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´╗┐Title: Wieland: or, the Transformation, an American Tale
Author: Brown, Charles Brockden, 1771-1810
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wieland: or, the Transformation, an American Tale" ***

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An American Tale

by Charles Brockden Brown

          From Virtue's blissful paths away
          The double-tongued are sure to stray;
          Good is a forth-right journey still,
          And mazy paths but lead to ill.


The following Work is delivered to the world as the first of a series
of performances, which the favorable reception of this will induce the
Writer to publish. His purpose is neither selfish nor temporary,
but aims at the illustration of some important branches of the moral
constitution of man. Whether this tale will be classed with the ordinary
or frivolous sources of amusement, or be ranked with the few productions
whose usefulness secures to them a lasting reputation, the reader must
be permitted to decide.

The incidents related are extraordinary and rare. Some of them, perhaps,
approach as nearly to the nature of miracles as can be done by that
which is not truly miraculous. It is hoped that intelligent readers will
not disapprove of the manner in which appearances are solved, but that
the solution will be found to correspond with the known principles of
human nature. The power which the principal person is said to possess
can scarcely be denied to be real. It must be acknowledged to be
extremely rare; but no fact, equally uncommon, is supported by the same
strength of historical evidence.

Some readers may think the conduct of the younger Wieland impossible. In
support of its possibility the Writer must appeal to Physicians and to
men conversant with the latent springs and occasional perversions of
the human mind. It will not be objected that the instances of similar
delusion are rare, because it is the business of moral painters to
exhibit their subject in its most instructive and memorable forms. If
history furnishes one parallel fact, it is a sufficient vindication of
the Writer; but most readers will probably recollect an authentic case,
remarkably similar to that of Wieland.

It will be necessary to add, that this narrative is addressed, in an
epistolary form, by the Lady whose story it contains, to a small
number of friends, whose curiosity, with regard to it, had been greatly
awakened. It may likewise be mentioned, that these events took
place between the conclusion of the French and the beginning of the
revolutionary war. The memoirs of Carwin, alluded to at the conclusion
of the work, will be published or suppressed according to the reception
which is given to the present attempt.

C. B. B. September 3, 1798.

Chapter I

I feel little reluctance in complying with your request. You know not
fully the cause of my sorrows. You are a stranger to the depth of my
distresses. Hence your efforts at consolation must necessarily fail. Yet
the tale that I am going to tell is not intended as a claim upon your
sympathy. In the midst of my despair, I do not disdain to contribute
what little I can to the benefit of mankind. I acknowledge your right to
be informed of the events that have lately happened in my family. Make
what use of the tale you shall think proper. If it be communicated
to the world, it will inculcate the duty of avoiding deceit. It will
exemplify the force of early impressions, and show the immeasurable
evils that flow from an erroneous or imperfect discipline.

My state is not destitute of tranquillity. The sentiment that dictates
my feelings is not hope. Futurity has no power over my thoughts. To all
that is to come I am perfectly indifferent. With regard to myself, I
have nothing more to fear. Fate has done its worst. Henceforth, I am
callous to misfortune.

I address no supplication to the Deity. The power that governs the
course of human affairs has chosen his path. The decree that ascertained
the condition of my life, admits of no recal. No doubt it squares with
the maxims of eternal equity. That is neither to be questioned nor
denied by me. It suffices that the past is exempt from mutation. The
storm that tore up our happiness, and changed into dreariness and desert
the blooming scene of our existence, is lulled into grim repose; but
not until the victim was transfixed and mangled; till every obstacle was
dissipated by its rage; till every remnant of good was wrested from our
grasp and exterminated.

How will your wonder, and that of your companions, be excited by my
story! Every sentiment will yield to your amazement. If my testimony
were without corroborations, you would reject it as incredible. The
experience of no human being can furnish a parallel: That I, beyond the
rest of mankind, should be reserved for a destiny without alleviation,
and without example! Listen to my narrative, and then say what it is
that has made me deserve to be placed on this dreadful eminence, if,
indeed, every faculty be not suspended in wonder that I am still alive,
and am able to relate it. My father's ancestry was noble on the paternal
side; but his mother was the daughter of a merchant. My grand-father was
a younger brother, and a native of Saxony. He was placed, when he had
reached the suitable age, at a German college. During the vacations,
he employed himself in traversing the neighbouring territory. On one
occasion it was his fortune to visit Hamburg. He formed an acquaintance
with Leonard Weise, a merchant of that city, and was a frequent guest
at his house. The merchant had an only daughter, for whom his guest
speedily contracted an affection; and, in spite of parental menaces and
prohibitions, he, in due season, became her husband.

By this act he mortally offended his relations. Thenceforward he was
entirely disowned and rejected by them. They refused to contribute any
thing to his support. All intercourse ceased, and he received from them
merely that treatment to which an absolute stranger, or detested enemy,
would be entitled.

He found an asylum in the house of his new father, whose temper was
kind, and whose pride was flattered by this alliance. The nobility of
his birth was put in the balance against his poverty. Weise conceived
himself, on the whole, to have acted with the highest discretion, in
thus disposing of his child. My grand-father found it incumbent on him
to search out some mode of independent subsistence. His youth had
been eagerly devoted to literature and music. These had hitherto been
cultivated merely as sources of amusement. They were now converted into
the means of gain. At this period there were few works of taste in
the Saxon dialect. My ancestor may be considered as the founder of the
German Theatre. The modern poet of the same name is sprung from the same
family, and, perhaps, surpasses but little, in the fruitfulness of his
invention, or the soundness of his taste, the elder Wieland. His life
was spent in the composition of sonatas and dramatic pieces. They were
not unpopular, but merely afforded him a scanty subsistence. He died
in the bloom of his life, and was quickly followed to the grave by his
wife. Their only child was taken under the protection of the merchant.
At an early age he was apprenticed to a London trader, and passed seven
years of mercantile servitude.

My father was not fortunate in the character of him under whose care
he was now placed. He was treated with rigor, and full employment was
provided for every hour of his time. His duties were laborious and
mechanical. He had been educated with a view to this profession, and,
therefore, was not tormented with unsatisfied desires. He did not hold
his present occupations in abhorrence, because they withheld him from
paths more flowery and more smooth, but he found in unintermitted
labour, and in the sternness of his master, sufficient occasions for
discontent. No opportunities of recreation were allowed him. He spent
all his time pent up in a gloomy apartment, or traversing narrow and
crowded streets. His food was coarse, and his lodging humble. His heart
gradually contracted a habit of morose and gloomy reflection. He could
not accurately define what was wanting to his happiness. He was not
tortured by comparisons drawn between his own situation and that
of others. His state was such as suited his age and his views as to
fortune. He did not imagine himself treated with extraordinary or
unjustifiable rigor. In this respect he supposed the condition of
others, bound like himself to mercantile service, to resemble his own;
yet every engagement was irksome, and every hour tedious in its lapse.

In this state of mind he chanced to light upon a book written by one of
the teachers of the Albigenses, or French Protestants. He entertained no
relish for books, and was wholly unconscious of any power they possessed
to delight or instruct. This volume had lain for years in a corner of
his garret, half buried in dust and rubbish. He had marked it as it lay;
had thrown it, as his occasions required, from one spot to another; but
had felt no inclination to examine its contents, or even to inquire what
was the subject of which it treated.

One Sunday afternoon, being induced to retire for a few minutes to his
garret, his eye was attracted by a page of this book, which, by some
accident, had been opened and placed full in his view. He was seated on
the edge of his bed, and was employed in repairing a rent in some part
of his clothes. His eyes were not confined to his work, but occasionally
wandering, lighted at length upon the page. The words "Seek and ye
shall find," were those that first offered themselves to his notice.
His curiosity was roused by these so far as to prompt him to proceed.
As soon as he finished his work, he took up the book and turned to
the first page. The further he read, the more inducement he found to
continue, and he regretted the decline of the light which obliged him
for the present to close it.

The book contained an exposition of the doctrine of the sect of
Camissards, and an historical account of its origin. His mind was in a
state peculiarly fitted for the reception of devotional sentiments. The
craving which had haunted him was now supplied with an object. His mind
was at no loss for a theme of meditation. On days of business, he rose
at the dawn, and retired to his chamber not till late at night. He now
supplied himself with candles, and employed his nocturnal and Sunday
hours in studying this book. It, of course, abounded with allusions to
the Bible. All its conclusions were deduced from the sacred text. This
was the fountain, beyond which it was unnecessary to trace the stream of
religious truth; but it was his duty to trace it thus far.

A Bible was easily procured, and he ardently entered on the study of it.
His understanding had received a particular direction. All his reveries
were fashioned in the same mould. His progress towards the formation of
his creed was rapid. Every fact and sentiment in this book were viewed
through a medium which the writings of the Camissard apostle had
suggested. His constructions of the text were hasty, and formed on a
narrow scale. Every thing was viewed in a disconnected position. One
action and one precept were not employed to illustrate and restrict
the meaning of another. Hence arose a thousand scruples to which he had
hitherto been a stranger. He was alternately agitated by fear and by
ecstacy. He imagined himself beset by the snares of a spiritual foe, and
that his security lay in ceaseless watchfulness and prayer.

His morals, which had never been loose, were now modelled by a stricter
standard. The empire of religious duty extended itself to his looks,
gestures, and phrases. All levities of speech, and negligences of
behaviour, were proscribed. His air was mournful and contemplative.
He laboured to keep alive a sentiment of fear, and a belief of
the awe-creating presence of the Deity. Ideas foreign to this were
sedulously excluded. To suffer their intrusion was a crime against the
Divine Majesty inexpiable but by days and weeks of the keenest agonies.

No material variation had occurred in the lapse of two years. Every day
confirmed him in his present modes of thinking and acting. It was to
be expected that the tide of his emotions would sometimes recede, that
intervals of despondency and doubt would occur; but these gradually were
more rare, and of shorter duration; and he, at last, arrived at a state
considerably uniform in this respect.

His apprenticeship was now almost expired. On his arrival of age he
became entitled, by the will of my grand-father, to a small sum. This
sum would hardly suffice to set him afloat as a trader in his present
situation, and he had nothing to expect from the generosity of his
master. Residence in England had, besides, become almost impossible,
on account of his religious tenets. In addition to these motives for
seeking a new habitation, there was another of the most imperious and
irresistable necessity. He had imbibed an opinion that it was his duty
to disseminate the truths of the gospel among the unbelieving nations.
He was terrified at first by the perils and hardships to which the life
of a missionary is exposed. This cowardice made him diligent in the
invention of objections and excuses; but he found it impossible wholly
to shake off the belief that such was the injunction of his duty.
The belief, after every new conflict with his passions, acquired new
strength; and, at length, he formed a resolution of complying with what
he deemed the will of heaven.

The North-American Indians naturally presented themselves as the first
objects for this species of benevolence. As soon as his servitude
expired, he converted his little fortune into money, and embarked for
Philadelphia. Here his fears were revived, and a nearer survey of savage
manners once more shook his resolution. For a while he relinquished his
purpose, and purchasing a farm on Schuylkill, within a few miles of the
city, set himself down to the cultivation of it. The cheapness of land,
and the service of African slaves, which were then in general use,
gave him who was poor in Europe all the advantages of wealth. He passed
fourteen years in a thrifty and laborious manner. In this time new
objects, new employments, and new associates appeared to have nearly
obliterated the devout impressions of his youth. He now became
acquainted with a woman of a meek and quiet disposition, and of slender
acquirements like himself. He proffered his hand and was accepted.

His previous industry had now enabled him to dispense with personal
labour, and direct attention to his own concerns. He enjoyed leisure,
and was visited afresh by devotional contemplation. The reading of the
scriptures, and other religious books, became once more his favorite
employment. His ancient belief relative to the conversion of the savage
tribes, was revived with uncommon energy. To the former obstacles were
now added the pleadings of parental and conjugal love. The struggle
was long and vehement; but his sense of duty would not be stifled or
enfeebled, and finally triumphed over every impediment.

His efforts were attended with no permanent success. His exhortations
had sometimes a temporary power, but more frequently were repelled with
insult and derision. In pursuit of this object he encountered the most
imminent perils, and underwent incredible fatigues, hunger, sickness,
and solitude. The licence of savage passion, and the artifices of his
depraved countrymen, all opposed themselves to his progress. His courage
did not forsake him till there appeared no reasonable ground to hope for
success. He desisted not till his heart was relieved from the supposed
obligation to persevere. With his constitution somewhat decayed, he at
length returned to his family. An interval of tranquillity succeeded. He
was frugal, regular, and strict in the performance of domestic duties.
He allied himself with no sect, because he perfectly agreed with none.
Social worship is that by which they are all distinguished; but this
article found no place in his creed. He rigidly interpreted that precept
which enjoins us, when we worship, to retire into solitude, and shut
out every species of society. According to him devotion was not only a
silent office, but must be performed alone. An hour at noon, and an hour
at midnight were thus appropriated.

At the distance of three hundred yards from his house, on the top of a
rock whose sides were steep, rugged, and encumbered with dwarf cedars
and stony asperities, he built what to a common eye would have seemed a
summer-house. The eastern verge of this precipice was sixty feet above
the river which flowed at its foot. The view before it consisted of a
transparent current, fluctuating and rippling in a rocky channel, and
bounded by a rising scene of cornfields and orchards. The edifice was
slight and airy. It was no more than a circular area, twelve feet in
diameter, whose flooring was the rock, cleared of moss and shrubs, and
exactly levelled, edged by twelve Tuscan columns, and covered by an
undulating dome. My father furnished the dimensions and outlines, but
allowed the artist whom he employed to complete the structure on his own
plan. It was without seat, table, or ornament of any kind.

This was the temple of his Deity. Twice in twenty-four hours he repaired
hither, unaccompanied by any human being. Nothing but physical inability
to move was allowed to obstruct or postpone this visit. He did not exact
from his family compliance with his example. Few men, equally sincere
in their faith, were as sparing in their censures and restrictions,
with respect to the conduct of others, as my father. The character of
my mother was no less devout; but her education had habituated her to
a different mode of worship. The loneliness of their dwelling prevented
her from joining any established congregation; but she was punctual in
the offices of prayer, and in the performance of hymns to her Saviour,
after the manner of the disciples of Zinzendorf. My father refused
to interfere in her arrangements. His own system was embraced not,
accurately speaking, because it was the best, but because it had been
expressly prescribed to him. Other modes, if practised by other persons,
might be equally acceptable.

His deportment to others was full of charity and mildness. A sadness
perpetually overspread his features, but was unmingled with sternness or
discontent. The tones of his voice, his gestures, his steps were all in
tranquil unison. His conduct was characterised by a certain forbearance
and humility, which secured the esteem of those to whom his tenets were
most obnoxious. They might call him a fanatic and a dreamer, but they
could not deny their veneration to his invincible candour and invariable
integrity. His own belief of rectitude was the foundation of his
happiness. This, however, was destined to find an end.

Suddenly the sadness that constantly attended him was deepened. Sighs,
and even tears, sometimes escaped him. To the expostulations of his wife
he seldom answered any thing. When he designed to be communicative, he
hinted that his peace of mind was flown, in consequence of deviation
from his duty. A command had been laid upon him, which he had delayed to
perform. He felt as if a certain period of hesitation and reluctance
had been allowed him, but that this period was passed. He was no
longer permitted to obey. The duty assigned to him was transferred, in
consequence of his disobedience, to another, and all that remained was
to endure the penalty.

He did not describe this penalty. It appeared to be nothing more for
some time than a sense of wrong. This was sufficiently acute, and was
aggravated by the belief that his offence was incapable of expiation. No
one could contemplate the agonies which he seemed to suffer without the
deepest compassion. Time, instead of lightening the burthen, appeared to
add to it. At length he hinted to his wife, that his end was near. His
imagination did not prefigure the mode or the time of his decease, but
was fraught with an incurable persuasion that his death was at hand. He
was likewise haunted by the belief that the kind of death that awaited
him was strange and terrible. His anticipations were thus far vague and
indefinite; but they sufficed to poison every moment of his being, and
devote him to ceaseless anguish.

Chapter II

Early in the morning of a sultry day in August, he left Mettingen, to go
to the city. He had seldom passed a day from home since his return from
the shores of the Ohio. Some urgent engagements at this time existed,
which would not admit of further delay. He returned in the evening, but
appeared to be greatly oppressed with fatigue. His silence and dejection
were likewise in a more than ordinary degree conspicuous. My mother's
brother, whose profession was that of a surgeon, chanced to spend this
night at our house. It was from him that I have frequently received an
exact account of the mournful catastrophe that followed.

As the evening advanced, my father's inquietudes increased. He sat with
his family as usual, but took no part in their conversation. He appeared
fully engrossed by his own reflections. Occasionally his countenance
exhibited tokens of alarm; he gazed stedfastly and wildly at the
ceiling; and the exertions of his companions were scarcely sufficient
to interrupt his reverie. On recovering from these fits, he expressed no
surprize; but pressing his hand to his head, complained, in a tremulous
and terrified tone, that his brain was scorched to cinders. He would
then betray marks of insupportable anxiety.

My uncle perceived, by his pulse, that he was indisposed, but in no
alarming degree, and ascribed appearances chiefly to the workings of his
mind. He exhorted him to recollection and composure, but in vain. At the
hour of repose he readily retired to his chamber. At the persuasion of
my mother he even undressed and went to bed. Nothing could abate his
restlessness. He checked her tender expostulations with some sternness.
"Be silent," said he, "for that which I feel there is but one cure,
and that will shortly come. You can help me nothing. Look to your own
condition, and pray to God to strengthen you under the calamities that
await you." "What am I to fear?" she answered. "What terrible disaster
is it that you think of?" "Peace--as yet I know it not myself, but come
it will, and shortly." She repeated her inquiries and doubts; but he
suddenly put an end to the discourse, by a stern command to be silent.

She had never before known him in this mood. Hitherto all was benign in
his deportment. Her heart was pierced with sorrow at the contemplation
of this change. She was utterly unable to account for it, or to figure
to herself the species of disaster that was menaced.

Contrary to custom, the lamp, instead of being placed on the hearth, was
left upon the table. Over it against the wall there hung a small clock,
so contrived as to strike a very hard stroke at the end of every sixth
hour. That which was now approaching was the signal for retiring to the
fane at which he addressed his devotions. Long habit had occasioned him
to be always awake at this hour, and the toll was instantly obeyed.

Now frequent and anxious glances were cast at the clock. Not a single
movement of the index appeared to escape his notice. As the hour verged
towards twelve his anxiety visibly augmented. The trepidations of my
mother kept pace with those of her husband; but she was intimidated
into silence. All that was left to her was to watch every change of his
features, and give vent to her sympathy in tears.

At length the hour was spent, and the clock tolled. The sound appeared
to communicate a shock to every part of my father's frame. He rose
immediately, and threw over himself a loose gown. Even this office
was performed with difficulty, for his joints trembled, and his teeth
chattered with dismay. At this hour his duty called him to the rock, and
my mother naturally concluded that it was thither he intended to repair.
Yet these incidents were so uncommon, as to fill her with astonishment
and foreboding. She saw him leave the room, and heard his steps as they
hastily descended the stairs. She half resolved to rise and pursue him,
but the wildness of the scheme quickly suggested itself. He was going
to a place whither no power on earth could induce him to suffer an

The window of her chamber looked toward the rock. The atmosphere was
clear and calm, but the edifice could not be discovered at that distance
through the dusk. My mother's anxiety would not allow her to remain
where she was. She rose, and seated herself at the window. She strained
her sight to get a view of the dome, and of the path that led to it. The
first painted itself with sufficient distinctness on her fancy, but
was undistinguishable by the eye from the rocky mass on which it was
erected. The second could be imperfectly seen; but her husband had
already passed, or had taken a different direction.

What was it that she feared? Some disaster impended over her husband or
herself. He had predicted evils, but professed himself ignorant of what
nature they were. When were they to come? Was this night, or this hour
to witness the accomplishment? She was tortured with impatience, and
uncertainty. All her fears were at present linked to his person, and she
gazed at the clock, with nearly as much eagerness as my father had done,
in expectation of the next hour.

An half hour passed away in this state of suspence. Her eyes were fixed
upon the rock; suddenly it was illuminated. A light proceeding from the
edifice, made every part of the scene visible. A gleam diffused itself
over the intermediate space, and instantly a loud report, like the
explosion of a mine, followed. She uttered an involuntary shriek, but
the new sounds that greeted her ear, quickly conquered her surprise.
They were piercing shrieks, and uttered without intermission. The gleams
which had diffused themselves far and wide were in a moment withdrawn,
but the interior of the edifice was filled with rays.

The first suggestion was that a pistol was discharged, and that the
structure was on fire. She did not allow herself time to meditate a
second thought, but rushed into the entry and knocked loudly at the door
of her brother's chamber. My uncle had been previously roused by the
noise, and instantly flew to the window. He also imagined what he saw
to be fire. The loud and vehement shrieks which succeeded the first
explosion, seemed to be an invocation of succour. The incident was
inexplicable; but he could not fail to perceive the propriety of
hastening to the spot. He was unbolting the door, when his sister's
voice was heard on the outside conjuring him to come forth.

He obeyed the summons with all the speed in his power. He stopped not
to question her, but hurried down stairs and across the meadow which lay
between the house and the rock. The shrieks were no longer to be heard;
but a blazing light was clearly discernible between the columns of the
temple. Irregular steps, hewn in the stone, led him to the summit. On
three sides, this edifice touched the very verge of the cliff. On the
fourth side, which might be regarded as the front, there was an area
of small extent, to which the rude staircase conducted you. My uncle
speedily gained this spot. His strength was for a moment exhausted
by his haste. He paused to rest himself. Meanwhile he bent the most
vigilant attention towards the object before him.

Within the columns he beheld what he could no better describe, than
by saying that it resembled a cloud impregnated with light. It had
the brightness of flame, but was without its upward motion. It did not
occupy the whole area, and rose but a few feet above the floor. No
part of the building was on fire. This appearance was astonishing. He
approached the temple. As he went forward the light retired, and, when
he put his feet within the apartment, utterly vanished. The suddenness
of this transition increased the darkness that succeeded in a tenfold
degree. Fear and wonder rendered him powerless. An occurrence like this,
in a place assigned to devotion, was adapted to intimidate the stoutest

His wandering thoughts were recalled by the groans of one near him.
His sight gradually recovered its power, and he was able to discern my
father stretched on the floor. At that moment, my mother and servants
arrived with a lanthorn, and enabled my uncle to examine more closely
this scene. My father, when he left the house, besides a loose upper
vest and slippers, wore a shirt and drawers. Now he was naked, his skin
throughout the greater part of his body was scorched and bruised. His
right arm exhibited marks as of having been struck by some heavy body.
His clothes had been removed, and it was not immediately perceived that
they were reduced to ashes. His slippers and his hair were untouched.

He was removed to his chamber, and the requisite attention paid to his
wounds, which gradually became more painful. A mortification speedily
shewed itself in the arm, which had been most hurt. Soon after, the
other wounded parts exhibited the like appearance.

Immediately subsequent to this disaster, my father seemed nearly in
a state of insensibility. He was passive under every operation. He
scarcely opened his eyes, and was with difficulty prevailed upon to
answer the questions that were put to him. By his imperfect account, it
appeared, that while engaged in silent orisons, with thoughts full
of confusion and anxiety, a faint gleam suddenly shot athwart the
apartment. His fancy immediately pictured to itself, a person bearing
a lamp. It seemed to come from behind. He was in the act of turning to
examine the visitant, when his right arm received a blow from a heavy
club. At the same instant, a very bright spark was seen to light upon
his clothes. In a moment, the whole was reduced to ashes. This was the
sum of the information which he chose to give. There was somewhat in
his manner that indicated an imperfect tale. My uncle was inclined to
believe that half the truth had been suppressed.

Meanwhile, the disease thus wonderfully generated, betrayed more
terrible symptoms. Fever and delirium terminated in lethargic slumber,
which, in the course of two hours, gave place to death. Yet not till
insupportable exhalations and crawling putrefaction had driven from his
chamber and the house every one whom their duty did not detain.

Such was the end of my father. None surely was ever more mysterious.
When we recollect his gloomy anticipations and unconquerable anxiety;
the security from human malice which his character, the place, and the
condition of the times, might be supposed to confer; the purity and
cloudlessness of the atmosphere, which rendered it impossible that
lightning was the cause; what are the conclusions that we must form?

The prelusive gleam, the blow upon his arm, the fatal spark, the
explosion heard so far, the fiery cloud that environed him, without
detriment to the structure, though composed of combustible materials,
the sudden vanishing of this cloud at my uncle's approach--what is the
inference to be drawn from these facts? Their truth cannot be doubted.
My uncle's testimony is peculiarly worthy of credit, because no man's
temper is more sceptical, and his belief is unalterably attached to
natural causes.

I was at this time a child of six years of age. The impressions that
were then made upon me, can never be effaced. I was ill qualified to
judge respecting what was then passing; but as I advanced in age, and
became more fully acquainted with these facts, they oftener became the
subject of my thoughts. Their resemblance to recent events revived them
with new force in my memory, and made me more anxious to explain them.
Was this the penalty of disobedience? this the stroke of a vindictive
and invisible hand? Is it a fresh proof that the Divine Ruler interferes
in human affairs, meditates an end, selects, and commissions his agents,
and enforces, by unequivocal sanctions, submission to his will? Or, was
it merely the irregular expansion of the fluid that imparts warmth to
our heart and our blood, caused by the fatigue of the preceding day, or
flowing, by established laws, from the condition of his thoughts? [*]

     * A case, in its symptoms exactly parallel to this, is
     published in one of the Journals of Florence. See, likewise,
     similar cases reported by Messrs. Merille and Muraire, in
     the "Journal de Medicine," for February and May, 1783. The
     researches of Maffei and Fontana have thrown some light upon
     this subject.

Chapter III

The shock which this disastrous occurrence occasioned to my mother, was
the foundation of a disease which carried her, in a few months, to the
grave. My brother and myself were children at this time, and were now
reduced to the condition of orphans. The property which our parents left
was by no means inconsiderable. It was entrusted to faithful hands,
till we should arrive at a suitable age. Meanwhile, our education was
assigned to a maiden aunt who resided in the city, and whose tenderness
made us in a short time cease to regret that we had lost a mother.

The years that succeeded were tranquil and happy. Our lives were
molested by few of those cares that are incident to childhood. By
accident more than design, the indulgence and yielding temper of our
aunt was mingled with resolution and stedfastness. She seldom deviated
into either extreme of rigour or lenity. Our social pleasures were
subject to no unreasonable restraints. We were instructed in most
branches of useful knowledge, and were saved from the corruption and
tyranny of colleges and boarding-schools.

Our companions were chiefly selected from the children of our
neighbours. Between one of these and my brother, there quickly grew the
most affectionate intimacy. Her name was Catharine Pleyel. She was rich,
beautiful, and contrived to blend the most bewitching softness with
the most exuberant vivacity. The tie by which my brother and she were
united, seemed to add force to the love which I bore her, and which
was amply returned. Between her and myself there was every circumstance
tending to produce and foster friendship. Our sex and age were the same.
We lived within sight of each other's abode. Our tempers were remarkably
congenial, and the superintendants of our education not only prescribed
to us the same pursuits, but allowed us to cultivate them together.

Every day added strength to the triple bonds that united us. We
gradually withdrew ourselves from the society of others, and found every
moment irksome that was not devoted to each other. My brother's advance
in age made no change in our situation. It was determined that his
profession should be agriculture. His fortune exempted him from the
necessity of personal labour. The task to be performed by him was
nothing more than superintendance. The skill that was demanded by this
was merely theoretical, and was furnished by casual inspection, or
by closet study. The attention that was paid to this subject did not
seclude him for any long time from us, on whom time had no other effect
than to augment our impatience in the absence of each other and of
him. Our tasks, our walks, our music, were seldom performed but in each
other's company.

It was easy to see that Catharine and my brother were born for each
other. The passion which they mutually entertained quickly broke those
bounds which extreme youth had set to it; confessions were made or
extorted, and their union was postponed only till my brother had
passed his minority. The previous lapse of two years was constantly and
usefully employed.

O my brother! But the task I have set myself let me perform with
steadiness. The felicity of that period was marred by no gloomy
anticipations. The future, like the present, was serene. Time was
supposed to have only new delights in store. I mean not to dwell on
previous incidents longer than is necessary to illustrate or explain
the great events that have since happened. The nuptial day at length
arrived. My brother took possession of the house in which he was born,
and here the long protracted marriage was solemnized.

My father's property was equally divided between us. A neat dwelling,
situated on the bank of the river, three quarters of a mile from my
brother's, was now occupied by me. These domains were called, from the
name of the first possessor, Mettingen. I can scarcely account for my
refusing to take up my abode with him, unless it were from a disposition
to be an economist of pleasure. Self-denial, seasonably exercised, is
one means of enhancing our gratifications. I was, beside, desirous of
administering a fund, and regulating an household, of my own. The short
distance allowed us to exchange visits as often as we pleased. The
walk from one mansion to the other was no undelightful prelude to our
interviews. I was sometimes their visitant, and they, as frequently,
were my guests.

Our education had been modelled by no religious standard. We were left
to the guidance of our own understanding, and the casual impressions
which society might make upon us. My friend's temper, as well as my own,
exempted us from much anxiety on this account. It must not be supposed
that we were without religion, but with us it was the product of
lively feelings, excited by reflection on our own happiness, and by the
grandeur of external nature. We sought not a basis for our faith, in
the weighing of proofs, and the dissection of creeds. Our devotion was
a mixed and casual sentiment, seldom verbally expressed, or solicitously
sought, or carefully retained. In the midst of present enjoyment,
no thought was bestowed on the future. As a consolation in calamity
religion is dear. But calamity was yet at a distance, and its only
tendency was to heighten enjoyments which needed not this addition to
satisfy every craving.

My brother's situation was somewhat different. His deportment was grave,
considerate, and thoughtful. I will not say whether he was indebted to
sublimer views for this disposition. Human life, in his opinion, was
made up of changeable elements, and the principles of duty were not
easily unfolded. The future, either as anterior, or subsequent to death,
was a scene that required some preparation and provision to be made for
it. These positions we could not deny, but what distinguished him was a
propensity to ruminate on these truths. The images that visited us were
blithsome and gay, but those with which he was most familiar were of
an opposite hue. They did not generate affliction and fear, but they
diffused over his behaviour a certain air of forethought and sobriety.
The principal effect of this temper was visible in his features and
tones. These, in general, bespoke a sort of thrilling melancholy. I
scarcely ever knew him to laugh. He never accompanied the lawless mirth
of his companions with more than a smile, but his conduct was the same
as ours.

He partook of our occupations and amusements with a zeal not less than
ours, but of a different kind. The diversity in our temper was never
the parent of discord, and was scarcely a topic of regret. The scene
was variegated, but not tarnished or disordered by it. It hindered the
element in which we moved from stagnating. Some agitation and concussion
is requisite to the due exercise of human understanding. In his studies,
he pursued an austerer and more arduous path. He was much conversant
with the history of religious opinions, and took pains to ascertain
their validity. He deemed it indispensable to examine the ground of
his belief, to settle the relation between motives and actions, the
criterion of merit, and the kinds and properties of evidence.

There was an obvious resemblance between him and my father, in their
conceptions of the importance of certain topics, and in the light in
which the vicissitudes of human life were accustomed to be viewed.
Their characters were similar, but the mind of the son was enriched by
science, and embellished with literature.

The temple was no longer assigned to its ancient use. From an Italian
adventurer, who erroneously imagined that he could find employment
for his skill, and sale for his sculptures in America, my brother had
purchased a bust of Cicero. He professed to have copied this piece from
an antique dug up with his own hands in the environs of Modena. Of the
truth of his assertions we were not qualified to judge; but the marble
was pure and polished, and we were contented to admire the performance,
without waiting for the sanction of connoisseurs. We hired the same
artist to hew a suitable pedestal from a neighbouring quarry. This was
placed in the temple, and the bust rested upon it. Opposite to this was
a harpsichord, sheltered by a temporary roof from the weather. This was
the place of resort in the evenings of summer. Here we sung, and talked,
and read, and occasionally banqueted. Every joyous and tender scene most
dear to my memory, is connected with this edifice. Here the performances
of our musical and poetical ancestor were rehearsed. Here my brother's
children received the rudiments of their education; here a thousand
conversations, pregnant with delight and improvement, took place; and
here the social affections were accustomed to expand, and the tear of
delicious sympathy to be shed.

My brother was an indefatigable student. The authors whom he read were
numerous, but the chief object of his veneration was Cicero. He was
never tired of conning and rehearsing his productions. To understand
them was not sufficient. He was anxious to discover the gestures and
cadences with which they ought to be delivered. He was very scrupulous
in selecting a true scheme of pronunciation for the Latin tongue, and in
adapting it to the words of his darling writer. His favorite occupation
consisted in embellishing his rhetoric with all the proprieties of
gesticulation and utterance.

Not contented with this, he was diligent in settling and restoring the
purity of the text. For this end, he collected all the editions and
commentaries that could be procured, and employed months of severe study
in exploring and comparing them. He never betrayed more satisfaction
than when he made a discovery of this kind.

It was not till the addition of Henry Pleyel, my friend's only brother,
to our society, that his passion for Roman eloquence was countenanced
and fostered by a sympathy of tastes. This young man had been some years
in Europe. We had separated at a very early age, and he was now returned
to spend the remainder of his days among us.

Our circle was greatly enlivened by the accession of a new member. His
conversation abounded with novelty. His gaiety was almost boisterous,
but was capable of yielding to a grave deportment when the occasion
required it. His discernment was acute, but he was prone to view every
object merely as supplying materials for mirth. His conceptions
were ardent but ludicrous, and his memory, aided, as he honestly
acknowledged, by his invention, was an inexhaustible fund of

His residence was at the same distance below the city as ours was above,
but there seldom passed a day without our being favoured with a visit.
My brother and he were endowed with the same attachment to the Latin
writers; and Pleyel was not behind his friend in his knowledge of the
history and metaphysics of religion. Their creeds, however, were in many
respects opposite. Where one discovered only confirmations of his faith,
the other could find nothing but reasons for doubt. Moral necessity,
and calvinistic inspiration, were the props on which my brother thought
proper to repose. Pleyel was the champion of intellectual liberty, and
rejected all guidance but that of his reason. Their discussions were
frequent, but, being managed with candour as well as with skill, they
were always listened to by us with avidity and benefit.

Pleyel, like his new friends, was fond of music and poetry. Henceforth
our concerts consisted of two violins, an harpsichord, and three voices.
We were frequently reminded how much happiness depends upon society.
This new friend, though, before his arrival, we were sensible of no
vacuity, could not now be spared. His departure would occasion a void
which nothing could fill, and which would produce insupportable regret.
Even my brother, though his opinions were hourly assailed, and even the
divinity of Cicero contested, was captivated with his friend, and laid
aside some part of his ancient gravity at Pleyel's approach.

Chapter IV

Six years of uninterrupted happiness had rolled away, since my brother's
marriage. The sound of war had been heard, but it was at such a distance
as to enhance our enjoyment by affording objects of comparison. The
Indians were repulsed on the one side, and Canada was conquered on the
other. Revolutions and battles, however calamitous to those who occupied
the scene, contributed in some sort to our happiness, by agitating our
minds with curiosity, and furnishing causes of patriotic exultation.
Four children, three of whom were of an age to compensate, by their
personal and mental progress, the cares of which they had been, at a
more helpless age, the objects, exercised my brother's tenderness. The
fourth was a charming babe that promised to display the image of her
mother, and enjoyed perfect health. To these were added a sweet girl
fourteen years old, who was loved by all of us, with an affection more
than parental.

Her mother's story was a mournful one. She had come hither from England
when this child was an infant, alone, without friends, and without
money. She appeared to have embarked in a hasty and clandestine
manner. She passed three years of solitude and anguish under my aunt's
protection, and died a martyr to woe; the source of which she could, by
no importunities, be prevailed upon to unfold. Her education and manners
bespoke her to be of no mean birth. Her last moments were rendered
serene, by the assurances she received from my aunt, that her daughter
should experience the same protection that had been extended to herself.

On my brother's marriage, it was agreed that she should make a part of
his family. I cannot do justice to the attractions of this girl. Perhaps
the tenderness she excited might partly originate in her personal
resemblance to her mother, whose character and misfortunes were
still fresh in our remembrance. She was habitually pensive, and this
circumstance tended to remind the spectator of her friendless condition;
and yet that epithet was surely misapplied in this case. This being was
cherished by those with whom she now resided, with unspeakable fondness.
Every exertion was made to enlarge and improve her mind. Her safety
was the object of a solicitude that almost exceeded the bounds of
discretion. Our affection indeed could scarcely transcend her merits.
She never met my eye, or occurred to my reflections, without exciting
a kind of enthusiasm. Her softness, her intelligence, her equanimity,
never shall I see surpassed. I have often shed tears of pleasure at her
approach, and pressed her to my bosom in an agony of fondness.

While every day was adding to the charms of her person, and the stores
of her mind, there occurred an event which threatened to deprive us
of her. An officer of some rank, who had been disabled by a wound
at Quebec, had employed himself, since the ratification of peace, in
travelling through the colonies. He remained a considerable period at
Philadelphia, but was at last preparing for his departure. No one had
been more frequently honoured with his visits than Mrs. Baynton, a
worthy lady with whom our family were intimate. He went to her house
with a view to perform a farewell visit, and was on the point of taking
his leave, when I and my young friend entered the apartment. It is
impossible to describe the emotions of the stranger, when he fixed his
eyes upon my companion. He was motionless with surprise. He was unable
to conceal his feelings, but sat silently gazing at the spectacle before
him. At length he turned to Mrs. Baynton, and more by his looks and
gestures than by words, besought her for an explanation of the scene.
He seized the hand of the girl, who, in her turn, was surprised by his
behaviour, and drawing her forward, said in an eager and faultering
tone, Who is she? whence does she come? what is her name?

The answers that were given only increased the confusion of his
thoughts. He was successively told, that she was the daughter of one
whose name was Louisa Conway, who arrived among us at such a time, who
sedulously concealed her parentage, and the motives of her flight, whose
incurable griefs had finally destroyed her, and who had left this child
under the protection of her friends. Having heard the tale, he melted
into tears, eagerly clasped the young lady in his arms, and called
himself her father. When the tumults excited in his breast by this
unlooked-for meeting were somewhat subsided, he gratified our curiosity
by relating the following incidents.

"Miss Conway was the only daughter of a banker in London, who discharged
towards her every duty of an affectionate father. He had chanced to fall
into her company, had been subdued by her attractions, had tendered her
his hand, and been joyfully accepted both by parent and child. His wife
had given him every proof of the fondest attachment. Her father, who
possessed immense wealth, treated him with distinguished respect,
liberally supplied his wants, and had made one condition of his consent
to their union, a resolution to take up their abode with him.

"They had passed three years of conjugal felicity, which had been
augmented by the birth of this child; when his professional duty called
him into Germany. It was not without an arduous struggle, that she was
persuaded to relinquish the design of accompanying him through all the
toils and perils of war. No parting was ever more distressful. They
strove to alleviate, by frequent letters, the evils of their lot. Those
of his wife, breathed nothing but anxiety for his safety, and impatience
of his absence. At length, a new arrangement was made, and he was
obliged to repair from Westphalia to Canada. One advantage attended this
change. It afforded him an opportunity of meeting his family. His
wife anticipated this interview, with no less rapture than himself. He
hurried to London, and the moment he alighted from the stage-coach, ran
with all speed to Mr. Conway's house.

"It was an house of mourning. His father was overwhelmed with grief, and
incapable of answering his inquiries. The servants, sorrowful and mute,
were equally refractory. He explored the house, and called on the names
of his wife and daughter, but his summons was fruitless. At length,
this new disaster was explained. Two days before his arrival, his wife's
chamber was found empty. No search, however diligent and anxious, could
trace her steps. No cause could be assigned for her disappearance. The
mother and child had fled away together.

"New exertions were made, her chamber and cabinets were ransacked, but
no vestige was found serving to inform them as to the motives of her
flight, whether it had been voluntary or otherwise, and in what corner
of the kingdom or of the world she was concealed. Who shall describe the
sorrow and amazement of the husband? His restlessness, his vicissitudes
of hope and fear, and his ultimate despair? His duty called him to
America. He had been in this city, and had frequently passed the door of
the house in which his wife, at that moment, resided. Her father had not
remitted his exertions to elucidate this painful mystery, but they had
failed. This disappointment hastened his death; in consequence of which,
Louisa's father became possessor of his immense property."

This tale was a copious theme of speculation. A thousand questions were
started and discussed in our domestic circle, respecting the motives
that influenced Mrs. Stuart to abandon her country. It did not appear
that her proceeding was involuntary. We recalled and reviewed every
particular that had fallen under our own observation. By none of these
were we furnished with a clue. Her conduct, after the most rigorous
scrutiny, still remained an impenetrable secret. On a nearer view, Major
Stuart proved himself a man of most amiable character. His attachment
to Louisa appeared hourly to increase. She was no stranger to the
sentiments suitable to her new character. She could not but readily
embrace the scheme which was proposed to her, to return with her father
to England. This scheme his regard for her induced him, however, to
postpone. Some time was necessary to prepare her for so great a change
and enable her to think without agony of her separation from us.

I was not without hopes of prevailing on her father entirely to
relinquish this unwelcome design. Meanwhile, he pursued his travels
through the southern colonies, and his daughter continued with us.
Louisa and my brother frequently received letters from him, which
indicated a mind of no common order. They were filled with amusing
details, and profound reflections. While here, he often partook of
our evening conversations at the temple; and since his departure, his
correspondence had frequently supplied us with topics of discourse.

One afternoon in May, the blandness of the air, and brightness of the
verdure, induced us to assemble, earlier than usual, in the temple.
We females were busy at the needle, while my brother and Pleyel were
bandying quotations and syllogisms. The point discussed was the merit of
the oration for Cluentius, as descriptive, first, of the genius of the
speaker; and, secondly, of the manners of the times. Pleyel laboured to
extenuate both these species of merit, and tasked his ingenuity, to shew
that the orator had embraced a bad cause; or, at least, a doubtful one.
He urged, that to rely on the exaggerations of an advocate, or to
make the picture of a single family a model from which to sketch the
condition of a nation, was absurd. The controversy was suddenly diverted
into a new channel, by a misquotation. Pleyel accused his companion of
saying "polliciatur" when he should have said "polliceretur." Nothing
would decide the contest, but an appeal to the volume. My brother was
returning to the house for this purpose, when a servant met him with
a letter from Major Stuart. He immediately returned to read it in our

Besides affectionate compliments to us, and paternal benedictions
on Louisa, his letter contained a description of a waterfall on the
Monongahela. A sudden gust of rain falling, we were compelled to remove
to the house. The storm passed away, and a radiant moon-light succeeded.
There was no motion to resume our seats in the temple. We therefore
remained where we were, and engaged in sprightly conversation. The
letter lately received naturally suggested the topic. A parallel was
drawn between the cataract there described, and one which Pleyel had
discovered among the Alps of Glarus. In the state of the former, some
particular was mentioned, the truth of which was questionable. To settle
the dispute which thence arose, it was proposed to have recourse to the
letter. My brother searched for it in his pocket. It was no where to be
found. At length, he remembered to have left it in the temple, and he
determined to go in search of it. His wife, Pleyel, Louisa, and myself,
remained where we were.

In a few minutes he returned. I was somewhat interested in the dispute,
and was therefore impatient for his return; yet, as I heard him
ascending the stairs, I could not but remark, that he had executed his
intention with remarkable dispatch. My eyes were fixed upon him on his
entrance. Methought he brought with him looks considerably different
from those with which he departed. Wonder, and a slight portion of
anxiety were mingled in them. His eyes seemed to be in search of some
object. They passed quickly from one person to another, till they rested
on his wife. She was seated in a careless attitude on the sofa, in the
same spot as before. She had the same muslin in her hand, by which her
attention was chiefly engrossed.

The moment he saw her, his perplexity visibly increased. He quietly
seated himself, and fixing his eyes on the floor, appeared to be
absorbed in meditation. These singularities suspended the inquiry which
I was preparing to make respecting the letter. In a short time, the
company relinquished the subject which engaged them, and directed their
attention to Wieland. They thought that he only waited for a pause in
the discourse, to produce the letter. The pause was uninterrupted by
him. At length Pleyel said, "Well, I suppose you have found the letter."

"No," said he, without any abatement of his gravity, and looking
stedfastly at his wife, "I did not mount the hill."--"Why
not?"--"Catharine, have you not moved from that spot since I left the
room?"--She was affected with the solemnity of his manner, and laying
down her work, answered in a tone of surprise, "No; Why do you ask that
question?"--His eyes were again fixed upon the floor, and he did not
immediately answer. At length, he said, looking round upon us, "Is it
true that Catharine did not follow me to the hill? That she did not just
now enter the room?"--We assured him, with one voice, that she had not
been absent for a moment, and inquired into the motive of his questions.

"Your assurances," said he, "are solemn and unanimous; and yet I must
deny credit to your assertions, or disbelieve the testimony of my
senses, which informed me, when I was half way up the hill, that
Catharine was at the bottom."

We were confounded at this declaration. Pleyel rallied him with great
levity on his behaviour. He listened to his friend with calmness, but
without any relaxation of features.

"One thing," said he with emphasis, "is true; either I heard my
wife's voice at the bottom of the hill, or I do not hear your voice at

"Truly," returned Pleyel, "it is a sad dilemma to which you have reduced
yourself. Certain it is, if our eyes can give us certainty that your
wife has been sitting in that spot during every moment of your absence.
You have heard her voice, you say, upon the hill. In general, her voice,
like her temper, is all softness. To be heard across the room, she is
obliged to exert herself. While you were gone, if I mistake not, she did
not utter a word. Clara and I had all the talk to ourselves. Still it
may be that she held a whispering conference with you on the hill; but
tell us the particulars."

"The conference," said he, "was short; and far from being carried on in
a whisper. You know with what intention I left the house. Half way to
the rock, the moon was for a moment hidden from us by a cloud. I never
knew the air to be more bland and more calm. In this interval I glanced
at the temple, and thought I saw a glimmering between the columns. It
was so faint, that it would not perhaps have been visible, if the moon
had not been shrowded. I looked again, but saw nothing. I never visit
this building alone, or at night, without being reminded of the fate
of my father. There was nothing wonderful in this appearance; yet it
suggested something more than mere solitude and darkness in the same
place would have done.

"I kept on my way. The images that haunted me were solemn; and I
entertained an imperfect curiosity, but no fear, as to the nature of
this object. I had ascended the hill little more than half way, when a
voice called me from behind. The accents were clear, distinct, powerful,
and were uttered, as I fully believed, by my wife. Her voice is
not commonly so loud. She has seldom occasion to exert it, but,
nevertheless, I have sometimes heard her call with force and eagerness.
If my ear was not deceived, it was her voice which I heard.

"Stop, go no further. There is danger in your path." The suddenness
and unexpectedness of this warning, the tone of alarm with which it was
given, and, above all, the persuasion that it was my wife who spoke,
were enough to disconcert and make me pause. I turned and listened to
assure myself that I was not mistaken. The deepest silence succeeded. At
length, I spoke in my turn. Who calls? is it you, Catharine? I stopped
and presently received an answer. "Yes, it is I; go not up; return
instantly; you are wanted at the house." Still the voice was
Catharine's, and still it proceeded from the foot of the stairs.

"What could I do? The warning was mysterious. To be uttered by Catharine
at a place, and on an occasion like these, enhanced the mystery. I could
do nothing but obey. Accordingly, I trod back my steps, expecting that
she waited for me at the bottom of the hill. When I reached the
bottom, no one was visible. The moon-light was once more universal and
brilliant, and yet, as far as I could see no human or moving figure
was discernible. If she had returned to the house, she must have used
wondrous expedition to have passed already beyond the reach of my eye.
I exerted my voice, but in vain. To my repeated exclamations, no answer
was returned.

"Ruminating on these incidents, I returned hither. There was no room
to doubt that I had heard my wife's voice; attending incidents were not
easily explained; but you now assure me that nothing extraordinary has
happened to urge my return, and that my wife has not moved from her

Such was my brother's narrative. It was heard by us with different
emotions. Pleyel did not scruple to regard the whole as a deception of
the senses. Perhaps a voice had been heard; but Wieland's imagination
had misled him in supposing a resemblance to that of his wife, and
giving such a signification to the sounds. According to his custom
he spoke what he thought. Sometimes, he made it the theme of grave
discussion, but more frequently treated it with ridicule. He did not
believe that sober reasoning would convince his friend, and gaiety, he
thought, was useful to take away the solemnities which, in a mind like
Wieland's, an accident of this kind was calculated to produce.

Pleyel proposed to go in search of the letter. He went and speedily
returned, bearing it in his hand. He had found it open on the pedestal;
and neither voice nor visage had risen to impede his design.

Catharine was endowed with an uncommon portion of good sense; but her
mind was accessible, on this quarter, to wonder and panic. That her
voice should be thus inexplicably and unwarrantably assumed, was a
source of no small disquietude. She admitted the plausibility of the
arguments by which Pleyel endeavoured to prove, that this was no more
than an auricular deception; but this conviction was sure to be shaken,
when she turned her eyes upon her husband, and perceived that Pleyel's
logic was far from having produced the same effect upon him.

As to myself, my attention was engaged by this occurrence. I could not
fail to perceive a shadowy resemblance between it and my father's death.
On the latter event, I had frequently reflected; my reflections never
conducted me to certainty, but the doubts that existed were not of a
tormenting kind. I could not deny that the event was miraculous, and
yet I was invincibly averse to that method of solution. My wonder was
excited by the inscrutableness of the cause, but my wonder was unmixed
with sorrow or fear. It begat in me a thrilling, and not unpleasing
solemnity. Similar to these were the sensations produced by the recent

But its effect upon my brother's imagination was of chief moment.
All that was desirable was, that it should be regarded by him with
indifference. The worst effect that could flow, was not indeed very
formidable. Yet I could not bear to think that his senses should be the
victims of such delusion. It argued a diseased condition of his frame,
which might show itself hereafter in more dangerous symptoms. The will
is the tool of the understanding, which must fashion its conclusions
on the notices of sense. If the senses be depraved, it is impossible to
calculate the evils that may flow from the consequent deductions of the

I said, this man is of an ardent and melancholy character. Those ideas
which, in others, are casual or obscure, which are entertained in
moments of abstraction and solitude, and easily escape when the scene is
changed, have obtained an immoveable hold upon his mind. The conclusions
which long habit has rendered familiar, and, in some sort, palpable to
his intellect, are drawn from the deepest sources. All his actions and
practical sentiments are linked with long and abstruse deductions
from the system of divine government and the laws of our intellectual
constitution. He is, in some respects, an enthusiast, but is fortified
in his belief by innumerable arguments and subtilties.

His father's death was always regarded by him as flowing from a direct
and supernatural decree. It visited his meditations oftener than it did
mine. The traces which it left were more gloomy and permanent. This new
incident had a visible effect in augmenting his gravity. He was less
disposed than formerly to converse and reading. When we sifted his
thoughts, they were generally found to have a relation, more or less
direct, with this incident. It was difficult to ascertain the exact
species of impression which it made upon him. He never introduced the
subject into conversation, and listened with a silent and half-serious
smile to the satirical effusions of Pleyel.

One evening we chanced to be alone together in the temple. I seized that
opportunity of investigating the state of his thoughts. After a pause,
which he seemed in no wise inclined to interrupt, I spoke to him--"How
almost palpable is this dark; yet a ray from above would dispel it."
"Ay," said Wieland, with fervor, "not only the physical, but moral night
would be dispelled." "But why," said I, "must the Divine Will address
its precepts to the eye?" He smiled significantly. "True," said he, "the
understanding has other avenues." "You have never," said I, approaching
nearer to the point--"you have never told me in what way you considered
the late extraordinary incident." "There is no determinate way in which
the subject can be viewed. Here is an effect, but the cause is utterly
inscrutable. To suppose a deception will not do. Such is possible, but
there are twenty other suppositions more probable. They must all be set
aside before we reach that point." "What are these twenty suppositions?"
"It is needless to mention them. They are only less improbable than
Pleyel's. Time may convert one of them into certainty. Till then it is
useless to expatiate on them."

Chapter V

Some time had elapsed when there happened another occurrence, still more
remarkable. Pleyel, on his return from Europe, brought information of
considerable importance to my brother. My ancestors were noble Saxons,
and possessed large domains in Lusatia. The Prussian wars had destroyed
those persons whose right to these estates precluded my brother's.
Pleyel had been exact in his inquiries, and had discovered that, by the
law of male-primogeniture, my brother's claims were superior to those
of any other person now living. Nothing was wanting but his presence in
that country, and a legal application to establish this claim.

Pleyel strenuously recommended this measure. The advantages he thought
attending it were numerous, and it would argue the utmost folly to
neglect them. Contrary to his expectation he found my brother averse
to the scheme. Slight efforts, he, at first, thought would subdue his
reluctance; but he found this aversion by no means slight. The interest
that he took in the happiness of his friend and his sister, and his own
partiality to the Saxon soil, from which he had likewise sprung, and
where he had spent several years of his youth, made him redouble his
exertions to win Wieland's consent. For this end he employed every
argument that his invention could suggest. He painted, in attractive
colours, the state of manners and government in that country, the
security of civil rights, and the freedom of religious sentiments. He
dwelt on the privileges of wealth and rank, and drew from the servile
condition of one class, an argument in favor of his scheme, since the
revenue and power annexed to a German principality afford so large a
field for benevolence. The evil flowing from this power, in malignant
hands, was proportioned to the good that would arise from the virtuous
use of it. Hence, Wieland, in forbearing to claim his own, withheld all
the positive felicity that would accrue to his vassals from his success,
and hazarded all the misery that would redound from a less enlightened

It was easy for my brother to repel these arguments, and to shew that no
spot on the globe enjoyed equal security and liberty to that which he
at present inhabited. That if the Saxons had nothing to fear from
mis-government, the external causes of havoc and alarm were numerous and
manifest. The recent devastations committed by the Prussians furnished
a specimen of these. The horrors of war would always impend over them,
till Germany were seized and divided by Austrian and Prussian tyrants;
an event which he strongly suspected was at no great distance. But
setting these considerations aside, was it laudable to grasp at wealth
and power even when they were within our reach? Were not these the two
great sources of depravity? What security had he, that in this change
of place and condition, he should not degenerate into a tyrant and
voluptuary? Power and riches were chiefly to be dreaded on account of
their tendency to deprave the possessor. He held them in abhorrence, not
only as instruments of misery to others, but to him on whom they
were conferred. Besides, riches were comparative, and was he not rich
already? He lived at present in the bosom of security and luxury. All
the instruments of pleasure, on which his reason or imagination set any
value, were within his reach. But these he must forego, for the sake of
advantages which, whatever were their value, were as yet uncertain. In
pursuit of an imaginary addition to his wealth, he must reduce himself
to poverty, he must exchange present certainties for what was distant
and contingent; for who knows not that the law is a system of expence,
delay and uncertainty? If he should embrace this scheme, it would lay
him under the necessity of making a voyage to Europe, and remaining for
a certain period, separate from his family. He must undergo the perils
and discomforts of the ocean; he must divest himself of all domestic
pleasures; he must deprive his wife of her companion, and his children
of a father and instructor, and all for what? For the ambiguous
advantages which overgrown wealth and flagitious tyranny have to bestow?
For a precarious possession in a land of turbulence and war? Advantages,
which will not certainly be gained, and of which the acquisition, if it
were sure, is necessarily distant.

Pleyel was enamoured of his scheme on account of its intrinsic benefits,
but, likewise, for other reasons. His abode at Leipsig made that country
appear to him like home. He was connected with this place by many social
ties. While there he had not escaped the amorous contagion. But the
lady, though her heart was impressed in his favor, was compelled to
bestow her hand upon another. Death had removed this impediment, and
he was now invited by the lady herself to return. This he was of course
determined to do, but was anxious to obtain the company of Wieland;
he could not bear to think of an eternal separation from his present
associates. Their interest, he thought, would be no less promoted by the
change than his own. Hence he was importunate and indefatigable in his
arguments and solicitations.

He knew that he could not hope for mine or his sister's ready
concurrence in this scheme. Should the subject be mentioned to us, we
should league our efforts against him, and strengthen that reluctance
in Wieland which already was sufficiently difficult to conquer. He,
therefore, anxiously concealed from us his purpose. If Wieland were
previously enlisted in his cause, he would find it a less difficult task
to overcome our aversion. My brother was silent on this subject, because
he believed himself in no danger of changing his opinion, and he was
willing to save us from any uneasiness. The mere mention of such
a scheme, and the possibility of his embracing it, he knew, would
considerably impair our tranquillity.

One day, about three weeks subsequent to the mysterious call, it was
agreed that the family should be my guests. Seldom had a day been passed
by us, of more serene enjoyment. Pleyel had promised us his company, but
we did not see him till the sun had nearly declined. He brought with
him a countenance that betokened disappointment and vexation. He did not
wait for our inquiries, but immediately explained the cause. Two days
before a packet had arrived from Hamburgh, by which he had flattered
himself with the expectation of receiving letters, but no letters had
arrived. I never saw him so much subdued by an untoward event. His
thoughts were employed in accounting for the silence of his friends.
He was seized with the torments of jealousy, and suspected nothing less
than the infidelity of her to whom he had devoted his heart. The silence
must have been concerted. Her sickness, or absence, or death, would have
increased the certainty of some one's having written. No supposition
could be formed but that his mistress had grown indifferent, or that she
had transferred her affections to another. The miscarriage of a letter
was hardly within the reach of possibility. From Leipsig to Hamburgh,
and from Hamburgh hither, the conveyance was exposed to no hazard.

He had been so long detained in America chiefly in consequence of
Wieland's aversion to the scheme which he proposed. He now became more
impatient than ever to return to Europe. When he reflected that, by his
delays, he had probably forfeited the affections of his mistress, his
sensations amounted to agony. It only remained, by his speedy departure,
to repair, if possible, or prevent so intolerable an evil. Already he
had half resolved to embark in this very ship which, he was informed,
would set out in a few weeks on her return.

Meanwhile he determined to make a new attempt to shake the resolution of
Wieland. The evening was somewhat advanced when he invited the latter
to walk abroad with him. The invitation was accepted, and they left
Catharine, Louisa and me, to amuse ourselves by the best means in our
power. During this walk, Pleyel renewed the subject that was nearest
his heart. He re-urged all his former arguments, and placed them in more
forcible lights.

They promised to return shortly; but hour after hour passed, and they
made not their appearance. Engaged in sprightly conversation, it was not
till the clock struck twelve that we were reminded of the lapse of time.
The absence of our friends excited some uneasy apprehensions. We were
expressing our fears, and comparing our conjectures as to what might be
the cause, when they entered together. There were indications in their
countenances that struck me mute. These were unnoticed by Catharine, who
was eager to express her surprize and curiosity at the length of their
walk. As they listened to her, I remarked that their surprize was not
less than ours. They gazed in silence on each other, and on her. I
watched their looks, but could not understand the emotions that were
written in them.

These appearances diverted Catharine's inquiries into a new channel.
What did they mean, she asked, by their silence, and by their thus
gazing wildly at each other, and at her? Pleyel profited by this hint,
and assuming an air of indifference, framed some trifling excuse, at the
same time darting significant glances at Wieland, as if to caution him
against disclosing the truth. My brother said nothing, but delivered
himself up to meditation. I likewise was silent, but burned with
impatience to fathom this mystery. Presently my brother and his wife,
and Louisa, returned home. Pleyel proposed, of his own accord, to be
my guest for the night. This circumstance, in addition to those which
preceded, gave new edge to my wonder.

As soon as we were left alone, Pleyel's countenance assumed an air of
seriousness, and even consternation, which I had never before beheld in
him. The steps with which he measured the floor betokened the trouble of
his thoughts. My inquiries were suspended by the hope that he would give
me the information that I wanted without the importunity of questions.
I waited some time, but the confusion of his thoughts appeared in no
degree to abate. At length I mentioned the apprehensions which their
unusual absence had occasioned, and which were increased by their
behaviour since their return, and solicited an explanation. He stopped
when I began to speak, and looked stedfastly at me. When I had done,
he said, to me, in a tone which faultered through the vehemence of his
emotions, "How were you employed during our absence?" "In turning over
the Della Crusca dictionary, and talking on different subjects; but
just before your entrance, we were tormenting ourselves with omens and
prognosticks relative to your absence." "Catherine was with you the
whole time?" "Yes." "But are you sure?" "Most sure. She was not absent a
moment." He stood, for a time, as if to assure himself of my sincerity.
Then, clinching his hands, and wildly lifting them above his head, "Lo,"
cried he, "I have news to tell you. The Baroness de Stolberg is dead?"

This was her whom he loved. I was not surprised at the agitations which
he betrayed. "But how was the information procured? How was the truth
of this news connected with the circumstance of Catharine's remaining in
our company?" He was for some time inattentive to my questions. When he
spoke, it seemed merely a continuation of the reverie into which he had
been plunged.

"And yet it might be a mere deception. But could both of us in that
case have been deceived? A rare and prodigious coincidence! Barely not
impossible. And yet, if the accent be oracular--Theresa is dead. No,
no," continued he, covering his face with his hands, and in a tone half
broken into sobs, "I cannot believe it. She has not written, but if
she were dead, the faithful Bertrand would have given me the earliest
information. And yet if he knew his master, he must have easily guessed
at the effect of such tidings. In pity to me he was silent."

"Clara, forgive me; to you, this behaviour is mysterious. I will explain
as well as I am able. But say not a word to Catharine. Her strength of
mind is inferior to your's. She will, besides, have more reason to be
startled. She is Wieland's angel."

Pleyel proceeded to inform me, for the first time, of the scheme which
he had pressed, with so much earnestness, on my brother. He enumerated
the objections which had been made, and the industry with which he
had endeavoured to confute them. He mentioned the effect upon his
resolutions produced by the failure of a letter. "During our late walk,"
continued he, "I introduced the subject that was nearest my heart.
I re-urged all my former arguments, and placed them in more forcible
lights. Wieland was still refractory. He expatiated on the perils of
wealth and power, on the sacredness of conjugal and parental duties, and
the happiness of mediocrity.

"No wonder that the time passed, unperceived, away. Our whole souls were
engaged in this cause. Several times we came to the foot of the rock;
as soon as we perceived it, we changed our course, but never failed to
terminate our circuitous and devious ramble at this spot. At length your
brother observed, 'We seem to be led hither by a kind of fatality. Since
we are so near, let us ascend and rest ourselves a while. If you are not
weary of this argument we will resume it there.'

"I tacitly consented. We mounted the stairs, and drawing the sofa in
front of the river, we seated ourselves upon it. I took up the thread of
our discourse where we had dropped it. I ridiculed his dread of the sea,
and his attachment to home. I kept on in this strain, so congenial with
my disposition, for some time, uninterrupted by him. At length, he said
to me, "Suppose now that I, whom argument has not convinced, should
yield to ridicule, and should agree that your scheme is eligible; what
will you have gained? Nothing. You have other enemies beside myself to
encounter. When you have vanquished me, your toil has scarcely begun.
There are my sister and wife, with whom it will remain for you to
maintain the contest. And trust me, they are adversaries whom all your
force and stratagem will never subdue." I insinuated that they would
model themselves by his will: that Catharine would think obedience her
duty. He answered, with some quickness, "You mistake. Their concurrence
is indispensable. It is not my custom to exact sacrifices of this kind.
I live to be their protector and friend, and not their tyrant and foe.
If my wife shall deem her happiness, and that of her children, most
consulted by remaining where she is, here she shall remain." "But," said
I, "when she knows your pleasure, will she not conform to it?" Before
my friend had time to answer this question, a negative was clearly and
distinctly uttered from another quarter. It did not come from one side
or the other, from before us or behind. Whence then did it come? By
whose organs was it fashioned?

"If any uncertainty had existed with regard to these particulars, it
would have been removed by a deliberate and equally distinct repetition
of the same monosyllable, "No." The voice was my sister's. It appeared
to come from the roof. I started from my seat. Catharine, exclaimed I,
where are you? No answer was returned. I searched the room, and the
area before it, but in vain. Your brother was motionless in his seat.
I returned to him, and placed myself again by his side. My astonishment
was not less than his."

"Well," said he, at length, "What think you of this? This is the
self-same voice which I formerly heard; you are now convinced that my
ears were well informed."

"Yes," said I, "this, it is plain, is no fiction of the fancy." We again
sunk into mutual and thoughtful silence. A recollection of the hour, and
of the length of our absence, made me at last propose to return. We
rose up for this purpose. In doing this, my mind reverted to the
contemplation of my own condition. "Yes," said I aloud, but without
particularly addressing myself to Wieland, "my resolution is taken. I
cannot hope to prevail with my friends to accompany me. They may doze
away their days on the banks of Schuylkill, but as to me, I go in the
next vessel; I will fly to her presence, and demand the reason of this
extraordinary silence."

"I had scarcely finished the sentence, when the same mysterious voice
exclaimed, "You shall not go. The seal of death is on her lips. Her
silence is the silence of the tomb." Think of the effects which accents
like these must have had upon me. I shuddered as I listened. As soon as
I recovered from my first amazement, "Who is it that speaks?" said I,
"whence did you procure these dismal tidings?" I did not wait long for
an answer. "From a source that cannot fail. Be satisfied. She is dead."
You may justly be surprised, that, in the circumstances in which I heard
the tidings, and notwithstanding the mystery which environed him by whom
they were imparted, I could give an undivided attention to the facts,
which were the subject of our dialogue. I eagerly inquired, when and
where did she die? What was the cause of her death? Was her death
absolutely certain? An answer was returned only to the last of these
questions. "Yes," was pronounced by the same voice; but it now sounded
from a greater distance, and the deepest silence was all the return made
to my subsequent interrogatories.

"It was my sister's voice; but it could not be uttered by her; and yet,
if not by her, by whom was it uttered? When we returned hither, and
discovered you together, the doubt that had previously existed was
removed. It was manifest that the intimation came not from her. Yet if
not from her, from whom could it come? Are the circumstances attending
the imparting of this news proof that the tidings are true? God forbid
that they should be true."

Here Pleyel sunk into anxious silence, and gave me leisure to ruminate
on this inexplicable event. I am at a loss to describe the sensations
that affected me. I am not fearful of shadows. The tales of apparitions
and enchantments did not possess that power over my belief which could
even render them interesting. I saw nothing in them but ignorance and
folly, and was a stranger even to that terror which is pleasing. But
this incident was different from any that I had ever before known. Here
were proofs of a sensible and intelligent existence, which could not
be denied. Here was information obtained and imparted by means
unquestionably super-human.

That there are conscious beings, beside ourselves, in existence, whose
modes of activity and information surpass our own, can scarcely be
denied. Is there a glimpse afforded us into a world of these superior
beings? My heart was scarcely large enough to give admittance to
so swelling a thought. An awe, the sweetest and most solemn that
imagination can conceive, pervaded my whole frame. It forsook me not
when I parted from Pleyel and retired to my chamber. An impulse was
given to my spirits utterly incompatible with sleep. I passed the night
wakeful and full of meditation. I was impressed with the belief of
mysterious, but not of malignant agency. Hitherto nothing had occurred
to persuade me that this airy minister was busy to evil rather than to
good purposes. On the contrary, the idea of superior virtue had always
been associated in my mind with that of superior power. The warnings
that had thus been heard appeared to have been prompted by beneficent
intentions. My brother had been hindered by this voice from ascending
the hill. He was told that danger lurked in his path, and his obedience
to the intimation had perhaps saved him from a destiny similar to that
of my father.

Pleyel had been rescued from tormenting uncertainty, and from the
hazards and fatigues of a fruitless voyage, by the same interposition.
It had assured him of the death of his Theresa.

This woman was then dead. A confirmation of the tidings, if true, would
speedily arrive. Was this confirmation to be deprecated or desired?
By her death, the tie that attached him to Europe, was taken away.
Henceforward every motive would combine to retain him in his native
country, and we were rescued from the deep regrets that would accompany
his hopeless absence from us. Propitious was the spirit that imparted
these tidings. Propitious he would perhaps have been, if he had been
instrumental in producing, as well as in communicating the tidings of
her death. Propitious to us, the friends of Pleyel, to whom has thereby
been secured the enjoyment of his society; and not unpropitious to
himself; for though this object of his love be snatched away, is there
not another who is able and willing to console him for her loss?

Twenty days after this, another vessel arrived from the same port. In
this interval, Pleyel, for the most part, estranged himself from his old
companions. He was become the prey of a gloomy and unsociable grief.
His walks were limited to the bank of the Delaware. This bank is an
artificial one. Reeds and the river are on one side, and a watery marsh
on the other, in that part which bounded his lands, and which extended
from the mouth of Hollander's creek to that of Schuylkill. No scene can
be imagined less enticing to a lover of the picturesque than this. The
shore is deformed with mud, and incumbered with a forest of reeds. The
fields, in most seasons, are mire; but when they afford a firm footing,
the ditches by which they are bounded and intersected, are mantled with
stagnating green, and emit the most noxious exhalations. Health is no
less a stranger to those seats than pleasure. Spring and autumn are sure
to be accompanied with agues and bilious remittents.

The scenes which environed our dwellings at Mettingen constituted the
reverse of this. Schuylkill was here a pure and translucid current,
broken into wild and ceaseless music by rocky points, murmuring on a
sandy margin, and reflecting on its surface, banks of all varieties of
height and degrees of declivity. These banks were chequered by patches
of dark verdure and shapeless masses of white marble, and crowned by
copses of cedar, or by the regular magnificence of orchards, which, at
this season, were in blossom, and were prodigal of odours. The ground
which receded from the river was scooped into valleys and dales. Its
beauties were enhanced by the horticultural skill of my brother, who
bedecked this exquisite assemblage of slopes and risings with every
species of vegetable ornament, from the giant arms of the oak to the
clustering tendrils of the honey-suckle.

To screen him from the unwholesome airs of his own residence, it had
been proposed to Pleyel to spend the months of spring with us. He had
apparently acquiesced in this proposal; but the late event induced him
to change his purpose. He was only to be seen by visiting him in his
retirements. His gaiety had flown, and every passion was absorbed in
eagerness to procure tidings from Saxony. I have mentioned the arrival
of another vessel from the Elbe. He descried her early one morning as
he was passing along the skirt of the river. She was easily recognized,
being the ship in which he had performed his first voyage to Germany.
He immediately went on board, but found no letters directed to him.
This omission was, in some degree, compensated by meeting with an old
acquaintance among the passengers, who had till lately been a resident
in Leipsig. This person put an end to all suspense respecting the fate
of Theresa, by relating the particulars of her death and funeral.

Thus was the truth of the former intimation attested. No longer devoured
by suspense, the grief of Pleyel was not long in yielding to the
influence of society. He gave himself up once more to our company. His
vivacity had indeed been damped; but even in this respect he was a more
acceptable companion than formerly, since his seriousness was neither
incommunicative nor sullen.

These incidents, for a time, occupied all our thoughts. In me they
produced a sentiment not unallied to pleasure, and more speedily than in
the case of my friends were intermixed with other topics. My brother was
particularly affected by them. It was easy to perceive that most of his
meditations were tinctured from this source. To this was to be ascribed
a design in which his pen was, at this period, engaged, of collecting
and investigating the facts which relate to that mysterious personage,
the Daemon of Socrates.

My brother's skill in Greek and Roman learning was exceeded by that of
few, and no doubt the world would have accepted a treatise upon this
subject from his hand with avidity; but alas! this and every other
scheme of felicity and honor, were doomed to sudden blast and hopeless

Chapter VI

I now come to the mention of a person with whose name the most turbulent
sensations are connected. It is with a shuddering reluctance that I
enter on the province of describing him. Now it is that I begin to
perceive the difficulty of the task which I have undertaken; but it
would be weakness to shrink from it. My blood is congealed: and my
fingers are palsied when I call up his image. Shame upon my cowardly and
infirm heart! Hitherto I have proceeded with some degree of composure,
but now I must pause. I mean not that dire remembrance shall subdue my
courage or baffle my design, but this weakness cannot be immediately
conquered. I must desist for a little while.

I have taken a few turns in my chamber, and have gathered strength
enough to proceed. Yet have I not projected a task beyond my power to
execute? If thus, on the very threshold of the scene, my knees faulter
and I sink, how shall I support myself, when I rush into the midst of
horrors such as no heart has hitherto conceived, nor tongue related? I
sicken and recoil at the prospect, and yet my irresolution is momentary.
I have not formed this design upon slight grounds, and though I may at
times pause and hesitate, I will not be finally diverted from it.

And thou, O most fatal and potent of mankind, in what terms shall I
describe thee? What words are adequate to the just delineation of thy
character? How shall I detail the means which rendered the secrecy of
thy purposes unfathomable? But I will not anticipate. Let me recover
if possible, a sober strain. Let me keep down the flood of passion that
would render me precipitate or powerless. Let me stifle the agonies that
are awakened by thy name. Let me, for a time, regard thee as a being
of no terrible attributes. Let me tear myself from contemplation of
the evils of which it is but too certain that thou wast the author, and
limit my view to those harmless appearances which attended thy entrance
on the stage.

One sunny afternoon, I was standing in the door of my house, when I
marked a person passing close to the edge of the bank that was in
front. His pace was a careless and lingering one, and had none of that
gracefulness and ease which distinguish a person with certain advantages
of education from a clown. His gait was rustic and aukward. His form was
ungainly and disproportioned. Shoulders broad and square, breast sunken,
his head drooping, his body of uniform breadth, supported by long and
lank legs, were the ingredients of his frame. His garb was not ill
adapted to such a figure. A slouched hat, tarnished by the weather, a
coat of thick grey cloth, cut and wrought, as it seemed, by a country
tailor, blue worsted stockings, and shoes fastened by thongs, and deeply
discoloured by dust, which brush had never disturbed, constituted his

There was nothing remarkable in these appearances; they were frequently
to be met with on the road, and in the harvest field. I cannot tell why
I gazed upon them, on this occasion, with more than ordinary attention,
unless it were that such figures were seldom seen by me, except on the
road or field. This lawn was only traversed by men whose views were
directed to the pleasures of the walk, or the grandeur of the scenery.

He passed slowly along, frequently pausing, as if to examine the
prospect more deliberately, but never turning his eye towards the house,
so as to allow me a view of his countenance. Presently, he entered a
copse at a small distance, and disappeared. My eye followed him while
he remained in sight. If his image remained for any duration in my fancy
after his departure, it was because no other object occurred sufficient
to expel it.

I continued in the same spot for half an hour, vaguely, and by fits,
contemplating the image of this wanderer, and drawing, from outward
appearances, those inferences with respect to the intellectual history
of this person, which experience affords us. I reflected on the
alliance which commonly subsists between ignorance and the practice
of agriculture, and indulged myself in airy speculations as to the
influence of progressive knowledge in dissolving this alliance, and
embodying the dreams of the poets. I asked why the plough and the hoe
might not become the trade of every human being, and how this
trade might be made conducive to, or, at least, consistent with the
acquisition of wisdom and eloquence.

Weary with these reflections, I returned to the kitchen to perform some
household office. I had usually but one servant, and she was a girl
about my own age. I was busy near the chimney, and she was employed near
the door of the apartment, when some one knocked. The door was opened by
her, and she was immediately addressed with "Pry'thee, good girl, canst
thou supply a thirsty man with a glass of buttermilk?" She answered
that there was none in the house. "Aye, but there is some in the dairy
yonder. Thou knowest as well as I, though Hermes never taught thee, that
though every dairy be an house, every house is not a dairy." To
this speech, though she understood only a part of it, she replied
by repeating her assurances, that she had none to give. "Well then,"
rejoined the stranger, "for charity's sweet sake, hand me forth a cup
of cold water." The girl said she would go to the spring and fetch it.
"Nay, give me the cup, and suffer me to help myself. Neither manacled
nor lame, I should merit burial in the maw of carrion crows, if I laid
this task upon thee." She gave him the cup, and he turned to go to the

I listened to this dialogue in silence. The words uttered by the person
without, affected me as somewhat singular, but what chiefly rendered
them remarkable, was the tone that accompanied them. It was wholly new.
My brother's voice and Pleyel's were musical and energetic. I had fondly
imagined, that, in this respect, they were surpassed by none. Now my
mistake was detected. I cannot pretend to communicate the impression
that was made upon me by these accents, or to depict the degree in which
force and sweetness were blended in them. They were articulated with a
distinctness that was unexampled in my experience. But this was not all.
The voice was not only mellifluent and clear, but the emphasis was so
just, and the modulation so impassioned, that it seemed as if an heart
of stone could not fail of being moved by it. It imparted to me an
emotion altogether involuntary and incontroulable. When he uttered the
words "for charity's sweet sake," I dropped the cloth that I held in
my hand, my heart overflowed with sympathy, and my eyes with unbidden

This description will appear to you trifling or incredible. The
importance of these circumstances will be manifested in the sequel.
The manner in which I was affected on this occasion, was, to my own
apprehension, a subject of astonishment. The tones were indeed such as
I never heard before; but that they should, in an instant, as it were,
dissolve me in tears, will not easily be believed by others, and can
scarcely be comprehended by myself.

It will be readily supposed that I was somewhat inquisitive as to the
person and demeanour of our visitant. After a moment's pause, I stepped
to the door and looked after him. Judge my surprize, when I beheld the
self-same figure that had appeared an half hour before upon the bank. My
fancy had conjured up a very different image. A form, and attitude, and
garb, were instantly created worthy to accompany such elocution; but
this person was, in all visible respects, the reverse of this phantom.
Strange as it may seem, I could not speedily reconcile myself to this
disappointment. Instead of returning to my employment, I threw myself
in a chair that was placed opposite the door, and sunk into a fit of

My attention was, in a few minutes, recalled by the stranger, who
returned with the empty cup in his hand. I had not thought of the
circumstance, or should certainly have chosen a different seat. He no
sooner shewed himself, than a confused sense of impropriety, added to
the suddenness of the interview, for which, not having foreseen it,
I had made no preparation, threw me into a state of the most painful
embarrassment. He brought with him a placid brow; but no sooner had he
cast his eyes upon me, than his face was as glowingly suffused as
my own. He placed the cup upon the bench, stammered out thanks, and

It was some time before I could recover my wonted composure. I had
snatched a view of the stranger's countenance. The impression that it
made was vivid and indelible. His cheeks were pallid and lank, his eyes
sunken, his forehead overshadowed by coarse straggling hairs, his teeth
large and irregular, though sound and brilliantly white, and his chin
discoloured by a tetter. His skin was of coarse grain, and sallow hue.
Every feature was wide of beauty, and the outline of his face reminded
you of an inverted cone.

And yet his forehead, so far as shaggy locks would allow it to be seen,
his eyes lustrously black, and possessing, in the midst of haggardness,
a radiance inexpressibly serene and potent, and something in the rest of
his features, which it would be in vain to describe, but which served to
betoken a mind of the highest order, were essential ingredients in the
portrait. This, in the effects which immediately flowed from it, I count
among the most extraordinary incidents of my life. This face, seen for
a moment, continued for hours to occupy my fancy, to the exclusion of
almost every other image. I had purposed to spend the evening with my
brother, but I could not resist the inclination of forming a sketch
upon paper of this memorable visage. Whether my hand was aided by any
peculiar inspiration, or I was deceived by my own fond conceptions, this
portrait, though hastily executed, appeared unexceptionable to my own

I placed it at all distances, and in all lights; my eyes were rivetted
upon it. Half the night passed away in wakefulness and in contemplation
of this picture. So flexible, and yet so stubborn, is the human mind.
So obedient to impulses the most transient and brief, and yet so
unalterably observant of the direction which is given to it! How little
did I then foresee the termination of that chain, of which this may be
regarded as the first link?

Next day arose in darkness and storm. Torrents of rain fell during
the whole day, attended with incessant thunder, which reverberated in
stunning echoes from the opposite declivity. The inclemency of the air
would not allow me to walk-out. I had, indeed, no inclination to leave
my apartment. I betook myself to the contemplation of this portrait,
whose attractions time had rather enhanced than diminished. I laid aside
my usual occupations, and seating myself at a window, consumed the day
in alternately looking out upon the storm, and gazing at the picture
which lay upon a table before me. You will, perhaps, deem this conduct
somewhat singular, and ascribe it to certain peculiarities of temper. I
am not aware of any such peculiarities. I can account for my devotion to
this image no otherwise, than by supposing that its properties were
rare and prodigious. Perhaps you will suspect that such were the
first inroads of a passion incident to every female heart, and
which frequently gains a footing by means even more slight, and more
improbable than these. I shall not controvert the reasonableness of the
suspicion, but leave you at liberty to draw, from my narrative, what
conclusions you please.

Night at length returned, and the storm ceased. The air was once more
clear and calm, and bore an affecting contrast to that uproar of the
elements by which it had been preceded. I spent the darksome hours, as
I spent the day, contemplative and seated at the window. Why was my mind
absorbed in thoughts ominous and dreary? Why did my bosom heave with
sighs, and my eyes overflow with tears? Was the tempest that had just
past a signal of the ruin which impended over me? My soul fondly dwelt
upon the images of my brother and his children, yet they only increased
the mournfulness of my contemplations. The smiles of the charming babes
were as bland as formerly. The same dignity sat on the brow of their
father, and yet I thought of them with anguish. Something whispered
that the happiness we at present enjoyed was set on mutable foundations.
Death must happen to all. Whether our felicity was to be subverted by it
to-morrow, or whether it was ordained that we should lay down our heads
full of years and of honor, was a question that no human being could
solve. At other times, these ideas seldom intruded. I either forbore to
reflect upon the destiny that is reserved for all men, or the reflection
was mixed up with images that disrobed it of terror; but now the
uncertainty of life occurred to me without any of its usual and
alleviating accompaniments. I said to myself, we must die. Sooner or
later, we must disappear for ever from the face of the earth. Whatever
be the links that hold us to life, they must be broken. This scene
of existence is, in all its parts, calamitous. The greater number is
oppressed with immediate evils, and those, the tide of whose fortunes is
full, how small is their portion of enjoyment, since they know that it
will terminate.

For some time I indulged myself, without reluctance, in these gloomy
thoughts; but at length, the dejection which they produced became
insupportably painful. I endeavoured to dissipate it with music. I had
all my grand-father's melody as well as poetry by rote. I now lighted
by chance on a ballad, which commemorated the fate of a German Cavalier,
who fell at the siege of Nice under Godfrey of Bouillon. My choice was
unfortunate, for the scenes of violence and carnage which were here
wildly but forcibly pourtrayed, only suggested to my thoughts a new
topic in the horrors of war.

I sought refuge, but ineffectually, in sleep. My mind was thronged by
vivid, but confused images, and no effort that I made was sufficient to
drive them away. In this situation I heard the clock, which hung in
the room, give the signal for twelve. It was the same instrument which
formerly hung in my father's chamber, and which, on account of its
being his workmanship, was regarded, by every one of our family, with
veneration. It had fallen to me, in the division of his property, and
was placed in this asylum. The sound awakened a series of reflections,
respecting his death. I was not allowed to pursue them; for scarcely
had the vibrations ceased, when my attention was attracted by a whisper,
which, at first, appeared to proceed from lips that were laid close to
my ear.

No wonder that a circumstance like this startled me. In the first
impulse of my terror, I uttered a slight scream, and shrunk to the
opposite side of the bed. In a moment, however, I recovered from my
trepidation. I was habitually indifferent to all the causes of fear,
by which the majority are afflicted. I entertained no apprehension
of either ghosts or robbers. Our security had never been molested by
either, and I made use of no means to prevent or counterwork their
machinations. My tranquillity, on this occasion, was quickly retrieved.
The whisper evidently proceeded from one who was posted at my bed-side.
The first idea that suggested itself was, that it was uttered by the
girl who lived with me as a servant. Perhaps, somewhat had alarmed her,
or she was sick, and had come to request my assistance. By whispering in
my ear, she intended to rouse without alarming me.

Full of this persuasion, I called; "Judith," said I, "is it you? What
do you want? Is there any thing the matter with you?" No answer was
returned. I repeated my inquiry, but equally in vain. Cloudy as was the
atmosphere, and curtained as my bed was, nothing was visible. I withdrew
the curtain, and leaning my head on my elbow, I listened with the
deepest attention to catch some new sound. Meanwhile, I ran over in my
thoughts, every circumstance that could assist my conjectures.

My habitation was a wooden edifice, consisting of two stories. In each
story were two rooms, separated by an entry, or middle passage, with
which they communicated by opposite doors. The passage, on the lower
story, had doors at the two ends, and a stair-case. Windows answered to
the doors on the upper story. Annexed to this, on the eastern side, were
wings, divided, in like manner, into an upper and lower room; one of
them comprized a kitchen, and chamber above it for the servant, and
communicated, on both stories, with the parlour adjoining it below,
and the chamber adjoining it above. The opposite wing is of smaller
dimensions, the rooms not being above eight feet square. The lower of
these was used as a depository of household implements, the upper was a
closet in which I deposited my books and papers. They had but one inlet,
which was from the room adjoining. There was no window in the lower one,
and in the upper, a small aperture which communicated light and air, but
would scarcely admit the body. The door which led into this, was close
to my bed-head, and was always locked, but when I myself was within. The
avenues below were accustomed to be closed and bolted at nights.

The maid was my only companion, and she could not reach my chamber
without previously passing through the opposite chamber, and the middle
passage, of which, however, the doors were usually unfastened. If she
had occasioned this noise, she would have answered my repeated calls.
No other conclusion, therefore, was left me, but that I had mistaken the
sounds, and that my imagination had transformed some casual noise into
the voice of a human creature. Satisfied with this solution, I was
preparing to relinquish my listening attitude, when my ear was again
saluted with a new and yet louder whispering. It appeared, as before,
to issue from lips that touched my pillow. A second effort of attention,
however, clearly shewed me, that the sounds issued from within the
closet, the door of which was not more than eight inches from my pillow.

This second interruption occasioned a shock less vehement than the
former. I started, but gave no audible token of alarm. I was so much
mistress of my feelings, as to continue listening to what should be
said. The whisper was distinct, hoarse, and uttered so as to shew that
the speaker was desirous of being heard by some one near, but, at the
same time, studious to avoid being overheard by any other.

"Stop, stop, I say; madman as you are! there are better means than that.
Curse upon your rashness! There is no need to shoot."

Such were the words uttered in a tone of eagerness and anger, within so
small a distance of my pillow. What construction could I put upon
them? My heart began to palpitate with dread of some unknown danger.
Presently, another voice, but equally near me, was heard whispering in
answer. "Why not? I will draw a trigger in this business, but perdition
be my lot if I do more." To this, the first voice returned, in a tone
which rage had heightened in a small degree above a whisper, "Coward!
stand aside, and see me do it. I will grasp her throat; I will do her
business in an instant; she shall not have time so much as to groan."
What wonder that I was petrified by sounds so dreadful! Murderers
lurked in my closet. They were planning the means of my destruction. One
resolved to shoot, and the other menaced suffocation. Their means being
chosen, they would forthwith break the door. Flight instantly suggested
itself as most eligible in circumstances so perilous. I deliberated not
a moment; but, fear adding wings to my speed, I leaped out of bed, and
scantily robed as I was, rushed out of the chamber, down stairs, and
into the open air. I can hardly recollect the process of turning
keys, and withdrawing bolts. My terrors urged me forward with almost a
mechanical impulse. I stopped not till I reached my brother's door.
I had not gained the threshold, when, exhausted by the violence of my
emotions, and by my speed, I sunk down in a fit.

How long I remained in this situation I know not. When I recovered, I
found myself stretched on a bed, surrounded by my sister and her
female servants. I was astonished at the scene before me, but gradually
recovered the recollection of what had happened. I answered their
importunate inquiries as well as I was able. My brother and Pleyel,
whom the storm of the preceding day chanced to detain here, informing
themselves of every particular, proceeded with lights and weapons to my
deserted habitation. They entered my chamber and my closet, and found
every thing in its proper place and customary order. The door of the
closet was locked, and appeared not to have been opened in my absence.
They went to Judith's apartment. They found her asleep and in safety.
Pleyel's caution induced him to forbear alarming the girl; and finding
her wholly ignorant of what had passed, they directed her to return to
her chamber. They then fastened the doors, and returned.

My friends were disposed to regard this transaction as a dream. That
persons should be actually immured in this closet, to which, in the
circumstances of the time, access from without or within was apparently
impossible, they could not seriously believe. That any human beings
had intended murder, unless it were to cover a scheme of pillage, was
incredible; but that no such design had been formed, was evident
from the security in which the furniture of the house and the closet

I revolved every incident and expression that had occurred. My
senses assured me of the truth of them, and yet their abruptness and
improbability made me, in my turn, somewhat incredulous. The adventure
had made a deep impression on my fancy, and it was not till after a
week's abode at my brother's, that I resolved to resume the possession
of my own dwelling. There was another circumstance that enhanced the
mysteriousness of this event. After my recovery it was obvious to
inquire by what means the attention of the family had been drawn to my
situation. I had fallen before I had reached the threshold, or was able
to give any signal. My brother related, that while this was transacting
in my chamber, he himself was awake, in consequence of some slight
indisposition, and lay, according to his custom, musing on some favorite
topic. Suddenly the silence, which was remarkably profound, was broken
by a voice of most piercing shrillness, that seemed to be uttered by one
in the hall below his chamber. "Awake! arise!" it exclaimed: "hasten to
succour one that is dying at your door."

This summons was effectual. There was no one in the house who was not
roused by it. Pleyel was the first to obey, and my brother overtook him
before he reached the hall. What was the general astonishment when your
friend was discovered stretched upon the grass before the door, pale,
ghastly, and with every mark of death!

This was the third instance of a voice, exerted for the benefit of this
little community. The agent was no less inscrutable in this, than in the
former case. When I ruminated upon these events, my soul was suspended
in wonder and awe. Was I really deceived in imagining that I heard the
closet conversation? I was no longer at liberty to question the reality
of those accents which had formerly recalled my brother from the hill;
which had imparted tidings of the death of the German lady to Pleyel;
and which had lately summoned them to my assistance.

But how was I to regard this midnight conversation? Hoarse and manlike
voices conferring on the means of death, so near my bed, and at such
an hour! How had my ancient security vanished! That dwelling, which had
hitherto been an inviolate asylum, was now beset with danger to my
life. That solitude, formerly so dear to me, could no longer be endured.
Pleyel, who had consented to reside with us during the months of spring,
lodged in the vacant chamber, in order to quiet my alarms. He treated
my fears with ridicule, and in a short time very slight traces of them
remained: but as it was wholly indifferent to him whether his nights
were passed at my house or at my brother's, this arrangement gave
general satisfaction.

Chapter VII

I will not enumerate the various inquiries and conjectures which these
incidents occasioned. After all our efforts, we came no nearer to
dispelling the mist in which they were involved; and time, instead of
facilitating a solution, only accumulated our doubts. In the midst of
thoughts excited by these events, I was not unmindful of my interview
with the stranger. I related the particulars, and shewed the portrait to
my friends. Pleyel recollected to have met with a figure resembling
my description in the city; but neither his face or garb made the same
impression upon him that it made upon me. It was a hint to rally me upon
my prepossessions, and to amuse us with a thousand ludicrous anecdotes
which he had collected in his travels. He made no scruple to charge me
with being in love; and threatened to inform the swain, when he met him,
of his good fortune.

Pleyel's temper made him susceptible of no durable impressions. His
conversation was occasionally visited by gleams of his ancient vivacity;
but, though his impetuosity was sometimes inconvenient, there was
nothing to dread from his malice. I had no fear that my character or
dignity would suffer in his hands, and was not heartily displeased when
he declared his intention of profiting by his first meeting with the
stranger to introduce him to our acquaintance.

Some weeks after this I had spent a toilsome day, and, as the sun
declined, found myself disposed to seek relief in a walk. The river
bank is, at this part of it, and for some considerable space upward,
so rugged and steep as not to be easily descended. In a recess of this
declivity, near the southern verge of my little demesne, was placed a
slight building, with seats and lattices. From a crevice of the rock,
to which this edifice was attached, there burst forth a stream of the
purest water, which, leaping from ledge to ledge, for the space of sixty
feet, produced a freshness in the air, and a murmur, the most delicious
and soothing imaginable. These, added to the odours of the cedars
which embowered it, and of the honey-suckle which clustered among the
lattices, rendered this my favorite retreat in summer.

On this occasion I repaired hither. My spirits drooped through the
fatigue of long attention, and I threw myself upon a bench, in a state,
both mentally and personally, of the utmost supineness. The lulling
sounds of the waterfall, the fragrance and the dusk combined to becalm
my spirits, and, in a short time, to sink me into sleep. Either the
uneasiness of my posture, or some slight indisposition molested my
repose with dreams of no cheerful hue. After various incoherences
had taken their turn to occupy my fancy, I at length imagined myself
walking, in the evening twilight, to my brother's habitation. A pit,
methought, had been dug in the path I had taken, of which I was not
aware. As I carelessly pursued my walk, I thought I saw my brother,
standing at some distance before me, beckoning and calling me to make
haste. He stood on the opposite edge of the gulph. I mended my pace, and
one step more would have plunged me into this abyss, had not some
one from behind caught suddenly my arm, and exclaimed, in a voice of
eagerness and terror, "Hold! hold!"

The sound broke my sleep, and I found myself, at the next moment,
standing on my feet, and surrounded by the deepest darkness. Images
so terrific and forcible disabled me, for a time, from distinguishing
between sleep and wakefulness, and withheld from me the knowledge of my
actual condition. My first panics were succeeded by the perturbations of
surprize, to find myself alone in the open air, and immersed in so deep
a gloom. I slowly recollected the incidents of the afternoon, and how
I came hither. I could not estimate the time, but saw the propriety of
returning with speed to the house. My faculties were still too confused,
and the darkness too intense, to allow me immediately to find my way up
the steep. I sat down, therefore, to recover myself, and to reflect upon
my situation.

This was no sooner done, than a low voice was heard from behind the
lattice, on the side where I sat. Between the rock and the lattice was a
chasm not wide enough to admit a human body; yet, in this chasm he that
spoke appeared to be stationed. "Attend! attend! but be not terrified."

I started and exclaimed, "Good heavens! what is that? Who are you?"

"A friend; one come, not to injure, but to save you; fear nothing."

This voice was immediately recognized to be the same with one of
those which I had heard in the closet; it was the voice of him who had
proposed to shoot, rather than to strangle, his victim. My terror made
me, at once, mute and motionless. He continued, "I leagued to murder
you. I repent. Mark my bidding, and be safe. Avoid this spot. The snares
of death encompass it. Elsewhere danger will be distant; but this spot,
shun it as you value your life. Mark me further; profit by this warning,
but divulge it not. If a syllable of what has passed escape you, your
doom is sealed. Remember your father, and be faithful."

Here the accents ceased, and left me overwhelmed with dismay. I was
fraught with the persuasion, that during every moment I remained here,
my life was endangered; but I could not take a step without hazard of
falling to the bottom of the precipice. The path, leading to the summit,
was short, but rugged and intricate. Even star-light was excluded by the
umbrage, and not the faintest gleam was afforded to guide my steps. What
should I do? To depart or remain was equally and eminently perilous.

In this state of uncertainty, I perceived a ray flit across the gloom
and disappear. Another succeeded, which was stronger, and remained for
a passing moment. It glittered on the shrubs that were scattered at the
entrance, and gleam continued to succeed gleam for a few seconds, till
they, finally, gave place to unintermitted darkness.

The first visitings of this light called up a train of horrors in my
mind; destruction impended over this spot; the voice which I had lately
heard had warned me to retire, and had menaced me with the fate of my
father if I refused. I was desirous, but unable, to obey; these gleams
were such as preluded the stroke by which he fell; the hour, perhaps,
was the same--I shuddered as if I had beheld, suspended over me, the
exterminating sword.

Presently a new and stronger illumination burst through the lattice
on the right hand, and a voice, from the edge of the precipice above,
called out my name. It was Pleyel. Joyfully did I recognize his accents;
but such was the tumult of my thoughts that I had not power to answer
him till he had frequently repeated his summons. I hurried, at length,
from the fatal spot, and, directed by the lanthorn which he bore,
ascended the hill.

Pale and breathless, it was with difficulty I could support myself. He
anxiously inquired into the cause of my affright, and the motive of my
unusual absence. He had returned from my brother's at a late hour, and
was informed by Judith, that I had walked out before sun-set, and had
not yet returned. This intelligence was somewhat alarming. He waited
some time; but, my absence continuing, he had set out in search of me.
He had explored the neighbourhood with the utmost care, but, receiving
no tidings of me, he was preparing to acquaint my brother with this
circumstance, when he recollected the summer-house on the bank, and
conceived it possible that some accident had detained me there. He again
inquired into the cause of this detention, and of that confusion and
dismay which my looks testified.

I told him that I had strolled hither in the afternoon, that sleep had
overtaken me as I sat, and that I had awakened a few minutes before
his arrival. I could tell him no more. In the present impetuosity of my
thoughts, I was almost dubious, whether the pit, into which my brother
had endeavoured to entice me, and the voice that talked through the
lattice, were not parts of the same dream. I remembered, likewise, the
charge of secrecy, and the penalty denounced, if I should rashly divulge
what I had heard. For these reasons, I was silent on that subject, and
shutting myself in my chamber, delivered myself up to contemplation.

What I have related will, no doubt, appear to you a fable. You will
believe that calamity has subverted my reason, and that I am amusing
you with the chimeras of my brain, instead of facts that have really
happened. I shall not be surprized or offended, if these be your
suspicions. I know not, indeed, how you can deny them admission. For, if
to me, the immediate witness, they were fertile of perplexity and doubt,
how must they affect another to whom they are recommended only by
my testimony? It was only by subsequent events, that I was fully and
incontestibly assured of the veracity of my senses.

Meanwhile what was I to think? I had been assured that a design had been
formed against my life. The ruffians had leagued to murder me. Whom had
I offended? Who was there with whom I had ever maintained intercourse,
who was capable of harbouring such atrocious purposes?

My temper was the reverse of cruel and imperious. My heart was touched
with sympathy for the children of misfortune. But this sympathy was not
a barren sentiment. My purse, scanty as it was, was ever open, and my
hands ever active, to relieve distress. Many were the wretches whom
my personal exertions had extricated from want and disease, and who
rewarded me with their gratitude. There was no face which lowered at my
approach, and no lips which uttered imprecations in my hearing. On the
contrary, there was none, over whose fate I had exerted any influence,
or to whom I was known by reputation, who did not greet me with smiles,
and dismiss me with proofs of veneration; yet did not my senses assure
me that a plot was laid against my life?

I am not destitute of courage. I have shewn myself deliberative and calm
in the midst of peril. I have hazarded my own life, for the preservation
of another, but now was I confused and panic struck. I have not lived
so as to fear death, yet to perish by an unseen and secret stroke, to be
mangled by the knife of an assassin was a thought at which I shuddered;
what had I done to deserve to be made the victim of malignant passions?

But soft! was I not assured, that my life was safe in all places but
one? And why was the treason limited to take effect in this spot? I
was every where equally defenceless. My house and chamber were, at all
times, accessible. Danger still impended over me; the bloody purpose was
still entertained, but the hand that was to execute it, was powerless in
all places but one!

Here I had remained for the last four or five hours, without the means
of resistance or defence, yet I had not been attacked. A human being was
at hand, who was conscious of my presence, and warned me hereafter to
avoid this retreat. His voice was not absolutely new, but had I never
heard it but once before? But why did he prohibit me from relating
this incident to others, and what species of death will be awarded if I

He talked of my father. He intimated, that disclosure would pull upon my
head, the same destruction. Was then the death of my father, portentous
and inexplicable as it was, the consequence of human machinations? It
should seem, that this being is apprised of the true nature of this
event, and is conscious of the means that led to it. Whether it shall
likewise fall upon me, depends upon the observance of silence. Was it
the infraction of a similar command, that brought so horrible a penalty
upon my father?

Such were the reflections that haunted me during the night, and which
effectually deprived me of sleep. Next morning, at breakfast, Pleyel
related an event which my disappearance had hindered him from mentioning
the night before. Early the preceding morning, his occasions called him
to the city; he had stepped into a coffee-house to while away an hour;
here he had met a person whose appearance instantly bespoke him to be
the same whose hasty visit I have mentioned, and whose extraordinary
visage and tones had so powerfully affected me. On an attentive survey,
however, he proved, likewise, to be one with whom my friend had had some
intercourse in Europe. This authorised the liberty of accosting him, and
after some conversation, mindful, as Pleyel said, of the footing which
this stranger had gained in my heart, he had ventured to invite him
to Mettingen. The invitation had been cheerfully accepted, and a visit
promised on the afternoon of the next day.

This information excited no sober emotions in my breast. I was, of
course, eager to be informed as to the circumstances of their ancient
intercourse. When, and where had they met? What knew he of the life and
character of this man?

In answer to my inquiries, he informed me that, three years before,
he was a traveller in Spain. He had made an excursion from Valencia to
Murviedro, with a view to inspect the remains of Roman magnificence,
scattered in the environs of that town. While traversing the scite
of the theatre of old Saguntum, he lighted upon this man, seated on a
stone, and deeply engaged in perusing the work of the deacon Marti. A
short conversation ensued, which proved the stranger to be English. They
returned to Valencia together.

His garb, aspect, and deportment, were wholly Spanish. A residence of
three years in the country, indefatigable attention to the language,
and a studious conformity with the customs of the people, had made him
indistinguishable from a native, when he chose to assume that character.
Pleyel found him to be connected, on the footing of friendship and
respect, with many eminent merchants in that city. He had embraced the
catholic religion, and adopted a Spanish name instead of his own, which
was CARWIN, and devoted himself to the literature and religion of his
new country. He pursued no profession, but subsisted on remittances from

While Pleyel remained in Valencia, Carwin betrayed no aversion to
intercourse, and the former found no small attractions in the society of
this new acquaintance. On general topics he was highly intelligent and
communicative. He had visited every corner of Spain, and could furnish
the most accurate details respecting its ancient and present state.
On topics of religion and of his own history, previous to his
TRANSFORMATION into a Spaniard, he was invariably silent. You could
merely gather from his discourse that he was English, and that he was
well acquainted with the neighbouring countries.

His character excited considerable curiosity in this observer. It was
not easy to reconcile his conversion to the Romish faith, with those
proofs of knowledge and capacity that were exhibited by him on different
occasions. A suspicion was, sometimes, admitted, that his belief was
counterfeited for some political purpose. The most careful observation,
however, produced no discovery. His manners were, at all times, harmless
and inartificial, and his habits those of a lover of contemplation and
seclusion. He appeared to have contracted an affection for Pleyel, who
was not slow to return it.

My friend, after a month's residence in this city, returned into France,
and, since that period, had heard nothing concerning Carwin till his
appearance at Mettingen.

On this occasion Carwin had received Pleyel's greeting with a certain
distance and solemnity to which the latter had not been accustomed. He
had waved noticing the inquiries of Pleyel respecting his desertion
of Spain, in which he had formerly declared that it was his purpose to
spend his life. He had assiduously diverted the attention of the latter
to indifferent topics, but was still, on every theme, as eloquent and
judicious as formerly. Why he had assumed the garb of a rustic, Pleyel
was unable to conjecture. Perhaps it might be poverty, perhaps he was
swayed by motives which it was his interest to conceal, but which were
connected with consequences of the utmost moment.

Such was the sum of my friend's information. I was not sorry to be left
alone during the greater part of this day. Every employment was irksome
which did not leave me at liberty to meditate. I had now a new subject
on which to exercise my thoughts. Before evening I should be ushered
into his presence, and listen to those tones whose magical and thrilling
power I had already experienced. But with what new images would he then
be accompanied?

Carwin was an adherent to the Romish faith, yet was an Englishman by
birth, and, perhaps, a protestant by education. He had adopted Spain for
his country, and had intimated a design to spend his days there, yet now
was an inhabitant of this district, and disguised by the habiliments of
a clown! What could have obliterated the impressions of his youth, and
made him abjure his religion and his country? What subsequent events had
introduced so total a change in his plans? In withdrawing from Spain,
had he reverted to the religion of his ancestors; or was it true, that
his former conversion was deceitful, and that his conduct had been
swayed by motives which it was prudent to conceal?

Hours were consumed in revolving these ideas. My meditations were
intense; and, when the series was broken, I began to reflect with
astonishment on my situation. From the death of my parents, till the
commencement of this year, my life had been serene and blissful, beyond
the ordinary portion of humanity; but, now, my bosom was corroded by
anxiety. I was visited by dread of unknown dangers, and the future was
a scene over which clouds rolled, and thunders muttered. I compared the
cause with the effect, and they seemed disproportioned to each other.
All unaware, and in a manner which I had no power to explain, I was
pushed from my immoveable and lofty station, and cast upon a sea of

I determined to be my brother's visitant on this evening, yet my
resolves were not unattended with wavering and reluctance. Pleyel's
insinuations that I was in love, affected, in no degree, my belief, yet
the consciousness that this was the opinion of one who would, probably,
be present at our introduction to each other, would excite all that
confusion which the passion itself is apt to produce. This would confirm
him in his error, and call forth new railleries. His mirth, when exerted
upon this topic, was the source of the bitterest vexation. Had he been
aware of its influence upon my happiness, his temper would not have
allowed him to persist; but this influence, it was my chief endeavour
to conceal. That the belief of my having bestowed my heart upon another,
produced in my friend none but ludicrous sensations, was the true cause
of my distress; but if this had been discovered by him, my distress
would have been unspeakably aggravated.

Chapter VIII

As soon as evening arrived, I performed my visit. Carwin made one of the
company, into which I was ushered. Appearances were the same as when I
before beheld him. His garb was equally negligent and rustic. I gazed
upon his countenance with new curiosity. My situation was such as to
enable me to bestow upon it a deliberate examination. Viewed at more
leisure, it lost none of its wonderful properties. I could not deny my
homage to the intelligence expressed in it, but was wholly uncertain,
whether he were an object to be dreaded or adored, and whether his
powers had been exerted to evil or to good.

He was sparing in discourse; but whatever he said was pregnant with
meaning, and uttered with rectitude of articulation, and force of
emphasis, of which I had entertained no conception previously to my
knowledge of him. Notwithstanding the uncouthness of his garb, his
manners were not unpolished. All topics were handled by him with skill,
and without pedantry or affectation. He uttered no sentiment calculated
to produce a disadvantageous impression: on the contrary, his
observations denoted a mind alive to every generous and heroic feeling.
They were introduced without parade, and accompanied with that degree of
earnestness which indicates sincerity.

He parted from us not till late, refusing an invitation to spend the
night here, but readily consented to repeat his visit. His visits
were frequently repeated. Each day introduced us to a more intimate
acquaintance with his sentiments, but left us wholly in the dark,
concerning that about which we were most inquisitive. He studiously
avoided all mention of his past or present situation. Even the place of
his abode in the city he concealed from us.

Our sphere, in this respect, being somewhat limited, and the
intellectual endowments of this man being indisputably great, his
deportment was more diligently marked, and copiously commented on by
us, than you, perhaps, will think the circumstances warranted. Not a
gesture, or glance, or accent, that was not, in our private assemblies,
discussed, and inferences deduced from it. It may well be thought that
he modelled his behaviour by an uncommon standard, when, with all our
opportunities and accuracy of observation, we were able, for a long
time, to gather no satisfactory information. He afforded us no ground on
which to build even a plausible conjecture.

There is a degree of familiarity which takes place between constant
associates, that justifies the negligence of many rules of which, in
an earlier period of their intercourse, politeness requires the exact
observance. Inquiries into our condition are allowable when they are
prompted by a disinterested concern for our welfare; and this solicitude
is not only pardonable, but may justly be demanded from those who chuse
us for their companions. This state of things was more slow to arrive
on this occasion than on most others, on account of the gravity and
loftiness of this man's behaviour.

Pleyel, however, began, at length, to employ regular means for this end.
He occasionally alluded to the circumstances in which they had formerly
met, and remarked the incongruousness between the religion and habits
of a Spaniard, with those of a native of Britain. He expressed
his astonishment at meeting our guest in this corner of the globe,
especially as, when they parted in Spain, he was taught to believe that
Carwin should never leave that country. He insinuated, that a change
so great must have been prompted by motives of a singular and momentous

No answer, or an answer wide of the purpose, was generally made to these
insinuations. Britons and Spaniards, he said, are votaries of the same
Deity, and square their faith by the same precepts; their ideas are
drawn from the same fountains of literature, and they speak dialects of
the same tongue; their government and laws have more resemblances than
differences; they were formerly provinces of the same civil, and till
lately, of the same religious, Empire.

As to the motives which induce men to change the place of their abode,
these must unavoidably be fleeting and mutable. If not bound to one spot
by conjugal or parental ties, or by the nature of that employment to
which we are indebted for subsistence, the inducements to change are far
more numerous and powerful, than opposite inducements.

He spoke as if desirous of shewing that he was not aware of the tendency
of Pleyel's remarks; yet, certain tokens were apparent, that proved him
by no means wanting in penetration. These tokens were to be read in his
countenance, and not in his words. When any thing was said, indicating
curiosity in us, the gloom of his countenance was deepened, his eyes
sunk to the ground, and his wonted air was not resumed without visible
struggle. Hence, it was obvious to infer, that some incidents of
his life were reflected on by him with regret; and that, since these
incidents were carefully concealed, and even that regret which flowed
from them laboriously stifled, they had not been merely disastrous. The
secrecy that was observed appeared not designed to provoke or baffle the
inquisitive, but was prompted by the shame, or by the prudence of guilt.

These ideas, which were adopted by Pleyel and my brother, as well as
myself, hindered us from employing more direct means for accomplishing
our wishes. Questions might have been put in such terms, that no room
should be left for the pretence of misapprehension, and if modesty
merely had been the obstacle, such questions would not have been
wanting; but we considered, that, if the disclosure were productive of
pain or disgrace, it was inhuman to extort it.

Amidst the various topics that were discussed in his presence, allusions
were, of course, made to the inexplicable events that had lately
happened. At those times, the words and looks of this man were objects
of my particular attention. The subject was extraordinary; and any
one whose experience or reflections could throw any light upon it, was
entitled to my gratitude. As this man was enlightened by reading and
travel, I listened with eagerness to the remarks which he should make.

At first, I entertained a kind of apprehension, that the tale would be
heard by him with incredulity and secret ridicule. I had formerly heard
stories that resembled this in some of their mysterious circumstances,
but they were, commonly, heard by me with contempt. I was doubtful,
whether the same impression would not now be made on the mind of our
guest; but I was mistaken in my fears.

He heard them with seriousness, and without any marks either of
surprize or incredulity. He pursued, with visible pleasure, that kind
of disquisition which was naturally suggested by them. His fancy was
eminently vigorous and prolific, and if he did not persuade us, that
human beings are, sometimes, admitted to a sensible intercourse with the
author of nature, he, at least, won over our inclination to the cause.
He merely deduced, from his own reasonings, that such intercourse
was probable; but confessed that, though he was acquainted with many
instances somewhat similar to those which had been related by us, none
of them were perfectly exempted from the suspicion of human agency.

On being requested to relate these instances, he amused us with many
curious details. His narratives were constructed with so much skill,
and rehearsed with so much energy, that all the effects of a dramatic
exhibition were frequently produced by them. Those that were most
coherent and most minute, and, of consequence, least entitled to credit,
were yet rendered probable by the exquisite art of this rhetorician. For
every difficulty that was suggested, a ready and plausible solution
was furnished. Mysterious voices had always a share in producing
the catastrophe, but they were always to be explained on some known
principles, either as reflected into a focus, or communicated through
a tube. I could not but remark that his narratives, however complex or
marvellous, contained no instance sufficiently parallel to those that
had befallen ourselves, and in which the solution was applicable to our
own case.

My brother was a much more sanguine reasoner than our guest. Even
in some of the facts which were related by Carwin, he maintained the
probability of celestial interference, when the latter was disposed to
deny it, and had found, as he imagined, footsteps of an human agent.
Pleyel was by no means equally credulous. He scrupled not to deny faith
to any testimony but that of his senses, and allowed the facts which had
lately been supported by this testimony, not to mould his belief, but
merely to give birth to doubts.

It was soon observed that Carwin adopted, in some degree, a similar
distinction. A tale of this kind, related by others, he would believe,
provided it was explicable upon known principles; but that such notices
were actually communicated by beings of an higher order, he would
believe only when his own ears were assailed in a manner which could not
be otherwise accounted for. Civility forbad him to contradict my brother
or myself, but his understanding refused to acquiesce in our testimony.
Besides, he was disposed to question whether the voices heard in the
temple, at the foot of the hill, and in my closet, were not really
uttered by human organs. On this supposition he was desired to explain
how the effect was produced.

He answered, that the power of mimickry was very common. Catharine's
voice might easily be imitated by one at the foot of the hill, who would
find no difficulty in eluding, by flight, the search of Wieland. The
tidings of the death of the Saxon lady were uttered by one near at hand,
who overheard the conversation, who conjectured her death, and whose
conjecture happened to accord with the truth. That the voice appeared to
come from the cieling was to be considered as an illusion of the fancy.
The cry for help, heard in the hall on the night of my adventure, was to
be ascribed to an human creature, who actually stood in the hall when he
uttered it. It was of no moment, he said, that we could not explain by
what motives he that made the signal was led hither. How imperfectly
acquainted were we with the condition and designs of the beings that
surrounded us? The city was near at hand, and thousands might there
exist whose powers and purposes might easily explain whatever was
mysterious in this transaction. As to the closet dialogue, he was
obliged to adopt one of two suppositions, and affirm either that it was
fashioned in my own fancy, or that it actually took place between two
persons in the closet.

Such was Carwin's mode of explaining these appearances. It is such,
perhaps, as would commend itself as most plausible to the most sagacious
minds, but it was insufficient to impart conviction to us. As to the
treason that was meditated against me, it was doubtless just to conclude
that it was either real or imaginary; but that it was real was attested
by the mysterious warning in the summer-house, the secret of which I had
hitherto locked up in my own breast.

A month passed away in this kind of intercourse. As to Carwin, our
ignorance was in no degree enlightened respecting his genuine character
and views. Appearances were uniform. No man possessed a larger store of
knowledge, or a greater degree of skill in the communication of it to
others; Hence he was regarded as an inestimable addition to our society.
Considering the distance of my brother's house from the city, he was
frequently prevailed upon to pass the night where he spent the evening.
Two days seldom elapsed without a visit from him; hence he was regarded
as a kind of inmate of the house. He entered and departed without
ceremony. When he arrived he received an unaffected welcome, and when he
chose to retire, no importunities were used to induce him to remain.

The temple was the principal scene of our social enjoyments; yet the
felicity that we tasted when assembled in this asylum, was but the
gleam of a former sun-shine. Carwin never parted with his gravity.
The inscrutableness of his character, and the uncertainty whether his
fellowship tended to good or to evil, were seldom absent from our minds.
This circumstance powerfully contributed to sadden us.

My heart was the seat of growing disquietudes. This change in one who
had formerly been characterized by all the exuberances of soul, could
not fail to be remarked by my friends. My brother was always a pattern
of solemnity. My sister was clay, moulded by the circumstances in which
she happened to be placed. There was but one whose deportment remains
to be described as being of importance to our happiness. Had Pleyel
likewise dismissed his vivacity?

He was as whimsical and jestful as ever, but he was not happy. The
truth, in this respect, was of too much importance to me not to make me
a vigilant observer. His mirth was easily perceived to be the fruit
of exertion. When his thoughts wandered from the company, an air of
dissatisfaction and impatience stole across his features. Even the
punctuality and frequency of his visits were somewhat lessened. It may
be supposed that my own uneasiness was heightened by these tokens; but,
strange as it may seem, I found, in the present state of my mind, no
relief but in the persuasion that Pleyel was unhappy.

That unhappiness, indeed, depended, for its value in my eyes, on the
cause that produced it. It did not arise from the death of the Saxon
lady: it was not a contagious emanation from the countenances of Wieland
or Carwin. There was but one other source whence it could flow. A
nameless ecstacy thrilled through my frame when any new proof occurred
that the ambiguousness of my behaviour was the cause.

Chapter IX

My brother had received a new book from Germany. It was a tragedy, and
the first attempt of a Saxon poet, of whom my brother had been taught to
entertain the highest expectations. The exploits of Zisca, the Bohemian
hero, were woven into a dramatic series and connection. According to
German custom, it was minute and diffuse, and dictated by an adventurous
and lawless fancy. It was a chain of audacious acts, and unheard-of
disasters. The moated fortress, and the thicket; the ambush and the
battle; and the conflict of headlong passions, were pourtrayed in
wild numbers, and with terrific energy. An afternoon was set apart to
rehearse this performance. The language was familiar to all of us but
Carwin, whose company, therefore, was tacitly dispensed with.

The morning previous to this intended rehearsal, I spent at home. My
mind was occupied with reflections relative to my own situation. The
sentiment which lived with chief energy in my heart, was connected
with the image of Pleyel. In the midst of my anguish, I had not been
destitute of consolation. His late deportment had given spring to my
hopes. Was not the hour at hand, which should render me the happiest
of human creatures? He suspected that I looked with favorable eyes upon
Carwin. Hence arose disquietudes, which he struggled in vain to conceal.
He loved me, but was hopeless that his love would be compensated. Is it
not time, said I, to rectify this error? But by what means is this to be
effected? It can only be done by a change of deportment in me; but how
must I demean myself for this purpose?

I must not speak. Neither eyes, nor lips, must impart the information.
He must not be assured that my heart is his, previous to the tender of
his own; but he must be convinced that it has not been given to another;
he must be supplied with space whereon to build a doubt as to the true
state of my affections; he must be prompted to avow himself. The line
of delicate propriety; how hard it is, not to fall short, and not to
overleap it!

This afternoon we shall meet at the temple. We shall not separate till
late. It will be his province to accompany me home. The airy expanse is
without a speck. This breeze is usually stedfast, and its promise of
a bland and cloudless evening, may be trusted. The moon will rise at
eleven, and at that hour, we shall wind along this bank. Possibly that
hour may decide my fate. If suitable encouragement be given, Pleyel will
reveal his soul to me; and I, ere I reach this threshold, will be made
the happiest of beings. And is this good to be mine? Add wings to thy
speed, sweet evening; and thou, moon, I charge thee, shroud thy beams at
the moment when my Pleyel whispers love. I would not for the world, that
the burning blushes, and the mounting raptures of that moment, should be

But what encouragement is wanting? I must be regardful of insurmountable
limits. Yet when minds are imbued with a genuine sympathy, are not words
and looks superfluous? Are not motion and touch sufficient to impart
feelings such as mine? Has he not eyed me at moments, when the pressure
of his hand has thrown me into tumults, and was it possible that he
mistook the impetuosities of love, for the eloquence of indignation?

But the hastening evening will decide. Would it were come! And yet I
shudder at its near approach. An interview that must thus terminate, is
surely to be wished for by me; and yet it is not without its terrors.
Would to heaven it were come and gone!

I feel no reluctance, my friends to be thus explicit. Time was, when
these emotions would be hidden with immeasurable solicitude, from every
human eye. Alas! these airy and fleeting impulses of shame are gone. My
scruples were preposterous and criminal. They are bred in all hearts, by
a perverse and vicious education, and they would still have maintained
their place in my heart, had not my portion been set in misery. My
errors have taught me thus much wisdom; that those sentiments which we
ought not to disclose, it is criminal to harbour.

It was proposed to begin the rehearsal at four o'clock; I counted the
minutes as they passed; their flight was at once too rapid and too slow;
my sensations were of an excruciating kind; I could taste no food, nor
apply to any task, nor enjoy a moment's repose: when the hour arrived, I
hastened to my brother's.

Pleyel was not there. He had not yet come. On ordinary occasions, he was
eminent for punctuality. He had testified great eagerness to share
in the pleasures of this rehearsal. He was to divide the task with my
brother, and, in tasks like these, he always engaged with peculiar
zeal. His elocution was less sweet than sonorous; and, therefore,
better adapted than the mellifluences of his friend, to the outrageous
vehemence of this drama.

What could detain him? Perhaps he lingered through forgetfulness. Yet
this was incredible. Never had his memory been known to fail upon even
more trivial occasions. Not less impossible was it, that the scheme had
lost its attractions, and that he staid, because his coming would afford
him no gratification. But why should we expect him to adhere to the

An half hour elapsed, but Pleyel was still at a distance. Perhaps he had
misunderstood the hour which had been proposed. Perhaps he had conceived
that to-morrow, and not to-day, had been selected for this purpose:
but no. A review of preceding circumstances demonstrated that such
misapprehension was impossible; for he had himself proposed this day,
and this hour. This day, his attention would not otherwise be occupied;
but to-morrow, an indispensible engagement was foreseen, by which all
his time would be engrossed: his detention, therefore, must be owing
to some unforeseen and extraordinary event. Our conjectures were vague,
tumultuous, and sometimes fearful. His sickness and his death might
possibly have detained him.

Tortured with suspense, we sat gazing at each other, and at the path
which led from the road. Every horseman that passed was, for a moment,
imagined to be him. Hour succeeded hour, and the sun, gradually
declining, at length, disappeared. Every signal of his coming proved
fallacious, and our hopes were at length dismissed. His absence affected
my friends in no insupportable degree. They should be obliged, they
said, to defer this undertaking till the morrow; and, perhaps, their
impatient curiosity would compel them to dispense entirely with his
presence. No doubt, some harmless occurrence had diverted him from
his purpose; and they trusted that they should receive a satisfactory
account of him in the morning.

It may be supposed that this disappointment affected me in a very
different manner. I turned aside my head to conceal my tears. I fled
into solitude, to give vent to my reproaches, without interruption
or restraint. My heart was ready to burst with indignation and grief.
Pleyel was not the only object of my keen but unjust upbraiding. Deeply
did I execrate my own folly. Thus fallen into ruins was the gay fabric
which I had reared! Thus had my golden vision melted into air!

How fondly did I dream that Pleyel was a lover! If he were, would he
have suffered any obstacle to hinder his coming? Blind and infatuated
man! I exclaimed. Thou sportest with happiness. The good that is
offered thee, thou hast the insolence and folly to refuse. Well, I will
henceforth intrust my felicity to no one's keeping but my own.

The first agonies of this disappointment would not allow me to be
reasonable or just. Every ground on which I had built the persuasion
that Pleyel was not unimpressed in my favor, appeared to vanish. It
seemed as if I had been misled into this opinion, by the most palpable

I made some trifling excuse, and returned, much earlier than I expected,
to my own house. I retired early to my chamber, without designing to
sleep. I placed myself at a window, and gave the reins to reflection.

The hateful and degrading impulses which had lately controuled me were,
in some degree, removed. New dejection succeeded, but was now produced
by contemplating my late behaviour. Surely that passion is worthy to
be abhorred which obscures our understanding, and urges us to the
commission of injustice. What right had I to expect his attendance?
Had I not demeaned myself like one indifferent to his happiness, and as
having bestowed my regards upon another? His absence might be prompted
by the love which I considered his absence as a proof that he wanted.
He came not because the sight of me, the spectacle of my coldness or
aversion, contributed to his despair. Why should I prolong, by hypocrisy
or silence, his misery as well as my own? Why not deal with him
explicitly, and assure him of the truth?

You will hardly believe that, in obedience to this suggestion, I rose
for the purpose of ordering a light, that I might instantly make this
confession in a letter. A second thought shewed me the rashness of this
scheme, and I wondered by what infirmity of mind I could be betrayed
into a momentary approbation of it. I saw with the utmost clearness that
a confession like that would be the most remediless and unpardonable
outrage upon the dignity of my sex, and utterly unworthy of that passion
which controuled me.

I resumed my seat and my musing. To account for the absence of Pleyel
became once more the scope of my conjectures. How many incidents might
occur to raise an insuperable impediment in his way? When I was a child,
a scheme of pleasure, in which he and his sister were parties, had been,
in like manner, frustrated by his absence; but his absence, in that
instance, had been occasioned by his falling from a boat into the river,
in consequence of which he had run the most imminent hazard of being
drowned. Here was a second disappointment endured by the same persons,
and produced by his failure. Might it not originate in the same cause?
Had he not designed to cross the river that morning to make some
necessary purchases in Jersey? He had preconcerted to return to his
own house to dinner; but, perhaps, some disaster had befallen him.
Experience had taught me the insecurity of a canoe, and that was the
only kind of boat which Pleyel used: I was, likewise, actuated by
an hereditary dread of water. These circumstances combined to bestow
considerable plausibility on this conjecture; but the consternation
with which I began to be seized was allayed by reflecting, that if
this disaster had happened my brother would have received the speediest
information of it. The consolation which this idea imparted was ravished
from me by a new thought. This disaster might have happened, and his
family not be apprized of it. The first intelligence of his fate may
be communicated by the livid corpse which the tide may cast, many days
hence, upon the shore.

Thus was I distressed by opposite conjectures: thus was I tormented by
phantoms of my own creation. It was not always thus. I can ascertain the
date when my mind became the victim of this imbecility; perhaps it was
coeval with the inroad of a fatal passion; a passion that will never
rank me in the number of its eulogists; it was alone sufficient to the
extermination of my peace: it was itself a plenteous source of
calamity, and needed not the concurrence of other evils to take away the
attractions of existence, and dig for me an untimely grave.

The state of my mind naturally introduced a train of reflections upon
the dangers and cares which inevitably beset an human being. By no
violent transition was I led to ponder on the turbulent life and
mysterious end of my father. I cherished, with the utmost veneration,
the memory of this man, and every relique connected with his fate was
preserved with the most scrupulous care. Among these was to be numbered
a manuscript, containing memoirs of his own life. The narrative was by
no means recommended by its eloquence; but neither did all its value
flow from my relationship to the author. Its stile had an unaffected and
picturesque simplicity. The great variety and circumstantial display of
the incidents, together with their intrinsic importance, as descriptive
of human manners and passions, made it the most useful book in my
collection. It was late; but being sensible of no inclination to sleep,
I resolved to betake myself to the perusal of it.

To do this it was requisite to procure a light. The girl had long since
retired to her chamber: it was therefore proper to wait upon myself.
A lamp, and the means of lighting it, were only to be found in the
kitchen. Thither I resolved forthwith to repair; but the light was of
use merely to enable me to read the book. I knew the shelf and the spot
where it stood. Whether I took down the book, or prepared the lamp in
the first place, appeared to be a matter of no moment. The latter was
preferred, and, leaving my seat, I approached the closet in which, as I
mentioned formerly, my books and papers were deposited.

Suddenly the remembrance of what had lately passed in this closet
occurred. Whether midnight was approaching, or had passed, I knew not. I
was, as then, alone, and defenceless. The wind was in that direction
in which, aided by the deathlike repose of nature, it brought to me
the murmur of the water-fall. This was mingled with that solemn and
enchanting sound, which a breeze produces among the leaves of pines. The
words of that mysterious dialogue, their fearful import, and the wild
excess to which I was transported by my terrors, filled my imagination
anew. My steps faultered, and I stood a moment to recover myself.

I prevailed on myself at length to move towards the closet. I touched
the lock, but my fingers were powerless; I was visited afresh by
unconquerable apprehensions. A sort of belief darted into my mind, that
some being was concealed within, whose purposes were evil. I began to
contend with those fears, when it occurred to me that I might, without
impropriety, go for a lamp previously to opening the closet. I receded
a few steps; but before I reached my chamber door my thoughts took a new
direction. Motion seemed to produce a mechanical influence upon me. I
was ashamed of my weakness. Besides, what aid could be afforded me by a

My fears had pictured to themselves no precise object. It would be
difficult to depict, in words, the ingredients and hues of that phantom
which haunted me. An hand invisible and of preternatural strength,
lifted by human passions, and selecting my life for its aim, were parts
of this terrific image. All places were alike accessible to this foe, or
if his empire were restricted by local bounds, those bounds were utterly
inscrutable by me. But had I not been told by some one in league with
this enemy, that every place but the recess in the bank was exempt from
danger? I returned to the closet, and once more put my hand upon the
lock. O! may my ears lose their sensibility, ere they be again assailed
by a shriek so terrible! Not merely my understanding was subdued by the
sound: it acted on my nerves like an edge of steel. It appeared to cut
asunder the fibres of my brain, and rack every joint with agony.

The cry, loud and piercing as it was, was nevertheless human. No
articulation was ever more distinct. The breath which accompanied it did
not fan my hair, yet did every circumstance combine to persuade me that
the lips which uttered it touched my very shoulder.

"Hold! Hold!" were the words of this tremendous prohibition, in whose
tone the whole soul seemed to be wrapped up, and every energy converted
into eagerness and terror.

Shuddering, I dashed myself against the wall, and by the same
involuntary impulse, turned my face backward to examine the mysterious
monitor. The moon-light streamed into each window, and every corner of
the room was conspicuous, and yet I beheld nothing!

The interval was too brief to be artificially measured, between the
utterance of these words, and my scrutiny directed to the quarter whence
they came. Yet if a human being had been there, could he fail to have
been visible? Which of my senses was the prey of a fatal illusion? The
shock which the sound produced was still felt in every part of my frame.
The sound, therefore, could not but be a genuine commotion. But that I
had heard it, was not more true than that the being who uttered it was
stationed at my right ear; yet my attendant was invisible.

I cannot describe the state of my thoughts at that moment. Surprize
had mastered my faculties. My frame shook, and the vital current was
congealed. I was conscious only to the vehemence of my sensations. This
condition could not be lasting. Like a tide, which suddenly mounts to
an overwhelming height, and then gradually subsides, my confusion slowly
gave place to order, and my tumults to a calm. I was able to deliberate
and move. I resumed my feet, and advanced into the midst of the room.
Upward, and behind, and on each side, I threw penetrating glances. I was
not satisfied with one examination. He that hitherto refused to be
seen, might change his purpose, and on the next survey be clearly

Solitude imposes least restraint upon the fancy. Dark is less fertile
of images than the feeble lustre of the moon. I was alone, and the walls
were chequered by shadowy forms. As the moon passed behind a cloud and
emerged, these shadows seemed to be endowed with life, and to move. The
apartment was open to the breeze, and the curtain was occasionally
blown from its ordinary position. This motion was not unaccompanied with
sound. I failed not to snatch a look, and to listen when this motion
and this sound occurred. My belief that my monitor was posted near,
was strong, and instantly converted these appearances to tokens of his
presence, and yet I could discern nothing.

When my thoughts were at length permitted to revert to the past, the
first idea that occurred was the resemblance between the words of the
voice which I had just heard, and those which had terminated my dream in
the summer-house. There are means by which we are able to distinguish a
substance from a shadow, a reality from the phantom of a dream. The pit,
my brother beckoning me forward, the seizure of my arm, and the voice
behind, were surely imaginary. That these incidents were fashioned in my
sleep, is supported by the same indubitable evidence that compels me to
believe myself awake at present; yet the words and the voice were the
same. Then, by some inexplicable contrivance, I was aware of the danger,
while my actions and sensations were those of one wholly unacquainted
with it. Now, was it not equally true that my actions and persuasions
were at war? Had not the belief, that evil lurked in the closet, gained
admittance, and had not my actions betokened an unwarrantable security?
To obviate the effects of my infatuation, the same means had been used.

In my dream, he that tempted me to my destruction, was my brother. Death
was ambushed in my path. From what evil was I now rescued? What minister
or implement of ill was shut up in this recess? Who was it whose
suffocating grasp I was to feel, should I dare to enter it? What
monstrous conception is this? my brother!

No; protection, and not injury is his province. Strange and terrible
chimera! Yet it would not be suddenly dismissed. It was surely no vulgar
agency that gave this form to my fears. He to whom all parts of time are
equally present, whom no contingency approaches, was the author of that
spell which now seized upon me. Life was dear to me. No consideration
was present that enjoined me to relinquish it. Sacred duty combined
with every spontaneous sentiment to endear to me my being. Should I not
shudder when my being was endangered? But what emotion should possess me
when the arm lifted aginst me was Wieland's?

Ideas exist in our minds that can be accounted for by no established
laws. Why did I dream that my brother was my foe? Why but because an
omen of my fate was ordained to be communicated? Yet what salutary end
did it serve? Did it arm me with caution to elude, or fortitude to bear
the evils to which I was reserved? My present thoughts were, no
doubt, indebted for their hue to the similitude existing between these
incidents and those of my dream. Surely it was phrenzy that dictated my
deed. That a ruffian was hidden in the closet, was an idea, the genuine
tendency of which was to urge me to flight. Such had been the effect
formerly produced. Had my mind been simply occupied with this thought at
present, no doubt, the same impulse would have been experienced; but
now it was my brother whom I was irresistably persuaded to regard as the
contriver of that ill of which I had been forewarned. This persuasion
did not extenuate my fears or my danger. Why then did I again approach
the closet and withdraw the bolt? My resolution was instantly conceived,
and executed without faultering.

The door was formed of light materials. The lock, of simple structure,
easily forewent its hold. It opened into the room, and commonly moved
upon its hinges, after being unfastened, without any effort of mine.
This effort, however, was bestowed upon the present occasion. It was
my purpose to open it with quickness, but the exertion which I made was
ineffectual. It refused to open.

At another time, this circumstance would not have looked with a face of
mystery. I should have supposed some casual obstruction, and repeated my
efforts to surmount it. But now my mind was accessible to no conjecture
but one. The door was hindered from opening by human force. Surely, here
was new cause for affright. This was confirmation proper to decide my
conduct. Now was all ground of hesitation taken away. What could be
supposed but that I deserted the chamber and the house? that I at least
endeavoured no longer to withdraw the door?

Have I not said that my actions were dictated by phrenzy? My reason had
forborne, for a time, to suggest or to sway my resolves. I reiterated
my endeavours. I exerted all my force to overcome the obstacle, but in
vain. The strength that was exerted to keep it shut, was superior to

A casual observer might, perhaps, applaud the audaciousness of this
conduct. Whence, but from an habitual defiance of danger, could my
perseverance arise? I have already assigned, as distinctly as I am able,
the cause of it. The frantic conception that my brother was within, that
the resistance made to my design was exerted by him, had rooted itself
in my mind. You will comprehend the height of this infatuation, when
I tell you, that, finding all my exertions vain, I betook myself to
exclamations. Surely I was utterly bereft of understanding.

Now had I arrived at the crisis of my fate. "O! hinder not the door to
open," I exclaimed, in a tone that had less of fear than of grief in
it. "I know you well. Come forth, but harm me not. I beseech you come

I had taken my hand from the lock, and removed to a small distance from
the door. I had scarcely uttered these words, when the door swung upon
its hinges, and displayed to my view the interior of the closet. Whoever
was within, was shrouded in darkness. A few seconds passed without
interruption of the silence. I knew not what to expect or to fear. My
eyes would not stray from the recess. Presently, a deep sigh was heard.
The quarter from which it came heightened the eagerness of my gaze. Some
one approached from the farther end. I quickly perceived the outlines
of a human figure. Its steps were irresolute and slow. I recoiled as it

By coming at length within the verge of the room, his form was clearly
distinguishable. I had prefigured to myself a very different personage.
The face that presented itself was the last that I should desire to meet
at an hour, and in a place like this. My wonder was stifled by my fears.
Assassins had lurked in this recess. Some divine voice warned me of
danger, that at this moment awaited me. I had spurned the intimation,
and challenged my adversary.

I recalled the mysterious countenance and dubious character of Carwin.
What motive but atrocious ones could guide his steps hither? I was
alone. My habit suited the hour, and the place, and the warmth of the
season. All succour was remote. He had placed himself between me and the
door. My frame shook with the vehemence of my apprehensions.

Yet I was not wholly lost to myself: I vigilantly marked his demeanour.
His looks were grave, but not without perturbation. What species of
inquietude it betrayed, the light was not strong enough to enable me
to discover. He stood still; but his eyes wandered from one object to
another. When these powerful organs were fixed upon me, I shrunk into
myself. At length, he broke silence. Earnestness, and not embarrassment,
was in his tone. He advanced close to me while he spoke.

"What voice was that which lately addressed you?"

He paused for an answer; but observing my trepidation, he resumed, with
undiminished solemnity: "Be not terrified. Whoever he was, he hast done
you an important service. I need not ask you if it were the voice of
a companion. That sound was beyond the compass of human organs. The
knowledge that enabled him to tell you who was in the closet, was
obtained by incomprehensible means.

"You knew that Carwin was there. Were you not apprized of his intents?
The same power could impart the one as well as the other. Yet, knowing
these, you persisted. Audacious girl! but, perhaps, you confided in his
guardianship. Your confidence was just. With succour like this at hand
you may safely defy me.

"He is my eternal foe; the baffler of my best concerted schemes. Twice
have you been saved by his accursed interposition. But for him I should
long ere now have borne away the spoils of your honor."

He looked at me with greater stedfastness than before. I became every
moment more anxious for my safety. It was with difficulty I stammered
out an entreaty that he would instantly depart, or suffer me to do so.
He paid no regard to my request, but proceeded in a more impassioned

"What is it you fear? Have I not told you, you are safe? Has not one
in whom you more reasonably place trust assured you of it? Even if I
execute my purpose, what injury is done? Your prejudices will call it
by that name, but it merits it not. I was impelled by a sentiment that
does you honor; a sentiment, that would sanctify my deed; but, whatever
it be, you are safe. Be this chimera still worshipped; I will do nothing
to pollute it." There he stopped.

The accents and gestures of this man left me drained of all courage.
Surely, on no other occasion should I have been thus pusillanimous. My
state I regarded as a hopeless one. I was wholly at the mercy of this
being. Whichever way I turned my eyes, I saw no avenue by which I might
escape. The resources of my personal strength, my ingenuity, and my
eloquence, I estimated at nothing. The dignity of virtue, and the force
of truth, I had been accustomed to celebrate; and had frequently vaunted
of the conquests which I should make with their assistance.

I used to suppose that certain evils could never befall a being in
possession of a sound mind; that true virtue supplies us with energy
which vice can never resist; that it was always in our power to
obstruct, by his own death, the designs of an enemy who aimed at less
than our life. How was it that a sentiment like despair had now invaded
me, and that I trusted to the protection of chance, or to the pity of my

His words imparted some notion of the injury which he had meditated. He
talked of obstacles that had risen in his way. He had relinquished his
design. These sources supplied me with slender consolation. There was no
security but in his absence. When I looked at myself, when I reflected
on the hour and the place, I was overpowered by horror and dejection.

He was silent, museful, and inattentive to my situation, yet made no
motion to depart. I was silent in my turn. What could I say? I was
confident that reason in this contest would be impotent. I must owe my
safety to his own suggestions. Whatever purpose brought him hither, he
had changed it. Why then did he remain? His resolutions might fluctuate,
and the pause of a few minutes restore to him his first resolutions.

Yet was not this the man whom we had treated with unwearied kindness?
Whose society was endeared to us by his intellectual elevation and
accomplishments? Who had a thousand times expatiated on the usefulness
and beauty of virtue? Why should such a one be dreaded? If I could have
forgotten the circumstances in which our interview had taken place, I
might have treated his words as jests. Presently, he resumed:

"Fear me not: the space that severs us is small, and all visible succour
is distant. You believe yourself completely in my power; that you stand
upon the brink of ruin. Such are your groundless fears. I cannot lift
a finger to hurt you. Easier it would be to stop the moon in her course
than to injure you. The power that protects you would crumble my sinews,
and reduce me to a heap of ashes in a moment, if I were to harbour a
thought hostile to your safety. Thus are appearances at length solved.
Little did I expect that they originated hence. What a portion is
assigned to you? Scanned by the eyes of this intelligence, your path
will be without pits to swallow, or snares to entangle you. Environed by
the arms of this protection, all artifices will be frustrated, and all
malice repelled."

Here succeeded a new pause. I was still observant of every gesture and
look. The tranquil solemnity that had lately possessed his countenance
gave way to a new expression. All now was trepidation and anxiety.

"I must be gone," said he in a faltering accent. "Why do I linger here?
I will not ask your forgiveness. I see that your terrors are invincible.
Your pardon will be extorted by fear, and not dictated by compassion. I
must fly from you forever. He that could plot against your honor, must
expect from you and your friends persecution and death. I must doom
myself to endless exile."

Saying this, he hastily left the room. I listened while he descended the
stairs, and, unbolting the outer door, went forth. I did not follow him
with my eyes, as the moon-light would have enabled me to do. Relieved by
his absence, and exhausted by the conflict of my fears, I threw myself
on a chair, and resigned myself to those bewildering ideas which
incidents like these could not fail to produce.

Chapter X

Order could not readily be introduced into my thoughts. The voice still
rung in my ears. Every accent that was uttered by Carwin was fresh in my
remembrance. His unwelcome approach, the recognition of his person, his
hasty departure, produced a complex impression on my mind which no words
can delineate. I strove to give a slower motion to my thoughts, and to
regulate a confusion which became painful; but my efforts were nugatory.
I covered my eyes with my hand, and sat, I know not how long, without
power to arrange or utter my conceptions.

I had remained for hours, as I believed, in absolute solitude. No
thought of personal danger had molested my tranquillity. I had made
no preparation for defence. What was it that suggested the design of
perusing my father's manuscript? If, instead of this, I had retired
to bed, and to sleep, to what fate might I not have been reserved? The
ruffian, who must almost have suppressed his breathing to screen himself
from discovery, would have noticed this signal, and I should have
awakened only to perish with affright, and to abhor myself. Could I have
remained unconscious of my danger? Could I have tranquilly slept in the
midst of so deadly a snare?

And who was he that threatened to destroy me? By what means could he
hide himself in this closet? Surely he is gifted with supernatural
power. Such is the enemy of whose attempts I was forewarned. Daily I had
seen him and conversed with him. Nothing could be discerned through the
impenetrable veil of his duplicity. When busied in conjectures, as to
the author of the evil that was threatened, my mind did not light, for
a moment, upon his image. Yet has he not avowed himself my enemy? Why
should he be here if he had not meditated evil?

He confesses that this has been his second attempt. What was the scene
of his former conspiracy? Was it not he whose whispers betrayed him? Am
I deceived; or was there not a faint resemblance between the voice of
this man and that which talked of grasping my throat, and extinguishing
my life in a moment? Then he had a colleague in his crime; now he
is alone. Then death was the scope of his thoughts; now an injury
unspeakably more dreadful. How thankful should I be to the power that
has interposed to save me!

That power is invisible. It is subject to the cognizance of one of my
senses. What are the means that will inform me of what nature it is?
He has set himself to counterwork the machinations of this man, who had
menaced destruction to all that is dear to me, and whose cunning had
surmounted every human impediment. There was none to rescue me from
his grasp. My rashness even hastened the completion of his scheme, and
precluded him from the benefits of deliberation. I had robbed him of the
power to repent and forbear. Had I been apprized of the danger, I should
have regarded my conduct as the means of rendering my escape from it
impossible. Such, likewise, seem to have been the fears of my invisible
protector. Else why that startling intreaty to refrain from opening the
closet? By what inexplicable infatuation was I compelled to proceed?

Yet my conduct was wise. Carwin, unable to comprehend my folly, ascribed
my behaviour to my knowledge. He conceived himself previously detected,
and such detection being possible to flow only from MY heavenly friend,
and HIS enemy, his fears acquired additional strength.

He is apprized of the nature and intentions of this being. Perhaps he
is a human agent. Yet, on that supposition his atchievements are
incredible. Why should I be selected as the object of his care; or, if
a mere mortal, should I not recognize some one, whom, benefits imparted
and received had prompted to love me? What were the limits and duration
of his guardianship? Was the genius of my birth entrusted by divine
benignity with this province? Are human faculties adequate to
receive stronger proofs of the existence of unfettered and beneficent
intelligences than I have received?

But who was this man's coadjutor? The voice that acknowledged an
alliance in treachery with Carwin warned me to avoid the summer-house.
He assured me that there only my safety was endangered. His assurance,
as it now appears, was fallacious. Was there not deceit in his
admonition? Was his compact really annulled? Some purpose was, perhaps,
to be accomplished by preventing my future visits to that spot. Why was
I enjoined silence to others, on the subject of this admonition, unless
it were for some unauthorized and guilty purpose?

No one but myself was accustomed to visit it. Backward, it was hidden
from distant view by the rock, and in front, it was screened from all
examination, by creeping plants, and the branches of cedars. What
recess could be more propitious to secrecy? The spirit which haunted it
formerly was pure and rapturous. It was a fane sacred to the memory
of infantile days, and to blissful imaginations of the future! What a
gloomy reverse had succeeded since the ominous arrival of this stranger!
Now, perhaps, it is the scene of his meditations. Purposes fraught with
horror, that shun the light, and contemplate the pollution of innocence,
are here engendered, and fostered, and reared to maturity.

Such were the ideas that, during the night, were tumultuously revolved
by me. I reviewed every conversation in which Carwin had borne a part.
I studied to discover the true inferences deducible from his deportment
and words with regard to his former adventures and actual views. I
pondered on the comments which he made on the relation which I had given
of the closet dialogue. No new ideas suggested themselves in the course
of this review. My expectation had, from the first, been disappointed
on the small degree of surprize which this narrative excited in him. He
never explicitly declared his opinion as to the nature of those voices,
or decided whether they were real or visionary. He recommended no
measures of caution or prevention.

But what measures were now to be taken? Was the danger which threatened
me at an end? Had I nothing more to fear? I was lonely, and without
means of defence. I could not calculate the motives and regulate the
footsteps of this person. What certainty was there, that he would not
re-assume his purposes, and swiftly return to the execution of them?

This idea covered me once more with dismay. How deeply did I regret the
solitude in which I was placed, and how ardently did I desire the return
of day! But neither of these inconveniencies were susceptible of remedy.
At first, it occurred to me to summon my servant, and make her spend the
night in my chamber; but the inefficacy of this expedient to enhance my
safety was easily seen. Once I resolved to leave the house, and retire
to my brother's, but was deterred by reflecting on the unseasonableness
of the hour, on the alarm which my arrival, and the account which I
should be obliged to give, might occasion, and on the danger to which I
might expose myself in the way thither. I began, likewise, to consider
Carwin's return to molest me as exceedingly improbable. He had
relinquished, of his own accord, his design, and departed without
compulsion. "Surely," said I, "there is omnipotence in the cause that
changed the views of a man like Carwin. The divinity that shielded me
from his attempts will take suitable care of my future safety. Thus to
yield to my fears is to deserve that they should be real."

Scarcely had I uttered these words, when my attention was startled by
the sound of footsteps. They denoted some one stepping into the piazza
in front of my house. My new-born confidence was extinguished in a
moment. Carwin, I thought, had repented his departure, and was hastily
returning. The possibility that his return was prompted by intentions
consistent with my safety, found no place in my mind. Images of
violation and murder assailed me anew, and the terrors which succeeded
almost incapacitated me from taking any measures for my defence. It was
an impulse of which I was scarcely conscious, that made me fasten the
lock and draw the bolts of my chamber door. Having done this, I threw
myself on a seat; for I trembled to a degree which disabled me from
standing, and my soul was so perfectly absorbed in the act of listening,
that almost the vital motions were stopped.

The door below creaked on its hinges. It was not again thrust to, but
appeared to remain open. Footsteps entered, traversed the entry, and
began to mount the stairs. How I detested the folly of not pursuing the
man when he withdrew, and bolting after him the outer door! Might he not
conceive this omission to be a proof that my angel had deserted me, and
be thereby fortified in guilt?

Every step on the stairs, which brought him nearer to my chamber, added
vigor to my desperation. The evil with which I was menaced was to be at
any rate eluded. How little did I preconceive the conduct which, in an
exigence like this, I should be prone to adopt. You will suppose that
deliberation and despair would have suggested the same course of action,
and that I should have, unhesitatingly, resorted to the best means of
personal defence within my power. A penknife lay open upon my table. I
remembered that it was there, and seized it. For what purpose you will
scarcely inquire. It will be immediately supposed that I meant it for my
last refuge, and that if all other means should fail, I should plunge it
into the heart of my ravisher.

I have lost all faith in the stedfastness of human resolves. It was thus
that in periods of calm I had determined to act. No cowardice had been
held by me in greater abhorrence than that which prompted an injured
female to destroy, not her injurer ere the injury was perpetrated, but
herself when it was without remedy. Yet now this penknife appeared to
me of no other use than to baffle my assailant, and prevent the crime
by destroying myself. To deliberate at such a time was impossible; but
among the tumultuous suggestions of the moment, I do not recollect that
it once occurred to me to use it as an instrument of direct defence. The
steps had now reached the second floor. Every footfall accelerated the
completion, without augmenting, the certainty of evil. The consciousness
that the door was fast, now that nothing but that was interposed between
me and danger, was a source of some consolation. I cast my eye towards
the window. This, likewise, was a new suggestion. If the door should
give way, it was my sudden resolution to throw myself from the window.
Its height from the ground, which was covered beneath by a brick
pavement, would insure my destruction; but I thought not of that.

When opposite to my door the footsteps ceased. Was he listening whether
my fears were allayed, and my caution were asleep? Did he hope to take
me by surprize? Yet, if so, why did he allow so many noisy signals to
betray his approach? Presently the steps were again heard to approach
the door. An hand was laid upon the lock, and the latch pulled back. Did
he imagine it possible that I should fail to secure the door? A slight
effort was made to push it open, as if all bolts being withdrawn, a
slight effort only was required.

I no sooner perceived this, than I moved swiftly towards the window.
Carwin's frame might be said to be all muscle. His strength and activity
had appeared, in various instances, to be prodigious. A slight exertion
of his force would demolish the door. Would not that exertion be made?
Too surely it would; but, at the same moment that this obstacle should
yield, and he should enter the apartment, my determination was formed to
leap from the window. My senses were still bound to this object. I gazed
at the door in momentary expectation that the assault would be made. The
pause continued. The person without was irresolute and motionless.

Suddenly, it occurred to me that Carwin might conceive me to have fled.
That I had not betaken myself to flight was, indeed, the least probable
of all conclusions. In this persuasion he must have been confirmed on
finding the lower door unfastened, and the chamber door locked. Was
it not wise to foster this persuasion? Should I maintain deep silence,
this, in addition to other circumstances, might encourage the belief,
and he would once more depart. Every new reflection added plausibility
to this reasoning. It was presently more strongly enforced, when I
noticed footsteps withdrawing from the door. The blood once more flowed
back to my heart, and a dawn of exultation began to rise: but my joy was
short lived. Instead of descending the stairs, he passed to the door of
the opposite chamber, opened it, and having entered, shut it after him
with a violence that shook the house.

How was I to interpret this circumstance? For what end could he have
entered this chamber? Did the violence with which he closed the door
testify the depth of his vexation? This room was usually occupied by
Pleyel. Was Carwin aware of his absence on this night? Could he be
suspected of a design so sordid as pillage? If this were his view there
were no means in my power to frustrate it. It behoved me to seize the
first opportunity to escape; but if my escape were supposed by my
enemy to have been already effected, no asylum was more secure than the
present. How could my passage from the house be accomplished without
noises that might incite him to pursue me?

Utterly at a loss to account for his going into Pleyel's chamber, I
waited in instant expectation of hearing him come forth. All, however,
was profoundly still. I listened in vain for a considerable period, to
catch the sound of the door when it should again be opened. There was
no other avenue by which he could escape, but a door which led into the
girl's chamber. Would any evil from this quarter befall the girl?

Hence arose a new train of apprehensions. They merely added to the
turbulence and agony of my reflections. Whatever evil impended over her,
I had no power to avert it. Seclusion and silence were the only means of
saving myself from the perils of this fatal night. What solemn vows did
I put up, that if I should once more behold the light of day, I would
never trust myself again within the threshold of this dwelling!

Minute lingered after minute, but no token was given that Carwin had
returned to the passage. What, I again asked, could detain him in this
room? Was it possible that he had returned, and glided, unperceived,
away? I was speedily aware of the difficulty that attended an enterprize
like this; and yet, as if by that means I were capable of gaining any
information on that head, I cast anxious looks from the window.

The object that first attracted my attention was an human figure
standing on the edge of the bank. Perhaps my penetration was assisted
by my hopes. Be that as it will, the figure of Carwin was clearly
distinguishable. From the obscurity of my station, it was impossible
that I should be discerned by him, and yet he scarcely suffered me to
catch a glimpse of him. He turned and went down the steep, which, in
this part, was not difficult to be scaled.

My conjecture then had been right. Carwin has softly opened the door,
descended the stairs, and issued forth. That I should not have overheard
his steps, was only less incredible than that my eyes had deceived me.
But what was now to be done? The house was at length delivered from this
detested inmate. By one avenue might he again re-enter. Was it not wise
to bar the lower door? Perhaps he had gone out by the kitchen door. For
this end, he must have passed through Judith's chamber. These entrances
being closed and bolted, as great security was gained as was compatible
with my lonely condition.

The propriety of these measures was too manifest not to make me struggle
successfully with my fears. Yet I opened my own door with the utmost
caution, and descended as if I were afraid that Carwin had been still
immured in Pleyel's chamber. The outer door was a-jar. I shut, with
trembling eagerness, and drew every bolt that appended to it. I then
passed with light and less cautious steps through the parlour, but was
surprized to discover that the kitchen door was secure. I was compelled
to acquiesce in the first conjecture that Carwin had escaped through the

My heart was now somewhat eased of the load of apprehension. I returned
once more to my chamber, the door of which I was careful to lock. It was
no time to think of repose. The moon-light began already to fade before
the light of the day. The approach of morning was betokened by the usual
signals. I mused upon the events of this night, and determined to take
up my abode henceforth at my brother's. Whether I should inform him
of what had happened was a question which seemed to demand some
consideration. My safety unquestionably required that I should abandon
my present habitation.

As my thoughts began to flow with fewer impediments, the image of
Pleyel, and the dubiousness of his condition, again recurred to me. I
again ran over the possible causes of his absence on the preceding day.
My mind was attuned to melancholy. I dwelt, with an obstinacy for which
I could not account, on the idea of his death. I painted to myself his
struggles with the billows, and his last appearance. I imagined myself
a midnight wanderer on the shore, and to have stumbled on his corpse,
which the tide had cast up. These dreary images affected me even to
tears. I endeavoured not to restrain them. They imparted a relief which
I had not anticipated. The more copiously they flowed, the more did
my general sensations appear to subside into calm, and a certain
restlessness give way to repose.

Perhaps, relieved by this effusion, the slumber so much wanted might
have stolen on my senses, had there been no new cause of alarm.

Chapter XI

I was aroused from this stupor by sounds that evidently arose in the
next chamber. Was it possible that I had been mistaken in the figure
which I had seen on the bank? or had Carwin, by some inscrutable means,
penetrated once more into this chamber? The opposite door opened;
footsteps came forth, and the person, advancing to mine, knocked.

So unexpected an incident robbed me of all presence of mind, and,
starting up, I involuntarily exclaimed, "Who is there?" An answer was
immediately given. The voice, to my inexpressible astonishment, was

"It is I. Have you risen? If you have not, make haste; I want three
minutes conversation with you in the parlour--I will wait for you
there." Saying this he retired from the door.

Should I confide in the testimony of my ears? If that were true, it was
Pleyel that had been hitherto immured in the opposite chamber: he whom
my rueful fancy had depicted in so many ruinous and ghastly shapes: he
whose footsteps had been listened to with such inquietude! What is man,
that knowledge is so sparingly conferred upon him! that his heart should
be wrung with distress, and his frame be exanimated with fear, though
his safety be encompassed with impregnable walls! What are the bounds
of human imbecility! He that warned me of the presence of my foe refused
the intimation by which so many racking fears would have been precluded.

Yet who would have imagined the arrival of Pleyel at such an hour? His
tone was desponding and anxious. Why this unseasonable summons? and why
this hasty departure? Some tidings he, perhaps, bears of mysterious and
unwelcome import.

My impatience would not allow me to consume much time in deliberation: I
hastened down. Pleyel I found standing at a window, with eyes cast
down as in meditation, and arms folded on his breast. Every line in
his countenance was pregnant with sorrow. To this was added a certain
wanness and air of fatigue. The last time I had seen him appearances
had been the reverse of these. I was startled at the change. The first
impulse was to question him as to the cause. This impulse was supplanted
by some degree of confusion, flowing from a consciousness that love had
too large, and, as it might prove, a perceptible share in creating this
impulse. I was silent.

Presently he raised his eyes and fixed them upon me. I read in them an
anguish altogether ineffable. Never had I witnessed a like demeanour
in Pleyel. Never, indeed, had I observed an human countenance in which
grief was more legibly inscribed. He seemed struggling for utterance;
but his struggles being fruitless, he shook his head and turned away
from me.

My impatience would not allow me to be longer silent: "What," said I,
"for heaven's sake, my friend, what is the matter?"

He started at the sound of my voice. His looks, for a moment, became
convulsed with an emotion very different from grief. His accents were
broken with rage.

"The matter--O wretch!--thus exquisitely fashioned--on whom nature
seemed to have exhausted all her graces; with charms so awful and
so pure! how art thou fallen! From what height fallen! A ruin so
complete--so unheard of!"

His words were again choaked by emotion. Grief and pity were again
mingled in his features. He resumed, in a tone half suffocated by sobs:

"But why should I upbraid thee? Could I restore to thee what thou hast
lost; efface this cursed stain; snatch thee from the jaws of this fiend;
I would do it. Yet what will avail my efforts? I have not arms with
which to contend with so consummate, so frightful a depravity.

"Evidence less than this would only have excited resentment and scorn.
The wretch who should have breathed a suspicion injurious to thy honor,
would have been regarded without anger; not hatred or envy could have
prompted him; it would merely be an argument of madness. That my eyes,
that my ears, should bear witness to thy fall! By no other way could
detestible conviction be imparted.

"Why do I summon thee to this conference? Why expose myself to thy
derision? Here admonition and entreaty are vain. Thou knowest him
already, for a murderer and thief. I had thought to have been the first
to disclose to thee his infamy; to have warned thee of the pit to
which thou art hastening; but thy eyes are open in vain. O foul and
insupportable disgrace!

"There is but one path. I know you will disappear together. In thy ruin,
how will the felicity and honor of multitudes be involved! But it must
come. This scene shall not be blotted by his presence. No doubt thou
wilt shortly see thy detested paramour. This scene will be again
polluted by a midnight assignation. Inform him of his danger; tell him
that his crimes are known; let him fly far and instantly from this spot,
if he desires to avoid the fate which menaced him in Ireland.

"And wilt thou not stay behind?--But shame upon my weakness. I know
not what I would say.--I have done what I purposed. To stay longer, to
expostulate, to beseech, to enumerate the consequences of thy act--what
end can it serve but to blazon thy infamy and embitter our woes? And
yet, O think, think ere it be too late, on the distresses which thy
flight will entail upon us; on the base, grovelling, and atrocious
character of the wretch to whom thou hast sold thy honor. But what
is this? Is not thy effrontery impenetrable, and thy heart thoroughly
cankered? O most specious, and most profligate of women!"

Saying this, he rushed out of the house. I saw him in a few moments
hurrying along the path which led to my brother's. I had no power to
prevent his going, or to recall, or to follow him. The accents I had
heard were calculated to confound and bewilder. I looked around me to
assure myself that the scene was real. I moved that I might banish the
doubt that I was awake. Such enormous imputations from the mouth of
Pleyel! To be stigmatized with the names of wanton and profligate! To
be charged with the sacrifice of honor! with midnight meetings with a
wretch known to be a murderer and thief! with an intention to fly in his

What I had heard was surely the dictate of phrenzy, or it was built
upon some fatal, some incomprehensible mistake. After the horrors of the
night; after undergoing perils so imminent from this man, to be summoned
to an interview like this; to find Pleyel fraught with a belief that,
instead of having chosen death as a refuge from the violence of this
man, I had hugged his baseness to my heart, had sacrificed for him my
purity, my spotless name, my friendships, and my fortune! that even
madness could engender accusations like these was not to be believed.

What evidence could possibly suggest conceptions so wild? After the
unlooked-for interview with Carwin in my chamber, he retired. Could
Pleyel have observed his exit? It was not long after that Pleyel himself
entered. Did he build on this incident, his odious conclusions? Could
the long series of my actions and sentiments grant me no exemption from
suspicions so foul? Was it not more rational to infer that Carwin's
designs had been illicit; that my life had been endangered by the fury
of one whom, by some means, he had discovered to be an assassin and
robber; that my honor had been assailed, not by blandishments, but by

He has judged me without hearing. He has drawn from dubious appearances,
conclusions the most improbable and unjust. He has loaded me with all
outrageous epithets. He has ranked me with prostitutes and thieves. I
cannot pardon thee, Pleyel, for this injustice. Thy understanding must
be hurt. If it be not, if thy conduct was sober and deliberate, I can
never forgive an outrage so unmanly, and so gross.

These thoughts gradually gave place to others. Pleyel was possessed by
some momentary phrenzy: appearances had led him into palpable errors.
Whence could his sagacity have contracted this blindness? Was it not
love? Previously assured of my affection for Carwin, distracted with
grief and jealousy, and impelled hither at that late hour by some
unknown instigation, his imagination transformed shadows into monsters,
and plunged him into these deplorable errors.

This idea was not unattended with consolation. My soul was divided
between indignation at his injustice, and delight on account of the
source from which I conceived it to spring. For a long time they would
allow admission to no other thoughts. Surprize is an emotion that
enfeebles, not invigorates. All my meditations were accompanied
with wonder. I rambled with vagueness, or clung to one image with an
obstinacy which sufficiently testified the maddening influence of late

Gradually I proceeded to reflect upon the consequences of Pleyel's
mistake, and on the measures I should take to guard myself against
future injury from Carwin. Should I suffer this mistake to be detected
by time? When his passion should subside, would he not perceive the
flagrancy of his injustice, and hasten to atone for it? Did it not
become my character to testify resentment for language and treatment so
opprobrious? Wrapt up in the consciousness of innocence, and confiding
in the influence of time and reflection to confute so groundless a
charge, it was my province to be passive and silent.

As to the violences meditated by Carwin, and the means of eluding them,
the path to be taken by me was obvious. I resolved to tell the tale to
my brother, and regulate myself by his advice. For this end, when the
morning was somewhat advanced, I took the way to his house. My sister
was engaged in her customary occupations. As soon as I appeared, she
remarked a change in my looks. I was not willing to alarm her by the
information which I had to communicate. Her health was in that condition
which rendered a disastrous tale particularly unsuitable. I forbore a
direct answer to her inquiries, and inquired, in my turn, for Wieland.

"Why," said she, "I suspect something mysterious and unpleasant has
happened this morning. Scarcely had we risen when Pleyel dropped among
us. What could have prompted him to make us so early and so unseasonable
a visit I cannot tell. To judge from the disorder of his dress, and
his countenance, something of an extraordinary nature has occurred. He
permitted me merely to know that he had slept none, nor even undressed,
during the past night. He took your brother to walk with him. Some
topic must have deeply engaged them, for Wieland did not return till
the breakfast hour was passed, and returned alone. His disturbance was
excessive; but he would not listen to my importunities, or tell me
what had happened. I gathered from hints which he let fall, that your
situation was, in some way, the cause: yet he assured me that you were
at your own house, alive, in good health, and in perfect safety. He
scarcely ate a morsel, and immediately after breakfast went out again.
He would not inform me whither he was going, but mentioned that he
probably might not return before night."

I was equally astonished and alarmed by this information. Pleyel had
told his tale to my brother, and had, by a plausible and exaggerated
picture, instilled into him unfavorable thoughts of me. Yet would not
the more correct judgment of Wieland perceive and expose the fallacy of
his conclusions? Perhaps his uneasiness might arise from some insight
into the character of Carwin, and from apprehensions for my safety. The
appearances by which Pleyel had been misled, might induce him likewise
to believe that I entertained an indiscreet, though not dishonorable
affection for Carwin. Such were the conjectures rapidly formed. I was
inexpressibly anxious to change them into certainty. For this end
an interview with my brother was desirable. He was gone, no one knew
whither, and was not expected speedily to return. I had no clue by which
to trace his footsteps.

My anxieties could not be concealed from my sister. They heightened
her solicitude to be acquainted with the cause. There were many reasons
persuading me to silence: at least, till I had seen my brother, it would
be an act of inexcusable temerity to unfold what had lately passed. No
other expedient for eluding her importunities occurred to me, but that
of returning to my own house. I recollected my determination to become a
tenant of this roof. I mentioned it to her. She joyfully acceded to this
proposal, and suffered me, with less reluctance, to depart, when I told
her that it was with a view to collect and send to my new dwelling what
articles would be immediately useful to me.

Once more I returned to the house which had been the scene of so
much turbulence and danger. I was at no great distance from it when
I observed my brother coming out. On seeing me he stopped, and after
ascertaining, as it seemed, which way I was going, he returned into the
house before me. I sincerely rejoiced at this event, and I hastened to
set things, if possible, on their right footing.

His brow was by no means expressive of those vehement emotions with
which Pleyel had been agitated. I drew a favorable omen from this
circumstance. Without delay I began the conversation.

"I have been to look for you," said I, "but was told by Catharine that
Pleyel had engaged you on some important and disagreeable affair. Before
his interview with you he spent a few minutes with me. These minutes he
employed in upbraiding me for crimes and intentions with which I am by
no means chargeable. I believe him to have taken up his opinions on
very insufficient grounds. His behaviour was in the highest degree
precipitate and unjust, and, until I receive some atonement, I shall
treat him, in my turn, with that contempt which he justly merits:
meanwhile I am fearful that he has prejudiced my brother against me.
That is an evil which I most anxiously deprecate, and which I shall
indeed exert myself to remove. Has he made me the subject of this
morning's conversation?"

My brother's countenance testified no surprize at my address. The
benignity of his looks were no wise diminished.

"It is true," said he, "your conduct was the subject of our discourse. I
am your friend, as well as your brother. There is no human being whom I
love with more tenderness, and whose welfare is nearer my heart. Judge
then with what emotions I listened to Pleyel's story. I expect and
desire you to vindicate yourself from aspersions so foul, if vindication
be possible."

The tone with which he uttered the last words affected me deeply. "If
vindication be possible!" repeated I. "From what you know, do you deem a
formal vindication necessary? Can you harbour for a moment the belief of
my guilt?"

He shook his head with an air of acute anguish. "I have struggled," said
he, "to dismiss that belief. You speak before a judge who will profit by
any pretence to acquit you: who is ready to question his own senses when
they plead against you."

These words incited a new set of thoughts in my mind. I began to suspect
that Pleyel had built his accusations on some foundation unknown to me.
"I may be a stranger to the grounds of your belief. Pleyel loaded me
with indecent and virulent invectives, but he withheld from me the facts
that generated his suspicions. Events took place last night of which
some of the circumstances were of an ambiguous nature. I conceived that
these might possibly have fallen under his cognizance, and that, viewed
through the mists of prejudice and passion, they supplied a pretence
for his conduct, but believed that your more unbiassed judgment would
estimate them at their just value. Perhaps his tale has been different
from what I suspect it to be. Listen then to my narrative. If there be
any thing in his story inconsistent with mine, his story is false."

I then proceeded to a circumstantial relation of the incidents of the
last night. Wieland listened with deep attention. Having finished,
"This," continued I, "is the truth; you see in what circumstances an
interview took place between Carwin and me. He remained for hours in my
closet, and for some minutes in my chamber. He departed without haste or
interruption. If Pleyel marked him as he left the house, and it is
not impossible that he did, inferences injurious to my character might
suggest themselves to him. In admitting them, he gave proofs of less
discernment and less candor than I once ascribed to him."

"His proofs," said Wieland, after a considerable pause, "are different.
That he should be deceived, is not possible. That he himself is not the
deceiver, could not be believed, if his testimony were not inconsistent
with yours; but the doubts which I entertained are now removed. Your
tale, some parts of it, is marvellous; the voice which exclaimed against
your rashness in approaching the closet, your persisting notwithstanding
that prohibition, your belief that I was the ruffian, and your
subsequent conduct, are believed by me, because I have known you from
childhood, because a thousand instances have attested your veracity, and
because nothing less than my own hearing and vision would convince me,
in opposition to her own assertions, that my sister had fallen into
wickedness like this."

I threw my arms around him, and bathed his cheek with my tears. "That,"
said I, "is spoken like my brother. But what are the proofs?"

He replied--"Pleyel informed me that, in going to your house, his
attention was attracted by two voices. The persons speaking sat beneath
the bank out of sight. These persons, judging by their voices, were
Carwin and you. I will not repeat the dialogue. If my sister was the
female, Pleyel was justified in concluding you to be, indeed, one of the
most profligate of women. Hence, his accusations of you, and his efforts
to obtain my concurrence to a plan by which an eternal separation should
be brought about between my sister and this man."

I made Wieland repeat this recital. Here, indeed, was a tale to fill me
with terrible foreboding. I had vainly thought that my safety could be
sufficiently secured by doors and bars, but this is a foe from whose
grasp no power of divinity can save me! His artifices will ever lay my
fame and happiness at his mercy. How shall I counterwork his plots, or
detect his coadjutor? He has taught some vile and abandoned female to
mimic my voice. Pleyel's ears were the witnesses of my dishonor. This
is the midnight assignation to which he alluded. Thus is the silence
he maintained when attempting to open the door of my chamber, accounted
for. He supposed me absent, and meant, perhaps, had my apartment been
accessible, to leave in it some accusing memorial.

Pleyel was no longer equally culpable. The sincerity of his anguish, the
depth of his despair, I remembered with some tendencies to gratitude.
Yet was he not precipitate? Was the conjecture that my part was played
by some mimic so utterly untenable? Instances of this faculty are
common. The wickedness of Carwin must, in his opinion, have been
adequate to such contrivances, and yet the supposition of my guilt was
adopted in preference to that.

But how was this error to be unveiled? What but my own assertion had I
to throw in the balance against it? Would this be permitted to outweigh
the testimony of his senses? I had no witnesses to prove my existence
in another place. The real events of that night are marvellous. Few, to
whom they should be related, would scruple to discredit them. Pleyel is
sceptical in a transcendant degree. I cannot summon Carwin to my bar,
and make him the attestor of my innocence, and the accuser of himself.

My brother saw and comprehended my distress. He was unacquainted,
however, with the full extent of it. He knew not by how many motives
I was incited to retrieve the good opinion of Pleyel. He endeavored
to console me. Some new event, he said, would occur to disentangle the
maze. He did not question the influence of my eloquence, if I thought
proper to exert it. Why not seek an interview with Pleyel, and exact
from him a minute relation, in which something may be met with serving
to destroy the probability of the whole?

I caught, with eagerness, at this hope; but my alacrity was damped by
new reflections. Should I, perfect in this respect, and unblemished as
I was, thrust myself, uncalled, into his presence, and make my felicity
depend upon his arbitrary verdict?

"If you chuse to seek an interview," continued Wieland, "you must make
haste, for Pleyel informed me of his intention to set out this evening
or to-morrow on a long journey."

No intelligence was less expected or less welcome than this. I had
thrown myself in a window seat; but now, starting on my feet, I
exclaimed, "Good heavens! what is it you say? a journey? whither? when?"

"I cannot say whither. It is a sudden resolution I believe. I did not
hear of it till this morning. He promises to write to me as soon as he
is settled."

I needed no further information as to the cause and issue of this
journey. The scheme of happiness to which he had devoted his thoughts
was blasted by the discovery of last night. My preference of another,
and my unworthiness to be any longer the object of his adoration, were
evinced by the same act and in the same moment. The thought of utter
desertion, a desertion originating in such a cause, was the prelude to
distraction. That Pleyel should abandon me forever, because I was blind
to his excellence, because I coveted pollution, and wedded infamy, when,
on the contrary, my heart was the shrine of all purity, and beat only
for his sake, was a destiny which, as long as my life was in my own
hands, I would by no means consent to endure.

I remembered that this evil was still preventable; that this fatal
journey it was still in my power to procrastinate, or, perhaps, to
occasion it to be laid aside. There were no impediments to a visit: I
only dreaded lest the interview should be too long delayed. My brother
befriended my impatience, and readily consented to furnish me with a
chaise and servant to attend me. My purpose was to go immediately to
Pleyel's farm, where his engagements usually detained him during the

Chapter XII

My way lay through the city. I had scarcely entered it when I was seized
with a general sensation of sickness. Every object grew dim and swam
before my sight. It was with difficulty I prevented myself from sinking
to the bottom of the carriage. I ordered myself to be carried to Mrs.
Baynton's, in hope that an interval of repose would invigorate and
refresh me. My distracted thoughts would allow me but little rest.
Growing somewhat better in the afternoon, I resumed my journey.

My contemplations were limited to a few objects. I regarded my success,
in the purpose which I had in view, as considerably doubtful. I
depended, in some degree, on the suggestions of the moment, and on the
materials which Pleyel himself should furnish me. When I reflected on
the nature of the accusation, I burned with disdain. Would not truth,
and the consciousness of innocence, render me triumphant? Should I not
cast from me, with irresistible force, such atrocious imputations?

What an entire and mournful change has been effected in a few hours! The
gulf that separates man from insects is not wider than that which severs
the polluted from the chaste among women. Yesterday and to-day I am the
same. There is a degree of depravity to which it is impossible for me
to sink; yet, in the apprehension of another, my ancient and intimate
associate, the perpetual witness of my actions, and partaker of my
thoughts, I had ceased to be the same. My integrity was tarnished
and withered in his eyes. I was the colleague of a murderer, and the
paramour of a thief!

His opinion was not destitute of evidence: yet what proofs could
reasonably avail to establish an opinion like this? If the sentiments
corresponded not with the voice that was heard, the evidence was
deficient; but this want of correspondence would have been supposed by
me if I had been the auditor and Pleyel the criminal. But mimicry might
still more plausibly have been employed to explain the scene. Alas! it
is the fate of Clara Wieland to fall into the hands of a precipitate and
inexorable judge.

But what, O man of mischief! is the tendency of thy thoughts? Frustrated
in thy first design, thou wilt not forego the immolation of thy victim.
To exterminate my reputation was all that remained to thee, and this my
guardian has permitted. To dispossess Pleyel of this prejudice may be
impossible; but if that be effected, it cannot be supposed that thy
wiles are exhausted; thy cunning will discover innumerable avenues to
the accomplishment of thy malignant purpose.

Why should I enter the lists against thee? Would to heaven I could
disarm thy vengeance by my deprecations! When I think of all the
resources with which nature and education have supplied thee; that thy
form is a combination of steely fibres and organs of exquisite ductility
and boundless compass, actuated by an intelligence gifted with infinite
endowments, and comprehending all knowledge, I perceive that my doom
is fixed. What obstacle will be able to divert thy zeal or repel thy
efforts? That being who has hitherto protected me has borne testimony to
the formidableness of thy attempts, since nothing less than supernatural
interference could check thy career.

Musing on these thoughts, I arrived, towards the close of the day, at
Pleyel's house. A month before, I had traversed the same path; but how
different were my sensations! Now I was seeking the presence of one who
regarded me as the most degenerate of human kind. I was to plead the
cause of my innocence, against witnesses the most explicit and unerring,
of those which support the fabric of human knowledge. The nearer I
approached the crisis, the more did my confidence decay. When the chaise
stopped at the door, my strength refused to support me, and I threw
myself into the arms of an ancient female domestic. I had not courage to
inquire whether her master was at home. I was tormented with fears that
the projected journey was already undertaken. These fears were removed,
by her asking me whether she should call her young master, who had just
gone into his own room. I was somewhat revived by this intelligence, and
resolved immediately to seek him there.

In my confusion of mind, I neglected to knock at the door, but entered
his apartment without previous notice. This abruptness was altogether
involuntary. Absorbed in reflections of such unspeakable moment, I had
no leisure to heed the niceties of punctilio. I discovered him standing
with his back towards the entrance. A small trunk, with its lid raised,
was before him in which it seemed as if he had been busy in packing
his clothes. The moment of my entrance, he was employed in gazing at
something which he held in his hand.

I imagined that I fully comprehended this scene. The image which he held
before him, and by which his attention was so deeply engaged, I doubted
not to be my own. These preparations for his journey, the cause to which
it was to be imputed, the hopelessness of success in the undertaking on
which I had entered, rushed at once upon my feelings, and dissolved me
into a flood of tears.

Startled by this sound, he dropped the lid of the trunk and turned. The
solemn sadness that previously overspread his countenance, gave
sudden way to an attitude and look of the most vehement astonishment.
Perceiving me unable to uphold myself, he stepped towards me without
speaking, and supported me by his arm. The kindness of this action
called forth a new effusion from my eyes. Weeping was a solace to
which, at that time, I had not grown familiar, and which, therefore,
was peculiarly delicious. Indignation was no longer to be read in the
features of my friend. They were pregnant with a mixture of wonder and
pity. Their expression was easily interpreted. This visit, and these
tears, were tokens of my penitence. The wretch whom he had stigmatized
as incurably and obdurately wicked, now shewed herself susceptible of
remorse, and had come to confess her guilt.

This persuasion had no tendency to comfort me. It only shewed me, with
new evidence, the difficulty of the task which I had assigned myself. We
were mutually silent. I had less power and less inclination than ever to
speak. I extricated myself from his hold, and threw myself on a sofa.
He placed himself by my side, and appeared to wait with impatience and
anxiety for some beginning of the conversation. What could I say? If my
mind had suggested any thing suitable to the occasion, my utterance was
suffocated by tears.

Frequently he attempted to speak, but seemed deterred by some degree of
uncertainty as to the true nature of the scene. At length, in faltering
accents he spoke:

"My friend! would to heaven I were still permitted to call you by that
name. The image that I once adored existed only in my fancy; but though
I cannot hope to see it realized, you may not be totally insensible to
the horrors of that gulf into which you are about to plunge. What heart
is forever exempt from the goadings of compunction and the influx of
laudable propensities?

"I thought you accomplished and wise beyond the rest of women. Not a
sentiment you uttered, not a look you assumed, that were not, in
my apprehension, fraught with the sublimities of rectitude and the
illuminations of genius. Deceit has some bounds. Your education could
not be without influence. A vigorous understanding cannot be utterly
devoid of virtue; but you could not counterfeit the powers of invention
and reasoning. I was rash in my invectives. I will not, but with life,
relinquish all hopes of you. I will shut out every proof that would tell
me that your heart is incurably diseased.

"You come to restore me once more to happiness; to convince me that you
have torn her mask from vice, and feel nothing but abhorrence for the
part you have hitherto acted."

At these words my equanimity forsook me. For a moment I forgot the
evidence from which Pleyel's opinions were derived, the benevolence of
his remonstrances, and the grief which his accents bespoke; I was filled
with indignation and horror at charges so black; I shrunk back and
darted at him a look of disdain and anger. My passion supplied me with

"What detestable infatuation was it that led me hither! Why do I
patiently endure these horrible insults! My offences exist only in
your own distempered imagination: you are leagued with the traitor who
assailed my life: you have vowed the destruction of my peace and honor.
I deserve infamy for listening to calumnies so base!"

These words were heard by Pleyel without visible resentment. His
countenance relapsed into its former gloom; but he did not even look at
me. The ideas which had given place to my angry emotions returned, and
once more melted me into tears. "O!" I exclaimed, in a voice broken by
sobs, "what a task is mine! Compelled to hearken to charges which I feel
to be false, but which I know to be believed by him that utters them;
believed too not without evidence, which, though fallacious, is not

"I came hither not to confess, but to vindicate. I know the source
of your opinions. Wieland has informed me on what your suspicions are
built. These suspicions are fostered by you as certainties; the tenor
of my life, of all my conversations and letters, affords me no security;
every sentiment that my tongue and my pen have uttered, bear testimony
to the rectitude of my mind; but this testimony is rejected. I am
condemned as brutally profligate: I am classed with the stupidly and
sordidly wicked.

"And where are the proofs that must justify so foul and so improbable
an accusation? You have overheard a midnight conference. Voices have
saluted your ear, in which you imagine yourself to have recognized
mine, and that of a detected villain. The sentiments expressed were
not allowed to outweigh the casual or concerted resemblance of voice.
Sentiments the reverse of all those whose influence my former life had
attested, denoting a mind polluted by grovelling vices, and entering
into compact with that of a thief and a murderer. The nature of these
sentiments did not enable you to detect the cheat, did not suggest to
you the possibility that my voice had been counterfeited by another.

"You were precipitate and prone to condemn. Instead of rushing on the
impostors, and comparing the evidence of sight with that of hearing, you
stood aloof, or you fled. My innocence would not now have stood in
need of vindication, if this conduct had been pursued. That you did not
pursue it, your present thoughts incontestibly prove. Yet this conduct
might surely have been expected from Pleyel. That he would not hastily
impute the blackest of crimes, that he would not couple my name with
infamy, and cover me with ruin for inadequate or slight reasons, might
reasonably have been expected." The sobs which convulsed my bosom would
not suffer me to proceed.

Pleyel was for a moment affected. He looked at me with some expression
of doubt; but this quickly gave place to a mournful solemnity. He fixed
his eyes on the floor as in reverie, and spoke:

"Two hours hence I am gone. Shall I carry away with me the sorrow that
is now my guest? or shall that sorrow be accumulated tenfold? What is
she that is now before me? Shall every hour supply me with new proofs of
a wickedness beyond example? Already I deem her the most abandoned and
detestable of human creatures. Her coming and her tears imparted a gleam
of hope, but that gleam has vanished."

He now fixed his eyes upon me, and every muscle in his face trembled.
His tone was hollow and terrible--"Thou knowest that I was a witness of
your interview, yet thou comest hither to upbraid me for injustice! Thou
canst look me in the face and say that I am deceived!--An inscrutable
providence has fashioned thee for some end. Thou wilt live, no doubt, to
fulfil the purposes of thy maker, if he repent not of his workmanship,
and send not his vengeance to exterminate thee, ere the measure of thy
days be full. Surely nothing in the shape of man can vie with thee!

"But I thought I had stifled this fury. I am not constituted thy judge.
My office is to pity and amend, and not to punish and revile. I deemed
myself exempt from all tempestuous passions. I had almost persuaded
myself to weep over thy fall; but I am frail as dust, and mutable as
water; I am calm, I am compassionate only in thy absence.--Make this
house, this room, thy abode as long as thou wilt, but forgive me if I
prefer solitude for the short time during which I shall stay." Saying
this, he motioned as if to leave the apartment.

The stormy passions of this man affected me by sympathy. I ceased to
weep. I was motionless and speechless with agony. I sat with my hands
clasped, mutely gazing after him as he withdrew. I desired to detain
him, but was unable to make any effort for that purpose, till he had
passed out of the room. I then uttered an involuntary and piercing
cry--"Pleyel! Art thou gone? Gone forever?"

At this summons he hastily returned. He beheld me wild, pale, gasping
for breath, and my head already sinking on my bosom. A painful dizziness
seized me, and I fainted away.

When I recovered, I found myself stretched on a bed in the outer
apartment, and Pleyel, with two female servants standing beside it. All
the fury and scorn which the countenance of the former lately expressed,
had now disappeared, and was succeeded by the most tender anxiety. As
soon as he perceived that my senses were returned to me, he clasped his
hands, and exclaimed, "God be thanked! you are once more alive. I had
almost despaired of your recovery. I fear I have been precipitate and
unjust. My senses must have been the victims of some inexplicable and
momentary phrenzy. Forgive me, I beseech you, forgive my reproaches. I
would purchase conviction of your purity, at the price of my existence
here and hereafter."

He once more, in a tone of the most fervent tenderness, besought me to
be composed, and then left me to the care of the women.

Chapter XIII

Here was wrought a surprizing change in my friend. What was it that
had shaken conviction so firm? Had any thing occurred during my fit,
adequate to produce so total an alteration? My attendants informed me
that he had not left my apartment; that the unusual duration of my fit,
and the failure, for a time, of all the means used for my recovery, had
filled him with grief and dismay. Did he regard the effect which his
reproaches had produced as a proof of my sincerity?

In this state of mind, I little regarded my languors of body. I rose
and requested an interview with him before my departure, on which I was
resolved, notwithstanding his earnest solicitation to spend the night
at his house. He complied with my request. The tenderness which he had
lately betrayed, had now disappeared, and he once more relapsed into a
chilling solemnity.

I told him that I was preparing to return to my brother's; that I had
come hither to vindicate my innocence from the foul aspersions which he
had cast upon it. My pride had not taken refuge in silence or distance.
I had not relied upon time, or the suggestion of his cooler thoughts, to
confute his charges. Conscious as I was that I was perfectly guiltless,
and entertaining some value for his good opinion, I could not prevail
upon myself to believe that my efforts to make my innocence manifest,
would be fruitless. Adverse appearances might be numerous and specious,
but they were unquestionably false. I was willing to believe him
sincere, that he made no charges which he himself did not believe; but
these charges were destitute of truth. The grounds of his opinion were
fallacious; and I desired an opportunity of detecting their fallacy.
I entreated him to be explicit, and to give me a detail of what he had
heard, and what he had seen.

At these words, my companion's countenance grew darker. He appeared
to be struggling with his rage. He opened his lips to speak, but his
accents died away ere they were formed. This conflict lasted for some
minutes, but his fortitude was finally successful. He spoke as follows:

"I would fain put an end to this hateful scene: what I shall say, will
be breath idly and unprofitably consumed. The clearest narrative will
add nothing to your present knowledge. You are acquainted with the
grounds of my opinion, and yet you avow yourself innocent: Why then
should I rehearse these grounds? You are apprized of the character of
Carwin: Why then should I enumerate the discoveries which I have made
respecting him? Yet, since it is your request; since, considering the
limitedness of human faculties, some error may possibly lurk in those
appearances which I have witnessed, I will briefly relate what I know.

"Need I dwell upon the impressions which your conversation and
deportment originally made upon me? We parted in childhood; but our
intercourse, by letter, was copious and uninterrupted. How fondly did I
anticipate a meeting with one whom her letters had previously taught
me to consider as the first of women, and how fully realized were the
expectations that I had formed!

"Here, said I, is a being, after whom sages may model their transcendent
intelligence, and painters, their ideal beauty. Here is exemplified,
that union between intellect and form, which has hitherto existed only
in the conceptions of the poet. I have watched your eyes; my attention
has hung upon your lips. I have questioned whether the enchantments of
your voice were more conspicuous in the intricacies of melody, or the
emphasis of rhetoric. I have marked the transitions of your discourse,
the felicities of your expression, your refined argumentation, and
glowing imagery; and been forced to acknowledge, that all delights were
meagre and contemptible, compared with those connected with the
audience and sight of you. I have contemplated your principles, and been
astonished at the solidity of their foundation, and the perfection of
their structure. I have traced you to your home. I have viewed you in
relation to your servants, to your family, to your neighbours, and to
the world. I have seen by what skilful arrangements you facilitate
the performance of the most arduous and complicated duties; what daily
accessions of strength your judicious discipline bestowed upon
your memory; what correctness and abundance of knowledge was daily
experienced by your unwearied application to books, and to writing.
If she that possesses so much in the bloom of youth, will go on
accumulating her stores, what, said I, is the picture she will display
at a mature age?

"You know not the accuracy of my observation. I was desirous that others
should profit by an example so rare. I therefore noted down, in writing,
every particular of your conduct. I was anxious to benefit by an
opportunity so seldom afforded us. I laboured not to omit the slightest
shade, or the most petty line in your portrait. Here there was no other
task incumbent on me but to copy; there was no need to exaggerate or
overlook, in order to produce a more unexceptionable pattern. Here was
a combination of harmonies and graces, incapable of diminution or
accession without injury to its completeness.

"I found no end and no bounds to my task. No display of a scene like
this could be chargeable with redundancy or superfluity. Even the colour
of a shoe, the knot of a ribband, or your attitude in plucking a
rose, were of moment to be recorded. Even the arrangements of your
breakfast-table and your toilet have been amply displayed.

"I know that mankind are more easily enticed to virtue by example than
by precept. I know that the absoluteness of a model, when supplied by
invention, diminishes its salutary influence, since it is useless, we
think, to strive after that which we know to be beyond our reach. But
the picture which I drew was not a phantom; as a model, it was devoid
of imperfection; and to aspire to that height which had been really
attained, was by no means unreasonable. I had another and more
interesting object in view. One existed who claimed all my tenderness.
Here, in all its parts, was a model worthy of assiduous study, and
indefatigable imitation. I called upon her, as she wished to secure and
enhance my esteem, to mould her thoughts, her words, her countenance,
her actions, by this pattern.

"The task was exuberant of pleasure, and I was deeply engaged in it,
when an imp of mischief was let loose in the form of Carwin. I admired
his powers and accomplishments. I did not wonder that they were admired
by you. On the rectitude of your judgement, however, I relied to keep
this admiration within discreet and scrupulous bounds. I assured myself,
that the strangeness of his deportment, and the obscurity of his life,
would teach you caution. Of all errors, my knowledge of your character
informed me that this was least likely to befall you.

"You were powerfully affected by his first appearance; you were
bewitched by his countenance and his tones; your description was ardent
and pathetic: I listened to you with some emotions of surprize. The
portrait you drew in his absence, and the intensity with which you mused
upon it, were new and unexpected incidents. They bespoke a sensibility
somewhat too vivid; but from which, while subjected to the guidance of
an understanding like yours, there was nothing to dread.

"A more direct intercourse took place between you. I need not apologize
for the solicitude which I entertained for your safety. He that gifted
me with perception of excellence, compelled me to love it. In the midst
of danger and pain, my contemplations have ever been cheered by your
image. Every object in competition with you, was worthless and trivial.
No price was too great by which your safety could be purchased. For
that end, the sacrifice of ease, of health, and even of life, would
cheerfully have been made by me. What wonder then, that I scrutinized
the sentiments and deportment of this man with ceaseless vigilance;
that I watched your words and your looks when he was present; and that I
extracted cause for the deepest inquietudes, from every token which you
gave of having put your happiness into this man's keeping?

"I was cautious in deciding. I recalled the various conversations in
which the topics of love and marriage had been discussed. As a woman,
young, beautiful, and independent, it behoved you to have fortified
your mind with just principles on this subject. Your principles were
eminently just. Had not their rectitude and their firmness been attested
by your treatment of that specious seducer Dashwood? These principles,
I was prone to believe, exempted you from danger in this new state of
things. I was not the last to pay my homage to the unrivalled capacity,
insinuation, and eloquence of this man. I have disguised, but could
never stifle the conviction, that his eyes and voice had a witchcraft
in them, which rendered him truly formidable: but I reflected on the
ambiguous expression of his countenance--an ambiguity which you were the
first to remark; on the cloud which obscured his character; and on the
suspicious nature of that concealment which he studied; and concluded
you to be safe. I denied the obvious construction to appearances. I
referred your conduct to some principle which had not been hitherto
disclosed, but which was reconcileable with those already known.

"I was not suffered to remain long in this suspence. One evening, you
may recollect, I came to your house, where it was my purpose, as usual,
to lodge, somewhat earlier than ordinary. I spied a light in your
chamber as I approached from the outside, and on inquiring of Judith,
was informed that you were writing. As your kinsman and friend, and
fellow-lodger, I thought I had a right to be familiar. You were in your
chamber, but your employment and the time were such as to make it no
infraction of decorum to follow you thither. The spirit of mischievous
gaiety possessed me. I proceeded on tiptoe. You did not perceive
my entrance; and I advanced softly till I was able to overlook your

"I had gone thus far in error, and had no power to recede. How
cautiously should we guard against the first inroads of temptation! I
knew that to pry into your papers was criminal; but I reflected that
no sentiment of yours was of a nature which made it your interest to
conceal it. You wrote much more than you permitted your friends to
peruse. My curiosity was strong, and I had only to throw a glance upon
the paper, to secure its gratification. I should never have deliberately
committed an act like this. The slightest obstacle would have repelled
me; but my eye glanced almost spontaneously upon the paper. I caught
only parts of sentences; but my eyes comprehended more at a glance,
because the characters were short-hand. I lighted on the words
SUMMER-HOUSE, MIDNIGHT, and made out a passage which spoke of the
propriety and of the effects to be expected from ANOTHER interview.
All this passed in less than a moment. I then checked myself, and made
myself known to you, by a tap upon your shoulder.

"I could pardon and account for some trifling alarm; but your
trepidation and blushes were excessive. You hurried the paper out of
sight, and seemed too anxious to discover whether I knew the contents to
allow yourself to make any inquiries. I wondered at these appearances
of consternation, but did not reason on them until I had retired. When
alone, these incidents suggested themselves to my reflections anew.

"To what scene, or what interview, I asked, did you allude? Your
disappearance on a former evening, my tracing you to the recess in the
bank, your silence on my first and second call, your vague answers and
invincible embarrassment, when you, at length, ascended the hill, I
recollected with new surprize. Could this be the summerhouse alluded to?
A certain timidity and consciousness had generally attended you, when
this incident and this recess had been the subjects of conversation.
Nay, I imagined that the last time that adventure was mentioned, which
happened in the presence of Carwin, the countenance of the latter
betrayed some emotion. Could the interview have been with him?

"This was an idea calculated to rouse every faculty to contemplation.
An interview at that hour, in this darksome retreat, with a man of this
mysterious but formidable character; a clandestine interview, and one
which you afterwards endeavoured with so much solicitude to conceal! It
was a fearful and portentous occurrence. I could not measure his power,
or fathom his designs. Had he rifled from you the secret of your love,
and reconciled you to concealment and noctural meetings? I scarcely ever
spent a night of more inquietude.

"I knew not how to act. The ascertainment of this man's character
and views seemed to be, in the first place, necessary. Had he openly
preferred his suit to you, we should have been impowered to make
direct inquiries; but since he had chosen this obscure path, it seemed
reasonable to infer that his character was exceptionable. It, at
least, subjected us to the necessity of resorting to other means of
information. Yet the improbability that you should commit a deed of such
rashness, made me reflect anew upon the insufficiency of those grounds
on which my suspicions had been built, and almost to condemn myself for
harbouring them.

"Though it was mere conjecture that the interview spoken of had taken
place with Carwin, yet two ideas occurred to involve me in the most
painful doubts. This man's reasonings might be so specious, and
his artifices so profound, that, aided by the passion which you had
conceived for him, he had finally succeeded; or his situation might be
such as to justify the secrecy which you maintained. In neither case did
my wildest reveries suggest to me, that your honor had been forfeited.

"I could not talk with you on this subject. If the imputation was false,
its atrociousness would have justly drawn upon me your resentment, and
I must have explained by what facts it had been suggested. If it were
true, no benefit would follow from the mention of it. You had chosen
to conceal it for some reasons, and whether these reasons were true or
false, it was proper to discover and remove them in the first place.
Finally, I acquiesced in the least painful supposition, trammelled as it
was with perplexities, that Carwin was upright, and that, if the reasons
of your silence were known, they would be found to be just."

Chapter XIV

"Three days have elapsed since this occurrence. I have been haunted by
perpetual inquietude. To bring myself to regard Carwin without terror,
and to acquiesce in the belief of your safety, was impossible. Yet to
put an end to my doubts, seemed to be impracticable. If some light could
be reflected on the actual situation of this man, a direct path would
present itself. If he were, contrary to the tenor of his conversation,
cunning and malignant, to apprize you of this, would be to place you in
security. If he were merely unfortunate and innocent, most readily would
I espouse his cause; and if his intentions were upright with regard to
you, most eagerly would I sanctify your choice by my approbation.

"It would be vain to call upon Carwin for an avowal of his deeds. It was
better to know nothing, than to be deceived by an artful tale. What he
was unwilling to communicate, and this unwillingness had been repeatedly
manifested, could never be extorted from him. Importunity might be
appeased, or imposture effected by fallacious representations. To the
rest of the world he was unknown. I had often made him the subject of
discourse; but a glimpse of his figure in the street was the sum of
their knowledge who knew most. None had ever seen him before, and
received as new, the information which my intercourse with him in
Valencia, and my present intercourse, enabled me to give.

"Wieland was your brother. If he had really made you the object of his
courtship, was not a brother authorized to interfere and demand from him
the confession of his views? Yet what were the grounds on which I had
reared this supposition? Would they justify a measure like this? Surely

"In the course of my restless meditations, it occurred to me, at length,
that my duty required me to speak to you, to confess the indecorum of
which I had been guilty, and to state the reflections to which it had
led me. I was prompted by no mean or selfish views. The heart within my
breast was not more precious than your safety: most cheerfully would
I have interposed my life between you and danger. Would you cherish
resentment at my conduct? When acquainted with the motive which
produced it, it would not only exempt me from censure, but entitle me to

"Yesterday had been selected for the rehearsal of the newly-imported
tragedy. I promised to be present. The state of my thoughts but little
qualified me for a performer or auditor in such a scene; but I reflected
that, after it was finished, I should return home with you, and should
then enjoy an opportunity of discoursing with you fully on this topic.
My resolution was not formed without a remnant of doubt, as to its
propriety. When I left this house to perform the visit I had promised,
my mind was full of apprehension and despondency. The dubiousness of
the event of our conversation, fear that my interference was too late to
secure your peace, and the uncertainty to which hope gave birth, whether
I had not erred in believing you devoted to this man, or, at least, in
imagining that he had obtained your consent to midnight conferences,
distracted me with contradictory opinions, and repugnant emotions.

"I can assign no reason for calling at Mrs. Baynton's. I had seen her
in the morning, and knew her to be well. The concerted hour had nearly
arrived, and yet I turned up the street which leads to her house, and
dismounted at her door. I entered the parlour and threw myself in a
chair. I saw and inquired for no one. My whole frame was overpowered
by dreary and comfortless sensations. One idea possessed me wholly;
the inexpressible importance of unveiling the designs and character of
Carwin, and the utter improbability that this ever would be effected.
Some instinct induced me to lay my hand upon a newspaper. I had perused
all the general intelligence it contained in the morning, and at the
same spot. The act was rather mechanical than voluntary.

"I threw a languid glance at the first column that presented itself.
The first words which I read, began with the offer of a reward of three
hundred guineas for the apprehension of a convict under sentence of
death, who had escaped from Newgate prison in Dublin. Good heaven! how
every fibre of my frame tingled when I proceeded to read that the name
of the criminal was Francis Carwin!

"The descriptions of his person and address were minute. His stature,
hair, complexion, the extraordinary position and arrangement of his
features, his aukward and disproportionate form, his gesture and gait,
corresponded perfectly with those of our mysterious visitant. He had
been found guilty in two indictments. One for the murder of the Lady
Jane Conway, and the other for a robbery committed on the person of the
honorable Mr. Ludloe.

"I repeatedly perused this passage. The ideas which flowed in upon my
mind, affected me like an instant transition from death to life. The
purpose dearest to my heart was thus effected, at a time and by means
the least of all others within the scope of my foresight. But what
purpose? Carwin was detected. Acts of the blackest and most sordid
guilt had been committed by him. Here was evidence which imparted to
my understanding the most luminous certainty. The name, visage, and
deportment, were the same. Between the time of his escape, and his
appearance among us, there was a sufficient agreement. Such was the
man with whom I suspected you to maintain a clandestine correspondence.
Should I not haste to snatch you from the talons of this vulture? Should
I see you rushing to the verge of a dizzy precipice, and not stretch
forth a hand to pull you back? I had no need to deliberate. I thrust the
paper in my pocket, and resolved to obtain an immediate conference with
you. For a time, no other image made its way to my understanding. At
length, it occurred to me, that though the information I possessed
was, in one sense, sufficient, yet if more could be obtained, more was
desirable. This passage was copied from a British paper; part of it
only, perhaps, was transcribed. The printer was in possession of the

"Towards his house I immediately turned my horse's head. He produced the
paper, but I found nothing more than had already been seen. While busy
in perusing it, the printer stood by my side. He noticed the object
of which I was in search. "Aye," said he, "that is a strange affair. I
should never have met with it, had not Mr. Hallet sent to me the paper,
with a particular request to republish that advertisement."

"Mr. Hallet! What reasons could he have for making this request? Had
the paper sent to him been accompanied by any information respecting
the convict? Had he personal or extraordinary reasons for desiring its
republication? This was to be known only in one way. I speeded to
his house. In answer to my interrogations, he told me that Ludloe had
formerly been in America, and that during his residence in this
city, considerable intercourse had taken place between them. Hence a
confidence arose, which has since been kept alive by occasional letters.
He had lately received a letter from him, enclosing the newspaper from
which this extract had been made. He put it into my hands, and pointed
out the passages which related to Carwin.

"Ludloe confirms the facts of his conviction and escape; and adds, that
he had reason to believe him to have embarked for America. He describes
him in general terms, as the most incomprehensible and formidable among
men; as engaged in schemes, reasonably suspected to be, in the highest
degree, criminal, but such as no human intelligence is able to unravel:
that his ends are pursued by means which leave it in doubt whether he be
not in league with some infernal spirit: that his crimes have hitherto
been perpetrated with the aid of some unknown but desperate accomplices:
that he wages a perpetual war against the happiness of mankind, and sets
his engines of destruction at work against every object that presents

"This is the substance of the letter. Hallet expressed some surprize
at the curiosity which was manifested by me on this occasion. I was too
much absorbed by the ideas suggested by this letter, to pay attention to
his remarks. I shuddered with the apprehension of the evil to which our
indiscreet familiarity with this man had probably exposed us. I burnt
with impatience to see you, and to do what in me lay to avert the
calamity which threatened us. It was already five o'clock. Night was
hastening, and there was no time to be lost. On leaving Mr. Hallet's
house, who should meet me in the street, but Bertrand, the servant whom
I left in Germany. His appearance and accoutrements bespoke him to have
just alighted from a toilsome and long journey. I was not wholly without
expectation of seeing him about this time, but no one was then more
distant from my thoughts. You know what reasons I have for anxiety
respecting scenes with which this man was conversant. Carwin was for a
moment forgotten. In answer to my vehement inquiries, Bertrand produced
a copious packet. I shall not at present mention its contents, nor the
measures which they obliged me to adopt. I bestowed a brief perusal on
these papers, and having given some directions to Bertrand, resumed
my purpose with regard to you. My horse I was obliged to resign to my
servant, he being charged with a commission that required speed. The
clock had struck ten, and Mettingen was five miles distant. I was
to Journey thither on foot. These circumstances only added to my

"As I passed swiftly along, I reviewed all the incidents accompanying
the appearance and deportment of that man among us. Late events have
been inexplicable and mysterious beyond any of which I have either read
or heard. These events were coeval with Carwin's introduction. I am
unable to explain their origin and mutual dependance; but I do not, on
that account, believe them to have a supernatural origin. Is not this
man the agent? Some of them seem to be propitious; but what should
I think of those threats of assassination with which you were lately
alarmed? Bloodshed is the trade, and horror is the element of this man.
The process by which the sympathies of nature are extinguished in
our hearts, by which evil is made our good, and by which we are made
susceptible of no activity but in the infliction, and no joy but in the
spectacle of woes, is an obvious process. As to an alliance with evil
geniuses, the power and the malice of daemons have been a thousand times
exemplified in human beings. There are no devils but those which are
begotten upon selfishness, and reared by cunning.

"Now, indeed, the scene was changed. It was not his secret poniard
that I dreaded. It was only the success of his efforts to make you a
confederate in your own destruction, to make your will the instrument by
which he might bereave you of liberty and honor.

"I took, as usual, the path through your brother's ground. I ranged
with celerity and silence along the bank. I approached the fence, which
divides Wieland's estate from yours. The recess in the bank being near
this line, it being necessary for me to pass near it, my mind being
tainted with inveterate suspicions concerning you; suspicions which were
indebted for their strength to incidents connected with this spot; what
wonder that it seized upon my thoughts! "I leaped on the fence; but
before I descended on the opposite side, I paused to survey the scene.
Leaves dropping with dew, and glistening in the moon's rays, with no
moving object to molest the deep repose, filled me with security
and hope. I left the station at length, and tended forward. You were
probably at rest. How should I communicate without alarming you, the
intelligence of my arrival? An immediate interview was to be procured.
I could not bear to think that a minute should be lost by remissness
or hesitation. Should I knock at the door? or should I stand under your
chamber windows, which I perceived to be open, and awaken you by my

"These reflections employed me, as I passed opposite to the
summer-house. I had scarcely gone by, when my ear caught a sound unusual
at this time and place. It was almost too faint and too transient to
allow me a distinct perception of it. I stopped to listen; presently
it was heard again, and now it was somewhat in a louder key. It was
laughter; and unquestionably produced by a female voice. That voice was
familiar to my senses. It was yours.

"Whence it came, I was at first at a loss to conjecture; but this
uncertainty vanished when it was heard the third time. I threw back my
eyes towards the recess. Every other organ and limb was useless to me.
I did not reason on the subject. I did not, in a direct manner, draw
my conclusions from the hour, the place, the hilarity which this sound
betokened, and the circumstance of having a companion, which it no less
incontestably proved. In an instant, as it were, my heart was invaded
with cold, and the pulses of life at a stand.

"Why should I go further? Why should I return? Should I not hurry to a
distance from a sound, which, though formerly so sweet and delectable,
was now more hideous than the shrieks of owls?

"I had no time to yield to this impulse. The thought of approaching and
listening occurred to me. I had no doubt of which I was conscious. Yet
my certainty was capable of increase. I was likewise stimulated by a
sentiment that partook of rage. I was governed by an half-formed and
tempestuous resolution to break in upon your interview, and strike you
dead with my upbraiding.

"I approached with the utmost caution. When I reached the edge of the
bank immediately above the summer-house, I thought I heard voices from
below, as busy in conversation. The steps in the rock are clear of
bushy impediments. They allowed me to descend into a cavity beside
the building without being detected. Thus to lie in wait could only be
justified by the momentousness of the occasion."

Here Pleyel paused in his narrative, and fixed his eyes upon me.
Situated as I was, my horror and astonishment at this tale gave way to
compassion for the anguish which the countenance of my friend betrayed.
I reflected on his force of understanding. I reflected on the powers of
my enemy. I could easily divine the substance of the conversation that
was overheard. Carwin had constructed his plot in a manner suited to the
characters of those whom he had selected for his victims. I saw that the
convictions of Pleyel were immutable. I forbore to struggle against the
storm, because I saw that all struggles would be fruitless. I was calm;
but my calmness was the torpor of despair, and not the tranquillity of
fortitude. It was calmness invincible by any thing that his grief and
his fury could suggest to Pleyel. He resumed--

"Woman! wilt thou hear me further? Shall I go on to repeat the
conversation? Is it shame that makes thee tongue-tied? Shall I go on? or
art thou satisfied with what has been already said?"

I bowed my head. "Go on," said I. "I make not this request in the hope
of undeceiving you. I shall no longer contend with my own weakness. The
storm is let loose, and I shall peaceably submit to be driven by its
fury. But go on. This conference will end only with affording me a
clearer foresight of my destiny; but that will be some satisfaction, and
I will not part without it."

Why, on hearing these words, did Pleyel hesitate? Did some unlooked-for
doubt insinuate itself into his mind? Was his belief suddenly shaken
by my looks, or my words, or by some newly recollected circumstance?
Whencesoever it arose, it could not endure the test of deliberation. In
a few minutes the flame of resentment was again lighted up in his bosom.
He proceeded with his accustomed vehemence--

"I hate myself for this folly. I can find no apology for this tale. Yet
I am irresistibly impelled to relate it. She that hears me is apprized
of every particular. I have only to repeat to her her own words. She
will listen with a tranquil air, and the spectacle of her obduracy will
drive me to some desperate act. Why then should I persist! yet persist I

Again he paused. "No," said he, "it is impossible to repeat your avowals
of love, your appeals to former confessions of your tenderness, to
former deeds of dishonor, to the circumstances of the first interview
that took place between you. It was on that night when I traced you to
this recess. Thither had he enticed you, and there had you ratified an
unhallowed compact by admitting him--

"Great God! Thou witnessedst the agonies that tore my bosom at that
moment! Thou witnessedst my efforts to repel the testimony of my ears!
It was in vain that you dwelt upon the confusion which my unlooked-for
summons excited in you; the tardiness with which a suitable excuse
occurred to you; your resentment that my impertinent intrusion had
put an end to that charming interview: A disappointment for which you
endeavoured to compensate yourself, by the frequency and duration of
subsequent meetings.

"In vain you dwelt upon incidents of which you only could be conscious;
incidents that occurred on occasions on which none beside your own
family were witnesses. In vain was your discourse characterized by
peculiarities inimitable of sentiment and language. My conviction was
effected only by an accumulation of the same tokens. I yielded not but
to evidence which took away the power to withhold my faith.

"My sight was of no use to me. Beneath so thick an umbrage, the darkness
was intense. Hearing was the only avenue to information, which the
circumstances allowed to be open. I was couched within three feet
of you. Why should I approach nearer? I could not contend with your
betrayer. What could be the purpose of a contest? You stood in no need
of a protector. What could I do, but retire from the spot overwhelmed
with confusion and dismay? I sought my chamber, and endeavoured to
regain my composure. The door of the house, which I found open, your
subsequent entrance, closing, and fastening it, and going into your
chamber, which had been thus long deserted, were only confirmations of
the truth.

"Why should I paint the tempestuous fluctuation of my thoughts between
grief and revenge, between rage and despair? Why should I repeat my vows
of eternal implacability and persecution, and the speedy recantation of
these vows?

"I have said enough. You have dismissed me from a place in your esteem.
What I think, and what I feel, is of no importance in your eyes. May
the duty which I owe myself enable me to forget your existence. In a
few minutes I go hence. Be the maker of your fortune, and may adversity
instruct you in that wisdom, which education was unable to impart to

Those were the last words which Pleyel uttered. He left the room, and
my new emotions enabled me to witness his departure without any apparent
loss of composure. As I sat alone, I ruminated on these incidents.
Nothing was more evident than that I had taken an eternal leave of
happiness. Life was a worthless thing, separate from that good which had
now been wrested from me; yet the sentiment that now possessed me had no
tendency to palsy my exertions, and overbear my strength. I noticed that
the light was declining, and perceived the propriety of leaving this
house. I placed myself again in the chaise, and returned slowly towards
the city.

Chapter XV

Before I reached the city it was dusk. It was my purpose to spend the
night at Mettingen. I was not solicitous, as long as I was attended by
a faithful servant, to be there at an early hour. My exhausted strength
required me to take some refreshment. With this view, and in order to
pay respect to one whose affection for me was truly maternal, I stopped
at Mrs. Baynton's. She was absent from home; but I had scarcely entered
the house when one of her domestics presented me a letter. I opened and
read as follows:

"To Clara Wieland,

"What shall I say to extenuate the misconduct of last night? It is my
duty to repair it to the utmost of my power, but the only way in which
it can be repaired, you will not, I fear, be prevailed on to adopt. It
is by granting me an interview, at your own house, at eleven o'clock
this night. I have no means of removing any fears that you may entertain
of my designs, but my simple and solemn declarations. These, after what
has passed between us, you may deem unworthy of confidence. I cannot
help it. My folly and rashness has left me no other resource. I will
be at your door by that hour. If you chuse to admit me to a conference,
provided that conference has no witnesses, I will disclose to you
particulars, the knowledge of which is of the utmost importance to your
happiness. Farewell.


What a letter was this! A man known to be an assassin and robber; one
capable of plotting against my life and my fame; detected lurking in
my chamber, and avowing designs the most flagitious and dreadful, now
solicits me to grant him a midnight interview! To admit him alone into
my presence! Could he make this request with the expectation of my
compliance? What had he seen in me, that could justify him in admitting
so wild a belief? Yet this request is preferred with the utmost gravity.
It is not accompanied by an appearance of uncommon earnestness. Had
the misconduct to which he alludes been a slight incivility, and the
interview requested to take place in the midst of my friends, there
would have been no extravagance in the tenor of this letter; but, as it
was, the writer had surely been bereft of his reason.

I perused this epistle frequently. The request it contained might be
called audacious or stupid, if it had been made by a different person;
but from Carwin, who could not be unaware of the effect which it must
naturally produce, and of the manner in which it would unavoidably be
treated, it was perfectly inexplicable. He must have counted on the
success of some plot, in order to extort my assent. None of those
motives by which I am usually governed would ever have persuaded me to
meet any one of his sex, at the time and place which he had prescribed.
Much less would I consent to a meeting with a man, tainted with the
most detestable crimes, and by whose arts my own safety had been so
imminently endangered, and my happiness irretrievably destroyed. I
shuddered at the idea that such a meeting was possible. I felt some
reluctance to approach a spot which he still visited and haunted.

Such were the ideas which first suggested themselves on the perusal of
the letter. Meanwhile, I resumed my journey. My thoughts still dwelt
upon the same topic. Gradually from ruminating on this epistle, I
reverted to my interview with Pleyel. I recalled the particulars of the
dialogue to which he had been an auditor. My heart sunk anew on viewing
the inextricable complexity of this deception, and the inauspicious
concurrence of events, which tended to confirm him in his error. When
he approached my chamber door, my terror kept me mute. He put his ear,
perhaps, to the crevice, but it caught the sound of nothing human. Had
I called, or made any token that denoted some one to be within, words
would have ensued; and as omnipresence was impossible, this discovery,
and the artless narrative of what had just passed, would have saved me
from his murderous invectives. He went into his chamber, and after some
interval, I stole across the entry and down the stairs, with
inaudible steps. Having secured the outer doors, I returned with less
circumspection. He heard me not when I descended; but my returning steps
were easily distinguished. Now he thought was the guilty interview at
an end. In what other way was it possible for him to construe these

How fallacious and precipitate was my decision! Carwin's plot owed its
success to a coincidence of events scarcely credible. The balance was
swayed from its equipoise by a hair. Had I even begun the conversation
with an account of what befel me in my chamber, my previous interview
with Wieland would have taught him to suspect me of imposture; yet, if
I were discoursing with this ruffian, when Pleyel touched the lock of my
chamber door, and when he shut his own door with so much violence, how,
he might ask, should I be able to relate these incidents? Perhaps he
had withheld the knowledge of these circumstances from my brother, from
whom, therefore, I could not obtain it, so that my innocence would have
thus been irresistibly demonstrated.

The first impulse which flowed from these ideas was to return upon my
steps, and demand once more an interview; but he was gone: his parting
declarations were remembered.

Pleyel, I exclaimed, thou art gone for ever! Are thy mistakes beyond
the reach of detection? Am I helpless in the midst of this snare?
The plotter is at hand. He even speaks in the style of penitence. He
solicits an interview which he promises shall end in the disclosure of
something momentous to my happiness. What can he say which will avail to
turn aside this evil? But why should his remorse be feigned? I have
done him no injury. His wickedness is fertile only of despair; and the
billows of remorse will some time overbear him. Why may not this event
have already taken place? Why should I refuse to see him?

This idea was present, as it were, for a moment. I suddenly recoiled
from it, confounded at that frenzy which could give even momentary
harbour to such a scheme; yet presently it returned. At length I even
conceived it to deserve deliberation. I questioned whether it was
not proper to admit, at a lonely spot, in a sacred hour, this man of
tremendous and inscrutable attributes, this performer of horrid deeds,
and whose presence was predicted to call down unheard-of and unutterable

What was it that swayed me? I felt myself divested of the power to will
contrary to the motives that determined me to seek his presence. My mind
seemed to be split into separate parts, and these parts to have
entered into furious and implacable contention. These tumults gradually
subsided. The reasons why I should confide in that interposition which
had hitherto defended me; in those tokens of compunction which this
letter contained; in the efficacy of this interview to restore its
spotlessness to my character, and banish all illusions from the mind of
my friend, continually acquired new evidence and new strength.

What should I fear in his presence? This was unlike an artifice intended
to betray me into his hands. If it were an artifice, what purpose would
it serve? The freedom of my mind was untouched, and that freedom would
defy the assaults of blandishments or magic. Force was I not able to
repel. On the former occasion my courage, it is true, had failed at the
imminent approach of danger; but then I had not enjoyed opportunities of
deliberation; I had foreseen nothing; I was sunk into imbecility by my
previous thoughts; I had been the victim of recent disappointments
and anticipated ills: Witness my infatuation in opening the closet in
opposition to divine injunctions.

Now, perhaps, my courage was the offspring of a no less erring
principle. Pleyel was for ever lost to me. I strove in vain to assume
his person, and suppress my resentment; I strove in vain to believe in
the assuaging influence of time, to look forward to the birth-day of new
hopes, and the re-exaltation of that luminary, of whose effulgencies I
had so long and so liberally partaken.

What had I to suffer worse than was already inflicted?

Was not Carwin my foe? I owed my untimely fate to his treason. Instead
of flying from his presence, ought I not to devote all my faculties to
the gaining of an interview, and compel him to repair the ills of
which he has been the author? Why should I suppose him impregnable
to argument? Have I not reason on my side, and the power of imparting
conviction? Cannot he be made to see the justice of unravelling the maze
in which Pleyel is bewildered?

He may, at least, be accessible to fear. Has he nothing to fear from
the rage of an injured woman? But suppose him inaccessible to such
inducements; suppose him to persist in all his flagitious purposes; are
not the means of defence and resistance in my power?

In the progress of such thoughts, was the resolution at last formed. I
hoped that the interview was sought by him for a laudable end; but, be
that as it would, I trusted that, by energy of reasoning or of action, I
should render it auspicious, or, at least, harmless.

Such a determination must unavoidably fluctuate. The poet's chaos was
no unapt emblem of the state of my mind. A torment was awakened in my
bosom, which I foresaw would end only when this interview was past, and
its consequences fully experienced. Hence my impatience for the arrival
of the hour which had been prescribed by Carwin.

Meanwhile, my meditations were tumultuously active. New impediments
to the execution of the scheme were speedily suggested. I had apprized
Catharine of my intention to spend this and many future nights with her.
Her husband was informed of this arrangement, and had zealously approved
it. Eleven o'clock exceeded their hour of retiring. What excuse should
I form for changing my plan? Should I shew this letter to Wieland, and
submit myself to his direction? But I knew in what way he would decide.
He would fervently dissuade me from going. Nay, would he not do more?
He was apprized of the offences of Carwin, and of the reward offered
for his apprehension. Would he not seize this opportunity of executing
justice on a criminal?

This idea was new. I was plunged once more into doubt. Did not equity
enjoin me thus to facilitate his arrest? No. I disdained the office of
betrayer. Carwin was unapprized of his danger, and his intentions were
possibly beneficent. Should I station guards about the house, and
make an act, intended perhaps for my benefit, instrumental to his own
destruction? Wieland might be justified in thus employing the knowledge
which I should impart, but I, by imparting it, should pollute myself
with more hateful crimes than those undeservedly imputed to me. This
scheme, therefore, I unhesitatingly rejected. The views with which
I should return to my own house, it would therefore be necessary to
conceal. Yet some pretext must be invented. I had never been initiated
into the trade of lying. Yet what but falshood was a deliberate
suppression of the truth? To deceive by silence or by words is the same.

Yet what would a lie avail me? What pretext would justify this change in
my plan? Would it not tend to confirm the imputations of Pleyel? That
I should voluntarily return to an house in which honor and life had so
lately been endangered, could be explained in no way favorable to my

These reflections, if they did not change, at least suspended my
decision. In this state of uncertainty I alighted at the HUT. We gave
this name to the house tenanted by the farmer and his servants, and
which was situated on the verge of my brother's ground, and at a
considerable distance from the mansion. The path to the mansion was
planted by a double row of walnuts. Along this path I proceeded alone.
I entered the parlour, in which was a light just expiring in the socket.
There was no one in the room. I perceived by the clock that stood
against the wall, that it was near eleven. The lateness of the hour
startled me. What had become of the family? They were usually retired
an hour before this; but the unextinguished taper, and the unbarred
door were indications that they had not retired. I again returned to the
hall, and passed from one room to another, but still encountered not a
human being.

I imagined that, perhaps, the lapse of a few minutes would explain
these appearances. Meanwhile I reflected that the preconcerted hour had
arrived. Carwin was perhaps waiting my approach. Should I immediately
retire to my own house, no one would be apprized of my proceeding. Nay,
the interview might pass, and I be enabled to return in half an hour.
Hence no necessity would arise for dissimulation.

I was so far influenced by these views that I rose to execute this
design; but again the unusual condition of the house occurred to me, and
some vague solicitude as to the condition of the family. I was nearly
certain that my brother had not retired; but by what motives he could
be induced to desert his house thus unseasonably I could by no means
divine. Louisa Conway, at least, was at home and had, probably, retired
to her chamber; perhaps she was able to impart the information I wanted.

I went to her chamber, and found her asleep. She was delighted and
surprized at my arrival, and told me with how much impatience and
anxiety my brother and his wife had waited my coming. They were fearful
that some mishap had befallen me, and had remained up longer than the
usual period. Notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, Catharine would
not resign the hope of seeing me. Louisa said she had left them both in
the parlour, and she knew of no cause for their absence.

As yet I was not without solicitude on account of their personal safety.
I was far from being perfectly at ease on that head, but entertained no
distinct conception of the danger that impended over them. Perhaps to
beguile the moments of my long protracted stay, they had gone to
walk upon the bank. The atmosphere, though illuminated only by the
star-light, was remarkably serene. Meanwhile the desirableness of an
interview with Carwin again returned, and I finally resolved to seek it.

I passed with doubting and hasty steps along the path. My dwelling, seen
at a distance, was gloomy and desolate. It had no inhabitant, for my
servant, in consequence of my new arrangement, had gone to Mettingen.
The temerity of this attempt began to shew itself in more vivid colours
to my understanding. Whoever has pointed steel is not without arms; yet
what must have been the state of my mind when I could meditate, without
shuddering, on the use of a murderous weapon, and believe myself secure
merely because I was capable of being made so by the death of another?
Yet this was not my state. I felt as if I was rushing into deadly toils,
without the power of pausing or receding.

Chapter XVI

As soon as I arrived in sight of the front of the house, my attention
was excited by a light from the window of my own chamber. No appearance
could be less explicable. A meeting was expected with Carwin, but that
he pre-occupied my chamber, and had supplied himself with light, was not
to be believed. What motive could influence him to adopt this conduct?
Could I proceed until this was explained? Perhaps, if I should proceed
to a distance in front, some one would be visible. A sidelong but feeble
beam from the window, fell upon the piny copse which skirted the bank.
As I eyed it, it suddenly became mutable, and after flitting to and fro,
for a short time, it vanished. I turned my eye again toward the window,
and perceived that the light was still there; but the change which I had
noticed was occasioned by a change in the position of the lamp or candle
within. Hence, that some person was there was an unavoidable inference.

I paused to deliberate on the propriety of advancing. Might I not
advance cautiously, and, therefore, without danger? Might I not knock at
the door, or call, and be apprized of the nature of my visitant before I
entered? I approached and listened at the door, but could hear nothing.
I knocked at first timidly, but afterwards with loudness. My signals
were unnoticed. I stepped back and looked, but the light was no longer
discernible. Was it suddenly extinguished by a human agent? What purpose
but concealment was intended? Why was the illumination produced, to be
thus suddenly brought to an end? And why, since some one was there, had
silence been observed?

These were questions, the solution of which may be readily supposed
to be entangled with danger. Would not this danger, when measured by a
woman's fears, expand into gigantic dimensions? Menaces of death; the
stunning exertions of a warning voice; the known and unknown attributes
of Carwin; our recent interview in this chamber; the pre-appointment of
a meeting at this place and hour, all thronged into my memory. What was
to be done?

Courage is no definite or stedfast principle. Let that man who shall
purpose to assign motives to the actions of another, blush at his
folly and forbear. Not more presumptuous would it be to attempt the
classification of all nature, and the scanning of supreme intelligence.
I gazed for a minute at the window, and fixed my eyes, for a second
minute, on the ground. I drew forth from my pocket, and opened, a
penknife. This, said I, be my safe-guard and avenger. The assailant
shall perish, or myself shall fall. I had locked up the house in the
morning, but had the key of the kitchen door in my pocket. I, therefore,
determined to gain access behind. Thither I hastened, unlocked and
entered. All was lonely, darksome, and waste. Familiar as I was with
every part of my dwelling, I easily found my way to a closet, drew forth
a taper, a flint, tinder, and steel, and, in a moment as it were, gave
myself the guidance and protection of light.

What purpose did I meditate? Should I explore my way to my chamber, and
confront the being who had dared to intrude into this recess, and had
laboured for concealment? By putting out the light did he seek to hide
himself, or mean only to circumvent my incautious steps? Yet was it
not more probable that he desired my absence by thus encouraging the
supposition that the house was unoccupied? I would see this man in spite
of all impediments; ere I died, I would see his face, and summon him
to penitence and retribution; no matter at what cost an interview was
purchased. Reputation and life might be wrested from me by another, but
my rectitude and honor were in my own keeping, and were safe.

I proceeded to the foot of the stairs. At such a crisis my thoughts
may be supposed at no liberty to range; yet vague images rushed into my
mind, of the mysterious interposition which had been experienced on the
last night. My case, at present, was not dissimilar; and, if my angel
were not weary of fruitless exertions to save, might not a new warning
be expected? Who could say whether his silence were ascribable to the
absence of danger, or to his own absence?

In this state of mind, no wonder that a shivering cold crept through
my veins; that my pause was prolonged; and, that a fearful glance was
thrown backward.

Alas! my heart droops, and my fingers are enervated; my ideas are
vivid, but my language is faint: now know I what it is to entertain
incommunicable sentiments. The chain of subsequent incidents is drawn
through my mind, and being linked with those which forewent, by turns
rouse up agonies and sink me into hopelessness.

Yet I will persist to the end. My narrative may be invaded by inaccuracy
and confusion; but if I live no longer, I will, at least, live to
complete it. What but ambiguities, abruptnesses, and dark transitions,
can be expected from the historian who is, at the same time, the
sufferer of these disasters?

I have said that I cast a look behind. Some object was expected to be
seen, or why should I have gazed in that direction? Two senses were at
once assailed. The same piercing exclamation of HOLD! HOLD! was uttered
within the same distance of my ear. This it was that I heard. The airy
undulation, and the shock given to my nerves, were real. Whether the
spectacle which I beheld existed in my fancy or without, might be
doubted. I had not closed the door of the apartment I had just left. The
stair-case, at the foot of which I stood, was eight or ten feet from
the door, and attached to the wall through which the door led. My view,
therefore, was sidelong, and took in no part of the room.

Through this aperture was an head thrust and drawn back with so much
swiftness, that the immediate conviction was, that thus much of a form,
ordinarily invisible, had been unshrowded. The face was turned towards
me. Every muscle was tense; the forehead and brows were drawn into
vehement expression; the lips were stretched as in the act of shrieking,
and the eyes emitted sparks, which, no doubt, if I had been unattended
by a light, would have illuminated like the coruscations of a meteor.
The sound and the vision were present, and departed together at the
same instant; but the cry was blown into my ear, while the face was many
paces distant.

This face was well suited to a being whose performances exceeded the
standard of humanity, and yet its features were akin to those I had
before seen. The image of Carwin was blended in a thousand ways with the
stream of my thoughts. This visage was, perhaps, pourtrayed by my fancy.
If so, it will excite no surprize that some of his lineaments were now
discovered. Yet affinities were few and unconspicuous, and were lost
amidst the blaze of opposite qualities.

What conclusion could I form? Be the face human or not, the intimation
was imparted from above. Experience had evinced the benignity of that
being who gave it. Once he had interposed to shield me from harm, and
subsequent events demonstrated the usefulness of that interposition. Now
was I again warned to forbear. I was hurrying to the verge of the same
gulf, and the same power was exerted to recall my steps. Was it possible
for me not to obey? Was I capable of holding on in the same perilous
career? Yes. Even of this I was capable!

The intimation was imperfect: it gave no form to my danger, and
prescribed no limits to my caution. I had formerly neglected it, and yet
escaped. Might I not trust to the same issue? This idea might possess,
though imperceptibly, some influence. I persisted; but it was not merely
on this account. I cannot delineate the motives that led me on. I now
speak as if no remnant of doubt existed in my mind as to the supernal
origin of these sounds; but this is owing to the imperfection of my
language, for I only mean that the belief was more permanent, and
visited more frequently my sober meditations than its opposite. The
immediate effects served only to undermine the foundations of my
judgment and precipitate my resolutions.

I must either advance or return. I chose the former, and began to ascend
the stairs. The silence underwent no second interruption. My chamber
door was closed, but unlocked, and, aided by vehement efforts of my
courage, I opened and looked in.

No hideous or uncommon object was discernible. The danger, indeed, might
easily have lurked out of sight, have sprung upon me as I entered, and
have rent me with his iron talons; but I was blind to this fate, and
advanced, though cautiously, into the room.

Still every thing wore its accustomed aspect. Neither lamp nor candle
was to be found. Now, for the first time, suspicions were suggested as
to the nature of the light which I had seen. Was it possible to have
been the companion of that supernatural visage; a meteorous refulgence
producible at the will of him to whom that visage belonged, and
partaking of the nature of that which accompanied my father's death?

The closet was near, and I remembered the complicated horrors of which
it had been productive. Here, perhaps, was inclosed the source of my
peril, and the gratification of my curiosity. Should I adventure once
more to explore its recesses? This was a resolution not easily formed. I
was suspended in thought: when glancing my eye on a table, I perceived a
written paper. Carwin's hand was instantly recognized, and snatching up
the paper, I read as follows:--

"There was folly in expecting your compliance with my invitation. Judge
how I was disappointed in finding another in your place. I have
waited, but to wait any longer would be perilous. I shall still seek an
interview, but it must be at a different time and place: meanwhile,
I will write this--How will you bear--How inexplicable will be this
transaction!--An event so unexpected--a sight so horrible!"

Such was this abrupt and unsatisfactory script. The ink was yet moist,
the hand was that of Carwin. Hence it was to be inferred that he had
this moment left the apartment, or was still in it. I looked back, on
the sudden expectation of seeing him behind me.

What other did he mean? What transaction had taken place adverse to my
expectations? What sight was about to be exhibited? I looked around
me once more, but saw nothing which indicated strangeness. Again I
remembered the closet, and was resolved to seek in that the solution
of these mysteries. Here, perhaps, was inclosed the scene destined to
awaken my horrors and baffle my foresight.

I have already said, that the entrance into this closet was beside my
bed, which, on two sides, was closely shrowded by curtains. On that side
nearest the closet, the curtain was raised. As I passed along I cast my
eye thither. I started, and looked again. I bore a light in my hand, and
brought it nearer my eyes, in order to dispel any illusive mists that
might have hovered before them. Once more I fixed my eyes upon the bed,
in hope that this more stedfast scrutiny would annihilate the object
which before seemed to be there.

This then was the sight which Carwin had predicted! This was the event
which my understanding was to find inexplicable! This was the fate
which had been reserved for me, but which, by some untoward chance, had
befallen on another!

I had not been terrified by empty menaces. Violation and death awaited
my entrance into this chamber. Some inscrutable chance had led HER
hither before me, and the merciless fangs of which I was designed to
be the prey, had mistaken their victim, and had fixed themselves in HER
heart. But where was my safety? Was the mischief exhausted or flown? The
steps of the assassin had just been here; they could not be far off; in
a moment he would rush into my presence, and I should perish under the
same polluting and suffocating grasp!

My frame shook, and my knees were unable to support me. I gazed
alternately at the closet door and at the door of my room. At one of
these avenues would enter the exterminator of my honor and my life. I
was prepared for defence; but now that danger was imminent, my means
of defence, and my power to use them were gone. I was not qualified, by
education and experience, to encounter perils like these: or, perhaps,
I was powerless because I was again assaulted by surprize, and had not
fortified my mind by foresight and previous reflection against a scene
like this.

Fears for my own safety again yielded place to reflections on the scene
before me. I fixed my eyes upon her countenance. My sister's well-known
and beloved features could not be concealed by convulsion or lividness.
What direful illusion led thee hither? Bereft of thee, what hold on
happiness remains to thy offspring and thy spouse? To lose thee by a
common fate would have been sufficiently hard; but thus suddenly to
perish--to become the prey of this ghastly death! How will a spectacle
like this be endured by Wieland? To die beneath his grasp would not
satisfy thy enemy. This was mercy to the evils which he previously made
thee suffer! After these evils death was a boon which thou besoughtest
him to grant. He entertained no enmity against thee: I was the object of
his treason; but by some tremendous mistake his fury was misplaced. But
how comest thou hither? and where was Wieland in thy hour of distress?

I approached the corpse: I lifted the still flexible hand, and kissed
the lips which were breathless. Her flowing drapery was discomposed.
I restored it to order, and seating myself on the bed, again fixed
stedfast eyes upon her countenance. I cannot distinctly recollect the
ruminations of that moment. I saw confusedly, but forcibly, that every
hope was extinguished with the life of CATHARINE. All happiness and
dignity must henceforth be banished from the house and name of Wieland:
all that remained was to linger out in agonies a short existence; and
leave to the world a monument of blasted hopes and changeable fortune.
Pleyel was already lost to me; yet, while Catharine lived life was not
a detestable possession: but now, severed from the companion of my
infancy, the partaker of all my thoughts, my cares, and my wishes, I
was like one set afloat upon a stormy sea, and hanging his safety upon a
plank; night was closing upon him, and an unexpected surge had torn him
from his hold and overwhelmed him forever.

Chapter XVII

I had no inclination nor power to move from this spot. For more than an
hour, my faculties and limbs seemed to be deprived of all activity.
The door below creaked on its hinges, and steps ascended the stairs. My
wandering and confused thoughts were instantly recalled by these sounds,
and dropping the curtain of the bed, I moved to a part of the room
where any one who entered should be visible; such are the vibrations of
sentiment, that notwithstanding the seeming fulfilment of my fears,
and increase of my danger, I was conscious, on this occasion, to no
turbulence but that of curiosity.

At length he entered the apartment, and I recognized my brother. It was
the same Wieland whom I had ever seen. Yet his features were pervaded by
a new expression. I supposed him unacquainted with the fate of his wife,
and his appearance confirmed this persuasion. A brow expanding into
exultation I had hitherto never seen in him, yet such a brow did he now
wear. Not only was he unapprized of the disaster that had happened,
but some joyous occurrence had betided. What a reverse was preparing to
annihilate his transitory bliss! No husband ever doated more fondly, for
no wife ever claimed so boundless a devotion. I was not uncertain as to
the effects to flow from the discovery of her fate. I confided not at
all in the efforts of his reason or his piety. There were few evils
which his modes of thinking would not disarm of their sting; but here,
all opiates to grief, and all compellers of patience were vain. This
spectacle would be unavoidably followed by the outrages of desperation,
and a rushing to death.

For the present, I neglected to ask myself what motive brought him
hither. I was only fearful of the effects to flow from the sight of the
dead. Yet could it be long concealed from him? Some time and speedily
he would obtain this knowledge. No stratagems could considerably or
usefully prolong his ignorance. All that could be sought was to take
away the abruptness of the change, and shut out the confusion of
despair, and the inroads of madness: but I knew my brother, and knew
that all exertions to console him would be fruitless.

What could I say? I was mute, and poured forth those tears on his
account, which my own unhappiness had been unable to extort. In the
midst of my tears, I was not unobservant of his motions. These were of
a nature to rouse some other sentiment than grief or, at least, to mix
with it a portion of astonishment.

His countenance suddenly became troubled. His hands were clasped with a
force that left the print of his nails in his flesh. His eyes were fixed
on my feet. His brain seemed to swell beyond its continent. He did not
cease to breathe, but his breath was stifled into groans. I had never
witnessed the hurricane of human passions. My element had, till lately,
been all sunshine and calm. I was unconversant with the altitudes and
energies of sentiment, and was transfixed with inexplicable horror by
the symptoms which I now beheld.

After a silence and a conflict which I could not interpret, he lifted
his eyes to heaven, and in broken accents exclaimed, "This is too much!
Any victim but this, and thy will be done. Have I not sufficiently
attested my faith and my obedience? She that is gone, they that have
perished, were linked with my soul by ties which only thy command would
have broken; but here is sanctity and excellence surpassing human. This
workmanship is thine, and it cannot be thy will to heap it into ruins."

Here suddenly unclasping his hands, he struck one of them against his
forehead, and continued--"Wretch! who made thee quicksighted in the
councils of thy Maker? Deliverance from mortal fetters is awarded to
this being, and thou art the minister of this decree."

So saying, Wieland advanced towards me. His words and his motions were
without meaning, except on one supposition. The death of Catharine was
already known to him, and that knowledge, as might have been suspected,
had destroyed his reason. I had feared nothing less; but now that I
beheld the extinction of a mind the most luminous and penetrating that
ever dignified the human form, my sensations were fraught with new and
insupportable anguish.

I had not time to reflect in what way my own safety would be effected by
this revolution, or what I had to dread from the wild conceptions of a
madman. He advanced towards me. Some hollow noises were wafted by the
breeze. Confused clamours were succeeded by many feet traversing the
grass, and then crowding intO the piazza.

These sounds suspended my brother's purpose, and he stood to listen. The
signals multiplied and grew louder; perceiving this, he turned from me,
and hurried out of my sight. All about me was pregnant with motives to
astonishment. My sister's corpse, Wieland's frantic demeanour, and, at
length, this crowd of visitants so little accorded with my foresight,
that my mental progress was stopped. The impulse had ceased which was
accustomed to give motion and order to my thoughts.

Footsteps thronged upon the stairs, and presently many faces shewed
themselves within the door of my apartment. These looks were full of
alarm and watchfulness. They pryed into corners as if in search of
some fugitive; next their gaze was fixed upon me, and betokened all the
vehemence of terror and pity. For a time I questioned whether these were
not shapes and faces like that which I had seen at the bottom of the
stairs, creatures of my fancy or airy existences. My eye wandered from
one to another, till at length it fell on a countenance which I well
knew. It was that of Mr. Hallet. This man was a distant kinsman of my
mother, venerable for his age, his uprightness, and sagacity. He had
long discharged the functions of a magistrate and good citizen. If any
terrors remained, his presence was sufficient to dispel them.

He approached, took my hand with a compassionate air, and said in a low
voice, "Where, my dear Clara, are your brother and sister?" I made no
answer, but pointed to the bed. His attendants drew aside the curtain,
and while their eyes glared with horror at the spectacle which they
beheld, those of Mr. Hallet overflowed with tears.

After considerable pause, he once more turned to me. "My dear girl,
this sight is not for you. Can you confide in my care, and that of Mrs.
Baynton's? We will see performed all that circumstances require."

I made strenuous opposition to this request. I insisted on remaining
near her till she were interred. His remonstrances, however, and my own
feelings, shewed me the propriety of a temporary dereliction. Louisa
stood in need of a comforter, and my brother's children of a nurse. My
unhappy brother was himself an object of solicitude and care. At length,
I consented to relinquish the corpse, and go to my brother's, whose
house, I said, would need mistress, and his children a parent.

During this discourse, my venerable friend struggled with his tears, but
my last intimation called them forth with fresh violence. Meanwhile,
his attendants stood round in mournful silence, gazing on me and at each
other. I repeated my resolution, and rose to execute it; but he took my
hand to detain me. His countenance betrayed irresolution and reluctance.
I requested him to state the reason of his opposition to this measure.
I entreated him to be explicit. I told him that my brother had just been
there, and that I knew his condition. This misfortune had driven him
to madness, and his offspring must not want a protector. If he chose,
I would resign Wieland to his care; but his innocent and helpless babes
stood in instant need of nurse and mother, and these offices I would by
no means allow another to perform while I had life.

Every word that I uttered seemed to augment his perplexity and distress.
At last he said, "I think, Clara, I have entitled myself to some regard
from you. You have professed your willingness to oblige me. Now I call
upon you to confer upon me the highest obligation in your power. Permit
Mrs. Baynton to have the management of your brother's house for two or
three days; then it shall be yours to act in it as you please. No matter
what are my motives in making this request: perhaps I think your
age, your sex, or the distress which this disaster must occasion,
incapacitates you for the office. Surely you have no doubt of Mrs.
Baynton's tenderness or discretion." New ideas now rushed into my mind.
I fixed my eyes stedfastly on Mr. Hallet. "Are they well?" said I. "Is
Louisa well? Are Benjamin, and William, and Constantine, and Little
Clara, are they safe? Tell me truly, I beseech you!"

"They are well," he replied; "they are perfectly safe."

"Fear no effeminate weakness in me: I can bear to hear the truth. Tell
me truly, are they well?"

He again assured me that they were well.

"What then," resumed I, "do you fear? Is it possible for any calamity to
disqualify me for performing my duty to these helpless innocents? I
am willing to divide the care of them with Mrs. Baynton; I shall be
grateful for her sympathy and aid; but what should I be to desert them
at an hour like this!"

I will cut short this distressful dialogue. I still persisted in my
purpose, and he still persisted in his opposition. This excited my
suspicions anew; but these were removed by solemn declarations of their
safety. I could not explain this conduct in my friend; but at length
consented to go to the city, provided I should see them for a few
minutes at present, and should return on the morrow.

Even this arrangement was objected to. At length he told me they were
removed to the city. Why were they removed, I asked, and whither? My
importunities would not now be eluded. My suspicions were roused, and no
evasion or artifice was sufficient to allay them. Many of the audience
began to give vent to their emotions in tears. Mr. Hallet himself seemed
as if the conflict were too hard to be longer sustained. Something
whispered to my heart that havoc had been wider than I now witnessed.
I suspected this concealment to arise from apprehensions of the
effects which a knowledge of the truth would produce in me. I once
more entreated him to inform me truly of their state. To enforce my
entreaties, I put on an air of insensibility. "I can guess," said I,
"what has happened--They are indeed beyond the reach of injury, for they
are dead! Is it not so?" My voice faltered in spite of my courageous

"Yes," said he, "they are dead! Dead by the same fate, and by the same
hand, with their mother!"

"Dead!" replied I; "what, all?"

"All!" replied he: "he spared NOT ONE!"

Allow me, my friends, to close my eyes upon the after-scene. Why should
I protract a tale which I already begin to feel is too long? Over this
scene at least let me pass lightly. Here, indeed, my narrative would be
imperfect. All was tempestuous commotion in my heart and in my brain. I
have no memory for ought but unconscious transitions and rueful sights.
I was ingenious and indefatigable in the invention of torments. I would
not dispense with any spectacle adapted to exasperate my grief. Each
pale and mangled form I crushed to my bosom. Louisa, whom I loved with
so ineffable a passion, was denied to me at first, but my obstinacy
conquered their reluctance.

They led the way into a darkened hall. A lamp pendant from the ceiling
was uncovered, and they pointed to a table. The assassin had defrauded
me of my last and miserable consolation. I sought not in her visage, for
the tinge of the morning, and the lustre of heaven. These had vanished
with life; but I hoped for liberty to print a last kiss upon her lips.
This was denied me; for such had been the merciless blow that destroyed
her, that not a LINEAMENT REMAINED!

I was carried hence to the city. Mrs. Hallet was my companion and my
nurse. Why should I dwell upon the rage of fever, and the effusions
of delirium? Carwin was the phantom that pursued my dreams, the giant
oppressor under whose arm I was for ever on the point of being crushed.
Strenuous muscles were required to hinder my flight, and hearts of steel
to withstand the eloquence of my fears. In vain I called upon them to
look upward, to mark his sparkling rage and scowling contempt. All I
sought was to fly from the stroke that was lifted. Then I heaped upon my
guards the most vehement reproaches, or betook myself to wailings on the
haplessness of my condition.

This malady, at length, declined, and my weeping friends began to look
for my restoration. Slowly, and with intermitted beams, memory revisited
me. The scenes that I had witnessed were revived, became the theme
of deliberation and deduction, and called forth the effusions of more
rational sorrow.

Chapter XVIII

I had imperfectly recovered my strength, when I was informed of the
arrival of my mother's brother, Thomas Cambridge. Ten years since, he
went to Europe, and was a surgeon in the British forces in Germany,
during the whole of the late war. After its conclusion, some connection
that he had formed with an Irish officer, made him retire into Ireland.
Intercourse had been punctually maintained by letters with his sister's
children, and hopes were given that he would shortly return to his
native country, and pass his old age in our society. He was now in an
evil hour arrived.

I desired an interview with him for numerous and urgent reasons. With
the first returns of my understanding I had anxiously sought information
of the fate of my brother. During the course of my disease I had never
seen him; and vague and unsatisfactory answers were returned to all my
inquires. I had vehemently interrogated Mrs. Hallet and her husband, and
solicited an interview with this unfortunate man; but they mysteriously
insinuated that his reason was still unsettled, and that his
circumstances rendered an interview impossible. Their reserve on the
particulars of this destruction, and the author of it, was equally

For some time, finding all my efforts fruitless, I had desisted from
direct inquiries and solicitations, determined, as soon as my strength
was sufficiently renewed, to pursue other means of dispelling my
uncertainty. In this state of things my uncle's arrival and intention to
visit me were announced. I almost shuddered to behold the face of this
man. When I reflected on the disasters that had befallen us, I was half
unwilling to witness that dejection and grief which would be disclosed
in his countenance. But I believed that all transactions had been
thoroughly disclosed to him, and confided in my importunity to extort
from him the knowledge that I sought.

I had no doubt as to the person of our enemy; but the motives that urged
him to perpetrate these horrors, the means that he used, and his present
condition, were totally unknown. It was reasonable to expect some
information on this head, from my uncle. I therefore waited his coming
with impatience. At length, in the dusk of the evening, and in my
solitary chamber, this meeting took place.

This man was our nearest relation, and had ever treated us with the
affection of a parent. Our meeting, therefore, could not be without
overflowing tenderness and gloomy joy. He rather encouraged than
restrained the tears that I poured out in his arms, and took upon
himself the task of comforter. Allusions to recent disasters could not
be long omitted. One topic facilitated the admission of another. At
length, I mentioned and deplored the ignorance in which I had been
kept respecting my brother's destiny, and the circumstances of our
misfortunes. I entreated him to tell me what was Wieland's condition,
and what progress had been made in detecting or punishing the author of
this unheard-of devastation.

"The author!" said he; "Do you know the author?"

"Alas!" I answered, "I am too well acquainted with him. The story of
the grounds of my suspicions would be painful and too long. I am not
apprized of the extent of your present knowledge. There are none but
Wieland, Pleyel, and myself, who are able to relate certain facts."

"Spare yourself the pain," said he. "All that Wieland and Pleyel can
communicate, I know already. If any thing of moment has fallen within
your own exclusive knowledge, and the relation be not too arduous for
your present strength, I confess I am desirous of hearing it. Perhaps
you allude to one by the name of Carwin. I will anticipate your
curiosity by saying, that since these disasters, no one has seen or
heard of him. His agency is, therefore, a mystery still unsolved."

I readily complied with his request, and related as distinctly as
I could, though in general terms, the events transacted in the
summer-house and my chamber. He listened without apparent surprize
to the tale of Pleyel's errors and suspicions, and with augmented
seriousness, to my narrative of the warnings and inexplicable vision,
and the letter found upon the table. I waited for his comments.

"You gather from this," said he, "that Carwin is the author of all this

"Is it not," answered I, "an unavoidable inference? But what know you
respecting it? Was it possible to execute this mischief without witness
or coadjutor? I beseech you to relate to me, when and why Mr. Hallet was
summoned to the scene, and by whom this disaster was first suspected
or discovered. Surely, suspicion must have fallen upon some one, and
pursuit was made."

My uncle rose from his seat, and traversed the floor with hasty steps.
His eyes were fixed upon the ground, and he seemed buried in perplexity.
At length he paused, and said with an emphatic tone, "It is true; the
instrument is known. Carwin may have plotted, but the execution was
another's. That other is found, and his deed is ascertained."

"Good heaven!" I exclaimed, "what say you? Was not Carwin the assassin?
Could any hand but his have carried into act this dreadful purpose?"

"Have I not said," returned he, "that the performance was another's?
Carwin, perhaps, or heaven, or insanity, prompted the murderer; but
Carwin is unknown. The actual performer has, long since, been called
to judgment and convicted, and is, at this moment, at the bottom of a
dungeon loaded with chains."

I lifted my hands and eyes. "Who then is this assassin? By what means,
and whither was he traced? What is the testimony of his guilt?"

"His own, corroborated with that of a servant-maid who spied the murder
of the children from a closet where she was concealed. The magistrate
returned from your dwelling to your brother's. He was employed in
hearing and recording the testimony of the only witness, when the
criminal himself, unexpected, unsolicited, unsought, entered the hall,
acknowledged his guilt, and rendered himself up to justice.

"He has since been summoned to the bar. The audience was composed of
thousands whom rumours of this wonderful event had attracted from the
greatest distance. A long and impartial examination was made, and the
prisoner was called upon for his defence. In compliance with this call
he delivered an ample relation of his motives and actions." There he

I besought him to say who this criminal was, and what the instigations
that compelled him. My uncle was silent. I urged this inquiry with new
force. I reverted to my own knowledge, and sought in this some basis to
conjecture. I ran over the scanty catalogue of the men whom I knew; I
lighted on no one who was qualified for ministering to malice like this.
Again I resorted to importunity. Had I ever seen the criminal? Was it
sheer cruelty, or diabolical revenge that produced this overthrow?

He surveyed me, for a considerable time, and listened to my
interrogations in silence. At length he spoke: "Clara, I have known thee
by report, and in some degree by observation. Thou art a being of no
vulgar sort. Thy friends have hitherto treated thee as a child. They
meant well, but, perhaps, they were unacquainted with thy strength. I
assure myself that nothing will surpass thy fortitude.

"Thou art anxious to know the destroyer of thy family, his actions, and
his motives. Shall I call him to thy presence, and permit him to confess
before thee? Shall I make him the narrator of his own tale?"

I started on my feet, and looked round me with fearful glances, as if
the murderer was close at hand. "What do you mean?" said I; "put an end,
I beseech you, to this suspence."

"Be not alarmed; you will never more behold the face of this criminal,
unless he be gifted with supernatural strength, and sever like threads
the constraint of links and bolts. I have said that the assassin was
arraigned at the bar, and that the trial ended with a summons from the
judge to confess or to vindicate his actions. A reply was immediately
made with significance of gesture, and a tranquil majesty, which denoted
less of humanity than godhead. Judges, advocates and auditors were
panic-struck and breathless with attention. One of the hearers
faithfully recorded the speech. There it is," continued he, putting a
roll of papers in my hand, "you may read it at your leisure."

With these words my uncle left me alone. My curiosity refused me a
moment's delay. I opened the papers, and read as follows.

Chapter XIX

"Theodore Wieland, the prisoner at the bar, was now called upon for his
defence. He looked around him for some time in silence, and with a mild
countenance. At length he spoke:

"It is strange; I am known to my judges and my auditors. Who is there
present a stranger to the character of Wieland? who knows him not as an
husband--as a father--as a friend? yet here am I arraigned as criminal.
I am charged with diabolical malice; I am accused of the murder of my
wife and my children!

"It is true, they were slain by me; they all perished by my hand.
The task of vindication is ignoble. What is it that I am called to
vindicate? and before whom?

"You know that they are dead, and that they were killed by me. What more
would you have? Would you extort from me a statement of my motives? Have
you failed to discover them already? You charge me with malice; but your
eyes are not shut; your reason is still vigorous; your memory has not
forsaken you. You know whom it is that you thus charge. The habits of
his life are known to you; his treatment of his wife and his
offspring is known to you; the soundness of his integrity, and the
unchangeableness of his principles, are familiar to your apprehension;
yet you persist in this charge! You lead me hither manacled as a felon;
you deem me worthy of a vile and tormenting death!

"Who are they whom I have devoted to death? My wife--the little ones,
that drew their being from me--that creature who, as she surpassed
them in excellence, claimed a larger affection than those whom natural
affinities bound to my heart. Think ye that malice could have urged me
to this deed? Hide your audacious fronts from the scrutiny of heaven.
Take refuge in some cavern unvisited by human eyes. Ye may deplore your
wickedness or folly, but ye cannot expiate it.

"Think not that I speak for your sakes. Hug to your hearts this
detestable infatuation. Deem me still a murderer, and drag me to
untimely death. I make not an effort to dispel your illusion: I utter
not a word to cure you of your sanguinary folly: but there are probably
some in this assembly who have come from far: for their sakes, whose
distance has disabled them from knowing me, I will tell what I have
done, and why.

"It is needless to say that God is the object of my supreme passion.
I have cherished, in his presence, a single and upright heart. I have
thirsted for the knowledge of his will. I have burnt with ardour to
approve my faith and my obedience.

"My days have been spent in searching for the revelation of that will;
but my days have been mournful, because my search failed. I solicited
direction: I turned on every side where glimmerings of light could be
discovered. I have not been wholly uninformed; but my knowledge has
always stopped short of certainty. Dissatisfaction has insinuated
itself into all my thoughts. My purposes have been pure; my wishes
indefatigable; but not till lately were these purposes thoroughly
accomplished, and these wishes fully gratified.

"I thank thee, my father, for thy bounty; that thou didst not ask a less
sacrifice than this; that thou placedst me in a condition to testify my
submission to thy will! What have I withheld which it was thy pleasure
to exact? Now may I, with dauntless and erect eye, claim my reward,
since I have given thee the treasure of my soul.

"I was at my own house: it was late in the evening: my sister had gone
to the city, but proposed to return. It was in expectation of her return
that my wife and I delayed going to bed beyond the usual hour; the rest
of the family, however, were retired.

"My mind was contemplative and calm; not wholly devoid of apprehension
on account of my sister's safety. Recent events, not easily explained,
had suggested the existence of some danger; but this danger was
without a distinct form in our imagination, and scarcely ruffled our

"Time passed, and my sister did not arrive; her house is at some
distance from mine, and though her arrangements had been made with a
view to residing with us, it was possible that, through forgetfulness,
or the occurrence of unforeseen emergencies, she had returned to her own

"Hence it was conceived proper that I should ascertain the truth by
going thither. I went. On my way my mind was full of these ideas
which related to my intellectual condition. In the torrent of fervid
conceptions, I lost sight of my purpose. Some times I stood still;
some times I wandered from my path, and experienced some difficulty, on
recovering from my fit of musing, to regain it.

"The series of my thoughts is easily traced. At first every vein beat
with raptures known only to the man whose parental and conjugal love
is without limits, and the cup of whose desires, immense as it is,
overflows with gratification. I know not why emotions that were
perpetual visitants should now have recurred with unusual energy. The
transition was not new from sensations of joy to a consciousness of
gratitude. The author of my being was likewise the dispenser of every
gift with which that being was embellished. The service to which a
benefactor like this was entitled, could not be circumscribed. My social
sentiments were indebted to their alliance with devotion for all their
value. All passions are base, all joys feeble, all energies malignant,
which are not drawn from this source.

"For a time, my contemplations soared above earth and its inhabitants.
I stretched forth my hands; I lifted my eyes, and exclaimed, O! that I
might be admitted to thy presence; that mine were the supreme delight of
knowing thy will, and of performing it! The blissful privilege of direct
communication with thee, and of listening to the audible enunciation of
thy pleasure!

"What task would I not undertake, what privation would I not cheerfully
endure, to testify my love of thee? Alas! thou hidest thyself from my
view: glimpses only of thy excellence and beauty are afforded me. Would
that a momentary emanation from thy glory would visit me! that some
unambiguous token of thy presence would salute my senses!

"In this mood, I entered the house of my sister. It was vacant. Scarcely
had I regained recollection of the purpose that brought me hither.
Thoughts of a different tendency had such absolute possession of my
mind, that the relations of time and space were almost obliterated from
my understanding. These wanderings, however, were restrained, and I
ascended to her chamber.

"I had no light, and might have known by external observation, that
the house was without any inhabitant. With this, however, I was
not satisfied. I entered the room, and the object of my search not
appearing, I prepared to return.

"The darkness required some caution in descending the stair. I stretched
my hand to seize the balustrade by which I might regulate my steps.
How shall I describe the lustre, which, at that moment, burst upon my

"I was dazzled. My organs were bereaved of their activity. My eye-lids
were half-closed, and my hands withdrawn from the balustrade. A nameless
fear chilled my veins, and I stood motionless. This irradiation did not
retire or lessen. It seemed as if some powerful effulgence covered me
like a mantle.

"I opened my eyes and found all about me luminous and glowing. It was
the element of heaven that flowed around. Nothing but a fiery stream was
at first visible; but, anon, a shrill voice from behind called upon me
to attend.

"I turned: It is forbidden to describe what I saw: Words, indeed, would
be wanting to the task. The lineaments of that being, whose veil was now
lifted, and whose visage beamed upon my sight, no hues of pencil or of
language can pourtray.

"As it spoke, the accents thrilled to my heart. "Thy prayers are heard.
In proof of thy faith, render me thy wife. This is the victim I chuse.
Call her hither, and here let her fall."--The sound, and visage, and
light vanished at once.

"What demand was this? The blood of Catharine was to be shed! My wife
was to perish by my hand! I sought opportunity to attest my virtue.
Little did I expect that a proof like this would have been demanded.

"My wife! I exclaimed: O God! substitute some other victim. Make me
not the butcher of my wife. My own blood is cheap. This will I pour
out before thee with a willing heart; but spare, I beseech thee, this
precious life, or commission some other than her husband to perform the
bloody deed.

"In vain. The conditions were prescribed; the decree had gone forth, and
nothing remained but to execute it. I rushed out of the house and across
the intermediate fields, and stopped not till I entered my own parlour.
"My wife had remained here during my absence, in anxious expectation of
my return with some tidings of her sister. I had none to communicate.
For a time, I was breathless with my speed: This, and the tremors
that shook my frame, and the wildness of my looks, alarmed her. She
immediately suspected some disaster to have happened to her friend, and
her own speech was as much overpowered by emotion as mine.

"She was silent, but her looks manifested her impatience to hear what I
had to communicate. I spoke, but with so much precipitation as scarcely
to be understood; catching her, at the same time, by the arm, and
forcibly pulling her from her seat.

"Come along with me: fly: waste not a moment: time will be lost, and the
deed will be omitted. Tarry not; question not; but fly with me!

"This deportment added afresh to her alarms. Her eyes pursued mine, and
she said, "What is the matter? For God's sake what is the matter? Where
would you have me go?"

"My eyes were fixed upon her countenance while she spoke. I thought
upon her virtues; I viewed her as the mother of my babes: as my wife:
I recalled the purpose for which I thus urged her attendance. My heart
faltered, and I saw that I must rouse to this work all my faculties. The
danger of the least delay was imminent.

"I looked away from her, and again exerting my force, drew her towards
the door--'You must go with me--indeed you must.'

"In her fright she half-resisted my efforts, and again exclaimed, 'Good
heaven! what is it you mean? Where go? What has happened? Have you found

"Follow me, and you will see," I answered, still urging her reluctant
steps forward.

"What phrenzy has seized you? Something must needs have happened. Is she
sick? Have you found her?"

"Come and see. Follow me, and know for yourself."

"Still she expostulated and besought me to explain this mysterious
behaviour. I could not trust myself to answer her; to look at her; but
grasping her arm, I drew her after me. She hesitated, rather through
confusion of mind than from unwillingness to accompany me. This
confusion gradually abated, and she moved forward, but with irresolute
footsteps, and continual exclamations of wonder and terror. Her
interrogations Of "what was the matter?" and "whither was I going?" were
ceaseless and vehement.

"It was the scope of my efforts not to think; to keep up a conflict and
uproar in my mind in which all order and distinctness should be lost;
to escape from the sensations produced by her voice. I was, therefore,
silent. I strove to abridge this interval by my haste, and to waste all
my attention in furious gesticulations.

"In this state of mind we reached my sister's door. She looked at the
windows and saw that all was desolate--"Why come we here? There is no
body here. I will not go in."

"Still I was dumb; but opening the door, I drew her into the entry. This
was the allotted scene: here she was to fall. I let go her hand, and
pressing my palms against my forehead, made one mighty effort to work up
my soul to the deed.

"In vain; it would not be; my courage was appalled; my arms nerveless:
I muttered prayers that my strength might be aided from above. They
availed nothing.

"Horror diffused itself over me. This conviction of my cowardice, my
rebellion, fastened upon me, and I stood rigid and cold as marble. From
this state I was somewhat relieved by my wife's voice, who renewed her
supplications to be told why we came hither, and what was the fate of my

"What could I answer? My words were broken and inarticulate. Her fears
naturally acquired force from the observation of these symptoms; but
these fears were misplaced. The only inference she deduced from my
conduct was, that some terrible mishap had befallen Clara.

"She wrung her hands, and exclaimed in an agony, "O tell me, where is
she? What has become of her? Is she sick? Dead? Is she in her chamber? O
let me go thither and know the worst!"

"This proposal set my thoughts once more in motion. Perhaps what my
rebellious heart refused to perform here, I might obtain strength enough
to execute elsewhere.

"Come then," said I, "let us go."

"I will, but not in the dark. We must first procure a light."

"Fly then and procure it; but I charge you, linger not. I will await for
your return.

"While she was gone, I strode along the entry. The fellness of a gloomy
hurricane but faintly resembled the discord that reigned in my mind. To
omit this sacrifice must not be; yet my sinews had refused to perform
it. No alternative was offered. To rebel against the mandate was
impossible; but obedience would render me the executioner of my wife. My
will was strong, but my limbs refused their office.

"She returned with a light; I led the way to the chamber; she looked
round her; she lifted the curtain of the bed; she saw nothing.

"At length, she fixed inquiring eyes upon me. The light now enabled her
to discover in my visage what darkness had hitherto concealed. Her
cares were now transferred from my sister to myself, and she said in
a tremulous voice, "Wieland! you are not well: What ails you? Can I do
nothing for you?"

"That accents and looks so winning should disarm me of my resolution,
was to be expected. My thoughts were thrown anew into anarchy. I spread
my hand before my eyes that I might not see her, and answered only by
groans. She took my other hand between her's, and pressing it to her
heart, spoke with that voice which had ever swayed my will, and wafted
away sorrow.

"My friend! my soul's friend! tell me thy cause of grief. Do I not merit
to partake with thee in thy cares? Am I not thy wife?"

"This was too much. I broke from her embrace, and retired to a corner
of the room. In this pause, courage was once more infused into me. I
resolved to execute my duty. She followed me, and renewed her passionate
entreaties to know the cause of my distress.

"I raised my head and regarded her with stedfast looks. I muttered
something about death, and the injunctions of my duty. At these words
she shrunk back, and looked at me with a new expression of anguish.
After a pause, she clasped her hands, and exclaimed--

"O Wieland! Wieland! God grant that I am mistaken; but surely something
is wrong. I see it: it is too plain: thou art undone--lost to me and
to thyself." At the same time she gazed on my features with intensest
anxiety, in hope that different symptoms would take place. I replied to
her with vehemence--

"Undone! No; my duty is known, and I thank my God that my cowardice is
now vanquished, and I have power to fulfil it. Catharine! I pity the
weakness of thy nature: I pity thee, but must not spare. Thy life is
claimed from my hands: thou must die!"

"Fear was now added to her grief. 'What mean you? Why talk you of death?
Bethink yourself, Wieland: bethink yourself, and this fit will pass. O
why came I hither! Why did you drag me hither?'

"I brought thee hither to fulfil a divine command. I am appointed thy
destroyer, and destroy thee I must." Saying this I seized her wrists.
She shrieked aloud, and endeavoured to free herself from my grasp; but
her efforts were vain.

"Surely, surely Wieland, thou dost not mean it. Am I not thy wife? and
wouldst thou kill me? Thou wilt not; and yet--I see--thou art Wieland
no longer! A fury resistless and horrible possesses thee--Spare

"Till her breath was stopped she shrieked for help--for mercy. When
she could speak no longer, her gestures, her looks appealed to my
compassion. My accursed hand was irresolute and tremulous. I meant
thy death to be sudden, thy struggles to be brief. Alas! my heart was
infirm; my resolves mutable. Thrice I slackened my grasp, and life kept
its hold, though in the midst of pangs. Her eye-balls started from their
sockets. Grimness and distortion took place of all that used to bewitch
me into transport, and subdue me into reverence.

"I was commissioned to kill thee, but not to torment thee with the
foresight of thy death; not to multiply thy fears, and prolong thy
agonies. Haggard, and pale, and lifeless, at length thou ceasedst to
contend with thy destiny.

"This was a moment of triumph. Thus had I successfully subdued the
stubbornness of human passions: the victim which had been demanded was
given: the deed was done past recal.

"I lifted the corpse in my arms and laid it on the bed. I gazed upon
it with delight. Such was the elation of my thoughts, that I even broke
into laughter. I clapped my hands and exclaimed, 'It is done! My sacred
duty is fulfilled! To that I have sacrificed, O my God! thy last and
best gift, my wife!'

"For a while I thus soared above frailty. I imagined I had set myself
forever beyond the reach of selfishness; but my imaginations were false.
This rapture quickly subsided. I looked again at my wife. My joyous
ebullitions vanished, and I asked myself who it was whom I saw?
Methought it could not be Catharine. It could not be the woman who had
lodged for years in my heart; who had slept, nightly, in my bosom; who
had borne in her womb, who had fostered at her breast, the beings who
called me father; whom I had watched with delight, and cherished with a
fondness ever new and perpetually growing: it could not be the same.

"Where was her bloom! These deadly and blood-suffused orbs but ill
resemble the azure and exstatic tenderness of her eyes. The lucid stream
that meandered over that bosom, the glow of love that was wont to sit
upon that cheek, are much unlike these livid stains and this hideous
deformity. Alas! these were the traces of agony; the gripe of the
assassin had been here!

"I will not dwell upon my lapse into desperate and outrageous sorrow.
The breath of heaven that sustained me was withdrawn and I sunk into
MERE MAN. I leaped from the floor: I dashed my head against the wall:
I uttered screams of horror: I panted after torment and pain. Eternal
fire, and the bickerings of hell, compared with what I felt, were music
and a bed of roses.

"I thank my God that this degeneracy was transient, that he deigned once
more to raise me aloft. I thought upon what I had done as a sacrifice to
duty, and WAS CALM. My wife was dead; but I reflected, that though this
source of human consolation was closed, yet others were still open. If
the transports of an husband were no more, the feelings of a father had
still scope for exercise. When remembrance of their mother should excite
too keen a pang, I would look upon them, and BE COMFORTED.

"While I revolved these ideas, new warmth flowed in upon my heart--I was
wrong. These feelings were the growth of selfishness. Of this I was
not aware, and to dispel the mist that obscured my perceptions, a new
effulgence and a new mandate were necessary.

"From these thoughts I was recalled by a ray that was shot into the
room. A voice spake like that which I had before heard--'Thou hast done
well; but all is not done--the sacrifice is incomplete--thy children
must be offered--they must perish with their mother!--'"

Chapter XX

Will you wonder that I read no farther? Will you not rather be
astonished that I read thus far? What power supported me through such a
task I know not. Perhaps the doubt from which I could not disengage
my mind, that the scene here depicted was a dream, contributed to my
perseverance. In vain the solemn introduction of my uncle, his appeals
to my fortitude, and allusions to something monstrous in the events
he was about to disclose; in vain the distressful perplexity, the
mysterious silence and ambiguous answers of my attendants, especially
when the condition of my brother was the theme of my inquiries, were
remembered. I recalled the interview with Wieland in my chamber, his
preternatural tranquillity succeeded by bursts of passion and menacing
actions. All these coincided with the tenor of this paper.

Catharine and her children, and Louisa were dead. The act that destroyed
them was, in the highest degree, inhuman. It was worthy of savages
trained to murder, and exulting in agonies.

Who was the performer of the deed? Wieland! My brother! The husband
and the father! That man of gentle virtues and invincible benignity!
placable and mild--an idolator of peace! Surely, said I, it is a dream.
For many days have I been vexed with frenzy. Its dominion is still felt;
but new forms are called up to diversify and augment my torments.

The paper dropped from my hand, and my eyes followed it. I shrunk back,
as if to avoid some petrifying influence that approached me. My tongue
was mute; all the functions of nature were at a stand, and I sunk upon
the floor lifeless. The noise of my fall, as I afterwards heard, alarmed
my uncle, who was in a lower apartment, and whose apprehensions had
detained him. He hastened to my chamber, and administered the assistance
which my condition required. When I opened my eyes I beheld him before
me. His skill as a reasoner as well as a physician, was exerted to
obviate the injurious effects of this disclosure; but he had wrongly
estimated the strength of my body or of my mind. This new shock brought
me once more to the brink of the grave, and my malady was much more
difficult to subdue than at first.

I will not dwell upon the long train of dreary sensations, and the
hideous confusion of my understanding. Time slowly restored its
customary firmness to my frame, and order to my thoughts. The images
impressed upon my mind by this fatal paper were somewhat effaced by my
malady. They were obscure and disjointed like the parts of a dream. I
was desirous of freeing my imagination from this chaos. For this end I
questioned my uncle, who was my constant companion. He was intimidated
by the issue of his first experiment, and took pains to elude or
discourage my inquiry. My impetuosity some times compelled him to have
resort to misrepresentations and untruths.

Time effected that end, perhaps, in a more beneficial manner. In the
course of my meditations the recollections of the past gradually became
more distinct. I revolved them, however, in silence, and being no longer
accompanied with surprize, they did not exercise a death-dealing
power. I had discontinued the perusal of the paper in the midst of
the narrative; but what I read, combined with information elsewhere
obtained, threw, perhaps, a sufficient light upon these detestable
transactions; yet my curiosity was not inactive. I desired to peruse the

My eagerness to know the particulars of this tale was mingled and abated
by my antipathy to the scene which would be disclosed. Hence I employed
no means to effect my purpose. I desired knowledge, and, at the same
time, shrunk back from receiving the boon.

One morning, being left alone, I rose from my bed, and went to a drawer
where my finer clothing used to be kept. I opened it, and this fatal
paper saluted my sight. I snatched it involuntarily, and withdrew to a
chair. I debated, for a few minutes, whether I should open and read. Now
that my fortitude was put to trial, it failed. I felt myself incapable
of deliberately surveying a scene of so much horror. I was prompted to
return it to its place, but this resolution gave way, and I determined
to peruse some part of it. I turned over the leaves till I came near the
conclusion. The narrative of the criminal was finished. The verdict of
GUILTY reluctantly pronounced by the jury, and the accused interrogated
why sentence of death should not pass. The answer was brief, solemn, and

"No. I have nothing to say. My tale has been told. My motives have
been truly stated. If my judges are unable to discern the purity of my
intentions, or to credit the statement of them, which I have just made;
if they see not that my deed was enjoined by heaven; that obedience was
the test of perfect virtue, and the extinction of selfishness and error,
they must pronounce me a murderer.

"They refuse to credit my tale; they impute my acts to the influence of
daemons; they account me an example of the highest wickedness of which
human nature is capable; they doom me to death and infamy. Have I power
to escape this evil? If I have, be sure I will exert it. I will not
accept evil at their hand, when I am entitled to good; I will suffer
only when I cannot elude suffering.

"You say that I am guilty. Impious and rash! thus to usurp the
prerogatives of your Maker! to set up your bounded views and halting
reason, as the measure of truth!

"Thou, Omnipotent and Holy! Thou knowest that my actions were
conformable to thy will. I know not what is crime; what actions are
evil in their ultimate and comprehensive tendency or what are good. Thy
knowledge, as thy power, is unlimited. I have taken thee for my guide,
and cannot err. To the arms of thy protection, I entrust my safety. In
the awards of thy justice, I confide for my recompense.

"Come death when it will, I am safe. Let calumny and abhorrence pursue
me among men; I shall not be defrauded of my dues. The peace of virtue,
and the glory of obedience, will be my portion hereafter."

Here ended the speaker. I withdrew my eyes from the page; but before I
had time to reflect on what I had read, Mr. Cambridge entered the
room. He quickly perceived how I had been employed, and betrayed some
solicitude respecting the condition of my mind.

His fears, however, were superfluous. What I had read, threw me into a
state not easily described. Anguish and fury, however, had no part in
it. My faculties were chained up in wonder and awe. Just then, I was
unable to speak. I looked at my friend with an air of inquisitiveness,
and pointed at the roll. He comprehended my inquiry, and answered me
with looks of gloomy acquiescence. After some time, my thoughts found
their way to my lips.

Such then were the acts of my brother. Such were his words. For this
he was condemned to die: To die upon the gallows! A fate, cruel and
unmerited! And is it so? continued I, struggling for utterance, which
this new idea made difficult; is he--dead!

"No. He is alive. There could be no doubt as to the cause of these
excesses. They originated in sudden madness; but that madness continues.
and he is condemned to perpetual imprisonment."

"Madness, say you? Are you sure? Were not these sights, and these
sounds, really seen and heard?"

My uncle was surprized at my question. He looked at me with apparent
inquietude. "Can you doubt," said he, "that these were illusions? Does
heaven, think you, interfere for such ends?"

"O no; I think it not. Heaven cannot stimulate to such unheard-of
outrage. The agent was not good, but evil."

"Nay, my dear girl," said my friend, "lay aside these fancies. Neither
angel nor devil had any part in this affair."

"You misunderstand me," I answered; "I believe the agency to be external
and real, but not supernatural."

"Indeed!" said he, in an accent of surprize. "Whom do you then suppose
to be the agent?"

"I know not. All is wildering conjecture. I cannot forget Carwin. I
cannot banish the suspicion that he was the setter of these snares. But
how can we suppose it to be madness? Did insanity ever before assume
this form?"

"Frequently. The illusion, in this case, was more dreadful in its
consequences, than any that has come to my knowledge; but, I repeat that
similar illusions are not rare. Did you never hear of an instance which
occurred in your mother's family?"

"No. I beseech you relate it. My grandfather's death I have understood
to have been extraordinary, but I know not in what respect. A brother,
to whom he was much attached, died in his youth, and this, as I have
heard, influenced, in some remarkable way, the fate of my grandfather;
but I am unacquainted with particulars."

"On the death of that brother," resumed my friend, "my father was seized
with dejection, which was found to flow from two sources. He not only
grieved for the loss of a friend, but entertained the belief that his
own death would be inevitably consequent on that of his brother. He
waited from day to day in expectation of the stroke which he predicted
was speedily to fall upon him. Gradually, however, he recovered his
cheerfulness and confidence. He married, and performed his part in
the world with spirit and activity. At the end of twenty-one years it
happened that he spent the summer with his family at an house which he
possessed on the sea coast in Cornwall. It was at no great distance
from a cliff which overhung the ocean, and rose into the air to a great
height. The summit was level and secure, and easily ascended on the land
side. The company frequently repaired hither in clear weather, invited
by its pure airs and extensive prospects. One evening in June my father,
with his wife and some friends, chanced to be on this spot. Every one
was happy, and my father's imagination seemed particularly alive to the
grandeur of the scenery.

"Suddenly, however, his limbs trembled and his features betrayed alarm.
He threw himself into the attitude of one listening. He gazed earnestly
in a direction in which nothing was visible to his friends. This lasted
for a minute; then turning to his companions, he told them that his
brother had just delivered to him a summons, which must be instantly
obeyed. He then took an hasty and solemn leave of each person, and,
before their surprize would allow them to understand the scene, he
rushed to the edge of the cliff, threw himself headlong, and was seen no

"In the course of my practice in the German army, many cases, equally
remarkable, have occurred. Unquestionably the illusions were maniacal,
though the vulgar thought otherwise. They are all reducible to one
class, [*] and are not more difficult of explication and cure than most
affections of our frame."

This opinion my uncle endeavoured, by various means, to impress upon me.
I listened to his reasonings and illustrations with silent respect. My
astonishment was great on finding proofs of an influence of which I
had supposed there were no examples; but I was far from accounting for
appearances in my uncle's manner. Ideas thronged into my mind which I
was unable to disjoin or to regulate. I reflected that this madness,
if madness it were, had affected Pleyel and myself as well as Wieland.
Pleyel had heard a mysterious voice. I had seen and heard. A form had
showed itself to me as well as to Wieland. The disclosure had been
made in the same spot. The appearance was equally complete and equally
prodigious in both instances. Whatever supposition I should adopt, had
I not equal reason to tremble? What was my security against influences
equally terrific and equally irresistable?

It would be vain to attempt to describe the state of mind which this
idea produced. I wondered at the change which a moment had affected
in my brother's condition. Now was I stupified with tenfold wonder in
contemplating myself. Was I not likewise transformed from rational and
human into a creature of nameless and fearful attributes? Was I not
transported to the brink of the same abyss? Ere a new day should come,
my hands might be embrued in blood, and my remaining life be consigned
to a dungeon and chains.

With moral sensibility like mine, no wonder that this new dread was more
insupportable than the anguish I had lately endured. Grief carries its
own antidote along with it. When thought becomes merely a vehicle of
pain, its progress must be stopped. Death is a cure which nature or
ourselves must administer: To this cure I now looked forward with gloomy

My silence could not conceal from my uncle the state of my thoughts.
He made unwearied efforts to divert my attention from views so
pregnant with danger. His efforts, aided by time, were in some measure
successful. Confidence in the strength of my resolution, and in the
healthful state of my faculties, was once more revived. I was able
to devote my thoughts to my brother's state, and the causes of this
disasterous proceeding.

My opinions were the sport of eternal change. Some times I conceived the
apparition to be more than human. I had no grounds on which to build a
disbelief. I could not deny faith to the evidence of my religion;
the testimony of men was loud and unanimous: both these concurred
to persuade me that evil spirits existed, and that their energy was
frequently exerted in the system of the world.

These ideas connected themselves with the image of Carwin. Where is the
proof, said I, that daemons may not be subjected to the controul of men?
This truth may be distorted and debased in the minds of the ignorant.
The dogmas of the vulgar, with regard to this subject, are glaringly
absurd; but though these may justly be neglected by the wise, we are
scarcely justified in totally rejecting the possibility that men may
obtain supernatural aid.

The dreams of superstition are worthy of contempt. Witchcraft, its
instruments and miracles, the compact ratified by a bloody signature,
the apparatus of sulpherous smells and thundering explosions, are
monstrous and chimerical. These have no part in the scene over which the
genius of Carwin presides. That conscious beings, dissimilar from human,
but moral and voluntary agents as we are, some where exist, can scarcely
be denied. That their aid may be employed to benign or malignant
purposes, cannot be disproved.

Darkness rests upon the designs of this man. The extent of his power is
unknown; but is there not evidence that it has been now exerted?

I recurred to my own experience. Here Carwin had actually appeared upon
the stage; but this was in a human character. A voice and a form were
discovered; but one was apparently exerted, and the other disclosed, not
to befriend, but to counteract Carwin's designs. There were tokens of
hostility, and not of alliance, between them. Carwin was the miscreant
whose projects were resisted by a minister of heaven. How can this be
reconciled to the stratagem which ruined my brother? There the agency
was at once preternatural and malignant.

The recollection of this fact led my thoughts into a new channel. The
malignity of that influence which governed my brother had hitherto been
no subject of doubt. His wife and children were destroyed; they had
expired in agony and fear; yet was it indisputably certain that their
murderer was criminal? He was acquitted at the tribunal of his own
conscience; his behaviour at his trial and since, was faithfully
reported to me; appearances were uniform; not for a moment did he lay
aside the majesty of virtue; he repelled all invectives by appealing to
the deity, and to the tenor of his past life; surely there was truth in
this appeal: none but a command from heaven could have swayed his will;
and nothing but unerring proof of divine approbation could sustain his
mind in its present elevation.

     * Mania Mutabilis. See Darwin's Zoonomia, vol. ii. Class III.
     1.2. where similar cases are stated.

Chapter XXI

Such, for some time, was the course of my meditations. My weakness, and
my aversion to be pointed at as an object of surprize or compassion,
prevented me from going into public. I studiously avoided the visits of
those who came to express their sympathy, or gratify their curiosity.
My uncle was my principal companion. Nothing more powerfully tended to
console me than his conversation.

With regard to Pleyel, my feelings seemed to have undergone a total
revolution. It often happens that one passion supplants another. Late
disasters had rent my heart, and now that the wound was in some degree
closed, the love which I had cherished for this man seemed likewise to
have vanished.

Hitherto, indeed, I had had no cause for despair. I was innocent of that
offence which had estranged him from my presence. I might reasonably
expect that my innocence would at some time be irresistably
demonstrated, and his affection for me be revived with his esteem. Now
my aversion to be thought culpable by him continued, but was unattended
with the same impatience. I desired the removal of his suspicions,
not for the sake of regaining his love, but because I delighted in the
veneration of so excellent a man, and because he himself would derive
pleasure from conviction of my integrity.

My uncle had early informed me that Pleyel and he had seen each other,
since the return of the latter from Europe. Amidst the topics of their
conversation, I discovered that Pleyel had carefully omitted the mention
of those events which had drawn upon me so much abhorrence. I could
not account for his silence on this subject. Perhaps time or some new
discovery had altered or shaken his opinion. Perhaps he was unwilling,
though I were guilty, to injure me in the opinion of my venerable
kinsman. I understood that he had frequently visited me during
my disease, had watched many successive nights by my bedside, and
manifested the utmost anxiety on my account.

The journey which he was preparing to take, at the termination of our
last interview, the catastrophe of the ensuing night induced him to
delay. The motives of this journey I had, till now, totally mistaken.
They were explained to me by my uncle, whose tale excited my
astonishment without awakening my regret. In a different state of mind,
it would have added unspeakably to my distress, but now it was more
a source of pleasure than pain. This, perhaps, is not the least
extraordinary of the facts contained in this narrative. It will excite
less wonder when I add, that my indifference was temporary, and that the
lapse of a few days shewed me that my feelings were deadened for a time,
rather than finally extinguished.

Theresa de Stolberg was alive. She had conceived the resolution of
seeking her lover in America. To conceal her flight, she had caused the
report of her death to be propagated. She put herself under the conduct
of Bertrand, the faithful servant of Pleyel. The pacquet which the
latter received from the hands of his servant, contained the tidings of
her safe arrival at Boston, and to meet her there was the purpose of his

This discovery had set this man's character in a new light. I had
mistaken the heroism of friendship for the phrenzy of love. He who
had gained my affections, may be supposed to have previously entitled
himself to my reverence; but the levity which had formerly characterized
the behaviour of this man, tended to obscure the greatness of his
sentiments. I did not fail to remark, that since this lady was still
alive, the voice in the temple which asserted her death, must either
have been intended to deceive, or have been itself deceived. The latter
supposition was inconsistent with the notion of a spiritual, and the
former with that of a benevolent being.

When my disease abated, Pleyel had forborne his visits, and had lately
set out upon this journey. This amounted to a proof that my guilt was
still believed by him. I was grieved for his errors, but trusted that my
vindication would, sooner or later, be made.

Meanwhile, tumultuous thoughts were again set afloat by a proposal
made to me by my uncle. He imagined that new airs would restore my
languishing constitution, and a varied succession of objects tend to
repair the shock which my mind had received. For this end, he proposed
to me to take up my abode with him in France or Italy.

At a more prosperous period, this scheme would have pleased for its own
sake. Now my heart sickened at the prospect of nature. The world of man
was shrowded in misery and blood, and constituted a loathsome spectacle.
I willingly closed my eyes in sleep, and regretted that the respite it
afforded me was so short. I marked with satisfaction the progress of
decay in my frame, and consented to live, merely in the hope that
the course of nature would speedily relieve me from the burthen.
Nevertheless, as he persisted in his scheme, I concurred in it merely
because he was entitled to my gratitude, and because my refusal gave him

No sooner was he informed of my consent, than he told me I must make
immediate preparation to embark, as the ship in which he had engaged
a passage would be ready to depart in three days. This expedition was
unexpected. There was an impatience in his manner when he urged the
necessity of dispatch that excited my surprize. When I questioned him as
to the cause of this haste, he generally stated reasons which, at
that time, I could not deny to be plausible; but which, on the review,
appeared insufficient. I suspected that the true motives were concealed,
and believed that these motives had some connection with my brother's

I now recollected that the information respecting Wieland which had,
from time to time, been imparted to me, was always accompanied with airs
of reserve and mysteriousness. What had appeared sufficiently explicit
at the time it was uttered, I now remembered to have been faltering
and ambiguous. I was resolved to remove my doubts, by visiting the
unfortunate man in his dungeon.

Heretofore the idea of this visit had occurred to me; but the horrors
of his dwelling-place, his wild yet placid physiognomy, his neglected
locks, the fetters which constrained his limbs, terrible as they were in
description, how could I endure to behold!

Now, however, that I was preparing to take an everlasting farewell of my
country, now that an ocean was henceforth to separate me from him, how
could I part without an interview? I would examine his situation with my
own eyes. I would know whether the representations which had been made
to me were true. Perhaps the sight of the sister whom he was wont
to love with a passion more than fraternal, might have an auspicious
influence on his malady.

Having formed this resolution, I waited to communicate it to Mr.
Cambridge. I was aware that, without his concurrence, I could not hope
to carry it into execution, and could discover no objection to which
it was liable. If I had not been deceived as to his condition, no
inconvenience could arise from this proceeding. His consent, therefore,
would be the test of his sincerity.

I seized this opportunity to state my wishes on this head. My suspicions
were confirmed by the manner in which my request affected him. After
some pause, in which his countenance betrayed every mark of perplexity,
he said to me, "Why would you pay this visit? What useful purpose can it

"We are preparing," said I, "to leave the country forever: What kind of
being should I be to leave behind me a brother in calamity without even
a parting interview? Indulge me for three minutes in the sight of him.
My heart will be much easier after I have looked at him, and shed a few
tears in his presence."

"I believe otherwise. The sight of him would only augment your distress,
without contributing, in any degree, to his benefit."

"I know not that," returned I. "Surely the sympathy of his sister,
proofs that her tenderness is as lively as ever, must be a source
of satisfaction to him. At present he must regard all mankind as his
enemies and calumniators. His sister he, probably, conceives to partake
in the general infatuation, and to join in the cry of abhorrence that
is raised against him. To be undeceived in this respect, to be assured
that, however I may impute his conduct to delusion, I still retain all
my former affection for his person, and veneration for the purity of his
motives, cannot but afford him pleasure. When he hears that I have left
the country, without even the ceremonious attention of a visit, what
will he think of me? His magnanimity may hinder him from repining, but
he will surely consider my behaviour as savage and unfeeling. Indeed,
dear Sir, I must pay this visit. To embark with you without paying it,
will be impossible. It may be of no service to him, but will enable me
to acquit myself of what I cannot but esteem a duty. Besides," continued
I, "if it be a mere fit of insanity that has seized him, may not my
presence chance to have a salutary influence? The mere sight of me, it
is not impossible, may rectify his perceptions."

"Ay," said my uncle, with some eagerness; "it is by no means impossible
that your interview may have that effect; and for that reason, beyond
all others, would I dissuade you from it."

I expressed my surprize at this declaration. "Is it not to be desired
that an error so fatal as this should be rectified?"

"I wonder at your question. Reflect on the consequences of this error.
Has he not destroyed the wife whom he loved, the children whom he
idolized? What is it that enables him to bear the remembrance, but the
belief that he acted as his duty enjoined? Would you rashly bereave him
of this belief? Would you restore him to himself, and convince him
that he was instigated to this dreadful outrage by a perversion of his
organs, or a delusion from hell?

"Now his visions are joyous and elate. He conceives himself to have
reached a loftier degree of virtue, than any other human being. The
merit of his sacrifice is only enhanced in the eyes of superior beings,
by the detestation that pursues him here, and the sufferings to which he
is condemned. The belief that even his sister has deserted him, and
gone over to his enemies, adds to his sublimity of feelings, and his
confidence in divine approbation and future recompense.

"Let him be undeceived in this respect, and what floods of despair and
of horror will overwhelm him! Instead of glowing approbation and serene
hope, will he not hate and torture himself? Self-violence, or a phrenzy
far more savage and destructive than this, may be expected to succeed. I
beseech you, therefore, to relinquish this scheme. If you calmly reflect
upon it, you will discover that your duty lies in carefully shunning

Mr. Cambridge's reasonings suggested views to my understanding, that had
not hitherto occurred. I could not but admit their validity, but they
shewed, in a new light, the depth of that misfortune in which my brother
was plunged. I was silent and irresolute.

Presently, I considered, that whether Wieland was a maniac, a faithful
servant of his God, the victim of hellish illusions, or the dupe of
human imposture, was by no means certain. In this state of my mind it
became me to be silent during the visit that I projected. This visit
should be brief: I should be satisfied merely to snatch a look at him.
Admitting that a change in his opinions were not to be desired, there
was no danger from the conduct which I should pursue, that this change
should be wrought.

But I could not conquer my uncle's aversion to this scheme. Yet I
persisted, and he found that to make me voluntarily relinquish it, it
was necessary to be more explicit than he had hitherto been. He took
both my hands, and anxiously examining my countenance as he spoke,
"Clara," said he, "this visit must not be paid. We must hasten with the
utmost expedition from this shore. It is folly to conceal the truth
from you, and, since it is only by disclosing the truth that you can be
prevailed upon to lay aside this project, the truth shall be told.

"O my dear girl!" continued he with increasing energy in his accent,
"your brother's phrenzy is, indeed, stupendous and frightful. The soul
that formerly actuated his frame has disappeared. The same form remains;
but the wise and benevolent Wieland is no more. A fury that is rapacious
of blood, that lifts his strength almost above that of mortals, that
bends all his energies to the destruction of whatever was once dear to
him, possesses him wholly.

"You must not enter his dungeon; his eyes will no sooner be fixed upon
you, than an exertion of his force will be made. He will shake off his
fetters in a moment, and rush upon you. No interposition will then be
strong or quick enough to save you.

"The phantom that has urged him to the murder of Catharine and her
children is not yet appeased. Your life, and that of Pleyel, are exacted
from him by this imaginary being. He is eager to comply with this
demand. Twice he has escaped from his prison. The first time, he no
sooner found himself at liberty, than he hasted to Pleyel's house. It
being midnight, the latter was in bed. Wieland penetrated unobserved
to his chamber, and opened his curtain. Happily, Pleyel awoke at the
critical moment, and escaped the fury of his kinsman, by leaping from
his chamber-window into the court. Happily, he reached the ground
without injury. Alarms were given, and after diligent search, your
brother was found in a chamber of your house, whither, no doubt, he
had sought you. His chains, and the watchfulness of his guards, were
redoubled; but again, by some miracle, he restored himself to liberty.
He was now incautiously apprized of the place of your abode: and had not
information of his escape been instantly given, your death would have
been added to the number of his atrocious acts.

"You now see the danger of your project. You must not only forbear to
visit him, but if you would save him from the crime of embruing his
hands in your blood, you must leave the country. There is no hope that
his malady will end but with his life, and no precaution will ensure
your safety, but that of placing the ocean between you.

"I confess I came over with an intention to reside among you, but
these disasters have changed my views. Your own safety and my happiness
require that you should accompany me in my return, and I entreat you to
give your cheerful concurrence to this measure."

After these representations from my uncle, it was impossible to retain
my purpose. I readily consented to seclude myself from Wieland's
presence. I likewise acquiesced in the proposal to go to Europe; not
that I ever expected to arrive there, but because, since my principles
forbad me to assail my own life, change had some tendency to make
supportable the few days which disease should spare to me.

What a tale had thus been unfolded! I was hunted to death, not by
one whom my misconduct had exasperated, who was conscious of illicit
motives, and who sought his end by circumvention and surprize; but by
one who deemed himself commissioned for this act by heaven; who
regarded this career of horror as the last refinement of virtue; whose
implacability was proportioned to the reverence and love which he felt
for me, and who was inaccessible to the fear of punishment and ignominy!

In vain should I endeavour to stay his hand by urging the claims of
a sister or friend: these were his only reasons for pursuing my
destruction. Had I been a stranger to his blood; had I been the most
worthless of human kind; my safety had not been endangered.

Surely, said I, my fate is without example. The phrenzy which is charged
upon my brother, must belong to myself. My foe is manacled and guarded;
but I derive no security from these restraints. I live not in a
community of savages; yet, whether I sit or walk, go into crouds,
or hide myself in solitude, my life is marked for a prey to inhuman
violence; I am in perpetual danger of perishing; of perishing under the
grasp of a brother!

I recollected the omens of this destiny; I remembered the gulf to which
my brother's invitation had conducted me; I remembered that, when on the
brink of danger, the author of my peril was depicted by my fears in
his form: Thus realized, were the creatures of prophetic sleep, and of
wakeful terror!

These images were unavoidably connected with that of Carwin. In
this paroxysm of distress, my attention fastened on him as the grand
deceiver; the author of this black conspiracy; the intelligence that
governed in this storm.

Some relief is afforded in the midst of suffering, when its author is
discovered or imagined; and an object found on which we may pour out
our indignation and our vengeance. I ran over the events that had taken
place since the origin of our intercourse with him, and reflected on the
tenor of that description which was received from Ludloe. Mixed up with
notions of supernatural agency, were the vehement suspicions which I
entertained, that Carwin was the enemy whose machinations had destroyed

I thirsted for knowledge and for vengeance. I regarded my hasty
departure with reluctance, since it would remove me from the means by
which this knowledge might be obtained, and this vengeance gratified.
This departure was to take place in two days. At the end of two days
I was to bid an eternal adieu to my native country. Should I not pay a
parting visit to the scene of these disasters? Should I not bedew with
my tears the graves of my sister and her children? Should I not explore
their desolate habitation, and gather from the sight of its walls and
furniture food for my eternal melancholy?

This suggestion was succeeded by a secret shuddering. Some disastrous
influence appeared to overhang the scene. How many memorials should I
meet with serving to recall the images of those I had lost!

I was tempted to relinquish my design, when it occurred to me that I
had left among my papers a journal of transactions in shorthand. I
was employed in this manuscript on that night when Pleyel's incautious
curiosity tempted him to look over my shoulder. I was then recording my
adventure in THE RECESS, an imperfect sight of which led him into such
fatal errors.

I had regulated the disposition of all my property. This manuscript,
however, which contained the most secret transactions of my life, I was
desirous of destroying. For this end I must return to my house, and this
I immediately determined to do.

I was not willing to expose myself to opposition from my friends,
by mentioning my design; I therefore bespoke the use of Mr. Hallet's
chaise, under pretence of enjoying an airing, as the day was remarkably

This request was gladly complied with, and I directed the servant to
conduct me to Mettingen. I dismissed him at the gate, intending to use,
in returning, a carriage belonging to my brother.

Chapter XXII

The inhabitants of the HUT received me with a mixture of joy and
surprize. Their homely welcome, and their artless sympathy, were
grateful to my feelings. In the midst of their inquiries, as to my
health, they avoided all allusions to the source of my malady. They were
honest creatures, and I loved them well. I participated in the tears
which they shed when I mentioned to them my speedy departure for Europe,
and promised to acquaint them with my welfare during my long absence.

They expressed great surprize when I informed them of my intention to
visit my cottage. Alarm and foreboding overspread their features, and
they attempted to dissuade me from visiting an house which they firmly
believed to be haunted by a thousand ghastly apparitions.

These apprehensions, however, had no power over my conduct. I took an
irregular path which led me to my own house. All was vacant and forlorn.
A small enclosure, near which the path led, was the burying-ground
belonging to the family. This I was obliged to pass. Once I had intended
to enter it, and ponder on the emblems and inscriptions which my uncle
had caused to be made on the tombs of Catharine and her children; but
now my heart faltered as I approached, and I hastened forward, that
distance might conceal it from my view.

When I approached the recess, my heart again sunk. I averted my eyes,
and left it behind me as quickly as possible. Silence reigned through
my habitation, and a darkness which closed doors and shutters produced.
Every object was connected with mine or my brother's history. I passed
the entry, mounted the stair, and unlocked the door of my chamber.
It was with difficulty that I curbed my fancy and smothered my fears.
Slight movements and casual sounds were transformed into beckoning
shadows and calling shapes.

I proceeded to the closet. I opened and looked round it with
fearfulness. All things were in their accustomed order. I sought and
found the manuscript where I was used to deposit it. This being secured,
there was nothing to detain me; yet I stood and contemplated awhile the
furniture and walls of my chamber. I remembered how long this apartment
had been a sweet and tranquil asylum; I compared its former state with
its present dreariness, and reflected that I now beheld it for the last

Here it was that the incomprehensible behaviour of Carwin was witnessed:
this the stage on which that enemy of man shewed himself for a moment
unmasked. Here the menaces of murder were wafted to my ear; and here
these menaces were executed.

These thoughts had a tendency to take from me my self-command. My feeble
limbs refused to support me, and I sunk upon a chair. Incoherent and
half-articulate exclamations escaped my lips. The name of Carwin was
uttered, and eternal woes, woes like that which his malice had entailed
upon us, were heaped upon him. I invoked all-seeing heaven to drag to
light and to punish this betrayer, and accused its providence for having
thus long delayed the retribution that was due to so enormous a guilt.

I have said that the window shutters were closed. A feeble light,
however, found entrance through the crevices. A small window illuminated
the closet, and the door being closed, a dim ray streamed through
the key-hole. A kind of twilight was thus created, sufficient for the
purposes of vision; but, at the same time, involving all minuter objects
in obscurity.

This darkness suited the colour of my thoughts. I sickened at the
remembrance of the past. The prospect of the future excited my loathing.
I muttered in a low voice, Why should I live longer? Why should I drag a
miserable being? All, for whom I ought to live, have perished. Am I not
myself hunted to death?

At that moment, my despair suddenly became vigorous. My nerves were no
longer unstrung. My powers, that had long been deadened, were revived.
My bosom swelled with a sudden energy, and the conviction darted through
my mind, that to end my torments was, at once, practicable and wise.

I knew how to find way to the recesses of life. I could use a lancet
with some skill, and could distinguish between vein and artery. By
piercing deep into the latter, I should shun the evils which the future
had in store for me, and take refuge from my woes in quiet death.

I started on my feet, for my feebleness was gone, and hasted to the
closet. A lancet and other small instruments were preserved in a
case which I had deposited here. Inattentive as I was to foreign
considerations, my ears were still open to any sound of mysterious
import that should occur. I thought I heard a step in the entry. My
purpose was suspended, and I cast an eager glance at my chamber door,
which was open. No one appeared, unless the shadow which I discerned
upon the floor, was the outline of a man. If it were, I was authorized
to suspect that some one was posted close to the entrance, who possibly
had overheard my exclamations.

My teeth chattered, and a wild confusion took place of my momentary
calm. Thus it was when a terrific visage had disclosed itself on a
former night. Thus it was when the evil destiny of Wieland assumed the
lineaments of something human. What horrid apparition was preparing to
blast my sight?

Still I listened and gazed. Not long, for the shadow moved; a foot,
unshapely and huge, was thrust forward; a form advanced from its
concealment, and stalked into the room. It was Carwin! While I had
breath I shrieked. While I had power over my muscles, I motioned with
my hand that he should vanish. My exertions could not last long; I sunk
into a fit.

O that this grateful oblivion had lasted for ever! Too quickly I
recovered my senses. The power of distinct vision was no sooner restored
to me, than this hateful form again presented itself, and I once more

A second time, untoward nature recalled me from the sleep of death.
I found myself stretched upon the bed. When I had power to look up, I
remembered only that I had cause to fear. My distempered fancy fashioned
to itself no distinguishable image. I threw a languid glance round me;
once more my eyes lighted upon Carwin.

He was seated on the floor, his back rested against the wall, his knees
were drawn up, and his face was buried in his hands. That his station
was at some distance, that his attitude was not menacing, that his
ominous visage was concealed, may account for my now escaping a shock,
violent as those which were past. I withdrew my eyes, but was not again
deserted by my senses.

On perceiving that I had recovered my sensibility, he lifted his head.
This motion attracted my attention. His countenance was mild, but sorrow
and astonishment sat upon his features. I averted my eyes and feebly
exclaimed--"O! fly--fly far and for ever!--I cannot behold you and

He did not rise upon his feet, but clasped his hands, and said in a
tone of deprecation--"I will fly. I am become a fiend, the sight of whom
destroys. Yet tell me my offence! You have linked curses with my name;
you ascribe to me a malice monstrous and infernal. I look around; all
is loneliness and desert! This house and your brother's are solitary and
dismantled! You die away at the sight of me! My fear whispers that some
deed of horror has been perpetrated; that I am the undesigning cause."

What language was this? Had he not avowed himself a ravisher? Had not
this chamber witnessed his atrocious purposes? I besought him with new
vehemence to go.

He lifted his eyes--"Great heaven! what have I done? I think I know
the extent of my offences. I have acted, but my actions have possibly
effected more than I designed. This fear has brought me back from my
retreat. I come to repair the evil of which my rashness was the cause,
and to prevent more evil. I come to confess my errors."

"Wretch!" I cried when my suffocating emotions would permit me to speak,
"the ghosts of my sister and her children, do they not rise to accuse
thee? Who was it that blasted the intellects of Wieland? Who was it
that urged him to fury, and guided him to murder? Who, but thou and the
devil, with whom thou art confederated?"

At these words a new spirit pervaded his countenance. His eyes once more
appealed to heaven. "If I have memory, if I have being, I am innocent. I
intended no ill; but my folly, indirectly and remotely, may have caused
it; but what words are these! Your brother lunatic! His children dead!"

What should I infer from this deportment? Was the ignorance which these
words implied real or pretended?--Yet how could I imagine a mere human
agency in these events? But if the influence was preternatural or
maniacal in my brother's case, they must be equally so in my own. Then
I remembered that the voice exerted, was to save me from Carwin's
attempts. These ideas tended to abate my abhorrence of this man, and to
detect the absurdity of my accusations.

"Alas!" said I, "I have no one to accuse. Leave me to my fate. Fly from
a scene stained with cruelty; devoted to despair."

Carwin stood for a time musing and mournful. At length he said, "What
has happened? I came to expiate my crimes: let me know them in their
full extent. I have horrible forebodings! What has happened?"

I was silent; but recollecting the intimation given by this man when he
was detected in my closet, which implied some knowledge of that power
which interfered in my favor, I eagerly inquired, "What was that voice
which called upon me to hold when I attempted to open the closet? What
face was that which I saw at the bottom of the stairs? Answer me truly."

"I came to confess the truth. Your allusions are horrible and strange.
Perhaps I have but faint conceptions of the evils which my infatuation
has produced; but what remains I will perform. It was my VOICE that you
heard! It was my FACE that you saw!"

For a moment I doubted whether my remembrance of events were not
confused. How could he be at once stationed at my shoulder and shut up
in my closet? How could he stand near me and yet be invisible? But if
Carwin's were the thrilling voice and the fiery visage which I had heard
and seen, then was he the prompter of my brother, and the author of
these dismal outrages.

Once more I averted my eyes and struggled for speech. "Begone! thou man
of mischief! Remorseless and implacable miscreant! begone!"

"I will obey," said he in a disconsolate voice; "yet, wretch as I am,
am I unworthy to repair the evils that I have committed? I came as a
repentant criminal. It is you whom I have injured, and at your bar am
I willing to appear, and confess and expiate my crimes. I have deceived
you: I have sported with your terrors: I have plotted to destroy your
reputation. I come now to remove your errors; to set you beyond the
reach of similar fears; to rebuild your fame as far as I am able.

"This is the amount of my guilt, and this the fruit of my remorse. Will
you not hear me? Listen to my confession, and then denounce punishment.
All I ask is a patient audience."

"What!" I replied, "was not thine the voice that commanded my brother to
imbrue his hands in the blood of his children--to strangle that angel of
sweetness his wife? Has he not vowed my death, and the death of Pleyel,
at thy bidding? Hast thou not made him the butcher of his family;
changed him who was the glory of his species into worse than brute;
robbed him of reason, and consigned the rest of his days to fetters and

Carwin's eyes glared, and his limbs were petrified at this intelligence.
No words were requisite to prove him guiltless of these enormities: at
the time, however, I was nearly insensible to these exculpatory tokens.
He walked to the farther end of the room, and having recovered some
degree of composure, he spoke--

"I am not this villain; I have slain no one; I have prompted none to
slay; I have handled a tool of wonderful efficacy without malignant
intentions, but without caution; ample will be the punishment of my
temerity, if my conduct has contributed to this evil." He paused.--

I likewise was silent. I struggled to command myself so far as to listen
to the tale which he should tell. Observing this, he continued--

"You are not apprized of the existence of a power which I possess. I
know not by what name to call it. [*] It enables me to mimic exactly the
voice of another, and to modify the sound so that it shall appear to
come from what quarter, and be uttered at what distance I please.

"I know not that every one possesses this power. Perhaps, though a
casual position of my organs in my youth shewed me that I possessed
it, it is an art which may be taught to all. Would to God I had died
unknowing of the secret! It has produced nothing but degradation and

"For a time the possession of so potent and stupendous an endowment
elated me with pride. Unfortified by principle, subjected to poverty,
stimulated by headlong passions, I made this powerful engine subservient
to the supply of my wants, and the gratification of my vanity. I shall
not mention how diligently I cultivated this gift, which seemed capable
of unlimited improvement; nor detail the various occasions on which
it was successfully exerted to lead superstition, conquer avarice, or
excite awe.

"I left America, which is my native soil, in my youth. I have been
engaged in various scenes of life, in which my peculiar talent has been
exercised with more or less success. I was finally betrayed by one who
called himself my friend, into acts which cannot be justified, though
they are susceptible of apology.

"The perfidy of this man compelled me to withdraw from Europe. I
returned to my native country, uncertain whether silence and obscurity
would save me from his malice. I resided in the purlieus of the city. I
put on the garb and assumed the manners of a clown.

"My chief recreation was walking. My principal haunts were the lawns
and gardens of Mettingen. In this delightful region the luxuriances
of nature had been chastened by judicious art, and each successive
contemplation unfolded new enchantments.

"I was studious of seclusion: I was satiated with the intercourse of
mankind, and discretion required me to shun their intercourse. For
these reasons I long avoided the observation of your family, and chiefly
visited these precincts at night.

"I was never weary of admiring the position and ornaments of THE
TEMPLE. Many a night have I passed under its roof, revolving no pleasing
meditations. When, in my frequent rambles, I perceived this apartment
was occupied, I gave a different direction to my steps. One evening,
when a shower had just passed, judging by the silence that no one
was within, I ascended to this building. Glancing carelessly round, I
perceived an open letter on the pedestal. To read it was doubtless an
offence against politeness. Of this offence, however, I was guilty.

"Scarcely had I gone half through when I was alarmed by the approach
of your brother. To scramble down the cliff on the opposite side
was impracticable. I was unprepared to meet a stranger. Besides
the aukwardness attending such an interview in these circumstances,
concealment was necessary to my safety. A thousand times had I vowed
never again to employ the dangerous talent which I possessed; but such
was the force of habit and the influence of present convenience, that I
used this method of arresting his progress and leading him back to the
house, with his errand, whatever it was, unperformed. I had often caught
parts, from my station below, of your conversation in this place, and
was well acquainted with the voice of your sister.

"Some weeks after this I was again quietly seated in this recess. The
lateness of the hour secured me, as I thought, from all interruption.
In this, however, I was mistaken, for Wieland and Pleyel, as I judged by
their voices, earnest in dispute, ascended the hill.

"I was not sensible that any inconvenience could possibly have flowed
from my former exertion; yet it was followed with compunction, because
it was a deviation from a path which I had assigned to myself. Now
my aversion to this means of escape was enforced by an unauthorized
curiosity, and by the knowledge of a bushy hollow on the edge of the
hill, where I should be safe from discovery. Into this hollow I thrust

"The propriety of removal to Europe was the question eagerly discussed.
Pleyel intimated that his anxiety to go was augmented by the silence
of Theresa de Stolberg. The temptation to interfere in this dispute was
irresistible. In vain I contended with inveterate habits. I disguised to
myself the impropriety of my conduct, by recollecting the benefits which
it might produce. Pleyel's proposal was unwise, yet it was enforced
with plausible arguments and indefatigable zeal. Your brother might be
puzzled and wearied, but could not be convinced. I conceived that
to terminate the controversy in favor of the latter was conferring a
benefit on all parties. For this end I profited by an opening in the
conversation, and assured them of Catharine's irreconcilable aversion to
the scheme, and of the death of the Saxon baroness. The latter event
was merely a conjecture, but rendered extremely probable by Pleyel's
representations. My purpose, you need not be told, was effected.

"My passion for mystery, and a species of imposture, which I deemed
harmless, was thus awakened afresh. This second lapse into error made my
recovery more difficult. I cannot convey to you an adequate idea of
the kind of gratification which I derived from these exploits; yet I
meditated nothing. My views were bounded to the passing moment, and
commonly suggested by the momentary exigence.

"I must not conceal any thing. Your principles teach you to abhor a
voluptuous temper; but, with whatever reluctance, I acknowledge this
temper to be mine. You imagine your servant Judith to be innocent as
well as beautiful; but you took her from a family where hypocrisy, as
well as licentiousness, was wrought into a system. My attention was
captivated by her charms, and her principles were easily seen to be

"Deem me not capable of the iniquity of seduction. Your servant is not
destitute of feminine and virtuous qualities; but she was taught that
the best use of her charms consists in the sale of them. My nocturnal
visits to Mettingen were now prompted by a double view, and my
correspondence with your servant gave me, at all times, access to your

"The second night after our interview, so brief and so little foreseen
by either of us, some daemon of mischief seized me. According to my
companion's report, your perfections were little less than divine. Her
uncouth but copious narratives converted you into an object of worship.
She chiefly dwelt upon your courage, because she herself was deficient
in that quality. You held apparitions and goblins in contempt. You took
no precautions against robbers. You were just as tranquil and secure in
this lonely dwelling, as if you were in the midst of a crowd. Hence a
vague project occurred to me, to put this courage to the test. A woman
capable of recollection in danger, of warding off groundless panics,
of discerning the true mode of proceeding, and profiting by her best
resources, is a prodigy. I was desirous of ascertaining whether you were
such an one.

"My expedient was obvious and simple: I was to counterfeit a murderous
dialogue; but this was to be so conducted that another, and not
yourself, should appear to be the object. I was not aware of the
possibility that you should appropriate these menaces to yourself. Had
you been still and listened, you would have heard the struggles and
prayers of the victim, who would likewise have appeared to be shut up in
the closet, and whose voice would have been Judith's. This scene would
have been an appeal to your compassion; and the proof of cowardice
or courage which I expected from you, would have been your remaining
inactive in your bed, or your entering the closet with a view to assist
the sufferer. Some instances which Judith related of your fearlessness
and promptitude made me adopt the latter supposition with some degree of

"By the girl's direction I found a ladder, and mounted to your closet
window. This is scarcely large enough to admit the head, but it answered
my purpose too well.

"I cannot express my confusion and surprize at your abrupt and
precipitate flight. I hastily removed the ladder; and, after some pause,
curiosity and doubts of your safety induced me to follow you. I found
you stretched on the turf before your brother's door, without sense or
motion. I felt the deepest regret at this unlooked-for consequence of
my scheme. I knew not what to do to procure you relief. The idea of
awakening the family naturally presented itself. This emergency was
critical, and there was no time to deliberate. It was a sudden thought
that occurred. I put my lips to the key-hole, and sounded an alarm which
effectually roused the sleepers. My organs were naturally forcible, and
had been improved by long and assiduous exercise.

"Long and bitterly did I repent of my scheme. I was somewhat consoled by
reflecting that my purpose had not been evil, and renewed my fruitless
vows never to attempt such dangerous experiments. For some time I
adhered, with laudable forbearance, to this resolution.

"My life has been a life of hardship and exposure. In the summer I
prefer to make my bed of the smooth turf, or, at most, the shelter of a
summer-house suffices. In all my rambles I never found a spot in which
so many picturesque beauties and rural delights were assembled as at
Mettingen. No corner of your little domain unites fragrance and secrecy
in so perfect a degree as the recess in the bank. The odour of its
leaves, the coolness of its shade, and the music of its water-fall,
had early attracted my attention. Here my sadness was converted into
peaceful melancholy--here my slumbers were sound, and my pleasures

"As most free from interruption, I chose this as the scene of my
midnight interviews with Judith. One evening, as the sun declined, I was
seated here, when I was alarmed by your approach. It was with difficulty
that I effected my escape unnoticed by you.

"At the customary hour, I returned to your habitation, and was made
acquainted by Judith, with your unusual absence. I half suspected the
true cause, and felt uneasiness at the danger there was that I should be
deprived of my retreat; or, at least, interrupted in the possession
of it. The girl, likewise, informed me, that among your other
singularities, it was not uncommon for you to leave your bed, and walk
forth for the sake of night-airs and starlight contemplations.

"I desired to prevent this inconvenience. I found you easily swayed
by fear. I was influenced, in my choice of means, by the facility and
certainty of that to which I had been accustomed. All that I forsaw was,
that, in future, this spot would be cautiously shunned by you.

"I entered the recess with the utmost caution, and discovered, by your
breathings, in what condition you were. The unexpected interpretation
which you placed upon my former proceeding, suggested my conduct on
the present occasion. The mode in which heaven is said by the poet, to
interfere for the prevention of crimes, [**] was somewhat analogous to my
province, and never failed to occur to me at seasons like this. It
was requisite to break your slumbers, and for this end I uttered the
powerful monosyllable, "hold! hold!" My purpose was not prescribed by
duty, yet surely it was far from being atrocious and inexpiable. To
effect it, I uttered what was false, but it was well suited to my
purpose. Nothing less was intended than to injure you. Nay, the evil
resulting from my former act, was partly removed by assuring you that in
all places but this you were safe.

     * BILOQUIUM, or ventrilocution. Sound is varied according to
     the variations of direction and distance. The art of the
     ventriloquist consists in modifying his voice according to
     all these variations, without changing his place. See the
     work of the Abbe de la Chappelle, in which are accurately
     recorded the performances of one of these artists, and some
     ingenious, though unsatisfactory speculations are given on
     the means by which the effects are produced. This power is,
     perhaps, given by nature, but is doubtless improvable, if
     not acquirable, by art. It may, possibly, consist in an
     unusual flexibility or exertion of the bottom of the tongue
     and the uvula. That speech is producible by these alone must
     be granted, since anatomists mention two instances of
     persons speaking without a tongue. In one case, the organ
     was originally wanting, but its place was supplied by a
     small tubercle, and the uvula was perfect. In the other, the
     tongue was destroyed by disease, but probably a small part
     of it remained.

     This power is difficult to explain, but the fact is
     undeniable. Experience shews that the human voice can
     imitate the voice of all men and of all inferior animals.
     The sound of musical instruments, and even noises from the
     contact of inanimate substances, have been accurately
     imitated. The mimicry of animals is notorious; and Dr.
     Burney (Musical Travels) mentions one who imitated a flute
     and violin, so as to deceive even his ears.

     **--Peeps through the blanket of the dark, and cries Hold!

Chapter XXIII

"My morals will appear to you far from rigid, yet my conduct will fall
short of your suspicions. I am now to confess actions less excusable,
and yet surely they will not entitle me to the name of a desperate or
sordid criminal.

"Your house was rendered, by your frequent and long absences, easily
accessible to my curiosity. My meeting with Pleyel was the prelude to
direct intercourse with you. I had seen much of the world, but your
character exhibited a specimen of human powers that was wholly new to
me. My intercourse with your servant furnished me with curious details
of your domestic management. I was of a different sex: I was not your
husband; I was not even your friend; yet my knowledge of you was of that
kind, which conjugal intimacies can give, and, in some respects, more
accurate. The observation of your domestic was guided by me.

"You will not be surprized that I should sometimes profit by your
absence, and adventure to examine with my own eyes, the interior of your
chamber. Upright and sincere, you used no watchfulness, and practised
no precautions. I scrutinized every thing, and pried every where. Your
closet was usually locked, but it was once my fortune to find the key on
a bureau. I opened and found new scope for my curiosity in your books.
One of these was manuscript, and written in characters which essentially
agreed with a short-hand system which I had learned from a Jesuit

"I cannot justify my conduct, yet my only crime was curiosity. I
perused this volume with eagerness. The intellect which it unveiled, was
brighter than my limited and feeble organs could bear. I was naturally
inquisitive as to your ideas respecting my deportment, and the mysteries
that had lately occurred.

"You know what you have written. You know that in this volume the key to
your inmost soul was contained. If I had been a profound and malignant
impostor, what plenteous materials were thus furnished me of stratagems
and plots!

"The coincidence of your dream in the summer-house with my exclamation,
was truly wonderful. The voice which warned you to forbear was,
doubtless, mine; but mixed by a common process of the fancy, with the
train of visionary incidents.

"I saw in a stronger light than ever, the dangerousness of that
instrument which I employed, and renewed my resolutions to abstain from
the use of it in future; but I was destined perpetually to violate my
resolutions. By some perverse fate, I was led into circumstances in
which the exertion of my powers was the sole or the best means of

"On that memorable night on which our last interview took place, I
came as usual to Mettingen. I was apprized of your engagement at your
brother's, from which you did not expect to return till late. Some
incident suggested the design of visiting your chamber. Among your books
which I had not examined, might be something tending to illustrate
your character, or the history of your family. Some intimation had been
dropped by you in discourse, respecting a performance of your father, in
which some important transaction in his life was recorded.

"I was desirous of seeing this book; and such was my habitual attachment
to mystery, that I preferred the clandestine perusal of it. Such
were the motives that induced me to make this attempt. Judith had
disappeared, and finding the house unoccupied, I supplied myself with a
light, and proceeded to your chamber.

"I found it easy, on experiment, to lock and unlock your closet door
without the aid of a key. I shut myself in this recess, and was busily
exploring your shelves, when I heard some one enter the room below. I
was at a loss who it could be, whether you or your servant. Doubtful,
however, as I was, I conceived it prudent to extinguish the light.
Scarcely was this done, when some one entered the chamber. The footsteps
were easily distinguished to be yours.

"My situation was now full of danger and perplexity. For some time, I
cherished the hope that you would leave the room so long as to afford
me an opportunity of escaping. As the hours passed, this hope gradually
deserted me. It was plain that you had retired for the night.

"I knew not how soon you might find occasion to enter the closet. I was
alive to all the horrors of detection, and ruminated without ceasing, on
the behaviour which it would be proper, in case of detection, to adopt.
I was unable to discover any consistent method of accounting for my
being thus immured.

"It occurred to me that I might withdraw you from your chamber for a few
minutes, by counterfeiting a voice from without. Some message from your
brother might be delivered, requiring your presence at his house. I was
deterred from this scheme by reflecting on the resolution I had formed,
and on the possible evils that might result from it. Besides, it was
not improbable that you would speedily retire to bed, and then, by the
exercise of sufficient caution, I might hope to escape unobserved.

"Meanwhile I listened with the deepest anxiety to every motion from
without. I discovered nothing which betokened preparation for
sleep. Instead of this I heard deep-drawn sighs, and occasionally an
half-expressed and mournful ejaculation. Hence I inferred that you were
unhappy. The true state of your mind with regard to Pleyel your own pen
had disclosed; but I supposed you to be framed of such materials, that,
though a momentary sadness might affect you, you were impregnable to any
permanent and heartfelt grief. Inquietude for my own safety was, for a
moment, suspended by sympathy with your distress.

"To the former consideration I was quickly recalled by a motion of yours
which indicated I knew not what. I fostered the persuasion that you
would now retire to bed; but presently you approached the closet, and
detection seemed to be inevitable. You put your hand upon the lock. I
had formed no plan to extricate myself from the dilemma in which the
opening of the door would involve me. I felt an irreconcilable aversion
to detection. Thus situated, I involuntarily seized the door with a
resolution to resist your efforts to open it.

"Suddenly you receded from the door. This deportment was inexplicable,
but the relief it afforded me was quickly gone. You returned, and I once
more was thrown into perplexity. The expedient that suggested itself was
precipitate and inartificial. I exerted my organs and called upon you TO

"That you should persist in spite of this admonition, was a subject of
astonishment. I again resisted your efforts; for the first expedient
having failed, I knew not what other to resort to. In this state, how
was my astonishment increased when I heard your exclamations!

"It was now plain that you knew me to be within. Further resistance was
unavailing and useless. The door opened, and I shrunk backward. Seldom
have I felt deeper mortification, and more painful perplexity. I did
not consider that the truth would be less injurious than any lie which I
could hastily frame. Conscious as I was of a certain degree of guilt,
I conceived that you would form the most odious suspicions. The truth
would be imperfect, unless I were likewise to explain the mysterious
admonition which had been given; but that explanation was of too great
moment, and involved too extensive consequences to make me suddenly
resolve to give it. I was aware that this discovery would associate
itself in your mind, with the dialogue formerly heard in this closet.
Thence would your suspicions be aggravated, and to escape from these
suspicions would be impossible. But the mere truth would be sufficiently
opprobrious, and deprive me for ever of your good opinion.

"Thus was I rendered desperate, and my mind rapidly passed to the
contemplation of the use that might be made of previous events. Some
good genius would appear to you to have interposed to save you from
injury intended by me. Why, I said, since I must sink in her opinion,
should I not cherish this belief? Why not personate an enemy, and
pretend that celestial interference has frustrated my schemes? I must
fly, but let me leave wonder and fear behind me. Elucidation of the
mystery will always be practicable. I shall do no injury, but merely
talk of evil that was designed, but is now past.

"Thus I extenuated my conduct to myself, but I scarcely expect that
this will be to you a sufficient explication of the scene that followed.
Those habits which I have imbibed, the rooted passion which possesses me
for scattering around me amazement and fear, you enjoy no opportunities
of knowing. That a man should wantonly impute to himself the most
flagitious designs, will hardly be credited, even though you reflect
that my reputation was already, by my own folly, irretrievably ruined;
and that it was always in my power to communicate the truth, and rectify
the mistake.

"I left you to ponder on this scene. My mind was full of rapid
and incongruous ideas. Compunction, self-upbraiding, hopelesness,
satisfaction at the view of those effects likely to flow from my new
scheme, misgivings as to the beneficial result of this scheme took
possession of my mind, and seemed to struggle for the mastery.

"I had gone too far to recede. I had painted myself to you as an
assassin and ravisher, withheld from guilt only by a voice from heaven.
I had thus reverted into the path of error, and now, having gone thus
far, my progress seemed to be irrevocable. I said to myself, I must
leave these precincts for ever. My acts have blasted my fame in the eyes
of the Wielands. For the sake of creating a mysterious dread, I have
made myself a villain. I may complete this mysterious plan by some new
imposture, but I cannot aggravate my supposed guilt.

"My resolution was formed, and I was swiftly ruminating on the means for
executing it, when Pleyel appeared in sight. This incident decided my
conduct. It was plain that Pleyel was a devoted lover, but he was, at
the same time, a man of cold resolves and exquisite sagacity. To deceive
him would be the sweetest triumph I had ever enjoyed. The deception
would be momentary, but it would likewise be complete. That his delusion
would so soon be rectified, was a recommendation to my scheme, for I
esteemed him too much to desire to entail upon him lasting agonies.

"I had no time to reflect further, for he proceeded, with a quick
step, towards the house. I was hurried onward involuntarily and by a
mechanical impulse. I followed him as he passed the recess in the bank,
and shrowding myself in that spot, I counterfeited sounds which I knew
would arrest his steps.

"He stopped, turned, listened, approached, and overheard a dialogue
whose purpose was to vanquish his belief in a point where his belief
was most difficult to vanquish. I exerted all my powers to imitate your
voice, your general sentiments, and your language. Being master,
by means of your journal, of your personal history and most secret
thoughts, my efforts were the more successful. When I reviewed the tenor
of this dialogue, I cannot believe but that Pleyel was deluded. When I
think of your character, and of the inferences which this dialogue was
intended to suggest, it seems incredible that this delusion should be

"I spared not myself. I called myself murderer, thief, guilty of
innumerable perjuries and misdeeds: that you had debased yourself to the
level of such an one, no evidence, methought, would suffice to convince
him who knew you so thoroughly as Pleyel; and yet the imposture
amounted to proof which the most jealous scrutiny would find to be

"He left his station precipitately and resumed his way to the house. I
saw that the detection of his error would be instantaneous, since, not
having gone to bed, an immediate interview would take place between
you. At first this circumstance was considered with regret; but as time
opened my eyes to the possible consequences of this scene, I regarded it
with pleasure.

"In a short time the infatuation which had led me thus far began to
subside. The remembrance of former reasonings and transactions was
renewed. How often I had repented this kind of exertion; how many evils
were produced by it which I had not foreseen; what occasions for the
bitterest remorse it had administered, now passed through my mind. The
black catalogue of stratagems was now increased. I had inspired you with
the most vehement terrors: I had filled your mind with faith in shadows
and confidence in dreams: I had depraved the imagination of Pleyel:
I had exhibited you to his understanding as devoted to brutal
gratifications and consummate in hypocrisy. The evidence which
accompanied this delusion would be irresistible to one whose passion
had perverted his judgment, whose jealousy with regard to me had already
been excited, and who, therefore, would not fail to overrate the force
of this evidence. What fatal act of despair or of vengeance might not
this error produce?

"With regard to myself, I had acted with a phrenzy that surpassed
belief. I had warred against my peace and my fame: I had banished myself
from the fellowship of vigorous and pure minds: I was self-expelled
from a scene which the munificence of nature had adorned with unrivalled
beauties, and from haunts in which all the muses and humanities had
taken refuge.

"I was thus torn by conflicting fears and tumultuous regrets. The night
passed away in this state of confusion; and next morning in the gazette
left at my obscure lodging, I read a description and an offer of reward
for the apprehension of my person. I was said to have escaped from
an Irish prison, in which I was confined as an offender convicted of
enormous and complicated crimes.

"This was the work of an enemy, who, by falsehood and stratagem, had
procured my condemnation. I was, indeed, a prisoner, but escaped, by the
exertion of my powers, the fate to which I was doomed, but which I did
not deserve. I had hoped that the malice of my foe was exhausted; but
I now perceived that my precautions had been wise, for that the
intervention of an ocean was insufficient for my security.

"Let me not dwell on the sensations which this discovery produced. I
need not tell by what steps I was induced to seek an interview with
you, for the purpose of disclosing the truth, and repairing, as far as
possible, the effects of my misconduct. It was unavoidable that this
gazette would fall into your hands, and that it would tend to confirm
every erroneous impression.

"Having gained this interview, I purposed to seek some retreat in the
wilderness, inaccessible to your inquiry and to the malice of my foe,
where I might henceforth employ myself in composing a faithful narrative
of my actions. I designed it as my vindication from the aspersions that
had rested on my character, and as a lesson to mankind on the evils of
credulity on the one hand, and of imposture on the other.

"I wrote you a billet, which was left at the house of your friend,
and which I knew would, by some means, speedily come to your hands. I
entertained a faint hope that my invitation would be complied with. I
knew not what use you would make of the opportunity which this proposal
afforded you of procuring the seizure of my person; but this fate I was
determined to avoid, and I had no doubt but due circumspection, and the
exercise of the faculty which I possessed, would enable me to avoid it.

"I lurked, through the day, in the neighbourhood of Mettingen: I
approached your habitation at the appointed hour: I entered it in
silence, by a trap-door which led into the cellar. This had formerly
been bolted on the inside, but Judith had, at an early period in our
intercourse, removed this impediment. I ascended to the first floor, but
met with no one, nor any thing that indicated the presence of an human

"I crept softly up stairs, and at length perceived your chamber door
to be opened, and a light to be within. It was of moment to discover by
whom this light was accompanied. I was sensible of the inconveniencies
to which my being discovered at your chamber door by any one within
would subject me; I therefore called out in my own voice, but so
modified that it should appear to ascend from the court below, 'Who is
in the chamber? Is it Miss Wieland?"

"No answer was returned to this summons. I listened, but no motion could
be heard. After a pause I repeated my call, but no less ineffectually.

"I now approached nearer the door, and adventured to look in. A light
stood on the table, but nothing human was discernible. I entered
cautiously, but all was solitude and stillness.

"I knew not what to conclude. If the house were inhabited, my call would
have been noticed; yet some suspicion insinuated itself that silence was
studiously kept by persons who intended to surprize me. My approach had
been wary, and the silence that ensued my call had likewise preceded it;
a circumstance that tended to dissipate my fears.

"At length it occurred to me that Judith might possibly be in her own
room. I turned my steps thither; but she was not to be found. I passed
into other rooms, and was soon convinced that the house was totally
deserted. I returned to your chamber, agitated by vain surmises and
opposite conjectures. The appointed hour had passed, and I dismissed the
hope of an interview.

"In this state of things I determined to leave a few lines on your
toilet, and prosecute my journey to the mountains. Scarcely had I taken
the pen when I laid it aside, uncertain in what manner to address you.
I rose from the table and walked across the floor. A glance thrown upon
the bed acquainted me with a spectacle to which my conceptions of horror
had not yet reached.

"In the midst of shuddering and trepidation, the signal of your presence
in the court below recalled me to myself. The deed was newly done:
I only was in the house: what had lately happened justified any
suspicions, however enormous. It was plain that this catastrophe was
unknown to you: I thought upon the wild commotion which the discovery
would awaken in your breast: I found the confusion of my own thoughts
unconquerable, and perceived that the end for which I sought an
interview was not now to be accomplished.

"In this state of things it was likewise expedient to conceal my being
within. I put out the light and hurried down stairs. To my unspeakable
surprize, notwithstanding every motive to fear, you lighted a candle and
proceeded to your chamber.

"I retired to that room below from which a door leads into the cellar.
This door concealed me from your view as you passed. I thought upon the
spectacle which was about to present itself. In an exigence so
abrupt and so little foreseen, I was again subjected to the empire
of mechanical and habitual impulses. I dreaded the effects which this
shocking exhibition, bursting on your unprepared senses, might produce.

"Thus actuated, I stept swiftly to the door, and thrusting my head
forward, once more pronounced the mysterious interdiction. At that
moment, by some untoward fate, your eyes were cast back, and you saw
me in the very act of utterance. I fled through the darksome avenue at
which I entered, covered with the shame of this detection.

"With diligence, stimulated by a thousand ineffable emotions, I pursued
my intended journey. I have a brother whose farm is situated in the
bosom of a fertile desert, near the sources of the Leheigh, and thither
I now repaired."

Chapter XXIV

"Deeply did I ruminate on the occurrences that had just passed. Nothing
excited my wonder so much as the means by which you discovered my being
in the closet. This discovery appeared to be made at the moment when you
attempted to open it. How could you have otherwise remained so long in
the chamber apparently fearless and tranquil? And yet, having made
this discovery, how could you persist in dragging me forth: persist in
defiance of an interdiction so emphatical and solemn?

"But your sister's death was an event detestable and ominous. She had
been the victim of the most dreadful species of assassination. How, in a
state like yours, the murderous intention could be generated, was wholly

"I did not relinquish my design of confessing to you the part which I
had sustained in your family, but I was willing to defer it till the
task which I had set myself was finished. That being done, I resumed the
resolution. The motives to incite me to this continually acquired
force. The more I revolved the events happening at Mettingen, the more
insupportable and ominous my terrors became. My waking hours and my
sleep were vexed by dismal presages and frightful intimations.

"Catharine was dead by violence. Surely my malignant stars had not made
me the cause of her death; yet had I not rashly set in motion a machine,
over whose progress I had no controul, and which experience had shewn me
was infinite in power? Every day might add to the catalogue of horrors
of which this was the source, and a seasonable disclosure of the truth
might prevent numberless ills.

"Fraught with this conception, I have turned my steps hither. I find
your brother's house desolate: the furniture removed, and the walls
stained with damps. Your own is in the same situation. Your chamber is
dismantled and dark, and you exhibit an image of incurable grief, and of
rapid decay.

"I have uttered the truth. This is the extent of my offences. You tell
me an horrid tale of Wieland being led to the destruction of his wife
and children, by some mysterious agent. You charge me with the guilt
of this agency; but I repeat that the amount of my guilt has been truly
stated. The perpetrator of Catharine's death was unknown to me till now;
nay, it is still unknown to me."

At that moment, the closing of a door in the kitchen was distinctly
heard by us. Carwin started and paused. "There is some one coming. I
must not be found here by my enemies, and need not, since my purpose is

I had drunk in, with the most vehement attention, every word that he
had uttered. I had no breath to interrupt his tale by interrogations
or comments. The power that he spoke of was hitherto unknown to me: its
existence was incredible; it was susceptible of no direct proof.

He owns that his were the voice and face which I heard and saw. He
attempts to give an human explanation of these phantasms; but it is
enough that he owns himself to be the agent; his tale is a lie, and his
nature devilish. As he deceived me, he likewise deceived my brother, and
now do I behold the author of all our calamities!

Such were my thoughts when his pause allowed me to think. I should have
bad him begone if the silence had not been interrupted; but now I feared
no more for myself; and the milkiness of my nature was curdled into
hatred and rancour. Some one was near, and this enemy of God and
man might possibly be brought to justice. I reflected not that the
preternatural power which he had hitherto exerted, would avail to rescue
him from any toils in which his feet might be entangled. Meanwhile,
looks, and not words of menace and abhorrence, were all that I could

He did not depart. He seemed dubious, whether, by passing out of the
house, or by remaining somewhat longer where he was, he should most
endanger his safety. His confusion increased when steps of one barefoot
were heard upon the stairs. He threw anxious glances sometimes at the
closet, sometimes at the window, and sometimes at the chamber door, yet
he was detained by some inexplicable fascination. He stood as if rooted
to the spot.

As to me, my soul was bursting with detestation and revenge. I had
no room for surmises and fears respecting him that approached. It was
doubtless a human being, and would befriend me so far as to aid me in
arresting this offender.

The stranger quickly entered the room. My eyes and the eyes of Carwin
were, at the same moment, darted upon him. A second glance was not
needed to inform us who he was. His locks were tangled, and fell
confusedly over his forehead and ears. His shirt was of coarse stuff,
and open at the neck and breast. His coat was once of bright and fine
texture, but now torn and tarnished with dust. His feet, his legs, and
his arms were bare. His features were the seat of a wild and tranquil
solemnity, but his eyes bespoke inquietude and curiosity.

He advanced with firm step, and looking as in search of some one. He saw
me and stopped. He bent his sight on the floor, and clenching his hands,
appeared suddenly absorbed in meditation. Such were the figure and
deportment of Wieland! Such, in his fallen state, were the aspect and
guise of my brother!

Carwin did not fail to recognize the visitant. Care for his own safety
was apparently swallowed up in the amazement which this spectacle
produced. His station was conspicuous, and he could not have escaped the
roving glances of Wieland; yet the latter seemed totally unconscious of
his presence.

Grief at this scene of ruin and blast was at first the only sentiment
of which I was conscious. A fearful stillness ensued. At length Wieland,
lifting his hands, which were locked in each other, to his breast,
exclaimed, "Father! I thank thee. This is thy guidance. Hither thou hast
led me, that I might perform thy will: yet let me not err: let me hear
again thy messenger!"

He stood for a minute as if listening; but recovering from his attitude,
he continued--"It is not needed. Dastardly wretch! thus eternally
questioning the behests of thy Maker! weak in resolution! wayward in

He advanced to me, and, after another pause, resumed: "Poor girl!
a dismal fate has set its mark upon thee. Thy life is demanded as
a sacrifice. Prepare thee to die. Make not my office difficult by
fruitless opposition. Thy prayers might subdue stones; but none but he
who enjoined my purpose can shake it."

These words were a sufficient explication of the scene. The nature of
his phrenzy, as described by my uncle, was remembered. I who had sought
death, was now thrilled with horror because it was near. Death in
this form, death from the hand of a brother, was thought upon with
undescribable repugnance.

In a state thus verging upon madness, my eye glanced upon Carwin. His
astonishment appeared to have struck him motionless and dumb. My life
was in danger, and my brother's hand was about to be embrued in my
blood. I firmly believed that Carwin's was the instigation. I could
rescue me from this abhorred fate; I could dissipate this tremendous
illusion; I could save my brother from the perpetration of new horrors,
by pointing out the devil who seduced him; to hesitate a moment was
to perish. These thoughts gave strength to my limbs, and energy to my
accents: I started on my feet. "O brother! spare me, spare thyself:
There is thy betrayer. He counterfeited the voice and face of an angel,
for the purpose of destroying thee and me. He has this moment confessed
it. He is able to speak where he is not. He is leagued with hell, but
will not avow it; yet he confesses that the agency was his."

My brother turned slowly his eyes, and fixed them upon Carwin. Every
joint in the frame of the latter trembled. His complexion was paler than
a ghost's. His eye dared not meet that of Wieland, but wandered with an
air of distraction from one space to another.

"Man," said my brother, in a voice totally unlike that which he had
used to me, "what art thou? The charge has been made. Answer it.
The visage--the voice--at the bottom of these stairs--at the hour of
eleven--To whom did they belong? To thee?"

Twice did Carwin attempt to speak, but his words died away upon his
lips. My brother resumed in a tone of greater vehemence--

"Thou falterest; faltering is ominous; say yes or no: one word will
suffice; but beware of falsehood. Was it a stratagem of hell to
overthrow my family? Wast thou the agent?"

I now saw that the wrath which had been prepared for me was to be
heaped upon another. The tale that I heard from him, and his present
trepidations, were abundant testimonies of his guilt. But what if
Wieland should be undeceived! What if he shall find his acts to have
proceeded not from an heavenly prompter, but from human treachery! Will
not his rage mount into whirlwind? Will not he tare limb from limb this
devoted wretch?

Instinctively I recoiled from this image, but it gave place to another.
Carwin may be innocent, but the impetuosity of his judge may misconstrue
his answers into a confession of guilt. Wieland knows not that
mysterious voices and appearances were likewise witnessed by me. Carwin
may be ignorant of those which misled my brother. Thus may his answers
unwarily betray himself to ruin.

Such might be the consequences of my frantic precipitation, and these,
it was necessary, if possible, to prevent. I attempted to speak, but
Wieland, turning suddenly upon me, commanded silence, in a tone furious
and terrible. My lips closed, and my tongue refused its office.

"What art thou?" he resumed, addressing himself to Carwin. "Answer me;
whose form--whose voice--was it thy contrivance? Answer me."

The answer was now given, but confusedly and scarcely articulated. "I
meant nothing--I intended no ill--if I understand--if I do not mistake
you--it is too true--I did appear--in the entry--did speak. The
contrivance was mine, but--"

These words were no sooner uttered, than my brother ceased to wear the
same aspect. His eyes were downcast: he was motionless: his respiration
became hoarse, like that of a man in the agonies of death. Carwin seemed
unable to say more. He might have easily escaped, but the thought which
occupied him related to what was horrid and unintelligible in this
scene, and not to his own danger.

Presently the faculties of Wieland, which, for a time, were chained
up, were seized with restlessness and trembling. He broke silence. The
stoutest heart would have been appalled by the tone in which he spoke.
He addressed himself to Carwin.

"Why art thou here? Who detains thee? Go and learn better. I will meet
thee, but it must be at the bar of thy Maker. There shall I bear witness
against thee."

Perceiving that Carwin did not obey, he continued; "Dost thou wish me
to complete the catalogue by thy death? Thy life is a worthless thing.
Tempt me no more. I am but a man, and thy presence may awaken a fury
which may spurn my controul. Begone!"

Carwin, irresolute, striving in vain for utterance, his complexion
pallid as death, his knees beating one against another, slowly obeyed
the mandate and withdrew.

Chapter XXV

A few words more and I lay aside the pen for ever. Yet why should I not
relinquish it now? All that I have said is preparatory to this scene,
and my fingers, tremulous and cold as my heart, refuse any further
exertion. This must not be. Let my last energies support me in the
finishing of this task. Then will I lay down my head in the lap of
death. Hushed will be all my murmurs in the sleep of the grave.

Every sentiment has perished in my bosom. Even friendship is extinct.
Your love for me has prompted me to this task; but I would not have
complied if it had not been a luxury thus to feast upon my woes. I have
justly calculated upon my remnant of strength. When I lay down the pen
the taper of life will expire: my existence will terminate with my tale.

Now that I was left alone with Wieland, the perils of my situation
presented themselves to my mind. That this paroxysm should terminate in
havock and rage it was reasonable to predict. The first suggestion of my
fears had been disproved by my experience. Carwin had acknowledged his
offences, and yet had escaped. The vengeance which I had harboured had
not been admitted by Wieland, and yet the evils which I had endured,
compared with those inflicted on my brother, were as nothing. I thirsted
for his blood, and was tormented with an insatiable appetite for his
destruction; yet my brother was unmoved, and had dismissed him in
safety. Surely thou wast more than man, while I am sunk below the

Did I place a right construction on the conduct of Wieland? Was the
error that misled him so easily rectified? Were views so vivid and faith
so strenuous thus liable to fading and to change? Was there not reason
to doubt the accuracy of my perceptions? With images like these was
my mind thronged, till the deportment of my brother called away my

I saw his lips move and his eyes cast up to heaven. Then would he listen
and look back, as if in expectation of some one's appearance. Thrice he
repeated these gesticulations and this inaudible prayer. Each time the
mist of confusion and doubt seemed to grow darker and to settle on his
understanding. I guessed at the meaning of these tokens. The words
of Carwin had shaken his belief, and he was employed in summoning the
messenger who had formerly communed with him, to attest the value of
those new doubts. In vain the summons was repeated, for his eye met
nothing but vacancy, and not a sound saluted his ear.

He walked to the bed, gazed with eagerness at the pillow which had
sustained the head of the breathless Catharine, and then returned to
the place where I sat. I had no power to lift my eyes to his face: I was
dubious of his purpose: this purpose might aim at my life.

Alas! nothing but subjection to danger, and exposure to temptation,
can show us what we are. By this test was I now tried, and found to be
cowardly and rash. Men can deliberately untie the thread of life, and of
this I had deemed myself capable; yet now that I stood upon the brink
of fate, that the knife of the sacrificer was aimed at my heart, I
shuddered and betook myself to any means of escape, however monstrous.

Can I bear to think--can I endure to relate the outrage which my heart
meditated? Where were my means of safety? Resistance was vain. Not even
the energy of despair could set me on a level with that strength which
his terrific prompter had bestowed upon Wieland. Terror enables us to
perform incredible feats; but terror was not then the state of my mind:
where then were my hopes of rescue?

Methinks it is too much. I stand aside, as it were, from myself; I
estimate my own deservings; a hatred, immortal and inexorable, is my
due. I listen to my own pleas, and find them empty and false: yes, I
acknowledge that my guilt surpasses that of all mankind: I confess that
the curses of a world, and the frowns of a deity, are inadequate to my
demerits. Is there a thing in the world worthy of infinite abhorrence?
It is I. What shall I say! I was menaced, as I thought, with death, and,
to elude this evil, my hand was ready to inflict death upon the menacer.
In visiting my house, I had made provision against the machinations of
Carwin. In a fold of my dress an open penknife was concealed. This I
now seized and drew forth. It lurked out of view: but I now see that my
state of mind would have rendered the deed inevitable if my brother
had lifted his hand. This instrument of my preservation would have been
plunged into his heart.

O, insupportable remembrance! hide thee from my view for a time; hide
it from me that my heart was black enough to meditate the stabbing of a
brother! a brother thus supreme in misery; thus towering in virtue!

He was probably unconscious of my design, but presently drew back.
This interval was sufficient to restore me to myself. The madness, the
iniquity of that act which I had purposed rushed upon my apprehension.
For a moment I was breathless with agony. At the next moment I recovered
my strength, and threw the knife with violence on the floor.

The sound awoke my brother from his reverie. He gazed alternately at me
and at the weapon. With a movement equally solemn he stooped and took
it up. He placed the blade in different positions, scrutinizing it
accurately, and maintaining, at the same time, a profound silence.

Again he looked at me, but all that vehemence and loftiness of spirit
which had so lately characterized his features, were flown. Fallen
muscles, a forehead contracted into folds, eyes dim with unbidden
drops, and a ruefulness of aspect which no words can describe, were now

His looks touched into energy the same sympathies in me, and I poured
forth a flood of tears. This passion was quickly checked by fear, which
had now, no longer, my own, but his safety for their object. I watched
his deportment in silence. At length he spoke:

"Sister," said he, in an accent mournful and mild, "I have acted poorly
my part in this world. What thinkest thou? Shall I not do better in the

I could make no answer. The mildness of his tone astonished and
encouraged me. I continued to regard him with wistful and anxious looks.

"I think," resumed he, "I will try. My wife and my babes have gone
before. Happy wretches! I have sent you to repose, and ought not to
linger behind."

These words had a meaning sufficiently intelligible. I looked at the
open knife in his hand and shuddered, but knew not how to prevent the
deed which I dreaded. He quickly noticed my fears, and comprehended
them. Stretching towards me his hand, with an air of increasing
mildness: "Take it," said he: "Fear not for thy own sake, nor for mine.
The cup is gone by, and its transient inebriation is succeeded by the
soberness of truth.

"Thou angel whom I was wont to worship! fearest thou, my sister, for
thy life? Once it was the scope of my labours to destroy thee, but I was
prompted to the deed by heaven; such, at least, was my belief. Thinkest
thou that thy death was sought to gratify malevolence? No. I am pure
from all stain. I believed that my God was my mover!

"Neither thee nor myself have I cause to injure. I have done my duty,
and surely there is merit in having sacrificed to that, all that is dear
to the heart of man. If a devil has deceived me, he came in the habit
of an angel. If I erred, it was not my judgment that deceived me, but
my senses. In thy sight, being of beings! I am still pure. Still will I
look for my reward in thy justice!"

Did my ears truly report these sounds? If I did not err, my brother was
restored to just perceptions. He knew himself to have been betrayed to
the murder of his wife and children, to have been the victim of infernal
artifice; yet he found consolation in the rectitude of his motives. He
was not devoid of sorrow, for this was written on his countenance; but
his soul was tranquil and sublime.

Perhaps this was merely a transition of his former madness into a new
shape. Perhaps he had not yet awakened to the memory of the horrors
which he had perpetrated. Infatuated wretch that I was! To set myself up
as a model by which to judge of my heroic brother! My reason taught
me that his conclusions were right; but conscious of the impotence of
reason over my own conduct; conscious of my cowardly rashness and my
criminal despair, I doubted whether any one could be stedfast and wise.

Such was my weakness, that even in the midst of these thoughts, my
mind glided into abhorrence of Carwin, and I uttered in a low voice, O!
Carwin! Carwin! What hast thou to answer for?

My brother immediately noticed the involuntary exclamation: "Clara!"
said he, "be thyself. Equity used to be a theme for thy eloquence.
Reduce its lessons to practice, and be just to that unfortunate man. The
instrument has done its work, and I am satisfied.

"I thank thee, my God, for this last illumination! My enemy is thine
also. I deemed him to be man, the man with whom I have often communed;
but now thy goodness has unveiled to me his true nature. As the
performer of thy behests, he is my friend."

My heart began now to misgive me. His mournful aspect had gradually
yielded place to a serene brow. A new soul appeared to actuate his
frame, and his eyes to beam with preternatural lustre. These symptoms
did not abate, and he continued:

"Clara! I must not leave thee in doubt. I know not what brought about
thy interview with the being whom thou callest Carwin. For a time, I was
guilty of thy error, and deduced from his incoherent confessions that I
had been made the victim of human malice. He left us at my bidding, and
I put up a prayer that my doubts should be removed. Thy eyes were shut,
and thy ears sealed to the vision that answered my prayer.

"I was indeed deceived. The form thou hast seen was the incarnation of
a daemon. The visage and voice which urged me to the sacrifice of my
family, were his. Now he personates a human form: then he was invironed
with the lustre of heaven.--

"Clara," he continued, advancing closer to me, "thy death must come.
This minister is evil, but he from whom his commission was received is
God. Submit then with all thy wonted resignation to a decree that cannot
be reversed or resisted. Mark the clock. Three minutes are allowed to
thee, in which to call up thy fortitude, and prepare thee for thy doom."
There he stopped.

Even now, when this scene exists only in memory, when life and all its
functions have sunk into torpor, my pulse throbs, and my hairs uprise:
my brows are knit, as then; and I gaze around me in distraction. I was
unconquerably averse to death; but death, imminent and full of agony as
that which was threatened, was nothing. This was not the only or chief
inspirer of my fears.

For him, not for myself, was my soul tormented. I might die, and no
crime, surpassing the reach of mercy, would pursue me to the presence
of my Judge; but my assassin would survive to contemplate his deed, and
that assassin was Wieland!

Wings to bear me beyond his reach I had not. I could not vanish with a
thought. The door was open, but my murderer was interposed between
that and me. Of self-defence I was incapable. The phrenzy that lately
prompted me to blood was gone; my state was desperate; my rescue was

The weight of these accumulated thoughts could not be borne. My sight
became confused; my limbs were seized with convulsion; I spoke, but my
words were half-formed:--

"Spare me, my brother! Look down, righteous Judge! snatch me from this
fate! take away this fury from him, or turn it elsewhere!"

Such was the agony of my thoughts, that I noticed not steps entering my
apartment. Supplicating eyes were cast upward, but when my prayer was
breathed, I once more wildly gazed at the door. A form met my sight: I
shuddered as if the God whom I invoked were present. It was Carwin that
again intruded, and who stood before me, erect in attitude, and stedfast
in look! The sight of him awakened new and rapid thoughts. His recent
tale was remembered: his magical transitions and mysterious energy of
voice: Whether he were infernal or miraculous, or human, there was no
power and no need to decide. Whether the contriver or not of this spell,
he was able to unbind it, and to check the fury of my brother. He had
ascribed to himself intentions not malignant. Here now was afforded a
test of his truth. Let him interpose, as from above; revoke the
savage decree which the madness of Wieland has assigned to heaven, and
extinguish for ever this passion for blood!

My mind detected at a glance this avenue to safety. The recommendations
it possessed thronged as it were together, and made but one impression
on my intellect. Remoter effects and collateral dangers I saw not.
Perhaps the pause of an instant had sufficed to call them up. The
improbability that the influence which governed Wieland was external or
human; the tendency of this stratagem to sanction so fatal an error, or
substitute a more destructive rage in place of this; the sufficiency of
Carwin's mere muscular forces to counteract the efforts, and restrain
the fury of Wieland, might, at a second glance, have been discovered;
but no second glance was allowed. My first thought hurried me to action,
and, fixing my eyes upon Carwin I exclaimed--

"O wretch! once more hast thou come? Let it be to abjure thy malice; to
counterwork this hellish stratagem; to turn from me and from my brother,
this desolating rage!

"Testify thy innocence or thy remorse: exert the powers which pertain to
thee, whatever they be, to turn aside this ruin. Thou art the author
of these horrors! What have I done to deserve thus to die? How have I
merited this unrelenting persecution? I adjure thee, by that God whose
voice thou hast dared to counterfeit, to save my life!

"Wilt thou then go? leave me! Succourless!"

Carwin listened to my intreaties unmoved, and turned from me. He seemed
to hesitate a moment: then glided through the door. Rage and despair
stifled my utterance. The interval of respite was passed; the pangs
reserved for me by Wieland, were not to be endured; my thoughts rushed
again into anarchy. Having received the knife from his hand, I held it
loosely and without regard; but now it seized again my attention, and I
grasped it with force.

He seemed to notice not the entrance or exit of Carwin. My gesture and
the murderous weapon appeared to have escaped his notice. His silence
was unbroken; his eye, fixed upon the clock for a time, was now
withdrawn; fury kindled in every feature; all that was human in his face
gave way to an expression supernatural and tremendous. I felt my left
arm within his grasp.--

Even now I hesitated to strike. I shrunk from his assault, but in

Here let me desist. Why should I rescue this event from oblivion? Why
should I paint this detestable conflict? Why not terminate at once this
series of horrors?--Hurry to the verge of the precipice, and cast myself
for ever beyond remembrance and beyond hope?

Still I live: with this load upon my breast; with this phantom to pursue
my steps; with adders lodged in my bosom, and stinging me to madness:
still I consent to live!

Yes, I will rise above the sphere of mortal passions: I will spurn at
the cowardly remorse that bids me seek impunity in silence, or comfort
in forgetfulness. My nerves shall be new strung to the task. Have I not
resolved? I will die. The gulph before me is inevitable and near. I will
die, but then only when my tale is at an end.

Chapter XXVI

My right hand, grasping the unseen knife, was still disengaged. It was
lifted to strike. All my strength was exhausted, but what was sufficient
to the performance of this deed. Already was the energy awakened,
and the impulse given, that should bear the fatal steel to his heart,
when--Wieland shrunk back: his hand was withdrawn. Breathless with
affright and desperation, I stood, freed from his grasp; unassailed;

Thus long had the power which controuled the scene forborne to
interfere; but now his might was irresistible, and Wieland in a moment
was disarmed of all his purposes. A voice, louder than human organs
could produce, shriller than language can depict, burst from the
ceiling, and commanded him--TO HOLD!

Trouble and dismay succeeded to the stedfastness that had lately been
displayed in the looks of Wieland. His eyes roved from one quarter to
another, with an expression of doubt. He seemed to wait for a further

Carwin's agency was here easily recognized. I had besought him to
interpose in my defence. He had flown. I had imagined him deaf to my
prayer, and resolute to see me perish: yet he disappeared merely to
devise and execute the means of my relief.

Why did he not forbear when this end was accomplished? Why did his
misjudging zeal and accursed precipitation overpass that limit? Or meant
he thus to crown the scene, and conduct his inscrutable plots to this

Such ideas were the fruit of subsequent contemplation. This moment
was pregnant with fate. I had no power to reason. In the career of my
tempestuous thoughts, rent into pieces, as my mind was, by accumulating
horrors, Carwin was unseen and unsuspected. I partook of Wieland's
credulity, shook with his amazement, and panted with his awe.

Silence took place for a moment; so much as allowed the attention to
recover its post. Then new sounds were uttered from above.

"Man of errors! cease to cherish thy delusion: not heaven or hell, but
thy senses have misled thee to commit these acts. Shake off thy phrenzy,
and ascend into rational and human. Be lunatic no longer."

My brother opened his lips to speak. His tone was terrific and faint. He
muttered an appeal to heaven. It was difficult to comprehend the theme
of his inquiries. They implied doubt as to the nature of the impulse
that hitherto had guided him, and questioned whether he had acted in
consequence of insane perceptions.

To these interrogatories the voice, which now seemed to hover at his
shoulder, loudly answered in the affirmative. Then uninterrupted silence

Fallen from his lofty and heroic station; now finally restored to the
perception of truth; weighed to earth by the recollection of his own
deeds; consoled no longer by a consciousness of rectitude, for the
loss of offspring and wife--a loss for which he was indebted to his own
misguided hand; Wieland was transformed at once into the man OF SORROWS!

He reflected not that credit should be as reasonably denied to the last,
as to any former intimation; that one might as justly be ascribed to
erring or diseased senses as the other. He saw not that this discovery
in no degree affected the integrity of his conduct; that his motives had
lost none of their claims to the homage of mankind; that the preference
of supreme good, and the boundless energy of duty, were undiminished in
his bosom.

It is not for me to pursue him through the ghastly changes of his
countenance. Words he had none. Now he sat upon the floor, motionless in
all his limbs, with his eyes glazed and fixed; a monument of woe.

Anon a spirit of tempestuous but undesigning activity seized him.
He rose from his place and strode across the floor, tottering and at
random. His eyes were without moisture, and gleamed with the fire
that consumed his vitals. The muscles of his face were agitated by
convulsion. His lips moved, but no sound escaped him.

That nature should long sustain this conflict was not to be believed.
My state was little different from that of my brother. I entered, as it
were, into his thought. My heart was visited and rent by his pangs--Oh
that thy phrenzy had never been cured! that thy madness, with its
blissful visions, would return! or, if that must not be, that thy scene
would hasten to a close! that death would cover thee with his oblivion!

What can I wish for thee? Thou who hast vied with the great preacher
of thy faith in sanctity of motives, and in elevation above sensual and
selfish! Thou whom thy fate has changed into paricide and savage! Can I
wish for the continuance of thy being? No.

For a time his movements seemed destitute of purpose. If he walked; if
he turned; if his fingers were entwined with each other; if his hands
were pressed against opposite sides of his head with a force
sufficient to crush it into pieces; it was to tear his mind from
self-contemplation; to waste his thoughts on external objects.

Speedily this train was broken. A beam appeared to be darted into his
mind, which gave a purpose to his efforts. An avenue to escape presented
itself; and now he eagerly gazed about him: when my thoughts became
engaged by his demeanour, my fingers were stretched as by a mechanical
force, and the knife, no longer heeded or of use, escaped from my grasp,
and fell unperceived on the floor. His eye now lighted upon it; he
seized it with the quickness of thought.

I shrieked aloud, but it was too late. He plunged it to the hilt in his
neck; and his life instantly escaped with the stream that gushed from
the wound. He was stretched at my feet; and my hands were sprinkled with
his blood as he fell.

Such was thy last deed, my brother! For a spectacle like this was it
my fate to be reserved! Thy eyes were closed--thy face ghastly with
death--thy arms, and the spot where thou liedest, floated in thy life's
blood! These images have not, for a moment, forsaken me. Till I am
breathless and cold, they must continue to hover in my sight.

Carwin, as I said, had left the room, but he still lingered in the
house. My voice summoned him to my aid; but I scarcely noticed his
re-entrance, and now faintly recollect his terrified looks, his broken
exclamations, his vehement avowals of innocence, the effusions of his
pity for me, and his offers of assistance.

I did not listen--I answered him not--I ceased to upbraid or accuse. His
guilt was a point to which I was indifferent. Ruffian or devil, black
as hell or bright as angels, thenceforth he was nothing to me. I was
incapable of sparing a look or a thought from the ruin that was spread
at my feet.

When he left me, I was scarcely conscious of any variation in the scene.
He informed the inhabitants of the hut of what had passed, and they flew
to the spot. Careless of his own safety, he hasted to the city to inform
my friends of my condition.

My uncle speedily arrived at the house. The body of Wieland was removed
from my presence, and they supposed that I would follow it; but no, my
home is ascertained; here I have taken up my rest, and never will I go
hence, till, like Wieland, I am borne to my grave.

Importunity was tried in vain: they threatened to remove me by
violence--nay, violence was used; but my soul prizes too dearly this
little roof to endure to be bereaved of it. Force should not
prevail when the hoary locks and supplicating tears of my uncle were
ineffectual. My repugnance to move gave birth to ferociousness and
phrenzy when force was employed, and they were obliged to consent to my

They besought me--they remonstrated--they appealed to every duty that
connected me with him that made me, and with my fellow-men--in vain.
While I live I will not go hence. Have I not fulfilled my destiny?

Why will ye torment me with your reasonings and reproofs? Can ye restore
to me the hope of my better days? Can ye give me back Catharine and her
babes? Can ye recall to life him who died at my feet?

I will eat--I will drink--I will lie down and rise up at your
bidding--all I ask is the choice of my abode. What is there unreasonable
in this demand? Shortly will I be at peace. This is the spot which I
have chosen in which to breathe my last sigh. Deny me not, I beseech
you, so slight a boon.

Talk not to me, O my revered friend! of Carwin. He has told thee his
tale, and thou exculpatest him from all direct concern in the fate of
Wieland. This scene of havock was produced by an illusion of the senses.
Be it so: I care not from what source these disasters have flowed; it
suffices that they have swallowed up our hopes and our existence.

What his agency began, his agency conducted to a close. He intended, by
the final effort of his power, to rescue me and to banish his illusions
from my brother. Such is his tale, concerning the truth of which I care
not. Henceforth I foster but one wish--I ask only quick deliverance from
life and all the ills that attend it.--

Go wretch! torment me not with thy presence and thy prayers.--Forgive
thee? Will that avail thee when thy fateful hour shall arrive? Be thou
acquitted at thy own tribunal, and thou needest not fear the verdict
of others. If thy guilt be capable of blacker hues, if hitherto thy
conscience be without stain, thy crime will be made more flagrant by
thus violating my retreat. Take thyself away from my sight if thou
wouldest not behold my death!

Thou are gone! murmuring and reluctant! And now my repose is coming--my
work is done!

Chapter XXVII

[Written three years after the foregoing, and dated at Montpellier.]

I imagined that I had forever laid aside the pen; and that I should
take up my abode in this part of the world, was of all events the least
probable. My destiny I believed to be accomplished, and I looked forward
to a speedy termination of my life with the fullest confidence.

Surely I had reason to be weary of existence, to be impatient of every
tie which held me from the grave. I experienced this impatience in its
fullest extent. I was not only enamoured of death, but conceived, from
the condition of my frame, that to shun it was impossible, even though
I had ardently desired it; yet here am I, a thousand leagues from my
native soil, in full possession of life and of health, and not destitute
of happiness.

Such is man. Time will obliterate the deepest impressions. Grief the
most vehement and hopeless, will gradually decay and wear itself out.
Arguments may be employed in vain: every moral prescription may be
ineffectually tried: remonstrances, however cogent or pathetic, shall
have no power over the attention, or shall be repelled with disdain;
yet, as day follows day, the turbulence of our emotions shall subside,
and our fluctuations be finally succeeded by a calm.

Perhaps, however, the conquest of despair was chiefly owing to an
accident which rendered my continuance in my own house impossible. At
the conclusion of my long, and, as I then supposed, my last letter to
you, I mentioned my resolution to wait for death in the very spot which
had been the principal scene of my misfortunes. From this resolution my
friends exerted themselves with the utmost zeal and perseverance to make
me depart. They justly imagined that to be thus surrounded by memorials
of the fate of my family, would tend to foster my disease. A swift
succession of new objects, and the exclusion of every thing calculated
to remind me of my loss, was the only method of cure.

I refused to listen to their exhortations. Great as my calamity was, to
be torn from this asylum was regarded by me as an aggravation of it. By
a perverse constitution of mind, he was considered as my greatest enemy
who sought to withdraw me from a scene which supplied eternal food to my
melancholy, and kept my despair from languishing.

In relating the history of these disasters I derived a similar species
of gratification. My uncle earnestly dissuaded me from this task; but
his remonstrances were as fruitless on this head as they had been on
others. They would have withheld from me the implements of writing; but
they quickly perceived that to withstand would be more injurious than
to comply with my wishes. Having finished my tale, it seemed as if the
scene were closing. A fever lurked in my veins, and my strength was
gone. Any exertion, however slight, was attended with difficulty, and,
at length, I refused to rise from my bed.

I now see the infatuation and injustice of my conduct in its true
colours. I reflect upon the sensations and reasonings of that period
with wonder and humiliation. That I should be insensible to the claims
and tears of my friends; that I should overlook the suggestions of duty,
and fly from that post in which only I could be instrumental to the
benefit of others; that the exercise of the social and beneficent
affections, the contemplation of nature and the acquisition of wisdom
should not be seen to be means of happiness still within my reach, is,
at this time, scarcely credible.

It is true that I am now changed; but I have not the consolation to
reflect that my change was owing to my fortitude or to my capacity for
instruction. Better thoughts grew up in my mind imperceptibly. I cannot
but congratulate myself on the change, though, perhaps, it merely argues
a fickleness of temper, and a defect of sensibility.

After my narrative was ended I betook myself to my bed, in the full
belief that my career in this world was on the point of finishing. My
uncle took up his abode with me, and performed for me every office of
nurse, physician and friend. One night, after some hours of restlessness
and pain, I sunk into deep sleep. Its tranquillity, however, was of no
long duration. My fancy became suddenly distempered, and my brain was
turned into a theatre of uproar and confusion. It would not be easy to
describe the wild and phantastical incongruities that pestered me.
My uncle, Wieland, Pleyel and Carwin were successively and momently
discerned amidst the storm. Sometimes I was swallowed up by whirlpools,
or caught up in the air by half-seen and gigantic forms, and thrown upon
pointed rocks, or cast among the billows. Sometimes gleams of light
were shot into a dark abyss, on the verge of which I was standing, and
enabled me to discover, for a moment, its enormous depth and hideous
precipices. Anon, I was transported to some ridge of AEtna, and made a
terrified spectator of its fiery torrents and its pillars of smoke.

However strange it may seem, I was conscious, even during my dream, of
my real situation. I knew myself to be asleep, and struggled to break
the spell, by muscular exertions. These did not avail, and I continued
to suffer these abortive creations till a loud voice, at my bed side,
and some one shaking me with violence, put an end to my reverie. My eyes
were unsealed, and I started from my pillow.

My chamber was filled with smoke, which, though in some degree luminous,
would permit me to see nothing, and by which I was nearly suffocated.
The crackling of flames, and the deafening clamour of voices without,
burst upon my ears. Stunned as I was by this hubbub, scorched with heat,
and nearly choaked by the accumulating vapours, I was unable to think or
act for my own preservation; I was incapable, indeed, of comprehending
my danger.

I was caught up, in an instant, by a pair of sinewy arms, borne to the
window, and carried down a ladder which had been placed there. My
uncle stood at the bottom and received me. I was not fully aware of my
situation till I found myself sheltered in the HUT, and surrounded by
its inhabitants.

By neglect of the servant, some unextinguished embers had been placed in
a barrel in the cellar of the building. The barrel had caught fire;
this was communicated to the beams of the lower floor, and thence to the
upper part of the structure. It was first discovered by some persons
at a distance, who hastened to the spot and alarmed my uncle and the
servants. The flames had already made considerable progress, and my
condition was overlooked till my escape was rendered nearly impossible.

My danger being known, and a ladder quickly procured, one of the
spectators ascended to my chamber, and effected my deliverance in the
manner before related.

This incident, disastrous as it may at first seem, had, in reality, a
beneficial effect upon my feelings. I was, in some degree, roused from
the stupor which had seized my faculties. The monotonous and gloomy
series of my thoughts was broken. My habitation was levelled with the
ground, and I was obliged to seek a new one. A new train of images,
disconnected with the fate of my family, forced itself on my attention,
and a belief insensibly sprung up, that tranquillity, if not happiness,
was still within my reach. Notwithstanding the shocks which my frame had
endured, the anguish of my thoughts no sooner abated than I recovered my

I now willingly listened to my uncle's solicitations to be the companion
of his voyage. Preparations were easily made, and after a tedious
passage, we set our feet on the shore of the ancient world. The memory
of the past did not forsake me; but the melancholy which it generated,
and the tears with which it filled my eyes, were not unprofitable. My
curiosity was revived, and I contemplated, with ardour, the spectacle of
living manners and the monuments of past ages.

In proportion as my heart was reinstated in the possession of its
ancient tranquillity, the sentiment which I had cherished with regard to
Pleyel returned. In a short time he was united to the Saxon woman,
and made his residence in the neighbourhood of Boston. I was glad that
circumstances would not permit an interview to take place between us. I
could not desire their misery; but I reaped no pleasure from reflecting
on their happiness. Time, and the exertions of my fortitude, cured me,
in some degree, of this folly. I continued to love him, but my passion
was disguised to myself; I considered it merely as a more tender species
of friendship, and cherished it without compunction.

Through my uncle's exertions a meeting was brought about between Carwin
and Pleyel, and explanations took place which restored me at once to
the good opinion of the latter. Though separated so widely our
correspondence was punctual and frequent, and paved the way for that
union which can only end with the death of one of us.

In my letters to him I made no secret of my former sentiments. This
was a theme on which I could talk without painful, though not without
delicate emotions. That knowledge which I should never have imparted to
a lover, I felt little scruple to communicate to a friend.

A year and an half elapsed when Theresa was snatched from him by death,
in the hour in which she gave him the first pledge of their mutual
affection. This event was borne by him with his customary fortitude. It
induced him, however, to make a change in his plans. He disposed of his
property in America, and joined my uncle and me, who had terminated
the wanderings of two years at Montpellier, which will henceforth, I
believe, be our permanent abode.

If you reflect upon that entire confidence which had subsisted from our
infancy between Pleyel and myself; on the passion that I had contracted,
and which was merely smothered for a time; and on the esteem which was
mutual, you will not, perhaps, be surprized that the renovation of our
intercourse should give birth to that union which at present subsists.
When the period had elapsed necessary to weaken the remembrance of
Theresa, to whom he had been bound by ties more of honor than of love,
he tendered his affections to me. I need not add that the tender was
eagerly accepted.

Perhaps you are somewhat interested in the fate of Carwin. He saw,
when too late, the danger of imposture. So much affected was he by the
catastrophe to which he was a witness, that he laid aside all regard to
his own safety. He sought my uncle, and confided to him the tale which
he had just related to me. He found a more impartial and indulgent
auditor in Mr. Cambridge, who imputed to maniacal illusion the conduct
of Wieland, though he conceived the previous and unseen agency of
Carwin, to have indirectly but powerfully predisposed to this deplorable
perversion of mind.

It was easy for Carwin to elude the persecutions of Ludloe. It was
merely requisite to hide himself in a remote district of Pennsylvania.
This, when he parted from us, he determined to do. He is now probably
engaged in the harmless pursuits of agriculture, and may come to think,
without insupportable remorse, on the evils to which his fatal talents
have given birth. The innocence and usefulness of his future life may,
in some degree, atone for the miseries so rashly or so thoughtlessly

More urgent considerations hindered me from mentioning, in the course of
my former mournful recital, any particulars respecting the unfortunate
father of Louisa Conway. That man surely was reserved to be a monument
of capricious fortune. His southern journies being finished, he returned
to Philadelphia. Before he reached the city he left the highway, and
alighted at my brother's door. Contrary to his expectation, no one came
forth to welcome him, or hail his approach. He attempted to enter the
house, but bolted doors, barred windows, and a silence broken only by
unanswered calls, shewed him that the mansion was deserted.

He proceeded thence to my habitation, which he found, in like manner,
gloomy and tenantless. His surprize may be easily conceived. The rustics
who occupied the hut told him an imperfect and incredible tale. He
hasted to the city, and extorted from Mrs. Baynton a full disclosure of
late disasters.

He was inured to adversity, and recovered, after no long time, from
the shocks produced by this disappointment of his darling scheme. Our
intercourse did not terminate with his departure from America. We have
since met with him in France, and light has at length been thrown upon
the motives which occasioned the disappearance of his wife, in the
manner which I formerly related to you.

I have dwelt upon the ardour of their conjugal attachment, and mentioned
that no suspicion had ever glanced upon her purity. This, though
the belief was long cherished, recent discoveries have shewn to be
questionable. No doubt her integrity would have survived to the present
moment, if an extraordinary fate had not befallen her.

Major Stuart had been engaged, while in Germany, in a contest of
honor with an Aid de Camp of the Marquis of Granby. His adversary had
propagated a rumour injurious to his character. A challenge was sent;
a meeting ensued; and Stuart wounded and disarmed the calumniator. The
offence was atoned for, and his life secured by suitable concessions.

Maxwell, that was his name, shortly after, in consequence of succeeding
to a rich inheritance, sold his commission and returned to London. His
fortune was speedily augmented by an opulent marriage. Interest was his
sole inducement to this marriage, though the lady had been swayed by a
credulous affection. The true state of his heart was quickly discovered,
and a separation, by mutual consent, took place. The lady withdrew to
an estate in a distant county, and Maxwell continued to consume his time
and fortune in the dissipation of the capital.

Maxwell, though deceitful and sensual, possessed great force of mind and
specious accomplishments. He contrived to mislead the generous mind of
Stuart, and to regain the esteem which his misconduct, for a time, had
forfeited. He was recommended by her husband to the confidence of Mrs.
Stuart. Maxwell was stimulated by revenge, and by a lawless passion, to
convert this confidence into a source of guilt.

The education and capacity of this woman, the worth of her husband, the
pledge of their alliance which time had produced, her maturity in
age and knowledge of the world--all combined to render this attempt
hopeless. Maxwell, however, was not easily discouraged. The most perfect
being, he believed, must owe his exemption from vice to the absence of
temptation. The impulses of love are so subtile, and the influence of
false reasoning, when enforced by eloquence and passion, so unbounded,
that no human virtue is secure from degeneracy. All arts being tried,
every temptation being summoned to his aid, dissimulation being carried
to its utmost bound, Maxwell, at length, nearly accomplished his
purpose. The lady's affections were withdrawn from her husband and
transferred to him. She could not, as yet, be reconciled to dishonor.
All efforts to induce her to elope with him were ineffectual. She
permitted herself to love, and to avow her love; but at this limit she
stopped, and was immoveable.

Hence this revolution in her sentiments was productive only of despair.
Her rectitude of principle preserved her from actual guilt, but could
not restore to her her ancient affection, or save her from being the
prey of remorseful and impracticable wishes. Her husband's absence
produced a state of suspense. This, however, approached to a period,
and she received tidings of his intended return. Maxwell, being likewise
apprized of this event, and having made a last and unsuccessful effort
to conquer her reluctance to accompany him in a journey to Italy,
whither he pretended an invincible necessity of going, left her to
pursue the measures which despair might suggest. At the same time she
received a letter from the wife of Maxwell, unveiling the true character
of this man, and revealing facts which the artifices of her seducer
had hitherto concealed from her. Mrs. Maxwell had been prompted to this
disclosure by a knowledge of her husband's practices, with which his own
impetuosity had made her acquainted.

This discovery, joined to the delicacy of her scruples and the anguish
of remorse, induced her to abscond. This scheme was adopted in haste,
but effected with consummate prudence. She fled, on the eve of her
husband's arrival, in the disguise of a boy, and embarked at Falmouth in
a packet bound for America.

The history of her disastrous intercourse with Maxwell, the motives
inducing her to forsake her country, and the measures she had taken
to effect her design, were related to Mrs. Maxwell, in reply to her
communication. Between these women an ancient intimacy and considerable
similitude of character subsisted. This disclosure was accompanied with
solemn injunctions of secrecy, and these injunctions were, for a long
time, faithfully observed.

Mrs. Maxwell's abode was situated on the banks of the Wey. Stuart was
her kinsman; their youth had been spent together; and Maxwell was in
some degree indebted to the man whom he betrayed, for his alliance with
this unfortunate lady. Her esteem for the character of Stuart had never
been diminished. A meeting between them was occasioned by a tour which
the latter had undertaken, in the year after his return from America,
to Wales and the western counties. This interview produced pleasure and
regret in each. Their own transactions naturally became the topics of
their conversation; and the untimely fate of his wife and daughter were
related by the guest.

Mrs. Maxwell's regard for her friend, as well as for the safety of her
husband, persuaded her to concealment; but the former being dead,
and the latter being out of the kingdom, she ventured to produce Mrs.
Stuart's letter, and to communicate her own knowledge of the treachery
of Maxwell. She had previously extorted from her guest a promise not to
pursue any scheme of vengeance; but this promise was made while ignorant
of the full extent of Maxwell's depravity, and his passion refused to
adhere to it.

At this time my uncle and I resided at Avignon. Among the English
resident there, and with whom we maintained a social intercourse, was
Maxwell. This man's talents and address rendered him a favorite both
with my uncle and myself. He had even tendered me his hand in marriage;
but this being refused, he had sought and obtained permission to
continue with us the intercourse of friendship. Since a legal marriage
was impossible, no doubt, his views were flagitious. Whether he had
relinquished these views I was unable to judge.

He was one in a large circle at a villa in the environs, to which I had
likewise been invited, when Stuart abruptly entered the apartment.
He was recognized with genuine satisfaction by me, and with seeming
pleasure by Maxwell. In a short time, some affair of moment being
pleaded, which required an immediate and exclusive interview, Maxwell
and he withdrew together. Stuart and my uncle had been known to each
other in the German army; and the purpose contemplated by the former in
this long and hasty journey, was confided to his old friend.

A defiance was given and received, and the banks of a rivulet, about
a league from the city, was selected as the scene of this contest. My
uncle, having exerted himself in vain to prevent an hostile meeting,
consented to attend them as a surgeon.--Next morning, at sun-rise, was
the time chosen.

I returned early in the evening to my lodgings. Preliminaries being
settled between the combatants, Stuart had consented to spend the
evening with us, and did not retire till late. On the way to his hotel
he was exposed to no molestation, but just as he stepped within the
portico, a swarthy and malignant figure started from behind a column.
and plunged a stiletto into his body.

The author of this treason could not certainly be discovered; but the
details communicated by Stuart, respecting the history of Maxwell,
naturally pointed him out as an object of suspicion. No one expressed
more concern, on account of this disaster, than he; and he pretended
an ardent zeal to vindicate his character from the aspersions that were
cast upon it. Thenceforth, however, I denied myself to his visits; and
shortly after he disappeared from this scene.

Few possessed more estimable qualities, and a better title to happiness
and the tranquil honors of long life, than the mother and father of
Louisa Conway: yet they were cut off in the bloom of their days; and
their destiny was thus accomplished by the same hand. Maxwell was the
instrument of their destruction, though the instrument was applied to
this end in so different a manner.

I leave you to moralize on this tale. That virtue should become the
victim of treachery is, no doubt, a mournful consideration; but it will
not escape your notice, that the evils of which Carwin and Maxwell were
the authors, owed their existence to the errors of the sufferers. All
efforts would have been ineffectual to subvert the happiness or shorten
the existence of the Stuarts, if their own frailty had not seconded
these efforts. If the lady had crushed her disastrous passion in the
bud, and driven the seducer from her presence, when the tendency of
his artifices was seen; if Stuart had not admitted the spirit of absurd
revenge, we should not have had to deplore this catastrophe. If Wieland
had framed juster notions of moral duty, and of the divine attributes;
or if I had been gifted with ordinary equanimity or foresight, the
double-tongued deceiver would have been baffled and repelled.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Wieland: or, the Transformation, an American Tale" ***

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