The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Part 2 out of 5

terrible distress from difficulty of respiration, and bitterly did I
repent the negligence or rather fool-hardiness, of which I had been
guilty, of putting off to the last moment a matter of so much
importance. But having at length accomplished it, I soon began to
reap the benefit of my invention. Once again I breathed with perfect
freedom and ease -- and indeed why should I not? I was also agreeably
surprised to find myself, in a great measure, relieved from the
violent pains which had hitherto tormented me. A slight headache,
accompanied with a sensation of fulness or distention about the
wrists, the ankles, and the throat, was nearly all of which I had now
to complain. Thus it seemed evident that a greater part of the
uneasiness attending the removal of atmospheric pressure had actually
worn off, as I had expected, and that much of the pain endured for
the last two hours should have been attributed altogether to the
effects of a deficient respiration.

"At twenty minutes before nine o'clock -- that is to say, a short
time prior to my closing up the mouth of the chamber, the mercury
attained its limit, or ran down, in the barometer, which, as I
mentioned before, was one of an extended construction. It then
indicated an altitude on my part of 132,000 feet, or five-and-twenty
miles, and I consequently surveyed at that time an extent of the
earth's area amounting to no less than the three
hundred-and-twentieth part of its entire superficies. At nine o'clock
I had again lost sight of land to the eastward, but not before I
became aware that the balloon was drifting rapidly to the N. N. W.
The convexity of the ocean beneath me was very evident indeed,
although my view was often interrupted by the masses of cloud which
floated to and fro. I observed now that even the lightest vapors
never rose to more than ten miles above the level of the sea.

"At half past nine I tried the experiment of throwing out a handful
of feathers through the valve. They did not float as I had expected;
but dropped down perpendicularly, like a bullet, en masse, and with
the greatest velocity -- being out of sight in a very few seconds. I
did not at first know what to make of this extraordinary phenomenon;
not being able to believe that my rate of ascent had, of a sudden,
met with so prodigious an acceleration. But it soon occurred to me
that the atmosphere was now far too rare to sustain even the
feathers; that they actually fell, as they appeared to do, with great
rapidity; and that I had been surprised by the united velocities of
their descent and my own elevation.

"By ten o'clock I found that I had very little to occupy my immediate
attention. Affairs went swimmingly, and I believed the balloon to be
going upward witb a speed increasing momently although I had no
longer any means of ascertaining the progression of the increase. I
suffered no pain or uneasiness of any kind, and enjoyed better
spirits than I had at any period since my departure from Rotterdam,
busying myself now in examining the state of my various apparatus,
and now in regenerating the atmosphere within the chamber. This
latter point I determined to attend to at regular intervals of forty
minutes, more on account of the preservation of my health, than from
so frequent a renovation being absolutely necessary. In the meanwhile
I could not help making anticipations. Fancy revelled in the wild and
dreamy regions of the moon. Imagination, feeling herself for once
unshackled, roamed at will among the ever-changing wonders of a
shadowy and unstable land. Now there were boary and time-honored
forests, and craggy precipices, and waterfalls tumbling with a loud
noise into abysses without a bottom. Then I came suddenly into still
noonday solitudes, where no wind of heaven ever intruded, and where
vast meadows of poppies, and slender, lily-looking flowers spread
themselves out a weary distance, all silent and motionless forever.
Then again I journeyed far down away into another country where it
was all one dim and vague lake, with a boundary line of clouds. And
out of this melancholy water arose a forest of tall eastern trees,
like a wilderness of dreams. And I have in mind that the shadows of
the trees which fell upon the lake remained not on the surface where
they fell, but sunk slowly and steadily down, and commingled with the
waves, while from the trunks of the trees other shadows were
continually coming out, and taking the place of their brothers thus
entombed. "This then," I said thoughtfully, "is the very reason why
the waters of this lake grow blacker with age, and more melancholy as
the hours run on." But fancies such as these were not the sole
possessors of my brain. Horrors of a nature most stern and most
appalling would too frequently obtrude themselves upon my mind, and
shake the innermost depths of my soul with the bare supposition of
their possibility. Yet I would not suffer my thoughts for any length
of time to dwell upon these latter speculations, rightly judging the
real and palpable dangers of the voyage sufficient for my undivided

"At five o'clock, p.m., being engaged in regenerating the atmosphere
within the chamber, I took that opportunity of observing the cat and
kittens through the valve. The cat herself appeared to suffer again
very much, and I had no hesitation in attributing her uneasiness
chiefly to a difficulty in breathing; but my experiment with the
kittens had resulted very strangely. I had expected, of course, to
see them betray a sense of pain, although in a less degree than their
mother, and this would have been sufficient to confirm my opinion
concerning the habitual endurance of atmospheric pressure. But I was
not prepared to find them, upon close examination, evidently enjoying
a high degree of health, breathing with the greatest ease and perfect
regularity, and evincing not the slightest sign of any uneasiness
whatever. I could only account for all this by extending my theory,
and supposing that the highly rarefied atmosphere around might
perhaps not be, as I had taken for granted, chemically insufficient
for the purposes of life, and that a person born in such a medium
might, possibly, be unaware of any inconvenience attending its
inhalation, while, upon removal to the denser strata near the earth,
he might endure tortures of a similar nature to those I had so lately
experienced. It has since been to me a matter of deep regret that an
awkward accident, at this time, occasioned me the loss of my little
family of cats, and deprived me of the insight into this matter which
a continued experiment might have afforded. In passing my hand
through the valve, with a cup of water for the old puss, the sleeves
of my shirt became entangled in the loop which sustained the basket,
and thus, in a moment, loosened it from the bottom. Had the whole
actually vanished into air, it could not have shot from my sight in a
more abrupt and instantaneous manner. Positively, there could not
have intervened the tenth part of a second between the disengagement
of the basket and its absolute and total disappearance with all that
it contained. My good wishes followed it to the earth, but of course,
I had no hope that either cat or kittens would ever live to tell the
tale of their misfortune.

"At six o'clock, I perceived a great portion of the earth's visible
area to the eastward involved in thick shadow, which continued to
advance with great rapidity, until, at five minutes before seven, the
whole surface in view was enveloped in the darkness of night. It was
not, however, until long after this time that the rays of the setting
sun ceased to illumine the balloon; and this circumstance, although
of course fully anticipated, did not fail to give me an infinite deal
of pleasure. It was evident that, in the morning, I should behold the
rising luminary many hours at least before the citizens of Rotterdam,
in spite of their situation so much farther to the eastward, and
thus, day after day, in proportion to the height ascended, would I
enjoy the light of the sun for a longer and a longer period. I now
determined to keep a journal of my passage, reckoning the days from
one to twenty-four hours continuously, without taking into
consideration the intervals of darkness.

"At ten o'clock, feeling sleepy, I determined to lie down for the
rest of the night; but here a difficulty presented itself, which,
obvious as it may appear, had escaped my attention up to the very
moment of which I am now speaking. If I went to sleep as I proposed,
how could the atmosphere in the chamber be regenerated in the
interim? To breathe it for more than an hour, at the farthest, would
be a matter of impossibility, or, if even this term could be extended
to an hour and a quarter, the most ruinous consequences might ensue.
The consideration of this dilemma gave me no little disquietude; and
it will hardly be believed, that, after the dangers I had undergone,
I should look upon this business in so serious a light, as to give up
all hope of accomplishing my ultimate design, and finally make up my
mind to the necessity of a descent. But this hesitation was only
momentary. I reflected that man is the veriest slave of custom, and
that many points in the routine of his existence are deemed
essentially important, which are only so at all by his having
rendered them habitual. It was very certain that I could not do
without sleep; but I might easily bring myself to feel no
inconvenience from being awakened at intervals of an hour during the
whole period of my repose. It would require but five minutes at most
to regenerate the atmosphere in the fullest manner, and the only real
difficulty was to contrive a method of arousing myself at the proper
moment for so doing. But this was a question which, I am willing to
confess, occasioned me no little trouble in its solution. To be sure,
I had heard of the student who, to prevent his falling asleep over
his books, held in one hand a ball of copper, the din of whose
descent into a basin of the same metal on the floor beside his chair,
served effectually to startle him up, if, at any moment, he should be
overcome with drowsiness. My own case, however, was very different
indeed, and left me no room for any similar idea; for I did not wish
to keep awake, but to be aroused from slumber at regular intervals of
time. I at length hit upon the following expedient, which, simple as
it may seem, was hailed by me, at the moment of discovery, as an
invention fully equal to that of the telescope, the steam-engine, or
the art of printing itself.

"It is necessary to premise, that the balloon, at the elevation now
attained, continued its course upward with an even and undeviating
ascent, and the car consequently followed with a steadiness so
perfect that it would have been impossible to detect in it the
slightest vacillation whatever. This circumstance favored me greatly
in the project I now determined to adopt. My supply of water had been
put on board in kegs containing five gallons each, and ranged very
securely around the interior of the car. I unfastened one of these,
and taking two ropes tied them tightly across the rim of the
wicker-work from one side to the other; placing them about a foot
apart and parallel so as to form a kind of shelf, upon which I placed
the keg, and steadied it in a horizontal position. About eight inches
immediately below these ropes, and four feet from the bottom of the
car I fastened another shelf -- but made of thin plank, being the
only similar piece of wood I had. Upon this latter shelf, and exactly
beneath one of the rims of the keg, a small earthern pitcher was
deposited. I now bored a hole in the end of the keg over the pitcher,
and fitted in a plug of soft wood, cut in a tapering or conical
shape. This plug I pushed in or pulled out, as might happen, until,
after a few experiments, it arrived at that exact degree of
tightness, at which the water, oozing from the hole, and falling into
the pitcher below, would fill the latter to the brim in the period of
sixty minutes. This, of course, was a matter briefly and easily
ascertained, by noticing the proportion of the pitcher filled in any
given time. Having arranged all this, the rest of the plan is
obvious. My bed was so contrived upon the floor of the car, as to
bring my head, in lying down, immediately below the mouth of the
pitcher. It was evident, that, at the expiration of an hour, the
pitcher, getting full, would be forced to run over, and to run over
at the mouth, which was somewhat lower than the rim. It was also
evident, that the water thus falling from a height of more than four
feet, could not do otherwise than fall upon my face, and that the
sure consequences would be, to waken me up instantaneously, even from
the soundest slumber in the world.

"It was fully eleven by the time I had completed these arrangements,
and I immediately betook myself to bed, with full confidence in the
efficiency of my invention. Nor in this matter was I disappointed.
Punctually every sixty minutes was I aroused by my trusty
chronometer, when, having emptied the pitcher into the bung-hole of
the keg, and performed the duties of the condenser, I retired again
to bed. These regular interruptions to my slumber caused me even less
discomfort than I had anticipated; and when I finally arose for the
day, it was seven o'clock, and the sun had attained many degrees
above the line of my horizon.

"April 3d. I found the balloon at an immense height indeed, and the
earth's apparent convexity increased in a material degree. Below me
in the ocean lay a cluster of black specks, which undoubtedly were
islands. Far away to the northward I perceived a thin, white, and
exceedingly brilliant line, or streak, on the edge of the horizon,
and I had no hesitation in supposing it to be the southern disk of
the ices of the Polar Sea. My curiosity was greatly excited, for I
had hopes of passing on much farther to the north, and might
possibly, at some period, find myself placed directly above the Pole
itself. I now lamented that my great elevation would, in this case,
prevent my taking as accurate a survey as I could wish. Much,
however, might be ascertained. Nothing else of an extraordinary
nature occurred during the day. My apparatus all continued in good
order, and the balloon still ascended without any perceptible
vacillation. The cold was intense, and obliged me to wrap up closely
in an overcoat. When darkness came over the earth, I betook myself to
bed, although it was for many hours afterward broad daylight all
around my immediate situation. The water-clock was punctual in its
duty, and I slept until next morning soundly, with the exception of
the periodical interruption.

"April 4th. Arose in good health and spirits, and was astonished at
the singular change which had taken place in the appearance of the
sea. It had lost, in a great measure, the deep tint of blue it had
hitherto worn, being now of a grayish-white, and of a lustre dazzling
to the eye. The islands were no longer visible; whether they had
passed down the horizon to the southeast, or whether my increasing
elevation had left them out of sight, it is impossible to say. I was
inclined, however, to the latter opinion. The rim of ice to the
northward was growing more and more apparent. Cold by no means so
intense. Nothing of importance occurred, and I passed the day in
reading, having taken care to supply myself with books.

"April 5th. Beheld the singular phenomenon of the sun rising while
nearly the whole visible surface of the earth continued to be
involved in darkness. In time, however, the light spread itself over
all, and I again saw the line of ice to the northward. It was now
very distinct, and appeared of a much darker hue than the waters of
the ocean. I was evidently approaching it, and with great rapidity.
Fancied I could again distinguish a strip of land to the eastward,
and one also to the westward, but could not be certain. Weather
moderate. Nothing of any consequence happened during the day. Went
early to bed.

"April 6th. Was surprised at finding the rim of ice at a very
moderate distance, and an immense field of the same material
stretching away off to the horizon in the north. It was evident that
if the balloon held its present course, it would soon arrive above
the Frozen Ocean, and I had now little doubt of ultimately seeing the
Pole. During the whole of the day I continued to near the ice. Toward
night the limits of my horizon very suddenly and materially
increased, owing undoubtedly to the earth's form being that of an
oblate spheroid, and my arriving above the flattened regions in the
vicinity of the Arctic circle. When darkness at length overtook me, I
went to bed in great anxiety, fearing to pass over the object of so
much curiosity when I should have no opportunity of observing it.

"April 7th. Arose early, and, to my great joy, at length beheld what
there could be no hesitation in supposing the northern Pole itself.
It was there, beyond a doubt, and immediately beneath my feet; but,
alas! I had now ascended to so vast a distance, that nothing could
with accuracy be discerned. Indeed, to judge from the progression of
the numbers indicating my various altitudes, respectively, at
different periods, between six A.M. on the second of April, and
twenty minutes before nine A.M. of the same day (at which time the
barometer ran down), it might be fairly inferred that the balloon had
now, at four o'clock in the morning of April the seventh, reached a
height of not less, certainly, than 7,254 miles above the surface of
the sea. This elevation may appear immense, but the estimate upon
which it is calculated gave a result in all probability far inferior
to the truth. At all events I undoubtedly beheld the whole of the
earth's major diameter; the entire northern hemisphere lay beneath me
like a chart orthographically projected: and the great circle of the
equator itself formed the boundary line of my horizon. Your
Excellencies may, however, readily imagine that the confined regions
hitherto unexplored within the limits of the Arctic circle, although
situated directly beneath me, and therefore seen without any
appearance of being foreshortened, were still, in themselves,
comparatively too diminutive, and at too great a distance from the
point of sight, to admit of any very accurate examination.
Nevertheless, what could be seen was of a nature singular and
exciting. Northwardly from that huge rim before mentioned, and which,
with slight qualification, may be called the limit of human discovery
in these regions, one unbroken, or nearly unbroken, sheet of ice
continues to extend. In the first few degrees of this its progress,
its surface is very sensibly flattened, farther on depressed into a
plane, and finally, becoming not a little concave, it terminates, at
the Pole itself, in a circular centre, sharply defined, wbose
apparent diameter subtended at the balloon an angle of about
sixty-five seconds, and whose dusky hue, varying in intensity, was,
at all times, darker than any other spot upon the visible hemisphere,
and occasionally deepened into the most absolute and impenetrable
blackness. Farther than this, little could be ascertained. By twelve
o'clock the circular centre had materially decreased in
circumference, and by seven P.M. I lost sight of it entirely; the
balloon passing over the western limb of the ice, and floating away
rapidly in the direction of the equator.

"April 8th. Found a sensible diminution in the earth's apparent
diameter, besides a material alteration in its general color and
appearance. The whole visible area partook in different degrees of a
tint of pale yellow, and in some portions had acquired a brilliancy
even painful to the eye. My view downward was also considerably
impeded by the dense atmosphere in the vicinity of the surface being
loaded with clouds, between whose masses I could only now and then
obtain a glimpse of the earth itself. This difficulty of direct
vision had troubled me more or less for the last forty-eight hours;
but my present enormous elevation brought closer together, as it
were, the floating bodies of vapor, and the inconvenience became, of
course, more and more palpable in proportion to my ascent.
Nevertheless, I could easily perceive that the balloon now hovered
above the range of great lakes in the continent of North America, and
was holding a course, due south, which would bring me to the tropics.
This circumstance did not fail to give me the most heartful
satisfaction, and I hailed it as a happy omen of ultimate success.
Indeed, the direction I had hitherto taken, had filled me with
uneasiness; for it was evident that, had I continued it much longer,
there would have been no possibility of my arriving at the moon at
all, whose orbit is inclined to the ecliptic at only the small angle
of 5 degrees 8' 48".

"April 9th. To-day the earth's diameter was greatly diminished, and
the color of the surface assumed hourly a deeper tint of yellow. The
balloon kept steadily on her course to the southward, and arrived, at
nine P.M., over the northern edge of the Mexican Gulf.

"April 10th. I was suddenly aroused from slumber, about five o'clock
this morning, by a loud, crackling, and terrific sound, for which I
could in no manner account. It was of very brief duration, but, while
it lasted resembled nothing in the world of which I had any previous
experience. It is needless to say that I became excessively alarmed,
having, in the first instance, attributed the noise to the bursting
of the balloon. I examined all my apparatus, however, with great
attention, and could discover nothing out of order. Spent a great
part of the day in meditating upon an occurrence so extraordinary,
but could find no means whatever of accounting for it. Went to bed
dissatisfied, and in a state of great anxiety and agitation.

"April 11th. Found a startling diminution in the apparent diameter of
the earth, and a considerable increase, now observable for the first
time, in that of the moon itself, which wanted only a few days of
being full. It now required long and excessive labor to condense
within the chamber sufficient atmospheric air for the sustenance of

"April 12th. A singular alteration took place in regard to the
direction of the balloon, and although fully anticipated, afforded me
the most unequivocal delight. Having reached, in its former course,
about the twentieth parallel of southern latitude, it turned off
suddenly, at an acute angle, to the eastward, and thus proceeded
throughout the day, keeping nearly, if not altogether, in the exact
plane of the lunar elipse. What was worthy of remark, a very
perceptible vacillation in the car was a consequence of this change
of route -- a vacillation which prevailed, in a more or less degree,
for a period of many hours.

"April 13th. Was again very much alarmed by a repetition of the loud,
crackling noise which terrified me on the tenth. Thought long upon
the subject, but was unable to form any satisfactory conclusion.
Great decrease in the earth's apparent diameter, which now subtended
from the balloon an angle of very little more than twenty-five
degrees. The moon could not be seen at all, being nearly in my
zenith. I still continued in the plane of the elipse, but made little
progress to the eastward.

"April 14th. Extremely rapid decrease in the diameter of the earth.
To-day I became strongly impressed with the idea, that the balloon
was now actually running up the line of apsides to the point of
perigee- in other words, holding the direct course which would bring
it immediately to the moon in that part of its orbit the nearest to
the earth. The moon iself was directly overhead, and consequently
hidden from my view. Great and long-continued labor necessary for the
condensation of the atmosphere.

"April 15th. Not even the outlines of continents and seas could now
be traced upon the earth with anything approaching distinctness.
About twelve o'clock I became aware, for the third time, of that
appalling sound which had so astonished me before. It now, however,
continued for some moments, and gathered intensity as it continued.
At length, while, stupefied and terror-stricken, I stood in
expectation of I knew not what hideous destruction, the car vibrated
with excessive violence, and a gigantic and flaming mass of some
material which I could not distinguish, came with a voice of a
thousand thunders, roaring and booming by the balloon. When my fears
and astonishment had in some degree subsided, I had little difficulty
in supposing it to be some mighty volcanic fragment ejected from that
world to which I was so rapidly approaching, and, in all probability,
one of that singular class of substances occasionally picked up on
the earth, and termed meteoric stones for want of a better

"April 16th. To-day, looking upward as well as I could, through each
of the side windows alternately, I beheld, to my great delight, a
very small portion of the moon's disk protruding, as it were, on all
sides beyond the huge circumference of the balloon. My agitation was
extreme; for I had now little doubt of soon reaching the end of my
perilous voyage. Indeed, the labor now required by the condenser had
increased to a most oppressive degree, and allowed me scarcely any
respite from exertion. Sleep was a matter nearly out of the question.
I became quite ill, and my frame trembled with exhaustion. It was
impossible that human nature could endure this state of intense
suffering much longer. During the now brief interval of darkness a
meteoric stone again passed in my vicinity, and the frequency of
these phenomena began to occasion me much apprehension.

"April 17th. This morning proved an epoch in my voyage. It will be
remembered that, on the thirteenth, the earth subtended an angular
breadth of twenty-five degrees. On the fourteenth this had greatly
diminished; on the fifteenth a still more remarkable decrease was
observable; and, on retiring on the night of the sixteenth, I had
noticed an angle of no more than about seven degrees and fifteen
minutes. What, therefore, must have been my amazement, on awakening
from a brief and disturbed slumber, on the morning of this day, the
seventeenth, at finding the surface beneath me so suddenly and
wonderfully augmented in volume, as to subtend no less than
thirty-nine degrees in apparent angular diameter! I was
thunderstruck! No words can give any adequate idea of the extreme,
the absolute horror and astonishment, with which I was seized
possessed, and altogether overwhelmed. My knees tottered beneath me
-- my teeth chattered -- my hair started up on end. "The balloon,
then, had actually burst!" These were the first tumultuous ideas that
hurried through my mind: "The balloon had positively burst! -- I was
falling -- falling with the most impetuous, the most unparalleled
velocity! To judge by the immense distance already so quickly passed
over, it could not be more than ten minutes, at the farthest, before
I should meet the surface of the earth, and be hurled into
annihilation!" But at length reflection came to my relief. I paused;
I considered; and I began to doubt. The matter was impossible. I
could not in any reason have so rapidly come down. Besides, although
I was evidently approaching the surface below me, it was with a speed
by no means commensurate with the velocity I had at first so horribly
conceived. This consideration served to calm the perturbation of my
mind, and I finally succeeded in regarding the phenomenon in its
proper point of view. In fact, amazement must have fairly deprived me
of my senses, when I could not see the vast difference, in
appearance, between the surface below me, and the surface of my
mother earth. The latter was indeed over my head, and completely
hidden by the balloon, while the moon -- the moon itself in all its
glory -- lay beneath me, and at my feet.

"The stupor and surprise produced in my mind by this extraordinary
change in the posture of affairs was perhaps, after all, that part of
the adventure least susceptible of explanation. For the
bouleversement in itself was not only natural and inevitable, but had
been long actually anticipated as a circumstance to be expected
whenever I should arrive at that exact point of my voyage where the
attraction of the planet should be superseded by the attraction of
the satellite -- or, more precisely, where the gravitation of the
balloon toward the earth should be less powerful than its gravitation
toward the moon. To be sure I arose from a sound slumber, with all my
senses in confusion, to the contemplation of a very startling
phenomenon, and one which, although expected, was not expected at the
moment. The revolution itself must, of course, have taken place in an
easy and gradual manner, and it is by no means clear that, had I even
been awake at the time of the occurrence, I should have been made
aware of it by any internal evidence of an inversion -- that is to
say, by any inconvenience or disarrangement, either about my person
or about my apparatus.

"It is almost needless to say that, upon coming to a due sense of my
situation, and emerging from the terror which had absorbed every
faculty of my soul, my attention was, in the first place, wholly
directed to the contemplation of the general physical appearance of
the moon. It lay beneath me like a chart -- and although I judged it
to be still at no inconsiderable distance, the indentures of its
surface were defined to my vision with a most striking and altogether
unaccountable distinctness. The entire absence of ocean or sea, and
indeed of any lake or river, or body of water whatsoever, struck me,
at first glance, as the most extraordinary feature in its geological
condition. Yet, strange to say, I beheld vast level regions of a
character decidedly alluvial, although by far the greater portion of
the hemisphere in sight was covered with innumerable volcanic
mountains, conical in shape, and having more the appearance of
artificial than of natural protuberance. The highest among them does
not exceed three and three-quarter miles in perpendicular elevation;
but a map of the volcanic districts of the Campi Phlegraei would
afford to your Excellencies a better idea of their general surface
than any unworthy description I might think proper to attempt. The
greater part of them were in a state of evident eruption, and gave me
fearfully to understand their fury and their power, by the repeated
thunders of the miscalled meteoric stones, which now rushed upward by
the balloon with a frequency more and more appalling.

"April 18th. To-day I found an enormous increase in the moon's
apparent bulk -- and the evidently accelerated velocity of my descent
began to fill me with alarm. It will be remembered, that, in the
earliest stage of my speculations upon the possibility of a passage
to the moon, the existence, in its vicinity, of an atmosphere, dense
in proportion to the bulk of the planet, had entered largely into my
calculations; this too in spite of many theories to the contrary,
and, it may be added, in spite of a general disbelief in the
existence of any lunar atmosphere at all. But, in addition to what I
have already urged in regard to Encke's comet and the zodiacal light,
I had been strengthened in my opinion by certain observations of Mr.
Schroeter, of Lilienthal. He observed the moon when two days and a
half old, in the evening soon after sunset, before the dark part was
visible, and continued to watch it until it became visible. The two
cusps appeared tapering in a very sharp faint prolongation, each
exhibiting its farthest extremity faintly illuminated by the solar
rays, before any part of the dark hemisphere was visible. Soon
afterward, the whole dark limb became illuminated. This prolongation
of the cusps beyond the semicircle, I thought, must have arisen from
the refraction of the sun's rays by the moon's atmosphere. I
computed, also, the height of the atmosphere (which could refract
light enough into its dark hemisphere to produce a twilight more
luminous than the light reflected from the earth when the moon is
about 32 degrees from the new) to be 1,356 Paris feet; in this view,
I supposed the greatest height capable of refracting the solar ray,
to be 5,376 feet. My ideas on this topic had also received
confirmation by a passage in the eighty-second volume of the
Philosophical Transactions, in which it is stated that at an
occultation of Jupiter's satellites, the third disappeared after
having been about 1" or 2" of time indistinct, and the fourth became
indiscernible near the limb.{*4}

"Cassini frequently observed Saturn, Jupiter, and the fixed stars,
when approaching the moon to occultation, to have their circular
figure changed into an oval one; and, in other occultations, he found
no alteration of figure at all. Hence it might be supposed, that at
some times and not at others, there is a dense matter encompassing
the moon wherein the rays of the stars are refracted.

"Upon the resistance or, more properly, upon the support of an
atmosphere, existing in the state of density imagined, I had, of
course, entirely depended for the safety of my ultimate descent.
Should I then, after all, prove to have been mistaken, I had in
consequence nothing better to expect, as a finale to my adventure,
than being dashed into atoms against the rugged surface of the
satellite. And, indeed, I had now every reason to be terrified. My
distance from the moon was comparatively trifling, while the labor
required by the condenser was diminished not at all, and I could
discover no indication whatever of a decreasing rarity in the air.

"April 19th. This morning, to my great joy, about nine o'clock, the
surface of the moon being frightfully near, and my apprehensions
excited to the utmost, the pump of my condenser at length gave
evident tokens of an alteration in the atmosphere. By ten, I had
reason to believe its density considerably increased. By eleven, very
little labor was necessary at the apparatus; and at twelve o'clock,
with some hesitation, I ventured to unscrew the tourniquet, when,
finding no inconvenience from having done so, I finally threw open
the gum-elastic chamber, and unrigged it from around the car. As
might have been expected, spasms and violent headache were the
immediate consequences of an experiment so precipitate and full of
danger. But these and other difficulties attending respiration, as
they were by no means so great as to put me in peril of my life, I
determined to endure as I best could, in consideration of my leaving
them behind me momently in my approach to the denser strata near the
moon. This approach, however, was still impetuous in the extreme; and
it soon became alarmingly certain that, although I had probably not
been deceived in the expectation of an atmosphere dense in proportion
to the mass of the satellite, still I had been wrong in supposing
this density, even at the surface, at all adequate to the support of
the great weight contained in the car of my balloon. Yet this should
have been the case, and in an equal degree as at the surface of the
earth, the actual gravity of bodies at either planet supposed in the
ratio of the atmospheric condensation. That it was not the case,
however, my precipitous downfall gave testimony enough; why it was
not so, can only be explained by a reference to those possible
geological disturbances to which I have formerly alluded. At all
events I was now close upon the planet, and coming down with the most
terrible impetuosity. I lost not a moment, accordingly, in throwing
overboard first my ballast, then my water-kegs, then my condensing
apparatus and gum-elastic chamber, and finally every article within
the car. But it was all to no purpose. I still fell with horrible
rapidity, and was now not more than half a mile from the surface. As
a last resource, therefore, having got rid of my coat, hat, and
boots, I cut loose from the balloon the car itself, which was of no
inconsiderable weight, and thus, clinging with both hands to the
net-work, I had barely time to observe that the whole country, as far
as the eye could reach, was thickly interspersed with diminutive
habitations, ere I tumbled headlong into the very heart of a
fantastical-looking city, and into the middle of a vast crowd of ugly
little people, who none of them uttered a single syllable, or gave
themselves the least trouble to render me assistance, but stood, like
a parcel of idiots, grinning in a ludicrous manner, and eyeing me and
my balloon askant, with their arms set a-kimbo. I turned from them in
contempt, and, gazing upward at the earth so lately left, and left
perhaps for ever, beheld it like a huge, dull, copper shield, about
two degrees in diameter, fixed immovably in the heavens overhead, and
tipped on one of its edges with a crescent border of the most
brilliant gold. No traces of land or water could be discovered, and
the whole was clouded with variable spots, and belted with tropical
and equatorial zones.

"Thus, may it please your Excellencies, after a series of great
anxieties, unheard of dangers, and unparalleled escapes, I had, at
length, on the nineteenth day of my departure from Rotterdam, arrived
in safety at the conclusion of a voyage undoubtedly the most
extraordinary, and the most momentous, ever accomplished, undertaken,
or conceived by any denizen of earth. But my adventures yet remain to
be related. And indeed your Excellencies may well imagine that, after
a residence of five years upon a planet not only deeply interesting
in its own peculiar character, but rendered doubly so by its intimate
connection, in capacity of satellite, with the world inhabited by
man, I may have intelligence for the private ear of the States'
College of Astronomers of far more importance than the details,
however wonderful, of the mere voyage which so happily concluded.
This is, in fact, the case. I have much -- very much which it would
give me the greatest pleasure to communicate. I have much to say of
the climate of the planet; of its wonderful alternations of heat and
cold, of unmitigated and burning sunshine for one fortnight, and more
than polar frigidity for the next; of a constant transfer of
moisture, by distillation like that in vacuo, from the point beneath
the sun to the point the farthest from it; of a variable zone of
running water, of the people themselves; of their manners, customs,
and political institutions; of their peculiar physical construction;
of their ugliness; of their want of ears, those useless appendages in
an atmosphere so peculiarly modified; of their consequent ignorance
of the use and properties of speech; of their substitute for speech
in a singular method of inter-communication; of the incomprehensible
connection between each particular individual in the moon with some
particular individual on the earth -- a connection analogous with,
and depending upon, that of the orbs of the planet and the
satellites, and by means of which the lives and destinies of the
inhabitants of the one are interwoven with the lives and destinies of
the inhabitants of the other; and above all, if it so please your
Excellencies -- above all, of those dark and hideous mysteries which
lie in the outer regions of the moon -- regions which, owing to the
almost miraculous accordance of the satellite's rotation on its own
axis with its sidereal revolution about the earth, have never yet
been turned, and, by God's mercy, never shall be turned, to the
scrutiny of the telescopes of man. All this, and more- much more --
would I most willingly detail. But, to be brief, I must have my
reward. I am pining for a return to my family and to my home, and as
the price of any farther communication on my part -- in consideration
of the light which I have it in my power to throw upon many very
important branches of physical and metaphysical science -- I must
solicit, through the influence of your honorable body, a pardon for
the crime of which I have been guilty in the death of the creditors
upon my departure from Rotterdam. This, then, is the object of the
present paper. Its bearer, an inhabitant of the moon, whom I have
prevailed upon, and properly instructed, to be my messenger to the
earth, will await your Excellencies' pleasure, and return to me with
the pardon in question, if it can, in any manner, be obtained.

"I have the honor to be, etc., your Excellencies' very humble


Upon finishing the perusal of this very extraordinary document,
Professor Rub-a-dub, it is said, dropped his pipe upon the ground in
the extremity of his surprise, and Mynheer Superbus Von Underduk
having taken off his spectacles, wiped them, and deposited them in
his pocket, so far forgot both himself and his dignity, as to turn
round three times upon his heel in the quintessence of astonishment
and admiration. There was no doubt about the matter -- the pardon
should be obtained. So at least swore, with a round oath, Professor
Rub-a-dub, and so finally thought the illustrious Von Underduk, as he
took the arm of his brother in science, and without saying a word,
began to make the best of his way home to deliberate upon the
measures to be adopted. Having reached the door, however, of the
burgomaster's dwelling, the professor ventured to suggest that as the
messenger had thought proper to disappear -- no doubt frightened to
death by the savage appearance of the burghers of Rotterdam -- the
pardon would be of little use, as no one but a man of the moon would
undertake a voyage to so vast a distance. To the truth of this
observation the burgomaster assented, and the matter was therefore at
an end. Not so, however, rumors and speculations. The letter, having
been published, gave rise to a variety of gossip and opinion. Some of
the over-wise even made themselves ridiculous by decrying the whole
business; as nothing better than a hoax. But hoax, with these sort of
people, is, I believe, a general term for all matters above their
comprehension. For my part, I cannot conceive upon what data they
have founded such an accusation. Let us see what they say:

Imprimus. That certain wags in Rotterdam have certain especial
antipathies to certain burgomasters and astronomers.

Don't understand at all.

Secondly. That an odd little dwarf and bottle conjurer, both of whose
ears, for some misdemeanor, have been cut off close to his head, has
been missing for several days from the neighboring city of Bruges.

Well -- what of that?

Thirdly. That the newspapers which were stuck all over the little
balloon were newspapers of Holland, and therefore could not have been
made in the moon. They were dirty papers -- very dirty -- and Gluck,
the printer, would take his Bible oath to their having been printed
in Rotterdam.

He was mistaken -- undoubtedly -- mistaken.

Fourthly, That Hans Pfaall himself, the druken villain, and the three
very idle gentlemen styled his creditors, were all seen, no longer
than two or three days ago, in a tippling house in the suburbs,
having just returned, with money in their pockets, from a trip beyond
the sea.

Don't believe it -- don't believe a word of it.

Lastly. That it is an opinion very generally received, or which ought
to be generally received, that the College of Astronomers in the city
of Rotterdam, as well as other colleges in all other parts of the
world, -- not to mention colleges and astronomers in general, -- are,
to say the least of the matter, not a whit better, nor greater, nor
wiser than they ought to be.

~~~ End of Text ~~~

Notes to Hans Pfaal

{*1} NOTE--Strictly speaking, there is but little similarity between
the above sketchy trifle and the celebrated "Moon-Story" of Mr.
Locke; but as both have the character of _hoaxes _(although the one
is in a tone of banter, the other of downright earnest), and as both
hoaxes are on the same subject, the moon--moreover, as both attempt
to give plausibility by scientific detail--the author of "Hans
Pfaall" thinks it necessary to say, in _self-defence, _that his own
_jeu d'esprit _was published in the "Southern Literary Messenger"
about three weeks before the commencement of Mr. L's in the "New York
Sun." Fancying a likeness which, perhaps, does not exist, some of the
New York papers copied "Hans Pfaall," and collated it with the
"Moon-Hoax," by way of detecting the writer of the one in the writer
of the other.

As many more persons were actually gulled by the "Moon-Hoax" than
would be willing to acknowledge the fact, it may here afford some
little amusement to show why no one should have been deceived-to
point out those particulars of the story which should have been
sufficient to establish its real character. Indeed, however rich the
imagination displayed in this ingenious fiction, it wanted much of
the force which might have been given it by a more scrupulous
attention to facts and to general analogy. That the public were
misled, even for an instant, merely proves the gross ignorance which
is so generally prevalent upon subjects of an astronomical nature.

The moon's distance from the earth is, in round numbers, 240,000
miles. If we desire to ascertain how near, apparently, a lens would
bring the satellite (or any distant object), we, of course, have but
to divide the distance by the magnifying or, more strictly, by the
space-penetrating power of the glass. Mr. L. makes his lens have a
power of 42,000 times. By this divide 240,000 (the moon's real
distance), and we have five miles and five sevenths, as the apparent
distance. No animal at all could be seen so far; much less the minute
points particularized in the story. Mr. L. speaks about Sir John
Herschel's perceiving flowers (the Papaver rheas, etc.), and even
detecting the color and the shape of the eyes of small birds. Shortly
before, too, he has himself observed that the lens would not render
perceptible objects of less than eighteen inches in diameter; but
even this, as I have said, is giving the glass by far too great
power. It may be observed, in passing, that this prodigious glass is
said to have been molded at the glasshouse of Messrs. Hartley and
Grant, in Dumbarton; but Messrs. H. and G.'s establishment had ceased
operations for many years previous to the publication of the hoax.

On page 13, pamphlet edition, speaking of "a hairy veil" over the
eyes of a species of bison, the author says: "It immediately occurred
to the acute mind of Dr. Herschel that this was a providential
contrivance to protect the eyes of the animal from the great extremes
of light and darkness to which all the inhabitants of our side of the
moon are periodically subjected." But this cannot be thought a very
"acute" observation of the Doctor's. The inhabitants of our side of
the moon have, evidently, no darkness at all, so there can be nothing
of the "extremes" mentioned. In the absence of the sun they have a
light from the earth equal to that of thirteen full unclouded moons.

The topography throughout, even when professing to accord with
Blunt's Lunar Chart, is entirely at variance with that or any other
lunar chart, and even grossly at variance with itself. The points of
the compass, too, are in inextricable confusion; the writer appearing
to be ignorant that, on a lunar map, these are not in accordance with
terrestrial points; the east being to the left, etc.

Deceived, perhaps, by the vague titles, Mare Nubium, Mare
Tranquillitatis, Mare Faecunditatis, etc., given to the dark spots by
former astronomers, Mr. L. has entered into details regarding oceans
and other large bodies of water in the moon; whereas there is no
astronomical point more positively ascertained than that no such
bodies exist there. In examining the boundary between light and
darkness (in the crescent or gibbous moon) where this boundary
crosses any of the dark places, the line of division is found to be
rough and jagged; but, were these dark places liquid, it would
evidently be even.

The description of the wings of the man-bat, on page 21, is but a
literal copy of Peter Wilkins' account of the wings of his flying
islanders. This simple fact should have induced suspicion, at least,
it might be thought.

On page 23, we have the following: "What a prodigious influence must
our thirteen times larger globe have exercised upon this satellite
when an embryo in the womb of time, the passive subject of chemical
affinity!" This is very fine; but it should be observed that no
astronomer would have made such remark, especially to any journal of
Science; for the earth, in the sense intended, is not only thirteen,
but forty-nine times larger than the moon. A similar objection
applies to the whole of the concluding pages, where, by way of
introduction to some discoveries in Saturn, the philosophical
correspondent enters into a minute schoolboy account of that planet
-- this to the "Edinburgh journal of Science!"

But there is one point, in particular, which should have betrayed the
fiction. Let us imagine the power actually possessed of seeing
animals upon the moon's surface -- what would first arrest the
attention of an observer from the earth? Certainly neither their
shape, size, nor any other such peculiarity, so soon as their
remarkable _situation_. They would appear to be walking, with heels
up and head down, in the manner of flies on a ceiling. The _real_
observer would have uttered an instant ejaculation of surprise
(however prepared by previous knowledge) at the singularity of their
position; the _fictitious_ observer has not even mentioned the
subject, but speaks of seeing the entire bodies of such creatures,
when it is demonstrable that he could have seen only the diameter of
their heads!

It might as well be remarked, in conclusion, that the size, and
particularly the powers of the man-bats (for example, their ability
to fly in so rare an atmosphere--if, indeed, the moon have any), with
most of the other fancies in regard to animal and vegetable
existence, are at variance, generally, with all analogical reasoning
on these themes; and that analogy here will often amount to
conclusive demonstration. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary to add,
that all the suggestions attributed to Brewster and Herschel, in the
beginning of the article, about "a transfusion of artificial light
through the focal object of vision," etc., etc., belong to that
species of figurative writing which comes, most properly, under the
denomination of rigmarole.

There is a real and very definite limit to optical discovery among
the stars--a limit whose nature need only be stated to be understood.
If, indeed, the casting of large lenses were all that is required,
man's ingenuity would ultimately prove equal to the task, and we
might have them of any size demanded. But, unhappily, in proportion
to the increase of size in the lens, and consequently of
space-penetrating power, is the diminution of light from the object,
by diffusion of its rays. And for this evil there is no remedy within
human ability; for an object is seen by means of that light alone
which proceeds from itself, whether direct or reflected. Thus the
only "artificial" light which could avail Mr. Locke, would be some
artificial light which he should be able to throw-not upon the "focal
object of vision," but upon the real object to be viewed-to wit: upon
the moon. It has been easily calculated that, when the light
proceeding from a star becomes so diffused as to be as weak as the
natural light proceeding from the whole of the stars, in a clear and
moonless night, then the star is no longer visible for any practical

The Earl of Ross's telescope, lately constructed in England, has a
_speculum_ with a reflecting surface of 4,071 square inches; the
Herschel telescope having one of only 1,811. The metal of the Earl of
Ross's is 6 feet diameter; it is 5 1/2 inches thick at the edges, and
5 at the centre. The weight is 3 tons. The focal length is 50 feet.

I have lately read a singular and somewhat ingenious little book,
whose title-page runs thus: "L'Homme dans la lvne ou le Voyage
Chimerique fait au Monde de la Lvne, nouuellement decouuert par
Dominique Gonzales, Aduanturier Espagnol, autremÚt dit le Courier
volant. Mis en notre langve par J. B. D. A. Paris, chez Francois
Piot, pres la Fontaine de Saint Benoist. Et chez J. Goignard, au
premier pilier de la grand'salle du Palais, proche les Consultations,
MDCXLVII." Pp. 76.

The writer professes to have translated his work from the English of
one Mr. D'Avisson (Davidson?) although there is a terrible ambiguity
in the statement. "J' en ai eu," says he "l'original de Monsieur
D'Avisson, medecin des mieux versez qui soient aujourd'huy dans la
c˛noissance des Belles Lettres, et sur tout de la Philosophic
Naturelle. Je lui ai cette obligation entre les autres, de m' auoir
non seulement mis en main cc Livre en anglois, mais encore le
Manuscrit du Sieur Thomas D'Anan, gentilhomme Eccossois,
recommandable pour sa vertu, sur la version duquel j' advoue que j'
ay tirÚ le plan de la mienne."

After some irrelevant adventures, much in the manner of Gil Blas, and
which occupy the first thirty pages, the author relates that, being
ill during a sea voyage, the crew abandoned him, together with a
negro servant, on the island of St. Helena. To increase the chances
of obtaining food, the two separate, and live as far apart as
possible. This brings about a training of birds, to serve the purpose
of carrier-pigeons between them. By and by these are taught to carry
parcels of some weight-and this weight is gradually increased. At
length the idea is entertained of uniting the force of a great number
of the birds, with a view to raising the author himself. A machine is
contrived for the purpose, and we have a minute description of it,
which is materially helped out by a steel engraving. Here we perceive
the Signor Gonzales, with point ruffles and a huge periwig, seated
astride something which resembles very closely a broomstick, and
borne aloft by a multitude of wild swans _(ganzas) _who had strings
reaching from their tails to the machine.

The main event detailed in the Signor's narrative depends upon a very
important fact, of which the reader is kept in ignorance until near
the end of the book. The _ganzas, _with whom he had become so
familiar, were not really denizens of St. Helena, but of the moon.
Thence it had been their custom, time out of mind, to migrate
annually to some portion of the earth. In proper season, of course,
they would return home; and the author, happening, one day, to
require their services for a short voyage, is unexpectedly carried
straight tip, and in a very brief period arrives at the satellite.
Here he finds, among other odd things, that the people enjoy extreme
happiness; that they have no _law; _that they die without pain; that
they are from ten to thirty feet in height; that they live five
thousand years; that they have an emperor called Irdonozur; and that
they can jump sixty feet high, when, being out of the gravitating
influence, they fly about with fans.

I cannot forbear giving a specimen of the general _philosophy _of the

"I must not forget here, that the stars appeared only on that side of
the globe turned toward the moon, and that the closer they were to it
the larger they seemed. I have also me and the earth. As to the
stars, _since there was no night where I was, they always had the
same appearance; not brilliant, as usual, but pale, and very nearly
like the moon of a morning. _But few of them were visible, and these
ten times larger (as well as I could judge) than they seem to the
inhabitants of the earth. The moon, which wanted two days of being
full, was of a terrible bigness.

"I must not forget here, that the stars appeared only on that side
of the globe turned toward the moon, and that the closer they were to
it the larger they seemed. I have also to inform you that, whether it
was calm weather or stormy, I found myself _always immediately
between the moon and the earth._ I_ _was convinced of this for two
reasons-because my birds always flew in a straight line; and because
whenever we attempted to rest, _we were carried insensibly around the
globe of the earth. _For I admit the opinion of Copernicus, who
maintains that it never ceases to revolve _from the east to the west,
_not upon the poles of the Equinoctial, commonly called the poles of
the world, but upon those of the Zodiac, a question of which I
propose to speak more at length here-after, when I shall have leisure
to refresh my memory in regard to the astrology which I learned at
Salamanca when young, and have since forgotten."

Notwithstanding the blunders italicized, the book is not without some
claim to attention, as affording a naive specimen of the current
astronomical notions of the time. One of these assumed, that the
"gravitating power" extended but a short distance from the earth's
surface, and, accordingly, we find our voyager "carried insensibly
around the globe," etc.

There have been other "voyages to the moon," but none of higher merit
than the one just mentioned. That of Bergerac is utterly meaningless.
In the third volume of the "American Quarterly Review" will be found
quite an elaborate criticism upon a certain "journey" of the kind in
question--a criticism in which it is difficult to say whether the
critic most exposes the stupidity of the book, or his own absurd
ignorance of astronomy. I forget the title of the work; but the
_means _of the voyage are more deplorably ill conceived than are even
the _ganzas _of our friend the Signor Gonzales. The adventurer, in
digging the earth, happens to discover a peculiar metal for which the
moon has a strong attraction, and straightway constructs of it a box,
which, when cast loose from its terrestrial fastenings, flies with
him, forthwith, to the satellite. The "Flight of Thomas O'Rourke," is
a _jeu d' esprit _not altogether contemptible, and has been
translated into German. Thomas, the hero, was, in fact, the
gamekeeper of an Irish peer, whose eccentricities gave rise to the
tale. The "flight" is made on an eagle's back, from Hungry Hill, a
lofty mountain at the end of Bantry Bay.

In these various _brochures _the aim is always satirical; the theme
being a description of Lunarian customs as compared with ours. In
none is there any effort at _plausibility _in the details of the
voyage itself. The writers seem, in each instance, to be utterly
uninformed in respect to astronomy. In "Hans Pfaall" the design is
original, inasmuch as regards an attempt at _verisimilitude, _in the
application of scientific principles (so far as the whimsical nature
of the subject would permit), to the actual passage between the earth
and the moon.

{*2} The zodiacal light is probably what the ancients called Trabes.
Emicant Trabes quos docos vocant. -- Pliny, lib. 2, p. 26.

{*3} Since the original publication of Hans Pfaall, I find that Mr.
Green, of Nassau balloon notoriety, and other late aeronauts, deny
the assertions of Humboldt, in this respect, and speak of a
decreasing inconvenience, -- precisely in accordance with the theory
here urged in a mere spirit of banter.

{*4} Havelius writes that he has several times found, in skies
perfectly clear, when even stars of the sixth and seventh magnitude
were conspicuous, that, at the same altitude of the moon, at the same
elongation from the earth, and with one and the same excellent
telescope, the moon and its maculae did not appear equally lucid at
all times. From the circumstances of the observation, it is evident
that the cause of this phenomenon is not either in our air, in the
tube, in the moon, or in the eye of the spectator, but must be looked
for in something (an atmosphere?) existing about the moon.



What ho! what ho! this fellow is dancing mad !

He hath been bitten by the Tarantula.

_--All in the Wrong._

MANY years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a Mr. William
Legrand. He was of an ancient Huguenot family, and had once been
wealthy; but a series of misfortunes had reduced him to want. To
avoid the mortification consequent upon his disasters, he left New
Orleans, the city of his forefathers, and took up his residence at
Sullivan's Island, near Charleston, South Carolina. This Island is a
very singular one. It consists of little else than the sea sand, and
is about three miles long. Its breadth at no point exceeds a quarter
of a mile. It is separated from the main land by a scarcely
perceptible creek, oozing its way through a wilderness of reeds and
slime, a favorite resort of the marsh hen. The vegetation, as might
be supposed, is scant, or at least dwarfish. No trees of any
magnitude are to be seen. Near the western extremity, where Fort
Moultrie stands, and where are some miserable frame buildings,
tenanted, during summer, by the fugitives from Charleston dust and
fever, may be found, indeed, the bristly palmetto; but the whole
island, with the exception of this western point, and a line of hard,
white beach on the seacoast, is covered with a dense undergrowth of
the sweet myrtle, so much prized by the horticulturists of England.
The shrub here often attains the height of fifteen or twenty feet,
and forms an almost impenetrable coppice, burthening the air with its

In the inmost recesses of this coppice, not far from the eastern
or more remote end of the island, Legrand had built himself a small
hut, which he occupied when I first, by mere accident, made his
acquaintance. This soon ripened into friendship - for there was much
in the recluse to excite interest and esteem. I found him well
educated, with unusual powers of mind, but infected with misanthropy,
and subject to perverse moods of alternate enthusiasm and melancholy.
He had with him many books, but rarely employed them. His chief
amusements were gunning and fishing, or sauntering along the beach
and through the myrtles, in quest of shells or entomological
specimens; - his collection of the latter might have been envied by a
Swammerdamm. In these excursions he was usually accompanied by an old
negro, called Jupiter, who had been manumitted before the reverses of
the family, but who could be induced, neither by threats nor by
promises, to abandon what he considered his right of attendance upon
the footsteps of his young "Massa Will." It is not improbable that
the relatives of Legrand, conceiving him to be somewhat unsettled in
intellect, had contrived to instil this obstinacy into Jupiter, with
a view to the supervision and guardianship of the wanderer.

The winters in the latitude of Sullivan's Island are seldom very
severe, and in the fall of the year it is a rare event indeed when a
fire is considered necessary. About the middle of October, 18-, there
occurred, however, a day of remarkable chilliness. Just before sunset
I scrambled my way through the evergreens to the hut of my friend,
whom I had not visited for several weeks - my residence being, at
that time, in Charleston, a distance of nine miles from the Island,
while the facilities of passage and re-passage were very far behind
those of the present day. Upon reaching the hut I rapped, as was my
custom, and getting no reply, sought for the key where I knew it was
secreted, unlocked the door and went in. A fine fire was blazing upon
the hearth. It was a novelty, and by no means an ungrateful one. I
threw off an overcoat, took an arm-chair by the crackling
logs, and awaited patiently the arrival of my hosts.

Soon after dark they arrived, and gave me a most cordial welcome.
Jupiter, grinning from ear to ear, bustled about to prepare some
marsh-hens for supper. Legrand was in one of his fits - how else
shall I term them? - of enthusiasm. He had found an unknown bivalve,
forming a new genus, and, more than this, he had hunted down and
secured, with Jupiter's assistance, a scarabŠus which he believed to
be totally new, but in respect to which he wished to have my opinion
on the morrow.

"And why not to-night?" I asked, rubbing my hands over the blaze,
and wishing the whole tribe of scarabŠi at the devil.

"Ah, if I had only known you were here!" said Legrand, "but it's
so long since I saw you; and how could I foresee that you would pay
me a visit this very night of all others? As I was coming home I met
Lieutenant G--, from the fort, and, very foolishly, I lent him the
bug; so it will be impossible for you to see it until the morning.
Stay here to-night, and I will send Jup down for it at sunrise. It is
the loveliest thing in creation!"

"What? - sunrise?"

"Nonsense! no! - the bug. It is of a brilliant gold color - about
the size of a large hickory-nut - with two jet black spots near one
extremity of the back, and another, somewhat longer, at the other.
The antennŠ are - "

"Dey aint no tin in him, Massa Will, I keep a tellin on you,"
here interrupted Jupiter; "de bug is a goole bug, solid, ebery bit of
him, inside and all, sep him wing - neber feel half so hebby a bug in
my life."

"Well, suppose it is, Jup," replied Legrand, somewhat more
earnestly, it seemed to me, than the case demanded, "is that any
reason for your letting the birds burn? The color" - here he turned
to me - "is really almost enough to warrant Jupiter's idea. You never
saw a more brilliant metallic lustre than the scales emit - but of
this you cannot judge till tomorrow. In the mean time I can give you
some idea of the shape." Saying this, he seated himself at a small
table, on which were a pen and ink, but no paper. He looked for some
in a drawer, but found none.

"Never mind," said he at length, "this will answer;" and he
drew from his waistcoat pocket a scrap of what I took to be very
dirty foolscap, and made upon it a rough drawing with the pen. While
he did this, I retained my seat by the fire, for I was still chilly.
When the design was complete, he handed it to me without rising. As I
received it, a loud growl was heard, succeeded by a scratching at the
door. Jupiter opened it, and a large Newfoundland, belonging to
Legrand, rushed in, leaped upon my shoulders, and loaded me with
caresses; for I had shown him much attention during previous visits.
When his gambols were over, I looked at the paper, and, to speak the
truth, found myself not a little puzzled at what my friend had

"Well!" I said, after contemplating it for some minutes, "this is
a strange scarabŠus, I must confess: new to me: never saw anything
like it before - unless it was a skull, or a death's-head - which it
more nearly resembles than anything else that has come under my

"A death's-head!" echoed Legrand -"Oh - yes - well, it has
something of that appearance upon paper, no doubt. The two upper
black spots look like eyes, eh? and the longer one at the bottom like
a mouth - and then the shape of the whole is oval."

"Perhaps so," said I; "but, Legrand, I fear you are no artist. I
must wait until I see the beetle itself, if I am to form any idea of
its personal appearance."

"Well, I don't know," said he, a little nettled, "I draw
tolerably - should do it at least - have had good masters, and
flatter myself that I am not quite a blockhead."

"But, my dear fellow, you are joking then," said I, "this is a
very passable skull - indeed, I may say that it is a very excellent
skull, according to the vulgar notions about such specimens of
physiology - and your scarabŠus must be the queerest scarabŠus in the
world if it resembles it. Why, we may get up a very thrilling bit of
superstition upon this hint. I presume you will call the bug
scarabŠus caput hominis, or something of that kind - there are many
similar titles in the Natural Histories. But where are the antennŠ
you spoke of?"

"The antennŠ!" said Legrand, who seemed to be getting
unaccountably warm upon the subject; "I am sure you must see the
antennŠ. I made them as distinct as they are in the original insect,
and I presume that is sufficient."

"Well, well," I said, "perhaps you have - still I don't see
them;" and I handed him the paper without additional remark, not
wishing to ruffle his temper; but I was much surprised at the turn
affairs had taken; his ill humor puzzled me - and, as for the drawing
of the beetle, there were positively no antennŠ visible, and the
whole did bear a very close resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a

He received the paper very peevishly, and was about to crumple
it, apparently to throw it in the fire, when a casual glance at the
design seemed suddenly to rivet his attention. In an instant his face
grew violently red - in another as excessively pale. For some minutes
he continued to scrutinize the drawing minutely where he sat. At
length he arose, took a candle from the table, and proceeded to seat
himself upon a sea-chest in the farthest corner of the room. Here
again he made an anxious examination of the paper; turning it in all
directions. He said nothing, however, and his conduct greatly
astonished me; yet I thought it prudent not to exacerbate the growing
moodiness of his temper by any comment. Presently he took from his
coat pocket a wallet, placed the paper carefully in it, and deposited
both in a writing-desk, which he locked. He now grew more composed in
his demeanor; but his original air of enthusiasm had quite
disappeared. Yet he seemed not so much sulky as abstracted. As the
evening wore away he became more and more absorbed in reverie, from
which no sallies of mine could arouse him. It had been my intention
to pass the night at the hut, as I had frequently done before, but,
seeing my host in this mood, I deemed it proper to take leave. He did
not press me to remain, but, as I departed, he shook my hand with
even more than his usual cordiality.

It was about a month after this (and during the interval I had
seen nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at Charleston, from
his man, Jupiter. I had never seen the good old negro look so
dispirited, and I feared that some serious disaster had befallen my

"Well, Jup," said I, "what is the matter now? - how is your

"Why, to speak de troof, massa, him not so berry well as mought

"Not well! I am truly sorry to hear it. What does he complain

"Dar! dat's it! - him neber plain of notin - but him berry sick
for all dat."

"Very sick, Jupiter! - why didn't you say so at once? Is he
confined to bed?"

"No, dat he aint! - he aint find nowhar - dat's just whar de shoe
pinch - my mind is got to be berry hebby bout poor Massa Will."

"Jupiter, I should like to understand what it is you are talking
about. You say your master is sick. Hasn't he told you what ails

"Why, massa, taint worf while for to git mad about de matter -
Massa Will say noffin at all aint de matter wid him - but den what
make him go about looking dis here way, wid he head down and he
soldiers up, and as white as a gose? And den he keep a syphon all de
time - "

"Keeps a what, Jupiter?"

"Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on de slate - de queerest figgurs
I ebber did see. Ise gittin to be skeered, I tell you. Hab for to
keep mighty tight eye pon him noovers. Todder day he gib me slip fore
de sun up and was gone de whole ob de blessed day. I had a big stick
ready cut for to gib him deuced good beating when he did come - but
Ise sich a fool dat I hadn't de heart arter all - he look so berry

"Eh? - what? - ah yes! - upon the whole I think you had better
not be too severe with the poor fellow - don't flog him, Jupiter - he
can't very well stand it - but can you form no idea of what has
occasioned this illness, or rather this change of conduct? Has
anything unpleasant happened since I saw you?"

"No, massa, dey aint bin noffin unpleasant since den - 'twas fore
den I'm feared - 'twas de berry day you was dare."

"How? what do you mean?"

"Why, massa, I mean de bug - dare now."

"The what?"

"De bug, - I'm berry sartain dat Massa Will bin bit somewhere
bout de head by dat goole-bug."

"And what cause have you, Jupiter, for such a supposition?"

"Claws enuff, massa, and mouth too. I nebber did see sick a
deuced bug - he kick and he bite ebery ting what cum near him. Massa
Will cotch him fuss, but had for to let him go gin mighty quick, I
tell you - den was de time he must ha got de bite. I did n't like de
look oh de bug mouff, myself, no how, so I would n't take hold ob him
wid my finger, but I cotch him wid a piece ob paper dat I found. I
rap him up in de paper and stuff piece ob it in he mouff - dat was de

"And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by the
beetle, and that the bite made him sick?"

"I do n't tink noffin about it - I nose it. What make him dream
bout de goole so much, if taint cause he bit by de goole-bug? Ise
heerd bout dem goole-bugs fore dis."

"But how do you know he dreams about gold?"

"How I know? why cause he talk about it in he sleep - dat's how I

"Well, Jup, perhaps you are right; but to what fortunate
circumstance am I to attribute the honor of a visit from you to-day?"

"What de matter, massa?"

"Did you bring any message from Mr. Legrand "

"No, massa, I bring dis here pissel;" and here Jupiter handed me
a note which ran thus:


Why have I not seen you for so long a time? I hope you have not
been so foolish as to take offence at any little _brusquerie_ of
mine; but no, that is improbable. Since I saw you I have had great
cause for anxiety. I have something to tell you, yet scarcely know
how to tell it, or whether I should tell it at all.

I have not been quite well for some days past, and poor old Jup
annoys me, almost beyond endurance, by his well-meant attentions
Would you believe it? - he had prepared a huge stick, the other day,
with which to chastise me for giving him the slip, and spending the
day, _solus_, among the hills on the main land. I verily believe that
my ill looks alone saved me a flogging.

I have made no addition to my cabinet since we met.

If you can, in any way, make it convenient, come over with
Jupiter. _Do_ come. I wish to see you to-_night_, upon business of
importance. I assure you that it is of the _highest_ importance.


There was something in the tone of this note which gave me great
uneasiness. Its whole style differed materially from that of Legrand.
What could he be dreaming of? What new crotchet possessed his
excitable brain? What "business of the highest importance" could he
possibly have to transact? Jupiter's account of him boded no good. I
dreaded lest the continued pressure of misfortune had, at length,
fairly unsettled the reason of my friend. Without a moment's
hesitation, therefore, I prepared to accompany the negro.

Upon reaching the wharf, I noticed a scythe and three spades, all
apparently new, lying in the bottom of the boat in which we were to

"What is the meaning of all this, Jup?" I inquired.

"Him syfe, massa, and spade."

"Very true; but what are they doing here?"

"Him de syfe and de spade what Massa Will sis pon my buying for
him in de town, and de debbils own lot of money I had to gib for em."

"But what, in the name of all that is mysterious, is your 'Massa
Will' going to do with scythes and spades?"

"Dat's more dan I know, and debbil take me if I don't blieve 'tis
more dan he know, too. But it's all cum ob do bug."

Finding that no satisfaction was to be obtained of Jupiter, whose
whole intellect seemed to be absorbed by "de bug," I now stepped into
the boat and made sail. With a fair and strong breeze we soon ran
into the little cove to the northward of Fort Moultrie, and a walk of
some two miles brought us to the hut. It was about three in the
afternoon when we arrived. Legrand had been awaiting us in eager
expectation. He grasped my hand with a nervous empressement which
alarmed me and strengthened the suspicions already entertained. His
countenance was pale even to ghastliness, and his deep-set eyes
glared with unnatural lustre. After some inquiries respecting his
health, I asked him, not knowing what better to say, if he had yet
obtained the scarabŠus from Lieutenant G --.

"Oh, yes," he replied, coloring violently, "I got it from him the
next morning. Nothing should tempt me to part with that scarabŠus. Do
you know that Jupiter is quite right about it?"

"In what way?" I asked, with a sad foreboding at heart.

"In supposing it to be a bug of real gold." He said this with an
air of profound seriousness, and I felt inexpressibly shocked.

"This bug is to make my fortune," he continued, with a triumphant
smile, "to reinstate me in my family possessions. Is it any wonder,
then, that I prize it? Since Fortune has thought fit to bestow it
upon me, I have only to use it properly and I shall arrive at the
gold of which it is the index. Jupiter; bring me that scarabŠus!"

"What! de bug, massa? I'd rudder not go fer trubble dat bug - you
mus git him for your own self." Hereupon Legrand arose, with a grave
and stately air, and brought me the beetle from a glass case in which
it was enclosed. It was a beautiful scarabŠus, and, at that time,
unknown to naturalists - of course a great prize in a scientific
point of view. There were two round, black spots near one extremity
of the back, and a long one near the other. The scales were
exceedingly hard and glossy, with all the appearance of burnished
gold. The weight of the insect was very remarkable, and, taking all
things into consideration, I could hardly blame Jupiter for his
opinion respecting it; but what to make of Legrand's concordance with
that opinion, I could not, for the life of me, tell.

"I sent for you," said he, in a grandiloquent tone, when I had
completed my examination of the beetle, "I sent for you, that I might
have your counsel and assistance in furthering the views of Fate and
of the bug" -

"My dear Legrand," I cried, interrupting him, "you are certainly
unwell, and had better use some little precautions. You shall go to
bed, and I will remain with you a few days, until you get over this.
You are feverish and" -

"Feel my pulse," said he.

I felt it, and, to say the truth, found not the slightest
indication of fever.

"But you may be ill and yet have no fever. Allow me this once to
prescribe for you. In the first place, go to bed. In the next" -

"You are mistaken," he interposed, "I am as well as I can expect
to be under the excitement which I suffer. If you really wish me
well, you will relieve this excitement."

"And how is this to be done?"

"Very easily. Jupiter and myself are going upon an expedition
into the hills, upon the main land, and, in this expedition we shall
need the aid of some person in whom we can confide. You are the only
one we can trust. Whether we succeed or fail, the excitement which
you now perceive in me will be equally allayed."

"I am anxious to oblige you in any way," I replied; "but do you
mean to say that this infernal beetle has any connection with your
expedition into the hills?"

"It has."

"Then, Legrand, I can become a party to no such absurd

"I am sorry - very sorry - for we shall have to try it by

"Try it by yourselves! The man is surely mad! - but stay! - how
long do you propose to be absent?"

"Probably all night. We shall start immediately, and be back, at
all events, by sunrise."

"And will you promise me, upon your honor, that when this freak
of yours is over, and the bug business (good God!) settled to your
satisfaction, you will then return home and follow my advice
implicitly, as that of your physician?"

"Yes; I promise; and now let us be off, for we have no time to

With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend. We started about four
o'clock - Legrand, Jupiter, the dog, and myself. Jupiter had with him
the scythe and spades - the whole of which he insisted upon carrying
- more through fear, it seemed to me, of trusting either of the
implements within reach of his master, than from any excess of
industry or complaisance. His demeanor was dogged in the extreme, and
"dat deuced bug" were the sole words which escaped his lips during
the journey. For my own part, I had charge of a couple of dark
lanterns, while Legrand contented himself with the scarabŠus, which
he carried attached to the end of a bit of whip-cord; twirling it to
and fro, with the air of a conjuror, as he went. When I observed this
last, plain evidence of my friend's aberration of mind, I could
scarcely refrain from tears. I thought it best, however, to humor his
fancy, at least for the present, or until I could adopt some more
energetic measures with a chance of success. In the mean time I
endeavored, but all in vain, to sound him in regard to the object of
the expedition. Having succeeded in inducing me to accompany him, he
seemed unwilling to hold conversation upon any topic of minor
importance, and to all my questions vouchsafed no other reply than
"we shall see!"

We crossed the creek at the head of the island by means of a
skiff; and, ascending the high grounds on the shore of the main land,
proceeded in a northwesterly direction, through a tract of country
excessively wild and desolate, where no trace of a human footstep was
to be seen. Legrand led the way with decision; pausing only for an
instant, here and there, to consult what appeared to be certain
landmarks of his own contrivance upon a former occasion.

In this manner we journeyed for about two hours, and the sun was
just setting when we entered a region infinitely more dreary than any
yet seen. It was a species of table land, near the summit of an
almost inaccessible hill, densely wooded from base to pinnacle, and
interspersed with huge crags that appeared to lie loosely upon the
soil, and in many cases were prevented from precipitating themselves
into the valleys below, merely by the support of the trees against
which they reclined. Deep ravines, in various directions, gave an air
of still sterner solemnity to the scene.

The natural platform to which we had clambered was thickly
overgrown with brambles, through which we soon discovered that it
would have been impossible to force our way but for the scythe; and
Jupiter, by direction of his master, proceeded to clear for us a path
to the foot of an enormously tall tulip-tree, which stood, with some
eight or ten oaks, upon the level, and far surpassed them all, and
all other trees which I had then ever seen, in the beauty of its
foliage and form, in the wide spread of its branches, and in the
general majesty of its appearance. When we reached this tree, Legrand
turned to Jupiter, and asked him if he thought he could climb it. The
old man seemed a little staggered by the question, and for some
moments made no reply. At length he approached the huge trunk, walked
slowly around it, and examined it with minute attention. When he had
completed his scrutiny, he merely said,

"Yes, massa, Jup climb any tree he ebber see in he life."

"Then up with you as soon as possible, for it will soon be too
dark to see what we are about."

"How far mus go up, massa?" inquired Jupiter.

"Get up the main trunk first, and then I will tell you which way
to go - and here - stop! take this beetle with you."

"De bug, Massa Will! - de goole bug!" cried the negro, drawing
back in dismay - "what for mus tote de bug way up de tree? - d-n if I

"If you are afraid, Jup, a great big negro like you, to take hold
of a harmless little dead beetle, why you can carry it up by this
string - but, if you do not take it up with you in some way, I shall
be under the necessity of breaking your head with this shovel."

"What de matter now, massa?" said Jup, evidently shamed into
compliance; "always want for to raise fuss wid old nigger. Was only
funnin any how. Me feered de bug! what I keer for de bug?" Here he
took cautiously hold of the extreme end of the string, and,
maintaining the insect as far from his person as circumstances would
permit, prepared to ascend the tree.

In youth, the tulip-tree, or Liriodendron Tulipferum, the most
magnificent of American foresters, has a trunk peculiarly smooth, and
often rises to a great height without lateral branches; but, in its
riper age, the bark becomes gnarled and uneven, while many short
limbs make their appearance on the stem. Thus the difficulty of
ascension, in the present case, lay more in semblance than in
reality. Embracing the huge cylinder, as closely as possible, with
his arms and knees, seizing with his hands some projections, and
resting his naked toes upon others, Jupiter, after one or two narrow
escapes from falling, at length wriggled himself into the first great
fork, and seemed to consider the whole business as virtually
accomplished. The risk of the achievement was, in fact, now over,
although the climber was some sixty or seventy feet from the ground.

"Which way mus go now, Massa Will?" he asked.

"Keep up the largest branch - the one on this side," said
Legrand. The negro obeyed him promptly, and apparently with but
little trouble; ascending higher and higher, until no glimpse of his
squat figure could be obtained through the dense foliage which
enveloped it. Presently his voice was heard in a sort of halloo.

"How much fudder is got for go?"

"How high up are you?" asked Legrand.

"Ebber so fur," replied the negro; "can see de sky fru de top ob
de tree."

"Never mind the sky, but attend to what I say. Look down the
trunk and count the limbs below you on this side. How many limbs have
you passed?"

"One, two, tree, four, fibe - I done pass fibe big limb, massa,
pon dis side."

"Then go one limb higher."

In a few minutes the voice was heard again, announcing that the
seventh limb was attained.

"Now, Jup," cried Legrand, evidently much excited, "I want you to
work your way out upon that limb as far as you can. If you see
anything strange, let me know." By this time what little doubt I
might have entertained of my poor friend's insanity, was put finally
at rest. I had no alternative but to conclude him stricken with
lunacy, and I became seriously anxious about getting him home. While
I was pondering upon what was best to be done, Jupiter's voice was
again heard.

"Mos feerd for to ventur pon dis limb berry far - tis dead limb
putty much all de way."

"Did you say it was a dead limb, Jupiter?" cried Legrand in a
quavering voice.

"Yes, massa, him dead as de door-nail - done up for sartain -
done departed dis here life."

"What in the name heaven shall I do?" asked Legrand, seemingly in
the greatest distress. "Do!" said I, glad of an opportunity to
interpose a word, "why come home and go to bed. Come now! - that's a
fine fellow. It's getting late, and, besides, you remember your

"Jupiter," cried he, without heeding me in the least, "do you
hear me?"

"Yes, Massa Will, hear you ebber so plain."

"Try the wood well, then, with your knife, and see if you think
it very rotten."

"Him rotten, massa, sure nuff," replied the negro in a few
moments, "but not so berry rotten as mought be. Mought ventur out
leetle way pon de limb by myself, dat's true."

"By yourself! - what do you mean?"

"Why I mean de bug. 'Tis berry hebby bug. Spose I drop him down
fuss, and den de limb won't break wid just de weight ob one nigger."

"You infernal scoundrel!" cried Legrand, apparently much
relieved, "what do you mean by telling me such nonsense as that? As
sure as you drop that beetle I'll break your neck. Look here,
Jupiter, do you hear me?"

"Yes, massa, needn't hollo at poor nigger dat style."

"Well! now listen! - if you will venture out on the limb as far
as you think safe, and not let go the beetle, I'll make you a present
of a silver dollar as soon as you get down."

"I'm gwine, Massa Will - deed I is," replied the negro very
promptly - "mos out to the eend now."

"Out to the end!" here fairly screamed Legrand, "do you say you
are out to the end of that limb?"

"Soon be to de eend, massa, - o-o-o-o-oh! Lor-gol-a-marcy! what
is dis here pon de tree?"

"Well!" cried Legrand, highly delighted, "what is it?"

"Why taint noffin but a skull - somebody bin lef him head up de
tree, and de crows done gobble ebery bit ob de meat off."

"A skull, you say! - very well! - how is it fastened to the limb?
- what holds it on?"

"Sure nuff, massa; mus look. Why dis berry curous sarcumstance,
pon my word - dare's a great big nail in de skull, what fastens ob it
on to de tree."

"Well now, Jupiter, do exactly as I tell you - do you hear?"

"Yes, massa."

"Pay attention, then! - find the left eye of the skull."

"Hum! hoo! dat's good! why dare aint no eye lef at all."

"Curse your stupidity! do you know your right hand from your

"Yes, I nose dat - nose all bout dat - tis my lef hand what I
chops de wood wid."

"To be sure! you are left-handed; and your left. eye is on the
same side as your left hand. Now, I suppose, you can find the left
eye of the skull, or the place where the left eye has been. Have you
found it?"

Here was a long pause. At length the negro asked,

"Is de lef eye of de skull pon de same side as de lef hand of de
skull, too? - cause de skull aint got not a bit ob a hand at all -
nebber mind! I got de lef eye now - here de lef eye! what mus do wid

"Let the beetle drop through it, as far as the string will reach
- but he careful and not let go your hold of the string."

"All dat done, Massa Will; mighty easy ting for to put de bug fru
de hole - look out for him dare below!"

During this colloquy no portion of Jupiter's person could be
seen; but the beetle, which he had suffered to descend, was now
visible at the end of the string, and glistened, like a globe of
burnished gold, in the last rays of the setting sun, some of which
still faintly illumined the eminence upon which we stood. The
scarabŠus hung quite clear of any branches, and, if allowed to fall,
would have fallen at our feet. Legrand immediately took the scythe,
and cleared with it a circular space, three or four yards in
diameter, just beneath the insect, and, having accomplished this,
ordered Jupiter to let go the string and come down from the tree.

Driving a peg, with great nicety, into the ground, at the precise
spot where the beetle fell, my friend now produced from his pocket a
tape measure. Fastening one end of this at that point of the trunk,
of the tree which was nearest the peg, he unrolled it till it reached
the peg, and thence farther unrolled it, in the direction already
established by the two points of the tree and the peg, for the
distance of fifty feet - Jupiter clearing away the brambles with the
scythe. At the spot thus attained a second peg was driven, and about
this, as a centre, a rude circle, about four feet in diameter,
described. Taking now a spade himself, and giving one to Jupiter and
one to me, Legrand begged us to set about digging as quickly as

To speak the truth, I had no especial relish for such amusement
at any time, and, at that particular moment, would most willingly
have declined it; for the night was coming on, and I felt much
fatigued with the exercise already taken; but I saw no mode of
escape, and was fearful of disturbing my poor friend's equanimity by
a refusal. Could I have depended, indeed, upon Jupiter's aid, I would
have had no hesitation in attempting to get the lunatic home by
force; but I was too well assured of the old negro's disposition, to
hope that he would assist me, under any circumstances, in a personal
contest with his master. I made no doubt that the latter had been
infected with some of the innumerable Southern superstitions about
money buried, and that his phantasy had received confirmation by the
finding of the scarabŠus, or, perhaps, by Jupiter's obstinacy in
maintaining it to be "a bug of real gold." A mind disposed to lunacy
would readily be led away by such suggestions - especially if chiming
in with favorite preconceived ideas - and then I called to mind the
poor fellow's speech about the beetle's being "the index of his
fortune." Upon the whole, I was sadly vexed and puzzled, but, at
length, I concluded to make a virtue of necessity - to dig with a
good will, and thus the sooner to convince the visionary, by ocular
demonstration, of the fallacy of the opinions he entertained.

The lanterns having been lit, we all fell to work with a zeal
worthy a more rational cause; and, as the glare fell upon our persons
and implements, I could not help thinking how picturesque a group we
composed, and how strange and suspicious our labors must have
appeared to any interloper who, by chance, might have stumbled upon
our whereabouts.

We dug very steadily for two hours. Little was said; and our
chief embarrassment lay in the yelpings of the dog, who took
exceeding interest in our proceedings. He, at length, became so
obstreperous that we grew fearful of his giving the alarm to some
stragglers in the vicinity; - or, rather, this was the apprehension
of Legrand; - for myself, I should have rejoiced at any interruption
which might have enabled me to get the wanderer home. The noise was,
at length, very effectually silenced by Jupiter, who, getting out of
the hole with a dogged air of deliberation, tied the brute's mouth up
with one of his suspenders, and then returned, with a grave chuckle,
to his task.

When the time mentioned had expired, we had reached a depth of
five feet, and yet no signs of any treasure became manifest. A
general pause ensued, and I began to hope that the farce was at an
end. Legrand, however, although evidently much disconcerted, wiped
his brow thoughtfully and recommenced. We had excavated the entire
circle of four feet diameter, and now we slightly enlarged the limit,
and went to the farther depth of two feet. Still nothing appeared.
The gold-seeker, whom I sincerely pitied, at length clambered from
the pit, with the bitterest disappointment imprinted upon every
feature, and proceeded, slowly and reluctantly, to put on his coat,
which he had thrown off at the beginning of his labor. In the mean
time I made no remark. Jupiter, at a signal from his master, began to
gather up his tools. This done, and the dog having been unmuzzled, we
turned in profound silence towards home.

We had taken, perhaps, a dozen steps in this direction, when,
with a loud oath, Legrand strode up to Jupiter, and seized him by the
collar. The astonished negro opened his eyes and mouth to the fullest
extent, let fall the spades, and fell upon his knees.

"You scoundrel," said Legrand, hissing out the syllables from
between his clenched teeth - "you infernal black villain! - speak, I
tell you! - answer me this instant, without prevarication! - which -
which is your left eye?"

"Oh, my golly, Massa Will! aint dis here my lef eye for sartain?"
roared the terrified Jupiter, placing his hand upon his right organ
of vision, and holding it there with a desperate pertinacity, as if
in immediate dread of his master's attempt at a gouge.

"I thought so! - I knew it! hurrah!" vociferated Legrand, letting
the negro go, and executing a series of curvets and caracols, much to
the astonishment of his valet, who, arising from his knees, looked,
mutely, from his master to myself, and then from myself to his

"Come! we must go back," said the latter, "the game's not up
yet;" and he again led the way to the tulip-tree.

"Jupiter," said he, when we reached its foot, "come here! was the
skull nailed to the limb with the face outwards, or with the face to
the limb?"

"De face was out, massa, so dat de crows could get at de eyes
good, widout any trouble."

"Well, then, was it this eye or that through which you dropped
the beetle?" - here Legrand touched each of Jupiter's eyes.

"Twas dis eye, massa - de lef eye - jis as you tell me," and here
it was his right eye that the negro indicated.

"That will do - must try it again."

Here my friend, about whose madness I now saw, or fancied that I
saw, certain indications of method, removed the peg which marked the
spot where the beetle fell, to a spot about three inches to the
westward of its former position. Taking, now, the tape measure from
the nearest point of the trunk to the peg, as before, and continuing
the extension in a straight line to the distance of fifty feet, a
spot was indicated, removed, by several yards, from the point at
which we had been digging.

Around the new position a circle, somewhat larger than in the
former instance, was now described, and we again set to work with the
spades. I was dreadfully weary, but, scarcely understanding what had
occasioned the change in my thoughts, I felt no longer any great
aversion from the labor imposed. I had become most unaccountably
interested - nay, even excited. Perhaps there was something, amid all
the extravagant demeanor of Legrand - some air of forethought, or of
deliberation, which impressed me. I dug eagerly, and now and then
caught myself actually looking, with something that very much
resembled expectation, for the fancied treasure, the vision of which
had demented my unfortunate companion. At a period when such vagaries
of thought most fully possessed me, and when we had been at work
perhaps an hour and a half, we were again interrupted by the violent
howlings of the dog. His uneasiness, in the first instance, had been,
evidently, but the result of playfulness or caprice, but he now
assumed a bitter and serious tone. Upon Jupiter's again attempting to
muzzle him, he made furious resistance, and, leaping into the hole,
tore up the mould frantically with his claws. In a few seconds he had
uncovered a mass of human bones, forming two complete skeletons,
intermingled with several buttons of metal, and what appeared to be
the dust of decayed woollen. One or two strokes of a spade upturned
the blade of a large Spanish knife, and, as we dug farther, three or
four loose pieces of gold and silver coin came to light.

At sight of these the joy of Jupiter could scarcely be
restrained, but the countenance of his master wore an air of extreme
disappointment He urged us, however, to continue our exertions, and
the words were hardly uttered when I stumbled and fell forward,
having caught the toe of my boot in a large ring of iron that lay
half buried in the loose earth.

We now worked in earnest, and never did I pass ten minutes of
more intense excitement. During this interval we had fairly unearthed
an oblong chest of wood, which, from its perfect preservation and
wonderful hardness, had plainly been subjected to some mineralizing
process - perhaps that of the Bi-chloride of Mercury. This box was
three feet and a half long, three feet broad, and two and a half feet
deep. It was firmly secured by bands of wrought iron, riveted, and
forming a kind of open trelliswork over the whole. On each side of
the chest, near the top, were three rings of iron - six in all - by
means of which a firm hold could be obtained by six persons. Our
utmost united endeavors served only to disturb the coffer very
slightly in its bed. We at once saw the impossibility of removing so
great a weight. Luckily, the sole fastenings of the lid consisted of
two sliding bolts. These we drew back - trembling and panting with
anxiety. In an instant, a treasure of incalculable value lay gleaming
before us. As the rays of the lanterns fell within the pit, there
flashed upwards a glow and a glare, from a confused heap of gold and
of jewels, that absolutely dazzled our eyes.

I shall not pretend to describe the feelings with which I gazed.
Amazement was, of course, predominant. Legrand appeared exhausted
with excitement, and spoke very few words. Jupiter's
countenance wore, for some minutes, as deadly a pallor as it is
possible, in nature of things, for any negro's visage to assume. He
seemed stupified - thunderstricken. Presently he fell upon his knees
in the pit, and, burying his naked arms up to the elbows in gold, let
them there remain, as if enjoying the luxury of a bath. At length,
with a deep sigh, he exclaimed, as if in a soliloquy,

"And dis all cum ob de goole-bug! de putty goole bug! de poor
little goole-bug, what I boosed in dat sabage kind ob style! Aint you
shamed ob yourself, nigger? - answer me dat!"

It became necessary, at last, that I should arouse both master
and valet to the expediency of removing the treasure. It was growing
late, and it behooved us to make exertion, that we might get every
thing housed before daylight. It was difficult to say what should be
done, and much time was spent in deliberation - so confused were the
ideas of all. We, finally, lightened the box by removing two thirds
of its contents, when we were enabled, with some trouble, to raise it
from the hole. The articles taken out were deposited among the
brambles, and the dog left to guard them, with strict orders from
Jupiter neither, upon any pretence, to stir from the spot, nor to
open his mouth until our return. We then hurriedly made for home with
the chest; reaching the hut in safety, but after excessive toil, at
one o'clock in the morning. Worn out as we were, it was not in human
nature to do more immediately. We rested until two, and had supper;
starting for the hills immediately afterwards, armed with three stout
sacks, which, by good luck, were upon the premises. A little before
four we arrived at the pit, divided the remainder of the booty, as
equally as might be, among us, and, leaving the holes unfilled, again
set out for the hut, at which, for the second time, we deposited our
golden burthens, just as the first faint streaks of the dawn gleamed
from over the tree-tops in the East.

We were now thoroughly broken down; but the intense excitement of
the time denied us repose. After an unquiet slumber of some three or
four hours' duration, we arose, as if by preconcert, to make
examination of our treasure.

The chest had been full to the brim, and we spent the whole day,
and the greater part of the next night, in a scrutiny of its
contents. There had been nothing like order or arrangement. Every
thing had been heaped in promiscuously. Having assorted all with
care, we found ourselves possessed of even vaster wealth than we had
at first supposed. In coin there was rather more than four hundred
and fifty thousand dollars - estimating the value of the pieces, as
accurately as we could, by the tables of the period. There was not a
particle of silver. All was gold of antique date and of great variety
- French, Spanish, and German money, with a few English guineas, and
some counters, of which we had never seen specimens before. There
were several very large and heavy coins, so worn that we could make
nothing of their inscriptions. There was no American money. The value
of the jewels we found more difficulty in estimating. There were
diamonds - some of them exceedingly large and fine - a hundred and
ten in all, and not one of them small; eighteen rubies of remarkable
brilliancy; - three hundred and ten emeralds, all very beautiful; and
twenty-one sapphires, with an opal. These stones had all been broken
from their settings and thrown loose in the chest. The settings
themselves, which we picked out from among the other gold, appeared
to have been beaten up with hammers, as if to prevent identification.
Besides all this, there was a vast quantity of solid gold ornaments;
- nearly two hundred massive finger and earrings; - rich chains -
thirty of these, if I remember; - eighty-three very large and heavy
crucifixes; - five gold censers of great value; - a prodigious golden
punch bowl, ornamented with richly chased vine-leaves and
Bacchanalian figures; with two sword-handles exquisitely embossed,
and many other smaller articles which I cannot recollect. The weight
of these valuables exceeded three hundred and fifty pounds
avoirdupois; and in this estimate I have not included one hundred and
ninety-seven superb gold watches; three of the number being worth
each five hundred dollars, if one. Many of them were very old, and as
time keepers valueless; the works having suffered, more or less, from
corrosion - but all were richly jewelled and in cases of great worth.
We estimated the entire contents of the chest, that night, at a
million and a half of dollars; and upon the subsequent disposal of
the trinkets and jewels (a few being retained for our own
use), it was found that we had greatly undervalued the treasure.
When, at length, we had concluded our examination, and the intense
excitement of the time had, in some measure, subsided, Legrand, who
saw that I was dying with impatience for a solution of this most
extraordinary riddle, entered into a full detail of all the
circumstances connected with it.

"You remember;" said he, "the night when I handed you the rough
sketch I had made of the scarabŠus. You recollect also, that I became
quite vexed at you for insisting that my drawing resembled a
death's-head. When you first made this assertion I thought you were
jesting; but afterwards I called to mind the peculiar spots on the
back of the insect, and admitted to myself that your remark had some
little foundation in fact. Still, the sneer at my graphic powers
irritated me - for I am considered a good artist - and, therefore,
when you handed me the scrap of parchment, I was about to crumple it
up and throw it angrily into the fire."

"The scrap of paper, you mean," said I.

"No; it had much of the appearance of paper, and at first I
supposed it to be such, but when I came to draw upon it, I discovered
it, at once, to be a piece of very thin parchment. It was quite
dirty, you remember. Well, as I was in the very act of crumpling it
up, my glance fell upon the sketch at which you had been looking, and
you may imagine my astonishment when I perceived, in fact, the figure
of a death's-head just where, it seemed to me, I had made the drawing
of the beetle. For a moment I was too much amazed to think with
accuracy. I knew that my design was very different in detail from
this - although there was a certain similarity in general outline.
Presently I took a candle, and seating myself at the other end of the
room, proceeded to scrutinize the parchment more closely. Upon
turning it over, I saw my own sketch upon the reverse, just as I had
made it. My first idea, now, was mere surprise at the really
remarkable similarity of outline - at the singular coincidence
involved in the fact, that unknown to me, there should have been a
skull upon the other side of the parchment, immediately beneath my
figure of the scarabŠus, and that this skull, not only in outline,
but in size, should so closely resemble my drawing. I say
the singularity of this coincidence absolutely stupified me for a
time. This is the usual effect of such coincidences. The mind
struggles to establish a connexion - a sequence of cause and effect -
and, being unable to do so, suffers a species of temporary paralysis.
But, when I recovered from this stupor, there dawned upon me
gradually a conviction which startled me even far more than the
coincidence. I began distinctly, positively, to remember that there
had been no drawing upon the parchment when I made my sketch of the
scarabŠus. I became perfectly certain of this; for I recollected
turning up first one side and then the other, in search of the
cleanest spot. Had the skull been then there, of course I could not
have failed to notice it. Here was indeed a mystery which I felt it
impossible to explain; but, even at that early moment, there seemed
to glimmer, faintly, within the most remote and secret chambers of my
intellect, a glow-worm-like conception of that truth which last
night's adventure brought to so magnificent a demonstration. I arose
at once, and putting the parchment securely away, dismissed all
farther reflection until I should be alone.

"When you had gone, and when Jupiter was fast asleep, I betook
myself to a more methodical investigation of the affair. In the first
place I considered the manner in which the parchment had come into my
possession. The spot where we discovered the scarabaeus was on the
coast of the main land, about a mile eastward of the island, and but
a short distance above high water mark. Upon my taking hold of it, it
gave me a sharp bite, which caused me to let it drop. Jupiter, with
his accustomed caution, before seizing the insect, which had flown
towards him, looked about him for a leaf, or something of that
nature, by which to take hold of it. It was at this moment that his
eyes, and mine also, fell upon the scrap of parchment, which I then
supposed to be paper. It was lying half buried in the sand, a corner
sticking up. Near the spot where we found it, I observed the remnants
of the hull of what appeared to have been a ship's long boat. The
wreck seemed to have been there for a very great while; for the
resemblance to boat timbers could scarcely be traced.

"Well, Jupiter picked up the parchment, wrapped the beetle in it,
and gave it to me. Soon afterwards we turned to go home, and on the
way met Lieutenant G-. I showed him the insect, and he begged me to
let him take it to the fort. Upon my consenting, he thrust it
forthwith into his waistcoat pocket, without the parchment in which
it had been wrapped, and which I had continued to hold in my hand
during his inspection. Perhaps he dreaded my changing my mind, and
thought it best to make sure of the prize at once - you know how
enthusiastic he is on all subjects connected with Natural History. At
the same time, without being conscious of it, I must have deposited
the parchment in my own pocket.

"You remember that when I went to the table, for the purpose of
making a sketch of the beetle, I found no paper where it was usually


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