A Japanese Story Hashnu the Stonecutter sat beside the highway cutting stone. It was hard work, and the sun shone hot upon him. "Ah me!" said Hashnu, "if one only did not have to work all day. I would that I could sit and rest, and not h... Read more of Hashnu The Stonecutter at Children Stories.caInformational Site Network Informational
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A Child Of The Rain
A Difficult Problem
A Grammatical Ghost
A Memorable Night
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A Mystery With A Moral
A Spectral Collie
A Terribly Strange Bed
American Horses
An Astral Onion
An Intangible Clue
As Told By Mr Gryce
Bourgonef
From The Loom Of The Dead
His Last Bow
Hunted Down
Introduction To A Mystery With A Moral
Introduction To Melmoth The Wanderer
Melmoth The Wanderer
Missing: Page Thirteen
My Fascinating Friend
No 1 Branch Line: The Signal-man
On Being Found Out
On The Northern Ice
Problem Ix Violet's Own
Satire Of The Sea
Shall He Wed Her?
Story Of An Obstinate Corpse
Story Of The Vanishing Patient
The Adventure Of Black Peter
The Adventure Of Charles Augustus Milverton
The Adventure Of The Abbey Grange
The Adventure Of The Bruce-partington Plans
The Adventure Of The Cardboard Box
The Adventure Of The Dancing Men
The Adventure Of The Devil's Foot
The Adventure Of The Dying Detective
The Adventure Of The Empty House
The Adventure Of The Golden Pince-nez
The Adventure Of The Missing Three-quarter
The Adventure Of The Norwood Builder
The Adventure Of The Priory School
The Adventure Of The Red Circle
The Adventure Of The Six Napoleons
The Adventure Of The Solitary Cyclist
The Adventure Of The Three Students
The Adventure Of Wisteria Lodge
The Affair Of The Tortoise
The Avenger
The Birth-mark
The Black Cross
The Box With The Iron Clamps
The Bronze Hand
The Cambered Foot
The Case Of He Golden Bullet
The Case Of Mr Foggatt
The Case Of The Dixon Torpedo
The Case Of The Pocket Diary Found In The Snow
The Case Of The Pool Of Blood In The Pastor's Study
The Case Of The Registered Letter
The Closed Cabinet
The Coin Of Dionysius
The Disappearance Of Lady Frances Carfax
The Doctor His Wife And The Clock
The Dreaming Lady
The End Of The Road
The Fortune Teller
The Golden Slipper
The Gray Madam
The Great Valdez Sapphire
The Grotto Spectre
The Haunted And The Haunters Or The House And The Brain
The Hermit Of Street
The Hole In The Mahogany Panel
The House By The Loch
The House Of Clocks
The House That Was Not
The Incantation
The Jew's Breastplate
The Knight's Cross Signal Problem
The Last Adventure
The Last Exploit Of Harry The Actor
The Lenton Croft Robberies
The Loss Of Sammy Crockett
The Lost Lady
The Lost Room
The Man In The Green Hat
The Mortals In The House
The Mysterious Card
The Notch On The Ax - A Story A La Mode
The Oblong Box
The Old Stone House
The Piano Next Door
The Pumpkin Coach
The Quinton Jewel Affair
The Reward
The Room Of The Evil Thought
The Second Bullet
The Shape Of Fear
The Spread Rails
The Stanway Cameo Mystery
The Thing On The Hearth
The Torture By Hope
The Tragedy At Brookbend Cottage
The Wrong Sign
The Yellow Flower
Their Dear Little Ghost

The Lock And Key Library

A Case Of Identity
A Conjurer's Confessions
A Flight Into Texas
A Formidable Weapon
A Mystery With A Moral
A Scandal In Bohemia
A Wish Unexpectedly Gratified
Addressed To The Advocate Who Defended Him At His Trial
Adventure Of The Black Fisherman
Adventures In The Secret Service Of The Post-office Department
An Aspirant For Congress
An Erring Shepherd
An Heiress From Redhorse
An Old Game Revived
Bourgonef
By The Waters Of Paradise
Deception Explained By The Science Of Psychology
Facing The Arab's Pistol
Fact And Fable In Psychology
Fraudulent Spiritualism Unveiled[1]
His Wedded Wife
Horror: A True Tale
How Spirits Materialize
How The Tricks Succeeded
In The House Of Suddhoo
Introduction To A Mystery With A Moral
Introduction To Melmoth The Wanderer
Introduction To The Corpus Delicti
Matter Through Matter
Melmoth The Wanderer
Mind Reading In Public
My Own True Ghost Story
My Wife's Tempter
No 1 Branch Line: The Signal-man
On Being Found Out
Saint-germain The Deathless
Second Sight
Some Famous Exposures
The Avenger
The Baron's Quarry
The Closed Cabinet
The Corpus Delicti
The Dream Woman
The Fortune Of Seth Savage
The Fowl In The Pot
The Gold-bug
The Golden Ingot
The Great Valdez Sapphire
The Haunted And The Haunters Or The House And The Brain
The Hostler's Story Told By Himself
The Incantation
The Lost Duchess
The Magician Who Became An Ambassador
The Man And The Snake
The Man In The Iron Mask
The Methods Of A Doctor Of The Occult
The Minister's Black Veil
The Minor Canon
The Mortals In The House
The Name Of The Dead
The Notch On The Ax - A Story A La Mode
The Oblong Box
The Pavilion On The Links
The Pipe
The Puzzle
The Red-headed League
The Sending Of Dana Da
The Shadows On The Wall
The Story Continued By Percy Fairbank
Wieland's Madness
Wolfert Webber Or Golden Dreams



Melmoth The Wanderer








John Melmoth, student at Trinity College, Dublin, having journeyed
to County Wicklow for attendance at the deathbed of his miserly
uncle, finds the old man, even in his last moments, tortured by
avarice, and by suspicion of all around him. He whispers to John:


"I want a glass of wine, it would keep me alive for some hours, but
there is not one I can trust to get it for me,--they'd steal a
bottle, and ruin me." John was greatly shocked. "Sir, for God's
sake, let ME get a glass of wine for you." "Do you know where?"
said the old man, with an expression in his face John could not
understand. "No, Sir; you know I have been rather a stranger here,
Sir." "Take this key," said old Melmoth, after a violent spasm;
"take this key, there is wine in that closet,--Madeira. I always
told them there was nothing there, but they did not believe me, or
I should not have been robbed as I have been. At one time I said
it was whisky, and then I fared worse than ever, for they drank
twice as much of it."

John took the key from his uncle's hand; the dying man pressed it
as he did so, and John, interpreting this as a mark of kindness,
returned the pressure. He was undeceived by the whisper that
followed,--"John, my lad, don't drink any of that wine while you
are there." "Good God!" said John, indignantly throwing the key on
the bed; then, recollecting that the miserable being before him was
no object of resentment, he gave the promise required, and entered
the closet, which no foot but that of old Melmoth had entered for
nearly sixty years. He had some difficulty in finding out the
wine, and indeed stayed long enough to justify his uncle's
suspicions,--but his mind was agitated, and his hand unsteady. He
could not but remark his uncle's extraordinary look, that had the
ghastliness of fear superadded to that of death, as he gave him
permission to enter his closet. He could not but see the looks of
horror which the women exchanged as he approached it. And,
finally, when he was in it, his memory was malicious enough to
suggest some faint traces of a story, too horrible for imagination,
connected with it. He remembered in one moment most distinctly,
that no one but his uncle had ever been known to enter it for many
years.

Before he quitted it, he held up the dim light, and looked around
him with a mixture of terror and curiosity. There was a great deal
of decayed and useless lumber, such as might be supposed to be
heaped up to rot in a miser's closet; but John's eyes were in a
moment, and as if by magic, riveted on a portrait that hung on the
wall, and appeared, even to his untaught eye, far superior to the
tribe of family pictures that are left to molder on the walls of a
family mansion. It represented a man of middle age. There was
nothing remarkable in the costume, or in the countenance, but THE
EYES, John felt, were such as one feels they wish they had never
seen, and feels they can never forget. Had he been acquainted with
the poetry of Southey, he might have often exclaimed in his after-
life,


"Only the eyes had life,
They gleamed with demon light."--THALABA.


From an impulse equally resistless and painful, he approached the
portrait, held the candle toward it, and could distinguish the
words on the border of the painting,--Jno. Melmoth, anno 1646.
John was neither timid by nature, nor nervous by constitution, nor
superstitious from habit, yet he continued to gaze in stupid horror
on this singular picture, till, aroused by his uncle's cough, he
hurried into his room. The old man swallowed the wine. He
appeared a little revived; it was long since he had tasted such a
cordial,--his heart appeared to expand to a momentary confidence.
"John, what did you see in that room?" "Nothing, Sir." "That's a
lie; everyone wants to cheat or to rob me." "Sir, I don't want to
do either." "Well, what did you see that you--you took notice of?"
"Only a picture, Sir." "A picture, Sir!--the original is still
alive." John, though under the impression of his recent feelings,
could not but look incredulous. "John," whispered his uncle;--
"John, they say I am dying of this and that; and one says it is for
want of nourishment, and one says it is for want of medicine,--but,
John," and his face looked hideously ghastly, "I am dying of a
fright. That man," and he extended his meager arm toward the
closet, as if he was pointing to a living being; "that man, I have
good reason to know, is alive still." "How is that possible, Sir?"
said John involuntarily, "the date on the picture is 1646." "You
have seen it,--you have noticed it," said his uncle. "Well,"--he
rocked and nodded on his bolster for a moment, then, grasping
John's hand with an unutterable look, he exclaimed, "You will see
him again, he is alive." Then, sinking back on his bolster, he
fell into a kind of sleep or stupor, his eyes still open, and fixed
on John.

The house was now perfectly silent, and John had time and space for
reflection. More thoughts came crowding on him than he wished to
welcome, but they would not be repulsed. He thought of his uncle's
habits and character, turned the matter over and over again in his
mind, and he said to himself, "The last man on earth to be
superstitious. He never thought of anything but the price of
stocks, and the rate of exchange, and my college expenses, that
hung heavier at his heart than all; and such a man to die of a
fright,--a ridiculous fright, that a man living 150 years ago is
alive still, and yet--he is dying." John paused, for facts will
confute the most stubborn logician. "With all his hardness of
mind, and of heart, he is dying of a fright. I heard it in the
kitchen, I have heard it from himself,--he could not be deceived.
If I had ever heard he was nervous, or fanciful, or superstitious,
but a character so contrary to all these impressions;--a man that,
as poor Butler says, in his 'Remains of the Antiquarian,' would
have 'sold Christ over again for the numerical piece of silver
which Judas got for him,'--such a man to die of fear! Yet he IS
dying," said John, glancing his fearful eye on the contracted
nostril, the glazed eye, the drooping jaw, the whole horrible
apparatus of the facies Hippocraticae displayed, and soon to cease
its display.

Old Melmoth at this moment seemed to be in a deep stupor; his eyes
lost that little expression they had before, and his hands, that
had convulsively been catching at the blankets, let go their short
and quivering grasp, and lay extended on the bed like the claws of
some bird that had died of hunger,--so meager, so yellow, so
spread. John, unaccustomed to the sight of death, believed this to
be only a sign that he was going to sleep; and, urged by an impulse
for which he did not attempt to account to himself, caught up the
miserable light, and once more ventured into the forbidden room,--
the BLUE CHAMBER of the dwelling. The motion roused the dying
man;--he sat bolt upright in his bed. This John could not see, for
he was now in the closet; but he heard the groan, or rather the
choked and gurgling rattle of the throat, that announces the
horrible conflict between muscular and mental convulsion. He
started, turned away; but, as he turned away, he thought he saw the
eyes of the portrait, on which his own was fixed, MOVE, and hurried
back to his uncle's bedside.

Old Melmoth died in the course of that night, and died as he had
lived, in a kind of avaricious delirium. John could not have
imagined a scene so horrible as his last hours presented. He
cursed and blasphemed about three halfpence, missing, as he said,
some weeks before, in an account of change with his groom, about
hay to a starved horse that he kept. Then he grasped John's hand,
and asked him to give him the sacrament. "If I send to the
clergyman, he will charge me something for it, which I cannot pay,--
I cannot. They say I am rich,--look at this blanket;--but I would
not mind that, if I could save my soul." And, raving, he added,
"Indeed, Doctor, I am a very poor man. I never troubled a
clergyman before, and all I want is, that you will grant me two
trifling requests, very little matters in your way,--save my soul,
and (whispering) make interest to get me a parish coffin,--I have
not enough left to bury me. I always told everyone I was poor, but
the more I told them so, the less they believed me."

John, greatly shocked, retired from the bedside, and sat down in a
distant corner of the room. The women were again in the room,
which was very dark. Melmoth was silent from exhaustion, and there
was a deathlike pause for some time. At this moment John saw the
door open, and a figure appear at it, who looked round the room,
and then quietly and deliberately retired, but not before John had
discovered in his face the living original of the portrait. His
first impulse was to utter an exclamation of terror, but his breath
felt stopped. He was then rising to pursue the figure, but a
moment's reflection checked him. What could be more absurd, than
to be alarmed or amazed at a resemblance between a living man and
the portrait of a dead one! The likeness was doubtless strong
enough to strike him even in that darkened room, but it was
doubtless only a likeness; and though it might be imposing enough
to terrify an old man of gloomy and retired habits, and with a
broken constitution, John resolved it should not produce the same
effect on him.

But while he was applauding himself for this resolution, the door
opened, and the figure appeared at it, beckoning and nodding to
him, with a familiarity somewhat terrifying. John now started up,
determined to pursue it; but the pursuit was stopped by the weak
but shrill cries of his uncle, who was struggling at once with the
agonies of death and his housekeeper. The poor woman, anxious for
her master's reputation and her own, was trying to put on him a
clean shirt and nightcap, and Melmoth, who had just sensation
enough to perceive they were taking something from him, continued
exclaiming feebly, "They are robbing me,--robbing me in my last
moments,--robbing a dying man. John, won't you assist me,--I shall
die a beggar; they are taking my last shirt,--I shall die a
beggar."--And the miser died.

. . . . .

A few days after the funeral, the will was opened before proper
witnesses, and John was found to be left sole heir to his uncle's
property, which, though originally moderate, had, by his grasping
habits, and parsimonious life, become very considerable.

As the attorney who read the will concluded, he added, "There are
some words here, at the corner of the parchment, which do not
appear to be part of the will, as they are neither in the form of a
codicil, nor is the signature of the testator affixed to them; but,
to the best of my belief, they are in the handwriting of the
deceased." As he spoke he showed the lines to Melmoth, who
immediately recognized his uncle's hand (that perpendicular and
penurious hand, that seems determined to make the most of the very
paper, thriftily abridging every word, and leaving scarce an atom
of margin), and read, not without some emotion, the following
words: "I enjoin my nephew and heir, John Melmoth, to remove,
destroy, or cause to be destroyed, the portrait inscribed J.
Melmoth, 1646, hanging in my closet. I also enjoin him to search
for a manuscript, which I think he will find in the third and
lowest left-hand drawer of the mahogany chest standing under that
portrait,--it is among some papers of no value, such as manuscript
sermons, and pamphlets on the improvement of Ireland, and such
stuff; he will distinguish it by its being tied round with a black
tape, and the paper being very moldy and discolored. He may read
it if he will;--I think he had better not. At all events, I adjure
him, if there be any power in the adjuration of a dying man, to
burn it."

After reading this singular memorandum, the business of the meeting
was again resumed; and as old Melmoth's will was very clear and
legally worded, all was soon settled, the party dispersed, and John
Melmoth was left alone.

. . . . .

He resolutely entered the closet, shut the door, and proceeded to
search for the manuscript. It was soon found, for the directions
of old Melmoth were forcibly written, and strongly remembered. The
manuscript, old, tattered, and discolored, was taken from the very
drawer in which it was mentioned to be laid. Melmoth's hands felt
as cold as those of his dead uncle, when he drew the blotted pages
from their nook. He sat down to read,--there was a dead silence
through the house. Melmoth looked wistfully at the candles,
snuffed them, and still thought they looked dim, (perchance he
thought they burned blue, but such thought he kept to himself).
Certain it is, he often changed his posture, and would have changed
his chair, had there been more than one in the apartment.

He sank for a few moments into a fit of gloomy abstraction, till
the sound of the clock striking twelve made him start,--it was the
only sound he had heard for some hours, and the sounds produced by
inanimate things, while all living beings around are as dead, have
at such an hour an effect indescribably awful. John looked at his
manuscript with some reluctance, opened it, paused over the first
lines, and as the wind sighed round the desolate apartment, and the
rain pattered with a mournful sound against the dismantled window,
wished--what did he wish for?--he wished the sound of the wind less
dismal, and the dash of the rain less monotonous.--He may be
forgiven, it was past midnight, and there was not a human being
awake but himself within ten miles when he began to read.

. . . . .

The manuscript was discolored, obliterated, and mutilated beyond
any that had ever before exercised the patience of a reader.
Michaelis himself, scrutinizing into the pretended autograph of St.
Mark at Venice, never had a harder time of it.--Melmoth could make
out only a sentence here and there. The writer, it appeared, was
an Englishman of the name of Stanton, who had traveled abroad
shortly after the Restoration. Traveling was not then attended
with the facilities which modern improvement has introduced, and
scholars and literati, the intelligent, the idle, and the curious,
wandered over the Continent for years, like Tom Corvat, though they
had the modesty, on their return, to entitle the result of their
multiplied observations and labors only "crudities."

Stanton, about the year 1676, was in Spain; he was, like most of
the travelers of that age, a man of literature, intelligence, and
curiosity, but ignorant of the language of the country, and
fighting his way at times from convent to convent, in quest of what
was called "Hospitality," that is, obtaining board and lodging on
the condition of holding a debate in Latin, on some point
theological or metaphysical, with any monk who would become the
champion of the strife. Now, as the theology was Catholic, and the
metaphysics Aristotelian, Stanton sometimes wished himself at the
miserable Posada from whose filth and famine he had been fighting
his escape; but though his reverend antagonists always denounced
his creed, and comforted themselves, even in defeat, with the
assurance that he must be damned, on the double score of his being
a heretic and an Englishman, they were obliged to confess that his
Latin was good, and his logic unanswerable; and he was allowed, in
most cases, to sup and sleep in peace. This was not doomed to be
his fate on the night of the 17th August 1677, when he found
himself in the plains of Valencia, deserted by a cowardly guide,
who had been terrified by the sight of a cross erected as a
memorial of a murder, had slipped off his mule unperceived,
crossing himself every step he took on his retreat from the
heretic, and left Stanton amid the terrors of an approaching storm,
and the dangers of an unknown country. The sublime and yet
softened beauty of the scenery around, had filled the soul of
Stanton with delight, and he enjoyed that delight as Englishmen
generally do, silently.

The magnificent remains of two dynasties that had passed away, the
ruins of Roman palaces, and of Moorish fortresses, were around and
above him;--the dark and heavy thunder clouds that advanced slowly,
seemed like the shrouds of these specters of departed greatness;
they approached, but did not yet overwhelm or conceal them, as if
Nature herself was for once awed by the power of man; and far
below, the lovely valley of Valencia blushed and burned in all the
glory of sunset, like a bride receiving the last glowing kiss of
the bridegroom before the approach of night. Stanton gazed around.
The difference between the architecture of the Roman and Moorish
ruins struck him. Among the former are the remains of a theater,
and something like a public place; the latter present only the
remains of fortresses, embattled, castellated, and fortified from
top to bottom,--not a loophole for pleasure to get in by,--the
loopholes were only for arrows; all denoted military power and
despotic subjugation a l'outrance. The contrast might have pleased
a philosopher, and he might have indulged in the reflection, that
though the ancient Greeks and Romans were savages (as Dr. Johnson
says all people who want a press must be, and he says truly), yet
they were wonderful savages for their time, for they alone have
left traces of their taste for pleasure in the countries they
conquered, in their superb theaters, temples (which were also
dedicated to pleasure one way or another), and baths, while other
conquering bands of savages never left anything behind them but
traces of their rage for power. So thought Stanton, as he still
saw strongly defined, though darkened by the darkening clouds, the
huge skeleton of a Roman amphitheater, its arched and gigantic
colonnades now admitting a gleam of light, and now commingling with
the purple thunder cloud; and now the solid and heavy mass of a
Moorish fortress, no light playing between its impermeable walls,--
the image of power, dark, isolated, impenetrable. Stanton forgot
his cowardly guide, his loneliness, his danger amid an approaching
storm and an inhospitable country, where his name and country would
shut every door against him, and every peal of thunder would be
supposed justified by the daring intrusion of a heretic in the
dwelling of an old Christian, as the Spanish Catholics absurdly
term themselves, to mark the distinction between them and the
baptized Moors.

All this was forgot in contemplating the glorious and awful scenery
before him,--light struggling with darkness,--and darkness menacing
a light still more terrible, and announcing its menace in the blue
and livid mass of cloud that hovered like a destroying angel in the
air, its arrows aimed, but their direction awfully indefinite. But
he ceased to forget these local and petty dangers, as the sublimity
of romance would term them, when he saw the first flash of the
lightning, broad and red as the banners of an insulting army whose
motto is Vae victis, shatter to atoms the remains of a Roman
tower;--the rifted stones rolled down the hill, and fell at the
feet of Stanton. He stood appalled, and, awaiting his summons from
the Power in whose eye pyramids, palaces, and the worms whose toil
has formed them, and the worms who toil out their existence under
their shadow or their pressure, are perhaps all alike contemptible,
he stood collected, and for a moment felt that defiance of danger
which danger itself excites, and we love to encounter it as a
physical enemy, to bid it "do its worst," and feel that its worst
will perhaps be ultimately its best for us. He stood and saw
another flash dart its bright, brief, and malignant glance over the
ruins of ancient power, and the luxuriance of recent fertility.
Singular contrast! The relics of art forever decaying,--the
productions of nature forever renewed.--(Alas! for what purpose are
they renewed, better than to mock at the perishable monuments which
men try in vain to rival them by.) The pyramids themselves must
perish, but the grass that grows between their disjointed stones
will be renewed from year to year.

Stanton was thinking thus, when all power of thought was suspended,
by seeing two persons bearing between them the body of a young, and
apparently very lovely girl, who had been struck dead by the
lightning. Stanton approached, and heard the voices of the bearers
repeating, "There is none who will mourn for her!" "There is none
who will mourn for her!" said other voices, as two more bore in
their arms the blasted and blackened figure of what had once been a
man, comely and graceful;--"there is not ONE to mourn for her now!"
They were lovers, and he had been consumed by the flash that had
destroyed her, while in the act of endeavoring to defend her. As
they were about to remove the bodies, a person approached with a
calmness of step and demeanor, as if he were alone unconscious of
danger, and incapable of fear; and after looking on them for some
time, burst into a laugh so loud, wild, and protracted, that the
peasants, starting with as much horror at the sound as at that of
the storm, hurried away, bearing the corpses with them. Even
Stanton's fears were subdued by his astonishment, and, turning to
the stranger, who remained standing on the same spot, he asked the
reason of such an outrage on humanity. The stranger, slowly
turning round, and disclosing a countenance which--(Here the
manuscript was illegible for a few lines), said in English--(A long
hiatus followed here, and the next passage that was legible, though
it proved to be a continuation of the narrative, was but a
fragment.)

. . . . .

The terrors of the night rendered Stanton a sturdy and unappeasable
applicant; and the shrill voice of the old woman, repeating, "no
heretic--no English--Mother of God protect us--avaunt Satan!"--
combined with the clatter of the wooden casement (peculiar to the
houses in Valencia) which she opened to discharge her volley of
anathematization, and shut again as the lightning glanced through
the aperture, were unable to repel his importunate request for
admittance, in a night whose terrors ought to soften all the
miserable petty local passions into one awful feeling of fear for
the Power who caused it, and compassion for those who were exposed
to it.--But Stanton felt there was something more than national
bigotry in the exclamations of the old woman; there was a peculiar
and personal horror of the English.--And he was right; but this did
not diminish the eagerness of his. . . .

. . . . .

The house was handsome and spacious, but the melancholy appearance
of desertion . . . .

. . . . .

--The benches were by the wall, but there were none to sit there;
the tables were spread in what had been the hall, but it seemed as
if none had gathered round them for many years;--the clock struck
audibly, there was no voice of mirth or of occupation to drown its
sound; time told his awful lesson to silence alone;--the hearths
were black with fuel long since consumed;--the family portraits
looked as if they were the only tenants of the mansion; they seemed
to say, from their moldering frames, "there are none to gaze on
us;" and the echo of the steps of Stanton and his feeble guide, was
the only sound audible between the peals of thunder that rolled
still awfully, but more distantly,--every peal like the exhausted
murmurs of a spent heart. As they passed on, a shriek was heard.
Stanton paused, and fearful images of the dangers to which
travelers on the Continent are exposed in deserted and remote
habitations, came into his mind. "Don't heed it," said the old
woman, lighting him on with a miserable lamp;--"it is only he. . . .

. . . . .

The old woman having now satisfied herself, by ocular
demonstration, that her English guest, even if he was the devil,
had neither horn, hoof, nor tail, that he could bear the sign of
the cross without changing his form, and that, when he spoke, not a
puff of sulphur came out of his mouth, began to take courage, and
at length commenced her story, which, weary and comfortless as
Stanton was, . . . .

. . . . .

Every obstacle was now removed; parents and relations at last gave
up all opposition, and the young pair were united. Never was there
a lovelier,--they seemed like angels who had only anticipated by a
few years their celestial and eternal union. The marriage was
solemnized with much pomp, and a few days after there was a feast
in that very wainscoted chamber which you paused to remark was so
gloomy. It was that night hung with rich tapestry, representing
the exploits of the Cid, particularly that of his burning a few
Moors who refused to renounce their accursed religion. They were
represented beautifully tortured, writhing and howling, and
"Mahomet! Mahomet!" issuing out of their mouths, as they called on
him in their burning agonies;--you could almost hear them scream.
At the upper end of the room, under a splendid estrade, over which
was an image of the blessed Virgin, sat Donna Isabella de Cardoza,
mother to the bride, and near her Donna Ines, the bride, on rich
almohadas; the bridegroom sat opposite to her, and though they
never spoke to each other, their eyes, slowly raised, but suddenly
withdrawn (those eyes that blushed), told to each other the
delicious secret of their happiness. Don Pedro de Cardoza had
assembled a large party in honor of his daughter's nuptials; among
them was an Englishman of the name of MELMOTH, a traveler; no one
knew who had brought him there. He sat silent like the rest, while
the iced waters and the sugared wafers were presented to the
company. The night was intensely hot, and the moon glowed like a
sun over the ruins of Saguntum; the embroidered blinds flapped
heavily, as if the wind made an effort to raise them in vain, and
then desisted.

(Another defect in the manuscript occurred here, but it was soon
supplied.)

. . . . .

The company were dispersed through various alleys of the garden;
the bridegroom and bride wandered through one where the delicious
perfume of the orange trees mingled itself with that of the myrtles
in blow. On their return to the ball, both of them asked, Had the
company heard the exquisite sounds that floated through the garden
just before they quitted it? No one had heard them. They
expressed their surprise. The Englishman had never quitted the
hall; it was said he smiled with a most particular and
extraordinary expression as the remark was made. His silence had
been noticed before, but it was ascribed to his ignorance of the
Spanish language, an ignorance that Spaniards are not anxious
either to expose or remove by speaking to a stranger. The subject
of the music was not again reverted to till the guests were seated
at supper, when Donna Ines and her young husband, exchanging a
smile of delighted surprise, exclaimed they heard the same
delicious sounds floating round them. The guests listened, but no
one else could hear it;--everyone felt there was something
extraordinary in this. Hush! was uttered by every voice almost at
the same moment. A dead silence followed,--you would think, from
their intent looks, that they listened with their very eyes. This
deep silence, contrasted with the splendor of the feast, and the
light effused from torches held by the domestics, produced a
singular effect,--it seemed for some moments like an assembly of
the dead. The silence was interrupted, though the cause of wonder
had not ceased, by the entrance of Father Olavida, the Confessor of
Donna Isabella, who had been called away previous to the feast, to
administer extreme unction to a dying man in the neighborhood. He
was a priest of uncommon sanctity, beloved in the family, and
respected in the neighborhood, where he had displayed uncommon
taste and talents for exorcism;--in fact, this was the good
Father's forte, and he piqued himself on it accordingly. The devil
never fell into worse hands than Father Olavida's, for when he was
so contumacious as to resist Latin, and even the first verses of
the Gospel of St. John in Greek, which the good Father never had
recourse to but in cases of extreme stubbornness and difficulty,--
(here Stanton recollected the English story of the Boy of Bilson,
and blushed even in Spain for his countrymen),--then he always
applied to the Inquisition; and if the devils were ever so
obstinate before, they were always seen to fly out of the
possessed, just as, in the midst of their cries (no doubt of
blasphemy), they were tied to the stake. Some held out even till
the flames surrounded them; but even the most stubborn must have
been dislodged when the operation was over, for the devil himself
could no longer tenant a crisp and glutinous lump of cinders. Thus
Father Olavida's fame spread far and wide, and the Cardoza family
had made uncommon interest to procure him for a Confessor, and
happily succeeded. The ceremony he had just been performing had
cast a shade over the good Father's countenance, but it dispersed
as he mingled among the guests, and was introduced to them. Room
was soon made for him, and he happened accidentally to be seated
opposite the Englishman. As the wine was presented to him, Father
Olavida (who, as I observed, was a man of singular sanctity)
prepared to utter a short internal prayer. He hesitated,--
trembled,--desisted; and, putting down the wine, wiped the drops
from his forehead with the sleeve of his habit. Donna Isabella
gave a sign to a domestic, and other wine of a higher quality was
offered to him. His lips moved, as if in the effort to pronounce a
benediction on it and the company, but the effort again failed; and
the change in his countenance was so extraordinary, that it was
perceived by all the guests. He felt the sensation that his
extraordinary appearance excited, and attempted to remove it by
again endeavoring to lift the cup to his lips. So strong was the
anxiety with which the company watched him, that the only sound
heard in that spacious and crowded hall was the rustling of his
habit as he attempted to lift the cup to his lips once more--in
vain. The guests sat in astonished silence. Father Olavida alone
remained standing; but at that moment the Englishman rose, and
appeared determined to fix Olavida's regards by a gaze like that of
fascination. Olavida rocked, reeled, grasped the arm of a page,
and at last, closing his eyes for a moment, as if to escape the
horrible fascination of that unearthly glare (the Englishman's eyes
were observed by all the guests, from the moment of his entrance,
to effuse a most fearful and preternatural luster), exclaimed, "Who
is among us?--Who?--I cannot utter a blessing while he is here. I
cannot feel one. Where he treads, the earth is parched!--Where he
breathes, the air is fire!--Where he feeds, the food is poison!--
Where he turns his glance is lightning!--WHO IS AMONG US?--WHO?"
repeated the priest in the agony of adjuration, while his cowl
fallen back, his few thin hairs around the scalp instinct and alive
with terrible emotion, his outspread arms protruded from the
sleeves of his habit, and extended toward the awful stranger,
suggested the idea of an inspired being in the dreadful rapture of
prophetic denunciation. He stood--still stood, and the Englishman
stood calmly opposite to him. There was an agitated irregularity
in the attitudes of those around them, which contrasted strongly
the fixed and stern postures of those two, who remained gazing
silently at each other. "Who knows him?" exclaimed Olavida,
starting apparently from a trance; "who knows him? who brought him
here?"

The guests severally disclaimed all knowledge of the Englishman,
and each asked the other in whispers, "who HAD brought him there?"
Father Olavida then pointed his arm to each of the company, and
asked each individually, "Do you know him?" No! no! no!" was
uttered with vehement emphasis by every individual. "But I know
him," said Olavida, "by these cold drops!" and he wiped them off;--
"by these convulsed joints!" and he attempted to sign the cross,
but could not. He raised his voice, and evidently speaking with
increased difficulty,--"By this bread and wine, which the faithful
receive as the body and blood of Christ, but which HIS presence
converts into matter as viperous as the suicide foam of the dying
Judas,--by all these--I know him, and command him to be gone!--He
is--he is--" and he bent forward as he spoke, and gazed on the
Englishman with an expression which the mixture of rage, hatred,
and fear rendered terrible. All the guests rose at these words,--
the whole company now presented two singular groups, that of the
amazed guests all collected together, and repeating, "Who, what is
he?" and that of the Englishman, who stood unmoved, and Olavida,
who dropped dead in the attitude of pointing to him.

. . . . .

The body was removed into another room, and the departure of the
Englishman was not noticed till the company returned to the hall.
They sat late together, conversing on this extraordinary
circumstance, and finally agreed to remain in the house, lest the
evil spirit (for they believed the Englishman no better) should
take certain liberties with the corse by no means agreeable to a
Catholic, particularly as he had manifestly died without the
benefit of the last sacraments. Just as this laudable resolution
was formed, they were roused by cries of horror and agony from the
bridal chamber, where the young pair had retired.

They hurried to the door, but the father was first. They burst it
open, and found the bride a corse in the arms of her husband.

. . . . .

He never recovered his reason; the family deserted the mansion
rendered terrible by so many misfortunes. One apartment is still
tenanted by the unhappy maniac; his were the cries you heard as you
traversed the deserted rooms. He is for the most part silent
during the day, but at midnight he always exclaims, in a voice
frightfully piercing, and hardly human, "They are coming! they are
coming!" and relapses into profound silence.

The funeral of Father Olavida was attended by an extraordinary
circumstance. He was interred in a neighboring convent; and the
reputation of his sanctity, joined to the interest caused by his
extraordinary death, collected vast numbers at the ceremony. His
funeral sermon was preached by a monk of distinguished eloquence,
appointed for the purpose. To render the effect of his discourse
more powerful, the corse, extended on a bier, with its face
uncovered, was placed in the aisle. The monk took his text from
one of the prophets,--"Death is gone up into our palaces." He
expatiated on mortality, whose approach, whether abrupt or
lingering, is alike awful to man.--He spoke of the vicisstudes of
empires with much eloquence and learning, but his audience were not
observed to be much affected.--He cited various passages from the
lives of the saints, descriptive of the glories of martyrdom, and
the heroism of those who had bled and blazed for Christ and his
blessed mother, but they appeared still waiting for something to
touch them more deeply. When he inveighed against the tyrants
under whose bloody persecution those holy men suffered, his hearers
were roused for a moment, for it is always easier to excite a
passion than a moral feeling. But when he spoke of the dead, and
pointed with emphatic gesture to the corse, as it lay before them
cold and motionless, every eye was fixed, and every ear became
attentive. Even the lovers, who, under pretense of dipping their
fingers into the holy water, were contriving to exchange amorous
billets, forbore for one moment this interesting intercourse, to
listen to the preacher. He dwelt with much energy on the virtues
of the deceased, whom he declared to be a particular favorite of
the Virgin; and enumerating the various losses that would be caused
by his departure to the community to which he belonged, to society,
and to religion at large; he at last worked up himself to a
vehement expostulation with the Deity on the occasion. "Why hast
thou," he exclaimed, "why hast thou, Oh God! thus dealt with us?
Why hast thou snatched from our sight this glorious saint, whose
merits, if properly applied, doubtless would have been sufficient
to atone for the apostasy of St. Peter, the opposition of St. Paul
(previous to his conversion), and even the treachery of Judas
himself? Why hast thou, Oh God! snatched him from us?"--and a deep
and hollow voice from among the congregation answered,--"Because he
deserved his fate." The murmurs of approbation with which the
congregation honored this apostrophe half drowned this
extraordinary interruption; and though there was some little
commotion in the immediate vicinity of the speaker, the rest of the
audience continued to listen intently. "What," proceeded the
preacher, pointing to the corse, "what hath laid thee there,
servant of God?"--"Pride, ignorance, and fear," answered the same
voice, in accents still more thrilling. The disturbance now became
universal. The preacher paused, and a circle opening, disclosed
the figure of a monk belonging to the convent, who stood among
them.

. . . . .

After all the usual modes of admonition, exhortation, and
discipline had been employed, and the bishop of the diocese, who,
under the report of these extraordinary circumstances, had visited
the convent in person to obtain some explanation from the
contumacious monk in vain, it was agreed, in a chapter
extraordinary, to surrender him to the power of the Inquisition.
He testified great horror when this determination was made known to
him,--and offered to tell over and over again all that he COULD
relate of the cause of Father Olavida's death. His humiliation,
and repeated offers of confession, came too late. He was conveyed
to the Inquisition. The proceedings of that tribunal are rarely
disclosed, but there is a secret report (I cannot answer for its
truth) of what he said and suffered there. On his first
examination, he said he would relate all he COULD. He was told
that was not enough, he must relate all he knew.

. . . . .

"Why did you testify such horror at the funeral of Father
Olavida?"--"Everyone testified horror and grief at the death of
that venerable ecclesiastic, who died in the odor of sanctity. Had
I done otherwise, it might have been reckoned a proof of my guilt."
"Why did you interrupt the preacher with such extraordinary
exclamations?"--To this no answer. "Why do you refuse to explain
the meaning of those exclamations?"--No answer. "Why do you
persist in this obstinate and dangerous silence? Look, I beseech
you, brother, at the cross that is suspended against this wall,"
and the Inquisitor pointed to the large black crucifix at the back
of the chair where he sat; "one drop of the blood shed there can
purify you from all the sin you have ever committed; but all that
blood, combined with the intercession of the Queen of Heaven, and
the merits of all its martyrs, nay, even the absolution of the
Pope, cannot deliver you from the curse of dying in unrepented
sin."--"What sin, then, have I committed?"--"The greatest of all
possible sins; you refuse answering the questions put to you at the
tribunal of the most holy and merciful Inquisition;--you will not
tell us what you know concerning the death of Father Olavida."--"I
have told you that I believe he perished in consequence of his
ignorance and presumption." "What proof can you produce of that?"--
"He sought the knowledge of a secret withheld from man." "What
was that?"--"The secret of discovering the presence or agency of
the evil power." "Do you possess that secret?"--After much
agitation on the part of the prisoner, he said distinctly, but very
faintly, "My master forbids me to disclose it." "If your master
were Jesus Christ, he would not forbid you to obey the commands, or
answer the questions of the Inquisition."--"I am not sure of that."
There was a general outcry of horror at these words. The
examination then went on. "If you believed Olavida to be guilty of
any pursuits or studies condemned by our mother the church, why did
you not denounce him to the Inquisition?"--"Because I believed him
not likely to be injured by such pursuits; his mind was too weak,--
he died in the struggle," said the prisoner with great emphasis.
"You believe, then, it requires strength of mind to keep those
abominable secrets, when examined as to their nature and
tendency?"--"No, I rather imagine strength of body." "We shall try
that presently," said an Inquisitor, giving a signal for the
torture.

. . . . .

The prisoner underwent the first and second applications with
unshrinking courage, but on the infliction of the water-torture,
which is indeed insupportable to humanity, either to suffer or
relate, he exclaimed in the gasping interval, he would disclose
everything. He was released, refreshed, restored, and the
following day uttered the following remarkable confession. . . .

. . . . .


The old Spanish woman further confessed to Stanton, that. . . .

. . . . .

and that the Englishman certainly had been seen in the neighborhood
since;--seen, as she had heard, that very night. "Great G--d!"
exclaimed Stanton, as he recollected the stranger whose demoniac
laugh had so appalled him, while gazing on the lifeless bodies of
the lovers, whom the lightning had struck and blasted.


As the manuscript, after a few blotted and illegible pages, became
more distinct, Melmoth read on, perplexed and unsatisfied, not
knowing what connection this Spanish story could have with his
ancestor, whom, however, he recognized under the title of the
Englishman; and wondering how Stanton could have thought it worth
his while to follow him to Ireland, write a long manuscript about
an event that occurred in Spain, and leave it in the hands of his
family, to "verify untrue things," in the language of Dogberry,--
his wonder was diminished, though his curiosity was still more
inflamed, by the perusal of the next lines, which he made out with
some difficulty. It seems Stanton was now in England.

. . . . .

About the year 1677, Stanton was in London, his mind still full of
his mysterious countryman. This constant subject of his
contemplations had produced a visible change in his exterior,--his
walk was what Sallust tells us of Catiline's,--his were, too, the
"faedi oculi." He said to himself every moment, "If I could but
trace that being, I will not call him man,"--and the next moment he
said, "and what if I could?" In this state of mind, it is singular
enough that he mixed constantly in public amusements, but it is
true. When one fierce passion is devouring the soul, we feel more
than ever the necessity of external excitement; and our dependence
on the world for temporary relief increases in direct proportion to
our contempt of the world and all its works. He went frequently to
the theaters, THEN fashionable, when


"The fair sat panting at a courtier's play,
And not a mask went unimproved away."


. . . . .

It was that memorable night, when, according to the history of the
veteran Betterton,* Mrs. Barry, who personated Roxana, had a green-
room squabble with Mrs. Bowtell, the representative of Statira,
about a veil, which the partiality of the property man adjudged to
the latter. Roxana suppressed her rage till the fifth act, when,
stabbing Statira, she aimed the blow with such force as to pierce
through her stays, and inflict a severe though not dangerous wound.
Mrs. Bowtell fainted, the performance was suspended, and, in the
commotion which this incident caused in the house, many of the
audience rose, and Stanton among them. It was at this moment that,
in a seat opposite to him, he discovered the object of his search
for four years,--the Englishman whom he had met in the plains of
Valencia, and whom he believed the same with the subject of the
extraordinary narrative he had heard there.


* Vide Betterton's History of the Stage.


He was standing up. There was nothing particular or remarkable in
his appearance, but the expression of his eyes could never be
mistaken or forgotten. The heart of Stanton palpitated with
violence,--a mist overspread his eye,--a nameless and deadly
sickness, accompanied with a creeping sensation in every pore, from
which cold drops were gushing, announced the. . . .

. . . . .

Before he had well recovered, a strain of music, soft, solemn, and
delicious, breathed round him, audibly ascending from the ground,
and increasing in sweetness and power till it seemed to fill the
whole building. Under the sudden impulse of amazement and
pleasure, he inquired of some around him from whence those
exquisite sounds arose. But, by the manner in which he was
answered, it was plain that those he addressed considered him
insane; and, indeed, the remarkable change in his expression might
well justify the suspicion. He then remembered that night in
Spain, when the same sweet and mysterious sounds were heard only by
the young bridegroom and bride, of whom the latter perished on that
very night. "And am I then to be the next victim?" thought
Stanton; "and are those celestial sounds, that seem to prepare us
for heaven, only intended to announce the presence of an incarnate
fiend, who mocks the devoted with 'airs from heaven,' while he
prepares to surround them with 'blasts from hell'?" It is very
singular that at this moment, when his imagination had reached its
highest pitch of elevation,--when the object he had pursued so long
and fruitlessly, had in one moment become as it were tangible to
the grasp both of mind and body,--when this spirit, with whom he
had wrestled in darkness, was at last about to declare its name,
that Stanton began to feel a kind of disappointment at the futility
of his pursuits, like Bruce at discovering the source of the Nile,
or Gibbon on concluding his History. The feeling which he had
dwelt on so long, that he had actually converted it into a duty,
was after all mere curiosity; but what passion is more insatiable,
or more capable of giving a kind of romantic grandeur to all its
wanderings and eccentricities? Curiosity is in one respect like
love, it always compromises between the object and the feeling; and
provided the latter possesses sufficient energy, no matter how
contemptible the former may be. A child might have smiled at the
agitation of Stanton, caused as it was by the accidental appearance
of a stranger; but no man, in the full energy of his passions, was
there, but must have trembled at the horrible agony of emotion with
which he felt approaching, with sudden and irresistible velocity,
the crisis of his destiny.

When the play was over, he stood for some moments in the deserted
streets. It was a beautiful moonlight night, and he saw near him a
figure, whose shadow, projected half across the street (there were
no flagged ways then, chains and posts were the only defense of the
foot passenger), appeared to him of gigantic magnitude. He had
been so long accustomed to contend with these phantoms of the
imagination, that he took a kind of stubborn delight in subduing
them. He walked up to the object, and observing the shadow only
was magnified, and the figure was the ordinary height of man, he
approached it, and discovered the very object of his search,--the
man whom he had seen for a moment in Valencia, and, after a search
of four years, recognized at the theater.

. . . . .

"You were in quest of me?"--"I was." "Have you anything to inquire
of me?"--"Much." "Speak, then."--"This is no place." "No place!
poor wretch, I am independent of time and place. Speak, if you
have anything to ask or to learn."--"I have many things to ask, but
nothing to learn, I hope, from you." "You deceive yourself, but
you will be undeceived when next we meet."--"And when shall that
be?" said Stanton, grasping his arm; "name your hour and your
place." "The hour shall be midday," answered the stranger, with a
horrid and unintelligible smile; "and the place shall be the bare
walls of a madhouse, where you shall rise rattling in your chains,
and rustling from your straw, to greet me,--yet still you shall
have THE CURSE OF SANITY, and of memory. My voice shall ring in
your ears till then, and the glance of these eyes shall be
reflected from every object, animate or inanimate, till you behold
them again."--"Is it under circumstances so horrible we are to meet
again?" said Stanton, shrinking under the full-lighted blaze of
those demon eyes. "I never," said the stranger, in an emphatic
tone,--"I never desert my friends in misfortune. When they are
plunged in the lowest abyss of human calamity, they are sure to be
visited by me."

. . . . .

The narrative, when Melmoth was again able to trace its
continuation, described Stanton, some years after, plunged in a
state the most deplorable.

He had been always reckoned of a singular turn of mind, and the
belief of this, aggravated by his constant talk of Melmoth, his
wild pursuit of him, his strange behavior at the theater, and his
dwelling on the various particulars of their extraordinary
meetings, with all the intensity of the deepest conviction (while
he never could impress them on any one's conviction but his own),
suggested to some prudent people the idea that he was deranged.
Their malignity probably took part with their prudence. The
selfish Frenchman* says, we feel a pleasure even in the misfortunes
of our friends,--a plus forte in those of our enemies; and as
everyone is an enemy to a man of genius of course, the report of
Stanton's malady was propagated with infernal and successful
industry. Stanton's next relative, a needy unprincipled man,
watched the report in its circulation, and saw the snares closing
round his victim. He waited on him one morning, accompanied by a
person of a grave, though somewhat repulsive appearance. Stanton
was as usual abstracted and restless, and, after a few moments'
conversation, he proposed a drive a few miles out of London, which
he said would revive and refresh him. Stanton objected, on account
of the difficulty of getting a hackney coach (for it is singular
that at this period the number of private equipages, though
infinitely fewer than they are now, exceeded the number of hired
ones), and proposed going by water. This, however, did not suit
the kinsman's views; and, after pretending to send for a carriage
(which was in waiting at the end of the street), Stanton and his
companions entered it, and drove about two miles out of London.


* Rochefoucauld.


The carriage then stopped. Come, Cousin," said the younger
Stanton,--"come and view a purchase I have made." Stanton absently
alighted, and followed him across a small paved court; the other
person followed. "In troth, Cousin," said Stanton, "your choice
appears not to have been discreetly made; your house has somewhat
of a gloomy aspect."--"Hold you content, Cousin," replied the
other; "I shall take order that you like it better, when you have
been some time a dweller therein." Some attendants of a mean
appearance, and with most suspicious visages, awaited them on their
entrance, and they ascended a narrow staircase, which led to a room
meanly furnished. "Wait here," said the kinsman, to the man who
accompanied them, "till I go for company to divertise my cousin in
his loneliness." They were left alone. Stanton took no notice of
his companion, but as usual seized the first book near him, and
began to read. It was a volume in manuscript,--they were then much
more common than now.

The first lines struck him as indicating insanity in the writer.
It was a wild proposal (written apparently after the great fire of
London) to rebuild it with stone, and attempting to prove, on a
calculation wild, false, and yet sometimes plausible, that this
could be done out of the colossal fragments of Stonehenge, which
the writer proposed to remove for that purpose. Subjoined were
several grotesque drawings of engines designed to remove those
massive blocks, and in a corner of the page was a note,--"I would
have drawn these more accurately, but was not allowed a KNIFE to
mend my pen."

The next was entitled, "A modest proposal for the spreading of
Christianity in foreign parts, whereby it is hoped its
entertainment will become general all over the world."--This modest
proposal was, to convert the Turkish ambassadors (who had been in
London a few years before), by offering them their choice of being
strangled on the spot, or becoming Christians. Of course the
writer reckoned on their embracing the easier alternative, but even
this was to be clogged with a heavy condition,--namely, that they
must be bound before a magistrate to convert twenty Mussulmans a
day, on their return to Turkey. The rest of the pamphlet was
reasoned very much in the conclusive style of Captain Bobadil,--
these twenty will convert twenty more apiece, and these two hundred
converts, converting their due number in the same time, all Turkey
would be converted before the Grand Signior knew where he was.
Then comes the coup d'eclat,--one fine morning, every minaret in
Constantinople was to ring out with bells, instead of the cry of
the Muezzins; and the Imaum, coming out to see what was the matter,
was to be encountered by the Archbishop of Canterbury, in
pontificalibus, performing Cathedral service in the church of St.
Sophia, which was to finish the business. Here an objection
appeared to arise, which the ingenuity of the writer had
anticipated.--"It may be redargued," saith he, "by those who have
more spleen than brain, that forasmuch as the Archbishop preacheth
in English, he will not thereby much edify the Turkish folk, who do
altogether hold in a vain gabble of their own." But this (to use
his own language) he "evites," by judiciously observing, that where
service was performed in an unknown tongue, the devotion of the
people was always observed to be much increased thereby; as, for
instance, in the church of Rome,--that St. Augustine, with his
monks, advanced to meet King Ethelbert singing litanies (in a
language his majesty could not possibly have understood), and
converted him and his whole court on the spot;--that the sybilline
books. . . .

. . . . .

Cum multis aliis.

Between the pages were cut most exquisitely in paper the likenesses
of some of these Turkish ambassadors; the hair of the beards, in
particular, was feathered with a delicacy of touch that seemed the
work of fairy fingers,--but the pages ended with a complaint of the
operator, that his scissors had been taken from him. However, he
consoled himself and the reader with the assurance, that he would
that night catch a moonbeam as it entered through the grating, and,
when he had whetted it on the iron knobs of his door, would do
wonders with it. In the next page was found a melancholy proof of
powerful but prostrated intellect. It contained some insane lines,
ascribed to Lee the dramatic poet, commencing,


"O that my lungs could bleat like buttered pease," &c.


There is no proof whatever that these miserable lines were really
written by Lee, except that the measure is the fashionable quatrain
of the period. It is singular that Stanton read on without
suspicion of his own danger, quite absorbed in the album of a
madhouse, without ever reflecting on the place where he was, and
which such compositions too manifestly designated.

It was after a long interval that he looked round, and perceived
that his companion was gone. Bells were unusual then. He
proceeded to the door,--it was fastened. He called aloud,--his
voice was echoed in a moment by many others, but in tones so wild
and discordant, that he desisted in involuntary terror. As the day
advanced, and no one approached, he tried the window, and then
perceived for the first time it was grated. It looked out on the
narrow flagged yard, in which no human being was; and if there had,
from such a being no human feeling could have been extracted.

Sickening with unspeakable horror, he sunk rather than sat down
beside the miserable window, and "wished for day."

. . . . .

At midnight he started from a doze, half a swoon, half a sleep,
which probably the hardness of his seat, and of the deal table on
which he leaned, had not contributed to prolong.

He was in complete darkness; the horror of his situation struck him
at once, and for a moment he was indeed almost qualified for an
inmate of that dreadful mansion. He felt his way to the door,
shook it with desperate strength, and uttered the most frightful
cries, mixed with expostulations and commands. His cries were in a
moment echoed by a hundred voices. In maniacs there is a peculiar
malignity, accompanied by an extraordinary acuteness of some of the
senses, particularly in distinguishing the voice of a stranger.
The cries that he heard on every side seemed like a wild and
infernal yell of joy, that their mansion of misery had obtained
another tenant.

He paused, exhausted,--a quick and thundering step was heard in the
passage. The door was opened, and a man of savage appearance stood
at the entrance,--two more were seen indistinctly in the passage.
"Release me, villain!"--"Stop, my fine fellow, what's all this
noise for?" "Where am I?" "Where you ought to be." "Will you
dare to detain me?"--"Yes, and a little more than that," answered
the ruffian, applying a loaded horsewhip to his back and shoulders,
till the patient soon fell to the ground convulsed with rage and
pain. "Now you see you are where you ought to be," repeated the
ruffian, brandishing the horsewhip over him, "and now take the
advice of a friend, and make no more noise. The lads are ready for
you with the darbies, and they'll clink them on in the crack of
this whip, unless you prefer another touch of it first." They then
were advancing into the room as he spoke, with fetters in their
hands (strait waistcoats being then little known or used), and
showed, by their frightful countenances and gestures, no
unwillingness to apply them. Their harsh rattle on the stone
pavement made Stanton's blood run cold; the effect, however, was
useful. He had the presence of mind to acknowledge his (supposed)
miserable condition, to supplicate the forbearance of the ruthless
keeper, and promise complete submission to his orders. This
pacified the ruffian, and he retired.

Stanton collected all his resolution to encounter the horrible
night; he saw all that was before him, and summoned himself to meet
it. After much agitated deliberation, he conceived it best to
continue the same appearance of submission and tranquillity, hoping
that thus he might in time either propitiate the wretches in whose
hands he was, or, by his apparent inoffensiveness, procure such
opportunities of indulgence, as might perhaps ultimately facilitate
his escape. He therefore determined to conduct himself with the
utmost tranquillity, and never to let his voice be heard in the
house; and he laid down several other resolutions with a degree of
prudence which he already shuddered to think might be the cunning
of incipient madness, or the beginning result of the horrid habits
of the place.

These resolutions were put to desperate trial that very night.
Just next to Stanton's apartment were lodged two most uncongenial
neighbors. One of them was a puritanical weaver, who had been
driven mad by a single sermon from the celebrated Hugh Peters, and
was sent to the madhouse as full of election and reprobation as he
could hold,--and fuller. He regularly repeated over the five
points while daylight lasted, and imagined himself preaching in a
conventicle with distinguished success; toward twilight his visions
were more gloomy, and at midnight his blasphemies became horrible.
In the opposite cell was lodged a loyalist tailor, who had been
ruined by giving credit to the cavaliers and their ladies,--(for at
this time, and much later, down to the reign of Anne, tailors were
employed by females even to make and fit on their stays),--who had
run mad with drink and loyalty on the burning of the Rump, and ever
since had made the cells of the madhouse echo with fragments of the
ill-fated Colonel Lovelace's song, scraps from Cowley's "Cutter of
Coleman street," and some curious specimens from Mrs. Aphra Behn's
plays, where the cavaliers are denominated the heroicks, and Lady
Lambert and Lady Desborough represented as going to meeting, their
large Bibles carried before them by their pages, and falling in
love with two banished cavaliers by the way. The voice in which he
shrieked out such words was powerfully horrible, but it was like
the moan of an infant compared to the voice which took up and
reechoed the cry, in a tone that made the building shake. It was
the voice of a maniac, who had lost her husband, children,
subsistence, and finally her reason, in the dreadful fire of
London. The cry of fire never failed to operate with terrible
punctuality on her associations. She had been in a disturbed
sleep, and now started from it as suddenly as on that dreadful
night. It was Saturday night too, and she was always observed to
be particularly violent on that night,--it was the terrible weekly
festival of insanity with her. She was awake, and busy in a moment
escaping from the flames; and she dramatized the whole scene with
such hideous fidelity, that Stanton's resolution was far more in
danger from her than from the battle between his neighbors
Testimony and Hothead. She began exclaiming she was suffocated by
the smoke; then she sprung from her bed, calling for a light, and
appeared to be struck by the sudden glare that burst through her
casement.--"The last day," she shrieked, "The last day! The very
heavens are on fire!"--"That will not come till the Man of Sin be
first destroyed," cried the weaver; "thou ravest of light and fire,
and yet thou art in utter darkness.--I pity thee, poor mad soul, I
pity thee!" The maniac never heeded him; she appeared to be
scrambling up a staircase to her children's room. She exclaimed
she was scorched, singed, suffocated; her courage appeared to fail,
and she retreated. "But my children are there!" she cried in a
voice of unspeakable agony, as she seemed to make another effort;
"here I am--here I am come to save you.--Oh God! They are all
blazing!--Take this arm--no, not that, it is scorched and disabled--
well, any arm--take hold of my clothes--no, they are blazing too!--
Well, take me all on fire as I am!--And their hair, how it
hisses!--Water, one drop of water for my youngest--he is but an
infant--for my youngest, and let me burn!" She paused in horrid
silence, to watch the fall of a blazing rafter that was about to
shatter the staircase on which she stood.--"The roof has fallen on
my head!" she exclaimed. "The earth is weak, and all the
inhabitants thereof," chanted the weaver; "I bear up the pillars of
it."

The maniac marked the destruction of the spot where she thought she
stood by one desperate bound, accompanied by a wild shriek, and
then calmly gazed on her infants as they rolled over the scorching
fragments, and sunk into the abyss of fire below. "There they go,--
one--two--three--all!" and her voice sunk into low mutterings, and
her convulsions into faint, cold shudderings, like the sobbings of
a spent storm, as she imagined herself to "stand in safety and
despair," amid the thousand houseless wretches assembled in the
suburbs of London on the





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Previous: Introduction To Melmoth The Wanderer



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