The Works of Edgar Allan Poe

Part 3 out of 5

[Mabbott states that Griswold "obviously had a revised form" for use
in the 1856 volume of Poe's works. Mabbott does not substantiate this
claim, but it is surely not unreasonable. An editor, and even
typographical errors, may have produced nearly all of the very minor
changes made in this version. (Indeed, two very necessary words were
clearly dropped by accident.) An editor might have corrected
"Wickliffe's 'Epigoniad' " to "Wilkie's 'Epigoniad'," but is unlikely
to have added "Tuckerman's 'Sicily' " to the list of books read by
the narrator. Griswold was not above forgery (in Poe's letters) when
it suited his purpose, but would have too little to gain by such an
effort in this instance.]

~~~ End of Text ~~~




I have the honor of sending you, for your magazine, an article which
I hope you will be able to comprehend rather more distinctly than I
do myself. It is a translation, by my friend, Martin Van Buren Mavis,
(sometimes called the "Poughkeepsie Seer") of an odd-looking MS.
which I found, about a year ago, tightly corked up in a jug floating
in the Mare Tenebrarum -- a sea well described by the Nubian
geographer, but seldom visited now-a-days, except for the
transcendentalists and divers for crotchets.

Truly yours,


{this paragraph not in the volume--ED}


April, 1, 2848

NOW, my dear friend -- now, for your sins, you are to suffer the
infliction of a long gossiping letter. I tell you distinctly that I
am going to punish you for all your impertinences by being as
tedious, as discursive, as incoherent and as unsatisfactory as
possible. Besides, here I am, cooped up in a dirty balloon, with some
one or two hundred of the canaille, all bound on a pleasure
excursion, (what a funny idea some people have of pleasure!) and I
have no prospect of touching terra firma for a month at least. Nobody
to talk to. Nothing to do. When one has nothing to do, then is the
time to correspond with ones friends. You perceive, then, why it is
that I write you this letter -- it is on account of my ennui and your

Get ready your spectacles and make up your mind to be annoyed. I mean
to write at you every day during this odious voyage.

Heigho! when will any Invention visit the human pericranium? Are we
forever to be doomed to the thousand inconveniences of the balloon?
Will nobody contrive a more expeditious mode of progress? The
jog-trot movement, to my thinking, is little less than positive
torture. Upon my word we have not made more than a hundred miles the
hour since leaving home! The very birds beat us -- at least some of
them. I assure you that I do not exaggerate at all. Our motion, no
doubt, seems slower than it actually is -- this on account of our
having no objects about us by which to estimate our velocity, and on
account of our going with the wind. To be sure, whenever we meet a
balloon we have a chance of perceiving our rate, and then, I admit,
things do not appear so very bad. Accustomed as I am to this mode of
travelling, I cannot get over a kind of giddiness whenever a balloon
passes us in a current directly overhead. It always seems to me like
an immense bird of prey about to pounce upon us and carry us off in
its claws. One went over us this morning about sunrise, and so nearly
overhead that its drag-rope actually brushed the network suspending
our car, and caused us very serious apprehension. Our captain said
that if the material of the bag had been the trumpery varnished
"silk" of five hundred or a thousand years ago, we should inevitably
have been damaged. This silk, as he explained it to me, was a fabric
composed of the entrails of a species of earth-worm. The worm was
carefully fed on mulberries -- kind of fruit resembling a water-melon
-- and, when sufficiently fat, was crushed in a mill. The paste thus
arising was called papyrus in its primary state, and went through a
variety of processes until it finally became "silk." Singular to
relate, it was once much admired as an article of female dress!
Balloons were also very generally constructed from it. A better kind
of material, it appears, was subsequently found in the down
surrounding the seed-vessels of a plant vulgarly called euphorbium,
and at that time botanically termed milk-weed. This latter kind of
silk was designated as silk-buckingham, on account of its superior
durability, and was usually prepared for use by being varnished with
a solution of gum caoutchouc -- a substance which in some respects
must have resembled the gutta percha now in common use. This
caoutchouc was occasionally called Indian rubber or rubber of twist,
and was no doubt one of the numerous fungi. Never tell me again that
I am not at heart an antiquarian.

Talking of drag-ropes -- our own, it seems, has this moment knocked a
man overboard from one of the small magnetic propellers that swarm in
ocean below us -- a boat of about six thousand tons, and, from all
accounts, shamefully crowded. These diminutive barques should be
prohibited from carrying more than a definite number of passengers.
The man, of course, was not permitted to get on board again, and was
soon out of sight, he and his life-preserver. I rejoice, my dear
friend, that we live in an age so enlightened that no such a thing as
an individual is supposed to exist. It is the mass for which the true
Humanity cares. By-the-by, talking of Humanity, do you know that our
immortal Wiggins is not so original in his views of the Social
Condition and so forth, as his contemporaries are inclined to
suppose? Pundit assures me that the same ideas were put nearly in the
same way, about a thousand years ago, by an Irish philosopher called
Furrier, on account of his keeping a retail shop for cat peltries and
other furs. Pundit knows, you know; there can be no mistake about it.
How very wonderfully do we see verified every day, the profound
observation of the Hindoo Aries Tottle (as quoted by Pundit) -- "Thus
must we say that, not once or twice, or a few times, but with almost
infinite repetitions, the same opinions come round in a circle among

April 2. -- Spoke to-day the magnetic cutter in charge of the middle
section of floating telegraph wires. I learn that when this species
of telegraph was first put into operation by Horse, it was considered
quite impossible to convey the wires over sea, but now we are at a
loss to comprehend where the difficulty lay! So wags the world.
Tempora mutantur -- excuse me for quoting the Etruscan. What would we
do without the Atalantic telegraph? (Pundit says Atlantic was the
ancient adjective.) We lay to a few minutes to ask the cutter some
questions, and learned, among other glorious news, that civil war is
raging in Africa, while the plague is doing its good work beautifully
both in Yurope and Ayesher. Is it not truly remarkable that, before
the magnificent light shed upon philosophy by Humanity, the world was
accustomed to regard War and Pestilence as calamities? Do you know
that prayers were actually offered up in the ancient temples to the
end that these evils (!) might not be visited upon mankind? Is it not
really difficult to comprehend upon what principle of interest our
forefathers acted? Were they so blind as not to perceive that the
destruction of a myriad of individuals is only so much positive
advantage to the mass!

April 3. -- It is really a very fine amusement to ascend the
rope-ladder leading to the summit of the balloon-bag, and thence
survey the surrounding world. From the car below you know the
prospect is not so comprehensive -- you can see little vertically.
But seated here (where I write this) in the luxuriously-cushioned
open piazza of the summit, one can see everything that is going on in
all directions. Just now there is quite a crowd of balloons in sight,
and they present a very animated appearance, while the air is
resonant with the hum of so many millions of human voices. I have
heard it asserted that when Yellow or (Pundit will have it) Violet,
who is supposed to have been the first aeronaut, maintained the
practicability of traversing the atmosphere in all directions, by
merely ascending or descending until a favorable current was
attained, he was scarcely hearkened to at all by his contemporaries,
who looked upon him as merely an ingenious sort of madman, because
the philosophers (?) of the day declared the thing impossible. Really
now it does seem to me quite unaccountable how any thing so obviously
feasible could have escaped the sagacity of the ancient savans. But
in all ages the great obstacles to advancement in Art have been
opposed by the so-called men of science. To be sure, our men of
science are not quite so bigoted as those of old: -- oh, I have
something so queer to tell you on this topic. Do you know that it is
not more than a thousand years ago since the metaphysicians consented
to relieve the people of the singular fancy that there existed but
two possible roads for the attainment of Truth! Believe it if you
can! It appears that long, long ago, in the night of Time, there
lived a Turkish philosopher (or Hindoo possibly) called Aries Tottle.
This person introduced, or at all events propagated what was termed
the deductive or a priori mode of investigation. He started with what
he maintained to be axioms or "self-evident truths," and thence
proceeded "logically" to results. His greatest disciples were one
Neuclid, and one Cant. Well, Aries Tottle flourished supreme until
advent of one Hog, surnamed the "Ettrick Shepherd," who preached an
entirely different system, which he called the a posteriori or
inductive. His plan referred altogether to Sensation. He proceeded by
observing, analyzing, and classifying facts-instantiae naturae, as
they were affectedly called -- into general laws. Aries Tottle's
mode, in a word, was based on noumena; Hog's on phenomena. Well, so
great was the admiration excited by this latter system that, at its
first introduction, Aries Tottle fell into disrepute; but finally he
recovered ground and was permitted to divide the realm of Truth with
his more modern rival. The savans now maintained the Aristotelian and
Baconian roads were the sole possible avenues to knowledge.
"Baconian," you must know, was an adjective invented as equivalent to
Hog-ian and more euphonious and dignified.

Now, my dear friend, I do assure you, most positively, that I
represent this matter fairly, on the soundest authority and you can
easily understand how a notion so absurd on its very face must have
operated to retard the progress of all true knowledge -- which makes
its advances almost invariably by intuitive bounds. The ancient idea
confined investigations to crawling; and for hundreds of years so
great was the infatuation about Hog especially, that a virtual end
was put to all thinking, properly so called. No man dared utter a
truth to which he felt himself indebted to his Soul alone. It
mattered not whether the truth was even demonstrably a truth, for the
bullet-headed savans of the time regarded only the road by which he
had attained it. They would not even look at the end. "Let us see the
means," they cried, "the means!" If, upon investigation of the means,
it was found to come under neither the category Aries (that is to say
Ram) nor under the category Hog, why then the savans went no farther,
but pronounced the "theorist" a fool, and would have nothing to do
with him or his truth.

Now, it cannot be maintained, even, that by the crawling system the
greatest amount of truth would be attained in any long series of
ages, for the repression of imagination was an evil not to be
compensated for by any superior certainty in the ancient modes of
investigation. The error of these Jurmains, these Vrinch, these
Inglitch, and these Amriccans (the latter, by the way, were our own
immediate progenitors), was an error quite analogous with that of the
wiseacre who fancies that he must necessarily see an object the
better the more closely he holds it to his eyes. These people blinded
themselves by details. When they proceeded Hoggishly, their "facts"
were by no means always facts -- a matter of little consequence had
it not been for assuming that they were facts and must be facts
because they appeared to be such. When they proceeded on the path of
the Ram, their course was scarcely as straight as a ram's horn, for
they never had an axiom which was an axiom at all. They must have
been very blind not to see this, even in their own day; for even in
their own day many of the long "established" axioms had been
rejected. For example -- "Ex nihilo nihil fit"; "a body cannot act
where it is not"; "there cannot exist antipodes"; "darkness cannot
come out of light" -- all these, and a dozen other similar
propositions, formerly admitted without hesitation as axioms, were,
even at the period of which I speak, seen to be untenable. How absurd
in these people, then, to persist in putting faith in "axioms" as
immutable bases of Truth! But even out of the mouths of their
soundest reasoners it is easy to demonstrate the futility, the
impalpability of their axioms in general. Who was the soundest of
their logicians? Let me see! I will go and ask Pundit and be back in
a minute.... Ah, here we have it! Here is a book written nearly a
thousand years ago and lately translated from the Inglitch -- which,
by the way, appears to have been the rudiment of the Amriccan. Pundit
says it is decidedly the cleverest ancient work on its topic, Logic.
The author (who was much thought of in his day) was one Miller, or
Mill; and we find it recorded of him, as a point of some importance,
that he had a mill-horse called Bentham. But let us glance at the

Ah! -- "Ability or inability to conceive," says Mr. Mill, very
properly, "is in no case to be received as a criterion of axiomatic
truth." What modern in his senses would ever think of disputing this
truism? The only wonder with us must be, how it happened that Mr.
Mill conceived it necessary even to hint at any thing so obvious. So
far good -- but let us turn over another paper. What have we here? --
"Contradictories cannot both be true -- that is, cannot co-exist in
nature." Here Mr. Mill means, for example, that a tree must be either
a tree or not a tree -- that it cannot be at the same time a tree and
not a tree. Very well; but I ask him why. His reply is this -- and
never pretends to be any thing else than this -- "Because it is
impossible to conceive that contradictories can both be true." But
this is no answer at all, by his own showing, for has he not just
admitted as a truism that "ability or inability to conceive is in no
case to be received as a criterion of axiomatic truth."

Now I do not complain of these ancients so much because their logic
is, by their own showing, utterly baseless, worthless and fantastic
altogether, as because of their pompous and imbecile proscription of
all other roads of Truth, of all other means for its attainment than
the two preposterous paths -- the one of creeping and the one of
crawling -- to which they have dared to confine the Soul that loves
nothing so well as to soar.

By the by, my dear friend, do you not think it would have puzzled
these ancient dogmaticians to have determined by which of their two
roads it was that the most important and most sublime of all their
truths was, in effect, attained? I mean the truth of Gravitation.
Newton owed it to Kepler. Kepler admitted that his three laws were
guessed at -- these three laws of all laws which led the great
Inglitch mathematician to his principle, the basis of all physical
principle -- to go behind which we must enter the Kingdom of
Metaphysics. Kepler guessed -- that is to say imagined. He was
essentially a "theorist" -- that word now of so much sanctity,
formerly an epithet of contempt. Would it not have puzzled these old
moles too, to have explained by which of the two "roads" a
cryptographist unriddles a cryptograph of more than usual secrecy, or
by which of the two roads Champollion directed mankind to those
enduring and almost innumerable truths which resulted from his
deciphering the Hieroglyphics.

One word more on this topic and I will be done boring you. Is it not
passing strange that, with their eternal prattling about roads to
Truth, these bigoted people missed what we now so clearly perceive to
be the great highway -- that of Consistency? Does it not seem
singular how they should have failed to deduce from the works of God
the vital fact that a perfect consistency must be an absolute truth!
How plain has been our progress since the late announcement of this
proposition! Investigation has been taken out of the hands of the
ground-moles and given, as a task, to the true and only true
thinkers, the men of ardent imagination. These latter theorize. Can
you not fancy the shout of scorn with which my words would be
received by our progenitors were it possible for them to be now
looking over my shoulder? These men, I say, theorize; and their
theories are simply corrected, reduced, systematized -- cleared,
little by little, of their dross of inconsistency -- until, finally,
a perfect consistency stands apparent which even the most stolid
admit, because it is a consistency, to be an absolute and an
unquestionable truth.

April 4. -- The new gas is doing wonders, in conjunction with the new
improvement with gutta percha. How very safe, commodious, manageable,
and in every respect convenient are our modern balloons! Here is an
immense one approaching us at the rate of at least a hundred and
fifty miles an hour. It seems to be crowded with people -- perhaps
there are three or four hundred passengers -- and yet it soars to an
elevation of nearly a mile, looking down upon poor us with sovereign
contempt. Still a hundred or even two hundred miles an hour is slow
travelling after all. Do you remember our flight on the railroad
across the Kanadaw continent? -- fully three hundred miles the hour
-- that was travelling. Nothing to be seen though -- nothing to be
done but flirt, feast and dance in the magnificent saloons. Do you
remember what an odd sensation was experienced when, by chance, we
caught a glimpse of external objects while the cars were in full
flight? Every thing seemed unique -- in one mass. For my part, I
cannot say but that I preferred the travelling by the slow train of a
hundred miles the hour. Here we were permitted to have glass windows
-- even to have them open -- and something like a distinct view of
the country was attainable.... Pundit says that the route for the
great Kanadaw railroad must have been in some measure marked out
about nine hundred years ago! In fact, he goes so far as to assert
that actual traces of a road are still discernible -- traces
referable to a period quite as remote as that mentioned. The track,
it appears was double only; ours, you know, has twelve paths; and
three or four new ones are in preparation. The ancient rails were
very slight, and placed so close together as to be, according to
modern notions, quite frivolous, if not dangerous in the extreme. The
present width of track -- fifty feet -- is considered, indeed,
scarcely secure enough. For my part, I make no doubt that a track of
some sort must have existed in very remote times, as Pundit asserts;
for nothing can be clearer, to my mind, than that, at some period --
not less than seven centuries ago, certainly -- the Northern and
Southern Kanadaw continents were united; the Kanawdians, then, would
have been driven, by necessity, to a great railroad across the

April 5. -- I am almost devoured by ennui. Pundit is the only
conversible person on board; and he, poor soul! can speak of nothing
but antiquities. He has been occupied all the day in the attempt to
convince me that the ancient Amriccans governed themselves! -- did
ever anybody hear of such an absurdity? -- that they existed in a
sort of every-man-for-himself confederacy, after the fashion of the
"prairie dogs" that we read of in fable. He says that they started
with the queerest idea conceivable, viz: that all men are born free
and equal -- this in the very teeth of the laws of gradation so
visibly impressed upon all things both in the moral and physical
universe. Every man "voted," as they called it -- that is to say
meddled with public affairs -- until at length, it was discovered
that what is everybody's business is nobody's, and that the
"Republic" (so the absurd thing was called) was without a government
at all. It is related, however, that the first circumstance which
disturbed, very particularly, the self-complacency of the
philosophers who constructed this "Republic," was the startling
discovery that universal suffrage gave opportunity for fraudulent
schemes, by means of which any desired number of votes might at any
time be polled, without the possibility of prevention or even
detection, by any party which should be merely villainous enough not
to be ashamed of the fraud. A little reflection upon this discovery
sufficed to render evident the consequences, which were that
rascality must predominate -- in a word, that a republican government
could never be any thing but a rascally one. While the philosophers,
however, were busied in blushing at their stupidity in not having
foreseen these inevitable evils, and intent upon the invention of new
theories, the matter was put to an abrupt issue by a fellow of the
name of Mob, who took every thing into his own hands and set up a
despotism, in comparison with which those of the fabulous Zeros and
Hellofagabaluses were respectable and delectable. This Mob (a
foreigner, by-the-by), is said to have been the most odious of all
men that ever encumbered the earth. He was a giant in stature --
insolent, rapacious, filthy, had the gall of a bullock with the heart
of a hyena and the brains of a peacock. He died, at length, by dint
of his own energies, which exhausted him. Nevertheless, he had his
uses, as every thing has, however vile, and taught mankind a lesson
which to this day it is in no danger of forgetting -- never to run
directly contrary to the natural analogies. As for Republicanism, no
analogy could be found for it upon the face of the earth -- unless we
except the case of the "prairie dogs," an exception which seems to
demonstrate, if anything, that democracy is a very admirable form of
government -- for dogs.

April 6. -- Last night had a fine view of Alpha Lyrae, whose disk,
through our captain's spy-glass, subtends an angle of half a degree,
looking very much as our sun does to the naked eye on a misty day.
Alpha Lyrae, although so very much larger than our sun, by the by,
resembles him closely as regards its spots, its atmosphere, and in
many other particulars. It is only within the last century, Pundit
tells me, that the binary relation existing between these two orbs
began even to be suspected. The evident motion of our system in the
heavens was (strange to say!) referred to an orbit about a prodigious
star in the centre of the galaxy. About this star, or at all events
about a centre of gravity common to all the globes of the Milky Way
and supposed to be near Alcyone in the Pleiades, every one of these
globes was declared to be revolving, our own performing the circuit
in a period of 117,000,000 of years! We, with our present lights, our
vast telescopic improvements, and so forth, of course find it
difficult to comprehend the ground of an idea such as this. Its first
propagator was one Mudler. He was led, we must presume, to this wild
hypothesis by mere analogy in the first instance; but, this being the
case, he should have at least adhered to analogy in its development.
A great central orb was, in fact, suggested; so far Mudler was
consistent. This central orb, however, dynamically, should have been
greater than all its surrounding orbs taken together. The question
might then have been asked -- "Why do we not see it?" -- we,
especially, who occupy the mid region of the cluster -- the very
locality near which, at least, must be situated this inconceivable
central sun. The astronomer, perhaps, at this point, took refuge in
the suggestion of non-luminosity; and here analogy was suddenly let
fall. But even admitting the central orb non-luminous, how did he
manage to explain its failure to be rendered visible by the
incalculable host of glorious suns glaring in all directions about
it? No doubt what he finally maintained was merely a centre of
gravity common to all the revolving orbs -- but here again analogy
must have been let fall. Our system revolves, it is true, about a
common centre of gravity, but it does this in connection with and in
consequence of a material sun whose mass more than counterbalances
the rest of the system. The mathematical circle is a curve composed
of an infinity of straight lines; but this idea of the circle -- this
idea of it which, in regard to all earthly geometry, we consider as
merely the mathematical, in contradistinction from the practical,
idea -- is, in sober fact, the practical conception which alone we
have any right to entertain in respect to those Titanic circles with
which we have to deal, at least in fancy, when we suppose our system,
with its fellows, revolving about a point in the centre of the
galaxy. Let the most vigorous of human imaginations but attempt to
take a single step toward the comprehension of a circuit so
unutterable! I would scarcely be paradoxical to say that a flash of
lightning itself, travelling forever upon the circumference of this
inconceivable circle, would still forever be travelling in a straight
line. That the path of our sun along such a circumference -- that the
direction of our system in such an orbit -- would, to any human
perception, deviate in the slightest degree from a straight line even
in a million of years, is a proposition not to be entertained; and
yet these ancient astronomers were absolutely cajoled, it appears,
into believing that a decisive curvature had become apparent during
the brief period of their astronomical history -- during the mere
point -- during the utter nothingness of two or three thousand years!
How incomprehensible, that considerations such as this did not at
once indicate to them the true state of affairs -- that of the binary
revolution of our sun and Alpha Lyrae around a common centre of

April 7. -- Continued last night our astronomical amusements. Had a
fine view of the five Neptunian asteroids, and watched with much
interest the putting up of a huge impost on a couple of lintels in
the new temple at Daphnis in the moon. It was amusing to think that
creatures so diminutive as the lunarians, and bearing so little
resemblance to humanity, yet evinced a mechanical ingenuity so much
superior to our own. One finds it difficult, too, to conceive the
vast masses which these people handle so easily, to be as light as
our own reason tells us they actually are.

April 8. -- Eureka! Pundit is in his glory. A balloon from Kanadaw
spoke us to-day and threw on board several late papers; they contain
some exceedingly curious information relative to Kanawdian or rather
Amriccan antiquities. You know, I presume, that laborers have for
some months been employed in preparing the ground for a new fountain
at Paradise, the Emperor's principal pleasure garden. Paradise, it
appears, has been, literally speaking, an island time out of mind --
that is to say, its northern boundary was always (as far back as any
record extends) a rivulet, or rather a very narrow arm of the sea.
This arm was gradually widened until it attained its present breadth
-- a mile. The whole length of the island is nine miles; the breadth
varies materially. The entire area (so Pundit says) was, about eight
hundred years ago, densely packed with houses, some of them twenty
stories high; land (for some most unaccountable reason) being
considered as especially precious just in this vicinity. The
disastrous earthquake, however, of the year 2050, so totally uprooted
and overwhelmed the town (for it was almost too large to be called a
village) that the most indefatigable of our antiquarians have never
yet been able to obtain from the site any sufficient data (in the
shape of coins, medals or inscriptions) wherewith to build up even
the ghost of a theory concerning the manners, customs, &c., &c., &c.,
of the aboriginal inhabitants. Nearly all that we have hitherto known
of them is, that they were a portion of the Knickerbocker tribe of
savages infesting the continent at its first discovery by Recorder
Riker, a knight of the Golden Fleece. They were by no means
uncivilized, however, but cultivated various arts and even sciences
after a fashion of their own. It is related of them that they were
acute in many respects, but were oddly afflicted with monomania for
building what, in the ancient Amriccan, was denominated "churches" --
a kind of pagoda instituted for the worship of two idols that went by
the names of Wealth and Fashion. In the end, it is said, the island
became, nine tenths of it, church. The women, too, it appears, were
oddly deformed by a natural protuberance of the region just below the
small of the back -- although, most unaccountably, this deformity was
looked upon altogether in the light of a beauty. One or two pictures
of these singular women have in fact, been miraculously preserved.
They look very odd, very -- like something between a turkey-cock and
a dromedary.

Well, these few details are nearly all that have descended to us
respecting the ancient Knickerbockers. It seems, however, that while
digging in the centre of the emperors garden, (which, you know,
covers the whole island), some of the workmen unearthed a cubical and
evidently chiseled block of granite, weighing several hundred pounds.
It was in good preservation, having received, apparently, little
injury from the convulsion which entombed it. On one of its surfaces
was a marble slab with (only think of it!) an inscription -- a
legible inscription. Pundit is in ecstacies. Upon detaching the slab,
a cavity appeared, containing a leaden box filled with various coins,
a long scroll of names, several documents which appear to resemble
newspapers, with other matters of intense interest to the
antiquarian! There can be no doubt that all these are genuine
Amriccan relics belonging to the tribe called Knickerbocker. The
papers thrown on board our balloon are filled with fac-similes of the
coins, MSS., typography, &c., &c. I copy for your amusement the
Knickerbocker inscription on the marble slab:-

This Corner Stone of a Monument to

The Memory of


Was Laid With Appropriate Ceremonies

on the

19th Day of October, 1847

The anniversary of the surrender of

Lord Cornwallis

to General Washington at Yorktown

A. D. 1781

Under the Auspices of the

Washington Monument Association of

the city of New York

This, as I give it, is a verbatim translation done by Pundit himself,
so there can be no mistake about it. From the few words thus
preserved, we glean several important items of knowledge, not the
least interesting of which is the fact that a thousand years ago
actual monuments had fallen into disuse -- as was all very proper --
the people contenting themselves, as we do now, with a mere
indication of the design to erect a monument at some future time; a
corner-stone being cautiously laid by itself "solitary and alone"
(excuse me for quoting the great American poet Benton!), as a
guarantee of the magnanimous intention. We ascertain, too, very
distinctly, from this admirable inscription, the how as well as the
where and the what, of the great surrender in question. As to the
where, it was Yorktown (wherever that was), and as to the what, it
was General Cornwallis (no doubt some wealthy dealer in corn). He was
surrendered. The inscription commemorates the surrender of -- what?
why, "of Lord Cornwallis." The only question is what could the
savages wish him surrendered for. But when we remember that these
savages were undoubtedly cannibals, we are led to the conclusion that
they intended him for sausage. As to the how of the surrender, no
language can be more explicit. Lord Cornwallis was surrendered (for
sausage) "under the auspices of the Washington Monument Association"
-- no doubt a charitable institution for the depositing of
corner-stones. -- But, Heaven bless me! what is the matter? Ah, I see
-- the balloon has collapsed, and we shall have a tumble into the
sea. I have, therefore, only time enough to add that, from a hasty
inspection of the fac-similes of newspapers, &c., &c., I find that
the great men in those days among the Amriccans, were one John, a
smith, and one Zacchary, a tailor.

Good-bye, until I see you again. Whether you ever get this letter or
not is point of little importance, as I write altogether for my own
amusement. I shall cork the MS. up in a bottle, however, and throw it
into the sea.

Yours everlastingly,


~~~ End of Text ~~~



And stepped at once into a cooler clime. -- Cowper

KEATS fell by a criticism. Who was it died of "The Andromache"? {*1}
Ignoble souls! -- De L'Omelette perished of an ortolan. L'histoire en
est breve. Assist me, Spirit of Apicius!

A golden cage bore the little winged wanderer, enamored, melting,
indolent, to the Chaussee D'Antin, from its home in far Peru. From
its queenly possessor La Bellissima, to the Duc De L'Omelette, six
peers of the empire conveyed the happy bird.

That night the Duc was to sup alone. In the privacy of his bureau he
reclined languidly on that ottoman for which he sacrificed his
loyalty in outbidding his king -- the notorious ottoman of Cadet.

He buries his face in the pillow. The clock strikes! Unable to
restrain his feelings, his Grace swallows an olive. At this moment
the door gently opens to the sound of soft music, and lo! the most
delicate of birds is before the most enamored of men! But what
inexpressible dismay now overshadows the countenance of the Duc? --
"Horreur! -- chien! -- Baptiste! -- l'oiseau! ah, bon Dieu! cet
oiseau modeste que tu as deshabille de ses plumes, et que tu as servi
sans papier!" It is superfluous to say more: -- the Duc expired in a
paroxysm of disgust.

"Ha! ha! ha!" said his Grace on the third day after his decease.

"He! he! he!" replied the Devil faintly, drawing himself up with an
air of hauteur.

"Why, surely you are not serious," retorted De L'Omelette. "I have
sinned -- c'est vrai -- but, my good sir, consider! -- you have no
actual intention of putting such -- such barbarous threats into

"No what?" said his majesty -- "come, sir, strip!"

"Strip, indeed! very pretty i' faith! no, sir, I shall not strip. Who
are you, pray, that I, Duc De L'Omelette, Prince de Foie-Gras, just
come of age, author of the 'Mazurkiad,' and Member of the Academy,
should divest myself at your bidding of the sweetest pantaloons ever
made by Bourdon, the daintiest robe-de-chambre ever put together by
Rombert -- to say nothing of the taking my hair out of paper -- not
to mention the trouble I should have in drawing off my gloves?"

"Who am I? -- ah, true! I am Baal-Zebub, Prince of the Fly. I took
thee, just now, from a rose-wood coffin inlaid with ivory. Thou wast
curiously scented, and labelled as per invoice. Belial sent thee, --
my Inspector of Cemeteries. The pantaloons, which thou sayest were
made by Bourdon, are an excellent pair of linen drawers, and thy
robe-de-chambre is a shroud of no scanty dimensions."

"Sir!" replied the Duc, "I am not to be insulted with impunity!- Sir!
I shall take the earliest opportunity of avenging this insult!- Sir!
you shall hear from me! in the meantime au revoir!" -- and the Duc
was bowing himself out of the Satanic presence, when he was
interrupted and brought back by a gentleman in waiting. Hereupon his
Grace rubbed his eyes, yawned, shrugged his shoulders, reflected.
Having become satisfied of his identity, he took a bird's eye view of
his whereabouts.

The apartment was superb. Even De L'Omelette pronounced it bien comme
il faut. It was not its length nor its breadth, -- but its height --
ah, that was appalling! -- There was no ceiling -- certainly none-
but a dense whirling mass of fiery-colored clouds. His Grace's brain
reeled as he glanced upward. From above, hung a chain of an unknown
blood-red metal -- its upper end lost, like the city of Boston, parmi
les nues. From its nether extremity swung a large cresset. The Duc
knew it to be a ruby; but from it there poured a light so intense, so
still, so terrible, Persia never worshipped such -- Gheber never
imagined such -- Mussulman never dreamed of such when, drugged with
opium, he has tottered to a bed of poppies, his back to the flowers,
and his face to the God Apollo. The Duc muttered a slight oath,
decidedly approbatory.

The corners of the room were rounded into niches. Three of these were
filled with statues of gigantic proportions. Their beauty was
Grecian, their deformity Egyptian, their tout ensemble French. In the
fourth niche the statue was veiled; it was not colossal. But then
there was a taper ankle, a sandalled foot. De L'Omelette pressed his
hand upon his heart, closed his eyes, raised them, and caught his
Satanic Majesty -- in a blush.

But the paintings! -- Kupris! Astarte! Astoreth! -- a thousand and
the same! And Rafaelle has beheld them! Yes, Rafaelle has been here,
for did he not paint the ---? and was he not consequently damned? The
paintings -- the paintings! O luxury! O love! -- who, gazing on those
forbidden beauties, shall have eyes for the dainty devices of the
golden frames that besprinkled, like stars, the hyacinth and the
porphyry walls?

But the Duc's heart is fainting within him. He is not, however, as
you suppose, dizzy with magnificence, nor drunk with the ecstatic
breath of those innumerable censers. C'est vrai que de toutes ces
choses il a pense beaucoup -- mais! The Duc De L'Omelette is
terror-stricken; for, through the lurid vista which a single
uncurtained window is affording, lo! gleams the most ghastly of all

Le pauvre Duc! He could not help imagining that the glorious, the
voluptuous, the never-dying melodies which pervaded that hall, as
they passed filtered and transmuted through the alchemy of the
enchanted window-panes, were the wailings and the howlings of the
hopeless and the damned! And there, too! -- there! -- upon the
ottoman! -- who could he be? -- he, the petitmaitre -- no, the Deity
-- who sat as if carved in marble, et qui sourit, with his pale
countenance, si amerement?

Mais il faut agir -- that is to say, a Frenchman never faints
outright. Besides, his Grace hated a scene -- De L'Omelette is
himself again. There were some foils upon a table -- some points
also. The Duc s'echapper. He measures two points, and, with a grace
inimitable, offers his Majesty the choice. Horreur! his Majesty does
not fence!

Mais il joue! -- how happy a thought! -- but his Grace had always an
excellent memory. He had dipped in the "Diable" of Abbe Gualtier.
Therein it is said "que le Diable n'ose pas refuser un jeu d'ecarte."

But the chances -- the chances! True -- desperate: but scarcely more
desperate than the Duc. Besides, was he not in the secret? -- had he
not skimmed over Pere Le Brun? -- was he not a member of the Club
Vingt-un? "Si je perds," said he, "je serai deux fois perdu -- I
shall be doubly dammed -- voila tout! (Here his Grace shrugged his
shoulders.) Si je gagne, je reviendrai a mes ortolans -- que les
cartes soient preparees!"

His Grace was all care, all attention -- his Majesty all confidence.
A spectator would have thought of Francis and Charles. His Grace
thought of his game. His Majesty did not think; he shuffled. The Duc

The cards were dealt. The trump is turned -- it is -- it is -- the
king! No -- it was the queen. His Majesty cursed her masculine
habiliments. De L'Omelette placed his hand upon his heart.

They play. The Duc counts. The hand is out. His Majesty counts
heavily, smiles, and is taking wine. The Duc slips a card.

"C'est a vous a faire," said his Majesty, cutting. His Grace bowed,
dealt, and arose from the table en presentant le Roi.

His Majesty looked chagrined.

Had Alexander not been Alexander, he would have been Diogenes; and
the Duc assured his antagonist in taking leave, "que s'il n'eut ete
De L'Omelette il n'aurait point d'objection d'etre le Diable."

~~~ End of Text ~~~



SOME years ago, I engaged passage from Charleston, S. C, to the
city of New York, in the fine packet-ship "Independence," Captain
Hardy. We were to sail on the fifteenth of the month (June), weather
permitting; and on the fourteenth, I went on board to arrange some
matters in my state-room.

I found that we were to have a great many passengers, including a
more than usual number of ladies. On the list were several of my
acquaintances, and among other names, I was rejoiced to see that of
Mr. Cornelius Wyatt, a young artist, for whom I entertained feelings
of warm friendship. He had been with me a fellow-student at C --
University, where we were very much together. He had the ordinary
temperament of genius, and was a compound of misanthropy,
sensibility, and enthusiasm. To these qualities he united the warmest
and truest heart which ever beat in a human bosom.

I observed that his name was carded upon three state-rooms; and, upon
again referring to the list of passengers, I found that he had
engaged passage for himself, wife, and two sisters -- his own. The
state-rooms were sufficiently roomy, and each had two berths, one
above the other. These berths, to be sure, were so exceedingly narrow
as to be insufficient for more than one person; still, I could not
comprehend why there were three state-rooms for these four persons. I
was, just at that epoch, in one of those moody frames of mind which
make a man abnormally inquisitive about trifles: and I confess, with
shame, that I busied myself in a variety of ill-bred and preposterous
conjectures about this matter of the supernumerary state-room. It was
no business of mine, to be sure, but with none the less pertinacity
did I occupy myself in attempts to resolve the enigma. At last I
reached a conclusion which wrought in me great wonder why I had not
arrived at it before. "It is a servant of course," I said; "what a
fool I am, not sooner to have thought of so obvious a solution!" And
then I again repaired to the list -- but here I saw distinctly that
no servant was to come with the party, although, in fact, it had been
the original design to bring one -- for the words "and servant" had
been first written and then overscored. "Oh, extra baggage, to be
sure," I now said to myself -- "something he wishes not to be put in
the hold -- something to be kept under his own eye -- ah, I have it
-- a painting or so -- and this is what he has been bargaining about
with Nicolino, the Italian Jew." This idea satisfied me, and I
dismissed my curiosity for the nonce.

Wyatt's two sisters I knew very well, and most amiable and clever
girls they were. His wife he had newly married, and I had never yet
seen her. He had often talked about her in my presence, however, and
in his usual style of enthusiasm. He described her as of surpassing
beauty, wit, and accomplishment. I was, therefore, quite anxious to
make her acquaintance.

On the day in which I visited the ship (the fourteenth), Wyatt and
party were also to visit it -- so the captain informed me -- and I
waited on board an hour longer than I had designed, in hope of being
presented to the bride, but then an apology came. "Mrs. W. was a
little indisposed, and would decline coming on board until to-morrow,
at the hour of sailing."

The morrow having arrived, I was going from my hotel to the wharf,
when Captain Hardy met me and said that, "owing to circumstances" (a
stupid but convenient phrase), "he rather thought the 'Independence'
would not sail for a day or two, and that when all was ready, he
would send up and let me know." This I thought strange, for there was
a stiff southerly breeze; but as "the circumstances" were not
forthcoming, although I pumped for them with much perseverance, I had
nothing to do but to return home and digest my impatience at leisure.

I did not receive the expected message from the captain for nearly a
week. It came at length, however, and I immediately went on board.
The ship was crowded with passengers, and every thing was in the
bustle attendant upon making sail. Wyatt's party arrived in about ten
minutes after myself. There were the two sisters, the bride, and the
artist -- the latter in one of his customary fits of moody
misanthropy. I was too well used to these, however, to pay them any
special attention. He did not even introduce me to his wife -- this
courtesy devolving, per force, upon his sister Marian -- a very sweet
and intelligent girl, who, in a few hurried words, made us

Mrs. Wyatt had been closely veiled; and when she raised her veil, in
acknowledging my bow, I confess that I was very profoundly
astonished. I should have been much more so, however, had not long
experience advised me not to trust, with too implicit a reliance, the
enthusiastic descriptions of my friend, the artist, when indulging in
comments upon the loveliness of woman. When beauty was the theme, I
well knew with what facility he soared into the regions of the purely

The truth is, I could not help regarding Mrs. Wyatt as a decidedly
plain-looking woman. If not positively ugly, she was not, I think,
very far from it. She was dressed, however, in exquisite taste -- and
then I had no doubt that she had captivated my friend's heart by the
more enduring graces of the intellect and soul. She said very few
words, and passed at once into her state-room with Mr. W.

My old inquisitiveness now returned. There was no servant -- that was
a settled point. I looked, therefore, for the extra baggage. After
some delay, a cart arrived at the wharf, with an oblong pine box,
which was every thing that seemed to be expected. Immediately upon
its arrival we made sail, and in a short time were safely over the
bar and standing out to sea.

The box in question was, as I say, oblong. It was about six feet in
length by two and a half in breadth; I observed it attentively, and
like to be precise. Now this shape was peculiar; and no sooner had I
seen it, than I took credit to myself for the accuracy of my
guessing. I had reached the conclusion, it will be remembered, that
the extra baggage of my friend, the artist, would prove to be
pictures, or at least a picture; for I knew he had been for several
weeks in conference with Nicolino: -- and now here was a box, which,
from its shape, could possibly contain nothing in the world but a
copy of Leonardo's "Last Supper;" and a copy of this very "Last
Supper," done by Rubini the younger, at Florence, I had known, for
some time, to be in the possession of Nicolino. This point,
therefore, I considered as sufficiently settled. I chuckled
excessively when I thought of my acumen. It was the first time I had
ever known Wyatt to keep from me any of his artistical secrets; but
here he evidently intended to steal a march upon me, and smuggle a
fine picture to New York, under my very nose; expecting me to know
nothing of the matter. I resolved to quiz him well, now and

One thing, however, annoyed me not a little. The box did not go into
the extra state-room. It was deposited in Wyatt's own; and there,
too, it remained, occupying very nearly the whole of the floor -- no
doubt to the exceeding discomfort of the artist and his wife; -- this
the more especially as the tar or paint with which it was lettered in
sprawling capitals, emitted a strong, disagreeable, and, to my fancy,
a peculiarly disgusting odor. On the lid were painted the words --
"Mrs. Adelaide Curtis, Albany, New York. Charge of Cornelius Wyatt,
Esq. This side up. To be handled with care."

Now, I was aware that Mrs. Adelaide Curtis, of Albany, was the
artist's wife's mother, -- but then I looked upon the whole address
as a mystification, intended especially for myself. I made up my
mind, of course, that the box and contents would never get farther
north than the studio of my misanthropic friend, in Chambers Street,
New York.

For the first three or four days we had fine weather, although the
wind was dead ahead; having chopped round to the northward,
immediately upon our losing sight of the coast. The passengers were,
consequently, in high spirits and disposed to be social. I must
except, however, Wyatt and his sisters, who behaved stiffly, and, I
could not help thinking, uncourteously to the rest of the party.
Wyatt's conduct I did not so much regard. He was gloomy, even beyond
his usual habit -- in fact he was morose -- but in him I was prepared
for eccentricity. For the sisters, however, I could make no excuse.
They secluded themselves in their staterooms during the greater part
of the passage, and absolutely refused, although I repeatedly urged
them, to hold communication with any person on board.

Mrs. Wyatt herself was far more agreeable. That is to say, she was
chatty; and to be chatty is no slight recommendation at sea. She
became excessively intimate with most of the ladies; and, to my
profound astonishment, evinced no equivocal disposition to coquet
with the men. She amused us all very much. I say "amused"- and
scarcely know how to explain myself. The truth is, I soon found that
Mrs. W. was far oftener laughed at than with. The gentlemen said
little about her; but the ladies, in a little while, pronounced her
"a good-hearted thing, rather indifferent looking, totally
uneducated, and decidedly vulgar." The great wonder was, how Wyatt
had been entrapped into such a match. Wealth was the general
solution- but this I knew to be no solution at all; for Wyatt had
told me that she neither brought him a dollar nor had any
expectations from any source whatever. "He had married," he said,
"for love, and for love only; and his bride was far more than worthy
of his love." When I thought of these expressions, on the part of my
friend, I confess that I felt indescribably puzzled. Could it be
possible that he was taking leave of his senses? What else could I
think? He, so refined, so intellectual, so fastidious, with so
exquisite a perception of the faulty, and so keen an appreciation of
the beautiful! To be sure, the lady seemed especially fond of him-
particularly so in his absence -- when she made herself ridiculous by
frequent quotations of what had been said by her "beloved husband,
Mr. Wyatt." The word "husband" seemed forever -- to use one of her
own delicate expressions- forever "on the tip of her tongue." In the
meantime, it was observed by all on board, that he avoided her in the
most pointed manner, and, for the most part, shut himself up alone in
his state-room, where, in fact, he might have been said to live
altogether, leaving his wife at full liberty to amuse herself as she
thought best, in the public society of the main cabin.

My conclusion, from what I saw and heard, was, that, the artist, by
some unaccountable freak of fate, or perhaps in some fit of
enthusiastic and fanciful passion, had been induced to unite himself
with a person altogether beneath him, and that the natural result,
entire and speedy disgust, had ensued. I pitied him from the bottom
of my heart -- but could not, for that reason, quite forgive his
incommunicativeness in the matter of the "Last Supper." For this I
resolved to have my revenge.

One day he came upon deck, and, taking his arm as had been my wont, I
sauntered with him backward and forward. His gloom, however (which I
considered quite natural under the circumstances), seemed entirely
unabated. He said little, and that moodily, and with evident effort.
I ventured a jest or two, and he made a sickening attempt at a smile.
Poor fellow! -- as I thought of his wife, I wondered that he could
have heart to put on even the semblance of mirth. I determined to
commence a series of covert insinuations, or innuendoes, about the
oblong box -- just to let him perceive, gradually, that I was not
altogether the butt, or victim, of his little bit of pleasant
mystification. My first observation was by way of opening a masked
battery. I said something about the "peculiar shape of that box-,"
and, as I spoke the words, I smiled knowingly, winked, and touched
him gently with my forefinger in the ribs.

The manner in which Wyatt received this harmless pleasantry convinced
me, at once, that he was mad. At first he stared at me as if he found
it impossible to comprehend the witticism of my remark; but as its
point seemed slowly to make its way into his brain, his eyes, in the
same proportion, seemed protruding from their sockets. Then he grew
very red -- then hideously pale -- then, as if highly amused with
what I had insinuated, he began a loud and boisterous laugh, which,
to my astonishment, he kept up, with gradually increasing vigor, for
ten minutes or more. In conclusion, he fell flat and heavily upon the
deck. When I ran to uplift him, to all appearance he was dead.

I called assistance, and, with much difficulty, we brought him to
himself. Upon reviving he spoke incoherently for some time. At length
we bled him and put him to bed. The next morning he was quite
recovered, so far as regarded his mere bodily health. Of his mind I
say nothing, of course. I avoided him during the rest of the passage,
by advice of the captain, who seemed to coincide with me altogether
in my views of his insanity, but cautioned me to say nothing on this
head to any person on board.

Several circumstances occurred immediately after this fit of Wyatt
which contributed to heighten the curiosity with which I was already
possessed. Among other things, this: I had been nervous -- drank too
much strong green tea, and slept ill at night -- in fact, for two
nights I could not be properly said to sleep at all. Now, my
state-room opened into the main cabin, or dining-room, as did those
of all the single men on board. Wyatt's three rooms were in the
after-cabin, which was separated from the main one by a slight
sliding door, never locked even at night. As we were almost
constantly on a wind, and the breeze was not a little stiff, the ship
heeled to leeward very considerably; and whenever her starboard side
was to leeward, the sliding door between the cabins slid open, and so
remained, nobody taking the trouble to get up and shut it. But my
berth was in such a position, that when my own state-room door was
open, as well as the sliding door in question (and my own door was
always open on account of the heat,) I could see into the after-cabin
quite distinctly, and just at that portion of it, too, where were
situated the state-rooms of Mr. Wyatt. Well, during two nights (not
consecutive) while I lay awake, I clearly saw Mrs. W., about eleven
o'clock upon each night, steal cautiously from the state-room of Mr.
W., and enter the extra room, where she remained until daybreak, when
she was called by her husband and went back. That they were virtually
separated was clear. They had separate apartments -- no doubt in
contemplation of a more permanent divorce; and here, after all I
thought was the mystery of the extra state-room.

There was another circumstance, too, which interested me much. During
the two wakeful nights in question, and immediately after the
disappearance of Mrs. Wyatt into the extra state-room, I was
attracted by certain singular cautious, subdued noises in that of her
husband. After listening to them for some time, with thoughtful
attention, I at length succeeded perfectly in translating their
import. They were sounds occasioned by the artist in prying open the
oblong box, by means of a chisel and mallet -- the latter being
apparently muffled, or deadened, by some soft woollen or cotton
substance in which its head was enveloped.

In this manner I fancied I could distinguish the precise moment when
he fairly disengaged the lid -- also, that I could determine when he
removed it altogether, and when he deposited it upon the lower berth
in his room; this latter point I knew, for example, by certain slight
taps which the lid made in striking against the wooden edges of the
berth, as he endeavored to lay it down very gently -- there being no
room for it on the floor. After this there was a dead stillness, and
I heard nothing more, upon either occasion, until nearly daybreak;
unless, perhaps, I may mention a low sobbing, or murmuring sound, so
very much suppressed as to be nearly inaudible -- if, indeed, the
whole of this latter noise were not rather produced by my own
imagination. I say it seemed to resemble sobbing or sighing- but, of
course, it could not have been either. I rather think it was a
ringing in my own ears. Mr. Wyatt, no doubt, according to custom, was
merely giving the rein to one of his hobbies -- indulging in one of
his fits of artistic enthusiasm. He had opened his oblong box, in
order to feast his eyes on the pictorial treasure within. There was
nothing in this, however, to make him sob. I repeat, therefore, that
it must have been simply a freak of my own fancy, distempered by good
Captain Hardy's green tea. just before dawn, on each of the two
nights of which I speak, I distinctly heard Mr. Wyatt replace the lid
upon the oblong box, and force the nails into their old places by
means of the muffled mallet. Having done this, he issued from his
state-room, fully dressed, and proceeded to call Mrs. W. from hers.

We had been at sea seven days, and were now off Cape Hatteras, when
there came a tremendously heavy blow from the southwest. We were, in
a measure, prepared for it, however, as the weather had been holding
out threats for some time. Every thing was made snug, alow and aloft;
and as the wind steadily freshened, we lay to, at length, under
spanker and foretopsail, both double-reefed.

In this trim we rode safely enough for forty-eight hours -- the ship
proving herself an excellent sea-boat in many respects, and shipping
no water of any consequence. At the end of this period, however, the
gale had freshened into a hurricane, and our after -- sail split into
ribbons, bringing us so much in the trough of the water that we
shipped several prodigious seas, one immediately after the other. By
this accident we lost three men overboard with the caboose, and
nearly the whole of the larboard bulwarks. Scarcely had we recovered
our senses, before the foretopsail went into shreds, when we got up a
storm stay -- sail and with this did pretty well for some hours, the
ship heading the sea much more steadily than before.

The gale still held on, however, and we saw no signs of its abating.
The rigging was found to be ill-fitted, and greatly strained; and on
the third day of the blow, about five in the afternoon, our
mizzen-mast, in a heavy lurch to windward, went by the board. For an
hour or more, we tried in vain to get rid of it, on account of the
prodigious rolling of the ship; and, before we had succeeded, the
carpenter came aft and announced four feet of water in the hold. To
add to our dilemma, we found the pumps choked and nearly useless.

All was now confusion and despair -- but an effort was made to
lighten the ship by throwing overboard as much of her cargo as could
be reached, and by cutting away the two masts that remained. This we
at last accomplished -- but we were still unable to do any thing at
the pumps; and, in the meantime, the leak gained on us very fast.

At sundown, the gale had sensibly diminished in violence, and as the
sea went down with it, we still entertained faint hopes of saving
ourselves in the boats. At eight P. M., the clouds broke away to
windward, and we had the advantage of a full moon -- a piece of good
fortune which served wonderfully to cheer our drooping spirits.

After incredible labor we succeeded, at length, in getting the
longboat over the side without material accident, and into this we
crowded the whole of the crew and most of the passengers. This party
made off immediately, and, after undergoing much suffering, finally
arrived, in safety, at Ocracoke Inlet, on the third day after the

Fourteen passengers, with the captain, remained on board, resolving
to trust their fortunes to the jolly-boat at the stern. We lowered it
without difficulty, although it was only by a miracle that we
prevented it from swamping as it touched the water. It contained,
when afloat, the captain and his wife, Mr. Wyatt and party, a Mexican
officer, wife, four children, and myself, with a negro valet.

We had no room, of course, for any thing except a few positively
necessary instruments, some provisions, and the clothes upon our
backs. No one had thought of even attempting to save any thing more.
What must have been the astonishment of all, then, when having
proceeded a few fathoms from the ship, Mr. Wyatt stood up in the
stern-sheets, and coolly demanded of Captain Hardy that the boat
should be put back for the purpose of taking in his oblong box!

"Sit down, Mr. Wyatt," replied the captain, somewhat sternly, "you
will capsize us if you do not sit quite still. Our gunwhale is almost
in the water now."

"The box!" vociferated Mr. Wyatt, still standing -- "the box, I say!
Captain Hardy, you cannot, you will not refuse me. Its weight will be
but a trifle -- it is nothing- mere nothing. By the mother who bore
you -- for the love of Heaven -- by your hope of salvation, I implore
you to put back for the box!"

The captain, for a moment, seemed touched by the earnest appeal of
the artist, but he regained his stern composure, and merely said:

"Mr. Wyatt, you are mad. I cannot listen to you. Sit down, I say, or
you will swamp the boat. Stay -- hold him -- seize him! -- he is
about to spring overboard! There -- I knew it -- he is over!"

As the captain said this, Mr. Wyatt, in fact, sprang from the boat,
and, as we were yet in the lee of the wreck, succeeded, by almost
superhuman exertion, in getting hold of a rope which hung from the
fore-chains. In another moment he was on board, and rushing
frantically down into the cabin.

In the meantime, we had been swept astern of the ship, and being
quite out of her lee, were at the mercy of the tremendous sea which
was still running. We made a determined effort to put back, but our
little boat was like a feather in the breath of the tempest. We saw
at a glance that the doom of the unfortunate artist was sealed.

As our distance from the wreck rapidly increased, the madman (for as
such only could we regard him) was seen to emerge from the companion
-- way, up which by dint of strength that appeared gigantic, he
dragged, bodily, the oblong box. While we gazed in the extremity of
astonishment, he passed, rapidly, several turns of a three-inch rope,
first around the box and then around his body. In another instant
both body and box were in the sea -- disappearing suddenly, at once
and forever.

We lingered awhile sadly upon our oars, with our eyes riveted upon
the spot. At length we pulled away. The silence remained unbroken for
an hour. Finally, I hazarded a remark.

"Did you observe, captain, how suddenly they sank? Was not that an
exceedingly singular thing? I confess that I entertained some feeble
hope of his final deliverance, when I saw him lash himself to the
box, and commit himself to the sea."

"They sank as a matter of course," replied the captain, "and that
like a shot. They will soon rise again, however -- but not till the
salt melts."

"The salt!" I ejaculated.

"Hush!" said the captain, pointing to the wife and sisters of the
deceased. "We must talk of these things at some more appropriate

We suffered much, and made a narrow escape, but fortune befriended
us, as well as our mates in the long-boat. We landed, in fine, more
dead than alive, after four days of intense distress, upon the beach
opposite Roanoke Island. We remained here a week, were not
ill-treated by the wreckers, and at length obtained a passage to New

About a month after the loss of the "Independence," I happened to
meet Captain Hardy in Broadway. Our conversation turned, naturally,
upon the disaster, and especially upon the sad fate of poor Wyatt. I
thus learned the following particulars.

The artist had engaged passage for himself, wife, two sisters and a
servant. His wife was, indeed, as she had been represented, a most
lovely, and most accomplished woman. On the morning of the fourteenth
of June (the day in which I first visited the ship), the lady
suddenly sickened and died. The young husband was frantic with grief
-- but circumstances imperatively forbade the deferring his voyage to
New York. It was necessary to take to her mother the corpse of his
adored wife, and, on the other hand, the universal prejudice which
would prevent his doing so openly was well known. Nine-tenths of the
passengers would have abandoned the ship rather than take passage
with a dead body.

In this dilemma, Captain Hardy arranged that the corpse, being first
partially embalmed, and packed, with a large quantity of salt, in a
box of suitable dimensions, should be conveyed on board as
merchandise. Nothing was to be said of the lady's decease; and, as it
was well understood that Mr. Wyatt had engaged passage for his wife,
it became necessary that some person should personate her during the
voyage. This the deceased lady's-maid was easily prevailed on to do.
The extra state-room, originally engaged for this girl during her
mistress' life, was now merely retained. In this state-room the
pseudo-wife, slept, of course, every night. In the daytime she
performed, to the best of her ability, the part of her mistress --
whose person, it had been carefully ascertained, was unknown to any
of the passengers on board.

My own mistake arose, naturally enough, through too careless, too
inquisitive, and too impulsive a temperament. But of late, it is a
rare thing that I sleep soundly at night. There is a countenance
which haunts me, turn as I will. There is an hysterical laugh which
will forever ring within my ears.

~~~ End of Text ~~~



O Breathe not, etc. -- Moore's Melodies

THE MOST notorious ill-fortune must in the end yield to the untiring
courage of philosophy -- as the most stubborn city to the ceaseless
vigilance of an enemy. Shalmanezer, as we have it in holy writings,
lay three years before Samaria; yet it fell. Sardanapalus -- see
Diodorus -- maintained himself seven in Nineveh; but to no purpose.
Troy expired at the close of the second lustrum; and Azoth, as
Aristaeus declares upon his honour as a gentleman, opened at last her
gates to Psammetichus, after having barred them for the fifth part of
a century....

"Thou wretch! -- thou vixen! -- thou shrew!" said I to my wife on the
morning after our wedding; "thou witch! -- thou hag! -- thou
whippersnapper -- thou sink of iniquity! -- thou fiery-faced
quintessence of all that is abominable! -- thou -- thou-" here
standing upon tiptoe, seizing her by the throat, and placing my mouth
close to her ear, I was preparing to launch forth a new and more
decided epithet of opprobrium, which should not fail, if ejaculated,
to convince her of her insignificance, when to my extreme horror and
astonishment I discovered that I had lost my breath.

The phrases "I am out of breath," "I have lost my breath," etc., are
often enough repeated in common conversation; but it had never
occurred to me that the terrible accident of which I speak could bona
fide and actually happen! Imagine -- that is if you have a fanciful
turn -- imagine, I say, my wonder -- my consternation -- my despair!

There is a good genius, however, which has never entirely deserted
me. In my most ungovernable moods I still retain a sense of
propriety, et le chemin des passions me conduit -- as Lord Edouard in
the "Julie" says it did him -- a la philosophie veritable.

Although I could not at first precisely ascertain to what degree the
occurence had affected me, I determined at all events to conceal the
matter from my wife, until further experience should discover to me
the extent of this my unheard of calamity. Altering my countenance,
therefore, in a moment, from its bepuffed and distorted appearance,
to an expression of arch and coquettish benignity, I gave my lady a
pat on the one cheek, and a kiss on the other, and without saying one
syllable (Furies! I could not), left her astonished at my drollery,
as I pirouetted out of the room in a Pas de Zephyr.

Behold me then safely ensconced in my private boudoir, a fearful
instance of the ill consequences attending upon irascibility --
alive, with the qualifications of the dead -- dead, with the
propensities of the living -- an anomaly on the face of the earth --
being very calm, yet breathless.

Yes! breathless. I am serious in asserting that my breath was
entirely gone. I could not have stirred with it a feather if my life
had been at issue, or sullied even the delicacy of a mirror. Hard
fate! -- yet there was some alleviation to the first overwhelming
paroxysm of my sorrow. I found, upon trial, that the powers of
utterance which, upon my inability to proceed in the conversation
with my wife, I then concluded to be totally destroyed, were in fact
only partially impeded, and I discovered that had I, at that
interesting crisis, dropped my voice to a singularly deep guttural, I
might still have continued to her the communication of my sentiments;
this pitch of voice (the guttural) depending, I find, not upon the
current of the breath, but upon a certain spasmodic action of the
muscles of the throat.

Throwing myself upon a chair, I remained for some time absorbed in
meditation. My reflections, be sure, were of no consolatory kind. A
thousand vague and lachrymatory fancies took possesion of my soul --
and even the idea of suicide flitted across my brain; but it is a
trait in the perversity of human nature to reject the obvious and the
ready, for the far-distant and equivocal. Thus I shuddered at
self-murder as the most decided of atrocities while the tabby cat
purred strenuously upon the rug, and the very water dog wheezed
assiduously under the table, each taking to itself much merit for the
strength of its lungs, and all obviously done in derision of my own
pulmonary incapacity.

Oppressed with a tumult of vague hopes and fears, I at length heard
the footsteps of my wife descending the staircase. Being now assured
of her absence, I returned with a palpitating heart to the scene of
my disaster.

Carefully locking the door on the inside, I commenced a vigorous
search. It was possible, I thought, that, concealed in some obscure
corner, or lurking in some closet or drawer, might be found the lost
object of my inquiry. It might have a vapory -- it might even have a
tangible form. Most philosophers, upon many points of philosophy, are
still very unphilosophical. William Godwin, however, says in his
"Mandeville," that "invisible things are the only realities," and
this, all will allow, is a case in point. I would have the judicious
reader pause before accusing such asseverations of an undue quantum
of absurdity. Anaxagoras, it will be remembered, maintained that snow
is black, and this I have since found to be the case.

Long and earnestly did I continue the investigation: but the
contemptible reward of my industry and perseverance proved to be only
a set of false teeth, two pair of hips, an eye, and a bundle of
billets-doux from Mr. Windenough to my wife. I might as well here
observe that this confirmation of my lady's partiality for Mr. W.
occasioned me little uneasiness. That Mrs. Lackobreath should admire
anything so dissimilar to myself was a natural and necessary evil. I
am, it is well known, of a robust and corpulent appearance, and at
the same time somewhat diminutive in stature. What wonder, then, that
the lath-like tenuity of my acquaintance, and his altitude, which has
grown into a proverb, should have met with all due estimation in the
eyes of Mrs. Lackobreath. But to return.

My exertions, as I have before said, proved fruitless. Closet after
closet -- drawer after drawer -- corner after corner -- were
scrutinized to no purpose. At one time, however, I thought myself
sure of my prize, having, in rummaging a dressing-case, accidentally
demolished a bottle of Grandjean's Oil of Archangels -- which, as an
agreeable perfume, I here take the liberty of recommending.

With a heavy heart I returned to my boudoir -- there to ponder upon
some method of eluding my wife's penetration, until I could make
arrangements prior to my leaving the country, for to this I had
already made up my mind. In a foreign climate, being unknown, I
might, with some probability of success, endeavor to conceal my
unhappy calamity -- a calamity calculated, even more than beggary, to
estrange the affections of the multitude, and to draw down upon the
wretch the well-merited indignation of the virtuous and the happy. I
was not long in hesitation. Being naturally quick, I committed to
memory the entire tragedy of "Metamora." I had the good fortune to
recollect that in the accentuation of this drama, or at least of such
portion of it as is allotted to the hero, the tones of voice in which
I found myself deficient were altogether unnecessary, and the deep
guttural was expected to reign monotonously throughout.

I practised for some time by the borders of a well frequented marsh;
-- herein, however, having no reference to a similar proceeding of
Demosthenes, but from a design peculiarly and conscientiously my own.
Thus armed at all points, I determined to make my wife believe that I
was suddenly smitten with a passion for the stage. In this, I
succeeded to a miracle; and to every question or suggestion found
myself at liberty to reply in my most frog-like and sepulchral tones
with some passage from the tragedy -- any portion of which, as I soon
took great pleasure in observing, would apply equally well to any
particular subject. It is not to be supposed, however, that in the
delivery of such passages I was found at all deficient in the looking
asquint -- the showing my teeth -- the working my knees -- the
shuffling my feet -- or in any of those unmentionable graces which
are now justly considered the characteristics of a popular performer.
To be sure they spoke of confining me in a strait-jacket -- but, good
God! they never suspected me of having lost my breath.

Having at length put my affairs in order, I took my seat very early
one morning in the mail stage for --, giving it to be understood,
among my acquaintances, that business of the last importance required
my immediate personal attendance in that city.

The coach was crammed to repletion; but in the uncertain twilight the
features of my companions could not be distinguished. Without making
any effectual resistance, I suffered myself to be placed between two
gentlemen of colossal dimensions; while a third, of a size larger,
requesting pardon for the liberty he was about to take, threw himself
upon my body at full length, and falling asleep in an instant,
drowned all my guttural ejaculations for relief, in a snore which
would have put to blush the roarings of the bull of Phalaris. Happily
the state of my respiratory faculties rendered suffocation an
accident entirely out of the question.

As, however, the day broke more distinctly in our approach to the
outskirts of the city, my tormentor, arising and adjusting his
shirt-collar, thanked me in a very friendly manner for my civility.
Seeing that I remained motionless (all my limbs were dislocated and
my head twisted on one side), his apprehensions began to be excited;
and arousing the rest of the passengers, he communicated, in a very
decided manner, his opinion that a dead man had been palmed upon them
during the night for a living and responsible fellow-traveller; here
giving me a thump on the right eye, by way of demonstrating the truth
of his suggestion.

Hereupon all, one after another (there were nine in company),
believed it their duty to pull me by the ear. A young practising
physician, too, having applied a pocket-mirror to my mouth, and found
me without breath, the assertion of my persecutor was pronounced a
true bill; and the whole party expressed a determination to endure
tamely no such impositions for the future, and to proceed no farther
with any such carcasses for the present.

I was here, accordingly, thrown out at the sign of the "Crow" (by
which tavern the coach happened to be passing), without meeting with
any farther accident than the breaking of both my arms, under the
left hind wheel of the vehicle. I must besides do the driver the
justice to state that he did not forget to throw after me the largest
of my trunks, which, unfortunately falling on my head, fractured my
skull in a manner at once interesting and extraordinary.

The landlord of the "Crow," who is a hospitable man, finding that my
trunk contained sufficient to indemnify him for any little trouble he
might take in my behalf, sent forthwith for a surgeon of his
acquaintance, and delivered me to his care with a bill and receipt
for ten dollars.

The purchaser took me to his apartments and commenced operations
immediately. Having cut off my ears, however, he discovered signs of
animation. He now rang the bell, and sent for a neighboring
apothecary with whom to consult in the emergency. In case of his
suspicions with regard to my existence proving ultimately correct,
he, in the meantime, made an incision in my stomach, and removed
several of my viscera for private dissection.

The apothecary had an idea that I was actually dead. This idea I
endeavored to confute, kicking and plunging with all my might, and
making the most furious contortions -- for the operations of the
surgeon had, in a measure, restored me to the possession of my
faculties. All, however, was attributed to the effects of a new
galvanic battery, wherewith the apothecary, who is really a man of
information, performed several curious experiments, in which, from my
personal share in their fulfillment, I could not help feeling deeply
interested. It was a course of mortification to me, nevertheless,
that although I made several attempts at conversation, my powers of
speech were so entirely in abeyance, that I could not even open my
mouth; much less, then, make reply to some ingenious but fanciful
theories of which, under other circumstances, my minute acquaintance
with the Hippocratian pathology would have afforded me a ready

Not being able to arrive at a conclusion, the practitioners remanded
me for farther examination. I was taken up into a garret; and the
surgeon's lady having accommodated me with drawers and stockings, the
surgeon himself fastened my hands, and tied up my jaws with a
pocket-handkerchief -- then bolted the door on the outside as he
hurried to his dinner, leaving me alone to silence and to meditation.

I now discovered to my extreme delight that I could have spoken had
not my mouth been tied up with the pocket-handkerchief. Consoling
myself with this reflection, I was mentally repeating some passages
of the "Omnipresence of the Deity," as is my custom before resigning
myself to sleep, when two cats, of a greedy and vituperative turn,
entering at a hole in the wall, leaped up with a flourish a la
Catalani, and alighting opposite one another on my visage, betook
themselves to indecorous contention for the paltry consideration of
my nose.

But, as the loss of his ears proved the means of elevating to the
throne of Cyrus, the Magian or Mige-Gush of Persia, and as the
cutting off his nose gave Zopyrus possession of Babylon, so the loss
of a few ounces of my countenance proved the salvation of my body.
Aroused by the pain, and burning with indignation, I burst, at a
single effort, the fastenings and the bandage. Stalking across the
room I cast a glance of contempt at the belligerents, and throwing
open the sash to their extreme horror and disappointment,
precipitated myself, very dexterously, from the window. this moment
passing from the city jail to the scaffold erected for his execution
in the suburbs. His extreme infirmity and long continued ill health
had obtained him the privilege of remaining unmanacled; and habited
in his gallows costume -- one very similar to my own, -- he lay at
full length in the bottom of the hangman's cart (which happened to be
under the windows of the surgeon at the moment of my precipitation)
without any other guard than the driver, who was asleep, and two
recruits of the sixth infantry, who were drunk.

As ill-luck would have it, I alit upon my feet within the vehicle.
immediately, he bolted out behind, and turning down an alley, was out
of sight in the twinkling of an eye. The recruits, aroused by the
bustle, could not exactly comprehend the merits of the transaction.
Seeing, however, a man, the precise counterpart of the felon,
standing upright in the cart before their eyes, they were of (so they
expressed themselves,) and, having communicated this opinion to one
another, they took each a dram, and then knocked me down with the
butt-ends of their muskets.

It was not long ere we arrived at the place of destination. Of course
nothing could be said in my defence. Hanging was my inevitable fate.
I resigned myself thereto with a feeling half stupid, half
acrimonious. Being little of a cynic, I had all the sentiments of a
dog. The hangman, however, adjusted the noose about my neck. The drop

I forbear to depict my sensations upon the gallows; although here,
undoubtedly, I could speak to the point, and it is a topic upon which
nothing has been well said. In fact, to write upon such a theme it is
necessary to have been hanged. Every author should confine himself to
matters of experience. Thus Mark Antony composed a treatise upon
getting drunk.

I may just mention, however, that die I did not. My body was, but I
had no breath to be, suspended; and but for the knot under my left
ear (which had the feel of a military stock) I dare say that I should
have experienced very little inconvenience. As for the jerk given to
my neck upon the falling of the drop, it merely proved a corrective
to the twist afforded me by the fat gentleman in the coach.

For good reasons, however, I did my best to give the crowd the worth
of their trouble. My convulsions were said to be extraordinary. My
spasms it would have been difficult to beat. The populace encored.
Several gentlemen swooned; and a multitude of ladies were carried
home in hysterics. Pinxit availed himself of the opportunity to
retouch, from a sketch taken upon the spot, his admirable painting of
the "Marsyas flayed alive."

When I had afforded sufficient amusement, it was thought proper to
remove my body from the gallows; -- this the more especially as the
real culprit had in the meantime been retaken and recognized, a fact
which I was so unlucky as not to know.

Much sympathy was, of course, exercised in my behalf, and as no one
made claim to my corpse, it was ordered that I should be interred in
a public vault.

Here, after due interval, I was deposited. The sexton departed, and I
was left alone. A line of Marston's "Malcontent"-

Death's a good fellow and keeps open house -- struck me at that
moment as a palpable lie.

I knocked off, however, the lid of my coffin, and stepped out. The
place was dreadfully dreary and damp, and I became troubled with
ennui. By way of amusement, I felt my way among the numerous coffins
ranged in order around. I lifted them down, one by one, and breaking
open their lids, busied myself in speculations about the mortality

"This," I soliloquized, tumbling over a carcass, puffy, bloated, and
rotund -- "this has been, no doubt, in every sense of the word, an
unhappy -- an unfortunate man. It has been his terrible lot not to
walk but to waddle -- to pass through life not like a human being,
but like an elephant -- not like a man, but like a rhinoceros.

"His attempts at getting on have been mere abortions, and his
circumgyratory proceedings a palpable failure. Taking a step forward,
it has been his misfortune to take two toward the right, and three
toward the left. His studies have been confined to the poetry of
Crabbe. He can have no idea of the wonder of a pirouette. To him a
pas de papillon has been an abstract conception. He has never
ascended the summit of a hill. He has never viewed from any steeple
the glories of a metropolis. Heat has been his mortal enemy. In the
dog-days his days have been the days of a dog. Therein, he has
dreamed of flames and suffocation -- of mountains upon mountains --
of Pelion upon Ossa. He was short of breath -- to say all in a word,
he was short of breath. He thought it extravagant to play upon wind
instruments. He was the inventor of self-moving fans, wind-sails, and
ventilators. He patronized Du Pont the bellows-maker, and he died
miserably in attempting to smoke a cigar. His was a case in which I
feel a deep interest -- a lot in which I sincerely sympathize.

"But here," -- said I -- "here" -- and I dragged spitefully from its
receptacle a gaunt, tall and peculiar-looking form, whose remarkable
appearance struck me with a sense of unwelcome familiarity -- "here
is a wretch entitled to no earthly commiseration." Thus saying, in
order to obtain a more distinct view of my subject, I applied my
thumb and forefinger to its nose, and causing it to assume a sitting
position upon the ground, held it thus, at the length of my arm,
while I continued my soliloquy.

-"Entitled," I repeated, "to no earthly commiseration. Who indeed
would think of compassioning a shadow? Besides, has he not had his
full share of the blessings of mortality? He was the originator of
tall monuments -- shot-towers -- lightning-rods -- Lombardy poplars.
His treatise upon "Shades and Shadows" has immortalized him. He
edited with distinguished ability the last edition of "South on the
Bones." He went early to college and studied pneumatics. He then came
home, talked eternally, and played upon the French-horn. He
patronized the bagpipes. Captain Barclay, who walked against Time,
would not walk against him. Windham and Allbreath were his favorite
writers, -- his favorite artist, Phiz. He died gloriously while
inhaling gas -- levique flatu corrupitur, like the fama pudicitae in
Hieronymus. {*1} He was indubitably a"--

"How can you? -- how -- can -- you?" -- interrupted the object of my
animadversions, gasping for breath, and tearing off, with a desperate
exertion, the bandage around its jaws -- "how can you, Mr.
Lackobreath, be so infernally cruel as to pinch me in that manner by
the nose? Did you not see how they had fastened up my mouth -- and
you must know -- if you know any thing -- how vast a superfluity of
breath I have to dispose of! If you do not know, however, sit down
and you shall see. In my situation it is really a great relief to be
able to open ones mouth -- to be able to expatiate -- to be able to
communicate with a person like yourself, who do not think yourself
called upon at every period to interrupt the thread of a gentleman's
discourse. Interruptions are annoying and should undoubtedly be
abolished -- don't you think so? -- no reply, I beg you, -- one
person is enough to be speaking at a time. -- I shall be done by and
by, and then you may begin. -- How the devil sir, did you get into
this place? -- not a word I beseech you -- been here some time myself
-- terrible accident! -- heard of it, I suppose? -- awful calamity!
-- walking under your windows -- some short while ago -- about the
time you were stage-struck -- horrible occurrence! -- heard of
"catching one's breath," eh? -- hold your tongue I tell you! -- I
caught somebody elses! -- had always too much of my own -- met Blab
at the corner of the street -- wouldn't give me a chance for a word
-- couldn't get in a syllable edgeways -- attacked, consequently,
with epilepsis -- Blab made his escape -- damn all fools! -- they
took me up for dead, and put me in this place -- pretty doings all of
them! -- heard all you said about me -- every word a lie -- horrible!
-- wonderful -- outrageous! -- hideous! -- incomprehensible! -- et
cetera -- et cetera -- et cetera -- et cetera-"

It is impossible to conceive my astonishment at so unexpected a
discourse, or the joy with which I became gradually convinced that
the breath so fortunately caught by the gentleman (whom I soon
recognized as my neighbor Windenough) was, in fact, the identical
expiration mislaid by myself in the conversation with my wife. Time,
place, and circumstances rendered it a matter beyond question. I did
not at least during the long period in which the inventor of Lombardy
poplars continued to favor me with his explanations.

In this respect I was actuated by that habitual prudence which has
ever been my predominating trait. I reflected that many difficulties
might still lie in the path of my preservation which only extreme
exertion on my part would be able to surmount. Many persons, I
considered, are prone to estimate commodities in their possession --
however valueless to the then proprietor -- however troublesome, or
distressing -- in direct ratio with the advantages to be derived by
others from their attainment, or by themselves from their
abandonment. Might not this be the case with Mr. Windenough? In
displaying anxiety for the breath of which he was at present so
willing to get rid, might I not lay myself open to the exactions of
his avarice? There are scoundrels in this world, I remembered with a
sigh, who will not scruple to take unfair opportunities with even a
next door neighbor, and (this remark is from Epictetus) it is
precisely at that time when men are most anxious to throw off the
burden of their own calamities that they feel the least desirous of
relieving them in others.

Upon considerations similar to these, and still retaining my grasp
upon the nose of Mr. W., I accordingly thought proper to model my

"Monster!" I began in a tone of the deepest indignation -- "monster
and double-winded idiot! -- dost thou, whom for thine iniquities it
has pleased heaven to accurse with a two-fold respimtion -- dost
thou, I say, presume to address me in the familiar language of an old
acquaintance? -- 'I lie,' forsooth! and 'hold my tongue,' to be sure!
-- pretty conversation indeed, to a gentleman with a single breath!
-- all this, too, when I have it in my power to relieve the calamity
under which thou dost so justly suffer -- to curtail the
superfluities of thine unhappy respiration."

Like Brutus, I paused for a reply -- with which, like a tornado, Mr.
Windenough immediately overwhelmed me. Protestation followed upon
protestation, and apology upon apology. There were no terms with
which he was unwilling to comply, and there were none of which I
failed to take the fullest advantage.

Preliminaries being at length arranged, my acquaintance delivered me
the respiration; for which (having carefully examined it) I gave him
afterward a receipt.

I am aware that by many I shall be held to blame for speaking in a
manner so cursory, of a transaction so impalpable. It will be thought
that I should have entered more minutely, into the details of an
occurrence by which -- and this is very true -- much new light might
be thrown upon a highly interesting branch of physical philosophy.

To all this I am sorry that I cannot reply. A hint is the only answer
which I am permitted to make. There were circumstances -- but I think
it much safer upon consideration to say as little as possible about
an affair so delicate -- so delicate, I repeat, and at the time
involving the interests of a third party whose sulphurous resentment
I have not the least desire, at this moment, of incurring.

We were not long after this necessary arrangement in effecting an
escape from the dungeons of the sepulchre. The united strength of our
resuscitated voices was soon sufficiently apparent. Scissors, the
Whig editor, republished a treatise upon "the nature and origin of
subterranean noises." A reply -- rejoinder -- confutation -- and
justification -- followed in the columns of a Democratic Gazette. It
was not until the opening of the vault to decide the controversy,
that the appearance of Mr. Windenough and myself proved both parties
to have been decidedly in the wrong.

I cannot conclude these details of some very singular passages in a
life at all times sufficiently eventful, without again recalling to
the attention of the reader the merits of that indiscriminate
philosophy which is a sure and ready shield against those shafts of
calamity which can neither be seen, felt nor fully understood. It was
in the spirit of this wisdom that, among the ancient Hebrews, it was
believed the gates of Heaven would be inevitably opened to that
sinner, or saint, who, with good lungs and implicit confidence,
should vociferate the word "Amen!" It was in the spirit of this
wisdom that, when a great plague raged at Athens, and every means had
been in vain attempted for its removal, Epimenides, as Laertius
relates, in his second book, of that philosopher, advised the
erection of a shrine and temple "to the proper God."


~~~ End of Text ~~~




_Pleurez, pleurez, mes yeux, et fondez vous en eau !_

_La moitié ; de ma vie a mis l' autre au tombeau._


I CANNOT just now remember when or where I first made the
acquaintance of that truly fine-looking fellow, Brevet Brigadier
General John A. B. C. Smith. Some one _did_ introduce me to the
gentleman, I am sure - at some public meeting, I know very well -
held about something of great importance, no doubt - at some place or
other, I feel convinced, - whose name I have unaccountably forgotten.
The truth is - that the introduction was attended, upon my part, with
a degree of anxious embarrassment which operated to prevent any
definite impressions of either time or place. I am constitutionally
nervous - this, with me, is a family failing, and I can't help it.
In especial, the slightest appearance of mystery - of any point I
cannot exactly comprehend - puts me at once into a pitiable state of

There was something, as it were, remarkable - yes, _remarkable_,
although this is but a feeble term to express my full meaning - about
the entire individuality of the personage in question. He was,
perhaps, six feet in height, and of a presence singularly commanding.
There was an _air distingué_ pervading the whole man, which spoke of
high breeding, and hinted at high birth. Upon this topic - the topic
of Smith's personal appearance - I have a kind of melancholy
satisfaction in being minute. His head of hair would have done honor
to a Brutus ; - nothing could be more richly flowing, or possess a
brighter gloss. It was of a jetty black ; - which was also the
color, or more properly the no color of his unimaginable whiskers.
You perceive I cannot speak of these latter without enthusiasm ; it
is not too much to say that they were the handsomest pair of whiskers
under the sun. At all events, they encircled, and at times partially
overshadowed, a mouth utterly unequalled. Here were the most entirely
even, and the most brilliantly white of all conceivable teeth. From
between them, upon every proper occasion, issued a voice of
surpassing clearness, melody, and strength. In the matter of eyes,
also, my acquaintance was pre-eminently endowed. Either one of such
a pair was worth a couple of the ordinary ocular organs. They were
of a deep hazel, exceedingly large and lustrous ; and there was
perceptible about them, ever and anon, just that amount of
interesting obliquity which gives pregnancy to expression.

The bust of the General was unquestionably the finest bust I ever
saw. For your life you could not have found a fault with its
wonderful proportion. This rare peculiarity set off to great
advantage a pair of shoulders which would have called up a blush of
conscious inferiority into the countenance of the marble Apollo. I
have a passion for fine shoulders, and may say that I never beheld
them in perfection before. The arms altogether were admirably
modelled. Nor were the lower limbs less superb. These were, indeed,
the _ne plus ultra_ of good legs. Every connoisseur in such matters
admitted the legs to be good. There was neither too much flesh, nor
too little, - neither rudeness nor fragility. I could not imagine a
more graceful curve than that of the _os femoris_, and there was just
that due gentle prominence in the rear of the _fibula_ which goes to
the conformation of a properly proportioned calf. I wish to God my
young and talented friend Chiponchipino, the sculptor, had but seen
the legs of Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith.

But although men so absolutely fine-looking are neither as plenty
as reasons or blackberries, still I could not bring myself to believe
that _the remarkable_ something to which I alluded just now, - that
the odd air of _je ne sais quoi_ which hung about my new
acquaintance, - lay altogether, or indeed at all, in the supreme
excellence of his bodily endowments. Perhaps it might be traced to
the _manner_ ; - yet here again I could not pretend to be positive.
There _was_ a primness, not to say stiffness, in his carriage - a
degree of measured, and, if I may so express it, of rectangular
precision, attending his every movement, which, observed in a more
diminutive figure, would have had the least little savor in the
world, of affectation, pomposity or constraint, but which noticed in
a gentleman of his undoubted dimensions, was readily placed to the
account of reserve, _hauteur_ - of a commendable sense, in short, of
what is due to the dignity of colossal proportion.

The kind friend who presented me to General Smith whispered in my
ear some few words of comment upon the man. He was a _remarkable_
man - a _very_ remarkable man - indeed one of the _most_ remarkable
men of the age. He was an especial favorite, too, with the ladies -
chiefly on account of his high reputation for courage.

"In _that_ point he is unrivalled - indeed he is a perfect
desperado - a down-right fire-eater, and no mistake," said my friend,
here dropping his voice excessively low, and thrilling me with the
mystery of his tone.

"A downright fire-eater, and _no_ mistake. Showed _that_, I
should say, to some purpose, in the late tremendous swamp-fight away
down South, with the Bugaboo and Kickapoo Indians." [Here my friend
opened his eyes to some extent.] "Bless my soul ! - blood and
thunder, and all that ! - _prodigies_ of valor ! - heard of him
of course ? - you know he's the man" ---

"Man alive, how _do_ you do ? why, how _are_ ye ? _very_ glad
to see ye, indeed !" here interrupted the General himself, seizing my
companion by the hand as he drew near, and bowing stiffly, but
profoundly, as I was presented. I then thought, (and I think so
still,) that I never heard a clearer nor a stronger voice, nor beheld
a finer set of teeth : but I _must_ say that I was sorry for the
interruption just at that moment, as, owing to the whispers and
insinuations aforesaid, my interest had been greatly excited in the
hero of the Bugaboo and Kickapoo campaign.

However, the delightfully luminous conversation of Brevet
Brigadier General John A. B. C. Smith soon completely dissipated this
chagrin. My friend leaving us immediately, we had quite a long
_tête-à-tête_, and I was not only pleased but _really_ - instructed.
I never heard a more fluent talker, or a man of greater general
information. With becoming modesty, he forebore, nevertheless, to
touch upon the theme I had just then most at heart - I mean the
mysterious circumstances attending the Bugaboo war - and, on my own
part, what I conceive to be a proper sense of delicacy forbade me to
broach the subject ; although, in truth, I was exceedingly tempted to
do so. I perceived, too, that the gallant soldier preferred topics
of philosophical interest, and that he delighted, especially, in
commenting upon the rapid march of mechanical invention. Indeed,
lead him where I would, this was a point to which he invariably came

"There is nothing at all like it," he would say; "we are a
wonderful people, and live in a wonderful age. Parachutes and
rail-roads - man-traps and spring-guns ! Our steam-boats are upon
every sea, and the Nassau balloon packet is about to run regular
trips (fare either way only twenty pounds sterling) between London
and Timbuctoo. And who shall calculate the immense influence upon
social life - upon arts - upon commerce - upon literature - which
will be the immediate result of the great principles of electro
magnetics ! Nor, is this all, let me assure you ! There is really
no end to the march of invention. The most wonderful - the most
ingenious - and let me add, Mr. - Mr. - Thompson, I believe, is
your name - let me add, I say, the most _useful_ - the most truly
_useful_ mechanical contrivances, are daily springing up like
mushrooms, if I may so express myself, or, more figuratively, like -
ah - grasshoppers - like grasshoppers, Mr. Thompson - about us and
ah - ah - ah - around us !"

Thompson, to be sure, is not my name ; but it is needless to say
that I left General Smith with a heightened interest in the man, with
an exalted opinion of his conversational powers, and a deep sense of
the valuable privileges we enjoy in living in this age of mechanical
invention. My curiosity, however, had not been altogether satisfied,
and I resolved to prosecute immediate inquiry among my acquaintances
touching the Brevet Brigadier General himself, and particularly
respecting the tremendous events _quorum pars magna fuit_, during
the Bugaboo and Kickapoo campaign.

The first opportunity which presented itself, and which
(_horresco referens_) I did not in the least scruple to seize,
occurred at the Church of the Reverend Doctor Drummummupp, where I
found myself established, one Sunday, just at sermon time, not only
in the pew, but by the side, of that worthy and communicative little
friend of mine, Miss Tabitha T. Thus seated, I congratulated myself,
and with much reason, upon the very flattering state of affairs. If
any person knew anything about Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C.
Smith, that person, it was clear to me, was Miss Tabitha T. We
telegraphed a few signals, and then commenced, _soto voce_, a brisk

"Smith !" said she, in reply to my very earnest inquiry; "Smith
! - why, not General John A. B. C. ? Bless me, I thought you _knew_
all about _him !_ This is a wonderfully inventive age ! Horrid
affair that ! - a bloody set of wretches, those Kickapoos ! -
fought like a hero - prodigies of valor - immortal renown. Smith !
- Brevet Brigadier General John A. B. C. ! why, you know he's the
man" ---

"Man," here broke in Doctor Drummummupp, at the top of his voice,
and with a thump that came near knocking the pulpit about our ears ;
"man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live ; he
cometh up and is cut down like a flower !" I started to the extremity
of the pew, and perceived by the animated looks of the divine, that
the wrath which had nearly proved fatal to the pulpit had been
excited by the whispers of the lady and myself. There was no help
for it ; so I submitted with a good grace, and listened, in all the
martyrdom of dignified silence, to the balance of that very capital

Next evening found me a somewhat late visitor at the Rantipole
theatre, where I felt sure of satisfying my curiosity at once, by
merely stepping into the box of those exquisite specimens of
affability and omniscience, the Misses Arabella and Miranda
Cognoscenti. That fine tragedian, Climax, was doing Iago to a very
crowded house, and I experienced some little difficulty in making my
wishes understood ; especially, as our box was next the slips, and
completely overlooked the stage.

"Smith ?" said Miss Arabella, as she at length comprehended the
purport of my query ; "Smith ? - why, not General John A. B. C. ?"

"Smith ?" inquired Miranda, musingly. "God bless me, did you
ever behold a finer figure ?"

"Never, madam, but _do_ tell me" ---

"Or so inimitable grace ?"

"Never, upon my word ! - But pray inform me" ---

"Or so just an appreciation of stage effect ?"

"Madam !"

"Or a more delicate sense of the true beauties of Shakespeare ?
Be so good as to look at that leg !"

"The devil !" and I turned again to her sister.

"Smith ?" said she, "why, not General John A. B. C. ? Horrid
affair that, wasn't it ? - great wretches, those Bugaboos - savage
and so on - but we live in a wonderfully inventive age ! - Smith !
- O yes ! great man ! - perfect desperado - immortal renown -
prodigies of valor ! _Never heard !_" [This was given in a scream.]
"Bless my soul ! why, he's the man" ---

"----- mandragora
Nor all the drowsy syrups of the world
Shall ever medicine thee to that sweet sleep
Which thou owd'st yesterday !"

here roared our Climax just in my ear, and shaking his fist in my
face all the time, in a way that I _couldn't_ stand, and I
_wouldn't_. I left the Misses Cognoscenti immediately, went behind
the scenes forthwith, and gave the beggarly scoundrel such a
thrashing as I trust he will remember to the day of his death.

At the _soirée_ of the lovely widow, Mrs. Kathleen O'Trump, I was
confident that I should meet with no similar disappointment.
Accordingly, I was no sooner seated at the card-table, with my pretty
hostess for a _vis-à-vis_, than I propounded those questions the
solution of which had become a matter so essential to my peace.

"Smith ?" said my partner, "why, not General John A. B. C. ?
Horrid affair that, wasn't it ? - diamonds, did you say ? -
terrible wretches those Kickapoos ! - we are playing _whist_, if
you please, Mr. Tattle - however, this is the age of invention, most
certainly _the_ age, one may say - _the_ age _par excellence_ -
speak French ? - oh, quite a hero - perfect desperado ! - _no
hearts_, Mr. Tattle ? I don't believe it ! - immortal renown and
all that ! - prodigies of valor ! _Never heard !!_ - why, bless
me, he's the man" ---

"Mann ? - _Captain_ Mann ?" here screamed some little feminine
interloper from the farthest corner of the room. "Are you talking
about Captain Mann and the duel ? - oh, I _must_ hear - do tell -
go on, Mrs. O'Trump ! - do now go on !" And go on Mrs. O'Trump did
- all about a certain Captain Mann, who was either shot or hung, or
should have been both shot and hung. Yes ! Mrs. O'Trump, she went
on, and I - I went off. There was no chance of hearing anything
farther that evening in regard to Brevet Brigadier General John A. B.
C. Smith.

Still I consoled myself with the reflection that the tide of ill
luck would not run against me forever, and so determined to make a
bold push for information at the rout of that bewitching little
angel, the graceful Mrs. Pirouette.

"Smith ?" said Mrs. P., as we twirled about together in a _pas de
zephyr_, "Smith ? - why, not General John A. B. C. ? Dreadful
business that of the Bugaboos, wasn't it ? - dreadful creatures,
those Indians ! - _do_ turn out your toes ! I really am ashamed
of you - man of great courage, poor fellow ! - but this is a
wonderful age for invention - O dear me, I'm out of breath - quite a
desperado - prodigies of valor - _never heard !!_ - can't believe it
- I shall have to sit down and enlighten you - Smith ! why, he's
the man" ---

"Man-_Fred_, I tell you !" here bawled out Miss Bas-Bleu, as I
led Mrs. Pirouette to a seat. "Did ever anybody hear the like ?
It's Man-_Fred_, I say, and not at all by any means Man-_Friday_."
Here Miss Bas-Bleu beckoned to me in a very peremptory manner ; and I
was obliged, will I nill I, to leave Mrs. P. for the purpose of
deciding a dispute touching the title of a certain poetical drama of
Lord Byron's. Although I pronounced, with great promptness, that the
true title was Man-_Friday_, and not by any means Man-_Fred_, yet
when I returned to seek Mrs. Pirouette she was not to be discovered,
and I made my retreat from the house in a very bitter spirit of
animosity against the whole race of the Bas-Bleus.

Matters had now assumed a really serious aspect, and I resolved
to call at once upon my particular friend, Mr. Theodore Sinivate ;
for I knew that here at least I should get something like definite

"Smith ?" said he, in his well-known peculiar way of drawling out
his syllables ; "Smith ? - why, not General John A. B. C. ? Savage
affair that with the Kickapo-o-o-os, wasn't it ? Say ! don't you
think so ? - perfect despera-a-ado - great pity, 'pon my honor !
- wonderfully inventive age ! - pro-o-odigies of valor ! By the
by, did you ever hear about Captain Ma-a-a-a-n ?"

"Captain Mann be d--d !" said I ; "please to go on with your

"Hem ! - oh well ! - quite _la même cho-o-ose_, as we say in
France. Smith, eh ? Brigadier-General John A. B. C. ? I say" -
[here Mr. S. thought proper to put his finger to the side of his
nose] - "I say, you don't mean to insinuate now, really and truly,
and conscientiously, that you don't know all about that affair of
Smith's, as well as I do, eh ? Smith ? John A-B-C. ? Why, bless
me, he's the ma-a-an" ---

"_Mr_. Sinivate," said I, imploringly, "_is_ he the man in the
mask ?"

"No-o-o !" said he, looking wise, "nor the man in the mo-o-on."

This reply I considered a pointed and positive insult, and so
left the house at once in high dudgeon, with a firm resolve to call
my friend, Mr. Sinivate, to a speedy account for his ungentlemanly
conduct and ill-breeding.

In the meantime, however, I had no notion of being thwarted
touching the information I desired. There was one resource left me
yet. I would go to the fountain-head. I would call forthwith upon
the General himself, and demand, in explicit terms, a solution of
this abominable piece of mystery. Here, at least, there should be no
chance for equivocation. I would be plain, positive, peremptory - as
short as pie-crust - as concise as Tacitus or Montesquieu.

It was early when I called, and the General was dressing; but I
pleaded urgent business, and was shown at once into his bed-room by
an old negro valet, who remained in attendance during my visit. As I
entered the chamber, I looked about, of course, for the occupant,
but did not immediately perceive him. There was a large and
exceedingly odd-looking bundle of something which lay close by my
feet on the floor, and, as I was not in the best humor in the world,
I gave it a kick out of the way.


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