
     With a dreaming eye!
     Let none of earth inherit
     That vision on my spirit;
     Those thoughts I would control
     As a spell upon his soul:
     For that bright hope at last
     And that light time have past,
     And my worldly rest hath gone
     With a sigh as it pass’d on
     I care not tho’ it perish
     With a thought I then did cherish.


Translation from the Greek


     Wreathed in myrtle, my sword I’ll conceal
     Like those champions devoted and brave,
     When they plunged in the tyrant their steel,
     And to Athens deliverance gave.


     Beloved heroes! your deathless souls roam
     In the joy breathing isles of the blest;
     Where the mighty of old have their home
     Where Achilles and Diomed rest


     In fresh myrtle my blade I’ll entwine,
     Like Harmodius, the gallant and good,
     When he made at the tutelar shrine
     A libation of Tyranny’s blood.


     Ye deliverers of Athens from shame!
     Ye avengers of Liberty’s wrongs!
     Endless ages shall cherish your fame,
     Embalmed in their echoing songs!



     Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
     My spirit not awak’ning, till the beam
     Of an Eternity should bring the morrow:
     Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
     ’Twere better than the dull reality
     Of waking life to him whose heart shall be,
     And hath been ever, on the chilly earth,
     A chaos of deep passion from his birth!

     But should it be—that dream eternally
     Continuing—as dreams have been to me
     In my young boyhood—should it thus be given,
     ’Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven!
     For I have revell’d, when the sun was bright
     In the summer sky; in dreamy fields of light,
     And left unheedingly my very heart
     In climes of mine imagining—apart
     From mine own home, with beings that have been
     Of mine own thought—what more could I have seen?

     ’Twas once & only once & the wild hour
     From my remembrance shall not pass—some power
     Or spell had bound me—’twas the chilly wind
     Came o’er me in the night & left behind
     Its image on my spirit, or the moon
     Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
     Too coldly—or the stars—howe’er it was
     That dream was as that night wind—let it pass.

     I have been happy—tho’ but in a dream
     I have been happy—& I love the theme—
     Dreams! in their vivid colouring of life—
     As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
     Of semblance with reality which brings
     To the delirious eye more lovely things
     Of Paradise & Love—& all our own!
     Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.

         {From an earlier MS. Than in the book—ED.}


     How often we forget all time, when lone
     Admiring Nature’s universal throne;
     Her woods—her wilds—her mountains—the intense
     Reply of Hers to Our intelligence!


     IN youth I have known one with whom the Earth
         In secret communing held—as he with it,
     In daylight, and in beauty, from his birth:
         Whose fervid, flickering torch of life was lit
     From the sun and stars, whence he had drawn forth
         A passionate light such for his spirit was fit
     And yet that spirit knew—not in the hour
         Of its own fervor—what had o’er it power.


     Perhaps it may be that my mind is wrought
         To a fever* by the moonbeam that hangs o’er,
     But I will half believe that wild light fraught
         With more of sovereignty than ancient lore
     Hath ever told—or is it of a thought
         The unembodied essence, and no more
     That with a quickening spell doth o’er us pass
         As dew of the night-time, o’er the summer grass?


     Doth o’er us pass, when, as th’ expanding eye
         To the loved object—so the tear to the lid
     Will start, which lately slept in apathy?
         And yet it need not be—(that object) hid
     From us in life—but common—which doth lie
         Each hour before us—but then only bid
     With a strange sound, as of a harp-string broken
         T’ awake us—’Tis a symbol and a token


     Of what in other worlds shall be—and given
         In beauty by our God, to those alone
     Who otherwise would fall from life and Heaven
         Drawn by their heart’s passion, and that tone,
     That high tone of the spirit which hath striven
         Though not with Faith—with godliness—whose throne
     With desperate energy ‘t hath beaten down;
         Wearing its own deep feeling as a crown.

          * Query “fervor”?—ED.



     How shall the burial rite be read?
         The solemn song be sung?
     The requiem for the loveliest dead,
         That ever died so young?


     Her friends are gazing on her,
         And on her gaudy bier,
     And weep!—oh! to dishonor
         Dead beauty with a tear!


     They loved her for her wealth—
         And they hated her for her pride—
     But she grew in feeble health,
         And they love her—that she died.


     They tell me (while they speak
         Of her “costly broider’d pall”)
     That my voice is growing weak—
         That I should not sing at all—


     Or that my tone should be
         Tun’d to such solemn song
     So mournfully—so mournfully,
         That the dead may feel no wrong.


     But she is gone above,
         With young Hope at her side,
     And I am drunk with love
         Of the dead, who is my bride.—


     Of the dead—dead who lies
         All perfum’d there,
     With the death upon her eyes,
         And the life upon her hair.


     Thus on the coffin loud and long
         I strike—the murmur sent
     Through the grey chambers to my song,
         Shall be the accompaniment.


     Thou died’st in thy life’s June—
         But thou did’st not die too fair:
     Thou did’st not die too soon,
         Nor with too calm an air.


     From more than friends on earth,
         Thy life and love are riven,
     To join the untainted mirth
         Of more than thrones in heaven—


     Therefore, to thee this night
         I will no requiem raise,
     But waft thee on thy flight,
         With a Pæan of old days.


30. On the “Poems written in Youth” little comment is needed. This section includes the pieces printed for first volume of 1827 (which was subsequently suppressed), such poems from the first and second published volumes of 1829 and 1831 as have not already been given in their revised versions, and a few others collected from various sources. “Al Aaraaf” first appeared, with the sonnet “To Silence” prefixed to it, in 1829, and is, substantially, as originally issued. In the edition for 1831, however, this poem, its author’s longest, was introduced by the following twenty-nine lines, which have been omitted in—all subsequent collections:


     Mysterious star!
     Thou wert my dream
     All a long summer night—
     Be now my theme!
     By this clear stream,
     Of thee will I write;
     Meantime from afar
     Bathe me in light I

     Thy world has not the dross of ours,
     Yet all the beauty-all the flowers
     That list our love or deck our bowers
     In dreamy gardens, where do lie
     Dreamy maidens all the day;
     While the silver winds of Circassy
     On violet couches faint away.
     Little—oh “little dwells in thee”
      Like unto what on earth we see:
     Beauty’s eye is here the bluest
     In the falsest and untruest—On the sweetest
     air doth float
     The most sad and solemn note—

     If with thee be broken hearts,
     Joy so peacefully departs,
     That its echo still doth dwell,
     Like the murmur in the shell.
     Thou! thy truest type of grief
     Is the gently falling leaf!
     Thy framing is so holy
     Sorrow is not melancholy.

31. The earliest version of “Tamerlane” was included in the suppressed volume of 1827, but differs very considerably from the poem as now published. The present draft, besides innumerable verbal alterations and improvements upon the original, is more carefully punctuated, and, the lines being indented, presents a more pleasing appearance, to the eye at least.

32. “To Helen” first appeared in the 1831 volume, as did also “The Valley of Unrest” (as “The Valley Nis”), “Israfel,” and one or two others of the youthful pieces. The poem styled “Romance,” constituted the Preface of the 1829 volume, but with the addition of the following lines:

     Succeeding years, too wild for song,
     Then rolled like tropic storms along,
     Where, through the garish lights that fly
     Dying along the troubled sky,
     Lay bare, through vistas thunder-riven,
     The blackness of the general Heaven,
     That very blackness yet doth Ring
     Light on the lightning’s silver wing.

     For being an idle boy lang syne;
     Who read Anacreon and drank wine,
     I early found Anacreon rhymes
     Were almost passionate sometimes—
     And by strange alchemy of brain
     His pleasures always turned to pain—
     His naiveté to wild desire—
     His wit to love-his wine to fire—
     And so, being young and dipt in folly,
     I fell in love with melancholy,

     And used to throw my earthly rest
     And quiet all away in jest—
     I could not love except where Death
     Was mingling his with Beauty’s breath—
     Or Hymen, Time, and Destiny,
     Were stalking between her and me.

     But now my soul hath too much room—
     Gone are the glory and the gloom—
     The black hath mellow’d into gray,
     And all the fires are fading away.

     My draught of passion hath been deep—
     I revell’d, and I now would sleep
     And after drunkenness of soul
     Succeeds the glories of the bowl
     An idle longing night and day
     To dream my very life away.

     But dreams—of those who dream as I,
     Aspiringly, are damned, and die:
     Yet should I swear I mean alone,
     By notes so very shrilly blown,
     To break upon Time’s monotone,
     While yet my vapid joy and grief
     Are tintless of the yellow leaf—
     Why not an imp the graybeard hath,
     Will shake his shadow in my path—
     And e’en the graybeard will o’erlook
     Connivingly my dreaming-book.



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

{This poem is no longer considered doubtful as it was in 1903. Liberty has been taken to replace the book version with an earlier, perhaps more original manuscript version—Ed}



     Beneath the vine-clad eaves,
         Whose shadows fall before
         Thy lowly cottage door
     Under the lilac’s tremulous leaves—
     Within thy snowy claspeèd hand
         The purple flowers it bore.
     Last eve in dreams, I saw thee stand,
     Like queenly nymphs from Fairy-land—
     Enchantress of the flowery wand,
         Most beauteous Isadore!


     And when I bade the dream
         Upon thy spirit flee,
         Thy violet eyes to me
     Upturned, did overflowing seem
     With the deep, untold delight
         Of Love’s serenity;
     Thy classic brow, like lilies white
     And pale as the Imperial Night
     Upon her throne, with stars bedight,
         Enthralled my soul to thee!


     Ah I ever I behold
         Thy dreamy, passionate eyes,
         Blue as the languid skies

     Hung with the sunset’s fringe of gold;
     Now strangely clear thine image grows,
         And olden memories
     Are startled from their long repose
     Like shadows on the silent snows
     When suddenly the night-wind blows
         Where quiet moonlight ties.


     Like music heard in dreams,
         Like strains of harps unknown,
         Of birds forever flown
     Audible as the voice of streams
     That murmur in some leafy dell,
         I hear thy gentlest tone,
     And Silence cometh with her spell
     Like that which on my tongue doth dwell,
     When tremulous in dreams I tell
         My love to thee alone!


     In every valley heard,
         Floating from tree to tree,
         Less beautiful to, me,
     The music of the radiant bird,
     Than artless accents such as thine
         Whose echoes never flee!
     Ah! how for thy sweet voice I pine:—
     For uttered in thy tones benign
     (Enchantress!) this rude name of mine

         Doth seem a melody!


     In these rapid, restless shadows,
         Once I walked at eventide,
     When a gentle, silent maiden,
         Wal    ked in beauty at my side
     She alone there walked beside me
         All in beauty, like a bride.

     Pallidly the moon was shining
         On the dewy meadows nigh;
     On the silvery, silent rivers,
         On the mountains far and high
     On the ocean’s star-lit waters,
         Where the winds a-weary die.

     Slowly, silently we wandered
     From the open cottage door,
     Underneath the elm’s long branches
     To the pavement bending o’er;
     Underneath the mossy willow
     And the dying sycamore.

     With the myriad stars in beauty
     All bedight, the heavens were seen,
     Radiant hopes were bright around me,
     Like the light of stars serene;
     Like the mellow midnight splendor
     Of the Night’s irradiate queen.

     Audibly the elm-leaves whispered
         Peaceful, pleasant melodies,
     Like the distant murmured music
         Of unquiet, lovely seas:
     While the winds were hushed in slumber
         In the fragrant flowers and trees.

     Wondrous and unwonted beauty
         Still adorning all did seem,
     While I told my love in fables
         ‘Neath the willows by the stream;
     Would the heart have kept unspoken
         Love that was its rarest dream!

     Instantly away we wandered
         In the shadowy twilight tide,
     She, the silent, scornful maiden,
         Walking calmly at my side,
     With a step serene and stately,
         All in beauty, all in pride.

     Vacantly I walked beside her.
         On the earth mine eyes were cast;
     Swift and keen there came unto me
         Ritter memories of the past
     On me, like the rain in Autumn
         On the dead leaves, cold and fast.

     Underneath the elms we parted,
         By the lowly cottage door;
     One brief word alone was uttered
         Never on our lips before;
     And away I walked forlornly,
         Broken-hearted evermore.

     Slowly, silently I loitered,
         Homeward, in the night, alone;
     Sudden anguish bound my spirit,
         That my youth had never known;
     Wild unrest, like that which cometh
         When the Night’s first dream hath flown.

     Now, to me the elm-leaves whisper
         Mad, discordant melodies,
     And keen melodies like shadows
         Haunt the moaning willow trees,
     And the sycamores with laughter
         Mock me in the nightly breeze.

     Sad and pale the Autumn moonlight
         Through the sighing foliage streams;
     And each morning, midnight shadow,
         Shadow of my sorrow seems;
     Strive, O heart, forget thine idol!
         And, O soul, forget thy dreams!


     ’Tis said that when
     The hands of men
     Tamed this primeval wood,
     And hoary trees with groans of woe,
     Like warriors by an unknown foe,
     Were in their strength subdued,
     The virgin Earth Gave instant birth
     To springs that ne’er did flow
     That in the sun Did rivulets run,
     And all around rare flowers did blow
     The wild rose pale Perfumed the gale
     And the queenly lily adown the dale
     (Whom the sun and the dew
     And the winds did woo),
     With the gourd and the grape luxuriant grew.

     So when in tears
     The love of years
     Is wasted like the snow,
     And the fine fibrils of its life
     By the rude wrong of instant strife
     Are broken at a blow
     Within the heart
     Do springs upstart
     Of which it doth now know,
     And strange, sweet dreams,
     Like silent streams
     That from new fountains overflow,
     With the earlier tide
     Of rivers glide
     Deep in the heart whose hope has died—
     Quenching the fires its ashes hide,—
     Its ashes, whence will spring and grow
     Sweet flowers, ere long,
     The rare and radiant flowers of song!


Of the many verses from time to time ascribed to the pen of Edgar Poe, and not included among his known writings, the lines entitled “Alone” have the chief claim to our notice. Fac-simile copies of this piece had been in possession of the present editor some time previous to its publication in “Scribner’s Magazine” for September, 1875; but as proofs of the authorship claimed for it were not forthcoming, he refrained from publishing it as requested. The desired proofs have not yet been adduced, and there is, at present, nothing but internal evidence to guide us. “Alone” is stated to have been written by Poe in the album of a Baltimore lady (Mrs. Balderstone?), on March 17th, 1829, and the facsimile given in “Scribner’s” is alleged to be of his handwriting. If the caligraphy be Poe’s, it is different in all essential respects from all the many specimens known to us, and strongly resembles that of the writer of the heading and dating of the manuscript, both of which the contributor of the poem acknowledges to have been recently added. The lines, however, if not by Poe, are the most successful imitation of his early mannerisms yet made public, and, in the opinion of one well qualified to speak, “are not unworthy on the whole of the parentage claimed for them.”

While Edgar Poe was editor of the “Broadway Journal,” some lines “To Isadore” appeared therein, and, like several of his known pieces, bore no signature. They were at once ascribed to Poe, and in order to satisfy questioners, an editorial paragraph subsequently appeared saying they were by “A. Ide, junior.” Two previous poems had appeared in the “Broadway journal” over the signature of “A. M. Ide,” and whoever wrote them was also the author of the lines “To Isadore.” In order, doubtless, to give a show of variety, Poe was then publishing some of his known works in his journal over noms de plume, and as no other writings whatever can be traced to any person bearing the name of “A. M. Ide,” it is not impossible that the poems now republished in this collection may be by the author of “The Raven.” Having been published without his usual elaborate revision, Poe may have wished to hide his hasty work under an assumed name. The three pieces are included in the present collection, so the reader can judge for himself what pretensions they possess to be by the author of “The Raven.”