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´╗┐Title: Other Tales and Sketches - (From: "The Doliver Romance and Other Pieces: Tales and Sketches")
Author: Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 1804-1864
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                 THE DOLIVER ROMANCE AND OTHER PIECES

                         TALES AND SKETCHES

                       By Nathaniel Hawthorne


                      OTHER TALES AND SKETCHES



CONTENTS:
     My Visit To Niagara
     The Antique Ring
     Graves And Goblins



MY VISIT TO NIAGARA.

Never did a pilgrim approach Niagara with deeper enthusiasm than mine.
I had lingered away from it, and wandered to other scenes, because my
treasury of anticipated enjoyments, comprising all the wonders of the
world, had nothing else so magnificent, and I was loath to exchange the
pleasures of hope for those of memory so soon.  At length the day came.
The stage-coach, with a Frenchman and myself on the back seat, had
already left Lewiston, and in less than an hour would set us down in
Manchester.  I began to listen for the roar of the cataract, and
trembled with a sensation like dread, as the moment drew nigh, when its
voice of ages must roll, for the first time, on my ear.  The French
gentleman stretched himself from the window, and expressed loud
admiration, while, by a sudden impulse, I threw myself back and closed
my eyes.  When the scene shut in, I was glad to think, that for me the
whole burst of Niagara was yet in futurity.  We rolled on, and entered
the village of Manchester, bordering on the falls.

I am quite ashamed of myself here.  Not that I ran, like a madman to the
falls, and plunged into the thickest of the spray,--never stopping to
breathe, till breathing was impossible: not that I committed this, or
any other suitable extravagance.  On the contrary, I alighted with
perfect decency and composure, gave my cloak to the black waiter,
pointed out my baggage, and inquired, not the nearest way to the
cataract, but about the dinner-hour.  The interval was spent in
arranging my dress.  Within the last fifteen minutes, my mind had grown
strangely benumbed, and my spirits apathetic, with a slight depression,
not decided enough to be termed sadness.  My enthusiasm was in a
deathlike slumber.  Without aspiring to immortality, as he did, I could
have imitated that English traveller, who turned back from the point
where he first heard the thunder of Niagara, after crossing the ocean to
behold it.  Many a Western trader, by the by, has performed a similar
act of heroism with more heroic simplicity, deeming it no such wonderful
feat to dine at the hotel and resume his route to Buffalo or Lewiston,
while the cataract was roaring unseen.

Such has often been my apathy, when objects, long sought, and earnestly
desired, were placed within my reach.  After dinner--at which an
unwonted and perverse epicurism detained me longer than usual--I lighted
a cigar and paced the piazza, minutely attentive to the aspect and
business of a very ordinary village.  Finally, with reluctant step, and
the feeling of an intruder, I walked towards Goat Island.  At the
tollhouse, there were further excuses for delaying the inevitable
moment.  My signature was required in a huge ledger, containing similar
records innumerable, many of which I read.  The skin of a great
sturgeon, and other fishes, beasts, and reptiles; a collection of
minerals, such as lie in heaps near the falls; some Indian moccasins,
and other trifles, made of deer-skin and embroidered with beads; several
newspapers from Montreal, New York, and Boston;--all attracted me in
turn.  Out of a number of twisted sticks, the manufacture of a Tuscarora
Indian, I selected one of curled maple, curiously convoluted, and
adorned with the carved images of a snake and a fish.  Using this as my
pilgrim's staff, I crossed the bridge.  Above and below me were the
rapids, a river of impetuous snow, with here and there a dark rock amid
its whiteness, resisting all the physical fury, as any cold spirit did
the moral influences of the scene.  On reaching Goat Island, which
separates the two great segments of the falls, I chose the right-hand
path, and followed it to the edge of the American cascade.  There, while
the falling sheet was yet invisible, I saw the vapor that never
vanishes, and the Eternal Rainbow of Niagara.

It was an afternoon of glorious sunshine, without a cloud, save those of
the cataracts.  I gained an insulated rock, and beheld a broad sheet of
brilliant and unbroken foam, not shooting in a curved line from the top
of the precipice, but falling headlong down from height to depth.  A
narrow stream diverged from the main branch, and hurried over the crag
by a channel of its own, leaving a little pine-clad island and a streak
of precipice, between itself and the larger sheet.  Below arose the
mist, on which was painted a dazzling sun-bow with two concentric
shadows,--one, almost as perfect as the original brightness; and the
other, drawn faintly round the broken edge of the cloud.

Still I  had not half seen Niagara.  Following the verge of the island,
the path led me to the Horseshoe, where the real, broad St. Lawrence,
rushing along on a level with its banks, pours its whole breadth over a
concave line of precipice, and thence pursues its course between lofty
crags towards Ontario.  A sort of bridge, two or three feet wide,
stretches out along the edge of the descending sheet, and hangs upon the
rising mist, as if that were the foundation of the frail structure.
Here I stationed myself in the blast of wind, which the rushing river
bore along with it.  The bridge was tremulous beneath me, and marked the
tremor of the solid earth.  I looked along the whitening rapids, and
endeavored to distinguish a mass of water far above the falls, to follow
it to their verge, and go down with it, in fancy, to the abyss of clouds
and storm.  Casting my eyes across the river, and every side, I took in
the whole scene at a glance, and tried to comprehend it in one vast
idea.  After an hour thus spent, I left the bridge, and, by a staircase,
winding almost interminably round a post, descended to the base of the
precipice.  From that point, my path lay over slippery stones, and among
great fragments of the cliff, to the edge of the cataract, where the
wind at once enveloped me in spray, and perhaps dashed the rainbow round
me.  Were my long desires fulfilled?  And had I seen Niagara?

O that I had never heard of Niagara till I beheld it!  Blessed were the
wanderers of old, who heard its deep roar, sounding through the woods,
as the summons to an unknown wonder, and approached its awful brink, in
all the freshness of native feeling.  Had its own mysterious voice been
the first to warn me of its existence, then, indeed, I might have knelt
down and worshipped.  But I had come thither, haunted with a vision of
foam and fury, and dizzy cliffs, and an ocean tumbling down out of the
sky,--a scene, in short, which nature had too much good taste and calm
simplicity to realize.  My mind had struggled to adapt these false
conceptions to the reality, and finding the effort vain, a wretched
sense of disappointment weighed me down.  I climbed the precipice, and
threw myself on the earth, feeling that I was unworthy to look at the
Great Falls, and careless about beholding them again.

All that night, as there has been and will be, for ages past and to
come, a rushing sound was heard, as if a great tempest were sweeping
through the air.  It mingled with my dreams, and made them full of storm
and whirlwind.  Whenever I awoke, and heard this dread sound in the air,
and the windows rattling as with a mighty blast, I could not rest again,
till looking forth, I saw how bright the stars were, and that every leaf
in the garden was motionless.  Never was a summer night more calm to the
eye, nor a gale of autumn louder to the ear.  The rushing sound proceeds
from the rapids, and the rattling of the casements is but an effect of
the vibration of the whole house, shaken by the jar of the cataract.
The noise of the rapids draws the attention from the true voice of
Niagara, which is a dull, muffed thunder, resounding between the cliffs.
I spent a wakeful hour at midnight, in distinguishing its
reverberations, and rejoiced to find that my former awe and enthusiasm
were reviving.

Gradually, and after much contemplation, I came to know, by my own
feelings, that Niagara is indeed a wonder of the world, and not the less
wonderful, because time and thought must be employed in comprehending
it.  Casting aside all preconceived notions, and preparation to be
dire-struck or delighted, the beholder must stand beside it in the
simplicity of his heart, suffering the mighty scene to work its own
impression.  Night after night, I dreamed of it, and was gladdened every
morning by the consciousness of a growing capacity to enjoy it.  Yet I
will not pretend to the all-absorbing enthusiasm of some more fortunate
spectators, nor deny that very trifling causes would draw my eyes and
thoughts from the cataract.

The last day that I was to spend at Niagara, before my departure for the
Far West, I sat upon the Table Rock.  This celebrated station did not
now, as of old, project fifty feet beyond the line of the precipice, but
was shattered by the fall of an immense fragment, which lay distant on
the shore below.  Still, on the utmost verge of the rock, with my feet
hanging over it, I felt as if suspended in the open air.  Never before
had my mind been in such perfect unison with the scene.  There were
intervals, when I was conscious of nothing but the great river, rolling
calmly into the abyss, rather descending than precipitating itself, and
acquiring tenfold majesty from its unhurried motion.  It came like the
march of Destiny.  It was not taken by surprise, but seemed to have
anticipated, in all its course through the broad lakes, that it must
pour their collected waters down this height.  The perfect foam of the
river, after its descent, and the ever-varying shapes of mist, rising
up, to become clouds in the sky, would be the very picture of confusion,
were it merely transient, like the rage of a tempest.  But when the
beholder has stood awhile, and perceives no lull in the storm, and
considers that the vapor and the foam are as everlasting as the rocks
which produce them, all this turmoil assumes a sort of calmness.  It
soothes, while it awes the mind.

Leaning over the cliff, I saw the guide conducting two adventurers
behind the falls.  It was pleasant, from that high seat in the sunshine,
to observe them struggling against the eternal storm of the lower
regions, with heads bent down, now faltering, now pressing forward, and
finally swallowed up in their victory.  After their disappearance, a
blast rushed out with an old hat, which it had swept from one of their
heads.  The rock, to which they were directing their unseen course, is
marked, at a fearful distance on the exterior of the sheet, by a jet of
foam.  The attempt to reach it appears both poetical and perilous to a
looker-on, but may be accomplished without much more difficulty or
hazard, than in stemming a violent northeaster.  In a few moments, forth
came the children of the mist.  Dripping and breathless, they crept
along the base of the cliff, ascended to the guide's cottage, and
received, I presume, a certificate of their achievement, with three
verses of sublime poetry on the back.

My contemplations were often interrupted by strangers, who came down
from Forsyth's to take their first view of the falls.  A short, ruddy,
middle-aged gentleman, fresh from Old England, peeped over the rock, and
evinced his approbation by a broad grin.  His spouse, a very robust
lady, afforded a sweet example of maternal solicitude, being so intent
on the safety of her little boy that she did not even glance at Niagara.
As for the child, he gave himself wholly to the enjoyment of a stick of
candy.  Another traveller, a native American, and no rare character
among us, produced a volume of Captain Hall's tour, and labored
earnestly to adjust Niagara to the captain's description, departing, at
last, without one new idea or sensation of his own.  The next comer was
provided, not with a printed book, but with a blank sheet of foolscap,
from top to bottom of which, by means of an ever-pointed pencil, the
cataract was made to thunder.  In a little talk, which we had together,
he awarded his approbation to the general view, but censured the
position of Goat Island, observing that it should have been thrown
farther to the right, so as to widen the American falls, and contract
those of the Horseshoe.  Next appeared two traders of Michigan, who
declared, that, upon the whole, the sight was worth looking at, there
certainly was an immense water-power here; but that, after all, they
would go twice as far to see the noble stone-works of Lockport, where
the Grand Canal is locked down a descent of sixty feet.  They were
succeeded by a young fellow, in a homespun cotton dress, with a staff in
his hand, and a pack over his shoulders.  He advanced close to the edge
of the rock, where his attention, at first wavering among the different
components of the scene, finally became fixed in the angle of the Horse
shoe falls, which is, indeed, the central point of interest.  His whole
soul seemed to go forth and be transported thither, till the staff
slipped from his relaxed grasp, and falling down--down--down--struck
upon the fragment of the Table Rock.

In this manner I spent some hours, watching the varied impression, made
by the cataract, on those who disturbed me, and returning to unwearied
contemplation, when left alone.  At length my time came to depart.
There is a grassy footpath, through the woods, along the summit of the
bank, to a point whence a causeway, hewn in the side of the precipice,
goes winding down to the Ferry, about half a mile below the Table Rock.
The sun was near setting, when I emerged from the shadow of the trees,
and began the descent.  The indirectness of my downward road continually
changed the point of view, and showed me, in rich and repeated
succession, now, the whitening rapids and majestic leap of the main
river, which appeared more deeply massive as the light departed; now,
the lovelier picture, yet still sublime, of Goat Island, with its rocks
and grove, and the lesser falls, tumbling over the right bank of the St.
Lawrence, like a tributary stream; now, the long vista of the river, as
it eddied and whirled between the cliffs, to pass through Ontario toward
the sea, and everywhere to be wondered at, for this one unrivalled
scene.  The golden sunshine tinged the sheet of the American cascade,
and painted on its heaving spray the broken semicircle of a rainbow,
heaven's own beauty crowning earth's sublimity.  My steps were slow, and
I paused long at every turn of the descent, as one lingers and pauses,
who discerns a brighter and brightening excellence in what he must soon
behold no more.  The solitude of the old wilderness now reigned over the
whole vicinity of the falls.  My enjoyment became the more rapturous,
because no poet shared it, nor wretch devoid of poetry profaned it; but
the spot so famous through the world was all my own!



THE ANTIQUE RING.

"Yes, indeed: the gem is as bright as a star, and curiously set," said
Clara Pembertou, examining an antique ring, which her betrothed lover
had just presented to her, with a very pretty speech.  "It needs only
one thing to make it perfect."

"And what is that?" asked Mr. Edward Caryl, secretly anxious for the
credit of his gift.  "A modern setting, perhaps?"

"O, no!  That would destroy the charm at once," replied Clara.  "It
needs nothing but a story.  I long to know how many times it has been
the pledge of faith between two lovers, and whether the vows, of which
it was the symbol, were always kept or often broken.  Not that I should
be too scrupulous about facts.  If you happen to be unacquainted with
its authentic history, so much the better.  May it not have sparkled
upon a queen's finger?  Or who knows but it is the very ring which
Posthumus received from Imogen?  In short, you must kindle your
imagination at the lustre of this diamond, and make a legend for it."

Now such a task--and doubtless Clara knew it--was the most acceptable
that could have been imposed on Edward Caryl.  He was one of that
multitude of young gentlemen--limbs, or rather twigs of the law--whose
names appear in gilt letters on the front of Tudor's Buildings, and
other places in the vicinity of the Court House, which seem to be the
haunt of the gentler as well as the severer Muses.  Edward, in the
dearth of clients, was accustomed to employ his much leisure in
assisting the growth of American Literature, to which good cause he had
contributed not a few quires of the finest letter-paper, containing some
thought, some fancy, some depth of feeling, together with a young
writer's abundance of conceits.  Sonnets, stanzas of Tennysonian
sweetness, tales imbued with German mysticism, versions from Jean Paul,
criticisms of the old English poets, and essays smacking of Dialistic
philosophy, were among his multifarious productions.  The editors of the
fashionable periodicals were familiar with his autograph, and inscribed
his name in those brilliant bead-rolls of ink-stained celebrity, which
illustrate the first page of their covers.  Nor did fame withhold her
laurel.  Hillard had included him among the lights of the New England
metropolis, in his Boston Book; Bryant had found room for some of his
stanzas, in the Selections from American Poetry; and Mr. Griswold, in
his recent assemblage of the sons and daughters of song, had introduced
Edward Caryl into the inner court of the temple, among his fourscore
choicest bards.  There was a prospect, indeed, of his assuming a still
higher and more independent position.  Interviews had been held with
Ticknor, and a correspondence with the Harpers, respecting a proposed
volume, chiefly to consist of Mr. Caryl's fugitive pieces in the
Magazines, but to be accompanied with a poem of some length, never
before published.  Not improbably, the public may yet be gratified with
this collection.

Meanwhile, we sum up our sketch of Edward Caryl, by pronouncing him,
though somewhat of a carpet knight in literature, yet no unfavorable
specimen of a generation of rising writers, whose spirit is such that we
may reasonably expect creditable attempts from all, and good and
beautiful results from some.  And, it will be observed, Edward was the
very man to write pretty legends, at a lady's instance, for an
old-fashioned diamond ring.  He took the jewel in his hand, and turned it
so as to catch its scintillating radiance, as if hoping, in accordance with
Clara's suggestion, to light up his fancy with that starlike gleam.

"Shall it be a ballad?--a tale in verse?" he inquired.  "Enchanted
rings often glisten in old English poetry, I think something may be done
with the subject; but it is fitter for rhyme than prose."

"No, no," said Miss Pemberton, "we will have no more rhyme than just
enough for a posy to the ring.  You must tell the legend in simple
prose; and when it is finished, I will make a little party to hear it
read."

The young gentleman promised obedience; and going to his pillow, with
his head full of the familiar spirits that used to be worn in rings,
watches, and sword-hilts, he had the good fortune to possess himself of
an available idea in a dream.  Connecting this with what he himself
chanced to know of the ring's real history, his task was done.  Clara
Pemberton invited a select few of her friends, all holding the stanchest
faith in Edward's genius, and therefore the most genial auditors, if not
altogether the fairest critics, that a writer could possibly desire.
Blessed be woman for her faculty of admiration, and especially for her
tendency to admire with her heart, when man, at most, grants merely a
cold approval with his mind!

Drawing his chair beneath the blaze of a solar lamp, Edward Caryl untied
a roll of glossy paper, and began as follows:--


THE LEGEND

After the death-warrant had been read to the Earl of Essex, and on the
evening before his appointed execution, the Countess of Shrewsbury paid
his lordship a visit, and found him, as it appeared, toying childishly
with a ring.  The diamond, that enriched it, glittered like a little
star, but with a singular tinge of red.  The gloomy prison-chamber in
the Tower, with its deep and narrow windows piercing the walls of stone,
was now all that the earl possessed of worldly prospect; so that there
was the less wonder that he should look steadfastly into the gem, and
moralize upon earth's deceitful splendor, as men in darkness and ruin
seldom fail to do.  But the shrewd observations of the countess,--an
artful and unprincipled woman,--the pretended friend of Essex, but who
had come to glut her revenge for a deed of scorn which he himself had
forgotten,--her keen eye detected a deeper interest attached to this
jewel.  Even while expressing his gratitude for her remembrance of a
ruined favorite, and condemned criminal, the earl's glance reverted to
the ring, as if all that remained of time and its affairs were collected
within that small golden circlet.

"My dear lord," observed the countess, "there is surely some matter of
great moment wherewith this ring is connected, since it, so absorbs your
mind.  A token, it may be, of some fair lady's love,--alas, poor lady,
once richest in possessing such a heart!  Would you that the jewel be
returned to her?"

"The queen! the queen!  It was her Majesty's own gift," replied the
earl, still gazing into the depths of the gem.  "She took it from her
finger, and told me, with a smile, that it was an heirloom from her
Tudor ancestors, and had once been the property of Merlin, the British
wizard, who gave it to the lady of his love.  His art had made this
diamond the abiding-place of a spirit, which, though of fiendish nature,
was bound to work only good, so long as the ring was an unviolated
pledge of love and faith, both with the giver and receiver.  But should
love prove false, and faith be broken, then the evil spirit would work
his own devilish will, until the ring were purified by becoming the
medium of some good and holy act, and again the pledge of faithful love.
The gem soon lost its virtue; for the wizard was murdered by the very
lady to whom he gave it."

"An idle legend!" said the countess.

"It is so," answered Essex, with a melancholy smile.  "Yet the queen's
favor, of which this ring was the symbol, has proved my ruin.  When
death is nigh, men converse with dreams and shadows.  I have been gazing
into the diamond, and fancying--but you will laugh at me--that I might
catch a glimpse of the evil spirit there.  Do you observe this red
glow,--dusky, too, amid all the brightness?  It is the token of his
presence; and even now, methinks, it grows redder and duskier, like an
angry sunset."

Nevertheless, the earl's manner testified how slight was his credence in
the enchanted properties of the ring.  But there is a kind of
playfulness that comes in moments of despair, when the reality of
misfortune, if entirely felt, would crush the soul at once.  He now, for
a brief space, was lost in thought, while the countess contemplated him
with malignant satisfaction.

"This ring," he resumed, in another tone, "alone remains, of all that my
royal mistress's favor lavished upon her servant.  My fortune once shone
as brightly as the gem.  And now, such a darkness has fallen around me,
methinks it would be no marvel if its gleam--the sole light of my
prison-house--were to be forthwith extinguished; inasmuch as my last
earthly hope depends upon it."

"How say you, my lord?"  asked the Countess of Shrewsbury.  "The stone
is bright; but there should be strange magic in it, if it can keep your
hopes alive, at this sad hour.  Alas! these iron bars and ramparts of
the Tower are unlike to yield to such a spell."

Essex raised his head involuntarily; for there was something in the
countess's tone that disturbed him, although he could not suspect that
an enemy had intruded upon the sacred privacy of a prisoner's dungeon,
to exult over so dark a ruin of such once brilliant fortunes.  He looked
her in the face, but saw nothing to awaken his distrust.  It would have
required a keener eye than even Cecil's to read the secret of a
countenance, which had been worn so long in the false light of a court,
that it was now little better than a mask, telling any story save the
true one.  The condemned nobleman again bent over the ring, and
proceeded:

"It once had power in it,--this bright gem,--the magic that appertains
to the talisman of a great queen's favor.  She bade me, if hereafter I
should fall into her disgrace,--how deep soever, and whatever might be
the crime,--to convey this jewel to her sight, and it should plead for
me.  Doubtless, with her piercing judgment, she had even then detected
the rashness of my nature, and foreboded some such deed as has now
brought destruction upon my bead.  And knowing, too, her own hereditary
rigor, she designed, it may be, that the memory of gentler and kindlier
hours should soften her heart in my behalf, when my need should be the
greatest.  I have doubted,--I have distrusted,--yet who can tell, even
now, what happy influence this ring might have?"

"You have delayed full long to show the ring, and plead her Majesty's
gracious promise," remarked the countess,--"your state being what it
is."

"True," replied the earl: "but for my honor's sake, I was loath to
entreat the queen's mercy, while I might hope for life, at least, from
the justice of the laws.  If, on a trial by my peers, I had been
acquitted of meditating violence against her sacred life, then would I
have fallen at her feet, and presenting the jewel, have prayed no other
favor than that my love and zeal should be put to the severest test.
But now--it were confessing too much--it were cringing too low--to beg
the miserable gift of life, on no other score than the tenderness which
her Majesty deems one to have forfeited!"

"Yet it is your only hope," said the countess.

"And besides," continued Essex, pursuing his own reflections, "of what
avail will be this token of womanly feeling, when, on the other hand,
are arrayed the all-prevailing motives of state policy, and the
artifices and intrigues of courtiers, to consummate my downfall?  Will
Cecil or Raleigh suffer her heart to act for itself, even if the spirit
of her father were not in her?  It is in vain to hope it."

But still Essex gazed at the ring with an absorbed attention, that
proved how much hope his sanguine temperament had concentrated here,
when there was none else for him in the wide world, save what lay in the
compass of that hoop of gold.  The spark of brightness within the
diamond, which gleamed like an intenser than earthly fire, was the
memorial of his dazzling career.  It had not paled with the waning
sunshine of his mistress's favor; on the contrary, in spite of its
remarkable tinge of dusky red, he fancied that it never shone so
brightly.  The glow of festal torches,--the blaze of perfumed
lamps,--bonfires that had been kindled for him, when he was the darling of
the people,--the splendor of the royal court, where he had been the
peculiar star,--all seemed to have collected their moral or material glory
into the gem, and to burn with a radiance caught from the future, as well
as gathered from the past.  That radiance might break forth again.
Bursting from the diamond, into which it was now narrowed, it might been
first upon the gloomy walls of the Tower,--then wider, wider, wider,--till
all England, and the seas around her cliffs, should be gladdened
with the light.  It was such an ecstasy as often ensues after long
depression, and has been supposed to precede the circumstances of
darkest fate that may befall mortal man.  The earl pressed the ring to
his heart as if it were indeed a talisman, the habitation of a spirit,
as the queen had playfully assured him,--but a spirit of happier
influences than her legend spake of.

"O, could I but make my way to her footstool!"  cried he, waving his
hand aloft, while he paced the stone pavement of his prison-chamber with
an impetuous step.  "I might kneel down, indeed, a ruined man, condemned
to the block, but how should I rise again?  Once more the favorite of
Elizabeth!--England's proudest noble!--with such prospects as ambition
never aimed at!  Why have I tarried so long in this weary dungeon?  The
ring has power to set me free!  The palace wants me!  Ho, jailer, unbar
the door!"

But then occurred the recollection of the impossibility of obtaining an
interview with his fatally estranged mistress, and testing the influence
over her affections, which he still flattered himself with possessing.
Could he step beyond the limits of his prison, the world would be all
sunshine; but here was only gloom and death.

"Alas!" said he, slowly and sadly, letting his head fall upon his hands.
"I die for the lack of one blessed word."

The Countess of Shrewsbury, herself forgotten amid the earl's gorgeous
visions, had watched him with an aspect that could have betrayed nothing
to the most suspicious observer; unless that it was too calm for
humanity, while witnessing the flutterings, as it were, of a generous
heart in the death-agony.  She now approached him.

"My good lord," she said, "what mean you to do?"

"Nothing,--my deeds are done!" replied he, despondingly; "yet, had a
fallen favorite any friends, I would entreat one of them to lay this
ring at her Majesty's feet; albeit with little hope, save that,
hereafter, it might remind her that poor Essex, once far too highly
favored, was at last too severely dealt with."

"I will be that friend," said the countess.  "There is no time to be
lost.  Trust this precious ring with me.  This very night the queen's
eye shall rest upon it; nor shall the efficacy of my poor words be
wanting, to strengthen the impression which it will doubtless make."

The earl's first impulse was to hold out the ring.  But looking at the
countess, as she bent forward to receive it, he fancied that the red
glow of the gem tinged all her face, and gave it an ominous expression.
Many passages of past times recurred to his memory.  A preternatural
insight, perchance caught from approaching death, threw its momentary
gleam, as from a meteor, all round his position.

"Countess," he said, "I know not wherefore I hesitate, being in a plight
so desperate, and having so little choice of friends.  But have you
looked into your own heart?  Can you perform this office with the
truth--the earnestness--time--zeal, even to tears, and agony of
spirit--wherewith the holy gift of human life should be pleaded for?  Woe
be unto you, should you undertake this task, and deal towards me otherwise
than with utmost faith!  For your own soul's sake, and as you would have
peace at your death-hour, consider well in what spirit you receive this
ring!"

The countess did not shrink.

"My lord!--my good lord!" she exclaimed, "wrong not a woman's heart by
these suspicious.  You might choose another messenger; but who, save a
lady of her bedchamber, can obtain access to the queen at this untimely
hour?  It is for your life,--for your life,--else I would not renew my
offer."

"Take the ring," said the earl.

"Believe that it shall be in the queen's hands before the lapse of
another hour," replied the countess, as she received this sacred trust
of life and death.  "To-morrow morning look for the result of my
intercession."

She departed.  Again the earl's hopes rose high.  Dreams visited his
slumber, not of the sable-decked scaffold in the Tower-yard, but of
canopies of state, obsequious courtiers, pomp, splendor, the smile of
the once more gracious queen, and a light beaming from the magic gem,
which illuminated his whole future.

History records how foully the Countess of Shrewsbury betrayed the
trust, which Essex, in his utmost need, confided to her.  She kept the
ring, and stood in the presence of Elizabeth, that night, without one
attempt to soften her stern hereditary temper in behalf of the former
favorite.  The next day the earl's noble head rolled upon the scaffold.
On her death-bed, tortured, at last, with a sense of the dreadful guilt
which she had taken upon her soul, the wicked countess sent for
Elizabeth, revealed the story of the ring, and besought forgiveness for
her treachery.  But the queen, still obdurate, even while remorse for
past obduracy was tugging at her heart-strings, shook the dying woman in
her bed, as if struggling with death for the privilege of wreaking her
revenge and spite.  The spirit of the countess passed away, to undergo
the justice, or receive the mercy, of a higher tribunal; and tradition
says, that the fatal ring was found upon her breast, where it had
imprinted a dark red circle, resembling the effect of the intensest
heat.  The attendants, who prepared the body for burial, shuddered,
whispering one to another, that the ring must have derived its heat from
the glow of infernal fire.  They left it on her breast, in the coffin,
and it went with that guilty woman to the tomb.

Many years afterward, when the church, that contained the monuments of
the Shrewsbury family, was desecrated by Cromwell's soldiers, they broke
open the ancestral vaults, and stole whatever was valuable from the
noble personages who reposed there.  Merlin's antique ring passed into
the possession of a stout sergeant of the Ironsides, who thus became
subject to the influences of the evil spirit that still kept his abode
within the gem's enchanted depths.  The sergeant was soon slain in
battle, thus transmitting the ring, though without any legal form of
testament, to a gay cavalier, who forthwith pawned it, and expended the
money in liquor, which speedily brought him to the grave.  We next catch
the sparkle of the magic diamond at various epochs of the merry reign of
Charles the Second.  But its sinister fortune still attended it.  From
whatever hand this ring of portent came, and whatever finger it
encircled, ever it was the pledge of deceit between man and man, or man
and woman, of faithless vows, and unhallowed passion; and whether to
lords and ladies, or to village-maids,--for sometimes it found its way
so low,--still it brought nothing but sorrow and disgrace.  No purifying
deed was done, to drive the fiend from his bright home in this little
star.  Again, we hear of it at a later period, when Sir Robert Walpole
bestowed the ring, among far richer jewels, on the lady of a British
legislator, whose political honor he wished to undermine.  Many a dismal
and unhappy tale might be wrought out of its other adventures.  All this
while, its ominous tinge of dusky red had been deepening and darkening,
until, if laid upon white paper, it cast the mingled hue of night and
blood, strangely illuminated with scintillating light, in a circle round
about.  But this peculiarity only made it the more valuable.

Alas, the fatal ring!  When shall its dark secret be discovered, and the
doom of ill, inherited from one possessor to another, be finally
revoked?

The legend now crosses the Atlantic, and comes down to our own immediate
time.  In a certain church of our city, not many evenings ago, there was
a contribution for a charitable object.  A fervid preacher had poured
out his whole soul in a rich and tender discourse, which had at least
excited the tears, and perhaps the more effectual sympathy, of a
numerous audience.  While the choristers sang sweetly, and the organ
poured forth its melodious thunder, the deacons passed up and down the
aisles, and along the galleries, presenting their mahogany boxes, in
which each person deposited whatever sum he deemed it safe to lend to
the Lord, in aid of human wretchedness.  Charity became audible,--chink,
chink, chink,--as it fell, drop by drop, into the common receptacle.
There was a hum,--a stir,--the subdued bustle of people putting their
hands into their pockets; while, ever and anon, a vagrant coin fell upon
the floor, and rolled away, with long reverberation, into some
inscrutable corner.

At length, all having been favored with an opportunity to be generous,
the two deacons placed their boxes on the communion-table, and thence,
at the conclusion of the services, removed them into the vestry.  Here
these good old gentlemen sat down together, to reckon the accumulated
treasure.

"Fie, fie, Brother Tilton," said Deacon Trott, peeping into Deacon
Tilton's box, "what a heap of copper you have picked up!  Really, for an
old man, you must have had a heavy job to lug it along.  Copper!
copper! copper!  Do people expect to get admittance into heaven at the
price of a few coppers?"

"Don't wrong them, brother," answered Deacon Tilton, a simple and kindly
old man.  "Copper may do more for one person, than gold will for
another.  In the galleries, where I present my box, we must not expect
such a harvest as you gather among the gentry in the broad aisle, and
all over the floor of the church.  My people are chiefly poor mechanics
and laborers, sailors, seamstresses, and servant-maids, with a most
uncomfortable intermixture of roguish school-boys."

"Well, well," said Deacon Trott; "but there is a great deal, Brother
Tilton, in the method of presenting a contribution-box.  It is a knack
that comes by nature, or not at all."

They now proceeded to sum up the avails of the evening, beginning with
the receipts of Deacon Trott.  In good sooth, that worthy personage had
reaped an abundant harvest, in which he prided himself no less,
apparently, than if every dollar had been contributed from his own
individual pocket.  Had the good deacon been meditating a jaunt to
Texas, the treasures of the mahogany box might have sent him on his way
rejoicing.  There were bank-notes, mostly, it is true, of the smallest
denominations in the giver's pocket-book, yet making a goodly average
upon the whole.  The most splendid contribution was a check for a
hundred dollars, bearing the name of a distinguished merchant, whose
liberality was duly celebrated in the newspapers of the next day.  No
less than seven half-eagles, together with an English sovereign,
glittered amidst an indiscriminate heap of silver; the box being
polluted with nothing of the copper kind, except a single bright new
cent, wherewith a little boy had performed his first charitable act.

"Very well! very well indeed!" said Deacon Trott, self-approvingly.
"A handsome evening's work!  And now, Brother Tilton, let's see whether
you can match it."  Here was a sad contrast!  They poured forth Deacon
Tilton's treasure upon the table, and it really seemed as if the whole
copper coinage of the country, together with an amazing quantity of
shop-keeper's tokens, and English and Irish half-pence, mostly of base
metal, had been congregated into the box.  There was a very substantial
pencil-case, and the semblance of a shilling; but he latter proved to be
made of tin, and the former of German-silver.  A gilded brass button was
doing duty as a gold coin, and a folded shopbill had assumed the
character of a bank-note.  But Deacon Tilton's feelings were much
revived by the aspect of another bank-note, new and crisp, adorned with
beautiful engravings, and stamped with the indubitable word, TWENTY, in
large black letters.  Alas! it was a counterfeit.  In short, the poor
old Deacon was no less unfortunate than those who trade with fairies,
and whose gains are sure to be transformed into dried leaves, pebbles,
and other valuables of that kind.

"I believe the Evil One is in the box," said he, with some vexation.

"Well done, Deacon Tilton!" cried his Brother Trott, with a hearty
laugh.  "You ought to have a statue in copper."

"Never mind, brother," replied the good Deacon, recovering his temper.
"I'll bestow ten dollars from my own pocket, and may heaven's blessing
go along with it.  But look!  what do you call this?"

Under the copper mountain, which it had cost them so much toil to
remove, lay an antique ring!  It was enriched with a diamond, which, so
soon as it caught the light, began to twinkle and glimmer, emitting the
whitest and purest lustre that could possibly be conceived.--It was as
brilliant as if some magician had condensed the brightest star in heaven
into a compass fit to be set in a ring, for a lady's delicate finger.

"How is this?" said Deacon Trott, examining it carefully, in the
expectation of finding it as worthless as the rest of his colleague's
treasure.  "Why, upon my word, this seems to be a real diamond, and of
the purest water.  Whence could it have come?"

"Really, I cannot tell," quoth Deacon Tilton, "for my spectacles were so
misty that all faces looked alike.  But now I remember, there was a
flash of light came from the box, at one moment; but it seemed a dusky
red, instead of a pure white, like the sparkle of this gem.  Well; the
ring will make up for the copper; but I wish the giver had thrown its
history into the box along with it."

It has been our good luck to recover a portion of that history.  After
transmitting misfortune from one possessor to another, ever since the
days of British Merlin, the identical ring which Queen Elizabeth gave to
the Earl of Essex was finally thrown into the contribution-box of a New
England church.  The two deacons deposited it in the glass case of a
fashionable jeweller, of whom it was purchased by the humble rehearser
of this legend, in the hope that it may be allowed to sparkle on a fair
lady's finger.  Purified from the foul fiend, so long its inhabitant, by
a deed of unostentatious charity, and now made the symbol of faithful
and devoted love, the gentle bosom of its new possessor need fear no
sorrow from its influence.

Very pretty!--Beautiful!--How original!--How sweetly written!--What
nature!--What imagination!--What power!--What pathos!--What exquisite
humor!"--were the exclamations of Edward Caryl's kind and generous
auditors, at the conclusion of the legend.

"It is a pretty tale," said Miss Pemberton, who, conscious that her
praise was to that of all others as a diamond to a pebble, was therefore
the less liberal in awarding it.  "It is really a pretty tale, and very
proper for any of the Annuals.  But, Edward, your moral does not satisfy
me.  What thought did you embody in the ring?"

"O Clara, this is too bad!" replied Edward, with a half-reproachful
smile.  "You know that I can never separate the idea from the symbol in
which it manifests itself.  However, we may suppose the Gem to be the
human heart, and the Evil Spirit to be Falsehood, which, in one guise or
another, is the fiend that causes all the sorrow and trouble in the
world.  I beseech you to let this suffice."

"It shall," said Clara, kindly.  "And, believe me, whatever the world
may say of the story, I prize it far above the diamond which enkindled
your imagination."



GRAVES AND GOBLINS.

Now talk we of graves and goblins!  Fit themes,--start not! gentle
reader,--fit for a ghost like me.  Yes; though an earth-clogged fancy is
laboring with these conceptions, and an earthly hand will write them
down, for mortal eyes to read, still their essence flows from as airy a
ghost as ever basked in the pale starlight, at twelve o'clock.  Judge
them not by the gross and heavy form in which they now appear.  They may
be gross, indeed, with the earthly pollution contracted from the brain,
through which they pass; and heavy with the burden of mortal language,
that crushes all the finer intelligences of the soul.  This is no fault
of mine.  But should aught of ethereal spirit be perceptible, yet
scarcely so, glimmering along the dull train of words,--should a faint
perfume breathe from the mass of clay,--then, gentle reader, thank the
ghost, who thus embodies himself for your sake!  Will you believe me, if
I say that all true and noble thoughts, and elevated imaginations, are
but partly the offspring of the intellect which seems to produce them?
Sprites, that were poets once, and are now all poetry, hover round the
dreaming bard, and become his inspiration; buried statesmen lend their
wisdom, gathered on earth and mellowed in the grave, to the historian;
and when the preacher rises nearest to the level of his mighty subject,
it is because the prophets of old days have communed with him.  Who has
not been conscious of mysteries within his mind, mysteries of truth and
reality, which will not wear the chains of language?  Mortal, then the
dead were with you!  And thus shall the earth-dulled soul, whom I
inspire, be conscious of a misty brightness among his thoughts, and
strive to make it gleam upon the page,--but all in vain.  Poor author!
How will he despise what he can grasp, for the sake of the dim glory
that eludes him!

So talk we of graves and goblins.  But, what have ghosts to do with
graves?  Mortal man, wearing the dust which shall require a sepulchre,
might deem it more a home and resting-place than a spirit can, whose
earthly clod has returned to earth.  Thus philosophers have reasoned.
Yet wiser they who adhere to the ancient sentiment, that a phantom
haunts and hallows the marble tomb or grassy hillock where its material
form was laid.  Till purified from each stain of clay; till the passions
of the living world are all forgotten; till it have less brotherhood
with the wayfarers of earth, than with spirits that never wore
mortality,--the ghost must linger round the grave.  O, it is a long and
dreary watch to some of us!

Even in early childhood, I had selected a sweet spot, of shade and
glimmering sunshine, for my grave.  It was no burial-ground, but a
secluded nook of virgin earth, where I used to sit, whole summer
afternoons, dreaming about life and death.  My fancy ripened
prematurely, and taught me secrets which I could not otherwise have
known.  I pictured the coming years,--they never came to me, indeed; but
I pictured them like life, and made this spot the scene of all that
should be brightest, in youth, manhood, and old age.  There, in a little
while, it would be time for me to breathe the bashful and burning vows
of first-love; thither, after gathering fame abroad, I would return to
enjoy the loud plaudit of the world, a vast but unobtrusive sound, like
the booming of a distant sea; and thither, at the far-off close of life,
an aged man would come, to dream, as the boy was dreaming, and be as
happy in the past as lie was in futurity.  Finally, when all should be
finished, in that spot so hallowed, in that soil so impregnated with the
most precious of my bliss, there was to be my grave.  Methought it would
be the sweetest grave that ever a mortal frame reposed in, or an
ethereal spirit haunted.  There, too, in future times, drawn thither by
the spell which I had breathed around the place, boyhood would sport and
dream, and youth would love, and manhood would enjoy, and age would
dream again, and my ghost would watch but never frighten them.  Alas,
the vanity of mortal projects, even when they centre in the grave!  I
died in my first youth, before I had been a lover; at a distance, also,
from the grave which fancy had dug for me; and they buried me in the
thronged cemetery of a town, where my marble slab stands unnoticed amid
a hundred others.  And there are coffins on each side of mine!

"Alas, poor ghost!" will the reader say.  Yet I am a happy ghost enough,
and disposed to be contented with my grave, if the sexton will but let
it be my own, and bring no other dead man to dispute my title.  Earth
has left few stains upon me, and it will be but a short time that I need
haunt the place.  It is good to die in early youth.  Had I lived out
threescore years and ten, or half of them, my spirit would have been so
earth-incrusted, that centuries might not have purified it for a better
home than the dark precincts of the grave.  Meantime, there is good
choice of company amongst us.  From twilight till near sunrise, we are
gliding to and fro, some in the graveyard, others miles away; and would
we speak with any friend, we do but knock against his tombstone, and
pronounce the name engraved on it: in an instant, there the shadow
stands!

Some are ghosts of considerable antiquity.  There is an old man,
hereabout; he never had a tombstone, and is often puzzled to distinguish
his own grave; but hereabouts he haunts, and long is doomed to haunt.
He was a miser in his lifetime, and buried a strong box of ill-gotten
gold, almost fresh from the mint, in the coinage of William and Mary.
Scarcely was it safe, when the sexton buried the old man and his secret
with him.  I could point out the place where the treasure lies; it was
at the bottom of the miser's garden; but a paved thoroughfare now passes
beside the spot, and the cornerstone of a market-house presses right
down upon it.  Had the workmen dug six inches deeper, they would have
found the hoard.  Now thither must this poor old miser go, whether in
starlight, moonshine, or pitch darkness, and brood above his worthless
treasure, recalling all the petty crimes by which he gained it.  Not a
coin must he fail to reckon in his memory, nor forget a pennyworth of
the sin that made up the sum, though his agony is such as if the pieces
of gold, red-hot, were stamped into his naked soul.  Often, while he is
in torment there, he hears the steps of living men, who love the dross
of earth as well as he did.  May they never groan over their miserable
wealth like him!  Night after night, for above a hundred years, hath he
done this penance, and still must he do it, till the iron box be brought
to light, and each separate coin be cleansed by grateful tears of a
widow or an orphan.  My spirit sighs for his long vigil at the corner of
the market-house!

There are ghosts whom I tremble to meet, and cannot think of without a
shudder.  One has the guilt of blood upon him.  The soul which he thrust
untimely forth has long since been summoned from our gloomy graveyard,
and dwells among the stars of heaven, too far and too high for even the
recollection of mortal anguish to ascend thither.  Not so the murderer's
ghost!  It is his doom to spend all the hours of darkness in the spot
which he stained with innocent blood, and to feel the hot stream--hot as
when it first gushed upon his hand--incorporating itself with his
spiritual substance.  Thus his horrible crime is ever fresh within him.
Two other wretches are condemned to walk arm in arm.  They were guilty
lovers in their lives, and still, in death, must wear the guise of love,
though hatred and loathing have become their very nature and existence.
The pollution of their mutual sin remains with them, and makes their
souls sick continually.  O, that I might forget all the dark shadows
which haunt about these graves!  This passing thought of them has left a
stain, and will weigh me down among dust and sorrow, beyond the time
that my own transgressions would have kept me here. There is one shade
among us, whose high nature it is good to meditate upon.  He lived a
patriot, and is a patriot still.  Posterity has forgotten him.  The
simple slab, of red freestone, that bore his name, was broken long ago,
and is now covered by the gradual accumulation of the soil.  A tuft of
thistles is his only monument. This upright spirit came to his grave,
after a lengthened life, with so little stain of earth, that he might,
almost immediately, have trodden the pathway of the sky.  But his strong
love of country chained him down, to share its vicissitudes of weal or
woe.  With such deep yearning in his soul, he was unfit for heaven.
That noblest virtue has the effect of sin, and keeps his pure and lofty
spirit in a penance, which may not terminate till America be again a
wilderness.  Not that there is no joy for the dead patriot.  Can he fail
to experience it, while be contemplates the mighty and increasing power
of the land, which be protected in its infancy?  No; there is much to
gladden him.  But sometimes I dread to meet him, as he returns from the
bedchambers of rulers and politicians, after diving into their secret
motives, and searching out their aims.  He looks round him with a stern
and awful sadness, and vanishes into his neglected grave.  Let nothing
sordid or selfish defile your deeds or thoughts, ye great men of the
day, lest ye grieve the noble dead.

Few ghosts take such an endearing interest as this, even in their own
private affairs.  It made me rather sad, at first, to find how soon the
flame of love expires amid the chill damps of the tomb; so much the
sooner, the more fiercely it may have burned.  Forget your dead
mistress, youth!  She has already forgotten you.  Maiden, cease to weep
for your buried lover!  He will know nothing of your tears, nor value
them if he did.  Yet it were blasphemy to say that true love is other
than immortal.  It is an earthly passion, of which I speak, mingled with
little that is spiritual, and must therefore perish with the perishing
clay.  When souls have loved, there is no falsehood or forgetfulness.
Maternal affection, too, is strong as adamant.  There are mothers here,
among us, who might have been in heaven fifty years ago, if they could
forbear to cherish earthly joy and sorrow, reflected from the bosoms of
their children.  Husbands and wives have a comfortable gift of oblivion,
especially when secure of the faith of their living halves.  Jealousy,
it is true, will play the devil with a ghost, driving him to the bedside
of secondary wedlock, there to scowl, unseen, and gibber inaudible
remonstrances.  Dead wives, however jealous in their lifetime, seldom
feel this posthumous torment so acutely.

Many, many things, that appear most important while we walk the busy
street, lose all their interest the moment we are borne into the quiet
graveyard which borders it.  For my own part, my spirit had not become
so mixed up with earthly existence, as to be now held in an unnatural
combination, or tortured much with retrospective cares.  I still love my
parents and a younger sister, who remain among the living, and often
grieve me by their patient sorrow for the dead.  Each separate tear of
theirs is an added weight upon my soul, and lengthens my stay among the
graves.  As to other matters, it exceedingly rejoices me, that my
summons came before I had time to write a projected poem, which was
highly imaginative in conception, and could not have failed to give me a
triumphant rank in the choir of our native bards.  Nothing is so much to
be deprecated as posthumous renown.  It keeps the immortal spirit from
the proper bliss of his celestial state, and causes him to feed upon the
impure breath of mortal man, till sometimes he forgets that there are
starry realms above him.  Few poets--infatuated that they are!--soar
upward while the least whisper of their name is heard on earth.  On
Sabbath evenings, my sisters sit by the fireside, between our father and
mother, and repeat some hymns of mine, which they have often heard from
my own lips, ere the tremulous voice left them forever.  Little do they
think, those dear ones, that the dead stands listening in the glimmer of
the firelight, and is almost gifted with a visible shape by the fond
intensity of their remembrance.

Now shall the reader know a grief of the poor ghost that speaks to him;
a grief, but not a helpless one.  Since I have dwelt among the graves,
they bore the corpse of a young maiden hither, and laid her in the old
ancestral vault, which is hollowed in the side of a grassy bank.  It has
a door of stone, with rusty iron hinges, and above it, a rude sculpture
of the family arms, and inscriptions of all their names who have been
buried there, including sire and son, mother and daughter, of an ancient
colonial race.  All of her lineage had gone before, and when the young
maiden followed, the portal was closed forever.  The night after her
burial, when the other ghosts were flitting about their graves, forth
came the pale virgin's shadow, with the rest, but knew not whither to
go, nor whom to haunt, so lonesome had she been on earth.  She stood by
the ancient sepulchre, looking upward to the bright stars, as if she
would, even then, begin her flight.  Her sadness made me sad.  That
night and the next, I stood near her, in the moonshine, but dared not
speak, because she seemed purer than all the ghosts, and fitter to
converse with angels than with men.  But the third bright eve, still
gazing upward to the glory of the heavens, she sighed, and said, "When
will my mother come for me?"  Her low, sweet voice emboldened me to
speak, and she was kind and gentle, though so pure, and answered me
again.  From that time, always at the ghostly hour, I sought the old
tomb of her fathers, and either found her standing by the door, or
knocked, and she appeared.  Blessed creature, that she was; her chaste
spirit hallowed mine, and imparted such a celestial buoyancy, that I
longed to grasp her hand, and fly,--upward, aloft, aloft!  I thought,
too, that she only lingered here, till my earthlier soul should be
purified for heaven.  One night, when the stars threw down the light
that shadows love, I stole forth to the accustomed spot, and knocked,
with my airy fingers, at her door.  She answered not.  Again I knocked,
and breathed her name.  Where was she?  At once, the truth fell on my
miserable spirit, and crushed it to the earth, among dead men's bones
and mouldering dust, groaning in cold and desolate agony.  Her penance
was over!  She had taken her trackless flight, and had found a home in
the purest radiance of the upper stars, leaving me to knock at the stone
portal of the darksome sepulchre.  But I know--I know, that angels
hurried her away, or surely she would have whispered ere she fled!

She is gone!  How could the grave imprison that unspotted one!  But her
pure, ethereal spirit will not quite forget me, nor soar too high in
bliss, till I ascend to join her.  Soon, soon be that hour!  I am weary
of the earth-damps; they burden me; they choke me!  Already, I can float
in the moonshine; the faint starlight will almost bear up my footsteps;
the perfume of flowers, which grosser spirits love, is now too earthly a
luxury for me.  Grave!  Grave! thou art not my home.  I must flit a
little longer in thy night gloom, and then be gone,--far from the dust
of the living and the dead,--far from the corruption that is around me,
but no more within!

A few times, I have visited the chamber of one who walks, obscure and
lonely, on his mortal pilgrimage.  He will leave not many living
friends, when he goes to join the dead, where his thoughts often stray,
and he might better be.  I steal into his sleep, and play my part among
the figures of his dreams.  I glide through the moonlight of his waking
fancy, and whisper conceptions, which, with a strange thrill of fear, he
writes down as his own.  I stand beside him now, at midnight, telling
these dreamy truths with a voice so dream-like, that he mistakes them
for fictions of a brain too prone to such.  Yet he glances behind him
and shivers, while the lamp burns pale.  Farewell, dreamer,--waking or
sleeping!  Your brightest dreams are fled; your mind grows too hard and
cold for a spiritual guest to enter; you are earthly, too, and have all
the sins of earth.  The ghost will visit you no more.

But where is the maiden, holy and pure, though wearing a form of clay,
that would have me bend over her pillow at midnight, and leave a
blessing there?  With a silent invocation, let her summon me.  Shrink
not, maiden, when I come!  In life, I was a high-souled youth,
meditative, yet seldom sad, full of chaste fancies, and stainless from
all grosser sin.  And now, ill death, I bring no loathsome smell of the
grave, nor ghostly terrors,--but gentle, and soothing, and sweetly
pensive influences.  Perhaps, just fluttering for the skies, my visit
may hallow the wellsprings of thy thought, and make thee heavenly here
on earth.  Then shall pure dreams and holy meditations bless thy life;
nor thy sainted spirit linger round the grave, but seek the upper stars,
and meet me there!





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