The Project Gutenberg eBook of Spiritual vampirism: The history of Etherial Softdown, and her friends of the "New Light"

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Title: Spiritual vampirism: The history of Etherial Softdown, and her friends of the "New Light"

Author: Charles W. Webber

Release date: October 21, 2022 [eBook #69201]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Lippincott, Granbo & Co, 1853

Credits: Tim Lindell, Les Galloway and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This file was produced from images generously made available by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)


Transcriber’s Notes

Obvious typographical errors have been silently corrected. Variations in hyphenation have been standardised but all other spelling and punctuation remains unchanged.

The table of contents was added by the transcriber.

The cover was prepared by the transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

Title Page







Her Friends of the “New Light.”


A heavy, hell-like paleness loads her cheeks,
Unknown to a clear heaven.
John Marston.
O vulture-witch, hast never heard of mercy?


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by
in the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States, in and for
the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.



[Pg 3]


On page 392 of the concluding sketch of a late series, the “Tales of the Southern Border,” occurs the following passage:—


“The author, being a resident of New York during the period of the leading incidents narrated as occurring in that city, had formed the acquaintance of the principal personage. Himself a Southerner, he had, from the natural affinities of origin, inevitably been attracted toward Carter. The intercourse between them, at first reserved, had imperceptibly warmed into a degree of intimacy, which, however, had by no means been such as to render him at all cognisant, beyond the merest generalities, of the progress of his private affairs. He was not a little surprised, therefore, at finding, one day, an elegant escritoire or cabinet, of dark, rich wood, heavily banded in the old-fashioned style with silver, which had been placed, in his absence, on the table of his sanctum. A note, in a sealed envelope, lay upon it. He instantly recognised the handwriting of the address as that of Mr. Carter, and broke the seal.

[Pg ]

“It was evidently written in great haste, but without any sign of trepidation. It ran thus:—

My dear Friend:

“I have no time for explanations, as I am in the midst of hurried preparations for an unexpected yacht-voyage—upon which I set sail in a few minutes. I send you an escritoire, which was left in my charge by a highly valued friend. He was an extraordinary man; and its contents will be, I doubt not, of great value to the world.

“It was given me, with the injunction that it should not be opened until six months after his death. The six months were up some weeks since, but I have lately been too much otherwise absorbed to think of making use of the privilege of the key. I now therefore transfer to you this bequest in full, with the proviso that you will not open it for six months. If at the end of that time I have not been heard from, please open, and without reserve make what use of it your excellent sense may justify. Please take charge of whatever correspondence may arrive to my address for the same length of time, at the expiration of which you will also please to consider yourself as my executor—open my correspondence and proceed as you may think best. Pardon this unceremonious intrusion of responsibilities upon an intimacy, the terms of which I hardly feel would strictly justify me; but the plea that I know no one else whom I can trust, and have no time for further explanation, will I am sure justify me in the eyes of a brother Southron.

“Yours truly,
Frank Carter.

[Pg 5]

“Six months having elapsed, and still no news of my singular friend Carter, the fulfilment of the important duties of executor, thus unexpectedly devolved upon him, were deferred by the narrator as long as his sense of duty would possibly admit. At last, when longer delay would have seemed to assume almost the aspect of criminality, the duty of opening the cabinet was unwillingly entered upon.”

On my next meeting with my friend Carter, who proved still to be in the land of the living, I spoke to him of the cabinet and its remarkable contents, which had so unexpectedly been left in my charge; offering to resign to him my trusteeship. To this, however, he would by no means consent, but continued to insist, as in his original letter, that I should without reserve make what use of it my sense of propriety might dictate. I was finally overruled into undertaking the mere arrangement and editorship of its contents—for the revelations there made are in many respects so strangely horrifying and unusual, that I fear the world will be little disposed to pardon my agency in giving them publicity. However, as I believe them to be, in every respect, genuine life-experiences, I have determined to make the venture, come what will of it. We shall therefore give, as proper introduction to the singular narrative which we have selected from beneath the blood-stained seals of the cabinet it has been our fate to open, the following singular paper, which we found lying separately above the folds of the MS. which constitutes the History of Etherial Softdown.

[Pg 6]



[1] The Story begins at Chapter I.—Ed.

The existence of what may be called the nervous or Odic fluid—the sympathetic element—has been partially known to all ages. The knowledge of this powerful secret, in moving and controlling mankind, has been professionally and almost exclusively confined to the adepts of all sects, religions, and periods; though it has occasionally, in various ways, leaked out of the penetralia, principally through its forms, accompanied with little or no apprehension of their vital meaning. It is in this way that a series of scientific phenomena, the discovery of which probably originated with a remote priestcraft, and had been made to subserve exclusive ends, has gradually been fragmented among the people, and in many imperfect, ignorant, and vitiated forms has now become the common property of science.

When it is understood that this nervous fluid is nothing more nor less than that force—whether electrical, magnetic, odic, or otherwise named—which, lubricating the nervous system in man, produces all vital phenomena—is, in a word, the vital force—the active principle of life—it will not be difficult to comprehend how important a knowledge of its laws may be rendered to even those relations of life not exclusively physical.

Mesmer promulgated, under his own name, as a new and astounding discovery in science, something of the sympathetic laws to which this nervous or Odic fluid is subject, and by

[Pg 7]

which the vital and spiritual relations of man to the external universe are in a great measure modified, and even controlled. This was no discovery of his, but had been the mainly exclusive secret of the ancient priesthood; employed alike in the ceremonies of the novitiate in the Thibetian temples of Buddha, in the Egyptian Initiation, and in Grecian Pythism. But the particular reason why his announcements caused such prodigious excitement, in 1784, as to run all Paris mad, even including the court of the wary Louis XVI., and still continue to excite and madden mankind, is, that, as the sympathetic ecstacies and furors, superinduced by the mummeries of his famous “vat,” were called by a new name, the people failed to recognise them, although they had been familiarised with, and even acting habitually under their influence, while surrounded by accessories of a more sacred character. The immediate success of Mesmer’s experiments amazed men. He, in fact, little knew what he was doing himself; the effects he understood how to produce, because accident had furnished him with the formulas. Having gone through these, which, though most grotesque and preposterous, later experience has shown, really included all the “passes” and other conditions necessary to establish sympathy through the nervous fluid with the victims of his delusion, he proceeded to produce exhibitions the most extraordinary the world ever saw, except in the hideous and frantic orgies of some wild, barbaric creed, and the parallels to which, in this country, are to be found in the shrieks and bellowings of a fanatic camp-meeting, Miller ascension-tent, Mormon rite, or hard-cider political mass-meeting.

Beginning with the postulate that “Nature abhors a vacuum,” it does not seem difficult to understand something, at least, of[Pg 8] the rationale of this sympathetic influence of one man over another. The laws of the distribution of this Odic force seem to bear a somewhat general affinity to those of electricity. The surcharged cloud discharges its superfluous fluid into the cloud more negatively charged. The man holding a superfluous amount of vital or Odic force, can dismiss a portion of this—along the course of its proper lightning-rods, or conveyers, the nerves—into the organisation of a being more negatively charged, or, in other words, of a weaker man. As electricity can only act upon inert matter through its proper media, the elements, so the Odic fluid can only act upon organised matter normally through its proper medium, the nerves of vitality. This communication of the Odic fluid, by which sympathy between the two beings has been established, can be, to a certain degree, regulated and controlled by manipulations which bring the thumbs and fingers of the hand, which are properly Odic poles, in contact with certain great nerves, or centres of nerves, along which the influence can be readily communicated. These manipulations, the vital and original meanings of which these Mesmer agitators have betrayed, may be traced very clearly through the most important ceremonies of religion, and the secret orders of fraternisation in the world. From this point of view, how significant the “laying-on of hands” in ordination, the “joining of hands” in the marriage ceremony, &c.

Here let us remark, that we would no more be understood as accusing a Christian Priesthood, in modern times, of having made an improper use, either inside or out of their profession, of the manipulations mentioned above, than we would think of accusing them of having, as a class, any special knowledge of their significance beyond that of ceremonial forms, set down in[Pg 9] the discipline. It has been to the Heathen Priesthood that we have consistently attributed a knowledge of the psychological meaning of these ceremonials, which have descended through the Hebrew and Christian churches as avowedly divested of vital significance, and intended, in their arbitrary exaction, as, to a certain degree, ordained tests of Christian faith and obedience.

But it is by no means indispensable to the exhibition of the Odic phenomena, that the processes of manipulation should have been literally gone through with in all cases—nor, indeed, in the majority even—for some of the most apparently inexplicable and extraordinary of them all are brought about without such intervention. Take, as comparatively “modern instances,” such effects as those produced by the preaching of Peter the Hermit, when not only vast armies of men were moved like flights of locusts toward the Desert, on the breeze of his fiery breath, to disappear, too, as they, within its bosom, and never be heard from again, but even great armies of children rushed in migratory hordes to the sea-ports, to ship for the Holy Land!—and those produced by the crusade of Father Mathew against intemperance, in our time, when all Ireland lay wailing at his feet. These great furors were precisely identical with those already enumerated, so far as the sympathetic or motive power went. So with the story of the rise of Mahomet, Joe Smith, Miller, and all such agitators. They are usually men of prodigious vital power, and of course surcharged with the Odic fluid, who begin these great movements; and they possess, beside, vast patience and endurance. They begin by filling the individuals in immediate contact with them, as Mahomet did his own family, with the superfluity of the Odic force in themselves, and having thus obtained a single medium by this immediate[Pg 10] contact—which, although it may not imply the formal manipulations with preconceived design, implies the accidental equivalents—the circle gradually enlarges through each fresh accession, in much the same way that it began, until, after a few patient years of unshaken endurance, the apostle finds himself surrounded by thousands and thousands of human beings, whose volition is swayed through this Odic force—this sympathetic medium—by his own central, resolute, and self-poised will, as if they were but one man. His moveless volition has been, from the beginning, the base and axis of the vast sympathetic movement going on around him, and upon the single strength of the Odic force within him, all depends, until, through a thorough organisation of ceremonial laws and observances, the system of which he was the vital centre assumes a corporate existence, and can stand alone.

This is about the method in which all such organisations, radiating from the one man power or centre, widen their circles to an extreme circumference, until the force of the pebble thrown into the great lake is exhausted. So it is with all sympathetic excitements—from the Dancing Dervishes, the Shaking Quakers, or the Barking Brothers, to the vast Empire of France, led frenzied over the world in the will-o’-the-wisp chase of universal sovereignty, by the fantastic will of a Napoleon. These are some of the general phenomena of sympathy, and there are many quite as extraordinary, if not as broad in what are called atmospheric or epidemic conditions, which go to prove the universality of this sympathetic law.

The distinctions between Od and Heat, Od and Electricity, as well as Od and Magnetism, have been so clearly demonstrated by the investigations of Baron Reichenbach as to leave[Pg 11] at present no choice between the terms. Od expresses that force which, differing in many essential properties from the other two, can alone through its phenomena be reconciled with what we know of the Sympathetic or Nervous Fluid. It is therefore used as a synonym of this mysterious agency, and as conveying a far higher definition and significance than either the term Electricity or Mesmerism.

The worst and the best that the agitation begun by Mesmer has accomplished, is, to have stripped old Necromancy of its mysterious spells, by revealing something of the rationale of them, while at the same time, in unveiling its processes to the sharp eyes of modern knaves, they have been enabled to appropriate and practise them again with even more than the old success, under the new christening of “scientific experiment.” It is, I think, easily enough shown, by a minute and circumstantial comparison of the cotemporary history of the dark age of black art ascendancy in Europe, which was literally the dark age of chivalry, with that of Cotton Mather witch-burning enlightenment in New England, that the arts practised by the accused in both these countries, and at all other such periods in all other countries, were nearly identical with each other; and those familiarised to us through the doings of mesmeric manipulation, revelation, clairvoyance, spiritual knockings, &c., &c., are generally the very same, though assuming slight shades of difference, indicating some progressive development. A partial knowledge of psychological laws, which was formerly, and with great plausibility, considered altogether too dangerous pabulum for the vulgar mind, has been sown broadcast by the empiricism of this mesmeric movement, the principal oracles and expounders of which have been clearly as ignorant of the[Pg 12] causes with which they agitated, as ever wrinkled crone of peat-smoked hovel was of the true laws of that occult palmistry, through the practice, or vague traditions of which, she finally prophesied herself into the martyrdom of the “red-hot ploughshares,” or the warm resting-place of the pot of boiling pitch. They only know that certain formulas produce certain results, and as they are blundering entirely in the dark, they mix those which have a basis in science with the crude and meaningless forms which ignorance, with its abject cunning, easily supplies. From such amalgamations have arisen the mummeries of conjuration in whatever form, and by the imprudent use of which, the credulous, simple and superstitious, are so easily “frightened from their propriety,” and thus made easy victims of more dangerous arts.

But it is a study of the fearful uses which have been made by the evil-disposed, of this partial knowledge of the laws of relation of soul to the body, that is more interesting now than these olden disguises of the same evil in more helpless forms; as now, through the mesmeric agitation, it has really attained to some gleam of causes—has now something of scientific illumination to steady and give direction to its reckless and deadly aim. In the radius of its hurtful circumference, the vicious power of the witch, fortune-teller or conjuror, was as much more circumscribed than that of the semi-scientific charlatan of clairvoyance, as the vision of the mole is less than that of the viper, which, at least, looks out into the sunshine though every cloud may impede its malignant gaze.

The relative degrees in which the Odic or sympathetic fluid may be found exhibited in the different individuals of our race, have been previously remarked in general terms. In the sexes,[Pg 13] we most usually find the positive pole in man, who gives out, and the negative in woman, who receives and absorbs from him, the dispenser. Though this be the general rule so far as the sexes are concerned, it is by no means the universal rule for the race—since there are among men but few positive poles, or fixed centres of Odic radiation; and where such are found, they are observed to possess much of what we commonly call “influence” with or upon others. All the parties, therefore, within the circle of this sympathetic radiation, or “magnetic attraction,” as it is popularly termed, must necessarily be, relatively to this positive pole, negative poles, without regard to sex—while each of these comparatively negative poles may in turn be a positive pole, or Odic centre, to those below or of weaker nature than himself.

Those men who have been known to all humanity as prophets, poets, law-givers, discoverers, reformers, &c., are, and have been, what we mean by positive Odic poles; for while they have seemed to stand in immediate and direct communion with the spiritual source of all wisdom, they have at the same time given out the impulse thus granted, to the people by whom they are surrounded, thus acting as the chosen media of divine revelation, and from the cloudy summits of Sinais handing down the tables of the law to all the tribes.

Now there is a mighty radiation of the Odic force from these men, through which the love, wisdom, or rather will in them—or sent through them—is made operative upon the great masses of mankind; and this same radiation, in the greater or less degrees, is found emanating from a thousand different sources at the same time, affecting man for evil as well as for good; for, when we comprehend that this Odic or sympathetic force is the sole medium of communication with the spiritual and invisible[Pg 14] world, as well as with the visible and material world, it can then be easily understood how what are called “evil” and “good spirits” should through it affect mankind. This will be fully illustrated when we observe the common conditions of health and disease. Health is good and disease is evil; and these are the two eternally antagonistic chemical forces in the universe. Health is that normal condition of the body which enables it to resist evil and maintain the proper balance of the spiritual and material elements. Disease is that abnormal condition of the body in which the integrity of the spiritual and organic functions has been destroyed through the sympathetic media by evil, and good overcome.

In either case, the balance is destroyed, and the immediate consequence may be, in the one, sudden paroxysms of fearful insanity, or in the other, sudden death, as in common apoplexy.

Thus the popular fallacy, that all things having a source in the spiritual, or rather the invisible, must of necessity be good, is in a very simple way exposed. We see there may be what are called evil, as well as good spirits, which hold communion with us; and the safest and only true general rule with regard to such matters is, that, while the good spirits are those propitious chemical forces which make themselves known to us in love, and joy, and peace, through the unbounded happiness of the normal conditions of health, the evil spirits are those vicious chemical forces, morbid delusions, and malign revelations, which are made known to us through all other diseased conditions as well as that of Clairvoyance. Remember that no such being has yet been known throughout the whole range of Mesmeric experiment as a healthy Clairvoyant, or a “subject” who has attained to the super-eminence of Clairvoyance, who was not what they fancifully[Pg 15] term “delicate”—that is, liable to those diseases which are well known to supervene upon nervous weakness, exhaustion, or emasculation. This condition of nervous exhaustion renders them, of course, the very negation of the negative pole of sympathy, and the first person approaching them, who possesses the ordinary Odic conditions of health, is clutched hold of by their famine-struck vitality, in the agonised plea for life! life!

“Give! give!” is still the insatiable cry. They must have the Odic fluid restored, and that, in taking from your “enough,” they exhaust and undermine the holy purposes of your life to make up that deficit in their own—which loathsome vice has brought about—the “hideous selfishness of weakness” rather rejoices. The sympathetic rapporte being once established, they can at least, through this dangerous medium, live in the integrities of your life, and enjoy, both physically and spiritually, a surreptitious vitality, which, while it reflects the prevailing phenomena of your own mind and spiritual being, has, in addition, some approximation even to the physical exaltation of your higher health.

These human vampires or sponges may be, therefore, as well absorbents of the spiritual as animal vitality. Their parasitical roots may strike into the very centres of life, and their hungry suckers remorselessly draw away the virility of manhood, or the spiritual strength.

They seem to be mainly divided into two classes, one of which, born, seemingly, with but a rudimentary soul, attains to its apparent spiritual though merely mental development, by absorption of the spiritual life in others, through the Odic medium. Another class, born with a predominating spirituality based upon a feeble physique, is ravenous of animal[Pg 16] strength, and can only live by its sympathetic absorption of the same from others, through the same pervading medium. Of the two, the first is the evil type; for, born in the gross sphere of the passions, with a vigorous organisation, but faintly illuminated at the beginning with that golden light of love which is spiritual life, the fierce half-monkey being is propelled onwards, and even upwards, by the basest of the purely animal instincts, appetites, and lusts. If such beings strive towards the light of the harmonious and the beautiful, it is not because they yearn for either the holy or the good, but because it lends a lurid charm to appetite and glorifies a lust.

The other character, in whom the spiritual predominates, whether from a natal inequality, as is very frequently the case, or from the sheer exhaustion of the physical powers, through emasculating vices, is yet, in itself, good, so far as its morbid conditions leave it an unaccountable being; but, as its revelations and utterings depend entirely upon the Odic characters and will of those from whom its strength may be derived, it can only be regarded, whether used for evil or good, as a medium. This character is the common Clairvoyant, to whom we are indebted for those strangely-mingled gleams of remote truth, with errors the most grave and injurious, which have so tended to confuse the judgment of mankind in regard to the phenomena of Clairvoyance. Such persons can be made as readily the medium of any falsehood which the knavish passions of their “Mesmerisers” may dictate, as they can be caused to announce, by a will as strong, but soul more pure, the disconnected myths of science and of history, which have so surprised the world in what are called the “Revelations” of Andrew Jackson Davis. This man belongs to our second[Pg 17] class, and is purely “a medium” of the sympathetic fluid. His organisation is most sensibly sympathetic and delicately responsive, but is too feeble to balance his spiritual development. His case stands, therefore, as the most remarkable modern instance of what the ancients termed “vaticination;” but, as has been the case with other false prophets, his “gifts” have proved of no value, except to knaves. He was undoubtedly practised upon by a choice set of such characters; and, now that he has found in marriage a sympathetic restoration, through the physical, of its needed balance with the spiritual, he has lost his “lying gift” of prophecy.

We have examined this man carefully, and are convinced that the whole mystery of his revelations and character may be contained in a nut-shell. He is to the sphere of intellectual and spiritual sympathy, and in a lower sense, precisely an analogous case with that of Mozart in the sphere of the musical and spiritual. When the great soul of humanity has been long—say one generation—in travail with a great thought in art, science, music, or mechanics, there is sure to be somebody born in the succeeding generation who is physically, mentally, and spiritually, the impersonation and embodiment of this thought, of which the age is in labor, and who must of necessity become, solely and singly, the expression and embodiment thereof. Thus Mozart, the infant prodigy in music, who at five years old was the pet of monarchs and the miracle of his age, continued, with no signs of precociousness, a steady and consistent development, which showed him to be indeed the embodiment of the musical inspirations of his age. His revelations in music were just as prodigious as even the rabid worshippers of the Davis[Pg 18] revelations would imagine those to be; yet there are some most essential differences between the results of the two.

Davis, born amidst the travail of this new Mesmeric agitation, became the most sensitive organ of the sympathetic fluid in intellect, as the other had been in music; but as, in the case of Mozart, the exciting cause came from Nature, and constituted her purest and most sacred inspirations, so the inspiration of Davis came from man, with all his imperfections and subjective tendencies. The sequel has been, the inspirations of Mozart are considered now by mankind as only second to the Divine, while those of Davis are justly regarded as morbid, fragmentary, incomplete, and worthless.

The organisation of Mozart was equally sympathetic with that of Davis; but it was of that healthy tone which could only respond to nature and the natural; while the organisation of Davis belongs to that much inferior type, which, from its morbid and unbalanced conditions, can respond only to the human as the representative of nature. Such persons receive nothing direct from nature, but only through its representative, man.

It would seem as if the world were absolutely divided into two classes—the radiating and the absorbing; the first receiving from nature, and the second from man. In the first, are the holy brotherhood of prophets and the poets, and in the second, the poor slaves of sympathy—the knaves and fools—the impostors who play upon its well-known laws, and, deceiving themselves as well as others, may well be said to “know not what they do.”

We are convinced that no man, who has kept himself informed of the psychological history and progress of his race, can by any means fail to recognise at once, in the pretended[Pg 19] “Revelations” of Davis, the mere disjecta membra of the systems so extensively promulgated by Fourier and Swedenborg. When you come to compare this fact with the additional one, that Davis, during the whole period of his “utterings,” was surrounded by groups, consisting of the disciples of Fourier and Swedenborg; as, for instance, the leading Fourierite of America was, for a time, a constant attendant upon those mysterious meetings, at which the myths of innocent Davis were formally announced from the condition of Clairvoyance, and transcribed by his keeper for the press, while the chief exponent and minister of Swedenborgianism in New York was often seated side by side with him.

Can it be possible that these men failed to comprehend, as thought after thought, principle after principle, was enunciated in their presence, which they had previously supposed to belong exclusively to their own schools, that the “revelation” was merely a sympathetic reflex of their own derived systems? It was no accident; for, as often as Fourierism predominated in “the evening lecture,” it was sure that the prime representative of Fourier was present; and when the peculiar views of Swedenborg prevailed, it was equally certain that he was forcibly represented in the conclave. Sometimes both schools were present; and on that identical occasion we have a composite metaphysics promulgated, which exhibited, most consistently, doctrines of Swedenborg and Fourier, jumbled in liberal and extraordinary confusion. This is, in epitome, about the whole history of such agitations. The weak Clairvoyant falls naturally into the hands of knaves who are superior to him in physical vitality. He becomes, first, the medium of their vague and feeble intellection; and then, as attention is attracted[Pg 20] by the notoriety they know well how to produce, the “medium” becomes gradually surrounded by the enthusiasts of every school; and as he is brought into their various Odic spheres, he pronounces the creed of each in his morbidly illuminated language, and it sounds to the mob like inspiration.

There is no greater nonsense; men are inspired through natural laws. But this comparatively innocuous character, which we have thus far stepped aside to indicate, is nothing compared to the first specimen of this Clairvoyant type which we have classified. This, it will be remembered, is the animal born with feeble spirituality, but vigorous physique, which is, at the same time, intensely sympathetic. These, as we have said, are the infernal natures; for, possessing no life outside the lower animal passions, self is to them the close centre of all being, and their Odic sensitiveness a vampire-absorption, the horrible craving of which, not content with the mere exhaustion of the animal life of the victim, by wanton provocations, drinks up soul and mind to fill the beastly void of their own. These worse than ghouls, that live upon the dying rather than the dead, possess some fearfully dangerous and extraordinary powers.

Vampirism, as a superstition, prevailed, not many years ago, like a general pestilence, throughout the countries of Servia and Wallachia. Whole districts, infected by this horrible disease, were desolated; people grew wild with terror, and, in their savage ignorance, committed monstrous sacrilege upon the sanctities of burial. Bodies that had rested quietly in their graves for ten, twenty, and even eighty days, were dragged forth, to have stakes driven through their chests; and if any blood was found, they were burned to ashes.

[Pg 21]

The belief was, that the deceased, when living, had been bitten by a human vampire, which, coming forth from its grave by night, had sunk its white teeth in his throat, and drunk his blood, thereby causing a lingering death; in which he was also doomed to the hideous fate of becoming a vampire, after his burial.

The bodies of vampires, when dug up, presented a perfectly natural appearance; and, even in those cases where the scarfskin peeled off, a new skin was found underneath, and new nails formed on the fingers. The vital blood was found in the heart, lungs, and viscera, exhibiting the conditions of perfect health. How the vampire got out of his grave, without scratching a hole, does not appear.

Thus we find, in modern vampirism, a strange compound of ancient superstition with well-known scientific truths. The vampire is the counterpart of the ancient ghoul, with the simple transfer of the habits of the vampire-bat to its identity. These are then connected with the fact, well known to the medical profession, that persons have been buried, supposed to be dead, who, in reality, had only fallen into what is called the death-trance; and who, had they been left above ground for a sufficient period, would have probably resuscitated of themselves. That they have done so after burial, is a familiar fact; since bodies exhumed, long after, have been found to have changed their position in the coffin. How long bodies, thus inconsiderately buried, retain a resemblance to the normal conditions of life, has not been fully ascertained.

We have here the historical origin of what is called vampirism; but there are certain phenomena of this fearful infection,[Pg 22] closely resembling those which we have attributed to the Spiritual Vampire.

Vampirism is clearly a disease of the nervous system; it being first excited through the imagination of ignorance and superstition. The nerves, then affected through the odic medium, lose their balance, and the mind constantly playing within the circle of the one thought of horror, a rapid and premature decline is the immediate consequence.

The infection of which the victim died remaining still within the odic medium of the sphere it occupied, passes into the nerves of others, who die also; and thus the disease spreads like any other epidemic. But mark—whence the true origin of this superstition of the ghoul and the vampire, so universal in the world? Is it not that mankind, everywhere, has felt, with an unconscious shuddering, the presence of the spiritual vampire? The instincts of the masses have, in their superstitions, foreshadowed all the great discoveries of science. Has it not been, that they have felt the hideous incubus always; but not being able, through any connected series of observations, to discover the real cause of their dread and suffering, have given its nearly identical attributes a “local habitation and a name” among their superstitions?

What we have termed the Spiritual Vampire, is a scientific fact—we believe as much so as the bat-vampire; and that it feeds, not alone upon the living, but upon the spiritually dead; that originally, so far as its spiritual entity is concerned, it too comes forth from its sensual charnal to feed upon the soul-blood of mankind. This may seem a horrible picture, but we cannot consent to withdraw it. These records were made under a sense of duty to mankind; and if they should ever see the[Pg 23] light, it must be as they have been written. We dare not reveal all that we know of this thing—we can only venture to say enough to arouse men in amazement, at the realisation of what they have always known and felt to exist, without having expressed it. No mortal mind could have conceived such possibilities, even in hell, much less in actual life.

Amidst the profound securities of the best-ordered households in the world, unless a strict eye be had to such facts and phenomena as we have adverted to and shall describe, the most insidious and fatal corruptions of the bodies and souls of your children, your wives, and your sisters, may creep in, while there is no dream of wrong or danger. If we shock you, it is to put you somewhat upon your guard against the many evils, concealed under the apparent harmless approaches of the viciously-purposed manipulator, or the covert practiser upon the odic or sympathetic vitality of the pure and unsuspecting.—We will abide the issue.

Milton clearly had vampirism in his thought when he wrote—

“Clotted by contagion,
Imbodied and imbruited, till quite lost
The divine property of their first being—
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp,
Oft seen, in charnal-vaults and sepulchres,
Lingering and sitting by a new-made grave.”

[Pg 24]

[Pg 25]



“Be thou a spirit of health, or goblin damned?”

In a mean and sterile district of Vermont, which shall be nameless, but which exhibits on every side stretches of bare land, with here and there the variety of clumps of gnarled and stunted oaks, Etherial Softdown was born. If mountains give birth to heroes, what ought to have been the product of a low-lying land like this, on whose dreary basins the summer’s sun wilted the feeble vegetation, and the bleak winds of winter wrestled fiercely with the scrubby oaks, whose crooked and claw-like limbs seemed talons of some hideous, gaunt and reptile growth?

On the edge of one of the most desolate of these stretches, and beneath the shelter of the most ugly of these demonised oaks, were scattered the storm-blackened sheds of a miserable hamlet, in one of which, for there were no degrees in their comfortless dilapidation, the family of our heroine, the Softdowns, resided, and another yet smaller and at some distance apart from the rest, was occupied by her father, who was a shoemaker, as[Pg 26] a workshop. This was one of those strange, out-of-the-way, starved and dismal looking places that you sometimes stumble upon in our prosperous land—which ought long since to have been deserted with the vanished cause of the temporary prosperity which had given it birth—but in which the people seem to be petrified into a morbid serenity of endurance, and look as if under the spell of some great Enchanter they awaited his awakening touch.

The child, which was the birth of a coarsely organised mother, was as drolly deformed with its squint eye and stooping shoulders as fancy could depict the elfin genius of such a scene. Dirty, bedraggled and neglected, with unkempt locks tangled and writhing like snakes about her face, and sharp, gray animal eyes gleaming from beneath, the ill-conditioned creature darted impishly hither and yon amidst the hamlet hovels, or peering from some thicket of weird oaks, started the stolid neighbors with the dread that apparitions bring.

Indeed, so wilful, unexpected and eccentric were her movements, that the people, in addition to regarding the oaf-like child with a half feeling of dread, gave her the credit of being half-witted as well. There was a hungry sharpness in her eye that made them shrink; a furious, raging, craving lust for something, they could not understand what, which startled them beyond measure; for, as in their stagnant lives, they had never been much troubled with souls themselves, they could not understand this soul-famine that so whetted those fierce eager eyes.

The father, Softdown, who appears to have been something more developed than the mother, and to have possessed a grotesque and rugged wit, more remarkable for its directness than its delicacy, became the sole instructor and companion of the distraught child, who readily acquired from him an uncouth method of enouncing trite truisms unexpectedly, which was to constitute in after life one of her chief, because most successful weapons.

Etherial early displayed a passion for acquiring not knowledge,[Pg 27] but a facility of gibberish, which proved exhausting enough to the shallow receptacles around her, especially as her mode of getting at the names and properties of things so closely resembled the monkey’s method of studying physical laws. She had first to burn her fingers before she could be made to comprehend that fire was hot, but that was enough about fire for this wise child; she remembered it ever after as a physical sensation, and therefore it had ever after a name for her; and so with all other experiences, they were to her sensational, not spiritual or intellectual. The name of a truth could come to her with great vividness through a blow or pain of whatever character that might be purely physical, but through no higher senses, for these she did not yet possess. Of a moral sense she seemed now to develop no more consciousness than any other wild animal, but in her the memory of sensation took the place of mind and soul.

Thus passed the girlhood of our slattern oaf—shy and sullen—avoiding others herself, and gladly avoided by them, with the single exception of her father, from whom her strong imitative or sympathetic faculty was daily acquiring a rough, keen readiness of repartee, in the use of which she found abundant home-practice in defending herself against the smarting malignity of the matron Softdown, who charmingly combined in her person and habits all and singly the cleanly graces of the fishwife.

At sixteen, with no advance in personal loveliness, with passions fiercely developed, a mind nearly utterly blank, a taste for tawdry finery quite as drolly crude as that displayed by the plantation negresses of the South, and manners so fantastically awkward and eccentric as to leave the general impression that she was underwitted, Etherial suddenly married a lusty and good-looking young Quaker, threw off her bedraggled plumes, and became a member of that prim order.

Now her career commences in earnest, for this was the first great step in her life in which she seems to have attained to[Pg 28] some gleams of the knowledge of that extraordinary power of Odic irradiation and absorption which was afterwards to be exercised with such remarkable results.

She did not make her great discovery without comprehending its meaning quickly. She first perceived that, day by day, she grew more comely to look upon—that her figure was becoming erect, and losing its harsh angularities—the pitiless obliquity of her features growing more reconciled to harmonious lines—and last, and most astounding, that the immediate result of the contact of marriage had been a rapid increase of her own spiritual and mental illumination, accompanied as well by a corresponding decline on the part of the husband in both these respects.

Here was a secret for you with a vengeance! Like an electric flash, a new light burst upon Etherial; and, as there was only one feeling of which her being was capable towards man, she chuckled over the delicious secret which now opened out before her with a terrible gloating.

Glorious discovery! Hah! the spiritual vampire might feed on his strength—might grow strong on this cannibalism of the soul! and what of him if she dragged him down into idiocy? Served him right! Did Etherial care that his spiritual death must be her life? She laughed and screamed with the joy of unutterable ferocity! Eureka! Eureka! They shall all be my slaves! They taunt me with being born without a soul, with being underwitted! I shall devour souls hereafter by the hundreds! I shall grow fat upon them! We shall see who has the wit! Their thoughts shall be my thoughts, their brains shall work for me, their spirits shall inform my frame! Ah, glorious! glorious! I shall live on souls hereafter! I shall go up and down in the land, seeking whom I may devour! Delicious! Delectable Etherial!

[Pg 29]


And all around her, shapes, wizard and brute,
Laughing and wailing, grovelling, serpentine,
Showing tooth, tusk, and venom-bag, and sting!
O, such deformities!

In Barclay Street, New York, years ago, flourished, at No. 63, that famous caravansarie of all the most rabid wild animals on the Continent, who styled themselves Reformers and New-light People, Come-outers, Vegetarians, Abolitionists, Amalgamationists, &c. &c., well known to fame as the “Graham House.” Here, any fine morning, at the breakfast-table, you might meet a dozen or so of the most boisterous of the then existing or embryo Reform notorieties of the day. Mark, we say notorieties, for that is the word.

From the Meglatherium Oracle, whose monstrous head, covered with a mouldy excrescence, answering for hair, which gave it most the seeming of a huge swamp-born fungus of a night—who sat bolting his hard-boiled eggs by the dozen, with bran-bread in proportion, washing them down with pints of diluted parched-corn coffee—even to the most meagre, hungry-eyed, and talon-fingered of the soul-starved World-Reformers, that stooped forward amidst the babble, and, between huge gulps of hot meal mush, croaked forth his orphic words—they were all one and alike—the mutterers of myths made yet more misty by their parrot-mouthings of them!

Here every crude, ungainly crotchet that ever possessed ignorant and presumptuous brains; here every wild and unbroken hobby that ever driveller or madman rode, was urged together, pell-mell, in a loud-voiced gabbling chaos. Here the negro squared his uncouth and musky-ebon personalities beside the[Pg 30] fair, frail form of some lean, rectangular-figured spinster-devotee of amalgamation from New England.

Here the hollow-eyed bony spectre of an old bran-bread disciple stared, in the grim ecstacy of anticipation, at the ruddy cheeks of the new convert opposite, whose lymphatic, well-conditioned corporation shivered with affright, as he met those ravin-lit eyes, and a vague sense of their awful meaning first possessed him, as his furtive glance took in the sterile “spread” upon the table, to which he had been ostentatiously summoned for “a feast.”

Here some Come-outer Quaker, with what had been, at best, cropped hair, might be seen with the crop now shaven yet more close to his bullet-head, in sign of his greater accession in spiritual strength beyond the heathen he had left behind, sitting side by side with some New-light or Phalanxterian apostle, with his long, sandy, carroty, or rather golden locks, as he chooses to style them, cultivated down his back in a ludicrously impious emulation of the revered “Christ Head” of the old Italian painters.

Here the blustering peace-man and professed non-resistant, railed with a noisy insolence, rendered more insufferably insulting in the precise ratio of exemption from personal accountability claimed by his pusillanimous doctrines. Here too, a notorious Abolitionist, with his tallow-skinned and generally-disgusting face, roared through gross lips his vulgar anathemas against the South, which had foolishly canonised this soulless and meddlesome non-resistant ruffian, in expressing their readiness to hang him, should he be caught within their territory.

Here the weak and puling sectary of some milk-and-water creed rolled up his rheumy eyes amidst the din, and sighed for horror of a “sad, wicked world.” Here the sharp animal eyes, the cool effrontery and hard-faced impudence of ignoramus Professors of all sorts of occult sciences, ologies, and isms, met you, with hungry glances that seemed searching for “the green” in your eye; and mingled with the whole, a sufficiently spicy[Pg 31] sprinkle of feminine “Professors,” of the same class, whose bold looks and sensual faces were quite sufficient offsets to the extreme etherialisation of their spiritualized doctrines.

Here, in a word, the blank and ever-shocking glare of harmless and positive idiocy absolutely would escape notice at all, or be mistaken for the solid repose of common sense, in contrast with the unnatural sultry wildness of the prevailing and predominating expression!

But this menagerie of mad people held caged, in one of its upper rooms, the object of immediate interest. On entering the apartment, which was an ordinary boarding-house bedchamber, a scene at once shocking and startling was presented. A female, seemingly about thirty-three, was stretched upon a low cot-bed, near the middle of the floor, while on the bed and upon the floor were scattered napkins, which appeared deeply saturated with blood, with which the pillow-case and sheet were also stained. A napkin was pressed with a convulsive clutch of the hands to her mouth, into which, with a low, suffocating cough, which now and then broke the silence, she seemed to be throwing up quantities of blood from what appeared an alarming hemorrhage.

A gentleman, whose neat apparel and fresh benevolent face somehow spoke “physician!” leaned over the woman, with an expression of anxiety, which appeared to be subdued by great effort of a trained will. He bent lower, and in an almost whispered voice, said:

“My dear madam, you must restrain yourself. This hemorrhage continues beyond the reach of any remedies, so long as you permit this violent excitement of your maternal feelings to continue. Let me exhort you to patience—to bear the necessary evils of your unfortunate condition with more patience!”

The only answer was a slow despairing shake of the head, accompanied by a deep hysterical groan, which seemed to flood the napkin at her mouth with a fresh effusion of blood, which now trickled between her fingers and down upon her breast.[Pg 32] The humane physician turned, with an uncontrollable expression of horrified sympathy and alarm upon his face, and snatching a clean napkin from the table, gently removed the saturated cloth from the clutching pressure of her fingers, and tenderly wiping the blood from her mouth and person, left the clean one in her grasp.

“Be calm! be calm—I pray you! you must some day escape his persecutions. You have friends; they will assist you to obtain a divorce yet, and rescue your child from his clutches. Do, pray now, be calm!” The voice of the good man trembled with emotion while he spoke, and the perspiration started from his forehead.

At this instant the door was suddenly thrown open, and a tall, gaunt man, with a very small round head, leaden eyes, and a wide ungainly mouth, with a projecting under jaw, singularly expressive of animal stolidity, paused on the threshold and coolly looked around the room. The woman sprang forward at the sight, as if to rise, while a fresh gush of blood poured from her mouth, bedabbling her fingers and the sheet. The physician instinctively seized her to prevent her rising, but, resisting the pressure by which he gently strove to restore her head to the pillow, she retained her half-erect position, and with eyes that had suddenly become strangely distorted, or awry in their sockets, she glared towards the intruder for an instant, and then slowly raising her flickering hand, which dripped with her own blood, she pointed at him, and muttered, in a sepulchral voice, that, besides, seemed choking:

“That is he! see him! see him! There stands the monster who would rob me of my babe, as he daily robs me of money.” Here the blood gushed up again, and she was for a moment suffocated into silence, as the object of her denunciation stood perfectly unmoved, while a cold smile half lit his leaden eyes. This seemed to fill the apparently dying woman with renewed and hysterical life. She raised herself yet more erect, and still pointing with her bloody, quivering finger, while her[Pg 33] head tossed to and fro, and the distorted eyes glared staringly out before her, she spoke in a gasping, uncertain way, as if communing with herself. “The wretch taunts me! my murderer dares to sneer! O God! must this always continue? must that brute always follow me up and down in the land, to rob me of the money that I earn—to be my tyrant, my jailor! He will not give me money to pay postage even, out of that I earn abundantly, while he is earning nothing. He will not give me clothes to keep me decent, while I earn enough. He will not give my child shoes to wear, though he is trying to take her from me!”

“That is a lie, Etherial! you know I gave the child a new pair yesterday!” gruffly interposed the man at this stage of the deeply tragic soliloquy, while he stepped forward towards the bed. A choking scream followed, and the blood was spattered over the spread as she fell back screaming—

“Take him away! take him away! He is killing me with his brutality!” and then her head sank in sudden collapse upon the pillow, and the face, which had heretofore looked singularly natural in color, for one in such a dreadful strait from hemorrhage, turned livid pale, while the blood continued to pour upon the pillow from the corners of the relaxed mouth.

The poor physician, whose frame had been shivering with intense excitement during this interview, sprang erect, as the form of what he supposed to be a corpse fell heavily from his arms, and with the natural indignation of a feeling man, fully roused at what he considered the murderous brutality of the husband, rushed forward, and seizing him furiously by the collar, shook and choked him in a perfect ecstacy of rage, shouting, at the same time—

“Unnatural beast! monster! You have killed that poor child at last! murdered your own wife, whom you swore to nourish and protect! Infernal villain! you ought to be drawn and quartered—hanging is too good for you! You saw the terrible condition of the poor victim of your brutalities when you came, yet you persisted! In the name of humanity, I send[Pg 34] you hence! Death is too light punishment for you!” and he hurled the unresisting wretch—who, by this time, had grown perfectly black in the face under the rough handling of this roused and indeed infuriate humanity—staggering out of the door—and closing it upon him, he proceeded to apply such restoratives as on an examination the real condition of the patient suggested.

A short and anxious investigation proved it to be rather a state of syncope than actual death; and, with a full return of all his professional caution, skill and coolness, he applied himself to the restoration of his patient, with a heart greatly relieved by the discovery that the result he so much dreaded was not yet, and hugging to his kindly breast the consolation “while there is life there is hope!” He paid no attention to clamorous knocks for admission and loud-talking excitement, which the violence of the preceding scene had no doubt caused in alarming the house. In a short time the good doctor cautiously unbolted the door and came forth from the room, treading as though on egg-shells. After leaving careful instructions with the landlady that his patient, who now slept, should under no pretence be disturbed, most especially by the husband, until his return, as her present repose might prove a matter of life and death, he left the house, promising to call again in two hours.

For one hour the woman lay calm and motionless on her gory bed, as if in catalepsy, when to a low, peculiar knock at the door, she sprang up, wide awake, and in the apparent full possession of her faculties.

“Who?” she asked, in a quick, firm tone, as she threw the hair back from her eyes.

To the low response, “I, love!” she stepped quickly from the bed and snatched a shawl from the back of a chair, and by several rapid sideway movements of her feet at the same time, thrust the bloody napkins which strewed the floor beneath the bed, where they would be out of sight, and by a movement[Pg 35] almost as swift, threw a clean “spread” over the blood-stained pillows and sheet, then drawing her large shawl closely over the stained dressing-gown in which she had risen, she rushed first to the glass, and smoothed her hair with an activity that was positively amazing, and then to the door, which she unbolted on the inside—showing that she must have risen to bolt it immediately as the doctor passed out—and admitted a man who was in waiting.

“Ah, my soul’s sister! my Heaven-bride! how is thy spiritual strength this evening?” and at the same time, as her yielding form sank into his outspread arms, he pressed her lips with his, adding, “I salute thy chaste spirit!”

“Brother of my soul, I was weary, but now I am at rest. I was wounded and fainting by the way, but the good Samaritan has come!” and she turned her eyes upward to his with a melting expression of confiding abandon.

“Angel!” accompanied by a closer and convulsive clasp, was the response.

“What do they say of poor me again, to-day, those cruel wicked people outside?” she asked, with eyes still reverentially upraised to his, as they moved slowly with clasped arms towards the cot, on the side of which they sat, she still leaning against his bosom.

“My good sister, they say what evil spirits always prompt men to say of the good, who, like the Prophets, are sent to be stoned and persecuted on earth. You should not regard such. There are those who know you in the spirit, to whom it has been revealed through the spiritual sense, that you are good and true, as well as in the right, and through such, you will find strength of the Father.”

“Oh, you are so strong in spiritual mightiness that you do not sympathise with the weaknesses of we humbler mortals! I wonder, indeed, how you can forgive them?” and her downcast eyes were furtively raised to his. The man wore his hair thrown back over his head and behind his ears. He drew himself up[Pg 36] slightly at this, and stroked back his locks, then placing his hand with patriarchal solemnity upon her bowed head, proceeded in a somewhat louder tone. “My simple child—my soul-sister, I should say, you are hardly upon the threshold of the true wisdom. Your knowledge of the law of spiritual correspondence is yet too incomplete for you to understand how entirely good has been mistaken for evil, and evil confounded with good in the world. For instance—it is called evil by the ignorant world, for a brother man to caress thee in the spirit as I have caressed thee but now. The imaginations of a world that lieth in evil are impure. ‘Evil to him who evil thinks!’ The great doctrine of correspondence teaches that there are two lives—the spiritual and the animal. The passions of the animal are in the fleshly lusts; those of the spiritual are in no wise such, they are in the Heavenly sphere, they are of love and wisdom. Thus, my caress in this Heavenly sphere is of no sin to thee, for by and through it I convey to you, my spiritual sister, the strength of love and wisdom for which your heart yearns. Thus—”

As he stooped his head to renew the unresisted caress, the door flew open again, and the man with the wide mouth, the hideous chin and the leaden eye, stood again upon the threshold, and as the affrighted pair looked up they saw he was backed by the curious faces of half-a-dozen chambermaids, jealous of the honor of the house, flanked by the indignant landlady and a score of prying, curious, sharp-eyed faces, which might be recognised at a glance as belonging to those pickled seraphs of reform, known as “free-spoken” spinsters in New England.

“There, they are at it!” shouted the man with the gaping mouth. “I told you so! I told you that Professor was always kissing her!”


“There they are, sure enough!”

“I always thought so!”

“The honor of my house!” bristled the landlady, striding forward. “I did not expect this of you, Professor!”

[Pg 37]

“Madam!” said the gentleman with his hair behind his ears, striding forward as he released the suddenly collapsed and seemingly lifeless form he had just held within his embrace, and which fell back now heavily upon the pillow-spread, which was instantly discolored by a new gush of blood from the mouth. “I was administering, with all my zeal, spiritual comfort to this poor, sick and dying sister, when you burst in! See her condition now!”

He waved his hand towards the tragic figure. “The Professor” occupied a parlor on the first floor, beside two bed-rooms adjoining this, and being on the palmy heights of his renown and plenitude of purse, it was not convenient for the landlady to quarrel with him at present. “Ah, if that is the case, Professor, I beg you to pardon us. The husband of this woman has misrepresented you and your beneficent motives, and accuses you of all sorts of improprieties. We came up, at his urgency, to see for ourselves, and the shocking condition in which we find her now, proves that the ravings of the husband are, as she has always represented them, insane.”

“I’ve seen you kissing her before!” roared the husband, advancing threateningly upon the Professor, who, however spiritual in creed, did not now appear particularly spirited, as he turned very pale, retreated backwards, and holding up his two trembling hands imploringly, exclaimed—“Hold! hold! my dear brother! It was a spiritual kiss! I meant you no harm, nor that angel who lies there dying! Our kiss was pure and holy as the new snow. Hold him! hold him! Don’t let him hurt me! I am a non-resistant! I am for peace!”

“Your holy kisses! I don’t believe in your holy kisses!” gnashed the enraged husband, still following him up with warlike demonstrations; but here the easily appeased landlady interposed once more, to save the honor of her house in preventing a fight.

“No blows in my house!” she shrieked, as she threw herself between the parties. “The Professor is a man of God,[Pg 38] and shall not be abused here; shame on you, Aminadab, with your poor, persecuted wife there, dying before your face! Everybody will believe what she says about your persecutions now!”

“Bah, you don’t know that woman! she’s no more dying than you are!” grunted the fellow, whose wrath fortunately seemed to be of that kind that a straw might turn it aside. All the women rolled up their eyes and lifted their two hands at this speech.

“What a brute!”

“The horrid, murdering wretch! and she bleeding at the mouth, and from the lungs, too!”

“Lord save the poor woman’s soul, with a husband like that!”

And other speeches of like character were ejaculated by all the women present.

At this moment a fresh effusion of blood, accompanied by a low groan, from the mouth of the suffering patient, flooded the clean spread with its purple current, and the horrified females rushed from the room, screaming—

“He’s killed her at last, poor thing!”

“Where’s the doctor?”

“She’s dying of his brutality—run for the doctor!” At this moment, with a hasty and heavy step, that gentleman was heard advancing along the passage, followed by a crowd of pale, frightened-looking women. He strode into the room.

“What now?—what’s to pay?” and his eye fell on the trembling form of the brutal husband, who had by no means forgotten the rough handling he had received, and now skulked and quailed like a whipped cur, as his eye saw the instant thunder darken on the brow of the doughty doctor.

“You here again—you brutal fellow? I shall instantly bind you over to keep the peace toward this unfortunate woman, whose life you are daily endangering by your brutalities. Take yourself off, sir!” Aminadab waited for no second invitation, but availed himself of the open doorway.

[Pg 39]

Without noticing the spiritual professor, who had drawn himself into as small space as possible in one corner, the good man advanced to the side of his patient with an anxious, flurried manner.

“What can that besotted wretch have been doing to her again?” and he gently placed his fingers upon her pulse, and shook his head gravely as he did so.

“Very low! very low, indeed!—nearly absolute syncope again! This is horrible! How sorry I am that I was compelled to leave her for a moment.”

“Is she really in danger, doctor?” asked the spiritual professor, advancing with recovered assurance.

“Who are you, sir?” he said, looking up sharply. “One of these officious fools, I suppose?” Then glancing his eye around at the crowded doorway, he straightened himself hastily, and exclaimed—

“Leave the room, all of you—she must be quiet—I wish to be alone with my patient! Leave the room, sir, I say!” in a sterner voice, as the spiritual professor hesitated on his backward retreat.

“I—I—I p-pro-test against the impropriety!” he stammered forth, looking back at the women, with a very pale face, as he accelerated his backward movement before the steady stride of the resolute doctor.

“Out with you, sir—I will answer for the proprieties in this case!”

The door was slammed in the ashy face of the spiritual professor, and securely doubled-locked before the doctor returned to the bedside of his patient.

The bleeding from the mouth had now ceased. All the usual remedies in such cases having so far entirely failed, the puzzled doctor had come to the final conclusion that the hemorrhage—be its seat where it might—was only to be subdued by a restoration of the patient to the most perfect repose. Sleep, calm, unbroken sleep, to his sagacious judgment and sensibilities,[Pg 40] seemed to offer the sole alternative to death. He had been impressed by his patient that her constitutional tendencies were, by a sad inheritance, towards consumption, and the loss from the lungs, of such quantities of blood as he had witnessed, was well calculated to fill his professional mind with horror and dread. The case had thus appeared to him a fearfully uncertain and delicate one, and this sense may fully account for the stern and unusual procedure of turning even the husband out of the room on the two occasions we have mentioned.

As her physician, he felt himself bound to protect his helpless patient against those moral causes of irritation which he had been led to believe existed, not only from her reluctant disclosures, but from what he had himself witnessed. Believing that her beastly husband was the chief and immediate cause of this fatal irritation, he had felt himself justified in his rough course towards him, and was now fully and resolutely determined to protect what he considered a death-bed—providentially thrown into his charge—inviolate from farther annoyance, from whatever quarter, at least so long as he held the professional responsibility. In this resolute feeling, and as the day was warm, he threw off his coat, raised all the windows, and sat himself quietly down beside his patient to watch for results.

The eyes of the kind man very naturally rested upon the object of his solicitude, and after the first excitement of anxiety was over, and he had settled calmly into a contemplative mood, he first became conscious that there was something strangely fascinating in the position of the nearly inanimate figure. He had never before thought of the being before him as other than a very plain, but much-afflicted woman, by whose evident physical calamities, no less than her private sufferings, he had been strongly interested.

She had told him her own story, and he had believed her, thinking he saw confirmation enough in the conduct of those she accused of ill-treatment; but the idea of regarding her as attractive in any material sense, had never for an instant crossed[Pg 41] his pure soul. Now there was an indescribable something in her attitude, so expressive of passion, that, in the pulseless silence, he felt himself blush to have recognised it.

Her arms, which he now remembered to have been bare in all his late interviews with her, were exquisitely rounded and beautifully white, and he could not but wonder that he had not before observed the strange contrast between them and the plain weather-beaten face. They looked startlingly voluptuous now, contrasted with the pallid cheek which rested on them, and the glossy folds of dark hair in which they were entangled. So strikingly indeed was this expression conveyed, that even the purple stains of blood upon the spread beneath would not divest him of the dangerous illusion. The good doctor felt the blood mount to his forehead in the shame of deep humiliation as he recognised in himself this wandering of thought.

What! could it be that one so habitually pure in feeling as he, could permit the intrusion at such an hour of impure associations? Such things were unknown to his life, so disinterested, so spotless, so humane. What could it be that had caused such feelings to possess him thus unusually? It could not be possible she was conscious of the position in which her body was thrown. Was there some strange spell about this woman—some mysterious power of sphere emanating from that still form, that crept into his blood and brain with the evil glow of these unnatural fires?

The poor doctor shuddered as he turned aside from the bed, and, with a soft step, glided to the window, and there seating himself, strove to recover the command of his thoughts by distracting them with other objects in the busy street.

The good man was on grievous terms with himself, as he continued to beat the devil’s tattoo on the window-sill with his heavy fingers. He felt alarmed, nay, even guilty. He knew not why. We shall see!

[Pg 42]


And after all the raskal many ran,
Heaped together in rude rabblement.
What intricate impeach is this?—
I think you all have drunk of Circe’s cup!

The woman continued, with calm, regular breathings, to sleep for several hours. The dusk of evening had now closed in, and yet her patient guardian sat silently watching her motionless figure. A long and serene self-communion had gradually restored the excellent doctor to his ordinary equanimity, and he now, with untiring vigilance, awaited the changes that might supervene in the condition of the patient.

After all his thinking on the subject, he found himself now no nearer comprehending the cause of the late unwonted disturbance of his habitual serenity than at the beginning. He had dealt harshly with himself, in endeavoring to account for it, and never dreamed of reproaching the feeble and wretched being before him, as in any degree the conscious agent of what he considered a weakness unpardonable in himself.

With the natural proclivity of generous souls towards the extremes, he had, in the plenitude of his self-reproach, proceeded to exalt the sleeping woman into an earth-visiting angel with wounded wings, the spotless purity of which the breath of his darkened thought had soiled. The poor, good-hearted doctor!

The silence of the room was now broken by a low exclamation of fright, accompanied by a slight movement of the patient. The doctor sprang forward softly to the bedside.

“Who?—what?—where am I? What has been happening?”[Pg 43] asked the woman, with an expression of bewilderment and alarm.

“Nothing! nothing, my dear madam! I am here—you are safe—but you must not talk.”

“Where is he? is he gone?” she persisted in a wild, terrified manner.

“Yes, he is gone. He shall not come back to disturb you again. You must be quiet now, and get well. Please be calm, and trust in me.”

“Trust in thee?” said the patient, in a voice which had instantly lost its vague tone. “Trust in thee, thou minister of light, who hast come to my darkened pillow, to my bloody death-bed, to console me!” and here she clutched his hand. “Trust thee—I would trust thee as I trust God!” and she pressed his hand to her heart.

“You must be silent, madam,” urged the physician, endeavoring to extricate his imprisoned hand, for he felt strange tinglings along his veins, which alarmed his now penitent and vigilant spirit. She only shook her head, and clung with yet greater tenacity to his hand, and then, first raising it to her lips with a reverential kiss, she placed it upon the top of her head, with the palm outstretched, and signified her desire that he should keep it there, with a smile of entire beatitude. The doctor barely knew enough of mesmeric manipulations, to understand that this laying-on of hands was commonly resorted to among the believers in the science, as a remedy for nervous headache. He could see no harm in the innocent formula, if it assisted the imagination in throwing off pain, and he very willingly humored his poor patient, in permitting his hand to remain there.

In a moment or two a singular change came over the face and general physical expression of the woman, and the doctor, who had witnessed something of mesmeric phenomena, instantly recognised this as clearly presenting all the symptoms of such a case. He had mesmerised her by a touch, and it was not without[Pg 44] a thrill of vague wonder that he awaited further developments.

There was a perfect silence of ten minutes’ duration, when the mesmerised patient began moving her lips as if in the effort to articulate. The curiosity of the doctor was now fully aroused—his will became concentrated—he desired to hear her speak; in his unconscious eagerness, he willed that she should do so with all the energy of his firm nature; and speak she did.

“Happy! happy! Ah, I am content in this pure sphere! My soul can rest here!” a long pause, then suddenly a shudder vibrated through her frame, and she shrank back as one appalled by some spectral horror.

“Ha! it is all dark now! I see! I see! his hand is red! red! red! red! There is murder on this soul!”

The doctor sprang up and back as if he had been shot. His face grew livid pale, and he trembled in every joint, while with chattering teeth he stammered—

“Woman! Woman, how know you this?”

“I see it there—that huge red hand! Now all is red! There! there! I felt it must be so! The pale and golden light breaks through! It spreads! It fills and covers everything! His heart did no murder—it was his hand! He can be redeemed! This soul is pure!”

The poor doctor sank upon his chair and groaned heavily, while he covered his face with his hands. He spoke, in a few moments, in an almost inaudible tone, to himself, while the woman, who had suddenly opened her eyes, turned her head slightly, and watched him with a sharp attention.

“Alas! alas! how came this strange being in possession of the fatal secret of my life? I believed it buried in the oblivion of thirty years. My life of dedication to humanity, since, I thought might have atoned for that quick sad deed! Yes! I struck him! O, my God—I struck him! but the provocation was most fearful! Woman, who and what are you, that you should know this thing?” and with a vehement gesture he jerked[Pg 45] his hands from before his eyes, and turning swiftly upon her, he met the keen, still glance of those watchful eyes, which shone through the subdued light of the room, steadily upon him. The doctor was astounded! He sprang to his feet again, exclaiming angrily—

“What shallow trick is this? You seemed but now in the mesmeric sleep, and mouthed to me concerning my past life, and here you are, wide awake! How came you with the secrets of my life?”

The woman answered feebly, and with a sob that at once touched the gentle-hearted doctor, and turned aside his wrath—

“You took your hand away—you would not let me speak. Place your hand upon my head again, and I will tell you all.”

The troubled doctor re-seated himself with a shuddering reluctance, and renewed the manipulation.

In a few moments she appeared again to have sank into the sleep, and commenced in that slow, fragmentary manner supposed to be peculiar to such conditions:

“I see! The dark shadow is on this soul again! It is of anger and suspicion—they are both evil spirits! They strive to make it wrong the innocent! It is too holy and pure to yield! I see the golden light fill all again! The bloody hand is gone. No stain of crime remains upon this soul. It will be pardoned of God. This soul needs only human love. Through love it can be made free before God! All the past will be forgiven then—the red stains will fade! A sudden anger made it sin. Love can only intercede for this sin. Love will intercede! It will be saved!”

Here her voice became subdued into indistinct mutterings, and the doctor drew a long breath as he withdrew his hand—

“Singular woman! How could all this have been revealed to her? She must commune with spirits in this state. My story is not known to any here. I never saw or heard of her, until sent for as a physician, to visit her in this house. Strange that this fearfully passionate and repented deed should thus rise up in my[Pg 46] path, thousands of miles away, amidst strangers, who can know nothing of me! Oh, my God! my God! Thou art indeed vengeful and just!” and the miserable man clasped his hands before his eyes and moaned. “It was my first draught of love and life. He dashed it! I was delirious in my joy, while the beams rained from her eyes into my hungry soul—hungry of beauty and of bliss. He dashed it all, and in the hot blood of my darkened madness I slew him! Oh, I slew him! His shadow, that can never be appeased, though I have given body, and soul, and substance, to relieving the sufferings of my race since that unhappy hour—it rises here again! It haunts me! Yes! yes! I feel that love alone can make me strong once more, to bear such tortures! But have I not denied myself such dreams? Have I not with dedicated heart walked humbly since in self-denying ways? Have I not clothed the orphan, fed the poor and nursed the sick? Have I not ministered amidst pestilence, and held my life as of none account that I might bring good to others? Can I be forgiven? No! no! The Pharisee recounts his holy deeds and thanks God that his life is not sinful as another man! I am not to be forgiven! I shall never know those dreams of love!”

The strong man bowed his frame and shook with agony. Could he but have looked up, a keen, quick gleam from the eyes which had been so steadily fixed upon him during this painful soliloquy, would have struck him as conveying the ecstacy of a sainted spirit over a soul repentant—or of some other feeling quite as exultant.

This curious scene was, however, most unexpectedly interrupted at this moment, by a loud yelling from the street below. The clamor was so sudden, and yet so angrily harsh, that both parties sprang forward in the alarm it caused—the woman, springing up into a sitting posture on the bed, and the doctor to go to the window.

“What is it?” she exclaimed wildly, as she tossed back her hair. “What do these cruel people want to do to me now?”

[Pg 47]

The doctor, who saw at a glance the meaning of what was going on below, and the necessity of keeping his patient cool, turned to her, with a very quiet expression—

“Do not be alarmed, madam. It is merely some disorderly gathering of rowdies, in the street below. There is no danger to you—only do not get excited, or you will bleed again. I am here to protect you.”

“Then I am safe!” was the fervid response, which, however, was followed by a roar so sullen and portentous, from the infuriated mob underneath, as to leave some doubt of its truth even upon the mind of the doctor.

“Down with the amalgamation den!”

“Down with the saw-dust palace!”

“Tear it down!”

“Let’s lynch the wretches!”

The response to speeches of this sort, from single voices, would be a simultaneous burst of approbation from the great crowd, and a trampling and rush to get nearer the building. It seemed a formidable sight, indeed, to the doctor, as he looked down upon this living mass of men, surging like huge waves tossed against some cliff, while the torches, that many of them bore, glared fitfully upon the upturned, angry faces.

A powerful voice, which rose above all the tumult, exclaimed with a hoarse oath, as the speaker turned for an instant towards the crowd, from the top of the front steps—

“Let us burst open the door and lynch every white person found with a negro. Here goes for the door!” and he threw himself furiously against it, while a perfect thunder-crash of roars attested the approbation of the dangerous mob. The door resisted for a moment, when there was a sudden yell from the outside of the mob, nearly a square distant—

“Here! here’s what’ll do it! pass ’em on!” and the alarmed doctor saw immediately the portentous gleam of fire-axes, which were being passed over the heads of the crowd towards the door, and in another instant the crash of the cutting would[Pg 48] commence. The doctor, as we have seen, was a very prompt man. He thrust his head out of the window, and in a loud, commanding voice, shouted—


The man at the door, who had just received the axe, and was in the act of wielding it, paused for an instant, to look up, while the whole sea of faces was raised toward the window, amidst a moment’s silence, of which the doctor instantly availed himself—

“Gentlemen, do you war upon women? I have a female patient here, in this room, at the point of death! If you proceed, you will kill her!”

“Who is she?” shouted some one, while another voice, in a derisive tone, yelled out amidst screams of laughter—

“Is she Rose? Rose? de coal-brack Rose? I wish I may be shot if I don’t lub Rose!”

Amidst the thunders which followed, some one shouted from a distant part of the mob, to the man with the axe—

“Go on, Jim! It’s all pretence with their sick women!”

“Down with the door—they don’t escape us that way! Look out for your bones, old covey, when we catch you!”

The axe was again swung back, but the doughty doctor still persisted—

“Stop!” he shouted again, in a tone so startling for energy of command, that the axe was again lowered.

“Are you Americans? Have you mothers and sisters?”

“Yes, but they ain’t black gals!” gibed one of the mob, and set the rest into a roar once again.

“I appeal to you as men—as brothers and fathers, do not murder my poor patient!”

“Who is that noisy fellow?” bellowed a brutal voice below.

“I am a physician! I have nothing to do with this house or its principles; I only beg to be permitted to save my patient!”

“What is your name, I say?” bellowed the hoarse man again. “Out with it! We’ll know you—some of us!”

The name was mentioned. There was a momentary pause,[Pg 49] and a low murmur ran through the crowd; then shout after shout of applauding huzzas.

“We know you!”

“Just like him!”

“Noble fellow!”

“The good doctor! Huzza! huzza!”

And so the cry went up on all sides, for the doctor’s reputation for benevolence was as wide as that of John Jacob Astor for the opposite trait.

There seemed to be a vehement consultation among what appeared the leaders of the mob, which lasted but for a moment or two, when one who stood upon the top step looked up, and in a firm, respectful voice, said to the doctor—

“It’s all right, sir, about you! We shall let the women pass out! But you must clear the house of them!”

“But it is dangerous to move my patient.”

“We cannot help that, doctor; we do this for your sake, not theirs, for they ought every one of them to be burned, and we are determined to abate the nuisance of this house. So hurry them along here quick, for the boys will not keep quiet long.”

“Yes, hurry them women along; we’ll let them go this time.”

“All but that lecturing lady (?), who says that she would as soon marry a negro as a white man!”

“Yes, all but her; we want to be rid of such creatures; let’s duck her in the Hudson.”

“No, boys, we will make no distinction. We have promised—let the woman go.”

“Down with the lecturing women and their black lovers!”

“Duck the hag! we’ll wash off the scent for her!”

Cries such as these convinced the doctor that indeed no time was to be lost, particularly as the sound of the axe was now heard below in good earnest. Approaching the bed hastily, he took the shivering form of the panic-stricken woman, who had heard distinctly these last ominous cries, into his arms.[Pg 50] She clutched him with a desperate grip, while he hurried down the stairs.

On the way, he met the Spiritual Professor in the passage, surrounded by the women of the house, who were clustered about him, in the seemingly vain hope of obtaining from him something of that ethereal consolation and strength, of which he was the so much vaunted Professor. Indeed, he himself now seemed the most woful, of all the whimpering, terrified group, in want of any kind of strength, whether spiritual or otherwise; and his teeth literally chattered, as he clutched at the doctor’s passing arm.

“Wh—wh—what shall we do? They mean to burn the house, don’t they?”

“Do?” said the doctor, sternly, shaking off his grasp. “Try and be a man, if you’ve got it in you! Get these women out of the house, and take yourself off on your spiritual legs as fast as you can, or you may make some ugly acquaintances.”

The Professor still clung to his skirts.

“Oh Lord! the doctrine of correspondences does not sanction—”

“Go to the devil, with your correspondence, or I shall kick you out of my path!” roared the angry doctor, while the snivelling Professor, more alarmed than ever, slunk aside to let him pass. The crash and clatter from below now announced that the mob had effected an entrance from the street, and leaving the women, all screaming at the top of their lungs, around their doughty spiritual guide, he rushed on with his burden towards the front entrance, which had thus been taken by storm, and was now rapidly filling with excited men. Some were seizing the furniture, which they began to demolish, while others hurried forward to intercept him.

“It is the sick woman. Remember your promise; let me pass.”

“Yes, that’s the good doctor; let him pass, boys.”

[Pg 51]

“No, not yet!” roared a burly-looking ruffian, pressing through the throng. “We must see who it is he has got there. Who is she?” and he roughly dragged aside the shawl that partially covered her face.

“Monster!” shouted the excited doctor, “the woman is dying! Make way! Let me pass!”

“Not so fast!” said the ruffian, resisting his forward rush. “I shall see! I shall see! Boys, here she is! By G—d, this is she, that lecture-woman; she wants to marry a nigger, hah! We won’t let her go.”

“But you will!” said the doctor, releasing one arm, with which he struck the ruffian directly in the mouth, and with a force that sent him reeling backwards.

“Good! good!” shouted twenty voices; “served him right, doctor.”

The fellow had rallied instantly, and was rushing, like a wild bull, headlong upon the doctor, when several powerful men threw themselves between the two, seizing the ruffian at the same time.

“No, Jim, you stand back!” said one of them, brandishing a heavy axe before his eyes. “You touch that gentleman again, and I’ll brain you!”

“It’s a shame!” interposed others. “It’s the good doctor who nurses the poor for nothing. Doubt if he gets a cent for that creature.”

“Yes, if she was the devil’s dam herself, we promised the good man to let her go. Stand back, boys, and let the doctor pass.”

An opening was accordingly formed, through which the doctor hastened to make his way. When he made his appearance at the door, he was greeted with three wild, hearty cheers for himself, and as many groans and hisses for the character of the woman whom he bore, the news of the identification of whom had instantly found its way to the outside.

Regardless of all this, and only congratulating himself upon[Pg 52] the prospect of getting his patient off alive, he pressed rapidly through the crowd, with the purpose of bearing her to the shelter of his own bachelor home.

The mob now instantly occupied the building, which was gutted by them, and the shattered contents, along with its occupants, men and women, roughly hurled into the street. Some of the former were very severely handled, and among the rest, the Spiritual Professor had his share of material chastening. The mob found him under a cot-bed, with three or four feminine disciples of his spiritual correspondences piled over him, or clinging distractedly to his nerveless limbs.

They dragged him out by the heels, with his squalling cortege trailing after him, and finding that the occult professor of spiritualities had gone into a state of obliviousness, or rather fainted, they proceeded, in their solicitude for his recovery, to deluge his person with sundry convenient slops, which shall be nameless, and afterwards kicked him headlong into the street below, where the screaming boys pelted him with gutter-mud and rotten eggs, until, finding his spiritual legs, as he had been advised—it is to be supposed—of a sudden, he made himself scarce, down Barclay Street, in an inappreciable twinkle.

In a word, the people, in this instance, as in many others, when they have found it necessary to take the laws of decency and common sense into their own sovereign hands, did the work of ridding themselves of this most detestable nuisance effectually. The Graham House was broken up, and although the pestilent nest of knaves and fools who most delighted there to congregate, have endeavored, in subsequent years, to reassemble, and renew the ancient character of the place as their head-quarters, yet the attempt has only been attended with partial success.

The blow was too decisive on this night; for, although the walls were left standing, the proprietor was given clearly to understand, that the unnatural orgies of amalgamation would not be tolerated again by the community, under the decisive[Pg 53] penalty of no one stone left standing upon the other, of the building.

He took the hint, and it was about time! It has been fairly conjectured by this time, from the glimpses we have taken of the interior, that the house was the scene of other vices than those implied in amalgamation merely. It will be seen in yet other words and years how much there was of real danger to the well-being of society, in the doctrines taught and practised within its unhallowed walls. No one lesson could ever prove sufficient for these people; they enjoy a fatal impunity even now, and we shall endeavor that men shall know them as they are!


He strikes no coin, ’tis true, but coins new phrases,
And vends them forth as knaves vend gilded counters,
Which wise men scorn, and fools accept in payment.
None of these rogues and cowards, but Ajax is their fool!

That the world has dealt hardly by its heroes, is a truism we need not insist upon at this late day. But whether the world knows who its heroes are, is another question, and one more open to controversy. Now I insist that the world does not know, or else Boanerges Phospher, the Spiritual Professor, would long since have been stoned and persecuted into one of the holy company of saints and martyrs!

There are several kinds of heroism heretofore known among men. There is the fierce, aggressive heroism of the soldier and conqueror—there is the “glib and oily” heroism of the politician—the[Pg 54] calm, enduring heroism of the saint—the lofty, death-defying heroism of the patriot; but it remains for modern times to record the brazen heroism of impudence. Impudence, too, has its grades and degrees—its ancient types and its more modern ones—but as they all veil their brassy splendors, merging their separate rays in the central effulgence of our spiritual Colossus, we shall waive their particular enumeration in favor of the individualised impersonation of them all.

Ah, verily—and this is he!—our Spiritual Professor! Born in Yankee-land, of course, the earliest feat of Boanerges Phospher—literally, according to his own account of it—was to pry up a huge stone upon one of the sterile paternal acres: for what purpose, would you suppose? To place his feet upon the soil beneath, because the foot of no other man could have pressed it!

A laudable ambition, truly, but one which, somehow, unluckily, suggests that

“Fools may walk where angels fear to tread!”

It was a necessary sequence to the career of this modern Columbus of untrodden discovery, that we find his “first appearance upon any stage” to have been, while so pitiably ignorant as to be barely able to read his own language by spelling the words, and write his own name execrably, as Professor of Elocution!

Admirable! admirable! Why make two bites of a cherry? Why not step at once where no foot of such man ever trod before?

Shade of Blair! Look ye not askance at this daring intruder upon your classic company! He intends you no harm; he only means to re-fuse his brass back into copper s!

In lecturing on Elocution, our Professor, of necessity, gradually learned to read—with fluency, we mean—that is, he could “talk right eout,” like the head boy in a class, though it was in a nasal sing-song, more remarkable for its pietistic intonation than its rhythm. This was, no doubt, in a great measure owing[Pg 55] to the facility of whining he had acquired, in his more juvenile experience, as a preacher of some three or four different liberal sects. We class these as mere experiments, as purely preliminary trials of strength, before he entered the true arena of his professorship.

The professorship, to be sure, was self-instituted—self-ordained—and why not self-asserted? There were professors of hair-invigorating oils, professors of dancing, professors of rat-catching, professors of hair-eradication, professors of cough-candy, professors of commercial book-keeping and running-hand writing, professors of flea-powder and bug-extermination—and why not a professor of elocution? The very gutter-mud germinates professors in this free country! They grow like fungi out of wallowing reptiles’ heads; and who need be surprised, in America, at receiving the card of his boot-black, inscribed Professor Brush; his chimney-sweep, Professor Soot; or be appalled by the bloody apparition of a missive from his butcher, emblazoned, “Professor Keyser, Killer!”

No disrespect, mark you, is intended to be either understood or implied, for the gentlemen of the various professions above enumerated, for they are all respectable in their way, and to be respected, outside of their professorships. But that is rather a serious name, as we understand it—one that the world has been accustomed to look up to with veneration—proportioned, until these “modern instances,” to the vast and profound learning which had made it, in the old world, the synonyme of almost patriarchal inspiration—the grand, firm, and stable bulwark of human progress, and its lofty future; of infinite science, and its clear, glorious myths!

This thing of learning seems so easy, that your starveling Yankee perceives no difficulties in the way, and glides into its penetralia “like a book,”—only that he never reads it! He is at once at home in all topography, as much as if he were in Kamtschatka, or the “Tropic Isles.” Furred cloaks or breadfruit leaves are all the same to him; he was born knowing, and[Pg 56] of course could not do less than know a great deal more about Kamtschatka and the “Tropic Isles” than their furred and fig-leaved denizens. Brass is the Yankee’s capital, and no wonder they made the great discoveries of copper on Lake Superior, so extensively patronised by New-light sages. It is the offset to California gold; for, while one promises an infinite supply of the substantial basis of commerce and all trade, the other promises to furnish, in perpetuity, the crude material of impudence.

We mean no insinuation in regard to the Spiritual Professor, however much he may have had to do, by “spherical influence,” in precipitating the discovery of this great mine of the metal so much in favor with the sages above mentioned—and the remainder of the sect to which the Professor belonged—the motto of which is, that, “Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings shall ye be confounded.” Yet we can freely venture to assert, that he had no connection whatever with those unfortunate commercial results, which, in the first place, nearly, if not entirely, swamped the great Patron of the enterprise. The mind of our Professor was necessarily not of that vast reach and generalising comprehension, which could lead to the Behemoth stride and wizard calculation of results, which had enabled his master thus confidently to speculate in so subtle a material.

The operations of our Professor were essentially minified; that is, their sphere and scope had been particularly narrow. He was heroic enough, Heaven knows; but then his heroism was of that dashing character which only required a patron to illustrate and make it known.

Having published a book upon this occult (in his hands) science of elocution, which was, of course, written for him by another party, he suddenly felt himself inspired with a new inspiration.

He had already taught men how to talk, and it now became necessary, and indeed spiritually incumbent upon him, to teach them how to live. He accordingly announced himself, forthwith, as Revelator-in-Chief of the spiritual mysteries of the universe.[Pg 57] Every reader will probably remember those flaming programmes of lectures which appeared, by the half column, in a New York paper, for a long period, daily, between ’43 and ’45. Mendacious impudence never vaulted higher! Our Spiritual Professor was in his glory now.

An illustrious man lived once in Sweden. He was humble, pure and firm. His astonishing works on scientific subjects left the mind of his period far behind him, utterly confounded by his direct and stringent elucidation of the most subtle of the purely physical laws. It seemed a miracle to them; they found their professional accuracy so far surpassed, that they durst not do more than wonder. Work after work of this amazing intellect came forth, dressed in a language, while handling such themes, common to the world of science.

Then came a sudden change, and this vast mind, which heretofore had dealt in simple demonstration with mankind, threw down its compass and its squares, and, in the language of humility, proclaimed itself a Medium. The God of Jacob and humanity had revealed himself to him, not in the burning bush of mystery, but in the lustrous quiet of a calm repose. He had talked scientific truth before, but now he spoke of spiritual things—a chosen Medium between God and man! His theme was far beyond all science. We have nothing to do with his wide postulate; his name was too sublime and venerable among the patriarchs of mankind, for me to speak of it otherwise in this connection, than in disgust and loathing of the profanation to which it has been subjected, in our country, by monkeyish and parrot-tongued ignoramuses.

Our learned and sagacious Professor of Elocution, happening to stumble upon some of the earlier translations of the works of Swedenborg, seized upon them with great avidity, and, as he had now learned to read without spelling the words out loud, he managed to get them by heart with most surprising facility, and, to the astonishment of Jew and Gentile, suddenly proclaimed himself an apostle of the new church.

[Pg 58]

To be sure, when one considers this undertaking in the abstract, it was rather a serious one; one indeed that would have appalled most men, as the works of Swedenborg really consisted of some forty-odd huge volumes, written in Latin, not a line of which the Professor could translate; and the hand-books he had fallen upon were merely translations of introductory compends. What though the field was one of the most prodigious in human learning—what though the themes were the highest that could occupy mortal contemplation—what though the patient diligence of an ordinary lifetime would scarce suffice intelligent persons for the studious comprehension of the truths taught by this wonderful man? it was all the same to the Professor; and, indeed, instead of being discouraged, he was rather encouraged, by the magnitude of the undertaking! An exponent of Swedenborg! Well, why not? He could spell words in three syllables!

Big with the prodigious discovery of his own capabilities and the new mine of doctrinal science, the learned Professor rushed precipitately into the ever-extended arms of his Patron saint, the nourisher and cherisher of empirics and empiricism. And why should he not be so, forsooth? It was cheap, not “too much learning,” that had made him “mad” as well! He too had found it to his account to scorn the decencies of a thorough education, and from a printer’s devil, with a mind that had fed upon scraps and paragraphs, had doggedly risen, through the help of the familiar demon of labor, which possessed him, into this position of Patron to all new-comers—provided they bore “new-lights” and coppers!

It mattered little to this self-constituted and unscrupulous dignitary whether the theme was new to the world, or only to himself; the latter was most likely to be the case with one who had probably never read a dozen books consecutively through in his life, and who, from gross physique, dress, habits, and mental idiosyncrasies, was necessarily incapacitated for comprehending the fine and subtle relations of truth; who, even with[Pg 59] the sovereign aid of the new-light Panacea, bran-bread, had seemed to be capable of digesting but a fragment of truth at a time, and that fragment, too, gobbled without the slightest regard for its relations to other truths.

Here was a happy appreciation with a vengeance!—was it knave of fool, or fool of knave—which? The question is interesting! At all events, the results were the same, so far as the public were concerned. It was forthwith announced that the Patron Saint, like some patient and watchful astronomer, sweeping the blue abyss of heaven with ever-constant glass, had suddenly discovered a new luminary—it certainly had a fiery tail, but whether it was going to prove a genuine comet or not, let the following announcement bear witness:

“Professor Boanerges Phospher lectures to-night in the Tabernacle, which it is thought may possibly contain some small portion, at least, of the enormous crowd which will of course assemble to hear his profound and luminous exposition of the mysteries of the universe. The doctrine of correspondences, as propounded by the learned Professor, reveals the true solution of all problems which affect the relations of mankind to the spiritual world. Indeed, his enormous research and unappreciable profundity have at length enabled him to solve the problem of the universe, which he, with the most luminous demonstration, will educate even the infant mind to comprehend with sufficient clearness, in five easy lessons, or lectures on every other night, at one dollar each. The whole subject of man, in his eternal relations to God, to the spiritual world, and to the earth, will be mathematically expounded to the full comprehension of all.”

Here follows the programme:

“Professor Boanerges Phospher undertakes to show in the lecture of to-night, That in the universe there are these three things: end, cause, and effect; that infinite things in the infinite are one; that they constitute a triune existence—they are three in one; that the universe is a work cohering from firsts to lasts.

“That Good is from a twofold origin, and thence adscititious.[Pg 60] That celestial good is good in essence, and spiritual good is good in form. That the good of the inmost Heaven is called celestial; of the middle Heaven, spiritual; and of the ultimate Heaven, spiritual, natural. That good is called lord, and truth servant, before they are conjoined, but afterwards they are called brethren. That he who is good is in the faculty of seeing truth, which flows from general truths, and this in a continual series. That good is actually spiritual fire, from which spiritual heat, which makes alone, is derived.

“That all Evil has its rise from the sensual principle, and also from the scientific. There is an evil derived from the false, and a false from evil.

“That gold sig. the good of love. When twice mentioned, sig. the good of love, and the good of faith originating in love.

“That influx from the Lord is through the internal into the external. Spiritual influx is founded on the nature of things, which is spirit acting on matter.

“That physical influx, or natural, originates from the fallacy of the senses that the body acts on spirit.

“That harmonious influx is founded on a false conclusion, viz.: that the soul acts jointly and at the same instant with the body. That there is a common influx; and this influx passes into the life of animals, and also into the subjects of the vegetable kingdom. That influx passes from the Lord to man through the forehead—for the forehead corresponds to love, and the face to the interior of the mind.”

To be followed by questions in the correspondences by any of the audience who may choose to ask them, such as, To what does “horse” correspond?—To what does “table,” “chair,” or “soap-stone” correspond?—To what does “hog,” “goose,” “butter-milk,” or “jackass” correspond? &c., &c. To all of which questions the learned lecturer will give edifying answers from the stand. Admittance, one dollar—Children, half-price.

This is a long programme, to be sure, and somewhat overwhelming to we common people, who have been in the habit[Pg 61] of regarding certain subjects with the profoundest veneration, and our modest and capable teachers with reverence. But the very length of this programme, and the enormous stretch of the themes, only go, I suppose, to illustrate the hardihood of our “admirable Crichton,” the professor of the occult—and the genial and the generous—to call it by its lightest name—gullibility, of his gaping audience.

Forth went these flaming announcements day by day, on thousand hot-pressed sheets, until New York became all agog, and the great mass conceived that they had found a new prophet. All its spectacled and thin-bearded women forthwith were in arms; the Professor wore his hair behind his ears, and, of course, was the soft and honey-sucking seraph of their dreams.

He could be indeed nothing short of seraphim-revealed, for he discoursed with them in winning tones of mists and mysteries. He told them bald tales of angels with whom he had been on terms of intimacy; for he sagaciously kept his master, Swedenborg, mainly in the background throughout.

Representing himself as the individual recipient of these revelations, from the spherical ladies who wear wings, and who are habitually designated as angels by both the sexes, on our little clod of earth, our champion became, of course, the hero of all such semi-whiskered maidens or matrons, who, though essentially “pard-like spirits,” were yet, to reverse the words of Shelley, more “swift,” alias “fast,” than “beautiful!” It is, of course, to be comprehended that beauty is comparative as well as wit, and we would no more be understood as insinuating that these thinly-hirsute virgins and dames, who at once constituted the principal audience of the mighty Professor, were themselves in any degree deficient in sympathy either with the man and his profound doctrines, or the man per se, than that we would assert they understood one word of what he mouthed to them, with his hair behind his ears.

Boanerges Phospher, the Spiritual Professor, was successful, and never was there anything so professionally brilliant as the[Pg 62] crowded houses that he nightly drew. The immense Tabernacle seemed a mere nut-shell; he could have filled half-a-dozen such houses nightly. The mob had grown excited by the novelty. The paper of the Patron Saint, at so many pennies a line, day by day, continued to prostitute its columns to this vulgar trap of silly servant-maids and profound clerks.

The Professor’s lectures were attended by countless swarms of inquirers after truth, who, as they were willing to accept a spoken for a written language of which they knew nothing, permitted him to stumble through propositions, which, in themselves, were so ridiculously absurd as even to disarm contempt in the wise, and make denunciation harmless as superfluous.


Famine is in thy cheeks,
Need and oppression stareth in thy eyes,
Upon thy back hangs ragged misery.
There’s no more
Mercy in him than there’s milk in the male tiger.

The bowels of Boanerges Phospher, the Spiritual Professor, were possessed of such extraordinary capacity for yearning over the fallen and lost condition of his brothers of mankind, that, not content with saving them by wholesale, and nightly, in those marvellously spiritualized lectures, his indomitable energies took up the trade of “saving” men individually and by detail.

This, let it be understood, was done between times, by way of recreation, just to keep his hand in. Let us follow him on one of these errands of mercy.

[Pg 63]

In a poor garret of Ann Street, New York, might have been seen, about these days, a young man, seated in a rickety chair, beside a dirty pine table, which was plentifully strewn with manuscripts covered with many a tedious column of figures and mysterious-looking diagrams.

You saw at once, from the disproportionate size of the broad, white, bulging brow, which brooded heavily over large mournful eyes, and thin, emaciated features, that he was a mathematician; possessing one of those precocious and enormous developments of the organs of calculation, which are so apt, when not diverted by other occupations and excitements, to consume rapidly the feeble fuel of life in their consecrated fires.

A wretched cot-bed occupied one corner of the room, which was likewise strewn with papers and books on mathematical subjects, while on the mantel lay scattered little heaps of dried cheese and crusts, which seemed so hardened, that no tooth of predatory mouse had left its mark thereon.

The young man was dressed in entire conformity with the miserable appearance of the room. His thin and silky hair hung in lank, clammy locks about his shockingly pallid features, as he leaned forward on his elbow, his forehead resting heavily on his thin hand, as he pored over the papers before him.

“Ah me,” muttered he, “this horrid poverty!” and he threw down his pen and sank back with a faint, despairing movement.

“My brain is giddy with this dizzy round of figures, figures. My weary calculation is nearly done, but my over-tasked brain sickens. Ah, but for just one good meal, to strengthen me for a few hours, and I could finish it—finish my glorious work!”

At this moment a rapid step was heard ascending the creaking stairs; the door flew open rudely, and, without any announcement, the Spiritual Professor, with his hair all nice behind his ears, came bustling forward toward the table, beside the fainting young student. Rubbing his hands at the same time in prodigious glee of anticipation, he exclaimed—

[Pg 64]

“Ha! my son! my spiritual child! how is it with you? Have you finished? Is it done?”

The poor student shook his head slightly, and muttered feebly—

“No, no; I cannot finish it.”

The eager face of the Professor turned suddenly very blank and very white at the same time, as, straightening himself, he stammered out—

“Wh-what! c-cannot finish it! You must finish it! you shall finish it!” and then continuing with greater vehemence, without apparently noticing that the weary head of the poor being before him was slowly drooping yet lower—

“Here’s a pretty business, to be sure! This is the reward I am to get for all I have done for you—for all my efforts to advance you in the world—for all the heavy expenses I have incurred in bringing you on from Cincinnati, and supporting you here! The evil spirits must have re-entered the boy! Have I not striven for these six months faithfully, with all my spiritual strength, to drive them forth, that I might save him? The boy must be born again—he must be regenerated once more. Cannot finish it! He must be chastened, to rebuke this evil spirit in him; he must be reduced to bread and water. I must recall my liberal allowance for his food; he has been living too high. The evil demon has probably entered him through a meal of fat pork!” and the spiritually outraged Professor sniffed with an indignant and eager sniffle, that he might detect the presence of the forbidden food.

The poor youth, in the mean time, had been slowly sliding from his chair, and, as the Professor turned aside with the air of an injured cherub, the body lost its balance, and the fainting youth fell to the floor.

“Ha! what now?” shouted our cherub with the hair behind his ears, springing into the air with a nervous agility, as if he in reality wore wings. He placed himself on the opposite side of the room in a twinkling, and then turning his face, ghastly with[Pg 65] fright, exclaimed, “I thought the house was coming down!” and seeing the prostrate body, he walked around it as cautiously as a cat crouches, and, with a stealthy inspection, peered into the half-open eyelids, at the upturned eyes, but without touching the body.

“Wh-why, the fellow’s gone and died! There goes my great speculation!” and springing back suddenly, he rushed towards the table, and seizing convulsively the papers, ran his eye eagerly over them, while his hands trembled violently; and his lips turned as ashy blue as those of the poor victim at his feet, while, with an expression of despair, too unutterable for words to paint, he groaned out in frantic exclamations—“No, no, no, it is not finished; nobody else can do it but him! I’m ruined! I’m ruined! Oh, my money’s gone—my money’s gone! To think that he should die, after all I’ve done for him—after all my liberality! O! O! O! booh! booh! hoo!”

At this melting crisis, a slight noise caused him to turn his head; the apparent corpse was drawing up one foot, and making some other feeble movements, which showed that life was not entirely extinct.

At this sight the eyes of Boanerges flew open as wide, in a stare of ecstacy, as they had before been stretched in horror, until their suffusion “with the briny,” as Mr. Richard Swiveller would say, had caused them to momentarily wink.

“Why, he ain’t dead yet! my speculation is safe. Some water! Where’s some water? Get some water!” and he ran peering and dodging around the room with an uncertain air, as if the new influx of joy had bewildered his seraphic mind. After some little delay he found the pitcher, which had been standing all the time in full view, within three feet of him; he wildly dashed more than half the contents into the face of the victim, who instantly drew a long sobbing breath, and in a moment or two opened his eyes.

This so increased the ecstacy of the Professor, that he now ventured to kneel beside him, and, in his eagerness, forgetting[Pg 66] to use the tumbler that was standing near, he nearly crushed the poor student’s teeth down his throat, in his awkward endeavors to administer drink to him from the heavy pitcher—exclaiming, during the process, “Drink! drink! my son. Don’t die, for Heaven’s sake! Remember my liberality—my generous sacrifices to advance you in the world. Remember our almanac—your great work, that is to make your fortune. Remember how you have been saved!”

“Starved, you mean,” feebly whispered the young man, whom a few draughts of the precious fluid had rapidly revived.

“St-a-a-r-r-ved! does he say?” yelled Boanerges, shrinking back as if horrified, and nearly dropping the body he was supporting from his arms. Then, suddenly releasing one arm, he smoothed back his hair gently; that radiant, angelic expression of sweet humility, for which it was so famous among the female part of his select and nightly audiences, overcame his face as with a halo, and leaning down, so as to look into the eyes of his victim, he asked, in a liquid voice, “My son, have I—have I—thy spiritual father, starved thee?” and then tenderly he gazed into his eyes. With a look of assured self-satisfaction that those siren tones had done the business, he silently awaited the answer to the gentle and rebukeful question. But no answer came to the sweet, lingering look; the young man only closed his eyes heavily, and shuddered.

“My son, my son!” continued the Professor, in yet more grieved and meek, and dulcet tones. “My spiritual son, have I starved thee? have I not been generous to a fault, and even to wronging the beloved child of my own loins? This room, these writing materials, this tumbler, this pitcher, that delightful bed, are they not all my free-will gifts to thee for thy own advancement, to enable thee to glorify God in thy works? Have I not rather saved thee from starving? You had nothing when I took you up, to patronise your genius, and bring you before the world; and now you have plenty! See, see, your mantel[Pg 67] is even now crowded with bread and cheese, that you are wasting here in the midst of such superlative abundance.”

The young man, at the mention of the bread and cheese, turned his head aside with an expression of bitter loathing and disgust.

“Pah!” he muttered; “the very name of it makes me sick; I have tasted nothing else for the last six months. That is what is killing me; my stomach can retain it no longer! Who can keep body and soul together on thirty cents a week?”

“Horror!” exclaimed the Professor, rolling up his eyes meekly. “To think of such frantic extravagance! And besides, my son, your spiritual strength should have sustained you—the success of your great work, the prospect of future glory! A man starve on bread and cheese! Why, who ever heard of such a thing? Why, when I was a boy of ten years of age, I started alone, on foot, to cross the Alleghanies, to make my way to the North to school. My father had moved West when I was very young. I started with only one loaf of white bread in my bundle, when the whole country was wild and full of bears and wolves. The wolves chased me, and I climbed a tree; they surrounded it, barking and gnashing their teeth, to get at me; there were five hundred wolves at least, but I in my faith kept my strength, and remained cool as Daniel in the lion’s den, until at last they kept me there so long, I fell asleep, when the limb broke, and I fell down into the midst of them; the wolves were so frightened, that they all took to their heels and ran away, leaving me safe. There is a specimen of the spiritual strength that faith gives, and should encourage you never to give up and faint by the way. Had you possessed more of such faith, my son, you would never have been stretched here, upon this floor, in such a condition, and talking about starving on bread and cheese. It is the soul, my son, the regenerate soul, that sustains the heroic man on earth, as I have so often endeavored to teach you.”

“Yes,” groaned the poor youth, with a gesture of impatience.[Pg 68] “The body must live too, and life cannot be sustained so long upon unvaried food.”

“Listen, my son!” said the patient saint at his head—“listen, and you shall hear what I accomplished on that single loaf of bread. I travelled on with my little bundle on my shoulder, containing the home-spun suit I was to wear when I arrived at school, and my loaf of bread. I travelled on till my clothes were all worn out, and my shoes full of holes, and my feet were so sore and swollen that I was afraid to pull off my shoes, for fear I should not be able to get them on again. So I waded across all the brooks and mountain streams with my clothes on, until, at last, one afternoon, when high up in the mountains, my strength gave out, and I laid me down in the howling wilderness, thinking I must die. The weather was very cold, and my clothes, all wet from crossing the streams, were freezing, and the dreaded sleepiness was coming over me, when a good widow woman, who lived with her children on the mountains, and was out gathering wood, accidentally found me. She took me up in her arms, and carried me to her hut, and laid me on her bed, where I slept all night. In the morning, when I opened my eyes, I saw her breaking the hot Indian-corn bread, and giving it to her children. I told her if she would give me some of her corn bread, I would divide my loaf of white bread with her and her children. She eagerly accepted the offer, for such a luxury as white bread had been long unknown to them, and that was my first speculation! While they ravenously devoured my loaf, I feasted upon her rich hot bread. My soul overflowed with delight as I witnessed their intense enjoyment of the meal I had been thus instrumental in bringing them, and I felt as if the Lord had thus enabled me to fully repay them for their kindness. I rose to depart, and the good woman, filling my bundle with a large piece of her hot bread, sent me, with her blessing, on my way rejoicing. Thus, you see, my dear son, how, through the spiritual strength which faith imparts, and which you so much need,[Pg 69] I was enabled to cross the Alleghany mountains alone, at ten years of age, with nothing but my loaf of white bread, and without so much as a bit of cheese, or a cent in my pocket, and attained to the great goal of my ambition, the school; and from whence, by the aid of selling an occasional button from my jacket, I have been able to rise to my present position as professor and patron of struggling genius.”[2]

[2] Incredible as it may seem, we pledge our personal veracity that this bald and silly narration, which appears to be merely a foolish burlesque, is a bona fide, et literatim, et punctuatim, transcript, as close as it is possible for memory to furnish, of stories that were, at least as often as five days out of the seven, related at the dinner-table at which Boanerges presided, to long double lines of gaping women, who, obedient to the irresistible spell he bore, had followed up this maudlin Proteus of Professors, as disciples of water-cure, through his latest metamorphoses, into physician of such an establishment in Boston. It was thus he exhorted them to faith, and encouraged his backsliders.

“Ah!” said the young man, “words, words! Give me to eat—I am starving!” and his head sank back once more.

The Professor again deluged him with water, and, profoundly surprised and alarmed that the honeyed eloquence of his sagacious narrative had proved unavailing in convincing his victim that he could and ought to live upon faith, came to the desperate resolution of being guilty of the extravagance, for once, of a small bowl of soup to resuscitate his victim, and depositing his head upon some books, though the pillow was equally convenient, he hurried off to the nearest eating-house, with his hands upon his pockets, which were overflowing with gold, as he was then in the meridian height of his prosperity.

The sequel to this particular story is a short one. The young man revived with the change of a single nutritious meal, and with it returned the courage of even the trodden worm; for he now stoutly told the Spiritual Professor that, unless he furnished him with ample means to support life, he would not touch an another figure of the immense and complicated calculations on which he had been so long engaged.

[Pg 70]

The Professor, of course, resisted to the last, and quoted the correspondences upon him, with desperate fluency. But when the young man coolly seized the manuscript on the table before him, and held it over the flickering flame of the miserable dip candle, which had now been of necessity lighted, the Professor sprang forward to arrest his hand, shrieking—

“I will! I will! for God’s sake, stop!—how much do you want?”

“Five dollars a week!” was the cold response, as the flame caught the edges of the paper.

“I’ll give it! I’ll give it! What fearful extravagance! My God! put it out!”

“Pay me five dollars at once,” said the other.

“Here it is—here it is!” and he jerked, in his excitement, from his pocket, a dozen gold-pieces of that value, and dashed them upon the table.

“Take your five dollars! put it out!”

The young man quietly swept the pieces within his reach into a drawer, which he at the same moment opened; and, extinguishing the margin of the manuscript, which had burned slowly from its thickness, he replied deliberately to the Professor, who had shrieked out—

“Do you mean to rob me?”

“No, sir! but I mean to keep this money, and if you approach me, I shall destroy this manuscript if it cost me my life. You have starved and outraged me long enough; you expect to make a fortune off my labors, and kill me with famine just as my work is done. But with all my humility, abstraction and patience, this is too much! I am roused at last, in self-defence, and you shall find it so!”

The Professor sank into a chair as if fainting, and for some moments continued to mutter, with more than the magnanimity of a sick kitten—

[Pg 71]

“To think! Robbed! All my generosity! The ruffian! Here, to my very face! What have I gained by saving him?”

This last expression was gasped out, as if the vital breath of the speaker was passing in the final spasm.

The scene need not be prolonged. The valorous Professor crept away, cowed beneath the cold, firm, lustrous eye of the now aggressive victim, whose enthusiasm for science and earnest self-dedication, had heretofore kept him blinded to a full realisation of all the monstrous iniquity which had so long been practised upon his abstracted, meek, and uncomplaining nature. He now determined to take his life into his own hands, and saw clearly through all the shallow and ridiculous pretence of patronage and “saving,” by which his single-hearted fervor had been beguiled.

In a few days it was announced to the Professor, whose faith and spiritual strength—the same that had scared off the wolves when he fell among them—had in the interval been restored to their equilibrium, that the great work was now completed, and the announcement was accompanied by a proposition on the part of the young mathematician to sell out to him entire his copyright share in the whole enterprise, at a price so comparatively insignificant, when the Professor’s own florid anticipations of future results were considered, that he sprang at the offer eagerly, and thus possessed himself at once of the “golden goose.”

The young mathematician disappeared, and the Professor was left exulting in the sole possession of what seemed to him, in vision, the nearest representative of the gold of Ophir, not to speak of California.

The idea of the young mathematician was, in itself, a practical one, and seemed rationally conceived.

We have used the word almanac, by which it was designated, but in reality it very poorly conveys the subtle and singular combinations which were here brought to bear upon a circular,[Pg 72] rotary surface, the aim of which was, to so far simplify the calculations of interest, wages, discounts, and a hundred other tedious and difficult problems occurring in complicated business affairs, that the merchant or banker had only to glance his eye down a line of figures, to ascertain in a moment results which would take him, by all the ordinary aids and processes, a long calculation to arrive at.

It was a brilliant conception, which must prove ultimately a most successful discovery of the young mathematician, and one which had cost him many years of careful analysis and profound observation. But as he handed over the perfected copyright to our astute Professor, who had just enough of button-trading cunning to perceive the immense practical results of the enterprise, without the slightest knowledge of the processes by which it had been perfected, there might have been noticed upon the face of his former victim, as he pocketed his paltry bonus, a slight sneer, which would have alarmed any one less gifted with occasional short-sightedness than our Professor has shown himself to be.

He made off with the documents in an ecstacy of triumph, and forthwith began making round purchases of paper, pasteboard, and other mechanical appliances necessary to his success, to the amount of thousands of his easily-got gains; and then as heavy sums were as rapidly expended upon the costly and difficult copper-plate engraving, which was to set forth in full the triumph, the undivided honors of which he now claimed, to the world.

There are few of the main printing-offices in the country that had not, or have not, that famous circular almanac hanging upon their walls. Unfortunately the Professor had been too eager to promulgate his triumph, and powerfully illustrated in this experiment the truth of the old aphorism, “The greater haste the less speed;” for it turned out, upon a close examination of the long and intricate series of calculations, by scientific men, that the fatal error of a single numeral ran throughout its[Pg 73] complex demonstration, and rendered its whole results utterly futile, without the enormous expense of cancelling the costly copper-plate, and the tremendous edition which had been already issued. The incorrigible ignorance of the Spiritual Professor had rendered him incapable of detecting the error himself, and he had thereby swamped effectually not only his magnanimous speculation in this particular case, but thoroughly dissipated the abundant proceeds of his more successful speculation in the spiritual correspondences.

This little accident threw him upon his shifts, but we shall surely find him upon his feet again hereafter.

Had not his starving victim subtly worked out a sublime revenge, in spite of the fact that he had been over and over again so thoroughly saved? So much for Boanerges and the young mathematician.


Thou hast thews
Immortal, for thou art of heavenly race;
But such a love is mine, that here I chase
Eternally away from thee all bloom
Of youth, and destine thee towards a tomb.
Fierce, wan,
And tyrranizing was the lady’s look.

A year, in the life of man, is a long time. Alas! what changes may it not bring about to any, the strongest of us, the most secure—those weary, dragging twelve months! Such a period has elapsed in the chronology of our narrative, since the scenes described as occurring at the Graham House.

[Pg 74]

It is late, on a dark stormy evening, and we will look into the well-stocked half library and half office of a handsome private residence in Beekman Street, New York.

The cushioned appliances of the most fastidious luxury of repose were strewed about the room in the strangest disorder of heaped cushions, fallen chairs, and out-of-place lounges; while books, surgical instruments, vials, dusty, crusty, broken, and corkless, all mingled in the desolate confusion which seemed to have usurped the place.

A shaded lamp stood upon the table in the centre of this chaos, and threw its light upon a large decanter of brandy and a glass beneath. A deep-drawn moaning sigh disturbs the deathlike silence of the room; and a broad, stout figure, which had leaned back within the shadow of a huge cushioned chair beside the table, reached suddenly forward and clutched the brandy-bottle convulsively. He dashed a great gulp into the glass, and then, with trembling hand, attempted to carry it to his lips. After two or three efforts, which proved unavailing from his excessive nervousness, he replaced the glass, muttering, “Curse this nervousness! It will not even let me drink my poison any more!” He shuddered as he turned his head away. “No wonder! how horribly the hell-broth smells!” He fell back into the deep chair again and was silent for some time, when, uttering from the depths of his chest that strange moan, he sprang to his feet.

“I must drink!” he gnashed, as, seizing the decanter again, he filled the tumbler to overflowing, splashing the dark fluid over everything on the table. “I shall die if I do not drink! I shall go crazy! I will not be baffled!”

Without attempting to raise it again to his lips, he bowed them to the brimming glass, and as the beast drinks, so drank he. Oh, fearful degradation! Where now is the strong man? that powerful frame would speak. After leaning the tumbler with his lips and trembling hands in a long, deep draught, he[Pg 75] straightened himself with an expression of loathing that distorted his face hideously.

“Paugh! Hell should mix more nectar with its chiefest physic! This stuff is loathsome, and my revolting nerves seem with a separate life to shudder as the new babe does to hear the asp hiss amidst the flowers where it sports! Paugh! infernal! that it should come to me in this short time, even as a second nature, to learn to feed on poisons! It was not so once; nature was sufficient, aye, sufficient, when the skies rained glory out of day, and the stars came down in beamy strength through night! But then! but then! Ah, yes! it had not become necessary then, that I should be s-a-v-e-d by human love!” and his features writhed as he prolonged the word.—“S-a-v-e-d! no! no! no heavenly guise of horrid lust to s-a-v-e me! The chaste and blushing spring came to the early winter of my sterile life that bloomed beneath its radiant warmth, and gladdened to grow green and odor-breathed and soft, and then! oh, horror! horror! I am strong enough to drink again. My nerves are numbed now; they dare not tremble.”

He seized the decanter once more, and then, with unshaking hand, conveyed the brimming glass to his lips, and after a deep draught threw himself upon the chair again, and drawing at the same time a glittering object from his breast, he leaned forward within the circle of the lamp-light to regard it as it lay open upon the table before him. This is the first time we have seen that face clearly—that haggard, pallid face. Ha! can it be? Those sunken, bloated cheeks! Those dimmed, hollow eyes, with leaden, drooping lids! O, can it be? Have we known that face before? God help us! The good Doctor! and only one year!

But see the change! His eye has rested upon that face before him. A miniature, beautifully executed. In it a charmed art has presided at a miracle! an arch seraphic brow all “sunnied o’er” by the golden reflex from its tangled curls, broken in beam and shadow, gracefully glanced a gay defiance in his eyes, from[Pg 76] eyes—so lustrous innocent! You dare not say they could be less than all divine, but that the sweet mouth spoke of earth, and every weakness of it, “earthy.”

See how the face of that sad and broken man is changing! those shrunk and heavy features are re-lit with life, as some dead waste with sunshine, suddenly. The bright, the tender past; the mellowed, mournful past, have mounted to the eyes and flushed those massive features once again. He seems as one transfigured for a moment, while he gazes. The glory of old innocence has compassed him about, alas! but for a moment! The tears pour flooding from his eyes, and blot the face whereon he gazes. A sob—that wild and piteous moan again—and the palsied wreck of the strong man falls back once more into his cushioned chair. A horrid, stertorous breathing, most like that of a dying man, fills the gloomy air of that dim room, and with ashy lips and fallen jaw, he sleeps! Ah, that seems a fearful sleep, with the tears, warm tears, still pouring, pouring down the rigid cheek!

The shaded lamp burns on, and fitfully the chaos of that room, here and there, is touched by its faint light. A slight sound, a rustling tread is heard, and in a moment, a woman, dressed in black, with a black veil about her face, and the umbrella which had protected her from the storm in her hand, stood beside the sleeper. She evidently had a pass-key, for she walked forward as one accustomed to use it at all hours and confidently.

“The beast! Drunk, dead drunk again!” she muttered. “I shan’t get the money I wanted to-night, that is plain! Curse his obstinacy! After all my trouble to save him, this is my reward! Worse and worse!”

She sprang forward eagerly as her eye fell upon the jewelled miniature that lay before him on the table, and snatched it up. “Ha! this will save me some trouble!” She turned it eagerly over in her hands, throwing back her veil at the same time, to examine the valuable case with vivid glistening eyes, that did[Pg 77] not seem to notice in the least degree the exquisite painting within.

“Ah, yes, this is great! Wonder the fool never let me know of it before! I should have had it in Chatham Street before this! Never mind, ‘never too late,’ I see! It saves me the trouble of exploring his pockets and table-drawers to-night, for what is getting to be a scarce commodity. Bah! what silly school-girl face is this? He is falling back to whine about the past. O, that’s all right. I’ll fill his decanter for him! He has done enough. He has fed me for a year. I’ll let the poor wretch off! Yes, I’ve saved him! I have feasted on him!” And she drew herself erect with a triumphant swelling of the whole frame, which seemed to emit, for the moment, from its outline, a keen quick exhalation most like the heat-lightning of a sultry summer sky.

She fills the decanter rapidly from a demijohn she drags from a closet in the room, and places it by his side. She pushes the water-pitcher far beyond his reach, and then steps forward for a moment into the light.

Have we ever seen that face before? No! no! It might have been—there is some resemblance—but this form and face are too full of arrogant abounding strength to be the same faint bleeding victim of ruthless persecution that we saw at first! No! no! It cannot be she! Ha! as she thrusts that jewelled miniature into her bosom and turns to glide away, I can detect that infernal obliquity of the left eye! O, dainty Etherial!

[Pg 78]


Her strong toils of grace.


Take we a glimpse now of another interior scene in the strange, mingled life of the great metropolis. In a bare and meanly-furnished but roomy parlor of a house in Tenth Street, near Tompkins Square, we find assembled, on one summer’s afternoon, a group of females. There are perhaps ten of them in all. The characteristic which first strikes the eye, on glancing around this group, is the strange angularity of lines presented everywhere, in faces, figures, and attitudes, except when contrasted with an uncouth and squabby embonpoint, which seemed equally at variance with the physical harmonies, supposed to be characteristic of the sex. What all this meant, you could not comprehend at first glance; but the impression was, of something “out of joint.” Where, or what, it was impossible to conjecture. Some sat with their bonnets on, which had a Quakerish cut about them, though not strictly orthodox. Some, conscious of fine hair, had tossed their bonnets on the floor or chairs, as the case might be. There was, in a word, a prevailing atmosphere of steadfast and devil-may-care belligerence—a seeming, on brow, in hand, and foot, that, demurely restrained, as it certainly was, unconsciously led you to feel that a slow and simultaneous unbuttoning of the cuffs of sleeves, a deliberate rolling up of the same, and a dazzling development of lean, taut tendons, corrugated muscles, and swollen veins, would be the most natural movement conceivable. Not that this bellicose sentiment, by any means, seemed to have found its proper antagonism in the forms and personalities then and[Pg 79] there presented; but that you felt, in the vacant reach and persistent abstraction of the expression, that the foe, at whom they gazed through the infinite of space, was not an Individuality, but an Essence,—a world-devouring element of Evil, with which they warred.

And warriors indeed they seemed—we should say Amazons—wielding, not the weapons of carnal strife, but those mightier arms with which the Spirit doth, at times, endow our race. As for the war they waged, whatever might be the power with whom they were engaged, it seemed to have been a protracted and a desperate one; for, verily, judging from the harsh lines that seamed the faces of those present, one would imagine them to be “rich only in large hurts!”

There were young women present who were clearly under twenty; whose foreheads, when they elevated their eyebrows, were wrinkled and parchment-like as any

“Painful warrior famoused for fight.”

Why this unnatural wilting? would be the certain question of the cool observer. What fearful wrongs have these women suffered? What “contagious blastments?” Is the wicked world arraigned against them for no just cause? Has it combined its respiring masses into one large, simultaneous breath of volcanic cursings, to be wreaked upon their unoffending heads alone? To be sure,

“Some innocents ’scape not the thunderbolt;”

and can it be that these, too, are “innocents?” It is true, physiology teaches that, when women wither prematurely, acquire an unnatural sharpness of feature, become

“Beated and chapped with tanned antiquity,”

before they have seen years enough for the bloom of the life of true maturity to have freshened on their cheeks and foreheads, there must be some cause for it. Common sense teaches, too, that that cause is most likely to be, originally, rather a physical[Pg 80] than a spiritual one—that mental aberration, dogged and sullen moods, one-ideaed abstractions, a general peevishness and fretful discontent, a suspicious unbelief in the warm-blooded genialities, and much enduring sympathies of those around them, whose lives are intact—or, in other words, who have held themselves, in health, through nature, near to God—must have its source in some evil not entirely foreign to themselves.

Ask the wise physician why are these things so? He will answer, God has so ordered this material universe, that, while we live in it, we must conform to its laws; that, however powerful our spiritual entity, our relations to this life must, to be happy, be normal.

But this is prosing. It may, or it may not, account, in part, for the combative and generally corrugated aspect of this conventicle of the “strong-minded,” to which we have been introduced. Now let us listen!

She to whom the place of presiding Pythoness seemed to have been, by general understanding, assigned, now solemnly arose, amidst a sudden pause of shrill-tongued clatter. She was very tall—nearly six feet. Her straight figure would have seemed voluptuously rounded, but that the loose-folded and wilted oval of her face suggested that the plump bust, with its close, manly jacket of black velvet, buttoned down in front, might owe something of its elastic seeming roundness to those conventionalities, à la modiste, and otherwise, against which her principles most vehemently protested. Her flaxen hair emulated the classic tie of any Venus of them all, on the back part of the head; while the effulgence of sunny curls flooded the very crow’s-feet in the corners of her great, cold, dead, grey eyes.

She shook her curls slightly, and spoke:—

“My sisters, we have come together this afternoon, not to talk about abstractions of right and wrong to our sex; for, upon all these elementary subjects, our minds are fully made up—all those inductive processes of which the human intellect is capable,[Pg 81] our minds have already passed through. Our opinions are irrevocably formed, our conclusions absolute! Woman is oppressed by man. She is denied her just rights. She is taxed, yet denied the privilege of representation. She is a slave, without the privileges of slavery! for, in the old slave-states, the possession of twenty, or thirty, or forty slaves gives to their master the faintly-representative privilege of an additional vote, while, to our tyrants, though each may hold, in reality, a dozen wives, the law grants nothing! Leaving us, in fact, not even the ‘shadow of a shade’ of a social or civil existence! We are thus reduced to a condition of insignificance, in relation to the active affairs of life and the world, that we have determined to be, both incongruous and insufferable.

“Man, our time-out-of-mind despot, has determined to reduce us to, and hold us within, the sphere of mere wet-nurses to his insolent and bifurcate progeny;—we must, forsooth, spawn for him, and then dedicate our lives to educating his procreative vices into what he calls manhood! We are wearied with the dull, stale, commonplace of nursery-slops, and of the fractious squallings of our embryo tyrants! Man must learn to nurse his own monsters, and we will nurse ours! We have declared our independence of his tyranny; our great object is to displace him from his seat of power! For six thousand years he has been our despot—our ruthless and unscrupulous tyrant! We have therefore a settlement to make with him—a long arrearage of accounts to be rendered.

“But we are weak, while he is strong! He possesses the physical force, and all the guarantees of precedence since time began, while we have only our own weaknesses to fall back upon—what they, in their surfeited rhythm, style ‘witching graces,’ and ‘nameless charms!’

“Well, we must use these against our obese foe as best we may. We must clip the claws and teeth of the lion, at any rate; and, in consideration that the whole World of Past and Present is arraigned against us, we must accept as our motto,[Pg 82] that of the only man who ever deserved to be a woman, Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits,

“‘The end justifies the means.’”

A small noise—a scarcely sensible “teetering” of pedal extremities upon the thin carpet, followed this “stern demonstration” of “woman’s rights,” from the accepted Priestess of the conventicle; when various exclamations arose from different parts of the room, such as—

“Right! right! End justifies the means, in dealing with the brutes!”

“They give us no quarter, and we will give them none!”

“Nurse their brats, forsooth!”

“We must circumvent them as we can, to obtain our ‘rights!’”

“Yes! yes! All stratagems are fair in love and war!”

Suddenly sprang to her feet a very emphatic, stout woman, straight and thick-set, with soiled cap, coarse, stubby, grayish hair, sparse, silvery bristles on her chin, gray, savage eyes, and large fists, which she brought down with a crash upon the frail chair-back which constituted the bulwark of her position. In a voice of creaking bass, she exclaimed—

“The sister is right—they are our oppressors; but it is because we have been cowards enough to yield them the supremacy; it is nothing but our own cowardice that is to blame. Man knows, as well as any other animal, on which side his bread is buttered; we have only got to learn him what and where his place is, and he will keep it. When I first married, I had some trouble with my Jonas; but I soon taught him that he had better be back again in the whale’s belly, than employed in trenching upon my ‘woman’s rights!’ (A general disposition to laugh, which was, however, frowned down by the dignified Priestess.)

“It is true, my sisters; we have only to assert our rights, and take them! Man will never dare to rebel, if we are resolute. Overwhelm him with our strength—make him feel his[Pg 83] littleness beside us, and he will slink into any hole to hide. I am myself in creed a non-resistant—(suppressed laughter.) I do not believe in pummelling truth into man; forced conversions do not last, and should not. But I will tell you what sort of conversions I do believe in; they are spiritual. Bow, bend, aye, break his spirit to your will, and then he is yours; instead of being slave to him, he is your slave. This is what we want. When he can be reduced to obedience, then he will be happy; for when he has accepted us as his spiritual guides, and no longer dreams of lifting his thoughts in rebellion, then will he always go right. They themselves are for ever confessing, that without us, as mothers, they would never—the greatest of them—arrive at any thing; that they owe it all to us—all their greatness, all their goodness. Let us take the hint, and hold the spiritual birch over them always, and they will ever remain obedient, for their own good.”

This speech was received with very general approbation; though, that all did not recognise it as orthodox, became immediately apparent. A tall, thin, cadaverous-looking lady, with excessively black hair, and eyes that literally glistered as she rose—the huge ear-rings and multifarious trinkets about her person quivering with excitement—exclaimed, in a shrill voice—

“It is false! it is not true that we desire to make slaves of man. We are opposed to slavery—to slavery of all sorts; and, although man deserves, on account of his oppressions of the poor negro, to be made a slave of, if human slavery were to be tolerated, yet we desire rather to return good for evil; and all we ask is equality in the Senate, in the Presidential chair, on the bench of justice, in the counting-house and workshop. We want our rights; our right to marriage as a mere civil contract—our right to choose with whom we shall enter into that contract, whether colored or white man, and our right to annul that contract when it pleases us. What kind of freedom is it, when, if I choose to marry a man of color, no matter how noble he[Pg 84] may be, I am to be mobbed and driven out of the society of my race; while, if I am so unfortunate as to marry a white man, who turns out to be a brute and tyrant, as he is most like to do, and attempt to rid myself of the horrid incubus, by leaving him, or by suing him for a divorce, I am equally mobbed by the hue-and-cry, and banished from society as an outlaw? We want our rights in marriage—we want equality. I can—”

Here the speaker was interrupted by a voice marvellously flute-like and lingering in its intonations:

“‘At which, like unbacked colts, they pricked their ears,
Advanced their eyelids, lifted up their noses,
As they smelt music.’”

And cold shoulders were simultaneously turned upon the dark-haired and be-jewelled orator of amalgamation.

The dulcet-toned interrogator, who, to the surprise of all eyes, appeared a squabby, cottony, pale-eyed, thick-lipped, lymphatic-looking personage, who wore a wig clumsily, and had no vestige of hair upon brow or violet eyelids, proceeded, in mellifluous phrase—

“We did not come here to talk about private grievances. The sister who speaks so fiercely of our rights, in regard to marriage, had better have had a little experience on the subject. She is, I should judge, considerably the rise of forty, and has never yet been married; not even to one of the dark-browed children of Ham, towards whom she exhibits so decided a leaning. Now, I have been married six times already—(great sensation,)—and to white men, and gentlemen, at that; and consider myself, therefore, qualified to speak of marriage. Marriage is a great blessing; let her try it when she gets a chance, and she will find it so! (much bristling and fidgeting, the dark-haired woman looking daggers.) It isn’t marriage that is the great evil, against which we have to fight—nor it isn’t the slavery of the colored race, either. It is the slavery of our own race, of our own kith and kin, of our own blood and complexion.[Pg 85] It is the emancipation of our own fathers, sons, and brothers, from the barbarous penalties of the penal code. Our erring fathers, sons, and brothers; it is their cause, my sisters, it is their cause we are called upon to vindicate. According to our brutal laws, one little frailty, to which we all may be subject,—one little slip, which any, the purest of us may make—subjects man to solitary incarceration for life, in which he is cut off from all loving communion with our sex; or to the horrible penalty of death by the rope! This, my beloved sisters, is the crying evil of the day; and man, cruel man, is in favor of such inflictions. We must soften his flinty heart, through our charms. It is our duty, it is our mission, to effect amelioration in favor of the erring classes. We are all erring; and in how much are we better than they?—except, that through our cunning, and in our cowardice, we have as yet escaped penalties which, under the same measure of justice, might as well have been visited upon us. I have visited the penitentiaries and prisons of many States, that I might carry consolation to the shorn and manacled children of oppression. I tell you that I have seen among them gods, whose shattered armor gleamed in light! I have seen Apollo, with his winged heel chained to a round-shot! I have witnessed more glorious effulg—”

“Hiss-s-s-s!” “Nonsense!”

“It was Mercury, the god of thieves, you saw with the round-shot at his heels!” said an oily voice; and, as all eyes turned in that direction, the forehead of the speaker flushed crimson while she proceeded—

“It is not man at all; it is we who shut ourselves up in tight frocks, who make hooks-and-eyes our jailors, and ribs of whalebone our strait-jackets! Let us first free ourselves physically, give our lungs and hearts room to play, and then we may talk about open battle with man for our rights. But, as it is, to speak thus, is nonsense. We are weak, while man is strong; we must fight him with other weapons than open force. While he laughs at our pretensions, let us, too, laugh at his foibles, and govern[Pg 86] him through them. It was to consult, as to some consistent and uniform system, by which we should be enabled to accomplish this result, that we came together this afternoon. It has been well said, that our motto should be, ‘The end justifies the means.’ To the weak and the determined, this is a sacred creed, and we should go forth with it in our hearts, and act upon it in all our relations towards men. It should be our business to get possession of them, body and soul. We need their influence, to advance our views, to obtain our rights. We should be all things to all men; should believe in the Bible, in Fourier, in Swedenborg, in Joe Smith, or Mahomet, if necessary, so that the influence be gained. We must seek out everywhere men who hold places of power and public influence, and win them—not to our cause, for that would be hopeless—but to ourselves; and through ourselves to our cause. We must not scruple as to the means; for ‘the end justifies the means.’ We must find, by whatever stratagem, art, or intrigue, that may be available, the assailable points in the characters of those who may be of use to us, and secure them, at whatever risk of reputation; for, as we will secretly sustain each other, we will at once dignify ourselves and our cause into the position of martyrdom, and be able to take shelter behind the omnipotent cry of persecution. There we are safe.”

“Good!” “Good!” “Right!” “Right!” “Just the thing!” burst from all sides of the room; while the weather-beaten face,—that is, the forehead,—of the lithe, glib speaker flushed with momentary exultation, while she continued, with still greater emphasis—

“Thus banded, my sisters, if we are firm, faithful, and enduring, we may conquer the world. There is never a period when there is more than a dozen men who wield its destinies. There are nearly a dozen of us here present, and there are other spirits that I know, resolute and strong enough, to be our associates; let us resolve, then, to govern those who govern; and the romantic fragments of the life of a Lola Montes will have been[Pg 87] firmly conjoined in the fact of a governing dynasty, the sceptre of which shall be upheld by woman.”

Storms of applause, during which the plain, Quakerish-looking speaker subsided into her seat. As she did so, there might have been observed, under the flush of exultation which mantled her brow, a singular obliquity of the left eye! Ha! Etherial!

[Pg 88]


’Tis he! I ken the manner of his gait—
He rises on the toe; that spirit of his
In aspiration lifts him from the earth.
A barren-spirited fellow! one that feeds
On objects, arts, and imitations.
This is a slight, unmeritable man,
Meet to be sent on errands.

We will now enter one of the upper rooms of the notorious Graham House, with the interior of which we have before been familiarised, and which had been reopened, on a modified basis. A single glance at the confused piles of manuscripts, books, and papers, scattered about the room and on the table, mingled with stumps of pens and cigars, and a long-tubed meerschaum, showed that it could be no other than the characteristic den of a literary bachelor, who, with chair and table drawn close to the stove, sat there to show for himself, earnestly engaged in what seemed to be the business of his life—writing.

You saw in a moment that this was not a Northern man, for in addition to the long, black, and wavy hair, the dark, bronzed, and vaulting features indicated clearly a Southern origin. He was evidently young—certainly not more than twenty-seven, judging, as one instinctively does, by contour of person and features, and not by the expression of the face. But that expression, when you saw it, as he lifted his head, at once left you in doubt whether it could possibly belong to so immature a[Pg 89] period of life. Although the brow was broad, and mild as that of a child, yet there was a solemn and unnatural fixedness in the whole face, which, united with the cold stillness of the great, gray, hollow eyes, told at once a dreary tale of suffering, which sent an involuntary shudder through your soul. Where the expression rested most, it was impossible for you to tell; but the feeling it conveyed was one of absolute horror. That a face, which seemed so young, should be one that never smiled!—And could the story that it told be true? Could it be that for years that face had never smiled?

A light tap was heard at the door, and, with a momentary frown of vexation at the interruption, he turned his head, and a young man entered the room, with somewhat hesitating step, which showed that he was by no means certain of his ground.

He was slight and thin, something below the average height, with even a darker complexion than that of the face we have just described; his black hair, and preternaturally black and vivid eyes, glittered beneath straight, heavy brows, which nearly met. His nose was prominent and partly arched; and there was, in the whole bowed bearing and cat-like gait of this person, an inexplicably strange and foreign look, which, alike in all countries, characterises that fated race which is yet an outcast among the nations.

His greeting was singularly expressive of eager appreciation, while that of his host to him was cold, distant, and merely polite. Pushing aside his writing materials, as he handed him a chair, Manton—for such was the name of our young writer—turned upon his visitor a frigid look of inquiry, and said, with a formality almost drawling—

“Doctor E. Willamot Weasel, I hope it is well with you this evening?”

His visitor, in rather a confused manner, commenced—“Ye-es, yes—I—I fear I am intruding on your seclusion; but p-pardon me, I cannot bear any longer to see you thus seclude yourself from all the amenities of social life. You need relaxation;[Pg 90] your stern isolation here with the pen, and pen alone, is playing wild work with your fine faculties. Pardon me, if I insist upon it, that you must and should accept the sympathies of the men and women around you. In the doctrine of unity in diversity, Fourier demonstrates that there is nothing more fatal to consistent development of both body and mind, than entire pre-occupation in a single object or pursuit.”

Detecting a shade of vexation, at this juncture, crossing the open brow of Manton, Doctor Ebenezer Willamot Weasel hastily reiterated his apologies.

“I beg of you not to mistake my zeal for impertinence. I have already received much good and many valuable truths from conversation with you, and I conceive myself under strong personal obligations of gratitude to you, that I hope may plead for me in extenuation of what you, no doubt, consider an impertinent intrusion. I would, as some measure of acknowledgment for such obligations, beg to be permitted to protest with you against this dangerous and obstinate isolation from all human sympathies, in which your life, dedicated to literary ambition, seems to be here fixed.”

“My good friend, Doctor Weasel, my life is my own, and my purposes are fixed. I need no sympathisers, since I am sufficient unto myself. They would only distract and minify the higher aims of my life. You may call it literary ambition, but I call it a settled and sacred purpose to achieve good in my day and generation. I am content, sir! Do not attempt to disturb that contentment!”

This reply was somewhat curtly delivered, and seemed to discompose the Doctor, who, however, hesitatingly persisted—

“Ah! ah! ah! yes! I expected to hear something of the sort from you, of course, but I beg you to consider that, under the harmonic law of reciprocation or mutual support and benefits, discovered by Fourier, and which lies at the base of all true organisation, you have no more right, as an individual, to hold yourself aloof, intellectually and socially, from the great body[Pg 91] of mankind who are working for your benefit as well as for their own, than a rich man has to lock up his hoards of gold, and bury it where future generations may not reach it! The social state can only exist by individual concessions in favour of the whole.”

“Your argument,” was the cold response, “like all generalising postulates aimed at particular cases, overleaps its mark. I consider that I shall effect more earnest good by persisting in this isolation against which you protest. For as I do not ask or require the individual sympathies of my race, but rather choose the still-life of undisturbed sympathy and communion with nature, I feel that I shall accomplish more, far more, for humanity, in thus dedicating myself to her interpretation. Through me, as a medium, my fellow men may thus learn far loftier truths than they themselves might ever impart reciprocally amidst the babble of what you call social intercourse.”

“But you do not exclude women, surely? That would be unnatural; for you know that the life of man cannot be completely balanced, without the ameliorating presence and subduing contact of woman. He becomes a savage without her; his passions are brutalised, and the man is spiritually and socially degraded.”

“An admirable truism, Doctor! I honor and revere woman; in her high place she is to us, emphatically—angel! But this very reverence in which I hold her, prompts me to avoid contacts that may despoil me of my ideal. I am prepared to worship her, but not to degrade or look upon her degraded. There is nothing, in the range of human possibilities, so hideous to me as such contact—for I would hold my mother’s image always uncontaminated. I am a stranger, sir. I make no female acquaintances at present here.”

“Sorry,” said the Doctor, “very sorry, sir; for my special mission in this case was to persuade you to give up your isolation, in favor of an acquaintance with a most noble and charming woman, a friend of mine, who, having met with your papers[Pg 92] in the journal you are now editing, is exceedingly anxious for an introduction, which I, in plain terms, have come to request. She is a woman of masculine and daring mind, and is taking the initial in most of the reform movements of the day, and particularly the most important of them all, the science of physiology as applicable to her own sex. She has taken the lead as the first lecturer on such subjects, and is accomplishing a vast amount of good. I am sure you will be much struck with her, and I never met two people whom I was more anxious to see brought together. You will appreciate each other, as physiology is one of your favorite subjects.”

“Bah! a lecture-woman! But I don’t mean to be disrespectful, Doctor. You could have told me nothing that would have more firmly fixed my resolution neither to be introduced to or know the person of whom you speak, on any terms whatever! Your manly-minded women are both my disgust and abhorrence!—as what they choose to call manliness is most usually a coarse and sensual impudence, based on inherent immodesty, which renders them incapable of recognising the delicate unities of propriety, either in thought or deed. I fully concede a woman’s capacity for displaying the great and even loftier processes of intellection; but the moment she unsexes herself, she and her thoughts become vulgarised. Such people are universally adventuresses, and of the most unscrupulous sort. I, as a stranger here, wish to run no risk of becoming entangled in their plausibilities. I am working for a full, free and frank recognition, by the social world, of my right to choose the place, the social circle rather, that I shall enter and become a part of. I do not wish to be dragged into such contacts, but to command them at my will!”

“But, sir,” persisted the Doctor, “she admires your papers so fervently, and pities the cruel and self-inflicted isolation in which you live, with such ardent, disinterested and motherly warmth, that you can scarcely, in your heart, be so obdurate as to reject her genial overture—the sole object of which is, to[Pg 93] draw you forth into some participation with the milder humanities—to make you feel that New York is not really the savage, base and flowerless waste which we are led to presume you consider it, from the attitude you have assumed toward its social conditions. You are killing yourself here with tobacco, wine and labour, while she would show that even self-immolated genius may find a warm place to nestle, in distant lands, and near the matronly bosom, in spite of cold and sullen self-reliance!”

“The fact of her being a matron,” frigidly responded Manton, “considerably modifies the general character of the proposition which she has done me the honor, through you, to communicate. But, Doctor, I must finally and definitively state to you that I do not, at present, wish to cultivate any female acquaintance whatever in the city of New York. I propose to wait until I can select instead of being selected.” And rising at the same time with an impatient movement, which might or might not, be mistaken for a desire to be left alone, Mr. Manton politely showed Doctor E. Willamot Weasel, who had now taken the hint, to the door.

Almost the same moment after his discomfited visitor left, Manton hastily gathered up the scattered leaves of manuscript on his table, and muttering, as he thrust the roll into his pocket, “Curse the intrusion! this ought to have been in the printers’ hands an hour ago, and yet it is not finished!” and snatching up his cap, he passed from the room, and left the house.

Not long after, there came a sharp ring at the door of the Graham House, and the female servant, who hurriedly hastened to open it, was quite as sharply interrogated by a woman on the outside, who was closely veiled, and wore a sort of Quaker garb—

“Is Mr. Manton in?”

“No, ma’am, he has just gone out.”

[Pg 94]

“Where is his room? I have a letter for him, which I wish to deposit in a safe place with my own hands. What is the number of his room?” she asked, in an imperative manner.

“Ma’am, the gentleman is out. Can’t you leave the letter with me or the mistress? We will give it to him when he comes.”

“No, I choose to place it myself. What is his number?” And as she spoke, she slightly unveiled herself. The servant seemed to recognise her face even through the dusk, and said, though rather sullenly, as she gave way for her to pass—

“Yes, ma’am, walk in. His room is No. 26, on the third floor.” The female glided rapidly past, and as the servant attempted to follow her, exclaiming, “Ma’am, I will show you the number,” she answered hastily, “Never mind, I know where the room is now!” and darted up the stairs.

The servant muttered some droll commentaries on this procedure, which it is not necessary to repeat, and seeming to be afraid to complain to her superiors, dragged herself surlily back towards her subterranean home.

In the meantime our light-footed and unceremonious caller had reached the third floor, and walked straight forward to the door of the room just left by Manton. She troubled herself with no idle ceremony of knocking, but walked confidently in.

[Pg 95]


Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican, with all his northern powers,
Besieged Albracca, as romances tell.
Paradise Regained.

An hour after the last scene, Manton returned to his room, and, seeming greatly hurried, lit his lamp, and throwing himself into a chair, seized his pen, muttering between his teeth, “It must be finished to-night! a man has no right to be tired!” He was drawing his writing materials towards him, to proceed with his work, when a something of strange disorder among his papers caught his quick eye.

“Ah! who has been disturbing my papers?” and as a flash of suspicion shot through him, he sprang to his feet, exclaiming, “my trunks, no doubt, have shared the inquisition!” and stepping quickly to them, he threw up the lids.

“By Heaven, it is so! what accursed carelessness this is of mine, leaving everything unlocked in this fashion!”

His first glance had shown him that the trunks had been disturbed, and a cautious effort been made to replace the contents as they were before. Uttering some energetic expletives of wrath, he knelt beside one to ascertain how far the examination had been carried, when, reaching the packages of letters and papers at the bottom, he saw there, too, unmistakable evidence of a pretty thorough examination having been held of their contents.

If he had been enraged before, this filled him with uncontrollable fury. He stamped his foot heavily upon the floor, and his whole frame shook violently, while with gnashing teeth he called down a fearful imprecation upon the head of this wretched[Pg 96] violator, whoever it might be, of the sad and mournful secrets of his past life, which he had held sealed in his own bosom, so sternly, so long, and, alas! so vainly. Those letters revealed all. Some prying reptile had thus slimed the holy penetralia of his proud life!

The very thought was horror—loathing! A shudder of unutterable disgust crept through him; an uncontrollable fury blazed through his soul; his eyes glittered with almost demoniac fire; his face turned deathly white, and his teeth ground and clattered like the clamp of a wild boar’s tusks, and yet he made no tragic start; he stood still, with his arms clutching each other across his breast, and his eyes looking out into the blank distance, through which their concentrated light seemed to pierce to some far object. He at length pronounced slowly—

“Yes, my curse shall follow you; be you man or woman, it shall overtake you in terror! I feel the prophecy in me! The wretch who has thus contaminated those chaste and loved mementoes, shall yet feel my curse! My consciousness is filled with it! I know not how, or when, or where! my curse shall reach and blast the author of this sacrilege!—bah!” and his face writhed into the devilish mockery of a smile; “it is almost sufficient vengeance, one would think, that the wretch found no money!”

Starting suddenly forward, he commenced pacing to and fro with long strides, with knitted brows, compressed lips, and eyes bent upon the floor.—For more than an hour he thus silently communed with himself, without the change of a muscle in expression, when drawing a long sigh, he threw off this frigid look in a degree, merely saying in a low voice, “My curse is good!” and returned to the table to resume his seat and his labors.

As he did so, his eye fell upon a note directed to himself, which, as it had been placed in no very conspicuous position among the objects on the table, had, till now, escaped his attention. He reached it, and the dainty crow-quilled hand of the[Pg 97] superscription, the snowy envelope, and the pure white seal, disclosed at once the woman.—He regarded it for a moment, coldly, and without any expression of interest or surprise, and with a slight sneer upon his face, broke the seal, when out slipped a gilt-edged note, which he opened and read aloud with a jeering tone:

Friend—May I not claim to be thy friend in common with the whole world, who have learned to love thee, through thy beautiful thoughts? Stricken, sad, and suicidal child of genius, may I not steal into the tiger’s lair of thy savage isolation, to bring one single ray of blessing, to tell thee how, at least, one human soul has throbbed to the seraphic eloquence of powers, that, alas!—I appeal to your inmost consciousness!—are being rapidly destroyed by your obstinate seclusion in labor, and by the vices of wine and tobacco, which are its necessary attendants. You have it in you to be saved; your soul is tall and strong as an archangel; your vices are the withes of grass that bind you; and love, social love, the calm and genial reciprocation of domestic sympathies, can alone redeem you.

You are proud—I know it! but pride will yield to gentleness, and in a distant land among strangers, the tearless, motherless boy, will not reject a mother’s proffer of a mother’s yearnings. You naughty, haughty child, we must save you from yourself, in spite of yourself!

Yours spiritually,

Manton, whose face had, during this reading, writhed with almost every conceivable expression, tossed the letter from him as he finished it, with the exclamation—“Pah! this must be Doctor E. Willamot Weasel’s lecture-woman! Impudent adventuress in every line, as I expected!” And he resumed his pen and his labors, continuing in a low voice as he commenced his writing—“Unfortunate allusion, by the way, to the withes of grass—we cannot help being reminded of a certain Mr. Samson, and a Miss or Mrs. Delilah. Curse her! how came[Pg 98] she to speak of my mother?” and grinding his teeth heavily, he proceeded with the work before him, without paying any further attention to the circumstance.

The greater portion of the night was spent in intense labor; but, when, after a very late bath and breakfast, the next morning, Manton went out to the office of the Journal for an hour, and returned, he was not a little surprised to find another missive, as neat and snowy as the first, awaiting him, on the table.

He thought it must surely be the first, that he had, in some unconscious mood, re-enclosed in the envelope; but, glancing around, he saw it lying open, where he had tossed it.

“Gramercy! but she fires fast!” he said, with a droll look passing across his features, as he stooped down, his hands cautiously clasped behind his back, to survey more closely the delicate superscription—Mr. Stewart Manton, Graham House, Present.

“Present! present! but this sounds rather ominous! Can it be that my spiritual correspondent of last night is an inmate too? My correspondent is evidently both in earnest and in a hurry! What shall I do? By my faith, I have a great mind to throw it upon the centre-table of the common parlor below, and let this benevolent lady reclaim her own, or else leave it to the irresistible access of curiosity, common to the sex, and peculiar to this queer house, to explore its unclaimed sweets. The first taste has quite sickened me. I have something other to do than listen to such inane twattle.”

He continued for some moments to gaze upon the letter, while a half-sneering smile played upon his grave and melancholy features. “Well, but this must be a quaint specimen of a feminine, to say the least of it! I have heard of these spiritual ladies before! The character must be worth studying, though it seems to be transparent enough, too. Well! we’ll see what she has to say this time, at any rate! It can hardly be richer than the first! Here it is!”

[Pg 99]

Friend—I know your heart. That proud heart of yours is at this moment filled with scorn for my poor words and humble proffers. But it does not affect me much, for well I know that this pride is the evil which ever strives in the unregenerate soul, to fence against the approaches of good. As yet this demon possesses thee, and, until conquered and humbled by love, you can never be saved. Thy physical life is poisoned—is poisoned with tobacco—and it is through such poisons that this evil spirit of pride enters into thy soul. Thy spiritual vision is thus obscured, that you may not perceive the truth. I shall pray for you. My spirit shall wrestle with thine when you know it not, and God will help his humble instrument. May He soon move that obdurate heart of thine, proud boy!


“Well! but this is cool! decidedly refreshing! This pertinacious creature is surely some mad woman confessed, as she certainly is a most raging and impertinent fanatic! Boy, forsooth! patronising. I should almost be provoked, were not the thing so egregiously ludicrous! Well, well! it is consoling, at least, that I have found my good Samaritan at last. I shall preserve these precious epistles, as decidedly curious memoranda of this original type of the Yankee adventuress, for Yankee she must be, who has set out thus boldly on a speculation in the spiritualities. I think I have had enough of this trash now, as I intend to take no notice either of it or of the writer. I should suppose she might get discouraged.”

The letters were thrown carelessly into a drawer, and Manton sat down to his work.

The next morning, when Manton returned from the office, at the usual hour, what should meet his eye, the first thing on entering the room, but a third snowy missive, placed now more conspicuously, on the very centre of the table. The poor man stopped, frowned, then gradually his eyes distended into a wild[Pg 100] stare, and lifting his hands at the same moment, he shouted out—

“Good God! What, another?” and then, with a sudden revulsion of feeling, he burst into a loud, unnatural laugh. “This is patience for you! By heaven! she dies game to the last! Well! let’s see what now, for I am beginning to be charmed with the progress of this thing. There’s an absolute fascination in such daring.”

He snatched up the note, and opening it, read it sotto voce, with an indescribable intonation of contempt:—

Friend—Ah, glorious soul, that I might call thee so indeed! I have just read your poem in the Journal. Read it, did I say? My soul has devoured it! Again and again have I returned to the feast unsated. Ah me, that mighty rhythm! It has filled me with new strength and light! On its harmonious flow the universe of beauty, love and life has been brought closer to me—has been revealed in splendor and unutterable music, until I have sobbed for joy thereof, and prayed and wrestled for thee, with my Father above, that thou mightest be saved. It is terrible to think that a soul so god-like as thine should be unregenerate. I bless thee! I bless thee, my son! I pray for thee! I am praying for thee! I shall pray for thee always, until thou art saved!


“Good! I am in a fair way for salvation now, one would think! This seems a strange character—such a mixture of fanaticism, cant, and, withal, appreciation! That poem of mine was certainly an extraordinary one. I hardly expected to find any one that would appreciate it at first. But see! she has already caught its subtle reach and meaning. Pooh! what a fool I am! This is perfectly on a par with all the other hysterical cant which I have received from this person. The probability is, if the lines had been written by Mr. Julian Augustus Maximilian Dieaway, upon whose soft sconce she desired to[Pg 101] make an impression (in the way of speculation), the same extravagant tropes and metaphors would have found their way to the snowy surface of this gilt-edged paper, through the delicately-handled crow-quill! Curse it! I shall order the chambermaid to stop the nuisance of these missives!”

This letter was impatiently tossed into the drawer with the others, and Manton threw himself into his chair; when, after sitting with his head leaning on his hands, moody and motionless, for some time, he suddenly straightened himself, and drew from the heap of magazines and books before him a fresh-looking copy of the —— Journal. Turning over its leaves eagerly to that which contained his new poem, he perused it and re-perused it over and over again, with an expression of restlessness and intense inquiry in his manner during the time. At last he drew a long breath, and threw the book back upon the table, exclaiming in a firm voice, “No! I am satisfied. This is no namby-pamby die-away rhyming—there is genuine stuff there; that is true poetry, or I have it not in my nature to produce it. That cursed meddlesome woman has made me distrust myself for the moment; by her extravagant praises, has made me doubt the genuineness of my own inspiration. Her letter is so evidently disjointed ranting, that it has shaken my self-reliance to have even read it. Curse her silly and impertinent legends, I shall read no more of them!”

Poor Manton was evidently troubled now, at length; and can the reader conjecture why this last letter had so excited him? Had a subtle arrow found its mark? Was there any thing in the poem really to justify the high-flown and ecstatic panegyrics of missive No. 3, in the snow-white envelope? You shall see—you shall judge. Here is a true copy of the poem:—


O soul, dream not of rest on earth!
On! forth on! It is thy doom!
Too stern for pain, too high for mirth,
On! thou must, through light and gloom.

[Pg 102]

Would’st thou rest when thou hast strength
Mated with the seraphim?
Time outlasting, all whose length
Fades, within thine ages, dim?
O strong traveller, can’st thou tire,
When, but touching at the grave,
Thy worn feet, re-shod, aspire,
Winged, to cleave as Uriel[3] clave?
Rest! ah, rest then! be alone—
God the Worker, thou the Drone!
Soon yon atom, swiftly driving
Past thee, in the upward race,
Braver for the perfect striving,
Shall assume the higher place.
God, the Worker, knows no rest—
Pause, and be of Him unblest.
Lo! how by thee all is flying!
Even matter outspeeds thee!
Stronger thou, yet thou seem’st dying—
Fading down immensity.
Rouse the quickened life to know!
God works subtly, work thou so!
Thou art subtler than the wind,
Than the waters, than the light,
Than old Chaos, whom these bind,
Beautiful, on axle bright.
Yet thou sleepest, while they speed—
God, of sleepers has no need!
Waiteth cloud, or stream, or flower,
Robing meadows and the wood?
Waiteth swallow past its hour,
Chasing spring beyond the flood?
Yet thou waitest, weak, untrue—
God rebuketh sloth in you!

[Pg 103]

Sing the stars wearily,
Old though and gray?
Spin they not cheerily
Cycles to-day?
Look they like failing,
Pause they for wailing,
Since none may stay?
Systems are falling—
Autumns have they;
Stars yet are calling
Life from decay.
Dead worlds but gild them
Dusted in light;
Dead times have filled them
Fuller of might.
Brightening, still brightening,
Round, round, they go—
Eternity lightening
The way and the wo!
De Noto.


“Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even.”

Paradise Lost.


——Once more to the breach, my friends!
Once more!
Old Play.

Poor Manton was not permitted to remain in peace at his labors long. On the afternoon of the same day, Doctor E. Willamot Weasel, scarcely taking time to announce himself by a sharp knock, bolted into the room, exclaiming—

“Ah! my dear friend, pardon me; but the lady concerning whom I spoke to you, is now in the parlor below, and requests the pleasure of an interview.”

[Pg 104]

A frown instantly darkened the brow of Manton, and he answered angrily—

“Sir! you will remember that I expressed to you, most distinctly, a disinclination for such an introduction. I told you I did not wish to know this woman, then, and I feel still less inclination to know her now.”

“But, a-ah! my dear sir, you would not surely be unkind enough to refuse to see the lady now, when she waits in the parlor, in momentary expectation of seeing you—for the servant told her you were in? It certainly can do you no harm to be courteous.”

“That’s a strong appeal to make to a Southerner, Doctor Weasel, it must be confessed.”

“Yes,” said he, rubbing his hands, “I thought you could not disregard it. I am so anxious to bring you together! Do come. I shall be delighted. Come! pray come! she is waiting.”

“Doctor Weasel, I do this thing with great reluctance,” said Manton, rising. “I suppose I must go; but rest assured, I do not feel particularly obliged to you for forcing me into this position.”

This was said in a very cold, measured tone; but the Doctor’s delight at the prospect of accomplishing his favorite and benevolent scheme, was so great, that his excitement prevented him from observing it.

“Never mind, come along; you will thank me for it, on the contrary, as long as you live.”

Manton left the room with him, and when they reached the parlor, he was rapidly introduced to Mrs. Orne and her daughter, who sat upon a lounge awaiting him. The Doctor instantly darted out of the room; and Manton was left vis-a-vis with his ecstatic correspondent.

As the woman rose to meet him, the blood mounted to her very plain face, and square, compact, masculine forehead. The child, which was an ugly, impish-looking girl, with a mean forehead,[Pg 105] wide mouth and projecting chin, nevertheless arrested the eye of Manton, as he sat down, by a mournful expression of suffering in her light gray eye.

The woman was evidently embarrassed for a moment, by the studied coldness of Manton’s manner, whose eye continued to dwell upon the half-quaker, and half-tawdry dress, rather than upon the face that had at the first glance impressed him so disagreeably.

“I have found you out, at last!” said the lady visitor, in a low, pleasing voice. “Now I have ventured into the tiger’s den, I hope he will not eat me!”

“You are perfectly safe, madam!” was the stiff response to this sally. “But to what may I owe the honor of this visit? Is there anything I can do for you?”

The blood mounted quickly to the woman’s forehead as she answered hastily, “Yes, I wanted to know if you can furnish me with a copy of all your works! I have admired with so much intensity what I have seen—but I am afraid you are very much of a naughty boy—you look so cold and cross! I am almost afraid to ask you!”

“I am very sorry, madam, I have written no works, as you are pleased to call them. What I have done is entirely fragmentary, and I have not collected those fragments even for myself,” was the unbending reply.

“Oh, yes, you have! I have seen many of them, and you need not be ashamed to own them, for there is nothing of the kind in literature to surpass them. Why, there’s ——,” and she ran on with a ready list of what she termed works, not a little to the surprise of Manton, who only listened with a cold stare, and bowed profoundly, as she concluded with a high-wrought panegyric.

“I am sorry I have no such works in my possession, nor can I tell you where they can be obtained!”

The woman grew very red in the face again, and bit her lips in vexation, while Manton remained silent. She soon rallied,[Pg 106] however, and commenced a conversation upon the general literature of the day, in which Manton, in spite of himself, was gradually interested, by a certain sharp epigrammatic method of uttering heresies, and bold paradoxes, which seemed to be peculiar to her mind, and which could not but prove refreshing to one, who, like Manton, most heartily detested commonplace.

He, however, did not unbend in the slightest, and the woman, who finally, in despair of “getting at him,” rose to depart, said, yet perseveringly, with winning badinage—

“I find you in a naughty humor to-day. You are as cold as an iceberg and sharp as a nor’wester. When you get to be a good boy, you may come and see me!”

“When I do, madam, I shall surely come!” was the response, accompanied by a very low bow, and delivered in a tone that would have frost-bitten the ear of a polar bear.

The discomfited woman hurried from the parlor with the blood almost bursting from her face, while Manton, turning on his heel, muttered—

“Well! if that does not freeze her off, she ought to be canonised!”


You call it an ill angel—it may be so;
But sure am I, among the ranks that fell
’Tis the first fiend e’er counselled man to rise!

Manton had reckoned without his host, in supposing that his self-constituted patroness had any idea whatever of being frozen off: on the contrary, her benevolent ardor had been only warmed still more, as he had abundant evidence, when, on returning[Pg 107] from his office next morning, he found yet another snowy missive crowning the centre of his table.

“Monsieur Tonson, come again!” he exclaimed, as he seized the note, and opened it this time without hesitation, “what can the incredible woman have to say now? Well, here it is!”

My Friend—You heaped ice upon my heart yesterday. To-day, I feel chilled and stiffened, as if my very soul-wings had been frosted through your lips! Why did you do so? It was not magnanimous in you. You are proud, and beautiful, and strong, while I am plain, and weak, and lowly. Was it worthy of a noble soul to treat with such harsh and cutting coldness a poor, feeble, and wayworn daughter of sorrow like myself, who had come merely in the meek and matronly overflow of tenderness and appreciation for a poisoned, sick and erring child of genius, to offer him her sympathy in his dreary and unrelieved immolation of glorious powers at the unholy altar of ambition? Was it not unkind of you? Can you suppose that had you not been poisoned, body and soul, the demon pride would have thus overruled your better and your angel nature to such harsh rejection of the comforter, the Father had sent you in his mercy? What have I asked of you, but that you should unbend this fatal pride, and accept of mortal genialities? That you should spare yourself from yourself, and give something to others. Ah! you will not always thus repulse the sympathies of your race—naughty, naughty boy! hasten to be good and come to see me!


“Well! well! by heaven, the audacity of this thing soars to the sublime! and yet there is some truth as well as pathos in it, too! Now, I come to think of it, it was unmanly of me to treat the poor woman so, just as if I expected she carried stilettoes or revolvers under her petticoats, or wore aromatic poison in her bosom, with a foul and treacherous design upon my life! The fact is, I have made a bugbear of this creature in my imagination, when she is nothing, in fact, but fool and fanatic combined,[Pg 108] with a little disjointed mother-wit. Curse the whole affair! I wish she and her endless letters were in the bottom of the sea! By these persistent impertinences she disturbs me in my work; these distractions are unendurable! I wish she were only safe in heaven.

It is useless to give all the letters which poor Manton received within the next four or five days, but it is sufficient to say that at last, in a fit of veritable desperation, spleen and humor, he answered one of the last in a tone of hyperbolical exaggeration that would have put to shame, not Mercutio only, but the veritable Bombastes Furioso himself. The effect was coldly studied, and behold the result.

The next morning a servant informed him that a lady desired to see him in the parlor.

Terror-stricken by the announcement, he nevertheless knew, in his conscience, that he had brought down the judgment upon his own head. He therefore felt it to be his duty to abide the consequences of his own imprudence, and went down to wait upon his caller, who, of course, was no other than his correspondent.

She received him with a flushing face, as seemed to be usual to her shrinking nature. She was this time without her daughter. There were other persons in the parlor, and this seemed to disconcert her somewhat, for she had evidently come full of some important disclosure. Although it was the latter part of winter, and a heavy snow had just commenced breaking up, which rendered the streets of New York almost impassable, she nevertheless proposed that they should go out for a long walk. Manton looked through the window into the sloppy street, opened his eyes a little, and assented.

There was something wonderfully rare in the idea of a woman’s proposing a long walk on such a day, and Manton relished the hardiness and originality of the thing.

“Well!” said he to himself, “I like her spunk, anyhow! She has shown herself in every way to be in earnest in what she[Pg 109] undertakes. Phew! I shall enjoy it! a woman in long petticoats, wading a mile or two through a cold slush such as this! After this, what is it that Madame won’t do? I’ll lead her something of a round, at any rate, before she gets back.”

These thoughts passed through his mind as he ran up-stairs for his cap. She met him as he came down, in the passage-way, and they passed out at the front door.

“You are a droll person,” said Manton, as they reached the street.

“Why?” asked she, with a covert gleam in her eye.

“Why? Because few women would have thought of choosing such a day as this for a walk.”

“I care nothing for trifles! Misfortune has taught me to disregard them. Suffering makes us hardy.”

Manton looked down at her with surprise; for, of all things on earth, the most disagreeable to him, was that commonplace timidity, and shrinking from trifles, which is so ludicrously characteristic of American women. He did not wish to see woman unsexed, but contemned her puerile and unnecessary cowardice.

His companion now proceeded with great animation to follow up the favorable opening thus effected, with a rapid and pathetic sketch, in outline, of her sad and suffering life.

She had been married by her parents to a sordid lout of a Quaker, in New England, whose horrid barbarities and persecutions had finally compelled the weak and hitherto unresisting woman to seek a separation, the scandal of which had roused against her the relentless animosity of the whole body of New England Quakers, who finally carried their brutal persecution to the extreme of assisting her yet more brutal husband, in robbing her of her dear and only child, under the plea that she was neither a suitable nor capable person to have charge of it. That, after a long period, spent by the distracted mother in roaming up and down the land, in search of aid and comfort, she had at length succeeded in enlisting some noble and benevolent souls[Pg 110] in her cause, who finally rescued the child, by strategy or force, and restored it to its weeping mother’s arms.

In addition to this sad tale of suffering connected with her private history, which was most skilfully and artistically worked up, she had another, of public martyrdom, which was, to Manton, far more impressive.

Through obscurity and poverty, this resolute and daring woman had dedicated herself to the amelioration of the physical evils of her helpless sex. She had, with unflagging ardor, studied the books of anatomical science, the diseases of her sex, and the wisest means of cure. And thus, in addition to having been the first woman in New England to publicly assert that there is no true marriage but in love, she had also led the way in announcing to women their sanitary duties to themselves; that they must learn to heal their bodies, and leave the other sex to take care of their own diseases; that delicacy as well as utility prompted this course.

This idea at once met the approbation of Manton, to whom its assertion was comparatively novel, but who had always deeply felt the lamentable helplessness of woman, and the unnatural relation of the male members of the profession to them.

The brave and hearty manner in which this singular woman had evidently breasted alone the popular prejudice, in a cause which he saw, at a glance, to be so just and nobly utilitarian, for the first time moved his sympathies somewhat in her favor, in spite of his contempt and disgust for women who ventured beyond their sphere.

The vocation of a learned nurse to diseased persons of her own sex, was clearly to him not beyond the proper sphere of woman, but a most important, legitimate, and—however little recognised, conventionally—the most honorable and useful. He could not but respect the woman, whatever her eccentricities might be, who could be brave and true enough to assert effectively to her sex, the natural and inevitable mandate, “Know thyself!”

[Pg 111]

There was something chivalrous in the thought—a generous daring, a martyr spirit, that could not fail to arrest a nature in itself, rashly scornful of all that was merely conventional, and whose untamed, half-savage soul rejoiced in all novelties that expressed to him a higher utility than mere forms conveyed.

The walk was continued for hours; and still further to try her nerves, during this long conversation, Manton turned through many intricacies into the most darkened labyrinths of the vice-profaned metropolis.

The woman never flinched; nothing seemed to appal her, and, as they threaded rapidly the dingy alleys of the “Five Points,” she had an acute theory or a daring speculation for each evil, the external form of which they successively encountered.

There was a vigor and originality in all this, as coming from a woman, that interested Manton in spite of himself. Plain, uncouth, and eccentric as was this scorned “lecture-woman,” he could not but confess to himself, as they returned mud-bedraggled and tired enough from that long walk, that his respect for her had very much increased.

[Pg 112]


And under fair pretence of friendly ends,
And well-placed words of glozing courtesy,
Baited with reasons not unplausible,
Wind me into easy-hearted man,
And hug him into snares.
Mask of Comus.

We shall follow the bedraggled heroine of the last chapter, begging leave of the reader to “see her home.”

Mark with what an elate and vigorous step she trips it up Barclay Street into Broadway, after taking leave of Manton at the door of the Graham House. One would think that she should surely be tired, after that tremendous morning’s work, trudging and splashing through the dirtiest mire of three-fourths of the great city. But no—she springs in her gait, and her strange, animal eye, glitters fairly with a devilish obliquity, which has for the moment usurped its expression. She does not mind that people turn and stare after her dragging and bespattered skirts—not she!—her very soul is possessed with the pre-occupation of an ecstatic gloating over some great conquest achieved, or closely perceived already in the prospective future into which she glares.

We shall see what we shall see—only follow, still follow. She has turned up Broadway, and threads the great throng there with rapid glide, as street after street is passed. Ah, now we have it! She crosses—this is Eighth Street! There, in Broadway, near the corner, stands a great house, with wide-open door; the smeared and dirty lintels, the greasy latch, the wide, uncarpeted hall of which, at once reveals it to be one of those miscellaneous and incomprehensible edifices, which are not[Pg 113] unfrequently met with on the great thoroughfare, and the uses of which are not generally more specifically known, than that they are fashionable boarding-houses.

Into this ever-gaping entrance she wheeled, and darted up the broad, uncarpeted stairway, which she continued to ascend with almost incredible ease and swiftness to the fifth story. When near the end of a long and narrow passage, she paused before one of the doors, and tapping it slightly, entered without farther ceremony.

A handsome and well-dressed woman, who was engaged in writing at a small escritoire, looked up indifferently as she entered, but the moment she caught the expression of the newcomer’s face, she sprang to her feet, throwing down the pen, and with a strangely shrill and unmusical laugh, screamed out in a most inconceivably voluble style—

“Why, I declare! Marie, what’s the matter? Your eyes are almost bursting out of your head! You look as if you had found a bag of gold, and meant to give me half! Why, bless the woman, how she looks! Have you caught him at last? Well, we’re in luck! I’ve caught my man for sure! He’s been here all the morning, he’s just left! Why, how the woman looks! She keeps staring so! You haven’t gone crazy for joy, have you? Now, do tell! how have you managed to catch that insolent baby, you seemed to have set your heart on so? Why, how muddy the woman is!” she shrieked, looking down at the condition of her dress. “Ha! ha! ha! ha! Do tell, what sort of a game have you been playing? Did you have to hunt him through a pig-sty?”

The woman had been standing motionless, in the meantime, with distended eyes and compressed mouth, stretched in a rigid smile of supernaturally savage exultation. She gazed towards the face of the speaker, but did not seem to listen to her, or see her features. She looked the abstracted embodiment of triumphing evil. Very soon her stiffened lips quivered slightly,[Pg 114] while the voluble lady stepping forward, shook her sharply by the shoulder, shrilling out again—

“Do look at the woman! Why, what can be the matter? Can’t you talk? The cat’s got the woman’s tongue surely! I did not think you were so much in earnest about that green boy! Why, I could twist him about my finger like a tow-string! I have achieved something in conquering my man!”

“Y-your man!” said the woman slowly, interrupting her. But these words were accompanied by a look of such strange and taunting significance, that the other turned instantly pale and sprang back, as if she had received an electric shock from those singular eyes, that fell upon her for a moment with their evil obliquity, and then returned instantly to their natural expression. “Wh-why, what do you mean?” stammered the other angrily.

The woman only answered with a pleasant smile—“Now don’t be a jealous fool, Jeannette Shrewell—I shall never interfere with your schemes if you don’t with mine.”

“Yes! but because you knew Edmond long ago,” continued the other in a fierce and shrewish voice, “you dare to insinuate to me that he too has passed through your hands!”

The woman broke out into a loud laugh—“Why, what a child you are! You know what my relations to Edmond are, perfectly. Spiritual—purely and spotlessly spiritual. I should no more think of him than of my grandfather.”

“Spiritual!” shrieked the other, springing forward; “do you dare to use that stupid cant to me? Keep it for the sap-headed boys and senile drivellers that you decoy with such bait, to plunder. You shan’t insult me to my teeth with it.”

The speaker, whose physical energies were far more vehement and overbearing than the other, seemed to have entirely awed her. She sank meekly into a chair, turned very pale, and lifting her eyes with an humble look, she said, in a low imploring voice, “Now, Jeannette, please don’t be so violent. I did not mean to taunt or insult you. You have altogether mistaken me, dear friend. Now, please be calm.”

[Pg 115]

But the other, whose long black curls still writhed and quivered, like the snakes of the Gorgon head, with rage, stood towering before the suppliant, as if she meant to crush her; and as she thus stood, she really looked superb.

Her profile was delicately chiselled and Roman, with large, dark gray eyes, thin lips, and fine chin; and now that every feature was inspired with anger, the eye ceased to be offended by their habitual expression of selfish, cold, and sharp intellection. She continued, quite as vehemently—

“You have sown the wind, and you must reap. I have heard this vile insinuation before of something between you and Edmond at B.”

“Jeannette! Jeannette! it is false! every word of it. It is a vile slander of my enemies. Ask Edmond himself—he will tell you it is so.”

“Yes! yes! I know it is false. But who gave circulation to these reports? Hey? Your enemies, were they? Your enemies must have a great deal to do, that they keep themselves busy with these manifold stories of your adventures. Who was it aspired to the eclat of any affair with the rich, generous, learned, and travelled Edmond? Who was it dragged him, through his unsuspecting recklessness of conventional usages, into conditions which rendered him liable to such an imputation? Who boasted of it, and attempted to place him in the same category with the dupes and gulls and fools she had already ruined and plundered? Hey? Who was it? Marie ——, I know you,” and she stretched herself to her full height; but, had her vision not been blinded by passion, she might have perceived a cold and scarcely perceptible smile of scornful incredulity pass over the face at which she pointed her sharp finger. “I know you, woman! Beware! beware how you cross my track with Edmond! You had better rouse the sleeping tigress with her young in your arms. He shall be mine! I have sworn it! One year ago, when I heard of his return from Europe, and left everything, mother, sisters, friends, and came[Pg 116] on to this city, a thousand miles, alone and unprotected, that I might throw myself in his way, I swore that he should be mine. I had watched his career for years, from a distance, and he had grown to be my ideal. When he became, first the pupil and then the expounder of the new philosophy in France, I too became its student; with unwearied labor I mastered its prodigious science, for I divined the purpose of the man. I knew he must return to his own country, and become its exponent here, and that then my time would come.

“I studied the German, the French, and the Italian; with all which languages I knew him to be familiar. I acquainted myself with the literature of each, that I might be able always to speak with him in the tongues and of the themes of which his long residence in Europe had made the associations most pleasant. Armed thus, cap-a-pie, I have met him at last, as I felt it was my destiny to do.

“I have attracted him; I have all but conquered him. That man shall be my lover! Ay, woman, he shall be my lawful husband! Cross my track in any way, if you d-a-a-r-e! I know your arts; I will render them for ever unavailing to you; I will explain them, and expose them. Cross my track, then, if you d-a-a-r-e!” and, as she hissed out the words between her teeth, she stooped forward and shook her finger in the face of the now actually trembling woman. “Remember! our compact is, you let me alone, and I will let you alone; you help me, I’ll help you; cross me, I destroy you!”

“Is that all?” murmured the woman, in a soft voice, opening her eyes, which had been closed during the greater part of this tirade, while, at the same time, the old obliquity became for a moment apparent.

“Why, Jeannette, I never dreamed of any thing else. I would sooner cut off my right hand than interfere with you, in any respect. Our two courses are entirely different. You have one object and one species of game to hunt down, while I have another. We shall not clash!” and seeing the features of the[Pg 117] other relax from exhausted passion, she leaned forward with a pleasing smile.

“Just to think, you stormy child! I had hastened home to tell you of my good fortune, and you so overpower me as to make me forget all I had to tell. You have frightened me sadly, Jeannette, and all about nothing. But I’ve got him—I think he’s booked at last!”

“Pooh!” said the other, sinking into a chair. “Well, I asked you ever so long ago; how did you manage it? You seem to have had a great deal more trouble this time than usual. He does not seem to have been very civil to you heretofore, I should think.”

“No!” said the other, in a low, hoarsened tone, while the blood mounted in crimson flush to her forehead, not to her cheeks. This nice discrimination is very necessary to a true apprehension of such a character. “No, he has acted like a sullen cub, heretofore, a perfect young white bear, with his insolent pride, and clumsy haughtiness! He is the most insulting and impracticable boor I ever took hold of!”

“Ah! I perceive you are splenetic!”

“No! It is simply annoying, that the insufferable fellow should give me so much trouble. Why, only think, he positively refused to be introduced to me—said I was a shallow adventuress, and that he did not wish to know me—even when our Doctor Weasel went to him, with a special request on my part for such an introduction!”

“Oh, yes! but our Doctor is proverbially awkward in such matters. No doubt he spoiled it all in the manner of the request.”

“Well, but you know, if the Doctor is awkward, he’s got money, and as long as he believes in Fourier and Swedenborg as devotedly as he does now, we can use his purse. But to proceed: That sullen Southerner not only refused to be introduced to me, in the most insulting terms, but when I wrote him three or four of my most irresistible billet-doux, that never[Pg 118] failed before, he treated them with what I suppose he meant to be silent contempt, for he did not answer one of them, though I had taken the pains to place them all upon his table with my own hands, during his absence, and find out all I could concerning him at the same time.

“I found the key-note, however; the boy loved his mother, and has been playing hyæna with the rest of the world ever since she died, and been endeavoring to imagine himself a misanthrope, with a life dedicated since solely to the ambition of achieving, in her name, good for mankind. This discovery, privately made, put me fully in possession of all I wanted to know of his weakness. I saw he was earnest and chivalrous, as his origin implies, and proudly secretive, so far as the privacies of his life were concerned. So I at once felt that this incrustation of reserve with which he had fenced about his life, could only be broken down by a coup de main.

“I determined to come down upon him, by surprise, in spite of everything. I called on him, and sent our trusty Doctor up to bring him to the parlor per force. The ruse succeeded so far as to effect an introduction; but, to tell you the truth,” and her forehead fairly blazed while she spoke, “I never was treated with such insolent and frozen hauteur in my life before! I went away with my ears tingling and blood on fire, but I cursed him in my very heart, and swore to have a woman’s vengeance! You remember how sick I was that night. Oh, God! such furies as tortured me! I scarcely slept; but a happy thought came to me just about morning.

“He was a poet—his brow revealed that—but with characteristic sternness he had yet published nothing which could be accounted the highest expression of his inmost life. He had made his way in literature rapidly and brilliantly through a novel combination of style, in which the essential elements of prose and poetry were combined; but had never yet ventured to associate his proper name with anything bearing the forms of poetry.

“Now, the Doctor had told me that the poem, under the[Pg 119] soubriquet of ‘De Noto,’ in the last number of the Journal, was his, and it at once flashed across me—appreciation! appreciation! The young poet has stolen timidly forth, under disguise, with this myth clear from his soul! He does not expect to be understood at once, and any prompt appreciation will overwhelm him from the very suddenness of the thing; and in his delighted surprise he would yearn towards the acknowledged devil himself.

“I sent him another note expressing that intense appreciation for which I knew he was craving. He treated it with the neglect that he had the others; but I somehow felt that I had made my mark. I called this morning, and as I knew his contempt for mere conventional forms, I ventured upon a dashing ruse de guerre.

“I challenged him, for I knew his own personal hardiness, to take a long walk through all the slop of the thaw. With a stare of surprise he accepted it. I felt even then that my point was half gained. There were people in the parlor, and my object was to get him alone with myself. I felt that I had already touched one weakness, and my object now was to arrest his chivalrous sympathies in behalf of my forlorn and unprotected martyrdom to the cause of woman in her resistance to the brutalities of the marital law, and her right of proclaiming to her sisterhood the sanitary laws of health, in which they have been kept in profound ignorance by the ‘profession.’

“At first, I arrested his attention by the daring of the position which I had assumed, and then aroused his sympathies by a fervent relation of the wrongs inflicted on me by my brutal husband. The story was old, but I managed to throw into it a great deal of feeling, for there is nothing like a tale of persecution to arrest chivalrous minds all over the world. We understand all these propositions as scientific! When I parted with him he smiled upon me, for the first time, genially. I am sure of him now!”

“I should think you might be!”

[Pg 120]


What see you there,
That has so cowarded and chased your blood
Out of appearance?

In a good-sized, neatly-furnished apartment, of a large house in Bond Street, about two weeks after the incidents which were related in the last chapters, a group was assembled, about nine o’clock in the evening, which consisted of Manton, the woman Marie Orne, her daughter, and Dr. E. Willamot Weasel, of whom we have before spoken.

The dark eye of Doctor Weasel glistened with benevolent delight as he gazed upon the group, from which he sat somewhat apart. Manton was seated on a chair near the glowing fire, with the mother on a low stool on one side of him, and the daughter kneeling on the other, while both with upturned reverential eyes drank in eagerly each word that fell from his lips. They seemed to be enchained, enchanted, while he spoke; and the mother, in the almost total speechlessness of her rapt appreciation, could only venture to trust her trembling voice in low, whispered exclamations; while the sad eyes of the impish-looking daughter imitatively stared unutterable things.

The woman’s subtle suggestiveness had roused the brain of Manton, and fully drawn him out on his favorite themes; whatever of natural eloquence he possessed, and he possessed much, flowed smoothly now, for, in spite of himself, his frozen heart had been warmed by the unwearying deference which he met with from these people.

The lamps burned brightly, the hearth glowed, and the eyes of all were bent upon him with genial warmth and admiring[Pg 121] earnestness. The north wind howled cold without, to remind him of the long, harsh “winter of his discontent,” which had for ten weary years been unrelieved by any approximation to a scene thus flushed with the sanctities of domestic quiet. Manton always idealised woman—he idealised everything. He was a poet. The very presence of woman was hallowed to his imagination. There was a thrill of sweet fancies and gentle memories conveyed to him, in the very rustle of a silken gown. He adored, he worshipped woman, as she lived in his memory—the holy attributes with which he invested her, penetrated and held him enchained in peaceful awe. He could not, he dare not believe evil of her, if she bore the semblance of good, in thought, or deed, or life.

He had shrunk thus long from contact with her, not because this interval of self-inflicted separation had been other than a weary penance of yearning, but that his fastidious nature dreaded the common contact, which might degrade or mar that ideal of love, which woman personated to him, and in the worship of which he had found the strength for brave deeds.

It was the weakness, the petty flippancy, the commonplaceisms of woman, from which he shrank. He believed that her spiritual strength should equalise her with man’s physical strength in disregarding common fears, paltry conventionalities, and contemptible topics. The miserable skeleton of soul and body, which the world calls “woman of society,” was more horrible to him, by far, than the actual contact with her dry bones in a prepared skeleton would have been—for where one was a comparatively pleasing object to his eye as a philosopher, the other was but the painted, dim-eyed, ghastly spectre of a living death.

There was in this woman, at least so far as he could judge, a total abandon to her natural impulses, which seemed to utterly repudiate those restrictions which are merely commonplace. This was refreshing to him, from its novelty, at any rate, in contrast with the insipidities he so much dreaded, although his taste had from the first been constantly offended.

[Pg 122]

Yet she seemed so utterly lawless and quietly defiant of what the world, that works in harness, might say, he could not help respecting her for it. It was a new thing in his life, to meet with a woman, sufficiently heroic, to face the martyrdom that she was daring, for so elevated and noble an aim as the emancipation of her own sex from the conditions of utter helplessness, into which their ignorance of the laws of life had sunk them.

Besides, she had shown so much earnest patience with his rude pride, had followed up its aberrations with such a matronly tenderness, exhorting him only, and unceasingly, to be at rest—a rest, the need of which his proud and fainting soul had confessed so often to his inward consciousness. And then this fine appreciation—ah, where is the young poet who can withstand appreciation? And then such delicate deference in trifles!

He had spoken incidentally of his taste in dress; and now the mother and daughter were dressed in the most graceful and faultless simplicity! The heart of Manton was touched. He felt grateful and pleased with these strange Samaritans to him in a strange land.

On a slight pause in the conversation, the woman, still gazing up timidly into the face of Manton, changed the theme suddenly, by asking him,

“What do you think of Clairvoyance?”

“The world is not old enough yet, by twenty years, I think, to answer that question.”

“My reason for asking the question, was, that I have some strange premonitions myself, which I cannot explain. You will, no doubt, be able to explain the mystery at once—”

“Yes!” interrupted Doctor Weasel, eagerly, “do let us have you examine the matter! Facts have come within my own knowledge, concerning revelations which have been made by her, that are the most extraordinary I ever knew. For instance, when she has been brought into clairvoyant rapport with individuals whom she has never seen or heard of before, she has revealed to them the whole history of their lives.”

[Pg 123]

“This unexpected enunciation of their life-secrets to men, must of course be productive of strange scenes occasionally,” said Manton, in a tone which had suddenly become cold.

“Oh, very curious and interesting! very curious!” exclaimed the Doctor, quickly. “Marie, do relate to him that incident of the bloody hand, that you have so often told me.”

“Well,” said she, “it has been some years since that a number of my friends, who knew of this gift of mine, were in the habit of inviting me to their respective houses, to meet friends of distinction, who were curious to observe the experiments, either upon themselves or upon others.

“On one occasion I was invited to meet a celebrated physician of this city, whose reputation for purity of character and life was very high. There were no parties present but my friend, this physician, and myself. Such an arrangement, I afterwards understood, had been made at the particular request of the physician himself, who desired that there should be no other person present but his host at the interview.

“When the physician placed his hand upon my head, as is the necessary formula to bring me into spiritual communion with my interrogator, I relapsed almost immediately into the syncope of the clairvoyant state, and of course became entirely unconscious of what I uttered in that condition. But our host, who was his most intimate friend, has given me many times the following explanation of the scene:—

“He says that when the physician placed his hand upon my head, I first said from the sleep, ‘I am content! All is pure here—this is a holy soul—one that is regenerate and will be saved!’ and then that while I was recounting his many deeds of kindness to the poor and friendless, and the rich, I suddenly shrank back, exclaiming, ‘Blood! blood! blood! There is blood upon this hand! This soul is darkened now with blood! Here is some fearful crime! Murder has been committed by this hand; everything seems red beneath it!’ My friend says the doctor staggered back as if he had been shot, on hearing this,[Pg 124] turned pale as death, and swooned on the floor; and after he recovered, acknowledged that he had committed murder and fled from the consequences; the name by which he was now known was an assumed one, and he implored his host not to expose him to the penalty of the gallows by revealing these terrible facts.

“My friend, of course, did everything he could to relieve him on that point, and assured him that he would never breathe the fact where it could injure him; that the purity of his life for so many years had cancelled the enormity of the crime, so far as society was concerned.

“But in spite of all this, the wretched and guilty man left the house in overwhelming despair, and the last I have heard of him was that he had locked himself in his own house, and was killing himself with the most unheard-of excesses in drinking brandy, to which vice he never before had been addicted.

“When I realised the tragic results of this fearful insight, with which I seem to have been mysteriously endowed, my very soul was shaken with sorrow; and since that time my spirit has wrestled in agonies of prayer with God, that this poor child of crime and headlong vices might be ‘saved!’”

As the woman uttered these last words, Manton recognised, for the first time, and with a shudder, a peculiar obliquity of the left eye. His soul was chilled within him; and for the moment, the light of the glowing room was darkened as if the shadow of drear winter had passed over and through it.

Doctor Weasel exclaimed gaily, “Is not that extraordinary? I assure you, I have myself witnessed things in connection with this power of hers, quite as inexplicable, though happily not so tragic.”

“It sounds strangely enough,” said Manton, shortly.

“I assure you I have no means of accounting for these things,” said the woman in a meek, deprecatory tone.

“Suppose you demonstrate it, madam, in my case;” and a slight sneer, which crossed the face of Manton, whose manner[Pg 125] had entirely changed, did not escape the hawk-like quickness of the woman’s eye. “My life, I am willing to submit to the scrutiny of your inscrutable sense.”

“Oh, by all means!” exclaimed Doctor Weasel, springing to his feet in a paroxysm of delight. “Let us have the experiment, by all means! Do please place your hand on the top of her head!”

Manton turned, and with a bow most studiously deferential, seemed to ask of the lady her permission to do so.

“Oh, yes, yes,” and her head was bowed forward to meet his upraised hand; while the daughter, who seemed to understand the thing, either from previous experience, or from some private signal, rose from her clinging position about his knee, and stepped back, leaving the two alone, without other contact.

In a few moments after the hand of Manton had rested upon the meek, submissive head of the woman before him, she commenced exhibiting the common and preliminary attitudes, muscular retchings of the throat, nervous twitchings of the lips and limbs, accompanied by the apparently palpable, organic changes, which are recognised to be symptomatic with well-known conditions of the mesmeric sleep.

Manton watched all these phenomena with the sharpest attention, and then, as the lips began to move as if in inarticulate enunciation, he leant forward over her, and asked—

“What can you tell us of the soul, with which you are now in communication?”

After several preluding and spasmodic efforts to articulate sounds, the Clairvoyant at length said, in a voice only distinct above a whisper—

“I see light! all light!—pure, holy light. It fills the universe with a mild radiance! I can see no blurs, no clouds in the foreground. I can see only angels, seraphs, and seraphim, and all forms of light revolving in the sphere of this mighty soul!”

“Is there no evil there?” said Manton.

“No, I see none; I see only white light.”

[Pg 126]

“But look close—perhaps you might find something dark. Look long and steadily into the world you visit—see if there be not clouds there.”

There was a pause. The lips moved without articulation again; and again Manton asked—“What do you see now?”

“I see, I see, the light is parting on either side; out in the far distance, between those walls of light, a giant form uprears itself in shadow. Down the long vista stands this darkened giant. He is fierce and stern, and wears a cold, hard front, with flaming eyes, that scare the ministering angels all away. He strikes around him with the imperious sway of his huge, knotted club, and all the bright forms flee. He seems the savage Hercules of pride!”

There is a pause; and after a stillness of some moments, Manton asked again—

“What now is the vision, to your sense?—is the giant gone?”

“No, he is humbled but not subdued; and from afar behind him, down this darkened vista, a light has grown up, like a rising star. It advances slowly, rising over his head. The splendor increases as it comes. Now, the dark and wrathful giant has fallen on his knees—the flood of glory overcomes him. His club is dropped. His eyes, upturned in awe, seem dimmed by the sudden glory of an angel’s presence. Ha! I see! the features of that angel are like his whose soul I see! The giant is subdued! His pride has bowed its forehead in the dust, before the angel radiance of a visiting mother!”

Manton felt his flesh creep as this was spoken, and as the Clairvoyant paused for some moments, he asked: “What does this spirit of the mother say?”

The slow answer was—

“She seems to rebuke this pride even more with her effulgence, and to say, My son, I am with thee in the spirit, but I cannot be with thee through the medium of the flesh which thou hast so poisoned and corrupted, since I passed from thee into this higher sphere. Make thy body clean and purify thy life,[Pg 127] and I shall be always with thee present, in the spirit. It is necessary for your usefulness in your present life that you should accept of human sympathies. It is only through such that you can establish a true community with the material world of which you form a part. Accept human love—accept a moral representative of myself—believe in the possibility of its chasteness as well as utility, and you will yet be strong, powerful of good, and happy.”

Here Manton, who had become intensely excited during the progress of this scene, removed his hand with a vehement gesture from the head of the woman, and springing to his feet, seized his cap, and with scarce the ordinary adieus, hastily left the room. He rushed hurriedly through the dark storm, which careered along the street, muttering as he went:—

“Eternal curses on this infernal woman! What can it mean? She dares to speak of my mother again. Hah! does not this account for the inexplicable disturbance of my papers in my trunk? Is it possible that this can be the accursed and despicable wretch who has stolen into the privacies of my life? But think, think! I may have been hasty. This whole subject of Clairvoyance is an impenetrable mystery. That strange story of the bloody hand has impressed me. For all we know, as yet, such things may be within the possibilities of Clairvoyance. That myth she uttered as if she were in a dream, was strangely significant to me—supposing her to be ignorant of all my past life; and then she seemed so patient, so disinterested, so gentle and so kind, so matronly, so tender, and so heroic, too. I cannot altogether distrust her, nor can I believe; I can only wait. I must see more; I must know more; I must comprehend the whole. There is a something here I cannot understand—a something betwixt heaven and hell, which I must bide my time to fathom. Curses on all mysteries!” and, rushing onward through the storm, like one hag-ridden, or pursued by stern, accusing ghosts, the bewildered Manton soon reached his cheerless room, all storm-drenched and depressed.

[Pg 128]


Dim burns the once bright star of Avenel;
There is an influence sorrowful and fearful,
That dogs its downward course.

Transparent as is the meaning of the foregoing scene, it conveyed to Manton, who knew none of these things which have been revealed to the reader, a tremendous shock. Mind and soul were thrown into chaotic convulsions; he knew not what to think, or which way to turn for truth.

Had the incident occurred but a short time previous, before his nature had begun to be moved by generous sympathy and honest respect for this loyal, persecuted, and indomitable woman; had it occurred before that eventful walk through the slush of New York, he would have at once turned upon her in freezing wrath, with the deliberate accusation of having entered his room in his absence, and searched his private papers, or else have merely sneered at it, as the accidental hit of a reckless adventuress.

But he had admitted her to his respect as a noble and unprotected devotee. In a word, he had, as was usual with him wherever women were concerned, idealised her into a heroine. Could he suspect her after this? He rejected the weakness of such suspicion almost with terror.

Had he known any thing of New York life; had he formed any relations except those of a strictly business character; had he cultivated acquaintances at all, who belonged to the city, and knew it, a few inquiries might have settled all his doubts. But,[Pg 129] alas! pride, pride, that fatal pride! He knew nobody, he cared not for what any one said of another.

He had heard this woman violently abused at the dinner-table below, to be sure; but then the character of the persons who had joined in this cowardly vituperation was, to his mind, evidently such as to prejudice him in her favor; for he had a proud way with him, which never permitted him to judge of the absent by what was said of them, but by who said it. Taking these things together, he would have felt ashamed to have asked any questions concerning the woman, of those whose opinion and opportunities of knowledge he respected.

If she had thrown herself upon him, it had been with perfect frankness, and without any attempt at concealments. She had told him how she was persecuted and slandered by ignorant women, because she had been bold enough to tell them the truth about themselves. He had already heard something of this, and the stories told were of precisely such character as envious, vulgar, and malignant gossip circulates about females who make themselves conspicuous by their virtues or their talents. Besides, had he not, before he knew more of her, been violently prejudiced, too? What more natural than that others should be so, including these ignorant women?

And then this wonderful Clairvoyance! Who can dare to say that he believes nothing of its claims? He held its marvels and miracles in great contempt, and firmly believed, that whatever of truth there was would soon be unveiled of its apparent mystery by the close analysis of science, and shown to proceed from purely natural laws, the exact relations of which had not been heretofore understood.

And then it might have been accident. Ah! and then it might have been—what his thought had long struggled with, as the solution of all such phenomena—it might have been sympathetic! a mere result of the unconscious projection of his stronger vitality through a magnetic or odic medium of sympathy, which had been instantly established through the contact[Pg 130] of his hand with the thin and sensitive region on the top of her head.

She might thus have been made to feel him intellectually, if not spiritually; to see, through this sympathetic sense, those images with which his brain was most full, and thus express this startling outline of his life.

Be those things as they may, he was restless and excited; his imagination was aroused, his memory profoundly stirred. He was thus fast hurried past the point where a cool analysis could well avail to rescue him. Tossed to and fro by doubts and dark suspicions, which a generous confidence strove hard to banish with its magnanimous suggestions, backed by self-reliant pride; confounded with the fear of acting with injustice towards a helpless female; with the fear, too, of the soft pluckings at his heart, from those tender memories which she had thus aroused by her offers of maternal sympathy—together with the penetrating light and warmth of that genial and unlucky evening spent with her, amidst the quiet of domestic surroundings—he could form no conclusions, discriminate no clearly definite purpose—could only wander to and fro, restless, in troubled, sad irresolution.

A vague dread of evil in advance afforded apprehension of he knew not what, that always, when the gloaming darkened most, seemed parted to a tremulous, dim light, like summer coming through the morn, and made his pulse go quicker, while those yearning memories faintly glimmered, as if within a shaded reflex of the glowing day.

He kept himself strictly secluded; yet, day by day, those dainty missives crept in upon him by some mysterious agency. At first they were read mechanically, and, amidst his troubled doubts, produced no apparent effect; but, by and by, they grew more chaste, more delicately worded, and more sweetly toned.

Was it that they were really advanced upon the blundering specimens we have seen? or could it be that his fancy had become excited with regard to them—that he was merely idealising unconsciously? or was it that those awkward first attempts at[Pg 131] producing imitations of the rhapsodical style peculiar to himself, which had so excited his contempt, as obviously taken from the study of his writings, had now been cunningly improved upon, since personal intercourse had afforded his correspondent a closer insight of his purer and more simple forms of expression?

Had his haughty egotism been touched at last, by a skilful reflex of himself, thrown shrewdly into his eyes, from the dazzling surface of this snowy crow-quilled page?

We shall see, perhaps. Here is the last that he received from her:—

My poor Friend—My heart yearns over you; I am oppressed with your suffering, for I feel how you suffer yet—how you are struggling, by day and by night, with those twin fiends of Doubt and Pride. I know my letters soothe you, though they cannot heal. Had you not informed me so, in your note, I should yet have been conscious of it. Had you never written to me again, I should yet have known that the great deep of your soul had been stirred at last, and that, though pride had triumphed in the struggle, love, genial, human love, had yet found, beneath the dark shadow of his wing, a warm resting-place once more beside thy heart.

No human aid can save thee now—that stiff neck must be bowed—you must be humbled! Then will come the full influx of the light from heaven. Then you will know joy and peace again—the pure raptures of a holy rest will calm this dark, bewildering struggle. I pray for you without ceasing—weary the throne with supplication that you may be humbled! Your little sister sends you her tearful greetings—she weeps for you with me always—for she dearly loves her tiger-brother. She says that, like all terrible creatures, he is so beautiful—oh, that he were only good!


This letter strangely thrilled upon the already over-wrought sensibilities of Manton, whose nervous organisation had been[Pg 132] rendered intensely susceptible by the protracted excitement under which he had been laboring. He read it over and over again, with increasing agitation, until it seemed, while his eyes suffused, as if the accusing angel of his own conscience spoke to him in mild rebuke.

Long he moaned and tossed—the dim moisture struggling all the while to brim over those parched lids, that for years before had never known a freshening. Those tearless lids—how rigid they had been! how bleak! Like some oasis fountain where the hot simoon had drank!—Dry! dry!

Suddenly, with a deep groan, the young man bowed his head upon his hands, while the tears gushed between his fingers in a flood, that seemed the more violent from its long restraint. His body shook and rocked, while he gasped aloud—

“It is true! It is true! This woman tells what is true! This sullen pride has been the cause of all—I feel its crushing judgment on my shoulders now! Great God! deliver us from this thraldom! Let me but know my race once more! let me but weep when others weep, and smile when others smile, and it will be to me for a sign that thou hast received the outcast into the family of thy love, once more! Forgive, oh, forgive me, that have so long held thy goodly gifts of earthly consolation in despite! The worm’s presumptuous arrogance has but moved thy pity, oh, thou Infinite One! Forgive! forgive! oh, let me feel that countenance reconciled once more! Give back to my weary soul the holy communion of thy creatures! Pity! Pity! Pity! Ah, there is a paradise somewhere on the earth, for the most wayworn of her darkened children—a rift in the sunless sky, a glittering point above the darkened waters! Men are not all and totally accursed by their defiant passions. Pity sends star-beams through the port-holes of the dungeon. Mercy comes down on holy light of visions, where stars cannot get in. Oh, love, Infinite Love! Thou art so powerful of penetration—come to me now!”

For a long time he sat thus, while his frame shivered in voiceless throes; when suddenly straightening himself, with a[Pg 133] powerful effort, and while the tears yet rained like an April shower, he drew towards him his paper, and wrote—

Woman—I know not what to call you—you have strangely moved me! In my most desperate and sullen pride have I not struggled long with this great blessing, which thou hast brought me! I would have driven the good angel from me in wrath and scorn—but it would not be offended. In patience and long suffering it has abided near, hovering on white wings, until now, at last, the fountain has been troubled. Ah! woman, its depths have been broken up, indeed—and the dark, long, unnatural winter of my life, has felt the glowing breath of spring; and in one mighty crash, the hideous ice-crusts that had gathered, heaping over it, have burst away before the flashing leap of unchained waters. Once more my soul is free—once more I smile back love for love into the sunlight, and weep for joy—that God is good. Once more I feel as if the earth were a holy earth, and its flowers, too, might grow for me. Thou hast conquered! Thou hast conquered, woman! Thy pure and chastened sympathies, thy gentle and unwearied pleadings, thy meek compassion for the harsh and wayward boy, have conquered. The stiff neck is bowed even now before God, and thee, his minister of good. Ah! forgive and pity me! My eyes are raining so, I can scarcely see to write. I am shaken as in a great tempest, body and soul. I could weep at your feet in penitence, and pray to be forgiven and for pity! Ah, that, I know you have! I am blinded with these tears—I know not what I say! Oh, be to me what I have lost! I faint by the wayside; my soul dies within me for that holy rest that I have lost—for the sweet, calm and tender peace, all the holy memories your loving gentleness has thus recalled. Ah, be to me all that you have thus filled me with, anew! Receive me as your adopted child, that I may rest my throbbing head once more in peace and joy, upon a sacred bosom. Be to me, forever, “Marie, mother!”


[Pg 134]


Now, with a bitter smile, whose light did shine
Like a fiend’s hope upon her lips and eyne.

Turn we now to that large and mysterious house, to which we have before referred, near the corner of Broadway and Eighth Street. We will pass the greasy lintels, into the wide and dirty entry, climb those five flights of stairs, turn down the long, dark passage, and pause before a door, just one beyond that which we have had occasion to remember in the course of this narrative.

We will take the liberty to enter. The scene presents the woman, Marie, reclining on a lounge, holding a note in her hand, which she seems to have read and re-read with a peculiar look of puzzled inquiry.

The impish-looking daughter, to whom we have before referred, was seated in a chair, behind the woman’s head, and out of her sight. The creature seemed to have much ado to keep from laughing outright, for her face was screwed into all sorts of contortions in the effort to subdue it, as she peeped over her mother’s shoulder, and watched her puzzled looks and bewildered gestures.

“Well!” said the mother, as if speaking to herself, “if one could only comprehend how he came to write this to me—it seems to contain a great deal. Upon my word, it appears a beautiful snatch of rhyme, and to convey quite a confession—only I don’t understand—it reads as if it were an answer to something that had gone before.” She reads—

[Pg 135]

Angels a subtler name may know,
But not a subtler thought of joy
Could thrilling through a seraph go,
Than that your presence brought to cloy
And weigh my life down into calm,
With an unutterable sense—
Like music perfumed with the balm
Of dews star-shed—all too intense!

“Most too high-strung for my purposes, it must be confessed! He never expresses any flesh and blood in his correspondence. Ah, well, I’ll soon bring him out of that! But this really does puzzle me! This is all the note contains.” She turns the note to examine it. “It is certainly in his hand, yet he makes no explanation.”

Here the child, whose blood seemed ready to burst through her face in the continued effort to restrain her laughter, tittered aloud. The mother sprang erect, and, turning upon her with an expression of rage and surprise upon her face—

“What! Why, what are you laughing about? What business is this of yours, pray?”

The child, although evidently a little frightened, had so entirely lost her self-control as to be unable to restrain the bursts of laughter which now followed each other, peal upon peal, as she danced about the room in a perfect ecstacy of glee.

The mother’s face turned first pale and then red, as she followed the motions of the child with her eye, until at last, with the expression of an infuriate tigress, she sprang to seize her. The child was too quick for her, and with the agility of a monkey, darted from beneath her grasp; and still shrieking with laughter, was pursued around the room—leaping the furniture with an airiness that defied pursuit—which her strange, wild laugh yet taunted.

The woman, after exhausting herself in vain attempts at catching her, sank upon the lounge—and at once, in a whining, fretful voice, commenced to pour upon the head of the child, the[Pg 136] most inconceivable and galling epithets. So long as this tone was held, the child held out in defiant spirit, either of sulking obstinacy, or of harsh and irritating laughter, and to every reiterated question from the angry mother—“What are you laughing at? What do you mean?”—she only clapped her hands and danced more wildly to her elfin mirth.

The mother now changed her tone of a sudden, in seeming hopelessness of carrying her point by storm. She began to sob violently, and turning with streaming eyes towards the child—

“You—you tre-treat your poor mother very cruelly to-day; I am dying to know what it is you mean; but you will not tell me! Please, dear, come and tell poor mother why you laugh, what it is you mean, and what you know about this letter?—for I am sure you know something—do tell poor mother, and she will forgive you all! Come, dear child!” and she reached out her hand as if to clasp her to her bosom.

The child, who seemed to have no intellectual comprehension of the meaning of all this, but to have taken a purely impish delight in watching the confusion and puzzle of her mother, in regard to the letter at first, and then instantly, when she flew into a rage, to have answered in a monkeyish and hysterical rage, on her own part; now at once, with equal promptness, and with the common instinct of young animals, responded to the tender inflections of the maternal voice.

Dropping her whole previous manner, she instantly sprang forward and knelt at her mother’s side. The mother did not speak for some moments, but silently caressed her, placing her hand frequently on her head, the top of which she fondly stroked with a tenderness that seemed to linger there. She drew the child’s face to hers too; and although she seemed to kiss it frequently, it might have been observed that she breathed deep and heavy exhalations upon different portions of it, which she only touched with her lips.

The effect was magical beyond any power of expression. The hard, ugly, animal lines of that child’s face, which had[Pg 137] been writhed and curled but a few moments before, in every conceivable expression of most ignoble passions, at once subsided into the meek and suppliant confiding of that inexplicable and most tender of all the relations known to the animal world, mother and child!

“Dear, why did you not tell me what you knew about this letter before?” said the mother, in a tone as musically reproachful as if she dallied with her suckling babe. The child buried her head in her mother’s bosom, and after a silence of some time, during which her mother industriously stroked the top of her head, she looked up, and in a sly, bashful tone exclaimed—

“I did it just for fun, to try how writing love-letters went—I copied the verses from a book, in your hand, and sent them to him as yours!”

Scarcely were these words uttered, than the languishing and tender-seeming mother hurled the child from her, backwards, upon the floor, with a violence that left her stunned and prostrate, and springing to her feet, raged round and round the room, as only a feminine demon infuriate could be imagined to do, spurning now and then with her foot, as she passed, the still senseless form of her own child!

Hell might find an equal to this whole scene, but hell has always been too civil! It is enough! This is jealousy! That woman is jealous of her own child! and she only thirteen years old!

How long she might have raged and raved, and to what consequences it might have led, heaven can only judge. Providentially, perhaps, a knock at her door announced the postman. She clutched the letter she received convulsively, and tearing it open, the instant he closed the door, read—what? The letter of Manton, which we saw in the last chapter!

She read it through, standing where she had received it—her eyes dilating, and her whole form changing. She literally screamed with joy as she finished the letter, and clapped her hands like one bewildered with a sudden triumph.

[Pg 138]

“Ah, ha! I have him! I have him! He is mine henceforth! He cannot escape me now!” and her oblique eyes fell upon the motionless child upon the floor. “The little fool!—she catches my arts too soon—she is not hurt—but I must help her.” She moved towards the child, but the demoniac triumph which possessed her seemed irrepressible. She bounded suddenly into the air, and almost shrieking aloud as she did so—

“I have conquered—I have conquered him at last!” came down like a statuesque Apollyon transfixed in exultation. It was a horrible glimpse of unnatural triumph! It lasted but for a moment; for, with a sudden drooping of the usually stooped shoulders, as she turned towards the letter again, she said, thoughtfully,

“This will not do—he perseveres even here in talking about mother! mother! and chaste! and holy! and all that sort of thing. The foolish boy is too much in earnest. I have used this stuff about long enough. I must find the means of bringing him gradually around. Such a relation as the silly fellow desires won’t do between us—we are both too full of life! Oh, I’ll write him a note at once that will prepare the way—will break up the ice, as he calls it, still more about his life!”

She raised the child, which had been stunned by the fall, and sprinkling some water upon her face, which caused the first long breathing of recovery, she laid her upon the lounge, muttering, as she did so, “The meddlesome little fool! She must do everything she sees me do! She must imagine herself in love with every one whom she sees me pretend to love. She must write love-letters when she sees me write them, and heaven only knows what she won’t do next with her monkeyish imitation! But I can’t be crossed by a child so, if she is my own. Lie there until you get over the sulks—you are not much hurt!”

She turned away from the child and seated herself at the table, exclaiming, as she seized her pen, “Ah! this letter! I feel that I shall need all my skill and wit to word this properly, so as not to alarm him. In his present excited and hysterical[Pg 139] mood, the veriest trifle would have the effect of driving him off, at a tangent, forever beyond my reach. And yet it will not do to let things go on in this way; for I see that that idea of the motherly relation, if once permitted to become settled in his mind now, will remain a fixed barrier, which I shall never be able to pass on earth. I must see him to-night, and take advantage of his present over-wrought, ecstatic, and bewildered condition, to break down this boyish dream of his! Bah! to think that he should have taken me to be so much in earnest in all that first twattle about motherly relations, which I found necessary to use in order to get at him at all! Pity my correspondence hasn’t warmed him up a little by this time! I’ve tried hard enough, to be sure, but the queer fellow will persist in etherealising everything!”

During this soliloquy, the child, who had entirely recovered, lay perfectly still, with sharpened attention, catching every word that was spoken. There was an eagerness in her eye which showed her to be, if not an apt scholar of such teachings, at least a very attentive one. The woman wrote:—

“’Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name! thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven!’ My soul is deeply moved for thee in this thy time of trial. The good God chasteneth thee now—now is the hour of thy great tribulation come; now thy life-demons wrestle in thee, with the love, the good the Father has sent to redeem thee. Be strong! Ah, be strong even now, thou child of many sorrows, and thou shalt yet find grace and peace in acceptance with Him. Meanwhile I can but pray for thee and with thee. I weary Heaven with supplications, that out of this travail a great and glorious soul may be born in the humility of love, for light, eternal light.

“Come to me this evening, that I may take that throbbing heart upon my bosom. I may soothe and calm you, but I cannot give you rest—rest comes only from the Father! You ask me[Pg 140] to be for you, forever, ‘Marie, mother!’ I can be to you, forever, your friend


“Ah! ha! that will do it!” she said in a low chuckling tone, as she rapidly folded and directed the letter; “though he might take the alarm at this if he were cool, yet there’s no danger now! It will no doubt shock him a little, but he has learned to believe in me, and in his present excited state he has deified me almost into an object of worship; and any suspicion he might feel he would only blame himself for. Ah! this will do! it shall go instantly! Here!” she said, turning sharply to the child, “Here! get up there, put on your bonnet, and take this letter! You know how to deliver it, and where! Come, up with you!”

“But, mother,” said the child, as she slowly lifted herself half-erect, “I don’t feel like it—I’m not well! You hurt me!”

“Nonsense!” said the mother, harshly; “go take a bath, and do it quickly too! You’ll feel well enough! This letter must go, and shall go! Get along, I say, and do what I tell you!”

The child dragged herself slowly out of the room.

“That little wretch will torment me to death!”

The letter was despatched and reached its destination.

Manton, whose excitement had continued, without the slightest diminution, to return upon him, in paroxysm after paroxysm, seized upon this last letter with the famishing eagerness of a man who looks for strength—for spiritual consoling. He read it with suffused and swollen eyes; he scarcely saw what he read, so much had his vision been dizzied and obscured by weeping. But those last words did indeed shock and thrill him. He was strangely startled, and for a moment they seemed to open to him an appalling and terrific gulf of falsehood, more hideous than yawning hell.

We say, it was but for a moment; but in that little space the blackness of darkness overcame his soul. A shuddering of dread, of doubt, of fear, and all that horrid brood, the birth of[Pg 141] rayless and unutterable gloom, passed over him convulsively, and then the whole was gone. He had been too intensely wrought upon by the ecstacies of Faith. He shook off, by one great throe, the giant shadow of its natural enemy, this Doubt, which he now conceived had so long made his life accursed; and the rebound, by a necessary law, carried him to a yet greater and more unreasoning extreme of trust, and unquestioning confidence in this woman, as under God the instrument and medium for restoring him once more to life and the world.

He at once determined to visit her, and prove to his own soul the falsehood of these dark suspicions of the being who had thus moved and spoken his inmost life for good.


The evening was closing in when Manton made his way through a heavy, drifting snow-storm, to the number of the new address, near the corner of Broadway and Eighth Street, which had appeared upon the last notes of his correspondent. He was only made aware, thereby, that she had changed her residence from the rooms where he had visited her in Bond Street, and had thought no more about the matter; for it would have somewhat damped his enthusiasm, or rather have made him furiously indignant, to have been told that the woman he was visiting, with such sublimated sentiment, usually found means to adapt her rooms to the purpose and business in hand.

He was too much excited and pre-occupied to notice the significant appearance of the entry, further than to feel its dreariness, as he rang the bell and waited an unreasonable time for admission. The door was wide enough open to be sure, but he was not sufficiently initiated into the mystery of such places to[Pg 142] understand the meaning of this exactly, even if it had been possible for it to have excited his attention, in the then absorbed and abstracted condition of his whole faculties.

A negro servant at length made his appearance, and approaching him closely, answered his inquiries in a tone so insolently confidential that under other circumstances he would surely have been in danger of a flooring at the hands of Manton, who, however, only passed on up the stairs with a feeling of annoyance, the cause of which he made no attempt at apprehending. He ascended three steps at a bound, and in a moment tapped lightly at the door.

A soft voice, “Come!” was the response. The door flew open.

“Yes! yes! I come! Ah, Marie, mother, it must be so!” And dropping his cloak and hat upon the floor, he sprang forward to the woman, who, with her pale face beaming with unnatural light, was seated upon a lounge, where she seemed to have been awaiting him.

“My poor friend!” and she stretched forth her arms towards him. He laid his head upon her bosom, while his whole frame shivered violently, and he sobbed forth—

“Ah, blessed mother, let me rest here! My brain is bursting! I am become as a little child again! Ah, I am so weak! A wisp of straw would bind me! My own vaunted strength is gone—all gone! I have no pride, no scorn, no defiance now! My lips are in the dust! Ah, I am humble, humble, humble, now! Do thou, incarnation of that angel mother who has passed from earth, adopt me for thine own! Thine own, poor, lost, bewildered, panting child!”

“My poor friend, be calm!” and she caressed his wet cheek lightly with her fingers. “Only be calm, and God will give you strength to pass through this valley and shadow of trial.”

“God gave me strength!” said he, with a sharp and sudden change of tone, raising his head slightly to look in her face. “Woman, he gave me strength when he gave me life! I have[Pg 143] strength enough, as men call it, to move the world, aye, to wield Fate itself. It was not for such strength I came to you. It was not for such strength I would condescend to plead to mortal. It is for that soft and beautiful presence that liveth in immortal freshness, the spring-flower of the heart, beneath the moveless outstretched wing of Faith. Faith in our own kind. Faith in what is true and chaste in the purposes and charities, which, widely separate from the sensuous and the passionate, constitute all the blest amenities of intercourse between the sexes. ’Tis not that I would ask you to be all my mother, for that could not be; but that you should impersonate to me that calm joy, that serenity of repose in which I lived so long, upon a troubled earth, through her. It was she to whom I turned when the world buffeted and baffled me, to renew upon her bosom my faith in my fellows, and it was upon that sacred resting-place that I alone found soothing. She reconciled me to endure. She subdued my rebellious heart. She saved me from actual madness; aye, from the strait-waistcoat and the chain, when my brain was like to burst from throbbings that sounded like a thousand wild steeds thundering frantic over echoing plains; for the conflict was most fearful, when my young soul first arose to grapple with the world and its huge evils. In my impotent wrath I should have dashed myself to atoms against its moveless battlements of wrong, but that a low, sweet voice would quell and hold me back.

“I was the child of much travail, and years of weary and desponding watchfulness. I alone, of all her children, bore her features—she loved me unutterably, and shielded me always; it was not like the common love of mother for her child. In all things concerning me she seemed to be filled with a strange prescience—she read my inmost thought as if it were her own—as if it were a scroll made legible by illuminated letters. She seldom asked me questions, but simply told me what had happened. It was useless to attempt disguises with her; ministering in the flesh, she was my present angel, reconciling me to[Pg 144] life; and when she passed from me and the world, I first realised what darkness, death, and separation meant.

I was delirious I know not how long—for they seemed slowly tearing my heart out by the roots, chord by chord, with a heavy drag, until the last one snapped, and then I went into deep oblivion, from which I awoke a man of stone, so far as sensation went; and if stone could walk, with no more heart than it—or rather if you can imagine this walking statue moulded of the red lava, and only cooled upon the surface, you can better conceive the smouldering, heart-devouring chaos in which my life now moved among my fellows. I did not stop to curse and battle with my old foes, I only hated them with a liquid flame of scorn that found its level in me and was still. I would not harm them—no, not I—I wanted them to live for companionship in suffering. I gloried in their perversions—they filled me with ecstasy. I could not but add to them, and in ferocious delight threw myself into all the excesses and extremes that demonise the world.

“But ambition came to rescue my dignity at last, and of its iron despotism you have seen the worst. From its hard and meagre thraldom you have released me for the time, but it remains with you to hold me free. The wings that have borne me thus far on this bold upward flight must feel the soft freshening of the breeze and the glad welcoming of sunlight, to the purer realm they try, or flagging soon of the unwonted effort, they will sink again to seek the old accustomed sullen perch. The strength I need now is a subtler thing than any power of will within myself—purer than the breath of angels, it is chaste and mild as star-beams.

“It is you who have filled me with these yearnings—’tis to you that I look for their realisation, and yet you have not accepted that pure and holy relation conveyed in the ‘Marie, mother,’ I have named you, and plead with you to recognise.”

During all this time the face of the woman had been bowed so close to that of Manton that she seemed almost to touch with[Pg 145] her lips, first his temples and then his cheek. A close observer would have perceived, in her long and deep inspirations, her slightly parted lips and the slow creeping movement of the head, that she was steadily breathing upon certain well-known and highly sensitive nerves. The brain of Manton was too full to notice this strange manœuvre; but while he talked, that hot breath had been sending soft thrillings through his frame, which, at first unobserved, had gradually grown more palpably delicious, until, as he ceased to speak, he found his whole frame literally quivering with passion.

He was silent for a moment, that he might fully realise the sensation, and then, with a shudder of horror, sprang away from contact with the woman, exclaiming—

“My God! what is this? What an unnatural monster am I! or”—as a sudden gleam of suspicion shot through his brain—“Woman, is it you who have done this?” His face darkened in an expression of rage and ferocity which was absolutely hideous, as his eye glanced coldly on her.

“I ask you, woman, was it some infernal art of yours? Answer me!—for, by the Eternal God, you shall never thus tamper with the sacrednesses of a true man’s heart again!” and, grinding his teeth, he approached her menacingly, as if, in his blind rage, he would rend her to atoms.

The woman had taken but one glimpse of the terrible face before her, and then shrunk bowed and crouching into the corner of the lounge. Her neck and forehead flushed crimson, spasmodic retchings of the throat commenced, and when Manton stretched forth his hands, as if to clutch her, there was a deep suffocating cough, and the red, warm blood gushed in an appalling current from her mouth, bedabbling his fingers and her clothing.

The man was startled from his rage into immeasurable terror, as he shrank back with upraised hands—

“My God! I have killed—I have killed her by my brutal violence! I am accursed! I am accursed for ever! I have[Pg 146] slain the white dove of peace they sent to me from Heaven!” Snatching a towel, he was on his knees by her side in an instant; and placing it within her bloody hands, which were clutched upon her mouth, as if to stay the fatal tide, he burst into an agony of tears, praying in frantic accents to be forgiven; for he could see nothing but immediate death in a hemorrhage so violent as this seemed, and he remembered now, but too vividly, how often she had told him of her melancholy predisposition to such attacks from the lungs, by which she was kept constantly in expectation of being carried off.

Ah, with what fierce remorse, what agonised penitence, all these things came up to him now, as gush after gush of crimson saturated the towel! In answer to his prayers for forgiveness, she at last reached one cold, bloody hand to his, pressing it gently.

And now his self-possession was immediately restored. His only thought, at first, had been forgiveness before she died; now he thought alone how to save her. Strange, he did not once think of giving the alarm, and sending for medical aid; for he instantly felt the case was one beyond the reach of ordinary remedies, and one in which the most perfect restoration of both the moral and physical natures to absolute repose could alone avail.

He reached another towel from the toilet-table, on which he found, by the way, abundant supply, which, innocently enough, seemed to him remarkably apropos; then, seating himself by her side, he endeavored, by the use of all tender epithets which could be applied, to soothe and calm her. She suddenly seized his right hand and placed it upon the top of her head, and from that moment he thought he could faintly perceive an increase of his control over the more violent symptoms of the case.

More than half an hour of harrowing suspense had passed, before the paroxysm of bleeding had so far subsided as to enable him to breathe more freely; but even when the bleeding had at length entirely ceased, a long period of coma, or deathlike sleep,[Pg 147] induced by exhaustion, and suspended sensation, supervened, during which he continued to watch her with the most painful anxiety, still holding his right hand upon her head, while, with the other, he clasped the fingers of her left hand as she had requested. As she immediately showed signs of restlessness on his attempting to remove either hand, he felt himself compelled to sit thus, without change of position, for several hours, awaiting whatever might occur.

And, finally, after a slight stirring of the limbs, she suddenly opened her eyes upon his, and smiled with a clear, sweet smile, rather of pity and affection than of forgiveness or reproach. He felt his heart bound within him, and he could only utter, in a low tone, “The good God be blessed! I have not killed you! Oh, I will never be ugly and cruel again! I will be your good boy now, always!”

“Yes, yes,” she said in a clear, firm voice, “you were very naughty; but I am strong again now. You will never speak harshly to me again, will you? Lean here, my beautiful tiger; let me feel that fierce cheek upon my bosom once more. You have suffered, too; I must soothe you.”

Manton, who, by this time, had become thoroughly exhausted, bowed his head lightly towards her, in obedience; but he leaned it rather upon the cushion than her person.

It was now near twelve o’clock, and the man was literally worn out by the long and violent excitements which we have traced. Body, soul, and sense, utterly collapsed, the moment his head found a resting-place, into a deep sleep.

The lamp burnt low; there was not another sound to disturb the dimmed silence of that room, but the heavy breathings of Manton. But even that murky light was sufficient to disclose the figure of the woman stooping, as before, close to the face of the sleeper. Slowly her lips crept over, without touching it, lingering here and there, while her chest heaved with deep inspirations. You could not see, had you been a looker-on, the slight parting of the lips, nor could you have felt the heated[Pg 148] furnace of her breath play along the helpless surface of those prostrate nerves; but you might have seen an eager, oblique glitter in her eye, that grew the stronger while the darkness thickened, as ghouls look sharper out of graves they have uncovered. But then, had you been patient, you would have seen, as the hours went by, a gradual twitching of the nerves possess that deathlike frame—a restless motion, a moan, an all-unconscious smile of ecstatic delight; and then, if your sense was not frightened and appalled by the fierce, swift blaze from those still eyes above, a fiend’s triumph would be all familiar to you.

Alas! alas! will that young man wake sane? The owner of those glittering eyes seems to know; for hark! in her exceeding joy she whispers aloud, “He is mine now! See how his nerves vibrate. I was right in choosing this time of great prostration. I am scudding along those nerves like a sea-bird on currents of the sea; all that is animal in him is mine now. He is mine at last—the insolent tyro! I shall drag him down from his vaulting self-esteem; I shall humble him; I shall degrade him. Ah, ha! I shall feed upon him!”

There may be retribution on earth or in heaven. We will let that dark night’s history rest!

[Pg 149]


It would be well for sinners were there no to-morrow. At least it would be well for them so far as impunity in the enjoyment of sin was concerned. But it may not be; the inevitable time of reaction must follow that of excess, the wages of which are remorse.

The effect of that to-morrow upon poor Manton was fearfully crushing. At first he dared not think—the horrid realisation would have slain him. He dared not look up, lest he should see the great height from which he had fallen. He dared not hear the voices within him, or above him, lest they should blast his sense. He shrank from the sunlight, as though each ray were a fiery arrow, to cleave hissing through his brain. He dared not look his fellow-man in the face, lest he should see the mark upon his brow, call him accursed, and spit upon him. The innocent eye of childhood was the most dreaded basilisk to him; and the face of a pure woman made him shrink and shudder in affrighted awe. His shadow seemed a spectral mockery to him, for it no longer glided with him, straight and firm, but was bowed, and crept sneaking after.

The burden of a hundred years had fallen upon the young man’s shoulders in one fatal night—a ghastly, loathsome burthen of self-contempt—his face had grown old; his eyes lost their proud fire; his lips, their firm expression; there was no longer any “aspiration in his heel.” The haughty, bounding self-reliance, the unflinching, upward look, were gone! gone! Manton had lost his self-respect.

Ah, fearful, fearful loss, that it is! There was a leaden desperation in the man’s whole air that was shocking, even to those who had never seen him before. There was no bravado in it—it[Pg 150] was sultry, slow and self-consuming—shrank from observation, and burned inward.

He neither sought nor found any palliation for himself. He blamed no one else; his pride would not permit him to confess to himself that he had been unduly influenced, or that any unfair advantage had or could have been taken of him. No, it was his own fall. His own grossness had profaned those associations which he had stupidly deluded himself, for years, into supposing to be really sacred things in his life. He had rendered himself, thereby, unfit for Heaven, unworthy Earth, too base for even Hell.

His first sullen recourse was to the wine-cup, that he might numb the unendurable agonies. He drank to monstrous excess; but, no, it would not do; that cold burning, as of an ice-bolt through his heart and brain, lay there still, in the two centres. He sought and found men like himself, with great thoughts and stricken hearts; like himself, brain-workers; and in the fiercest orgies of desperation, hours and hours were spent without attaining to one moment of the coveted oblivion.

The evening had long set in among such scenes, when a note was suddenly thrust into his hand from behind, and as he turned his head, he saw a boy hastily making his way through the thronged room. This movement had not been observed by his noisy companions—he hastily concealed the note.

He had recognised the superscription with a feeling of deathly sickness, for which he could not clearly account. It was as if the fresh wounds were all to be torn open again.

He soon after found an opportunity to withdraw beyond observation, and opened the note, which contained only these words:—

My Friend:—why have you left me all day? come to me—I am dying.


The sheet was bespattered with blood. Manton nearly fainted. Recovering himself in a moment, he muttered, “Infernal[Pg 151] brute that I am! to have neglected the poor, frail creature thus—after last night, too! May God forgive me, for I shall never forgive myself!” He hurried from the room.

The scene, on reaching her apartment, was, as may by this time be expected, ghastly enough. But as we have seen a little more of these horrid bleeding scenes than Manton has, we will refrain from another description of one, since we have found that they only differed in the intensity of effect and degree in the precise ratio of the results to be attained. In this instance she had not reckoned without her host.

Manton, who never dreamed of suspecting her, and had been fully impressed with the belief that these attacks were fearfully dangerous, and that the magnetism of his touch, whether imaginary or otherwise, could alone suffice to restore her to the calmness necessary for the arrest of the hemorrhage, felt as if an awful responsibility had been suddenly devolved upon him, as he thus apparently held the very life of this singular woman in his own hands.

This impression had been consummately fixed upon the mind of Manton by her obstinate refusal to permit the presence, at their interviews, of any third person, not even that of her own child. She could thus, through his generous humanity, most effectually draw him to her side; and, when once in her reach, he was again in the power of those fearful arts, of which we have seen something.

The life of Manton became now a succession of the “to-morrows” of remorse. Each new sun arose upon its succeeding scene of wilful, self-degrading excess, such as we have witnessed. He never permitted himself to grow fully sober, but drank incessantly—morning, noon and night. But that the wines he chose were comparatively light, and less rapidly fatal than the heavier and more dangerous drinks of our country, he must have, undoubtedly, destroyed his life, as he did his business reputation.

[Pg 152]

He still wrote brilliantly—nay, even with a fierce and poetic dazzle of style that surprised men greatly, and added much to the notoriety, if not to the solidity of his reputation. But everything went wrong with him. His purse was regularly drained by a remorseless hand; his wardrobe fell into neglect, and the marks of excess upon his fine, proud features, were at once rendered conspicuous by their association with almost seedy habiliments.

Before one year had passed he had begun to exhibit himself before men, in the pitiable light of one who had more pride left than self-respect. In a word, he had fallen fully into the toils of the hellish Jezabel.

Remember, in judging of poor Manton, that while he is hoodwinked, through much that is most noble in him, we see this woman through the strong light of day. He looks upon her as a devotee of science, in the holy cause of human progress and social amelioration. A poet and enthusiast, his life is dedicate to both. He regards her as a frail being, whose life hangs by a thread, and that thread held in his own hand—degraded into a false relation to himself—a relation which he loathes, to be sure, and which he feels to be heavily and swiftly dragging him downward, every instant, while it lasts, but which he dare not utterly break, for the fear that that frail thread of life, of which he has so strangely become the holder, should be snapped. He has only seen her, through her representations of herself; and therefore, all that is chivalrous and tender in him has been aroused in her defence, as the white roe, hunted into his strong protection for defence against the demon hounds of New England bigotry, jealousy, and fear. Apart from all other considerations, these were sufficient to compel an utter negation of self, in all that related to her, as well as a hasty dismissal of those suspicions that might thrust themselves upon him.

A house, in the meantime, had been taken for her in Tenth Street, for the rent of which Manton and the benevolent Doctor Weasel were to become jointly responsible. But the woman[Pg 153] was far too astute to permit any such entanglements as might lead, prospectively, to mutual explanations between her victims. The Doctor alone ultimately became her endorser for the rent. She had other designs upon the less plethoric purse of Manton.

In entering upon this arrangement, Manton had been induced to believe, by her own representations, that for ten years before the name of Preissnitz had been heard of on this continent, this woman had been practising water-cure among her women patients. Manton had been sufficiently educated in the profession, to understand that its general pretensions were essentially empirical. He was too much an Indian, indeed, and had lived too much among Indians, to regard anything beyond the simplest natural agents as efficiently curative. He therefore recognized what Preissnitz had discovered, as simply confirmatory of his experience of the usages of savage life, and his own observation so far as it went. It contained not to him any more than any other pathy, the essential vis medicatrix of nature; but it seemed good to him, because it was new to the popular sense, and was well worthy to be urged upon its recognition, and thus to find its proper place among the other systems.

He entered upon the project with the fullest enthusiasm, for this woman seemed to him, from her personal habits and untiring energy, to be specially set apart to preach the crusade of physical cleanliness to her sex. The house was therefore occupied by her as proprietress and female physician, while Manton, Doctor Weasel, the fiery Jeannette, and victimised Edmond, of a former scene, occupied respective chambers as boarders, and patrons of the new enterprise.

[Pg 154]


Never did moon so ebb, or seas so wane,
But they left Hope-seed to fill up again.

But even in the black abysses of the hell down which he had fallen, a flower could grow to the eye of Manton. It was the strange birth of a wizard evil place; yet, as it spread beneath his nourishing eye and hand, it daily grew more beautiful to him. It may have been the unconscious contrast of a something young, living, and blooming in an unnatural sphere like this, where he, with the sudden weight of centuries upon him, breathed with such heavy gasping. He could not tell what it was that thickened this drear air; he only felt the oppression on his lungs, and shuddered when sleep had partly sobered him, and he could realise it for the hour. His sympathies had been first touched for that ugly, impish, persecuted child, to which we have frequently referred, because he saw, at once, that the mother’s querulous jealousy was forever subjecting it to a species of covert torture, which kept it always haggard and wretched. Had it been a sick and neglected kitten on the hearth, he would have felt for it the same kind of sympathy. He accordingly noticed and caressed the child, and endeavoured to rouse its low, ignoble frontal region into activity. The response of a hungry and vivid animality, surprised him with its aptitude of apparent intelligence. He did not understand that marvellous faculty of imitation which, in all the animal tribes approximating man, or which, in other words, are born with embryo souls, assumes the external semblances of intelligent expression. The faculty of music is below man, and common both to bird and beast; and[Pg 155] he had yet to learn, to his heavy cost, how a perception and detection of the physical harmonies of sound may be utterly distinct from the spiritual comprehension of their meaning. He had yet to fearfully realise how this insensate aptitude of harmony, which enables the monkey of the organ-grinder to dance in perfect time the most wild and rapid strathspey that ever Highland pibroch rung, or a stupid parrot to whistle the divinest strains of Mozart, could yet bestow upon the combined parrot and monkey of our own race that semblant mockery of the “gift of tongues,” the use of the soul’s higher language. In a word, he would have been greatly shocked to hear the affiliated Poll and Jocko talk down Shelley in his own etherealisms, and appal Byron with the mad bravado of forgotten lines from his own reckless and besotted misanthropy.

Poll and Jocko are easy enough to detect through all the human disguises of their combined powers, if the man of common sense and society meets the impersonation for the first time, when developed, or in most of the latter stages of development. But it was a very different thing with poor Manton, who only saw an undeveloped, abject animal, from which he expected little but the gratitude of the brute for protection, and from which anything like a vivid response was as surprising as it was unconsciously gratifying to his egotism, for the reason that all that was really pleasurable in it was owing to the fact of its constituting a close reflection of his own mind.

Gradually the feeling took possession of him, as he observed in her an excessive sensibility, that could weep at a moment’s warning, and laugh like April through the glistening storm in the next instant, that he would make amends for the great sin of his life, in working upon this sensitive organisation for good. The fine delicate chords of this frail instrument might be made to respond to the divinest notes; and this creature, with developed brain and expanding soul, become a medium of the loftiest intelligence—aye, be even to him the consoler of after years.[Pg 156] The idea was a strange one, but it suited the intellectual audacity of Manton for that very reason.

It seemed to his darkened hopelessness, that here, through the innocence of childhood, he might renew that broken chain of living light which held him in communion with the upper world, until its blackened, severed links, falling about him, had left his manacled soul in hopeless bondage. He dreamed that if he guarded it with holy zeal, his prayers might rise upon the first odors that went up from this strange young flower to Heaven, and bring its light down too, in forgiveness, to him.

He did not know—for he had fed on poisons until it had become a kind of second nature to him, as to that old Pontiac king—that the pure light of spheres could never reach him through this lurid glare, which he had now come to think the natural day—that the odor of no flower could rise through its thickened air to meet the keen, grey stars. The man became bewildered with the gorgeous dream he nourished; and, day by day, without knowing why, he threw himself between the child and the baleful shadow of its mother. He spread his hands above her in blessing; he watched that he might shield her.

From the moment when his attention had been first attracted to her, she seemed to become illuminated; her ungainly body appeared assuming the lines of beauty; her mean, harsh features, softened, as the gnarled shrub assumes, in slow unfolding, the graceful mellowed drapery of spring. The coarse, elfin locks, grew tamed and smooth; a dark blue, in soft and gradual displacement, entered the sharp, greenish, animal eyes. The low, ape-like forehead, swelled above meekly-curved brows that had lost their hirsute squareness. Indeed, so rapid was the expansion of the frontal region, that it absolutely startled and affrighted the devout experimenter, when he placed his hand upon it, and felt it almost lifted by the wild throbbings beneath. The work was progressing too fast; he feared that the general health of the subject might fail; but how to check and remedy this powerful reaction, so as to control it from fatal results, now so[Pg 157] fully occupied the spiritual subtilty of the man, as to leave him little time to think of himself.

The loathsome contact of the reptile mother daily grew more abhorrent to him; and her characteristic cunning soon discovered that she had no real hold upon him herself, and at once encouraged this growing interest in the daughter, with the same assiduous art that she had before displayed in tormenting her with jealous gibes. Through this help she hoped he might be held within her reach. She had already, by her malapert, silly, malignant interference, so far completed his ruin as to have brought about a desperate, and finally fatal collision, between himself and his business associate in the Journal, which his genius had built up; and now he was thrown again to struggle hap-hazard with the world, he had become more reckless and desperate than before, so that she feared he might, at any time, break away from his bondage, and that, too, while he was still of use to her, and before she had gloated fully upon his ruin. She had studiously taught the child the process of those infernal arts, of which we have seen something; and, although the creature understood nothing of the rationale involved, yet her imitative cunning made her a most sharp pupil and practitioner.

By saying that the child did not understand, we mean to convey, that she could not have explained to herself, or to others, what effect certain manipulations would produce specifically; yet she had a feeling of them, a vicious intuition, that answered with her all the purposes of intellection. To look at her through the eyes of Manton, the uncouth and grotesque girl had become a fond and graceful plaything, that clung about him in soft caresses, that kept his heart warmed towards her, and caused him to regard the mother even with a modified sense of the growing disgust which was possessing him, and of which her shrewd insight made her fully aware.

Her child had become necessary as a bait—and her child let it be—for, in her hideous creed, nothing was sacred. She was filled towards her victim with fierce yearnings, and, had she[Pg 158] possessed the actual entity of soul, would have loved him madly—but no, she hated him, as the slave hates the despotic master to whom he hourly cringes for each favor. In a word, she hated him as a man—or in his double capacity of a spiritual being, rather; and, as even her hate was secondary, her appetites towards him were those of the weir-wolf for mankind. She would devour him body and soul, but she meant to feast alone.

Fearing lest the tenderness of his nature might be too strongly moved towards the child, if not diverted in other directions, she at once set her subtle wits to work to furnish her “Tiger,” as she called him, with sufficient toys of the same kind to keep him quiet, and avert the chances of his leaning more towards one than another. Some letters were hastily despatched to New England, and the result was the appearance of a fair and gentle child, about the age of her own.

Elna and the stranger, Moione, sprang into each other’s arms when they met, as if their very heart were one. They were fast friends, it seemed, and a thousand times had Elna said how dearly she loved the gentle Moione; and so jealous were the children of their first meeting, that Manton saw little of either for several days. A glance at the broad, serene brow, great, clear eyes, and delicate mouth of the new-comer, filled him with a strange, inexplicable sense of confidence, and even relief; which he could not well explain, to be sure, because it was too undefined to himself. He could only wonder how that white-browed creature came in such a place. It seemed as though it were a promise, answering to his prayer for the elfish Elna, that this calm spirit should have descended in their midst.

The vehement and headstrong petulance of her nature promised to find here a balance that would sober it within the bounds of reason; and strangely, although he saw hope for her, and for his own yet undefined purpose in her development, he saw nothing definitely in the stranger, but a good angel sent to aid him. His soul went out to greet her, but was it yet his heart?

[Pg 159]

These children were both dedicate to art; and Manton found it now by far the most pleasing occupation, to watch and give direction to the rapid unfolding of this instinct for the creative. The newly-aroused intellect of Elna here displayed many impish and brilliant characteristics of the imitative faculty, that might easily have been mistaken, by a less partial observer than Manton, for genius. These peculiarities were strikingly contrasted with the placid, but vigorous style of Moione, to a degree that one formed the exact offset to the other, not alone in art, but in all physical and mental, as well as spiritual idiosyncrasies. As these children grew upon him, there seemed something strangely familiar in them to Manton. He often tried to account for this to himself. Had he seen them before in dreams? Had he known them in some different world, and in a previous stage of being? Why was it that the vehement eccentricities of temper, the elfin wildness of motion, and light, mocking spirit of this child Elna, all seemed to him so familiar? Why was it that the coming of the fair-browed Moione had surprised him so little? There was that in her pure, calm face to startle most observers; yet, from the first, he had looked upon it as a matter of course, and as if he had unconsciously waited for her to arrive. Why was it that he had felt comforted since she came? What was it, in that name of hers, that sounded to him so much like a half-forgotten music-note?

So he had questioned himself a thousand times, becoming each day more puzzled than the last, until accident furnished him with the curious solution of this mystery. One day, in looking over a pile of old manuscripts, he found one, upon which he seized, with an unaccountable thrill. In an instant the whole thing flashed upon him—

“I have it! I have it! Here the mystery is solved at last! Strange, that I should so utterly have forgotten this manuscript! Two years ago, before I ever saw these people, this strange foreshadowing of what seems now a reality in my life, came to me in a summer’s day-dream; and I wrote it off, to be thrown[Pg 160] aside and forgotten until this moment. It seems the most wonderful coincidence. I am no believer in miracles, but this appears a marvellous reach of the soul into the future; I was conscious of nothing when I wrote, but the pleasure of embodying in words what seemed to me a beautiful thought; strange, it should have been thus thrown aside and so utterly forgotten, until the increasing coincidences of my present relation have gradually forced me back to find it! What blind instinct, struggling in me, sent me here to look through these old manuscripts, with no definite purpose? What vague struggle of consciousness and memory is this, that has been moving me for weeks to understand why it is those children seem so familiar to me? Strange! strange! strange!”

Manton now proceeded to read this curious manuscript, the contents of which we shall also place before you:—


Friend, do you know the Mocking-Bird? I warrant, if he is a familiar of your childhood, you have a thousand times wondered at the strange malignant intelligence which characterises his tyrannical supremacy over all the feathered singers. Not only is he “accepted king of song,” but he is the pest and terror of the groves and meadows. Spiteful and subtle, he conquers in battle, or by manœuvre, all in reach of him; and you may easily detect his favourite haunts, by the incessant din and clatter of wrath and fear he keeps up by his malicious mockery among his neighbors. From my earliest childhood, I can remember having been singularly impressed by the weird and curious humors of this creature. Since those times of innocent wonder, I have been a wide wanderer. The prepossessions of my fancy were irresistibly attracted by the wild legend I give below. It was told me by an old Wako warrior.

On a hill-side, above an ancient village of his tribe, while we were stretched upon the grass beneath a moss-hung live-oak, he[Pg 161] related it. The moon was out, gilding with silver alchemy the shrub-crowned crests of prairie undulations—piled, as we may conceive the waves of the ocean would be—stayed by a word from heaven, while on the leap before a tempest. It was a fitting scene for such a story. Out from the dark gorges on every side ascended the night-song of the mocking-bird. The old man had listened to the rapid gushing symphonies for some time in silence, then drawing a long breath he remarked—“That is an evil bird!” I begged him for an explanation, and he proceeded.

Those peculiarities, indeed, of the Indian’s phraseology—those broken-pointed expressions, so condensed and meaning, and eked out continually by significant gestures, I could hardly hope to convey, were I fully able to remember them. The wild and fanciful methods of the Indian mind, believing what it dwells upon, yet half conscious that it is dreaming, are difficult to remember or repeat. We can only do the best we may to preserve the idiosyncracies.

“Yahshan, the Sun,” said the old chief, pausing reverently as he uttered the name, “in his great wigwam beyond the big waters, made the first Wako! He laid him in his fire-canoe and oared his way up through the thick mists that hung everywhere. When his arm tired of pulling, he took him out and stretched him upon his back on a wide dark bank, and then rowed on his path and left him. The Wako lay like the stem of an oak, still and cold. Before Yahshan entered his night-lodge in the west, a dim hazy light had hung over the figure, but this only made its broad couch look blacker—for nothing that had form could be seen. Yahshau, the Moon—the pale bride of Yahshan—came forth when he had gone in, and rowed her silver bark through the ugly shadows above the Wako, to watch lest the spirits that hated Yahshan should do harm to his work, which it had taken him many long ages to finish. He was very proud of it, and the evil spirits hated him that he had made a thing so goodly to look upon; and they drifted hideous[Pg 162] phantom shapes across the way of Yahshau, and tried to overwhelm her light canoe, but its keen shining prow cut through them all, and left them torn and ragged behind her. At last they fled, for when her eye was on the mute form of the Wako, they feared to do it any harm. When all were gone, and nothing that looked like mischief was to be seen, she too went in. And then they flocked out from the deep places where they had been hid, and gathered with hot fingers and red eyes about the quiet Wako. He did not stir, for his senses had not yet been waked. Quick they pried open his clenched teeth, and poured a green smoking fluid down his throat. Just then the prow of the fire-canoe appeared parting the eastern mists, and they all fled.

“Yahshan came on. He looked upon his work and smiled—for he did not know that evil had been wrought—and came now in glory, riding on golden billows, scattering the chill mists that clung around the icy form, for it was time to waken it up with life. He rolled the yellow flood upon it, and the figure shivered; again the glowing waves pass over it—the figure was convulsed—tossed its limbs about, and rocked to and fro. Its eyes were open, but it saw not; its ears were open, but it heard not; it was tasteless and dumb; it smelt not, nor did it feel. Life had gone into it, and the heart beat, the pulses throbbed, the blood coursed fast, and it was monstrous strong. But what was this? Being, self-fed and self-consumed, hung upon the void of midnight, hurried and driven from its own still gathering impulse through a chaos of crude matter. That green liquid of the evil one now rushed in burning currents through the veins, and it dashed away, crawling, leaping, tumbling, like a mad torrent, over piled-up rocks across the dark plains, striking against hard, formless things, and rebounding to rush on more swiftly, till it had left the fire-canoe and Yahshan all astounded, far behind, and the terror of darkness was beneath and above it. But what was this to it? On! on! the green fire still burned within, and it must go—chasms and cliffs, with[Pg 163] jagged rocks—into them, over them all. What were rough points and bruises, and crashing down steeps, and midnight to it? There was no feeling, yet the heart leaped, the blood careered, the limbs must follow. Motion, blind motion—no control, no guide—but through and over everything, move it must.

“The bad spirits thronged after it, grating and clanging their scaly pinions against each other, and creaking their pleasant gibes, when suddenly there was no footing, and the headlong form pitched down, downward, whirling through the empty gloom, while all the herd of ill things laughed and flapped themselves in the prone wake behind it.

“At once, with a sigh of wings, like a sharp moan of tree-harps, a shape of light shot arrowy down amidst them. They scattered, howling with affright. It bore up the falling Wako on strong, shining vans an instant, then stretching them out, subsided slowly, and laid it on a soft, dark couch again. This was Ah-i-wee-o, the soul of harmonies, the good spirit of sweet sounds. She is the great queen of spirit-land. Yahshan and Yahshau are her slaves; and all the lesser fire-canoes that skim in Yahshau’s train obey her. She gives all life its outer being; to know and feel beyond itself—without her, life is only motion. There is no form, no law, no existence beside, for she holds and grants them each sense, and in them reveals all these. Yahshan could give life—but not content with this, he was ambitious. The formless chaos his fire-canoe sailed over must be a world of beauty! A soul dwelt in it, but that world was passionless and barren. Yahshan had given life to many shapes, but the cold spirit had scorned them all; and yet she must be wooed to wed herself to life, that, out of the glow of that embrace, might spring the eternal round of thoughts made vital, clothed out of shapeless matter with symmetry. He planned an impious scheme. He would not pray the good Ah-i-wee-o for aid, but would act alone, and be the great Medicine Spirit. He would frame a creature from out the subtlest elements within[Pg 164] this chaos, so exquisite that, when it came to live, confusion would be harmonised in it, and the order of its being go forth the law of beauty and of form to all. Then that coy spirit of desolation would be won at last, and passing into its life, a royal lineage would spring forth, and procreation wake insensate matter in myriad living things, gorgeous ideals, harmoniously wrought, and self-producing forever. All these would be his subjects, and he would rule, with Yahshau, this most excellent show himself! So he labored on, in the deep chambers of his night-lodge, through many cycles. The work was finished. It lay in state, within his golden wigwam at the east, that Yahshau and her glittering train might look upon it and wonder. Then he carried it forth; but evil spirits are wise, and, though it was a mighty work, they knew that it was too daring, and that Ah-i-wee-o would punish its presumption, and would not let the senses wake with life; so they poured that fearful fluid in, that fires the blood, and makes life slay itself. They say the white man has dealt with them, has learned from them the spell of that bad magic, and makes his “fire-water” by it. So when Yahshan waked up life, its power waked too; for he knew not of the craft, and it tore the glorious work from out his hands, while they flew behind and mocked him.

“Ah-i-wee-o bent over the swooning Wako; for the life that had been so tumultuous scarcely now stirred his pulse. She was a thing of beams, silvery and clear; a warm, lustrous light clung around her limbs and showed their delicate outline. She floated on the air, her wings and figure waving with its eddies, like the shadows of a Lee-ka-loo bird upon the sea. Her eyes, deep as the fathomless blue heaven, looked down on him with pity and unutterable gentleness. It was a marvellous work the overdaring Yahshan had accomplished. Beautiful, exceedingly, was that mute form, and rarely exquisite its finish. Must that glorious mechanism be destroyed, and all the noble purpose of its framing be lost? No! She moves her tiny, flower-like hand above it, and every blotch and all the bruises disappear,[Pg 165] and it was fair to view, and perfect as when Yahshan had given it the last touch. Now she stooped beside and touched him, white sparks flew up, and she sang a low song. At the first note, the dark, formless masses round them quivered and rocked: the Wako smiled; for feeling now first thrilled along his nerves. The song rose; the dumb things shook and stirred the more. She touched his nostrils and his lips; the sparks played between her small fingers and danced up. Yet a louder note swelled out, and the thick mists swayed and curled, and a cool wind rushed through them, and dashed a stream of odor on his face. He drew long breaths, and sighed with the burden of delight, and moved his lips to inarticulate joy; and now that wondrous song pealed out clear, ringing bursts that shook the blue arch and swung the fire-boats, cadent with its gushes; and through the dim mists great shapes, like rocks and trees, leaped to the measure, marshalling in lines and order. Now she pressed his eyelids with her fingers; the silver sparks sprung in exulting showers, snapping and bursting with sweet smells. Once more, pealing triumphant, a keen, shining flood, that symphony poured wilder forth; his eyes fly open, and that heavy mist, like a great curtain, slowly rises. First the green grass and the flowers, bending beneath the gentle breeze, turn their deep eyes and spotted cups towards him in salutation, and all the creeping things and birds, that love the low herbs, dew-besprent, are there: and as the mist goes up, majestically slow, other forms of bird and beast are seen, and dark trunks of trees, and great stems beside them, looking like trees, until his eyes have traced them up to the great moose, the big-horned stag, the grizzly bear, and the vast-moving mammoth. But then it has drunk the harmony of grades; for all are there. And, side by side, he marks how, from the crawler, every step ascends, in beautiful gradation; the last linked to the first in one all-perfect chain. Then came the knotted limbs, with all their burden of green leaves; and, underneath, the round, yellow fruits, or purple flushing of rich clusters and gay forms, that flutter through them[Pg 166] on wings of amethyst, or flame, or gold, their every movement a music-note, although all was dumb to him as yet. Still higher the mist-curtain goes; and the grey cliffs, with shining peaks, and a proud, fierce-eyed bird perched on them, meet his gaze; and then the mists float far away, and scatter into clouds, and all the splendor and the pomp of the thronged earth is spread, a gorgeous, but voiceless, revelation to his new being. With every touch of the enchantress, Ah-i-wee-o, the soul of chaos had passed into a sense; and all the pleasant harmonies the Wako felt, and all the scented harmonies the Wako tasted and inhaled—all the thoughts of harmony in grand or graceful forms the Wako saw—that blissful interpenetration gave conception to, and the magic of that powerful song brought forth. One more act, and his high marriage to eternity is consummated: ecstacy has found a voice, and all these harmonies articulation, yet his ears were sealed; and though music flowed in through every other sense, his dumb lips strove in vain to wake its language.

“But this was the supremest gift of all. This was the charm that had drawn beauty out of chaos—the magic by which Ah-i-wee-o ruled in spirit-land, and chained the powers of evil. It were death to spirits less than she, to hear the fierce crashing of those awful symphonies she knew. His nature could not bear the revelation. Besides, what had he to do with that celestial minstrelsy which led the heaven-fires on their rounds? There was ambition, full enough, up there; and Yahshan had been playing far too rashly on those burning keys. She would not curse this perfect being with a gift too high, and add another daring rebel to her realm! No! he must be ruler here, as she ruled everything. From all those harmonies he must extract the tone, and on it weave his song of power to lead them captive. This divine music is the voice of all the beautiful, the higher language of every sense; and not until the soul is brimmed to overflowing with sparkling thoughts of it, drank in through each of them, will the beamy current run, as streams do[Pg 167] in the skies. He must lead the choir of all this being—yet, this infinite sense would overbear his nature, if suddenly revealed; it can only wake in other creatures, as its birth matures in him—and he shall go forth into silence—every living thing shall be mute—and from the low preluding of the waters and the winds the first notes of his exulting powers shall be learned, and they shall learn of him—until all the air is one harmony—all breath takes music on, and echoes bear the twice-told glee—until fainter, more faint, it is gone!

“She touched his ears—the sparks leaped up—she pressed his lips with one entrancing kiss and sprang away. The quick moan of her pinions cleaving the air is the first sound that steals on the new sense, and stirs the dead vast of silence that weighs upon his being. And now myriad soft wavelets of the infinite ocean follow—breaking gently over him—the whisper of quivering leaves to the caressing zephyr, the low tremble of the forest-chords, and the deep booming of great waves afar off; the ring and dash of cascades nearer, the tinkling of clear drops in caves, the gush and ripple of cold springs, the beat of pulses, the purr of breathings, and the hum of wings, in gentlest ravishment possess his soul—for now is the bridal of his immortality consummate in a delirium of bliss, and lulled upon his couch he sweetly sinks into the first sleep.

“The Wako is roused next morning by a warm flood from the fire-canoe—for Yahshan had come forth right royally, and though Ah-i-wee-o had humbled his presumption and would not permit him to be sole lord as he had hoped, yet all he had dared attempt had been accomplished, and he believed it to be in full his own work, and thus wore all his panoply of splendor in honor of his glorious creation. The Wako rose, and lo! around him as far as the eye could reach, a mighty multitude of all the animals of the earth were rising too. They waited for their king, and it was he. They came flocking around him to caress him in obeisance—a gentle, eager throng!

“The panther stroked his sleek glossy fur against his legs and[Pg 168] rolled and gambolled like a kitten at his feet. The great bear of the north rubbed his jaws against his hand and begged to be caressed. Big mountain (the mammoth) thrust his huge tusks in for a touch; and the white-horned moose bowed his smooth-bristled neck and plead with meek black eyes for notice. All the huge grotesque things pressed around, and the smaller creatures, pied, flecked, and dotted, crowded beneath their heavy limbs, unhurt—all, full of confidence and love, gracefully sporting to win one glance.

“Above him the air was thick with wings, and the whirr and winnowing of soft plumes made pleasant music, and the play of brilliant hues was like a thousand rainbows arched and waving over him; and the little flame-like things would flutter near his face, and gleam their sharp brown eyes into his, and strive, in vain, to warble out their joy, for their sweet pipes were not yet tuned.

“All were there, great and small; and the wide-winged eagle came from its high perch and circled round his head, and brushed its strong plumes with light caressing, through his hair. He went with them into the forest burdened with rich fruits, and ate, then shook the heavy clusters down for them. Then he passed forth to look upon the land, the first shepherd, with that countless flock thronging about his steps.

“It was, indeed, a lovely land! Here a rolling meadow, there a heavy wood; the trees all bearing fruits, or hung with vines and bloom. A still, deep river, doubled sky and trees in its clear mirror, and he gazed, in a half-waking wonder, when the ripples the swan-trains made, shivered it to glancing fragments.

“But wander which way he might, he came to tall gray cliffs, with small streams, that pitched from their cloudy summits, and bounding off from the rough crags below, filled all the valley with cool spray.

“He found his lovely world was fenced about with square towering rocks, that nothing without wings could scale. But[Pg 169] there was room enough for all, and profuse plenty the fruitful earth supplied.

“At noon, he went beneath a grove of sycamores, where a great stream gushed out, and laid him down beside its brink, while his subjects stretched and perched around him, in the shade, to rest. His sleep was broken by strange new melodies that crept in. He opened his eyes; near him were two maidens, and all the birds and beasts were gathered around them, and they were singing gay, delicious airs, teaching the birds to warble.

“One of them was fair—white as the milk-white fawn that licked her hand and gazed up at her musical lips; but her hair was dark and a strong light gleamed in her small black eye. This was Ki-ke-wee. She sung and laughed and kissed the song-bird that perched upon her finger, and when it tried to follow her wild carol, she mocked its blunders and stamped her tiny foot, and frowned and laughed and warbled yet a wilder symphony to puzzle it the more.

“The other was a darker maiden with large, gentle eyes. This was Mnemoia; her voice was soft and low—and she sang sweet songs and looked full of love and patience. The Wako half rose in joy and wonder. They bounded towards him—sang a rapturous roundelay to a giddy, whirling dance, then threw their arms about his neck and kissed him. They became his squaws, and Yahshau smiled upon them as she sailed by that night.

“The Wako was very happy and Ki-ke-wee was his favorite. She grew very lovely and full of curious whims that each day became more odd. She loved the blue jay most among the birds, and taught him all his antics; and the magpie was a pet; and the passionate, bright hummer lived about her lips.

“As yet nothing but sounds and scenes of love were in that little world; and the strong, terrible brutes knew not that they had fierce passions or the taste for blood; but Ki-ke-wee would stand before the grizzly bear and pluck his jaws and switch his[Pg 170] fierce eyeballs until he learned to growl with pain, and then she would mock him; and when he growled louder she would mock him still, until at last he roared with rage and sprang upon the panther—for he feared Ki-ke-wee’s eye!—and the panther tasted blood and sprang to the battle fiercely. And now the tempest broke, and everything with claws and fangs howled in the savage discord. Ki-ke-wee clapped her hands and laughed. Mnemoia raised the enchantment of her song above it all, and it was stilled. Then Ki-ke-wee would tease the eagle and mock him till he screamed and dashed at the great vulture in his rage; and she would dance and shout for joy; and Mnemoia would quell it, then go aside and weep.

“The Wako loved the beautiful witch, and when he plead with her she would mock even him, and every day and every hour this mocking elf stirred some new passion, until at last even Mnemoia’s song had lost its charm, and the bear skulked in the deep thickets and shook them with his growl, and the panther moaned from out the forest, and the gaunt wolves snapped their white teeth and howled, and all the timid things fled away from these fierce voices; and battle, and blood, and death, were rife where love and peace had been. The birds scattered in affright and sung their new songs in snatches only; and hateful sounds of deadly passions, and the screams and wails of fear, resounded everywhere.

“Ki-ke-wee made a bow and poisoned the barbed arrow, and mocked the death-bleat of the milk-white fawn when the Wako shot it at her tempting. This was too much! Ah-i-wee-o cursed her and she fell. The Wako knelt over her and wept; and when the dissolving spasm seemed upon her, he covered his face with his hands and wailed aloud. A voice just above him wailed too! He looked up surprised; a strange bird with graceful form and sharp black spiteful eyes was mocking him! He looked down—Ki-ke-wee was gone; and the strange bird gaped its long bill hissing at him; and when it spread its wings[Pg 171] to bound up from the twig in an ecstacy of passion, he knew by the broad white stripes across them that it was Ki-ke-wee!

“He found the neglected Mnemoia weeping in the forest; and soon after they scaled the cliffs and fled from that fair land to hide from Ki-ke-wee. But she has followed them and mocks their children yet, and we dare not slay her, for the wise men think she was the daughter of the Evil Spirit that poured the green fluid down the Wako’s throat, and that the same bad fire burns yet in our veins. Our hunters chasing the mountain-goat sometimes look from the bluffs into that lovely vale that lies in the bosom of the Rocky Mountain chain, but they never venture to go down!”


Some short glimpses of daily scenes may convey, perhaps, a clearer idea of how life sped now with Manton, amidst the new charms which it had gained. The whole man was rapidly changed; his habits of excess in wine-drinking were, in a great measure, thrown aside, and the hours he had thus wasted in stupifying madness, were given to the society and development of these fair children, that had thus come to him in blessing. He now knew no difference in his thought of them; they had grown to be twin-flowers to him, transfused with a most tender light of spring-dawn in his darkened heart. Yes, there it was—that little spot of light—he felt it warm, and slowly spread and waken in soft beams, tremulous and faint, along the ice-bound chaos where the life-floods met within him.

His brow would grow serene and lose its painful tension, as, hour by hour, he watched beside them, guiding their wayward[Pg 172] pencils with his sure eye, to teach their yet irresolute wills and unaccustomed fingers to act together with that consciousness that always triumphs; and then, with the long evenings, came lessons in botany, or the eloquent discourse, half poetical, half rhapsodical, and all inspired, which led their young spirits forth, amidst the mysteries and beauties of the other kingdoms of the natural world. Or, when the stars came out, and their calm inspiration slid into his soul, he communed with them of higher themes—of aspirations holy, wise, and pure—of the heroic souls of art—of their pale, unmoved dedication, through dark, saddened years of neglect, obloquy, and want—of their glorious triumphs, their immortal bays, that time can never wither—until, with trembling lips and glistening eyes, they hung upon his words.

It was wonderful to see how quickly Elna wept, like an April shower, at any tender word or thought; but the great eyes of Moione only trembled like dark violets brimming with heavy dew. All the truth, the religion of Manton’s soul, was poured out at such times.

The door would sharply open—“Elna! Moione! go to bed!” This would be spoken in a low tone, evidently half-choked with rage, by the woman. Her bent form looming within the shadow of the entry, looks ghastly enough in her white gown, loose dark hair, and the greenish glitter of her oblique eye. The poor children rise, with a deep sigh from Moione over her broken dream, and a quick exclamation of petulant wrath from Elna—while Manton mutters an involuntary curse on the unwelcome intruder; and, as the light forms of the children recede before his vision and disappear in the dark passage, he shudders, unconsciously, as if a ghoul had disturbed him at a feast with angels.

Now, again, had he fallen back to hell. With a fierce outbreak of jealous fury, she would spring into the room, as if literally to devour him with talons and teeth; and, when but a few paces off, catching his cold, concentrated eye,[Pg 173] she would stagger backwards, as if shot through the heart, toss her white arms wildly into the air, and, with head thrown back, utter, in a strange, choking, guttural screech—

“Auh! auh! auh!—yaugh!—you kill!—you kill me!” and pitch forward convulsively, with the blood bursting in torrents from her mouth. Then came the long, harrowing, and oft-described scene of terror, remorse, pity, on the part of Manton, and the plea for forgiveness, the slow recovery, and—and so on.

Or else, with some modification of tactics, the lioness changed to the lamb, the Gorgon-head to that of Circe, she would throw herself upon him, with tender expostulations, call him “cherubim,” and stroke his “hyacinthian curls;” and, when that failed, cling about his knees, and weep and pray, and then, as the desperate resort, suddenly swoon, with a tremendous crash, upon the floor, and lie there for an hour, if need be, in a condition of syncope, so absolute, that Manton—who had now witnessed this comparatively harmless phenomenon so many times, as to be relieved from any apprehensions of immediate results—had lately felt the curiosity of the philosopher irresistibly aroused in him, and would frequently leave her for a considerable length of time, in order to watch the symptoms, before he proceeded to apply the very simple remedy for recalling her to consciousness, with which, by the way, she had furnished him long ago, in advance, through certain adroit hints and indirections. When he had satisfied his more analytical moods, in this way, he would proceed with the restorative process, as per prescription.

This mysterious operation consisted in placing the pillows of the sofa, or the rounds of a chair, under her feet, so as to elevate them at a slight angle higher than the head. As he was led to understand the result, the blood, by the laws of capillary attraction, was instantly carried up, from her head to her feet, thereby relieving the oppression of the brain; when lo! to this new “open sesame,” the rigid lids flew wide apart, disclosing eyes as vivid with life as ever.

[Pg 174]

The strangest part of this scene consisted in the fact, that while the fit lasted, it was impossible to perceive the slightest symptoms of breathing or pulsation, any more than in the most broadly-defined case of catalepsy, or of absolute death itself. It was, therefore, clear enough to his mind, that such conditions could not be entirely counterfeit; though the suggestion had now become frequent, that they might, after long training, become, in a great measure, voluntary.

Another scene. The mother reclines upon her bed, and the child Elna by her side, with arms around her neck and face against her bosom. Moione stands leaning over the foot-board, with folded arms, her pale face expressing mingled grief, anger, and pain, while she looks with a cold, steadfast glance into the oblique eye of the woman, who addresses her rapidly, in bitter tones—

“You love that bad man, Moione?”

“Yes, I do!” said the young girl, curtly and coldly.

“Ha! you acknowledge it, do you, ungrateful girl? Acknowledge that, at your age, you love a profligate wretch like this? a man utterly without principle, where our sex is concerned. A villain, who has already attempted the ruin of my own daughter, under my very eyes!”

Moione turned paler still at this, and looked inquiringly towards her friend Elna, who, however, gave no sign, either by word or movement, of dissent to this vile insinuation. Instantly the blood mounted to Moione’s brow, and her gentle eye shot fire, her thin lips curled with scorn—

“It is false! It is false! You know it to be so! He has taught us nothing but what is pure and high! He never breathed a thought of evil to either of us, and Elna dares not say so! I love him as our lofty, noble brother, and shall continue to do so so long as he shows himself only to me, and to her, as he has done! Pray, madam, why do you permit him to remain in the house, if he be so wicked? You tell me you[Pg 175] have the power to turn him out at any minute. Why not do it? Why do you trust your child with him, at all hours, and under all circumstances? Why do you so constantly seek his society yourself? If he were the fiend you represented, one would think you would have reason to fear for yourself, if not for Elna. What he has done once he will do again! How do you reconcile all this?”

The flashing look and withering tone in which this unexpected outburst of indignation, on the part of the usually quiet Moione, had been delivered, cowed the craven nature to which it was addressed. It was but for an instant, though; her subtle cunning returned to the charge, in a lower tone, and on another tack. She reached out her hand, affectionately, towards her—

“Come, Moione, dear! come, kiss me!”

The child did not move, but merely answered in a low, contemptuous “No!”

The woman continued, in a wheedling tone, “Hear! my naughty Moione! She will not come to kiss me, when I love her so! Moione does not understand everything she sees, or she would not have spoken thus sharply to her friend. She does not understand that I am striving to save this poor youth from his frightful vices! his wine-drinking, his tobacco, his meat-eating, and all those ugly sins which so deface, what I hope one day to see a beautiful spirit! She does not know I must endure this evil that good may come! She does not realise how much pain it costs me to have the purity of my household thus desecrated by his poisoned sphere! She does not remember that God has placed us here, on this earth, to bear and forbear towards his erring children; that they may, through us, become regenerate and redeemed! I know his eloquence, I know his subtlety, therefore I have warned you against him; he cannot be dealt with as other men, for he is but a foolish, headstrong boy, with a great soul, if he were only free; but while his vices hold him in bondage, he is not to be trusted. Though I have lifted him out of the very gutters of debasement—given him a[Pg 176] home in my house—I have no confidence, at this moment, that he would not deliberately ruin either you or Elna to-morrow, if he could! You should, therefore, rather pity me than be angry with me, dearest Moione!”

“So I perceive!” said the young girl, with a cold sneer, as she turned and walked haughtily from the room, slamming the door emphatically behind her. The woman sprang to her feet, with an expression of ungovernable fury in her face. “The insolent, ungrateful wretch! This is what I get for all my trouble to make something out of her—to render her of some value to me! To sa-a-ve her!” and she hissed out the words with a horrible writhing of her features, while the pupil of her oblique eye was wrung aside, until nothing but the white, ghastly blank of the ball was to be seen.

“Yes, I’ll save you! I’ll use you, you insolent beggar! I have not brought you here, alone, as the ant carries off the aphide, to give spiritual milk to my own offspring! I brought you to use, too, and use you I will! I will coin you into profit! I’ll humble your insolent airs! I’ve got a market for you already, and a bidder! Dare to cross my path, ha?—with your supercilious insolence? I’ll bow that white forehead! I’ll fill those blue eyes with ashes! until, bleared and rheumy with premature decay, you crawl to kiss my foot for favors!”

During this horrid apostrophe, the woman had stood stiffened where she had first planted her feet upon the carpet, staring blankly at the door through which the young girl had passed, and throwing her arms out in wild gesticulations after her.

The girl Elna lay, in the meantime, with her face half concealed in the pillow, closely watching, with one sharp eye uncovered, the whole scene. The woman, who had forgotten herself in her fury, turned suddenly and saw her. Her manner instantly changed. She threw herself by her side, took her caressingly into her arms, drew her face close to hers, breathed upon it long and steadily, and then commenced in low, confidential[Pg 177] tones, a conversation between them, the purport of which we must leave to conjecture.

Another scene. About this time, Manton had effected the advantageous sale of a new work, which placed him suddenly in the possession of a larger sum of money than he had been able to command, at one time, for a long period. His first thought was for his young proteges, and, although his own wardrobe was sufficiently dilapidated, he expended a portion of the sum for their comfort and gratification before he thought at all of his own necessities. Unluckily for him, however, it was evening when the money was received, and the purchases intended to surprise them were the only ones made on the way to the house.

In almost boyish eagerness, and all breathless with the delight of giving joy to these gentle ones he loved so much, he hastened home and threw his presents down before them, to be greeted with rapturous expressions and gleeful merriment, the silvery and most musical clamoring of which, soon brought the woman, Marie, to the scene. Her eyes danced and glistened as she saw them; her infallible instinct scented the money in an instant.

“Beautiful! beautiful!” she exclaimed, clapping her hands with childlike artlessness. “How lovely! How sweet! How noble! How generous of you to think of these dear girls first, when you need so much yourself!” and she looked up with bewitching candor into the face of Manton, though it might have been noticed by more careful observers that one eye turned obliquely towards his pockets. She sprang suddenly to his side, and leant affectionately against his arm, which she clasped with both her hands.

“Ah, my gentle Tiger! How shall I ever thank you for your unwearying kindness to these my tender blossoms? My precious ‘Monies!’ You are too good! We shall never know how to thank you enough!”

[Pg 178]

And leaning still closer and in a more confidential manner towards his ear, while her forehead flushed and her voice sank,

“You sold the book, did you?”


“For how much?”

“The receipts in my pocket will show!”

“Ah, let us see them then!” said she playfully, as she thrust her hand into his pocket. “I want to see if those evil and stupid publishers have understood the value of the precious genius they were purchasing! Oh, dear, why what a treasure! Here are fifties, twenties, ever so many!” while she, with eager and trembling hands, fumbled the notes that she had snatched from the vest-pocket where he had, with his characteristic carelessness of money, thrust them loosely. “Ah, I must take time to count all this treasure for you, for I don’t believe you know how much you’ve got, you careless boy!” And as she said this she hastily deposited the money in the bottom of her pocket.

Manton looked at her a moment with a very hard, cold glance, while a flush of indignation gleamed across his brow; for he had a sure presentiment that he should never see this money again. The great misfortune of his organisation was his recklessness in regard to money, and the absolute inability of his nature to comprehend the sterile meannesses of its abject worshippers. For the first time the impulse to strike this woman to the earth came across him, but in an instant this angry feeling was dissipated amidst the gay and laughing caresses of his petted favorites.

When, on the next day, Manton demanded of the woman an account of the money, she turned pale and red, looked upwards and downwards, and finally askance, while she faintly told him that she had spent the whole; but, for his good, as well as that of the dear girls and herself, “for,” she said, “you know you are so careless about money, so generous, so liberal, that you would have thrown it all away without accomplishing any of the good you so much desire. Pray, forgive me, for my anxiety to[Pg 179] do the best for us all!” and as she saw the brow of Manton, who had not uttered a word, settling darker and darker above his cold dilated eyes, she sank upon her knees at his feet, and clasping his in her arms, she plaintively plead—

“Ah, forgive me! forgive me! I acted for the best! For God’s sake do not look so, you will kill me!”

He spurned her contemptuously from him with his foot, and retreating, as she crawled abjectly back again, he said in a measured, deliberate tone—

“Keep away from me, woman! You may retain your ill-gotten plunder once more, but, mark you, if ever you dare to put your hands into my pockets again I will strike you to the earth, woman as you are, and trample you beneath my feet, as I would another reptile! I have had enough of this remorseless fleecing!” And spurning yet more contemptuously her persistent attempts to clutch his knees again, he left her swooning upon the floor. He went forth with the scales falling from his eyes regarding this woman, in some particulars at least.

The sequel to the last scene is too rich to be passed over. Since that wholesale and impudent robbery, Manton had maintained his ground firmly, in regard to money. All her arts were brought to bear, in vain; he steadily and sternly refused to be plundered any farther; until finally, his feminine “saviour” being driven to the extreme verge of desperation, tried a new and dashing game.

She had just been reading Zschokke’s charming tale, “Illumination, or the Sleep-Walker.” The reader will remember how the Sleep-Walker, the heroine of the tale, instructs Emanuel, while in the clairvoyant state, as to how he should proceed in her own case, which he had been elected to restore to health again, through the nervous, or sympathetic medium, by re-establishing the balance of the lost physical with the spiritual life. That, in addition, the Sleep-Walker revealed to him the thoughts of his own soul, and counselled him as an angel would[Pg 180] have done, against the evil she saw in him—tells him too, that he must not regard her weakness, or the petulance of her words towards him in her waking state.

Well, our clairvoyant, after reading this book herself, exhibited an unusual degree of restlessness to have it read by Manton, too; nothing would content her until he had fairly commenced it, when she knew there was no probability of his pausing until he got through. She watched him during the reading, with great curiosity, frequently interrupting him to draw out his opinion as he progressed.

Everybody knows the fascination of the tale, and confesses the fine skill with which its wonderful details are wrought up. Manton could do no less; he was charmed, of course, as millions of other readers have been. A few hours after finishing the book, while sitting at his table, engaged in writing, the door, which was unbolted, flew open wide, and there stood Madame, dressed in pure white—the eyes nearly closed, and features pale and rigid, the outstretched hands reaching vaguely forward, after the manner of the somnambulist.

She paused for a moment thus—while the whole meaning of the scene flashed through the mind of Manton in an instant; and, although he felt a very great inclination to laugh, he restrained himself, and determined to encourage the thing, and see how far it would go. The new Sleep-Walker now advanced slowly towards him; and as she crossed the room, a slight movement of her fingers beat the air before her, as if through the guidance of these magnetic poles her soul sought its centre of attraction; with a slow, gliding movement she thus approached, until within a few inches of him, when her hand leaped, as the magnet does to the stone, to meet his, and then a certain painful rigidity that had marked her brow at first, was displaced and gave way to a serene expression of content, as if she had now found rest.

That peculiar action of the muscles of the throat, as if in the effort to swallow, now followed immediately, and was sufficient[Pg 181] intimation to Manton that she desired to speak. He accordingly asked her, solemnly—

“Why are you here?”

But there was evidently something of mockery in the tone in which this question was asked, for the Sleep-Walker only frowned and shook her head impatiently. Manton now changed his voice, and with real curiosity, proceeded.

“Speak: why have you come to me thus? What would you say to me?”

After some four or five efforts to produce sound, she articulated—

“For your good.”

“Tell me then, what is for my good?”

She again frowned and shook her head and muttered—

“You are naughty.”


“You have no faith.”

“Faith in what?”

“Faith in me—in my mission—in my truth.”

“I have faith in you—tell me what is for my good.”

“You must be more humble; your pride and your suspicion will never let you be saved. You must have some hard lessons yet to bring you down—to humiliate you—to purify.”

Here there was a long pause, when Manton, growing impatient, finally asked—

“Is this all you have to say to me? Is this all you see now?”


“Well, what is it?”

After considerable hesitation, she at length said—

“You do not treat me right!—you hold my life in your hands—yet you are cold—you do not come near me—you are leaving me to die!”

Here then was another long pause.

“What more is there?” at length asked Manton; “this is not all.”

[Pg 182]

This time the choking and hesitation, before pronouncing the words, seemed greater than ever. At length, however, out they came.

“They complain of you in Heaven, that you let me suffer—that you do not care for my necessities—that—that you do not—not—give me money now.”

This was too much—Manton literally roared with scornful laughter, as he spurned her from him—

“Ha! ha! ha! here is illumination for you with a vengeance! Alas! poor Zschokke! ‘to what base uses do we come!’ The divine inspiration of the Sleep-Walker raising the wind! Vive la bagatelle! Hurrah! hurrah!” He fairly danced about the floor, in an ecstacy of enjoyment—the scene seemed to him so irresistibly ludicrous.

During this time, the woman, who had staggered towards the bed, and fallen across it, lay perfectly immovable and white, without the change of a muscle, or the quiver of a nerve. Manton, however, paid no attention to her, and half an hour afterwards, taking his hat, left the room, without again approaching her. But what was his astonishment on returning, two hours afterwards, to meet the sobbing Elna, and the pale, troubled face of Moione, in the passage. Elna, at the sight of him, seemed wild with grief, and sprang, with her arms about his neck, screaming—

“Oh, mother is dead! mother is dead! My dear mother is dead!”

“Why, Moione,” said Manton quickly, taking her hand, as he shook Elna off, “what is the matter? what is all this?”

“She seems to be in a fit of some sort. We missed her, and after looking all over the house, found her lying on the bed in your room, without motion or breath. We have not been able to wake her since, and did not know what to do until you came.”

“Oh, come! do come!” screamed the horrified Elna. “Save my poor mother! save her! save her! You must save her! I shall die!”

[Pg 183]

Manton, who immediately felt his conscience sting him, assured the girls that it was merely a mesmeric sleep, from which he would relieve her in a few minutes. He then rushed up-stairs, accompanied by them, and found her, indeed, in precisely the same attitude and apparent condition in which he had left her. After a few of the usual reverse passes for removing the magnetic influence, she slowly opened her eyes, while the blood returned to her face. Starting up and staring about with a bewildered look, she uttered merely an exclamation of surprise, and then, after rubbing her eyes, quickly asked the poor child, Elna, who had thrown herself sobbing wildly on her breast—

“Why, you foolish girl, what’s the matter now?”

“Mother, dear mother, we thought you were dead!”

And now came an explanation, so far as the thoroughly repentant Manton was disposed to make it, of the scene we have just described; the amount of which was, that she had come into his room in a clairvoyant state, and, being called out suddenly, he had left it for an hour or two, forgetting to make any explanation to the family, and without having relieved her, as he should have done, before going, by using the necessary reverse passes.

The incredulity of Manton had never before received so severe a shock; and it was a long time before his conscience would forgive him, for what now seemed his brutal suspicion. Alas, poor Manton! had he only possessed, for a little while after he left that room, the invisible cap of the “Devil on two sticks,” he would have been most essentially enlightened as to something of the art and mystery of Clairvoyance.

As soon as the front-door had slammed behind him, he would have seen that woman spring to her feet, and, with lips and whole frame quivering with rage, glide from the room, muttering to herself; and when she entered her own room, which could be reached through an empty bath-room, he would have heard several low, peculiar raps upon the partition-wall which separated her own from the room of her daughter. These raps[Pg 184] were repeated, at intervals, until a single tap at her door responded, and in another moment the girl Elna glided in on tiptoe. The conference between them was carried on in a low, rapid, business-like tone, while every half-minute the girl thrust her head from the window, to watch as for some one coming.

After a few moments thus spent, the child left the room, with an intelligent nod, in answer to the repeated injunction not to leave the window of her own room until she saw him coming, far up the street—and then—!

After this, he would have seen the woman quietly seat herself at the table, after locking her door, and write a long letter; when, on hearing three low taps in succession, she sprang to her feet, rushed through the bath-room into the room of Manton, and threw herself across the bed, in the precise position in which he left her, and, after three or four violent retchings of the whole muscular system, her face collapsed—grew ashen-white—her lids drooped—her muscles became rigid, and she exhibited all the outward resemblances of suspended vitality. Then the wild Elna rushed in, accompanied by the deluded Moione, and, the moment she looked at the condition of the mother, burst into the most extravagant demonstrations of helpless grief; while Moione, with perfect presence of mind, sprinkled water upon the face and endeavored to restore animation. Soon the street door-bell rings with a peculiar energetic pull, and the frantic Elna at once exclaims, “Manton! dear Manton! he can save my mother; let us run for him.” She seizes the hand of Moione, and—we know the rest!

Shocking, ludicrous, and monstrous as all this may appear to the reader, from his point of view, its only effect upon Manton was necessarily to rebuke the feeling of harsh incredulity which was beginning to become so strong in him, with regard to this inexplicable woman. He was now more troubled and confounded than he had ever been; for it was impossible that a nature like his could ever have voluntarily suspected the unimaginable trickery and collusion which we have traced in this[Pg 185] scene; while his common sense was too strong to be in any degree shaken by what was simply unexplained. His magnanimity would not permit him to suspect the full degree of knavery, or his conscientiousness to run such risks, again, of doing grievous injustice, as it now seemed to him he had clearly done in this case. He felt it utterly impossible to treat these phenomena with entire disrespect hereafter, however little influence he might permit them to exert upon his fixed purposes and will.


We have lost sight of the other characters in our narrative, and it is now time that we return to them. The reader will remember, in the dark-eyed, sharp-tongued Jeannette of a past scene, the contrasted type of another class of adventuress, whose schemes seemed to have been rapidly culminating. Her success, indeed, seemed now to be absolutely assured; the coveted conquest had been achieved—Edmond was daily at her feet. They were, as it was understood, soon to be publicly married. In the meanwhile, she occupied the best room in the house, and became daily more and more imperious and overbearing towards the woman Marie, as she believed the time to be approaching when she would no longer need her services.

In common with her type the world over, she was incredibly selfish and ungrateful, where she had once fawned and cringed. This little weakness of arrogance she had begun to make some slight exhibitions of, even towards Edmond himself; while, as for the woman Marie, she hectored her on all occasions with the pitiless volubility of a most caustic wit. In this, however, she made a most fatal mistake; she little dreamed of the dark and[Pg 186] terrible subtlety of the reptile she thus hourly trampled with her ruthless scorn. She, too, was doomed to feel the fearful poison of the hidden sting she carried, and writhe beneath its hideous tortures.

There had been a more than usually bitter scene between them, in which Jeannette had loftily taunted her with the abjectness of the game she was now playing, in putting forward her own daughter, as the attraction, by which to hold Manton any longer near her. It was not that Madame Jeannette was so much shocked at any villany in the act itself, but that her lofty pride was revolted at the inconceivable meanness it displayed; for, as among thieves and robbers, there is among adventuresses a certain esprit du corps,—and the haughty Jeannette aspired to be a sort of banditti chieftainess in sentiment, and was really a person of refined cultivation, so far as mere intellect was concerned,—it is little wonder, that at such a time of unbounded confidence in the security of her own position, and independence, as she supposed, of any farther aid from the woman, that she should have given way to a natural feeling of disgust and abhorrence, in a moment of irritation. But that taunt proved to her the most deadly error of her life.

The woman, who feared her presence mortally, left the room hurriedly and in silence, shivering in an ague-fit of rage. In another moment she left the house, without speaking a word to any one. Indeed, she seemed incapable of speaking. Her eyes looked bloodshot and hideously awry; the veins of her face swollen as if to bursting, and the skin absolutely livid.

It was a long walk she had set out upon, and gradually the headlong rapidity of her gait subsided into a more measured tread. Her face became pale, as it had before suffused, and a sort of ghastly calmness succeeded. At length, in White Street, she rang the bell of an old-fashioned, but respectable-looking mansion, and shot past the servant in the passage, when, instead of turning into the parlor, she hurried up-stairs to the chamber of the lady.

[Pg 187]

A somewhat masculine voice answered her tap, and she passed in. A woman of stout symmetrical figure, imperious bearing, whose somewhat coarse features were relieved by the animal splendor of her large black eyes, the luxuriance of her jetty hair, and voluptuous embonpoint of person, greeted her in a short, abrupt style, as she looked up with a cold glance from some lacework over which she was bending.

“What is it, Marie? You look flurried.”

“No, no,” said she, throwing off her bonnet and sinking into a chair. “I’m only tired! It’s a long walk from my place here; and then it is very hot to-day. But, Eugenie,” she said abruptly, changing her tone, “I came this morning to tell you about Edmond.”

“What of him?” said the other sharply, turning full upon her.

“Dear Eugenie, the fact is, I could not restrain myself longer—I should not be acting truly by you or him, if I did so. You know you love him still.”

The face of the French-woman flushed slightly; her head was thrown back with a haughty curve of the neck.

“Ah, no,” said the woman, interrupting her quickly as she was about to speak.

“No nonsense, Eugenie; you remember that proud as you are, you loved him well enough to risk the loss of your social position for him. You never loved any one as well since, and never will again; and I know that he loves you, and you only, to this hour. It was your pride caused the separation, it is your pride that has reduced him so low as to become, in sheer despair, the victim of such a sapless, bodiless, dry and sharp-set speculator, as this Jeannette! Why, would you believe it, she has tormented him at last into a promise to marry her!”

“What!” said the other, springing to her feet; “what! marry that starvling! Edmond marry that pauper adventuress, after having loved me! Pshaw! Marie, you are mistaken. He only tells her this to get rid of her importunities. He’s trifling with[Pg 188] her: he’s not in earnest—he can’t be—he’s too proud: and besides, his father would disinherit him!”

“Sit down and keep cool, Eugenie. I am not mistaken; so far from it, that every day he comes to me, grievously bewailing his hard fate, in having so far committed himself to Jeannette, whom he curses, while he mourns over this obdurate pride of yours, in refusing to see him again. He says if he could only see you once more he would be strong enough to break with Jeannette forever. I’ve shown him how he could easily buy her off, in case of reconciliation with you—that her object, from the first, had been simply money, and the eclat of the position it would give her abroad—and that when she had become convinced that a separation must take place, she would soon be brought to compromise her claims. Beside, the marriage is impossible; I have seen his father and his brother, and have given them some seasonable hints in regard to her; and the testy old man now swears that he will disinherit him, if he dares to marry what he considers to be little better than a common adventuress. And the brother, whom you know is the most influential of the two with the old man, is equally violent about it. So you see, my dear Eugenie, I have been working for you faithfully all the while, while you considered me as co-operating with Jeannette.”

“Yes,” said the other, who had resumed her seat quite calmly, “I dare say I did you injustice, for I had conceived all the time, that it was through you that this affair, between Jeannette and Edmond, had been brought about; that you had had some interest in it you have not thought proper to explain to me; and an explanation of which I have not chosen to ask of you. It is quite sufficient for me to know that you now desire to supplant Jeannette, and thereby undo your own work. Now, if you choose to explain to me what the object you wish to accomplish is, so that I can understand your motive, then, perhaps, we may come together in this matter—for I know you, Marie, that you never do things without a motive for yourself.[Pg 189] Come, out with it! Has Jeannette crossed your track in any way? Has she foiled you? In a word, do you hate her now?”

“Of course I hate her now,” said the woman, “or why this visit? Why the deliberate care I have taken to prepare the way to foil her dearest schemes? She has outraged me beyond endurance by her insolent superiority. She frightens, bullies and taunts me. She has insulted me beyond the possibility of woman’s forgiveness to another! I hate her as deeply as I love revenge!”

“All this may be very true, Marie,” said the other, with a cool smile, “but knowing you as I do, I should prefer to be informed specifically in what this insult consisted. Tell me what she said and did, give me all the circumstances in detail, and then I shall understand your motive and know how far we can act together!”

The woman paused an instant as if in hesitation, her eye grew hideously askance once more, her forehead blazed, and her lips quivered, as glancing furtively around the room, with a stealthy movement, she glided closely to the side of the French-woman, and whispered in her ear, with purple lips, a rapid, eager communication for a few moments, and then sank back into her chair again, pale as death and seemingly exhausted.

The French-woman bent her ear to listen, with her needle suspended in her hand, and as the other finished, a fierce, electric gleam darted from her eye, and with untrembling fingers she finished her stitch, while she said in a low tone—

“That will do, Marie; that’s enough to secure your faith. We will punish her. Edmond shall come back to my feet!”

The results of the last scene may be rapidly traced. Very soon there commenced a series of mysterious calls by a dark-veiled lady, whom Manton was induced to suppose was a patient who was desirous to retain her incognito. She came and went always at unusual hours, and though a vague suspicion once or twice forced itself upon his mind that there was something unusual[Pg 190] going on, yet in his pre-occupation it created but little attention. But we, who have undertaken from the first to be somewhat closer and more widely-awakened observers than he, can see something more significant than met his eye in all this.

An accidental meeting in one of the rooms of the house soon occurred between Edmond and Eugenie, upon the privacy of which we are not disposed to intrude. Let the consequences suffice.

In a few weeks the imperious tone of Jeannette, who, too, had been kept entirely ignorant of what was going on, was lowered, though the covert and sardonic vindictiveness of her wit had clearly lost nothing of its directness and ferocity even; because, as she daily became less exultant, the moroseness of her temper increased.

It would be anything but a pleasant picture to unveil the harrowing struggles of such a woman to regain an ascendency, which she felt was daily driven by some malign and invisible power beyond the breath of her heretofore ascendant will. She only felt its devastation amidst her towering hopes, and the moon-stone battlements of regal schemes that she had nourished in daring fancies. She only felt the shadow of desolation on her soul, but her vision was not strong enough to see the demon wing that threw it.

She was passing through the valley and the shadow, yet knew not where to aim the lightning of her curse. She sank at last, bewildered, stunned, and utterly humiliated; for she had crawled upon her very knees to Edmond to plead for mercy, but he was inexorable. The old passion had been restored to his life, and her proud, voluptuous rival held the sensual philosopher a prisoner, “rescue or no rescue,” once more.

For days and days after the tremendous realisation of her loss had been forced upon her, she lay upon her bed, tossing in dumb and tearless torture: then her concentrated madness took a new and sudden turn; she shrieked and wailed, she cursed heaven, and earth, and men, and even Edmond, with the lurid curses[Pg 191] of madness, while she kissed the hand and blessed the ministerings of the soft-gliding genius of her ruin, who hung with a cunning science about her suffering bed.

But Jeannette was clearly not the stuff to die of any one passion less intense than her love of self. She came through at last, haggard and broken, and humble enough, but she received her pension nevertheless, and soon after sailed for England, leaving the field to her stronger rival, to whom Edmond was soon afterwards married.


We have frequently mentioned the eccentric Dr. Weasel in the course of this narrative. Another scene will enlighten the reader somewhat in regard to the yet undefined character of his relations towards the woman Marie. He had just entered her room; and approaching with a quick, nervous step, he said to her in an irritated and squeaking voice—

“Marie Orne, I tell you I must have my money back again! I did not give it to you, when I advanced it to get you started in business. You were to have returned it to me, long since! You have been doing well now for two years and more, and yet instead of returning the money I first advanced to you, you have been borrowing more than double as much! At this moment you have more than five hundred dollars belonging to me, of which you have never returned me a cent! Yet I have been suffering for money, for months, and you know it! You know I cannot receive remittances now, since the death of my grandmother, till the settlement of our estate! I am tired of this treatment, Madam! I will have my money!”

The Doctor, who had been walking hurriedly up and down[Pg 192] the room during this speech, now paused abruptly before the woman, who had quietly continued her writing—

“Do you hear me?” he said angrily, in a loud, sharp tone. “Where is the money you have plundered me of?”

The woman now looked up, staring at him with wide-open eyes, that expressed the most unutterable astonishment, while, at the same moment, a bland smile broke across her face, while she exclaimed in a low, sweet, reproachful voice—

“Why, Doctor E. Willamot Weasel! What can you mean? My dear friend—I plunder you? You forget yourself! Remember what a feeble child you were—how sad, how sick, how despairing, when I took hold of you, as the tender nurse does the dying foundling at her door—”

“I believe you had no door, till I gave you one!” interrupted the Doctor, while his sharp little eyes shot fire.

“This were all very fine, if it were only true: I advanced you my money, not to pay you for curing me, which you have never accomplished, but that you might do good with it; because I believed in your mission to your sex! But I am not pleased with the use you—”

“Does not that mission exist still?” said the woman, with flushing brow, quickly interrupting him. “Has not the number of my patients increased daily?—including the first ladies of the land? Have not my lecture-classes become more full and widely-attended every season? Have you not a thousand evidences, in the extent of my correspondence, that women are becoming awakened throughout the country? What more do you ask? Do you expect me to perform miracles?”

“No! unless the expectation that you will deal honestly with those who have befriended you, be what you call a miracle. Come, I know what all this amounts to, perfectly! I gave you my money, as you know I dedicate all that I have, in trust, for humanity! You seemed to be laboring in common cause with myself, for the restoration of the Passional Harmonies; and as you appeared to me capable of accomplishing much for the[Pg 193] great cause, I felt that I had no right to withhold my aid from you when you needed it. I gave you my gold as freely as I would have given you a drink of water, when athirst. But you have not been just and true—you have used it selfishly—you have surrendered yourself exclusively to the cabalistic sphere; your life is wasted in a series of ignoble plottings; sensual intrigues merely, in utter disregard of the harmonic relations. Do not interrupt me! I have watched you closely; I know this to be true! Instead of elevating that noble soul, Manton, whom I thought, through you, to rescue from the dominion of his appetites, and see set apart, with all his glorious powers, to the exalted priesthood of the Harmonies, you have steadily dragged him down from the beginning until now, when he is further removed than ever beyond our reach, and regards with contempt and disgust the very name of the system with which I had yearned to see him identified. You have done this, and all for your own individual and unworthy ends, and have defeated one of my most treasured purposes!”

“This is false!” shrieked the woman, as, with flushed face, and with the aspect of a roused tigress, she sprang to her feet, and placed herself directly across the track of the excited Doctor.

“You lie in your teeth, you ingrate! It is not so! His own beastly passions have degraded him, in spite of me! Just as I have failed to make a man out of you, through your own weakness! For years I have patiently wrestled with your downward tendencies, in the hope you, too, might be redeemed—might be sa-a-ved from yourself! The money that you have given me, I have earned twice over again, in these vain and exhausting struggles to bring you back to the true health of unity with God through nature! Your childish aberrations and eccentricities have baffled all my spiritual strength! The proof of it is, that you dare to taunt me in this way! I see that you are incorrigible! You may go! Go from me forever! I am hopeless! I will no longer expend myself upon you! Your[Pg 194] money I shall keep until it is my convenience to restore it, if ever! It is my due, and you may recover it if you can; I own nothing here. The furniture of this house has all been loaned me. Seize it, if you dare! Go, I say! Go! Leave my house instantly!”

And she stamped her foot, and, waving her hand in melodramatic fashion towards the door, repeated the imperative order to “begone!”

We have mentioned, that the Doctor was a small man, and the woman was, no doubt, fully conscious of her physical superiority over him, before her coward and reptile nature could have dared to have assumed such a tone. But she had mistaken the metal with which she had to deal.

The Doctor had listened to this tirade with a cold, sardonic smile upon his face, while his keen little eyes fairly snapped with scintillating fury.

“You are a fool!” said he, in a low, smooth tone, “as well as a thief and an impostor! I’ll put you in the Tombs to-morrow, if you do not at once lower your tone! And what is more, I will expose your practices, fully and publicly. I will swear to the false pretences by which you have swindled me out of my money. I will swear that you have made overtures to me, time after time, as an equivalent for the money you are dragging from me, to sell to me the chaste and gentle Moione, whose unprotected poverty you have dared to think you could traffic in! I will swear, too, that at one time you did not scruple to suggest, by indirection, one much nearer to you; the true scope of which suggestion, however artfully disguised, the world will readily comprehend. Furthermore, I can now understand, perfectly, the secret of all those physiological phenomena, by which you have managed to delude and degrade Manton, not forgetting the disgusting fact, which has become too apparent to me, that you are endeavoring to play off Elna upon him, and, through his generous susceptibilities, to retain him within the reach of your damnable arts! You are becoming[Pg 195] aware that he, too, is beginning to see through them, and through you. I have never spoken a word, for I wished him to work out the problem himself! I will secure even him from your clutches!”

The woman made no attempt to reply. Her face became, of a sudden, as white and rigid as death, and, muttering a few choked and guttural sounds, she pitched forward suddenly, like a falling statue, against the bosom of the irritated Doctor Weasel; who, not a little shocked by the unexpected concussion, staggered backwards, for an instant, in the utmost confusion, while her form fell upon the shaken floor. He recovered his coolness, however, in another moment, and merely muttered, as he left the room—

“Pah! nonsense! The old trick—she’s purely in the subversive sphere—and I can make nothing of her in the Passional Harmonies! We require purity and singleness of purpose. She may go to the dogs, hereafter, for me.”

[Pg 196]


Another year had now passed, which, although it found Manton not entirely released from his thrall, had yet left him a calmer and a stronger man. One by one the manacles had fallen off, unconsciously to himself. Hope was slowly filling his darkened life once more with visions of an emancipated future, and he now even dared to smile in dreams.

Whence came these fairy visitors? Ah, he did not understand yet, clearly, in his own heart. He only felt and welcomed them, fresh-comers from he knew not what far Eden of God’s ministers of grace. He did not question them—it was joy enough to have had them come down to him in his hell. Perhaps they were but airy counterparts of those sweet children he had watched over with such fostering tenderness.

But now at once a shadow fell upon his dream. Moione, the wise, the resolute, and the gentle, seemed all at once to droop, to become wavering and shy, while Elna grew more conscious in her impish grace, and more exultant, more capriciously tender, more caressingly electrical. Manton could not but observe that although Moione shrank from him now, she held her pencil with a heavy hand, and worked with a hopeless carelessness, while her lids drooped low and trembled often with a furtive moisture.

Another might have observed what he could not see, how at such times the eyes of Elna lit with glistening joy, and how her spirit mounted in rollicking ecstacies; how she danced and sang like some mad elf; or else her drawing-sheet was spoiled while her pencil went riot over it, in all fantastic drolleries of form, mocking characters, of every sentiment, and worst of all that[Pg 197] she mocked Moione, too, and made him see her heavy brow, and covertly suggested painful questions.

Manton would sometimes see enough of this to startle him gravely, and make him question his own heart, long and painfully. Elna seemed to watch these moods and dread them, and would break in upon them with some wild antic or pouting caress.

Suddenly Moione went away, without any other explanation than that she should return to her mother in New England. The thing was done in a cold and resolute way that left no room for explanation. She had been here—she was gone; and strangely enough it was not until now that Manton realised how much of light there had been from her presence. Deep shade filled the places which had known her once, and it seemed as if his vision had been filmed—as if the shadow of that shade filled Heaven and darkened earth before him. He could not have explained why this was so. It was a voiceless consciousness, through which he felt a sense most indescribable, that made him first aware of a great want. It seemed as if the moon and stars were gone, with their calm inspirations of repose, their pure and holy beamings, and that their place about him had been usurped by a red and sultry light, more garish than perpetual day, and clouded in brazen unnatural splendors, too thick for those star-pencillings to break through, or that chaste moon to overcome.

As the weeping Elna clung about him now, he shuddered while he felt that strange, new thrillings crept along his veins. Why had he not felt this before, when Moione was beside them? Was he again given over to the evil one? and had the white dove again been banished from his bosom? These vague forebodings could never be entirely banished from the heart of Manton, although the lavish tenderness of Elna, who, by some strange instinct, seemed aware of the struggle, the shadow and the cause, and wrought eagerly to dispel them.

Elna was no longer a child, if, in reality, she ever had been since Manton had known her. She became daily more[Pg 198] and more lovely in his eyes, which soon grew again accustomed to the unnatural atmosphere surrounding him, though he yearned often for the calmer and the clearer sky he had lost; yet she gave him little time to think of the past. The preternatural activity into which her brain had been roused gave him full employment in guiding its eccentric energies. And then the bud had begun to unfold its petals, as well as give out its aroma. Her sick and wilted frame seemed to have become suddenly inspired with a tender and voluptuous sensuousness, which filled out her graceful limbs in rounded, bounding vigor, and swelled her fine bust with its elastic tension, and lit and deepened her keen eyes with most lustrous and magnetic fires.

He could not dream long among such conditions. One morning, as he sat beside her at her drawing, she looked up suddenly into his face, and with bewitching naivete remarked—

“This is my birthday—do you know how old I am?”

“No, I never thought.”

“Well, I am seventeen to-day.”

“Seventeen! Great God! is it possible?” And Manton bowed his face, covering it with his hands, and for a long time spoke not a word, though his frame trembled. That magical word, “seventeen,” had revealed every thing to himself. He had as yet always called her by the affectionate baby-name of “Sis.” He had thought of her only as a child; for through these four weary years he had kept no note of time. He supposed, up to this moment, that he had been feeling towards her, too, as towards a child—the same saddened, persecuted child which had first attracted his sympathies by her mournful expression of constant suffering. He had never once thought before that any change had taken place in their relations; he had still fondled her as a spoiled and petted playmate; he still attributed the strange thrills her touch had lately produced in him to a thousand other and innocent causes beside the real. He had not dreamed of passion; he had only learned to dearly love her, as he thought, because she had been developed beneath his hand,[Pg 199] and seemed, in some senses, almost a creation of his own—a sort of feminine elaboration of the thought of Frankenstein within him—the creature of his own daring mind and indomitable will. Seventeen! seventeen! Now the whole truth was flooded into his consciousness. She was no longer a child—she was a woman. And he felt that he had indeed loved her as a woman, while recognising her as a gay pet, a plaything. He now understood how deep, how pure, was the unutterable fondness that had grown thus unconsciously into his life, for her, and how monstrous had been the relations into which the mother strove to drag and hold him.

With the first flash of this conviction of his real feeling towards Elna, came the purpose, as stern as it was irrevocable. He lifted his head and turned towards the young girl, with moistened eyelids, and said to her solemnly, and with trembling lips—

“Sis!—Elna, do you know that you are no longer a child? that you are now a woman?”

The blood sprang to her forehead, and, with downcast eyes, she said, in a faint voice—

“I know I’m seventeen to-day.”

“Do you know, too, Elna, that we cannot continue to be to each other that we have been?”

“Why, can’t you be my brother still?” said she, looking up quickly, as if astonished.

“Because you are a woman, dear; and I realise now, for the first time, that I love you as a woman.”

Her dilated eyes glistened, for a moment, with a strange expression of exultation, and, in another instant, she threw her arms about the neck of Manton, and burst into the wildest expressions of mingled ecstacy and grief, in the midst of which she sobbed out frequently.

“My mother! my poor mother! what will she do? She will never consent to this—it will kill her.”

“Elna,” said Manton, calmly, disengaging her clasped hands[Pg 200] from about his neck, “your mother is an evil woman; I know, and you know, something of her terrible passions. But she shall submit to this; my will is her fate—she cannot escape me, now that it is thoroughly aroused. She must bear it—she shall bear it, if it kills her. I shall hold no middle ground; and she dare not stand before me, or openly cross my track. This expiation is due from her to me. She has striven to hideously wrong me, and wrong you, and she shall now reap the consequences. I shall hold no terms with her; and you must make your choice now, calmly, between us, for ever! I have not guarded you thus for years, with sleepless vigilance, against her demonising influence, to have you fall back at once into her talons. I know it is a fearful thing to ask a child to do—to sunder all instinctive ties, and go apart into the house of strangers; but where implacable evil dwells, purity must look to be grieved in every contact, and there are no human ties sufficiently sacred to justify pollution of soul and body in continuing such contacts. I love you, Elna—I feel it now—I have loved you long, unconsciously; I would make you my true and honored wife, within another year—say the birthnight eve of eighteen. But mark me, you must be separate from this horrid mother. Elna, which do you choose?”

She threw herself hysterically upon his breast, sobbing—

“You!—you! Ah, my poor mother! I see it all! there is no choice! Yours! I am yours!—for ever yours! She is good to me sometimes; but I know she is bad—you must shield me from her. But we will not go away at once—it would kill her. Oh, my poor mother! my dear mother! this is hard!” and she shuddered, as she clasped him more closely in her arms, and sobbed yet more wildly still.

Manton spoke in tender soothing to the gentle trembler, who continued, amidst bursts of hysteric laughter, and smiles of stormy joy, to moan—“Poor mother! how will she bear it?”

Manton, at length, gently released himself from her caress, and placing her head upon the cushion of the sofa, whispered,[Pg 201] “Be calm, Elna! She must bear it—she will bear it; it is a righteous retribution, that has overtaken her at last. I go now to tell her every thing. Promise me to be quiet, and wait till I return. She shall know her doom, in this same sacred hour in which I have learned to know myself and you.”

She buried her face in her hands and shivered as he turned away.

He mounted the stairs with calm, unhurried step, and, tapping at the door of the woman’s room, it was opened instantly, and she met him on the threshold. Her eyes sought his as he entered, with a strange and troubled glare of inquiry. His brow was fixed, and all his features seemed just cast in iron. She reached out her hand to him, with a vague, quick gesture; but he did not accept it. He stood up before her, erect, rigid, and impassive. Her eye grew wilder, and a yet more furtive and startled expression glanced across her face, as she gasped out feebly—

“What now! has it come?”

“Yes!” answered Manton, with a cold, ringing, and metallic tone; “it has come, woman! The same curse that your devilish arts brought upon poor Jeannette, has now come home to roost. We are for ever severed, and, on no pretence or artifice, shall you ever again come near me. Know you, woman, that I love your child with an honest love—have come to a realisation of the fact, and told her so.”

She reeled and staggered backwards, shrieking—

“Ah! ah! it has come at last! I felt it would be so!”

There was something in her gait and manner so like stunned madness, that Manton involuntarily sprang forward, to catch her wavering form in his arms. She thrust aside his clasp, and, staggering towards the bed, fell across it—not in a swoon, not in a bleeding-fit, but in a paroxysm of weeping; in which the flood-gates of long years seemed suddenly opened. There was no word, no sob, no gesture of impatience, but her eyes ran always a clear flood of silent tears.

[Pg 202]

Ha! ha! Etherial! has it come to thee at last? Is it thou that must in turn be s-a-v-e-d? Where now thy disguises? Where thy unnatural triumphs? O, woman! art thou woman, Etherial?

To Manton, the phenomenon seemed more moving and inexplicable than any we have yet described. She did not sleep, but always the tears poured forth; and for twenty-four hours she did not change her posture, or utter any word, but these, which sent a chill shiver through the frame of Manton, as he heard them—

“She will serve you so, too!”

Those words he could never forget. It was a weary watching beside that bed, that Manton had to pass through before the incessant flow of tears began to be checked, and the woman to recover something of her power of speech, at intervals.

The first thing now spoken was, “I must be content. It cannot be escaped! She must be yours, if you can hold her!”

A fearful “if” was that suggested to Manton; but he was too happy after all this solemn travail, to notice its significance—

“I shall try to reconcile myself to see you both made happy; while I shall walk aside in the cold isolation of my duties to my mission among women.”

Manton, who had expected a much more sultry and formidable climax to this critical scene, felt his heart bound with the sense of relief, as, when after all this exhausting watch over that dumb and sleepless flow of tears, the calm and unexpected philosophy of this conclusion came to his consolation. He had anticipated a frantic, obstinate collision; perhaps as savage as it might prove tragical. And his grateful surprise may be conceived at the result.

So soon as this result had been attained, he hastened to impart the news to Elna, whose approach to her mother, while in this condition, had been studiously guarded against by Manton. When he saw her, now, in her own room, to which he eagerly hastened, she sprang about his neck, exclaiming—

[Pg 203]

“Will she bear it? Can she live?”

“My darling, she has passed through a terrible struggle, but she has now awakened to a recognition of what is, and has been, and must continue to be, the falsehood of her purposed relation to me.”

“Ah!” exclaimed the young girl rapturously, clasping his neck still closer—“Now I may dare to love you as much as I please!”


With all the apparent amount of suffering which we have attempted to describe above, Manton was no little astonished, not only at the promptness and completeness of the recovery of the woman Marie, but at the shortness of the time which she permitted to elapse before he found her again engaged deep in a bold and characteristic intrigue.

He had immediately determined that Elna should be separated from him until the time of the proposed marriage had approached. While she was to be sent to New England to prosecute her studies under the charge of an artist friend, he himself proposed to spend the greater part of the year in the northern mountains, hunting, fishing and exploring.

But before this prudent and proper step could be taken, a week or so of preparation became necessary. It was only a week since the woman had risen from her bed, a showery Niobe, as we have seen, when Manton entered the house one morning at an hour when he was not expected, he met the woman gliding hastily through a passage, with one of the sleeves of her dress gone. The meaning of this sign at once flashed across him, for he remembered to have seen that fair and beautiful[Pg 204] arm, by skilful accident, exposed to his own gaze during her first attempts at diverting and exciting his passions, and he shrewdly conceived that there must be some new victim on hand, even already.

“Ha!” said he maliciously, as she was hurrying past. “Why, what’s become of your sleeve this morning?”

The woman flushed very red, and her eye turned obliquely upon him as she muttered confusedly—

“I—I’ve lost it!”

“Ah, well, come! Let us look for it! Let us find it! The morning is too cold! I will help you! I fear you will suffer!”

“No, no, never mind! I will find it myself!”

“But I insist! We must find it at once, before you take cold! Come, we will look in the parlor!” And he made a movement of his outstretched hand as if to open the door.

She clutched him nervously, saying in a low whisper—

“Don’t go in there, I have a visitor!”

But as Manton only smiled at this and showed no disposition to desist, she continued in an imploring voice—

“Don’t go in! Mr. Narcissus, the editor, is there! I will get the sleeve and put it on immediately! Don’t disturb us now; I am just reading to him the MS. of my new novel, which I hope he will undertake to publish in his paper!”

“Well,” said Manton, quietly stepping back, “it must be confessed you are prompt in finding alternatives! I wish you success in your new publishing enterprise! And I suppose this bare arm is to have nothing to do with his anticipated commentary upon your text!”

Manton turned away with a light laugh, but the look which was sent after him would have chilled his very soul could he have met it. His sneering conjecture was only too true. She had already fastened upon a new victim. But for once it turned out that it was “file cut file.” She had at last met her equal in all that was detestable—her peer in baseness, and only an under-graduate to her in cunning.

[Pg 205]

She had selected him as she did all her victims, with reference to social and pecuniary position. He was at the time a co-editor and ostensible part-owner of one of the most brilliant and successful weekly papers of New York. She had always aspired to command an “organ.” And anything in that line, from a review down to a thumb-paper, to her restless ambition, was better than nothing. For by a process more hideous to the world than anomalous in fact, she had come to reconcile any degree of private intrigue, by balancing it with the value of abstract teachings for the public good, under that liberal postulate of the school to which she belonged, that the end justifies the means.

In setting herself down for a regular siege before this newspaper establishment, she had first in her eye, all three of the associate owners. It was a matter of entire indifference to her, through which she succeeded in obtaining an entrance to its columns, which might lead to her control of the future tone of the paper. She opened the investment in the usual form; first, by visiting them alone, in their offices; then by bombarding them, from the distance of her own writing-table, with a constant hail of those snow-white missives, with the sugared contents of which we have before been made acquainted.

They were each privately and successively pronounced in their own ears, and under seal of those crow-quilled envelopes, to be “naughty boys,” whose proud and wilful natures were driving them headlong to ruin—to be sons of genius, who only required to be saved from themselves and their own vices, by her, to become the illustrious reformers of the age! One of them smoked too much—was making a “chimney of his nose,” through which he was exhaling spiritual mightiness, that might equalise him with the cherubim, if only free! But this unhappily did not tell; the shrewd and wary business-man, who knew more about coppers than cherubim, and was by no means conscious of the spiritual prowess she so pathetically attributed to[Pg 206] him, “smoked” her, or her motive at least, and threw the dainty correspondence aside, with a jeering laugh.

The other, who was really chief editor, and a handsome and talented fellow, might not have got off so well, had he not been pre-occupied, and predisposed to bestow the exalted attributes which she had discovered in him, in another direction. He was duly grateful to her, however, for the discovery that he was a child of genius; and, though a little disposed to be suspicious, could not, for some time, restrain the expression of his delight at having met with a lady possessing such unquestionable and extraordinary discrimination.

He was a jovial and generous fellow, though very shrewd and suspicious withal. She was not quite aware of the last two attributes, and therefore expected a great deal from him, as he proverbially drank too much. She therefore opened her batteries mercilessly upon this weakness, which, as she affirmed, combined with the horrible practice of chewing to excess, was demonising an “Archangel! Dragging down the loftiest spirit of his age! A spirit that might guide the destinies of the human race, and rule it, whether for evil or for good.” She particularly desired his salvation. She prayed for it, day and night! She had a spiritual monition that he could be saved; and the fact was, he would be saved, if he would only listen to her counsel! Indeed, she might guarantee he should be saved, if he would only give up his poisons, and dedicate the columns of his paper to the great cause of progressive hygiene and popular physiology. In a word, the fact was, he must be saved, whether he wanted to be or not!

But the trouble was, our editor was a person who would do nothing on compulsion. And when he found that such a powerful edict had gone forth, that he must be saved, he swore, in his benighted obstinacy, that he would be —— if he would!

This led, through his spleen, to an explanation between himself and the business-man of the firm, and what was their mutual astonishment, on privately comparing “notes,” to find that[Pg 207] one was absolutely a “Cherubim,” and the other an “Archangel!” They looked at each other with a blank stare of surprise. The tawney, lean, angular, iron-jawed face of the business-man suggested anything but the plump and dimpled outlines of that prolific progeny of winged infants, which Raphael has rendered so illustrious. While, in contrast, the features of the young editor were remarkable for their plump and childlike freshness.

“Why!” shouted the business-man, with a tremendous guffaw, “there’s a great mistake here—she has clearly misdirected the notes. You should be the cherub!”

The breath of a simultaneous roar of laughter dissipated all her fine-spun web, in these two directions at least. She was more successful, however, with the third party.

Manton had been deceived, egregiously, in regard to this man’s past history, or he would never have permitted him to pass the threshold of the house where he lived. He had known him only as ostensibly associate editor of a highly-respectable paper, and therefore had not felt himself called upon to interfere in any way. Although he had, as we have perceived, early indications of his having become a frequent visitor at the house.

To have gone any higher in her classification of him than she had already gone in that of his associates, would have puzzled any less versatile genius than hers. But as cherubim and archangel had already been used up, she placed him among the “principalities and powers in heavenly places,” and there he decided to stick. It was certainly time for him to be pleased with elevation of some sort, for, as it turned out afterwards, when his history became better understood by Manton, he was one of those slugs, or barnacles of the press, that cling about and slime the keels of every noble and thought-freighted bark. From the precarious and eminently honourable occupation of writing obscene books for private circulation, “getting up” quack advertisements, interpolating the pages of Paul De Kock[Pg 208] with smearings of darker filth than ever his mousing vision had yet discovered in the sinks and gutters of Paris, he had gradually risen, through his facile availability, to the sub rosa respectability of a well-paid “sub” in a respectable office—I say sub rosa, for it seems to have been well understood, in New York, that the appearance of his name, at the head of the columns of any paper, would be sufficient to damn it, outright, so linked had it become with sneaking infamy of every sort.

However, this “child of genius” and Madame progressed bravely towards a mutual understanding; and billets-doux flew between them thick as snow-flakes. As for their contents, the reader is, by this time, pretty well prepared to conjecture. Interviews, from weekly to semi-weekly, crowded fast upon each other’s heels; until, at last, Manton began to perceive that, not only was the sleeve lost every day, but that the new novel, like the pious labor of the needle of Penelope, “grew with its growth.”

About this time, however, it came to his knowledge, that this highly respectable literary personage, Mr. Narcissus, had been as notoriously abject in his private relations as he had been in those to the press. However, as he had determined to drag Elna from beneath the clutches of her mother, and to sever all remote, or even possible connection between them, he did not feel himself called upon to do more than announce the fact to Madame that the fellow was even now an infamous stipendiary to a party no less infamous than himself, who had privately furnished him, out of her ill-gotten gains, the money to buy his share in the weekly paper she was so ambitious of controlling, through him. As he had now to expect, she received the news with the most refreshing coolness, and merely remarked, that it was no fault of hers that this bad woman had loved Mr. Narcissus; that he possessed great talent in affairs; could be made of much use in the cause of human progress and advancement—in a word, deserved to be saved, and to save him she meant. She should rescue him from such gross and debasing associations,[Pg 209] and give to his astonishing energies a nobler bent; that his future life, under her inspiration and guidance, should be made to atone for the past.

This logic seemed so very conclusive and characteristic, that Manton made no reply, but a shudder, at the thought of that saving process, to which, despicable as he was, a new victim was to be subjected. But it was no part of his plan to divert her from her purpose; for he wished, by all means, to see her active and dangerous energies employed in any direction, save that of the subversion and counteraction of his own design in regard to her daughter.

Elna, in a few days after, was sent to New England, with the understanding between Manton and herself, that she would by no means consent to return to her mother, until he himself should come back from his tour, and should send for her. He did not dare to trust her for an hour beneath the accursed shadow of this domestic Upas, that had given her birth; and more particularly did he dread the hideous combination of influences which were likely now to be brought to bear upon her, as Madam had openly announced her intention, since she had obtained a divorce from her former husband, to marry the delectable Narcissus.

We may as well dispose of this affair at once, by remarking, that in a few months afterward she did marry him; that the unfortunate woman, who had heretofore so long lived with and loved Narcissus, instantly withdrew the support which her ill-gotten gains furnished; and that, asserting her right to the share which he had pretended to own in the property of the paper, and disclosing the whole of his infamy to his former partners, the cherubim and archangel indignantly kicked him out of doors, and at once toppled about the astonished ears of Madame all her castles in the air reared, with regard to “controlling a powerful organ.”

But Madame, as we have perceived, was possessed of one of those elastic natures which always rebound from collisions,[Pg 210] or which, in a word, “never say die;” so that, instead of being discouraged by this untoward conclusion of her ambitious schemes, she set herself to work forthwith to make the best of a bad bargain; and, as she had already exhibited her passion for professional spouses, in immediately converting her first and dear Ebenezer, into an M. D., she could not do less than make a Doctor out of her beloved Narcissus.

It did not matter to her that both of them were ludicrously ignorant—that neither of them had probably ever read a book clear through in their lives; parchments were dog-cheap in New York, and could be had any day for an equivalent in hard coin. She accordingly “put him through;” and in something less than three months, one more legalised murderer was turned loose upon society, under the cabalistic ægis of M. D.


Amidst the green and savage solitude of pine-haired hills, wild-bounding streams, and islet-fretted lakes, asleep, ’twixt gleam and shadow, where the bellowing moose still roused the echoes, and the light deer whistled to the brown bear’s growl, and the trout leaped, flashing from its clear, still home, Manton renewed his life once more, in refreshing communion with nature.

It was not till now that he realised how terribly he had suffered during his long and hideous bondage. His physical health had been shockingly impaired; the elasticity of his constitution seemed to be gone forever; but it was only in the presence of Nature, with whom there are no disguises, that he could first comprehend, in all its ghastliness, the mental and spiritual deterioration that had gradually supervened. He scarcely knew[Pg 211] himself, now that he had found his way back to the only standard of comparison. He was profoundly humiliated, but not utterly despairing.

He felt his chest already beginning to play more freely, and a deadly sense, as if a thousand years of suffocating oppression had lain upon his lungs, was beginning to be dissipated before the pure air of the mountains, and the exciting pre-occupations of angling and the chase, in the rough wilderness-life he now led; and beside, there was the image of that wizard child, that had so grown in beauty beneath his hand, that sat forever in his heart, glowing and fair, to warm it with a new life of hope. How studiously his fancy exalted her. Each fortnight brought him a package of her daily letters; and though in spite of his isolation, and his idealising enthusiasm, as he eagerly read and re-read them all a thousand times, and carried them near his heart, to keep the glow there all alive, he could not help realising at times, with mournful presentiment, their hollowness, the entire absence of ingenuousness and natural dignity which mostly characterised them. He would feel his flesh creep strangely too, as he recognised their close resemblance in artificiality of sentiment and tone, to those first letters he had received from her mother.

But he earnestly strove to banish all such impressions; he felt as if they were profane, as if they were a monstrous wrong to her, as well as to himself. That she was too young as yet to have developed into the full faculty of expression; that she was timid, and dared not trust herself to speak freely out; that she feared his sharp criticism, and did not say everything that her soul moved her to speak; that she dreaded his analysis; and, in a word, had not quite overcome, in her feelings towards him, the instinctive apprehension of the master, the preceptor, which so long lingers in a youthful mind; and this very timidity, of all things, he was desirous of removing, as he felt that, so long as it remained in her mind, the full and entire reciprocation of confidence, which the jealous exclusiveness of passion demands,[Pg 212] could not take place. He felt that it was a most hazardous experiment he had been unconsciously making, in thus attempting to develope and educate a wife, especially under circumstances so unusual and ill-omened. He therefore fatally persisted in blaming himself for the self-evident shallowness of Elna’s letters; and would not hear to the whispers of his common sense, that the child was a mere chip of the old block.

So that still, in spite of his determined idealisation of her, while these evidences stared him in the face with each new, yearned-for, and eagerly-welcomed budget of letters from her, they only served to fill him, to a more sensitive degree, with the dangers of this excessive timidity, and the necessity of greater spiritual activity and tenderness of treatment on his part, that might arouse her to a more full realisation of the sacred confidences which love implies. His letters to her overflowed with natural eloquence; and all that was chastening, ennobling, fair and pure, in the inspirations surrounding him, were lavished in the prodigality of an absorbing and overflowing affection upon this fair, hollow idol, that his passion alone had rendered all divine.

This brooding, constantly and long, upon a single image, amidst the solemn privacies, the wild and drear solemnities of primeval nature, was quite sufficient to give, in time, to any nature possessing the intensity of that of Manton, a sultry tinge of monomania in reference to it. This was clearly the case with him now. Her image, glorified through his imagination, now filled all his life; he saw her everywhere—where the beautiful might be, it took some shade of semblance to her—where the wild-flowers gave out their odors to the breeze, it was to him the aroma of her presence; when the wild berry tingled his palate in a nameless ecstacy of flavor, the taste was of his sense of her, when, in their last kiss, her lips were touched to his.

But it is a strange thing that, with all the fervor of this passional attraction, he never dreamed of her at all; she never came to his soul when his senses were asleep. This single fact[Pg 213] might have warned a man of imagination less excited than Manton. This happy delusion had at least one good effect, as it enabled him, by a single effort, to throw off all his dangerous habits, and return from his tour, to New York, with a freshened and invigorated frame, and a soul chastened indeed, but filled with wild and eager hopes of the golden-hued Utopia he had framed out in the wilderness.

Elna had returned and met him. Alas! how his heart sank as, on the meeting, he felt the rainbow-hues all melting from out the visionary sky, and he took into his arms a cold, overacting, artificial semblance of his passionate ideal! He felt as if the sky had turned to lead, and fallen on him; and the first image recalled to his mind, was of the sick and monkey-imp, soulless and animal-eyed, that he had years ago rescued, in compassion, from the demon-talons of the mother. He clutched her desperately to his heart, endeavoring to recall the soul he missed, and that she had lost, while he had been away. He felt as if there were fire enough in his own veins to make a soul—to fill that delicate and graceful organisation with a subtler element, that might answer to the ravin of his sympathies.

No such response as he yearned for came; but he felt instantly, from the contact of her hand, that fierce and sultry thrill, the memory of which had lingered so long with him, tinging his imagination with a lurid light amidst the white clear calm of nature’s inspirations. He would not give up now; he had loved too long already—or, rather, the habit of confounding passion with love, had become too confirmed with him, for it to be readily possible that he should make the clear distinction between images nurtured in his own mind and the objective reality. It was his own mistake; he had expected too much of the child—he must give her time to gain confidence and speak out herself.

Infatuated man! She only wanted a few hours’ contact to speak out himself to himself, through the Odic medium!

And so it proved. Her organisation soon took the key-note[Pg 214] from his, and, in a few hours, responded as rapturously as he could desire, to the most vehement expressions of his enthusiasm.

First and foremost, she showed to him the drawings that she had made during their long probation. Among them were some, so characterised by a firm, exquisite delicacy of handling, that Manton regarded them with delighted wonder,—more especially as the defect in Elna’s pencilling, which he had always noticed and lamented, had been precisely contrasted with the excellences here displayed. Elna’s had, with all its gay and mocking eccentricity, always been trembling and uncertain. The want of smooth and poised directness in her harsh, rude handling, had often been contrasted by him in his lessons to her, upon art, with the clear, firm, and mathematical precision of the lines of Moione. He could not but exclaim impulsively, on examining them curiously—

“Why, dearest, you have equalled the brightest excellence of the style of Moione in these. Ah, how I love you for this! you are deserving of all that I have dreamed and thought and felt of you, since I have been away.”

The blushing girl slid into his embrace; and that moment was to Manton a sufficient compensation for all the self-degradation and the humiliating conditions through which he had passed. He was now to attain the coveted crown and glory of his life, as he conceived. An artist-wife! Capable, inspired, true, and a “help-mate” indeed, through whose assistance and tutored skill he might embody in realisation those fleeting and majestic creations which visited him, not alone in dreams, but in the real impersonations of his habitual thought. It had been a dream of such chaste beauty, that all these visionary forms might be transfigured to him in the alembic of art, through love, and become, in form and color, fireside realities of the canvass.

We shall see how vague and empty was this fanciful dream, as yet.

[Pg 215]


Had it ever occurred to Manton to reason at all upon the subject of his passion for this girl Elna, or had it been possible for him, under the circumstances which had lately surrounded his life, to reason concerning her, in any sense, he must and would have felt how ominous such a passion in reality was. To be sure, he did not feel that the relations into which it had been attempted to drag him by the mother, had ever been voluntary or accepted on his part; he had loathed and rebelled against them from the first.

But this did not, in reality, make the fact of his having continued near her—to occupy the same house—any the less offensive to the moral sense; for, taking the best aspects of the case, the durance had not been a physical one, and he might, if he had so willed, have walked himself bodily off, and thus escaped this horrible entanglement; but he had not done so. Although we have endeavored, as some extenuation, to trace the reasons why he had not thus acted, yet we have found no excuse sufficient, in all this, for the new sin he has committed, in daring to love, and contemplating honorable marriage, even, with the daughter of such a mother. But we have naught to extenuate, naught to set down in malice, in this too fatally true narrative; we have related it because it is true, and because we felt it to be our duty to do so, that others might be warned of these things, which may, perhaps, enlighten the reader somewhat, as to the character of the new thraldom to which Manton has been subjected.

It must always be borne in mind, in speaking of Manton and measuring his actions, that although the nervous sanguine temperament[Pg 216] predominated to an extraordinary degree in this man’s organisation, the tendencies of his mind were, nevertheless, unusually conservative. This rendered him, necessarily, a man of habits; and therefore, more than usually liable to suffer from gradual and constant encroachment: for, if his quick sense has not instantly detected the danger on its first presentation—if his ear has not recognised the serpent’s hiss at once among the flowers, his fearless hand would soon be caressing the shining reptile, and bear it, it might be, even to his own bosom. It was this tenacity of habits which had rendered him so easy to be imposed upon. Nothing was so difficult for him to throw off as a habit; for, from the intensity of his nature, it always cost him the suffering of a strong excitement before its chains could be broken.

Manton found, very soon after his return, that what he most dreaded now, was to be at once precipitated, which was a separation between himself and Elna. Not that he did not fully concede to the general propriety and prudence of such a step; for he remembered that he had at once proposed the previous separation, when he came to understand the nature of his feelings towards her; but that had been when she was to be placed beyond the reach of her mother, and they could be both out of town at the same time; but now that his business made it imperative for him to remain in New York, if he dreaded before lest she be left with the mother one day even, were not the same causes operating still, and with redoubled force, when, in addition to her baleful contact, he had to contemplate that of the creature she had married?

The moral and spiritual grime of such a contact was enough to blast an angel’s bloom—to sully the purest wing that ever winnowed dream. He must be there to shield his fair treasure always, till the time had come when he could snatch her for ever beyond their reach. But the war had now fairly opened.

On the very day of his return, Manton had been not a little astonished to find the heretofore abject and cringing mother turn[Pg 217] upon him, suddenly, with a lofty insolence, that seemed at first incredible; but his surprise and anger rapidly gave way to wonder and stunned amaze, at finding her exhibiting the most unparalleled phenomena of brazen, grave, deliberate falsehood that ever still imagination, in bottomless conceit, had conjured as the thought of demons in dark hell. This was yet, strange as it may seem, a most terrible realisation to have come upon his life; though he had, up to this time, known that she was unscrupulous, as far as the attainment of influential connexions, for the dissemination of her theoretical views, was concerned—that she was, in this respect, a dangerous and an evil woman—that her influence would make her presence deadly to purity, in her own or the other sex; yet, he had not learned to regard her as utterly God-forsaken. The veil was now lifted. The scales that had remained fell forever from his eyes. She now stood revealed, not as he had heretofore striven to palliate his convictions concerning her—the ferocious fanatic of one idea—the cunning and detestable Jesuit of a “A cause”—but as the incarnation of unnatural passions and a demonised selfishness. He trembled to his heart’s core at the thought of that fair young girl, whom he had learned to love, being left to the tender mercies of a monster such as this. He saw at once the whole nefarious scheme that had been concocted between herself and her worthy coadjutor.

This was but the initial step. This precipitation of a quarrel with himself, which would bring about at least a partial separation with Elna, and then their subsequent game would slowly and surely accomplish the rest. Was it likely that a wretch like this pink of delicacy, Narcissus, who had before, for years, been steeped to the lips in that monstrous traffic, the sale of bodies as well as souls, would quietly permit to slip through his fingers a lovely and fascinating girl as Elna had now grown to be, over who’s value, in dollars and cents, he had gloated from the first? or was it likely that his worthy consort, who had clearly learned to appreciate the convenience of such[Pg 218] speculations, would not fully coincide with him in his view of the policy of defeating Manton, who, in the event of success, would be sure to separate her from them as far as the poles are sundered?

We shall now see how far the young lady herself was likely to, or had already, become a party to such utilitarian views.

Manton had left the house, and taken board elsewhere. The same evening, he visited Elna, who received him alone, in the warm, well-lighted, and neatly-arranged parlor. Manton had come in the most hopeless mood, for all the results of this separation had been most fully and painfully impressed upon him since the first indication of the rupture that had led to his quitting the house.

The young girl sprang eagerly to meet him, and with a bounding caress clasped his neck, exclaiming—

“Dearest one, you must not look so sad! We are to have the parlor thus every evening, when you shall come to see me; when we shall be very stately and proper folk. I shall play the dignified matron in anticipation, and you shall be my very wise and solemn lord and master. Mother is not to permit any interruption, and we shall have such nice and easy times. Come, sit down here by my side, and let us begin to play stately. And clear up that gloomy brow of yours, for I am determined that we shall be happy!”

Manton could only smile faintly, as he seated himself.

“Ah, heedless child, you do not see in all this gay vision, the black and deadly realities that couch within its shadows! I understand your mother’s game fully. This will not last long; and you are about to be sorely tried, my little love!”

His head fell back heavily, and his eyelids drooped with an expression of unutterable despondency. Elna, who had been watching him eagerly, now flew to his side, and taking his head gently on her shoulder, commenced caressing his face in a peculiar manner. She did not absolutely touch it, but her lips crept over certain portions with a slow snake-like motion,[Pg 219] while the deep heavings of her chest, disclosed that she was breathing heavily upon them, and a certain greenish dilation of the pupil of her eyes revealed—what? Ah, horror! and she so young! What? what! is that the mother’s art? Let us see.

The lines of the man’s face are sunken in the expression of hopeless prostration. Soon a slight twitching of the nerves becomes evident, then a faint smile breaks across its pallor; the inspirations become deeper, and she breathes with almost convulsive energy. The glowing air lingers and burns along the sensitive temple, and now it pauses on the cheek, close beside the ear—ha! her arm is about his neck; is it a wonder that the blood mounts flushing to that man’s cheek and forehead, that his eyes fly open filled with wild and vivid fires, that a shuddering thrill is running through his frame, as he stretches forth his arms to her, with a low, ecstatic laugh, of passionate yearning, while she clings about him, and their lips meet, in a burning, lingering kiss, and then, with a light laugh, she springs beyond his reach, and dances in tantalising mockery about him, permitting him but to touch her for a moment, eluding his grasp, with yet more subtle sleight, until exhausted by morbid excitement the unfortunate man sinks upon the sofa?

This picture is only but too real. But why should Manton have endured the repetition of a scene like this? He was a man of habits, and for years, before a thought of passion had for once intruded upon him, this young girl, under the sacred shield of childhood, had been taught to approach him with fondling caresses. There seemed no danger then, but when the real time for danger came, he felt a vague and general monition of it, yet failed to locate it where it really rested. These caresses had become so dear and natural to him; they seemed so harmless.

He blamed only himself, cursed only the unetherialised grossness of his own nature. There was to him far too much of affection and accustomed tenderness in all this to arouse his suspicions for a moment. He hated only himself, and strove on[Pg 220] each of these now frequent occasions, to chasten, by the severest self-inflicted penance, his own soul.

In the meanwhile, this modern Tantalus grew thinner and more pale each day; was wasting rapidly to a shadow, beneath such scenes as we have witnessed.

The girl, Elna, grew fairer and more strong each day—seeming to have fed upon his slow consumption.

We will not dwell upon such pictures farther. It was enough that all the consequences dreaded by Manton followed, in slow, but sure progression, and that the last blow the subtle couple struck at him was fully characteristic and consummated the separation.

Elna had seen little, as yet, of public amusements, and her strong imitative faculty had led her to express a passion for the stage, which Manton greatly dreaded, and had particularly wished to guard her against, until her mind should become more fully developed, and until he, himself, should possess the legal right to attend her, upon all such occasions. He had, therefore, at all times resolutely opposed her going to any public place of amusement, unless he could accompany her. But now it happened that, being engaged in bringing out a new work, with the press only twenty-four hours behind him, urging him inexorably for a certain amount of daily matter, which left him no leisure whatever, except a few moments, which he wrested from the vortex, for the short evening re-union with her he so loved, he had, therefore, no time left to accompany her to such places.

Here the enterprising couple saw at once their advantage; the mother understood what Manton did not, the extreme shallowness of the character he had thus perseveringly idealised. She at once laid siege to her passion for dress and display, as well as novelty. They bought her fine and showy clothes, and urged her first to accompany them to concerts, then to theatres, and then to public balls.

When the young girl first came to Manton, all flushed with eagerness, to show him her finery, and ask him if she might not[Pg 221] go with her dear mother and her new “papa,” he felt his heart sink unutterably within him. He reasoned with her long and earnestly, endeavoring to make her understand how impossible it was for a woman, who was to become his wife, to appear at any public assembly in the city of New York, with a person so notorious as this, whom she had thus, suddenly, learned to style “papa.”

But he soon found it to be all in vain; for, when he told her if she would only be content to wait a few weeks until his book had been published, that he would himself dedicate any amount of time she might require to visiting such places with her, she still urged that she did not see why it was improper for her to accompany the man whom her mother had married, to any public place—that her new dresses were so beautiful—that she wished to attend this magnificent concert.

Manton sighed heavily and only answered in a mournful voice to her repeated entreaties—

“Alas! poor child, my dream is nearly over! I see they have bought you with the tinsel of a fine dress and new ribbons!”

The child wept and fondled and caressed; but all her arts failed this time. His heart felt like lead within him; and he no longer had nerves with life enough to be played upon. But she went that night, nevertheless, and the great gulf had sunk impassably between them.

Manton was now again a madman. In the pride of his hopeful love he had built magnificent schemes, which his singular energies had rapidly placed upon the firm basis of realisation; it only required the calm exercise of his own will to consummate all and make his name illustrious. But he had not labored for himself—and she, for whom all had been achieved, was no longer his—she was gone—utterly gone! She had sold her birthright, and was no longer his. The world became dark, its honors and its ambitions as nothing. To recount the wild and desperate extravagance by which he dashed to earth all that he had achieved, as the heartless and hideous shallowness of the[Pg 222] phantom soul he had been worshipping, became, with each day, more apparent, would be only painful to the reader, who can well understand what to expect from the recklessness of such a madman. Suffice it that the separation was complete. He last saw her, but for an instant, on her eighteenth birthnight, to commemorate which, the mother, in pursuance of her schemes, had assembled a large party at her house. This was to have been their wedding-night; and Manton, though long since hopelessly separated from her, could not resist the passionate desire to see once more, upon this night, to which he had so long looked forward with holy raptures, that face and form.

He rang the bell, and, by a curious instinct, she recognised the characteristic pull, and met him alone at the door. She was lovely, radiant even, as she had sometimes come to him in his wild imaginings. Dressed in pure white, with a wreath of flowering myrtle resting lightly on her brow. There was a look of exultation on her face which she had not been able to throw off, as she came forth from the admiration of the crowded room. Manton took her hand—

“Ah, child, you are very lovely now—you look just as I dreamed you would look on this night, when you were to have been my bride. My eyes are filled with blood, now! I cannot see you any more! Farewell! farewell!” and he rushed from the door into the dark street, while she, who had spoken no word, made no attempt to detain him, turned coldly back, and entered, with a beaming face, the scene of her new triumph.

[Pg 223]


“The white feet of angels yet upon the hills.”

Months and months had passed, and yet this wretched man was staggering on, not this time drunk, literally, but, as though blinded by red blood oozing from his brain, which had been crushed by the weight of this blow. He was wandering vaguely hither and yon, distracting his brain in ineffectual chimeras, the very impossibilities of their success affording to him their greatest attraction. But gradually all this maddened struggle had been settling down into one sultry, close, inevitable conclusion of sullen self-destruction, which must result from the continued precipitation, upon conditions that promised death in one form or other. He went to Boston while the cholera was raging there at its worst. The pretence of the visit was some wild, distracting scheme that he had seized upon, and in which he was endeavoring to secure co-operation there.

But unfortunately for his mad purpose, since that very separation from daily contact with the girl Elna, which was working so sadly upon his imagination now, his attenuated and exhausted physique had rapidly recovered all its inherent vigor, and in animal health and strength he had suddenly become, by an inexplicable reaction, more prodigally abounding than ever for many years. So that fate seemed to have closed up to him any ordinary means of getting rid of himself, except the pistol and the dagger, from the use of which his manliness unconquerably revolted.

But by a strange process of self-delusion, he had managed to confound himself into the idea that the abject cowardice of the act of suicide might be avoided by a species of half unconscious indirection. For instance, cholera was rife in the city, and he[Pg 224] well knew that long warm baths, by relaxing the system, would lay it more open to the attacks of any epidemical tendencies that might be prevalent; and accordingly, without ever venturing to explain to himself why, he continued, day after day, to take these long hot baths, and then to eat and drink, in the quietest possible way, everything that was specially to be avoided at such a time.

While this novel process was thus coolly progressing, he one morning met, by the merest accident, on State Street, a person whom he knew to have been long and intimately the friend of the lost Moione and her family. Manton eagerly asked him if he knew where she could now be found; for, strange enough, her calm image had lately intruded often into the darkened vistas of his thought, from whence he had supposed her banished long ago.

Her address was promptly given: it was in a remote and humble district of the city; and, although Manton already felt the seeds of the disease, which he had thus pertinaciously invited, rioting within him, yet he vowed to himself that he would at once seek her. His first visit failed; but the second found her, thin and wan, stretched on a lounge, awaiting she knew not whom.

With a short cry of sudden joy, as she recognised his features, she sprang to meet him, as of old, with a childish caress. Ah, why was it that he felt such sullen cold, and yet saw light, falling like star-beams upon the midnight of his soul, as his arms met this fond and childish clasp? He did not understand it—but we shall see!

The physical results, which he had so assiduously courted, could not be avoided. As he had walked about among his friends already for several days, with the premonitory symptoms of the fatal epidemic fully developed in his system, and as fully understood by himself, yet without the adoption, on his own part, of one single precautionary step, it was now sure to wreak its worst. Some, who could not help observing his ghastly appearance,[Pg 225] thought him monstrously reckless, and others, hopelessly insane.

Regardless of every remonstrance, he still kept his feet, until, at length, the third evening found him leaving his hotel, in a hack, which he ordered to be driven to the home of Moione; and from which he had to be carried, by the driver, into the parlor, where he sank upon what he supposed to be the last couch upon which he should recline in life. A strange, indestructible feeling, that he must die beneath her eye, had urged him to this last and desperate exertion of the feeble vitality remaining in him. He had lain himself there to die; but why the strange purpose that she should minister to his passing breath? Was it only here that peace could be found for him?

Moione was alone, with a timid, young, and undeveloped sister. Their mother was accidentally away that night; having been detained by the illness of a friend, joined with the inclemency of the night, which set in in darkness and storm, in terror, in thunder, and in blaze. In the meantime, the paroxysms of cholera had commenced upon the enfeebled frame of Manton; and the black fear of the night outside only corresponded to the convulsed and writhing agonies which now tossed him to and fro, in helpless, but most mortal agonies. The thunder crashed, and the frail house shook, and the fierce pangs shot along his quivering nerves, as vividly as any blinding burst of lightning from without. The darkness which surrounded him had been penetrated by a calm, pure light, that dimmed not nor trembled before the blinding blast. A voice, the soft, clear, cheerful tones of which vibrated not to the quick rattling of thunder-crashes from without, told him of strength and hope, of peace and a calm future, in the life yet beyond him on the earth—that he could not die now, and should not!—until his will became electrified with a new impulsion, and was roused to cope with the fell demon that had thus, of his own invitation, possessed him; and, illuminated with a sudden[Pg 226] and rapid intellection, he directed her how to baffle every paroxysm of cramp as it rose.

It is sufficient, he was thus sustained by light applications of cold-water, until the passing of the storm enabled her to summon to his aid a physician, whose skilful application of the same powerful remedy, even in the “blue-stage” of collapse into which Manton had now fallen, sufficed to relieve him from the disease, with the vital principle yet striving in his frame; though many days must elapse before those starry eyes, that held sleepless watch above him, could impart to his dimmed and incredulous consciousness sufficient strength to enable him to lift his hand, in vague and mournful wonder that he still possessed a being.

Ah, what an awakening was this! Deep, deep, beneath the realms of shadow—dark and deep—he had lain in long and dumb oblivion of consciousness. He knew not that he lived; it was a blank of rayless rest—a peace without sunshine. How profound! how unutterably still! What a contrast with the ceaseless, dreadful tension of the moiling chaos of past years, during which the passions had never slept, but, through his very dreams, had moaned in the weariness of strife. Alas! the rebellious heart, which struggleth in unyielding pride with life, refusing to concede to its conditions, how it must suffer? The world know little of the life-long horrors of that fight—the unidealizing world, the conservative, the compromising world. It little dreams what this self-immolating madman must endure—to what nights of sleepless thought, to what days of bleak and sullen isolation—walking apart from sympathies that are distrusted and scorned, yet yearned for—hating nothing, yet loving nothing which is warmed in the embrace of earth, because that earth may be accursed in his sight: its barren bosom has not yielded to his exacting soul the flowers and streams and echoing groves of the Utopia it has framed within him.

This is the unpardonable sin of pride! He dares to treat with contempt a world that will not turn to his inspired voice,[Pg 227] and live as he has dreamed it might live. It is not to be wondered at, that the bolts fall thick and fast about him; but when we see his pale brow scathed and seamed with many a stunning stroke, while his hollow eyes yet glitter with a deathless and defiant fire—when we think of the mortal tension of his unsympathised life—oh, should we not remember, that this painful warrior has been battling, not for base lucre, not for selfish ends, but for the beautiful, as it has been revealed to him—the true, as he has felt it—for the ideal in him; and that, though wretched and suffering and wan, it is, after all,

“Of such stuff as he,
The gods are made.”

It is of his suffering that his prowess comes—of his experiences, his themes—of his solitude, his reach and radiance of thought—of his strong will, his conquering flight at last. Do not think to pity him; may-be he is pitying you. Do not attempt to “save” him; it may be, it is you who will be damned in the effort. Only let him alone—do not persecute him. Let his pride pass—that is what sustains him; but for that, he would be like you, a mere “compromise.” Give him the same chance that you give to others around you, and, although you may not understand him now, only give him time, he will make you understand him; it may be, in wonder and in joy.

But this waking—but this waking of the weary man! Was it a new birth—a new resurrection—or, a mere waking from a light sleep, without a dream? The world upon which his shrinking vision now opened was filled with sunshine—he was blinded with the glory thereof. He closed his thin eyelids, and the splendor came through them, all rosy-hued and dimmed, that he could bear it; but there was a starlight for him too, and he could bear its calm effulgence better.

Yes, there were two stars, and they were tempered, that they might neither freeze nor slay his feeble life. When they came over him, as he lay in a half-trance of weakness, he could feel[Pg 228] them through his eyelids and upon his heart; and they were warm, and he felt his heart warm, as buds to the unfolding spring. A dim-remembered music flowed into his soul, faint and dim, but oh, sweetly mellowed, that he might not die!

There was a rustling, too,—it was as of a tempered wind,—and a soft touch; it sent no thrill, but it was of healing—it sunk into his life in strength. A strange, balsamic tenderness, like a new sense of peace and joy, pervaded all his being—and a new growth set in apace, and a dim remembrance of ancient strength flitted into his thought.

Ah, ha! this wondrous presence, what was it? Moione, the ministering Moione! It was she! Ever there, sleeping and awake, she leaned over him. When he dreamed, he dreamed of a fair spirit, that hung upon the air above him, on viewless wings, and ever, with still eyes looking upon his, shedding their soft radiance deep into his soul. No wonder that life, in swift, light waves, came flooding in again; no wonder that the crushed and much-enduring man became as a child once more, and laughed out in the sunshine with a simple joy. The Present was sufficient unto him; he remembered not the Past now—the hideous, the spectre-haunted Past. What was it to him, when serene hope thus smiled? Ah, it was a happy time, that period of rapid convalescence. Yes, rapid, for his heart beat freely again. The natural sun could reach him; no lurid delusion, like miasmatic fog, hung over to intercept the rays.

They talked of the future, and peopled it with wild dreams, like children, until it all became as real to them as their own being.

There was a strange and mournful romance, connected with the origin of Moione’s family, that pointed at possible realizations in another country, through inheritance, that would be as gorgeous as the creations of Aladdin’s lamp. They talked of these prospects as of facts assumed, and of all the high-thoughted enterprises of the day which promised to be of true benefit to mankind, as already achieved, through their aid; and,[Pg 229] with magnanimous simplicity, were already distributing hoarded and rusting millions to bless the world withal. These were gay day-dreams; but they were innocent, and, although they may never be realized, they gave them joy—inspired the yet feeble Manton with a future.

There could be but one result to all this. His health was rapidly restored; and when Manton married Moione, which he soon did, his soul now first found rest. The last that was spoken between them concerning Elna was in a conversation soon after, when she casually asked him—

“Did Elna show you my drawings, when you came back from the North?”

“Your drawings? your drawings? She showed me some, the delicacy and calm precision of which, I remember, vainly intoxicated me with delight. But why do you ask, dear?”

“Why, she carried off from me, about that time, certain studies of human anatomy, which I had elaborated much, and which I valued. As I have never been able to recover them, after repeatedly requesting their return, I thought, perhaps, she might have shown them to you, and then thrown them aside, through forgetfulness.”

“Ah! ha!” said Manton, “I remember now. They were assiduously paraded before me by her as her own. In spite of my recognition of the fact, that she did not possess originally, and must have very suddenly acquired, the constitutional steadiness and delicacy of touch necessary to accomplish drawings so fine and exquisitely accurate, I never dreamed of imposition, of course; and thus, with fatal credulity, set down to her credit, from what she had stolen of you, a new and infinitely significant attribute, which I had heretofore, specially and hopelessly, in spite of my passion, denied to her.”

“Let us forget it now,” was the quiet response. “She is only harmful to either of us, as you may remember morbidly the relations which have existed between you; the delusion is over.”

[Pg 230]

Such was the fact, indeed. Manton had at last found his artist-wife, and a true and wondrous artist did she prove indeed, realising his fond, high dream. Under this blessed and holy guardianship, he had returned fully to the realities of a true existence. He now saw, felt, and understood all that had occurred in that long shuddering dream; and this reality he had attained seemed only the more unutterably precious.

When the calm Moione revealed to him all the secret of the bleak and poverty-stricken desolation, in which he found her living, he was not at all astonished to find that her mother, who was a generous, trusting, noble-hearted zealot of Water-cure, had been another of the many victims of Boanerges Phospher, the “Spiritual Professor.” He had not only stripped her widowed isolation of all the appliances of household comfort, which years of devoted and self-sacrificing labor had enabled her to collect and throw together, in respectable defence between her helpless children and common want, but had absolutely turned her out of doors, without even spoon, or knife, or fork left her, of all this little property which she had thrown in rashly, perhaps, but earnestly, and with a noble dedication of her widow’s mite, towards furnishing a Water-cure establishment.

The cause was one that she revered for the good that she knew, practically, it might accomplish; and Boanerges, who was in this case, as usual, profoundly ignorant of what he had undertaken to do, had availed himself of her well-known experience and knowledge of Water-cure, just so long as sufficed to collect around him again a hirsute confederacy of faithful Amazons; the strength of which he thought would be sufficient to over-ride all opposition, and sustain him in the valorous assault upon helpless widowhood intended. He then openly claimed her property as his own, and the proud, uncomplaining mother of Moione was, of course, plundered of her all—victimised!

The sainted Boanerges soon met with a just retribution. The partner, to whom he had assigned, in trust, to stave off his creditors, all his claims upon this illustrious institution, and who,[Pg 231] from the late chrysalis of a vulgar tailor, had suddenly been emancipated into an M. D. of Water-cure, at once sprung upon him his legal rights, under the transfer, and he was reduced again to beggary.

Some method wrested from his puerile studies of Swedenborg, has no doubt, by this time, and upon some other tack, suggested to the “Spiritual Professor” just enough of wisdom to enable him to persevere in “saving” the elderly New-Lights of the land.

We wish Boanerges happiness in his new enterprises; for, certainly, his versatility at least commands respect.

[Pg 232]


The Editor finds that here the connected narrative of Etherial Softdown breaks off. Though there are many fragmentary notes, which he found in Yieger’s Cabinet, which bear a clear, yet somewhat disconnected relation, to the past and future of the scenes and actors already described; these he has thought proper to collate, and throw together into something as nearly approaching order as their desultory character will permit.

This man Yieger seems to have been an enthusiast of a very unusual stamp. He has, however, left so little concerning himself, that we can only say, he appears to have made it his business to follow up, in a quiet and unsuspected way, a certain series of investigations, the purport and tendency of which was to unveil a class of crimes, which, from being secret, were enabled to work and worm their way nearest to the core of the social state.

Thus, in addition to the monstrous and unimagined vices described by him in the preceding chapters, he seems to have discovered secret combinations, the possibilities of which have probably never entered before into human brains, but the results of which were as prodigious as the causes were unsuspected. These were composed of no mystic demagogues of humanitarianism, who sheltered mere partisan and personal designs, under the broad curtain of secret rituals symbolising philanthropic aims; no bald enthusiasts, who softly sunk their individualities in an Order, and sold their god-like birthrights of universal benevolence, of world-wide charity, for the golden shackles of a pretentious benevolence, the selfish code of which was, mutual protection first, and—nobody else afterwards!

[Pg 233]

These were wise, bold, hardened men—hardened in the rough contests by the highways of life—who had seen all, felt all, and known all, that life could give or take. They were prepared for any of its extremes, but had outlived its sympathies. They were incarnations of pure intellection; the accomplishment of the object was their conscience—they despised allegories, and they trampled upon symbols. Nothing was mysterious to them, but an undigested purpose. For them there was no law but that might be eluded—no sanctities, but as they might be used—no religion but necessity, which was, to them, achievement!

When such men organised, they merely came together,—ten or a dozen of them,—they required no oaths, no pledges—they knew each other! “We hold such and such opinions upon one point only; and that one point is, mutual interest, and under that, 1st, that we can govern this nation; 2d, that to govern it, we must subvert its institutions; and, 3d, subvert them we will! It is our interest; this is our only bond. Capital must have expansion. This hybrid republicanism saps the power of our great agent by its obstinate competition. We must demoralise the republic. We must make public virtue a by-word and a mockery, and private infamy to be honor. Beginning with the people, through our agents, we shall corrupt the State.

“We must pamper superstition, and pension energetic fanaticism—as on ‘Change we degrade commercial honor, and make ‘success’ the idol. We may fairly and reasonably calculate, that within a succeeding generation, even our theoretical schemes of republican subversion may be accomplished, and upon its ruins be erected that noble Oligarchy of caste and wealth for which we all conspire, as affording the only true protection to capital.

“Beside these general views, we may in a thousand other ways apply our combined capital to immediate advantage. We may buy up, through our agents, claims upon litigated estates, upon confiscated bonds, mortgages upon embarrassed property, land-claims, Government contracts, that have fallen into weak[Pg 234] hands, and all those floating operations, constantly within hail, in which ready-money is eagerly grasped as the equivalent for enormous prospective gains.

“In addition, through our monopoly of the manufacturing interest, by a rigorous and impartial system of discipline, we shall soon be able to fill the masses of operators and producers with such distrust of each other, and fear of us, as to disintegrate their radical combinations, and bring them to our feet. Governing on ‘Change, we rule in politics; governing in politics, we are the despots in trade; ruling in trade, we subjugate production; production conquered, we domineer over labor. This is the common-sense view of our interests—of the interests of capital, which we represent. In the promotion of this object, we appoint and pension our secret agents, who are everywhere on the lookout for our interests. We arrange correspondence, in cipher, throughout the civilized world; we pension our editors and our reporters; we bribe our legislators, and, last of all, we establish and pay our secret police, local, and travelling, whose business it is, not alone to report to us the conduct of agents already employed, but to find and report to us others, who may be useful in such capacity.

“We punish treachery by death!”

Such is a partial schedule of the terms of one of these terrible confederacies, as furnished in a detached note by Yieger, which held its secret sessions in New York city. He seems to have obtained a sight of some of their records, but by what means, the most daring could only conjecture. He appears to have regarded this particular organisation as the most formidable of all, and to have traced many of its ramifications, in their covert results, with a singularly dogged tenacity.

Among the extraordinary papers contained in the Cabinet he has left, are to be found short notes, containing what are clearly reports and proceedings of this formidable conclave. Its mysterious signature, Regulus, seems to have been known throughout the world; and even he, though clearly a fierce and[Pg 235] relentless foe, never writes it, but with the involuntary concession of respect, which large, clear letters, underscored, would seem to convey.

Having now presented such an outline of the character and designs of this secret conclave, as the means of information furnished him have enabled him to do, the Editor will proceed with the promised extracts from its proceedings, such as relate to those in regard to whom the reader may be supposed to have some curiosity.

First, we have here


“This woman, whose patronymic was Softdown, first married a Quaker, named Orne; which name, after her separation, and until after her divorce, she continued to bear, with the alias of Marie. She began her public career, soon after her marriage, as a Quaker preacher; but the straitness of this sect not conforming at all to her latitudinarian principles, she recanted in disgust, and left the society. She now plunged at once into Physiology, and, after a miraculously short gestation, produced a few lectures, with which she went the rounds of two or three New England States, accompanied by her husband, whom she, sans ceremonie, dubbed M. D., without putting him to the trouble of reading, or ever having read, a book on any subject. He officiated as her doorkeeper, and received the ‘shillings;’ but, refusing to render any account of the proceeds, a furious feud grew up between them, and soon the war waxed hot and fierce.

“Finding this to be poor business on the whole, she deserted him, taking her child with her. The next occupation in which we find her versatile genius engaged, was that of teaching French; a more humble employment, surely, but one for which she was equally well fitted. This, however, soon disgusted her, as her unreasonable patrons would insist upon the vulgar necessity of her being able to speak French, as[Pg 236] well as teach it. It was at best but a tame avocation, and one entirely unsuited to her ambitious temper.

“Having now fairly assayed her wings for flight, she soared aloft at once, in full career, through mid-air. She became first a preacher of Universalism; but meeting, about this time, with the celebrated Boanerges Phospher, she, in a few weeks, turned out full-plumed, as a lecturer on Elocution. To this she soon added a knowledge of Phrenology, which, in her active zeal, she took care to impart to the world, as fast as acquired, and in the same public manner.

“Then, as a natural consequence, came Mesmerism; then Neurology. Of all these sciences she became the prompt expounder, after a few days’ investigation.

“From this point she immediately ascended a step higher, and announced herself as a revelator in Clairvoyance; and, by an inevitable progression, she at once found admission, along with Andrew Jackson Davis and a host of other seers, into the Swedenborgian Arcana, and held herself on terms of frequent intercourse and positive intimacy with the angel Gabriel, and, indeed, the whole heavenly host.

“They revealed to her that the great and unpardonable sins of humanity were, first, eating pork; second, using tobacco, whether snuffing, smoking, or chewing; and, third, wine-drinking in all its forms. They accordingly commissioned her, formally, to go forth into the world as a missionary, to warn mankind against the fearful consequences of these vices, and to ‘save’ them therefrom.

“The exposition of Grahamism and Bran-bread was now added to the enlarged circle of her enlightened Professorships; and, by this aid, and that of her spiritual commission, she wrought wonders, in assailing the camps of the great foes of humanity—Pork, Tobacco, and Wine!

“Many were the brands plucked by her from the burning, or rather ‘saved’—preachers, lawyers, editors, artists, and watery-eyed young gentlemen, in particular. It was on this grand[Pg 237] tour that she first assumed her most distinguished attribute, the Patroness of Art—particularly of the Artists.

“Returning to civilization once more, she again assumed her cast-off Professorship of Physiology, and began lecturing to classes of her own sex. Now, with the first gleam of light from Græfenberg, she pronounced herself as having been, for many years before, a practitioner of the system; and at once proceeded to combine Grahamism, Mesmerism, Water-cure, and Physiology.

“While in the vein of Physiology, she also lectured on the benefits of Amalgamation, Abolitionism, and Non-resistance. About this time, having met with one of the chief expounders of Fourierism, whom she also undertook to ‘save,’ she turned out in a few weeks a Phalanxsterian lecturer. That bubble had barely exploded, when she came forth a Communist. Shortly afterwards, having one or two editors separately undergoing the process of being ‘saved,’ she became authoress! She produced several physiological novels, a number of essays, poems, volumes of lectures, &c., &c.

“The police which obey the mandates of the formidable Regulus, have kept the changes of this feminine Proteus for now upward of forty years, steadily in view; and the Council of Disorganisation report, through their committee, that they have ample reason to be pleased with this Etherial Softdown, as the most indefatigable, active, unscrupulous, and energetic of the agents of Demoralisation in the employment of the Secret Conclave.

“They congratulate themselves in the belief that, with an hundred such employées devoted to their service, they could corrupt the private faith and public virtue of the whole Union so effectually, in a single generation, as to enable them to utterly destroy its social organisation and subvert its Constitution.

“This would, of course, secure the desired Oligarchy of caste and wealth, and reduce the nation to serfdom.

“She is to be encouraged, and placed upon the pension-list of the ‘Secret Conclave.’

[Pg 238]

“Since this report, the latest transformations of Etherial Softdown have been, first, into rabid Bloomerism; in the height of which madness, she possessed a sufficiency of the martyr-spirit to parade herself, on all public occasions, though nearly fifty years of age, in full costume.

“By a necessary transition, the next step was into an apostleship of the new school of ‘Woman’s Rights’ and Abolitionism; which openly rejoices in the repudiation of the Bible from among the sacred books of the world—accepting it merely as the text-book of popular cant, to be used in working upon the passions and superstitions of the mob.

“This last metamorphosis of Etherial Softdown seems to be the most promising of all those through which the police of the ‘Conclave’ have, thus far, been able to trace her.”[4]

[4] The following note was received, in answer to one addressed to a distinguished surgeon of Philadelphia, in relation to the phenomenon of voluntary bleeding, so frequently illustrated in the History of Etherial Softdown.—Editor.

Dear Sir:

“The case which you presented to me, for an explanation of the causes which may have produced voluntary discharges of blood from the mouth, is certainly a very remarkable one, though by no means without parallel in the records of feigned diseases. The power of the will, in persons of peculiar formation or constitution, is seen, occasionally, to be extended to various organs designed by nature to act without awakening consciousness and in a manner altogether beyond the control of the individual. To say nothing of many muscles of the scalp, the ears, the skin of the neck, &c., which are used to great purpose by the inferior animals, but are totally inactive in man, except in a few rare instances, it is well known that many persons possess the power of voluntary vomiting. About forty years ago, a man presented himself before a celebrated surgeon of London, and proved that he possessed the ability to check completely the flow of blood through the artery at the wrist, by violently contracting a muscle of the arm above the elbow, which, in his case, happened to overlap and press upon the main trunk of the vessel. I am acquainted with a gentleman in this country, who can perform the same feat. There is on record a well-authenticated history of a man who could completely control, by will, the motions of his heart; and who, eventually, committed accidental suicide, by arresting the circulation so long that the heart never reacted. I am acquainted with a gentleman who can voluntarily contract and dilate the pupil of the eye to a certain extent; and have seen the same effect repeatedly, and in a far greater degree, among the Hindoo jugglers. This action is natural in the owl, but probably requires a peculiar nervous structure in man. Some persons have a power of so completely simulating death, that neither by respiration, the motion of the eye under light, nor the pulse, could any unprofessional observer, or even an experienced physician, detect the counterfeit. One of my servants in India, struck another Hindoo with his open hand, for some impertinence. The man instantly fell, apparently dead; and I happened to arrive just as the friends were about to remove the body, no doubt for the purpose of extorting money by concealment and false pretences. I could perceive no respiration (the glass-test was not applied), no pulse at the wrist; the pupil of the eye was fixed in all lights. There was, however, a slight thrilling in the carotid artery, and I judged the case to be one of admirable feigning. Severe pinching was borne without change of expression, as was also the deep prick of a pin. For amusement, I pronounced him dead, but assured the ignorant natives that I would bring him to life. On my calling for a little pan of coals,—always ready in a bachelor drawing-room in the East, for lighting cigars,—there came over the countenance the slightest possible shade of anxiety. I ordered the patient’s abdomen laid bare, and gently toppled a bright coal from the pan upon it. The effect was magical. Instantly, the fellow gave the most lively evidences of vitality; and, as he crossed the Compound and darted through the gateway, he seemed solely bent upon rivalling the mysterious industry of the ‘man with the cork-leg.’ “By strong contraction of all the muscles of the chest, while those of the neck are rigid and the lungs fully inflated, the vessels of the head and neck can be distended almost to bursting. Actors sometimes use this power to produce voluntary blushing, or the suffusion of anger, though the practice endangers apoplexy. I take this to be the secret of the voluntary bleeding, in the case described by you.

“The tonsils, and the membrane of the throat behind the nose and mouth, are full of innumerable blood-vessels, forming a net-work; and very slight causes often produce great enlargement of these vessels. By frequent temporary distension, they are not only permanently enlarged, but made more susceptible of additional expansion from trivial accidents. In this condition, they may be brought to resemble, in some degree, what is termed, by anatomists, the erectile tissue, which structure has sufficient contractility to prevent the admission of more than an ordinary amount of blood on common occasions, but when excited in any way, it yields with great ease, and admits of enormous dilatation. Erectile tumors are dangerous, from their tendency, ultimately, to bleed spontaneously. They are sometimes formed in the throat. The party referred to may have one, or she may have simply enlarged the vessels by habitual mechanical distension, by compressing the chest in the manner just described. There is such a natural tendency, in all parts about the throat and nose, to bleed from slight causes, particularly after repeated inflammation, that it strikes me as by no means wonderful, that a designing person should, by long-practised mechanical efforts, aided, perhaps, by the consequences of former colds, reduce these parts to a condition such that they would bleed from voluntary distension. The only wonder in the case is the quantity discharged, while this person does not appear to be subject to involuntary hemorrhage also. This result will probably occur hereafter, and the impostor may share the fate of the man who arrested the motion of his heart.

“These cases of feigned diseases give great vexation to army surgeons and almshouse physicians; and, in private life, are often resorted to by the cunning and unprincipled, for the purpose of harrowing the feelings of relatives, from some sinister intention. It might well be wished, that the case you describe were one of the most difficult of detection, but it is far from being so.

“Believe me, my dear sir,

“Very truly, yours,” &c.

[Pg 239]


We continue our reports of the police of the “Conclave,” so far as we find them relating to Etherial Softdown and her friends.

[Pg 240]

This report says of Eusedora Polypheme:—“This woman is between thirty and thirty-five years of age. She is of New England birth, and commenced her education at what we consider the female high-schools of demoralisation on the Continent—’the factories.’

“These establishments are especially patronised by the ‘Council of Disorganisation,’ who consider them of vast efficiency, on account of the well-understood certainty with which the results we aim at are achieved, under this system. So great is this certainty, indeed, that we may always safely calculate that eight-tenths of the females who seek employment in them come forth, if they ever do alive, inoculated with just such principles and habits as we desire to have spread among the rural population to which the majority of them return. Corrupted themselves, they act as admirable mediums and conductors of corruption to the class from whom they went forth innocent, and which receives them again without suspicion.

“Besides the spinal diseases, affections of the lungs, twisted[Pg 241] bodies, and deformed limbs, which the greater number of these girls take home with them, all the foolish romanticism of girlhood has been thoroughly crushed out of them, by the morale which we have promoted in these institutions, and their minds and tastes have become even more vitiated than their bodies.

“It will thus be seen that this factory system is our chef-d’œuvre of demoralisation of the simple agricultural classes.

“But in yet another aspect the results, it will be perceived, are still more brilliant. We soon found the necessity of creating a public sentiment in favor of our system, which would put a stop to officious investigation and interference with our plans. We accordingly established a defensive literature, in the shape of dainty serials, announced as being edited by the factory-girls themselves. These were filled with sentimental effusions, written principally to order, outside the factories, the general burden of which consisted in poetico-rural pictures of the joys brought home by the patient and industrious factory-girl, to some hipshotten father or bedridden grand-papa. These little incidents[Pg 242] were studiously invested with all that charming unexpectedness and die-away bathos, which is so attractive to girlish imaginations, and so satisfactory to elder philanthropists. Then there was still another class of romances, cultivated with yet more fervid unction. These consisted in stories of a lovely young girl, who, all for ‘love of independence,’ gave up a home of luxury, to come to the factories and make a living for herself, independent of her natural guardians. How this stout-hearted young lady one day attracted, by her beauty, the attention of a handsome young gentleman of romantic appearance, who visited the mills along with a party of other strangers. How the romantic young gentleman was very much struck, while the strong-minded Angelina was rendered nervous; how the heart-stricken, after many trials, succeeded in moving upon the heart of the ‘sleepless gryphon’ of morality with whom Angelina boarded, to permit him to have an interview—at least in said gryphon’s presence; how that then and there the young gentleman, in the most ‘proper’ way declared himself, sought Angelina’s hand, and was accepted; and how he turned out to be the son of a Southern nabob, and Angelina, from a poor factory-girl, became one of the foremost ladies of the land; and how, though, she never forgot her dear and happy companions of the factory. This same susceptible young Southerner is the standing hero of four-fifths of these girls, and, as he does not come every year to make them all rich, we may congratulate ourselves upon the general morals consequent upon such reasonable expectations.

“Out of one or two thousand girls, there are usually a few who exhibit some sprightliness. In the ratio of the ductility of their characters, are they sure to be selected, and brought forward by our managers; and in proportion as they exhibit their availability, are they readily promoted to editorships. They receive private salaries, and are released from any other than nominal participation in the routine of factory labor. From this distinguished caste of young ladies of the factory, Eusedora Polypheme originated.

[Pg 243]

“We expect gratitude from all such favored parties; and Eusedora proved the most grateful of the grateful. She as readily took to the shallow limpidity of Mr. Little, alias Tommy Moore, as ever did callow cygnet to the drains of a Holland flat.

“She possessed, indeed, a marvellous gift of sentiment—a sacchariferous faculty, that would have caused Cerberus himself to have licked his jagged lips. She was accordingly encouraged to cultivate transcendental tendencies, exchanged with the Dial, and, after a few months’ exercise, she spoke like a veritable Pythoness.

“Considering that she had now made herself sufficiently familiar with

‘The celestial syren’s harmony,’

to make her of value to us abroad, we placed her on our pension-list, and turned her loose upon society.

“This step the Committee have never had cause to regret. She leaped upon the social stage, a specimen of what the factory system could produce—achieved the lioness at once, and had the honour of being hailed in all circles, a phenomenon, a lusus naturæ—the world was undecided which, considering she was nothing but a factory-girl. They must be eminent institutions surely, since they could turn out young ladies who talked so ‘divinely,’ possessed ‘such’ command of language, and were such favorites with the gentlemen!

“There was a society, too, not very far off from this, into which she had forced her way, and which haughtily called itself ‘the best,’ that held its court in houses with dingy outsides, that lined the back-alleys; but, amidst garish and sickening splendors within, the ‘highly intellectual’ character of the hollow-eyed and painted queens who presided there, was equally owing to the educations they had received at the same ‘eminent’ institutions—only they had had more soul and less cunning than Eusedora Polypheme, and would not, therefore, have been so available to the Committee.

[Pg 244]

“When a class is already sunk as low as it can sink, it is not our policy to go aside to interfere with them, for they are sure to fecundate in degradation fast enough; our sole aim is to drag the grades above down to their level, which we consider a safe one.

“There is nothing so dangerous to the designs of the Committee of Disorganisation, as soul—what the world calls heart. To an executive power, these are always considered intrusive and distasteful superfluities; and it was because Eusedora has managed, by some surprisingly efficient process, to rid herself of both, that she is to be so trusted.

“Besides parading her accomplishments everywhere, as merely a fair average of the education of a factory-girl, she very soon mapped out for herself a very peculiar field for operations. She became the leader of a new school of Platonic Sentimentalism, in New England. This was an achievement—a decided triumph. She soon gathered around her a host of feminine disciples—principally young and unmarried, with premature wrinkles on their brows.

“After years of close observation of the operations of this sect, its police would beg to express to the Committee their unqualified admiration of the results obtained. The increase of the number of suicides has been gratifying. The number of young men and girls rendered worthless for life; the number of elderly men plundered and cajoled out of their means and driven into dotage, is only equalled by the surprising rapidity with which the fanaticism has spread; indeed, it would seem as if the first step towards all the popular forms of fanaticism, is through Platonic Sentimentalism.

“It seems, that it is through the teachings of this school, of which Eusedora Polypheme is now the acknowledged priestess, that the hollowness and unsatisfactory character of all our natural sentiments and passions is first perceived. This illumination achieved, it becomes necessary that their place be supplied by what the world would call morbid sentimentality and unnatural[Pg 245] passions, but which Eusedora Polypheme aptly terms, ‘spherical illuminations’ and ‘divine ecstacies.’ But since we know, as well as Eusedora, that flesh is flesh, and blood is blood, we can therefore calculate, with great precision, whither such mystifications must lead.

“Hardened and sharpened in mind and temper, by a graduation in this school, its disciples pass, not from it, but through it, into other, and, to us, not less important fields of activity. Hence come the fiercest and most unscrupulous partisans of Infidelity, Abolitionism, and Woman’s Rights. Having learned both theoretically and practically to disbelieve in themselves, by the most natural transition in the world, they become infidel of all other truths, and scorn all other sacrednesses alike. They are then prepared to be of use to us in a variety of ways. The spirit of antagonism, the love of strife and notoriety, have assumed in them the sense of duty, justice, and modesty; a spiritual diablerie has possessed itself of the emasculated remains of womanhood left in them. Only give them a chance for martyrdom—only give them an excuse for the cry of persecution, and upon whatever theme or theory, ology or ism, that may promise to afford them such healthful and natural excitements, they will at once seize, and, hugging the dear abstraction to their bosoms, do battle for the same, with a cunning and unscrupulous ferocity that has no parallel.

“But for their thorough training under the teaching of Eusedora Polypheme, they might, perhaps, be sometimes disposed to pause, and inquire if there might not be two sides to every question; whether they might not have made some slight mistake in crying out ‘Eureka’ so soon. But, fortunately, they are never troubled with this weakness; and, as their capacity for mischief is not, therefore, liable to be impaired by any maudlin conscientiousness, or feeble questioning of their own infallibility, or that of their teachers, they are from the beginning as valuable as trained veterans.

“The jargon of the sect, which they acquire with wonderful[Pg 246] facility, constitutes their logic; and their efficiency in the use of this weapon, consists in the savage, waspish, and persevering iteration of its phrases, at all times and on all occasions.

“It is astonishing, the ease with which the majority of mankind can be bullied, especially from within the bulwark of petticoats. But when at once the terrible aspect is hid behind the mask of Circe, as the followers of Polypheme know so well to accomplish, the power becomes resistless indeed.

“The principal weapons of offence used by the followers of Polypheme, in all their subsequent metamorphoses, are, first and foremost, what is technically termed the ‘electrical eye.’ This is the most brilliant and effective of their weapons. It is not by any means necessary that the spiritual Amazon should have been gifted by Nature, in this respect; for the arts of Polypheme were clearly inspired from

‘Some other deity than Nature,
That shapes man better.’

“After long practice, the power is acquired of dilating or straining the eyes wide open, and suffusing them at the same time. The moisture gives them a marvellous effect of electrical splendor. As this habitual tension can only be sustained for a few seconds at a time, Polypheme happily offsets it by the modest habit of dropping her eyes towards the floor, or a flower or book in her hand; then up go the

‘Downy windows close,’

and out leaps another humid flash, to electrify her audience.

“Great energy and activity of gesticulation is recommended, in order to distract attention, as much as possible, from the fact, that these cruelly-worked eyes sometimes run over with the ‘salt-rheum’—of any thing but ‘grief.’ A loud voice, too, is especially recommended—as, without it, somebody else might be heard in the room.

“Secondly, a thorough knowledge of the minor dramatics of[Pg 247] emphasis is also suggested. Sneers should be thoroughly practised before the glass, as well as interjections, exclamations, shrieks of wonder and surprise. The grimaces of rage, worked up with great ferocity, without the slightest regard to the poor victim. Scorn should be lofty and incredibly superb; archness, irresistible, taking care not to pucker the wrinkles in the brow too much; sentiment, nothing short of the white rolling-up of two huge spheres in spasm. Childlike simplicity requires great practice in the dancing-room; it is very effective, when artistically done. Favorite poets—Petrarch, Shelley, Mrs. Elizabeth Brownson, and her husband, ‘poor Keats.’ Gods—Tom Moore, Byron, and Author of Festus. High-priest of the Arcana—Emerson. Priestess—Margaret Fuller Ossoli. Apocalypse—The Dial, &c., &c.

“Travelling should be studied as an art. The many correspondences held in different portions of the country should be made the dutiful occasion of sentimental visits, which, as they may be protracted for a month or two, will, no doubt, result in the effectual ‘saving’ of some half-dozen, at the very least, of both sexes. Neither scrip nor money need be provided for the journey; for is not the laborer worthy of his hire? Besides, who ever heard of a lioness carrying a purse? The world owes all its benefactors a living.

“It is necessary to be an authoress—abundantly prolific and intensely literary: to write dashing, slashing, graceful letters, in which your own superb horsewomanship shall always figure most prominently; next, your own disinterestedness; next, your own amiability, and dangerous powers of attraction; and, last, the dashing, slashing, graceful character of your own wit; your romantic love-affairs, by brook and meadow, on highway and in byway, by ocean-side or in greenwood.

“These, with a lofty scorn of the commonplace, a darling love of the arts—that is, you must know the names of the pictures, and what they are all about, but most particularly the names of the painters. And if somebody says the picture is a[Pg 248] good one, be on terms of intimacy with the painter, or at least in close correspondence with him; and be sure he is a ‘noble spirit,’ a ‘divine creature,’ one of the ‘elect of genius,’ whose ‘eyes have been unsealed to the touch of the Promethean fire.’

“Must know French, Italian, German, and Spanish phrases, out of the Pronouncing Dictionary. Quote these occasionally, but very guardedly, when you are certain there are no apeish foreigners or troublesome old fogy scholars present.

“Thus panoplied, the novitiate will be, in every sense, the equal of Eusedora Polypheme herself, and entitled to go upon the pension-list of the Committee. Indeed, we are booking them rapidly, and sending out missionaries in every direction.

“The disciples of this school are among the chief favorites of the ‘Committee of Disorganisation.’”


We have already obtained a glimpse of Regina Straightback, in character. Her tall Indian-like figure, with her picturesque and semi-manly costume, will not be readily forgotten.

The faithful police of the ‘Committee of Disorganisation,’ in course of a detailed report concerning this woman, says:

“Regina Straightback is nearly as unbending in temper as in figure, which peculiarity renders her of somewhat less avail to us than such more ductile natures as her fast friend, Etherial Softdown, and her soul’s sister, Eusedora Polypheme.

“However, she possesses an availability of her own, which is invaluable in its way. She is incontrovertibly the Amazonian queen of the ‘New-Lights.’ Her commanding figure and her dramatic carriage, together with her unanswerably positive and[Pg 249] imperious manner, have, as implying a natural gift of command, won for her the universal suffrage of her sisters militant. So it never fails that, by a species of spontaneous acclaim, she is selected to preside over all convocations of the ‘faithful,’ whether held in public or in private.

“By tacit consent, she has, therefore, come to be regarded as the actual figure-head of the bark of Progress; and, hence, there is no movement, on the part of feminine schismatics, worthy of attention, to which she has chosen to deny her presiding countenance.

“This renders her, of course, a very formidable and important person, in all the ‘New-Light’ agitations of the day. Conscious of supremacy, she exercises it without hesitation; and, with a boldness that is startling to all parties, dares to assert outright those opinions which, in reality, lie at the bottom of the whole agitation in which they are engaged.

“Indeed, not only does she defiantly assert them openly on all occasions, but openly lives up to them in the face of society. While her followers modestly say, they want woman’s civil rights in marriage, she courageously asserts, that there is no marriage except in love, and that the civil contract is like any other partnership in which equivalents are exchanged; and, by way of proof of her sincerity, she boasts, publicly and privately, of the terms on which she married her present husband; who, by the way, possessed considerable property. ‘I do not love you, sir,’ said she; ‘I love another man, whom you know. If you choose to take me on these conditions, I am ready to marry you.’

“The charming candor of this proposal won the day; and the superannuated ‘New-Light’ was fain content to exchange his hand and fortune for her hand, and to leave her heart to settle its affairs in some other direction.

“This is the sort of frankness in which the ‘Committee of Disorganisation’ do most rejoice. They regard it as a highly favourable omen, when a ‘distinguished female’ can take such[Pg 250] grounds as this, and be publicly sustained by thousands of her sex; for with whatever gravity they may pretend to repudiate the doings of Regina Straightback, in this one particular, it is very certain, that they must regard it with secret favor, and that this is the principal cause of her universal and overwhelming popularity.

“They regard her with a species of covert adoration—as a heroine, who has first, since Fanny Wright, dared, in living up to principle, to do that which they are all, in reality, yearning for courage to do themselves.

“The chaos of social licentiousness, to which the general acceptation of such doctrine as this must lead, may be regarded, to say the least of it, as pleasantly melodramatic. When one woman may go to the house of another, and say, ‘Though thou hast been bound to this man, in the holy bonds of matrimony, yet these bonds are of no moral force; though thou hast borne to this man children from his loins, yet the fact that thou hast suffered gives thee no claim upon him, for it is the penalty of thy sex; and that they are bone of thy bone, and flesh of his flesh, gives thee no just hold upon him, but rather upon the State. And if thou hast nursed him in sickness, he has fed thee and clothed thee, in ample equivalent; if thou hast loved him, he has loved thee; if thou lovest him still, it is thy weakness. Get thee gone! This man no longer loveth thee; he is mine. Thou shalt surrender to me thy nuptial couch; there is no true marriage but in love!’

“Nor does the candor of Regina Straightback rest with practical declarations such as these; she goes quite as far in other directions. She does not hesitate to denounce the Bible, as sanctioning all the oppressions of woman—as the mere tool of the priesthood, the orthodox of whom are banded, to a man, in mortal opposition to their rights. She recommends the use of it, as a means—to those who are more disposed than she is to Jesuitism—of conquering by indirections. They may influence and control the masses, by invoking its sanction, to be[Pg 251] sure; but she, for her own part, will have nothing to do with subterfuges; she rejects the Bible system in toto, as false—false in fact and tendency. God has made woman sufficient unto herself in the universe. She can and ought to protect herself; and if she does not, it’s her own fault.

“The Bible might do for men; but women possess a higher spirituality, and stronger intuitions; they do not need it. Man, with his heavy logic, never gets beyond a truism or a self-evident fact, of the mere physical world; while woman, with her electrical inspiration, leaps the ‘large lengths’ of universal law, and, like a conquering presence, glides within the spiritual, supreme. It is thus that, scorning all bonds of sense, she knoweth that she doth know!

“The announcement of these tremendous propositions would, of course, be calculated to have an overwhelming effect upon the tender adolescence of thousands of bright spirits—to electrify their hearts and souls with the novel consciousness of claims and attributes, of which they had never dreamed themselves or their sex to be possessors.

“The result has been, of necessity, the institution of a feminine order of ‘knight-errantry,’ of which the Quixote has yet to be sung.

“The Committee do not generally employ such agents as Regina Straightback; but as the time seems to have practically arrived, owing to the preparatory labors of Etherial Softdown and Eusedora Polypheme, they seem to have conceded that such pretensions may be safely risked, though, it is well known, they usually do far more harm than good to any cause.

“The fact that such a step may be safely ventured upon, seems to be the most encouraging token of the progress already achieved, and of the ultimate and triumphant success of the exertions of the ‘Committee of Disorganisation.’”

[Pg 252]


The report goes on to say—

“But what the circumscribed wits of Etherial Softdown, the divine languishments of Eusedora Polypheme, the defiant unscrupulousness of Regina Straightback, failed to accomplish, namely, the convulsing of all Christendom, by one dexterous jugglery of cant, was left to be achieved by our at present most honored agent, Humility Barebones Stout.

“It will be seen, by her genealogical tree, as indicated in her middle name, that she came, as it were, prepared, through a long table of evangelical descent, for the work before her. Nothing could be conceived more apropos: the blood of the Covenanters in the veins of the modern ‘New-Light.’ Sharpened in its passage through New England Puritanism, it has now become as professionally capable of splitting hairs, as it formerly was of splitting heads. And then there was a time-honored nasal, in which it

‘Poured its dolors forth;’

the preservation of the exact intonations of which does marvellous credit to the antiquarian proclivities of this distinguished line. Then there is a characteristic command of doggerel snatches, confessedly without rhythm, because they were inspired,—for which the Fathers Barebones and Poundtext were peculiarly noted in their day,—which seems to have been transmitted, without the slightest deterioration of manner or emphasis. And, in addition, there was an ecstaticism of textology, to which these revered fathers uniformly resigned themselves, about the time they had reached their ‘sixteenthlies,’[Pg 253] the facilities of which seem to have been more than improved upon by their modern representative. In a word, no reach of nasal effect,

‘From coughing trombone down to hoarsened pipe’—

no fecundant sprightliness of doggerel—no illuminated aptitude of text, betwixt Daniel in the lion’s den, and Death on the pale horse—no syllogistic or aphoristic touch of bedridden theology that has been in vogue since the time of Luther, but is at the tongue’s end of this Cyclopean daughter of the ‘Fathers of the Covenant.’

“Admirable! admirable! What was to prevent Humility Barebones Stout from using these rightfully-derived and extraordinary gifts for the good of humanity? Not that she had thought anything more philosophically about it, than that the good of humanity ought to consist with the claims of her inherited renown, her caste, and her prescriptive rights. Not that she cared particularly who suffered; but being of a hysterical and exacting temperament, she had come to the conclusion that her own, the white race, had conspired against her—that they were jealous of her—would never yield to her ancestral claims a fair precedence.

“Her pride would not permit her to cry persecution for herself and in her own name; for she had been, lo! these many days! a tireless scribbler and notoriety-seeker, in appeals to her own race, through the legitimate channels of current literature, on the simple basis of her own individual experiences and the inspirations proper to her sex and grade. These having failed to attract any attention beyond the day’s notoriety, and from the additional fact of the most labored of them having been consigned to oblivion through the pages of silly annuals, she turned herself about in wrath, to avenge her wrongs. Her heart was filled with bitterness.

“She had known Etherial Softdown, with jealous unction; she had communed with Eusedora Polypheme, in hopeless[Pg 254] emulation of spirit; she had shrunk before the lioness moods of the triumphing Regina Straightback. She felt that she was displaced—that she had been left behind. She saw that they were all too proud, or too far advanced, to condescend to use the rusty weapons which had fallen to her by inheritance; that they had set their feet above her, on the platform of progress; that they at least called the semblances of science and philosophy, through their terminalogies, to aid them, while they left cant to their menials.

“She felt that she was as bold as they. In what, then, consisted her weakness? Could the fault be in her ‘stars,’ that she was still an ‘underling’? ‘Ha! ha! ha! Cant! cant! cant!’ and she laughed out, with the exultation of Softdown’s first ‘Eureka!’ ’Cant! cant! I have it! It descended to me from Barebones, my illustrious ancestor. Insolent beldames! I will show them! They affect to quote the pure strains of philosophy—

“To imitate the graces of the gods.”

We shall see! we shall see! I hate my own race; it has not appreciated me. What care I for white-slavery and its abuses—for fairness, for truth? Cant! cant! By its magic, I shall

“Show as a snowy dove trooping with crows.”

Eureka! Eureka!’

Etherial! ah, Etherial! the race hath not been to the swift, nor the battle to the strong—thou hast been overshadowed!


[Pg 255]







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