Edgar Allan Poe: The Complete Tales and Poems - Edgar Allan Poe - E-Book

Edgar Allan Poe: The Complete Tales and Poems E-Book

Edgar Allan Poe

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This book, newly updated, contains the complete Edgar Allan Poe’s tales and poems —over 135 works— in the chronological order of their original publication.

The Tales:
A Tale of Jerusalem
Bon-Bon
Loss of Breath
Metzengerstein
The Duc de l’Omelette
MS. Found in a Bottle
The Assignation
Berenice
King Pest
Lionizing
Morella
Shadow
The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall
Four Beasts in One
Mystification
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket
How to Write a Blackwood Article
A Predicament
Ligeia
Silence — A Fable
The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion
The Devil in the Belfry
The Fall of the House of Usher
The Man that was Used Up
Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling
William Wilson
The Business Man
The Journal of Julius Rodman
The Man of the Crowd
A Descent into the Maelström
Eleonora
Never Bet the Devil Your Head
The Colloquy of Monos and Una
The Island of the Fay
The Murders in the Rue Morgue
Three Sundays in a Week
The Domain of Arnheim
The Masque of the Red Death
The Mystery of Marie Roget
The Oval Portrait
The Pit and the Pendulum
Raising the Wind
The Black Cat
The Gold-Bug
The Tell-Tale Heart
A Tale of the Ragged Mountains
Mesmeric Revelation
The Angel of the Odd
The Balloon Hoax
The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.
The Oblong Box
The Premature Burial
The Purloined Letter
The Spectacles
Thou Art the Man
The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar
The Imp of the Perverse
The Power of Words
The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether
The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade
Some Words with a Mummy
The Cask of Amontillado
The Sphinx
Hop-Frog or the Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs
Landor’s Cottage
Mellonta Tauta
The Light-House
Von Kempelen and His Discovery
X-ing a Paragrab

The Poems:
Poetry
A Dream
Dreams
Evening Star
Imitation
Song
Spirits of the Dead
Stanzas
Tamerlane
The Happiest Day
The Lake
To Margaret
To Octavia
To M—
To the River
Al Aaraaf
Alone
An Acrostic
Elizabeth
Fairy-Land
Romance
Sonnet — To Science
To Isaac Lea
A Paean
Israfel
The City in the Sea
The Sleeper
The Valley of Unrest
To Helen
Enigma
Fanny
Serenade
The Coliseum
To One in Paradise
Hymn
To F—s S. O—d
Spiritual Song
Bridal Ballad
Sonnet — To Zante
The Haunted Palace
Silence
Lenore
The Conqueror Worm
Lines on Joe Locke
Dream-Land
Eulalie
Epigram for Wall Street
...

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Edgar Allan Poe

THE COMPLETE TALES AND POEMS

2016 © Book House Publishing

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(updated on 2017/03/20)

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Table of Contents

THE TALES

A Tale of Jerusalem

Bon-Bon (The Bargain Lost)

Loss of Breath (A Decided Loss)

Metzengerstein

The Duc de l’Omelette

MS. Found in a Bottle

The Assignation (The Visionary)

Berenice

King Pest

Lionizing

Morella

Shadow — A Parable

The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall

Four Beasts in One (Epimanes)

Mystification (Von Jung, the Mystific)

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

How to Write a Blackwood Article (The Psyche Zenobia)

A Predicament

Ligeia

Silence — A Fable (Siope)

The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion

The Devil in the Belfry

The Fall of the House of Usher

The Man that was Used Up

Why the Little Frenchman Wears His Hand in a Sling

William Wilson

The Business Man (Peter Pendulum)

The Journal of Julius Rodman

The Man of the Crowd

A Descent into the Maelström

Eleonora

Never Bet the Devil Your Head

The Colloquy of Monos and Una

The Island of the Fay

The Murders in the Rue Morgue

Three Sundays in a Week (A Succession of Sundays)

The Domain of Arnheim (The Landscape Garden)

The Masque of the Red Death

The Mystery of Marie Roget

The Oval Portrait (Life in Death)

The Pit and the Pendulum

Raising the Wind (Diddling)

The Black Cat

The Gold-Bug

The Tell-Tale Heart

A Tale of the Ragged Mountains

Mesmeric Revelation

The Angel of the Odd

The Balloon Hoax

The Literary Life of Thingum Bob, Esq.

The Oblong Box

The Premature Burial

The Purloined Letter

The Spectacles

Thou Art the Man

The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar

The Imp of the Perverse

The Power of Words

The System of Dr. Tarr and Prof. Fether

The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade

Some Words with a Mummy

The Cask of Amontillado

The Sphinx

Hop-Frog or the Eight Chained Ourang-Outangs

Landor’s Cottage

Mellonta Tauta

The Light-House

Von Kempelen and His Discovery

X-ing a Paragrab

THE POEMS

Poetry

A Dream

Dreams

Evening Star

Imitation

Song

Spirits of the Dead

Stanzas

Tamerlane

The Happiest Day

The Lake. To —

To Margaret

To Octavia

To M——

To the River ——

Al Aaraaf

Alone

An Acrostic

Elizabeth

Fairy-Land

Romance

Sonnet — To Science

To ——

To ——

To Isaac Lea

A Paean

Israfel

The City in the Sea

The Sleeper

The Valley of Unrest

To Helen

Enigma

Fanny

Serenade

The Coliseum

To ——

To One in Paradise

Hymn

To F——s S. O——d

Spiritual Song

Bridal Ballad

Sonnet — To Zante

The Haunted Palace

Silence

Lenore

The Conqueror Worm

Lines on Joe Locke

Dream-Land

Eulalie

Epigram for Wall Street

Impromptu. To Kate Carol

The Divine Right of Kings

The Raven

To F——

A Valentine

Beloved Physician

Deep in Earth

To Miss Louise Olivia Hunter

To M. L. S——

Ulalume

To Marie Louise

An Enigma

Eldorado

Evangeline

Lines on Ale

The Bells

To Helen

A Dream Within a Dream

Annabel Lee

For Annie

To My Mother

THE TALES

A Tale of Jerusalem

First published : 1832

Intensos rigidam in frontem ascendere canos

Passus erat

—Lucan

“Let us hurry to the walls,” said Abel-Phittim to Buzi-Ben-Levi and Simeon the Pharisee, on the tenth day of the month Thammuz, in the year of the world three thousand nine hundred and forty-one —”let us hasten to the ramparts adjoining the gate of Benjamin, which is in the city of David, and overlooking the camp of the uncircumcised; for it is the last hour of the fourth watch, being sunrise; and the idolaters, in fulfilment of the promise of Pompey, should be awaiting us with the lambs for the sacrifices.”

Simeon, Abel-Phittim, and Buzi-Ben-Levi, were the Gizbarim, or sub-collectors of the offering, in the holy city of Jerusalem.

“Verily,” replied the Pharisee, “let us hasten: for this generosity in the heathen is unwonted; and fickle-mindedness has ever been an attribute of the worshippers of Baal.”

“That they are fickle-minded and treacherous is as true as the Pentateuch,” said Buzi-Ben-Levi, “but that is only towards the people of Adonai. When was it ever known that the Ammonites proved wanting to their own interests? Methinks it is no great stretch of generosity to allow us lambs for the altar of the Lord, receiving in lieu thereof thirty silver shekels per head!”

“Thou forgettest, however, Ben-Levi,” replied Abel-Phittim, “that the Roman Pompey, who is now impiously besieging the city of the Most High, has no assurity that we apply not the lambs thus purchased for the altar, to the sustenance of the body, rather than of the spirit.”

“Now, by the five corners of my beard!” shouted the Pharisee, who belonged to the sect called The Dashers (that little knot of saints whose manner of dashing and lacerating the feet against the pavement was long a thorn and a reproach to less zealous devotees — a stumbling-block to less gifted perambulators)—”by the five corners of that beard which, as a priest, I am forbidden to shave! — have we lived to see the day when a blaspheming and idolatrous upstart of Rome shall accuse us of appropriating to the appetites of the flesh the most holy and consecrated elements? Have we lived to see the day when—”

“Let us not question the motives of the Philistine,” interrupted Abel-Phittim, “for to-day we profit for the first time by his avarice or by his generosity, but rather let us hurry to the ramparts, lest offerings should be wanting for that altar whose fire the rains of heaven cannot extinguish, and whose pillars of smoke no tempest can turn aside.”

That part of the city to which our worthy Gizbarin now hastened, and which bore the name of its architect, King David, was esteemed the most strongly fortified district of Jerusalem; being situated upon the steep and lofty hill of Zion. Here, a broad, deep, circumvallatory trench, hewn from the solid rock, was defended by a wall of great strength erected upon its inner edge. This wall was adorned, at regular interspaces, by square towers of white marble; the lowest sixty, and the highest one hundred and twenty cubits in height. But, in the vicinity of the gate of Benjamin, the wall arose by no means from the margin of the fosse. On the contrary, between the level of the ditch and the basement of the rampart, sprang up a perpendicular cliff of two hundred and fifty cubits, forming part of the precipitous Mount Moriah. So that when Simeon and his associates arrived on the summit of the tower called Adoni-Bezek — the loftiest of all the turrets around about Jerusalem, and the usual place of conference with the besieging army — they looked down upon the camp of the enemy from an eminence excelling by many feet that of the Pyramid of Cheops, and, by several, that of the temple of Belus.

“Verily,” sighed the Pharisee, as he peered dizzly over the precipice, “the uncircumcised are as the sands by the seashore — as the locusts in the wilderness! The valley of The King hath become the valley of Adommin.”

“And yet,” added Ben-Levi, “thou canst not point me out a Philistine — no, not one — from Aleph to Tau — from the wilderness to the battlements — who seemeth any bigger than the letter Jod!”

“Lower away the basket with the shekels of silver!” here shouted a Roman soldier in a hoarse, rough voice, which appeared to issue from the regions of Pluto —”lower away the basket with the accursed coin which it has broken the jaw of a noble Roman to pronounce! Is it thus you evince your gratitude to our master Pompeius, who, in his condescension, has thought fit to listen to your idolatrous importunities? The god Phoebus, who is a true god, has been charioted for an hour — and were you not to be on the ramparts by sunrise? Aedepol! do you think that we, the conquerors of the world, have nothing better to do than stand waiting by the walls of every kennel, to traffic with the dogs of the earth? Lower away! I say — and see that your trumpery be bright in color and just in weight!”

“El Elohim!” ejaculated the Pharisee, as the discordant tones of the centurion rattled up the crags of the precipice, and fainted away against the temple —”El Elohim! — who is the God Phoebus? — whom doth the blasphemer invoke? Thou, Buzi-Ben-Levi! who art read in the laws of the Gentiles, and hast sojourned among them who dabble with the Teraphim! — is it Nergal of whom the idolater speaketh? — or Ashimah? — or — Nibhaz? — or Tartak? — or Adramalech? — or Anamalech? — or Succoth-Benith? — or Dragon? — or Belial? — or Baal-Perith? — or Baal-Peor? — or Baal-Zebub?”

“Verily it is neither — but beware how thou lettest the rope slip too rapidly through thy fingers; for should the wicker-work chance to hang on the projection of yonder crag, there will be a woful outpouring of the holy things of the sanctuary.”

By the assistance of some rudely constructed machinery, the heavily laden basket was now carefully lowered down among the multitude; and, from the giddy pinnacle, the Romans were seen gathering confusedly round it; but owing to the vast height and the prevalence of a fog, no distinct view of their operations could be obtained.

Half an hour had already elapsed.

“We shall be too late!” sighed the Pharisee, as at the expiration of this period, he looked over into the abyss —”we shall be too late! we shall be turned out of office by the Katholim.”

“No more,” responded Abel-Phittim — “no more shall we feast upon the fat of the land — no longer shall our beards be odorous with frankincense — our loins girded up with fine linen from the Temple.”

“Raca!” swore Ben-Levi, “Raca! do they mean to defraud us of the purchase money? or, Holy Moses! are they weighing the shekels of the tabernacle?

“They have given the signal at last!” cried the Pharisee —”they have given the signal at last! — pull away, Abel-Phittim! — and thou, Buzi-Ben-Levi, pull away! — for verily the Philistines have either still hold upon the basket, or the Lord hath softened their hearts to place therein a beast of good weight!” And the Gizbarim pulled away, while their burthen swung heavily upwards through the still increasing mist.

“Booshoh he!”— as, at the conclusion of an hour, some object at the extremity of the rope became indistinctly visible —”Booshoh he!” was the exclamation which burst from the lips of Ben-Levi.

“Booshoh he! — for shame! — it is a ram from the thickets of Engedi, and as rugged as the valley of Jehosaphat!”

“It is a firstling of the flock,” said Abel-Phittim, “I know him by the bleating of his lips, and the innocent folding of his limbs. His eyes are more beautiful than the jewels of the Pectoral, and his flesh is like the honey of Hebron.”

“It is a fatted calf from the pastures of Bashan,” said the Pharisee, “the heathen have dealt wonderfully with us! — let us raise up our voices in a psalm! — let us give thanks on the shawm and on the psaltery — on the harp and on the huggab — on the cythern and on the sackbutt”

It was not until the basket had arrived within a few feet of the Gizbarium, that a low grunt betrayed to their perception a hog of no common size.

“Now El Emanu!” slowly, and with upturned eyes ejaculated the trio, as, letting go their hold, the emancipated porker tumbled headlong among the Philistines, “El Emanu! — God be with us — it is the unutterable flesh!”

Bon-Bon (The Bargain Lost)

First published : 1832

Quand un bon vin meuble mon estomac

Je suis plus savant que Balzac —

Plus sage que Pibrac;

Mon brass seul faisant l’attaque

De la nation Coseaque,

La mettroit au sac;

De Charon je passerois le lac

En dormant dans son bac,

J’irois au fier Eac,

Sans que mon coeur fit tic ni tac,

Premmer du tabac.

—French Vaudeville

That Pierre Bon-Bon was a restaurateur of uncommon qualifications, the cul-de-sac Le Febvre at Rouen, will, I imagine, feel himself at liberty to dispute. That Pierre Bon-Bon was, in an equal degree, skilled in the philosophy of that period is, I presume still more especially undeniable. His pates a la fois were beyond doubt immaculate; but what pen can do justice to his essays sur la Nature — his thoughts sur l’Ame — his observations sur l’Esprit? If his omelettes — if his fricandeaux were inestimable, what litterateur of that day would not have given twice as much for an “Idee de Bon-Bon” as for all the trash of “Idees” of all the rest of the savants? Bon-Bon had ransacked libraries which no other man had ransacked — had more than any other would have entertained a notion of reading — had understood more than any other would have conceived the possibility of understanding; and although, while he flourished, there were not wanting some authors at Rouen to assert “that his dicta evinced neither the purity of the Academy, nor the depth of the Lyceum”— although, mark me, his doctrines were by no means very generally comprehended, still it did not follow that they were difficult of comprehension. It was, I think, on account of their self-evidency that many persons were led to consider them abstruse. It is to Bon-Bon — but let this go no farther — it is to Bon-Bon that Kant himself is mainly indebted for his metaphysics. The former was indeed not a Platonist, nor strictly speaking an Aristotelian — nor did he, like the modern Leibnitz, waste those precious hours which might be employed in the invention of a fricasee or, facili gradu, the analysis of a sensation, in frivolous attempts at reconciling the obstinate oils and waters of ethical discussion. Not at all. Bon-Bon was Ionic — Bon-Bon was equally Italic. He reasoned a priori — He reasoned also a posteriori. His ideas were innate — or otherwise. He believed in George of Trebizonde — He believed in Bossarion. Bon-Bon was emphatically a — Bon-Bonist.

I have spoken of the philosopher in his capacity of restaurateur. I would not, however, have any friend of mine imagine that, in fulfilling his hereditary duties in that line, our hero wanted a proper estimation of their dignity and importance. Far from it. It was impossible to say in which branch of his profession he took the greater pride. In his opinion the powers of the intellect held intimate connection with the capabilities of the stomach. I am not sure, indeed, that he greatly disagreed with the Chinese, who held that the soul lies in the abdomen. The Greeks at all events were right, he thought, who employed the same words for the mind and the diaphragm. By this I do not mean to insinuate a charge of gluttony, or indeed any other serious charge to the prejudice of the metaphysician. If Pierre Bon-Bon had his failings — and what great man has not a thousand? — if Pierre Bon-Bon, I say, had his failings, they were failings of very little importance — faults indeed which, in other tempers, have often been looked upon rather in the light of virtues. As regards one of these foibles, I should not even have mentioned it in this history but for the remarkable prominency — the extreme alto relievo — in which it jutted out from the plane of his general disposition. He could never let slip an opportunity of making a bargain.

Not that he was avaricious — no. It was by no means necessary to the satisfaction of the philosopher, that the bargain should be to his own proper advantage. Provided a trade could be effected — a trade of any kind, upon any terms, or under any circumstances — a triumphant smile was seen for many days thereafter to enlighten his countenance, and a knowing wink of the eye to give evidence of his sagacity.

At any epoch it would not be very wonderful if a humor so peculiar as the one I have just mentioned, should elicit attention and remark. At the epoch of our narrative, had this peculiarity not attracted observation, there would have been room for wonder indeed. It was soon reported that, upon all occasions of the kind, the smile of Bon-Bon was wont to differ widely from the downright grin with which he would laugh at his own jokes, or welcome an acquaintance. Hints were thrown out of an exciting nature; stories were told of perilous bargains made in a hurry and repented of at leisure; and instances were adduced of unaccountable capacities, vague longings, and unnatural inclinations implanted by the author of all evil for wise purposes of his own.

The philosopher had other weaknesses — but they are scarcely worthy our serious examination. For example, there are few men of extraordinary profundity who are found wanting in an inclination for the bottle. Whether this inclination be an exciting cause, or rather a valid proof of such profundity, it is a nice thing to say. Bon-Bon, as far as I can learn, did not think the subject adapted to minute investigation; — nor do I. Yet in the indulgence of a propensity so truly classical, it is not to be supposed that the restaurateur would lose sight of that intuitive discrimination which was wont to characterize, at one and the same time, his essais and his omelettes. In his seclusions the Vin de Bourgogne had its allotted hour, and there were appropriate moments for the Cotes du Rhone. With him Sauterne was to Medoc what Catullus was to Homer. He would sport with a syllogism in sipping St. Peray, but unravel an argument over Clos de Vougeot, and upset a theory in a torrent of Chambertin. Well had it been if the same quick sense of propriety had attended him in the peddling propensity to which I have formerly alluded — but this was by no means the case. Indeed to say the truth, that trait of mind in the philosophic Bon-Bon did begin at length to assume a character of strange intensity and mysticism, and appeared deeply tinctured with the diablerie of his favorite German studies.

To enter the little Cafe in the cul-de-sac Le Febvre was, at the period of our tale, to enter the sanctum of a man of genius. Bon-Bon was a man of genius. There was not a sous-cusinier in Rouen, who could not have told you that Bon-Bon was a man of genius. His very cat knew it, and forebore to whisk her tail in the presence of the man of genius. His large water-dog was acquainted with the fact, and upon the approach of his master, betrayed his sense of inferiority by a sanctity of deportment, a debasement of the ears, and a dropping of the lower jaw not altogether unworthy of a dog. It is, however, true that much of this habitual respect might have been attributed to the personal appearance of the metaphysician. A distinguished exterior will, I am constrained to say, have its way even with a beast; and I am willing to allow much in the outward man of the restaurateur calculated to impress the imagination of the quadruped. There is a peculiar majesty about the atmosphere of the little great — if I may be permitted so equivocal an expression — which mere physical bulk alone will be found at all times inefficient in creating. If, however, Bon-Bon was barely three feet in height, and if his head was diminutively small, still it was impossible to behold the rotundity of his stomach without a sense of magnificence nearly bordering upon the sublime. In its size both dogs and men must have seen a type of his acquirements — in its immensity a fitting habitation for his immortal soul.

I might here — if it so pleased me — dilate upon the matter of habiliment, and other mere circumstances of the external metaphysician. I might hint that the hair of our hero was worn short, combed smoothly over his forehead, and surmounted by a conical-shaped white flannel cap and tassels — that his pea-green jerkin was not after the fashion of those worn by the common class of restaurateurs at that day — that the sleeves were something fuller than the reigning costume permitted — that the cuffs were turned up, not as usual in that barbarous period, with cloth of the same quality and color as the garment, but faced in a more fanciful manner with the particolored velvet of Genoa — that his slippers were of a bright purple, curiously filigreed, and might have been manufactured in Japan, but for the exquisite pointing of the toes, and the brilliant tints of the binding and embroidery — that his breeches were of the yellow satin-like material called aimable — that his sky-blue cloak, resembling in form a dressing-wrapper, and richly bestudded all over with crimson devices, floated cavalierly upon his shoulders like a mist of the morning — and that his tout ensemble gave rise to the remarkable words of Benevenuta, the Improvisatrice of Florence, “that it was difficult to say whether Pierre Bon-Bon was indeed a bird of Paradise, or rather a very Paradise of perfection.” I might, I say, expatiate upon all these points if I pleased — but I forbear, merely personal details may be left to historical novelists — they are beneath the moral dignity of matter-of-fact.

I have said that “to enter the Cafe in the cul-de-sac Le Febvre was to enter the sanctum of a man of genius”— but then it was only the man of genius who could duly estimate the merits of the sanctum. A sign, consisting of a vast folio, swung before the entrance. On one side of the volume was painted a bottle; on the reverse a pate. On the back were visible in large letters Oeuvres de Bon-Bon. Thus was delicately shadowed forth the two-fold occupation of the proprietor.

Upon stepping over the threshold, the whole interior of the building presented itself to view. A long, low-pitched room, of antique construction, was indeed all the accommodation afforded by the Cafe. In a corner of the apartment stood the bed of the metaphysician. An army of curtains, together with a canopy a la Grecque, gave it an air at once classic and comfortable. In the corner diagonary opposite, appeared, in direct family communion, the properties of the kitchen and the bibliotheque. A dish of polemics stood peacefully upon the dresser. Here lay an ovenful of the latest ethics — there a kettle of dudecimo melanges. Volumes of German morality were hand and glove with the gridiron — a toasting-fork might be discovered by the side of Eusebius — Plato reclined at his ease in the frying-pan — and contemporary manuscripts were filed away upon the spit.

In other respects the Cafe de Bon-Bon might be said to differ little from the usual restaurants of the period. A fireplace yawned opposite the door. On the right of the fireplace an open cupboard displayed a formidable array of labelled bottles.

It was here, about twelve o’clock one night during the severe winter the comments of his neighbours upon his singular propensity — that Pierre Bon-Bon, I say, having turned them all out of his house, locked the door upon them with an oath, and betook himself in no very pacific mood to the comforts of a leather-bottomed arm-chair, and a fire of blazing fagots.

It was one of those terrific nights which are only met with once or twice during a century. It snowed fiercely, and the house tottered to its centre with the floods of wind that, rushing through the crannies in the wall, and pouring impetuously down the chimney, shook awfully the curtains of the philosopher’s bed, and disorganized the economy of his pate-pans and papers. The huge folio sign that swung without, exposed to the fury of the tempest, creaked ominously, and gave out a moaning sound from its stanchions of solid oak.

It was in no placid temper, I say, that the metaphysician drew up his chair to its customary station by the hearth. Many circumstances of a perplexing nature had occurred during the day, to disturb the serenity of his meditations. In attempting des oeufs a la Princesse, he had unfortunately perpetrated an omelette a la Reine; the discovery of a principle in ethics had been frustrated by the overturning of a stew; and last, not least, he had been thwarted in one of those admirable bargains which he at all times took such especial delight in bringing to a successful termination. But in the chafing of his mind at these unaccountable vicissitudes, there did not fail to be mingled some degree of that nervous anxiety which the fury of a boisterous night is so well calculated to produce. Whistling to his more immediate vicinity the large black water-dog we have spoken of before, and settling himself uneasily in his chair, he could not help casting a wary and unquiet eye toward those distant recesses of the apartment whose inexorable shadows not even the red firelight itself could more than partially succeed in overcoming. Having completed a scrutiny whose exact purpose was perhaps unintelligible to himself, he drew close to his seat a small table covered with books and papers, and soon became absorbed in the task of retouching a voluminous manuscript, intended for publication on the morrow.

He had been thus occupied for some minutes when “I am in no hurry, Monsieur Bon-Bon,” suddenly whispered a whining voice in the apartment.

“The devil!” ejaculated our hero, starting to his feet, overturning the table at his side, and staring around him in astonishment.

“Very true,” calmly replied the voice.

“Very true! — what is very true? — how came you here?” vociferated the metaphysician, as his eye fell upon something which lay stretched at full length upon the bed.

“I was saying,” said the intruder, without attending to the interrogatives — “I was saying that I am not at all pushed for time — that the business upon which I took the liberty of calling, is of no pressing importance — in short, that I can very well wait until you have finished your Exposition.”

“My Exposition! — there now! — how do you know? — how came you to understand that I was writing an Exposition? — good God!”

“Hush!” replied the figure, in a shrill undertone; and, arising quickly from the bed, he made a single step toward our hero, while an iron lamp that depended over-head swung convulsively back from his approach.

The philosopher’s amazement did not prevent a narrow scrutiny of the stranger’s dress and appearance. The outlines of his figure, exceedingly lean, but much above the common height, were rendered minutely distinct, by means of a faded suit of black cloth which fitted tight to the skin, but was otherwise cut very much in the style of a century ago. These garments had evidently been intended for a much shorter person than their present owner. His ankles and wrists were left naked for several inches. In his shoes, however, a pair of very brilliant buckles gave the lie to the extreme poverty implied by the other portions of his dress. His head was bare, and entirely bald, with the exception of a hinder part, from which depended a queue of considerable length. A pair of green spectacles, with side glasses, protected his eyes from the influence of the light, and at the same time prevented our hero from ascertaining either their color or their conformation. About the entire person there was no evidence of a shirt, but a white cravat, of filthy appearance, was tied with extreme precision around the throat and the ends hanging down formally side by side gave (although I dare say unintentionally) the idea of an ecclesiastic. Indeed, many other points both in his appearance and demeanor might have very well sustained a conception of that nature. Over his left ear, he carried, after the fashion of a modern clerk, an instrument resembling the stylus of the ancients. In a breast-pocket of his coat appeared conspicuously a small black volume fastened with clasps of steel. This book, whether accidentally or not, was so turned outwardly from the person as to discover the words “Rituel Catholique” in white letters upon the back. His entire physiognomy was interestingly saturnine — even cadaverously pale. The forehead was lofty, and deeply furrowed with the ridges of contemplation. The corners of the mouth were drawn down into an expression of the most submissive humility. There was also a clasping of the hands, as he stepped toward our hero — a deep sigh — and altogether a look of such utter sanctity as could not have failed to be unequivocally preposessing. Every shadow of anger faded from the countenance of the metaphysician, as, having completed a satisfactory survey of his visiter’s person, he shook him cordially by the hand, and conducted him to a seat.

There would however be a radical error in attributing this instantaneous transition of feeling in the philosopher, to any one of those causes which might naturally be supposed to have had an influence. Indeed, Pierre Bon-Bon, from what I have been able to understand of his disposition, was of all men the least likely to be imposed upon by any speciousness of exterior deportment. It was impossible that so accurate an observer of men and things should have failed to discover, upon the moment, the real character of the personage who had thus intruded upon his hospitality. To say no more, the conformation of his visiter’s feet was sufficiently remarkable — he maintained lightly upon his head an inordinately tall hat — there was a tremulous swelling about the hinder part of his breeches — and the vibration of his coat tail was a palpable fact. Judge, then, with what feelings of satisfaction our hero found himself thrown thus at once into the society of a person for whom he had at all times entertained the most unqualified respect. He was, however, too much of the diplomatist to let escape him any intimation of his suspicions in regard to the true state of affairs. It was not his cue to appear at all conscious of the high honor he thus unexpectedly enjoyed; but, by leading his guest into the conversation, to elicit some important ethical ideas, which might, in obtaining a place in his contemplated publication, enlighten the human race, and at the same time immortalize himself — ideas which, I should have added, his visitor’s great age, and well-known proficiency in the science of morals, might very well have enabled him to afford.

Actuated by these enlightened views, our hero bade the gentleman sit down, while he himself took occasion to throw some fagots upon the fire, and place upon the now re-established table some bottles of Mousseux. Having quickly completed these operations, he drew his chair vis-a-vis to his companion’s, and waited until the latter should open the conversation. But plans even the most skilfully matured are often thwarted in the outset of their application — and the restaurateur found himself nonplussed by the very first words of his visiter’s speech.

“I see you know me, Bon-Bon,” said he; “ha! ha! ha! — he! he! he! — hi! hi! hi! — ho! ho! ho! — hu! hu! hu!”— and the devil, dropping at once the sanctity of his demeanor, opened to its fullest extent a mouth from ear to ear, so as to display a set of jagged and fang-like teeth, and, throwing back his head, laughed long, loudly, wickedly, and uproariously, while the black dog, crouching down upon his haunches, joined lustily in the chorus, and the tabby cat, flying off at a tangent, stood up on end, and shrieked in the farthest corner of the apartment.

Not so the philosopher; he was too much a man of the world either to laugh like the dog, or by shrieks to betray the indecorous trepidation of the cat. It must be confessed, he felt a little astonishment to see the white letters which formed the words “Rituel Catholique” on the book in his guest’s pocket, momently changing both their color and their import, and in a few seconds, in place of the original title the words Regitre des Condamnes blazed forth in characters of red. This startling circumstance, when Bon-Bon replied to his visiter’s remark, imparted to his manner an air of embarrassment which probably might, not otherwise have been observed.

“Why sir,” said the philosopher, “why sir, to speak sincerely — I I imagine — I have some faint — some very faint idea — of the remarkable honor—”

“Oh! — ah! — yes! — very well!” interrupted his Majesty; “say no more — I see how it is.” And hereupon, taking off his green spectacles, he wiped the glasses carefully with the sleeve of his coat, and deposited them in his pocket.

If Bon-Bon had been astonished at the incident of the book, his amazement was now much increased by the spectacle which here presented itself to view. In raising his eyes, with a strong feeling of curiosity to ascertain the color of his guest’s, he found them by no means black, as he had anticipated — nor gray, as might have been imagined — nor yet hazel nor blue — nor indeed yellow nor red — nor purple — nor white — nor green — nor any other color in the heavens above, or in the earth beneath, or in the waters under the earth. In short, Pierre Bon-Bon not only saw plainly that his Majesty had no eyes whatsoever, but could discover no indications of their having existed at any previous period — for the space where eyes should naturally have been was, I am constrained to say, simply a dead level of flesh.

It was not in the nature of the metaphysician to forbear making some inquiry into the sources of so strange a phenomenon, and the reply of his Majesty was at once prompt, dignified, and satisfactory.

“Eyes! my dear Bon-Bon — eyes! did you say? — oh! — ah! — I perceive! The ridiculous prints, eh, which are in, circulation, have given you a false idea of my personal appearance? Eyes! — true. Eyes, Pierre Bon-Bon, are very well in their proper place — that, you would say, is the head? — right — the head of a worm. To you, likewise, these optics are indispensable — yet I will convince you that my vision is more penetrating than your own. There is a cat I see in the corner — a pretty cat — look at her — observe her well. Now, Bon-Bon, do you behold the thoughts — the thoughts, I say — the ideas — the reflections — which are being engendered in her pericranium? There it is, now — you do not! She is thinking we admire the length of her tail and the profundity of her mind. She has just concluded that I am the most distinguished of ecclesiastics, and that you are the most superficial of metaphysicians. Thus you see I am not altogether blind; but to one of my profession, the eyes you speak of would be merely an incumbrance, liable at any time to be put out by a toasting-iron, or a pitchfork. To you, I allow, these optical affairs are indispensable. Endeavor, Bon-Bon, to use them well; — my vision is the soul.”

Hereupon the guest helped himself to the wine upon the table, and pouring out a bumper for Bon-Bon, requested him to drink it without scruple, and make himself perfectly at home.

“A clever book that of yours, Pierre,” resumed his Majesty, tapping our friend knowingly upon the shoulder, as the latter put down his glass after a thorough compliance with his visiter’s injunction. “A clever book that of yours, upon my honor. It’s a work after my own heart. Your arrangement of the matter, I think, however, might be improved, and many of your notions remind me of Aristotle. That philosopher was one of my most intimate acquaintances. I liked him as much for his terrible ill temper, as for his happy knack at making a blunder. There is only one solid truth in all that he has written, and for that I gave him the hint out of pure compassion for his absurdity. I suppose, Pierre Bon-Bon, you very well know to what divine moral truth I am alluding?”

“Cannot say that I—”

“Indeed! — why it was I who told Aristotle that by sneezing, men expelled superfluous ideas through the proboscis.”

“Which is — hiccup! — undoubtedly the case,” said the metaphysician, while he poured out for himself another bumper of Mousseux, and offered his snuff-box to the fingers of his visiter.

“There was Plato, too,” continued his Majesty, modestly declining the snuff-box and the compliment it implied —”there was Plato, too, for whom I, at one time, felt all the affection of a friend. You knew Plato, Bon-Bon? — ah, no, I beg a thousand pardons. He met me at Athens, one day, in the Parthenon, and told me he was distressed for an idea. I bade him write, down that o nous estin aulos. He said that he would do so, and went home, while I stepped over to the pyramids. But my conscience smote me for having uttered a truth, even to aid a friend, and hastening back to Athens, I arrived behind the philosopher’s chair as he was inditing the ‘aulos.’”

“Giving the lambda a fillip with my finger, I turned it upside down. So the sentence now read ‘o nous estin augos’, and is, you perceive, the fundamental doctrines in his metaphysics.”

“Were you ever at Rome?” asked the restaurateur, as he finished his second bottle of Mousseux, and drew from the closet a larger supply of Chambertin.

But once, Monsieur Bon-Bon, but once. There was a time,” said the devil, as if reciting some passage from a book —”there was a time when occurred an anarchy of five years, during which the republic, bereft of all its officers, had no magistracy besides the tribunes of the people, and these were not legally vested with any degree of executive power — at that time, Monsieur Bon-Bon — at that time only I was in Rome, and I have no earthly acquaintance, consequently, with any of its philosophy.”2

2Ils ecrivaient sur la Philosophie (Cicero, Lucretius, Seneca) mais c’etait la Philosophie Grecque. — Condorcet.

“What do you think of — what do you think of — hiccup! — Epicurus?”

“What do I think of whom?” said the devil, in astonishment, “you cannot surely mean to find any fault with Epicurus! What do I think of Epicurus! Do you mean me, sir? — I am Epicurus! I am the same philosopher who wrote each of the three hundred treatises commemorated by Diogenes Laertes.”

“That’s a lie!” said the metaphysician, for the wine had gotten a little into his head.

“Very well! — very well, sir! — very well, indeed, sir!” said his Majesty, apparently much flattered.

“That’s a lie!” repeated the restaurateur, dogmatically; “that’s a — hiccup! — a lie!”

“Well, well, have it your own way!” said the devil, pacifically, and Bon-Bon, having beaten his Majesty at argument, thought it his duty to conclude a second bottle of Chambertin.

“As I was saying,” resumed the visiter —”as I was observing a little while ago, there are some very outre notions in that book of yours Monsieur Bon-Bon. What, for instance, do you mean by all that humbug about the soul? Pray, sir, what is the soul?”

“The — hiccup! — soul,” replied the metaphysician, referring to his MS., “is undoubtedly—”

“No, sir!”

“Indubitably—”

“No, sir!”

“Indisputably—”

“No, sir!”

“Evidently—”

“No, sir!”

“Incontrovertibly—”

“No, sir!”

“Hiccup!—”

“No, sir!”

“And beyond all question, a—”

“No sir, the soul is no such thing!” (Here the philosopher, looking daggers, took occasion to make an end, upon the spot, of his third bottle of Chambertin.)

“Then — hic-cup! — pray, sir — what — what is it?”

“That is neither here nor there, Monsieur Bon-Bon,” replied his Majesty, musingly. “I have tasted — that is to say, I have known some very bad souls, and some too — pretty good ones.” Here he smacked his lips, and, having unconsciously let fall his hand upon the volume in his pocket, was seized with a violent fit of sneezing.

He continued.

“There was the soul of Cratinus — passable: Aristophanes — racy: Plato — exquisite — not your Plato, but Plato the comic poet; your Plato would have turned the stomach of Cerberus — faugh! Then let me see! there were Naevius, and Andronicus, and Plautus, and Terentius. Then there were Lucilius, and Catullus, and Naso, and Quintus Flaccus — dear Quinty! as I called him when he sung a seculare for my amusement, while I toasted him, in pure good humor, on a fork. But they want flavor, these Romans. One fat Greek is worth a dozen of them, and besides will keep, which cannot be said of a Quirite. — Let us taste your Sauterne.”

Bon-Bon had by this time made up his mind to nil admirari and endeavored to hand down the bottles in question. He was, however, conscious of a strange sound in the room like the wagging of a tail. Of this, although extremely indecent in his Majesty, the philosopher took no notice:— simply kicking the dog, and requesting him to be quiet. The visiter continued:

“I found that Horace tasted very much like Aristotle; — you know I am fond of variety. Terentius I could not have told from Menander. Naso, to my astonishment, was Nicander in disguise. Virgilius had a strong twang of Theocritus. Martial put me much in mind of Archilochus — and Titus Livius was positively Polybius and none other.”

“Hic-cup!” here replied Bon-Bon, and his majesty proceeded:

“But if I have a penchant, Monsieur Bon-Bon — if I have a penchant, it is for a philosopher. Yet, let me tell you, sir, it is not every dev — I mean it is not every gentleman who knows how to choose a philosopher. Long ones are not good; and the best, if not carefully shelled, are apt to be a little rancid on account of the gall!”

“Shelled!”

“I mean taken out of the carcass.”

“What do you think of a — hic-cup! — physician?”

“Don’t mention them! — ugh! ugh! ugh!” (Here his Majesty retched violently.) “I never tasted but one — that rascal Hippocrates! — smelt of asafoetida — ugh! ugh! ugh! — caught a wretched cold washing him in the Styx — and after all he gave me the cholera morbus.”

“The — hiccup — wretch!” ejaculated Bon-Bon, “the — hic-cup! — absorption of a pill-box!”— and the philosopher dropped a tear.

“After all,” continued the visiter, “after all, if a dev — if a gentleman wishes to live, he must have more talents than one or two; and with us a fat face is an evidence of diplomacy.”

“How so?”

“Why, we are sometimes exceedingly pushed for provisions. You must know that, in a climate so sultry as mine, it is frequently impossible to keep a spirit alive for more than two or three hours; and after death, unless pickled immediately (and a pickled spirit is not good), they will — smell — you understand, eh? Putrefaction is always to be apprehended when the souls are consigned to us in the usual way.”

“Hiccup! — hiccup! — good God! how do you manage?”

Here the iron lamp commenced swinging with redoubled violence, and the devil half started from his seat; — however, with a slight sigh, he recovered his composure, merely saying to our hero in a low tone: “I tell you what, Pierre Bon-Bon, we must have no more swearing.”

The host swallowed another bumper, by way of denoting thorough comprehension and acquiescence, and the visiter continued.

“Why, there are several ways of managing. The most of us starve: some put up with the pickle: for my part I purchase my spirits vivente corpore, in which case I find they keep very well.”

“But the body! — hiccup! — the body!”

“The body, the body — well, what of the body? — oh! ah! I perceive. Why, sir, the body is not at all affected by the transaction. I have made innumerable purchases of the kind in my day, and the parties never experienced any inconvenience. There were Cain and Nimrod, and Nero, and Caligula, and Dionysius, and Pisistratus, and — and a thousand others, who never knew what it was to have a soul during the latter part of their lives; yet, sir, these men adorned society. Why possession of his faculties, mental and corporeal? Who writes a keener epigram? Who reasons more wittily? Who — but stay! I have his agreement in my pocket-book.”

Thus saying, he produced a red leather wallet, and took from it a number of papers. Upon some of these Bon-Bon caught a glimpse of the letters Machi — Maza — Robesp — with the words Caligula, George, Elizabeth. His Majesty selected a narrow slip of parchment, and from it read aloud the following words:

“In consideration of certain mental endowments which it is unnecessary to specify, and in further consideration of one thousand louis d’or, I being aged one year and one month, do hereby make over to the bearer of this agreement all my right, title, and appurtenance in the shadow called my soul. (Signed) A.... “ (Here His Majesty repeated a name which I did not feel justified in indicating more unequivocally.)

“A clever fellow that,” resumed he; “but like you, Monsieur Bon-Bon, he was mistaken about the soul. The soul a shadow, truly! The soul a shadow; Ha! ha! ha! — he! he! he! — hu! hu! hu! Only think of a fricasseed shadow!”

“Only think — hiccup! — of a fricasseed shadow!” exclaimed our hero, whose faculties were becoming much illuminated by the profundity of his Majesty’s discourse.

“Only think of a hiccup! — fricasseed shadow!! Now, damme! — hiccup! — humph! If I would have been such a — hiccup! — nincompoop! My soul, Mr. — humph!”

“Your soul, Monsieur Bon-Bon?”

“Yes, sir — hiccup! — my soul is—”

“What, sir?”

“No shadow, damme!”

“Did you mean to say—”

“Yes, sir, my soul is — hiccup! — humph! — yes, sir.”

“Did you not intend to assert—”

“My soul is — hiccup! — peculiarly qualified for — hiccup! — a—”

“What, sir?”

“Stew.”

“Ha!”

“Soufflee.”

“Eh!”

“Fricassee.”

“Indeed!”

“Ragout and fricandeau — and see here, my good fellow! I’ll let you have it — hiccup! — a bargain.” Here the philosopher slapped his Majesty upon the back.

“Couldn’t think of such a thing,” said the latter calmly, at the same time rising from his seat. The metaphysician stared.

“Am supplied at present,” said his Majesty.

“Hiccup — e-h?” said the philosopher.

“Have no funds on hand.”

“What?”

“Besides, very unhandsome in me—”

“Sir!”

“To take advantage of—”

“Hiccup!”

“Your present disgusting and ungentlemanly situation.”

Here the visiter bowed and withdrew — in what manner could not precisely be ascertained — but in a well-concerted effort to discharge a bottle at “the villain,” the slender chain was severed that depended from the ceiling, and the metaphysician prostrated by the downfall of the lamp.

Loss of Breath (A Decided Loss)

First published : 1832

O Breathe not, etc.

—Moore’s Melodies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here, after due interval, I was deposited. The sexton departed, and I was left alone. A line of Marston’s “Malcontent”—

Death’s a good fellow and keeps open house—

struck me at that moment as a palpable lie.

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

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

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

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

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