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Title: In a Glass Darkly, v. 1/3
Author: Le Fanu, Joseph Sheridan, 1814-1873
Language: English
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In a Glass Darkly.




Though carefully educated in medicine and surgery, I have never
practised either. The study of each continues, nevertheless, to interest
me profoundly. Neither idleness nor caprice caused my secession from the
honourable calling which I had just entered. The cause was a very
trifling scratch inflicted by a dissecting knife. This trifle cost me
the loss of two fingers, amputated promptly, and the more painful loss
of my health, for I have never been quite well since, and have seldom
been twelve months together in the same place.

In my wanderings I became acquainted with Dr. Martin Hesselius, a
wanderer like myself, like me a physician, and like me an enthusiast in
his profession. Unlike me in this, that his wanderings were voluntary,
and he a man, if not of fortune, as we estimate fortune in England, at
least in what our forefathers used to term "easy circumstances." He was
an old man when I first saw him; nearly five-and-thirty years my senior.

In Dr. Martin Hesselius, I found my master. His knowledge was immense,
his grasp of a case was an intuition. He was the very man to inspire a
young enthusiast, like me, with awe and delight. My admiration has stood
the test of time and survived the separation of death. I am sure it was

For nearly twenty years I acted as his medical secretary. His immense
collection of papers he has left in my care, to be arranged, indexed and
bound. His treatment of some of these cases is curious. He writes in two
distinct characters. He describes what he saw and heard as an
intelligent layman might, and when in this style of narrative he had
seen the patient either through his own hall-door, to the light of day,
or through the gates of darkness to the caverns of the dead, he returns
upon the narrative, and in the terms of his art, and with all the force
and originality of genius, proceeds to the work of analysis, diagnosis
and illustration.

Here and there a case strikes me as of a kind to amuse or horrify a lay
reader with an interest quite different from the peculiar one which it
may possess for an expert. With slight modifications, chiefly of
language, and of course a change of names, I copy the following. The
narrator is Dr. Martin Hesselius. I find it among the voluminous notes
of cases which he made during a tour in England about sixty-four years

It is related in a series of letters to his friend Professor Van Loo of
Leyden. The professor was not a physician, but a chemist, and a man who
read history and metaphysics and medicine, and had, in his day, written
a play.

The narrative is therefore, if somewhat less valuable as a medical
record, necessarily written in a manner more likely to interest an
unlearned reader.

These letters, from a memorandum attached, appear to have been returned
on the death of the professor, in 1819, to Dr. Hesselius. They are
written, some in English, some in French, but the greater part in
German. I am a faithful, though I am conscious, by no means a graceful
translator, and although here and there, I omit some passages, and
shorten others and disguise names, I have interpolated nothing.



The Rev. Mr. Jennings is tall and thin. He is middle-aged, and dresses
with a natty, old-fashioned, high-church precision. He is naturally a
little stately, but not at all stiff. His features, without being
handsome, are well formed, and their expression extremely kind, but also

I met him one evening at Lady Mary Heyduke's. The modesty and
benevolence of his countenance are extremely prepossessing. We were but
a small party, and he joined agreeably enough in the conversation. He
seems to enjoy listening very much more than contributing to the talk;
but what he says is always to the purpose and well said. He is a great
favourite of Lady Mary's, who it seems, consults him upon many things,
and thinks him the most happy and blessed person on earth. Little knows
she about him.

The Rev. Mr. Jennings is a bachelor, and has, they say, sixty thousand
pounds in the funds. He is a charitable man. He is most anxious to be
actively employed in his sacred profession, and yet though always
tolerably well elsewhere, when he goes down to his vicarage in
Warwickshire, to engage in the actual duties of his sacred calling his
health soon fails him, and in a very strange way. So says Lady Mary.

There is no doubt that Mr. Jennings' health does break down in,
generally a sudden and mysterious way, sometimes in the very act of
officiating in his old and pretty church at Kenlis. It may be his heart,
it may be his brain. But so it has happened three or four times, or
oftener, that after proceeding a certain way in the service, he has on a
sudden stopped short, and after a silence, apparently quite unable to
resume, he has fallen into solitary, inaudible prayer, his hands and
eyes uplifted, and then pale as death, and in the agitation of a strange
shame and horror, descended trembling, and got into the vestry-room,
leaving his congregation, without explanation, to themselves. This
occurred when his curate was absent. When he goes down to Kenlis, now,
he always takes care to provide a clergyman to share his duty, and to
supply his place on the instant should he become thus suddenly

When Mr. Jennings breaks down quite, and beats a retreat from the
vicarage, and returns to London, where, in a dark street off Piccadilly,
he inhabits a very narrow house, Lady Mary says that he is always
perfectly well. I have my own opinion about that. There are degrees of
course. We shall see.

Mr. Jennings is a perfectly gentleman-like man. People, however, remark
something odd. There is an impression a little ambiguous. One thing
which certainly contributes to it, people I think don't remember; or,
perhaps, distinctly remark. But I did, almost immediately. Mr. Jennings
has a way of looking sidelong upon the carpet, as if his eye followed
the movements of something there. This, of course, is not always. It
occurs only now and then. But often enough to give a certain oddity, as
I have said to his manner, and in this glance travelling along the
floor there is something both shy and anxious.

A medical philosopher, as you are good enough to call me, elaborating
theories by the aid of cases sought out by himself, and by him watched
and scrutinised with more time at command, and consequently infinitely
more minuteness than the ordinary practitioner can afford, falls
insensibly into habits of observation, which accompany him everywhere,
and are exercised, as some people would say, impertinently, upon every
subject that presents itself with the least likelihood of rewarding

There was a promise of this kind in the slight, timid, kindly, but
reserved gentleman, whom I met for the first time at this agreeable
little evening gathering. I observed, of course, more than I here set
down; but I reserve all that borders on the technical for a strictly
scientific paper.

I may remark, that when I here speak of medical science, I do so, as I
hope some day to see it more generally understood, in a much more
comprehensive sense than its generally material treatment would warrant.
I believe the entire natural world is but the ultimate expression of
that spiritual world from which, and in which alone, it has its life. I
believe that the essential man is a spirit, that the spirit is an
organised substance, but as different in point of material from what we
ordinarily understand by matter, as light or electricity is; that the
material body is, in the most literal sense, a vesture, and death
consequently no interruption of the living man's existence, but simply
his extrication from the natural body--a process which commences at the
moment of what we term death, and the completion of which, at furthest a
few days later, is the resurrection "in power."

The person who weighs the consequences of these positions will probably
see their practical bearing upon medical science. This is, however, by
no means the proper place for displaying the proofs and discussing the
consequences of this too generally unrecognised state of facts.

In pursuance of my habit, I was covertly observing Mr. Jennings, with
all my caution--I think he perceived it--and I saw plainly that he was
as cautiously observing me. Lady Mary happening to address me by my
name, as Dr. Hesselius, I saw that he glanced at me more sharply, and
then became thoughtful for a few minutes.

After this, as I conversed with a gentleman at the other end of the
room, I saw him look at me more steadily, and with an interest which I
thought I understood. I then saw him take an opportunity of chatting
with Lady Mary, and was, as one always is, perfectly aware of being the
subject of a distant inquiry and answer.

This tall clergyman approached me by-and-by: and in a little time we had
got into conversation. When two people, who like reading, and know books
and places, having travelled, wish to converse, it is very strange if
they can't find topics. It was not accident that brought him near me,
and led him into conversation. He knew German, and had read my Essays on
Metaphysical Medicine which suggest more than they actually say.

This courteous man, gentle, shy, plainly a man of thought and reading,
who moving and talking among us, was not altogether of us, and whom I
already suspected of leading a life whose transactions and alarms were
carefully concealed, with an impenetrable reserve from, not only the
world, but his best beloved friends--was cautiously weighing in his own
mind the idea of taking a certain step with regard to me.

I penetrated his thoughts without his being aware of it, and was careful
to say nothing which could betray to his sensitive vigilance my
suspicions respecting his position, or my surmises about his plans
respecting myself.

We chatted upon indifferent subjects for a time; but at last he said:

"I was very much interested by some papers of yours, Dr. Hesselius, upon
what you term Metaphysical Medicine--I read them in German, ten or
twelve years ago--have they been translated?"

"No, I'm sure they have not--I should have heard. They would have asked
my leave, I think."

"I asked the publishers here, a few months ago, to get the book for me
in the original German; but they tell me it is out of print."

"So it is, and has been for some years; but it flatters me as an author
to find that you have not forgotten my little book, although," I added,
laughing, "ten or twelve years is a considerable time to have managed
without it; but I suppose you have been turning the subject over again
in your mind, or something has happened lately to revive your interest
in it."

At this remark, accompanied by a glance of inquiry, a sudden
embarrassment disturbed Mr. Jennings, analogous to that which makes a
young lady blush and look foolish. He dropped his eyes, and folded his
hands together uneasily, and looked oddly, and you would have said,
guiltily for a moment.

I helped him out of his awkwardness in the best way, by appearing not to
observe it, and going straight on, I said: "Those revivals of interest
in a subject happen to me often; one book suggests another, and often
sends me back a wild-goose chase over an interval of twenty years. But
if you still care to possess a copy, I shall be only too happy to
provide you; I have still got two or three by me--and if you allow me to
present one I shall be very much honoured."

"You are very good indeed," he said, quite at his ease again, in a
moment: "I almost despaired--I don't know how to thank you."

"Pray don't say a word; the thing is really so little worth that I am
only ashamed of having offered it, and if you thank me any more I shall
throw it into the fire in a fit of modesty."

Mr. Jennings laughed. He inquired where I was staying in London, and
after a little more conversation on a variety of subjects, he took his



"I like your vicar so much, Lady Mary," said I, so soon as he was gone.
"He has read, travelled, and thought, and having also suffered, he ought
to be an accomplished companion."

"So he is, and, better still, he is a really good man," said she. "His
advice is invaluable about my schools, and all my little undertakings at
Dawlbridge, and he's so painstaking, he takes so much trouble--you have
no idea--wherever he thinks he can be of use: he's so good-natured and
so sensible."

"It is pleasant to hear so good an account of his neighbourly virtues. I
can only testify to his being an agreeable and gentle companion, and in
addition to what you have told me, I think I can tell you two or three
things about him," said I.


"Yes, to begin with, he's unmarried."

"Yes, that's right,--go on."

"He has been writing, that is he was, but for two or three years
perhaps, he has not gone on with his work, and the book was upon some
rather abstract subject--perhaps theology."

"Well, he was writing a book, as you say; I'm not quite sure what it was
about, but only that it was nothing that I cared for, very likely you
are right, and he certainly did stop--yes."

"And although he only drank a little coffee here to-night, he likes
tea, at least, did like it, extravagantly."

"Yes, that's _quite_ true."

"He drank green tea, a good deal, didn't he?" I pursued.

"Well, that's very odd! Green tea was a subject on which we used almost
to quarrel."

"But he has quite given that up," said I.

"So he has."

"And, now, one more fact. His mother or his father, did you know them?"

"Yes, both; his father is only ten years dead, and their place is near
Dawlbridge. We knew them very well," she answered.

"Well, either his mother or his father--I should rather think his
father, saw a ghost," said I.

"Well, you really are a conjurer, Dr. Hesselius."

"Conjurer or no, haven't I said right?" I answered merrily.

"You certainly have, and it was his father: he was a silent, whimsical
man, and he used to bore my father about his dreams, and at last he told
him a story about a ghost he had seen and talked with, and a very odd
story it was. I remember it particularly, because I was so afraid of
him. This story was long before he died--when I was quite a child--and
his ways were so silent and moping, and he used to drop in, sometimes,
in the dusk, when I was alone in the drawing-room, and I used to fancy
there were ghosts about him."

I smiled and nodded.

"And now having established my character as a conjurer I think I must
say good-night," said I.

"But how _did_ you find it out?"

"By the planets of course, as the gipsies do," I answered, and so,
gaily, we said good-night.

Next morning I sent the little book he had been inquiring after, and a
note to Mr. Jennings, and on returning late that evening, I found that
he had called, at my lodgings, and left his card. He asked whether I was
at home, and asked at what hour he would be most likely to find me.

Does he intend opening his case, and consulting me "professionally," as
they say? I hope so. I have already conceived a theory about him. It is
supported by Lady Mary's answers to my parting questions. I should like
much to ascertain from his own lips. But what can I do consistently with
good breeding to invite a confession? Nothing. I rather think he
meditates one. At all events, my dear Van L., I shan't make myself
difficult of access; I mean to return his visit to-morrow. It will be
only civil in return for his politeness, to ask to see him. Perhaps
something may come of it. Whether much, little, or nothing, my dear Van
L., you shall hear.



Well, I have called at Blank-street.

On inquiring at the door, the servant told me that Mr. Jennings was
engaged very particularly with a gentleman, a clergyman from Kenlis, his
parish in the country. Intending to reserve my privilege and to call
again, I merely intimated that I should try another time, and had turned
to go, when the servant begged my pardon, and asked me, looking at me a
little more attentively than well-bred persons of his order usually do,
whether I was Dr. Hesselius; and, on learning that I was, he said,
"Perhaps then, sir, you would allow me to mention it to Mr. Jennings,
for I am sure he wishes to see you."

The servant returned in a moment, with a message from Mr. Jennings,
asking me to go into his study, which was in effect his back
drawing-room, promising to be with me in a very few minutes.

This was really a study--almost a library. The room was lofty, with two
tall slender windows, and rich dark curtains. It was much larger than I
had expected, and stored with books on every side, from the floor to the
ceiling. The upper carpet--for to my tread it felt that there were two
or three--was a Turkey carpet. My steps fell noiselessly. The book-cases
standing out, placed the windows, particularly narrow ones, in deep
recesses. The effect of the room was, although extremely comfortable,
and even luxurious, decidedly gloomy, and aided by the silence, almost
oppressive. Perhaps, however, I ought to have allowed something for
association. My mind had connected peculiar ideas with Mr. Jennings. I
stepped into this perfectly silent room, of a very silent house, with a
peculiar foreboding; and its darkness, and solemn clothing of books, for
except where two narrow looking-glasses were set in the wall, they were
everywhere, helped this sombre feeling.

While awaiting Mr. Jennings' arrival, I amused myself by looking into
some of the books with which his shelves were laden. Not among these,
but immediately under them, with their backs upward, on the floor, I
lighted upon a complete set of Swedenborg's Arcana Cælestia, in the
original Latin, a very fine folio set, bound in the natty livery which
theology affects, pure vellum, namely, gold letters, and carmine edges.
There were paper markers in several of these volumes, I raised and
placed them, one after the other, upon the table, and opening where
these papers were placed, I read in the solemn Latin phraseology, a
series of sentences indicated by a pencilled line at the margin. Of
these I copy here a few, translating them into English.

"When man's interior sight is opened, which is that of his spirit, then
there appear the things of another life, which cannot possibly be made
visible to the bodily sight."...

"By the internal sight it has been granted me to see the things that are
in the other life, more clearly than I see those that are in the world.
From these considerations, it is evident that external vision exists
from interior vision, and this from a vision still more interior, and so

"There are with every man at least two evil spirits."...

"With wicked genii there is also a fluent speech, but harsh and grating.
There is also among them a speech which is not fluent, wherein the
dissent of the thoughts is perceived as something secretly creeping
along within it."...

"The evil spirits associated with man are, indeed, from the hells, but
when with man they are not then in hell, but are taken out thence. The
place where they then are is in the midst between heaven and hell, and
is called the world of spirits--when the evil spirits who are with man,
are in that world, they are not in any infernal torment, but in every
thought and affection of the man, and so, in all that the man himself
enjoys. But when they are remitted into their hell, they return to their
former state."...

"If evil spirits could perceive that they were associated with man, and
yet that they were spirits separate from him, and if they could flow in
into the things of his body, they would attempt by a thousand means to
destroy him; for they hate man with a deadly hatred."...

"Knowing, therefore, that I was a man in the body, they were continually
striving to destroy me, not as to the body only, but especially as to
the soul; for to destroy any man or spirit is the very delight of the
life of all who are in hell; but I have been continually protected by
the Lord. Hence it appears how dangerous it is for man to be in a living
consort with spirits, unless he be in the good of faith."...

"Nothing is more carefully guarded from the knowledge of associate
spirits than their being thus conjoint with a man, for if they knew it
they would speak to him, with the intention to destroy him."...

"The delight of hell is to do evil to man, and to hasten his eternal

A long note, written with a very sharp and fine pencil, in Mr. Jennings'
neat hand, at the foot of the page, caught my eye. Expecting his
criticism upon the text, I read a word or two, and stopped, for it was
something quite different, and began with these words, _Deus misereatur
mei_--"May God compassionate me." Thus warned of its private nature, I
averted my eyes, and shut the book, replacing all the volumes as I had
found them, except one which interested me, and in which, as men
studious and solitary in their habits will do, I grew so absorbed as to
take no cognisance of the outer world, nor to remember where I was.

I was reading some pages which refer to "representatives" and
"correspondents," in the technical language of Swedenborg, and had
arrived at a passage, the substance of which is, that evil spirits,
when seen by other eyes than those of their infernal associates, present
themselves, by "correspondence," in the shape of the beast (_fera_)
which represents their particular lust and life, in aspect direful and
atrocious. This is a long passage, and particularises a number of those
bestial forms.



I was running the head of my pencil-case along the line as I read it,
and something caused me to raise my eyes.

Directly before me was one of the mirrors I have mentioned, in which I
saw reflected the tall shape of my friend Mr. Jennings leaning over my
shoulder, and reading the page at which I was busy, and with a face so
dark and wild that I should hardly have known him.

I turned and rose. He stood erect also, and with an effort laughed a
little, saying:

"I came in and asked you how you did, but without succeeding in awaking
you from your book; so I could not restrain my curiosity, and very
impertinently, I'm afraid, peeped over your shoulder. This is not your
first time of looking into those pages. You have looked into Swedenborg,
no doubt, long ago?"

"Oh dear, yes! I owe Swedenborg a great deal; you will discover traces
of him in the little book on Metaphysical Medicine, which you were so
good as to remember."

Although my friend affected a gaiety of manner, there was a slight flush
in his face, and I could perceive that he was inwardly much perturbed.

"I'm scarcely yet qualified, I know so little of Swedenborg. I've only
had them a fortnight," he answered, "and I think they are rather likely
to make a solitary man nervous--that is, judging from the very little I
have read--I don't say that they have made me so," he laughed; "and I'm
so very much obliged for the book. I hope you got my note?"

I made all proper acknowledgments and modest disclaimers.

"I never read a book that I go with, so entirely, as that of yours," he
continued. "I saw at once there is more in it than is quite unfolded. Do
you know Dr. Harley?" he asked, rather abruptly.

In passing, the editor remarks that the physician here named was one of
the most eminent who had ever practised in England.

I did, having had letters to him, and had experienced from him great
courtesy and considerable assistance during my visit to England.

"I think that man one of the very greatest fools I ever met in my life,"
said Mr. Jennings.

This was the first time I had ever heard him say a sharp thing of
anybody, and such a term applied to so high a name a little startled me.

"Really! and in what way?" I asked.

"In his profession," he answered.

I smiled.

"I mean this," he said: "he seems to me, one half, blind--I mean one
half of all he looks at is dark--preternaturally bright and vivid all
the rest; and the worst of it is, it seems _wilful_. I can't get him--I
mean he won't--I've had some experience of him as a physician, but I
look on him as, in that sense, no better than a paralytic mind, an
intellect half dead, I'll tell you--I know I shall some time--all about
it," he said, with a little agitation. "You stay some months longer in
England. If I should be out of town during your stay for a little time,
would you allow me to trouble you with a letter?"

"I should be only too happy," I assured him.

"Very good of you. I am so utterly dissatisfied with Harley."

"A little leaning to the materialistic school," I said.

"A _mere_ materialist," he corrected me; "you can't think how that sort
of thing worries one who knows better. You won't tell any one--any of my
friends you know--that I am hippish; now, for instance, no one
knows--not even Lady Mary--that I have seen Dr. Harley, or any other
doctor. So pray don't mention it; and, if I should have any threatening
of an attack, you'll kindly let me write, or, should I be in town, have
a little talk with you."

I was full of conjecture, and unconsciously I found I had fixed my eyes
gravely on him, for he lowered his for a moment, and he said:

"I see you think I might as well tell you now, or else you are forming a
conjecture; but you may as well give it up. If you were guessing all the
rest of your life, you will never hit on it."

He shook his head smiling, and over that wintry sunshine a black cloud
suddenly came down, and he drew his breath in, through his teeth as men
do in pain.

"Sorry, of course, to learn that you apprehend occasion to consult any
of us; but, command me when and how you like, and I need not assure you
that your confidence is sacred."

He then talked of quite other things, and in a comparatively cheerful
way and after a little time, I took my leave.



We parted cheerfully, but he was not cheerful, nor was I. There are
certain expressions of that powerful organ of spirit--the human
face--which, although I have seen them often, and possess a doctor's
nerve, yet disturb me profoundly. One look of Mr. Jennings haunted me.
It had seized my imagination with so dismal a power that I changed my
plans for the evening, and went to the opera, feeling that I wanted a
change of ideas.

I heard nothing of or from him for two or three days, when a note in his
hand reached me. It was cheerful, and full of hope. He said that he had
been for some little time so much better--quite well, in fact--that he
was going to make a little experiment, and run down for a month or so to
his parish, to try whether a little work might not quite set him up.
There was in it a fervent religious expression of gratitude for his
restoration, as he now almost hoped he might call it.

A day or two later I saw Lady Mary, who repeated what his note had
announced, and told me that he was actually in Warwickshire, having
resumed his clerical duties at Kenlis; and she added, "I begin to think
that he is really perfectly well, and that there never was anything the
matter, more than nerves and fancy; we are all nervous, but I fancy
there is nothing like a little hard work for that kind of weakness, and
he has made up his mind to try it. I should not be surprised if he did
not come back for a year."

Notwithstanding all this confidence, only two days later I had this
note, dated from his house off Piccadilly:

"Dear Sir.--I have returned disappointed. If I should feel at all able
to see you, I shall write to ask you kindly to call. At present I am too
low, and, in fact, simply unable to say all I wish to say. Pray don't
mention my name to my friends. I can see no one. By-and-by, please God,
you shall hear from me. I mean to take a run into Shropshire, where some
of my people are. God bless you! May we, on my return, meet more happily
than I can now write."

About a week after this I saw Lady Mary at her own house, the last
person, she said, left in town, and just on the wing for Brighton, for
the London season was quite over. She told me that she had heard from
Mr. Jennings' niece, Martha, in Shropshire. There was nothing to be
gathered from her letter, more than that he was low and nervous. In
those words, of which healthy people think so lightly, what a world of
suffering is sometimes hidden!

Nearly five weeks passed without any further news of Mr. Jennings. At
the end of that time I received a note from him. He wrote:

"I have been in the country, and have had change of air, change of
scene, change of faces, change of everything and in everything--but
_myself_. I have made up my mind, so far as the most irresolute creature
on earth can do it, to tell my case fully to you. If your engagements
will permit, pray come to me to-day, to-morrow, or the next day; but,
pray defer as little as possible. You know not how much I need help. I
have a quiet house at Richmond, where I now am. Perhaps you can manage
to come to dinner, or to luncheon, or even to tea. You shall have no
trouble in finding me out. The servant at Blank street, who takes this
note, will have a carriage at your door at any hour you please; and I am
always to be found. You will say that I ought not to be alone. I have
tried everything. Come and see."

I called up the servant, and decided on going out the same evening,
which accordingly I did.

He would have been much better in a lodging-house, or hotel, I thought,
as I drove up through a short double row of sombre elms to a very
old-fashioned brick house, darkened by the foliage of these trees, which
over-topped, and nearly surrounded it. It was a perverse choice, for
nothing could be imagined more triste and silent. The house, I found,
belonged to him. He had stayed for a day or two in town, and, finding
it for some cause insupportable, had come out here, probably because
being furnished and his own, he was relieved of the thought and delay of
selection, by coming here.

The sun had already set, and the red reflected light of the western sky
illuminated the scene with the peculiar effect with which we are all
familiar. The hall seemed very dark, but, getting to the back
drawing-room, whose windows command the west, I was again in the same
dusky light.

I sat down, looking out upon the richly-wooded landscape that glowed in
the grand and melancholy light which was every moment fading. The
corners of the room were already dark; all was growing dim, and the
gloom was insensibly toning my mind, already prepared for what was
sinister. I was waiting alone for his arrival, which soon took place.
The door communicating with the front room opened, and the tall figure
of Mr. Jennings, faintly seen in the ruddy twilight, came, with quiet
stealthy steps, into the room.

We shook hands, and, taking a chair to the window, where there was still
light enough to enable us to see each other's faces, he sat down beside
me, and, placing his hand upon my arm, with scarcely a word of preface
began his narrative.



The faint glow of the west, the pomp of the then lonely woods of
Richmond, were before us, behind and about us the darkening room, and on
the stony face or the sufferer--for the character of his face, though
still gentle and sweet, was changed--rested that dim, odd glow which
seems to descend and produce, where it touches, lights, sudden though
faint, which are lost, almost without gradation, in darkness. The
silence, too, was utter; not a distant wheel, or bark, or whistle from
without; and within the depressing stillness of an invalid bachelor's

I guessed well the nature, though not even vaguely the particulars of
the revelations I was about to receive, from that fixed face of
suffering that so oddly flushed stood out, like a portrait of
Schalken's, before its background of darkness.

"It began," he said, "on the 15th of October, three years and eleven
weeks ago, and two days--I keep very accurate count, for every day is
torment. If I leave anywhere a chasm in my narrative tell me.

"About four years ago I began a work, which had cost me very much
thought and reading. It was upon the religious metaphysics of the

"I know," said I; "the actual religion of educated and thinking
paganism, quite apart from symbolic worship? A wide and very interesting

"Yes; but not good for the mind--the Christian mind, I mean. Paganism
is all bound together in essential unity, and, with evil sympathy, their
religion involves their art, and both their manners, and the subject is
a degrading fascination and the nemesis sure. God forgive me!

"I wrote a great deal; I wrote late at night. I was always thinking on
the subject, walking about, wherever I was, everywhere. It thoroughly
infected me. You are to remember that all the material ideas connected
with it were more or less of the beautiful, the subject itself
delightfully interesting, and I, then, without a care."

He sighed heavily.

"I believe that every one who sets about writing in earnest does his
work, as a friend of mine phrased it, _on_ something--tea, or coffee, or
tobacco. I suppose there is a material waste that must be hourly
supplied in such occupations, or that we should grow too abstracted,
and the mind, as it were, pass out of the body, unless it were reminded
often of the connection by actual sensation. At all events, I felt the
want, and I supplied it. Tea was my companion--at first the ordinary
black tea, made in the usual way, not too strong: but I drank a good
deal, and increased its strength as I went on. I never experienced an
uncomfortable symptom from it. I began to take a little green tea. I
found the effect pleasanter, it cleared and intensified the power of
thought so. I had come to take it frequently, but not stronger than one
might take it for pleasure. I wrote a great deal out here, it was so
quiet, and in this room. I used to sit up very late, and it became a
habit with me to sip my tea--green tea--every now and then as my work
proceeded. I had a little kettle on my table, that swung over a lamp,
and made tea two or three times between eleven o'clock and two or three
in the morning, my hours of going to bed. I used to go into town every
day. I was not a monk, and, although I spent an hour or two in a
library, hunting up authorities and looking out lights upon my theme, I
was in no morbid state as far as I can judge. I met my friends pretty
much as usual, and enjoyed their society, and, on the whole, existence
had never been, I think, so pleasant before.

"I had met with a man who had some odd old books, German editions in
mediæval Latin, and I was only too happy to be permitted access to them.
This obliging person's books were in the City, a very out-of-the-way
part of it. I had rather out-stayed my intended hour, and, on coming
out, seeing no cab near, I was tempted to get into the omnibus which
used to drive past this house. It was darker than this by the time the
'bus had reached an old house, you may have remarked, with four poplars
at each side of the door, and there the last passenger but myself got
out. We drove along rather faster. It was twilight now. I leaned back in
my corner next the door ruminating pleasantly.

"The interior of the omnibus was nearly dark. I had observed in the
corner opposite to me at the other side, and at the end next the horses,
two small circular reflections, as it seemed to me of a reddish light.
They were about two inches apart, and about the size of those small
brass buttons that yachting men used to put upon their jackets. I began
to speculate, as listless men will, upon this trifle, as it seemed. From
what centre did that faint but deep red light come, and from what--glass
beads, buttons, toy decorations--was it reflected? We were lumbering
along gently, having nearly a mile still to go. I had not solved the
puzzle, and it became in another minute more odd, for these two
luminous points, with a sudden jerk, descended nearer the floor, keeping
still their relative distance and horizontal position, and then, as
suddenly, they rose to the level of the seat on which I was sitting, and
I saw them no more.

"My curiosity was now really excited, and, before I had time to think, I
saw again these two dull lamps, again together near the floor; again
they disappeared, and again in their old corner I saw them.

"So, keeping my eyes upon them, I edged quietly up my own side, towards
the end at which I still saw these tiny discs of red.

"There was very little light in the 'bus. It was nearly dark. I leaned
forward to aid my endeavour to discover what these little circles really
were. They shifted their position a little as I did so. I began now to
perceive an outline of something black, and I soon saw with tolerable
distinctness the outline of a small black monkey, pushing its face
forward in mimicry to meet mine; those were its eyes, and I now dimly
saw its teeth grinning at me.

"I drew back, not knowing whether it might not meditate a spring. I
fancied that one of the passengers had forgot this ugly pet, and wishing
to ascertain something of its temper, though not caring to trust my
fingers to it, I poked my umbrella softly towards it. It remained
immovable--up to it--_through_ it! For through it, and back and forward,
it passed, without the slightest resistance.

"I can't, in the least, convey to you the kind of horror that I felt.
When I had ascertained that the thing was an illusion, as I then
supposed, there came a misgiving about myself and a terror that
fascinated me in impotence to remove my gaze from the eyes of the brute
for some moments. As I looked, it made a little skip back, quite into
the corner, and I, in a panic, found myself at the door, having put my
head out, drawing deep breaths of the outer air, and staring at the
lights and trees we were passing, too glad to reassure myself of

"I stopped the 'bus and got out. I perceived the man look oddly at me as
I paid him. I daresay there was something unusual in my looks and
manner, for I had never felt so strangely before."



"When the omnibus drove on, and I was alone upon the road, I looked
carefully round to ascertain whether the monkey had followed me. To my
indescribable relief I saw it nowhere. I can't describe easily what a
shock I had received, and my sense of genuine gratitude on finding
myself, as I supposed, quite rid of it.

"I had got out a little before we reached this house, two or three
hundred steps. A brick wall runs along the footpath, and inside the
wall is a hedge of yew or some dark evergreen of that kind, and within
that again the row of fine trees which you may have remarked as you

"This brick wall is about as high as my shoulder, and happening to raise
my eyes I saw the monkey, with that stooping gait, on all fours, walking
or creeping, close beside me on top of the wall. I stopped looking at it
with a feeling of loathing and horror. As I stopped so did it. It sat up
on the wall with its long hands on its knees looking at me. There was
not light enough to see it much more than in outline, nor was it dark
enough to bring the peculiar light of its eyes into strong relief. I
still saw, however, that red foggy light plainly enough. It did not show
its teeth, nor exhibit any sign of irritation, but seemed jaded and
sulky, and was observing me steadily.

"I drew back into the middle of the road. It was an unconscious recoil,
and there I stood, still looking at it, it did not move.

"With an instinctive determination to try something--anything, I turned
about and walked briskly towards town with a skance look, all the time,
watching the movements of the beast. It crept swiftly along the wall, at
exactly my pace.

"Where the wall ends, near the turn of the road, it came down and with a
wiry spring or two brought itself close to my feet, and continued to
keep up with me, as I quickened my pace. It was at my left side, so
close to my leg that I felt every moment as if I should tread upon it.

"The road was quite deserted and silent, and it was darker every moment.
I stopped dismayed and bewildered, turning as I did so, the other way--I
mean, towards this house, away from which I had been walking. When I
stood still, the monkey drew back to a distance of, I suppose, about
five or six yards, and remained stationary, watching me.

"I had been more agitated than I have said. I had read, of course, as
every one has, something about 'spectral illusions,' as you physicians
term the phenomena of such cases. I considered my situation, and looked
my misfortune in the face.

"These affections, I had read, are sometimes transitory and sometimes
obstinate. I had read of cases in which the appearance, at first
harmless, had, step by step, degenerated into something direful and
insupportable, and ended by wearing its victim out. Still as I stood
there, but for my bestial companion, quite alone, I tried to comfort
myself by repeating again and again the assurance, 'the thing is purely
disease, a well-known physical affection, as distinctly as small-pox or
neuralgia. Doctors are all agreed on that, philosophy demonstrates it.
I must not be a fool. I've been sitting up too late, and I daresay my
digestion is quite wrong, and with God's help, I shall be all right, and
this is but a symptom of nervous dyspepsia.' Did I believe all this? Not
one word of it, no more than any other miserable being ever did who is
once seized and riveted in this satanic captivity. Against my
convictions, I might say my knowledge, I was simply bullying myself into
a false courage.

"I now walked homeward. I had only a few hundred yards to go. I had
forced myself into a sort of resignation, but I had not got over the
sickening shock and the flurry of the first certainty of my misfortune.

"I made up my mind to pass the night at home. The brute moved close
beside me, and I fancied there was the sort of anxious drawing toward
the house, which one sees in tired horses or dogs, sometimes as they
come toward home.

"I was afraid to go into town, I was afraid of any one's seeing and
recognising me. I was conscious of an irrepressible agitation in my
manner. Also, I was afraid of any violent change in my habits, such as
going to a place of amusement, or walking from home in order to fatigue
myself. At the hall door it waited till I mounted the steps, and when
the door was opened entered with me.

"I drank no tea that night. I got cigars and some brandy-and-water. My
idea was that I should act upon my material system, and by living for a
while in sensation apart from thought, send myself forcibly, as it it
were, into a new groove. I came up here to this drawing-room. I sat just
here. The monkey then got upon a small table that then stood _there_. It
looked dazed and languid. An irrepressible uneasiness as to its
movements kept my eyes always upon it. Its eyes were half closed, but I
could see them glow. It was looking steadily at me. In all situations,
at all hours, it is awake and looking at me. That never changes.

"I shall not continue in detail my narrative of this particular night. I
shall describe, rather, the phenomena of the first year, which never
varied, essentially. I shall describe the monkey as it appeared in
daylight. In the dark, as you shall presently hear, there are
peculiarities. It is a small monkey, perfectly black. It had only one
peculiarity--a character of malignity--unfathomable malignity. During
the first year it looked sullen and sick. But this character of intense
malice and vigilance was always underlying that surly languor. During
all that time it acted as if on a plan of giving me as little trouble as
was consistent with watching me. Its eyes were never off me, I have
never lost sight of it, except in my sleep, light or dark, day or
night, since it came here, excepting when it withdraws for some weeks at
a time, unaccountably.

"In total dark it is visible as in daylight. I do not mean merely its
eyes. It is _all_ visible distinctly in a halo that resembles a glow of
red embers, and which accompanies it in all its movements.

"When it leaves me for a time, it is always at night, in the dark, and
in the same way. It grows at first uneasy, and then furious, and then
advances towards me, grinning and shaking its paws clenched, and, at the
same time, there comes the appearance of fire in the grate. I never have
any fire. I can't sleep in the room where there is any, and it draws
nearer and nearer to the chimney, quivering, it seems, with rage, and
when its fury rises to the highest pitch, it springs into the grate, and
up the chimney, and I see it no more.

"When first this happened I thought I was released. I was a new man. A
day passed--a night--and no return, and a blessed week--a week--another
week. I was always on my knees, Dr. Hesselius, always, thanking God and
praying. A whole month passed of liberty, but on a sudden, it was with
me again."



"It was with me, and the malice which before was torpid under a sullen
exterior, was now active. It was perfectly unchanged in every other
respect. This new energy was apparent in its activity and its looks, and
soon in other ways.

"For a time, you will understand, the change was shown only in an
increased vivacity, and an air of menace, as if it was always brooding
over some atrocious plan. Its eyes, as before, were never off me."

"Is it here now?" I asked.

"No," he replied, "it has been absent exactly a fortnight and a
day--fifteen days. It has sometimes been away so long as nearly two
months, once for three. Its absence always exceeds a fortnight, although
it may be but by a single day. Fifteen days having past since I saw it
last, it may return now at any moment."

"Is its return," I asked, "accompanied by any peculiar manifestation?"

"Nothing--no," he said. "It is simply with me again. On lifting my eyes
from a book, or turning my head, I see it as usual, looking at me, and
then it remains, as before, for its appointed time. I have never told so
much and so minutely before to any one."

I perceived that he was agitated, and looking like death, and he
repeatedly applied his handkerchief to his forehead; I suggested that he
might be tired, and told him that I would call, with pleasure, in the
morning, but he said:

"No, if you don't mind hearing it all now. I have got so far, and I
should prefer making one effort of it. When I spoke to Dr. Harley, I had
nothing like so much to tell. You are a philosophic physician. You give
spirit its proper rank. If this thing is real--"

He paused, looking at me with agitated inquiry.

"We can discuss it by-and-by, and very fully. I will give you all I
think," I answered, after an interval.

"Well--very well. If it is anything real, I say, it is prevailing,
little by little, and drawing me more interiorly into hell. Optic
nerves, he talked of. Ah! well--there are other nerves of communication.
May God Almighty help me! You shall hear.

"Its power of action, I tell you, had increased. Its malice became, in a
way aggressive. About two years ago, some questions that were pending
between me and the bishop having been settled, I went down to my parish
in Warwickshire, anxious to find occupation in my profession. I was not
prepared for what happened, although I have since thought I might have
apprehended something like it. The reason of my saying so, is this--"

He was beginning to speak with a great deal more effort and reluctance,
and sighed often, and seemed at times nearly overcome. But at this time
his manner was not agitated. It was more like that of a sinking patient,
who has given himself up.

"Yes, but I will first tell you about Kenlis, my parish.

"It was with me when I left this place for Dawlbridge. It was my silent
travelling companion, and it remained with me at the vicarage. When I
entered on the discharge of my duties, another change took place. The
thing exhibited an atrocious determination to thwart me. It was with me
in the church--in the reading-desk--in the pulpit--within the communion
rails. At last, it reached this extremity, that while I was reading to
the congregation, it would spring upon the open book and squat there, so
that I was unable to see the page. This happened more than once.

"I left Dawlbridge for a time. I placed myself in Dr. Harley's hands. I
did everything he told me. He gave my case a great deal of thought. It
interested him, I think. He seemed successful. For nearly three months I
was perfectly free from a return. I began to think I was safe. With his
full assent I returned to Dawlbridge.

"I travelled in a chaise. I was in good spirits. I was more--I was happy
and grateful. I was returning, as I thought delivered from a dreadful
hallucination, to the scene of duties which I longed to enter upon. It
was a beautiful sunny evening, everything looked serene and cheerful,
and I was delighted. I remember looking out of the window to see the
spire of my church at Kenlis among the trees, at the point where one has
the earliest view of it. It is exactly where the little stream that
bounds the parish passes under the road by a culvert, and where it
emerges at the road-side, a stone with an old inscription is placed. As
we passed this point, I drew my head in and sat down, and in the corner
of the chaise was the monkey.

"For a moment I felt faint, and then quite wild with despair and horror.
I called to the driver, and got out, and sat down at the road-side, and
prayed to God silently for mercy. A despairing resignation supervened.
My companion was with me as I re-entered the vicarage. The same
persecution followed. After a short struggle I submitted, and soon I
left the place.

"I told you," he said, "that the beast has before this become in certain
ways aggressive. I will explain a little. It seemed to be actuated by
intense and increasing fury, whenever I said my prayers, or even
meditated prayer. It amounted at last to a dreadful interruption. You
will ask, how could a silent immaterial phantom effect that? It was
thus, whenever I meditated praying; it was always before me, and nearer
and nearer.

"It used to spring on a table, on the back of a chair, on the
chimney-piece, and slowly to swing itself from side to side, looking at
me all the time. There is in its motion an indefinable power to
dissipate thought, and to contract one's attention to that monotony,
till the ideas shrink, as it were, to a point, and at last to
nothing--and unless I had started up, and shook off the catalepsy I
have felt as if my mind were on the point of losing itself. There are
other ways," he sighed heavily; "thus, for instance, while I pray with
my eyes closed, it comes closer and closer, and I see it. I know it is
not to be accounted for physically, but I do actually see it, though my
lids are closed, and so it rocks my mind, as it were, and overpowers me,
and I am obliged to rise from my knees. If you had ever yourself known
this, you would be acquainted with desperation."



"I see, Dr. Hesselius, that you don't lose one word of my statement. I
need not ask you to listen specially to what I am now going to tell you.
They talk of the optic nerves, and of spectral illusions, as if the
organ of sight was the only point assailable by the influences that have
fastened upon me--I know better. For two years in my direful case that
limitation prevailed. But as food is taken in softly at the lips, and
then brought under the teeth, as the tip of the little finger caught in
a mill crank will draw in the hand, and the arm, and the whole body, so
the miserable mortal who has been once caught firmly by the end of the
finest fibre of his nerve, is drawn in and in, by the enormous machinery
of hell, until he is as I am. Yes, Doctor, as _I_ am, for while I talk
to you, and implore relief, I feel that my prayer is for the impossible,
and my pleading with the inexorable."

I endeavoured to calm his visibly increasing agitation, and told him
that he must not despair.

While we talked the night had overtaken us. The filmy moonlight was wide
over the scene which the window commanded, and I said:

"Perhaps you would prefer having candles. This light, you know, is odd.
I should wish you, as much as possible, under your usual conditions
while I make my diagnosis, shall I call it--otherwise I don't care."

"All lights are the same to me," he said: "except when I read or write,
I care not if night were perpetual. I am going to tell you what happened
about a year ago. The thing began to speak to me."

"Speak! How do you mean--speak as a man does, do you mean?"

"Yes; speak in words and consecutive sentences, with perfect coherence
and articulation; but there is a peculiarity. It is not like the tone of
a human voice. It is not by my ears it reaches me--it comes like a
singing through my head.

"This faculty, the power of speaking to me, will be my undoing. It won't
let me pray, it interrupts me with dreadful blasphemies. I dare not go
on, I could not. Oh! Doctor, can the skill, and thought, and prayers of
man avail me nothing!"

"You must promise me, my dear sir, not to trouble yourself with
unnecessarily exciting thoughts; confine yourself strictly to the
narrative of _facts_; and recollect, above all, that even if the thing
that infests you be as you seem to suppose, a reality with an actual
independent life and will, yet it can have no power to hurt you, unless
it be given from above: its access to your senses depends mainly upon
your physical condition--this is, under God, your comfort and reliance:
we are all alike environed. It is only that in your case, the
'_paries_,' the veil of the flesh, the screen, is a little out of
repair, and sights and sounds are transmitted. We must enter on a new
course, sir--be encouraged. I'll give to-night to the careful
consideration of the whole case."

"You are very good, sir; you think it worth trying, you don't give me
quite up; but, sir, you don't know, it is gaining such an influence
over me: it orders me about, it is such a tyrant, and I'm growing so
helpless. May God deliver me!"

"It orders you about--of course you mean by speech?"

"Yes, yes; it is always urging me to crimes, to injure others, or
myself. You see, Doctor, the situation is urgent, it is indeed. When I
was in Shropshire, a few weeks ago" (Mr. Jennings was speaking rapidly
and trembling now, holding my arm with one hand, and looking in my
face), "I went out one day with a party of friends for a walk: my
persecutor, I tell you, was with me at the time. I lagged behind the
rest: the country near the Dee, you know, is beautiful. Our path
happened to lie near a coal mine, and at the verge of the wood is a
perpendicular shaft, they say, a hundred and fifty feet deep. My niece
had remained behind with me--she knows, of course, nothing of the
nature of my sufferings. She knew, however, that I had been ill, and was
low, and she remained to prevent my being quite alone. As we loitered
slowly on together the brute that accompanied me was urging me to throw
myself down the shaft. I tell you now--oh, sir, think of it!--the one
consideration that saved me from that hideous death was the fear lest
the shock of witnessing the occurrence should be too much for the poor
girl. I asked her to go on and take her walk with her friends, saying
that I could go no further. She made excuses, and the more I urged her
the firmer she became. She looked doubtful and frightened. I suppose
there was something in my looks or manner that alarmed her; but she
would not go, and that literally saved me. You had no idea, sir, that a
living man could be made so abject a slave of Satan," he said, with a
ghastly groan and a shudder.

There was a pause here, and I said, "You were preserved nevertheless. It
was the act of God. You are in his hands and in the power of no other
being: be therefore confident for the future."



I made him have candles lighted, and saw the room looking cheery and
inhabited before I left him. I told him that he must regard his illness
strictly as one dependent on physical, though _subtle_ physical, causes.
I told him that he had evidence of God's care and love in the
deliverance which he had just described, and that I had perceived with
pain that he seemed to regard its peculiar features as indicating that
he had been delivered over to spiritual reprobation. Than such a
conclusion nothing could be, I insisted, less warranted; and not only
so, but more contrary to facts, as disclosed in his mysterious
deliverance from that murderous influence during his Shropshire
excursion. First, his niece had been retained by his side without his
intending to keep her near him; and, secondly, there had been infused
into his mind an irresistible repugnance to execute the dreadful
suggestion in her presence.

As I reasoned this point with him, Mr. Jennings wept. He seemed
comforted. One promise I exacted, which was that should the monkey at
any time return, I should be sent for immediately; and, repeating my
assurance that I would give neither time nor thought to any other
subject until I had thoroughly investigated his case, and that to-morrow
he should hear the result, I took my leave.

Before getting into the carriage I told the servant that his master was
far from well, and that he should make a point of frequently looking
into his room.

My own arrangements I made with a view to being quite secure from

I merely called at my lodgings, and with a travelling-desk and
carpet-bag, set off in a hackney-carriage for an inn about two miles out
of town, called The Horns, a very quiet and comfortable house, with good
thick walls. And there I resolved, without the possibility of intrusion
or distraction, to devote some hours of the night, in my comfortable
sitting-room, to Mr. Jennings' case, and so much of the morning as it
might require.

(There occurs here a careful note of Dr. Hesselius' opinion upon the
case and of the habits, dietary, and medicines which he prescribed. It
is curious--some persons would say mystical. But on the whole I doubt
whether it would sufficiently interest a reader of the kind I am likely
to meet with, to warrant its being here reprinted. The whole letter was
plainly written at the inn where he had hid himself for the occasion.
The next letter is dated from his town lodgings.)

I left town for the inn where I slept last night at half-past nine, and
did not arrive at my room in town until one o'clock this afternoon. I
found a letter in Mr. Jennings' hand upon my table. It had not come by
post, and, on inquiry, I learned that Mr. Jennings' servant had brought
it, and on learning that I was not to return until to-day, and that no
one could tell him my address, he seemed very uncomfortable, and said
that his orders from his master were that he was not to return without
an answer.

I opened the letter, and read:

"Dear Dr. Hesselius. It is here. You had not been an hour gone when it
returned. It is speaking. It knows all that has happened. It knows
everything--it knows you, and is frantic and atrocious. It reviles. I
send you this. It knows every word I have written--I write. This I
promised, and I therefore write, but I fear very confused, very
incoherently. I am so interrupted, disturbed.

      "Ever yours, sincerely yours,


"When did this come?" I asked.

"About eleven last night: the man was here again, and has been here
three times to-day. The last time is about an hour since."

Thus answered, and with the notes I had made upon his case in my pocket,
I was in a few minutes driving towards Richmond, to see Mr. Jennings.

I by no means, as you perceive, despaired of Mr. Jennings' case. He had
himself remembered and applied, though quite in a mistaken way, the
principle which I lay down in my Metaphysical Medicine, and which
governs all such cases. I was about to apply it in earnest. I was
profoundly interested, and very anxious to see and examine him while the
"enemy" was actually present.

I drove up to the sombre house, and ran up the steps, and knocked. The
door, in a little time, was opened by a tall woman in black silk. She
looked ill, and as if she had been crying. She curtseyed, and heard my
question, but she did not answer. She turned her face away, extending
her hand towards two men who were coming down-stairs; and thus having,
as it were, tacitly made me over to them, she passed through a side-door
hastily and shut it.

The man who was nearest the hall, I at once accosted, but being now
close to him, I was shocked to see that both his hands were covered
with blood.

I drew back a little, and the man passing down-stairs merely said in a
low tone, "Here's the servant, sir."

The servant had stopped on the stairs, confounded and dumb at seeing me.
He was rubbing his hands in a handkerchief, and it was steeped in blood.

"Jones, what is it, what has happened?" I asked, while a sickening
suspicion overpowered me.

The man asked me to come up to the lobby. I was beside him in a moment,
and frowning and pallid, with contracted eyes, he told me the horror
which I already half guessed.

His master had made away with himself.

I went upstairs with him to the room--what I saw there I won't tell you.
He had cut his throat with his razor. It was a frightful gash. The two
men had laid him on the bed and composed his limbs. It had happened as
the immense pool of blood on the floor declared, at some distance
between the bed and the window. There was carpet round his bed, and a
carpet under his dressing-table, but none on the rest of the floor, for
the man said he did not like a carpet on his bedroom. In this sombre,
and now terrible room, one of the great elms that darkened the house was
slowly moving the shadow of one of its great boughs upon this dreadful

I beckoned to the servant and we went down-stairs together. I turned off
the hall into an old-fashioned pannelled room, and there standing, I
heard all the servant had to tell. It was not a great deal.

"I concluded, sir, from your words, and looks, sir, as you left last
night, that you thought my master seriously ill. I thought it might be
that you were afraid of a fit, or something. So I attended very close to
your directions. He sat up late, till past three o'clock. He was not
writing or reading. He was talking a great deal to himself, but that was
nothing unusual. At about that hour I assisted him to undress, and left
him in his slippers and dressing-gown. I went back softly in about half
an hour. He was in his bed, quite undressed, and a pair of candles
lighted on the table beside his bed. He was leaning on his elbow and
looking out at the other side of the bed when I came in. I asked him if
he wanted anything, and he said no.

"I don't know whether it was what you said to me, sir, or something a
little unusual about him, but I was uneasy, uncommon uneasy about him
last night.

"In another half hour, or it might be a little more, I went up again. I
did not hear him talking as before. I opened the door a little. The
candles were both out, which was not usual. I had a bedroom candle, and
I let the light in, a little bit, looking softly round. I saw him
sitting in that chair beside the dressing-table with his clothes on
again. He turned round and looked at me. I thought it strange he should
get up and dress, and put out the candles to sit in the dark, that way.
But I only asked him again if I could do anything for him. He said, no,
rather sharp, I thought. I asked if I might light the candles, and he
said, 'Do as you like, Jones,' So I lighted them, and I lingered about
the room, and he said, 'Tell me truth, Jones, why did you come
again--you did not hear any one cursing?' 'No, sir,' I said, wondering
what he could mean.

"'No,' said he, after me, 'of course, no;' and I said to him, 'Wouldn't
it be well, sir, you went to bed? It's just five o'clock;' and he said
nothing but, 'Very likely; good-night, Jones.' So I went, sir, but in
less than hour I came again. The door was fast, and he heard me, and
called as I thought from the bed to know what I wanted, and he desired
me not to disturb him again. I lay down and slept for a little. It must
have been between six and seven when I went up again. The door was still
fast, and he made no answer, so I did not like to disturb him, and
thinking he was asleep, I left him till nine. It was his custom to ring
when he wished me to come, and I had no particular hour for calling him.
I tapped very gently, and getting no answer, I stayed away a good while,
supposing he was getting some rest then. It was not till eleven o'clock
I grew really uncomfortable about him--for at the latest he was never,
that I could remember, later than half-past ten. I got no answer. I
knocked and called, and still no answer. So not being able to force the
door, I called Thomas from the stables, and together we forced it, and
found him in the shocking way you saw."

Jones had no more to tell. Poor Mr. Jennings was very gentle, and very
kind. All his people were fond of him. I could see that the servant was
very much moved.

So, dejected and agitated, I passed from that terrible house, and its
dark canopy of elms, and I hope I shall never see it more. While I write
to you I feel like a man who has but half waked from a frightful and
monotonous dream. My memory rejects the picture with incredulity and
horror. Yet I know it is true. It is the story of the process of a
poison, a poison which excites the reciprocal action of spirit and
nerve, and paralyses the tissue that separates those cognate functions
of the senses, the external and the interior. Thus we find strange
bed-fellows, and the mortal and immortal prematurely make acquaintance.



My dear Van L----, you have suffered from an affection similar to that
which I have just described. You twice complained of a return of it.

Who, under God, cured you? Your humble servant, Martin Hesselius. Let me
rather adopt the more emphasised piety of a certain good old French
surgeon of three hundred years ago: "I treated, and God cured you."

Come, my friend, you are not to be hippish. Let me tell you a fact.

I have met with, and treated, as my book shows, fifty-seven cases of
this kind of vision, which I term indifferently "sublimated,"
"precocious," and "interior."

There is another class of affections which are truly termed--though
commonly confounded with those which I describe--spectral illusions.
These latter I look upon as being no less simply curable than a cold in
the head or a trifling dyspepsia.

It is those which rank in the first category that test our promptitude
of thought. Fifty-seven such cases have I encountered, neither more nor
less. And in how many of these have I failed? In no one single instance.

There is no one affliction of mortality more easily and certainly
reducible, with a little patience, and a rational confidence in the
physician. With these simple conditions, I look upon the cure as
absolutely certain.

You are to remember that I had not even commenced to treat Mr. Jennings'
case. I have not any doubt that I should have cured him perfectly in
eighteen months, or possibly it might have extended to two years. Some
cases are very rapidly curable, others extremely tedious. Every
intelligent physician who will give thought and diligence to the task,
will effect a cure.

You know my tract on The Cardinal Functions of the Brain. I there, by
the evidence of innumerable facts, prove, as I think, the high
probability of a circulation arterial and venous in its mechanism,
through the nerves. Of this system, thus considered, the brain is the
heart. The fluid, which is propagated hence through one class of nerves,
returns in an altered state through another, and the nature of that
fluid is spiritual, though not immaterial, any more than, as I before
remarked, light or electricity are so.

By various abuses, among which the habitual use of such agents as green
tea is one, this fluid may be affected as to its quality, but it is more
frequently disturbed as to equilibrium. This fluid being that which we
have in common with spirits, a congestion found upon the masses of brain
or nerve, connected with the interior sense, forms a surface unduly
exposed, on which disembodied spirits may operate: communication is thus
more or less effectually established. Between this brain circulation and
the heart circulation there is an intimate sympathy. The seat, or rather
the instrument of exterior vision, is the eye. The seat of interior
vision is the nervous tissue and brain, immediately about and above the
eyebrow. You remember how effectually I dissipated your pictures by the
simple application of iced eau-de-cologne. Few cases, however, can be
treated exactly alike with anything like rapid success. Cold acts
powerfully as a repellant of the nervous fluid. Long enough continued it
will even produce that permanent insensibility which we call numbness,
and a little longer, muscular as well as sensational paralysis.

I have not, I repeat, the slightest doubt that I should have first
dimmed and ultimately sealed that inner eye which Mr. Jennings had
inadvertently opened. The same senses are opened in delirium tremens,
and entirely shut up again when the over-action of the cerebral heart,
and the prodigious nervous congestions that attend it, are terminated by
a decided change in the state of the body. It is by acting steadily upon
the body, by a simple process, that this result is produced--and
inevitably produced--I have never yet failed.

Poor Mr. Jennings made away with himself. But that catastrophe was the
result of a totally different malady, which, as it were, projected
itself upon that disease which was established. His case was in the
distinctive manner a complication, and the complaint under which he
really succumbed, was hereditary suicidal mania. Poor Mr. Jennings I
cannot call a patient of mine, for I had not even begun to treat his
case, and he had not yet given me, I am convinced, his full and
unreserved confidence. If the patient do not array himself on the side
of the disease, his cure is certain.



Out of about two hundred and thirty cases, more or less nearly akin to
that I have entitled "Green Tea," I select the following, which I call
"The Familiar."

To this MS. Doctor Hesselius, has, after his wont, attached some sheets
of letter-paper, on which are written, in his hand nearly as compact as
print, his own remarks upon the case. He says--

"In point of conscience, no more unexceptionable narrator, than the
venerable Irish Clergyman who has given me this paper, on Mr. Barton's
case, could have been chosen. The statement is, however, medically
imperfect. The report of an intelligent physician, who had marked its
progress, and attended the patient, from its earlier stages to its
close, would have supplied what is wanting to enable me to pronounce
with confidence. I should have been acquainted with Mr. Barton's
probable hereditary pre-dispositions; I should have known, possibly, by
very early indications, something of a remoter origin of the disease
than can now be ascertained.

"In a rough way, we may reduce all similar cases to three distinct
classes. They are founded on the primary distinction between the
subjective and the objective. Of those whose senses are alleged to be
subject to supernatural impressions--some are simply visionaries, and
propagate the illusions of which they complain, from diseased brain or
nerves. Others are, unquestionably, infested by, as we term them,
spiritual agencies, exterior to themselves. Others, again, owe their
sufferings to a mixed condition. The interior sense, it is true, is
opened; but it has been and continues open by the action of disease.
This form of disease may, in one sense, be compared to the loss of the
scarf-skin, and a consequent exposure of surfaces for whose excessive
sensitiveness, nature has provided a muffling. The loss of this covering
is attended by an habitual impassability, by influences against which we
were intended to be guarded. But in the case of the brain, and the
nerves immediately connected with its functions and its sensuous
impressions, the cerebral circulation undergoes periodically that
vibratory disturbance, which, I believe, I have satisfactorily examined
and demonstrated, in my MS. Essay, A. 17. This vibratory disturbance
differs, as I there prove, essentially from the congestive disturbance,
the phenomena of which are examined in A. 19. It is, when excessive,
invariably accompanied by _illusions_.

"Had I seen Mr. Barton, and examined him upon the points, in his case,
which need elucidation, I should have without difficulty referred those
phenomena to their proper disease. My diagnosis is now, necessarily,

Thus writes Doctor Hesselius; and adds a great deal which is of interest
only to a scientific physician.

The Narrative of the Rev. Thomas Herbert, which furnishes all that is
known of the case, will be found in the chapters that follow.



I was a young man at the time, and intimately acquainted with some of
the actors in this strange tale; the impression which its incidents made
on me, therefore, were deep, and lasting. I shall now endeavour, with
precision, to relate them all, combining, of course, in the narrative,
whatever I have learned from various sources, tending, however
imperfectly, to illuminate the darkness which involves its progress and

Somewhere about the year 1794, the younger brother of a certain baronet,
whom I shall call Sir James Barton, returned to Dublin. He had served in
the navy with some distinction, having commanded one of His Majesty's
frigates during the greater part of the American war. Captain Barton was
apparently some two or three-and-forty years of age. He was an
intelligent and agreeable companion when he pleased it, though generally
reserved, and occasionally even moody.

In society, however, he deported himself as a man of the world, and a
gentleman. He had not contracted any of the noisy brusqueness sometimes
acquired at sea; on the contrary, his manners were remarkably easy,
quiet, and even polished. He was in person about the middle size, and
somewhat strongly formed--his countenance was marked with the lines of
thought, and on the whole wore an expression of gravity and melancholy;
being, however, as I have said, a man of perfect breeding, as well as of
good family, and in affluent circumstances, he had, of course, ready
access to the best society of Dublin, without the necessity of any other

In his personal habits Mr. Barton was unexpensive. He occupied lodgings
in one of the _then_ fashionable streets in the south side of the
town--kept but one horse and one servant--and though a reputed
free-thinker, yet lived an orderly and moral life--indulging neither in
gaming, drinking, nor any other vicious pursuit--living very much to
himself, without forming intimacies, or choosing any companions, and
appearing to mix in gay society rather for the sake of its bustle and
distraction, than for any opportunities it offered of interchanging
thought or feeling with its votaries.

Barton was therefore pronounced a saving, prudent, unsocial sort of
fellow, who bid fair to maintain his celibacy alike against stratagem
and assault, and was likely to live to a good old age, die rich, and
leave his money to an hospital.

It was now apparent, however, that the nature of Mr. Barton's plans had
been totally misconceived. A young lady, whom I shall call Miss
Montague, was at this time introduced into the gay world, by her aunt,
the Dowager Lady L----. Miss Montague was decidedly pretty and
accomplished, and having some natural cleverness, and a great deal of
gaiety, became for a while a reigning toast.

Her popularity, however, gained her, for a time, nothing more than that
unsubstantial admiration which, however, pleasant as an incense to
vanity, is by no means necessarily antecedent to matrimony--for,
unhappily for the young lady in question, it was an understood thing,
that beyond her personal attractions, she had no kind of earthly
provision. Such being the state of affairs, it will readily be believed
that no little surprise was consequent upon the appearance of Captain
Barton as the avowed lover of the penniless Miss Montague.

His suit prospered, as might have been expected, and in a short time it
was communicated by old Lady L---- to each of her hundred-and-fifty
particular friends in succession, that Captain Barton had actually
tendered proposals of marriage, with her approbation, to her niece, Miss
Montague, who had, moreover, accepted the offer of his hand,
conditionally upon the consent of her father, who was then upon his
homeward voyage from India, and expected in two or three weeks at the

About this consent there could be no doubt--the delay, therefore, was
one merely of form--they were looked upon as absolutely engaged, and
Lady L----, with a rigour of old-fashioned decorum with which her niece
would, no doubt, gladly have dispensed, withdrew her thenceforward from
all further participation in the gaieties of the town.

Captain Barton was a constant visitor, as well as a frequent guest at
the house, and was permitted all the privileges of intimacy which a
betrothed suitor is usually accorded. Such was the relation of parties,
when the mysterious circumstances which darken this narrative first
begun to unfold themselves.

Lady L---- resided in a handsome mansion at the north side of Dublin,
and Captain Barton's lodgings, as we have already said, were situated at
the south. The distance intervening was considerable, and it was Captain
Barton's habit generally to walk home without an attendant, as often as
he passed the evening with the old lady and her fair charge.

His shortest way in such nocturnal walks, lay, for a considerable space,
through a line of street which had as yet merely been laid out, and
little more than the foundations of the houses constructed.

One night, shortly after his engagement with Miss Montague had
commenced, he happened to remain unusually late, in company with her and
Lady L----. The conversation had turned upon the evidences of
revelation, which he had disputed with the callous scepticism of a
confirmed infidel. What were called "French principles," had in those
days found their way a good deal into fashionable society, especially
that portion of it which professed allegiance to Whiggism, and neither
the old lady nor her charge were so perfectly free from the taint, as to
look upon Mr. Barton's views as any serious objection to the proposed

The discussion had degenerated into one upon the supernatural and the
marvellous, in which he had pursued precisely the same line of argument
and ridicule. In all this, it is but truth to state, Captain Barton, was
guilty of no affectation--the doctrines upon which he insisted, were, in
reality, but, too truly the basis of his own fixed belief, if so it
might be called; and perhaps not the least strange of the many strange
circumstances connected with my narrative, was the fact, that the
subject of the fearful influences I am about to describe, was himself,
from the deliberate conviction of years, an utter disbeliever in what
are usually termed preternatural agencies.

It was considerably past midnight when Mr. Barton took his leave, and
set out upon his solitary walk homeward. He had now reached the lonely
road, with its unfinished dwarf walls tracing the foundations of the
projected row of houses on either side--the moon was shining mistily,
and its imperfect light made the road he trod but additionally
dreary--that utter silence which has in it something indefinably
exciting, reigned there, and made the sound of his steps, which alone
broke it, unnaturally loud and distinct.

He had proceeded thus some way, when he, on a sudden, heard other
footfalls, pattering at a measured pace, and, as it seemed, about two
score steps behind him.

The suspicion of being dogged is at all times unpleasant; it is,
however, especially so in a spot so lonely; and this suspicion became so
strong in the mind of Captain Barton, that he abruptly turned about to
confront his pursuer, but, though there was quite sufficient moonlight
to disclose any object upon the road he had traversed, no form of any
kind was visible there.

The steps he had heard could not have been the reverberation of his own,
for he stamped his foot upon the ground, and walked briskly up and
down, in the vain attempt to awake an echo; though by no means a
fanciful person, therefore he was at last fain to charge the sounds upon
his imagination, and treat them as an illusion. Thus satisfying himself,
he resumed his walk, and before he had proceeded a dozen paces, the
mysterious footfall was again audible from behind, and this time, as if
with the special design of showing that the sounds were not the
responses of an echo--the steps sometimes slackened nearly to a halt,
and sometimes hurried for six or eight strides to a run, and again
abated to a walk.

Captain Barton, as before, turned suddenly round, and with the same
result--no object was visible above the deserted level of the road. He
walked back over the same ground, determined that, whatever might have
been the cause of the sounds which had so disconcerted him, it should
not escape his search--the endeavour, however, was unrewarded.

In spite of all his scepticism, he felt something like a superstitious
fear stealing fast upon him, and with these unwonted and uncomfortable
sensations, he once more turned and pursued his way. There was no
repetition of these haunting sounds, until he had reached the point
where he had last stopped to retrace his steps--here they were
resumed--and with sudden starts of running, which threatened to bring
the unseen pursuer up to the alarmed pedestrian.

Captain Barton arrested his course as formerly--the unaccountable nature
of the occurrence filled him with vague and disagreeable sensations--and
yielding to the excitement that was gaining upon him, he shouted
sternly, "Who goes there?" The sound of one's own voice, thus exerted,
in utter solitude, and followed by total silence, has in it something
unpleasantly dismaying, and he felt a degree of nervousness which,
perhaps, from no cause had he ever known before.

To the very end of this solitary street the steps pursued him--and it
required a strong effort of stubborn pride on his part, to resist the
impulse that prompted him every moment to run for safety at the top of
his speed. It was not until he had reached his lodging, and sate by his
own fire-side, that he felt sufficiently reassured to rearrange and
reconsider in his own mind the occurrences which had so discomposed him.
So little a matter, after all, is sufficient to upset the pride of
scepticism and vindicate the old simple laws of nature within us.



Mr. Barton was next morning sitting at a late breakfast, reflecting upon
the incidents of the previous night, with more of inquisitiveness than
awe, so speedily do gloomy impressions upon the fancy disappear under
the cheerful influence of day, when a letter just delivered by the
postman was placed upon the table before him.

There was nothing remarkable in the address of this missive, except
that it was written in a hand which he did not know--perhaps it was
disguised--for the tall narrow characters were sloped backward; and with
the self-inflicted suspense which we often see practised in such cases,
he puzzled over the inscription for a full minute before he broke the
seal. When he did so, he read the following words, written in the same

"Mr. Barton, late captain of the 'Dolphin,' is warned of DANGER. He will
do wisely to avoid ---- street--[here the locality of his last night's
adventure was named]--if he walks there as usual he will meet with
something unlucky--let him take warning, once for all, for he has reason
to dread

        "THE WATCHER."

Captain Barton read and re-read this strange effusion; in every light
and in every direction he turned it over and over; he examined the
paper on which it was written, and scrutinized the hand-writing once
more. Defeated here, he turned to the seal; it was nothing but a patch
of wax, upon which the accidental impression of a thumb was imperfectly

There was not the slightest mark, or clue of any kind, to lead him to
even a guess as to its possible origin. The writer's object seemed a
friendly one, and yet he subscribed himself as one whom he had "reason
to dread." Altogether the letter, its author, and its real purpose were
to him an inexplicable puzzle, and one, moreover, unpleasantly
suggestive, in his mind, of other associations connected with his last
night's adventure.

In obedience to some feeling--perhaps of pride--Mr. Barton did not
communicate, even to his intended bride, the occurrences which I have
just detailed. Trifling as they might appear, they had in reality most
disagreeably affected his imagination, and he cared not to disclose,
even to the young lady in question, what she might possibly look upon as
evidences of weakness. The letter might very well be but a hoax, and the
mysterious footfall but a delusion or a trick. But although he affected
to treat the whole affair as unworthy of a thought, it yet haunted him
pertinaciously, tormenting him with perplexing doubts, and depressing
him with undefined apprehensions. Certain it is, that for a considerable
time afterwards he carefully avoided the street indicated in the letter
as the scene of danger.

It was not until about a week after the receipt of the letter which I
have transcribed, that anything further occurred to remind Captain
Barton of its contents, or to counteract the gradual disappearance from
his mind of the disagreeable impressions then received.

He was returning one night, after the interval I have stated, from the
theatre, which was then situated in Crow-street, and having there seen
Miss Montague and Lady L---- into their carriage, he loitered for some
time with two or three acquaintances.

With these, however, he parted close to the college, and pursued his way
alone. It was now fully one o'clock, and the streets were quite
deserted. During the whole of his walk with the companions from whom he
had just parted, he had been at times painfully aware of the sound of
steps, as it seemed, dogging them on their way.

Once or twice he had looked back, in the uneasy anticipation that he was
again about to experience the same mysterious annoyances which had so
disconcerted him a week before, and earnestly hoping that he might see
some form to account naturally for the sounds. But the street was
deserted--no one was visible.

Proceeding now quite alone upon his homeward way, he grew really nervous
and uncomfortable, as he became sensible, with increased distinctness,
of the well-known and now absolutely dreaded sounds.

By the side of the dead wall which bounded the college park, the sounds
followed, recommencing almost simultaneously with his own steps. The
same unequal pace--sometimes slow, sometimes for a score yards or so,
quickened almost to a run--was audible from behind him. Again and again
he turned; quickly and stealthily he glanced over his shoulder--almost
at every half-dozen steps; but no one was visible.

The irritation of this intangible and unseen pursuit became gradually
all but intolerable; and when at last he reached his home, his nerves
were strung to such a pitch of excitement that he could not rest, and
did not attempt even to lie down until after the daylight had broken.

He was awakened by a knock at his chamber-door, and his servant
entering, handed him several letters which had just been received by the
penny post. One among them instantly arrested his attention--a single
glance at the direction aroused him thoroughly He at once recognized its
character, and read as follows:--

"You may as well think, Captain Barton, to escape from your own shadow
as from me; do what you may, I will see you as often as I please, and
you shall see me, for I do not want to hide myself, as you fancy. Do not
let it trouble your rest, Captain Barton; for, with a _good conscience_,
what need you fear from the eye of

        "THE WATCHER."

It is scarcely necessary to dwell upon the feelings that accompanied a
perusal of this strange communication. Captain Barton was observed to be
unusually absent and out of spirits for several days afterwards? but no
one divined the cause.

Whatever he might think as to the phantom steps which followed him,
there could be no possible illusion about the letters he had received;
and, to say the least, their immediate sequence upon the mysterious
sounds which had haunted him, was an odd coincidence.

The whole circumstance was, in his own mind, vaguely and instinctively
connected with certain passages in his past life, which, of all others,
he hated to remember.

It happened, however, that in addition to his own approaching nuptials,
Captain Barton had just then--fortunately, perhaps, for himself--some
business of an engrossing kind connected with the adjustment of a large
and long-litigated claim upon certain properties.

The hurry and excitement of business had its natural effect in gradually
dispelling the gloom which had for a time occasionally oppressed him,
and in a little while his spirits had entirely recovered their
accustomed tone.

During all this time, however, he was, now and then, dismayed by
indistinct and half-heard repetitions of the same annoyance, and that in
lonely places, in the day-time as well as after nightfall. These
renewals of the strange impressions from which he had suffered so much,
were, however, desultory and faint, insomuch that often he really could
not, to his own satisfaction, distinguish between them and the mere
suggestions of an excited imagination.

One evening he walked down to the House of Commons with a Member, an
acquaintance of his and mine. This was one of the few occasions upon
which I have been in company with Captain Barton. As we walked down
together, I observed that he became absent and silent, and to a degree
that seemed to argue the pressure of some urgent and absorbing anxiety.

I afterwards learned that during the whole of our walk, he had heard the
well-known footsteps tracking him as we proceeded.

This, however, was the last time he suffered from this phase of the
persecution, of which he was already the anxious victim. A new and a
very different one was about to be presented.



Of the new series of impressions which were afterwards gradually to work
out his destiny, I that evening witnessed the first; and but for its
relation to the train of events which followed, the incident would
scarcely have been now remembered by me.

As we were walking in at the passage from College-Green, a man, of whom
I remember only that he was short in stature, looked like a foreigner,
and wore a kind of fur travelling-cap, walked very rapidly, and as if
under fierce excitement, directly towards us, muttering to himself, fast
and vehemently the while.

This odd-looking person walked straight toward Barton, who was foremost
of the three, and halted, regarding him for a moment or two with a look
of maniacal menace and fury; and then turning about as abruptly, he
walked before us at the same agitated pace, and disappeared at a side
passage. I do distinctly remember being a good deal shocked at the
countenance and bearing of this man, which indeed irresistibly impressed
me with an undefined sense of danger, such as I have never felt before
or since from the presence of anything human; but these sensations were,
on my part, far from amounting to anything so disconcerting as to flurry
or excite me--I had seen only a singularly evil countenance, agitated,
as it seemed, with the excitement of madness.

I was absolutely astonished, however, at the effect of this apparition
upon Captain Barton. I knew him to be a man of proud courage and
coolness in real danger--a circumstance which made his conduct upon this
occasion the more conspicuously odd. He recoiled a step or two as the
stranger advanced, and clutched my arm in silence, with what seemed to
be a spasm of agony or terror! and then, as the figure disappeared,
shoving me roughly back, he followed it for a few paces, stopped in
great disorder, and sat down upon a form. I never beheld a countenance
more ghastly and haggard.

"For God's sake, Barton, what is the matter?" said ----, our companion,
really alarmed at his appearance. "You're not hurt, are you?--or unwell?
What is it?"

"What did he say?--I did not hear it--what was it?" asked Barton, wholly
disregarding the question.

"Nonsense," said ----, greatly surprised; "who cares what the fellow
said. You are unwell, Barton--decidedly unwell; let me call a coach."

"Unwell! No--not unwell," he said, evidently making an effort to recover
his self-possession; "but, to say the truth, I am fatigued--a little
over-worked--and perhaps over anxious. You know I have been in chancery,
and the winding up of a suit is always a nervous affair. I have felt
uncomfortable all this evening; but I am better now. Come, come--shall
we go on?"

"No, no. Take my advice, Barton, and go home; you really do need rest!
you are looking quite ill. I really do insist on your allowing me to see
you home," replied his friend.

I seconded ----'s advice, the more readily as it was obvious that Barton
was not himself disinclined to be persuaded. He left us, declining our
offered escort. I was not sufficiently intimate with ---- to discuss the
scene we had both just witnessed. I was, however, convinced from his
manner in the few common-place comments and regrets we exchanged, that
he was just as little satisfied as I with the extempore plea of illness
with which he had accounted for the strange exhibition, and that we were
both agreed in suspecting some lurking mystery in the matter.

I called next day at Barton's lodgings, to enquire for him, and learned
from the servant that he had not left his room since his return the
night before; but that he was not seriously indisposed, and hoped to be
out in a few days. That evening he sent for Dr. R----, then in large and
fashionable practice in Dublin, and their interview was, it is said, an
odd one.

He entered into a detail of his own symptoms in an abstracted and
desultory way which seemed to argue a strange want of interest in his
own cure, and, at all events, made it manifest that there was some topic
engaging his mind of more engrossing importance than his present
ailment. He complained of occasional palpitations and headache.

Doctor R----, asked him among other questions, whether there was any
irritating circumstance or anxiety then occupying his thoughts. This he
denied quickly and almost peevishly; and the physician thereupon
declared his opinion, that there was nothing amiss except some slight
derangement of the digestion, for which he accordingly wrote a
prescription, and was about to withdraw, when Mr. Barton, with the air
of a man who recollects a topic which had nearly escaped him, recalled

"I beg your pardon, Doctor, but I really almost forgot; will you permit
me to ask you two or three medical questions--rather odd ones, perhaps,
but a wager depends upon their solution, you will, I hope, excuse my

The physician readily undertook to satisfy the inquirer.

Barton seemed to have some difficulty about opening the proposed
interrogatories, for he was silent for a minute, then walked to his
book-case, and returned as he had gone; at last he sat down and said--

"You'll think them very childish questions, but I can't recover my wager
without a decision; so I must put them. I want to know first about
lock-jaw. If a man actually has had that complaint, and appears to have
died of it--so much so, that a physician of average skill pronounces him
actually dead--may he, after all, recover?"

The physician smiled, and shook his head.

"But--but a blunder may be made," resumed Barton. "Suppose an ignorant
pretender to medical skill; may _he_ be so deceived by any stage of the
complaint, as to mistake what is only a part of the progress of the
disease, for death itself?"

"No one who had ever seen death," answered he, "could mistake it in a
case of lock-jaw."

Barton mused for a few minutes. "I am going to ask you a question,
perhaps, still more childish; but first, tell me, are the regulations of
foreign hospitals, such as that of, let us say, Naples, very lax and
bungling. May not all kinds of blunders and slips occur in their entries
of names, and soforth?"

Doctor R---- professed his incompetence to answer that query.

"Well, then, Doctor, here is the last of my questions. You will,
probably, laugh at it; but it must out, nevertheless. Is there any
disease, in all the range of human maladies, which would have the effect
of perceptibly contracting the stature, and the whole frame--causing the
man to shrink in all his proportions, and yet to preserve his exact
resemblance to himself in every particular--with the one exception, his
height and bulk; any disease, mark--no matter how rare--how little
believed in, generally--which could possibly result in producing such an

The physician replied with a smile, and a very decided negative.

"Tell me, then," said Barton, abruptly, "if a man be in reasonable fear
of assault from a lunatic who is at large, can he not procure a warrant
for his arrest and detention?"

"Really that is more a lawyer's question than one in my way," replied
Dr. R----: "but I believe, on applying to a magistrate, such a course
would be directed."

The physician then took his leave; but, just as he reached the
hall-door, remembered that he had left his cane up stairs, and returned.
His reappearance was awkward, for a piece of paper, which he recognised
as his own prescription, was slowly burning upon the fire, and Barton
sitting close by with an expression of settled gloom and dismay.

Doctor R---- had too much tact to observe what presented itself; but he
had seen quite enough to assure him that the mind, and not the body, of
Captain Barton was in reality the seat of suffering.

A few days afterwards, the following advertisement appeared in the
Dublin newspapers.

"If Sylvester Yelland, formerly a foremast-man on board his Majesty's
frigate Dolphin, or his nearest of kin, will apply to Mr. Hubert Smith,
attorney, at his office, Dame Street, he or they may hear of something
greatly to his or their advantage. Admission may be had at any hour up
to twelve o'clock at night, should parties desire to avoid observation;
and the strictest secrecy, as to all communications intended to be
confidential, shall be honourably observed."

The Dolphin, as I have mentioned, was the vessel which Captain Barton
had commanded; and this circumstance, connected with the extraordinary
exertions made by the circulation of hand-bills, &c, as well as by
repeated advertisements, to secure for this strange notice the utmost
possible publicity, suggested to Dr. R---- the idea that Captain
Barton's extreme uneasiness was somehow connected with the individual to
whom the advertisement was addressed, and he himself the author of it.

This, however, it is needless to add, was no more than a conjecture. No
information whatsoever, as to the real purpose of the advertisement was
divulged by the agent, nor yet any hint as to who his employer might



Mr. Barton, although he had latterly begun to earn for himself the
character of an hypochondriac, was yet very far from deserving it.
Though by no means lively, he had yet, naturally, what are termed "even
spirits," and was not subject to undue depressions.

He soon, therefore, began to return to his former habits; and one of the
earliest symptoms of this healthier tone of spirits was, his appearing
at a grand dinner of the Freemasons, of which worthy fraternity he was
himself a brother. Barton, who had been at first gloomy and abstracted,
drank much more freely than was his wont--possibly with the purpose of
dispelling his own secret anxieties--and under the influence of good
wine, and pleasant company, became gradually (unlike himself) talkative,
and even noisy.

It was under this unwonted excitement that he left his company at about
half-past ten o'clock; and, as conviviality is a strong incentive to
gallantry, it occurred to him to proceed forthwith to Lady L----'s and
pass the remainder of the evening with her and his destined bride.

Accordingly, he was soon at ---- street, and chatting gaily with the
ladies. It is not to be supposed that Captain Barton had exceeded the
limits which propriety prescribes to good fellowship--he had merely
taken enough wine to raise his spirits, without, however, in the least
degree unsteadying his mind, or affecting his manners.

With this undue elevation of spirits had supervened an entire oblivion
or contempt of those undefined apprehensions which had for so long
weighed upon his mind, and to a certain extent estranged him from
society; but as the night wore away, and his artificial gaiety began to
flag, these painful feelings gradually intruded themselves again, and he
grew abstracted and anxious as heretofore.

He took his leave at length, with an unpleasant foreboding of some
coming mischief, and with a mind haunted with a thousand mysterious
apprehensions, such as, even while he acutely felt their pressure, he,
nevertheless, inwardly strove, or affected to contemn.

It was this proud defiance of what he regarded as his own weakness,
which prompted him upon the present occasion to that course which
brought about the adventure I am now about to relate.

Mr. Barton might have easily called a coach, but he was conscious that
his strong inclination to do so proceeded from no cause other than what
he desperately persisted in representing to himself to be his own
superstitious tremors.

He might also have returned home by a _route_ different from that
against which he had been warned by his mysterious correspondent; but
for the same reason he dismissed this idea also, and with a dogged and
half desperate resolution to force matters to a crisis of some kind, if
there were any reality in the causes of his former suffering, and if
not, satisfactorily to bring their delusiveness to the proof, he
determined to follow precisely the course which he had trodden upon the
night so painfully memorable in his own mind as that on which his
strange persecution commenced. Though, sooth to say, the pilot who for
the first time steers his vessel under the muzzles of a hostile battery,
never felt his resolution more severely tasked than did Captain Barton
as he breathlessly pursued this solitary path--a path which, spite of
every effort of scepticism and reason, he felt to be infested by some
(as respected _him_) malignant being.

He pursued his way steadily and rapidly, scarcely breathing from
intensity of suspense; he, however, was troubled by no renewal of the
dreaded footsteps, and was beginning to feel a return of confidence, as
more than three-fourths of the way being accomplished with impunity, he
approached the long line of twinkling oil lamps which indicated the
frequented streets.

This feeling of self-congratulation was, however, but momentary. The
report of a musket at some hundred yards behind him, and the whistle of
a bullet close to his head, disagreeably and startlingly dispelled it.
His first impulse was to retrace his steps in pursuit of the assassin;
but the road on either side was, as we have said, embarrassed by the
foundations of a street, beyond which extended waste fields, full of
rubbish and neglected lime and brick-kilns, and all now as utterly
silent as though no sound had ever disturbed their dark and unsightly
solitude. The futility of, single-handed, attempting, under such
circumstances, a search for the murderer, was apparent, especially as no
sound, either of retreating steps or any other kind, was audible to
direct his pursuit.

With the tumultuous sensations of one whose life has just been exposed
to a murderous attempt, and whose escape has been the narrowest
possible, Captain Barton turned again; and without, however, quickening
his pace actually to a run, hurriedly pursued his way.

He had turned, as I have said, after a pause of a few seconds, and had
just commenced his rapid retreat, when on a sudden he met the
well-remembered little man in the fur cap. The encounter was but
momentary. The figure was walking at the same exaggerated pace, and with
the same strange air of menace as before; and as it passed him, he
thought he heard it say, in a furious whisper, "Still alive--still

The state of Mr. Barton's spirits began now to work a corresponding
alteration in his health and looks, and to such a degree that it was
impossible that the change should escape general remark.

For some reasons, known but to himself, he took no step whatsoever to
bring the attempt upon his life, which he had so narrowly escaped, under
the notice of the authorities; on the contrary, he kept it jealously to
himself; and it was not for many weeks after the occurrence that he
mentioned it, and then in strict confidence, to a gentleman, whom the
torments of his mind at last compelled him to consult.

Spite of his blue devils, however, poor Barton, having no satisfactory
reason to render to the public for any undue remissness in the
attentions exacted by the relation subsisting between him and Miss
Montague was obliged to exert himself, and present to the world a
confident and cheerful bearing.

The true source of his sufferings, and every circumstance connected with
them, he guarded with a reserve so jealous, that it seemed dictated by
at least a suspicion that the origin of his strange persecution was
known to himself, and that it was of a nature which, upon his own
account, he could not or dared not disclose.

The mind thus turned in upon itself, and constantly occupied with a
haunting anxiety which it dared not reveal or confide to any human
breast, became daily more excited, and, of course, more vividly
impressible, by a system of attack which operated through the nervous
system; and in this state he was destined to sustain, with increasing
frequency, the stealthy visitations of that apparition which from the
first had seemed to possess so terrible a hold upon his imagination.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was about this time that Captain Barton called upon the then
celebrated preacher, Dr. ----, with whom he had a slight acquaintance,
and an extraordinary conversation ensued.

The divine was seated in his chambers in college, surrounded with works
upon his favourite pursuit, and deep in theology, when Barton was

There was something at once embarrassed and excited in his manner,
which, along with his wan and haggard countenance, impressed the student
with the unpleasant consciousness that his visitor must have recently
suffered terribly indeed, to account for an alteration so
striking--almost shocking.

After the usual interchange of polite greeting, and a few common-place
remarks, Captain Barton, who obviously perceived the surprise which his
visit had excited, and which Doctor ---- was unable wholly to conceal,
interrupted a brief pause by remarking--

"This is a strange call, Doctor ----, perhaps scarcely warranted by an
acquaintance so slight as mine with you. I should not under ordinary
circumstances have ventured to disturb you; but my visit is neither an
idle nor impertinent intrusion. I am sure you will not so account it,
when I tell you how afflicted I am."

Doctor ---- interrupted him with assurances such as good breeding
suggested, and Barton resumed--

"I am come to task your patience by asking your advice. When I say your
patience, I might, indeed, say more; I might have said your
humanity--your compassion; for I have been and am a great sufferer."

"My dear sir," replied the churchman, "it will, indeed, afford me
infinite gratification if I can give you comfort in any distress of
mind; but--you know----"

"I know what you would say," resumed Barton, quickly; "I am an
unbeliever, and, therefore, incapable of deriving help from religion;
but don't take that for granted. At least you must not assume that,
however unsettled my convictions may be, I do not feel a deep--a very
deep--interest in the subject. Circumstances have lately forced it upon
my attention, in such a way as to compel me to review the whole
question in a more candid and teachable spirit, I believe, than I ever
studied it in before."

"Your difficulties, I take it for granted, refer to the evidences of
revelation," suggested the clergyman.

"Why--no--not altogether; in fact I am ashamed to say I have not
considered even my objections sufficiently to state them connectedly;
but--but there is one subject on which I feel a peculiar interest."

He paused again, and Doctor ---- pressed him to proceed.

"The fact is," said Barton, "whatever may be my uncertainty as to the
authenticity of what we are taught to call revelation, of one fact I am
deeply and horribly convinced, that there does exist beyond this a
spiritual world--a system whose workings are generally in mercy hidden
from us--a system which may be, and which is sometimes, partially and
terribly revealed. I am sure--I _know_," continued Barton, with
increasing excitement, "that there is a God--a dreadful God--and that
retribution follows guilt, in ways the most mysterious and
stupendous--by agencies the most inexplicable and terrific;--there is a
spiritual system--great God, how I have been convinced!--a system
malignant, and implacable, and omnipotent, under whose persecutions I
am, and have been, suffering the torments of the damned!--yes,
sir--yes--the fires and frenzy of hell!"

As Barton spoke, his agitation became so vehement that the Divine was
shocked, and even alarmed. The wild and excited rapidity with which he
spoke, and, above all, the indefinable horror, that stamped his
features, afforded a contrast to his ordinary cool and unimpassioned
self-possession striking and painful in the last degree.



"My dear sir," said Doctor ----, after a brief pause, "I fear you have
been very unhappy, indeed; but I venture to predict that the depression
under which you labour will be found to originate in purely physical
causes, and that with a change of air, and the aid of a few tonics, your
spirits will return, and the tone of your mind be once more cheerful and
tranquil as heretofore. There was, after all, more truth than we are
quite willing to admit in the classic theories which assigned the undue
predominance of any one affection of the mind, to the undue action or
torpidity of one or other of our bodily organs. Believe me, that a
little attention to diet, exercise, and the other essentials of health,
under competent direction, will make you as much yourself as you can

"Doctor ----" said Barton, with something like a shudder, "I _cannot_
delude myself with such a hope. I have no hope to cling to but one, and
that is, that by some other spiritual agency more potent than that which
tortures me, _it_ may be combated, and I delivered. If this may not be,
I am lost--now and for ever lost."

"But, Mr. Barton, you must remember," urged his companion, "that others
have suffered as you have done, and----"

"No, no, no," interrupted he, with irritability--"no, sir, I am not a
credulous--far from a superstitious man. I have been, perhaps, too much
the reverse--too sceptical, too slow of belief; but unless I were one
whom no amount of evidence could convince, unless I were to contemn the
repeated, the _perpetual_ evidence of my own senses, I am now--now at
last constrained to believe--I have no escape from the conviction--the
overwhelming certainty--that I am haunted and dogged, go where I may,
by--by a DEMON!"

There was a preternatural energy of horror in Barton's face, as, with
its damp and death-like lineaments turned towards his companion, he thus
delivered himself.

"God help you, my poor friend," said Dr. ----, much shocked, "God help
you; for, indeed, you _are_ a sufferer, however your sufferings may have
been caused."

"Ay, ay, God help me," echoed Barton, sternly; "but _will_ he help
me--will he help me?"

"Pray to him--pray in an humble and trusting spirit," said he.

"Pray, pray," echoed he again; "I can't pray--I could as easily move a
mountain by an effort of my will. I have not belief enough to pray;
there is something within me that will not pray. You prescribe
impossibilities--literal impossibilities."

"You will not find it so, if you will but try," said Doctor ----.

"Try! I _have_ tried, and the attempt only fills me with confusion; and,
sometimes, terror; I have tried in vain, and more than in vain. The
awful, unutterable idea of eternity and infinity oppresses and maddens
my brain whenever my mind approaches the contemplation of the Creator; I
recoil from the effort scared. I tell you, Doctor ----, if I am to be
saved, it must be by other means. The idea of an eternal Creator is to
me intolerable--my mind cannot support it."

"Say, then, my dear sir," urged he, "say how you would have me serve
you--what you would learn of me--what I can do or say to relieve you?"

"Listen to me first," replied Captain Barton, with a subdued air, and an
effort to suppress his excitement, "listen to me while I detail the
circumstances of the persecution under which my life has become all but
intolerable--a persecution which has made me fear _death_ and the world
beyond the grave as much as I have grown to hate existence."

Barton then proceeded to relate the circumstances which I have already
detailed, and then continued:

"This has now become habitual--an accustomed thing. I do not mean the
actual seeing him in the flesh--thank God, _that_ at least is not
permitted daily. Thank God, from the ineffable horrors of that
visitation I have been mercifully allowed intervals of repose, though
none of security; but from the consciousness that a malignant spirit is
following and watching me wherever I go, I have never, for a single
instant, a temporary respite. I am pursued with blasphemies, cries of
despair and appalling hatred. I hear those dreadful sounds called after
me as I turn the corners of the streets; they come in the night-time,
while I sit in my chamber alone; they haunt me everywhere, charging me
with hideous crimes, and--great God!--threatening me with coming
vengeance and eternal misery. Hush! do you hear _that_?" he cried with a
horrible smile of triumph; "there, there, will that convince you?"

The clergyman felt a chill of horror steal over him, while, during the
wail of a sudden gust of wind, he heard, or fancied he heard, the half
articulate sounds of rage and derision mingling in the sough.

"Well, what do you think of _that_?" at length Barton cried, drawing a
long breath through his teeth.

"I heard the wind," said Doctor ----.

"What should I think of it--what is there remarkable about it?"

"The prince of the powers of the air," muttered Barton, with a shudder.

"Tut, tut! my dear sir," said the student, with an effort to reassure
himself; for though it was broad daylight, there was nevertheless
something disagreeably contagious in the nervous excitement under which
his visitor so miserably suffered. "You must not give way to those wild
fancies; you must resist these impulses of the imagination."

"Ay, ay; 'resist the devil and he will flee from thee,'" said Barton, in
the same tone; "but _how_ resist him? ay, there it is--there is the rub.
What--_what_ am I to do? what _can_ I do?"

"My dear sir, this _is_ fancy," said the man of folios; "you are your
own tormentor."

"No, no, sir--fancy has no part in it," answered Barton, somewhat
sternly. "Fancy! was it that made you, as well as me, hear, but this
moment, those accents of hell? Fancy, indeed! No, no."

"But you have seen this person frequently," said the ecclesiastic; "why
have you not accosted or secured him? Is it not a little precipitate, to
say no more, to assume, as you have done, the existence of preternatural
agency, when, after all, everything may be easily accountable, if only
proper means were taken to sift the matter."

"There are circumstances connected with this--this _appearance_," said
Barton, "which it is needless to disclose, but which to _me_ are proof
of its horrible nature. I know that the being that follows me is not
human--I say I know this; I could prove it to your own conviction." He
paused for a minute, and then added, "And as to accosting it, I dare
not, I could not; when I see it I am powerless; I stand in the gaze of
death, in the triumphant presence of infernal power and malignity. My
strength, and faculties, and memory, all forsake me. O God, I fear, sir,
you know not what you speak of. Mercy, mercy; heaven have pity on me!"

He leaned his elbow on the table, and passed his hand across his eyes,
as if to exclude some image of horror, muttering the last words of the
sentence he had just concluded, again and again.

"Doctor ----," he said, abruptly raising himself, and looking full upon
the clergyman with an imploring eye, "I know you will do for me whatever
may be done. You know now fully the circumstances and the nature of my
affliction. I tell you I cannot help myself; I cannot hope to escape; I
am utterly passive. I conjure you, then, to weigh my case well, and if
anything may be done for me by vicarious supplication--by the
intercession of the good--or by any aid or influence whatsoever, I
implore of you, I adjure you in the name of the Most High, give me the
benefit of that influence--deliver me from the body of this death.
Strive for me, pity me; I know you will; you cannot refuse this; it is
the purpose and object of my visit. Send me away with some hope, however
little, some faint hope of ultimate deliverance, and I will nerve myself
to endure, from hour to hour, the hideous dream into which my existence
has been transformed."

Doctor ---- assured him that all he could do was to pray earnestly for
him, and that so much he would not fail to do. They parted with a
hurried and melancholy valediction. Barton hastened to the carriage that
awaited him at the door, drew down the blinds, and drove away, while
Doctor ---- returned to his chamber, to ruminate at leisure upon the
strange interview which had just interrupted his studies.



It was not to be expected that Captain Barton's changed and eccentric
habits should long escape remark and discussion. Various were the
theories suggested to account for it. Some attributed the alteration to
the pressure of secret pecuniary embarrassments; others to a repugnance
to fulfil an engagement into which he was presumed to have too
precipitately entered; and others, again, to the supposed incipiency of
mental disease, which latter, indeed, was the most plausible as well as
the most generally, received, of the hypotheses circulated in the gossip
of the day.

From the very commencement of this change, at first so gradual in its
advances, Miss Montague had of course been aware of it. The intimacy
involved in their peculiar relation, as well as the near interest which
it inspired afforded, in her case, a like opportunity and motive for the
successful exercise of that keen and penetrating observation peculiar to
her sex.

His visits became, at length, so interrupted, and his manner, while they
lasted, so abstracted, strange, and agitated, that Lady L----, after
hinting her anxiety and her suspicions more than once, at length
distinctly stated her anxiety, and pressed for an explanation.

The explanation was given, and although its nature at first relieved the
worst solicitudes of the old lady and her niece, yet the circumstances
which attended it, and the really dreadful consequences which it
obviously indicated, as regarded the spirits, and indeed the reason of
the now wretched man, who made the strange declaration, were enough,
upon little reflection, to fill their minds with perturbation and alarm.

General Montague, the young lady's father, at length arrived. He had
himself slightly known Barton, some ten or twelve years previously, and
being aware of his fortune and connexions, was disposed to regard him as
an unexceptionable and indeed a most desirable match for his daughter.
He laughed at the story of Barton's supernatural visitations, and lost
no time in calling upon his intended son-in-law.

"My dear Barton," he continued, gaily, after a little conversation, "my
sister tells me that you are a victim to blue devils, in quite a new and
original shape."

Barton changed countenance, and sighed profoundly.

"Come, come; I protest this will never do," continued the General; "you
are more like a man on his way to the gallows than to the altar. These
devils have made quite a saint of you."

Barton made an effort to change the conversation.

"No, no, it won't do," said his visitor laughing; "I am resolved to say
what I have to say upon this magnificent mock mystery of yours. You must
not be angry, but really it is too bad to see you at your time of life,
absolutely frightened into good behaviour, like a naughty child by a
bugaboo, and as far as I can learn, a very contemptible one. Seriously,
I have been a good deal annoyed at what they tell me; but at the same
time thoroughly convinced that there is nothing in the matter that may
not cleared up, with a little attention and management, within a week at

"Ah, General, you do not know--" he began.

"Yes, but I do know quite enough to warrant my confidence," interrupted
the soldier, "don't I know that all your annoyance proceeds from the
occasional appearance of a certain little man in a cap and great-coat,
with a red vest and a bad face, who follows you about, and pops upon you
at corners of lanes, and throws you into ague fits. Now, my dear fellow,
I'll make it my business to catch this mischievous little mountebank,
and either beat him to a jelly with my own hands, or have him whipped
through the town, at the cart's-tail, before a month passes."

"If _you_ knew what _I_ knew," said Barton, with gloomy agitation, "you
would speak very differently. Don't imagine that I am so weak as to
assume, without proof the most overwhelming, the conclusion to which I
have been forced--the proofs are here, locked up here." As he spoke he
tapped upon his breast, and with an anxious sigh continued to walk up
and down the room.

"Well, well, Barton," said his visitor, "I'll wager a rump and a dozen I
collar the ghost, and convince even you before many days are over."

He was running on in the same strain when he was suddenly arrested, and
not a little shocked, by observing Barton, who had approached the
window, stagger slowly back, like one who had received a stunning blow;
his arm extended toward the street--his face and his very lips white as
ashes--while he muttered, "There--by heaven!--there--there!"

General Montague started mechanically to his feet, and from the window
of the drawing-room, saw a figure corresponding as well as his hurry
would permit him to discern, with the description of the person, whose
appearance so persistently disturbed the repose of his friend.

The figure was just turning from the rails of the area upon which it had
been leaning, and, without waiting to see more, the old gentleman
snatched his cane and hat, and rushed down the stairs and into the
street, in the furious hope of securing the person, and punishing the
audacity of the mysterious stranger.

He looked round him, but in vain, for any trace of the person he had
himself distinctly seen. He ran breathlessly to the nearest corner,
expecting to see from thence the retiring figure, but no such form was
visible. Back and forward, from crossing to crossing, he ran, at fault,
and it was not until the curious gaze and laughing countenances of the
passers-by reminded him of the absurdity of his pursuit, that he
checked his hurried pace, lowered his walking cane from the menacing
altitude which he had mechanically given it, adjusted his hat, and
walked composedly back again, inwardly vexed and flurried. He found
Barton pale and trembling in every joint; they both remained silent,
though under emotions very different. At last Barton whispered, "You saw

"_It!_--him--some one--you mean--to be sure I did," replied Montague,
testily. "But where is the good or the harm of seeing him? The fellow
runs like a lamp-lighter. I wanted to _catch_ him, but he had stole away
before I could reach the hall-door. However, it is no great matter; next
time, I dare say, I'll do better; and egad, if I once come within reach
of him, I'll introduce his shoulders to the weight of my cane."

Notwithstanding General Montague's undertakings and exhortations,
however, Barton continued to suffer from the self-same unexplained
cause; go how, when, or where he would, he was still constantly dogged
or confronted by the being who had established over him so horrible an

Nowhere and at no time was he secure against the odious appearance which
haunted him with such diabolic perseverance.

His depression, misery, and excitement became more settled and alarming
every day, and the mental agonies that ceaselessly preyed upon him,
began at last so sensibly to affect his health, that Lady L---- and
General Montague succeeded, without, indeed, much difficulty, in
persuading him to try a short tour on the Continent, in the hope that an
entire change of scene would, at all events, have the effect of breaking
through the influences of local association, which the more sceptical of
his friends assumed to be by no means inoperative in suggesting and
perpetuating what they conceived to be a mere form of nervous illusion.

General Montague indeed was persuaded that the figure which haunted his
intended son-in-law was by no means the creation of his imagination,
but, on the contrary, a substantial form of flesh and blood, animated by
a resolution, perhaps with some murderous object in perspective, to
watch and follow the unfortunate gentleman.

Even this hypothesis was not a very pleasant one; yet it was plain that
if Barton could ever be convinced that there was nothing preternatural
in the phenomenon which he had hitherto regarded in that light, the
affair would lose all its terrors in his eyes, and wholly cease to
exercise upon his health and spirits the baleful influence which it had
hitherto done. He therefore reasoned, that if the annoyance were
actually escaped by mere locomotion and change of scene, it obviously
could not have originated in any supernatural agency.



Yielding to their persuasions, Barton left Dublin for England,
accompanied by General Montague. They posted rapidly to London, and
thence to Dover, whence they took the packet with a fair wind for
Calais. The General's confidence in the result of the expedition on
Barton's spirits had risen day by day, since their departure from the
shores of Ireland; for to the inexpressible relief and delight of the
latter, he had not since then, so much as even once fancied a repetition
of those impressions which had, when at home, drawn him gradually down
to the very depths of despair.

This exemption from what he had begun to regard as the inevitable
condition of his existence, and the sense of security which began to
pervade his mind, were inexpressibly delightful; and in the exultation
of what he considered his deliverance, he indulged in a thousand happy
anticipations for a future into which so lately he had hardly dared to
look; and in short, both he and his companion secretly congratulated
themselves upon the termination of that persecution which had been to
its immediate victim a source of such unspeakable agony.

It was a beautiful day, and a crowd of idlers stood upon the jetty to
receive the packet, and enjoy the bustle of the new arrivals. Montague
walked a few paces in advance of his friend, and as he made his way
through the crowd, a little man touched his arm, and said to him, in a
broad provincial _patois_--

"Monsieur is walking too fast; he will lose his sick comrade in the
throng, for, by my faith, the poor gentleman seems to be fainting."

Montague turned quickly, and observed that Barton did indeed look deadly
pale. He hastened to his side.

"My dear fellow, are you ill?" he asked anxiously.

The question was unheeded and twice, repeated, ere Barton stammered--

"I saw him--by----, I saw him!"

"_Him!_--the wretch--who--where now?--where is he?" cried Montague,
looking around him.

"I saw him--but he is gone," repeated Barton, faintly.

"But where--where? For God's sake speak," urged Montague, vehemently.

"It is but this moment--_here_," said he.

"But what did he look like--what had he on--what did he wear--quick,
quick," urged his excited companion, ready to dart among the crowd and
collar the delinquent on the spot.

"He touched your arm--he spoke to you--he pointed to me. God be merciful
to me, there is no escape," said Barton, in the low, subdued tones of

Montague had already bustled away in all the flurry of mingled hope and
rage; but though the singular _personnel_ of the stranger who had
accosted him was vividly impressed upon his recollection, he failed to
discover among the crowd even the slightest resemblance to him.

After a fruitless search, in which he enlisted the services of several
of the by-standers, who aided all the more zealously, as they believed
he had been robbed, he at length, out of breath and baffled, gave over
the attempt.

"Ah, my friend, it won't do," said Barton, with the faint voice and
bewildered, ghastly look of one who had been stunned by some mortal
shock; "there is no use in contending; whatever it is, the dreadful
association between me and it, is now established--I shall never

"Nonsense, nonsense, my dear Barton; don't talk so," said Montague with
something at once of irritation and dismay; "you must not, I say; we'll
jockey the scoundrel yet; never mind, I say--never mind."

It was, however, but labour lost to endeavour henceforward to inspire
Barton with one ray of hope; he became desponding.

This intangible, and, as it seemed, utterly inadequate influence was
fast destroying his energies of intellect, character, and health. His
first object was now to return to Ireland, there, as he believed, and
now almost hoped, speedily to die.

To Ireland accordingly he came and one of the first faces he saw upon
the shore, was again that of his implacable and dreaded attendant.
Barton seemed at last to have lost not only all enjoyment and every hope
in existence, but all independence of will besides. He now submitted
himself passively to the management of the friends most nearly
interested in his welfare.

With the apathy of entire despair, he implicitly assented to whatever
measures they suggested and advised; and as a last resource, it was
determined to remove him to a house of Lady L----'s, in the
neighbourhood of Clontarf, where, with the advice of his medical
attendant, who persisted in his opinion that the whole train of
consequences resulted merely from some nervous derangement, it was
resolved that he was to confine himself, strictly to the house, and to
make use only of those apartments which commanded a view of an enclosed
yard, the gates of which were to be kept jealously locked.

Those precautions would certainly secure him against the casual
appearance of any living form, that his excited imagination might
possibly confound with the spectre which, as it was contended, his fancy
recognised in every figure that bore even a distant or general
resemblance to the peculiarities with which his fancy had at first
invested it.

A month or six weeks' absolute seclusion under these conditions, it was
hoped might, by interrupting the series of these terrible impressions,
gradually dispel the predisposing apprehensions, and the associations
which had confirmed the supposed disease, and rendered recovery

Cheerful society and that of his friends was to be constantly supplied,
and on the whole, very sanguine expectations were indulged in, that
under the treatment thus detailed, the obstinate hypochondria of the
patient might at length give way.

Accompanied, therefore, by Lady L----, General Montague and his
daughter--his own affianced bride--poor Barton--himself never daring to
cherish a hope of his ultimate emancipation from the horrors under which
his life was literally wasting away--took possession of the apartments,
whose situation protected him against the intrusions, from which he
shrank with such unutterable terror.

After a little time, a steady persistence in this system began to
manifest its results, in a very marked though gradual improvement, alike
in the health and spirits of the invalid. Not, indeed, that anything at
all approaching complete recovery was yet discernible. On the contrary,
to those who had not seen him since the commencement of his strange
sufferings, such an alteration would have been apparent as might well
have shocked them.

The improvement, however, such as it was, was welcomed with gratitude
and delight, especially by the young lady, whom her attachment to him,
as well as her now singularly painful position, consequent on his
protracted illness, rendered an object scarcely one degree less to be
commiserated than himself.

A week passed--a fortnight--a month--and yet there had been no
recurrence of the hated visitation. The treatment had, so far forth,
been followed by complete success. The chain of associations was broken.
The constant pressure upon the overtasked spirits had been removed, and,
under these comparatively favourable circumstances, the sense of social
community with the world about him, and something of human interest, if
not of enjoyment, began to reanimate him.

It was about this time that Lady L---- who, like most old ladies of the
day, was deep in family receipts, and a great pretender to medical
science, dispatched her own maid to the kitchen garden, with a list of
herbs, which were there to be carefully culled, and brought back to her
housekeeper for the purpose stated. The handmaiden, however, returned
with her task scarce half completed, and a good deal flurried and
alarmed. Her mode of accounting for her precipitate retreat and evident
agitation was odd, and, to the old lady, startling.



It appeared that she had repaired to the kitchen garden, pursuant to her
mistress's directions, and had there begun to make the specified
election among the rank and neglected herbs which crowded one corner of
the enclosure, and while engaged in this pleasant labour, she carelessly
sang a fragment of an old song, as she said, "to keep herself company."
She was, however, interrupted by an ill-natured laugh; and, looking up,
she saw through the old thorn hedge, which surrounded the garden, a
singularly ill-looking little man, whose countenance wore the stamp of
menace and malignity, standing close to her, at the other side of the
hawthorn screen.

She described herself as utterly unable to move or speak, while he
charged her with a message for Captain Barton; the substance of which
she distinctly remembered to have been to the effect, that he, Captain
Barton, must come abroad as usual, and show himself to his friends, out
of doors, or else prepare for a visit in his own chamber.

On concluding this brief message, the stranger had, with a threatening
air, got down into the outer ditch, and, seizing the hawthorn stems in
his hands, seemed on the point of climbing through the fence--a feat
which might have been accomplished without much difficulty.

Without, of course, awaiting this result, the girl--throwing down her
treasures of thyme and rosemary--had turned and run, with the swiftness
of terror, to the house. Lady L---- commanded her, on pain of instant
dismissal, to observe an absolute silence respecting all that passed of
the incident which related to Captain Barton; and, at the same time,
directed instant search to be made by her men, in the garden and the
fields adjacent. This measure, however, was as usual, unsuccessful, and,
filled with undefinable misgivings, Lady L---- communicated the incident
to her brother. The story, however, until long afterwards, went no
further, and, of course, it was jealously guarded from Barton, who
continued to amend, though slowly.

Barton now began to walk occasionally in the court-yard which I have
mentioned, and which being enclosed by a high wall, commanded no view
beyond its own extent. Here he, therefore, considered himself perfectly
secure: and, but for a careless violation of orders by one of the
grooms, he might have enjoyed, at least for some time longer, his
much-prized immunity. Opening upon the public road, this yard was
entered by a wooden gate, with a wicket in it, and was further defended
by an iron gate upon the outside. Strict orders had been given to keep
both carefully locked; but, spite of these, it had happened that one
day, as Barton was slowly pacing this narrow enclosure, in his
accustomed walk, and reaching the further extremity, was turning to
retrace his steps, he saw the boarded wicket ajar, and the face of his
tormentor immovably looking at him through the iron bars. For a few
seconds he stood rivetted to the earth--breathless and bloodless--in the
fascination of that dreaded gaze, and then fell helplessly insensible,
upon the pavement.

There he was found a few minutes afterwards, and conveyed to his
room--the apartment which he was never afterwards to leave alive.
Henceforward a marked and unaccountable change was observable in the
tone of his mind. Captain Barton was now no longer the excited and
despairing man he had been before; a strange alteration had passed upon
him--an unearthly tranquillity reigned in his mind--it was the
anticipated stillness of the grave.

"Montague, my friend, this struggle is nearly ended now," he said,
tranquilly, but with a look of fixed and fearful awe. "I have, at last,
some comfort from that world of spirits, from which my punishment has
come. I now know that my sufferings will soon be over."

Montague pressed him to speak on.

"Yes," said he, in a softened voice, "my punishment is nearly ended.
From sorrow, perhaps I shall never, in time or eternity, escape; but my
_agony_ is almost over. Comfort has been revealed to me, and what
remains of my allotted struggle I will bear with submission--even with

"I am glad to hear you speak so tranquilly, my dear Barton," said
Montague; "peace and cheer of mind are all you need to make you what you

"No, no--I never can be that," said he mournfully. "I am no longer fit
for life. I am soon to die. I am to see him but once again, and then all
is ended."

"He said so, then?" suggested Montague.

"_He?_--No, no: good tidings could scarcely come through him; and these
were good and welcome; and they came so solemnly and sweetly--with
unutterable love and melancholy, such as I could not--without saying
more than is needful, or fitting, of other long-past scenes and
persons--fully explain to you." As Barton said this he shed tears.

"Come, come," said Montague, mistaking the source of his emotions, "you
must not give way. What is it, after all, but a pack of dreams and
nonsense; or, at worst, the practices of a scheming rascal that enjoys
his power of playing upon your nerves, and loves to exert it--a sneaking
vagabond that owes you a grudge, and pays it off this way, not daring to
try a more manly one."

"A grudge, indeed, he owes me--you say rightly," said Barton, with a
sudden shudder; "a grudge as you call it. Oh, my God! when the justice
of Heaven permits the Evil one to carry out a scheme of vengeance--when
its execution is committed to the lost and terrible victim of sin, who
owes his own ruin to the man, the very man, whom he is commissioned to
pursue--then, indeed, the torments and terrors of hell are anticipated
on earth. But heaven has dealt mercifully with me--hope has opened to me
at last; and if death could come without the dreadful sight I am doomed
to see, I would gladly close my eyes this moment upon the world. But
though death is welcome, I shrink with an agony you cannot
understand--an actual frenzy of terror--from the last encounter with
that--that demon, who has drawn me thus to the verge of the chasm, and
who is himself to plunge me down. I am to see him again--once more--but
under circumstances unutterably more terrific than ever."

As Barton thus spoke, he trembled so violently that Montague was really
alarmed at the extremity of his sudden agitation, and hastened to lead
him back to the topic which had before seemed to exert so tranquillizing
an effect upon his mind.

"It was not a dream," he said, after a time; "I was in a different
state--I felt differently and strangely; and yet it was all as real, as
clear, and vivid, as what I now see and hear--it was a reality."

"And what _did_ you see and hear?" urged his companion.

"When I wakened from the swoon I fell into on seeing _him_," said
Barton, continuing as if he had not heard the question, "it was slowly,
very slowly--I was lying by the margin of a broad lake, with misty hills
all round, and a soft, melancholy, rose-coloured light illuminated it
all. It was unusually sad and lonely, and yet more beautiful than any
earthly scene. My head was leaning on the lap of a girl, and she was
singing a song, that told, I know not how--whether by words or
harmonies--of all my life--all that is past, and all that is still to
come; and with the song the old feelings that I thought had perished
within me came back, and tears flowed from my eyes--partly for the song
and its mysterious beauty, and partly for the unearthly sweetness of
her voice; and yet I knew the voice--oh! how well; and I was spell-bound
as I listened and looked at the solitary scene, without stirring, almost
without breathing--and, alas! alas! without turning my eyes toward the
face that I knew was near me, so sweetly powerful was the enchantment
that held me. And so, slowly, the song and scene grew fainter, and
fainter, to my senses, till all was dark and still again. And then I
awoke to this world, as you saw, comforted, for I knew that I was
forgiven much." Barton wept again long and bitterly.

From this time, as we have said, the prevailing tone of his mind was one
of profound and tranquil melancholy. This, however, was not without its
interruptions. He was thoroughly impressed with the conviction that he
was to experience another and a final visitation, transcending in horror
all he had before experienced. From this anticipated and unknown agony,
he often shrank in such paroxysms of abject terror and distraction, as
filled the whole household with dismay and superstitious panic. Even
those among them who affected to discredit the theory of preternatural
agency, were often in their secret souls visited during the silence of
night with qualms and apprehensions, which they would not have readily
confessed; and none of them attempted to dissuade Barton from the
resolution on which he now systematically acted, of shutting himself up
in his own apartment. The window-blinds of this room were kept jealously
down; and his own man was seldom out of his presence, day or night, his
bed being placed in the same chamber.

This man was an attached and respectable servant; and his duties, in
addition to those ordinarily imposed upon valets, but which Barton's
independent habits generally dispensed with, were to attend carefully to
the simple precautions by means of which his master hoped to exclude the
dreaded intrusion of the "Watcher." And, in addition to attending to
those arrangements, which amounted merely to guarding against the
possibility of his master's being, through any unscreened window or open
door, exposed to the dreaded influence, the valet was never to suffer
him to be alone--total solitude, even for a minute, had become to him
now almost as intolerable as the idea of going abroad into the public
ways--it was an instinctive anticipation of what was coming.



It is needless to say, that under these circumstances, no steps were
taken toward the fulfilment of that engagement into which he had
entered. There was quite disparity enough in point of years, and indeed
of habits, between the young lady and Captain Barton, to have precluded
anything like very vehement or romantic attachment on her part. Though
grieved and anxious, therefore, she was very far from being

Miss Montague, however, devoted much of her time to the patient but
fruitless attempt to cheer the unhappy invalid. She read for him, and
conversed with him; but it was apparent that whatever exertions he made,
the endeavour to escape from the one ever waking fear that preyed upon
him, was utterly and miserably unavailing.

Young ladies are much given to the cultivation of pets; and among those
who shared the favour of Miss Montague was a fine old owl, which the
gardener, who caught him napping among the ivy of a ruined stable, had
dutifully presented to that young lady.

The caprice which regulates such preferences was manifested in the
extravagant favour with which this grim and ill-favoured bird was at
once distinguished by his mistress; and, trifling as this whimsical
circumstance may seem, I am forced to mention it, inasmuch as it is
connected, oddly enough, with the concluding scene of the story.

Barton, so far from sharing in this liking for the new favourite,
regarded it from the first with an antipathy as violent as it was
utterly unaccountable. Its very vicinity was unsupportable to him. He
seemed to hate and dread it with a vehemence absolutely laughable, and
which to those who have never witnessed the exhibition of antipathies of
this kind, would seem all but incredible.

With these few words of preliminary explanation, I shall proceed to
state the particulars of the last scene in this strange series of
incidents. It was almost two o'clock one winter's night, and Barton was,
as usual at that hour, in his bed; the servant we have mentioned
occupied a smaller bed in the same room, and a light was burning. The
man was on a sudden aroused by his master, who said--

"I can't get it out of my head that that accursed bird has got out
somehow, and is lurking in some corner of the room. I have been dreaming
about him. Get up, Smith, and look about; search for him. Such hateful

The servant rose, and examined the chamber, and while engaged in so
doing, he heard the well-known sound, more like a long-drawn gasp than a
hiss, with which these birds from their secret haunts affright the quiet
of the night.

This ghostly indication of its proximity--for the sound proceeded from
the passage upon which Barton's chamber-door opened--determined the
search of the servant, who, opening the door, proceeded a step or two
forward for the purpose of driving the bird away. He had however, hardly
entered the lobby, when the door behind him slowly swung to under the
impulse, as it seemed, of some gentle current of air; but as
immediately over the door there was a kind of window, intended in the
day time to aid in lighting the passage, and through which at present
the rays of the candle were issuing, the valet could see quite enough
for his purpose.

As he advanced he heard his master--who, lying in a well-curtained bed,
had not, as it seemed, perceived his exit from the room--call him by
name, and direct him to place the candle on the table by his bed. The
servant, who was now some way in the long passage, and not liking to
raise his voice for the purpose of replying, lest he should startle the
sleeping inmates of the house, began to walk hurriedly and softly back
again, when, to his amazement, he heard a voice in the interior of the
chamber answering calmly, and actually saw, through the window which
over-topped the door, that the light was slowly shifting, as if carried
across the room in answer to his master's call. Palsied by a feeling
akin to terror, yet not unmingled with curiosity, he stood breathless
and listening at the threshold, unable to summon resolution to push open
the door and enter. Then came a rustling of the curtains, and a sound
like that of one who in a low voice hushes a child to rest, in the midst
of which he heard Barton say, in a tone of stifled horror--"Oh, God--oh,
my God!" and repeat the same exclamation several times. Then ensued a
silence, which again was broken by the same strange soothing sound; and
at last there burst forth, in one swelling peal, a yell of agony so
appalling and hideous, that, under some impulse of ungovernable horror,
the man rushed to the door, and with his whole strength strove to force
it open. Whether it was that, in his agitation, he had himself but
imperfectly turned the handle, or that the door was really secured upon
the inside, he failed to effect an entrance; and as he tugged and
pushed, yell after yell rang louder and wilder through the chamber,
accompanied all the while by the same hushed sounds. Actually freezing
with terror, and scarce knowing what he did, the man turned and ran down
the passage, wringing his hands in the extremity of horror and
irresolution. At the stair-head he was encountered by General Montague,
scared and eager, and just as they met the fearful sounds had ceased.

"What is it? Who--where is your master?" said Montague with the
incoherence of extreme agitation. "Has anything--for God's sake is
anything wrong?"

"Lord have mercy on us, it's all over," said the man staring wildly
towards his master's chamber. "He's dead, sir, I'm sure he's dead."

Without waiting for inquiry or explanation, Montague, closely followed
by the servant, hurried to the chamber-door, turned the handle, and
pushed it open. As the door yielded to his pressure, the ill-omened bird
of which the servant had been in search, uttering its spectral warning,
started suddenly from the far side of the bed, and flying through the
doorway close over their heads, and extinguishing, in his passage, the
candle which Montague carried, crashed through the skylight that
overlooked the lobby, and sailed away into the darkness of the outer

"There it is, God bless us," whispered the man, after a breathless

"Curse that bird," muttered the General, startled by the suddenness of
the apparition, and unable to conceal his discomposure.

"The candle is moved," said the man, after another breathless pause,
pointing to the candle that still burned in the room; "see, they put it
by the bed."

"Draw the curtains, fellow, and don't stand gaping there," whispered
Montague, sternly.

The man hesitated.

"Hold this, then," said Montague, impatiently thrusting the candlestick
into the servant's hand, and himself advancing to the bed-side, he drew
the curtains apart. The light of the candle, which was still burning at
the bedside, fell upon a figure huddled together, and half upright, at
the head of the bed. It seemed as though it had slunk back as far as the
solid panelling would allow, and the hands were still clutched in the

"Barton, Barton, _Barton_!" cried the General, with a strange mixture of
awe and vehemence. He took the candle, and held it so that it shone full
upon the face. The features were fixed, stern, and white; the jaw was
fallen; and the sightless eyes, still open, gazed vacantly forward
toward the front of the bed. "God Almighty! he's dead," muttered the
General, as he looked upon this fearful spectacle. They both continued
to gaze upon it in silence for a minute or more. "And cold, too,"
whispered Montague, withdrawing his hand from that of the dead man.

"And see, see--may I never have life, sir," added the man, after a
another pause, with a shudder, "but there was something else on the bed
with him. Look there--look there--see that, sir."

As the man thus spoke, he pointed to a deep indenture, as if caused by a
heavy pressure, near the foot of the bed.

Montague was silent.

"Come, sir, come away, for God's sake," whispered the man, drawing close
up to him, and holding fast by his arm, while he glanced fearfully
round; "what good can be done here now--come away, for God's sake!"

At this moment they heard the steps of more than one approaching, and
Montague, hastily desiring the servant to arrest their progress,
endeavoured to loose the rigid gripe with which the fingers of the dead
man were clutched in the bed-clothes, and drew, as well as he was able,
the awful figure into a reclining posture; then closing the curtains
carefully upon it, he hastened himself to meet those persons that were

       *       *       *       *       *

It is needless to follow the personages so slightly connected with this
narrative, into the events of their after life; it is enough to say,
that no clue to the solution of these mysterious occurrences was ever
after discovered; and so long an interval having now passed since the
event which I have just described concluded this strange history, it is
scarcely to be expected that time can throw any new lights upon its dark
and inexplicable outline. Until the secrets of the earth shall be no
longer hidden, therefore, these transactions must remain shrouded in
their original obscurity.

The only occurrence in Captain Barton's former life to which reference
was ever made, as having any possible connexion with the sufferings with
which his existence closed, and which he himself seemed to regard as
working out a retribution for some grievous sin of his past life, was a
circumstance which not for several years after his death was brought to
light. The nature of this disclosure was painful to his relatives, and
discreditable to his memory.

It appeared that some six years before Captain Barton's final return to
Dublin, he had formed, in the town of Plymouth, a guilty attachment, the
object of which was the daughter of one of the ship's crew under his
command. The father had visited the frailty of his unhappy child with
extreme harshness, and even brutality, and it was said that she had
died heart-broken. Presuming upon Barton's implication in her guilt,
this man had conducted himself toward him with marked insolence, and
Barton retaliated this, and what he resented with still more exasperated
bitterness--his treatment of the unfortunate girl--by a systematic
exercise of those terrible and arbitrary severities which the
regulations of the navy placed at the command of those who are
responsible for its discipline. The man had at length made his escape,
while the vessel was in port at Naples, but died, as it was said, in an
hospital in that town, of the wounds inflicted in one of his recent and
sanguinary punishments.

Whether these circumstances in reality bear, or not, upon the
occurrences of Barton's after-life, it is, of course, impossible to say.
It seems, however more than probable that they were at least, in his own
mind, closely associated with them. But however the truth may be, as to
the origin and motives of this mysterious persecution, there can be no
doubt that, with respect to the agencies by which it was accomplished,
absolute and impenetrable mystery is like to prevail until the day of


The preceding narrative is given in the _ipsissima verba_ of the good
old clergyman, under whose hand it was delivered to Doctor Hesselius.
Notwithstanding the occasional stiffness and redundancy of his
sentences, I thought it better to reserve to myself the power of
assuring the reader, that in handing to the printer, the M.S. of a
statement so marvellous, the Editor has not altered one letter of the
original text.--[_Ed. Papers of Dr. Hesselius._]



On this case, Doctor Hesselius has inscribed nothing more than the
words, "Harman's Report," and a simple reference to his own
extraordinary Essay on "the Interior Sense, and the Conditions of the
opening thereof."

The reference is to Vol. I. Section 317, Note Z'a. The note to which
reference is thus made, simply says: "There are two accounts of the
remarkable case of the Honourable Mr. Justice Harbottle, one furnished
to me by Mrs. Trimmer of Tunbridge Wells (June, 1805); the other at a
much later date, by Anthony Harman, Esq. I much prefer the former; in
the first place, because it is minute and detailed, and written, it
seems to me, with more caution and knowledge; and in the next, because
the letters from Doctor Hedstone, which are embodied in it, furnish
matter of the highest value to a right apprehension of the nature of the
case. It was one of the best declared cases of an opening of the
interior sense, which I have met with. It was affected, too, by the
phenomenon, which occurs so frequently as to indicate a law of these
eccentric conditions; that is to say, it exhibited, what I may term, the
contagious character of this sort of intrusion of the spirit-world upon
the proper domain of matter. So soon as the spirit-action has
established itself in the case of one patient, its developed energy
begins to radiate, more or less effectually, upon others. The interior
vision of the child was opened; as was, also, that of its mother, Mrs.
Pyneweck; and both the interior vision and hearing of the scullery-maid,
were opened on the same occasion. After-appearances are the result of
the law explained in Vol. II. Section 17 to 49. The common centre of
association, simultaneously recalled, unites, or _re_unites, as the case
may be, for a period measured, as we see, in Section 37. The _maximum_
will extend to days, the _minimum_ is little more than a second. We see
the operation of this principle perfectly displayed, in certain cases of
lunacy, of epilepsy, of catalepsy, and of mania, of a peculiar and
painful character, though unattended by incapacity of business."

The memorandum of the case of Judge Harbottle, which was written by Mrs.
Trimmer of Tunbridge Wells, which Doctor Hesselius thought the better of
the two, I have been unable to discover among his papers. I found in
his escritoire a note to the effect that he had lent the Report of Judge
Harbottle's case, written by Mrs. Trimmer to Doctor F. Heyne. To that
learned and able gentleman accordingly I wrote, and received from him,
in his reply, which was full of alarms and regrets on account of the
uncertain safety of that "valuable MS.," a line written long since by
Doctor Hesselius, which completely exonerated him, inasmuch as it
acknowledged the safe return of the papers. The Narrative of Mr. Harman,
is, therefore, the only one available for this collection. The late Dr.
Hesselius, in another passage of the note that I have cited, says, "As
to the facts (non-medical) of the case, the narrative of Mr. Harman
exactly tallies with that furnished by Mrs. Trimmer." The strictly
scientific view of the case would scarcely interest the popular reader;
and, possibly, for the purposes of this selection, I should, even had I
both papers to choose between, have preferred that of Mr. Harman, which
is given, in full, in the following pages.



Thirty years ago, an elderly man, to whom I paid quarterly a small
annuity charged on some property of mine, came on the quarter-day to
receive it. He was a dry, sad, quiet man, who had known better days, and
had always maintained an unexceptionable character. No better authority
could be imagined for a ghost story.

He told me one, though with a manifest reluctance; he was drawn into the
narration by his choosing to explain what I should not have remarked,
that he had called two days earlier than that week after the strict day
of payment, which he had usually allowed to elapse. His reason was a
sudden determination to change his lodgings, and the consequent
necessity of paying his rent a little before it was due.

He lodged in a dark street in Westminster, in a spacious old house, very
warm, being wainscoted from top to bottom, and furnished with no undue
abundance of windows, and those fitted with thick sashes and small

This house was, as the bills upon the windows testified, offered to be
sold or let. But no one seemed to care to look at it.

A thin matron, in rusty black silk, very taciturn, with large, steady,
alarmed eyes, that seemed to look in your face, to read what you might
have seen in the dark rooms and passages through which you had passed,
was in charge of it, with a solitary 'maid-of-all-work' under her
command. My poor friend had taken lodgings in this house, on account of
their extraordinary cheapness. He had occupied them for nearly a year
without the slightest disturbance, and was the only tenant, under rent,
in the house. He had two rooms; a sitting-room, and a bedroom with a
closet opening from it, in which he kept his books and papers locked up.
He had gone to his bed, having also locked the outer door. Unable to
sleep, he had lighted a candle, and after having read for a time, had
laid the book beside him. He heard the old clock at the stair-head
strike one; and very shortly after, to his alarm, he saw the
closet-door, which he thought he had locked, open stealthily, and a
slight dark man, particularly sinister, and somewhere about fifty,
dressed in mourning of a very antique fashion, such a suit as we see in
Hogarth, entered the room on tip-toe. He was followed by an elder man,
stout, and blotched with scurvy, and whose features, fixed as a
corpse's, were stamped with dreadful force with a character of
sensuality and villany.

This old man wore a flowered-silk dressing-gown and ruffles, and he
remarked a gold ring on his finger, and on his head a cap of velvet,
such as, in the days of perukes, gentlemen wore in undress.

This direful old man carried in his ringed and ruffled hand a coil of
rope; and these two figures crossed the floor diagonally, passing the
foot of his bed, from the closet-door at the farther end of the room, at
the left, near the window, to the door opening upon the lobby, close to
the bed's head, at his right.

He did not attempt to describe his sensations as these figures passed so
near him. He merely said, that so far from sleeping in that room again,
no consideration the world could offer would induce him so much as to
enter it again alone, even in the daylight. He found both doors, that of
the closet, and that of the room opening upon the lobby, in the morning
fast locked, as he had left them before going to bed.

In answer to a question of mine, he said that neither appeared the least
conscious of his presence. They did not seem to glide, but walked as
living men do, but without any sound, and he felt a vibration on the
floor as they crossed it. He so obviously suffered from speaking about
the apparitions, that I asked him no more questions.

There were in his description, however, certain coincidences so very
singular, as to induce me, by that very post, to write to a friend much
my senior, then living in a remote part of England, for the information
which I knew he could give me. He had himself more than once pointed out
that old house to my attention, and told me, though very briefly, the
strange story which I now asked him to give me in greater detail.

His answer satisfied me; and the following pages convey its substance.

Your letter (he wrote) tells me you desire some particulars about the
closing years of the life of Mr. Justice Harbottle, one of the judges of
the Court of Common Pleas. You refer, of course, to the extraordinary
occurrences that made that period of his life long after a theme for
'winter tales' and metaphysical speculation. I happen to know perhaps
more than any other man living of those mysterious particulars.

The old family mansion, when I revisited London, more than thirty years
ago, I examined for the last time. During the years that have passed
since then, I hear that improvement, with its preliminary demolitions,
has been doing wonders for the quarter of Westminster in which it
stood. If I were quite certain that the house had been taken down, I
should have no difficulty about naming the street in which it stood. As
what I have to tell, however, is not likely to improve its letting
value, and as I should not care to get into trouble, I prefer being
silent on that particular point.

How old the house was, I can't tell. People said it was built by Roger
Harbottle, a Turkey merchant, in the reign of King James I. I am not a
good opinion upon such questions; but having been in it, though in its
forlorn and deserted state. I can tell you in a general way what it was
like. It was built of dark-red brick, and the door and windows were
faced with stone that had turned yellow by time. It receded some feet
from the line of the other houses in the street; and it had a florid and
fanciful rail of iron about the broad steps that invited your ascent to
the hall-door, in which were fixed, under a file of lamps, among scrolls
and twisted leaves, two immense 'extinguishers,' like the conical caps
of fairies, into which, in old times, the footmen used to thrust their
flambeaux when their chairs or coaches had set down their great people,
in the hall or at the steps, as the case might be. That hall is panelled
up to the ceiling, and has a large fire-place. Two or three stately old
rooms open from it at each side. The windows of these are tall, with
many small panes. Passing through the arch at the back of the hall, you
come upon the wide and heavy well-staircase. There is a back staircase
also. The mansion is large, and has not as much light, by any means, in
proportion to its extent, as modern houses enjoy. When I saw it, it had
long been untenanted, and had the gloomy reputation beside of a haunted
house. Cobwebs floated from the ceilings or spanned the corners of the
cornices, and dust lay thick over everything. The windows were stained
with the dust and rain of fifty years, and darkness had thus grown

When I made it my first visit, it was in company with my father, when I
was still a boy, in the year 1808. I was about twelve years old, and my
imagination impressible, as it always is at that age. I looked about me
with great awe. I was here in the very centre and scene of those
occurrences which I had heard recounted at the fire-side at home, with
so delightful a horror.

My father was an old bachelor of nearly sixty when he married. He had,
when a child, seen Judge Harbottle on the bench in his robes and wig a
dozen times at least before his death, which took place in 1748, and his
appearance made a powerful and unpleasant impression, not only on his
imagination, but upon his nerves.

The Judge was at that time a man of some sixty-seven years. He had a
great mulberry-coloured face, a big, carbuncled nose, fierce eyes, and a
grim and brutal mouth. My father, who was young at the time, thought it
the most formidable face he had ever seen; for there were evidences of
intellectual power in the formation and lines of the forehead. His voice
was loud and harsh, and gave effect to the sarcasm which was his
habitual weapon on the bench.

This old gentleman had the reputation of being about the wickedest man
in England. Even on the bench he now and then showed his scorn of
opinion. He had carried cases his own way, it was said, in spite of
counsel, authorities, and even of juries, by a sort of cajolery,
violence, and bamboozling, that somehow confused and overpowered
resistance. He had never actually committed himself; he was too cunning
to do that. He had the character of being, however, a dangerous and
unscrupulous judge; but his character did not trouble him. The
associates he chose for his hours of relaxation cared as little as he
did about it.



One night during the session of 1746 this old Judge went down in his
chair to wait in one of the rooms of the House of Lords for the result
of a division in which he and his order were interested.

This over, he was about to return to his house close by, in his chair;
but the night had become so soft and fine that he changed his mind, sent
it home empty, and with two footmen, each with a flambeau, set out on
foot in preference. Gout had made him rather a slow pedestrian. It took
him some time to get through the two or three streets he had to pass
before reaching his house.

In one of those narrow streets of tall houses, perfectly silent at that
hour, he overtook, slowly as he was walking, a very singular-looking old

He had a bottle-green coat on, with a cape to it, and large stone
buttons, a broad-leafed low-crowned hat, from under which a big powdered
wig escaped; he stooped very much, and supported his bending knees with
the aid of a crutch-handled cane, and so shuffled and tottered along

"I ask your pardon, sir," said this old man in a very quavering voice,
as the burly Judge came up with him, and he extended his hand feebly
towards his arm.

Mr. Justice Harbottle saw that the man was by no means poorly dressed,
and his manner that of a gentleman.

The Judge stopped short, and said, in his harsh peremptory tones, "Well,
sir, how can I serve you?"

"Can you direct me to Judge Harbottle's house? I have some intelligence
of the very last importance to communicate to him."

"Can you tell it before witnesses?" asked the Judge.

"By no means; it must reach _his_ ear only," quavered the old man

"If that be so, sir, you have only to accompany me a few steps farther
to reach my house, and obtain a private audience; for I am Judge

With this invitation the infirm gentleman in the white wig complied very
readily; and in another minute the stranger stood in what was then
termed the front parlour of the Judge's house, _tête-à-tête_ with that
shrewd and dangerous functionary.

He had to sit down, being very much exhausted, and unable for a little
time to speak; and then he had a fit of coughing, and after that a fit
of gasping; and thus two or three minutes passed, during which the Judge
dropped his roquelaure on an arm-chair, and threw his cocked-hat over

The venerable pedestrian in the white wig quickly recovered his voice.
With closed doors they remained together for some time.

There were guests waiting in the drawing-rooms, and the sound of men's
voices laughing, and then of a female voice singing to a harpsichord,
were heard distinctly in the hall over the stairs; for old Judge
Harbottle had arranged one of his dubious jollifications, such as might
well make the hair of godly men's heads stand upright, for that night.

This old gentleman in the powdered white wig, that rested on his stooped
shoulders, must have had something to say that interested the Judge very
much; for he would not have parted on easy terms with the ten minutes
and upwards which that conference filched from the sort of revelry in
which he most delighted, and in which he was the roaring king, and in
some sort the tyrant also, of his company.

The footman who showed the aged gentleman out observed that the Judge's
mulberry-coloured face, pimples and all, were bleached to a dingy
yellow, and there was the abstraction of agitated thought in his manner,
as he bid the stranger good-night. The servant saw that the conversation
had been of serious import, and that the Judge was frightened.

Instead of stumping upstairs forthwith to his scandalous hilarities, his
profane company, and his great china bowl of punch--the identical bowl
from which a bygone Bishop of London, good easy man, had baptised this
Judge's grandfather, now clinking round the rim with silver ladles, and
hung with scrolls of lemon-peel--instead, I say, of stumping and
clambering up the great staircase to the cavern of his Circean
enchantment, he stood with his big nose flattened against the
window-pane, watching the progress of the feeble old man, who clung
stiffly to the iron rail as he got down, step by step, to the pavement.

The hall-door had hardly closed, when the old Judge was in the hall
bawling hasty orders, with such stimulating expletives as old colonels
under excitement sometimes indulge in now-a-days, with a stamp or two of
his big foot, and a waving of his clenched fist in the air. He commanded
the footman to overtake the old gentleman in the white wig, to offer him
his protection on his way home, and in no case to show his face again
without having ascertained where he lodged, and who he was, and all
about him.

"By ----, sirrah! if you fail me in this, you doff my livery to-night!"

Forth bounced the stalwart footman, with his heavy cane under his arm,
and skipped down the steps, and looked up and down the street after the
singular figure, so easy to recognise.

What were his adventures I shall not tell you just now.

The old man, in the conference to which he had been admitted in that
stately panelled room, had just told the Judge a very strange story. He
might be himself a conspirator; he might possibly be crazed; or possibly
his whole story was straight and true.

The aged gentleman in the bottle-green coat, on finding himself alone
with Mr. Justice Harbottle, had become agitated. He said,

"There is, perhaps you are not aware, my lord, a prisoner in Shrewsbury
jail, charged with having forged a bill of exchange for a hundred and
twenty pounds, and his name is Lewis Pyneweck, a grocer of that town."

"Is there?" says the Judge, who knew well that there was.

"Yes, my lord," says the old man.

"Then you had better say nothing to affect this case. If you do, by ----
I'll commit you; for I'm to try it," says the Judge, with his terrible
look and tone.

"I am not going to do anything of the kind, my lord; of him or his case
I know nothing, and care nothing. But a fact has come to my knowledge
which it behoves you to well consider."

"And what may that fact be?" inquired the Judge; "I'm in haste, sir, and
beg you will use dispatch."

"It has come to my knowledge, my lord, that a secret tribunal is in
process of formation, the object of which is to take cognisance of the
conduct of the judges; and first, of _your_ conduct, my lord: it is a
wicked conspiracy."

"Who are of it?" demands the Judge.

"I know not a single name as yet. I know but the fact, my lord; it is
most certainly true."

"I'll have you before the Privy Council, sir," says the Judge.

"That is what I most desire; but not for a day or two, my lord."

"And why so?"

"I have not as yet a single name, as I told your lordship; but I expect
to have a list of the most forward men in it, and some other papers
connected with the plot, in two or three days."

"You said one or two just now."

"About that time, my lord."

"Is this a Jacobite plot?"

"In the main I think it is, my lord."

"Why, then, it is political. I have tried no State prisoners, nor am
like to try any such. How, then, doth it concern me?"

"From what I can gather, my lord, there are those in it who desire
private revenges upon certain judges."

"What do they call their cabal?"

"The High Court of Appeal, my lord."

"Who are you sir? What is your name?"

"Hugh Peters, my lord."

"That should be a Whig name?"

"It is, my lord."

"Where do you lodge, Mr. Peters?"

"In Thames-street, my lord, over against the sign of the Three Kings."

"Three Kings? Take care one be not too many for you, Mr. Peters! How
come you, an honest Whig, as you say, to be privy to a Jacobite plot?
Answer me that."

"My lord, a person in whom I take an interest has been seduced to take a
part in it; and being frightened at the unexpected wickedness of their
plans, he is resolved to become an informer for the Crown."

"He resolves like a wise man, sir. What does he say of the persons? Who
are in the plot? Doth he know them?"

"Only two, my lord; but he will be introduced to the club in a few days,
and he will then have a list, and more exact information of their plans,
and above all of their oaths, and their hours and places of meeting,
with which he wishes to be acquainted before they can have any
suspicions of his intentions. And being so informed, to whom, think you,
my lord, had he best go then?"

"To the king's attorney-general straight. But you say this concerns me,
sir, in particular? How about this prisoner, Lewis Pyneweck? Is he one
of them?"

"I can't tell, my lord; but for some reason, it is thought your lordship
will be well advised if you try him not. For if you do, it is feared
'twill shorten your days."

"So far as I can learn, Mr. Peters, this business smells pretty strong
of blood and treason. The king's attorney-general will know how to deal
with it. When shall I see you again, sir?"

"If you give me leave, my lord, either before your lordship's court
sits, or after it rises, to-morrow. I should like to come and tell your
lordship what has passed."

"Do so, Mr. Peters, at nine o'clock to-morrow morning. And see you play
me no trick, sir, in this matter; if you do, by ----, sir, I'll lay you
by the heels!"

"You need fear no trick from me, my lord; had I not wished to serve you,
and acquit my own conscience, I never would have come all this way to
talk with your lordship."

"I'm willing to believe you, Mr. Peters; I'm willing to believe you,

And upon this they parted.

"He has either painted his face, or he is consumedly sick," thought the
old Judge.

The light had shone more effectually upon his features as he turned to
leave the room with a low bow, and they looked, he fancied, unnaturally

"D--- him!" said the judge ungraciously, as he began to scale the
stairs: "he has half-spoiled my supper."

But if he had, no one but the Judge himself perceived it, and the
evidence was all, as any one might perceive, the other way.



In the meantime, the footman dispatched in pursuit of Mr. Peters
speedily overtook that feeble gentleman. The old man stopped when he
heard the sound of pursuing steps, but any alarms that may have crossed
his mind seemed to disappear on his recognising the livery. He very
gratefully accepted the proferred assistance, and placed his tremulous
arm within the servant's for support. They had not gone far, however,
when the old man stopped suddenly, saying,

"Dear me! as I live, I have dropped it. You heard it fall. My eyes, I
fear, won't serve me, and I'm unable to stoop low enough; but if you
will look, you shall have half the find. It is a guinea; I carried it in
my glove."

The street was silent and deserted. The footman had hardly descended to
what he termed his "hunkers," and begun to search the pavement about the
spot which the old man indicated, when Mr. Peters, who seemed very much
exhausted, and breathed with difficulty, struck him a violent blow, from
above, over the back of the head with a heavy instrument, and then
another; and leaving him bleeding and senseless in the gutter, ran like
a lamp-lighter down a lane to the right, and was gone.

When, an hour later, the watchman brought the man in livery home, still
stupid and covered with blood, Judge Harbottle cursed his servant
roundly, swore he was drunk, threatened him with an indictment for
taking bribes to betray his master, and cheered him with a perspective
of the broad street leading from the Old Bailey to Tyburn, the cart's
tail, and the hangman's lash.

Notwithstanding this demonstration, the Judge was pleased. It was a
disguised "affidavit man," or footpad, no doubt, who had been employed
to frighten him. The trick had fallen through.

A "court of appeal," such as the false Hugh Peters had indicated, with
assassination for its sanction, would be an uncomfortable institution
for a "hanging judge" like the Honourable Justice Harbottle. That
sarcastic and ferocious administrator of the criminal code of England,
at that time a rather pharisaical, bloody, and heinous system of
justice, had reasons of his own for choosing to try that very Lewis
Pyneweck, on whose behalf this audacious trick was devised. Try him he
would. No man living should take that morsel out of his mouth.

Of Lewis Pyneweck of course, so far as the outer world could see, he
knew nothing. He would try him after his fashion, without fear, favour,
or affection.

But did he not remember a certain thin man, dressed in mourning, in
whose house, in Shrewsbury, the Judge's lodgings used to be, until a
scandal of his ill-treating his wife came suddenly to light? A grocer
with a demure look, a soft step, and a lean face as dark as mahogany,
with a nose sharp and long, standing ever so little awry, and a pair of
dark steady brown eyes under thinly-traced black brows--a man whose thin
lips wore always a faint unpleasant smile.

Had not that scoundrel an account to settle with the Judge? had he not
been troublesome lately? and was not his name Lewis Pyneweck, some time
grocer in Shrewsbury, and now prisoner in the jail of that town?

The reader may take it, if he pleases, as a sign that Judge Harbottle
was a good Christian, that he suffered nothing ever from remorse. That
was undoubtedly true. He had nevertheless done this grocer, forger, what
you will, some five or six years before, a grievous wrong; but it was
not that, but a possible scandal, and possible complications, that
troubled the learned Judge now.

Did he not, as a lawyer, know, that to bring a man from his shop to the
dock, the chances must be at least ninety-nine out of a hundred that he
is guilty.

A weak man like his learned brother Withershins was not a judge to keep
the high-roads safe, and make crime tremble. Old Judge Harbottle was the
man to make the evil-disposed quiver, and to refresh the world with
showers of wicked blood, and thus save the innocent, to the refrain of
the ancient saw he loved to quote:

     Foolish pity
     Ruins a city.

In hanging that fellow he could not be wrong. The eye of a man
accustomed to look upon the dock could not fail to read "villain"
written sharp and clear in his plotting face. Of course he would try
him, and no one else should.

A saucy-looking woman, still handsome, in a mob-cap gay with blue
ribbons, in a saque of flowered silk, with lace and rings on, much too
fine for the Judge's housekeeper, which nevertheless she was, peeped
into his study next morning, and, seeing the Judge alone, stepped in.

"Here's another letter from him, come by the post this morning. Can't
you do nothing for him?" she said wheedlingly, with her arm over his
neck, and her delicate finger and thumb fiddling with the lobe of his
purple ear.

"I'll try," said Judge Harbottle, not raising his eyes from the paper he
was reading.

"I knew you'd do what I asked you," she said.

The Judge clapt his gouty claw over his heart, and made her an ironical

"What," she asked, "will you do?"

"Hang him," said the Judge with a chuckle.

"You don't mean to; no, you don't, my little man," said she, surveying
herself in a mirror on the wall.

"I'm d----d but I think you're falling in love with your husband at
last!" said Judge Harbottle.

"I'm blest but I think you're growing jealous of him," replied the lady
with a laugh. "But no; he was always a bad one to me; I've done with him
long ago."

"And he with you, by George! When he took your fortune and your spoons
and your ear-rings, he had all he wanted of you. He drove you from his
house; and when he discovered you had made yourself comfortable, and
found a good situation, he'd have taken your guineas and your silver and
your ear-rings over again, and then allowed you half-a-dozen years more
to make a new harvest for his mill. You don't wish him good; if you say
you do, you lie."

She laughed a wicked saucy laugh, and gave the terrible Rhadamanthus a
playful tap on the chops.

"He wants me to send him money to fee a counsellor," she said, while her
eyes wandered over the pictures on the wall, and back again to the
looking-glass; and certainly she did not look as if his jeopardy
troubled her very much.

"Confound his impudence, the _scoundrel_!" thundered the old Judge,
throwing himself back in his chair, as he used to do _in furore_ on the
bench, and the lines of his mouth looked brutal, and his eyes ready to
leap from their sockets. "If you answer his letter from my house to
please yourself, you'll write your next from somebody else's to please
me. You understand, my pretty witch, I'll not be pestered. Come, no
pouting; whimpering won't do. You don't care a brass farthing for the
villain, body or soul. You came here but to make a row. You are one of
Mother Carey's chickens; and where you come, the storm is up. Get you
gone, baggage! get you _gone_!" he repeated with a stamp; for a knock at
the hall-door made her instantaneous disappearance indispensable.

I need hardly say that the venerable Hugh Peters did not appear again.
The Judge never mentioned him. But oddly enough, considering how he
laughed to scorn the weak invention which he had blown into dust at the
very first puff, his white-wigged visitor and the conference in the dark
front parlour was often in his memory.

His shrewd eye told him that allowing for change of tints and such
disguises as the playhouse affords every night, the features of this
false old man, who had turned out too hard for his tall footman, were
identical with those of Lewis Pyneweck.

Judge Harbottle made his registrar call upon the crown solicitor, and
tell him that there was a man in town who bore a wonderful resemblance
to a prisoner in Shrewsbury jail named Lewis Pyneweck, and to make
inquiry through the post forthwith whether any one was personating
Pyneweck in prison, and whether he had thus or otherwise made his

The prisoner was safe, however, and no question as to his identity.



In due time Judge Harbottle went circuit; and in due time the judges
were in Shrewsbury. News travelled slowly in those days, and newspapers,
like the wagons and stage-coaches, took matters easily. Mrs. Pyneweck,
in the Judge's house, with a diminished household--the greater part of
the Judge's servants having gone with him, for he had given up riding
circuit, and travelled in his coach in state--kept house rather
solitarily at home.

In spite of quarrels, in spite of mutual injuries--some of them,
inflicted by herself, enormous--in spite of a married life of spited
bickerings--a life in which there seemed no love or liking or
forbearance, for years--now that Pyneweck stood in near danger of death,
something like remorse came suddenly upon her. She knew that in
Shrewsbury were transacting the scenes which were to determine his fate.
She knew she did not love him; but she could not have supposed, even a
fortnight before, that the hour of suspense could have affected her so

She knew the day on which the trial was expected to take place. She
could not get it out of her head for a minute; she felt faint as it drew
towards evening.

Two or three days passed; and then she knew that the trial must be over
by this time. There were floods between London and Shrewsbury, and news
was long delayed. She wished the floods would last for ever. It was
dreadful waiting to hear; dreadful to know that the event was over, and
that she could not hear till self-willed rivers subsided; dreadful to
know that they must subside and the news come at last.

She had some vague trust in the Judge's good-nature, and much in the
resources of chance and accident. She had contrived to send the money he
wanted. He would not be without legal advice and energetic and skilled

At last the news did come--a long arrear all in a gush: a letter from a
female friend in Shrewsbury; a return of the sentences, sent up for the
Judge; and most important, because most easily got at, being told with
great aplomb and brevity, the long-deferred intelligence of the
Shrewsbury Assizes in the _Morning Advertiser_. Like an impatient reader
of a novel, who reads the last page first, she read with dizzy eyes the
list of the executions.

Two were respited, seven were hanged; and in that capital catalogue was
this line:

"Lewis Pyneweck--forgery."

She had to read it half-a-dozen times over before she was sure she
understood it. Here was the paragraph:

     "_Sentence, Death_--7.

     "Executed accordingly, on Friday the 13th instant, to wit:

     "Thomas Primer, _alias_ Duck--highway robbery.

     "Flora Guy--stealing to the value of 11_s._ _6d._

     "Arthur Pounden--burglary.

     "Matilda Mummery--riot.

     "Lewis Pyneweck--forgery, bill of exchange."

And when she reached this, she read it over and over, feeling very cold
and sick. This buxom housekeeper was known in the house as Mrs.
Carwell--Carwell being her maiden name, which she had resumed.

No one in the house except its master knew her history. Her introduction
had been managed craftily. No one suspected that it had been concerted
between her and the old reprobate in scarlet and ermine.

Flora Carwell ran up the stairs now, and snatched her little girl,
hardly seven years of age, whom she met on the lobby, hurriedly up in
her arms, and carried her into her bedroom, without well knowing what
she was doing, and sat down, placing the child before her. She was not
able to speak. She held the child before her, and looked in the little
girl's wondering face, and burst into tears of horror.

She thought, the Judge could have saved him. I daresay he could. For a
time she was furious with him; and hugged and kissed her bewildered
little girl, who returned her gaze with large round eyes.

That little girl had lost her father, and knew nothing of the matter.
She had been always told that her father was dead long ago.

A woman, coarse, uneducated, vain, and violent, does not reason, or even
feel, very distinctly; but in these tears of consternation were mingling
a self-upbraiding. She felt afraid of that little child.

But Mrs. Carwell was a person who lived not upon sentiment, but upon
beef and pudding; she consoled herself with punch; she did not trouble
herself long even with resentments; she was a gross and material person,
and could not mourn over the irrevocable for more than a limited number
of hours, even if she would.

Judge Harbottle was soon in London again. Except the gout, this savage
old epicurean never knew a day's sickness. He laughed and coaxed and
bullied away the young woman's faint upbraidings, and in a little time
Lewis Pyneweck troubled her no more; and the Judge secretly chuckled
over the perfectly fair removal of a bore, who might have grown little
by little into something very like a tyrant.

It was the lot of the Judge whose adventures I am now recounting to try
criminal cases at the Old Bailey shortly after his return. He had
commenced his charge to the jury in a case of forgery, and was, after
his wont, thundering dead against the prisoner, with many a hard
aggravation and cynical gibe, when suddenly all died away in silence,
and, instead of looking at the jury, the eloquent Judge was gaping at
some person in the body of the court.

Among the persons of small importance who stand and listen at the sides
was one tall enough to show with a little prominence; a slight mean
figure, dressed in seedy black, lean and dark of visage. He had just
handed a letter to the crier, before he caught the Judge's eye.

That Judge descried, to his amazement, the features of Lewis Pyneweck.
He has the usual faint thin-lipped smile; and with his blue chin raised
in air, and as it seemed quite unconscious of the distinguished notice
he has attracted, he was stretching his low cravat with his crooked
fingers, while he slowly turned his head from side to side--a process
which enabled the Judge to see distinctly a stripe of swollen blue round
his neck, which indicated, he thought, the grip of the rope.

This man, with a few others, had got a footing on a step, from which he
could better see the court. He now stepped down, and the Judge lost
sight of him.

His lordship signed energetically with his hand in the direction in
which this man had vanished. He turned to the tipstaff. His first effort
to speak ended in a gasp. He cleared his throat, and told the astounded
official to arrest that man who had interrupted the court.

"He's but this moment gone down _there_. Bring him in custody before me,
within ten minutes' time, or I'll strip your gown from your shoulders
and fine the sheriff!" he thundered, while his eyes flashed round the
court in search of the functionary.

Attorneys, counsellors, idle spectators, gazed in the direction in which
Mr. Justice Harbottle had shaken his gnarled old hand. They compared
notes. Not one had seen any one making a disturbance. They asked one
another if the Judge was losing his head.

Nothing came of the search. His lordship concluded his charge a great
deal more tamely; and when the jury retired, he stared round the court
with a wandering mind, and looked as if he would not have given sixpence
to see the prisoner hanged.



The Judge had received the letter; had he known from whom it came, he
would no doubt have read it instantaneously. As it was he simply read
the direction:

    _To the Honourable_
          _The Lord Justice_
              _Elijah Harbottle,_

    _One of his Majesty's Justices of_
      _the Honourable Court of Common Pleas._

It remained forgotten in his pocket till he reached home.

When he pulled out that and others from the capacious pocket of his
coat, it had its turn, as he sat in his library in his thick silk
dressing-gown; and then he found its contents to be a closely-written
letter, in a clerk's hand, and an enclosure in 'secretary hand,' as I
believe the angular scrivinary of law-writings in those days was termed,
engrossed on a bit of parchment about the size of this page. The letter

          "Mr. Justice Harbottle,--My Lord,

"I am ordered by the High Court of Appeal to acquaint your lordship, in
order to your better preparing yourself for your trial, that a true bill
hath been sent down, and the indictment lieth against your lordship for
the murder of one Lewis Pyneweck of Shrewsbury, citizen, wrongfully
executed for the forgery of a bill of exchange, on the--the day of ----
last, by reason of the wilful perversion of the evidence, and the undue
pressure put upon the jury, together with the illegal admission of
evidence by your lordship, well knowing the same to be illegal, by all
which the promoter of the prosecution of the said indictment, before the
High Court of Appeal, hath lost his life.

"And the trial of the said indictment, I am farther ordered to acquaint
your lordship is fixed for the 10th day of ---- next ensuing, by the
right honourable the Lord Chief-Justice Twofold, of the court aforesaid,
to wit, the High Court of Appeal, on which day it will most certainly
take place. And I am farther to acquaint your lordship, to prevent any
surprise or miscarriage, that your case stands first for the said day,
and that the said High Court of Appeal sits day and night, and never
rises; and herewith, by order of the said court, I furnish your lordship
with a copy (extract) of the record in this case, except of the
indictment, whereof, notwithstanding, the substance and effect is
supplied to your lordship in this Notice. And farther I am to inform
you, that in case the jury then to try your lordship should find you
guilty, the right honourable the Lord Chief-Justice will, in passing
sentence of death upon you, fix the day of execution for the 10th day of
----, being one calendar month from the day of your trial."

It was signed by "CALEB SEARCHER,

     "Officer of the Crown Solicitor in the
        "Kingdom of Life and Death."

The Judge glanced through the parchment.

"'Sblood! Do they think a man like me is to be bamboozled by their

The Judge's coarse features were wrung into one of his sneers; but he
was pale. Possibly, after all, there was a conspiracy on foot. It was
queer. Did they mean to pistol him in his carriage? or did they only
aim at frightening him?

Judge Harbottle had more than enough of animal courage. He was not
afraid of highwaymen, and he had fought more than his share of duels,
being a foul-mouthed advocate while he held briefs at the bar. No one
questioned his fighting qualities. But with respect to this particular
case of Pyneweck, he lived in a house of glass. Was there not his
pretty, dark-eyed, over-dressed housekeeper, Mrs. Flora Carwell? Very
easy for people who knew Shrewsbury to identify Mrs. Pyneweck, if once
put upon the scent; and had he not stormed and worked hard in that case?
Had he not made it hard sailing for the prisoner? Did he not know very
well what the bar thought of it? It would be the worst scandal that ever
blasted judge.

So much there was intimidating in the matter, but nothing more. The
Judge was a little bit gloomy for a day or two after, and more testy
with every one than usual.

He locked up the papers; and about a week after he asked his
housekeeper, one day, in the library:

"Had your husband never a brother?"

Mrs. Carwell squalled on this sudden introduction of the funereal topic,
and cried exemplary "piggins full," as the Judge used pleasantly to say.
But he was in no mood for trifling now, and he said sternly:

"Come, madam! this wearies me. Do it another time; and give me an answer
to my question." So she did.

Pyneweck had no brother living. He once had one; but he died in Jamaica.

"How do you know he is dead?" asked the Judge.

"Because he told me so."

"Not the dead man?"

"Pyneweck told me so."

"Is that all?" sneered the Judge.

He pondered this matter; and time went on. The Judge was growing a
little morose, and less enjoying. The subject struck nearer to his
thoughts than he fancied it could have done. But so it is with most
undivulged vexations, and there was no one to whom he could tell this

It was now the ninth; and Mr. Justice Harbottle was glad. He knew
nothing would come of it. Still it bothered him; and to-morrow would see
it well over.

[What of the paper, I have cited? No one saw it during his life; no one,
after his death. He spoke of it to Dr. Hedstone; and what purported to
be "a copy," in the old Judge's hand-writing, was found. The original
was nowhere. Was it a copy of an illusion, incident to brain disease?
Such is my belief.]



Judge Harbottle went this night to the play at Drury Lane. He was one of
those old fellows who care nothing for late hours, and occasional
knocking about in pursuit of pleasure. He had appointed with two cronies
of Lincoln's Inn to come home in his coach with him to sup after the

They were not in his box, but were to meet him near the entrance, and to
get into his carriage there; and Mr. Justice Harbottle, who hated
waiting, was looking a little impatiently from the window.

The Judge yawned.

He told the footman to watch for Counsellor Thavies and Counsellor
Beller, who were coming; and, with another yawn, he laid his cocked-hat
on his knees, closed his eyes, leaned back in his corner, wrapped his
mantle closer about him, and began to think of pretty Mrs. Abington.

And being a man who could sleep like a sailor, at a moment's notice, he
was thinking of taking a nap. Those fellows had no business to keep a
judge waiting.

He heard their voices now. Those rake-hell counsellors were laughing,
and bantering, and sparring after their wont. The carriage swayed and
jerked, as one got in, and then again as the other followed. The door
clapped, and the coach was now jogging and rumbling over the pavement.
The Judge was a little bit sulky. He did not care to sit up and open his
eyes. Let them suppose he was asleep. He heard them laugh with more
malice than good-humour, he thought, as they observed it. He would give
them a d----d hard knock or two when they got to his door, and till then
he would counterfeit his nap.

The clocks were chiming twelve. Beller and Thavies were silent as
tombstones. They were generally loquacious and merry rascals.

The Judge suddenly felt himself roughly seized and thrust from his
corner into the middle of the seat, and opening his eyes, instantly he
found himself between his two companions.

Before he could blurt out the oath that was at his lips, he saw that
they were two strangers--evil-looking fellows, each with a pistol in
his hand, and dressed like Bow Street officers.

The Judge clutched at the check-string. The coach pulled up. He stared
about him. They were not among houses; but through the windows, under a
broad moonlight, he saw a black moor stretching lifelessly from right to
left, with rotting trees, pointing fantastic branches in the air,
standing here and there in groups, as if they held up their arms and
twigs like fingers, in horrible glee at the Judge's coming.

A footman came to the window. He knew his long face and sunken eyes. He
knew it was Dingly Chuff, fifteen years ago a footman in his service,
whom he had turned off at a moment's notice, in a burst of jealousy, and
indicted for a missing spoon. The man had died in prison of the

The Judge drew back in utter amazement. His armed companions signed
mutely; and they were again gliding over this unknown moor.

The bloated and gouty old man, in his horror, considered the question of
resistance. But his athletic days were long over. This moor was a
desert. There was no help to be had. He was in the hands of strange
servants, even if his recognition turned out to be a delusion, and they
were under the command of his captors. There was nothing for it but
submission, for the present.

Suddenly the coach was brought nearly to a standstill, so that the
prisoner saw an ominous sight from the window.

It was a gigantic gallows beside the road; it stood three-sided, and
from each of its three broad beams at top depended in chains some eight
or ten bodies, from several of which the cere-clothes had dropped away,
leaving the skeletons swinging lightly by their chains. A tall ladder
reached to the summit of the structure, and on the peat beneath lay

On top of the dark transverse beam facing the road, from which, as from
the other two completing the triangle of death, dangled a row of these
unfortunates in chains, a hang-man, with a pipe in his mouth, much as we
see him in the famous print of the 'Idle Apprentice,' though here his
perch was ever so much higher, was reclining at his ease and listlessly
shying bones, from a little heap at his elbow, at the skeletons that
hung round, bringing down now a rib or two, now a hand, now half a leg.
A long-sighted man could have discerned that he was a dark fellow, lean;
and from continually looking down on the earth from the elevation over
which, in another sense, he always hung, his nose, his lips, his chin
were pendulous and loose, and drawn down into a monstrous grotesque.

This fellow took his pipe from his mouth on seeing the coach, stood up,
and cut some solemn capers high on his beam, and shook a new rope in the
air, crying with a voice high and distant as the caw of a raven hovering
over a gibbet, "A rope for Judge Harbottle!"

The coach was now driving on at its old swift pace.

So high a gallows as that, the Judge had never, even in his most
hilarious moments, dreamed of. He thought he must be raving. And the
dead footman! He shook his ears and strained his eyelids; but if he was
dreaming, he was unable to awake himself.

There was no good in threatening these scoundrels. A _brutum fulmen_
might bring a real one on his head.

Any submission to get out of their hands; and then heaven and earth he
would move to unearth and hunt them down.

Suddenly they drove round a corner of a vast white building, and under a



The Judge found himself in a corridor lighted with dingy oil-lamps, the
walls of bare stone; it looked like a passage in a prison. His guards
placed him in the hands of other people. Here and there he saw bony and
gigantic soldiers passing to and fro, with muskets over their shoulders.
They looked straight before them, grinding their teeth, in bleak fury,
with no noise but the clank of their shoes. He saw these by glimpses,
round corners, and at the ends of passages, but he did not actually pass
them by.

And now, passing under a narrow doorway, he found himself in the dock,
confronting a judge in his scarlet robes, in a large court-house. There
was nothing to elevate this temple of Themis above its vulgar kind
elsewhere. Dingy enough it looked, in spite of candles lighted in decent
abundance. A case had just closed, and the last juror's back was seen
escaping through the door in the wall of the jury-box. There were some
dozen barristers, some fiddling with pen and ink, others buried in
briefs, some beckoning, with the plumes of their pens, to their
attorneys, of whom there were no lack; there were clerks to-ing and
fro-ing, and the officers of the court, and the registrar, who was
handing up a paper to the judge; and the tipstaff, who was presenting a
note at the end of his wand to a king's counsel over the heads of the
crowd between. If this was the High Court of Appeal, which never rose
day or night, it might account for the pale and jaded aspect of
everybody in it. An air of indescribable gloom hung upon the pallid
features of all the people here; no one ever smiled; all looked more or
less secretly suffering.

"The King against Elijah Harbottle!" shouted the officer.

"Is the appellant Lewis Pyneweck in court?" asked Chief-Justice Twofold,
in a voice of thunder, that shook the woodwork of the Court, and boomed
down the corridors.

Up stood Pyneweck from his place at the table.

"Arraign the prisoner!" roared the Chief; and Judge Harbottle felt the
pannels of the dock round him, and the floor, and the rails quiver in
the vibrations of that tremendous voice.

The prisoner, _in limine_, objected to this pretended court, as being a
sham, and non-existent in point of law; and then, that, even if it were
a court constituted by law, (the Judge was growing dazed), it had not
and could not have any jurisdiction to try him for his conduct on the

Whereupon the chief-justice laughed suddenly, and every one in court,
turning round upon the prisoner, laughed also, till the laugh grew and
roared all round like a deafening acclamation; he saw nothing but
glittering eyes and teeth, a universal stare and grin; but though all
the voices laughed, not a single face of all those that concentrated
their gaze upon him looked like a laughing face. The mirth subsided as
suddenly as it began.

The indictment was read. Judge Harbottle actually pleaded! He pleaded
"Not guilty." A jury were sworn. The trial proceeded. Judge Harbottle
was bewildered.

This could not be real. He must be either mad, or _going_ mad, he

One thing could not fail to strike even him. This Chief-Justice Twofold,
who was knocking him about at every turn with sneer and gibe, and
roaring him down with his tremendous voice, was a dilated effigy of
himself; an image of Mr. Justice Harbottle, at least double his size,
and with all his fierce colouring, and his ferocity of eye and visage,
enhanced awfully.

Nothing the prisoner could argue, cite, or state was permitted to retard
for a moment the march of the case towards its catastrophe.

The chief-justice seemed to feel his power over the jury, and to exult
and riot in the display of it. He glared at them, he nodded to them; he
seemed to have established an understanding with them. The lights were
faint in that part of the court. The jurors were mere shadows, sitting
in rows; the prisoner could see a dozen pair of white eyes shining,
coldly, out of the darkness; and whenever the judge in his charge, which
was contemptuously brief, nodded and grinned and gibed, the prisoner
could see, in the obscurity, by the dip of all these rows of eyes
together, that the jury nodded in acquiescence.

And now the charge was over, the huge chief-justice leaned back panting
and gloating on the prisoner. Every one in the court turned about, and
gazed with steadfast hatred on the man in the dock. From the jury-box
where the twelve sworn brethren were whispering together, a sound in the
general stillness like a prolonged "hiss-s-s!" was heard; and then, in
answer to the challenge of the officer, "How say you, gentlemen of the
jury, guilty or not guilty?" came in a melancholy voice the finding,

The place seemed to the eyes of the prisoner to grow gradually darker
and darker, till he could discern nothing distinctly but the lumen of
the eyes that were turned upon him from every bench and side and corner
and gallery of the building. The prisoner doubtless thought that he had
quite enough to say, and conclusive, why sentence of death should not be
pronounced upon him; but the lord chief-justice puffed it contemptuously
away, like so much smoke, and proceeded to pass sentence of death upon
the prisoner, having named the 10th of the ensuing month for his

Before he had recovered the stun of this ominous farce, in obedience to
the mandate, 'Remove the prisoner,' he was led from the dock. The lamps
seemed all to have gone out, and there were stoves and charcoal-fires
here and there, that threw a faint crimson light on the walls of the
corridors through which he passed. The stones that composed them looked
now enormous, cracked and unhewn.

He came into a vaulted smithy, where two men, naked to the waist, with
heads like bulls, round shoulders, and the arms of giants, were welding
red-hot chains together with hammers that pelted like thunderbolts.

They looked on the prisoner with fierce red eyes, and rested on their
hammers for a minute; and said the elder to his companion, "Take out
Elijah Harbottle's gyves;" and with a pincers he plucked the end which
lay dazzling in the fire from the furnace.

"One end locks," said he, taking the cool end of the iron in one hand,
while with the grip of a vice he seized the leg of the Judge, and locked
the ring round his ankle. "The other," he said with a grin, "is welded."

The iron band that was to form the ring for the other leg lay still
red-hot upon the stone floor, with brilliant sparks sporting up and down
its surface.

His companion in his gigantic hands seized the old Judge's other leg,
and pressed his foot immovably to the stone floor; while his senior in a
twinkling, with a masterly application of pincers and hammer, sped the
glowing bar round his ankle so tight that the skin and sinews smoked and
bubbled again, and old Judge Harbottle uttered a yell that seemed to
chill the very stones, and make the iron chains quiver on the wall.

Chains, vaults, smiths, and smithy all vanished in a moment; but the
pain continued. Mr. Justice Harbottle was suffering torture all round
the ankle on which the infernal smiths had just been operating.

His friends Thavies and Beller were startled by the Judge's roar in the
midst of their elegant trifling about a marriage à-la-mode case which
was going on. The Judge was in panic as well as pain. The street-lamps
and the light of his own hall-door restored him.

"I'm very bad," growled he between his set teeth; "my foot's blazing.
Who was he that hurt my foot? 'Tis the gout--'tis the gout!" he said,
awaking completely. "How many hours have we been coming from the
playhouse? 'Sblood, what has happened on the way? I've slept half the

There had been no hitch or delay, and they had driven home at a good

The Judge, however, was in gout; he was feverish too; and the attack,
though very short, was sharp; and when, in about a fortnight, it
subsided, his ferocious joviality did not return. He could not get this
dream, as he chose to call it, out of his head.



People remarked that the Judge was in the vapours. His doctor said he
should go for a fortnight to Buxton.

Whenever the Judge fell into a brown study, he was always conning over
the terms of the sentence pronounced upon him in his vision--"in one
calendar month from the date of this day;" and then the usual form, "and
you shall be hanged by the neck till you are dead," &c. "That will be
the 10th--I'm not much in the way of being hanged. I know what stuff
dreams are, and I laugh at them; but this is continually in my thoughts,
as if it forecast misfortune of some sort. I wish the day my dream gave
me were passed and over. I wish I were well purged of my gout. I wish I
were as I used to be. 'Tis nothing but vapours, nothing but a maggot."
The copy of the parchment and letter which had announced his trial with
many a snort and sneer he would read over and over again, and the
scenery and people of his dream would rise about him in places the most
unlikely, and steal him in a moment from all that surrounded him into a
world of shadows.

The Judge had lost his iron energy and banter. He was growing taciturn
and morose. The Bar remarked the change, as well they might. His friends
thought him ill. The doctor said he was troubled with hypochondria, and
that his gout was still lurking in his system, and ordered him to that
ancient haunt of crutches and chalk-stones, Buxton.

The Judge's spirits were very low; he was frightened about himself; and
he described to his housekeeper, having sent for her to his study to
drink a dish of tea, his strange dream in his drive home from Drury Lane
playhouse. He was sinking into the state of nervous dejection in which
men lose their faith in orthodox advice, and in despair consult quacks,
astrologers, and nursery story-tellers. Could such a dream mean that he
was to have a fit, and so die on the 10th? She did not think so. On the
contrary, it was certain some good luck must happen on that day.

The Judge kindled; and for the first time for many days, he looked for a
minute or two like himself, and he tapped her on the cheek with the hand
that was not in flannel.

"Odsbud! odsheart! you dear rogue! I had forgot. There is young
Tom--yellow Tom, my nephew, you know, lies sick at Harrogate; why
shouldn't he go that day as well as another, and if he does, I get an
estate by it? Why, lookee, I asked Doctor Hedstone yesterday if I was
like to take a fit any time, and he laughed, and swore I was the last
man in town to go off that way."

The Judge sent most of his servants down to Buxton to make his lodgings
and all things comfortable for him. He was to follow in a day or two.

It was now the 9th; and the next day well over, he might laugh at his
visions and auguries.

On the evening of the 9th, Doctor Hedstone's footman knocked at the
Judge's door. The doctor ran up the dusky stairs to the drawing-room. It
was a March evening, near the hour of sunset, with an east wind
whistling sharply through the chimney-stacks. A wood fire blazed
cheerily on the hearth. And Judge Harbottle, in what was then called a
brigadier-wig, with his red roquelaure on, helped the glowing effect of
the darkened chamber, which looked red all over like a room on fire.

The Judge had his feet on a stool, and his huge grim purple face
confronted the fire and seemed to pant and swell, as the blaze
alternately spread upward and collapsed. He had fallen again among his
blue devils, and was thinking of retiring from the Bench, and of fifty
other gloomy things.

But the doctor, who was an energetic son of Æsculapius, would listen to
no croaking, told the Judge he was full of gout, and in his present
condition no judge even of his own case, but promised him leave to
pronounce on all those melancholy questions, a fortnight later.

In the meantime the Judge must be very careful. He was over-charged
with gout, and he must not provoke an attack, till the waters of Buxton
should do that office for him, in their own salutary way.

The doctor did not think him perhaps quite so well as he pretended, for
he told him he wanted rest, and would be better if he went forthwith to
his bed.

Mr. Gerningham, his valet, assisted him, and gave him his drops; and the
Judge told him to wait in his bedroom till he should go to sleep.

Three persons that night had specially odd stories to tell.

The housekeeper had got rid of the trouble of amusing her little girl at
this anxious time by giving her leave to run about the sitting-rooms and
look at the pictures and china, on the usual condition of touching
nothing. It was not until the last gleam of sunset had for some time
faded, and the twilight had so deepened that she could no longer
discern the colours on the china figures on the chimney-piece or in the
cabinets, that the child returned to the housekeeper's room to find her

To her she related, after some prattle about the china, and the
pictures, and the Judge's two grand wigs in the dressing-room off the
library, an adventure of an extraordinary kind.

In the hall was placed, as was customary in those times, the sedan-chair
which the master of the house occasionally used, covered with stamped
leather, and studded with gilt nails, and with its red silk blinds down.
In this case, the doors of this old-fashioned conveyance were locked,
the windows up, and, as I said, the blinds down, but not so closely that
the curious child could not peep underneath one of them, and see into
the interior.

A parting beam from the setting sun, admitted through the window of a
back room, shot obliquely through the open door, and lighting on the
chair, shone with a dull transparency through the crimson blind.

To her surprise, the child saw in the shadow a thin man dressed in black
seated in it; he had sharp dark features; his nose, she fancied, a
little awry, and his brown eyes were looking straight before him; his
hand was on his thigh, and he stirred no more than the waxen figure she
had seen at Southwark fair.

A child is so often lectured for asking questions and on the propriety
of silence, and the superior wisdom of its elders, that it accepts most
things at last in good faith; and the little girl acquiesced
respectfully in the occupation of the chair by this mahogany-faced
person as being all right and proper.

It was not until she asked her mother who this man was, and observed her
scared face as she questioned her more minutely upon the appearance of
the stranger, that she began to understand that she had seen something

Mrs. Carwell took the key of the chair from its nail over the footman's
shelf, and led the child by the hand up to the hall, having a lighted
candle in her other hand. She stopped at a distance from the chair, and
placed the candlestick in the child's hand.

"Peep in, Margery, again, and try if there's anything there," she
whispered; "hold the candle near the blind so as to throw its light
through the curtain."

The child peeped, this time with a very solemn face, and intimated at
once that he was gone.

"Look again, and be sure," urged her mother.

The little girl was quite certain; and Mrs. Carwell, with her mob-cap of
lace and cherry-coloured ribbons, and her dark brown hair, not yet
powdered, over a very pale face, unlocked the door, looked in, and
beheld emptiness.

"All a mistake, child, you see."

"_There_, ma'am! see there! He's gone round the corner," said the child.

"Where?" said Mrs. Carwell, stepping backward a step.

"Into that room."

"Tut, child! 'twas the shadow," cried Mrs. Carwell angrily, because she
was frightened. "I moved the candle." But she clutched one of the poles
of the chair, which leant against the wall in the corner, and pounded
the floor furiously with one end of it, being afraid to pass the open
door the child had pointed to.

The cook and two kitchen-maids came running upstairs, not knowing what
to make of this unwonted alarm.

They all searched the room; but it was still and empty, and no sign of
any one's having been there.

Some people may suppose that the direction given to her thoughts by this
odd little incident will account for a very strange illusion which Mrs.
Carwell herself experienced about two hours later.



Mrs. Flora Carwell was going up the great staircase with a posset for
the Judge in a china bowl, on a little silver tray.

Across the top of the well-staircase there runs a massive oak rail; and,
raising her eyes accidentally, she saw an extremely odd-looking
stranger, slim and long, leaning carelessly over with a pipe between his
finger and thumb. Nose, lips, and chin seemed all to droop downward into
extraordinary length, as he leant his odd peering face over the
banister. In his other hand he held a coil of rope, one end of which
escaped from under his elbow and hung over the rail.

Mrs. Carwell, who had no suspicion at the moment, that he was not a real
person, and fancied that he was some one employed in cording the Judge's
luggage, called to know what he was doing there.

Instead of answering, he turned about, and walked across the lobby, at
about the same leisurely pace at which she was ascending, and entered a
room, into which she followed him. It was an uncarpeted and unfurnished
chamber. An open trunk lay upon the floor empty, and beside it the coil
of rope; but except herself there was no one in the room.

Mrs. Carwell was very much frightened, and now concluded that the child
must have seen the same ghost that had just appeared to her. Perhaps,
when she was able to think it over, it was a relief to believe so; for
the face, figure, and dress described by the child were awfully like
Pyneweck; and this certainly was not he.

Very much scared and very hysterical, Mrs. Carwell ran down to her room,
afraid to look over her shoulder, and got some companions about her, and
wept, and talked, and drank more than one cordial, and talked and wept
again, and so on, until, in those early days, it was ten o'clock, and
time to go to bed.

A scullery-maid remained up finishing some of her scouring and
"scalding" for some time after the other servants--who, as I said, were
few in number--that night had got to their beds. This was a low-browed,
broad-faced, intrepid wench with black hair, who did not "vally a ghost
not a button," and treated the housekeeper's hysterics with measureless

The old house was quiet, now. It was near twelve o'clock, no sounds were
audible except the muffled wailing of the wintry winds, piping high
among the roofs and chimneys, or rumbling at intervals, in under gusts,
through the narrow channels of the street.

The spacious solitudes of the kitchen level were awfully dark, and this
sceptical kitchen-wench was the only person now up and about, in the
house. She hummed tunes to herself, for a time; and then stopped and
listened; and then resumed her work again. At last, she was destined to
be more terrified than even was the housekeeper.

There was a back-kitchen in this house, and from this she heard, as if
coming from below its foundations, a sound like heavy strokes, that
seemed to shake the earth beneath her feet. Sometimes a dozen in
sequence, at regular intervals; sometimes fewer. She walked out softly
into the passage, and was surprised to see a dusky glow issuing from
this room, as if from a charcoal fire.

The room seemed thick with smoke.

Looking in, she very dimly beheld a monstrous figure, over a furnace,
beating with a mighty hammer the rings and rivets of a chain.

The strokes, swift and heavy as they looked, sounded hollow and distant.
The man stopped, and pointed to something on the floor, that, through
the smoky haze, looked, she thought, like a dead body. She remarked no
more; but the servants in the room close by, startled from their sleep
by a hideous scream, found her in a swoon on the flags, close to the
door, where she had just witnessed this ghastly vision.

Startled by the girl's incoherent asseverations that she had seen the
Judge's corpse on the floor, two servants having first searched the
lower part of the house, went rather frightened upstairs to inquire
whether their master was well. They found him, not in his bed, but in
his room. He had a table with candles burning at his bedside, and was
getting on his clothes again; and he swore and cursed at them roundly in
his old style, telling them that he had business, and that he would
discharge on the spot any scoundrel who should dare to disturb him

So the invalid was left to his quietude.

In the morning it was rumoured here and there in the street that the
Judge was dead. A servant was sent from the house three doors away, by
Counsellor Traverse, to inquire at Judge Harbottle's hall-door.

The servant who opened it was pale and reserved, and would only say that
the Judge was ill. He had had a dangerous accident; Doctor Hedstone had
been with him at seven o'clock in the morning.

There were averted looks, short answers, pale and frowning faces, and
all the usual signs that there was a secret that sat heavily upon their
minds, and the time for disclosing which had not yet come. That time
would arrive when the coroner had arrived, and the mortal scandal that
had befallen the house could be no longer hidden. For that morning Mr.
Justice Harbottle had been found hanging by the neck from the banister
at the top of the great staircase, and quite dead.

There was not the smallest sign of any struggle or resistance. There had
not been heard a cry or any other noise in the slightest degree
indicative of violence. There was medical evidence to show that, in his
atrabilious state, it was quite on the cards that he might have made
away with himself. The jury found accordingly that it was a case of
suicide. But to those who were acquainted with the strange story which
Judge Harbottle had related to at least two persons, the fact that the
catastrophe occurred on the morning of the 10th March seemed a
startling coincidence.

A few days after, the pomp of a great funeral attended him to the grave;
and so, in the language of Scripture, "the rich man died, and was


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