The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Part 5 out of 5

questionings of Madame Deluc and her boys, as well as of the omnibus
driver, Valence, something more of the personal appearance and
bearing of the 'man of dark complexion.' Queries, skilfully directed,
will not fail to elicit, from some of these parties, information on
this particular point (or upon others) - information which the
parties themselves may not even be aware of possessing. And let us
now trace the boatpicked up by the bargeman on the morning of Monday
the twenty-third of June, and which was removed from the
barge-office, without the cognizance of the officer in attendance,
and without the rudder, at some period prior to the discovery of the
corpse. With a proper caution and perseverance we shall infallibly
trace this boat; for not only can the bargeman who picked it up
identify it, but the rudder is at hand. The rudder of a sail-boat
would not have been abandoned, without inquiry, by one altogether at
ease in heart. And here let me pause to insinuate a question. There
was no advertisement of the picking up of this boat. It was silently
taken to the barge-office, and as silently removed. But its owner or
employer - how happened he, at so early a period as Tuesday morning,
to be informed, without the agency of advertisement, of the locality
of the boat taken up on Monday, unless we imagine some connexion with
the navy - some personal permanent connexion leading to cognizance of
its minute in interests - its petty local news?

"In speaking of the lonely assassin dragging his burden to the shore,
I have already suggested the probability of his availing himself of a
boat. Now we are to understand that Marie Rogêt was precipitated from
a boat. This would naturally have been the case. The corpse could not
have been trusted to the shallow waters of the shore. The peculiar
marks on the back and shoulders of the victim tell of the bottom ribs
of a boat. That the body was found without weight is also
corroborative of the idea. If thrown from the shore a weight would
have been attached. We can only account for its absence by supposing
the murderer to have neglected the precaution of supplying himself
with it before pushing off. In the act of consigning the corpse to
the water, he would unquestionably have noticed his oversight; but
then no remedy would have been at hand. Any risk would have been
preferred to a return to that accursed shore. Having rid himself of
his ghastly charge, the murderer would have hastened to the city.
There, at some obscure wharf, he would have leaped on land. But the
boat - would he have secured it? He would have been in too great
haste for such things as securing a boat. Moreover, in fastening it
to the wharf, he would have felt as if securing evidence against
himself. His natural thought would have been to cast from him, as far
as possible, all that had held connection with his crime. He would
not only have fled from the wharf, but he would not have permitted
the boat to remain. Assuredly he would have cast it adrift. Let us
pursue our fancies. - In the morning, the wretch is stricken with
unutterable horror at finding that the boat has been picked up and
detained at a locality which he is in the daily habit of frequenting
- at a locality, perhaps, which his duty compels him to frequent. The
next night, without daring to ask for the rudder, he removes it. Now
where is that rudderless boat? Let it be one of our first purposes to
discover. With the first glimpse we obtain of it, the dawn of our
success shall begin. This boat shall guide us, with a rapidity which
will surprise even ourselves, to him who employed it in the midnight
of the fatal Sabbath. Corroboration will rise upon corroboration, and
the murderer will be traced."

[For reasons which we shall not specify, but which to many readers
will appear obvious, we have taken the liberty of here omitting, from
the MSS. placed in our hands, such portion as details the following
up of the apparently slight clew obtained by Dupin. We feel it
advisable only to state, in brief, that the result desired was
brought to pass; and that the Prefect fulfilled punctually, although
with reluctance, the terms of his compact with the Chevalier. Mr.
Poe's article concludes with the following words. - Eds. {*23}]

It will be understood that I speak of coincidences and no more. What
I have said above upon this topic must suffice. In my own heart there
dwells no faith in præter-nature. That Nature and its God are two, no
man who thinks, will deny. That the latter, creating the former, can,
at will, control or modify it, is also unquestionable. I say "at
will;" for the question is of will, and not, as the insanity of logic
has assumed, of power. It is not that the Deity cannot modify his
laws, but that we insult him in imagining a possible necessity for
modification. In their origin these laws were fashioned to embrace
all contingencies which could lie in the Future. With God all is Now.

I repeat, then, that I speak of these things only as of coincidences.
And farther: in what I relate it will be seen that between the fate
of the unhappy Mary Cecilia Rogers, so far as that fate is known, and
the fate of one Marie Rogêt up to a certain epoch in her history,
there has existed a parallel in the contemplation of whose wonderful
exactitude the reason becomes embarrassed. I say all this will be
seen. But let it not for a moment be supposed that, in proceeding
with the sad narrative of Marie from the epoch just mentioned, and in
tracing to its dénouement the mystery which enshrouded her, it is my
covert design to hint at an extension of the parallel, or even to
suggest that the measures adopted in Paris for the discovery of the
assassin of a grisette, or measures founded in any similar
ratiocination, would produce any similar result.

For, in respect to the latter branch of the supposition, it should be
considered that the most trifling variation in the facts of the two
cases might give rise to the most important miscalculations, by
diverting thoroughly the two courses of events; very much as, in
arithmetic, an error which, in its own individuality, may be
inappreciable, produces, at length, by dint of multiplication at all
points of the process, a result enormously at variance with truth.
And, in regard to the former branch, we must not fail to hold in view
that the very Calculus of Probabilities to which I have referred,
forbids all idea of the extension of the parallel: - forbids it with
a positiveness strong and decided just in proportion as this parallel
has already been long-drawn and exact. This is one of those anomalous
propositions which, seemingly appealing to thought altogether apart
from the mathematical, is yet one which only the mathematician can
fully entertain. Nothing, for example, is more difficult than to
convince the merely general reader that the fact of sixes having been
thrown twice in succession by a player at dice, is sufficient cause
for betting the largest odds that sixes will not be thrown in the
third attempt. A suggestion to this effect is usually rejected by the
intellect at once. It does not appear that the two throws which have
been completed, and which lie now absolutely in the Past, can have
influence upon the throw which exists only in the Future. The chance
for throwing sixes seems to be precisely as it was at any ordinary
time - that is to say, subject only to the influence of the various
other throws which may be made by the dice. And this is a reflection
which appears so exceedingly obvious that attempts to controvert it
are received more frequently with a derisive smile than with anything
like respectful attention. The error here involved - a gross error
redolent of mischief - I cannot pretend to expose within the limits
assigned me at present; and with the philosophical it needs no
exposure. It may be sufficient here to say that it forms one of an
infinite series of mistakes which arise in the path or Reason through
her propensity for seeking truth in detail.

~~~ End of Text ~~~

FOOTNOTES--Marie Rogêt

{*1} Upon the original publication of "Marie Roget," the foot-notes
now appended were considered unnecessary; but the lapse of several
years since the tragedy upon which the tale is based, renders it
expedient to give them, and also to say a few words in explanation of
the general design. A young girl, Mary Cecilia Rogers, was murdered
in the vicinity of New York; and, although her death occasioned an
intense and long-enduring excitement, the mystery attending it had
remained unsolved at the period when the present paper was written
and published (November, 1842). Herein, under pretence of relating
the fate of a Parisian grisette, the author has followed in minute
detail, the essential, while merely paralleling the inessential facts
of the real murder of Mary Rogers. Thus all argument founded upon the
fiction is applicable to the truth: and the investigation of the
truth was the object. The "Mystery of Marie Roget" was composed at a
distance from the scene of the atrocity, and with no other means of
investigation than the newspapers afforded. Thus much escaped the
writer of which he could have availed himself had he been upon the
spot, and visited the localities. It may not be improper to record,
nevertheless, that the confessions of two persons, (one of them the
Madame Deluc of the narrative) made, at different periods, long
subsequent to the publication, confirmed, in full, not only the
general conclusion, but absolutely all the chief hypothetical details
by which that conclusion was attained.

{*2} The nom de plume of Von Hardenburg.

{*3} Nassau Street.

{*4} Anderson.

{*5} The Hudson.

{*6} Weehawken.

{*7} Payne.

{*8} Crommelin.

{*9} The New York "Mercury."

(*10} The New York "Brother Jonathan," edited by H. Hastings Weld,

{*11} New York "Journal of Commerce."

(*12} Philadelphia "Saturday Evening Post," edited by C. I. Peterson,

{*13} Adam

{*14} See "Murders in the Rue Morgue."

{*15} The New York "Commercial Advertiser," edited by Col. Stone.

{*16} "A theory based on the qualities of an object, will prevent its
being unfolded according to its objects; and he who arranges topics
in reference to their causes, will cease to value them according to
their results. Thus the jurisprudence of every nation will show that,
when law becomes a science and a system, it ceases to be justice. The
errors into which a blind devotion to principles of classification
has led the common law, will be seen by observing how often the
legislature has been obliged to come forward to restore the equity
its scheme had lost." - Landor.

{*17} New York "Express"

{*18} NewYork "Herald."

{*19} New York "Courier and Inquirer."

{*20} Mennais was one of the parties originally suspected and
arrested, but discharged through total lack of evidence.

{*21} New York "Courier and Inquirer."

{*22} New York "Evening Post."

{*23} Of the Magazine in which the article was originally published.



[Astounding News by Express, _via_ Norfolk ! - The Atlantic
crossed in Three Days ! Signal Triumph of Mr. Monck Mason's Flying
Machine ! - Arrival at Sullivan's Island, near Charlestown, S.C., of
Mr. Mason, Mr. Robert Holland, Mr. Henson, Mr. Harrison Ainsworth,
and four others, in the Steering Balloon, "Victoria," after a passage
of Seventy-five Hours from Land to Land ! Full Particulars of the

The subjoined _jeu d'esprit_ with the preceding heading in
magnificent capitals, well interspersed with notes of admiration, was
originally published, as matter of fact, in the "New York Sun," a
daily newspaper, and therein fully subserved the purpose of creating
indigestible aliment for the _quidnuncs_ during the few hours
intervening between a couple of the Charleston mails. The rush for
the "sole paper which had the news," was something beyond even the
prodigious ; and, in fact, if (as some assert) the "Victoria" _did_
not absolutely accomplish the voyage recorded, it will be difficult
to assign a reason why she _should_ not have accomplished it.]

THE great problem is at length solved ! The air, as well as the
earth and the ocean, has been subdued by science, and will become a
common and convenient highway for mankind. _The Atlantic has been
actually crossed in a Balloon!_ and this too without difficulty -
without any great apparent danger - with thorough control of the
machine - and in the inconceivably brief period of seventy-five hours
from shore to shore ! By the energy of an agent at Charleston, S.C.,
we are enabled to be the first to furnish the public with a detailed
account of this most extraordinary voyage, which was performed
between Saturday, the 6th instant, at 11, A.M., and 2, P.M., on
Tuesday, the 9th instant, by Sir Everard Bringhurst ; Mr. Osborne, a
nephew of Lord Bentinck's ; Mr. Monck Mason and Mr. Robert Holland,
the well-known æronauts ; Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, author of "Jack
Sheppard," &c. ; and Mr. Henson, the projector of the late
unsuccessful flying machine - with two seamen from Woolwich - in all,
eight persons. The particulars furnished below may be relied on as
authentic and accurate in every respect, as, with a slight exception,
they are copied _verbatim_ from the joint diaries of Mr. Monck Mason
and Mr. Harrison Ainsworth, to whose politeness our agent is also
indebted for much verbal information respecting the balloon itself,
its construction, and other matters of interest. The only alteration
in the MS. received, has been made for the purpose of throwing the
hurried account of our agent, Mr. Forsyth, into a connected and
intelligible form.


"Two very decided failures, of late - those of Mr. Henson and Sir
George Cayley - had much weakened the public interest in the subject
of aerial navigation. Mr. Henson's scheme (which at first was
considered very feasible even by men of science,) was founded upon
the principle of an inclined plane, started from an eminence by an
extrinsic force, applied and continued by the revolution of impinging
vanes, in form and number resembling the vanes of a windmill. But,
in all the experiments made with models at the Adelaide Gallery, it
was found that the operation of these fans not only did not propel
the machine, but actually impeded its flight. The only propelling
force it ever exhibited, was the mere _impetus_ acquired from the
descent of the inclined plane ; and this _impetus_ carried the
machine farther when the vanes were at rest, than when they were in
motion - a fact which sufficiently demonstrates their inutility ;
and in the absence of the propelling, which was also the _sustaining_
power, the whole fabric would necessarily descend. This
consideration led Sir George Cayley to think only of adapting a
propeller to some machine having of itself an independent power of
support - in a word, to a balloon ; the idea, however, being novel,
or original, with Sir George, only so far as regards the mode of its
application to practice. He exhibited a model of his invention at
the Polytechnic Institution. The propelling principle, or power, was
here, also, applied to interrupted surfaces, or vanes, put in
revolution. These vanes were four in number, but were found entirely
ineffectual in moving the balloon, or in aiding its ascending power.
The whole project was thus a complete failure.

"It was at this juncture that Mr. Monck Mason (whose voyage from
Dover to Weilburg in the balloon, "Nassau," occasioned so much
excitement in 1837,) conceived the idea of employing the principle of
the Archimedean screw for the purpose of propulsion through the air -
rightly attributing the failure of Mr. Henson's scheme, and of Sir
George Cayley's, to the interruption of surface in the independent
vanes. He made the first public experiment at Willis's Rooms, but
afterward removed his model to the Adelaide Gallery.

"Like Sir George Cayley's balloon, his own was an ellipsoid. Its
length was thirteen feet six inches - height, six feet eight inches.
It contained about three hundred and twenty cubic feet of gas, which,
if pure hydrogen, would support twenty-one pounds upon its first
inflation, before the gas has time to deteriorate or escape. The
weight of the whole machine and apparatus was seventeen pounds -
leaving about four pounds to spare. Beneath the centre of the
balloon, was a frame of light wood, about nine feet long, and rigged
on to the balloon itself with a network in the customary manner.
From this framework was suspended a wicker basket or car.

"The screw consists of an axis of hollow brass tube, eighteen
inches in length, through which, upon a semi-spiral inclined at
fifteen degrees, pass a series of steel wire radii, two feet long,
and thus projecting a foot on either side. These radii are connected
at the outer extremities by two bands of flattened wire - the whole
in this manner forming the framework of the screw, which is completed
by a covering of oiled silk cut into gores, and tightened so as to
present a tolerably uniform surface. At each end of its axis this
screw is supported by pillars of hollow brass tube descending from
the hoop. In the lower ends of these tubes are holes in which the
pivots of the axis revolve. From the end of the axis which is next
the car, proceeds a shaft of steel, connecting the screw with the
pinion of a piece of spring machinery fixed in the car. By the
operation of this spring, the screw is made to revolve with great
rapidity, communicating a progressive motion to the whole. By means
of the rudder, the machine was readily turned in any direction. The
spring was of great power, compared with its dimensions, being
capable of raising forty-five pounds upon a barrel of four inches
diameter, after the first turn, and gradually increasing as it was
wound up. It weighed, altogether, eight pounds six ounces. The
rudder was a light frame of cane covered with silk, shaped somewhat
like a battledoor, and was about three feet long, and at the widest,
one foot. Its weight was about two ounces. It could be turned
_flat_, and directed upwards or downwards, as well as to the right or
left ; and thus enabled the æronaut to transfer the resistance of
the air which in an inclined position it must generate in its
passage, to any side upon which he might desire to act ; thus
determining the balloon in the opposite direction.

"This model (which, through want of time, we have necessarily
described in an imperfect manner,) was put in action at the Adelaide
Gallery, where it accomplished a velocity of five miles per hour;
although, strange to say, it excited very little interest in
comparison with the previous complex machine of Mr. Henson - so
resolute is the world to despise anything which carries with it an
air of simplicity. To accomplish the great desideratum of ærial
navigation, it was very generally supposed that some exceedingly
complicated application must be made of some unusually profound
principle in dynamics.

"So well satisfied, however, was Mr. Mason of the ultimate
success of his invention, that he determined to construct
immediately, if possible, a balloon of sufficient capacity to test
the question by a voyage of some extent - the original design being
to cross the British Channel, as before, in the Nassau balloon. To
carry out his views, he solicited and obtained the patronage of Sir
Everard Bringhurst and Mr. Osborne, two gentlemen well known for
scientific acquirement, and especially for the interest they have
exhibited in the progress of ærostation. The project, at the desire
of Mr. Osborne, was kept a profound secret from the public - the only
persons entrusted with the design being those actually engaged in the
construction of the machine, which was built (under the
superintendence of Mr. Mason, Mr. Holland, Sir Everard Bringhurst,
and Mr. Osborne,) at the seat of the latter gentleman near
Penstruthal, in Wales. Mr. Henson, accompanied by his friend Mr.
Ainsworth, was admitted to a private view of the balloon, on Saturday
last - when the two gentlemen made final arrangements to be included
in the adventure. We are not informed for what reason the two seamen
were also included in the party - but, in the course of a day or two,
we shall put our readers in possession of the minutest particulars
respecting this extraordinary voyage.

"The balloon is composed of silk, varnished with the liquid gum
caoutchouc. It is of vast dimensions, containing more than 40,000
cubic feet of gas ; but as coal gas was employed in place of the
more expensive and inconvenient hydrogen, the supporting power of the
machine, when fully inflated, and immediately after inflation, is not
more than about 2500 pounds. The coal gas is not only much less
costly, but is easily procured and managed.

"For its introduction into common use for purposes of
aerostation, we are indebted to Mr. Charles Green. Up to his
discovery, the process of inflation was not only exceedingly
expensive, but uncertain. Two, and even three days, have frequently
been wasted in futile attempts to procure a sufficiency of hydrogen
to fill a balloon, from which it had great tendency to escape, owing
to its extreme subtlety, and its affinity for the surrounding
atmosphere. In a balloon sufficiently perfect to retain its contents
of coal-gas unaltered, in quantity or amount, for six months, an
equal quantity of hydrogen could not be maintained in equal purity
for six weeks.

"The supporting power being estimated at 2500 pounds, and the
united weights of the party amounting only to about 1200, there was
left a surplus of 1300, of which again 1200 was exhausted by ballast,
arranged in bags of different sizes, with their respective weights
marked upon them - by cordage, barometers, telescopes, barrels
containing provision for a fortnight, water-casks, cloaks,
carpet-bags, and various other indispensable matters, including a
coffee-warmer, contrived for warming coffee by means of slack-lime,
so as to dispense altogether with fire, if it should be judged
prudent to do so. All these articles, with the exception of the
ballast, and a few trifles, were suspended from the hoop overhead.
The car is much smaller and lighter, in proportion, than the one
appended to the model. It is formed of a light wicker, and is
wonderfully strong, for so frail looking a machine. Its rim is about
four feet deep. The rudder is also very much larger, in proportion,
than that of the model ; and the screw is considerably smaller. The
balloon is furnished besides with a grapnel, and a guide-rope ;
which latter is of the most indispensable importance. A few words, in
explanation, will here be necessary for such of our readers as are
not conversant with the details of aerostation.

"As soon as the balloon quits the earth, it is subjected to the
influence of many circumstances tending to create a difference in its
weight ; augmenting or diminishing its ascending power. For
example, there may be a deposition of dew upon the silk, to the
extent, even, of several hundred pounds ; ballast has then to be
thrown out, or the machine may descend. This ballast being
discarded, and a clear sunshine evaporating the dew, and at the same
time expanding the gas in the silk, the whole will again rapidly
ascend. To check this ascent, the only recourse is, (or rather
_was_, until Mr. Green's invention of the guide-rope,) the permission
of the escape of gas from the valve ; but, in the loss of gas, is a
proportionate general loss of ascending power ; so that, in a
comparatively brief period, the best-constructed balloon must
necessarily exhaust all its resources, and come to the earth. This
was the great obstacle to voyages of length.

"The guide-rope remedies the difficulty in the simplest manner
conceivable. It is merely a very long rope which is suffered to
trail from the car, and the effect of which is to prevent the balloon
from changing its level in any material degree. If, for example,
there should be a deposition of moisture upon the silk, and the
machine begins to descend in consequence, there will be no necessity
for discharging ballast to remedy the increase of weight, for it is
remedied, or counteracted, in an exactly just proportion, by the
deposit on the ground of just so much of the end of the rope as is
necessary. If, on the other hand, any circumstances should cause
undue levity, and consequent ascent, this levity is immediately
counteracted by the additional weight of rope upraised from the
earth. Thus, the balloon can neither ascend or descend, except
within very narrow limits, and its resources, either in gas or
ballast, remain comparatively unimpaired. When passing over an
expanse of water, it becomes necessary to employ small kegs of copper
or wood, filled with liquid ballast of a lighter nature than water.
These float, and serve all the purposes of a mere rope on land.
Another most important office of the guide-rope, is to point out the
_direction_ of the balloon. The rope _drags_, either on land or sea,
while the balloon is free ; the latter, consequently, is always in
advance, when any progress whatever is made : a comparison,
therefore, by means of the compass, of the relative positions of the
two objects, will always indicate the _course_. In the same way, the
angle formed by the rope with the vertical axis of the machine,
indicates the _velocity_. When there is _no_ angle - in other words,
when the rope hangs perpendicularly, the whole apparatus is
stationary ; but the larger the angle, that is to say, the farther
the balloon precedes the end of the rope, the greater the velocity ;
and the converse.

"As the original design was to cross the British Channel, and
alight as near Paris as possible, the voyagers had taken the
precaution to prepare themselves with passports directed to all parts
of the Continent, specifying the nature of the expedition, as in the
case of the Nassau voyage, and entitling the adventurers to exemption
from the usual formalities of office : unexpected events, however,
rendered these passports superfluous.

"The inflation was commenced very quietly at daybreak, on
Saturday morning, the 6th instant, in the Court-Yard of Weal-Vor
House, Mr. Osborne's seat, about a mile from Penstruthal, in North
Wales ; and at 7 minutes past 11, every thing being ready for
departure, the balloon was set free, rising gently but steadily, in a
direction nearly South ; no use being made, for the first half hour,
of either the screw or the rudder. We proceed now with the journal,
as transcribed by Mr. Forsyth from the joint MSS. Of Mr. Monck
Mason, and Mr. Ainsworth. The body of the journal, as given, is in
the hand-writing of Mr. Mason, and a P. S. is appended, each day,
by Mr. Ainsworth, who has in preparation, and will shortly give the
public a more minute, and no doubt, a thrillingly interesting account
of the voyage.


"_Saturday, April the 6th_. - Every preparation likely to
embarrass us, having been made over night, we commenced the inflation
this morning at daybreak ; but owing to a thick fog, which
encumbered the folds of the silk and rendered it unmanageable, we did
not get through before nearly eleven o'clock. Cut loose, then, in
high spirits, and rose gently but steadily, with a light breeze at
North, which bore us in the direction of the British Channel. Found
the ascending force greater than we had expected ; and as we arose
higher and so got clear of the cliffs, and more in the sun's rays,
our ascent became very rapid. I did not wish, however, to lose gas
at so early a period of the adventure, and so concluded to ascend for
the present. We soon ran out our guide-rope ; but even when we had
raised it clear of the earth, we still went up very rapidly. The
balloon was unusually steady, and looked beautifully. In about ten
minutes after starting, the barometer indicated an altitude of 15,000
feet. The weather was remarkably fine, and the view of the subjacent
country - a most romantic one when seen from any point, - was now
especially sublime. The numerous deep gorges presented the appearance
of lakes, on account of the dense vapors with which they were filled,
and the pinnacles and crags to the South East, piled in inextricable
confusion, resembling nothing so much as the giant cities of eastern
fable. We were rapidly approaching the mountains in the South ; but
our elevation was more than sufficient to enable us to pass them in
safety. In a few minutes we soared over them in fine style ; and
Mr. Ainsworth, with the seamen, was surprised at their apparent want
of altitude when viewed from the car, the tendency of great elevation
in a balloon being to reduce inequalities of the surface below, to
nearly a dead level. At half-past eleven still proceeding nearly
South, we obtained our first view of the Bristol Channel ; and, in
fifteen minutes afterward, the line of breakers on the coast appeared
immediately beneath us, and we were fairly out at sea. We now
resolved to let off enough gas to bring our guide-rope, with the
buoys affixed, into the water. This was immediately done, and we
commenced a gradual descent. In about twenty minutes our first buoy
dipped, and at the touch of the second soon afterwards, we remained
stationary as to elevation. We were all now anxious to test the
efficiency of the rudder and screw, and we put them both into
requisition forthwith, for the purpose of altering our direction more
to the eastward, and in a line for Paris. By means of the rudder we
instantly effected the necessary change of direction, and our course
was brought nearly at right angles to that of the wind ; when we set
in motion the spring of the screw, and were rejoiced to find it
propel us readily as desired. Upon this we gave nine hearty cheers,
and dropped in the sea a bottle, enclosing a slip of parchment with a
brief account of the principle of the invention. Hardly, however,
had we done with our rejoicings, when an unforeseen accident occurred
which discouraged us in no little degree. The steel rod connecting
the spring with the propeller was suddenly jerked out of place, at
the car end, (by a swaying of the car through some movement of one of
the two seamen we had taken up,) and in an instant hung dangling out
of reach, from the pivot of the axis of the screw. While we were
endeavoring to regain it, our attention being completely absorbed, we
became involved in a strong current of wind from the East, which bore
us, with rapidly increasing force, towards the Atlantic. We soon
found ourselves driving out to sea at the rate of not less,
certainly, than fifty or sixty miles an hour, so that we came up with
Cape Clear, at some forty miles to our North, before we had secured
the rod, and had time to think what we were about. It was now that
Mr. Ainsworth made an extraordinary, but to my fancy, a by no means
unreasonable or chimerical proposition, in which he was instantly
seconded by Mr. Holland - viz.: that we should take advantage of the
strong gale which bore us on, and in place of beating back to Paris,
make an attempt to reach the coast of North America. After slight
reflection I gave a willing assent to this bold proposition, which
(strange to say) met with objection from the two seamen only. As the
stronger party, however, we overruled their fears, and kept
resolutely upon our course. We steered due West ; but as the
trailing of the buoys materially impeded our progress, and we had the
balloon abundantly at command, either for ascent or descent, we first
threw out fifty pounds of ballast, and then wound up (by means of a
windlass) so much of the rope as brought it quite clear of the sea.
We perceived the effect of this manœuvre immediately, in a vastly
increased rate of progress ; and, as the gale freshened, we flew
with a velocity nearly inconceivable ; the guide-rope flying out
behind the car, like a streamer from a vessel. It is needless to say
that a very short time sufficed us to lose sight of the coast. We
passed over innumerable vessels of all kinds, a few of which were
endeavoring to beat up, but the most of them lying to. We occasioned
the greatest excitement on board all - an excitement greatly relished
by ourselves, and especially by our two men, who, now under the
influence of a dram of Geneva, seemed resolved to give all scruple,
or fear, to the wind. Many of the vessels fired signal guns ; and
in all we were saluted with loud cheers (which we heard with
surprising distinctness) and the waving of caps and handkerchiefs. We
kept on in this manner throughout the day, with no material incident,
and, as the shades of night closed around us, we made a rough
estimate of the distance traversed. It could not have been less than
five hundred miles, and was probably much more. The propeller was
kept in constant operation, and, no doubt, aided our progress
materially. As the sun went down, the gale freshened into an
absolute hurricane, and the ocean beneath was clearly visible on
account of its phosphorescence. The wind was from the East all
night, and gave us the brightest omen of success. We suffered no
little from cold, and the dampness of the atmosphere was most
unpleasant ; but the ample space in the car enabled us to lie down,
and by means of cloaks and a few blankets, we did sufficiently well.

"P.S. (by Mr. Ainsworth.) The last nine hours have been
unquestionably the most exciting of my life. I can conceive nothing
more sublimating than the strange peril and novelty of an adventure
such as this. May God grant that we succeed ! I ask not success for
mere safety to my insignificant person, but for the sake of human
knowledge and - for the vastness of the triumph. And yet the feat is
only so evidently feasible that the sole wonder is why men have
scrupled to attempt it before. One single gale such as now befriends
us - let such a tempest whirl forward a balloon for four or five days
(these gales often last longer) and the voyager will be easily borne,
in that period, from coast to coast. In view of such a gale the
broad Atlantic becomes a mere lake. I am more struck, just now, with
the supreme silence which reigns in the sea beneath us,
notwithstanding its agitation, than with any other phenomenon
presenting itself. The waters give up no voice to the heavens. The
immense flaming ocean writhes and is tortured uncomplainingly. The
mountainous surges suggest the idea of innumerable dumb gigantic
fiends struggling in impotent agony. In a night such as is this to
me, a man _lives_ - lives a whole century of ordinary life - nor
would I forego this rapturous delight for that of a whole century of
ordinary existence.

"_Sunday, the seventh_. [Mr. Mason's MS.] This morning the gale,
by 10, had subsided to an eight or nine - knot breeze, (for a vessel
at sea,) and bears us, perhaps, thirty miles per hour, or more. It
has veered, however, very considerably to the north ; and now, at
sundown, we are holding our course due west, principally by the screw
and rudder, which answer their purposes to admiration. I regard the
project as thoroughly successful, and the easy navigation of the air
in any direction (not exactly in the teeth of a gale) as no longer
problematical. We could not have made head against the strong wind
of yesterday ; but, by ascending, we might have got out of its
influence, if requisite. Against a pretty stiff breeze, I feel
convinced, we can make our way with the propeller. At noon, to-day,
ascended to an elevation of nearly 25,000 feet, by discharging
ballast. Did this to search for a more direct current, but found
none so favorable as the one we are now in. We have an abundance of
gas to take us across this small pond, even should the voyage last
three weeks. I have not the slightest fear for the result. The
difficulty has been strangely exaggerated and misapprehended. I can
choose my current, and should I find _all_ currents against me, I can
make very tolerable headway with the propeller. We have had no
incidents worth recording. The night promises fair.

P.S. [By Mr. Ainsworth.] I have little to record, except the
fact (to me quite a surprising one) that, at an elevation equal to
that of Cotopaxi, I experienced neither very intense cold, nor
headache, nor difficulty of breathing ; neither, I find, did Mr.
Mason, nor Mr. Holland, nor Sir Everard. Mr. Osborne complained of
constriction of the chest - but this soon wore off. We have flown at
a great rate during the day, and we must be more than half way across
the Atlantic. We have passed over some twenty or thirty vessels of
various kinds, and all seem to be delightfully astonished. Crossing
the ocean in a balloon is not so difficult a feat after all. _Omne
ignotum pro magnifico. Mem :_ at 25,000 feet elevation the sky
appears nearly black, and the stars are distinctly visible ; while
the sea does not seem convex (as one might suppose) but absolutely
and most unequivocally _concave_.{*1}

"_Monday, the 8th_. [Mr. Mason's MS.] This morning we had again
some little trouble with the rod of the propeller, which must be
entirely remodelled, for fear of serious accident - I mean the steel
rod - not the vanes. The latter could not be improved. The wind has
been blowing steadily and strongly from the north-east all day and
so far fortune seems bent upon favoring us. Just before day, we were
all somewhat alarmed at some odd noises and concussions in the
balloon, accompanied with the apparent rapid subsidence of the whole
machine. These phenomena were occasioned by the expansion of the
gas, through increase of heat in the atmosphere, and the consequent
disruption of the minute particles of ice with which the network had
become encrusted during the night. Threw down several bottles to the
vessels below. Saw one of them picked up by a large ship - seemingly
one of the New York line packets. Endeavored to make out her name,
but could not be sure of it. Mr. Osbornes telescope made it out
something like "Atalanta." It is now 12 ,at night, and we are still
going nearly west, at a rapid pace. The sea is peculiarly

"P.S. [By Mr. Ainsworth.] It is now 2, A.M., and nearly calm, as
well as I can judge - but it is very difficult to determine this
point, since we move _with_ the air so completely. I have not slept
since quitting Wheal-Vor, but can stand it no longer, and must take a
nap. We cannot be far from the American coast.

"_Tuesday, the _9_th_. [Mr. Ainsworth's MS.] _One, P.M. We are
in full view of the low coast of South Carolina_. The great problem
is accomplished. We have crossed the Atlantic - fairly and _easily_
crossed it in a balloon ! God be praised ! Who shall say that
anything is impossible hereafter? "

The Journal here ceases. Some particulars of the descent were
communicated, however, by Mr. Ainsworth to Mr. Forsyth. It was
nearly dead calm when the voyagers first came in view of the coast,
which was immediately recognized by both the seamen, and by Mr.
Osborne. The latter gentleman having acquaintances at Fort Moultrie,
it was immediately resolved to descend in its vicinity. The balloon
was brought over the beach (the tide being out and the sand hard,
smooth, and admirably adapted for a descent,) and the grapnel let go,
which took firm hold at once. The inhabitants of the island, and of
the fort, thronged out, of course, to see the balloon ; but it was
with the greatest difficulty that any one could be made to credit the
actual voyage - _the crossing of the Atlantic_. The grapnel caught
at 2, P.M., precisely ; and thus the whole voyage was completed in
seventy-five hours ; or rather less, counting from shore to shore.
No serious accident occurred. No real danger was at any time
apprehended. The balloon was exhausted and secured without trouble ;
and when the MS. from which this narrative is compiled was
despatched from Charleston, the party were still at Fort Moultrie.
Their farther intentions were not ascertained ; but we can safely
promise our readers some additional information either on Monday or
in the course of the next day, at farthest.

This is unquestionably the most stupendous, the most interesting,
and the most important undertaking, ever accomplished or even
attempted by man. What magnificent events may ensue, it would be
useless now to think of determining.

~~~ End of Text ~~~

{*1} _Note_. - Mr. Ainsworth has not attempted to account for this
phenomenon, which, however, is quite susceptible of explanation. A
line dropped from an elevation of 25,000 feet, perpendicularly to the
surface of the earth (or sea), would form the perpendicular of a
right-angled triangle, of which the base would extend from the right
angle to the horizon, and the hypothenuse from the horizon to the
balloon. But the 25,000 feet of altitude is little or nothing, in
comparison with the extent of the prospect. In other words, the base
and hypothenuse of the supposed triangle would be so long when
compared with the perpendicular, that the two former may be regarded
as nearly parallel. In this manner the horizon of the æronaut would
appear to be _on a level_ with the car. But, as the point immediately
beneath him seems, and is, at a great distance below him, it seems,
of course, also, at a great distance below the horizon. Hence the
impression of _concavity_ ; and this impression must remain, until
the elevation shall bear so great a proportion to the extent of
prospect, that the apparent parallelism of the base and hypothenuse
disappears - when the earth's real convexity must become apparent.



Qui n'a plus qu'un moment a vivre

N'a plus rien a dissimuler.

-- Quinault -- Atys.

OF my country and of my family I have little to say. Ill usage and
length of years have driven me from the one, and estranged me from
the other. Hereditary wealth afforded me an education of no common
order, and a contemplative turn of mind enabled me to methodize the
stores which early study very diligently garnered up. -- Beyond all
things, the study of the German moralists gave me great delight; not
from any ill-advised admiration of their eloquent madness, but from
the ease with which my habits of rigid thought enabled me to detect
their falsities. I have often been reproached with the aridity of my
genius; a deficiency of imagination has been imputed to me as a
crime; and the Pyrrhonism of my opinions has at all times rendered me
notorious. Indeed, a strong relish for physical philosophy has, I
fear, tinctured my mind with a very common error of this age -- I
mean the habit of referring occurrences, even the least susceptible
of such reference, to the principles of that science. Upon the whole,
no person could be less liable than myself to be led away from the
severe precincts of truth by the ignes fatui of superstition. I have
thought proper to premise thus much, lest the incredible tale I have
to tell should be considered rather the raving of a crude
imagination, than the positive experience of a mind to which the
reveries of fancy have been a dead letter and a nullity.

After many years spent in foreign travel, I sailed in the year 18 --
, from the port of Batavia, in the rich and populous island of Java,
on a voyage to the Archipelago of the Sunda islands. I went as
passenger -- having no other inducement than a kind of nervous
restlessness which haunted me as a fiend.

Our vessel was a beautiful ship of about four hundred tons,
copper-fastened, and built at Bombay of Malabar teak. She was
freighted with cotton-wool and oil, from the Lachadive islands. We
had also on board coir, jaggeree, ghee, cocoa-nuts, and a few cases
of opium. The stowage was clumsily done, and the vessel consequently

We got under way with a mere breath of wind, and for many days stood
along the eastern coast of Java, without any other incident to
beguile the monotony of our course than the occasional meeting with
some of the small grabs of the Archipelago to which we were bound.

One evening, leaning over the taffrail, I observed a very singular,
isolated cloud, to the N.W. It was remarkable, as well for its color,
as from its being the first we had seen since our departure from
Batavia. I watched it attentively until sunset, when it spread all at
once to the eastward and westward, girting in the horizon with a
narrow strip of vapor, and looking like a long line of low beach. My
notice was soon afterwards attracted by the dusky-red appearance of
the moon, and the peculiar character of the sea. The latter was
undergoing a rapid change, and the water seemed more than usually
transparent. Although I could distinctly see the bottom, yet, heaving
the lead, I found the ship in fifteen fathoms. The air now became
intolerably hot, and was loaded with spiral exhalations similar to
those arising from heat iron. As night came on, every breath of wind
died away, an more entire calm it is impossible to conceive. The
flame of a candle burned upon the poop without the least perceptible
motion, and a long hair, held between the finger and thumb, hung
without the possibility of detecting a vibration. However, as the
captain said he could perceive no indication of danger, and as we
were drifting in bodily to shore, he ordered the sails to be furled,
and the anchor let go. No watch was set, and the crew, consisting
principally of Malays, stretched themselves deliberately upon deck. I
went below -- not without a full presentiment of evil. Indeed, every
appearance warranted me in apprehending a Simoom. I told the captain
my fears; but he paid no attention to what I said, and left me
without deigning to give a reply. My uneasiness, however, prevented
me from sleeping, and about midnight I went upon deck. -- As I placed
my foot upon the upper step of the companion-ladder, I was startled
by a loud, humming noise, like that occasioned by the rapid
revolution of a mill-wheel, and before I could ascertain its meaning,
I found the ship quivering to its centre. In the next instant, a
wilderness of foam hurled us upon our beam-ends, and, rushing over us
fore and aft, swept the entire decks from stem to stern.

The extreme fury of the blast proved, in a great measure, the
salvation of the ship. Although completely water-logged, yet, as her
masts had gone by the board, she rose, after a minute, heavily from
the sea, and, staggering awhile beneath the immense pressure of the
tempest, finally righted.

By what miracle I escaped destruction, it is impossible to say.
Stunned by the shock of the water, I found myself, upon recovery,
jammed in between the stern-post and rudder. With great difficulty I
gained my feet, and looking dizzily around, was, at first, struck
with the idea of our being among breakers; so terrific, beyond the
wildest imagination, was the whirlpool of mountainous and foaming
ocean within which we were engulfed. After a while, I heard the voice
of an old Swede, who had shipped with us at the moment of our leaving
port. I hallooed to him with all my strength, and presently he came
reeling aft. We soon discovered that we were the sole survivors of
the accident. All on deck, with the exception of ourselves, had been
swept overboard; -- the captain and mates must have perished as they
slept, for the cabins were deluged with water. Without assistance, we
could expect to do little for the security of the ship, and our
exertions were at first paralyzed by the momentary expectation of
going down. Our cable had, of course, parted like pack-thread, at the
first breath of the hurricane, or we should have been instantaneously
overwhelmed. We scudded with frightful velocity before the sea, and
the water made clear breaches over us. The frame-work of our stern
was shattered excessively, and, in almost every respect, we had
received considerable injury; but to our extreme Joy we found the
pumps unchoked, and that we had made no great shifting of our
ballast. The main fury of the blast had already blown over, and we
apprehended little danger from the violence of the wind; but we
looked forward to its total cessation with dismay; well believing,
that, in our shattered condition, we should inevitably perish in the
tremendous swell which would ensue. But this very just apprehension
seemed by no means likely to be soon verified. For five entire days
and nights -- during which our only subsistence was a small quantity
of jaggeree, procured with great difficulty from the forecastle --
the hulk flew at a rate defying computation, before rapidly
succeeding flaws of wind, which, without equalling the first violence
of the Simoom, were still more terrific than any tempest I had before
encountered. Our course for the first four days was, with trifling
variations, S.E. and by S.; and we must have run down the coast of
New Holland. -- On the fifth day the cold became extreme, although
the wind had hauled round a point more to the northward. -- The sun
arose with a sickly yellow lustre, and clambered a very few degrees
above the horizon -- emitting no decisive light. -- There were no
clouds apparent, yet the wind was upon the increase, and blew with a
fitful and unsteady fury. About noon, as nearly as we could guess,
our attention was again arrested by the appearance of the sun. It
gave out no light, properly so called, but a dull and sullen glow
without reflection, as if all its rays were polarized. Just before
sinking within the turgid sea, its central fires suddenly went out,
as if hurriedly extinguished by some unaccountable power. It was a
dim, sliver-like rim, alone, as it rushed down the unfathomable

We waited in vain for the arrival of the sixth day -- that day to me
has not arrived -- to the Swede, never did arrive. Thenceforward we
were enshrouded in patchy darkness, so that we could not have seen an
object at twenty paces from the ship. Eternal night continued to
envelop us, all unrelieved by the phosphoric sea-brilliancy to which
we had been accustomed in the tropics. We observed too, that,
although the tempest continued to rage with unabated violence, there
was no longer to be discovered the usual appearance of surf, or foam,
which had hitherto attended us. All around were horror, and thick
gloom, and a black sweltering desert of ebony. -- Superstitious
terror crept by degrees into the spirit of the old Swede, and my own
soul was wrapped up in silent wonder. We neglected all care of the
ship, as worse than useless, and securing ourselves, as well as
possible, to the stump of the mizen-mast, looked out bitterly into
the world of ocean. We had no means of calculating time, nor could we
form any guess of our situation. We were, however, well aware of
having made farther to the southward than any previous navigators,
and felt great amazement at not meeting with the usual impediments of
ice. In the meantime every moment threatened to be our last -- every
mountainous billow hurried to overwhelm us. The swell surpassed
anything I had imagined possible, and that we were not instantly
buried is a miracle. My companion spoke of the lightness of our
cargo, and reminded me of the excellent qualities of our ship; but I
could not help feeling the utter hopelessness of hope itself, and
prepared myself gloomily for that death which I thought nothing could
defer beyond an hour, as, with every knot of way the ship made, the
swelling of the black stupendous seas became more dismally appalling.
At times we gasped for breath at an elevation beyond the albatross --
at times became dizzy with the velocity of our descent into some
watery hell, where the air grew stagnant, and no sound disturbed the
slumbers of the kraken.

We were at the bottom of one of these abysses, when a quick scream
from my companion broke fearfully upon the night. "See! see!" cried
he, shrieking in my ears, "Almighty God! see! see!" As he spoke, I
became aware of a dull, sullen glare of red light which streamed down
the sides of the vast chasm where we lay, and threw a fitful
brilliancy upon our deck. Casting my eyes upwards, I beheld a
spectacle which froze the current of my blood. At a terrific height
directly above us, and upon the very verge of the precipitous
descent, hovered a gigantic ship of, perhaps, four thousand tons.
Although upreared upon the summit of a wave more than a hundred times
her own altitude, her apparent size exceeded that of any ship of the
line or East Indiaman in existence. Her huge hull was of a deep dingy
black, unrelieved by any of the customary carvings of a ship. A
single row of brass cannon protruded from her open ports, and dashed
from their polished surfaces the fires of innumerable
battle-lanterns, which swung to and fro about her rigging. But what
mainly inspired us with horror and astonishment, was that she bore up
under a press of sail in the very teeth of that supernatural sea, and
of that ungovernable hurricane. When we first discovered her, her
bows were alone to be seen, as she rose slowly from the dim and
horrible gulf beyond her. For a moment of intense terror she paused
upon the giddy pinnacle, as if in contemplation of her own sublimity,
then trembled and tottered, and -- came down.

At this instant, I know not what sudden self-possession came over my
spirit. Staggering as far aft as I could, I awaited fearlessly the
ruin that was to overwhelm. Our own vessel was at length ceasing from
her struggles, and sinking with her head to the sea. The shock of the
descending mass struck her, consequently, in that portion of her
frame which was already under water, and the inevitable result was to
hurl me, with irresistible violence, upon the rigging of the

As I fell, the ship hove in stays, and went about; and to the
confusion ensuing I attributed my escape from the notice of the crew.
With little difficulty I made my way unperceived to the main
hatchway, which was partially open, and soon found an opportunity of
secreting myself in the hold. Why I did so I can hardly tell. An
indefinite sense of awe, which at first sight of the navigators of
the ship had taken hold of my mind, was perhaps the principle of my
concealment. I was unwilling to trust myself with a race of people
who had offered, to the cursory glance I had taken, so many points of
vague novelty, doubt, and apprehension. I therefore thought proper to
contrive a hiding-place in the hold. This I did by removing a small
portion of the shifting-boards, in such a manner as to afford me a
convenient retreat between the huge timbers of the ship.

I had scarcely completed my work, when a footstep in the hold forced
me to make use of it. A man passed by my place of concealment with a
feeble and unsteady gait. I could not see his face, but had an
opportunity of observing his general appearance. There was about it
an evidence of great age and infirmity. His knees tottered beneath a
load of years, and his entire frame quivered under the burthen. He
muttered to himself, in a low broken tone, some words of a language
which I could not understand, and groped in a corner among a pile of
singular-looking instruments, and decayed charts of navigation. His
manner was a wild mixture of the peevishness of second childhood, and
the solemn dignity of a God. He at length went on deck, and I saw him
no more.

* * * * * * * *

A feeling, for which I have no name, has taken possession of my soul
-- a sensation which will admit of no analysis, to which the lessons
of bygone times are inadequate, and for which I fear futurity itself
will offer me no key. To a mind constituted like my own, the latter
consideration is an evil. I shall never -- I know that I shall never
-- be satisfied with regard to the nature of my conceptions. Yet it
is not wonderful that these conceptions are indefinite, since they
have their origin in sources so utterly novel. A new sense -- a new
entity is added to my soul.

* * * * * * * *

It is long since I first trod the deck of this terrible ship, and the
rays of my destiny are, I think, gathering to a focus.
Incomprehensible men! Wrapped up in meditations of a kind which I
cannot divine, they pass me by unnoticed. Concealment is utter folly
on my part, for the people will not see. It was but just now that I
passed directly before the eyes of the mate -- it was no long while
ago that I ventured into the captain's own private cabin, and took
thence the materials with which I write, and have written. I shall
from time to time continue this Journal. It is true that I may not
find an opportunity of transmitting it to the world, but I will not
fall to make the endeavour. At the last moment I will enclose the MS.
in a bottle, and cast it within the sea.

* * * * * * * *

An incident has occurred which has given me new room for meditation.
Are such things the operation of ungoverned Chance? I had ventured
upon deck and thrown myself down, without attracting any notice,
among a pile of ratlin-stuff and old sails in the bottom of the yawl.
While musing upon the singularity of my fate, I unwittingly daubed
with a tar-brush the edges of a neatly-folded studding-sail which lay
near me on a barrel. The studding-sail is now bent upon the ship, and
the thoughtless touches of the brush are spread out into the word

I have made many observations lately upon the structure of the
vessel. Although well armed, she is not, I think, a ship of war. Her
rigging, build, and general equipment, all negative a supposition of
this kind. What she is not, I can easily perceive -- what she is I
fear it is impossible to say. I know not how it is, but in
scrutinizing her strange model and singular cast of spars, her huge
size and overgrown suits of canvas, her severely simple bow and
antiquated stern, there will occasionally flash across my mind a
sensation of familiar things, and there is always mixed up with such
indistinct shadows of recollection, an unaccountable memory of old
foreign chronicles and ages long ago.

* * * * * * * *

I have been looking at the timbers of the ship. She is built of a
material to which I am a stranger. There is a peculiar character
about the wood which strikes me as rendering it unfit for the purpose
to which it has been applied. I mean its extreme porousness,
considered independently by the worm-eaten condition which is a
consequence of navigation in these seas, and apart from the
rottenness attendant upon age. It will appear perhaps an observation
somewhat over-curious, but this wood would have every, characteristic
of Spanish oak, if Spanish oak were distended by any unnatural means.

In reading the above sentence a curious apothegm of an old
weather-beaten Dutch navigator comes full upon my recollection. "It
is as sure," he was wont to say, when any doubt was entertained of
his veracity, "as sure as there is a sea where the ship itself will
grow in bulk like the living body of the seaman."

* * * * * * * *

About an hour ago, I made bold to thrust myself among a group of the
crew. They paid me no manner of attention, and, although I stood in
the very midst of them all, seemed utterly unconscious of my
presence. Like the one I had at first seen in the hold, they all bore
about them the marks of a hoary old age. Their knees trembled with
infirmity; their shoulders were bent double with decrepitude; their
shrivelled skins rattled in the wind; their voices were low,
tremulous and broken; their eyes glistened with the rheum of years;
and their gray hairs streamed terribly in the tempest. Around them,
on every part of the deck, lay scattered mathematical instruments of
the most quaint and obsolete construction.

* * * * * * * *

I mentioned some time ago the bending of a studding-sail. From that
period the ship, being thrown dead off the wind, has continued her
terrific course due south, with every rag of canvas packed upon her,
from her trucks to her lower studding-sail booms, and rolling every
moment her top-gallant yard-arms into the most appalling hell of
water which it can enter into the mind of a man to imagine. I have
just left the deck, where I find it impossible to maintain a footing,
although the crew seem to experience little inconvenience. It appears
to me a miracle of miracles that our enormous bulk is not swallowed
up at once and forever. We are surely doomed to hover continually
upon the brink of Eternity, without taking a final plunge into the
abyss. From billows a thousand times more stupendous than any I have
ever seen, we glide away with the facility of the arrowy sea-gull;
and the colossal waters rear their heads above us like demons of the
deep, but like demons confined to simple threats and forbidden to
destroy. I am led to attribute these frequent escapes to the only
natural cause which can account for such effect. -- I must suppose
the ship to be within the influence of some strong current, or
impetuous under-tow.

* * * * * * * *

I have seen the captain face to face, and in his own cabin -- but, as
I expected, he paid me no attention. Although in his appearance there
is, to a casual observer, nothing which might bespeak him more or
less than man-still a feeling of irrepressible reverence and awe
mingled with the sensation of wonder with which I regarded him. In
stature he is nearly my own height; that is, about five feet eight
inches. He is of a well-knit and compact frame of body, neither
robust nor remarkably otherwise. But it is the singularity of the
expression which reigns upon the face -- it is the intense, the
wonderful, the thrilling evidence of old age, so utter, so extreme,
which excites within my spirit a sense -- a sentiment ineffable. His
forehead, although little wrinkled, seems to bear upon it the stamp
of a myriad of years. -- His gray hairs are records of the past, and
his grayer eyes are Sybils of the future. The cabin floor was thickly
strewn with strange, iron-clasped folios, and mouldering instruments
of science, and obsolete long-forgotten charts. His head was bowed
down upon his hands, and he pored, with a fiery unquiet eye, over a
paper which I took to be a commission, and which, at all events, bore
the signature of a monarch. He muttered to himself, as did the first
seaman whom I saw in the hold, some low peevish syllables of a
foreign tongue, and although the speaker was close at my elbow, his
voice seemed to reach my ears from the distance of a mile.

* * * * * * * *

The ship and all in it are imbued with the spirit of Eld. The crew
glide to and fro like the ghosts of buried centuries; their eyes have
an eager and uneasy meaning; and when their fingers fall athwart my
path in the wild glare of the battle-lanterns, I feel as I have never
felt before, although I have been all my life a dealer in
antiquities, and have imbibed the shadows of fallen columns at
Balbec, and Tadmor, and Persepolis, until my very soul has become a

* * * * * * * *

When I look around me I feel ashamed of my former apprehensions. If I
trembled at the blast which has hitherto attended us, shall I not
stand aghast at a warring of wind and ocean, to convey any idea of
which the words tornado and simoom are trivial and ineffective? All
in the immediate vicinity of the ship is the blackness of eternal
night, and a chaos of foamless water; but, about a league on either
side of us, may be seen, indistinctly and at intervals, stupendous
ramparts of ice, towering away into the desolate sky, and looking
like the walls of the universe.

* * * * * * * *

As I imagined, the ship proves to be in a current; if that
appellation can properly be given to a tide which, howling and
shrieking by the white ice, thunders on to the southward with a
velocity like the headlong dashing of a cataract.

* * * * * * * *

To conceive the horror of my sensations is, I presume, utterly
impossible; yet a curiosity to penetrate the mysteries of these awful
regions, predominates even over my despair, and will reconcile me to
the most hideous aspect of death. It is evident that we are hurrying
onwards to some exciting knowledge -- some never-to-be-imparted
secret, whose attainment is destruction. Perhaps this current leads
us to the southern pole itself. It must be confessed that a
supposition apparently so wild has every probability in its favor.

* * * * * * * *

The crew pace the deck with unquiet and tremulous step; but there is
upon their countenances an expression more of the eagerness of hope
than of the apathy of despair.

In the meantime the wind is still in our poop, and, as we carry a
crowd of canvas, the ship is at times lifted bodily from out the sea
-- Oh, horror upon horror! the ice opens suddenly to the right, and
to the left, and we are whirling dizzily, in immense concentric
circles, round and round the borders of a gigantic amphitheatre, the
summit of whose walls is lost in the darkness and the distance. But
little time will be left me to ponder upon my destiny -- the circles
rapidly grow small -- we are plunging madly within the grasp of the
whirlpool -- and amid a roaring, and bellowing, and thundering of
ocean and of tempest, the ship is quivering, oh God! and -- going

NOTE. -- The "MS. Found in a Bottle," was originally published in
1831, and it was not until many years afterwards that I became
acquainted with the maps of Mercator, in which the ocean is
represented as rushing, by four mouths, into the (northern) Polar
Gulf, to be absorbed into the bowels of the earth; the Pole itself
being represented by a black rock, towering to a prodigious height.

~~~ End of Text ~~~


The Oval Portrait

THE chateau into which my valet had ventured to make forcible
entrance, rather than permit me, in my desperately wounded condition,
to pass a night in the open air, was one of those piles of commingled
gloom and grandeur which have so long frowned among the Appennines,
not less in fact than in the fancy of Mrs. Radcliffe. To all
appearance it had been temporarily and very lately abandoned. We
established ourselves in one of the smallest and least sumptuously
furnished apartments. It lay in a remote turret of the building. Its
decorations were rich, yet tattered and antique. Its walls were hung
with tapestry and bedecked with manifold and multiform armorial
trophies, together with an unusually great number of very spirited
modern paintings in frames of rich golden arabesque. In these
paintings, which depended from the walls not only in their main
surfaces, but in very many nooks which the bizarre architecture of
the chateau rendered necessary -- in these paintings my incipient
delirium, perhaps, had caused me to take deep interest; so that I
bade Pedro to close the heavy shutters of the room -- since it was
already night -- to light the tongues of a tall candelabrum which
stood by the head of my bed -- and to throw open far and wide the
fringed curtains of black velvet which enveloped the bed itself. I
wished all this done that I might resign myself, if not to sleep, at
least alternately to the contemplation of these pictures, and the
perusal of a small volume which had been found upon the pillow, and
which purported to criticise and describe them.

Long -- long I read -- and devoutly, devotedly I gazed. Rapidly and
gloriously the hours flew by and the deep midnight came. The position
of the candelabrum displeased me, and outreaching my hand with
difficulty, rather than disturb my slumbering valet, I placed it so
as to throw its rays more fully upon the book.

But the action produced an effect altogether unanticipated. The rays
of the numerous candles (for there were many) now fell within a niche
of the room which had hitherto been thrown into deep shade by one of
the bed-posts. I thus saw in vivid light a picture all unnoticed
before. It was the portrait of a young girl just ripening into
womanhood. I glanced at the painting hurriedly, and then closed my
eyes. Why I did this was not at first apparent even to my own
perception. But while my lids remained thus shut, I ran over in my
mind my reason for so shutting them. It was an impulsive movement to
gain time for thought -- to make sure that my vision had not deceived
me -- to calm and subdue my fancy for a more sober and more certain
gaze. In a very few moments I again looked fixedly at the painting.

That I now saw aright I could not and would not doubt; for the first
flashing of the candles upon that canvas had seemed to dissipate the
dreamy stupor which was stealing over my senses, and to startle me at
once into waking life.

The portrait, I have already said, was that of a young girl. It was a
mere head and shoulders, done in what is technically termed a
vignette manner; much in the style of the favorite heads of Sully.
The arms, the bosom, and even the ends of the radiant hair melted
imperceptibly into the vague yet deep shadow which formed the
back-ground of the whole. The frame was oval, richly gilded and
filigreed in Moresque. As a thing of art nothing could be more
admirable than the painting itself. But it could have been neither
the execution of the work, nor the immortal beauty of the
countenance, which had so suddenly and so vehemently moved me. Least
of all, could it have been that my fancy, shaken from its half
slumber, had mistaken the head for that of a living person. I saw at
once that the peculiarities of the design, of the vignetting, and of
the frame, must have instantly dispelled such idea -- must have
prevented even its momentary entertainment. Thinking earnestly upon
these points, I remained, for an hour perhaps, half sitting, half
reclining, with my vision riveted upon the portrait. At length,
satisfied with the true secret of its effect, I fell back within the
bed. I had found the spell of the picture in an absolute
life-likeliness of expression, which, at first startling, finally
confounded, subdued, and appalled me. With deep and reverent awe I
replaced the candelabrum in its former position. The cause of my deep
agitation being thus shut from view, I sought eagerly the volume
which discussed the paintings and their histories. Turning to the
number which designated the oval portrait, I there read the vague and
quaint words which follow:

"She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of
glee. And evil was the hour when she saw, and loved, and wedded the
painter. He, passionate, studious, austere, and having already a
bride in his Art; she a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely
than full of glee; all light and smiles, and frolicsome as the young
fawn; loving and cherishing all things; hating only the Art which was
her rival; dreading only the pallet and brushes and other untoward
instruments which deprived her of the countenance of her lover. It
was thus a terrible thing for this lady to hear the painter speak of
his desire to portray even his young bride. But she was humble and
obedient, and sat meekly for many weeks in the dark, high
turret-chamber where the light dripped upon the pale canvas only from
overhead. But he, the painter, took glory in his work, which went on
from hour to hour, and from day to day. And be was a passionate, and
wild, and moody man, who became lost in reveries; so that he would
not see that the light which fell so ghastly in that lone turret
withered the health and the spirits of his bride, who pined visibly
to all but him. Yet she smiled on and still on, uncomplainingly,
because she saw that the painter (who had high renown) took a fervid
and burning pleasure in his task, and wrought day and night to depict
her who so loved him, yet who grew daily more dispirited and weak.
And in sooth some who beheld the portrait spoke of its resemblance in
low words, as of a mighty marvel, and a proof not less of the power
of the painter than of his deep love for her whom he depicted so
surpassingly well. But at length, as the labor drew nearer to its
conclusion, there were admitted none into the turret; for the painter
had grown wild with the ardor of his work, and turned his eyes from
canvas merely, even to regard the countenance of his wife. And he
would not see that the tints which he spread upon the canvas were
drawn from the cheeks of her who sate beside him. And when many weeks
bad passed, and but little remained to do, save one brush upon the
mouth and one tint upon the eye, the spirit of the lady again
flickered up as the flame within the socket of the lamp. And then the
brush was given, and then the tint was placed; and, for one moment,
the painter stood entranced before the work which he had wrought; but
in the next, while he yet gazed, he grew tremulous and very pallid,
and aghast, and crying with a loud voice, 'This is indeed Life
itself!' turned suddenly to regard his beloved: -- She was dead!


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