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Classic Horror

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Author Topic: Classic Horror  (Read 491 times)
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« on: October 10, 2009, 01:43:34 pm »

Classic Horror

I am a strange fellow, I must admit. For I have spent more time at Sacred Texts, then at Amazon and Barnes and Noble combined. I find the Epics, legends and folklore of the past fascinating. There is something to be learned from the literature and religion of past, a unique perspective on life... on the sensible and insensible world.

In this thread I will be presenting the horror of the past. The writers of the past have much to tell us of the fears of former generations and we get a glimpse into the lives of our ancestors, of their unique cultural perspectives on the world and in so doing we learn something of the malliebility of the human condition and how beliefs shape our reality.

Of course, we all could use a good scare now and then... and if we are unintentionally enlightened in the process all the better.

P.S. If anyone else would like to post a story/stories, or to add their comments please feel free.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 11:01:06 pm by unknown » Report Spam   Logged

"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi

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« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2009, 01:45:28 pm »

For my first selection I have chosen this wonderful tale, not for it's bone chilling horror, as it contains none. But because it has been many years since I have read anything this astounding, this thought provoking.

I think it could best be described as a fable. A fable that opens undreamt of vistas before the mental eye of the reader.  A story that epitomizes storytelling, in that the story rises above the details of character and circumstance to become meaningful on a deeper level, it resonates with truth about the human condition.

by Edward Bellamy

IT is now about a year since I took passage at Calcutta in the ship Adelaide for
New York.  We had baffling weather till New Amsterdam Island was sighted, where
we took a new point of departure.  Three days later, a terrible gale struck us.
Four days we flew before it, whither, no one knew, for neither sun, moon, nor
stars were at any time visible, and we could take no observation.  Toward
midnight of the fourth day, the glare of lightning revealed the Adelaide in a
hopeless position, close in upon a low-lying shore, and driving straight toward
it.  All around and astern far out to sea was such a maze of rocks and shoals
that it was a miracle we had come so far.  Presently the ship struck, and almost
instantly went to pieces, so great was the violence of the sea.  I gave myself
up for lost, and was indeed already past the worst of drowning, when I was
recalled to consciousness by being thrown with a tremendous shock upon the
beach.  I had just strength enough to drag myself above the reach of the waves,
and then I fell down and knew no more.

When I awoke, the storm was over.  The sun, already halfway up the sky, had
dried my clothing, and renewed the vigor of my bruised and aching limbs.  On sea
or shore I saw no vestige of my ship or my companions, of whom I appeared the
sole  survivor.  I was not, however, alone.  A group of persons, apparently the
inhabitants of the country, stood near, observing me with looks of friendliness
which at once freed me from apprehension as to my treatment at their hands.
They were a white and handsome people, evidently of a high order of
civilization, though I recognized in them the traits of no race with which I was

Seeing that it was evidently their idea of etiquette to leave it to strangers to
open conversation, I addressed them in  English, but failed to elicit any
response beyond deprecating smiles.  I then accosted them successively in the
French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, and Portuguese tongues, but with no
better results.  I began to be very much puzzled as to what could possibly be
the nationality of a white and  evidently civilized race to which no one of the
tongues of the great seafaring nations was intelligible. The oddest thing of all
was the unbroken silence with which they contemplated my efforts to open
communication with them.  It was as if they were agreed not to give me a clue to
their language by even a whisper; for while they regarded one another with looks
of smiling intelligence, they did not once open their lips.  But if this
behavior suggested that they were amusing themselves at my expense, that
presumption was negatived by the unmistakable friendliness and sympathy which
their whole bearing expressed.

A most extraordinary conjecture occurred to me.  Could it be that these strange
people were dumb?  Such a freak of nature as an entire race thus afflicted had
never indeed been heard of, but who could say what wonders the unexplored vasts
of the great Southern Ocean might thus far have hid from human ken?  Now, among
the scraps of useless information which lumbered my mind was an acquaintance
with the deaf-and-dumb alphabet and forthwith I began to spell out with my
fingers some of the phrases I had already uttered to so little effect.  My
resort to the sign language overcame the last remnant of gravity in the already
profusely smiling group.  The small boys now rolled on the ground in convulsions
of mirth, while the grave and reverend seniors, who had hitherto kept them in
check, were fain momentarily to avert their faces, and I could see their bodies
shaking with laughter.  The greatest clown in the world never received a more
flattering tribute to his powers to amuse than had been called forth by mine to
make myself understood.  Naturally, however, I was not flattered, but on the
contrary entirely discomfited.  Angry I could not well be, for the deprecating
manner in which all, excepting of course the boys, yielded to their perception
of the ridiculous, and the distress they showed at their failure in
self-control, made me seem the aggressor.  It was as if they were very sorry for
me, and ready to put themselves wholly at my service, if I would only refrain
from reducing them to a state of disability by being so  exquisitely absurd.
Certainly this evidently amiable race had a very embarrassing way of receiving

Just at this moment, when my bewilderment was fast verging on exasperation,
relief came.  The circle opened, and a little elderly man, who had evidently
come in haste, confronted me, and, bowing very politely, addressed me in
English.  His voice was the most pitiable abortion of a voice I had ever heard.
While having all the defects in articulation of a child's who is just beginning
to talk, it was not even a child's in strength of tone, being in fact a mere
alternation of squeaks and whispers inaudible a rod away.  With some difficulty
I was, however, able to follow him pretty nearly.

"As the official interpreter," he said, "I extend you a cordial welcome to these
islands.  I was sent for as soon as you were discovered, but being at some
distance, I was unable to arrive until this moment.  I regret this, as my
presence would have saved you embarrassment.  My countrymen desire me to
intercede with you to pardon the wholly involuntary and uncontrollable mirth
provoked by your attempts to  communicate with them.  You see, they understood
you perfectly well, but could not answer you."

"Merciful heavens!" I exclaimed, horrified to find my surmise correct; "can it
be that they are all thus afflicted?  Is it possible that you are the only man
among them who has the power of speech?"

Again it appeared that, quite unintentionally, I had said something
excruciatingly funny; for at my speech there arose a sound of gentle laughter
from the group, now augmented to quite an assemblage, which drowned the plashing
of the waves on the beach at our feet.  Even the interpreter smiled.

"Do they think it so amusing to be dumb?" I asked.

"They find it very amusing," replied the interpreter, "that their inability to
speak should be regarded by any one as an affliction; for it is by the voluntary
disuse of the organs of articulation that they have lost the power of speech,
and, as a consequence, the ability even to understand speech."

"But," said I, somewhat puzzled by this statement, "did n't you just tell me
that they understood me, though they could not reply, and are they not laughing
now at what I just said?"

"It is you they understood, not your words," answered the interpreter.  "Our
speech now is gibberish to them, as unintelligible in itself as the growling of
animals; but they know what we are saying, because they know our thoughts.  You
must know that these are the islands of the mind-readers."

Such were the circumstances of my introduction to this extraordinary people.
The official interpreter being charged by virtue of his office with the first
entertainment of shipwrecked members of the talking nations, I became his guest,
and passed a number of days under his roof before going out to any considerable
extent among the people.  My first impression had been the somewhat oppressive
one that the power to read the thoughts of others could be possessed only by
beings of a superior order to man.  It was the first effort of the interpreter
to disabuse me of this notion.  It appeared from his account that the experience
of the mind-readers was a case simply of a slight acceleration, from special
causes, of the course of universal human evolution, which in time was destined
to lead to the disuse of speech and the substitution of direct mental vision on
the part of all races.  This rapid evolution of these islanders was accounted
for by their peculiar origin and circumstances.

Some three centuries before Christ, one of the Parthian kings of Persia, of the
dynasty of the Arsacidae, undertook a persecution of the sooth-sayers and
magicians in his realms.  These people were credited with supernatural powers by
popular prejudice, but in fact were merely persons of special gifts in the way
of hypnotizing, mind-reading, thought transference, and such arts, which they
exercised for their own gain.

Too much in awe of the soothsayers to do them outright violence, the king
resolved to banish them, and to this end put them, with their families, on ships
and sent them to Ceylon.  When, however, the fleet was in the neighborhood of
that island, a great storm scattered it, and one of the ships, after being
driven for many days before the tempest, was wrecked upon one of an archipelago
of uninhabited islands far to the south, where the survivors settled. Naturally,
the posterity of the parents possessed of such peculiar gifts had developed
extraordinary psychical powers.

Having set before them the end of evolving a new and advanced order of humanity,
they had aided the development of these powers by a rigid system of
stirpiculture.  The result was that, after a few centuries, mind-reading became
so general that language fell into disuse as a means of communicating ideas.
For many generations the power of speech still remained voluntary, but gradually
the vocal organs had become atrophied, and for several hundred years the power
of articulation had been wholly lost.  Infants for a few months after birth did,
indeed, still emit inarticulate cries, but at an age when in less advanced races
these cries began to be articulate, the children of the mind-readers developed
the power of direct vision, and ceased to attempt to use the voice.

The fact that the existence of the mind-readers had never been found out by the
rest of the world was explained by two considerations.  In the first place, the
group of islands was small, and occupied a corner of the Indian Ocean quite out
of the ordinary track of ships.  In the second place, the approach to the
islands was rendered so desperately perilous by terrible currents, and the maze
of outlying rocks and shoals, that it was next to impossible for any ship to
touch their shores save as a wreck.  No ship at least had ever done so in the
two thousand years since the mind-readers' own arrival, and the Adelaide had
made the one hundred and twenty-third such wreck.

Apart from motives of humanity, the mind-readers made strenuous efforts to
rescue shipwrecked persons, for from them alone, through the interpreters, could
they obtain information of the outside world.  Little enough this proved when,
as often happened, the sole survivor of the shipwreck was some ignorant sailor,
who had no news to communicate beyond the latest varieties of fore-castle
blasphemy.  My hosts gratefully assured me that, as a person of some little
education, they considered me a veritable godsend.  No less a task was mine than
to relate to them the history of the world for the past two centuries, and often
did I wish, for their sakes, that I had made a more exact study of it.

It is solely for the purpose of communicating with shipwrecked strangers of the
talking nations that the office of the interpreters exists.  When, as from time
to time happens, a child is born with some powers of articulation, he is set
apart, and trained to talk in the interpreters' college.  Of course the partial
atrophy of the vocal organs, from which even the best interpreters suffer,
renders many of the sounds of language impossible for them.  None, for instance,
can pronounce v, f; or s; and as to the sound represented by th, it is five
generations since the last interpreter lived who could utter it.  But for the
occasional inter-marriage of shipwrecked strangers with the islanders, it is
probable that the supply of interpreters would have long ere this quite failed.

I imagine that the very unpleasant sensations which followed the realization
that I was among people who, while inscrutable to me, knew my every thought,
were very much what any one would have experienced in the same case.  They were
very comparable to the panic which accidental nudity causes a person among races
whose custom it is to conceal the figure with drapery.  I wanted to run away and
hide myself.  If I analyzed my feeling, it did not seem to arise so much from
the consciousness of any particularly heinous secrets, as from the knowledge of
a swarm of fatuous, ill-natured, and unseemly thoughts and half thoughts
concerning those around me, and concerning myself, which it was insuperable that
any person should peruse in however benevolent a spirit.  But while my chagrin
and distress on this account were at first intense, they were also very
short-lived, for almost immediately I discovered that the very knowledge that my
mind was overlooked by others operated to check thoughts that might be painful
to them, and that, too, without more effort of the will than a kindly person
exerts to check the utterance of disagreeable remarks.  As a very few lessons in
the elements of courtesy cures a decent person of inconsiderate speaking, so a
brief experience among the mind-readers went far in my case to check
inconsiderate thinking.  It must not be supposed, however, that courtesy among
the mind-readers prevents them from thinking pointedly and freely concerning one
another upon serious occasions, any more than the finest courtesy among the
talking races restrains them from speaking to one another with entire plainness
whenit it is desirable to do so.  Indeed, among the mind-readers, politeness
never can extend to the point of insincerity, as among talking nations, seeing
that it is always one another's real and inmost thought that they read.  I may
fitly mention here, though it was not till later that I fully understood why it
must necessarily be so, that one need feel far less chagrin at the complete
revelation of his weaknesses to a mind-reader than at the slightest betrayal of
them to one of another race.  For the very reason that the mind-reader reads all
your thoughts, particular thoughts are judged with reference to the general
tenor of thought.  Your characteristic and habitual frame of mind is what he
takes account of.  No one need fear being misjudged by a mind-reader on account
of sentiments or emotions which are not representative of the real character or
general attitude.  Justice may, indeed, be said to be a necessary consequence of

As regards the interpreter himself, the instinct of courtesy was not long needed
to check wanton or offensive thoughts.  In all my life before, I had been very
slow to form friendships, but before I had been three days in the company of
this stranger of a strange race, I had become enthusiastically devoted to him.
It was impossible not to be.  The peculiar joy of friendship is the sense of
being understood by our friend as we are not by others, and yet of being loved
in spite of the understanding.  Now here was one whose every word testified to a
knowledge of my secret thoughts and motives which the oldest and nearest of my
former friends had never, and could never, have approximated.  Had such a
knowledge bred in him contempt of me, I should neither have blamed him nor been
at all surprised.  Judge, then, whether the cordial friendliness which he showed
was likely to leave me indifferent.

Imagine my incredulity when he informed me that our friendship was not based
upon more than ordinary mutual suitability of temperaments.  The faculty of
mind-reading, he explained, brought minds so close together, and so heightened
sympathy, that the lowest order of friendship between mind-readers implied a
mutual delight such as only rare friends enjoyed among other races.  He assured
me that later on, when I came to know others of his race, I should find, by the
far greater intensity of sympathy and affection I should conceive for some of
them, how true this saying was.

It may be inquired how, on beginning to mingle with the mind-readers in general,
I managed to communicate with them, seeing that, while they could read my
thoughts, they could not, like the interpreter, respond to them by speech.  I
must here explain that, while these people have no use for a spoken language, a
written language is needful for purposes of record.  They consequently all know
how to write.  Do they, then, write Persian?  Luckily for me, no.  It appears
that, for a long period after mind-reading was fully developed, not only was
spoken language disused, but also written, no records whatever having been kept
during this period.  The delight of the people in the newly found power of
direct mind-to-mind vision, whereby pictures of the total mental state were
communicated, instead of the imperfect descriptions of single thoughts which
words at best could give, induced an invincible distaste for the laborious
impotence of language.

When, however, the first intellectual intoxication had, after several
generations, somewhat sobered down, it was recognized that records of the past
were desirable, and that the despised medium of words was needful to preserve
it. Persian had meanwhile been wholly forgotten.  In order to avoid the
prodigious task of inventing a complete new language, the institution of the
interpreters was now set up, with the idea of acquiring through them a knowledge
of some of the languages of the outside world from the mariners wrecked on the

Owing to the fact that most of the castaway ships were English, a better
knowledge of that tongue was acquired than of any other, and it was adopted as
the written language of the people.  As a rule, my acquaintances wrote slowly
and laboriously, and yet the fact that they knew exactly what was in my mind
rendered their responses so apt that, in my conversations with the slowest
speller of them all, the interchange of thought was as rapid and incomparably
more accurate and satisfactory than the fastest talkers attain to.

It was but a very short time after I had begun to extend my acquaintance among
the mind-readers before I discovered how truly the interpreter had told me I
should find others to whom, on account of greater natural congeniality, I should
become more strongly attached than I had been to him. This was in no wise,
however, because I loved him less, but them more.  I would fain write
particularly of some of these beloved friends, comrades of my heart, from whom I
first learned the undreamed-of possibilities of human friendship, and how
ravishing the satisfactions of sympathy may be. Who, among those who may read
this, has not known that sense of a gulf fixed between soul and soul which mocks
love!  Who has not felt that loneliness which oppresses the heart that loves it
best!  Think no longer that this gulf is eternally fixed, or is any necessity of
human nature.  It has no existence for the race of our fellow-men which I
describe, and by that fact we may be assured that eventually it will be bridged
also for us.  Like the touch of shoulder to shoulder, like the clasping of
hands, is the contact of their minds and their sensation of sympathy.

I say that I would fain speak more particularly of some of my friends, but
waning strength forbids, and moreover, now that I think of it, another
consideration would render any comparison of their characters rather confusing
than instructive to a reader.  This is the fact that, in common with the rest of
the mind-readers, they had no names.  Every one had, indeed, an arbitrary sign
for his designation in records, but it has no sound value.  A register of these
names is kept, so they can at any time be ascertained, but it is very common to
meet persons who have forgotten titles which are used solely for biographical
and official purposes.  For social intercourse names are of course superfluous,
for these people accost one another merely by a mental act of attention, and
refer to third persons by transferring their mental pictures,--something as dumb
persons might by means of photographs. Something so, I say, for in the pictures
of one another's personalities which the mind-readers conceive, the physical
aspect, as might be expected with people who directly contemplate each other's
minds and hearts, is a subordinate element.

I have already told how my first qualms of morbid self-consciousness at knowing
that my mind was an open book to all around me disappeared as I learned that the
very completeness of the disclosure of my thoughts and motives was a guarantee
that I would be judged with a fairness and a sympathy such as even self-judgment
cannot pretend to, affected as that is by so many subtle reactions.  The
assurance of being so judged by every one might well seem an inestimable
privilege to one accustomed to a world in which not even the tenderest love is
any pledge of comprehension, and yet I soon discovered that open-mindedness had
a still greater profit than this.  How shall I describe the delightful
exhilaration of moral health and cleanness, the breezy oxygenated mental
condition, which resulted from the consciousness that I had absolutely nothing
concealed! Truly I may say that I enjoyed myself.  I think surely that no one
needs to have had my marvelous experience to sympathize with this portion of it.
Are we not all ready to agree that this having a curtained chamber where we may
go to grovel, out of the sight of our fellows, troubled only by a vague
apprehension that God may look over the top, is the most demoralizing incident
in the human condition?  It is the existence within the soul of this secure
refuge of lies which has always been the despair of the saint and the exultation
of the knave.  It is the foul cellar which taints the whole house above, be it
never so fine.

What stronger testimony could there be to the instinctive consciousness that
concealment is debauching, and openness our only cure, than the world-old
conviction of the virtue of confession for the soul, and that the uttermost
exposing of one's worst and foulest is the first step toward moral health?  The
wickedest man, if he could but somehow attain to writhe himself inside out as to
his soul, so that its full sickness could be seen, would feel ready for a new
life.  Nevertheless, owing to the utter impotence of the words to convey mental
conditions in their totality, or to give other than mere distortions of them,
confession is, we must needs admit, but a mockery of that longing for
self-revelation to which it testifies.  But think what health and soundness
there must be for souls among a people who see in every face a conscience which,
unlike their own, they cannot sophisticate, who confess one another with a
glance, and shrive with a smile!  Ah, friends, let me now predict, though ages
may elapse before the slow event shall justify me, that in no way will the
mutual vision of minds, when at last it shall be perfected, so enhance the
blessedness of mankind as by rending the veil of self, and leaving no spot of
darkness in the mind for lies to hide in. Then shall the soul no longer be a
coal smoking among ashes, but a star in a crystal sphere.

From what I have said of the delights which friendship among the mind-readers
derives from the perfection of the mental rapport, it may be imagined how
intoxicating must be the experience when one of the friends is a woman, and the
subtle attractions and correspondences of sex touch with passion the
intellectual sympathy.  With my first venturing into society I had begun, to
their extreme amusement, to fall in love with the women right and left.  In the
perfect frankness which is the condition of all intercourse among this people,
these adorable women told me that what I felt was only friendship, which was a
very good thing, but wholly different from love, as I should well know if I were
beloved.  It was difficult to believe that the melting emotions which I had
experienced in their company were the result merely of the friendly and kindly
attitude of their minds toward mine; but when I found that I was affected in the
same way by every gracious woman I met, I had to make up my mind that they must
be right about it, and that I should have to adapt myself to a world in which,
friendship being a passion, love must needs be nothing less than rapture.

The homely proverb, "Every Jack has his Gill," may, I suppose, be taken to mean
that for all men there are certain women expressly suited by mental and moral as
well as by physical constitution.  It is a thought painful, rather than
cheering, that this may be the truth, so altogether do the chances preponderate
against the ability of these elect ones to recognize each other even if they
meet, seeing that speech is so inadequate and so misleading a medium of
self-revelation.  But among the mind-readers, the search for one's ideal mate is
a quest reasonably sure of being crowned with success, and no one dreams of
wedding unless it be; for so to do, they consider, would be to throw away the
choicest blessing of life, and not alone to wrong themselves and their unfound
mates, but likewise those whom they themselves and those undiscovered mates
might wed.  Therefore, passionate pilgrims, they go from isle to isle till they
find each other, and, as the population of the islands is but small, the
pilgrimage is not often long.

When I met her first we were in company, and I was struck by the sudden stir and
the looks of touched and smiling interest with which all around turned and
regarded us, the women with moistened eyes.  They had read her thought when she
saw me, but this I did not know, neither what was the custom in these matters,
till afterward.  But I knew, from the moment she first fixed her eyes on me, and
I felt her mind brooding upon mine, how truly I had been told by those other
women that the feeling with which they had inspired me was not love.

With people who become acquainted at a glance, and old friends in an hour,
wooing is naturally not a long process. Indeed, it may be said that between
lovers among mind-readers there is no wooing, but merely recognition. The day
after we met, she became mine.

Perhaps I cannot better illustrate how subordinate the merely physical element
is in the impression which mind-readers form of their friends than by mentioning
an incident that occurred some months after our union.  This was my discovery,
wholly by accident, that my love, in whose society I had almost constantly been,
had not the least idea what was the color of my eyes, or whether my hair and
complexion were light or dark.  Of course, as soon as I asked her the question,
she read the answer in my mind, but she admitted that she had previously had no
distinct impression on those points.  On the other hand, if in the blackest
midnight I should come to her, she would not need to ask who the comer was.  It
is by the mind, not the eye, that these people know one another.  It is really
only in their relations to soulless and inanimate things that they need eyes at

It must not be supposed that their disregard of one another's bodily aspect
grows out of any ascetic sentiment. It is merely a necessary consequence of
their power of directly apprehending mind, that whenever mind is closely
associated with matter the latter is comparatively neglected on account of the
greater interest of the former, suffering as lesser things always do when placed
in immediate contrast with greater.  Art is with them confined to the inanimate,
the human form having, for the reason mentioned, ceased to inspire the artist.
It will be naturally and quite correctly inferred that among such a race
physical beauty is not the important factor in human fortune and felicity that
it elsewhere is.  The absolute openness of their minds and hearts to one another
makes their happiness far more dependent on the moral and mental qualities of
their companions than upon their physical.  A genial temperament, a
wide-grasping, godlike intellect, a poet soul, are incomparably more fascinating
to them than the most dazzling combination conceivable of mere bodily graces.

A woman of mind and heart has no more need of beauty to win love in these
islands than a beauty elsewhere of mind or heart.  I should mention here,
perhaps, that this race, which makes so little account of physical beauty, is
itself a singularly handsome one.  This is owing doubtless in part to the
absolute compatibility of temperaments in all the marriages, and partly also to
the reaction upon the body of a state of ideal mental and moral health and

Not being myself a mind-reader, the fact that my love was rarely beautiful in
form and face had doubtless no little part in attracting my devotion.  This, of
course, she knew, as she knew all my thoughts, and, knowing my limitations,
tolerated and forgave the element of sensuousness in my passion.  But if it must
have seemed to her so little worthy in comparison with the high spiritual
communion which her race know as love, to me it became, by virtue of her almost
superhuman relation to me, an ecstasy more ravishing surely than any lover of my
race tasted before.  The ache at the heart of the intensest love is the
impotence of words to make it perfectly understood to its object.  But my
passion was without this pang, for my heart was absolutely open to her I loved.
Lovers may imagine, but I cannot describe, the ecstatic thrill of communion into
which this consciousness transformed every tender emotion.  As I considered what
mutual love must be where both parties are mind-readers, I realized the high
communion which my sweet companion had sacrificed for me.  She might indeed
comprehend her lover and his love for her, but the higher satisfaction of
knowing that she was comprehended by him and her love understood, she had
foregone.  For that I should ever attain the power of mind-reading was out of
the question, the faculty never having been developed in a single lifetime.

Why my inability should move my dear companion to such depths of pity I was not
able fully to understand until I learned that mind-reading is chiefly held
desirable, not for the knowledge of others which it gives its possessors, but
for the self-knowledge which is its reflex effect.  Of all they see in the minds
of others, that which concerns them most is the reflection of themselves, the
photographs of their own characters.  The most obvious consequence of the
self-knowledge thus forced upon them is to render them alike incapable of
self-conceit or self-depreciation.  Every one must needs always think of himself
as he is, being no more able to do otherwise than is a man in a hall of mirrors
to cherish delusions as to his personal appearance.

But self-knowledge means to the mind-readers much more than this,--nothing less,
indeed, than a shifting of the sense of identity.  When a man sees himself in a
mirror, he is compelled to distinguish between the bodily self he sees and his
real self, which is within and unseen.  When in turn the mind-reader comes to
see the mental and moral self reflected in other minds as in mirrors, the same
thing happens.  He is compelled to distinguish between this mental and moral
self which has been made objective to him, and can

be contemplated by him as impartially as if it were another's, from the inner
ego which still remains subjective, unseen, and indefinable.  In this inner ego
the mind-readers recognize the essential identity and being, the noumenal self,
the core of the soul, and the true hiding of its eternal life, to which the mind
as well as the body is but the garment of a day.

The effect of such a philosophy as this--which, indeed, with the mind-readers is
rather an instinctive consciousness than a philosophy--must obviously be to
impart a sense of wonderful superiority to the vicissitudes of this earthly
state, and a singular serenity in the midst of the haps and mishaps which
threaten or befall the personality.  They did indeed appear to me, as I never
dreamed men could attain to be, lords of themselves.

It was because I might not hope to attain this enfranchisement from the false
ego of the apparent self, without which life seemed to her race scarcely worth
living, that my love so pitied me.

But I must hasten on, leaving a thousand things unsaid, to relate the lamentable
catastrophe to which it is owing that, instead of being still a resident of
those blessed islands, in the full enjoyment of that intimate and ravishing
companionship which by contrast would forever dim the pleasures of all other
human society, I recall the bright picture as a memory under other skies.

Among a people who are compelled by the very constitution of their minds to put
themselves in the places of others, the sympathy which is the inevitable
consequence of perfect comprehension renders envy, hatred, and uncharitableness
impossible.  But of course there are people less genially constituted than
others, and these are necessarily the objects of a certain distaste on the part
of associates. Now, owing to the unhindered impact of minds upon one another,
the anguish of persons so regarded, despite the tenderest consideration of those
about them, is so great that they beg the grace of exile, that, being out of the
way, people may think less frequently upon them.  There are numerous small
islets, scarcely more than rocks, lying to the north of the archipelago, and on
these the unfortunates are permitted to live.  Only one lives on each islet, as
they cannot endure each other even as well as the more happily constituted can
endure them.  From time to time supplies of food are taken to them, and of
course, any time they wish to take the risk, they are permitted to return to

Now, as I have said, the fact which, even more than their out-of-the-way
location, makes the islands of the mind-readers unapproachable, is the violence
with which the great antarctic current, owing probably to some configuration of
the ocean bed, together with the innumerable rocks and shoals, flows through and
about the archipelago.

Ships making the islands from the southward are caught by this current and drawn
among the rocks, to their almost certain destruction; while, owing to the
violence with which the current sets to the north, it is not possible to
approach at all from that direction, or at least it has never been accomplished.
Indeed, so powerful are the currents that even the boats which cross the narrow
straits between the main islands and the islets of the unfortunate, to carry the
latter their supplies, are ferried over by cables, not trusting to oar or sail.

The brother of my love had charge of one of the boats engaged in this
transportation, and, being desirous of visiting the islets, I accepted an
invitation to accompany him on one of his trips.  I know nothing of how the
accident happened, but in the fiercest part of the current of one of the straits
we parted from the cable and were swept out to sea.  There was no question of
stemming the boiling current, our utmost endeavors barely sufficing to avoid
being dashed to pieces on the rocks.  From the first, there was no hope of our
winning back to the land, and so swiftly did we drift that by noon--the accident
having befallen in the morning--the islands, which are low-lying, had sunk
beneath the southwestern horizon.

Among these mind-readers, distance is not an insuperable obstacle to the
transfer of thought.  My companion was in communication with our friends, and
from time to time conveyed to me messages of anguish from my dear love; for,
being well aware of the nature of the currents and the unapproachableness of the
islands, those we had left behind, as well as we ourselves, knew well we should
see each other's faces no more.  For five days we continued to drift to the
northwest, in no danger of starvation, owing to our lading of provisions, but
constrained to unintermitting watch and ward by the roughness of the weather.
On the fifth day my companion died from exposure and exhaustion. He died very
quietly,--indeed, with great appearance of relief.  The life of the mind-readers
while yet they are in the body is so largely spiritual that the idea of an
existence wholly so, which seems vague and chill to us, suggests to them a state
only slightly more refined than they already know on earth.

After that I suppose I must have fallen into an unconscious state, from which I
roused to find myself on an American ship bound for New York, surrounded by
people whose only means of communicating with one another is to keep up while
together a constant clatter of hissing, guttural, and explosive noises, eked out
by all manner of facial contortions and bodily gestures.  I frequently find
myself staring open-mouthed at those who address me, too much struck by their
grotesque appearance to bethink myself of replying.

I find that I shall not live out the voyage, and I do not care to.  From my
experience of the people on the ship, I can judge how I should fare on land amid
the stunning Babel of a nation of talkers.  And my friends,--God bless them! how
lonely I should feel in their very presence!  Nay, what satisfaction or
consolation, what but bitter mockery could I ever more find in such human
sympathy and companionship as suffice others and once sufficed me,--I who have
seen and known what I have seen and known!  Ah, yes, doubtless it is far better
I should die; but the knowledge of the things that I have seen I feel should not
perish with me.  For hope's sake, men should not miss the glimpse of the higher,
sun-bathed reaches of the upward path they plod.  So thinking, I have written
out some account of my wonderful experience, though briefer far, by reason of my
weakness, than fits the greatness of the matter.  The captain seems an honest,
well-meaning man, and to him I shall confide the narrative, charging him, on
touching shore to see it safely in the hands of some one who will bring it to
the world's ear.

NOTE.--The extent of my own connection with the foregoing document is
sufficiently indicated by the author himself in the final paragraph.

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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2009, 02:45:49 pm »

I have chosen this tale as I have never read any other like it, and by that, I mean one that deals intimately with the mindset and practices associated with the Inquistion. It is a long tale, but one of deep pathos, and historical interest. It contains a lesson well worth remembering, for in remembering we lessen the chances of re-enacting its' abominable horrors.

by Honore de Balzac


A number of persons of the noble country of Touraine, considerably
edified by the warm search which the author is making into the
antiquities, adventures, good jokes, and pretty tales of that blessed
land, and believing for certain that he should know everything, have
asked him (after drinking with him of course understood), if he had
discovered the etymological reason, concerning which all the ladies of
the town are so curious, and from which a certain street in Tours is
called the Rue Chaude. By him it was replied, that he was much
astonished to see that the ancient inhabitants had forgotten the great
number of convents situated in this street, where the severe
continence of the monks and nuns might have caused the walls to be
made so hot that some woman of position should increase in size from
walking too slowly along them to vespers. A troublesome fellow,
wishing to appear learned, declared that formerly all the
scandalmongers of the neighbourhood were wont to meet in this place.
Another entangled himself in the minute suffrages of science, and
poured forth golden words without being understood, qualifying words,
harmonising the melodies of the ancient and modern, congregating
customs, distilling verbs, alchemising all languages since the Deluge,
of the Hebrew, Chaldeans, Egyptians, Greeks, Latins, and of Turnus,
the ancient founder of Tours; and the good man finished by declaring
that chaude or chaulde with the exception of the H and the L, came
from Cauda, and that there was a tail in the affair, but the ladies
only understood the end of it. An old man observed that in this same
place was formerly a source of thermal water, of which his great great
grandfather had drunk. In short, in less time than it takes a fly to
embrace its sweetheart, there had been a pocketful of etymologies, in
which the truth of the matter had been less easily found than a louse
in the filthy beard of a Capuchin friar. But a man well learned and
well informed, through having left his footprint in many monasteries,
consumed much midnight oil, and manured his brain with many a volume--
himself more encumbered with pieces, dyptic fragments, boxes,
charters, and registers concerning the history of Touraine than is a
gleaner with stalks of straw in the month of August--this man, old,
infirm, and gouty, who had been drinking in his corner without saying
a word, smiled the smile of a wise man and knitted his brows, the said
smile finally resolving itself into a pish! well articulated, which
the Author heard and understood it to be big with an adventure
historically good, the delights of which he would be able to unfold in
this sweet collection.

To be brief, on the morrow this gouty old fellow said to him, "By your
poem, which is called 'The Venial Sin,' you have forever gained my
esteem, because everything therein is true from head to foot--which I
believe to be a precious superabundance in such matters. But doubtless
you do not know what became of the Moor placed in religion by the said
knight, Bruyn de la Roche-Corbon. I know very well. Now if this
etymology of the street harass you, and also the Egyptian nun, I will
lend you a curious and antique parchment, found by me in the Olim of
the episcopal palace, of which the libraries were a little knocked
about at a period when none of us knew if he would have the pleasure
of his head's society on the morrow. Now will not this yield you a
perfect contentment?"

"Good!" said the author.

Then this worthy collector of truths gave certain rare and dusty
parchments to the author, the which he has, not without great labour,
translated into French, and which were fragments of a most ancient
ecclesiastical process. He has believed that nothing would be more
amusing than the actual resurrection of this antique affair, wherein
shines forth the illiterate simplicity of the good old times. Now,
then, give ear. This is the order in which were the manuscripts, of
which the author has made use in his own fashion, because the language
was devilishly difficult.


/In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen./

In the year of our Lord, one thousand two hundred and seventy-one,
before me, Hierome Cornille, grand inquisitor and ecclesiastical judge
(thereto commissioned by the members of the chapter of Saint Maurice,
the cathedral of Tours, having of this deliberated in the presence of
our Lord Jean de Montsoreau, archbishop--namely, the grievances and
complaints of the inhabitants of the said town, whose request is here
subjoined), have appeared certain noblemen, citizens, and inhabitants
of the diocese, who have stated the following facts concerning a demon
suspected of having taken the features of a woman, who has much
afflicted the minds of the diocese, and is at present a prisoner in
the jail of the chapter; and in order to arrive at the truth of the
said charge we have opened the present court, this Monday, the
eleventh day of December, after mass, to communicate the evidence of
each witness to the said demon, to interrogate her upon the said
crimes to her imputed, and to judge her according to the laws enforced
/contra demonios/.

In this inquiry has assisted me to write the evidence therein given,
Guillaume Tournebouche, rubrican of the chapter, a learned man.

Firstly has come before us one Jehan, surnamed Tortebras, a citizen of
Tours, keeping by licence the hostelry of La Cigoyne, situated on the
Place du Pont, and who has sworn by the salvation of his soul, his
hand upon the holy Evangelists, to state no other thing than that
which by himself hath been seen and heard.

He hath stated as here followeth:--

"I declare that about two years before the feast of St. Jehan, upon
which are the grand illuminations, a gentleman, at first unknown to
me, but belonging without doubt to our lord the King, and at that time
returned to our country from the Holy Land, came to me with the
proposition that I should let to him at rental a certain country-house
by me built, in the quit rent of the chapter over against the place
called of St. Etienne, and the which I let to him for nine years, for
the consideration of three besans of fine gold. In the said house was
placed by the said knight a fair wench having the appearance of a
woman, dressed in the strange fashion of the Saracens Mohammedans,
whom he would allow by none to be seen or to be approached within a
bow-shot, but whom I have seen with mine own eyes, weird feathers upon
her head, and eyes so flaming that I cannot adequately describe them,
and from which gleamed forth a fire of hell. The defunct knight having
threatened with death whoever should appear to spy about the said
house, I have by reason of great fear left the said house, and I have
until this day secretly kept to my mind certain presumptions and
doubts concerning the bad appearance of the said foreigner, who was
more strange than any woman, her equal not having as yet by me been

"Many persons of all conditions having at the time believed the said
knight to be dead, but kept upon his feet by virtue of the said
charms, philters, spells, and diabolical sorceries of this seeming
woman, who wished to settle in our country, I declare that I have
always seen the said knight so ghastly pale that I can only compare
his face to the wax of a Paschal candle, and to the knowledge of all
the people of the hostelry of La Cigoyne, this knight was interred
nine days after his first coming. According to the statement of his
groom, the defunct had been chalorously coupled with the said Moorish
woman during seven whole days shut up in my house, without coming out
from her, the which I heard him horribly avow upon his deathbed.
Certain persons at the present time have accused this she-devil of
holding the said gentleman in her clutches by her long hair, the which
was furnished with certain warm properties by means of which are
communicated to Christians the flames of hell in the form of love,
which work in them until their souls are by this means drawn from
their bodies and possessed by Satan. But I declare that I have seen
nothing of this excepting the said dead knight, bowelless, emaciated,
wishing, in spite of his confessor, still to go to this wench; and
then he has been recognised as the lord de Bueil, who was a crusader,
and who was, according to certain persons of the town, under the spell
of a demon whom he had met in the Asiatic country of Damascus or

"Afterwards I have let my house to the said unknown lady, according to
the clauses of the deed of lease. The said lord of Bueil, being
defunct, I had nevertheless been into my house in order to learn from
the said foreign woman if she wished to remain in my dwelling, and
after great trouble was led before her by a strange, half-naked black
man, whose eyes were white.

"Then I have seen the said Moorish woman in a little room, shining
with gold and jewels, lighted with strange lights, upon an Asiatic
carpet, where she was seated, lightly attired, with another gentleman,
who was there imperiling his soul; and I had not the heart bold enough
to look upon her, seeing that her eyes would have incited me
immediately to yield myself up to her, for already her voice thrilled
into my very belly, filled my brain, and debauched my mind. Finding
this, from the fear of God, and also of hell, I have departed with
swift feet, leaving my house to her as long as she liked to retain it,
so dangerous was it to behold that Moorish complexion from which
radiated diabolical heats, besides a foot smaller than it was lawful
in a real woman to possess; and to hear her voice, which pierced into
one's heart! And from that day I have lacked the courage to enter my
house from great fear of falling into hell. I have said my say."

To the said Tortebras we have then shown an Abyssinian, Nubian or
Ethiopian, who, black from head to foot, had been found wanting in
certain virile properties with which all good Christians are usually
furnished, who, having persevered in his silence, after having been
tormented and tortured many times, not without much moaning, has
persisted in being unable to speak the language of our country. And
the said Tortebras has recognised the said Abyss heretic as having
been in his house in company with the said demoniacal spirit, and is
suspected of having lent his aid to her sorcery.

And the said Tortebras has confessed his great faith in the Catholic
religion, and declared no other things to be within his knowledge save
certain rumours which were known to every one, of which he had been in
no way a witness except in the hearing of them.

In obedience to the citations served upon him, has appeared then,
Matthew, surname Cognefestu, a day-labourer of St. Etienne, whom,
after having sworn by the holy Evangelists to speak the truth, has
confessed to us always to have seen a bright light in the dwelling of
the said foreign woman, and heard much wild and diabolical laughter on
the days and nights of feasts and fasts, notably during the days of
the holy and Christmas weeks, as if a great number of people were in
the house. And he has sworn to have seen by the windows of the said
dwellings, green buds of all kinds in the winter, growing as if by
magic, especially roses in a time of frost, and other things for which
there was a need of a great heat; but of this he was in no way
astonished, seeing that the said foreigner threw out so much heat that
when she walked in the evening by the side of his wall he found on the
morrow his salad grown; and on certain occasions she had by the
touching of her petticoats, caused the trees to put forth leaves and
hasten the buds. Finally, the said, Cognefestu has declared to us to
know no more, because he worked from early morning, and went to bed at
the same hour as the fowls.

Afterwards the wife of the aforesaid Cognefestu has by us been
required to state also upon oath the things come to her cognisance in
this process, and has avowed naught save praises of the said
foreigner, because since her coming her man had treated her better in
consequence of the neighbourhood of this good lady, who filled the air
with love, as the sun did light, and other incongruous nonsense, which
we have not committed to writing.

To the said Cognefestu and to his wife we have shown the said unknown
African, who has been seen by them in the gardens of the house, and is
stated by them for certain to belong to the said demon. In the third
place, has advanced Harduin V., lord of Maille, who being by us
reverentially begged to enlighten the religion of the church, has
expressed his willingness so to do, and has, moreover, engaged his
word, as a gallant knight, to say no other thing than that which he
has seen. Then he has testified to have known in the army of the
Crusades the demon in question, and in the town of Damascus to have
seen the knight of Bueil, since defunct, fight at close quarters to be
her sole possessor. The above-mentioned wench, or demon, belonged at
that time to the knight Geoffroy IV., Lord of Roche-Pozay, by whom she
was said to have been brought from Touraine, although she was a
Saracen; concerning which the knights of France marvelled much, as
well as at her beauty, which made a great noise and a thousand
scandalous ravages in the camp. During the voyage this wench was the
cause of many deaths, seeing that Roche-Pozay had already discomfited
certain Crusaders, who wished to keep her to themselves, because she
shed, according to certain knights petted by her in secret, joys
around her comparable to none others. But in the end the knight of
Bueil, having killed Geoffroy de la Roche-Pozay, became lord and
master of this young murderess, and placed her in a convent, or harem,
according to the Saracen custom. About this time one used to see her
and hear her chattering as entertainment many foreign dialects, such
as the Greek or the Latin empire, Moorish, and, above all, French
better than any of those who knew the language of France best in the
Christian host, from which sprang the belief that she was demoniacal.

The said knight Harduin has confessed to us not to have tilted for her
in the Holy Land, not from fear, coldness or other cause, so much as
that he believed the time had arrived for him to bear away a portion
of the true cross, and also he had belonging to him a noble lady of
the Greek country, who saved him from this danger in denuding him of
love, morning and night, seeing that she took all of it substantially
from him, leaving him none in his heart or elsewhere for others.

And the said knight has assured us that the woman living in the
country house of Tortebras, was really the said Saracen woman, come
into the country from Syria, because he had been invited to a midnight
feast at her house by the young Lord of Croixmare, who expired the
seventh day afterwards, according to the statement of the Dame de
Croixmare, his mother, ruined all points by the said wench, whose
commerce with him had consumed his vital spirit, and whose strange
phantasies had squandered his fortune.

Afterwards questioned in his quality of a man full of prudence, wisdom
and authority in this country, upon the ideas entertained concerning
the said woman, and summoned by us to open his conscience, seeing that
it was a question of a most abominable case of Christian faith and
divine justice, answer has been made by the said knight:--

That by certain of the host of Crusaders it has been stated to him
that always this she-devil was a maid to him who embraced her, and
that Mammon was for certain occupied in her, making for her a new
virtue for each of her lovers, and a thousand other foolish sayings of
drunken men, which were not of a nature to form a fifth gospel. But
for a fact, he, an old knight on that turn of life, and knowing
nothing more of the aforesaid, felt himself again a young man in that
last supper with which he had been regaled by the lord of Croixmare;
then the voice of this demon went straight to his heart before flowing
into his ears, and had awakened so great a love in his body that his
life was ebbing from the place whence it should flow, and that
eventually, but for the assistance of Cyprus wine, which he had drunk
to blind his sight, and his getting under the table in order no longer
to gaze upon the fiery eyes of his diabolical hostess, and not to rend
his heart from her, without doubt he would have fought the young
Croixmare, in order to enjoy for a single moment this supernatural
woman. Since then he had had absolution from his confessor for the
wicked thought. Then, by advice from on high, he had carried back to
his house his portion of the true Cross, and had remained in his own
manor, where, in spite of his Christian precautions, the said voice
still at certain times tickled his brain, and in the morning often had
he in remembrance this demon, warm as brimstone; and because the look
of this wench was so warm that it made him burn like a young man, be
half dead, and because it cost him then many transshipments of the
vital spirit, the said knight has requested us not to confront him
with the empress of love to whom, if it were not the devil, God the
Father had granted strange liberties with the minds of men.
Afterwards, he retired, after reading over his statement, not without
having first recognised the above-mentioned African to be the servant
and page of the lady.

In the fourth place, upon the faith pledged in us in the name of the
Chapter and of our Lord Archbishop, that he should not be tormented,
tortured, nor harassed in any manner, nor further cited after his
statement, in consequence of his commercial journeys, and upon the
assurance that he should retire in perfect freedom, has come before us
a Jew, Salomon al Rastchid, who, in spite of the infamy of his person
and his Judaism, has been heard by us to this one end, to know
everything concerning the conduct of the aforesaid demon. Thus he has
not been required to take any oath this Salomon, seeing that he is
beyond the pale of the Church, separated from us by the blood of our
saviour (trucidatus Salvatore inter nos). Interrogated by us as to why
he appeared without the green cap upon his head, and the yellow wheel
in the apparent locality of the heart in his garment, according to the
ecclesiastical and royal ordinances, the said de Rastchid has
exhibited to us letters patent of the seneschal of Touraine and
Poitou. Then the said Jew has declared to us to have done a large
business for the lady dwelling in the house of the innkeeper
Tortebras, to have sold to her golden chandeliers, with many branches,
minutely engraved, plates of red silver, cups enriched with stones,
emeralds and rubies; to have brought for her from the Levant a number
of rare stuffs, Persian carpets, silks, and fine linen; in fact,
things so magnificent that no queen in Christendom could say she was
so well furnished with jewels and household goods; and that he had for
his part received from her three hundred thousand pounds for the
rarity of the purchases in which he had been employed, such as Indian
flowers, poppingjays, birds' feathers, spices, Greek wines, and
diamonds. Requested by us, the judge, to say if he had furnished
certain ingredients of magical conjuration, the blood of new-born
children, conjuring books, and things generally and whatsoever made
use of by sorcerers, giving him licence to state his case without that
thereupon he should be the subject to any further inquest or inquiry,
the said al Rastchid has sworn by his Hebrew faith never to have had
any such commerce; and has stated that he was involved in too high
interests to give himself to such miseries, seeing that he was the
agent of certain most powerful lords, such as the Marquis de
Montferrat, the King of England, the King of Cyprus and Jerusalem, the
Court of Provence, lords of Venice, and many German gentleman; to have
belonging to him merchant galleys of all kinds, going into Egypt with
the permission of the Sultan, and he trafficking in precious articles
of silver and of gold, which took him often into the exchange of
Tours. Moreover, he has declared that he considered the said lady, the
subject of inquiry, to be a right royal and natural woman, with the
sweetest limbs, and the smallest he has ever seen. That in consequence
of her renown for a diabolical spirit, pushed by a wild imagination,
and also because that he was smitten with her, he had heard once that
she was husbandless, proposed to her to be her gallant, to which
proposition she willingly acceded. Now, although from that night he
felt his bones disjointed and his bowels crushed, he had not yet
experienced, as certain persons say, that who once yielded was free no
more; he went to his fate as lead into the crucible of the alchemist.
Then the said Salomon, to whom we have granted his liberty according
to the safe conduct, in spite of the statement, which proves
abundantly his commerce with the devil, because he had been saved
there where all Christians have succumbed, has admitted to us an
agreement concerning the said demon. To make known that he had made an
offer to the chapter of the cathedral to give for the said semblance
of a woman such a ransom, if she were condemned to be burned alive,
that the highest of the towers of the Church of St. Maurice, at
present in course of construction, could therewith be finished.

The which we have noted to be deliberated upon at an opportune time by
the assembled chapter. And the said Salomon has taken his departure
without being willing to indicate his residence, and has told us that
he can be informed of the deliberation of the chapter by a Jew of the
synagogue of Tours, a name Tobias Nathaneus. The said Jew has before
his departure been shown the African, and has recognised him as the
page of the demon, and has stated the Saracens to have the custom of
mutilating their slaves thus, to commit to them the task of guarding
their women by an ancient usage, as it appears in the profane
histories of Narsez, general of Constantinople, and others.

On the morrow after mass has appeared before us the most noble and
illustrious lady of Croixmare. The same has worn her faith in the holy
Evangelists, and has related to us with tears how she had placed her
eldest son beneath the earth, dead by reason of his extravagant amours
with this female demon. The which noble gentleman was three-and-twenty
years of age; of good complexion, very manly and well bearded like his
defunct sire. Notwithstanding his great vigour, in ninety days he had
little by little withered, ruined by his commerce with the succubus of
the Rue Chaude, according to the statement of the common people; and
her maternal authority over the son had been powerless. Finally in his
latter days he appeared like a poor dried up worm, such as
housekeepers meet with in a corner when they clean out the dwelling-
rooms. And always, so long as he had the strength to go, he went to
shorten his life with this cursed woman; where, also, he emptied his
cash-box. When he was in his bed, and knew his last hour had come, he
swore at, cursed, and threatened and heaped upon all--his sister, his
brother, and upon her his mother--a thousand insults, rebelled in the
face of the chaplain; denied God, and wished to die in damnation; at
which were much afflicted the retainers of the family, who, to save
his soul and pluck it from hell, have founded two annual masses in the
cathedral. And in order to have him buried in consecrated ground, the
house of Croixmare has undertaken to give to the chapter, during one
hundred years, the wax candles for the chapels and the church, upon
the day of the Paschal feast. And, in conclusion, saving the wicked
words heard by the reverend person, Dom Loys Pot, a nun of
Marmoustiers, who came to assist in his last hours the said Baron de
Croixmaire affirms never to have heard any words offered by the
defunct, touching the demon who had undone him.

And therewith has retired the noble and illustrious lady in deep

In the sixth place has appeared before us, after adjournment,
Jacquette, called Vieux-Oing, a kitchen scullion, going to houses to
wash dishes, residing at present in the Fishmarket, who, after having
placed her word to say nothing she did not hold to be true, has
declared as here follows:--Namely, that one day she, being come into
the kitchen of the said demon, of whom she had no fear, because she
was wont to regale herself only upon males, she had the opportunity of
seeing in the garden this female demon, superbly attired, walking in
company with a knight, with whom she was laughing, like a natural
woman. Then she had recognised in this demon that true likeness of the
Moorish woman placed as a nun in the convent of Notre Dame de
l'Egrignolles by the defunct seneschal of Touraine and Poitou, Messire
Bruyn, Count of Roche-Corbon, the which Moorish woman had been left in
the situation and place of the image of our Lady the Virgin, the
mother of our Blessed Saviour, stolen by the Egyptians about eighteen
years since. Of this time, in consequence of the troubles come about
in Touraine, no record has been kept. This girl, aged about twelve
years, was saved from the stake at which she would have been burned by
being baptised; and the said defunct and his wife had then been
godfather and godmother to this child of hell. Being at that time
laundress at the convent, she who bears witness has remembrance of the
flight which the said Egyptian took twenty months after her entry into
the convent, so subtilely that it has never been known how or by what
means she escaped. At that time it was thought by all, that with the
devil's aid she had flown away in the air, seeing that not
withstanding much search, no trace of her flight was found in the
convent, where everything remained in its accustomed order.

The African having been shown to the said scullion, she has declared
not to have seen him before, although she was curious to do so, as he
was commissioned to guard the place in which the Moorish woman
combated with those whom she drained through the spigot.

In the seventh place has been brought before us Hugues de Fou, son of
the Sieur de Bridore, who, aged twenty years, has been placed in the
hands of his father, under caution of his estates, and by him is
represented in this process, whom it concerns if should be duly
attained and convicted of having, assisted by several unknown and bad
young men, laid siege to the jail of the archbishop and of the
chapter, and of having lent himself to disturb the force of
ecclesiastical justice, by causing the escape of the demon now under
consideration. In spite of the evil disposition we have commanded the
said Hugues de Fou to testify truly, touching the things he should
know concerning the said demon, with whom he is vehemently reputed to
have had commerce, pointing out to him that it was a question of his
salvation and of the life of the said demon. He, after having taken
the oath, he said:--

"I swear by my eternal salvation, and by the holy Evangelists here
present under my hand, to hold the woman suspected of being a demon to
be an angel, a perfect woman, and even more so in mind than in body,
living in all honesty, full of the migniard charms and delights of
love, in no way wicked, but most generous, assisting greatly the poor
and suffering. I declare that I have seen her weeping veritable tears
for the death of my friend, the knight of Croixmare. And because on
that day she had made a vow to our Lady the Virgin no more to receive
the love of young noblemen too weak in her service; she has to me
constantly and with great courage denied the enjoyment of her body,
and has only granted to me love, and the possession of her heart, of
which she has made sovereign. Since this gracious gift, in spite of my
increasing flame I have remained alone in her dwelling, where I have
spent the greater part of my days, happy in seeing and in hearing her.
Oh! I would eat near her, partake of the air which entered into her
lungs, of the light which shone in her sweet eyes, and found in this
occupation more joy than have the lords of paradise. Elected by me to
be forever my lady, chosen to be one day my dove, my wife, and only
sweetheart, I, poor fool, have received from her no advances on the
joys of the future, but, on the contrary, a thousand virtuous
admonitions; such as that I should acquire renown as a good knight,
become a strong man and a fine one, fear nothing except God; honour
the ladies, serve but one and love them in memory of that one; that
when I should be strengthened by the work of war, if her heart still
pleased mine, at that time only would she be mine, because she would
be able to wait for me, loving me so much."

So saying the young Sire Hugues wept, and weeping, added:--

"That thinking of this graceful and feeble woman, whose arms seemed
scarcely large enough to sustain the light weight of her golden
chains, he did not know how to contain himself while fancying the
irons which would wound her, and the miseries with which she would
traitorously be loaded, and from this cause came his rebellion. And
that he had licence to express his sorrow before justice, because his
life was so bound up with that of his delicious mistress and
sweetheart that on the day when evil came to her he would surely die."

And the same young man has vociferated a thousand other praises of the
said demon, which bear witness to the vehement sorcery practised upon
him, and prove, moreover, the abominable, unalterable, and incurable
life and the fraudulent witcheries to which he is at present subject,
concerning which our lord the archbishop will judge, in order to save
by exorcisms and penitences this young soul from the snares of hell,
if the devil has not gained too strong a hold of it.

Then we have handed back the said young nobleman into the custody of
the noble lord his father, after that by the said Hugues, the African
has been recognised as the servant of the accused.

In the eighth place, before us, have the footguards of our lord the
archbishop led in great state the MOST HIGH AND REVEREND LADY
under the invocation of Mount Carmel, to whose control has been
submitted by the late seneschal of Touraine, father of Monseigneur the
Count of Roche-Corbon, present advocate of the said convent, the
Egyptian, named at the baptismal font Blanche Bruyn.

To the said abbess we have shortly stated the present cause, in which
is involved the holy church, the glory of God, and the eternal future
of the people of the diocese afflicted with a demon, and also the life
of a creature who it was possible might be quite innocent. Then the
cause elaborated, we have requested the said noble abbess to testify
that which was within her knowledge concerning the magical
disappearance of her daughter in God, Blanche Bruyn, espoused by our
Saviour under the name of Sister Clare.

Then has stated the very high, very noble, and very illustrious lady
abbess as follows:--

"The Sister Clare, of origin to her unknown, but suspected to be of an
heretic father and mother, people inimical to God, has truly been
placed in religion in the convent of which the government had
canonically come to her in spite of her unworthiness; that the said
sister had properly concluded her noviciate, and made her vows
according to the holy rule of the order. That the vows taken, she had
fallen into great sadness, and had much drooped. Interrogated by her,
the abbess, concerning her melancholy malady, the said sister had
replied with tears that she herself did not know the cause. That one
thousand and one tears engendered themselves in her at feeling no more
her splendid hair upon her head; that besides this she thirsted for
air, and could not resist her desire to jump up into the trees, to
climb and tumble about according to her wont during her open air life;
that she passed her nights in tears, dreaming of the forests under the
leaves of which in other days she slept; and in remembrance of this
she abhorred the quality of the air of the cloisters, which troubled
her respiration; that in her inside she was troubled with evil
vapours; that at times she was inwardly diverted in church by thoughts
which made her lose countenance. Then I have repeated over and over
again to the poor creature the holy directions of the church, have
reminded her of the eternal happiness which women without seeing enjoy
in paradise, and how transitory was life here below, and certain the
goodness of God, who for first certain bitter pleasures lost, kept for
us a love without end. Is spite of this wise maternal advice the evil
spirit has persisted in the said sister; and always would she gaze
upon the leaves of the trees and grass of the meadows through the
windows of the church during the offices and times of prayer; and
persisted in becoming as white as linen in order that she might stay
in her bed, and at certain times she would run about the cloisters
like a goat broken loose from its fastening. Finally, she had grown
thin, lost much of the great beauty, and shrunk away to nothing. While
in this condition by us, the abbess her mother, was she placed in the
sick-room, we daily expecting her to die. One winter's morning the
said sister had fled, without leaving any trace of her steps, without
breaking the door, forcing of locks, or opening of windows, nor any
sign whatever of the manner of her passage; a frightful adventure
which was believed to have taken place by the aid of the demon which
has annoyed and tormented her. For the rest it was settled by the
authorities of the metropolitan church that the mission of this
daughter of hell was to divert the nuns from their holy ways, and
blinded by their perfect lives, she had returned through the air on
the wings of the sorcerer, who had left her for mockery of our holy
religion in the place of our Virgin Mary."

The which having said, the lady abbess was, with great honour and
according to the command of our lord the archbishop, accompanied as
far as the convent of Carmel.

In the ninth place, before us has come, agreeably to the citation
served upon him, Joseph, called Leschalopier, a money-changer, living
on the bridge at the sign of the Besant d'Or, who, after having
pledged his Catholic faith to say no other thing than the truth, and
that known to him, touching the process before the ecclesiastical
tribunal, has testified as follows:--"I am a poor father, much
afflicted by the sacred will of God. Before the coming of the Succubus
of the Rue Chaude, I had, for all good, a son as handsome as a noble,
learned as a clerk, and having made more than a dozen voyages into
foreign lands; for the rest a good Catholic; keeping himself on guard
against the needles of love, because he avoided marriage, knowing
himself to be the support of my old days, the love for my eyes, and
the constant delight of my heart. He was a son of whom the King of
France might have been proud--a good and courageous man, the light on
my commerce, the joy of my roof, and, above all, an inestimable
blessing, seeing that I am alone in the world, having had the
misfortune to lose my wife, and being too old to take another. Now,
monseigneur, this treasure without equal has been taken from me, and
cast into hell by the demon. Yes, my lord judge, directly he beheld
this mischievous jade, this she-devil, in whom it is a whole workshop
of perdition, a conjunction of pleasure and delectation, and whom
nothing can satiate, my poor child stuck himself fast into the gluepot
of love, and afterwards lived only between the columns of Venus, and
there did not live long, because in that place like so great a heat
that nothing can satisfy the thirst of this gulf, not even should you
plunge therein the germs of the entire world. Alas! then, my poor boy
--his fortune, his generative hopes, his eternal future, his entire
self, more than himself, have been engulfed in this sewer, like a
grain of corn in the jaws of a bull. By this means become an old
orphan I, who speak, shall have no greater joy than to see burning,
this demon, nourished with blood and gold. This Arachne who has drawn
out and sucked more marriages, more families in the seed, more hearts,
more Christians then there are lepers in all the lazar houses or
Christendom. Burn, torment this fiend--this vampire who feeds on
souls, this tigerish nature that drinks blood, this amorous lamp in
which burns the venom of all the vipers. Close this abyss, the bottom
of which no man can find.... I offer my deniers to the chapter for the
stake, and my arm to light the fire. Watch well, my lord judge, to
surely guard this devil, seeing that she has a fire more flaming than
all other terrestrial fires; she has all the fire of hell in her, the
strength of Samson in her hair, and the sound of celestial music in
her voice. She charms to kill the body and the soul at one stroke; she
smiles to bite, she kisses to devour; in short, she would wheedle an
angel, and make him deny his God. My son! my son! where is he at this
hour? The flower of my life--a flower cut by this feminine needlecase
as with scissors. Ha, lord! why have I been called? Who will give me
back my son, whose soul has been absorbed by a womb which gives death
to all, and life to none? The devil alone copulates, and engenders
not. This is my evidence, which I pray Master Tournebouche to write
without omitting one iota, and to grant me a schedule, that I may tell
it to God every evening in my prayer, to this end to make the blood of
the innocent cry aloud into His ears, and to obtain from His infinite
mercy the pardon for my son."

Here followed twenty and seven other statements, of which the
transcription in their true objectivity, in all their quality of space
would be over-fastidious, would draw to a great length, and divert the
thread of this curious process--a narrative which, according to
ancient precepts, should go straight to the fact, like a bull to his
principal office. Therefore, here is, in a few words, the substance of
these testimonies.

A great number of good Christians, townsmen and townswomen,
inhabitants of the noble town of Tours, testified the demon to have
held every day wedding feasts and royal festivities, never to have
been seen in any church, to have cursed God, to have mocked the
priests, never to have crossed herself in any place; to have spoken
all the languages of the earth--a gift which has only been granted by
God to the blessed Apostles; to have been many times met in the
fields, mounted upon an unknown animal who went before the clouds; not
to grow old, and to have always a youthful face; to have received the
father and the son on the same day, saying that her door sinned not;
to have visible malign influences which flowed from her, for that a
pastrycook, seated on a bench at her door, having perceived her one
evening, received such a gust of warm love that, going in and getting
to bed, he had with great passion embraced his wife, and was found
dead on the morrow, that the old men of the town went to spend the
remainder of their days and of their money with her, to taste the joys
of the sins of their youth, and that they died like fleas on their
bellies, and that certain of them, while dying, became as black as
Moors; that this demon never allowed herself to be seen neither at
dinner, nor at breakfast, nor at supper, but ate alone, because she
lived upon human brains; that several had seen her during the night go
to the cemeteries, and there embrace the young dead men, because she
was not able to assuage otherwise the devil who worked in her
entrails, and there raged like a tempest, and from that came the
astringent biting, nitrous shooting, precipitant, and diabolical
movements, squeezings, and writhings of love and voluptuousness, from
which several men had emerged bruised, torn, bitten, pinched and
crushed; and that since the coming of our Saviour, who had imprisoned
the master devil in the bellies of the swine, no malignant beast had
ever been seen in any portion of the earth so mischievous, venomous
and so clutching; so much so that if one threw the town of Tours into
this field of Venus, she would there transmute it into the grain of
cities, and this demon would swallow it like a strawberry.

And a thousand other statements, sayings, and depositions, from which
was evident in perfect clearness the infernal generation of this
woman, daughter, sister, niece, spouse, or brother of the devil,
beside abundant proofs of her evil doing, and of the calamity spread
by her in all families. And if it were possible to put them here
conformably with the catalogue preserved by the good man to whom he
accused the discovery, it would seem like a sample of the horrible
cries which the Egyptians gave forth on the day of the seventh plague.
Also this examination has covered with great honour Messire Guillaume
Tournebouche, by whom are quoted all the memoranda. In the tenth
vacation was thus closed this inquest, arriving at a maturity of
proof, furnished with authentic testimony and sufficiently engrossed
with the particulars, plaints, interdicts, contradictions, charges,
assignments, withdrawals, confessions public and private, oaths,
adjournments, appearances and controversies, to which the said demon
must reply. And the townspeople say everywhere if there were really a
she-devil, and furnished with internal horns planted in her nature,
with which she drank the men, and broke them, this woman might swim a
long time in this sea of writing before being landed safe and sound in


/In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen./

In the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred and seventy-one,
before us, Hierome Cornille, grand penitentiary and ecclesiastical
judge to this, canonically appointed, have appeared--

The Sire Philippe d'Idre, bailiff of the town and city of Tours and
province of Touraine, living in his hotel in the Rue de la Rotisserie,
in Chateauneuf; Master Jehan Ribou, provost of the brotherhood and
company of drapers, residing on the Quay de Bretaingne, at the image
of St. Pierre-es-liens; Messire Antoine Jehan, alderman and chief of
the Brotherhood of Changers, residing in the Place du Pont, at the
image of St. Mark-counting-tournoise-pounds; Master Martin
Beaupertuys, captain of the archers of the town residing at the
castle; Jehan Rabelais, a ships' painter and boat maker residing at
the port at the isle of St. Jacques, treasurer of the brotherhood of
the mariners of the Loire; Mark Hierome, called Maschefer, hosier, at
the sign of Saint-Sebastian, president of the trades council; and
Jacques, called de Villedomer, master tavern-keeper and vine dresser,
residing in the High Street, at the Pomme de Pin; to the said Sire
d'Idre, and to the said citizens, we have read the following petition
by them, written, signed, and deliberated upon, to be brought under
the notice of the ecclesiastical tribunal:--


We, the undersigned, all citizens of Tours, are come into the hotel of
his worship the Sire d'Idre, bailiff of Touraine, in the absence of
our mayor, and have requested him to hear our plaints and statements
concerning the following facts, which we intend to bring before the
tribunal of the archbishop, the judge of ecclesiastical crimes, to
whom should be deferred the conduct of the cause which we here

A long time ago there came into this town a wicked demon in the form
of a woman, who lives in the parish of Saint-Etienne, in the house of
the innkeeper Tortebras, situated in the quit-rent of the chapter, and
under the temporal jurisdiction of the archiepiscopal domain. The
which foreigner carries on the business of a gay woman in a prodigal
and abusive manner, and with such increase of infamy that she
threatens to ruin the Catholic faith in this town, because those who
go to her come back again with their souls lost in every way, and
refuse the assistance of the Church with a thousand scandalous

Now considering that a great number of those who yielded to her are
dead, and that arrived in our town with no other wealth than her
beauty, she has, according to public clamour, infinite riches and
right royal treasure, the acquisition of which is vehemently
attributed to sorcery, or at least to robberies committed by the aid
of magical attractions and her supernaturally amorous person.

Considering that it is a question of the honour and security of our
families, and that never before has been seen in this country a woman
wild of body or a daughter of pleasure, carrying on with such mischief
of vocation of light o' love, and menacing so openly and bitterly the
life, the savings, the morals, chastity, religion, and the everything
of the inhabitants of this town;

Considering that there is need of a inquiry into her person, her
wealth and her deportment, in order to verify if these effects of love
are legitimate, and to not proceed, as would seem indicated by her
manners, from a bewitchment of Satan, who often visits Christianity
under the form of a female, as appears in the holy books, in which it
is stated that our blessed Saviour was carried away into a mountain,
from which Lucifer or Astaroth showed him the fertile plains of Judea
and that in many places have been seen succubi or demons, having the
faces of women, who, not wishing to return to hell, and having with
them an insatiable fire, attempt to refresh and sustain themselves by
sucking in souls;

Considering that in the case of the said woman a thousand proofs of
diablerie are met with, of which certain inhabitants speak openly, and
that it is necessary for the repose of the said woman that the matter
be sifted, in order that she shall not be attacked by certain people,
ruined by the result of her wickedness;

For these causes we pray that it will please you to submit to our
spiritual lord, father of this diocese, the most noble and blessed
archbishop Jehan de Monsoreau, the troubles of his afflicted flock, to
the end that he may advise upon them.

By doing so you will fulfil the duties of your office, as we do those
of preservers of the security of this town, each one according to the
things of which he has charge in his locality.

And we have signed the present, in the year of our Lord one thousand
two hundred and seventy-one, of All Saints' Day, after mass.

Master Tournebouche having finished the reading of this petition, by
us, Hierome Cornille, has it been said to the petitioners--

"Gentlemen, do you, at the present time, persist in these statements?
have you proofs other than those come within your own knowledge, and
do you undertake to maintain the truth of this before God, before man,
and before the accused?"

All, with the exception of Master Jehan Rabelais, have persisted in
their belief, and the aforesaid Rabelais has withdrawn from the
process, saying that he considered the said Moorish woman to be a
natural woman and a good wench who had no other fault than that of
keeping up a very high temperature of love.

Then we, the judge appointed, have, after mature deliberation, found
matter upon which to proceed in the petition of the aforesaid
citizens, and have commanded that the woman at present in the jail of
the chapter shall be proceeded against by all legal methods, as
written in the canons and ordinances, /contra demonios/. The said
ordinance, embodied in a writ, shall be published by the town-crier in
all parts, and with the sound of the trumpet, in order to make it
known to all, and that each witness may, according to his knowledge,
be confronted with the said demon, and finally the said accused to be
provided with a defender, according to custom, and the interrogations,
and the process to be congruously conducted.


And, lower-down.


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Elphias Levi
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« Reply #3 on: October 10, 2009, 03:22:54 pm »

The Succubus
Part 2

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

In the year of our Lord one thousand two hundred and seventy-one, the
10th day of February, after mass, by command of us, Hierome Cornille,
ecclesiastical judge, has been brought from the jail of the chapter
and led before us the woman taken in the house of the innkeeper
Tortebras, situated in the domains of the chapter and the cathedral of
St. Maurice, and are subject to the temporal and seigneurial justice
of the Archbishop of Tours; besides which, in consequence of the
nature of the crimes imputed to her, she is liable to the tribunal and
council of ecclesiastical justice, the which we have made known to
her, to the end that she should not ignore it.

And after a serious reading, entirely at will understood by her, in
the first place of the petition of the town, then of the statements,
plaints, accusations, and proceedings which written in twenty-four
quires by Master Tournebouche, and are above related, we have, with
the invocation and assistance of God and the Church, resolved to
ascertain the truth, first by interrogatories made to the said

In the first interrogation we have requested the aforesaid to inform
us in what land or town she had been born. By her who speaks was it
answered: "In Mauritania."

We have then inquired: "If she had a father or mother, or any
relations?" By her who speaks has it been replied: "That she had never
known them." By us requested to declare her name. By her who speaks
has been replied: "Zulma," in Arabian tongue.

By us has it been demanded: "Why she spoke our language?" By her who
speaks has it been said: "Because she had come into this country." By
us has it been asked: "At what time?" By her who speaks has it been
replied: "About twelve years."

By us has it been asked: "What age she then was?" By her who speaks
has it been answered: "Fifteen years or thereabout."

By us has it been said: "Then you acknowledge yourself to be twenty-
seven years of age?" By her who speaks has it been replied: "Yes."

By us has it been said to her: "That she was then the Moorish child
found in the niche of Madame the Virgin, baptised by the Archbishop,
held at the font by the late Lord of Roche-Corbon and the Lady of
Azay, his wife, afterwards by them placed in religion at the convent
of Mount Carmel, where by her had been made vows of chastity, poverty,
silence, and the love of God, under the divine assistance of St.
Clare?" By her who speaks has been said: "That is true."

By us has it been asked her: "If, then, she allowed to be true the
declarations of the very noble and illustrious lady the abbess of
Mount Carmel, also the statements of Jacquette, called Vieux-Oing,
being kitchen scullion?" By the accused has been answered: "These
words are true in great measure."

Then by us has it been said to her: "Then you are a Christian?" And by
her who speaks has been answered: "Yes, my father."

Then by us has she been requested to make the sign of the cross, and
to take holy water from the brush placed by Master Tournebouche in her
hand; the which having been done, and by us having been witnessed, it
has been admitted as an indisputable fact, that Zulma, the Moorish
woman, called in our country Blanche Bruyn, a nun of the convent under
the invocation of Mount Carmel, there named Sister Clare, and
suspected to be the false appearance of a woman under which is
concealed a demon, has in our presence made act of religion and thus
recognised the justice of the ecclesiastical tribunal.

Then by us have these words been said to her: "My daughter, you are
vehemently suspected to have had recourse to the devil from the manner
in which you left the convent, which was supernatural in every way."
By her who speaks has it been stated, that she at that time gained
naturally the fields by the street door after vespers, enveloped in
the robes of Jehan de Marsilis, visitor of the convent, who had hidden
her, the person speaking, in a little hovel belonging to him, situated
in the Cupidon Lane, near a tower in the town. That there this said
priest had to her then speaking, at great length, and most thoroughly
taught the depths of love, of which she then speaking was before in
all points ignorant, for which delights she had a great taste, finding
them of great use. That the Sire d'Amboise having perceived her then
speaking at the window of this retreat, had been smitten with a great
love for her. That she loved him more heartily than the monk, and fled
from the hovel where she was detained for profit of his pleasure by
Don Marsilis. And then she had gone in great haste to Amboise, the
castle of the said lord, where she had had a thousand pastimes,
hunting, and dancing, and beautiful dresses fit for a queen. One day
the Sire de la Roche-Pozay having been invited by the Sire d'Amboise
to come and feast and enjoy himself, the Baron d'Amboise had allowed
him to see her then speaking, as she came out naked from her bath.
That at this sight the said Sire de la Roche-Pozay having fallen
violently in love with her, had on the morrow discomfited in single
combat the Sire d'Amboise, and by great violence, had, is spite of her
tears, taken her to the Holy Land, where she who was speaking had
lived the life of a woman well beloved, and had been held in great
respect on account of her great beauty. That after numerous
adventures, she who was speaking had returned into this country in
spite of the apprehensions of misfortune, because such was the will of
her lord and master, the Baron de Bueil, who was dying of grief in
Asiatic lands, and desired to return to his patrimonial manor. Now he
had promised her who was speaking to preserve her from peril. Now she
who was speaking had faith and belief in him, the more so as she loved
him very much; but on his arrival in this country, the Sire de Bueil
was seized with an illness, and died deplorably, without taking any
remedies, this spite of the fervent requests which she who was
speaking had addressed to him, but without success, because he hated
physicians, master surgeons, and apothecaries; and that this was the
whole truth.

Then by us has it been said to the accused that she then held to be
true the statements of the good Sire Harduin and of the innkeeper
Tortebras. By her who speaks has it been replied, that she recognised
as evidence the greater part, and also as malicious, calumnious, and
imbecile certain portions.

Then by us has the accused been required to declare if she had had
pleasure and carnal commerce with all the men, nobles, citizens, and
others as set forth in the plaints and declarations of the
inhabitants. To which her who speaks has it been answered with great
effrontery: "Pleasure, yes! Commerce, I do not know."

By us has it been said to her, that all had died by her acts. By her
who speaks has it been said that their deaths could not be the result
of her acts, because she had always refused herself to them, and the
more she fled from them the more they came and embraced her with
infinite passion, and that when she who was speaking was taken by them
she gave herself up to them with all her strength, by the grace of
God, because she had in that more joy than in anything, and has
stated, she who speaks, that she avows her secret sentiments solely
because she had been requested by us to state the whole truth, and
that she the speaker stood in great fear of the torments of the

Then by us has she been requested to answer, under pain of torture, in
what state of mind she was when a young nobleman died in consequence
of his commerce with her. Then by her speaking has it been replied,
that she remained quite melancholy and wished to destroy herself; and
prayed God, the Virgin, and the saints to receive her into Paradise,
because never had she met with any but lovely and good hearts in which
was no guile, and beholding them die she fell into a great sadness,
fancying herself to be an evil creature or subject to an evil fate,
which she communicated like the plague.

Then by us has she been requested to state where she paid her orisons.

By her speaking has it been said that she played in her oratory on her
knees before God, who according to the Evangelists, sees and hears all
things and resides in all places.

Then by us has it been demanded why she never frequented the churches,
the offices, nor the feasts. To this by her speaking has it been
answered, that those who came to love her had elected the feast days
for that purpose, and that she speaking did all things to their

By us has it been remonstrated that, by so doing, she was submissive
to man rather than to the commandments of God.

Then by her speaking has it been stated, that for those who loved her
well she speaking would have thrown herself into a flaming pile, never
having followed in her love any course but that of nature, and that
for the weight of the world in gold she would not have lent her body
or her love to a king who did not love her with his heart, feet, hair,
forehead, and all over. In short and moreover the speaker had never
made an act of harlotry in selling one single grain of love to a man
whom she had not chosen to be hers, and that he who held her in his
arms one hour or kissed her on the mouth a little, possessed her for
the remainder of her days.

Then by us has she been requested to state whence preceded the jewels,
gold plate, silver, precious stones, regal furniture, carpets, et
cetera, worth 200,000 doubloons, according to the inventory found in
her residence and placed in the custody of the treasurer of the
chapter. By the speaker answer has been made, that in us she placed
all her hopes, even as much as in God, but that she dare not reply to
this, because it involved the sweetest things of love upon which she
had always lived. And interpellated anew, the speaker has said that if
the judge knew with what fervour she held him she loved, with what
obedience she followed him in good or evil ways, with what study she
submitted to him, with what happiness she listened to his desires, and
inhaled the sacred words with which his mouth gratified her, in what
adoration she held his person, even we, an old judge, would believe
with her well-beloved, that no sum could pay for this great affection
which all the men ran after. After the speaker has declared never from
any man loved by her, to have solicited any present or gift, and that
she rested perfectly contented to live in their hearts, that she would
there curl herself up with indestructible and ineffable pleasure,
finding herself richer with this heart than with anything, and
thinking of no other thing than to give them more pleasure and
happiness than she received from them. But in spite of the iterated
refusals of the speaker her lovers persisted in graciously rewarding
her. At times one came to her with a necklace of pearls, saying, "This
is to show my darling that the satin of her skin did not falsely
appear to me whiter than pearls" and would put it on the speaker's
neck, kissing her lovingly. The speaker would be angry at these
follies, but could not refuse to keep a jewel that gave them pleasure
to see it there where they placed it. Each one had a different fancy.
At times another liked to tear the precious garments which the speaker
wore to gratify him; another to deck out the speaker with sapphires on
her arms, on her legs, on her neck, and in her hair; another to seat
her on the carpet, clad in silk or black velvet, and to remain for
days together in ecstasy at the perfections of the speaker the whom
the things desired by her lovers gave infinite pleasure, because these
things rendered them quite happy. And the speaker has said, that as we
love nothing so much as our pleasure, and wish that everything should
shine in beauty and harmonise, outside as well as inside the heart, so
they all wished to see the place inhabited by the speaker adorned with
handsome objects, and from this idea all her lovers were pleased as
much as she was in spreading thereabout gold, silks and flowers. Now
seeing that these lovely things spoil nothing, the speaker had no
force or commandment by which to prevent a knight, or even a rich
citizen beloved by her, having his will, and thus found herself
constrained to receive rare perfumes and other satisfaction with which
the speaker was loaded, and that such was the source of the gold,
plate, carpets, and jewels seized at her house by the officers of
justice. This terminates the first interrogation made to the said
Sister Clare, suspected to be a demon, because we the judge and
Guillaume Tournebouche, are greatly fatigued with having the voice of
the aforesaid, in our ears, and finding our understanding in every way

By us the judge has the second interrogatory been appointed, three
days from to-day, in order that the proofs of the possession and
presence of the demon in the body of the aforesaid may be sought, and
the accused, according to the order of the judge, has been taken back
to the jail under the conduct of Master Guillaume Tournebouche.

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen.

On the thirteenth day following of the said month of the February
before us, Hierome Cornille, et cetera, has been produced the Sister
Clare above-mentioned, in order to be interrogated upon the facts and
deeds to her imputed, and of them to be convicted.

By us, the judge, has it been said to the accused that, looking at the
divers responses by her given to the proceeding interrogatories, it
was certain that it never had been in the power of a simple woman,
even if she were authorised, if such licence were allowed to lead the
life of a loose woman, to give pleasure to all, to cause so many
deaths, and to accomplish sorceries so perfect, without the assistance
of a special demon lodged in her body, and to whom her soul had been
sold by an especial compact. That it had been clearly demonstrated
that under her outward appearance lies and moves a demon, the author
of these evils, and that she was now called upon to declare at what
age she had received the demon, to vow the agreement existing between
herself and him, and to tell the truth concerning their common evil
doings. By the speaker was it replied that she would answer us, man,
as to God, who would be judge of all of us. Then has the speaker
pretended never to have seen the demon, neither to have spoken with
him, nor in any way to desire to see him; never to have led the life
of a courtesan, because she, the speaker, had never practised the
various delights that love invents, other than those furnished by the
pleasure which the Sovereign Creator has put in the thing, and to have
always been incited more from the desire of being sweet and good to
the dear lord loved by her, then by an incessantly raging desire. But
if such had been her inclination, the speaker begged us to bear in
mind that she was a poor African girl, in whom God had placed very hot
blood, and in her brain so easy an understanding of the delights of
love, that if a man only looked at her she felt greatly moved in her
heart. That if from desire of acquaintance an amorous gentleman
touched the speaker her on any portion of the body, there passing his
hand, she was, in spite of everything, under his power, because her
heart failed her instantly. By this touch, the apprehension and
remembrance of all the sweet joys of love woke again in her breast,
and there caused an intense heat, which mounted up, flamed in her
veins, and made her love and joy from head to foot. And since the day
when Don Marsilis had first awakened the understanding of the speaker
concerning these things, she had never had any other thought, and
thenceforth recognised love to be a thing so perfectly concordant with
her nature, that it had since been proved to the speaker that in
default of love and natural relief she would have died, withered at
the said convent. As evidence of which, the speaker affirms as a
certainty, that after her flight from the said convent she had not
passed a single day or one particle of time in melancholy and sadness,
but always was she joyous, and thus followed the sacred will of God,
which she believed to have been diverted during the time lost by her
in the convent.

To this was it objected by us, Hierome Cornille, to the said demon,
that in this response she had openly blasphemed against God, because
we had all been made to his greater glory, and placed in the world to
honour and to serve Him, to have before our eyes His blessed
commandments, and to live in sanctity, in order to gain eternal life,
and not to be always in bed, doing that which even the beasts only do
at a certain time. Then by the said sister, has answer been made, that
she honoured God greatly, that in all countries she had taken care of
the poor and suffering, giving them both money and raiment, and that
at the last judgement-day she hoped to have around her a goodly
company of holy works pleasant to God, which would intercede for her.
That but for her humility, a fear of being reproached and of
displeasing the gentlemen of the chapter, she would with joy have
spent her wealth in finishing the cathedral of St. Maurice, and there
have established foundations for the welfare of her soul--would have
spared therein neither her pleasure nor her person, and that with this
idea she would have taken double pleasure in her nights, because each
one of her amours would have added a stone to the building of this
basilic. Also the more this purpose, and for the eternal welfare of
the speaker, would they have right heartily given their wealth.

Then by us has it been said to this demon that she could not justify
the fact of her sterility, because in spite of so much commerce, no
child had been born of her, the which proved the presence of a demon
in her. Moreover, Astaroth alone, or an apostle, could speak all
languages, and she spoke after the manner of all countries, the which
proved the presence of the devil in her. Thereupon the speaker has
asked: "In what consisted the said diversity of language?"--that of
Greek she knew nothing but a Kyrie eleison, of which she made great
use; of Latin, nothing, save Amen, which she said to God, wishing
therewith to obtain her liberty. That for the rest the speaker had
felt great sorrow, being without children, and if the good wives had
them, she believed it was because they took so little pleasure in the
business, and she, the speaker, a little too much. But that such was
doubtless the will of God, who thought that from too great happiness,
the world would be in danger of perishing. Taking this into
consideration, and a thousand other reasons, which sufficiently
establish the presence of the devil in the body of the sister, because
the peculiar property of Lucifer is to always find arguments having
the semblance of truth, we have ordered that in our presence the
torture be applied to the said accused, and that she be well tormented
in order to reduce the said demon by suffering to submit to the
authority of the Church, and have requested to render us assistance
one Francois de Hangest, master surgeon and doctor to the chapter,
charging him by a codicil hereunder written to investigate the
qualities of the feminine nature (virtutes vulvae) of the above-
mentioned woman, to enlighten our religion on the methods employed by
this demon to lay hold of souls in that way, and see if any article
was there apparent.

Then the said Moorish women had wept bitterly, tortured in advance,
and in spite of her irons, has knelt down imploring with cries and
clamour the revocation of this order, objecting that her limbs were in
such a feeble state, and her bones so tender, that they would break
like glass; and finally, has offered to purchase her freedom from this
by the gift all her goods to the chapter, and to quit incontinently
the country.

Upon this, by us has she been required to voluntarily declare herself
to be, and to have always been, demon of the nature of the Succubus,
which is a female devil whose business it is to corrupt Christians by
the blandishments and flagitious delights of love. To this the speaker
has replied that the affirmation would be an abominable falsehood,
seeing that she had always felt herself to be a most natural woman.

Then her irons being struck off by the torturer, the aforesaid has
removed her dress, and has maliciously and with evil design bewildered
and attacked our understandings with the sight of her body, the which,
for a fact, exercises upon a man supernatural coercion.

Master Guillaume Tournebouche has, by reason of nature, quitted the
pen at this period, and retired, objecting that he was unable, without
incredible temptations, which worked in his brain, to be a witness of
this torture, because he felt the devil violently gaining his person.

This finishes the second interrogatory; and as the apparitor and
janitor of the chapter have stated Master Francois de Hangest to be in
the country, the torture and interrogations are appointed for
to-morrow at the hour of noon after mass.

This has been written verbally by me, Hierome, in the absence of
Master Guillaume Tournebouche, on whose behalf it is signed.

Grand Penitentiary.


Today, the fourteenth day of the month of February, in the presence of
me, Hierome Cornille, have appeared the said Masters Jehan Ribou,
Antoine Jehan, Martin Beaupertuys, Hierome Maschefer, Jacques de Ville
d'Omer, and the Sire d'Idre, in place of the mayor of the city of
Tours, for the time absent. All plaintiffs designated in the act of
process made at the Town Hall, to whom we have, at the request of
Blanche Bruyn (now confessing herself a nun of the convent of Mount
Carmel, under the name of Sister Clare), declared the appeal made to
the Judgment of God by the said person accused of demonical
possession, and her offer to pass through the ordeal of fire and
water, in presence of the Chapter and of the town of Tours, in order
to prove her reality as a woman and her innocence.

To this request have agreed for their parts, the said accusers, who,
on condition that the town is security for it, have engaged to prepare
a suitable place and a pile, to be approved by the godparents of the

Then by us, the judge, has the first day of the new year been
appointed for the day of the ordeal--which will be next Paschal Day--
and we have indicated the hour of noon, after mass, each of the
parties having acknowledged this delay to be sufficient.

And the present proclamation shall be cited, at the suit of each of
them, in all the towns, boroughs, and castles of Touraine and the land
of France, at their request and at their cost and suit.



This the act of extreme confession made the first day of the month of
March, in the year one thousand two hundred and seventy-one, after the
coming of our blessed Saviour, by Hierome Cornille, priest, canon of
the chapter of the cathedral of St. Maurice, grand penitentiary, of
all acknowledging himself unworthy, who, finding his last hour to be
come, and contrite of his sins, evil doings, forfeits, bad deeds, and
wickednesses, has desired his avowal to be published to serve the
preconisation of the truth, the glory of God, the justice of the
tribunal, and to be an alleviation to him of his punishment, in the
other world. The said Hierome Cornille being on his deathbed, there
had been convoked to hear his declarations, Jehan de la Haye (de
Hago), vicar of the church of St. Maurice; Pietro Guyard, treasurer of
the chapter, appointed by our Lord Jean de Monsoreau, Archbishop, to
write his words; and Dom Louis Pot, a monk of maius MONASTERIUM
(Marmoustier), chosen by him for a spiritual father and confessor; all
three assisted by the great and illustrious Dr Guillaume de Censoris,
Roman Archdeacon, at present sent into the diocese (LEGATUS), by our
Holy Father the Pope; and, finally, in the presence of a great number
of Christians come to be witnesses of the death of the said Hierome
Cornille, upon his known wish to make act of public repentance, seeing
that he was fast sinking, and that his words might open the eyes of
Christians about to fall into hell.

And before him, Hierome, who, by reason of his great weakness could
not speak, has Dom Louis Pot read the following confession to the
great agitation of the said company:--

"My brethren, until the seventy-first year of my age, which is the one
in which I now am, with the exception of the little sins through
which, all holy though he be, a Christian renders himself culpable
before God, but which it is allowed to us to repurchase by penitence,
I believe I led a Christian life, and merited the praise and renown
bestowed upon me in this diocese, where I was raised to the high
office of grand penitentiary, of which I am unworthy. Now, struck with
the knowledge of the infinite glory of God, horrified at the agonies
which await the wicked and prevaricators in hell, I have thought to
lessen the enormity of my sins by the greatest penitence I can show in
the extreme hour at which I am. Thus I have prayed of the Church, whom
I have deceived and betrayed, whose rights and judicial renown I have
sold, to grant me the opportunity of accusing myself publicly in the
manner of ancient Christians. I hoped, in order to show my great
repentance, to have still enough life in me to be reviled at the door
of the cathedral by all my brethren, to remain there an entire day on
my knees, holding a candle, a cord around my neck, and my feet naked,
seeing that I had followed the way of hell with regard to the sacred
instincts of the Church. But in this great shipwreck of my fragile
virtue, which will be to you as a warning to fly from vice and the
snares of the demon, and to take refuge in the Church, where all help
is, I have been so bewitched by Lucifer that our Saviour Jesus Christ
will take, by the intercession of all you whose help and prayers I
request, pity on me, a poor abused Christian, whose eyes now stream
with tears. So would I have another life to spend in works of
penitence. Now then listen and tremble with great fear! Elected by the
assembled Chapter to carry it out, instruct, and complete the process
commenced against a demon, who had appeared in a feminine shape, in
the person of a relapse nun--an abominable person, denying God, and
bearing the name of Zulma in the infidel country whence she comes; the
which devil is known in the diocese under that of Clare, of the
convent of Mount Carmel, and has much afflicted the town by putting
herself under an infinite number of men to gain their souls to Mammon,
Astaroth, and Satan--princes of hell, by making them leave this world
in a state of mortal sin, and causing their death where life has its
source, I have, I the judge, fallen in my latter days into this snare,
and have lost my senses, while acquitting myself traitorously of the
functions committed with great confidence by the Chapter to my cold
senility. Hear how subtle the demon is, and stand firm against her
artifices. While listening to the first response of the aforesaid
Succubus, I saw with horror that the irons placed upon her feet and
hands left no mark there, and was astonished at her hidden strength
and at her apparent weakness. Then my mind was troubled suddenly at
the sight of the natural perfections with which the devil was endowed.
I listened to the music of her voice, which warmed me from head to
foot, and made me desire to be young, to give myself up to this demon,
thinking that for an hour passed in her company my eternal salvation
was but poor payment for the pleasure of love tasted in those slender
arms. Then I lost that firmness with which all judges should be
furnished. This demon by me questioned, reasoned with me in such a
manner that at the second interrogatory I was firmly persuaded I
should be committing a crime in fining and torturing a poor little
creature who cried like an innocent child. Then warned by a voice from
on high to do my duty, and that these golden words, the music of
celestial appearance, were diabolical mummeries, that this body, so
pretty, so infatuating, would transmute itself into a bristly beast
with sharp claws, those eyes so soft into flames of hell, her behind
into a scaly tail, the pretty rosebud mouth and gentle lips into the
jaws of a crocodile, I came back to my intention of having the said
Succubus tortured until she avowed her permission, as this practice
had already been followed in Christianity. Now when this demon showed
herself stripped to me, to be put to the torture, I was suddenly
placed in her power by magical conjurations. I felt my old bones
crack, my brain received a warm light, my heart transhipped young and
boiling blood. I was light in myself, and by virtue of the magic
philter thrown into my eyes the snows on my forehead melted away. I
lost all conscience of my Christian life and found myself a schoolboy,
running about the country, escaped from class and stealing apples. I
had not the power to make the sign of the cross, neither did I
remember the Church, God the Father, nor the sweet Saviour of men. A
prey to this design, I went about the streets thinking over the
delights of that voice, the abominable, pretty body of this demon, and
saying a thousand wicked things to myself. Then pierced and drawn by a
blow of the devil's fork, who had planted himself already in my head
as a serpent in an oak, I was conducted by this sharp prong towards
the jail, in spite of my guardian angel, who from time to time pulled
me by the arm and defended me against these temptations, but in spite
of his holy advice and his assistance I was dragged by a million claws
stuck into my heart, and soon found myself in the jail. As soon as the
door was opened to me I saw no longer any appearance of a prison,
because the Succubus had there, with the assistance of evil genii or
fays, constructed a pavilion of purple and silk, full of perfumes and
flowers, where she was seated, superbly attired with neither irons on
her neck nor chains on her feet. I allowed myself to be stripped of my
ecclesiastical vestments, and was put into a scent bath. Then the
demon covered me with a Saracen robe, entertained me with a repast of
rare viands contained in precious vases, gold cups, Asiatic wines,
songs and marvellous music, and a thousand sweet sounds that tickled
my soul by means of my ears. At my side kept always the said Succubus,
and her sweet, delectable embrace distilled new ardour into my
members. My guardian angel quitted me. Then I lived only by the
terrible light of the Moorish woman's eyes, coveted the warm embraces
of the delicate body, wished always to feel her red lips, that I
believed natural, and had no fear of the bite of those teeth which
drew me to the bottom of hell, I delighted to feel the unequalled
softness of her hands without thinking that they were unnatural claws.
In short, I acted like husband desiring to go to his affianced without
thinking that that spouse was everlasting death. I had no thought for
the things of this world nor the interests of God, dreaming only of
love, of the sweet breasts of this woman, who made me burn, and of the
gate of hell in which I wished to cast myself. Alas! my brethren,
during three days and three nights was I thus constrained to toil
without being able to stop the stream which flowed from my reins, in
which were plunged, like two pikes, the hands of the Succubus, which
communicated to my poor old age and to my dried up bones, I know not
what sweat of love. At first this demon, to draw me to her, caused to
flow in my inside the softness of milk, then came poignant joys which
pricked like a hundred needles my bones, my marrow, my brain, and my
nerves. Then all this gone, all things became inflamed, my head, my
blood, my nerves, my flesh, my bones, and then I burned with the real
fire of hell, which caused me torments in my joints, and an
incredible, intolerable, tearing voluptuousness which loosened the
bonds of my life. The tresses of this demon, which enveloped my poor
body, poured upon me a stream of flame, and I felt each lock like a
bar of red iron. During this mortal delectation I saw the ardent face
of the said Succubus, who laughed and addressed to me a thousand
exciting words; such as that I was her knight, her lord, her lance,
her day, her joy, her hero, her life, her good, her rider, and that
she would like to clasp me even closer, wishing to be in my skin or
have me in hers. Hearing which, under the prick of this tongue which
sucked out my soul, I plunged and precipitated myself finally into
hell without finding the bottom. And then when I had no more a drop of
blood in my veins, when my heart no longer beat in my body, and I was
ruined at all points, the demon, still fresh, white, rubicund,
glowing, and laughing, said to me--

"'Poor fool, to think me a demon! Had I asked thee to sell thy soul
for a kiss, wouldst thou not give it to me with all thy heart?'

"'Yes,' said I.

"'And if always to act thus it were necessary for thee to nourish
thyself with the blood of new-born children in order always to have
new life to spend in my arms, would you not imbibe it willingly?'

"'Yes,' said I.

"'And to be always my gallant horseman, gay as a man in his prime,
feeling life, drinking pleasure, plunging to the depths of joy as a
swimmer into the Loire, wouldst thou not deny God, wouldst thou not
spit in the face of Jesus?'

"'Yes,' said I.

"Then I felt a hundred sharp claws which tore my diaphragm as if the
beaks of a thousand birds there took their bellyfuls, shrieking. Then
I was lifted suddenly above the earth upon the said Succubus, who had
spread her wings, and cried to me--

"'Ride, ride, my gallant rider! Hold yourself firmly on the back of
thy mule, by her mane, by her neck; and ride, ride, my gallant rider--
everything rides!' And then I saw, as a thick fog, the cities of the
earth, where by a special gift I perceived each one coupled with a
female demon, and tossing about, and engendering in great
concupiscence, all shrieking a thousand words of love and exclamations
of all kinds, and all toiling away with ecstasy. Then my horse with
the Moorish head pointed out to me, still flying and galloping beyond
the clouds, the earth coupled with the sun in a conjunction, from
which proceeded a germ of stars, and there each female world was
embracing a male world; but in place of the words used by creatures,
the worlds were giving forth the howls of tempests, throwing up
lightnings and crying thunders. Then still rising, I saw overhead the
female nature of all things in love with the Prince of Movement. Now,
by way of mockery, the Succubus placed me in the centre of this
horrible and perpetual conflict, where I was lost as a grain of sand
in the sea. Then still cried my white mare to me, 'Ride, ride my
gallant rider--all things ride!' Now, thinking how little was a priest
in this torment of the seed of worlds, nature always clasped together,
and metals, stones, waters, airs, thunders, fish, plants, animals,
men, spirits, worlds and planets, all embracing with rage, I denied
the Catholic faith. Then the Succubus, pointing out to me the great
patch of stars seen in heavens, said to me, 'That way is a drop of
celestial seed escaped from great flow of the worlds in conjunction.'
Thereupon I instantly clasped the Succubus with passion by the light
of a thousand million of stars, and I wished in clasping her to feel
the nature of those thousand million creatures. Then by this great
effort of love I fell impotent in every way, and heard a great
infernal laugh. Then I found myself in my bed, surrounded by my
servitors, who had had the courage to struggle with the demon,
throwing into the bed where I was stretched a basin full of holy
water, and saying fervent prayers to God. Then had I to sustain, in
spite of this assistance, a horrible combat with the said Succubus,
whose claws still clutched my heart, causing me infinite pains; still,
while reanimated by the voice of my servitors, relations, and friends,
I tried to make the sacred sign of the cross; the Succubus perched on
my bed, on the bolster, at the foot, everywhere, occupying herself in
distracting my nerves, laughing, grimacing, putting before my eyes a
thousand obscene images, and causing me a thousand wicked desires.
Nevertheless, taking pity on me, my lord the Archbishop caused the
relics of St. Gatien to be brought, and the moment the shrine had
touched my bed the said Succubus was obliged to depart, leaving an
odour of sulphur and of hell, which made the throats of my servants,
friends, and others sore for a whole day. Then the celestial light of
God having enlightened my soul, I knew I was, through my sins and my
combat with the evil spirit, in great danger of dying. Then did I
implore the especial mercy, to live just a little time to render glory
to God and his Church, objecting the infinite merits of Jesus dead
upon the cross for the salvation of the Christians. By this prayer I
obtained the favour of recovering sufficient strength to accuse myself
of my sins, and to beg of the members of the Church of St.Maurice
their aid and assistance to deliver me from purgatory, where I am
about to atone for my faults by infinite agonies. Finally, I declare
that my proclamation, wherein the said demon appeals the judgment of
God by the ordeals of holy water and a fire, is a subterfuge due to an
evil design suggested by the said demon, who would thus have had the
power to escape the justice of the tribunal of the Archbishop and of
the Chapter, seeing that she secretly confessed to me, to be able to
make another demon accustomed to the ordeal appear in her place. And,
in conclusion, I give and bequeath to the Chapter of the Church of St.
Maurice my property of all kinds, to found a chapter in the said
church, to build it and adorn it and put it under the invocation of
St. Hierome and St. Gatien, of whom one is my patron and the other the
saviour of my soul."

This, heard by all the company, has been brought to the notice of the
ecclesiastical tribunal by Jehan to la Haye (Johannes de Haga).

We, Jehan de la Haye (Johannes de Haga), elected grand penitentiary of
St.Maurice by the general assembly of the Chapter, according to the
usage and custom of that church, and appointed to pursue afresh the
trial of the demon Succubus, at present in the jail of the Chapter,
have ordered a new inquest, at which will be heard all those of this
diocese having cognisance of the facts relative thereto. We declared
void the other proceedings, interrogations, and decrees, and annul
them in the name of the members of the Church in general, and
sovereign Chapter assembled, and declare that the appeal to God,
traitorously made by the demon, shall not take place, in consequence
of the notorious treachery of the devil in this affair. And the said
judgment shall be cried by sound of trumpet in all parts of the
diocese in which have been published the false edicts of the preceding
month, all notoriously due to the instigation of the demon, according
to the confession of the late Hierome Cornille.

Let all good Christians be of assistance to our Holy Church, and to
her commandments.


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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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Posts: 1603

« Reply #4 on: October 10, 2009, 03:29:03 pm »

The Succubus
Part 3


This was written in the month of May, of the year 1360, after the
manner of a testament.

"My very dear and well-beloved son, when it shall be lawful for thee
to read this I shall be, I thy father, reposing in the tomb, imploring
thy prayers, and supplicating thee to conduct thyself in life as it
will be commanded thee in this rescript, bequeathed for the good
government of thy family, thy future, and safety; for I have done this
at a period when I had my senses and understanding, still recently
affected by the sovereign injustice of men. In my virile age I had a
great ambition to raise myself in the Church, and therein to obtain
the highest dignities, because no life appeared to me more splendid.
Now with this earnest idea, I learned to read and write, and with
great trouble became in a fit condition to enter the clergy. But
because I had no protection, or good advice to superintend my training
I had an idea of becoming the writer, tabellion, and rubrican of the
Chapter of St. Maurice, in which were the highest and richest
personages of Christendom, since the King of France is only therein a
simple canon. Now there I should be able better than anywhere else to
find services to render to certain lords, and thus to find a master or
gain patronage, and by this assistance enter into religion, and be
mitred and esconced in an archiepiscopal chair, somewhere or other.
But this first vision was over credulous, and a little too ambitious,
the which God caused me clearly to perceive by the sequel. In fact,
Messire Jepan de Villedomer, who afterwards became cardinal, was given
this appointment, and I was rejected, discomfited. Now in this unhappy
hour I received an alleviation of my troubles, by the advice of the
good old Hierome Cornille, of whom I have often spoken to you. This
dear man induced me, by his kindness, to become penman to the Chapter
of St. Maurice and the Archbishop of Tours, the which offer I accepted
with joy, since I was reputed a scrivener. At the time I was about to
enter into the presbytery commenced the famous process against the
devil of the Rue Chaude, of which the old folk still talk, and which
in its time, has been recounted in every home in France. Now,
believing that it would be of great advantage to my ambition, and that
for this assistance the Chapter would raise me to some dignity, my
good master had me appointed for the purpose of writing all of that
should be in this grave cause, subject to writing. At the very outset
Monseigneur Hierome Cornille, a man approaching eighty years, of great
sense, justice, and sound understanding, suspected some spitefulness
in this cause, although he was not partial to immodest girls, and had
never been involved with a woman in his life, and was holy and
venerable, with a sanctity which had caused him to be selected as a
judge, all this not withstanding. As soon as the depositions were
completed, and the poor wench heard, it remained clear that although
this merry doxy had broken her religious vows, she was innocent of all
devilry, and that her great wealth was coveted by her enemies, and
other persons, whom I must not name to thee for reasons of prudence.
At this time every one believed her to be so well furnished with
silver and gold that she could have bought the whole county of
Touraine, if so it had pleased her. A thousand falsehoods and
calumnious words concerning the girl, envied by all the honest women,
were circulated and believed in as gospel. At this period Master
Hierome Cornille, having ascertained that no demon other than that of
love was in the girl, made her consent to remain in a convent for the
remainder of her days. And having ascertained certain noble knights
brave in war and rich in domains, that they would do everything to
save her, he invited her secretly to demand of her accusers the
judgment of God, at the same time giving her goods to the chapter, in
order to silence mischievous tongues. By this means would be saved
from the stake the most delicate flower that ever heaven has allowed
to fall upon our earth; the which flower yielded only from excessive
tenderness and amiability to the malady of love, cast by her eyes into
the hearts of all her pursuers. But the real devil, under the form of
a monk, mixed himself up in this affair; in this wise: great enemy of
the virtue, wisdom, and sanctity of Monsignor Hierome Cornille, named
Jehan de la Haye, having learned that in the jail, the poor girl was
treated like a queen, wickedly accused the grand penitentiary of
connivance with her and of being her servitor, because, said this
wicked priest, she makes him young, amorous, and happy, from which the
poor old man died of grief in one day, knowing by this that Jehan de
la Haye had worn his ruin and coveted his dignities. In fact, our lord
the archbishop visited the jail, and found the Moorish woman in a
pleasant place, reposing comfortably, and without irons, because,
having placed a diamond in a place when none could have believed she
could have held it, she had purchased the clemency of her jailer. At
the time certain persons said that this jailer was smitten with her,
and that from love, or perhaps in great fear of the young barons,
lovers of this woman, he had planned her escape. The good man Cornille
being at the point of death, through the treachery of Jehan de la
Haye, the Chapter thinking it necessary to make null and void the
proceedings taken by the penitentiary, and also his decrees, the said
Jehan de la Haye, at that time a simple vicar of the cathedral,
pointed out that to do this it would be sufficient to obtain a public
confession from the good man on his death-bed. Then was the moribund
tortured and tormented by the gentleman of the Chapter, those of Saint
Martin, those of Marmoustiers, by the archbishop and also by the
Pope's legate, in order that he might recant to the advantage of the
Church, to which the good man would not consent. But after a thousand
ills, the public confession was prepared, at which the most noteworthy
people of the town assisted, and the which spread more horror and
consternation than I can describe. The churches of the diocese held
public prayers for this calamity, and every one expected to see the
devil tumble into his house by the chimney. But the truth of it is
that the good Master Hierome had a fever, and saw cows in his room,
and then was this recantation obtained of him. The access passed, the
poor saint wept copiously on learning this trick from me. In fact, he
died in my arms, assisted by his physicians, heartbroken at this
mummery, telling us that he was going to the feet of God to pray to
prevent the consummation of this deplorable iniquity. The poor Moorish
woman had touched him much by her tears and repentance, seing that
before making her demand for the judgment of God he had minutely
confessed her, and by that means had disentangled the soul divine
which was in the body, and of which he spoke as of a diamond worthy of
adorning the holy crown of God, when she should have departed this
life, after repenting her sins. Then, my dear son, knowing by the
statements made in the town, and by the naive responses of this
unhappy wretch, all the trickery of this affair, I determined by the
advice of Master Francois de Hangest, physician of the chapter, to
feign an illness and quit the service of the Church of St. Maurice and
of the archbishopric, in order not to dip my hands in the innocent
blood, which still cries and will continue to cry aloud unto God until
the day of the last judgment. Then was the jailer dismissed, and in
his place was put the second son of the torturer, who threw the
Moorish woman into a dungeon, and inhumanly put upon her hands and
feet chains weighing fifty pounds, besides a wooden waistband; and the
jail were watched by the crossbowmen of the town and the people of the
archbishop. The wench was tormented and tortured, and her bones were
broken; conquered by sorrow, she made an avowal according to the
wishes of Jehan de la Haye, and was instantly condemned to be burned
in the enclosure of St. Etienne, having been previously placed in the
portals of the church, attired in a chemise of sulphur, and her goods
given over to the Chapter, et cetera. This order was the cause of
great disturbances and fighting in the town, because three young
knights of Touraine swore to die in the service of the poor girl, and
to deliver her in all possible ways. Then they came into the town,
accompanied by thousands of sufferers, labouring people, old soldiers,
warriors, courtesans, and others, whom the said girls had succoured,
saved from misfortune, from hunger and misery, and searched all the
poor dwellings of the town where lay those to whom she had done good.
Thus all were stirred up and called together to the plain of Mount-
Louis under the protection of the soldiers of the said lords; they had
for companions all the scape-graces of the said twenty leagues around,
and came one morning to lay siege to the prison of the archbishop,
demanding that the Moorish woman should be given up to them as though
they would put her to death, but in fact to set her free, and to place
her secretly upon a swift horse, that she might gain the open country,
seeing that she rode like a groom. Then in this frightful tempest of
men have we seen between the battlements of the archiepiscopal palace
and the bridges, more than ten thousand men swarming, besides those
who were perched upon the roofs of the houses and climbing on all the
balconies to see the sedition; in short it was easy to hear the
horrible cries of the Christians, who were terribly in earnest, and of
those who surrounded the jail with the intention of setting the poor
girl free, across the Loire, the other side of Saint Symphorien. The
suffocation and squeezing of bodies was so great in this immense
crowd, bloodthirsty for the poor creature at whose knees they would
have fallen had they had the opportunity of seeing her, that seven
children, eleven women, and eight citizens were crushed and smashed
beyond all recognition, since they were like splodges of mud; in
short, so wide open was the great mouth of this popular leviathan,
this horrible monster, that the clamour was heard at Montils-les-
Tours. All cried 'Death to the Succubus! Throw out the demon! Ha! I'd
like a quarter! I'll have her skin! The foot for me, the mane for
thee! The head for me! The something for me! Is it red? Shall we see?
Will it be grilled? Death to her! death!' Each one had his say. But
the cry, 'Largesse to God! Death to the Succubus!' was yelled at the
same time by the crowd so hoarsely and so cruelly that one's ears and
heart bled therefrom; and the other cries were scarcely heard in the
houses. The archbishop decided, in order to calm this storm which
threatened to overthrow everything, to come out with great pomp from
the church, bearing the host, which would deliver the Chapter from
ruin, since the wicked young men and the lords had sworn to destroy
and burn the cloisters and all the canons. Now by this stratagem the
crowd was obliged to break up, and from lack of provisions return to
their houses. Then the monks of Touraine, the lords, and the citizens,
in great apprehension of pillage on the morrow, held a nocturnal
council, and accepted the advice of the Chapter. By their efforts the
men-at-arms, archers, knights, and citizens, in a large number, kept
watch, and killed a party of shepherds, road menders, and vagrants,
who, knowing the disturbed state of Tours, came to swell the ranks of
the malcontents. The Sire Harduin de Maille, an old nobleman, reasoned
with the young knights, who were the champions of the Moorish woman,
and argued sagely with them, asking them if for so small a woman they
wished to put Touraine to fire and sword; that even if they were
victorious they would be masters of the bad characters brought
together by them; that these said freebooters, after having sacked the
castles of their enemies, would turn to those of their chiefs. That
the rebellion commenced had had no success in the first attack,
because up to that time the place was untouched, could they have any
over the church, which would invoke the aid of the king? And a
thousand other arguments. To these reasons the young knights replied,
that it was easy for the Chapter to aid the girl's escape in the
night, and that thus the cause of the sedition would be removed. To
this humane and wise requests replied Monseigneur de Censoris, the
Pope's legate, that it was necessary that strength should remain with
the religion of the Church. And thereupon the poor wench payed for
all, since it was agreed that no inquiry should be made concerning
this sedition.

"Then the Chapter had full licence to proceed to the penance of the
girl, to which act and ecclesiastical ceremony the people came from
twelve leagues around. So that on the day when, after divine
satisfaction, the Succubus was to be delivered up to secular justice,
in order to be publicly burnt at a stake, not for a gold pound would a
lord or even an abbott have been found lodging in the town of Tours.
The night before many camped outside the town in tents, or slept upon
straw. Provisions were lacking, and many who came with their bellies
full, returned with their bellies empty, having seen nothing but the
reflection of the fire in the distance. And the bad characters did
good strokes of business by the way.

"The poor courtesan was half dead; her hair had whitened. She was, to
tell the truth, nothing but a skeleton, scarcely covered with flesh,
and her chains weighed more than she did. If she had had joy in her
life, she paid dearly for it at this moment. Those who saw her pass
say that she wept and shrieked in a way that should have earned the
pity of her hardest pursuers; and in the church there were compelled
to put a piece of wood in her mouth, which she bit as a lizard bites a
stick. Then the executioner tied her to a stake to sustain her, since
she let herself roll at times and fell for want of strength. Then she
suddenly recovered a vigorous handful, because, this notwithstanding,
she was able, it is said to break her cords and escape into the
church, where in remembrance of her old vocation, she climbed quickly
into galleries above, flying like a bird along the little columns and
small friezes. She was about to escape on to the roof when a soldier
perceived her, and thrust his spear in the sole of her foot. In spite
of her foot half cut through, the poor girl still ran along the church
without noticing it, going along with her bones broken and her blood
gushing out, so great fear had she of the flames of the stake. At last
she was taken and bound, thrown into a tumbrel and led to the stake,
without being afterwards heard to utter a cry. The account of her
flight in the church assisted in making the common people believe that
she was the devil, and some of them said that she had flown in the
air. As soon as the executioner of the town threw her into the flames,
she made two or three horrible leaps and fell down into the bottom of
the pile, which burned day and night. On the following evening I went
to see if anything remained of this gentle girl, so sweet, so loving,
but I found nothing but a fragment of the 'os stomachal,' in which, is
spite of this, there still remained some moisture, and which some say
still trembled like a woman does in the same place. It is impossible
to tell, my dear son, the sadnesses, without number and without equal,
which for about ten years weighed upon me; always was I thinking of
this angel burnt by wicked men, and always I beheld her with her eyes
full of love. In short the supernatural gifts of this artless child
were shining day and night before me, and I prayed for her in the
church, where she had been martyred. At length I had neither the
strength nor the courage to look without trembling upon the grand
penitentiary Jehan de la Haye, who died eaten up by lice. Leprosy was
his punishment. Fire burned his house and his wife; and all those who
had a hand in the burning had their own hands singed.

"This, my well-beloved son, was the cause of a thousand ideas, which I
have here put into writing to be forever the rule of conduct in our

"I quitted the service of the church, and espoused your mother, from
whom I received infinite blessings, and with whom I shared my life, my
goods, my soul, and all. And she agreed with me in following precepts
--Firstly, that to live happily, it is necessary to keep far away from
church people, to honour them much without giving them leave to enter
your house, any more than to those who by right, just or unjust, are
supposed to be superior to us. Secondly, to take a modest condition,
and to keep oneself in it without wishing to appear in any way rich.
To have a care to excite no envy, nor strike any onesoever in any
manner, because it is needful to be as strong as an oak, which kills
the plants at its feet, to crush envious heads, and even then would
one succumb, since human oaks are especially rare and that no
Tournebouche should flatter himself that he is one, granting that he
be a Tournebouche. Thirdly, never to spend more than one quarter of
one's income, conceal one's wealth, hide one's goods and chattels, to
undertake no office, to go to church like other people, and always
keep one's thoughts to oneself, seeing that they belong to you and not
to others, who twist them about, turn them after their own fashion,
and make calumnies therefrom. Fourthly, always to remain in the
condition of the Tournebouches, who are now and forever drapers. To
marry your daughters to good drapers, send your sons to be drapers in
other towns of France furnished with these wise precepts, and to bring
them up to the honour of drapery, and without leaving any dream of
ambition in their minds. A draper like a Tournebouche should be their
glory, their arms, their name, their motto, their life. Thus by being
always drapers, they will be always Tournebouches, and rub on like the
good little insects, who, once lodged in the beam, made their dens,
and go on with security to the end of their ball of thread. Fifthly
never to speak any other language than that of drapery, and never to
dispute concerning religion or government. And even though the
government of the state, the province, religion, and God turn about,
or have a fancy to go to the right or to the left, always in your
quality of Tournebouche, stick to your cloth. Thus unnoticed by the
others of the town, the Tournebouches will live in peace with their
little Tournebouches--paying the tithes and taxes, and all that they
are required by force to give, be it to God, or to the king, to the
town of to the parish, with all of whom it is unwise to struggle. Also
it is necessary to keep the patrimonial treasure, to have peace and to
buy peace, never to owe anything, to have corn in the house, and enjoy
yourselves with the doors and windows shut.

"By this means none will take from the Tournebouches, neither the
state, nor the Church, nor the Lords, to whom should the case be that
force is employed, you will lend a few crowns without cherishing the
idea of ever seeing him again--I mean the crowns.

"Thus, in all seasons people will love the Tournebouches, will mock
the Tournebouches as poor people--as the slow Tournebouches, as
Tournebouches of no understanding. Let the know-nothings say on. The
Tournebouches will neither be burned nor hanged, to the advantage of
King or Church, or other people; and the wise Tournebouches will have
secretly money in their pockets, and joy in their houses, hidden from

"Now, my dear son, follow this the counsel of a modest and middle-
class life. Maintain this in thy family as a county charter; and when
you die, let your successor maintain it as the sacred gospel of the
Tournebouches, until God wills it that there be no longer
Tournebouches in this world."

This letter has been found at the time of the inventory made in the
house of Francois Tournebouche, lord of Veretz, chancellor to
Monseigneur the Dauphin, and condemned at the time of the rebellion of
the said lord against the King to lose his head, and have all his
goods confiscated by order of the Parliament of Paris. The said letter
has been handed to the Governor of Touraine as an historical
curiosity, and joined to the pieces of the process in the
archbishopric of Tours, by me, Pierre Gaultier, Sheriff, President of
the Trades Council.

The author having finished the transcription and deciphering of these
parchments, translating them from their strange language into French,
the donor of them declared that the Rue Chaude at Tours was so called,
according to certain people, because the sun remained there longer
than in all other parts. But in spite of this version, people of lofty
understanding will find, in the warm way of the said Succubus, the
real origin of the said name. In which acquiesces the author. This
teaches us not to abuse our body, but use it wisely in view of our

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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Superhero Member
Posts: 1603

« Reply #5 on: October 10, 2009, 04:13:56 pm »

I have chosen this tale for its' theme, the oft forgotten power of music and the unquenchable thirst in the artist's soul and I confess, a certain fascination with the author.

by Mme. Blavatsky


In the year 1828, an old German, a music teacher, came to Paris with his pupil
and settled unostentatiously in one of the quiet faubourgs of the metropolis.
The first rejoiced in the name of Samuel Klaus; the second answered to the more
poetical appellation of Franz Stenio. The younger man was a violinist, gifted,
as rumor went, with extraordinary, almost miraculous talent. Yet as he was poor
and had not hitherto made a name for himself in Europe, he remained for several
years in the capital of France--the heart and pulse of capricious continental
fashion--unknown and unappreciated. Franz was a Styrian by birth, and, at the
time of the event to be presently described, he was a young man considerably
under thirty. A philosopher and a dreamer by nature, imbued with all the mystic
oddities of true genius, he reminded one of some of the heroes in Hoffmann's
Contes Fantastiques. His earlier existence had been a very unusual, in fact,
quite an eccentric one, and its history must be briefly told--for the better
understanding of the present story.

Born of very pious country people, in a quiet burg among the Styrian Alps;
nursed "by the native gnomes who watched over his cradle"; growing up in the
weird atmosphere of the ghouls and vampires who play such a prominent part in
the household of every Styrian and Slavonian in Southern Austria; educated
later, as a student, in the shadow of the old Rhenish castles of Germany; Franz
from his childhood had passed through every emotional stage on the plane of the
so-called "supernatural." He had also studied at one time the "occult arts" with
an enthusiastic disciple of Paracelsus and Khunrath; alchemy had few theoretical
secrets for him; and he had dabbled in "ceremonial magic" and "sorcery" with
some Hungarian Tziganes. Yet he loved above all else music, and above music--his

At the age of twenty-two he suddenly gave up his practical studies in the
occult, and from that day, though as devoted as ever in thought to the beautiful
Grecian Gods, he surrendered himself entirely to his art. Of his classic studies
he had retained only that which related to the muses--Euterpe especially, at
whose altar he worshipped--and Orpheus whose magic lyre he tried to emulate with
his violin. Except his dreamy belief in the nymphs and the sirens, on account
probably of the double relationship of the latter to the muses through Calliope
and Orpheus, he was interested but little in the matters of this sublunary
world. All his aspirations mounted, like incense, with the wave of the heavenly
harmony that he drew from his instrument, to a higher and nobler sphere. He
dreamed awake, and lived a real though an enchanted life only during those hours
when his magic bow carried him along the wave of sound to the Pagan Olympus, to
the feet of Euterpe. A strange child he had ever been in his own home, where
tales of magic and witchcraft grow out of every inch of the soil; a still
stranger boy he had become, until finally he had blossomed into manhood, without
one single characteristic of youth. Never had a fair face attracted his
attention; not for one moment had his thoughts turned from his solitary studies
to a life beyond that of a mystic Bohemian. Content with his own company, he had
thus passed the best years of his youth and manhood with his violin for his
chief idol, and with the Gods and Goddesses of old Greece for his audience, in
perfect ignorance of practical life. His whole existence had been one long day
of dreams, of melody and sunlight, and he had never felt any other aspirations.

How useless, but oh, how glorious those dreams! how vivid! and why should he
desire any better fate? Was he not all that he wanted to be, transformed in a
second of thought into one or another hero; from Orpheus, who held all nature
breathless, to the urchin who piped away under the plane tree to the naiads of
CallirrhoÔ's crystal fountain? Did not the swift-footed nymphs frolic at his
beck and call to the sound of the magic flute of the Arcadian shepherd--who was
himself? Behold, the Goddess of Love and Beauty herself descending from on high,
attracted by the sweet-voiced notes of his violin! . . . Yet there came a time
when he preferred Syrinx to Aphrodite--not as the fair nymph pursued by Pan, but
after her transformation by the merciful Gods into the reed out of which the
frustrated God of the Shepherds had made his magic pipe. For also, with time,
ambition grows and is rarely satisfied. When he tried to emulate on his violin
the enchanting sounds that resounded in his mind, the whole of Parnassus kept
silent under the spell, or joined in heavenly chorus; but the audience he
finally craved was composed of more than the Gods sung by Hesiod, verily of the
most appreciative m*lomanes of European capitals. He felt jealous of the magic
pipe, and would fain have had it at his command.

"Oh! that I could allure a nymph into my beloved violin!"--he often cried, after
awakening from one of his day-dreams. "Oh, that I could only span in
spirit-flight the abyss of Time! Oh, that I could find myself for one short day
a partaker of the secret arts of the Gods, a God myself, in the sight and
hearing of enraptured humanity; and, having learned the mystery of the lyre of
Orpheus, or secured within my violin a siren, thereby benefit mortals to my own

Thus, having for long years dreamed in the company of the Gods of his fancy, he
now took to dreaming of the transitory glories of fame upon this earth. But at
this time he was suddenly called home by his widowed mother from one of the
German universities where he had lived for the last year or two. This was an
event which brought his plans to an end, at least so far as the immediate future
was concerned, for he had hitherto drawn upon her alone for his meagre pittance,
and his means were not sufficient for an independent life outside his native

His return had a very unexpected result. His mother, whose only love he was on
earth, died soon after she had welcomed her Benjamin back; and the good wives of
the burg exercised their swift tongues for many a month after as to the real
causes of that death.

Frau Stenio, before Franz's return, was a healthy, buxom, middle-aged body,
strong and hearty. She was a pious and a God-fearing soul too, who had never
failed in saying her prayers, nor had missed an early mass for years during his
absence. On the first Sunday after her son had settled at home--a day that she
had been longing for and had anticipated for months in joyous visions, in which
she saw him kneeling by her side in the little church on the hill--she called
him from the foot of the stairs. The hour had come when her pious dream was to
be realized, and she was waiting for him, carefully wiping the dust from the
prayer-book he had used in his boyhood. But instead of Franz, it was his violin
that responded to her call, mixing its sonorous voice with the rather cracked
tones of the peal of the merry Sunday bells. The fond mother was somewhat
shocked at hearing the prayer-inspiring sounds drowned by the weird, fantastic
notes of the "Dance of the Witches"; they seemed to her so unearthly and
mocking. But she almost fainted upon hearing the definite refusal of her
well-beloved son to go to church. He never went to church, he coolly remarked.
It was loss of time; besides which, the loud peals of the old church organ
jarred on his nerves. Nothing should induce him to submit to the torture of
listening to that cracked organ. He was firm, and nothing could move him. To her
supplications and remonstrances he put an end by offering to play for her a
"Hymn to the Sun" he had just composed.

From that memorable Sunday morning, Frau Stenio lost her usual serenity of mind.
She hastened to lay her sorrows and seek for consolation at the foot of the
confessional; but that which she heard in response from the stern priest filled
her gentle and unsophisticated soul with dismay and almost with despair. A
feeling of fear, a sense of profound terror which soon became a chronic state
with her, pursued her from that moment; her nights became disturbed and
sleepless, her days passed in prayer and lamentations. In her maternal anxiety
for the salvation of her beloved son's soul, and for his post-mortem welfare,
she made a series of rash vows. Finding that neither the Latin petition to the
Mother of God written for her by her spiritual adviser, nor yet the humble
supplications in German, addressed by herself to every saint she had reason to
believe was residing in Paradise, worked the desired effect, she took to
pilgrimages to distant shrines. During one of these journeys to a holy chapel
situated high up in the mountains, she caught cold, amidst the glaciers of the
Tyro, and redescended only to take to a sick bed, from which she arose no more.
Frau Stenio's vow had led her, in one sense, to the desired result. The poor
woman was now given an opportunity of seeking out in propria persona the saints
she had believed in so well, and of pleading face to face for the recreant son,
who refused adherence to them and to the Church, scoffed at monk and
confessional, and held the organ in such horror.

Franz sincerely lamented his mother's death. Unaware of being the indirect cause
of it, he felt no remorse; but selling the modest household goods and chattels,
light in purse and heart, he resolved to travel on foot for a year or two,
before settling down to any definite profession.

A hazy desire to see the great cities of Europe, and to try his luck in France,
lurked at the bottom of this travelling project, but his Bohemian habits of life
were too strong to be abruptly abandoned. He placed his small capital with a
banker for a rainy day, and started on his pedestrian journey via Germany and
Austria. His violin paid for his board and lodging in the inns and farms on his
way, and he passed his days in the green fields and in the solemn silent woods,
face to face with Nature, dreaming all the time as usual with his eyes open.
During the three months of his pleasant travels to and fro, he never descended
for one moment from Parnassus; but, as an alchemist transmutes lead into gold,
so he transformed everything on his way into a song of Hesiod or Anacreon. Every
evening, while fiddling for his supper and bed, whether on a green lawn or in
the hall of a rustic inn, his fancy changed the whole scene for him. Village
swains and maidens became transfigured into Arcadian shepherds and nymphs. The
sand-covered floor was now a green sward; the uncouth couples spinning round in
a measured waltz with the wild grace of tamed bears became priests and
priestesses of Terpsichore; the bulky, cherry-cheeked and blue-eyed daughters of
rural Germany were the Hesperides circling around the trees laden with the
golden apples. Nor did the melodious strains of the Arcadian demi-gods piping on
their syrinxes, and audible but to his own enchanted ear, vanish with the dawn.
For no sooner was the curtain of sleep raised from his eyes than he would sally
forth into a new magic realm of day-dreams. On his way to some dark and solemn
pine forest, he played incessantly, to himself and to everything else. He
fiddled to the green hill, and forthwith the mountain and the moss-covered rocks
moved forward to hear him the better, as they had done at the sound of the
Orphean lyre. He fiddled to the merry-voiced brook, to the hurrying river, and
both slackened their speed and stopped their waves, and, becoming silent, seemed
to listen to him in an entranced rapture. Even the long-legged stork who stood
meditatively on one leg on the thatched top of the rustic mill, gravely
resolving unto himself the problem of his too-long existence, sent out after him
a long and strident cry, screeching, "Art thou Orpheus himself, O Stenio?" It
was a period of full bliss, of a daily and almost hourly exaltation. The last
words of his dying mother, whispering to him of the horrors of eternal
condemnation, had left him unaffected, and the only vision her warning evoked in
him was that of Pluto. By a ready association of ideas, he saw the lord of the
dark nether kingdom greeting him as he had greeted the husband of Eurydice
before him. Charmed with the magic sounds of his violin, the wheel of Ixion was
at a standstill once more, thus affording relief to the wretched seducer of
Juno, and giving the lie to those who claim eternity for the duration of the
punishment of condemned sinners. He perceived Tantalus forgetting his
never-ceasing thirst, and smacking his lips as he drank in the heaven-born
melody; the stone of Sisyphus becoming motionless, the Furies themselves smiling
on him, and the sovereign of the gloomy regions delighted, and awarding
preference to his violin over the lyre of Orpheus. Taken au s*rieux, mythology
thus seems a decided antidote to fear, in the face of theological threats,
especially when strengthened with an insane and passionate love of music; with
Franz, Euterpe proved always victorious in every contest, aye, even with Hell

But there is an end to everything, and very soon Franz had to give up
uninterrupted dreaming. He had reached the university town where dwelt his old
violin teacher, Samuel Klaus. When this antiquated musician found that his
beloved and favourite pupil, Franz, had been left poor in purse and still poorer
in earthly affections, he felt his strong attachment to the boy awaken with
tenfold force. He took Franz to his heart, and forthwith adopted him as his son.

The old teacher reminded people of one of those grotesque figures which look as
if they had just stepped out of some medi*val panel. And yet Klaus, with his
fantastic allures of a night-goblin, had the most loving heart, as tender as
that of a woman, and the self-sacrificing nature of an old Christian martyr.
When Franz had briefly narrated to him the history of his last few years, the
professor took him by the hand, and leading him into his study simply said:

"Stop with me, and put an end to your Bohemian life Make yourself famous. I am
old and childless and will be your father. Let us live together and forget all
save fame."

And forthwith he offered to proceed with Franz to Paris, via several large
German cities, where they would stop to give concerts.

In a few days Klaus succeeded in making Franz forget his vagrant life and its
artistic independence, and reawakened in his pupil his now dormant ambition and
desire for worldly fame. Hitherto, since his mother's death, he had been content
to receive applause only from the Gods and Goddesses who inhabited his vivid
fancy; now he began to crave once more for the admiration of mortals. Under the
clever and careful training of old Klaus his remarkable talent gained in
strength and powerful charm with every day, and his reputation grew and expanded
with every city and town wherein he made himself heard. His ambition was being
rapidly realized; the presiding genii of various musical centres to whose
patronage his talent was submitted soon proclaimed him the one violinist of the
day, and the public declared loudly that he stood unrivalled by any one whom
they had ever heard. These laudations very soon made both master and pupil
completely lose their heads. But Paris was less ready with such appreciation.
Paris makes reputations for itself, and will take none on faith. They had been
living in it for almost three years, and were still climbing with difficulty the
artist's Calvary, when an event occurred which put an end even to their most
modest expectations. The first arrival of Nicolo Paganini was suddenly heralded,
and threw Lutetia into a convulsion of expectation. The unparallelled artist
arrived, and--all Paris fell at once at his feet.


Now it is a well-known fact that a superstition born in the dark days of
medi*val superstition, and surviving almost to the middle of the present
century, attributed all such abnormal, out-of-the-way talent as that of Paganini
to "supernatural" agency. Every great and marvellous artist had been accused in
his day of dealings with the devil. A few instances will suffice to refresh the
reader's memory.

Tartini, the great composer and violinist of the XVIIth century, was denounced
as one who got his best inspirations from the Evil One, with whom he was, it was
said, in regular league. This accusation was, of course, due to the almost
magical impression he produced upon his audiences. His inspired performance on
the violin secured for him in his native country the title of "Master of
Nations." The Sonate du Diable, also called "Tartini's Dream"--as every one who
has heard it will be ready to testify--is the most weird melody ever heard or
invented: hence, the marvellous composition has become the source of endless
legends Nor were they entirely baseless, since it was he, himself; who was shown
to have originated them. Tartini confessed to having written it on awakening
from a dream, in which he had heard his sonata performed by Satan, for his
benefit, and in consequence of a bargain made with his infernal majesty.

Several famous singers, even, whose exceptional voices struck the hearers with
superstitious admiration, have not escaped a like accusation. Pasta's splendid
voice was attributed in her day to the fact that three months before her birth,
the diva's mother was carried during a trance to heaven, and there treated to a
vocal concert of seraphs. Malibran was indebted for her voice to St. Cecilia,
while others said she owed it to a demon who watched over her cradle and sang
the baby to sleep. Finally, Paganini--the unrivalled performer, the mean
Italian, who like Dryden's Jubal striking on the "chorded shell" forced the
throngs that followed him to worship the divine sounds produced, and made people
say that "less than a God could not dwell within the hollow of his
violin"--Paganini left a legend too.

The almost supernatural art of the greatest violin-player that the world has
ever known was often speculated upon, never understood. The effect produced by
him on his audience was literally marvellous, overpowering. The great Rossini is
said to have wept like a sentimental German maiden on hearing him play for the
first time. The Princess Elisa of Lucca, a sister of the great Napoleon, in
whose service Paganini was, as director of her private orchestra, for a long
time was unable to hear him play without fainting. In women he produced nervous
fits and hysterics at his will; stout-hearted men he drove to frenzy. He changed
cowards into heroes and made the bravest soldiers feel like so many nervous
schoolgirls. Is it to be wondered at, then, that hundreds of weird tales
circulated for long years about and around the mysterious Genoese, that modern
Orpheus of Europe? One of these was especially ghastly. It was rumoured, and was
believed by more people than would probably like to confess it, that the strings
of his violin were made of human intestines, according to all the rules and
requirements of the Black Art.

Exaggerated as this idea may seem to some, it has nothing impossible in it; and
it is more than probable that it was this legend that led to the extraordinary
events which we are about to narrate. Human organs are often used by the Eastern
Black Magician, so-called, and it is an averred fact that some BengälÓ Täntrikas
(reciters of tantras, or "invocations to the demon," as a reverend writer has
described them) use human corpses, and certain internal and external organs
pertaining to them, as powerful magical agents for bad purposes.

However this may be, now that the magnetic and mesmeric potencies of hypnotism
are recognized as facts by most physicians, it may be suggested with less danger
than heretofore that the extraordinary effects of Paganini's violin-playing were
not, perhaps, entirely due to his talent and genius. The wonder and awe he so
easily excited were as much caused by his external appearance, "which had
something weird and demoniacal in it," according to certain of his biographers,
as by the inexpressible charm of his execution and his remarkable mechanical
skill. The latter is demonstrated by his perfect imitation of the flageolet, and
his performance of long and magnificent melodies on the G string alone. In this
performance, which many an artist has tried to copy without success, he remains
unrivalled to this day.

It is owing to this remarkable appearance of his--termed by his friends
eccentric, and by his too nervous victims, diabolical--that he experienced great
difficulties in refuting certain ugly rumours. These were credited far more
easily in his day than they would be now. It was whispered throughout Italy, and
even in his own native town, that Paganini had murdered his wife, and, later on,
a mistress, both of whom he had loved passionately, and both of whom he had not
hesitated to sacrifice to his fiendish ambition. He had made himself proficient
in magic arts, it was asserted, and had succeeded thereby in imprisoning the
souls of his two victims in his violin--his famous Cremona.

It is maintained by the immediate friends of Ernest T.W. Hoffmann, the
celebrated author of Die Elixire des Teufels, Meister Martin, and other charming
and mystical tales, that Councillor Crespel, in the Violin of Cremona, was taken
from the legend about Paganini. It is, as all who have read it know, the history
of a celebrated violin, into which the voice and the soul of a famous diva, a
woman whom Crespel had loved and killed, had passed, and to which was added the
voice of his beloved daughter, Antonia.

Nor was this superstition utterly ungrounded, nor was Hoffmann to be blamed for
adopting it, after he had heard Paganini's playing. The extraordinary facility
with which the artist drew out of his instrument, not only the most unearthly
sounds, but positively human voices, justified the suspicion. Such effects might
well have startled an audience and thrown terror into many a nervous heart. Add
to this the impenetrable mystery connected with a certain period of Paganini's
youth, and the most wild tales about him must be found in a measure justifiable,
and even excusable; especially among a nation whose ancestors knew the Borgias
and the Medicis of Black Art fame.


In those pre-telegraphic days, newspapers were limited, and the wings of fame
had a heavier flight than they have now.

Franz had hardly heard of Paganini; and when he did, he swore he would rival, if
not eclipse, the Genoese magician. Yes, he would either become the most famous
of all living violinists, or he would break his instrument and put an end to his
life at the same time.

Old Klaus rejoiced at such a determination. He rubbed his hands in glee, and
jumping about on his lame leg like a crippled satyr, he flattered and incensed
his pupil, believing himself all the while to be performing a sacred duty to the
holy and majestic cause of art.

Upon first setting foot in Paris, three years before, Franz had all but failed.
Musical critics pronounced him a rising star, but had all agreed that he
required a few more years' practice, before he could hope to carry his audiences
by storm. Therefore, after a desperate study of over two years and uninterrupted
preparations, the Styrian artist had finally made himself ready for his first
serious appearance in the great Opera House where a public concert before the
most exacting critics of the old world was to be held; at this critical moment
Paganini's arrival in the European metropolis placed an obstacle in the way of
the realization of his hopes, and the old German professor wisely postponed his
pupil's d*but. At first he had simply smiled at the wild enthusiasm, the
laudatory hymns sung about the Genoese violinist, and the almost superstitious
awe with which his name was pronounced. But very soon Paganini's name became a
burning iron in the hearts of both the artists. and a threatening phantom in the
mind of Klaus. A few days more, and they shuddered at the very mention of their
great rival, whose success became with every night more unprecedented.

The first series of concerts was over, but neither Klaus nor Franz had as yet
had an opportunity of hearing him and of judging for themselves. So great and so
beyond their means was the charge for admission, and so small the hope of
getting a free pass from a brother artist justly regarded as the meanest of men
in monetary transactions, that they had to wait for a chance, as did so many
others. But the day came when neither master nor pupil could control their
impatience any longer; so they pawned their watches, and with the proceeds
bought two modest seats.

Who can describe the enthusiasm, the triumphs, of this famous and at the same
time fatal night! The audience was frantic; men wept and women screamed and
fainted; while both Klaus and Stenio sat looking paler than two ghosts. At the
first touch of Paganini's magic bow, both Franz and Samuel felt as if the icy
hand of death had touched them. Carried away by an irresistible enthusiasm,
which turned into a violent, unearthly mental torture, they dared neither look
into each other's faces, nor exchange one word during the whole performance.

At midnight, while the chosen delegates of the Musical Societies and the
Conservatory of Paris unhitched the horses, and dragged the carriage of the
grand artist home in triumph, the two Germans returned to their modest lodging
and it was a pitiful sight to see them. Mournful and desperate, they placed
themselves in their usual seats at the fire corner, and neither for a while
opened his mouth

"Samuel!" at last exclaimed Franz, pale as death itself. "Samuel--it remains for
us now but to die! . . . Do you hear me? . . . We are worthless! We were two
madmen to have ever hoped that any one in this world would ever rival . . .

The name of Paganini stuck in his throat, as in utter despair he fell into his
arm chair.

The old professor's wrinkles suddenly became purple. His little greenish eyes
gleamed phosphorescently as, bending toward his pupil, he whispered to him in
hoarse and broken tones:

"Nein, nein! Thou art wrong, my Franz! I have taught thee, and thou hast learned
all of the great art that a simple mortal, and a Christian by baptism, can learn
from another simple mortal. Am I to blame because these accursed Italians, in
order to reign unequalled in the domain of art, have recourse to Satan and the
diabolical effects of Black Magic?"

Franz turned his eyes upon his old master. There was a sinister light burning in
those glittering orbs; a light telling plainly, that, to secure such a power,
he, too, would not scruple to sell himself, body and soul, to the Evil One.

But he said not a word, and, turning his eyes from his old master s face, he
gazed dreamily at the dying embers.

The same long-forgotten incoherent dreams, which, after seeming such realities
to him in his younger days, had been given up entirely, and had gradually faded
from his mind, now crowded back into it with the same force and vividness as of
old. The grimacing shades of Ixion, Sisyphus and Tantalus resurrected and stood
before him, saying:

"What matters hell--in which thou believest not. And even if hell there be, it
is the hell described by the old Greeks, not that of the modern bigots--a
locality full of conscious shadows, to whom thou canst be a second Orpheus."

Franz felt that he was going mad, and, turning instinctively, he looked his old
master once more right in the face. Then his bloodshot eye evaded the gaze of

Whether Samuel understood the terrible state of mind of his pupil, or whether he
wanted to draw him out, to make him speak, and thus to divert his thoughts, must
remain as hypothetical to the reader as it is to the writer. Whatever may have
been in his mind, the German enthusiast went on, speaking with a feigned

"Franz, my dear boy, I tell you that the art of the accursed Italian is not
natural; that it is due neither to study nor to genius. It never was acquired in
the usual, natural way. You need not stare at me in that wild manner, for what I
say is in the mouth of millions of people. Listen to what I now tell you, and
try to understand. You have heard the strange tale whispered about the famous
Tartini? He died one fine Sabbath night, strangled by his familiar demon, who
had taught him how to endow his violin with a human voice, by shutting up in it,
by means of incantations, the soul of a young virgin. Paganini did more. In
order to endow his instrument with the faculty of emitting human sounds, such as
sobs, despairing cries, supplications, moans of love and fury--in short, the
most heart-rending notes of the human voice--Paganini became the murderer not
only of his wife and his mistress, but also of a friend, who was more tenderly
attached to him than any other being on this earth. He then made the four chords
of his magic violin out of the intestines of his last victim. This is the secret
of his enchanting talent, of that overpowering melody, that combination of
sounds, which you will never be able to master, unless . . ."

The old man could not finish the sentence. He staggered back before the fiendish
look of his pupil, and covered his face with his hands.

Franz was breathing heavily, and his eyes had an expression which reminded Klaus
of those of a hyena. His pallor was cadaverous. For some time he could not
speak, but only gasped for breath. At last he slowly muttered:

"Are you in earnest?"

"I am, as I hope to help you.'`

"And . . . and do you really believe that had I only the means of obtaining
human intestines for strings, I could rival Paganini?" asked Franz, after a
moment's pause, and casting down his eyes.

The old German unveiled his face, and, with a strange look of determination upon
it, softly answered:

"Human intestines alone are not sufficient for our purpose; they must have
belonged to some one who had loved us well, with an unselfish holy love. Tartini
endowed his violin with the life of a virgin; but that virgin had died of
unrequited love for him. The fiendish artist had prepared beforehand a tube, in
which he managed to catch her last breath as she expired, pronouncing his
beloved name, and he then transferred this breath to his violin. As to Paganini
I have just told you his tale. It was with the consent of his victim, though,
that he murdered him to get possession of his intestines.

"Oh, for the power of the human voice!" Samuel went on, after a brief pause.
"What can equal the eloquence, the magic spell of the human voice? Do you think,
my poor boy, I would not have taught you this great, this final secret, were it
not that it throws one right into the clutches of him . . . who must remain
unnamed at night?" he added, with a sudden return to the superstitions of his

Franz did not answer; but with a calmness awful to behold, he left his place,
took down his violin from the wall where it was hanging, and, with one powerful
grasp of the chords, he tore them out and flung them into the fire.

Samuel suppressed a cry of horror. The chords were hissing upon the coals,
where, among the blazing logs, they wriggled and curled like so many living

"By the witches of Thessaly and the dark arts of Circe!" he exclaimed, with
foaming mouth and his eyes burning like coals; "by the Furies of Hell and Pluto
himself, I now swear, in thy presence, O Samuel, my master, never to touch a
violin again until I can string it with four human chords. May I be accursed for
ever and ever if I do!"

He fell senseless on the floor, with a deep sob, that ended like a funeral wail;
old Samuel lifted him up as he would have lifted a child, and carried him to his
bed. Then he sallied forth in search of a physician.


For several days after this painful scene Franz was very ill, ill almost beyond
recovery. The physician declared him to be suffering from brain fever and said
that the worst was to be feared. For nine long days the patient remained
delirious; and Klaus, who was nursing him night and day with the solicitude of
the tenderest mother, was horrified at the work of his own hands. For the first
time since their acquaintance began, the old teacher, owing to the wild ravings
of his pupil, was able to penetrate into the darkest corners of that weird,
superstitious, cold, and, at the same time, passionate nature; and--he trembled
at what he discovered. For he saw that which he had failed to perceive
before--Franz as he was in reality, and not as he seemed to superficial
observers. Music was the life of the young man, and adulation was the air he
breathed, without which that life became a burden; from the chords of his violin
alone, Stenio drew his life and being, but the applause of men and even of Gods
was necessary to its support. He saw unveiled before his eves a genuine,
artistic, earthly soul, with its divine counterpart totally absent, a son of the
Muses, all fancy and brain poetry, but without a heart. While listening to the
ravings of that delirious and unhinged fancy Klaus felt as if he were for the
first time in his long life exploring a marvellous and untravelled region, a
human nature not of this world but of some incomplete planet. He saw all this,
and shuddered. More than once he asked himself whether it would not be doing a
kindness to his "boy" to let him die before he returned to consciousness.

But he loved his pupil too well to dwell for long on such an idea. Franz had
bewitched his truly artistic nature, and now old Klaus felt as though their two
lives were inseparably linked together. That he could thus feel was a revelation
to the old man; so he decided to save Franz, even at the expense of his own old,
and, as he thought, useless life.

The seventh day of the illness brought on a most terrible crisis. For
twenty-four hours the patient never closed his eyes, nor remained for a moment
silent; he raved continuously during the whole time. His visions were peculiar,
and he minutely described each. Fantastic, ghastly figures kept slowly swimming
out of the penumbra of his small, dark room, in regular and uninterrupted
procession, and he greeted each by name as he might greet old acquaintances. He
referred to himself as Prometheus, bound to the rock by four bands made of human
intestines. At the foot of the Caucasian Mount the black waters of the river
Styx were running . . . They had deserted Arcadia, and were now endeavouring to
encircle within a sevenfold embrace the rock upon which he was suffering . . .

"Wouldst thou know the name of the Promethean rock, old man?" he roared into his
adopted father's ear . . . "Listen then . . . its name is . . . called . . .
Samuel Klaus . . ."

"Yes, yes! . . ." the German murmured disconsolately. "It is I who killed him,
while seeking to console. The news of Paganini's magic arts struck his fancy too
vividly . . . Oh, my poor, poor boy!"

"Ha, ha, ha, ha!" The patient broke into a loud and discordant laugh. "Aye, poor
old man, sayest thou? . . . So, so, thou art of poor stuff, anyhow, and wouldst
look well only when stretched upon a fine Cremona violin! . . ."

Klaus shuddered, but said nothing. He only bent over the poor maniac, and with a
kiss upon his brow, a caress as tender and as gentle as that of a doting mother,
he left the sickroom for a few instants, to seek relief in his own garret. When
he returned, the ravings were following another channel. Franz was singing,
trying to imitate the sounds of a violin.

Toward the evening of that day, the delirium of the sick man became perfectly
ghastly. He saw spirits of fire clutching at his violin. Their skeleton hands,
from each finger of which grew a flaming claw, beckoned to old Samuel . . . They
approached and surrounded the old master, and were preparing to rip him open . .
. him, "the only man on this earth who loves me with an unselfish, holy love,
and . . . whose intestines can be of any good at all!" he went on whispering,
with glaring eyes and demon laugh . . .

By the next morning, however, the fever had disappeared, and by the end of the
ninth day Stenio had left his bed, having no recollection of his illness, and no
suspicion that he had allowed Klaus to read his inner thought. Nay; had he
himself any knowledge that such a horrible idea as the sacrifice of his old
master to his ambition had ever entered his mind? Hardly. The only immediate
result of his fatal illness was, that as, by reason of his vow, his artistic
passion could find no issue, another passion awoke, which might avail to feed
his ambition and his insatiable fancy. He plunged headlong into the study of the
Occult Arts, of Alchemy and of Magic. In the practice of Magic the young dreamer
sought to stifle the voice of his passionate longing for his, as he thought,
forever lost violin . . .

Weeks and months passed away, and the conversation about Paganini was never
resumed between the master and the pupil. But a profound melancholy had taken
possession of Franz, the two hardly exchanged a word, the violin hung mute,
chordless, full of dust, in its habitual place. It was as the presence of a
soulless corpse between them.

The young man had become gloomy and sarcastic, even avoiding the mention of
music. Once, as his old professor, after long hesitation, took out his own
violin from its dust-covered case and prepared to play, Franz gave a convulsive
shudder, but said nothing. At the first notes of the bow, however, he glared
like a madman, and rushing out of the house, remained for hours, wandering in
the streets. Then old Samuel in his turn threw his instrument down, and locked
himself up in his room till the following morning.

One night as Franz sat, looking particularly pale and gloomy, old Samuel
suddenly jumped from his seat, and after hopping about the room in a magpie
fashion, approached his pupil, imprinted a fond kiss upon the young man's brow,
and squeaked at the top of his shrill voice:

"Is it not time to put an end to all this?" . . .

Whereupon, starting from his usual lethargy, Franz echoed, as in a dream:

"Yes, it is time to put an end to this."

Upon which the two separated, and went to bed.

On the following morning, when Franz awoke, he was astonished not to see his old
teacher in his usual place to greet him. But he had greatly altered during the
last few months, and he at first paid no attention to his absence, unusual as it
was. He dressed and went into the adjoining room, a little parlour where they
had their meals, and which separated their two bedrooms. The fire had not been
lighted since the embers had died out on the previous night, and no sign was
anywhere visible of the professor's busy hand in his usual housekeeping duties.
Greatly puzzled, but in no way dismayed, Franz took his usual place at the
corner of the now cold fire-place, and fell into an aimless reverie. As he
stretched himself in his old arm-chair, raising both his hands to clasp them
behind his head in a favourite posture of his, his hand came into contact with
something on a shelf at his back; he knocked against a case, and brought it
violently on the ground.

It was old Klaus' violin-case that came down to the floor with such a sudden
crash that the case opened and the violin fell out of it, rolling to the feet of
Franz. And then the chords, striking against the brass fender emitted a sound,
prolonged, sad and mournful as the sigh of an unrestful soul; it seemed to fill
the whole room, and reverberated in the head and the very heart of the young
man. The effect of that broken violin-string was magical.

"Samuel!" cried Stenio, with his eyes starting from their sockets, and an
unknown terror suddenly taking possession of his whole being. "Samuel! what has
happened? . . . My good, my dear old master!" he called out, hastening to the
professor's little room, and throwing the door violently open. No one answered,
all was silent within.

He staggered back, frightened at the sound of his own voice, so changed and
hoarse it seemed to him at this moment. No reply came in response to his call.
Naught followed but a dead silence . . . that stillness which, in the domain of
sounds, usually denotes death. In the presence of a corpse, as in the lugubrious
stillness of a tomb, such silence acquires a mysterious power, which strikes the
sensitive soul with a nameless terror . . . The little room was dark, and Franz
hastened to open the shutters.

Samuel was lying on his bed, cold, stiff, and lifeless . . . At the sight of the
corpse of him who had loved him so well, and had been to him more than a father,
Franz experienced a dreadful revulsion of feeling, a terrible shock. But the
ambition of the fanatical artist got the better of the despair of the man, and
smothered the feelings of the latter in a few seconds.

A note bearing his own name was conspicuously placed upon a table near the
corpse. With trembling hand, the violinist tore open the envelope, and read the


When you read this, I shall have made the greatest sacrifice, that your best and
only friend and teacher could have accomplished for your fame. He, who loved you
most, is now but an inanimate lump of clay. Of your old teacher there now
remains but a clod of cold organic matter. I need not prompt you as to what you
have to do with it. Fear not stupid prejudices. It is for your future fame that
I have made an offering of my body, and you would be guilty of the blackest
ingratitude were you now to render useless this sacrifice. When you shall have
replaced the chords upon your violin, and these chords a portion of my own self,
under your touch it will acquire the power of that accursed sorcerer, all the
magic voices of Paganini's instrument. You will find therein my voice, my sighs
and groans, my song of welcome, the prayerful sobs of my infinite and sorrowful
sympathy, my love for you. And now, my Franz, fear nobody! Take your instrument
with you, and dog the steps of him who filled our lives with bitterness and
despair! . . . Appear in every arena, where, hitherto, he has reigned without a
rival, and bravely throw the gauntlet of defiance in his face. O Franz! then
only wilt thou hear with what a magic power the full notes of unselfish love
will issue forth from thy violin. Perchance, with a last caressing touch of its
chords, thou wilt remember that they once formed a portion of thine old teacher,
who now embraces and blesses thee for the last time.


Two burning tears sparkled in the eyes of Franz, but they dried up instantly.
Under the fiery rush of passionate hope and pride, the two orbs of the future
magician-artist, riveted to the ghastly face of the dead man, shone like the
eyes of a demon.

Our pen refuses to describe that which took place on that day, after the legal
inquiry was over. As another note, written with the view of satisfying the
authorities, had been prudently provided by the loving care of the old teacher,
the verdict was, "Suicide from causes unknown"; after this the coroner and the
police retired, leaving the bereaved heir alone in the death room, with the
remains of that which had once been a living man.

Scarcely a fortnight had elapsed from that day, ere the violin had been dusted,
and four new, stout strings had been stretched upon it. Franz dared not look at
them. He tried to play, but the bow trembled in his hand like a dagger in the
grasp of a novice-brigand. He then determined not to try again, until the
portentous night should arrive, when he should have a chance of rivalling, nay,
of surpassing, Paganini.

The famous violinist had meanwhile left Paris, and was giving a series of
triumphant concerts at an old Flemish town in Belgium.

« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 07:18:02 pm by unknown » Report Spam   Logged

"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Superhero Member
Posts: 1603

« Reply #6 on: October 10, 2009, 04:23:14 pm »

The Ensouled Violin
Part 2


One night, as Paganini, surrounded by a crowd of admirers, was sitting in the
dining-room of the hotel at which he was staying, a visiting card, with a few
words written on it in pencil, was handed to him by a young man with wild and
staring eyes.

Fixing upon the intruder a look which few persons could bear, but receiving back
a glance as calm and determined as his own, Paganini slightly bowed, and then
dryly said:

"Sir, it shall be as you desire. Name the night. I am at your service."

On the following morning the whole town was startled by the appearance of bills
posted at the corner of every street, and bearing the strange notice:

On the night of . . ., at the Grand Theatre of . . ., and for the first time,
will appear before the public, Franz Stenio, a German violinist, arrived
purposely to throw down the gauntlet to the world. famous Paganini and to
challenge him to a duel--upon their violins. He purposes to compete with the
great "virtuoso" in the execution of the most difficult of his compositions. The
famous Paganini has accepted the challenge. Franz Stenio will play, in
competition with the unrivalled violinist, the celebrated "Fantaisie Caprice" of
the latter, known as "The Witches."

The effect of the notice was magical. Paganini, who, amid his greatest triumphs,
never lost sight of a profitable speculation, doubled the usual price of
admission, but still the theatre could not hold the crowds that flocked to
secure tickets for that memorable performance.

At last the morning of the concert day dawned, and the "duel" was in everyone's
mouth. Franz Stenio, who, instead of sleeping, had passed the whole long hours
of the preceding midnight in walking up and down his room like an encaged
panther, had, toward morning, fallen on his bed from mere physical exhaustion.
Gradually he passed into a deathlike and dreamless slumber. At the gloomy winter
dawn he awoke, but finding it too early to rise he fell asleep again. And then
he had a vivid dream--so vivid indeed, so lifelike, that from its terrible
realism he felt sure that it was a vision rather than a dream.

He had left his violin on a table by his bedside, locked in its case, the key of
which never left him. Since he had strung it with those terrible chords he never
let it out of his sight for a moment. In accordance with his resolution he had
not touched it since his first trial, and his bow had never but once touched the
human strings, for he had since always practised on another instrument. But now
in his sleep he saw himself looking at the locked case. Something in it was
attracting his attention, and he found himself incapable of detaching his eyes
from it. Suddenly he saw the upper part of the case slowly rising, and, within
the chink thus produced, he perceived two small, phosphorescent green eyes--eyes
but too familiar to him--fixing themselves on his, lovingly, almost
beseechingly. Then a thin, shrill voice, as if issuing from these ghastly
orbs--the voice and orbs of Samuel Klaus himself--resounded in Stenio's
horrified ear, and he heard it say:

"Franz, my beloved boy . . . Franz, I cannot, no I cannot separate myself from .
. . them!"

And "they" twanged piteously inside the case.

Franz stood speechless, horror-bound. He felt his blood actually freezing, and
his hair moving and standing erect on his head . . .

"It's but a dream, an empty dream!" he attempted to formulate in his mind.

"I have tried my best, Franzchen . . . I have tried my best to sever myself from
these accursed strings, without pulling them to pieces . . ." pleaded the same
shrill, familiar voice. "Wilt thou help me to do so? . . ."

Another twang, still more prolonged and dismal, resounded within the case, now
dragged about the table in every direction, by some interior power, like some
living, wriggling thing, the twangs becoming sharper and more Jerky with every
new pull.

It was not for the first time that Stenio heard those sounds. He had often
remarked them before--indeed, ever since he had used his master's viscera as a
footstool for his own ambition. But on every occasion a feeling of creeping
horror had prevented him from investigating their cause, and he had tried to
assure himself that the sounds were only a hallucination.

But now he stood face to face with the terrible fact whether in dream or in
reality he knew not, nor did he care, since the hallucination--if hallucination
it were--was far more real and vivid than any reality. He tried to speak, to
take a step forward; but, as often happens in nightmares, he could neither utter
a word nor move a finger . . . He felt hopelessly paralyzed.

The pulls and jerks were becoming more desperate with each moment, and at last
something inside the case snapped violently. The vision of his Stradivarius,
devoid of its magical strings, flashed before his eyes throwing him into a cold
sweat of mute and unspeakable terror.

He made a superhuman effort to rid himself of the incubus that held him
spell-bound. But as the last supplicating whisper of the invisible Presence

"Do, oh, do . . . help me to cut myself off--"

Franz sprang to the case with one bound, like an enraged tiger defending its
prey, and with one frantic effort breaking the spell.

"Leave the violin alone, you old fiend from hell!" he cried, in hoarse and
trembling tones.

He violently shut down the self-raising lid, and while firmly pressing his left
hand on it, he seized with the right a piece of rosin from the table and drew on
the leather-covered top the sign of the six-pointed star--the seal used by King
Solomon to bottle up the rebellious djins inside their prisons.

A wail, like the howl of a she-wolf moaning over her dead little ones, came out
of the violin-case:

"Thou art ungrateful . . . very ungrateful, my Franz!" sobbed the blubbering
"spirit-voice." "But I forgive . . . for I still love thee well. Yet thou canst
not shut me in . . . boy. Behold!"

And instantly a grayish mist spread over and covered case and table, and rising
upward formed itself first into an indistinct shape. Then it began growing, and
as it grew, Franz felt himself gradually enfolded in cold and damp coils, slimy
as those of a huge snake. He gave a terrible cry and--awoke; but,.strangely
enough, not on his bed, but near the table, just as he had dreamed, pressing the
violin case desperately with both his hands.

"It was but a dream . . . after all," he muttered, still terrified, but relieved
of the load on his heaving breast.

With a tremendous effort he composed himself, and unlocked the case to inspect
the violin. He found it covered with dust, but otherwise sound and in order, and
he suddenly felt himself as cool and as determined as ever. Having dusted the
instrument he carefully rosined the bow, tightened the strings and tuned them.
He even went so far as to try upon it the first notes of the "Witches"; first
cautiously and timidly, then using his bow boldly and with full force.

The sound of that loud, solitary note--defiant as the war trumpet of a
conqueror, sweet and majestic as the touch of a seraph on his golden harp in the
fancy of the faithful--thrilled through the very soul of Franz. It revealed to
him a hitherto unsuspected potency in his bow, which ran on in strains that
filled the room with the richest swell of melody, unheard by the artist until
that night. Commencing in uninterrupted legato tones, his bow sang to him of
sun-bright hope and beauty, of moonlit nights, when the soft and balmy stillness
endowed every blade of grass and all things animate and inanimate with a voice
and a song of love. For a few brief moments it was a torrent of melody, the
harmony of which, "tuned to soft woe," was calculated to make mountains weep,
had there been any in the room, and to soothe

. . . even th' inexorable powers of hell,

the presence of which was undeniably felt in this modest hotel room. Suddenly,
the solemn legato chant, contrary to all laws of harmony, quivered, became
arpeggios, and ended in shrill staccatos, like the notes of a hyena laugh. The
same creeping sensation of terror, as he had before felt, came over him, and
Franz threw the bow away. He had recognized the familiar laugh, and would have
no more of it. Dressing, he locked the bedevilled violin securely in its case,
and, taking it with him to the dining-room, determined to await quietly the hour
of trial.


The terrible hour of the struggle had come, and Stenio was at his post--calm,
resolute, almost smiling.

The theatre was crowded to suffocation, and there was not even standing room to
be got for any amount of hard cash or favouritism. The singular challenge had
reached every quarter to which the post could carry it, and gold flowed freely
into Paganini's unfathomable pockets, to an extent almost satisfying even to his
insatiate and venal soul.

It was arranged that Paganini should begin. When he appeared upon the stage, the
thick walls of the theatre shook to their foundations with the applause that
greeted him. He began and ended his famous composition "The Witches" amid a
storm of cheers. The shouts of public enthusiasm lasted so long that Franz began
to think his turn would never come. When, at last, Paganini, amid the roaring
applause of a frantic public, was allowed to retire behind the scenes, his eye
fell upon Stenio, who was tuning his violin, and he felt amazed at the serene
calmness, the air of assurance, of the unknown German artist.

When Franz approached the footlights, he was received with icy coldness. But for
all that, he did not feel in the least disconcerted. He looked very pale, but
his thin white lips wore a scornful smile as response to this dumb unwelcome. He
was sure of his triumph.

At the first notes of the prelude of "The Witches" a thrill of astonishment
passed over the audience. It was Paganini's touch, and--it was something more.
Some--and they were the majority--thought that never, in his best moments of
inspiration, had the Italian artist himself, in executing that diabolical
composition of his, exhibited such an extraordinary diabolical power. Under the
pressure of the long muscular fingers of Franz, the chords shivered like the
palpitating intestines of a disembowelled victim under the vivisector's knife.
They moaned melodiously, like a dying child. The large blue eye of the artist,
fixed with a satanic expression upon the sounding-board, seemed to summon forth
Orpheus himself from the infernal regions, rather than the musical notes
supposed to be generated in the depths of the violin. Sounds seemed to transform
themselves into objective shapes, thickly and precipitately gathering as at the
evocation of a mighty magician, and to be whirling around him, like a host of
fantastic, infernal figures, dancing the witches' "goat dance." In the empty
depths of the shadowy background of the stage, behind the artist, a nameless
phantasmagoria, produced by the concussion of unearthly vibrations, seemed to
form pictures of shameless orgies, of the voluptuous hymens of a real witches'
Sabbat . . . A collective hallucination took hold of the public. Panting for
breath, ghastly, and trickling with the icy perspiration of an inexpressible
horror, they sat spellbound, and unable to break the spell of the music by the
slightest motion. They experienced all the illicit enervating delights of the
paradise of Mahommed, that come into the disordered fancy of an opium-eating
Mussulman, and felt at the same time the abject terror, the agony of one who
struggles against an attack of delirium tremens . . . Many ladies shrieked aloud
others fainted, and strong men gnashed their teeth in a state of utter
helplessness . . .

Then came the finale. Thundering uninterrupted applause delayed its beginning,
expanding the momentary pause to a duration of almost a quarter of an hour. The
bravos were furious, almost hysterical. At last, when after a profound and last
bow, Stenio, whose smile was as sardonic as it was triumphant, lifted his bow to
attack the famous finale his eye fell upon Paganini, who, calmly seated in the
manager's box, had been behind none in zealous applause. The small and piercing
black eyes of the Genoese artist were riveted to the Stradivarius in the hands
of Franz, but otherwise he seemed quite cool and unconcerned. His rival's face
troubled him for one short instant, but he regained his self-possession and,
lifting once more his bow, drew the first note.

Then the public enthusiasm reached its acme, and soon knew no bounds. The
listeners heard and saw indeed. The witches' voices resounded in the air, and
beyond all the other voices, one voice was heard--

Discordant, and unlike to human sounds; It seem'd of dogs the bark, of wolves
the howl; The doleful screechings of the midnight owl; The hiss of snakes, the
hungry lion's roar; The sounds of billows beating on the shore; The groan of
winds among the leafy wood, And burst of thunder from the rending cloud,-- 'Twas
these, all these in one . . .

The magic bow was drawing forth its last quivering sounds--famous among
prodigious musical feats--imitating the precipitate flight of the witches before
bright dawn; of the unholy women saturated with the fumes of their nocturnal
Saturnalia, when--a strange thing came to pass on the stage. Without the
slightest transition, the notes suddenly changed. In their *rial flight of
ascension and descent, their melody was unexpectedly altered in character. The
sounds became confused, scattered, disconnected . . . and then--it seemed from
the sounding-board of the violin--came out squeaking jarring tones, like those
of a street Punch, screaming at the top of a senile voice:

"Art thou satisfied, Franz, my boy? . . . Have not I gloriously kept my promise,

The spell was broken. Though still unable to realize the whole situation, those
who heard the voice and the Punchinello-like tones, were freed, as by
enchantment, from the terrible charm under which they had been held. Loud roars
of laughter, mocking exclamations of half-anger and half-irritation were now
heard from every corner of the vast theatre. The musicians in the orchestra,
with faces still blanched from weird emotion, were now seen shaking with
laughter, and the whole audience rose, like one man, from their seats, unable
yet to solve the enigma; they felt, nevertheless, too disgusted, too disposed to
laugh to remain one moment longer in the building.

But suddenly the sea of moving heads in the stalls and the pit became once more
motionless, and stood petrified as though struck by lightning. What all saw was
terrible enough--the handsome though wild face of the young artist suddenly
aged, and his graceful, erect figure bent down, as though under the weight of
years; but this was nothing to that which some of the most sensitive clearly
perceived. Franz Stenio's person was now entirely enveloped in a
semi-transparent mist, cloudlike, creeping with serpentine motion, and gradually
tightening round the living form, as though ready to engulf him. And there were
those also who discerned in this tall and ominous pillar of smoke a
clearly-defined figure, a form showing the unmistakable outlines of a grotesque
and grinning, but terribly awful-looking old man, whose viscera were protruding
and the ends of the intestines stretched on the violin.

Within this hazy, quivering veil, the violinist was then seen, driving his bow
furiously across the human chords, with the contortions of a demoniac, as we see
them represented on medi*val cathedral paintings!

An indescribable panic swept over the audience, and breaking now, for the last
time, through the spell which had again bound them motionless, every living
creature in the theatre made one mad rush towards the door. It was like the
sudden outburst of a dam, a human torrent, roaring amid a shower of discordant
notes, idiotic squeakings, prolonged and whining moans, cacophonous cries of
frenzy, above which, like the detonations of pistol shots, was heard the
consecutive bursting of the four strings stretched upon the sound-board of that
bewitched violin.

When the theatre was emptied of the last man of the audience, the terrified
manager rushed on the stage in search of the unfortunate performer. He was found
dead and already stiff, behind the footlights, twisted up into the most
unnatural of postures, with the "catguts" wound curiously around his neck, and
his violin shattered into a thousand fragments . . .

When it became publicly known that the unfortunate would-be rival of Nicolo
Paganini had not left a cent to pay for his funeral or his hotel bill, the
Genoese, his proverbial meanness notwithstanding, settled the hotel-bill and had
poor Stenio buried at his own expense.

He claimed, however, in exchange, the fragments of the Stradivarius--as a
memento of the strange event.
« Last Edit: October 10, 2009, 04:48:54 pm by unknown » Report Spam   Logged

"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Superhero Member
Posts: 1603

« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2009, 10:36:27 pm »

Here is an unusual hybrid tale, the sad child of science, and the vegative kingdom. In the author's word's, "A wild offspring of love and horror."

by Nathaniel Hawthorne

   A YOUNG MAN, named Giovanni Guasconti, came, very long ago, from
the more southern region of Italy, to pursue his studies at the
University of Padua. Giovanni, who had but a scanty supply of gold
ducats in his pocket, took lodgings in a high and gloomy chamber of an
old edifice, which looked not unworthy to have been the palace of a
Paduan noble, and which, in fact, exhibited over its entrance the
armorial bearings of a family long since extinct. The young
stranger, who was not unstudied in the great poem of his country,
recollected that one of the ancestors of this family, and perhaps an
occupant of this very mansion, had been pictured by Dante as a
partaker of the immortal agonies of his Inferno. These reminiscences
and associations, together with the tendency to heart-break natural to
a young man for the first time out of his native sphere, caused
Giovanni to sigh heavily, as he looked around the desolate and
ill-furnished apartment.

   "Holy Virgin, signor," cried old dame Lisabetta, who, won by the
youth's remarkable beauty of person, was kindly endeavoring to give
the chamber a habitable air, "what a sigh was that to come out of a
young man's heart! Do you find this old mansion gloomy? For the love
of heaven, then, put your head out of the window, and you will see
as bright sunshine as you have left in Naples."

   Guasconti mechanically did as the old woman advised, but could
not quite agree with her that the Lombard sunshine was as cheerful
as that of southern Italy. Such as it was, however, it fell upon a
garden beneath the window, and expended its fostering influences on
a variety of plants, which seemed to have been cultivated with
exceeding care.

   "Does this garden belong to the house?" asked Giovanni.

   "Heaven forbid, signor! unless it were fruitful of better
potherbs than any that grow there now," answered old Lisabetta. "No:
that garden is cultivated by the own hands of Signor Giacomo
Rappaccini, the famous Doctor, who, I warrant him, has been heard of
as far as Naples. It is said he distils these plants into medicines
that are as potent as a charm. Oftentimes you may see the signor
Doctor at work, and perchance the signora his daughter, too, gathering
the strange flowers that grow in the garden."

   The old woman had now done what she could for the aspect of the
chamber, and, commending the young man to the protection of the
saints, took her departure.

   Giovanni still found no better occupation than to look down into
the garden beneath his window. From its appearance, he judged it to be
one of those botanic gardens, which were of earlier date in Padua than
elsewhere in Italy, or in the world. Or, not improbably, it might once
have been the pleasure-place of an opulent family; for there was the
ruin of a marble fountain in the centre, sculptured with rare art, but
so wofully shattered that it was impossible to trace the original
design from the chaos of remaining fragments. The water, however,
continued to gush and sparkle into the sunbeams as cheerfully as ever.
A little gurgling sound ascended to the young man's window, and made
him feel as if a fountain were an immortal spirit, that sun its song
unceasingly, and without heeding the vicissitudes around it; while one
century embodied it in marble, and another scattered the perishable
garniture on the soil. All about the pool into which the water
subsided, grew various plants, that seemed to require a plentiful
supply of moisture for the nourishment of gigantic leaves, and, in
some instances, flowers gorgeously magnificent. There was one shrub in
particular, set in a marble vase in the midst of the pool, that bore a
profusion of purple blossoms, each of which had the lustre and
richness of a gem; and the whole together made a show so resplendent
that it seemed enough to illuminate the garden, even had there been no
sunshine. Every portion of the soil was peopled with plants and herbs,
which, if less beautiful, still bore tokens of assiduous care; as if
all had their individual virtues, known to the scientific mind that
fostered them. Some were placed in urns, rich with old carving, and
others in common garden-pots; some crept serpent-like along the
ground, or climbed on high, using whatever means of ascent was offered
them. One plant had wreathed itself round a statue of Vertumnus, which
was thus quite veiled and shrouded in a drapery of hanging foliage, so
happily arranged that it might have served a sculptor for a study.

   While Giovanni stood at the window, he heard a rustling behind a
screen of leaves, and became aware that a person was at work in the
garden. His figure soon emerged into view, and showed itself to be
that of no common laborer, but a tall, emaciated, sallow, and sickly
looking man, dressed in a scholar's garb of black. He was beyond the
middle term of life, with gray hair, a thin gray beard, and a face
singularly marked with intellect and cultivation, but which could
never, even in his more youthful days, have expressed much warmth of

   Nothing could exceed the intentness with which this scientific
gardener examined every shrub which grew in his path; it seemed as
if he was looking into their inmost nature, making observations in
regard to their creative essence, and discovering why one leaf grew in
this shape, and another in that, and wherefore such and such flowers
differed among themselves in hue and perfume. Nevertheless, in spite
of the deep intelligence on his part, there was no approach to
intimacy between himself and these vegetable existences. On the
contrary, he avoided their actual touch, or the direct inhaling of
their odors, with a caution that impressed Giovanni most disagreeably;
for the man's demeanor was that of one walking among malignant
influences, such as savage beasts, or deadly snakes, or evil
spirits, which, should he allow them one moment of license, would
wreak upon him some terrible fatality. It was strangely frightful to
the young man's imagination, to see this air of insecurity in a person
cultivating a garden, that most simple and innocent of human toils,
and which had been alike the joy and labor of the unfallen parents
of the race. Was this garden, then, the Eden of the present world? and
this man, with such a perception of harm in what his own hands
caused to grow, was he the Adam?

   The distrustful gardener, while plucking away the dead leaves or
pruning the too luxuriant growth of the shrubs, defended his hands
with a pair of thick gloves. Nor were these his only armor. When, in
his walk through the garden, he came to the magnificent plant that
hung its purple gems beside the marble fountain, he placed a kind of
mask over his mouth and nostrils, as if all this beauty did but
conceal a deadlier malice. But finding his task still too dangerous,
he drew back, removed the mask, and called loudly, but in the infirm
voice of a person affected with inward disease:

   "Beatrice! Beatrice!"

   "Here am I, my father! What would you?" cried a rich and youthful
voice from the window of the opposite house; a voice as rich as a
tropical sunset, and which made Giovanni, though he knew not why,
think of deep hues of purple or crimson, and of perfumes heavily
delectable- "Are you in the garden?"

   "Yes, Beatrice," answered the gardener, "and I need your help."

   Soon there emerged from under a sculptured portal the figure of a
young girl, arrayed with as much richness of taste as the most
splendid of the flowers, beautiful as the day, and with a bloom so
deep and vivid that one shade more would have been too much. She
looked redundant with life, health, and energy; all of which
attributes were bound down and compressed, as it were, and girdled
tensely, in their luxuriance, by her virgin zone. Yet Giovanni's fancy
must have grown morbid, while he looked down into the garden; for
the impression which the fair stranger made upon him was as if here
were another flower, the human sister of those vegetable ones, as
beautiful as they- more beautiful than the richest of them- but
still to be touched only with a glove, nor to be approached without
a mask. As Beatrice came down the garden-path, it was observable
that she handled and inhaled the odor of several of the plants,
which her father had most sedulously avoided.

   "Here, Beatrice," said the latter- "see how many needful offices
require to be done to our chief treasure. Yet, shattered as I am, my
life might pay the penalty of approaching it so closely as
circumstances demand. Henceforth, I fear, this plant must be consigned
to your sole charge."

   "And gladly will I undertake it," cried again the rich tones of the
young lady, as she bent towards the magnificent plant, and opened
her arms as if to embrace it. "Yes, my sister, my splendor, it shall
be Beatrice's task to nurse and serve thee; and thou shalt reward
her with thy kisses and perfume breath, which to her is as the
breath of life!"

   Then, with all the tenderness in her manner that was so
strikingly expressed in her words, she busied herself with such
attentions as the plant seemed to require; and Giovanni, at his
lofty window, rubbed his eyes, and almost doubted whether it were a
girl tending her favorite flower, or one sister performing the
duties of affection to another. The scene soon terminated. Whether
Doctor Rappaccini had finished his labors in the garden, or that his
watchful eye had caught the stranger's face, he now took his
daughter's arm and retired. Night was already closing in; oppressive
exhalations seemed to proceed from the plants, and steal upward past
the open window; and Giovanni, closing the lattice, went to his couch,
and dreamed of a rich flower and beautiful girl. Flower and maiden
were different and yet the same, and fraught with some strange peril
in either shape.

   But there is an influence in the light of morning that tends to
rectify whatever errors of fancy, or even of judgment, we may have
incurred during the sun's decline, or among the shadows of the
night, or in the less wholesome glow of moonshine. Giovanni's first
movement on starting from sleep, was to throw open the window, and
gaze down into the garden which his dreams had made so fertile of
mysteries. He was surprised, and a little ashamed, to find how real
and matter-of-fact an affair it proved to be, in the first rays of the
sun, which gilded the dew-drops that hung upon leaf and blossom,
and, while giving a brighter beauty to each rare flower, brought
everything within the limits of ordinary experience. The young man
rejoiced, that, in the heart of the barren city, he had the
privilege of overlooking this spot of lovely and luxuriant vegetation.
It would serve, he said to himself, as a symbolic language, to keep
him in communion with nature. Neither the sickly and thought-worn
Doctor Giacomo Rappaccini, it is true, nor his brilliant daughter,
were now visible; so that Giovanni could not determine how much of the
singularity which he attributed to both, was due to their own
qualities, and how much to his wonder-working fancy. But he was
inclined to take a most rational view of the whole matter.

   In the course of the day, he paid his respects to Signor Pietro
Baglioni, Professor of Medicine in the University, a physician of
eminent repute, to whom Giovanni had brought a letter of introduction.
The Professor was an elderly personage, apparently of genial nature,
and habits that might almost be called jovial; he kept the young man
to dinner, and made himself very agreeable by the freedom and
liveliness of his conversation, especially when warmed by a flask or
two of Tuscan wine. Giovanni, conceiving that men of science,
inhabitants of the same city, must needs be on familiar terms with one
another, took an opportunity to mention the name of Doctor Rappaccini.
But the Professor did not respond with so much cordiality as he had

   "Ill would it become a teacher of the divine art of medicine," said
Professor Pietro Baglioni, in answer to a question of Giovanni, "to
withhold due and well-considered praise of a physician so eminently
skilled as Rappaccini. But, on the other hand, I should answer it
but scantily to my conscience, were I to permit a worthy youth like
yourself, Signor Giovanni, the son of an ancient friend, to imbibe
erroneous ideas respecting a man who might hereafter chance to hold
your life and death in his hands. The truth is, our worshipful
Doctor Rappaccini has as much science as any member of the faculty-
with perhaps one single exception- in Padua, or all Italy. But there
are certain grave objections to his professional character."

   "And what are they?" asked the young man.

   "Has my friend Giovanni any disease of body or heart, that he is so
inquisitive about physicians?" said the Professor, with a smile.
"But as for Rappaccini, it is said of him- and I, who know the man
well, can answer for its truth- that he cares infinitely more for
science than for mankind. His patients are interesting to him only
as subjects for some new experiment. He would sacrifice human life,
his own among the rest, or whatever else was dearest to him, for the
sake of adding so much as a grain of mustard-seed to the great heap of
his accumulated knowledge."

   "Methinks he is an awful man, indeed," remarked Guasconti, mentally
recalling the cold and purely intellectual aspect of Rappaccini.
"And yet, worshipful Professor, is it not a noble spirit? Are there
many men capable of so spiritual a love of science?"

   "God forbid," answered the Professor, somewhat testily- "at
least, unless they take sounder views of the healing art than those
adopted by Rappaccini. It is his theory, that all medicinal virtues
are comprised within those substances which we term vegetable poisons.
These he cultivates with his own hands, and is said even to have
produced new varieties of poison, more horribly deleterious than
Nature, without the assistance of this learned person, would ever have
plagued the world with. That the Signor Doctor does less mischief than
might be expected, with such dangerous substances, is undeniable.
Now and then, it must be owned, he has effected-or seemed to effect- a
marvellous cure. But, to tell you my private mind, Signor Giovanni, he
should receive little credit for such instances of success- they being
probably the work of chance- but should be held strictly accountable
for his failures, which may justly be considered his own work."

   The youth might have taken Baglioni's opinions with many grains
of allowance, had he known that there was a professional warfare of
long continuance between him and Doctor Rappaccini, in which the
latter was generally thought to have gained the advantage. If the
reader be inclined to judge for himself, we refer him to certain
black-letter tracts on both sides, preserved in the medical department
of the University of Padua.

   "I know not, most learned Professor," returned Giovanni, after
musing on what had been said of Rappaccini's exclusive zeal for
science- "I know not how dearly this physician may love his art; but
surely there is one object more dear to him. He has a daughter."

   "Aha!" cried the Professor with a laugh. "So now our friend
Giovanni's secret is out. You have heard of this daughter, whom all
the young men in Padua are wild about, though not half a dozen have
ever had the good hap to see her face. I know little of the Signora
Beatrice, save that Rappaccini is said to have instructed her deeply
in his science, and that, young and beautiful as fame reports her, she
is already qualified to fill a professor's chair. Perchance her father
destines her for mine! Other absurd rumors there be, not worth talking
about, or listening to. So now, Signor Giovanni, drink off your
glass of Lacryma."

   Guasconti returned to his lodgings somewhat heated with the wine he
had quaffed, and which caused his brain to swim with strange fantasies
in reference to Doctor Rappaccini and the beautiful Beatrice. On his
way, happening to pass by a florist's, he bought a fresh bouquet of

   Ascending to his chamber, he seated himself near the window, but
within the shadow thrown by the depth of the wall, so that he could
look down into the garden with little risk of being discovered. All
beneath his eye was a solitude. The strange plants were basking in the
sunshine, and now and then nodding gently to one another, as if in
acknowledgment of sympathy and kindred. In the midst, by the shattered
fountain, grew the magnificent shrub, with its purple gems
clustering all over it; they glowed in the air, and gleamed back again
out of the depths of the pool, which thus seemed to overflow with
colored radiance from the rich reflection that was steeped in it. At
first, as we have said, the garden was a solitude. Soon, however- as
Giovanni had half hoped, half feared, would be the case- a figure
appeared beneath the antique sculptured portal, and came down
between the rows of plants, inhaling their various perfumes, as if she
were one of those beings of old classic fable, that lived upon sweet
odors. On again beholding Beatrice, the young man was even startled to
perceive how much her beauty exceeded his recollection of it; so
brilliant, so vivid in its character, that she glowed amid the
sunlight, and, as Giovanni whispered to himself, positively
illuminated the more shadowy intervals of the garden path. Her face
being now more revealed than on the former occasion, he was struck
by its expression of simplicity and sweetness; qualities that had
not entered into his idea of her character, and which made him ask
anew, what manner of mortal she might be. Nor did he fail again to
observe, or imagine, an analogy between the beautiful girl and the
gorgeous shrub that hung its gem-like flowers over the fountain; a
resemblance which Beatrice seemed to have indulged a fantastic humor
in heightening, both by the arrangement of her dress and the selection
of its hues.

   Approaching the shrub, she threw open her arms, as with a
passionate ardor, and drew its branches into an intimate embrace; so
intimate, that her features were hidden in its leafy bosom, and her
glistening ringlets all intermingled with the flowers.

   "Give me thy breath, my sister," exclaimed Beatrice; "for I am
faint with common air! And give me this flower of thine, which I
separate with gentlest fingers from the stem, and place it close
beside my heart."

   With these words, the beautiful daughter of Rappaccini plucked
one of the richest blossoms of the shrub, and was about to fasten it
in her bosom. But now, unless Giovanni's draughts of wine had
bewildered his senses, a singular incident occurred. A small orange
colored reptile, of the lizard or chameleon species, chanced to be
creeping along the path, just at the feet of Beatrice. It appeared
to Giovanni- but, at the distance from which he gazed, he could
scarcely have seen anything so minute- it appeared to him, however,
that a drop or two of moisture from the broken stem of the flower
descended upon the lizard's head. For an instant, the reptile
contorted itself violently, and then lay motionless in the sunshine.
Beatrice observed this remarkable phenomenon, and crossed herself,
sadly, but without surprise; nor did she therefore hesitate to arrange
the fatal flower in her bosom. There it blushed, and almost
glimmered with the dazzling effect of a precious stone, adding to
her dress and aspect the one appropriate charm, which nothing else
in the world could have supplied. But Giovanni, out of the shadow of
his window, bent forward and shrank back, and murmured and trembled.

   "Am I awake? Have I my senses?" said he to himself. "What is this
being? beautiful, shall I call her? or inexpressibly terrible?"

   Beatrice now strayed carelessly through the garden, approaching
closer beneath Giovanni's window, so that he was compelled to thrust
his head quite out of its concealment, in order to gratify the intense
and painful curiosity which she excited. At this moment, there came
a beautiful insect over the garden wall; it had perhaps wandered
through the city and found no flowers nor verdure among those
antique haunts of men, until the heavy perfumes of Doctor Rappaccini's
shrubs had lured it from afar. Without alighting on the flowers,
this winged brightness seemed to be attracted by Beatrice, and
lingered in the air and fluttered about her head. Now here it could
not be but that Giovanni Guasconti's eyes deceived him. Be that as
it might, he fancied that while Beatrice was gazing at the insect with
childish delight, it grew faint and fell at her feet! its bright wings
shivered! it was dead! from no cause that he could discern, unless
it were the atmosphere of her breath. Again Beatrice crossed herself
and sighed heavily, as she bent over the dead insect.

   An impulsive movement of Giovanni drew her eyes to the window.
There she beheld the beautiful head of the young man- rather a Grecian
than an Italian head, with fair, regular features, and a glistening of
gold among his ringlets- gazing down upon her like a being that
hovered in mid-air. Scarcely knowing what he did, Giovanni threw
down the bouquet which he had hitherto held in his hand.

   "Signora," said he, "there are pure and healthful flowers. Wear
them for the sake of Giovanni Guasconti!"

   "Thanks, Signor," replied Beatrice, with her rich voice that came
forth as it were like a gush of music; and with a mirthful
expression half childish and half woman-like. "I accept your gift, and
would fain recompense it with this precious purple flower; but if I
toss it into the air, it will not reach you. So Signor Guasconti
must even content himself with my thanks."

   She lifted the bouquet from the ground, and then as if inwardly
ashamed at having stepped aside from her maidenly reserve to respond
to a stranger's greeting, passed swiftly homeward through the
garden. But, few as the moments were, it seemed to Giovanni when she
was on the point of vanishing beneath the sculptured portal, that
his beautiful bouquet was already beginning to wither in her grasp. It
was an idle thought; there could be no possibility of distinguishing a
faded flower from a fresh one, at so great a distance.

   For many days after this incident, the young man avoided the window
that looked into Doctor Rappaccini's garden, as if something ugly
and monstrous would have blasted his eye-sight, had he been betrayed
into a glance. He felt conscious of having put himself, to a certain
extent, within the influence of an unintelligible power, by the
communication which he had opened with Beatrice. The wisest course
would have been, if his heart were in any real danger, to quit his
lodgings and Padua itself, at once; the next wiser, to have accustomed
himself, as far as possible, to the familiar and day-light view of
Beatrice; thus bringing her rigidly and systematically within the
limits of ordinary experience. Least of all, while avoiding her sight,
should Giovanni have remained so near this extraordinary being, that
the proximity and possibility even of intercourse, should give a
kind of substance and reality to the wild vagaries which his
imagination ran riot continually in producing. Guasconti had not a
deep heart- or at all events, its depths were not sounded now- but
he had a quick fancy, and an ardent southern temperament, which rose
every instant to a higher fever-pitch. Whether or no Beatrice
possessed those terrible attributes- that fatal breath- the affinity
with those so beautiful and deadly flowers- which were indicated by
what Giovanni had witnessed, she had at least instilled a fierce and
subtle poison into his system. It was not love, although her rich
beauty was a madness to him; nor horror, even while he fancied her
spirit to be imbued with the same baneful essence that seemed to
pervade her physical frame; but a wild offspring of both love and
horror that had each parent in it, and burned like one and shivered
like the other. Giovanni knew not what to dread; still less did he
know what to hope; yet hope and dread kept a continual warfare in
his breast, alternately vanquishing one another and starting up afresh
to renew the contest. Blessed are all simple emotions, be they dark or
bright! It is the lurid intermixture of the two that produces the
illuminating blaze of the infernal regions.

   Sometimes he endeavored to assuage the fever of his spirit by a
rapid walk through the streets of Padua, or beyond its gates; his
footsteps kept time with the throbbings of his brain, so that the walk
was apt to accelerate itself to a race. One day, he found himself
arrested; his arm was seized by a portly personage who had turned back
on recognizing the young man, and expended much breath in overtaking

   "Signor Giovanni! stay, my young friend!" cried he. "Have you
forgotten me? That might well be the case, if I were as much altered
as yourself."

   It was Baglioni, whom Giovanni had avoided, ever since their
first meeting, from a doubt that the Professor's sagacity would look
too deeply into his secrets. Endeavoring to recover himself, he stared
forth wildly from his inner world into the outer one, and spoke like a
man in a dream.

   "Yes; I am Giovanni Guasconti. You are Professor Pietro Baglioni.
Now let me pass!"

   "Not yet- not yet, Signor Giovanni Guasconti," said the
Professor, smiling, but at the same time scrutinizing the youth with
an earnest glance. "What, did I grow up side by side with your father,
and shall his son pass me like a stranger, in these old streets of
Padua? Stand still, Signor Giovanni; for we must have a word or two
before we part."

   "Speedily, then, most worshipful Professor, speedily!" said
Giovanni, with feverish impatience. "Does not your worship see that
I am in haste?"

   Now, while he was speaking, there came a man in black along the
street, stooping and moving feebly, like a person in inferior
health. His face was all overspread with a most sickly and sallow hue,
but yet so pervaded with an expression of piercing and active
intellect, that an observer might easily have overlooked the merely
physical attributes, and have seen only this wonderful energy. As he
passed, this person exchanged a cold and distant salutation with
Baglioni, but fixed his eyes upon Giovanni with an intentness that
seemed to bring out whatever was within him worthy of notice.
Nevertheless, there was a peculiar quietness in the look, as if taking
merely a speculative, not a human interest, in the young man.

   "It is Doctor Rappaccini!" whispered the Professor, when the
stranger had passed. "Has he ever seen your face before?"

   "Not that I know," answered Giovanni, starting at the name.

   "He has seen you! he must have seen you!" said Baglioni, hastily.
"For some purpose or other, this man of science is making a study of
you. I know that look of his! It is the same that coldly illuminates
his face, as he bends over a bird, a mouse, or a butterfly, which,
in pursuance of some experiment, he has killed by the perfume of a
flower- a look as deep as nature itself, but without nature's warmth
of love. Signor Giovanni, I will stake my life upon it, you are the
subject of one of Rappaccini's experiments!"

   "Will you make a fool of me?" cried Giovanni, passionately.
"That, Signor Professor, were an untoward experiment."

   "Patience, patience!" replied the imperturbable Professor. "I
tell thee, my poor Giovanni, that Rappaccini has a scientific interest
in thee. Thou hast fallen into fearful hands! And the Signora
Beatrice? What part does she act in this mystery?"

   But Guasconti, finding Baglioni's pertinacity intolerable, here
broke away, and was gone before the Professor could again seize his
arm. He looked after the young man intently, and shook his head.

   "This must not be," said Baglioni to himself. "The youth is the son
of my old friend, and shall not come to any harm from which the arcana
of medical science can preserve him. Besides, it is too insufferable
an impertinence in Rappaccini thus to snatch the lad out of my own
hands, as I may say, and make use of him for his infernal experiments.
This daughter of his! It shall be looked to. Perchance, most learned
Rappaccini, I may foil you where you little dream of it!"

   Meanwhile, Giovanni had pursued a circuitous route, and at length
found himself at the door of his lodgings. As he crossed the
threshold, he was met by old Lisabetta, who smirked and smiled, and
was evidently desirous to attract his attention; vainly, however, as
the ebullition of his feelings had momentarily subsided into a cold
and dull vacuity. He turned his eyes full upon the withered face
that was puckering itself into a smile, but seemed to behold it not.
The old dame, therefore, laid her grasp upon his cloak.

   "Signor! Signor!" whispered she, still with a smile over the
whole breadth of her visage, so that it looked not unlike a
grotesque carving in wood, darkened by centuries- "Listen, Signor!
There is a private entrance into the garden!"

   "What do you say?" exclaimed Giovanni, turning quickly about, as if
an inanimate thing should start into feverish life. "A private
entrance into Doctor Rappaccini's garden!"

   "Hush! hush! not so loud!" whispered Lisabetta, putting her hand
over his mouth. "Yes; into the worshipful Doctor's garden, where you
may see all his fine shrubbery. Many a young man in Padua would give
gold to be admitted among those flowers."

   Giovanni put a piece of gold into her hand.

   "Show me the way," said he.

   A surmise, probably excited by his conversation with Baglioni,
crossed his mind, that this interposition of old Lisabetta might
perchance be connected with the intrigue, whatever were its nature, in
which the Professor seemed to suppose that Doctor Rappaccini was
involving him. But such a suspicion, though it disturbed Giovanni, was
inadequate to restrain him. The instant he was aware of the
possibility of approaching Beatrice, it seemed an absolute necessity
of his existence to do so. It mattered not whether she were angel or
demon; he was irrevocably within her sphere, and must obey the law
that whirled him onward, in ever lessening circles, towards a result
which he did not attempt to foreshadow. And yet, strange to say, there
came across him a sudden doubt, whether this intense interest on his
part were not delusory- whether it were really of so deep and positive
a nature as to justify him in now thrusting himself into an
incalculable position- whether it were not merely the fantasy of a
young man's brain, only slightly, or not at all, connected with his

   He paused- hesitated- turned half about- but again went on. His
withered guide led him along several obscure passages, and finally
undid a door, through which, as it was opened, there came the sight
and sound of rustling leaves, with the broken sunshine glimmering
among them. Giovanni stepped forth, and forcing himself through the
entanglement of a shrub that wreathed its tendrils over the hidden
entrance, he stood beneath his own window, in the open area of
Doctor Rappaccini's garden.

   How often is it the case, that, when impossibilities have come to
pass, and dreams have condensed their misty substance into tangible
realities, we find ourselves calm, and even coldly self-possessed,
amid circumstances which it would have been a delirium of joy or agony
to anticipate! Fate delights to thwart us thus. Passion will choose
his own time to rush upon the scene, and lingers sluggishly behind,
when an appropriate adjustment of events would seem to summon his
appearance. So was it now with Giovanni. Day after day, his pulses had
throbbed with feverish blood, at the improbable idea of an interview
with Beatrice, and of standing with her, face to face, in this very
garden, basking in the oriental sunshine of her beauty, and
snatching from her full gaze the mystery which he deemed the riddle of
his own existence. But now there was a singular and untimely
equanimity within his breast. He threw a glance around the garden to
discover if Beatrice or her father were present, and perceiving that
he was alone, began a critical observation of the plants.

   The aspect of one and all of them dissatisfied him; their
gorgeousness seemed fierce, passionate, and even unnatural. There
was hardly an individual shrub which a wanderer, straying by himself
through a forest, would not have been startled to find growing wild,
as if an unearthly face had glared at him out of the thicket. Several,
also, would have shocked a delicate instinct by an appearance of
artificialness, indicating that there had been such commixture, and,
as it were, adultery of various vegetable species, that the production
was no longer of God's making, but the monstrous offspring of man's
depraved fancy, glowing with only an evil mockery of beauty. They were
probably the result of experiment, which, in one or two cases, had
succeeded in mingling plants individually lovely into a compound
possessing the questionable and ominous character that distinguished
the whole growth of the garden. In fine, Giovanni recognized but two
or three plants in the collection, and those of a kind that he well
knew to be poisonous. While busy with these contemplations, he heard
the rustling of a silken garment, and turning, beheld Beatrice
emerging from beneath the sculptured portal.

   Giovanni had not considered with himself what should be his
deportment; whether he should apologize for his intrusion into the
garden, or assume that he was there with the privity, at least, if not
by the desire, of Doctor Rappaccini or his daughter. But Beatrice's
manner placed him at his ease, though leaving him still in doubt by
what agency he had gained admittance. She came lightly along the path,
and met him near the broken fountain. There was surprise in her
face, but brightened by a simple and kind expression of pleasure.

   "You are a connoisseur in flowers, Signor," said Beatrice with a
smile, alluding to the bouquet which he had flung her from the window.
"It is no marvel, therefore, if the sight of my father's rare
collection has tempted you to take a nearer view. If he were here,
he could tell you many strange and interesting facts as to the
nature and habits of these shrubs, for he has spent a life-time in
such studies, and this garden is his world."

   "And yourself, lady"- observed Giovanni- "if fame says true- you,
likewise, are deeply skilled in the virtues indicated by these rich
blossoms, and these spicy perfumes. Would you deign to be my
instructress, I should prove an apter scholar than under Signor
Rappaccini himself."

   "Are there such idle rumors?" asked Beatrice, with the music of a
pleasant laugh. "Do people say that I am skilled in my father's
science of plants? What a jest is there! No; though I have grown up
among these flowers, I know no more of them than their hues and
perfume; and sometimes, methinks I would fain rid myself of even
that small knowledge. There are many flowers here, and those not the
least brilliant, that shock and offend me, when they meet my eye. But,
pray, Signor, do not believe these stories about my science. Believe
nothing of me save what you see with your own eyes."

   "And must I believe all that I have seen with my own eyes?" asked
Giovanni pointedly, while the recollection of former scenes made him
shrink. "No, Signora, you demand too little of me. Bid me believe
nothing, save what comes from your own lips."

   It would appear that Beatrice understood him. There came a deep
flush to her cheek; but she looked full into Giovanni's eyes, and
responded to his gaze of uneasy suspicion with a queen-like

   I do so bid you, Signor!" she replied. "Forget whatever you may
have fancied in regard to me. If true to the outward senses, still
it may be false in its essence. But the words of Beatrice Rappaccini's
lips are true from the heart outward. Those you may believe!"

   A fervor glowed in her whole aspect, and beamed upon Giovanni's
consciousness like the light of truth itself. But while she spoke,
there was a fragrance in the atmosphere around her rich and
delightful, though evanescent, yet which the young man, from an
indefinable reluctance, scarcely dared to draw into his lungs. It
might be the odor of the flowers. Could it be Beatrice's breath, which
thus embalmed her words with a strange richness, as if by steeping
them in her heart? A faintness passed like a shadow over Giovanni, and
flitted away; he seemed to gaze through the beautiful girl's eyes into
her transparent soul, and felt no more doubt or fear.

   The tinge of passion that had colored Beatrice's manner vanished;
she became gay, and appeared to derive a pure delight from her
communion with the youth, not unlike what the maiden of a lonely
island might have felt, conversing with a voyager from the civilized
world. Evidently her experience of life had been confined within the
limits of that garden. She talked now about matters as simple as the
day-light or summer-clouds, and now asked questions in reference to
the city, or Giovanni's distant home, his friends, his mother, and his
sisters; questions indicating such seclusion, and such lack of
familiarity with modes and forms, that Giovanni responded as if to
an infant. Her spirit gushed out before him like a fresh rill, that
was just catching its first glimpse of the sunlight, and wondering, at
the reflections of earth and sky which were flung into its bosom.
There came thoughts, too, from a deep source, and fantasies of a
gem-like brilliancy, as if diamonds and rubies sparkled upward among
the bubbles of the fountain. Ever and anon, there gleamed across the
young man's mind a sense of wonder, that he should be walking side
by side with the being who had so wrought upon his imagination- whom
he had idealized in such hues of terror- in whom he had positively
witnessed such manifestations of dreadful attributes- that he should
be conversing with Beatrice like a brother, and should find her so
human and so maiden-like. But such reflections were only momentary;
the effect of her character was too real, not to make itself
familiar at once.

   In this free intercourse, they had strayed through the garden,
and now, after many turns among its avenues, were come to the
shattered fountain, beside which grew the magnificent shrub with its
treasury of glowing blossoms. A fragrance was diffused from it,
which Giovanni recognized as identical with that which he had
attributed to Beatrice's breath, but incomparably more powerful. As
her eyes fell upon it, Giovanni beheld her press her hand to her
bosom, as if her heart were throbbing suddenly and painfully.

   "For the first time in my life," murmured she, addressing the
shrub, "I had forgotten thee!"

   "I remember, Signora," said Giovanni, "that you once promised to
reward me with one of these living gems for the bouquet, which I had
the happy boldness to fling to your feet. Permit me now to pluck it as
a memorial of this interview."

   He made a step towards the shrub, with extended hand. But
Beatrice darted forward, uttering a shriek that went through his heart
like a dagger. She caught his hand, and drew it back with the whole
force of her slender figure. Giovanni felt her touch thrilling through
his fibres.

   "Touch it not!" exclaimed she, in a voice of agony. "Not for thy
life! It is fatal!"

   Then, hiding her face, she fled from him, and vanished beneath
the sculptured portal. As Giovanni followed her with his eyes, he
beheld the emaciated figure and pale intelligence of Doctor
Rappaccini, who had been watching the scene, he knew not how long,
within the shadow of the entrance.

   No sooner was Guasconti alone in his chamber, than the image of
Beatrice came back to his passionate musings, invested with all the
witchery that had been gathering around it ever since his first
glimpse of her, and now likewise imbued with a tender warmth of
girlish womanhood. She was human: her nature was endowed with all
gentle and feminine qualities; she was worthiest to be worshipped; she
was capable, surely, on her part, of the height and heroism of love.
Those tokens, which he had hitherto considered as proofs of a
frightful peculiarity in her physical and moral system, were now
either forgotten, or, by the subtle sophistry of passion, transmuted
into a golden crown of enchantment, rendering Beatrice the more
admirable, by so much as she was the more unique. Whatever had
looked ugly, was now beautiful; or, if incapable of such a change,
it stole away and hid itself among those shapeless half-ideas, which
throng the dim region beyond the daylight of our perfect
consciousness. Thus did Giovanni spend the night, nor fell asleep,
until the dawn had begun to awake the slumbering flowers in Doctor
Rappaccini's garden, whither his dreams doubtless led him. Up rose the
sun in his due season, and flinging his beams upon the young man's
eyelids, awoke him to a sense of pain. When thoroughly aroused, he
became sensible of a burning and tingling agony in his hand- in his
right hand- the very hand which Beatrice had grasped in her own,
when he was on the point of plucking one of the gem-like flowers. On
the back of that hand there was now a purple print, like that of
four small fingers, and the likeness of a slender thumb upon his

   Oh, how stubbornly does love- or even that cunning semblance of
love which flourishes in the imagination, but strikes no depth of root
into the heart- how stubbornly does it hold its faith, until the
moment come, when it is doomed to vanish into thin mist! Giovanni
wrapt a handkerchief about his hand, and wondered what evil thing
had stung him, and soon forgot his pain in a reverie of Beatrice.

   After the first interview, a second was in the inevitable course of
what we call fate. A third; a fourth; and a meeting with Beatrice in
the garden was no longer an incident in Giovanni's daily life, but the
whole space in which he might be said to live; for the anticipation
and memory of that ecstatic hour made up the remainder. Nor was it
otherwise with the daughter of Rappaccini. She watched for the youth's
appearance, and flew to his side with confidence as unreserved as if
they had been playmates from early infancy- as if they were such
playmates still. If, by any unwonted chance, he failed to come at
the appointed moment, she stood beneath the window, and sent up the
rich sweetness of her tones to float around him in his chamber, and
echo and reverberate throughout his heart- "Giovanni! Giovanni! Why
tarriest thou? Come down!" And down he hastened into that Eden of
poisonous flowers.

   But, with all this intimate familiarity, there was still a
reserve in Beatrice's demeanor, so rigidly and invariably sustained,
that the idea of infringing it scarcely occurred to his imagination.
By all appreciable signs, they loved; they had looked love, with
eyes that conveyed the holy secret from the depths of one soul into
the depths of the other, as if it were too sacred to be whispered by
the way; they had even spoken love, in those gushes of passion when
their spirits darted forth in articulated breath, like tongues of
long-hidden flame; and yet there had been no seal of lips, no clasp of
hands, nor any slightest caress, such as love claims and hallows. He
had never touched one of the gleaming ringlets of her hair; her
garment- so marked was the physical barrier between them- had never
been waved against him by a breeze. On the few occasions when Giovanni
had seemed tempted to overstep the limit, Beatrice grew so sad, so
stern, and withal wore such a look of desolate separation,
shuddering at itself, that not a spoken word was requisite to repel
him. At such times, he was startled at the horrible suspicions that
rose, monster-like, out of the caverns of his heart, and stared him in
the face; his love grew thin and faint as the morning-mist; his doubts
alone had substance. But when Beatrice's face brightened again,
after the momentary shadow, she was transformed at once from the
mysterious, questionable being, whom he had watched with so much awe
and horror; she was now the beautiful and unsophisticated girl, whom
he felt that his spirit knew with a certainty beyond all other

   A considerable time had now passed since Giovanni's last meeting
with Baglioni. One morning, however, he was disagreeably surprised
by a visit from the Professor, whom he had scarcely thought of for
whole weeks, and would willingly have forgotten still longer. Given
up, as he had long been, to a pervading excitement, he could
tolerate no companions, except upon condition of their perfect
sympathy with his present state of feeling. Such sympathy was not to
be expected from Professor Baglioni.

   The visitor chatted carelessly, for a few moments, about the gossip
of the city and the University, and then took up another topic.

   "I have been reading an old classic author lately," said he, "and
met with a story that strangely interested me. Possibly you may
remember it. It is of an Indian prince, who sent a beautiful woman
as a present to Alexander the Great. She was as lovely as the dawn,
and gorgeous as the sunset; but what especially distinguished her
was a certain rich perfume in her breath- richer than a garden of
Persian roses. Alexander, as was natural to a youthful conqueror, fell
in love at first sight with this magnificent stranger. But a certain
sage physician, happening to be present, discovered a terrible
secret in regard to her."

   "And what was that?" asked Giovanni, turning his eyes downward to
avoid those of the Professor.

   "That this lovely woman," continued Baglioni, with emphasis, "had
been nourished with poisons from her birth upward, until her whole
nature was so imbued with them, that she herself had become the
deadliest poison in existence. Poison was her element of life. With
that rich perfume of her breath, she blasted the very air. Her love
would have been poison! her embrace death! Is not this a marvellous

   "A childish fable," answered Giovanni, nervously starting from
his chair. "I marvel how your worship finds time to read such
nonsense, among your graver studies."

   "By the bye," said the Professor, looking uneasily about him, "what
singular fragrance is this in your apartment? Is it the perfume of
your gloves? It is faint, but delicious, and yet, after all, by no
means agreeable. Were I to breathe it long, methinks it would make
me ill. It is like the breath of a flower- but I see no flowers in the

   "Nor are there any," replied Giovanni, who had turned pale as the
Professor spoke; "nor, I think, is there any fragrance, except in your
worship's imagination. Odors, being a sort of element combined of
the sensual and the spiritual, are apt to deceive us in this manner.
The recollection of a perfume- the bare idea of it- may easily be
mistaken for a present reality."

   "Aye; but my sober imagination does not often play such tricks,"
said Baglioni; "and were I to fancy any kind of odor, it would be that
of some vile apothecary drug, wherewith my fingers are likely enough
to be imbued. Our worshipful friend Rappaccini, as I have heard,
tinctures his medicaments with odors richer than those of Araby.
Doubtless, likewise, the fair and learned Signora Beatrice would
minister to her patients with draughts as sweet as a maiden's
breath. But wo to him that sips them!"

   Giovanni's face evinced many contending emotions. The tone in which
the Professor alluded to the pure and lovely daughter of Rappaccini
was a torture to his soul; and yet, the intimation of a view of her
character, opposite to his own, gave instantaneous distinctness to a
thousand dim suspicions, which now grinned at him like so many demons.
But he strove hard to quell them, and to respond to Baglioni with a
true lover's perfect faith.

   "Signor Professor," said he, "you were my father's friend-
perchance, too, it is your purpose to act a friendly part towards
his son. I would fain feel nothing towards you save respect and
deference. But I pray you to observe, Signor, that there is one
subject on which we must not speak. You know not the Signora Beatrice.
You cannot, therefore, estimate the wrong- the blasphemy, I may even
say- that is offered to her character by a light or injurious word."

   "Giovanni! my poor Giovanni!" answered the Professor, with a calm
expression of pity, "I know this wretched girl far better than
yourself. You shall hear the truth in respect to the poisoner
Rappaccini, and his poisonous daughter. Yes; poisonous as she is
beautiful! Listen; for even should you do violence to my gray hairs,
it shall not silence me. That old fable of the Indian woman has become
a truth, by the deep and deadly science of Rappaccini, and in the
person of the lovely Beatrice!"

   Giovanni groaned and hid his face.

   "Her father," continued Baglioni, "was not restrained by natural
affection from offering up his child, in this horrible manner, as
the victim of his insane zeal for science. For- let us do him justice-
he is as true a man of science as ever distilled his own heart in an
alembic. What, then, will be your fate? Beyond a doubt, you are
selected as the material of some new experiment. Perhaps the result is
to be death- perhaps a fate more awful still! Rappaccini, with what he
calls the interest of science before his eyes, will hesitate at

   "It is a dream!" muttered Giovanni to himself, "surely it is a

   "But, resumed the Professor, "be of good cheer, son of my friend!
It is not yet too late for the rescue. Possibly, we may even succeed
in bringing back this miserable child within the limits of ordinary
nature, from which her father's madness has estranged her. Behold this
little silver vase! It was wrought by the hands of the renowned
Benvenuto Cellini, and is well worthy to be a love-gift to the fairest
dame in Italy. But its contents are invaluable. One little sip of this
antidote would have rendered the most virulent poisons of the
Borgias innocuous. Doubt not that it will be as efficacious against
those of Rappaccini. Bestow the vase, and the precious liquid within
it, on your Beatrice, and hopefully await the result."

   Baglioni laid a small, exquisitely wrought silver phial on the
table, and withdrew, leaving what he had said to produce its effect
upon the young man's mind.

   "We will thwart Rappaccini yet!" thought he, chuckling to
himself, as he descended the stairs. "But, let us confess the truth of
him, he is a wonderful man! a wonderful man indeed! A vile empiric,
however, in his practice, and therefore not to be tolerated by those
who respect the good old rules of the medical profession!"

   Throughout Giovanni's whole acquaintance with Beatrice, he had
occasionally, as we have said, been haunted by dark surmises as to her
character. Yet, so thoroughly had she made herself felt by him as a
simple, natural, most affectionate and guileless creature, that the
image now held up by Professor Baglioni, looked as strange and
incredible, as if it were not in accordance with his own original
conception. True, there were ugly recollections connected with his
first glimpses of the beautiful girl; he could not quite forget the
bouquet that withered in her grasp, and the insect that perished
amid the sunny air, by no ostensible agency save the fragrance of
her breath. These incidents, however, dissolving in the pure light
of her character, had no longer the efficacy of facts, but were
acknowledged as mistaken fantasies, by whatever testimony of the
senses they might appear to be substantiated. There is something truer
and more real, than what we can see with the eyes, and touch with
the finger. On such better evidence, had Giovanni founded his
confidence in Beatrice, though rather by the necessary force of her
high attributes, than by any deep and generous faith on his part. But,
now, his spirit was incapable of sustaining itself at the height to
which the early enthusiasm of passion had exalted it; he fell down,
grovelling among earthly doubts, and defiled therewith the pure
whiteness of Beatrice's image. Not that he gave her up; he did but
distrust. He resolved to institute some decisive test that should
satisfy him, once for all, whether there were those dreadful
peculiarities in her physical nature, which could not be supposed to
exist without some corresponding monstrosity of soul. His eyes, gazing
down afar, might have deceived him as to the lizard, the insect, and
the flowers. But if he could witness, at the distance of a few
paces, the sudden blight of one fresh and healthful flower in
Beatrice's hand, there would be room for no further question. With
this idea, he hastened to the florist's, and purchased a bouquet
that was still gemmed with the morning dew-drops.

   It was now the customary hour of his daily interview with Beatrice.
Before descending into the garden, Giovanni failed not to look at
his figure in the mirror; a vanity to be expected in a beautiful young
man, yet, as displaying itself at that troubled and feverish moment,
the token of a certain shallowness of feeling and insincerity of
character. He did gaze, however, and said to himself, that his
features had never before possessed so rich a grace, nor his eyes such
vivacity, nor his cheeks so warm a hue of superabundant life.

   "At least," thought he, "her poison has not yet insinuated itself
into my system. I am no flower to perish in her grasp!"

   With that thought, he turned his eyes on the bouquet, which he
had never once laid aside from his hand. A thrill of indefinable
horror shot through his frame, on perceiving that those dewy flowers
were already beginning to droop; they wore the aspect of things that
had been fresh and lovely, yesterday. Giovanni grew white as marble,
and stood motionless before the mirror, staring at his own
reflection there, as at the likeness of something frightful. He
remembered Baglioni's remark about the fragrance that seemed to
pervade the chamber. It must have been the poison in his breath!
Then he shuddered- shuddered at himself! Recovering from his stupor,
he began to watch, with curious eye, a spider that was busily at work,
hanging its web from the antique cornice of the apartment, crossing
and re-crossing the artful system of interwoven lines, as vigorous and
active a spider as ever dangled from an old ceiling. Giovanni bent
towards the insect, and emitted a deep, long breath. The spider
suddenly ceased its toil; the web vibrated with a tremor originating
in the body of the small artizan. Again Giovanni sent forth a
breath, deeper, longer, and imbued with a venomous feeling out of
his heart; he knew not whether he were wicked or only desperate. The
spider made a convulsive gripe with his limbs, and hung dead across
the window.

   "Accursed! Accursed!" muttered Giovanni, addressing himself.
"Hast thou grown so poisonous, that this deadly insect perishes by thy

   At that moment, a rich, sweet voice came floating up from the
garden: "Giovanni! Giovanni! It is past the hour! Why tarriest thou!
Come down!"

   "Yes," muttered Giovanni again. "She is the only being whom my
breath may not slay! Would that it might!"

   He rushed down, and in an instant, was standing before the bright
and loving eyes of Beatrice. A moment ago, his wrath and despair had
been so fierce that he could have desired nothing so much as to wither
her by a glance. But, with her actual presence, there came
influences which had too real an existence to be at once shaken off;
recollections of the delicate and benign power of her feminine nature,
which had so often enveloped him in a religious calm; recollections of
many a holy and passionate outgush of her heart, when the pure
fountain had been unsealed from its depths, and made visible in its
transparency to his mental eye; recollections which, had Giovanni
known how to estimate them, would have assured him that all this
ugly mystery was but an earthly illusion, and that, whatever mist of
evil might seem to have gathered over her, the real Beatrice was a
heavenly angel. Incapable as he was of such high faith, still her
presence had not utterly lost its magic. Giovanni's rage was quelled
into an aspect of sullen insensibility. Beatrice, with a quick
spiritual sense, immediately felt that there was a gulf of blackness
between them, which neither he nor she could pass. They walked on
together, sad and silent, and came thus to the marble fountain, and to
its pool of water on the ground, in the midst of which grew the
shrub that bore gem-like blossoms. Giovanni was affrighted at the
eager enjoyment- the appetite, as it were- with which he found himself
inhaling the fragrance of the flowers.

   "Beatrice," asked he abruptly, "whence came this shrub!"

   "My father created it," answered she, with simplicity.

   "Created it! created it!" repeated Giovanni. "What mean you,

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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2009, 10:44:02 pm »

Rappaccini's Daughter

"He is a man fearfully acquainted with the secrets of nature,"
replied Beatrice; "and, at the hour when I first drew breath, this
plant sprang from the soil, the offspring of his science, of his
intellect, while I was but his earthly child. Approach it not!"
continued she, observing with terror that Giovanni was drawing
nearer to the shrub. "It has qualities that you little dream of. But
I, dearest Giovanni- I grew up and blossomed with the plant, and was
nourished with its breath. It was my sister, and I loved it with a
human affection: for- alas! hast thou not suspected it? there was an
awful doom." Here Giovanni frowned so darkly upon her that Beatrice
paused and trembled. But her faith in his tenderness reassured her,
and made her blush that she had doubted for an instant.

   "There was an awful doom," she continued- "the effect of my
father's fatal love of science- which estranged me from all society of
my kind. Until Heaven sent thee, dearest Giovanni, Oh! how lonely
was thy poor Beatrice!"

   "Was it a hard doom?" asked Giovanni, fixing his eyes upon her.

   "Only of late have I known how hard it was," answered she tenderly.
"Oh, yes; but my heart was torpid, and therefore quiet."

   Giovanni's rage broke forth from his sullen gloom like a
lightning-flash out of a dark cloud.

   "Accursed one!" cried he, with venomous scorn and anger. "And
finding thy solitude wearisome, thou hast severed me, likewise, from
all the warmth of life, and enticed me into thy region of
unspeakable horror!"

   "Giovanni!" exclaimed Beatrice, turning her large bright eyes
upon his face. The force of his words had not found its way into her
mind; she was merely thunder-struck.

   "Yes, poisonous thing!" repeated Giovanni, beside himself with
passion. "Thou hast done it! Thou hast blasted me! Thou hast filled my
veins with poison! Thou hast made me as hateful, as ugly, as loathsome
and deadly a creature as thyself- a world's wonder of hideous
monstrosity! Now- if our breath be happily as fatal to ourselves as to
all others- let us join our lips in one kiss of unutterable hatred,
and so die!"

   "What has befallen me?" murmured Beatrice, with a low moan out of
her heart. "Holy Virgin pity me, a poor heartbroken child!"

   "Thou! Dost thou pray?" cried Giovanni, still with the same
fiendish scorn. "Thy very prayers, as they come from thy lips, taint
the atmosphere with death. Yes, yes; let us pray! Let us to church,
and dip our fingers in the holy water at the portal! They that come
after us will perish as by a pestilence. Let us sign crosses in the
air! It will be scattering curses abroad in the likeness of holy

   "Giovanni," said Beatrice calmly, for her grief was beyond passion,
"Why dost thou join thyself with me thus in those terrible words? I,
it is true, am the horrible thing thou namest me. But thou! what
hast thou to do, save with one other shudder at my hideous misery,
to go forth out of the garden and mingle with thy race, and forget
that there ever crawled on earth such a monster as poor Beatrice?"

   "Dost thou pretend ignorance?" asked Giovanni, scowling upon her.
"Behold! This power have I gained from the pure daughter of

   There was a swarm of summer-insects flitting through the air, in
search of the food promised by the flower-odors of the fatal garden.
They circled round Giovanni's head, and were evidently attracted
towards him by the same influence which had drawn them, for an
instant, within the sphere of several of the shrubs. He sent forth a
breath among them, and smiled bitterly at Beatrice, as at least a
score of the insects fell dead upon the ground.

   "I see it! I see it!" shrieked Beatrice. "It is my father's fatal
science? No, no, Giovanni; it was not I! Never, never! I dreamed
only to love thee, and be with thee a little time, and so to let
thee pass away, leaving but thine image in mine heart. For,
Giovanni- believe it- though my body be nourished with poison, my
spirit is God's creature, and craves love as its daily food. But my
father! he has united us in this fearful sympathy. Yes; spurn me!
tread upon me! kill me! Oh, what is death, after such words as
thine? But it was not I! Not for a world of bliss would I have done

   Giovanni's passion had exhausted itself in its outburst from his
lips. There now came across him a sense, mournful, and not without
tenderness, of the intimate and peculiar relationship between Beatrice
and himself. They stood, as it were, in an utter solitude, which would
be made none the less solitary by the densest throng of human life.
Ought not, then, the desert of humanity around them to press this
insulated pair closer together? If they should be cruel to one
another, who was there to be kind to them? Besides, thought
Giovanni, might there not still be a hope of his returning within
the limits of ordinary nature, and leading Beatrice- the redeemed
Beatrice- by the hand? Oh, weak, and selfish, and unworthy spirit,
that could dream of an earthly union and earthly happiness as
possible, after such deep love had been so bitterly wronged as was
Beatrice's love by Giovanni's blighting words! No, no; there could
be no such hope. She must pass heavily, with that broken heart, across
the borders- she must bathe her hurts in some fount of Paradise, and
forget her grief in the light of immortality- and there be well!

   But Giovanni did not know it.

   "Dear Beatrice, said he, approaching her, while she shrank away, as
always at his approach, but now with a different impulse- "dearest
Beatrice, our fate is not yet so desperate. Behold! There is a
medicine, potent, as a wise physician has assured me, and almost
divine in its efficacy. It is composed of ingredients the most
opposite to those by which thy awful father has brought this
calamity upon thee and me. It is distilled of blessed herbs. Shall
we not quaff it together, and thus be purified from evil?"

   "Give it me!" said Beatrice, extending her hand to receive the
little silver phial which Giovanni took from his bosom. She added,
with a peculiar emphasis: "I will drink- but do thou await the

   She put Baglioni's antidote to her lips; and, at the same moment,
the figure of Rappaccini emerged from the portal, and came slowly
towards the marble fountain. As he drew near, the pale man of
science seemed to gaze with a triumphant expression at the beautiful
youth and maiden, as might an artist who should spend his life in
achieving a picture or a group of statuary, and finally be satisfied
with his success. He paused- his bent form grew erect with conscious
power, he spread out his hand over them, in the attitude of a father
imploring a blessing upon his children. But those were the same
hands that had thrown poison into the stream of their lives!
Giovanni trembled. Beatrice shuddered very nervously, and pressed
her hand upon her heart.

   "My daughter," said Rappaccini, "thou art no longer lonely in the
world! Pluck one of those precious gems from thy sister shrub, and bid
thy bridegroom wear it in his bosom. It will not harm him now! My
science, and the sympathy between thee and him, have so wrought within
his system, that he now stands apart from common men, as thou dost,
daughter of my pride and triumph, from ordinary women. Pass on,
then, through the world, most dear to one another, and dreadful to all

   "My father," said Beatrice, feebly- and still, as she spoke, she
kept her hand upon her heart- "wherefore didst thou inflict this
miserable doom upon thy child?"

   "Miserable!" exclaimed Rappaccini. "What mean you, foolish girl?
Dost thou deem it misery to be endowed with marvellous gifts,
against which no power nor strength could avail an enemy? Misery, to
be able to quell the mightiest with a breath? Misery, to be as
terrible as thou art beautiful? Wouldst thou, then, have preferred the
condition of a weak woman, exposed to all evil, and capable of none?"

   "I would fain have been loved, not feared, murmured Beatrice,
sinking down upon the ground. "But now it matters not; I am going,
father, where the evil, which thou hast striven to mingle with my
being, will pass away like a dream- like the fragrance of these
poisonous flowers, which will no longer taint my breath among the
flowers of Eden. Farewell, Giovanni! Thy words of hatred are like lead
within my heart- but they, too, will fall away as I ascend. Oh, was
there not, from the first, more poison in thy nature than in mine?"

   To Beatrice- so radically had her earthly part been wrought upon by
Rappaccini's skill- as poison had been life, so the powerful
antidote was death. And thus the poor victim of man's ingenuity and of
thwarted nature, and of the fatality that attends all such efforts
of perverted wisdom, perished there, at the feet of her father and
Giovanni. Just at that moment, Professor Pietro Baglioni looked
forth from the window, and called loudly, in a tone of triumph mixed
with horror, to the thunder-stricken man of science: "Rappaccini!
Rappaccini! And is this the upshot of your experiment?"

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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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Posts: 1

« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2009, 03:31:05 am »

Nice choices.  Is THE ENSOULED VIOLIN by Mme Blavatsky written by Helena Blavatsky of the Lemurian fame?
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« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2009, 04:19:40 am »

Hi McCradic

Yes, one and the same.
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Superhero Member
Posts: 1603

« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2009, 04:21:49 am »

Here's an extradimensional tale sure to stretch the imagination.

A Victim of Higher Space
 by Algernon Blackwood

"THERE'S a hextraordinary gentleman to see you, sir," said the new man.

   "Why 'extraordinary'?" asked Dr. Silence, drawing the tips of his thin
fingers through his brown beard. His eyes twinkled pleasantly. "Why
'extraordinary,' Barker?" he repeated encouragingly, noticing the perplexed
expression in the man's eyes.

   "He's so--so thin, sir. I could hardly see 'im at all--at first. He was
inside the house before I could ask the name," he added, remembering strict

   "And who brought him here?"

   "He come alone, sir, in a closed cab. He pushed by me before I could say a
word--making no noise not what I could hear. He seemed to move very soft----"

   The man stopped short with obvious embarrassment, as though he had already
said enough to jeopardise his new situation, but trying hard to show that he
remembered the instructions and warnings he had received with regard to the
admission of strangers not properly accredited.

   "And where is the gentleman now?" asked Dr. Silence, turning away to conceal
his amusement.

   "I really couldn't exactly say, sir. I left him standing in the 'all----"

   The doctor looked up sharply. "But why in the hall, Barker? Why not in the
waiting-room?" He fixed his piercing though kindly eyes on the man's face. "Did
he frighten you?" he asked quickly.

   "I think he did, sir, if I may say so. I seemed to lose sight of him, as it
were----" The man stammered, evidently convinced by now that he had earned his
dismissal. "He come in so funny, just like a cold wind," he added boldly,
setting his heels at attention and looking his master full in the face.

   The doctor made an internal note of the man's halting description; he was
pleased that the slight evidence of intuition which had induced him to engage
Barker had not entirely failed at the first trial. Dr. Silence sought for this
qualification in all his assistants, from secretary to serving-man, and if it
surrounded him with a somewhat singular crew, the drawbacks were more than
compensated for on the whole by their occasional flashes of insight.

   "So the gentleman made you feel queer, did he?"

   "That was it, I think, sir," repeated the man stolidly.

   "And he brings no kind of introduction to me--no letter or anything?" asked
the doctor, with feigned surprise, as though he knew what was coming.

   The man fumbled, both in mind and pockets, and finally produced an envelope.

   "I beg pardon, sir," he said, greatly flustered; "the gentleman handed me
this for you."

   It was a note from a discerning friend, who had never yet sent him a case
that was not vitally interesting from one point or another.

   "Please see the bearer of this note," the brief message ran, "though I doubt
if even you can do much to help him."

   John Silence paused a moment, so as to gather from the mind of the writer
all that lay behind the brief words of the letter. Then he looked up at his
servant with a graver expression than he had yet worn.

   "Go back and find this gentleman," he said, "and show him into the green
study. Do not reply to his question, or speak more than actually necessary; but
think kind, helpful, sympathetic thoughts as strongly as you can, Barker. You
remember what I told you about the importance of thinking, when I engaged you.
Put curiosity out of your mind, and think gently, sympathetically,
affectionately, if you can."

   He smiled, and Barker, who had recovered his composure in the doctor's
presence, bowed silently and went out.

   There were two different reception rooms in Dr. Silence's house. One,
intended for persons who imagined they needed spiritual assistance when really
they were only candidates for the asylum, had padded walls, and was well
supplied with various concealed contrivances by means of which sudden violence
could be instantly met and overcome. It was, however, rarely used. The other,
intended for the reception of genuine cases of spiritual distress and
out-of-the-way afflictions of a psychic nature, was entirely draped and
furnished in a soothing deep green, calculated to induce calmness and repose of
mind. And this room was the one in which Dr. Silence interviewed the majority of
his "queer" cases, and the one into which he had directed Barker to show his
present caller.

   To begin with, the arm-chair in which the patient was always directed to
sit, was nailed to the floor, since its immovability tended to impart this same
excellent characteristic to the occupant. Patients invariably grew excited when
talking about themselves, and their excitement tended to confuse their thoughts
and to exaggerate their language. The immobility of the chair helped to
counteract this. After repeated endeavours to drag it forward, or push it back,
they ended by resigning themselves to sitting quietly. And with the futility of
fidgeting there followed a calmer state of mind.

   Upon the floor, and at intervals in the wall immediately behind, were
certain tiny green buttons, practically unnoticeable, which on being pressed
permitted a soothing and persuasive narcotic to rise invisibly about the
occupant of the chair. The effect upon the excitable patient was rapid,
admirable, and harmless. The green study was further provided with a secret
spy-hole; for John Silence liked when possible to observe his patient's face
before it had assumed that mask the features of the human countenance invariably
wear in the presence of another person. A man sitting alone wears a psychic
expression; and this expression is the man himself. It disappears the moment
another person joins him. And Dr. Silence often learned more from a few moments'
secret observation of a face than from hours of conversation with its owner

   A very light, almost a dancing step followed Barker's heavy tread towards
the green room, and a moment afterwards the man came in and announced that the
gentleman was waiting. He was still pale and his manner nervous.

   "Never mind, Barker," the doctor said kindly; "if you were not intuitive the
man would have had no effect upon you at all. You only need training and
development. And when you have learned to interpret these feelings and
sensations better, you will feel no fear, but only a great sympathy."

   "Yes, sir; thank you sir!" And Barker bowed and made his escape, while Dr.
Silence, an amused smile lurking about the corners of his mouth, made his way
noiselessly down the passage and put his eye to the spy-hole in the door of the
green study.

   This spy-hole was so placed that it commanded a view of almost the entire
room, and, looking through it, the doctor saw a hat, gloves, and umbrella lying
on a chair by the table, but searched at first in vain for their owner.

   The windows were both closed and a brisk fire burned in the grate. There
were various signs--signs intelligible at least to a keenly intuitive soul--that
the room was occupied, yet so far as human beings were concerned, it seemed
undeniably empty. No one sat in the chairs; no one stood on the mat before the
fire; there was no sign even that a patient was anywhere close against the wall,
examining the Böcklin reproduction--as patients so often did when they thought
they were alone--and therefore rather difficult to see from the spy-hole.
Ordinarily speaking, there was no one in the room. It was unoccupied.

   Yet Dr. Silence was quite well aware that a human being was in the room. His
sensitive system never failed to let him know the proximity of an incarnate or
discarnate being. Even in the dark he could tall that. And he now knew
positively that his patient, the patient who had alarmed Barker, and had then
tripped down the corridor with that dancing footstep--was somewhere concealed
within the four walls commanded by his spy-hole. He also realised--and this was
most unusual--that this individual whom he desired to watch knew that he was
being watched. And, further, that the stranger himself was also watching in his
turn. In fact, that it was he, the doctor, who was being observed--and by an
observer as keen and trained as himself.

   An inkling of the true state of the case began to dawn upon him, and he was
on the verge of entering--indeed, his hand already touched the door-knob--when
his eye, still glued to the spy-hole, detected a slight movement. Directly
opposite, between him and the fireplace, something stirred. He watched very
attentively and made certain that he was not mistaken. An object on the
mantelpiece--it was a blue vase--disappeared

from view. It passed out of sight together with the portion of the marble
mantelpiece on which it rested. Next, that part of the fire and grate and brass
fender immediately below, it vanished entirely, as though a slice had been taken
clean out of them.

   Dr. Silence then understood that something between him and these objects was
slowly coming into being, something that concealed them and obstructed his
vision by inserting itself in the line of sight between them and himself.

   He quietly awaited further results before going in.

   First he saw a thin, perpendicular line tracing itself from just above the
height of the clock and continuing downwards till it reached the woolly
fire-mat. This line grew wider, broadened, grew solid. It was no shadow; it was
something substantial. It defined itself more and more. Then suddenly, at the
top of the line, and about on a level with the face of the clock, he saw a small
luminous disc gazing steadily at him. It was a human eye, looking straight into
his own, pressed there against the spy-hole. And it was bright with
intelligence. Dr. Silence held his breath for a moment--and stared back at it.

   Then, like someone moving out of deep shadow into light, he saw the figure
of a man come sliding sideways into view, a whitish face following the eye, and
the perpendicular line he had first observed broadening out and developing into
the complete figure of a human being. It was the patient. He had apparently been
standing there in front of the fire all the time. A second eye had followed the
first, and both of them stared steadily at the spy-hole, sharply concentrated,
yet with a sly twinkle of humour and amusement that made it impossible for the
doctor to maintain his position any longer.

   He opened the door and went in quickly. As he did so he noticed for the
first time the sound of a German band coming in noisily through the open
ventilators. In some intuitive, unaccountable fashion the music connected itself
with the patient he was about to interview. This sort of prevision was not
unfamiliar to him. It always explained itself later.

   The man, he saw, was of middle age and of very ordinary appearance; so
ordinary, in fact, that he was difficult to describe--his only peculiarity being
his extreme thinness. Pleasant--that is, good--vibrations issued from his
atmosphere and met Dr. Silence as he advanced to greet him, yet vibrations alive
with currents and discharges betraying the perturbed and disordered condition of
his mind and brain. There was evidently something wholly out of the usual in the
state of his thoughts. Yet, though strange, it was not altogether distressing;
it was not the impression that the broken and violent atmosphere of the insane
produces upon the mind. Dr. Silence realised in a flash that here was a case of
absorbing interest that might require all his powers to handle properly.

   "I was watching you through my little peep-hole--as you saw," he began, with
a pleasant smile, advancing to shake hands. "I find it of the greatest
assistance sometimes----"

   But the patient interrupted him at once. His voice was hurried and had odd,
shrill changes in it, breaking from high to low in unexpected fashion. One
moment it thundered, the next it almost squeaked.

   "I understand without explanation," he broke in rapidly. "You get the true
note of a man in that way--when he thinks himself unobserved. I quite agree.
Only, in my case, I fear, you saw very little. My case, as you of course grasp,
Dr. Silence, is extremely peculiar, uncomfortably peculiar. Indeed, unless Sir
William had positively assured me----"

   "My friend has sent you to me," the doctor interrupted gravely, with a
gentle note of authority, "and that is quite sufficient. Pray, be seated,

   "Mudge--Racine Mudge," returned the other.

   "Take this comfortable one, Mr. Mudge," leading him to the fixed chair, "and
tell me your condition in your own way and at your own pace. My whole day is at
your service if you require it."

   Mr. Mudge moved towards the chair in question and then hesitated.

   "You will promise me not to use the narcotic buttons," he said, before
sitting down. "I do not need them. Also I ought to mention that anything you
think of vividly will reach my mind. That is apparently part of my peculiar
case." He sat down with a sigh and arranged his thin legs and body into a
position of comfort. Evidently he was very sensitive to the thoughts of others,
for the picture of the green buttons had only entered the doctor's mind for a
second, yet the other had instantly snapped it up. Dr. Silence noticed, too that
Mr. Mudge held on tightly with both hands to the arms of the chair.

   "I'm rather glad the chair is nailed to the floor," he remarked, as he
settled himself more comfortably. "It suits me admirably. The fact is---and this
is my case in a nutshell--which is all that a doctor of your marvellous
development requires--the fact is, Dr. Silence, I am a victim of Higher Space.
That's what"s the matter with me--Higher Space!"

   The two looked at each other for a space in silence, the little patient
holding tightly to the arms of the chair which "suited him admirably", and
looking up with staring eyes, his atmosphere positively trembling with the waves
of some unknown activity; while the doctor smiled kindly and sympathetically,
and put his whole person as far as possible into the mental condition of the

   "Higher Space," repeated Mr. Mudge, "that's what it is. Now, do you think
you can help me with that?"

   There was a pause during which the men's eyes steadily searched down below
the surface of their respective personalities. Then Dr. Silence spoke.

   "I am quite sure I can help," he answered quietly; "sympathy must always
help, and suffering always claims my sympathy. I see you have suffered cruelly.
You must tell me all about your case, and when I hear the gradual steps by which
you reached this strange condition, I have no doubt I can be of assistance to

   He drew a chair up beside his interlocutor and laid a hand on his shoulder
for a moment. His whole being radiated kindness, intelligence, desire to help.

   "For instance," he went on, "I feel sure it was the result of no mere chance
that you became familiar with the terrors of what you term Higher Space; for
higher space is no mere external measurement. It is, of course, a spiritual
state, a spiritual condition, an inner development, and one that we must
recognise as abnormal, since it is beyond the reach of the senses at the present
stage of evolution. Higher Space is a mystical state."

   "Oh!" cried the other, rubbing his birdlike hands with pleasure, "the relief
it is to me to talk to someone who can understand! Of course what you say is the
utter truth. And you are right that no mere chance led me to my present
condition, but, on the other hand, prolonged and deliberate study. Yet chance in
a sense now governs it. I mean, my entering the condition of higher space seems
to depend upon the chance of this and that circumstance." He sighed and paused a
moment. "For instance," he continued, starting, "the mere sound of that German
band sent me off. Not that all music will do so, but certain sounds, certain
vibrations, at once key me up to the requisite pitch, and off I go. Wagner's
music always does it, and that band must have been playing a stray bit of
Wagner. But I'll come to all that later. Only, first"--he smiled
deprecating]y--"I must ask you to send away your man from the spy-hole."

   John Silence looked up with a start, for Mr. Mudge's back was to the door,
and there was no mirror. He saw the brown eye of Barker glued to the little
circle of glass, and he crossed the room without a word and snapped down the
black shutter provided for the purpose, and then heard Barker shuffle away along
the passage.

   "Now," continued the little man in the chair, "I can go on. You have managed
to put me completely at my ease, and I feel I may tell you my whole case without
shame or reserve. You will understand. But you must be patient with me if I go
into details that are already familiar to you--details of higher space, I
mean--and if I seem stupid when I have to describe things that transcend the
power of language and are really therefore indescribable."

   "My dear friend," put in the other calmly, "that goes without saying. To
know higher space is an experience that defies description, and one is obliged
to make use of more or less intelligible symbols. But, pray, proceed. Your vivid
thoughts will tell me more than your halting words."

   An immense sigh of relief proceeded from the little figure half lost in the
depths of the chair. Such intelligent sympathy meeting him half-way was a new
experience, and it touched his heart at once. He leaned back, relaxing his tight
hold of the arms, and began in his thin, scale-like voice.

   "My mother was a Frenchwoman, and my father an Essex bargeman," he said
abruptly. "Hence my name--Racine and Mudge. My father died before I ever saw
him. My mother inherited money from her Bordeaux relations, and when she died
soon after, I was left alone with wealth and a strange freedom. I had no
guardian, trustees, sisters, brothers, or any connection in the world to look
after me. I grew up, therefore, utterly without education. This much was to my
advantage; I learned none of that deceitful rubbish taught in schools, and so
had nothing to unlearn when I awakened to my true love--mathematics, higher
mathematics and higher geometry. These, however, I seemed to know instinctively.
It was like the memory of what I had deeply studied before; the principles were
in my blood, and I simply raced through the ordinary stages, and beyond, and
then did the same with geometry. Afterwards, when I read the books on these
subjects, I understood how swift and undeviating the knowledge had come back to
me. It was simply memory. It was simply re-collecting the memories of what I had
known before in a previous existence and required no books to teach me."

   In his growing excitement, Mr. Mudge attempted to drag the chair forward a
little nearer to his listener, and then smiled faintly as he resigned himself
instantly again to its immobility, and plunged anew into the recital of his
singular "disease".

   "The audacious speculations of Bolyai, the amazing theories of Gauss--that
through a point more than one line could be drawn parallel to a given line; the
possibility that the angles of a triangle are together greater than two right
angles, if drawn upon immense curvatures--the breathless intuitions of Beltrami
and Lobatchewsky--all these I hurried through, and emerged, panting but
unsatisfied, upon the verge of my--my world, my higher space possibilities--in a
word, my disease!

   "How I got there," he resumed after a brief pause, during which he appeared
to be listening nervously for an approaching sound, "is more than I can put
intelligibly into words. I can only hope to leave your mind with an intuitive
comprehension of the possibility of what I say.

   "Here, however, came a change. At this point I was no longer absorbing the
fruits of studies I had made before; it was the beginning of new efforts to
learn for the first time, and I had to go slowly and laboriously through
terrible work. Here I sought for the theories and speculations of others. But
books were few and far between, and with the exception of one man--a 'dreamer,'
the world called him--whose audacity and piercing intuition amazed and delighted
me beyond description, I found no one to guide or help.

   "You, of course, Dr. Silence, understand something of what I am driving at
with these stammering words, though you cannot perhaps yet guess what depths of
pain my new knowledge brought me to, nor why an acquaintance with a new
dimension of space should prove a source of misery and terror."

   Mr. Racine Mudge, remembering that the chair would not move, did the next
best thing he could in his desire to draw nearer to the attentive man facing
him, and sat forward upon the very edge of the cushions, crossing his legs and
gesticulating with both hands as though he saw into this region of new space he
was attempting to describe, and might any moment tumble into it bodily from the
edge of the chair and disappear from view. John Silence, separated from him by
three aces, sat with his eyes fixed upon the thin white face opposite, noting
every word and every gesture with deep attention.

   "This room we now sit in, Dr. Silence, has one side open to space--to higher
space. A closed box only seems closed. There is a way in and out of a soap
bubble without breaking the skin."

   "You tell me no new thing," the doctor interposed gently.

   "Hence, if higher space exists and our world borders upon it and lies
partially in it, if follows necessarily that we see only portions of all
objects. We never see their true and complete shape. We see three measurements,
but not their fourth. The new direction is concealed from us, and when I hold
this book and move my hand all round it I have not really made a complete
circuit. We only perceive those portions of any object which exist in our three
dimensions, the rest escapes us. But, once learn to see in higher space, and
objects will appear as they actually are. Only they will thus be hardly

"Now you may begin to grasp something of what I am coming to."

   "I am beginning to understand something of what you must have suffered,"
observed the doctor soothingly, "for I have made similar experiments myself, and
only stopped just in time----"

   "You are the one man in all the world who can understand, and sympathise,"
exclaimed Mr. Mudge, grasping his hand and holding it tightly while he spoke.
The nailed chair prevented further excitability.

   "Well," he resumed, after a moments' pause, "I procured the implements and
the coloured blocks for practical experiment, and I followed the instructions
carefully till I had arrived at an imaginative conception of four dimensional
space. The tessaract, the figure whose boundaries are cubes, I knew by heart.
That is to say, I knew it and saw it mentally, for my eye, of course, could
never take in a new measurement, nor my hands and feet handle it.

   "So, at least, I thought," he added, making a wry face. "I had reached the
stage, you see, when I could imagine in a new dimension. I was able to conceive
the shape of that new figure which is intrinsically different to all we
know--the shape of the tessaract. I could perceive in four dimensions. When,
therefore, I looked at a cube I could see all its sides at once. Its top was not
foreshortened, nor its farther side and base invisible. I saw the whole thing
out flat, so to speak. Moreover, I also saw its content--its in-sides."

   "You were not yourself able to enter this new world?" interrupted Dr.

   "Not then. I was only able to conceive intuitively what it was like and how
exactly it must look. Later, when I slipped in there and saw objects in their
entirety, unlimited by the paucity of our poor three measurements, I very nearly
lost my life. For, you see, space does not stop at a single new dimension, a
fourth. It extends in all possible new ones, and we must conceive it as
containing any number of new dimensions. In other words, there is no space at
all, but only a condition. But, meanwhile, I had come to grasp the strange fact
that the objects in our normal world appear to us only partially."

   Mr. Mudge moved farther forward till he was balanced dangerously on the very
edge of the chair. "From this starting point," he resumed, "I began my studies
and experiments, and continued them for years. I had money, and I was without
friends. I lived in solitude and experimented. My intellect, of course, had
little part in the work, for intellectually it was all unthinkable. Never was
the limitation of mere reason more plainly demonstrated. It was mystically,
intuitively, spiritually that I began to advance. And what I learnt, and knew,
and did is all impossible to put into language, since it describes experiences
transcending the experiences of men. It is only some of the results--what you
would call the symptoms of my disease--that I can give you, and even these must
often appear absurd contradictions and impossible paradoxes.

   "I can only tell you, Dr. Silence"--his manner became grave suddenly--"that
I reached sometimes a point of view whence all the great puzzles of the world
became plain to me, and I understood what they call in the Yoga books 'The Great
Heresy of Separateness'; why all great teachers have urged the necessity of man
loving his neighbour as himself; how men are all really one; and why the utter
loss of self is necessary to salvation and the discovery of the true life of the

   He paused a moment and drew breath.

   "Your speculations have been my own long ago," the doctor said quietly. "I
fully realise the force of your words. Men are doubtless not separate at all--in
the sense they imagine."

   "All this about the very much higher space I only dimly, very dimly
conceived, of course," the other went on, raising his voice again by jerks; "but
what did happen to me was the humbler accident of--the simpler disaster--oh
dear, how shall I put it----?"

   He stammered and showed visible signs of distress.

   "It was simply this," he resumed with a sudden rush of words, "that,
accidentally, as the result of my years of experiment, I one day slipped bodily
into the next world, the world of four dimensions, yet without knowing precisely
how I got there, or how I could get back again. I discovered, that is, that my
ordinary three-dimensional body was but an expression--a partial projection--of
my higher four-dimensional body!

   "Now you understand what I meant much earlier in our talk when I spoke of
chance. I cannot control my entrance or exit. Certain people, certain human
atmospheres, certain wandering forces, thoughts, desires even--the radiations of
certain combinations of colour, and above all, the vibrations of certain kinds
of music, will suddenly throw me into a state of what I can only describe as an
intense and terrific inner vibration--and behold I am off! Off in the direction
at right angles to all our known directions! Off in the direction the cube takes
when it begins to trace the outlines of the new figure, the tessaract! Off into
my breathless and semi-divine higher space! Off, inside myself, into the world
of four dimensions!"

   He gasped and dropped back into the depths of the immovable chair.

   "And there," he whispered, his voice issuing from among the cushions, "there
I have to stay until these vibrations subside, or until they do something which
I cannot find words to describe properly or intelligibly to you--and then,
behold, I am back again. First, that is, I disappear. Then I reappear.
Only,"--he sighed--"I cannot control my entrance nor my exit."

   "Just so," exclaimed Dr. Silence, "and that is why a few---"

   "Why a few moments ago," interrupted Mr. Mudge, taking the words out of his
mouth, "you found me gone, and then saw me return. The music of that wretched
German band sent me off. Your intense thinking about me brought me back--when
the band had stopped its Wagner. I saw you approach the peep-hole and I saw
Barker's intention of doing so later. For me no interiors are hidden. I see
inside. When in that state the content of your mind, as of your body, is open to
me as the day. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear!"

   Mr. Mudge stopped and mopped his brow. A light trembling ran over the
surface of his small body like wind over grass. He still held tightly to the
arms of the chair.

   "At first," he presently resumed, "my new experiences were so vividly
interesting that I felt no alarm. There was no room for it. The alarm came a
little later."

   "Then you actually penetrated far enough into that state to experience
yourself as a normal portion of it?" asked the doctor, leaning forward, deeply

   Mr. Mudge nodded a perspiring face in reply.

   "I did," he whispered, "undoubtedly I did. I am coming to all that. It began
first at night, when I realised that sleep brought no loss of consciousness----"

   "The spirit, of course, can never sleep. Only the body becomes unconscious,"
interposed John Silence.

   "Yes, we know that--theoretically. At night, of course, the spirit is active
elsewhere, and we have no memory of where and how, simply because the brain
stays behind and receives no record. But I found the, while remaining conscious,
I also retained memory. I had attained to the state of continuous consciousness,
for at night regularly, with the first approaches of drowsiness, I entered
nolens volens the four dimensional world.

   "For a time this happened frequently, and I could not control it; though
later I found a way to regulate it better. Apparently sleep is unnecessary in
the higher--the four dimensional--body. Yes, perhaps. But I should infinitely
have preferred dull sleep to the knowledge. For, unable to control my movements,
I wandered to and fro, attracted owing to my partial development and premature
arrival, to parts of this new world that alarmed me more and more. It was the
awful waste and drift of a monstrous world, so utterly different to all we know
and see that I cannot even hint at the nature of the sights and objects and
beings in it. More than that, I cannot even remember them. I cannot now picture
them to myself even, but can recall only the memory of the impression they made
upon me, the horror and devastating terror of it all. To be in several places at
once, for instance----"

   "Perfectly," interrupted John Silence, noticing the increase of the other's
excitement, "I understand exactly. But now, please, tell me a little more of
this alarm you experienced, and how it affected you."

   "It's not the disappearing and reappearing per se that I mind," continued
Mr. Mudge, "so much as certain other things. It's seeing people and objects in
their weird entirety, in their true and complete shapes, that is so distressing.
It introduced me to a world of monsters. Horses, dogs, cats, all of which I
loved; people, trees, children; all that I have considered beautiful in
life--everything, from a human face to a cathedral--appear to me in a different
shape and aspect to all I have known before. Instead of seeing their partial
expression in three dimensions, I saw them complete--in four. I cannot perhaps
convince you why this should be terrible, but I assure you that it is so. To
hear the human voice proceeding from this novel appearance which I scarcely
recognise as a human body is ghastly, simply ghastly. To see inside everything
and everybody is a form of insight peculiarly distressing. To be so confused in
geography as to find myself one moment at the North Pole, and the next at
Clapham Junction--or possibly at both places simultaneously--is absurdly
terrifying. Your imagination will readily furnish other details without my
multiplying my experiences now. But you have no idea what it all means, and how
I suffer."

   Mr. Mudge paused in his panting account and lay back in his chair. He still
held tightly to the arms as though they could keep him in the world of sanity
and three measurements, and only now and again released his left hand in order
to mop his face. He looked very thin and white and oddly unsubstantial, and he
stared about him as though he saw into this other space he had been talking

   John Silence, too, felt warm. He had listened to every word and had made
many notes. The presence of this man had an exhilarating effect upon him. It
seemed as if Mr. Racine Mudge still carried about with him something of that
breathless higher-space condition he had been describing. At any rate, Dr.
Silence had himself advanced sufficiently far to realise that the visions of
this extraordinary little person had a basis of truth for their origin.

   After a pause that prolonged itself into minutes, he crossed the room and
unlocked a drawer in a bookcase, taking out a small book with a red cover. It
had a lock to it, and he produced a key out of his pocket and proceeded to open
the covers. The bright eyes of Mr. Mudge never left him for a single second.

   "It almost seems a pity," he said at length, "to cure you, Mr. Mudge. You
are on the way to discovery of great things. Though you may lose your life in
the process--that is, your life here in the world of three dimensions--you would
lose thereby nothing of great value--you will pardon my apparent rudeness, I
know--and you might gain what is infinitely greater. Your suffering, of course,
lies in the fact that you alternate between the two worlds and are never wholly
in one or the other. Also, I rather imagine, though I cannot be certain of this
from any personal experiments, that you have here and there penetrated even into
space of more than four dimensions, and have hence experienced the terror you
speak of."

   The perspiring son of the Essex bargeman and the woman of Normandy bent his
head several times in assent, but uttered no word in reply.

   "Some strange psychic predisposition, dating no doubt from one of your
former lives, has favoured the development of your 'disease'; and the fact that
you had no normal training at school or college, no leading by the poor
intellect into the culs-de-sac falsely called knowledge, has further caused your
exceedingly rapid movement along the lines of direct inner experience. None of
the knowledge you have foreshadowed has come to you through the senses, of

   Mr. Mudge, sitting in his immovable chair, began to tremble slightly. A wind
again seemed to pass over his surface and again to set it curiously in motion
like a field of grass.

   "You are merely talking to gain time," he said hurriedly, in a shaking
voice. "This thinking aloud delays us. I see ahead what you are coming to, only
please be quick, for something is going to happen. A band is again corning down
the street, and if it plays--if it plays Wagner--I shall be off in a twinkling."

   "Precisely. I will be quick. I was leading up to the point of how to effect
your cure. The way is this: You must simply learn to block the
entrances--prevent the centres acting."

   "True, true utterly true!" exclaimed the little man, dodging about nervously
in the depths of the chair. "But how, in the name of space, can that be done?"

   "By concentration. They are all within you, these centres, although outer
causes such as colour, music and other things lead you towards them. These
external things you cannot hope to destroy, but once the entrances are blocked,
they will lead you only to bricked walls and closed channels. You will no longer
be able to find the way."

   "Quick, quick!" cried the bobbing figure in the chair. "How is this
concentration to be effected?"

   "This little book," continued Dr. Silence calmly, "will explain to you the
way." He tapped the cover. "Let me now read out to you certain simple
instructions, composed, as I see you divine, entirely from my own personal
experiences in the same direction. Follow these instructions and you will no
longer enter the state of higher space. The entrances will be blocked

   Mr. Mudge sat bolt upright in his chair to listen, and John Silence cleared
his throat and began to read slowly in a very distinct voice.

   But before he had uttered a dozen words, something happened. A sound of
street music entered the room through the open ventilators, for a band had begun
to play in the stable mews at the back of the house--the March from Tannhäuser.
Odd as it may seem that a German band should twice within the space of an hour
enter the same mews and play Wagner, it was nevertheless the fact.

   Mr. Racine Mudge heard it. He uttered a sharp, squeaking cry and twisted his
arms with nervous energy round the chair. A piteous look that was not far from
tears spread over his white face. Grey shadows followed it--the grey of fear. He
began to struggle convulsively.

   "Hold me fast! Catch me! For God's sake, keep me here! I'm on the rush
already. Oh, it's frightful!" he cried in tones of anguish, his voice as thin as
a reed.

   Dr. Silence made a plunge forward to seize him, but in a flash, before he
could cover the space between them, Mr. Racine Mudge, screaming and struggling,
seemed to shoot past him into invisibility. He disappeared like an arrow from a
bow propelled at infinite speed, and his voice no longer sounded in the external
air, but seemed in some curious way to make itself heard somewhere within the
depths of the doctor's own being. It was almost like a faint singing cry in his
head, like a voice of dream, a voice of vision and unreality.

   "Alcohol, alcohol!" it cried faintly, with distance in it, "give me alcohol!
It's the quickest way. Alcohol, before I'm out of reach!"

   The doctor, accustomed to rapid decisions and even more rapid action,
remembered that a brandy flask stood upon the mantelpiece, and in less than a
second he had seized it and was holding it out towards the space above the chair
recently occupied by the visible Mudge. But, before his very eyes, and long ere
he could unscrew the metal stopper, he saw the contents of the closed glass
phial sink and lessen as though someone were drinking violently and greedily of
the liquor within.

   "Thanks! Enough! It deadens the vibrations!" cried the faint voice in his
interior, as he withdrew the flask and set it back upon the mantelpiece. He
understood that in Mudge's present condition one side of the flask was open to
space and he could drink without removing the stopper. He could hardly have had
a more interesting proof of what he had been hearing described at such length.

   But the next moment--the very same moment it almost seemed--the German band
stopped midway in its tune--and there was Mr. Mudge back in his chair again,
gasping and panting!

   "Quick!" he shrieked, "stop that band! Send it away! Catch hold of me! Block
the entrances! Block the entrances! Give me the red book! Oh, oh, oh-h-h-h!!!"

   The music had begun again. It was merely a temporary interruption. The
Tannhäuser March started again, this time at a tremendous pace that made it
sound like a rapid two-step, as though the instruments played against time

   But the brief interruption gave Dr. Silence a moment in which to collect his
scattering thoughts, and before the band had got through half a bar, he had
flung forward upon the chair and held Mr. Racine Mudge, the struggling little
victim of Higher Space, in a grip of iron. His arms went all round his
diminutive person, taking in a good part of the chair at the same time. He was
not a big man, yet he seemed to smother Mudge completely.

   Yet, even as he did so, and felt the wriggling form underneath him, it began
to melt and slip away like air or water. The wood of the armchair somehow
disentangled itself from between his own arms and those of Mudge. The phenomenon
known as the passage of matter through matter took place. The little man seemed
actually to be interfused with the other's being. Dr. Silence could just see his
face beneath him. It puckered and grew dark as though from some great internal
effort. He heard the thin, reedy voice crying his ear to "Block the entrances,
block the entrances!" and then--but how in the world describe what is

   John Silence half rose up to watch. Racine Mudge, his face distorted beyond
all recognition, was making a marvellous inward movement, as though doubling
back upon himself. He turned funnel-wise like water in a whirling vortex, and
then appeared to break up somewhat as a reflection breaks up and divides in a
distorting convex mirror. He went neither forward nor backward, neither to the
right nor the left, neither up nor down. But he went. He went utterly. He simply
flashed away out of sight like a vanishing projectile.

   All but one leg! Dr. Silence just had the time and the presence of mind to
seize upon the left ankle and boot as it disappeared, and to this he held on for
several seconds like grim death. Yet all the time he knew it was a foolish and
useless thing to do.

   The foot was in his grasp one moment, and the next it seemed--this was the
only way he could describe it--inside his own skin and bones, and at the same
time outside his hand and all round it. It seemed mingled in some amazing way
with his own flesh and blood. Then it was gone, and he was tightly grasping a
mere draught of heated air.

   "Gone! gone! gone!" cried a faint, whispering voice somewhere deep within
his own consciousness. "Lost! lost! lost!" it repeated, growing fainter and
fainter till at length it vanished into nothing and the last signs of Mr. Racine
Mudge vanished with it.

   John Silence locked his red book and replaced it in the cabinet, which he
fastened with a click, and when Barker answered the bell he inquired if Mr.
Mudge had left a card upon the table. It appeared that he had, and when the
servant returned with it, Dr. Silence read the address and made a note of it. It
was in North London.

   "Mr. Mudge has gone," he said quietly to Barker, noticing his expression of

   "He's not taken his 'at with him, sir."

   "Mr. Mudge requires no hat where he is now," continued the doctor, stooping
to poke the fire. "But he may return for it----"

   "And the humbrella, sir."

   "And the umbrella."

   "He didn't go out my way, sir, if you please," stuttered the amazed servant,
his curiosity overcoming his nervousness.

   "Mr. Mudge has his own way of coming and going, and prefers it. If he
returns by the door at any time remember to bring him instantly to me, and be
kind and gentle with him and ask no questions. Also, remember, Barker, to think
pleasantly, sympathetically, affectionately of him while he is away. Mr. Mudge
is a very suffering gentleman."

   Barker bowed and went out of the room backwards, gasping and feeling round
the inside of his collar with three very hot fingers of one hand.


   It was two days later when he brought in a telegram to the study. Dr.
Silence opened it, and read as follows:

        "Bombay. Just slipped out again. All safe. Have blocked entrances.
Thousand thanks. Address Cooks, London.--MUDGE.

   Dr. Silence looked up and saw Barker staring at him bewilderingly. It
occurred to him that somehow he knew the contents of the telegram.

   "Make a parcel of Mr. Mudge's things," he said briefly, "and address them
Thomas Cook & Sons, Ludgate Circus. And send them there exactly a month from
to-day, marked 'To be called for.'"

   "Yes, sir," said Barker, leaving the room with a deep sigh and a hurried
glance at the waste-paper basket where his master had dropped the pink paper.
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
Jennifer O'Dell
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« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2009, 05:13:08 pm »

Cool stuff, Unknown.  Keep it coming. 
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« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2009, 10:48:37 pm »

Thanks Jennifer Smiley This one is pretty creepy

Melmoth the Wanderer
by Charles Robert Maturin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

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

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

* Vide Betterton's History of the Stage.

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

        .        .        .        .        .

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

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

* Rochefoucauld.

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

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

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

        .        .        .        .        .

Cum multis aliis.

Between the pages were cut most exquisitely in paper the likenesses
of some of these Turkish ambassadors; the hair of the beards, in
particular, was feathered with a delicacy of touch that seemed the
work of fairy fingers,--but the pages ended with a complaint of the
operator, that his scissors had been taken from him.  However, he
consoled himself and the reader with the assurance, that he would
that night catch a moonbeam as it entered through the grating, and,
when he had whetted it on the iron knobs of his
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"There exists an agent, which is natural and divine, material and spiritual, a universal plastic mediator, a common receptical of the fluid vibrations of motion and the images of forms, a fluid, and a force, which can be called the Imagination of Nature..."
Elphias Levi
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Posts: 4607

« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2009, 03:29:02 pm »

Nice work, of course, I haven't heard of any of these authors.
Are they from the 1800s?
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