Wieland's Madness





[As the story opens, the narratress, Clara Wieland, is entering

upon the happy realization of her love for Henry Pleyel, closest

friend of her brother "Wieland."



Their woodland home, Mettingen, on the banks of the then remote

Schuylkill, is the abode of music, letters and thorough culture.

The peace of high thinking and simple outdoor life hovers over

all.]





One sunny afternoon I was standing in the door of my house, when I

marked a person passing close to the edge of the bank that was in

front. His pace was a careless and lingering one, and had none of

that gracefulness and ease which distinguish a person with certain

advantages of education from a clown. His gait was rustic and

awkward. His form was ungainly and disproportioned. Shoulders

broad and square, breast sunken, his head drooping, his body of

uniform breadth, supported by long and lank legs, were the

ingredients of his frame. His garb was not ill adapted to such a

figure. A slouched hat, tarnished by the weather, a coat of thick

gray cloth, cut and wrought, as it seemed, by a country tailor,

blue worsted stockings, and shoes fastened by thongs and deeply

discolored by dust, which brush had never disturbed, constituted

his dress.



There was nothing remarkable in these appearances: they were

frequently to be met with on the road and in the harvest-field. I

cannot tell why I gazed upon them, on this occasion, with more than

ordinary attention, unless it were that such figures were seldom

seen by me except on the road or field. This lawn was only

traversed by men whose views were directed to the pleasures of the

walk or the grandeur of the scenery.



He passed slowly along, frequently pausing, as if to examine the

prospect more deliberately, but never turning his eye toward the

house, so as to allow me a view of his countenance. Presently he

entered a copse at a small distance, and disappeared. My eye

followed him while he remained in sight. If his image remained for

any duration in my fancy after his departure, it was because no

other object occurred sufficient to expel it.



I continued in the same spot for half an hour, vaguely, and by

fits, contemplating the image of this wanderer, and drawing from

outward appearances those inferences, with respect to the

intellectual history of this person, which experience affords us.

I reflected on the alliance which commonly subsists between

ignorance and the practice of agriculture, and indulged myself in

airy speculations as to the influence of progressive knowledge in

dissolving this alliance and embodying the dreams of the poets. I

asked why the plow and the hoe might not become the trade of every

human being, and how this trade might be made conducive to, or at

least consistent with, the acquisition of wisdom and eloquence.



Weary with these reflections, I returned to the kitchen to perform

some household office. I had usually but one servant, and she was

a girl about my own age. I was busy near the chimney, and she was

employed near the door of the apartment, when some one knocked.

The door was opened by her, and she was immediately addressed with,

"Prythee, good girl, canst thou supply a thirsty man with a glass

of buttermilk?" She answered that there was none in the house.

"Aye, but there is some in the dairy yonder. Thou knowest as well

as I, though Hermes never taught thee, that, though every dairy be

a house, every house is not a dairy." To this speech, though she

understood only a part of it, she replied by repeating her

assurances that she had none to give. "Well, then," rejoined the

stranger, "for charity's sweet sake, hand me forth a cup of cold

water." The girl said she would go to the spring and fetch it.

"Nay, give me the cup, and suffer me to help myself. Neither

manacled nor lame, I should merit burial in the maw of carrion

crows if I laid this task upon thee." She gave him the cup, and he

turned to go to the spring.



I listened to this dialogue in silence. The words uttered by the

person without affected me as somewhat singular; but what chiefly

rendered them remarkable was the tone that accompanied them. It

was wholly new. My brother's voice and Pleyel's were musical and

energetic. I had fondly imagined that, in this respect, they were

surpassed by none. Now my mistake was detected. I cannot pretend

to communicate the impression that was made upon me by these

accents, or to depict the degree in which force and sweetness were

blended in them. They were articulated with a distinctness that

was unexampled in my experience. But this was not all. The voice

was not only mellifluent and clear, but the emphasis was so just,

and the modulation so impassioned, that it seemed as if a heart of

stone could not fail of being moved by it. It imparted to me an

emotion altogether involuntary and uncontrollable. When he uttered

the words, "for charity's sweet sake," I dropped the cloth that I

held in my hand; my heart overflowed with sympathy and my eyes with

unbidden tears.



This description will appear to you trifling or incredible. The

importance of these circumstances will be manifested in the sequel.

The manner in which I was affected on this occasion was, to my own

apprehension, a subject of astonishment. The tones were indeed

such as I never heard before; but that they should in an instant,

as it were, dissolve me in tears, will not easily be believed by

others, and can scarcely be comprehended by myself.



It will be readily supposed that I was somewhat inquisitive as to

the person and demeanor of our visitant. After a moment's pause, I

stepped to the door and looked after him. Judge my surprise when I

beheld the selfsame figure that had appeared a half-hour before

upon the bank. My fancy had conjured up a very different image. A

form and attitude and garb were instantly created worthy to

accompany such elocution; but this person was, in all visible

respects, the reverse of this phantom. Strange as it may seem, I

could not speedily reconcile myself to this disappointment.

Instead of returning to my employment, I threw myself in a chair

that was placed opposite the door, and sunk into a fit of musing.



My attention was in a few minutes recalled by the stranger, who

returned with the empty cup in his hand. I had not thought of the

circumstance, or should certainly have chosen a different seat. He

no sooner showed himself, than a confused sense of impropriety,

added to the suddenness of the interview, for which, not having

foreseen it, I had made no preparation, threw me into a state of

the most painful embarrassment. He brought with him a placid brow;

but no sooner had he cast his eyes upon me than his face was as

glowingly suffused as my own. He placed the cup upon the bench,

stammered out thanks, and retired.



It was some time before I could recover my wonted composure. I had

snatched a view of the stranger's countenance. The impression that

it made was vivid and indelible. His cheeks were pallid and lank,

his eyes sunken, his forehead overshadowed by coarse straggling

hairs, his teeth large and irregular, though sound and brilliantly

white, and his chin discolored by a tetter. His skin was of coarse

grain and sallow hue. Every feature was wide of beauty, and the

outline of his face reminded you of an inverted cone.



And yet his forehead, so far as shaggy locks would allow it to be

seen, his eyes lustrously black, and possessing, in the midst of

haggardness, a radiance inexpressibly serene and potent, and

something in the rest of his features which it would be in vain to

describe, but which served to betoken a mind of the highest order,

were essential ingredients in the portrait. This, in the effects

which immediately flowed from it, I count among the most

extraordinary incidents of my life. This face, seen for a moment,

continued for hours to occupy my fancy, to the exclusion of almost

every other image. I had proposed to spend the evening with my

brother; but I could not resist the inclination of forming a sketch

upon paper of this memorable visage. Whether my hand was aided by

any peculiar inspiration, or I was deceived by my own fond

conceptions, this portrait, though hastily executed, appeared

unexceptionable to my own taste.



I placed it at all distances and in all lights; my eyes were

riveted upon it. Half the night passed away in wakefulness and in

contemplation of this picture. So flexible, and yet so stubborn,

is the human mind! So obedient to impulses the most transient and

brief, and yet so unalterably observant of the direction which is

given to it! How little did I then foresee the termination of that

chain of which this may be regarded as the first link!



Next day arose in darkness and storm. Torrents of rain fell during

the whole day, attended with incessant thunder, which reverberated

in stunning echoes from the opposite declivity. The inclemency of

the air would not allow me to walk out. I had, indeed, no

inclination to leave my apartment. I betook myself to the

contemplation of this portrait, whose attractions time had rather

enhanced than diminished. I laid aside my usual occupations, and,

seating myself at a window, consumed the day in alternately looking

out upon the storm and gazing at the picture which lay upon a table

before me. You will perhaps deem this conduct somewhat singular,

and ascribe it to certain peculiarities of temper. I am not aware

of any such peculiarities. I can account for my devotion to this

image no otherwise than by supposing that its properties were rare

and prodigious. Perhaps you will suspect that such were the first

inroads of a passion incident to every female heart, and which

frequently gains a footing by means even more slight and more

improbable than these. I shall not controvert the reasonableness

of the suspicion, but leave you at liberty to draw from my

narrative what conclusions you please.



Night at length returned, and the storm ceased. The air was once

more clear and calm, and bore an affecting contrast to that uproar

of the elements by which it had been preceded. I spent the

darksome hours, as I spent the day, contemplative and seated at the

window. Why was my mind absorbed in thoughts ominous and dreary?

Why did my bosom heave with sighs and my eyes overflow with tears?

Was the tempest that had just passed a signal of the ruin which

impended over me? My soul fondly dwelt upon the images of my

brother and his children; yet they only increased the mournfulness

of my contemplations. The smiles of the charming babes were as

bland as formerly. The same dignity sat on the brow of their

father, and yet I thought of them with anguish. Something

whispered that the happiness we at present enjoyed was set on

mutable foundations. Death must happen to all. Whether our

felicity was to be subverted by it to-morrow, or whether it was

ordained that we should lay down our heads full of years and of

honor, was a question that no human being could solve. At other

times these ideas seldom intruded. I either forbore to reflect

upon the destiny that is reserved for all men, or the reflection

was mixed up with images that disrobed it of terror; but now the

uncertainty of life occurred to me without any of its usual and

alleviating accompaniments. I said to myself, We must die. Sooner

or later, we must disappear forever from the face of the earth.

Whatever be the links that hold us to life, they must be broken.

This scene of existence is, in all its parts, calamitous. The

greater number is oppressed with immediate evils, and those the

tide of whose fortunes is full, how small is their portion of

enjoyment, since they know that it will terminate!



For some time I indulged myself, without reluctance, in these

gloomy thoughts; but at length the delection which they produced

became insupportably painful. I endeavored to dissipate it with

music. I had all my grandfather's melody as well as poetry by

rote. I now lighted by chance on a ballad which commemorated the

fate of a German cavalier who fell at the siege of Nice under

Godfrey of Bouillon. My choice was unfortunate; for the scenes of

violence and carnage which were here wildly but forcibly portrayed

only suggested to my thoughts a new topic in the horrors of war.



I sought refuge, but ineffectually, in sleep. My mind was thronged

by vivid but confused images, and no effort that I made was

sufficient to drive them away. In this situation I heard the

clock, which hung in the room, give the signal for twelve. It was

the same instrument which formerly hung in my father's chamber, and

which, on account of its being his workmanship, was regarded by

everyone of our family with veneration. It had fallen to me in the

division of his property, and was placed in this asylum. The sound

awakened a series of reflections respecting his death. I was not

allowed to pursue them; for scarcely had the vibrations ceased,

when my attention was attracted by a whisper, which, at first,

appeared to proceed from lips that were laid close to my ear.



No wonder that a circumstance like this startled me. In the first

impulse of my terror, I uttered a slight scream and shrunk to the

opposite side of the bed. In a moment, however, I recovered from

my trepidation. I was habitually indifferent to all the causes of

fear by which the majority are afflicted. I entertained no

apprehension of either ghosts or robbers. Our security had never

been molested by either, and I made use of no means to prevent or

counterwork their machinations. My tranquillity on this occasion

was quickly retrieved. The whisper evidently proceeded from one

who was posted at my bedside. The first idea that suggested itself

was that it was uttered by the girl who lived with me as a servant.

Perhaps somewhat had alarmed her, or she was sick, and had come to

request my assistance. By whispering in my ear she intended to

rouse without alarming me.



Full of this persuasion, I called, "Judith, is it you? What do you

want? Is there anything the matter with you?" No answer was

returned. I repeated my inquiry, but equally in vain. Cloudy as

was the atmosphere, and curtained as my bed was, nothing was

visible. I withdrew the curtain, and, leaning my head on my elbow,

I listened with the deepest attention to catch some new sound.

Meanwhile, I ran over in my thoughts every circumstance that could

assist my conjectures.



My habitation was a wooden edifice, consisting of two stories. In

each story were two rooms, separated by an entry, or middle

passage, with which they communicated by opposite doors. The

passage on the lower story had doors at the two ends, and a

staircase. Windows answered to the doors on the upper story.

Annexed to this, on the eastern side, were wings, divided in like

manner into an upper and lower room; one of them comprised a

kitchen, and chamber above it for the servant, and communicated on

both stories with the parlor adjoining it below and the chamber

adjoining it above. The opposite wing is of smaller dimensions,

the rooms not being above eight feet square. The lower of these

was used as a depository of household implements; the upper was a

closet in which I deposited my books and papers. They had but one

inlet, which was from the room adjoining. There was no window in

the lower one, and in the upper a small aperture which communicated

light and air, but would scarcely admit the body. The door which

led into this was close to my bed head, and was always locked but

when I myself was within. The avenues below were accustomed to be

closed and bolted at nights.



The maid was my only companion; and she could not reach my chamber

without previously passing through the opposite chamber and the

middle passage, of which, however, the doors were usually

unfastened. If she had occasioned this noise, she would have

answered my repeated calls. No other conclusion, therefore, was

left me, but that I had mistaken the sounds, and that my

imagination had transformed some casual noise into the voice of a

human creature. Satisfied with this solution, I was preparing to

relinquish my listening attitude, when my ear was again saluted

with a new and yet louder whispering. It appeared, as before, to

issue from lips that touched my pillow. A second effort of

attention, however, clearly showed me that the sounds issued from

within the closet, the door of which was not more than eight inches

from my pillow.



This second interruption occasioned a shock less vehement than the

former. I started, but gave no audible token of alarm. I was so

much mistress of my feelings as to continue listening to what

should be said. The whisper was distinct, hoarse, and uttered so

as to show that the speaker was desirous of being heard by some one

near, but, at the same time, studious to avoid being overheard by

any other:--



"Stop! stop, I say, madman as you are! there are better means than

that. Curse upon your rashness! There is no need to shoot."



Such were the words uttered, in a tone of eagerness and anger,

within so small a distance of my pillow. What construction could I

put upon them? My heart began to palpitate with dread of some

unknown danger. Presently, another voice, but equally near me, was

heard whispering in answer, "Why not? I will draw a trigger in

this business; but perdition be my lot if I do more!" To this the

first voice returned, in a tone which rage had heightened in a

small degree above a whisper, "Coward! stand aside, and see me do

it. I will grasp her throat; I will do her business in an instant;

she shall not have time so much as to groan." What wonder that I

was petrified by sounds so dreadful! Murderers lurked in my

closet. They were planning the means of my destruction. One

resolved to shoot, and the other menaced suffocation. Their means

being chosen, they would forthwith break the door. Flight

instantly suggested itself as most eligible in circumstances so

perilous. I deliberated not a moment; but, fear adding wings to my

speed, I leaped out of bed, and, scantily robed as I was, rushed

out of the chamber, downstairs, and into the open air. I can

hardly recollect the process of turning keys and withdrawing bolts.

My terrors urged me forward with almost a mechanical impulse. I

stopped not till I reached my brother's door. I had not gained the

threshold, when, exhausted by the violence of my emotions and by my

speed, I sunk down in a fit.



How long I remained in this situation I know not. When I

recovered, I found myself stretched on a bed, surrounded by my

sister and her female servants. I was astonished at the scene

before me, but gradually recovered the recollection of what had

happened. I answered their importunate inquiries as well as I was

able. My brother and Pleyel, whom the storm of the preceding day

chanced to detain here, informing themselves of every particular,

proceeded with lights and weapons to my deserted habitation. They

entered my chamber and my closet, and found everything in its

proper place and customary order. The door of the closet was

locked, and appeared not to have been opened in my absence. They

went to Judith's apartment. They found her asleep and in safety.

Pleyel's caution induced him to forbear alarming the girl; and,

finding her wholly ignorant of what had passed, they directed her

to return to her chamber. They then fastened the doors and

returned.



My friends were disposed to regard this transaction as a dream.

That persons should be actually immured in this closet, to which,

in the circumstances of the time, access from without or within was

apparently impossible, they could not seriously believe. That any

human beings had intended murder, unless it were to cover a scheme

of pillage, was incredible; but that no such design had been formed

was evident from the security in which the furniture of the house

and the closet remained.



I revolved every incident and expression that had occurred. My

senses assured me of the truth of them; and yet their abruptness

and improbability made me, in my turn, somewhat incredulous. The

adventure had made a deep impression on my fancy; and it was not

till after a week's abode at my brother's that I resolved to resume

the possession of my own dwelling.



There was another circumstance that enhanced the mysteriousness of

this event. After my recovery, it was obvious to inquire by what

means the attention of the family had been drawn to my situation.

I had fallen before I had reached the threshold or was able to give

any signal. My brother related that, while this was transacting in

my chamber, he himself was awake, in consequence of some slight

indisposition, and lay, according to his custom, musing on some

favorite topic. Suddenly the silence, which was remarkably

profound, was broken by a voice of most piercing shrillness, that

seemed to be uttered by one in the hall below his chamber. "Awake!

arise!" it exclaimed; "hasten to succor one that is dying at your

door!"



This summons was effectual. There was no one in the house who was

not roused by it. Pleyel was the first to obey, and my brother

overtook him before he reached the hall. What was the general

astonishment when your friend was discovered stretched upon the

grass before the door, pale, ghastly, and with every mark of death!



But how was I to regard this midnight conversation? Hoarse and

manlike voices conferring on the means of death, so near my bed,

and at such an hour! How had my ancient security vanished! That

dwelling which had hitherto been an inviolate asylum was now beset

with danger to my life. That solitude formerly so dear to me could

no longer be endured. Pleyel, who had consented to reside with us

during the months of spring, lodged in the vacant chamber, in order

to quiet my alarms. He treated my fears with ridicule, and in a

short time very slight traces of them remained; but, as it was

wholly indifferent to him whether his nights were passed at my

house or at my brother's, this arrangement gave general

satisfaction.





II





I will enumerate the various inquiries and conjectures which these

incidents occasioned. After all our efforts, we came no nearer to

dispelling the mist in which they were involved; and time, instead

of facilitating a solution, only accumulated our doubts.



In the midst of thoughts excited by these events, I was not

unmindful of my interview with the stranger. I related the

particulars, and showed the portrait to my friends. Pleyel

recollected to have met with a figure resembling my description in

the city; but neither his face or garb made the same impression

upon him that it made upon me. It was a hint to rally me upon my

prepossessions, and to amuse us with a thousand ludicrous anecdotes

which he had collected in his travels. He made no scruple to

charge me with being in love; and threatened to inform the swain,

when he met him, of his good fortune.



Pleyel's temper made him susceptible of no durable impressions.

His conversation was occasionally visited by gleams of his ancient

vivacity; but, though his impetuosity was sometimes inconvenient,

there was nothing to dread from his malice. I had no fear that my

character or dignity would suffer in his hands, and was not

heartily displeased when he declared his intention of profiting by

his first meeting with the stranger to introduce him to our

acquaintance.



Some weeks after this I had spent a toilsome day, and, as the sun

declined, found myself disposed to seek relief in a walk. The

river bank is, at this part of it and for some considerable space

upward, so rugged and steep as not to be easily descended. In a

recess of this declivity, near the southern verge of my little

demesne, was placed a slight building, with seats and lattices.

From a crevice of the rock to which this edifice was attached there

burst forth a stream of the purest water, which, leaping from ledge

to ledge for the space of sixty feet, produced a freshness in the

air, and a murmur, the most delicious and soothing imaginable.

These, added to the odors of the cedars which embowered it, and of

the honeysuckle which clustered among the lattices, rendered this

my favorite retreat in summer.



On this occasion I repaired hither. My spirits drooped through the

fatigue of long attention, and I threw myself upon a bench, in a

state, both mentally and personally, of the utmost supineness. The

lulling sounds of the waterfall, the fragrance, and the dusk,

combined to becalm my spirits, and, in a short time, to sink me

into sleep. Either the uneasiness of my posture, or some slight

indisposition, molested my repose with dreams of no cheerful hue.

After various incoherences had taken their turn to occupy my fancy,

I at length imagined myself walking, in the evening twilight, to my

brother's habitation. A pit, methought, had been dug in the path I

had taken, of which I was not aware. As I carelessly pursued my

walk, I thought I saw my brother standing at some distance before

me, beckoning and calling me to make haste. He stood on the

opposite edge of the gulf. I mended my pace, and one step more

would have plunged me into this abyss, had not some one from behind

caught suddenly my arm, and exclaimed, in a voice of eagerness and

terror, "Hold! hold!"



The sound broke my sleep, and I found myself, at the next moment,

standing on my feet, and surrounded by the deepest darkness.

Images so terrific and forcible disabled me for a time from

distinguishing between sleep and wakefulness, and withheld from me

the knowledge of my actual condition. My first panic was succeeded

by the perturbations of surprise to find myself alone in the open

air and immersed in so deep a gloom. I slowly recollected the

incidents of the afternoon, and how I came hither. I could not

estimate the time, but saw the propriety of returning with speed to

the house. My faculties were still too confused, and the darkness

too intense, to allow me immediately to find my way up the steep.

I sat down, therefore, to recover myself, and to reflect upon my

situation.



This was no sooner done, than a low voice was heard from behind the

lattice, on the side where I sat. Between the rock and the lattice

was a chasm not wide enough to admit a human body; yet in this

chasm he that spoke appeared to be stationed. "Attend! attend! but

be not terrified."



I started, and exclaimed, "Good heavens! what is that? Who are

you?"



"A friend; one come not to injure but to save you: fear nothing."



This voice was immediately recognized to be the same with one of

those which I had heard in the closet; it was the voice of him who

had proposed to shoot rather than to strangle his victim. My

terror made me at once mute and motionless. He continued, "I

leagued to murder you. I repent. Mark my bidding, and be safe.

Avoid this spot. The snares of death encompass it. Elsewhere

danger will be distant; but this spot, shun it as you value your

life. Mark me further: profit by this warning, but divulge it not.

If a syllable of what has passed escape you, your doom is sealed.

Remember your father, and be faithful."



Here the accents ceased, and left me overwhelmed with dismay. I

was fraught with the persuasion that during every moment I remained

here my life was endangered; but I could not take a step without

hazard of falling to the bottom of the precipice. The path leading

to the summit was short, but rugged and intricate. Even starlight

was excluded by the umbrage, and not the faintest gleam was

afforded to guide my steps. What should I do? To depart or remain

was equally and eminently perilous.



In this state of uncertainty, I perceived a ray flit across the

gloom and disappear. Another succeeded, which was stronger, and

remained for a passing moment. It glittered on the shrubs that

were scattered at the entrance, and gleam continued to succeed

gleam for a few seconds, till they finally gave place to

unintermitted darkness.



The first visitings of this light called up a train of horrors in

my mind; destruction impended over this spot; the voice which I had

lately heard had warned me to retire, and had menaced me with the

fate of my father if I refused. I was desirous, but unable to

obey; these gleams were such as preluded the stroke by which he

fell; the hour, perhaps, was the same. I shuddered as if I had

beheld suspended over me the exterminating sword.



Presently a new and stronger illumination burst through the lattice

on the right hand, and a voice from the edge of the precipice above

called out my name. It was Pleyel. Joyfully did I recognize his

accents; but such was the tumult of my thoughts that I had not

power to answer him till he had frequently repeated his summons. I

hurried at length from the fatal spot, and, directed by the lantern

which he bore, ascended the hill.



Pale and breathless, it was with difficulty I could support myself.

He anxiously inquired into the cause of my affright and the motive

of my unusual absence. He had returned from my brother's at a late

hour, and was informed by Judith that I had walked out before

sunset and had not yet returned. This intelligence was somewhat

alarming. He waited some time; but, my absence continuing, he had

set out in search of me. He had explored the neighborhood with the

utmost care, but, receiving no tidings of me, he was preparing to

acquaint my brother with this circumstance, when he recollected the

summer-house on the bank, and conceived it possible that some

accident had detained me there. He again inquired into the cause

of this detention, and of that confusion and dismay which my looks

testified.



I told him that I had strolled hither in the afternoon, that sleep

had overtaken me as I sat, and that I had awakened a few minutes

before his arrival. I could tell him no more. In the present

impetuosity of my thoughts, I was almost dubious whether the pit

into which my brother had endeavored to entice me, and the voice

that talked through the lattice, were not parts of the same dream.

I remembered, likewise, the charge of secrecy, and the penalty

denounced if I should rashly divulge what I had heard. For these

reasons I was silent on that subject, and, shutting myself in my

chamber, delivered myself up to contemplation.



What I have related will, no doubt, appear to you a fable. You

will believe that calamity has subverted my reason, and that I am

amusing you with the chimeras of my brain instead of facts that

have really happened. I shall not be surprised or offended if

these be your suspicions. I know not, indeed, how you can deny

them admission. For, if to me, the immediate witness, they were

fertile of perplexity and doubt, how must they affect another to

whom they are recommended only by my testimony? It was only by

subsequent events that I was fully and incontestably assured of the

veracity of my senses.



Meanwhile, what was I to think? I had been assured that a design

had been formed against my life. The ruffians had leagued to

murder me. Whom had I offended? Who was there, with whom I had

ever maintained intercourse, who was capable of harboring such

atrocious purposes?



My temper was the reverse of cruel and imperious. My heart was

touched with sympathy for the children of misfortune. But this

sympathy was not a barren sentiment. My purse, scanty as it was,

was ever open, and my hands ever active, to relieve distress. Many

were the wretches whom my personal exertions had extricated from

want and disease, and who rewarded me with their gratitude. There

was no face which lowered at my approach, and no lips which uttered

imprecations in my hearing. On the contrary, there was none, over

whose fate I had exerted any influence or to whom I was known by

reputation, who did not greet me with smiles and dismiss me with

proofs of veneration: yet did not my senses assure me that a plot

was laid against my life?



I am not destitute of courage. I have shown myself deliberative

and calm in the midst of peril. I have hazarded my own life for

the preservation of another; but now was I confused and panic-

struck. I have not lived so as to fear death; yet to perish by an

unseen and secret stroke, to be mangled by the knife of an

assassin, was a thought at which I shuddered: what had I done to

deserve to be made the victim of malignant passions?



But soft! was I not assured that my life was safe in all places but

one? And why was the treason limited to take effect in this spot?

I was everywhere equally defenseless. My house and chamber were at

all times accessible. Danger still impended over me; the bloody

purpose was still entertained, but the hand that was to execute it

was powerless in all places but one!



Here I had remained for the last four or five hours, without the

means of resistance or defense; yet I had not been attacked. A

human being was at hand, who was conscious of my presence, and

warned me hereafter to avoid this retreat. His voice was not

absolutely new, but had I never heard it but once before? But why

did he prohibit me from relating this incident to others, and what

species of death will be awarded if I disobey?



Such were the reflections that haunted me during the night, and

which effectually deprived me of sleep. Next morning, at

breakfast, Pleyel related an event which my disappearance had

hindered him from mentioning the night before. Early the preceding

morning, his occasions called him to the city: he had stepped into

a coffee-house to while away an hour; here he had met a person

whose appearance instantly bespoke him to be the same whose hasty

visit I have mentioned, and whose extraordinary visage and tones

had so powerfully affected me. On an attentive survey, however, he

proved, likewise, to be one with whom my friend had had some

intercourse in Europe. This authorized the liberty of accosting

him, and after some conversation, mindful, as Pleyel said, of the

footing which this stranger had gained in my heart, he had ventured

to invite him to Mettingen. The invitation had been cheerfully

accepted, and a visit promised on the afternoon of the next day.



This information excited no sober emotions in my breast. I was, of

course, eager to be informed as to the circumstances of their

ancient intercourse. When and where had they met? What knew he of

the life and character of this man?



In answer to my inquiries, he informed me that, three years before,

he was a traveler in Spain. He had made an excursion from Valencia

to Murviedro, with a view to inspect the remains of Roman

magnificence scattered in the environs of that town. While

traversing the site of the theater of old Saguntum, he alighted

upon this man, seated on a stone, and deeply engaged in perusing

the work of the deacon Marti. A short conversation ensued, which

proved the stranger to be English. They returned to Valencia

together.



His garb, aspect, and deportment were wholly Spanish. A residence

of three years in the country, indefatigable attention to the

language, and a studious conformity with the customs of the people,

had made him indistinguishable from a native when he chose to

assume that character. Pleyel found him to be connected, on the

footing of friendship and respect, with many eminent merchants in

that city. He had embraced the Catholic religion, and adopted a

Spanish name instead of his own, which was CARWIN, and devoted

himself to the literature and religion of his new country. He

pursued no profession, but subsisted on remittances from England.



While Pleyel remained in Valencia, Carwin betrayed no aversion to

intercourse, and the former found no small attractions in the

society of this new acquaintance, On general topics he was highly

intelligent and communicative. He had visited every corner of

Spain, and could furnish the most accurate details respecting its

ancient and present state. On topics of religion and of his own

history, previous to his TRANSFORMATION into a Spaniard, he was

invariably silent. You could merely gather from his discourse that

he was English, and that he was well acquainted with the

neighboring countries.



His character excited considerable curiosity in the observer. It

was not easy to reconcile his conversion to the Romish faith with

those proofs of knowledge and capacity that were exhibited by him

on different occasions. A suspicion was sometimes admitted that

his belief was counterfeited for some political purpose. The most

careful observation, however, produced no discovery. His manners

were at all times harmless and inartificial, and his habits those

of a lover of contemplation and seclusion. He appeared to have

contracted an affection for Pleyel, who was not slow to return it.



My friend, after a month's residence in this city, returned into

France, and, since that period, had heard nothing concerning Carwin

till his appearance at Mettingen.



On this occasion Carwin had received Pleyel's greeting with a

certain distance and solemnity to which the latter had not been

accustomed. He had waived noticing the inquiries of Pleyel

respecting his desertion of Spain, in which he had formerly

declared that it was his purpose to spend his life. He had

assiduously diverted the attention of the latter to indifferent

topics, but was still, on every theme, as eloquent and judicious as

formerly. Why he had assumed the garb of a rustic Pleyel was

unable to conjecture. Perhaps it might be poverty; perhaps he was

swayed by motives which it was his interest to conceal, but which

were connected with consequences of the utmost moment.



Such was the sum of my friend's information. I was not sorry to be

left alone during the greater part of this day. Every employment

was irksome which did not leave me at liberty to meditate. I had

now a new subject on which to exercise my thoughts. Before evening

I should be ushered into his presence, and listen to those tones

whose magical and thrilling power I had already experienced. But

with what new images would he then be accompanied?



Carwin was an adherent to the Romish faith, yet was an Englishman

by birth, and, perhaps, a Protestant by education. He had adopted

Spain for his country, and had intimated a design to spend his days

there, yet now was an inhabitant of this district, and disguised by

the habiliments of a clown! What could have obliterated the

impressions of his youth and made him abjure his religion and his

country? What subsequent events had introduced so total a change

in his plans? In withdrawing from Spain, had he reverted to the

religion of his ancestors? or was it true that his former

conversion was deceitful, and that his conduct had been swayed by

motives which it was prudent to conceal?



Hours were consumed in revolving these ideas. My meditations were

intense; and, when the series was broken, I began to reflect with

astonishment on my situation. From the death of my parents till

the commencement of this year my life had been serene and blissful

beyond the ordinary portion of humanity; but now my bosom was

corroded by anxiety. I was visited by dread of unknown dangers,

and the future was a scene over which clouds rolled and thunders

muttered. I compared the cause with the effect, and they seemed

disproportioned to each other. All unaware, and in a manner which

I had no power to explain, I was pushed from my immovable and lofty

station and cast upon a sea of troubles.



I determined to be my brother's visitant on this evening; yet my

resolves were not unattended with wavering and reluctance.

Pleyel's insinuations that I was in love affected in no degree my

belief; yet the consciousness that this was the opinion of one who

would probably be present at our introduction to each other would

excite all that confusion which the passion itself is apt to

produce. This would confirm him in his error and call forth new

railleries. His mirth, when exerted upon this topic, was the

source of the bitterest vexation. Had he been aware of its

influence upon my happiness, his temper would not have allowed him

to persist; but this influence it was my chief endeavor to conceal.

That the belief of my having bestowed my heart upon another

produced in my friend none but ludicrous sensations was the true

cause of my distress; but if this had been discovered by him my

distress would have been unspeakably aggravated.





III





As soon as evening arrived, I performed my visit. Carwin made one

of the company into which I was ushered. Appearances were the same

as when I before beheld him. His garb was equally negligent and

rustic. I gazed upon his countenance with new curiosity. My

situation was such as to enable me to bestow upon it a deliberate

examination. Viewed at more leisure, it lost none of its wonderful

properties. I could not deny my homage to the intelligence

expressed in it, but was wholly uncertain whether he were an object

to be dreaded or adored, and whether his powers had been exerted to

evil or to good.



He was sparing in discourse; but whatever he said was pregnant with

meaning, and uttered with rectitude of articulation and force of

emphasis of which I had entertained no conception previously to my

knowledge of him. Notwithstanding the uncouthness of his garb, his

manners were not unpolished. All topics were handled by him with

skill, and without pedantry or affectation. He uttered no

sentiment calculated to produce a disadvantageous impression; on

the contrary, his observations denoted a mind alive to every

generous and heroic feeling. They were introduced without parade,

and accompanied with that degree of earnestness which indicates

sincerity.



He parted from us not till late, refusing an invitation to spend

the night here, but readily consented to repeat his visit. His

visits were frequently repeated. Each day introduced us to a more

intimate acquaintance with his sentiments, but left us wholly in

the dark concerning that about which we were most inquisitive. He

studiously avoided all mention of his past or present situation.

Even the place of his abode in the city he concealed from us.



Our sphere in this respect being somewhat limited, and the

intellectual endowments of this man being indisputably great, his

deportment was more diligently marked and copiously commented on by

us than you, perhaps, will think the circumstances warranted. Not

a gesture, or glance, or accent, that was not, in our private

assemblies, discussed, and inferences deduced from it. It may well

be thought that he modeled his behavior by an uncommon standard,

when, with all our opportunities and accuracy of observation, we

were able for a long time to gather no satisfactory information.

He afforded us no ground on which to build even a plausible

conjecture.



There is a degree of familiarity which takes place between constant

associates, that justifies the negligence of many rules of which,

in an earlier period of their intercourse, politeness requires the

exact observance. Inquiries into our condition are allowable when

they are prompted by a disinterested concern for our welfare; and

this solicitude is not only pardonable, but may justly be demanded

from those who choose us for their companions. This state of

things was more slow to arrive at on this occasion than on most

others, on account of the gravity and loftiness of this man's

behavior.



Pleyel, however, began at length to employ regular means for this

end. He occasionally alluded to the circumstances in which they

had formerly met, and remarked the incongruousness between the

religion and habits of a Spaniard with those of a native of

Britain. He expressed his astonishment at meeting our guest in

this corner of the globe, especially as, when they parted in Spain,

he was taught to believe that Carwin should never leave that

country. He insinuated that a change so great must have been

prompted by motives of a singular and momentous kind.



No answer, or an answer wide of the purpose, was generally made to

these insinuations. Britons and Spaniards, he said, are votaries

of the same Deity, and square their faith by the same precepts;

their ideas are drawn from the same fountains of literature, and

they speak dialects of the same tongue; their government and laws

have more resemblances than differences; they were formerly

provinces of the same civil, and, till lately, of the same

religious, empire.



As to the motives which induce men to change the place of their

abode, these must unavoidably be fleeting and mutable. If not

bound to one spot by conjugal or parental ties, or by the nature of

that employment to which we are indebted for subsistence, the

inducements to change are far more numerous and powerful than

opposite inducements.



He spoke as if desirous of showing that he was not aware of the

tendency of Pleyel's remarks; yet certain tokens were apparent that

proved him by no means wanting in penetration. These tokens were

to be read in his countenance, and not in his words. When anything

was said indicating curiosity in us, the gloom of his countenance

was deepened, his eyes sunk to the ground, and his wonted air was

not resumed without visible struggle. Hence, it was obvious to

infer that some incidents of his life were reflected on by him with

regret; and that, since these incidents were carefully concealed,

and even that regret which flowed from them laboriously stifled,

they had not been merely disastrous. The secrecy that was observed

appeared not designed to provoke or baffle the inquisitive, but was

prompted by the shame or by the prudence of guilt.



These ideas, which were adopted by Pleyel and my brother as well as

myself, hindered us from employing more direct means for

accomplishing our wishes. Questions might have been put in such

terms that no room should be left for the pretense of misapprehension;

and, if modesty merely had been the obstacle, such questions would

not have been wanting; but we considered that, if the disclosure

were productive of pain or disgrace, it was inhuman to extort it.



Amidst the various topics that were discussed in his presence,

allusions were, of course, made to the inexplicable events that had

lately happened. At those times the words and looks of this man

were objects of my particular attention. The subject was

extraordinary; and anyone whose experience or reflections could

throw any light upon it was entitled to my gratitude. As this man

was enlightened by reading and travel, I listened with eagerness to

the remarks which he should make.



At first I entertained a kind of apprehension that the tale would

be heard by him with incredulity and secret ridicule. I had

formerly heard stories that resembled this in some of their

mysterious circumstances; but they were commonly heard by me with

contempt. I was doubtful whether the same impression would not now

be made on the mind of our guest; but I was mistaken in my fears.



He heard them with seriousness, and without any marks either of

surprise or incredulity. He pursued with visible pleasure that

kind of disquisition which was naturally suggested by them. His

fancy was eminently vigorous and prolific; and, if he did not

persuade us that human beings are sometimes admitted to a sensible

intercourse with the Author of nature, he at least won over our

inclination to the cause. He merely deduced, from his own

reasonings, that such intercourse was probable, but confessed that,

though he was acquainted with many instances somewhat similar to

those which had been related by us, none of them were perfectly

exempted from the suspicion of human agency.



On being requested to relate these instances, he amused us with

many curious details. His narratives were constructed with so much

skill, and rehearsed with so much energy, that all the effects of a

dramatic exhibition were frequently produced by them. Those that

were most coherent and most minute, and, of consequence, least

entitled to credit, were yet rendered probable by the exquisite art

of this rhetorician. For every difficulty that was suggested a

ready and plausible solution was furnished. Mysterious voices had

always a share in producing the catastrophe; but they were always

to be explained on some known principles, either as reflected into

a focus or communicated through a tube. I could not but remark

that his narratives, however complex or marvelous, contained no

instance sufficiently parallel to those that had befallen

ourselves, and in which the solution was applicable to our own

case.



My brother was a much more sanguine reasoner than our guest. Even

in some of the facts which were related by Carwin, he maintained

the probability of celestial interference, when the latter was

disposed to deny it, and had found, as he imagined, footsteps of a

human agent. Pleyel was by no means equally credulous. He

scrupled not to deny faith to any testimony but that of his senses,

and allowed the facts which had lately been supported by this

testimony not to mold his belief, but merely to give birth to

doubts.



It was soon observed that Carwin adopted, in some degree, a similar

distinction. A tale of this kind, related by others, he would

believe, provided it was explicable upon known principles; but that

such notices were actually communicated by beings of a higher order

he would believe only when his own ears were assailed in a manner

which could not be otherwise accounted for. Civility forbade him

to contradict my brother or myself, but his understanding refused

to acquiesce in our testimony. Besides, he was disposed to

question whether the voices were not really uttered by human

organs. On this supposition he was desired to explain how the

effect was produced.



He answered that the cry for help, heard in the hall on the night

of my adventure, was to be ascribed to a human creature, who

actually stood in the hall when he uttered it. It was of no

moment, he said, that we could not explain by what motives he that

made the signal was led hither. How imperfectly acquainted were we

with the condition and designs of the beings that surrounded us!

The city was near at hand, and thousands might there exist whose

powers and purposes might easily explain whatever was mysterious in

this transaction. As to the closet dialogue, he was obliged to

adopt one of two suppositions, and affirm either that it was

fashioned in my own fancy, or that it actually took place between

two persons in the closet.



Such was Carwin's mode of explaining these appearances. It is

such, perhaps, as would commend itself as most plausible to the

most sagacious minds; but it was insufficient to impart conviction

to us. As to the treason that was meditated against me, it was

doubtless just to conclude that it was either real or imaginary;

but that it was real was attested by the mysterious warning in the

summer-house, the secret of which I had hitherto locked up in my

own breast.



A month passed away in this kind of intercourse. As to Carwin, our

ignorance was in no degree enlightened respecting his genuine

character and views. Appearances were uniform. No man possessed a

larger store of knowledge, or a greater degree of skill in the

communication of it to others; hence he was regarded as an

inestimable addition to our society. Considering the distance of

my brother's house from the city, he was frequently prevailed upon

to pass the night where he spent the evening. Two days seldom

elapsed without a visit from him; hence he was regarded as a kind

of inmate of the house. He entered and departed without ceremony.

When he arrived he received an unaffected welcome, and when he

chose to retire no importunities were used to induce him to remain.



Carwin never parted with his gravity. The inscrutableness of his

character, and the uncertainty whether his fellowship tended to

good or to evil, were seldom absent from our minds. This

circumstance powerfully contributed to sadden us.



My heart was the seat of growing disquietudes. This change in one

who had formerly been characterized by all the exuberances of soul

could not fail to be remarked by my friends. My brother was always

a pattern of solemnity. My sister was clay, molded by the

circumstances in which she happened to be placed. There was but

one whose deportment remains to be described as being of importance

to our happiness. Had Pleyel likewise dismissed his vivacity?



He was as whimsical and jestful as ever, but he was not happy. The

truth in this respect was of too much importance to me not to make

me a vigilant observer. His mirth was easily perceived to be the

fruit of exertion. When his thoughts wandered from the company, an

air of dissatisfaction and impatience stole across his features.

Even the punctuality and frequency of his visits were somewhat

lessened. It may be supposed that my own uneasiness was heightened

by these tokens; but, strange as it may seem, I found, in the

present state of my mind, no relief but in the persuasion that

Pleyel was unhappy.



That unhappiness, indeed, depended for its value in my eyes on the

cause that produced it. There was but one source whence it could

flow. A nameless ecstasy thrilled through my frame when any new

proof occurred that the ambiguousness of my behavior was the cause.





IV





My brother had received a new book from Germany. It was a tragedy,

and the first attempt of a Saxon poet of whom my brother had been

taught to entertain the highest expectations. The exploits of

Zisca, the Bohemian hero, were woven into a dramatic series and

connection. According to German custom, it was minute and diffuse,

and dictated by an adventurous and lawless fancy. It was a chain

of audacious acts and unheard-of disasters. The moated fortress

and the thicket, the ambush and the battle, and the conflict of

headlong passions, were portrayed in wild numbers and with terrific

energy. An afternoon was set apart to rehearse this performance.

The language was familiar to all of us but Carwin, whose company,

therefore, was tacitly dispensed with.



The morning previous to this intended rehearsal I spent at home.

My mind was occupied with reflections relative to my own situation.

The sentiment which lived with chief energy in my heart was

connected with the image of Pleyel. In the midst of my anguish, I

had not been destitute of consolation. His late deportment had

given spring to my hopes. Was not the hour at hand which should

render me the happiest of human creatures? He suspected that I

looked with favorable eyes upon Carwin. Hence arose disquietudes

which he struggled in vain to conceal. He loved me, but was

hopeless that his love would be compensated. Is it not time, said

I, to rectify this error? But by what means is this to be



effected? It can only be done by a change of deportment in me; but

how must I demean myself for this purpose?



I must not speak. Neither eyes nor lips must impart the

information. He must not be assured that my heart is his, previous

to the tender of his own; but he must be convinced that it has not

been given to another; he must be supplied with space whereon to

build a doubt as to the true state of my affections; he must be

prompted to avow himself. The line of delicate propriety,--how

hard it is not to fall short, and not to overleap it!



This afternoon we shall meet. . . . We shall not separate till

late. It will be his province to accompany me home. The airy

expanse is without a speck. This breeze is usually steadfast, and

its promise of a bland and cloudless evening may be trusted. The

moon will rise at eleven, and at that hour we shall wind along this

bank. Possibly that hour may decide my fate. If suitable

encouragement be given, Pleyel will reveal his soul to me; and I,

ere I reach this threshold, will be made the happiest of beings.



And is this good to be mine? Add wings to thy speed, sweet

evening; and thou, moon, I charge thee, shroud thy beams at the

moment when my Pleyel whispers love. I would not for the world

that the burning blushes and the mounting raptures of that moment

should be visible.



But what encouragement is wanting? I must be regardful of

insurmountable limits. Yet, when minds are imbued with a genuine

sympathy, are not words and looks superfluous? Are not motion and

touch sufficient to impart feelings such as mine? Has he not eyed

me at moments when the pressure of his hand has thrown me into

tumults, and was it impossible that he mistook the impetuosities of

love for the eloquence of indignation?



But the hastening evening will decide. Would it were come! And

yet I shudder at its near approach. An interview that must thus

terminate is surely to be wished for by me; and yet it is not

without its terrors. Would to heaven it were come and gone!



I feel no reluctance, my friends, to be thus explicit. Time was,

when these emotions would be hidden with immeasurable solicitude

from every human eye. Alas! these airy and fleeting impulses of

shame are gone. My scruples were preposterous and criminal. They

are bred in all hearts by a perverse and vicious education, and

they would still have maintained their place in my heart, had not

my portion been set in misery. My errors have taught me thus much

wisdom:--that those sentiments which we ought not to disclose it is

criminal to harbor.



It was proposed to begin the rehearsal at four o'clock. I counted

the minutes as they passed; their flight was at once too rapid and

too slow: my sensations were of an excruciating kind; I could taste

no food, nor apply to any task, nor enjoy a moment's repose; when

the hour arrived I hastened to my brother's.



Pleyel was not there. He had not yet come. On ordinary occasions

he was eminent for punctuality. He had testified great eagerness

to share in the pleasures of this rehearsal. He was to divide the

task with my brother, and in tasks like these he always engaged

with peculiar zeal. His elocution was less sweet than sonorous,

and, therefore, better adapted than the mellifluences of his friend

to the outrageous vehemence of this drama.



What could detain him? Perhaps he lingered through forgetfulness.

Yet this was incredible. Never had his memory been known to fail

upon even more trivial occasions. Not less impossible was it that

the scheme had lost its attractions, and that he stayed because his

coming would afford him no gratification. But why should we expect

him to adhere to the minute?



A half-hour elapsed, but Pleyel was still at a distance. Perhaps

he had misunderstood the hour which had been proposed. Perhaps he

had conceived that to-morrow, and not to-day, had been selected for

this purpose; but no. A review of preceding circumstances

demonstrated that such misapprehension was impossible; for he had

himself proposed this day, and this hour. This day his attention

would not otherwise be occupied; but to-morrow an indispensable

engagement was foreseen, by which all his time would be engrossed;

his detention, therefore, must be owing to some unforeseen and

extraordinary event. Our conjectures were vague, tumultuous, and

sometimes fearful. His sickness and his death might possibly have

detained him.



Tortured with suspense, we sat gazing at each other, and at the

path which led from the road. Every horseman that passed was, for

a moment, imagined to be him. Hour succeeded hour, and the sun,

gradually declining, at length disappeared. Every signal of his

coming proved fallacious, and our hopes were at length dismissed.

His absence affected my friends in no insupportable degree. They

should be obliged, they said, to defer this undertaking till the

morrow; and perhaps their impatient curiosity would compel them to

dispense entirely with his presence. No doubt some harmless

occurrence had diverted him from his purpose; and they trusted that

they should receive a satisfactory account of him in the morning.



It may be supposed that this disappointment affected me in a very

different manner. I turned aside my head to conceal my tears. I

fled into solitude, to give vent to my reproaches without

interruption or restraint. My heart was ready to burst with

indignation and grief. Pleyel was not the only object of my keen

but unjust upbraiding. Deeply did I execrate my own folly. Thus

fallen into ruins was the gay fabric which I had reared! Thus had

my golden vision melted into air!



How fondly did I dream that Pleyel was a lover! If he were, would

he have suffered any obstacle to hinder his coming? "Blind and

infatuated man!" I exclaimed. "Thou sportest with happiness. The

good that is offered thee thou hast the insolence and folly to

refuse. Well, I will henceforth intrust my felicity to no one's

keeping but my own."



The first agonies of this disappointment would not allow me to be

reasonable or just. Every ground on which I had built the

persuasion that Pleyel was not unimpressed in my favor appeared to

vanish. It seemed as if I had been misled into this opinion by the

most palpable illusions.



I made some trifling excuse, and returned, much earlier than I

expected, to my own house. I retired early to my chamber, without

designing to sleep. I placed myself at a window, and gave the

reins to reflection.



The hateful and degrading impulses which had lately controlled me

were, in some degree, removed. New dejection succeeded, but was

now produced by contemplating my late behavior. Surely that

passion is worthy to be abhorred which obscures our understanding

and urges us to the commission of injustice. What right had I to

expect his attendance? Had I not demeaned myself like one

indifferent to his happiness, and as having bestowed my regards

upon another? His absence might be prompted by the love which I

considered his absence as a proof that he wanted. He came not

because the sight of me, the spectacle of my coldness or aversion,

contributed to his despair. Why should I prolong, by hypocrisy or

silence, his misery as well as my own? Why not deal with him

explicitly, and assure him of the truth?



You will hardly believe that, in obedience to this suggestion, I

rose for the purpose of ordering a light, that I might instantly

make this confession in a letter. A second thought showed me the

rashness of this scheme, and I wondered by what infirmity of mind I

could be betrayed into a momentary approbation of it. I saw with

the utmost clearness that a confession like that would be the most

remediless and unpardonable outrage upon the dignity of my sex, and

utterly unworthy of that passion which controlled me.



I resumed my seat and my musing. To account for the absence of

Pleyel became once more the scope of my conjectures. How many

incidents might occur to raise an insuperable impediment in his

way! When I was a child, a scheme of pleasure, in which he and his

sister were parties, had been in like manner frustrated by his

absence; but his absence, in that instance, had been occasioned by

his falling from a boat into the river, in consequence of which he

had run the most imminent hazard of being drowned. Here was a

second disappointment endured by the same persons, and produced by

his failure. Might it not originate in the same cause? Had he not

designed to cross the river that morning to make some necessary

purchases in New Jersey? He had preconcerted to return to his own

house to dinner but perhaps some disaster had befallen him.

Experience had taught me the insecurity of a canoe, and that was

the only kind of boat which Pleyel used; I was, likewise, actuated

by an hereditary dread of water. These circumstances combined to

bestow considerable plausibility on this conjecture; but the

consternation with which I began to be seized was allayed by

reflecting that, if this disaster had happened, my brother would

have received the speediest information of it. The consolation

which this idea imparted was ravished from me by a new thought.

This disaster might have happened, and his family not be apprised

of it. The first intelligence of his fate may be communicated by

the livid corpse which the tide may cast, many days hence, upon the

shore.



Thus was I distressed by opposite conjectures; thus was I tormented

by phantoms of my own creation. It was not always thus. I can

ascertain the date when my mind became the victim of t





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