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And now it was that the seeds were sown of that malady which has never left me. I read late at night, often in the cold, and often rose with but little sleep; sometimes with none, weak, melancholy, and unrefreshed. Oh! it is bad to perplex the willing head with any difficulty at the hour of rest. The excitement of the brain is doubly strong after the labours of a day. It is like the "one glass more:" you were well enough before, but that "one" has stupified and destroyed you. But few (students) know where to stop. Like the impetus of a wheel driven on by some mechanical power, they are impelled by the fire of their own desires,-by their ambition, their love of wealth or fame. Some indeed, tamer and less aspiring,—and others (the few) who can rein in their passions, and reduce those mad allies of the intellect to reason and good order, may go on and excel without having suffered; but the enthusiasts never. I read and read, and sometimes reflected; and sometimes I relieved (as I fancied) my day-toil with a pleasant book at night. It was thus that I enlarged the evil:-my books of amusement were not now, as heretofore, romances only; but I read mystical writings,-metaphysics, mythology, the elder dramatists and poets, and the prose writers, their contemporaries; and when I was sad (which was often the case) I read with an inquisitive mind Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. There I saw little of the cause (or I forgot it) and less of the cure: but the disease itself stood out in full array-divided and subdivided into many parts, hideous but alluring. I admired the learning and research of the author. I was struck by his account of strange superstitions, the names of the sufferers, and the dignity of the spirits that oppressed them. They were creatures of darkness, or air,-more real than the genii of Eastern story, and more sublime than the familiars which our own history of witchcraft presents. They had, in addition to this, a charm in their names, like those introduced in the poetry of Milton.
This varied reading-this change from serious study to more serious amusement, had lasted some months, when I found that my hands trembled and my spirit quailed before the
most ordinary accidents,-a strange face, the clapping of a door, a thunder storm, an ill-natured remark,all affected me as they had never done before. Above all things I hated darkness, or extreme silence, or solitude:-for then the vapours of the mind arose, cloud after cloud; and at night dreams crowded upon me, fantastic, horrible, impossible; sometimes relieved by gentler aspects,
Nymphs of Diana's train and Naiades ; but oftener filled by sublimer terrors. Features of hell or darkness came shining or flickering upon me,-sometimes half-hidden by deep shadows and indistinct, like Rembrandt's pictured visions; or staring, gasping, mimicking, or dead. I read Milton, and Pandemonium opened all its red gates for me; the fiery waters hissed and were agitated, the brazen columns shook, and devils bowed down before me. I read of storms and tempests, and, behold, the sea laid bare its dominions: the waters opened, and the slimy creatures of the deep came forth, with their large rayless eyes, howling and staring. I was left alone by the side of the hungry advancing ocean. I was washed down and overwhelmed,―stifled, destroyed. Then came changes upon me of shape and of spirit. I was a beast hunted and driven to death. I have been trod down with the worms. I have been a bird maimed and torn to pieces by hounds and eagles :-Or I have been a murderer and a tyrant, without feeling, or happiness, or remorse: pleasure and pain fled me, like the waters from the lip of Tantalus; and the cold marble apathy which followed, like a palsy of the soul, was worse and more frightful than all. But I have promised to give you an account of the one dream which so often infested me after reading the account of the nine evil spirits of Burton. I have told of their names before and quality,-Meresin, and Satan, and the rest; and of him who, like "Seeva the destroyer," was fit to stand beside even "Orcus, or Ades, or the dreaded name of Demogorgon," the proud and shining king ÅBADDON! As nearly as my memory will serve me, the particulars of this dream were as follows:
Methought I lay upon a high and barren crag which formed the edge of the known world. I was alone, and bound captive there for a term of many ages. The crag was almost torn from its parent earth, and hung toppling over the abyss of space. It was separated from the abodes of all living things by a chasm that was impassable. In the atmosphere which enveloped it the eagle could not breathe, nor the reptile. Behind me were piled mountains, and rocks, and gulphs: the snows of ten thousand ages had gathered together on some, which shot up their glittering pinnacles to the sky as white and grand as Atlas or Imaus. On every other side yawned that immeasurable abyss, which not even thought could fathom. It was darker than the darkest night; but below me and around I heard all Chaos raging:- huge rocks were driven along the air, and sang like some mighty sling: then came the warring winds, moaning and shrieking; and floods of water rushed along, with a sound as though Ocean had burst its bounds; and then all these noises would mingle, and a flash of bright light for a moment betray the whole. The abyss then seemed instinct with life. Crowds of things were seen sweeping and hurrying along, and meeting, and jarring, and making hideous crashes one with the other,-masses of rock and earth, deluges of water, spouting up and descending,-showers of glittering ore, gold and silver, and precious stones,-all vomited forth from depths that no human fancy can reach,-lower a thousand times than the balls of fire cast out from the hearts of Vesuvius or Etna.
stones hurled from
This would last for a time, and then subside; and out of the vast confusion, like a newly created world, a globe arose. It was at first seen in the distance, floating, approaching.
The side nearest to me was even blacker than the darkness round; but the edges were tinged and silvered by a pale light, which gradually extended, and became brighter as I looked. And then a solemn music hovered round, like the harmonious noise of the great ocean, and from the globe there flowed forth stream after stream, which quickly became wide as the Ganges or the Indus, until the space below rolled all a
moving sea. On it were seen wrecks of vessels and floating men, and some barks which had stood a terrible tempest ;- and barrels, and timbers, and masts, with drenched or drowned creatures lashed to each other. And all this while the streams flowed and flowed, and the solemn music spake. After a time sounds were heard like distant acclamations, and throngs of shapes, at first incalculably small, but gradually assuming
Their own dimensions, like themselves, appeared riding on the air, and their lips moved and seemed to say pare!"-and then the light grew brighter, and the words more audible, and the shapes more distinct; and I heard the words, "Prepare, prepare!" -and a million voices sent up melodious shouts, and choral symphonies were played, and odorous airs came wafted from some unknown land, and showers of garlands fell upon the deep, and the conscious deep threw its silver fountains up, like one rejoicing, and still I heard the words Prepare, prepare!”
And whenever those words were uttered, the acclamations resounded and came nearer. At first they had. seemed faint and distant; then loudshook the air and rent the sky. The er, and louder still:-- and then they noise of a million trampling feet, of thousands and thousands of voices, trumpets, and cymbals, and tempestuous drums, shouted and raged :at last, and above all, a rushing, as of wings or wild waters, or of chariots whirled down some frightful precipice was heard,—
And suddenly a splendour like the morn
Now saw the light, and made it terrible.
And, behold, in a shell of gold, round which lambent fires curled and played beautifully, like the undulation of summer waves, shot forth a dazzling shape, and stood at once before me. His eyes were too bright to look upon: they seemed to search and penetrate the brain. The horses which drew him breathed fire, and pawed the air, and startled all the
dull region with their terrible neighings. And the multitudes which followed him cried aloud, "This is the shining king, ABADDON!" and these words were echoed and repeated in thousands and thousands of tones, laughing, weeping, moaning, jeering, despairing,-by voices and plaining instruments, and by the dells and rocks; and the sullen billows themselves gave up the sound, and echoed, "This is the shining king, Abaddon!"
Then came a frightful change:The horses, like the beast in " Faustus," swelled and grew to a monstrous size, and from their manes and their eyes they shook intolerable light. Above, the Sirian star blazed out and shot its red rays down, and the crags and dark abysses felt it and groaned, and cavern called unto cavern, and steep to steep; the mountains were split asunder, and gave up their ore, and the rocks were parched, and the chains fell from my limbs like stubble; my garments were shrivelled up: the ground whereon I lay cracked and sunk, and the whole air, and the earth, and the moving sea became a deluge of fire. Wave after wave was seen rolling along, and burning and tossing its fiery spray about, on sands more scorching than itself. It looked like the doom of nature. The earth, in its red agony, was moved and spake, the waters moaned, and seemed to sigh forth prayers for pity
All this while the spirit kept his hot gaze fixed full upon me. It was like a fascination. The pain was as the baring of the eye, or the uncasing the tender brain before the meridian sun; and it must, had it lasted long, have ended in madness. There was no cloud to shield me-I had no power to speak, or move; nor could I shut my ears when I heard, in some terrible tongue, vengeance denounced upon me, for ever and ever. The words then uttered were engraven on my soul. I have remembered them again and again in dreams; but, awake, they fade like stars before the presence of the day. They were not of my native tongue, nor Hebrew, nor Arabic, nor Greek ; but something more weighty and solemn than all
-Whilst I was in the midst of the studies of which I have spoken, my
friend H— arrived in London. His course was more eastward than mine: I became the pupil of a barrister of some eminence in Lincoln's Inn. This introduced me to new associates, and to more of the pleasures of the town-my evenings were spent principally at coffee houses and theatres; while in the morning I read politics and criticism, and (a little) law. But a gay life did not suit nerves which had been weakened by study and late hours; and the collapse which ensued after drinking and riot was painful enough. never was fond of dissipation. Circumstances led me into the porch of the temple of pleasure; but I quitted it soon, and without a sigh, and betook myself once more to my reflections and my books.
Let me now pass over some few years, making only a slight mention of them here. They were occupied by various pursuits (which I shall have occasion to mention hereafter), and which I resorted to, to divert the attack of my great enemy from me. During these years I suffered heavily from hypochondriasis, both day and night. It hung upon me, and made my hours one continual gloom. I despair of making you ac quainted with that stagnation of the spirit, which, unlike any active torment, falls like a dead weight upon the mind. I can only say that I was without hope, or desire; to-day was like yesterday, and I knew that tomorrow would be like to-day; dull, dark, and monotonous. Perhaps I shall explain myself better by saying that there was no elasticity of spirit within me. You know what the bounding heart of a boy is,-and the sensations produced by a vernal day :-I had nothing of these. Imight as well have been dead,-perhaps better.
It is a curious circumstance that the dreams of persons of morbid imagination are often full of architectural figures. I do not know why this should be. I have, in my dreams, certainly felt solitude in its extreme degree, yet my visions were oftener populous, or they presented a gorgeous scene of palaces, and pyramids, and ranges of magnificent building.Sometimes, like Egyptian Thebes, they were without a tenant, or else all the windows and arches were
cipated from these torments of my sleep.
A young friend of mine has, in a poem not yet published, given so accurate a description of some of these
thronged with millions of faces who looked unceasingly upon me. I was the marvel, or the mark and mockery on which these myriads of eyes were fastened. They seemed to "look through me," (to use a vulgar phrase)" architectural dreams" (if I may so and I felt as though I endured the pillory or the post in the face of the whole living world. I have blushed scarlet in these dreams. I know it; for the burning has remained on my cheeks when I have been eman
call them) that I have begged from
"It was a mighty dome, whose blue arch shone
And all who belt the sky, and all the throng
Which ran up to infinitude, and seem'd
Piercing with their bright points the highest air;
Outshone the sun, and beggar'd with their brightness
-It was about this time that an oc-
misty and cold, and the sun shot his parting rays of dull red light through an atmosphere which it was painful to breathe. I do not know why, but the story of the suicide wonderfully affected me. I had not been acquainted with him, but his person was very familiar to me: his proud and intelligent eye I had often beheld, looking down every rival, and bearding the first of the "learned" in his very temple and throne of judgment. It had seemed to me as if nothing could touch him; no petty trouble, nor domestic care. He had looked like one fit to guide the great wheel of power, and to have at his beck the wills and fortunes of meaner men:-And yet, he was dust and ashes!
There is no explaining to some
persons how a fact of this sort may operate upon nerves already shattered by illness. Upon mine the effect was terrible. It seemed as if my own dissolution was inevitably at hand. The man who was dead had been a little while past as real as I. A few hours ago, and he was an active, thinking being, capable of enduring both enjoyment and pain; and he was gone in a moment. What then was to preserve me? Myself?-It was so; and yet I was haunted and oppressed by an impulse to do as he had done. A whisper seemed hanging in my ear, like a menace, like a command; or, as it were, the deadly, irresistible errand of fate. I felt restless and desperate. The air of the town lay heavy upon me. My nerves (those which run from the head, down the back of the neck) seemed pulled by some unseen hand. I hurried out through the suburbs, and bathed my hot forehead in the falling dews. For three or four miles I walked onwards, observing nothing, caring for nothing; but full of the horrid deed that had been accomplished. My mind had no other food, save
Graves, and worms, and epitaphs: my thoughts had no resting place on this side of the tomb, no light to cheer them; but flew, wild and erring, into the future, and lost themselves in endless speculations upon eternity and death. Until that evening I had never thought of the word "Ever"-" for ever." I now la boured to comprehend it in vain. It seemed for the first time to assume a strange meaning. There was no beginning, no end; it was not like an hour, or a year, a cycle, a century, (mere spots upon the surface of time) but one long, dark, terrible duration that baffled all patience and thought. Was it to be rest, or stupefaction, or pleasure, or pain,-or
-Still the gloomy evening went on, and before I had returned to town, the dusk had deepened into darkness. I was alone: the blast moaned through the trees, on which a few parched leaves rattled even yet. The brambles in the ditches were shaken and spoke. I thought I heard travellers continually in the
distance, yet they never passed; but sad voices came plaining on the wind, and among them I heard his voice. It passed me once, twice, thrice,twenty,-fifty times. Then there was a faint laugh behind me,-a low smothered convulsive laugh. I would not have turned round for a kingdom: I could not; but, stumbling along the footway, and keeping my eyes closed as much as possible, I at last reached the regular rows of lamps which mark the suburbs of London. Then I heard and mixed with the bustle of men. Coaches and carts, men and women, and children, shouts and cries, and social words, were all about me. Oh! that brave tumult! I shook off my idle terrors, and walked, with a new life, swiftly along the populous pavement. At times I met a strange countenance which had a ghastly look, and then I shuddered and turned aside. In the end, however, I reached a coffee-house well frequented, and, entering precipitately, gave myself up to the warm luxuries of the place. That night I feasted sumptuously. I ate venison, and French dishes (they were then rare to me); I drank Dantzic, and Garus, which last, with its fine aromatic flavour, seemed to medicine for a moment all my cares away. I ordered, for the first (and last) time in my life a bottle of Burgundy for my own solitary drinking. In general, I should have scorned this unsocial enjoyment; but now it was a balm to my heart, a bright panacea to my woes. How rich the deep juice looked! how rich it tasted!-it had an odour like a thicket of roses. With such wine as that Troy might have been painted
(Pinxit et exiguo Pergama tota mero,) or a revel of Bacchus been made immortal. So I drank and drank, and for three hours the sweet "oblivious antidote" led me through all the enchantments of the brain. My fancies, like the dreams of the Gods, stantial joy. were for once to me real and sub
(Real are the dreams of Gods, and smooth
ly pass Their pleasures in a long immortal dream.)
Do not think, however, that I suffered intoxication, for I did not: nor