« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
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, I should have scometernity 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 fans -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 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
did I wish it. All that I had sighed night, and I left the crowded theafor was forgetfulness, and it was tre, and was once again in the air. mine. My faculties were still com- Passing by the throngs of coaches, I pletely in my own possession; and had leisure to examine the appearmy spirit, so lately worn and wasted, ance of the streets. They were was now as erect as ever.
empty, and looked like a desolation : But the time arrived when it was the shops were shut, and the taverns, necessary that I should go. I thought and the places of resort. No watchof protracting it by ordering coffee, man was to be seen; and I did not &c. but I was fearful lest it should hear the tread of a foot upon the destroy the wholesome effect of the pavement. I thought of that silent wine, so I prepared to depart. Then city in the “ Arabian Nights,” where arose in my mind a disinclination to all the inhabitants are turned to go home,-a vague inexplicable fear stone. I thought of Tadmor, and of something which I could not de- crumbled Babylon, fine.
It was not too late for the theatre; and I wandered thither. And all that blazed in hundred-gated
Thebes, By some accident, the entertainment, contrary to custom at that time of now dead and silent; and I asked the year, was a pantomime; or, at where the bats and the owls abided, any rate, it was a piece in which and if the fox had slunken to his Grimaldi performed, for it was to Methought I should have laugh with him and at him that I heard the rustling of the snake, or went. He played, if I may judge the wild cry of the hyena, but there from the shouts of the people, well; was nothing ; and yet it was a desart and I was determined to be delight. still. Then, I thought how time had ed. I plunged into the crowd of a shaken great cities into ruin, and box already almost full. It was too slain the towering spirits which had hot, and the performance struck me made them famous; and I brought as heavy. I tried another box,- and before me the heroes and the princes another,--and another. They were of old, the poets and the legislators. all the same I could not relish the Amongst them came Draco, Lycurperformance. For once the inimita- gus, Demosthenes ; and with them, ble clown appeared to be dull. He dressed in a Grecian robe, he came, looked like a piece of worn mecha- the curse and cause of all my pain. nism, a battered vulgar common- I passed my hand across my foreplace automaton; and yet the crowd head, and pursued my way. I whistlaughed and shouted, while I ob- led; I sang;. I talked aloud ; and served all with apathy or vexation. the watchmen, starting from uneasy How I cursed the folly which could slumbers, looked at me with sleepy find amusement in so childish a toy! but suspicious eyes. How I despised the whole crowd, as When I reached home, I had an well as the object of their mirth!-- evil to encounter that I had not anBut I had gone to the theatre for ticipated. A recollection came upon amusement, and amusement I was mein a moment-of a story which resolute to have; so I braced my I had somewhere read. It was of a nerves up to the merry pitch, and lady or knight who passes through laughed. It was quite mistimed- the rooms of a deserted palace, and my laugh had no companion, except sees the same object (a man writing its own solitary echo. My spirit did at a table) multiplied, or rather renot go with it, and I felt that nothing peated in each. At once, the possibut my voice had laughed. The
bility struck me that I might see muscles of my face were still rigid him, at my own table, writing. I and contracted, although my fore- thought that he, like the spectral head was fever hot. My neighbour man of the story, might raise his looked at me with some surprise, - head, and smile and welcome me in almost apprehension, and, as I silence. He had a pale and somethought, seemed to pity my degraded times supercilious smile; and now I state.
might see that paleness blanched, It was now necessary that I should and made like marble by the hues of return home. It was about mid- death. I sickened at the thought. I
swore that I would not enter the dually became visible,-almost tan. house till day-break. I retraced some gible. He would come and sit by steps: I listened, and pondered some my bedside, and smile (I cannot bear time, until my fatigued limbs at last to think of his smile), and take my gave me warning that I must rest. hand between his, and fondle it. I I opened the door, and entered the felt the cold pressure run through my passage. There was, as usual, a can- heart; but I could never extricate dle; but it seemed to cast a feebler myself. Ever, although I shrieked light, and magnify the shadows of as I believed, he would keep my the balustrade which ran down to the hand firm in his bony gripe, and kiss lower part of the house. Was not it with lips clammy and cold as marthat a head which looked over the ble. Sometimes he would mutter instaircase upon me?--No: it was no- distinct words in a language unknown thing but my fears. The noise now to me ;-it was like the talk of an made by my shutting the door was animal, thick and guttural, but mixed echoed and sent back through the with some shrill and discordant tones hall and staircase, and I thought I that sounded like exultation. So perheard the tread of a foot in the room haps wolves howl over their prey in above me.
It was iny sitting room, the Siberian forests, or the scarred and I called out the name of my ser- savages of America over their capvant: there was no reply, and the tives devoted to death. It is imtread of feet was heard no more. At possible to explain to you the horthis period I thought of retreating, ror that I endured in these dreams. and actually had my hand on the Sometimes the hideous figure cast lock of the door; but I was asham- upon me a fierce leer, so diabolical ed of my momentary imbecility, and and loathsome that the strings of my taking the glimmering candle in my brain seemed to crack, and then I hand, I ascended the stairs. On the have seen my hands all stained with landing place I listened again, but gouts of blood, and this happened not there was no sound; and at length, once, twice, or thrice, but a multitude with that courage or desperation of tiines. The gloom of those nights which is bred by fear, I flung open left its shadow on the day, and darkthe door violently and saw-nothing. ened it, and made it terrible. At All was quiet as ever. My books, dusk, and in the evening when I sat those good friends of my life, my alone, I was in fear perpetually lest drawings, my pictures, were all there. he should come. A thousand-ten And there, too, was the bright and thousand times I have thought that holy aspect of my Madonna (my fa- the door would open, and he woull vourite picture), with eyes and hands come in staggering and bloody, and uplifted, in the act of adoration, show me that horrid gåsh which let perhaps, as I thought, invoking pity out his life. If there was a knock at and relief for me. Ilow I blessed it, the door I shook, and in the raving and thanked it. I almost wept. Í and moaning of the wind I listened was sad and heart-sick; and shivered for his voice, and heard it. Familiar from head to foot; and yet the look faces changed and became like his. of that Madama, like a green still He looked and laughed at me from spot in a barren country, - like a the eyes of strangers, even of women, fountain in the desart,-bore calm and aye of children. - But, I repeat, it is refreshment to my heart.
in vain that I try to paint and make Before I went to rest I stood before visible these horrors to you. They the glass. Involuntarily my features existed only in my imagination :-My assumed an expression that did not imagination? Why, that is as real belong to them, and became like his. as the sun, as light, or sound, or subIt was but for a moment. I turned stance: it is an integral part of our away and betook myself to rest. All nature, like a taste or a touch. And night long I dreamt of the phantom. yet men will tell you
in common The next night I dreamt again of speech that all this was “nothing," him,--and again. Every evening I but “merely fancy.” What then is said to myself “ I shall see him," death?—Is ihat a fancy? or is it and, true to his victim, he came. At
A sleep and a forgetting? first like a mist or a shadow, he gra- or what?- That “ ditch which is to
grave us all,"—that chasm between them hither again to startle efther “the past” and “ the to come,” which our admiration or despair. The comall dread to overstep, because no one panions of Plato are gone, and the knows its breadth or its soundings,- men of yesterdaywhat is it?-Oh! that we could exorcise-(still I dare to say this). The morning promised many years; but
That in that we could exorcise the dead,
Death and call up whomsoever we chose, Hath in few hours made them as stiff, as all pale poet or grave-eyed philo- The winds and winter had thrown cold upon sopher, to answer us! But they are them, lying cold, with the riddle perhaps And whisper'd them to marble. still unsolved; or, if known to them,
(To be concluded in our next.) their joints cannot yet relax and bear
A BACHELOR'S COMPLAINT OF THE BEHAVIOUR OF MARRIED
As a single man, I have spent a for him, and he could not marry her, good deal of my time in noting down he would deserve to be kicked for his the infirmities of Married People, to · ill manners; yet no less is implied in console myself for those superior the fact, that having access and oppleasures, which they tell me I have portunity of putting the question to lost by remaining as I am.
her, he has never yet thought fit to I cannot say that the quarrels of do it. The young woman undermen and their wives ever made any stands this as clearly as if it were great impression upon me, or had put into words; but no reasonable much tendency to strengthen in me young woman would think of making those anti-social resolutions, which I this the ground of a quarrel. Just took up long ago upon more substan- as little right have a married couple tial considerations. What oftenest to tell me by speeches, and looks that offends me at the houses of married are scarce less plain than speeches, persons where I visit, is an error of that I am not the happy man,—the quite a different description ;-it is, lady's choice. It is enough that I that they are too loving.
know I am not: I do not want this Not too loving neither : that does perpetual reminding. not explain my meaning. Besides, The display of superior knowledge why should that offend me? The or riches may be made sufficiently very act of separating themselves mortifying ; but these admit of a from the rest of the world to have palliative. The knowledge which is the fuller enjoyment of each other's brought out to insult me, may accisociety, implies that they prefer one dentally improve me; and in the rich another to all the world.
man's houses and pictures,-his parks But what I complain of is, that and gardens, I have a temporary they carry this preference so undis- usufruct at least. But the display of guisedly, they perk it up in the faces married happiness has none of these of us single people so shamelessly, palliatives: it is throughout pure, you cannot be in their company a unrecompensed, unqualified insult. moment without being made to feel, Marriage by its best title is a moby some indirect hint or open avowal, nopoly, and not of the least invidious that you are not the object of this sort. It is the cunning of most pospreference. Now there are some sessors of any exclusive privileges to things which give no offence, while keep their advantage as much out of implied or taken for granted merely; sight as possible, that their less fabut expressed, there is much offence voured neighbours, seeing little of in them. If a man were to accost the benefit, may the less be disposed the first homely-featured or plain- to question the right. But these dressed young woman of his ac- married monopolists thrust the most quaintance, and tell her, bluntly, that obnoxious part of their patent into she was not handsome or rich enough our faces. Vol. VI.