« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
And now it was that the seeds most ordinary accidents, a strange were sown of that malady which has face, the clapping of a door, a thunnever left me. I read late at night, der storm, an ill-natured remark,— often in the cold, and often rose with all affected me as they had never but little sleep; sometimes with none, done before. Above all things I weak, melancholy, and unrefreshed. hated darkness, or extreme silence, Oh! it is bad to perplex the willing or solitude:—for then the vapours of head with any difficulty at the hour the mind arose, cloud after cloud; of rest. The excitement of the brain and at night dreams crowded upon is doubly strong after the labours of a me, fantastic, horrible, impossible ; day. It is like the “one glass more:' sometimes relieved by gentler asyou were well enough before, but pects, that “one" has stupified and destroy
Nymphs of Diana's train and Naiades ; ed you. But few (students) know where to stop. Like the impetus of but oftener filled by sublimer terrors. a wheel driven on by some mechani- Features of hell or darkness came cal power, they are impelled by the shining or flickering upon me,-somefire of their own desires,—by their times half-hidden by deep shadows ambition,—their love of wealth or and indistinct, like Rembrandt's picfame. Some indeed, tamer and less tured visions; or staring, gasping, aspiring,—and others (the few) who mimicking,—or dead. I read Milton, can rein in their passions, and reduce and Pandæmonium opened all its red those mad allies of the intellect to gates for me; the fiery waters hissed reason and good order, may go on and were agitated,
the brazen coand excel without having suffered ; lumns shook, and devils bowed down but the enthusiasts never. I read before me. I read of storms and temand read, and sometimes reflected; pests, and, behold, the sea laid bare and sometimes I relieved (as I fan- its dominions: the waters opened, cied) my day-toil with a pleasant and the slimy creatures of the deep book at night. It was thus that I came forth, with their large rayless enlarged the evil:—my books of a- eyes, howling, and staring. I was musement were not now, as hereto- left alone by the side of the hungry fore, romances only; but I read mys- advancing ocean. I was washed tical writings,-metaphysics, mytho- down and overwhelmed, --stified, logy,--the elder dramatists and poets, destroyed. Then came changes and the prose writers, their contempo- upon me of shape and of spirit. I raries ;-and when I was sad (which was a beast hunted and driven was often the case) I read with an in- to death. I have been trod down quisitive mind Burton's Anatomy of with the worms. I have been a bird Melancholy. There I saw little of maimed and torn to pieces by hounds the cause (or I forgot it) and less of and eagles :-Or I have been a murthe cure: but the disease itself stood derer and a tyrant, without feeling, out in full array_divided and sub- or happiness, or remorse : pleasure divided into many parts, hideous but and pain fled me, like the waters from alluring. I admired the learning and the lip of Tantalus; and the cold research of the author. I was struck marble apathy which followed, like by his account of strange supersti- a palsy of the soul, was worse and tions,—the names of the sufferers, more frightful than all.—But I have and the dignity of the spirits that opó promised to give you an account of pressed them. They were creatures the one dream which so often infested of darkness, or air,-more real than me after reading the account of the the genii of Eastern story, and more nine evil spirits of Burton. I have sublime than the familiars which our told of their names before and quaown history of witchcraft presents. lity,-Meresin, and Satan, and the They had, in addition to this, a charm rest; and of him who, like “ Seeva in their names, like those introduced the destroyer," was fit to stand beside in the poetry of Milton.
« Orcus, or Ades, This varied reading-this change dreaded name of Demogorgon,"—the from serious study to more serious proud and shining king ABADDON ! amusement, had lasted some months, As nearly as my memory will serve when I found that my hands trem- me, the particulars of this dream bled and my spirit quailed before the were as follows:
Methought I lay upon a high and moving sea. On it were seen wrecks barren crag which formed the edge of vessels and floating men, and some of the known world. I was alone, barks which had stood a terrible and bound captive there for a term tempest ;- and barrels, and timbers, of many ages. The crag was almost and masts, with drenched or drowned torn from its parent earth, and hung creatures lashed to each other. And toppling over the abyss of space. It all this while the streams flowed and was separated from the abodes of all flowed, and the solemn music spake. living things by a chasm that was After a time sounds were heard like impassable. In the atmosphere which distant acclamations, and throngs of enveloped it the eagle could not shapes, at first incalculably small, but breathe, nor the reptile. Behind me gradually assuming were piled mountains, and rocks, and
Their own dimensions, like themselves, gulphs: the snows of ten thousand ages had gathered together on some, appeared riding on the air, and their which shot up their glittering pinna- lips moved and
seemed to say cles to the sky as white and grand as pare!"--and then the light grew Atlas or Imaus. On every other side brighter, and the words more audible, yawned that immeasurable abyss,
and the shapes more distinct ; and I which not even thought could fathom. heard the words, “ Prepare, prepare!" It was darker than the darkest night; -- and a million voices sent up melobut below me and around I heard ali dious shouts, and choral symphonies Chaos raging :- huge rocks were
were played, and odorous airs came driven along the air, and sang like wafted from some unknown land, and stones hurled from some mighty
showers of garlands fell upon the sling: then came the warring winds, deep, and the conscious deep threw moaning and shrieking; and floods its silver fountains up, like one reof water rushed along, with a sound joicing, and still I heard the words as though Ocean had burst its bounds;
« Prepare, prepare!” and then all these noises would min
And whenever those words were gle, and a flash of bright light for a
uttered, the acclamations resounded moment betray the whole. The
and came nearer. At first they had, abyss then seemed instinct with life. seemed faint and distant; then loudCrowds of things were seen sweeping shook the air and rent the sky. The
er, and louder still :-- and then they and hurrying along, and meeting, and jarring, and making hideous noise of a million trampling feet, of crashes one with the other,-masses
thousands and thousands of voices, of rock and earth,--deluges of water, trumpets, and cymbals, and tempesspouting up and descending,--show- tuous drums, shouted and raged :ers of glittering ore, gold and silver, at last, and above all, a rushing, as and precious stones, -all vomited of wings or wild waters, or of chaforth from depths that no human riots whirled down some frightful fancy can reach,— lower a thousand precipice was heard, times than the balls of fire cast out And suddenly a splendour like the morn from the hearts of Vesuvius or Etna. Pervaded all the beetling gloomy steeps,
This would last for a time, and All the sad spaces of oblivion ; then subside ; and out of the vast And every gulph, and every chasm old, confusion, like a newly created world, And every height, and every sullen depth, a globe arose. It was at first seen in And all the headlong torrents far and near, the distance, floating,-approaching. Now saw the light, and made it terrible.
Mantled before in darkness and huge shade, The side nearest to me was even blacker than the darkness round; but
(Keats's Hyperion.) the edges were tinged and silvered And, behold, in a shell of gold, by a pale light, which gradually ex- round which lambent fires curled tended, and became brighter as I and played beautifully, like the unlooked. And then a solemn music dulation of summer waves, shot forth hovered round, like the harmonious a dazzling shape, and stood at once noise of the great ocean, and from before me. His eyes were too bright the globe there flowed forth stream to look upon: they seemed to search after stream, which quickly became and penetrate the brain. The horses wide as the Ganges or the Indus, which drew him breathed fire, and until the space below rolled all á pawed the air, and startled all the dull region with their terrible neigh- friend arrived in London. ings. And the multitudes which fol- His course was more eastward than lowed him cried aloud, “ This is the mine: I became the pupil of a barshining king, ABADDON !” and these rister of some eminence in Lincoln's words were echoed and repeated in Inn. This introduced me to new asthousands and thousands of tones, sociates, and to more of the pleasures laughing, weeping, moaning, jeering, of the town-my evenings, were despairing,-by voices and plaining spent principally at coffee houses instruments, and by the dells and and theatres; while in the morning I rocks; and the sullen billows them. read politics and criticism, and (a selves gave up the sound, and echoed, little) law. But a gay life did not “ This is the shining king, Abad- suit nerves which had been weakened don!”
by study and late hours; and the colThen came a frightful change:- lapse which ensued after drinking The horses, like the beast in “ Faus- and riot was painful enough. I tus," swelled and grew to a mon- never was fond of dissipation. Cirstrous size, and from their manes cumstances led me into the porch of and their eyes they shook intolerable the temple of pleasure ; but I quitted light. Above, the Sirian star blazed it soon, and without a sigh, and beout and shot its red rays down, and took myself once more to my rethe crags and dark abysses felt it and flections and my books. groaned, and cavern called unto ca- Let me now pass over some few vern, and steep to steep; the moun- years, making only a slight mention tains were split asunder, and gave of them here. They were occupied up their ore, and the rocks were by various pursuits (which I shall parched, and the chains fell from my have occasion to mention hereafter), simbs like stubble; my garments and which I resorted to, to divert were shrivelled up: the ground the attack of my great enemy from whereon I lay cracked and sunk, and me. During these years I suffered the whole air, and the earth, and the heavily from hypochondriasis, both moving sea became a deluge of fire. day and night. It hung upon me, Wave after wave was seen rolling and made my hours one continual along, and burning and tossing its gloom. I despair of making you acfiery spray about, on sands more quainted with that stagnation of the scorching than itself. It looked like spirit, which, unlike any active torthe doom of nature. The earth, in ment, falls like a dead weight upon its red agony, was moved and spake, the mind. I can only say that I was the waters moaned, and seemed to without hope, or desire; to-day was sigh forth prayers for pity
like yesterday, and I knew that toAll this while the spirit kept his morrow would be like to-day; dull, hot gaze fixed full upon me. It was dark, and monotonous. Perhaps I like a fascination. The pain was as shall explain myself better by saying the baring of the eye, or the uncasing that there was no elusticity of spirit the tender brain before the meridian within me. You know what the sun; and it must, had it lasted long, bounding heart of a boy is,—and the have ended in madness. There was sensations produced by a vernal no cloud to shield me-I had no day :-I had nothing of these. Imight power to speak, or move; nor could as well have been dead,– perhaps I shut my ears when I heard, in better. some terrible tongue, vengeance de- It is a curious circumstance that nounced upon me, for ever and ever. the dreams of persons of morbid imaThe words then uttered were en- gination are often full of architectural graven on my soul. I have remem- figures. I do not know why this bered them again and again in should be. I have, in my dreams, dreams; but, awake, they fade like certainly felt solitude in its extreme stars before the presence of the day. degree, yet my visions were oftener They were not of my native tongue, populous, or they presented a gorgeous nor Hebrew, nor Arabic, nor Greek; scene of palaces, and pyramids, and but something more weighty and so- ranges of magnificent building.-lemn than all.
Sometimes, like Egyptian Thebes, Whilst I was in the midst of the they were without a tenant, or else studies of which I have spoken, my all the windows and arches were
thronged with millions of faces who cipated from these torments of my
Making great wonder dumb.” -It was about this time that an oc- misty and cold, and the sun shot his currence happened in London which parting rays of dull red light through threw considerable gloom upon the an atmosphere which it was painful public mind. ***
(a man eminent to breathe. I do not know why, but in his profession, and with acknow- the story of the suicide wonderfully ledged talents as a legislator) com- affected me. I had not been acmitted the act of destruction upon quainted with him, but his person himself. He had been worn down by was very familiar to me: his proud the duties of his calling, and by do- and intelligent eye I had often bemestic cares; and had retired to a held, looking down every rival, and provincial seat for a little respite, and bearding the first of the “ learned”. to soothe the pains of a wife to whom in his very temple and throne of he was tenderly attached. His af- judgment. It had seemed to me as fection was shown in vain; she died; if nothing could touch him ; no petty and the sense of loneliness became trouble, nor domestic care. He had exaggerated, and made more terrible looked like one fit to guide the great to him, from the previous exhaustion wheel of power, and to have at his of his own mind. The news was beck the wills and fortunes of meaner communicated to me towards the men :-And yet, he was dust and close of (I think) a Norember day. ashes ! The evening was about to set in, There is no explaining to some
persons how a fact of this sort may distance, yet they never passed ; but operate upon nerves already shatter- sad voices came plaining on the wind, ed by illness. Upon mine the effect and among them I heard his voice. was terrible. It seemed as if my It passed me once, twice, thrice, own dissolution was inevitably at twenty,-fifty times. Then there hand. The man who was dead had was a faint laugh behind me,-a low been a little while past as real as I. smothered convulsive laugh. I would A few hours ago, and he was an ac- not have turned round for a kingtive, thinking being, capable of en- dom: I could not; but, stumbling during both enjoyment and pain ; and along the footway, and keeping my he was gone in a moment. What then eyes closed as much as possible, I at was to preserve me? Myself ?-It last reached the regular rows of was so; and yet I was haunted and lamps which mark the suburbs of oppressed by an impulse to do as he London. Then I heard and mixed had done. A whisper seemed hang- with the bustle of men. Coaches ing in my ear, like a menace, like a and carts, men and women, and chilcommand; or, as it were, the dead- dren, shouts and cries, and social ly, irresistible errand of fate. I felt words, were all about me. Oh! that restless and desperate. The air of brave tumult! I shook off my idle the town lay heavy upon me. My terrors, and walked, with a new life, nerves (those which run from the swiftly along the populous pavement. head, down the back of the neck) At times I met a strange counseemed pulled by some unseen hand. tenance which had a ghastly look, I hurried out through the suburbs, and then I shuddered and turned and bathed my hot forehead in the aside. In the end, however, I reachfalling dews. For three or four miles ed a coffee-house well frequented, I walked onwards, observing nothing, and, entering precipitately, gave mycaring for nothing; but full of the self up to the warm luxuries of the horrid deed that had been accom- place. That night I feasted sumpplished. My mind had no other tuously. I ate venison, and French food, save
dishes (they were then rare to me); I Graves, and worms, and epitaphs :
drank Dantzic, and Garus, which last,
with its fine aromatic flavour, seemed my thoughts had no resting place on to medicine for a moment all my this side of the tomb, no light to cares away. I ordered, for the first cheer them; but flew, wild and (and last time in my life a bottle of erring, into the future, and lost them- Burgundy for my own solitary drinkselves in endless speculations upon ing. In general, í should have scorneternity and death. Until that even- ed this unsocial enjoyment; but now ing I had never thought of the word it was a balm to my heart, a bright « Ever”_" for ever.” I now la- panacea to my woes.
How rich boured to comprehend it in vain. It the deep juice looked ! how rich it seemed for the first time to assume a tasted !--it had an odour like a strange meaning. There was no be- thicket of roses. With such wine as ginning, no end; it was not like an that Troy might have been paintedhour, or a year, a cycle, a century, (mere spots upon the surface of time)
(Pinxit et exiguo Pergama tota mero,) but one long, dark, terrible dura- or a revel of Bacchus been made imtion that baffled all patience and mortal. So I drank and drank, and thought. Was it to be rest, or stu- for three hours the sweet “oblivious pefaction, or pleasure, or pain, —or antidote” led me through all the enwhat?
chantments of the brain. My fan-Still the gloomy evening went cies, like the dreams of the Gods, on, and before I had returned to
were for once to me real and subtown, the dusk had deepened into stantial joy. darkness. I was alone: the blast moaned through the trees, on which (Real are the dreams of Gods, and smootha few parched leaves rattled even
ly pass yet. The brambles in the ditches Their pleasures in a long immortal dream.) were shaken and spoke. I thought I Do not think, however, that I sufheard travellers continually in the fered intoxication, for I did not: nor