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Title: Selections from Poe
Author: Poe, Edgar Allan
Language: English
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Edited with Biographical and Critical Introduction and Notes



Head of the Department of History and Civics
Baltimore Polytechnic Institute


[Illustration: EDGAR ALLAN POE. After an engraving by Cole]


Edgar Allan Poe has been the subject of so much controversy that he is
the one American writer whom high-school pupils (not to mention
teachers) are likely to approach with ready-made prejudices. It is
impossible to treat such a subject in quite the ordinary
matter-of-course way. Furthermore, his writings are so highly
subjective, and so intimately connected with his strongly held
critical theories, as to need somewhat careful and extended study.
These facts make it very difficult to treat either the man or his art
as simply as is desirable in a secondary text-book.  Consequently the
Introduction is longer and less simple than the editor would desire
for the usual text. It is believed, however, that the teacher can take
up this Introduction with the pupil in such a way as to make it
helpful, significant, and interesting.

The text of the following poems and tales is that of the
Stedman-Woodberry edition (described in the Bibliography, p. xxx), and
the selections are reprinted by permission of the publishers, Duffield
& Company; this text is followed exactly except for a very few changes
in punctuation, not more than five or six in all. My obligations to
other works are too numerous to mention; all the publications included
in the Bibliography, besides a number of others, have been examined,
but I especially desire to acknowledge the courtesy of Dr. Henry
Barton Jacobs of Baltimore, who sent me from Paris a copy of Émile
Lauvrière's interesting and important study, "Edgar Poe: Sa vie et son
oeuvre; étude de psychologie pathologique."  To my wife I am indebted
for valuable assistance in the tedious work of reading proofs and
verifying the text.





    TO ----
    TO F----
    TO F----S S. O----D
    TO M.L. S----
    TO ---- ----





Edgar Allan Poe is in many respects the most fascinating figure in
American literature. His life, touched by the extremes of fortune, was
on the whole more unhappy than that of any other of our prominent men
of letters. His character was strangely complex, and was the subject
of misunderstanding during his life and of heated dispute after his
death; his writings were long neglected or disparaged at home, while
accepted abroad as our greatest literary achievement. Now, after more
than half a century has elapsed since his death, careful biographers
have furnished a tolerably full account of the real facts about his
life; a fairly accurate idea of his character is winning general
acceptance; and the name of Edgar Allan Poe has been conceded a place
among the two or three greatest in our literature.


In December, 1811, a well-known actress of the time died in Richmond,
leaving destitute three little children, the eldest but four years of
age. This mother, who was Elizabeth (Arnold) Poe, daughter of an
English actress, had suffered from ill health for several years and
had long found the struggle for existence difficult. Her husband,
David Poe, probably died before her; he was a son of General David
Poe, a Revolutionary veteran of Baltimore, and had left his home and
law books for the stage several years before his marriage. The second
of the three children, born January 19, 1809, in Boston, where his
parents happened to be playing at the time, was Edgar Poe, the future
poet and story-writer. The little Edgar was adopted by the wife of
Mr. John Allan, a well-to-do Scotch merchant of the city, who later
became wealthy, and the boy was thereafter known as Edgar Allan
Poe. He was a beautiful and precocious child, who at six years of age
could read, draw, dance, and declaim the best poetry with fine effect
and appreciation; report says, also, that he had been taught to stand
on a chair and pledge Mr. Allan's guests in a glass of wine with
"roguish grace."

In 1815 Mr. Allan went to England, where he remained five years. Edgar
was placed in an old English school in the suburbs of London, among
historic, literary, and antiquarian associations, and possibly was
taken to the Continent by his foster parents at vacation seasons. The
English residence and the sea voyages left deep impressions on the
boy's sensitive nature. Returning to Richmond, he was prepared in good
schools for the University of Virginia, which he entered at the age of
seventeen, pursuing studies in ancient and modern languages and
literatures. During this youthful period he was already developing a
striking and peculiar personality. He was brilliant, if not
industrious, as a student, leaving the University with highest honors
in Latin and French; he was quick and nervous in his movements and
greatly excelled in athletics, especially in swimming; in character,
he was reserved, solitary, sensitive, and given to lonely reverie.
Some of his aristocratic playmates remembered to his discredit that he
was the child of strolling players, and their attitude helped to add a
strain of defiance to an already intensely proud nature. Though kindly
treated by his foster parents, this strange boy longed for an
understanding sympathy that was not his. Once he thought he had found
it in Mrs. Jane Stannard, mother of a schoolmate; but the new friend
soon died, and for months the grief-stricken boy, it is said, haunted
the lonely grave at night and brooded over his loss and the mystery of
death--a not very wholesome experience for a lonely and melancholy lad
of fifteen years.

At the University he drank wine, though not intemperately, and played
cards a great deal, the end of the term finding him with gambling
debts of twenty-five hundred dollars. These habits were common at the
time, and Edgar did not incur any censure from the faculty; but
Mr. Allan declined to honor the gambling debt, removed Edgar, and
placed him in his own counting room. Such a life was too dull for the
high-spirited, poetic youth, and he promptly left his home.

Going to Boston, he published a thin volume of boyish verse,
"Tamerlane, and Other Poems," but realizing nothing financially,[1] he
enlisted in the United States Army as Edgar A. Perry. After two years
of faithful and efficient service, he procured through Mr. Allan (who
was temporarily reconciled to him) an appointment to the West Point
Military Academy, entering in July, 1830. In the meantime, he had
published in Baltimore a second small volume of poems. Fellow-students
have described him as having a "worn, weary, discontented look";
usually kindly and courteous, but shy, reserved, and exceedingly
sensitive; an extraordinary reader, but noted for carping criticism.
Although a good student, he seemed galled beyond endurance by the
monotonous routine of military duties, which he deliberately neglected
and thus procured his dismissal from the Academy. He left, alone and
penniless, in March, 1831.

[Footnote 1: In November, 1900, a single copy of this little volume
sold in New York for $2550.]

Going to New York, Poe brought out another little volume of poems
showing great improvement; then he went to Baltimore, and after a
precarious struggle of a year or two, turned to prose, and, while in
great poverty, won a prize of one hundred dollars from the Baltimore
_Saturday Visitor_ for his story, "The Manuscript Found in a
Bottle." Through John P. Kennedy[1], one of the judges whose
friendship the poverty-stricken author gained, he procured a good deal
of hack work, and finally an editorial position on the _Southern
Literary Messenger_, of Richmond. The salary was fair, and better
was in sight; yet Poe was melancholy, dissatisfied, and miserable. He
wrote a pitiable letter to Mr. Kennedy, asking to be convinced "that
it is at all necessary to live."

[Footnote 1: A well-known Marylander, author of "Horse-Shoe Robinson,"
"Swallow Barn," "Rob of the Bowl," and other popular novels of the
day, and later Secretary of the Navy.]

For several years he had been making his home with an aunt, Mrs.
Clemm, and her daughter, Virginia, a girl beautiful in character and
person, but penniless and probably already a victim of the consumption
that was eventually to cause her death. In 1836, when she was only
fourteen years old, Poe married his cousin, to whom he was
passionately attached. His devotion to her lasted through life, and
the tenderest affection existed between him and Mrs. Clemm, who was
all a mother could have been to him; so that the home life was always
beautiful in spirit, however poor in material comfort.

In January, 1837, his connection with the _Messenger_ was
severed, probably because of his occasional lapses from sobriety; but
his unfortunate temperament and his restless ambition were doubtless
factors. With some reputation as poet, story-writer, critic, and
editor, Poe removed to New York, and a year later to Philadelphia,
where he remained until 1844.  Here he found miscellaneous literary,
editorial, and hack work, finally becoming editor of _Graham's
Magazine_, which prospered greatly under his management, increasing
its circulation from eight thousand to forty thousand within a
year. But Poe's restless spirit was dissatisfied. He was intensely
anxious to own a magazine for himself, and had already made several
unsuccessful efforts to obtain one,--efforts which were to be repeated
at intervals, and with as little success, until the day his death. He
vainly sought a government position, that a livelihood might be
assured while he carried out his literary plans. Finally he left
_Graham's_, doubtless because of personal peculiarities, since
his occasional inebriety did not interfere with his work; and there
followed a period of wretched poverty, broken once by the winning of a
prize of one hundred dollars for "The Gold Bug."

He continued to be known as a "reserved, isolated, dreamy man, of
high-strung nerves, proud spirit, and fantastic moods," with a
haunting sense of impending evil.  His home was poor and simple, but
impressed every visitor by its neatness and quiet refinement;
Virginia, accomplished in music and languages, was as devoted to her
husband as he was to her. Both were fond of flowers and plants, and of
household pets. Mrs.  Clemm gave herself completely to her "children"
and was the business manager of the family.

In the spring of 1844 Poe went with Virginia to New York, practically
penniless, and to Mrs. Clemm, who did not come at once, he wrote with
pathetic enthusiasm of the generous meals served at their boarding
house. He obtained a position on the _Evening Mirror_ at small
pay, but did his dull work faithfully and efficiently; later, he
became editor of the _Broadway Journal_, in which he printed
revisions of his best tales and poems. In 1845 appeared "The Raven,"
which created a profound sensation at home and abroad, and immediately
won, and has since retained, an immense popularity. He was at the
height of his fame, but poor, as always. In 1846 he published "The
Literati," critical comments on the writers of the day, in which the
literary small fry were mercilessly condemned and ridiculed. This
naturally made Poe a host of enemies. One of these, Thomas Dunn
English, published an abusive article attacking the author's
character, whereupon Poe sued him for libel and obtained two hundred
and twenty-five dollars damages.

The family now moved to a little three-room cottage at Fordham, a
quiet country place with flowers and trees and pleasant vistas; but
illness and poverty were soon there, too.  In 1841 Virginia had burst
a blood vessel while singing, and her life was despaired of; this had
happened again and again, leaving her weaker each time. As the summer
and fall of this year wore away, she grew worse and needed the
tenderest care and attention. But winter drew on, and with it came
cold and hunger; the sick girl lay in an unheated room on a straw bed,
wrapped in her husband's coat, the husband and mother trying to chafe
a little warmth into her hands and feet. Some kind-hearted women
relieved the distress in a measure, but on January 30, 1847, Virginia
died. The effect on Poe was terrible. It is easy to see how a very
artist of death, who could study the dreadful stages of its slow
approach and seek to penetrate the mystery of its ultimate nature with
such intense interest and deep reflection as did Poe, must have
brooded and suffered during the years of his wife's illness.  His own
health had long been poor; his brain was diseased and insanity seemed
imminent. After intense grief came a period of settled gloom and
haunting fear. The less than three years of life left for him was a
period of decline in every respect. But he remained in the little
cottage, finding some comfort in caring for his flowers and pets, and
taking long solitary rambles. During this time he thought out and
wrote "Eureka," a treatise on the structure, laws, and destiny of the
universe, which he desired to have regarded as a poem.

Poe had always felt a need for the companionship of sympathetic and
affectionate women, for whom he entertained a chivalric regard
amounting to reverence. After the shock of his wife's death had
somewhat worn away, he began to depend for sympathy upon various women
with whom he maintained romantic friendships. Judged by ordinary
standards, his conduct became at times little short of maudlin; his
correspondence showed a sort of gasping, frantic dependence upon the
sympathy and consolation of these women friends, and exhibited a
painful picture of a broken man. Mrs. Shew, one of the kind women who
had relieved the family at the time of Virginia's last illness,
strongly advised him to marry, and he did propose marriage to
Mrs. Sara Helen Whitman, a verse writer of some note in her day. After
a wild and exhausting wooing, begun in an extravagantly romantic
manner, the match was broken off through the influence of the lady's
friends. When it was all over Poe seemed very little disturbed. The
truth is, he was a wreck, and feeling utterly dependent, clutched
frantically at every hope of sympathy and consolation. His only real
love was for his dead wife, which he recorded shortly before his death
in the exquisite lyric, "Annabel Lee."

In July, 1849, full of the darkest forebodings, and predicting that he
should never return, Poe went to Richmond. Here he spent a few quiet
months, part of the time fairly cheerful, but twice yielding to the
temptation to drink, and each time suffering, in consequence, a
dangerous illness. On September 30 he left Richmond for New York with
fifteen hundred dollars, the product of a recent lecture arranged by
kind Richmond friends. What happened during the next three days is an
impenetrable mystery, but on October 3 (Wednesday) he was found in an
election booth in Baltimore, desperately ill, his money and baggage
gone. The most probable story is that he had been drugged by political
workers, imprisoned in a "coop" with similar victims, and used as a
repeater [1], this procedure being a common one at the time. Whether
he was also intoxicated is a matter of doubt. There could be but one
effect on his delicate and already diseased brain. He was taken to a
hospital unconscious, lingered several days in the delirium of a
violent brain fever, and in the early dawn of Sunday, October 7,
breathed his last.

[Footnote 1: Repeater, a person who illegally votes more than once]

The dead author's character immediately became the subject of violent
controversy. His severe critical strictures had made him many enemies
among the minor writers of the day and their friends. One of the men
who had suffered from Poe's too caustic pen was Rufus W. Griswold, but
friendly relations had been nominally established and Poe had
authorized Griswold to edit his works. This Griswold did, including a
biography which Poe's friends declared a masterpiece of malicious
distortion and misrepresentation; it certainly was grossly unfair and
inaccurate. Poe's friends retorted, and a long war of words followed,
in which hatred or prejudice on the one side and wholesale,
undiscriminating laudation on the other, alike tended to obscure the
truth. It is now almost impossible to see the real Poe, just as he
appeared to an ordinary, unprejudiced observer of his own time. Only
by the most careful, thoughtful, and sympathetic study can we hope to
approximate such an acquaintance.

The fundamental fact about Poe is a very peculiar and unhappy
temperament, certain characteristic qualities of which began to
disclose themselves in early boyhood and, fostered by the vicissitudes
of his career, developed throughout his life.

In youth he was nervous, sensitive, morbid, proud, solitary, and
wayward; and as the years went by, bringing poverty, illness, and the
bitterness of failure, often through his own faults, the man became
irritable, impatient, often morose. He had always suffered from fits
of depression,--"blue devils," Mr.  Kennedy called them,--and though
he was extravagantly sanguine at times, melancholy was his usual mood,
often manifesting itself in a haunting fear of evil to come. The
peculiar character of his wonderful imagination made actual life less
real to him than his own land of dreams: the "distant Aidenn," the
"dim lake of Auber," the "kingdom by the sea," seemed more genuine
than the landscapes of earth; the lurid "city in the sea" more
substantial than the streets he daily walked.

Because of this intensely subjective and self-absorbed character of
mind, he had no understanding of human nature, no insight into
character with its marvelous complexities and contradictions. With
these limitations Poe, as might be expected, had a very defective
sense of humor, lacked true sympathy, was tactless, possessed little
business ability, and was excessively annoyed by the dull routine and
rude frictions of ordinary life. He was always touched by kindness,
but was quick to resent an injury, and even as a boy could not endure
a jest at his expense. He had many warm and devoted friends whom he
loved in return, but the limitations of his own nature probably made a
really frank, unreserved friendship impossible; and when a break
occurred, he was apt to assume that his former friend was an utter
villain. These personal characteristics, in conjunction with a goading
ambition which took form in the idea of an independent journal of his
own in which he might find untrammeled expression, added uneasiness
and restlessness to a constantly discontented nature. To some extent,
at least, Poe realized the curse of such a temperament, but he strove
vainly against its impulses.

The one genuine human happiness of this sad life was found in a
singularly beautiful home atmosphere. Husband and wife were
passionately devoted to each other, and Mrs. Clemm was more than a
mother to both. She says of her son-in-law: "At home, he was simple
and affectionate as a child, and during all the years he lived with
me, I do not remember a single night that he failed to come and kiss
his 'mother,' as he called me, before going to bed." This faithful
woman remained devoted to him after Virginia's death, and to his
memory, when calumny assailed it, after his own.

The capital charge against Poe's character has been intemperance, and
although the matter has been grossly exaggerated and misrepresented,
the charge is true. Except for short periods, he was never what is
known as dissipated, and he struggled desperately against his
weakness,--an unequal struggle, since the craving was inherited, and
fostered by environment, circumstances, and temperament. One of his
biographers tells of bread soaked in gin being fed to the little Poe
children by an old nurse during the illness of their mother; and there
is another story, already mentioned, of the little Edgar, in his
adoptive home, taught to pledge the guests as a social grace.
Drinking was common at the time, wine was offered in every home and at
every social function, and in the South, where Poe spent his youth and
early manhood, the spirit of hospitality and conviviality held out
constant temptation. To his delicate organization strong drink early
became a veritable poison, and indulgence that would have been a small
matter to another man was ruinous to him; indeed, a single glass of
wine drove him practically insane, and a debauch was sure to
follow. Indulgence was stimulated, also, by the nervous strain and
worry induced by uncertain livelihood and privation, the frequent fits
of depression, and by constant brooding. Sometimes he fought his
weakness successfully for several years, but always it conquered in
the end.

Moreover, he speaks of a very special cause in the latter part of his
life, which in fairness should be heard in his own written words to a
friend: "Six years ago a wife, whom I loved as no man ever loved
before, ruptured a blood vessel in singing. Her life was despaired
of. I took leave of her forever and underwent all the agonies of her
death. She recovered partially and I again hoped. At the end of a year
the vessel broke again. I went through precisely the same scene....
Then again--again--and even once again, at varying intervals. Each
time I felt all the agonies of her death--and at each accession of her
disorder I loved her more dearly and clung to her life with more
desperate pertinacity. But I am constitutionally sensitive--nervous in
a very unusual degree.  I became insane, with long intervals of
horrible sanity. During these fits of absolute unconsciousness, I
drank--God only knows how often or how much. As a matter of course, my
enemies referred the insanity to the drink, rather than the drink to
the insanity.... It was the horrible never-ending oscillation between
hope and despair, which I could _not_ longer have endured without
total loss of reason. In the death of what was my life, then, I
received a new, but--O God!--how melancholy an existence!"

This statement, and the other facts mentioned, are not offered as
wholly excusing Poe. Doubtless a stronger man would have resisted,
doubtless a less self-absorbed man would have thought of his wife's
happiness as well as of his own relief from torture. Yet the
fair-minded person, familiar with Poe's unhappy life, and keeping in
mind the influences of heredity, temperament, and environment, will
hesitate to pronounce a severe judgment.

Poe was also accused of untruthfulness, and this accusation likewise
has a basis of fact. He repeatedly furnished or approved statements
regarding his life and work that were incorrect, he often made a
disingenuous show of pretended learning, and he sometimes misstated
facts to avoid wounding his own vanity. This ugly fault seems to have
resulted from a fondness for romantic posing, and is doubtless related
to the peculiar character of imagination already mentioned. Perhaps,
too, he inherited from his actor parents a love of applause, and if
so, the trait was certainly encouraged in early childhood.  There is
no evidence that he was ever guilty of malicious or mercenary

Another of his bad habits was borrowing, but it must be remembered
that his life was one long struggle with grinding poverty, that he and
those dear to him sometimes suffered actual hunger and cold. Many who
knew him testified to his anxiety to pay all his debts, Mr. Graham
referring to him in this particular as "the soul of honor."

In a letter to Lowell, Poe has well described himself in a sentence:
"My life has been whim--impulse--passion--a longing for solitude--a
scorn of all things present in an earnest desire for the future."
Interpreted, this means that in a sense he never really reached
maturity, that he remained a slave to his impulses and emotions, that
he detested the ordinary business of life and could not adapt himself
to it, that his mind was full of dreams of ideal beauty and
perfection, that his whole soul yearned to attain the highest
pleasures of artistic creation. His was perpetually a deeply agitated
soul; as such, it was natural he should outwardly seem irritable,
impatient, restless, discontented, and solitary. It is impossible to
believe that there was any strain of real evil in Poe. A man who could
inspire such devotion as he had from such a woman as Mrs. Clemm, a man
who loved flowers and children and animal pets, who could be so
devoted a husband, who could so consecrate himself to art, was not a
bad man. Yet his acts were often, as we have seen, most
reprehensible. Frequently the subject of slander, he was not a victim
of conspiracy to defame. Although circumstances were many times
against him, he was his own worst enemy. He was cursed with a
temperament. His mind was analytical and imaginative, and gave no
thought to the ethical. He remained wayward as a child. The man, like
his art, was not immoral, but simply unmoral. Whatever his faults, he
suffered frightfully for them, and his fame suffered after him.


Poe's first literary ventures were in verse. The early volumes,
showing strongly the influence of Byron and Moore, were productions of
small merit but large promise. Their author was soon to become one of
the most original of poets, his later work being unique, with a
strangely individual, "Poe" atmosphere that no other writer has ever
been able successfully to imitate. His verse is individual in theme,
treatment, and structure, all of which harmonize with his conscious
theory of poetic art. His theory is briefly this: It is not the
function of poetry to teach either truth or morals, but to gratify
through novel forms "the thirst for supernal beauty"; its proper
effect is to "excite, by elevating, the soul." The highest beauty has
always some admixture of sadness, the most poetical of all themes
being the death of a beautiful woman. Moreover, the pleasure derived
from the contemplation of this higher beauty should be indefinite;
that is, true poetic feeling is not the result of coherent narrative
or clear pictures or fine moral sentiment, but consists in vague,
exalted emotion. Music, of all the arts, produces the vaguest and most
"indefinite" pleasure; consequently verse forms should be chosen with
the greatest possible attention to musical effect. Poetry must be
purely a matter of feeling. "Its sole arbiter is Taste. With the
Intellect or with the Conscience it has only collateral relations."

This explanation is necessary, because the stock criticism of Poe's
poetry condemns it as vague, indefinite, and devoid of thought or
ethical content. These are precisely its limitations, but hardly its
faults, since the poet attained with marvelous art the very effects he
desired. The themes of nearly all the poems are death, ruin, regret,
or failure; the verse is original in form, and among the most musical
in the language, full of a haunting, almost magical melody. Mystery,
symbolism, shadowy suggestion, fugitive thought, elusive beauty,
beings that are mere insubstantial abstractions--these are the
characteristics, but designedly so, of Poe's poetry. A poem to him was
simply a crystallized mood, and it is futile for his readers to apply
any other test. Yet the influence of this verse has been wide and
important, extending to most lyric poets of the last half-century,
including such masters as Rossetti and Swinburne.

"To Helen," a poem of three brief stanzas, is Poe's first really
notable production; it is an exquisite tribute of his reverent
devotion to his boyhood friend, Mrs. Stannard, portraying her as a
classic embodiment of beauty. "Israfel" is a lyric of aspiration of
rare power and rapture, worthy of Shelley, and is withal the most
spontaneous, simple, and genuinely human poem Poe ever wrote. "The
Haunted Palace," one of the finest of his poems, is an unequaled
allegory of the wreck and ruin of sovereign reason, which to be fully
appreciated should be read in its somber setting, "The Fall of the
House of Usher." Less attractive is "The Conqueror Worm," with its
repulsive imagery, but this "tragedy 'Man,'" with the universe as a
theater, moving to the "music of the spheres," and "horror the soul of
the plot," is undeniably powerful and intensely terrible.

"The Raven," published in 1845, attained immediately a world-wide
celebrity, and rivals in fame and popularity any lyric ever written.
It is the most elaborate treatment of Poe's favorite theme, the death
of a beautiful woman. The reveries of a bereaved lover, alone in his
library at midnight in "the bleak December," vainly seeking to forget
his sorrow for the "lost Lenore," are interrupted by a tapping, as of
some one desirous to enter. After a time, he admits a "stately raven"
and seeks to beguile his sad fancy by putting questions to the bird,
whose one reply is "Nevermore," and this constitutes the refrain of
the poem. Impelled by an instinct of self-torture, the lover asks
whether he shall have "respite" from the painful memories of "Lenore,"
here or hereafter, and finally whether in the "distant Aidenn" he and
his love shall be reunited; to all of which the raven returns his one
answer. Driven to frenzy, the lover implores the bird, "Take thy beak
from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door," only to learn
that the shadow will be lifted "nevermore." The raven is, in the
poet's own words, "emblematical of Mournful and Never-Ending

"Ulalume" has been commonly (though not always) regarded as a mere
experiment in verbal ingenuity, meaningless melody, or "the insanity
of versification," as a distinguished American critic has called
it. Such a judgment is a mark of inability to understand Poe's most
characteristic work, for in truth "Ulalume" is the extreme expression
at once of his critical theory and of his peculiar genius as a
poet. It was published in December of the same year in which Virginia
died in January. The poet's condition has already been described;
"Ulalume" is a marvelous expression of his mood at this time.  It
depicts a soul worn out by long suffering, groping for courage and
hope, only to return again to "the door of a legended tomb." It is
true the movement is slow, impeded by the frequent repetitions, but so
the wearied mind, after nervous exhaustion, is "palsied and sere."
There is no appeal to the intellect, but this is characteristic of Poe
and appropriate to a mind numbed by protracted suffering. It is this
mood of wearied, benumbed, discouraged, hopeless hope, feebly seeking
for the "Lethean peace of the skies" only to find the mind inevitably
reverting to the "lost Ulalume," that finds expression. There is no
definite thought, because only the communication of feeling is
intended; there is no distinct setting, because the whole action is
spiritual; "the dim lake" and "dark tarn of Auber," "the ghoul-haunted
woodland of Weir," "the alley Titanic of cypress," are the
grief-stricken and fear-haunted places of the poet's own darkened
mind, while the ashen skies of "the lonesome October" are significant
enough of this "most immemorial year." The poem is a monody of
nerveless, exhausted grief. As such it must be read to be appreciated,
as such it must be judged, and so appreciated and so judged it is
absolutely unique and incomparable.

About a year later came "The Bells," wonderful for the music of its
verse, and the finest onomatopoetic poem in the language. Two days
after Poe's death appeared "Annabel Lee," a simple, sincere, and
beautiful ballad, a tribute to his dead wife. Last of all was printed
the brief "Eldorado," a fitting death-song for Poe, in which a gallant
knight sets out, "singing a song," "in search of Eldorado," only to
learn when youth and strength are gone that he must seek his goal
"down the Valley of the Shadow."

The tales, like the poems, are a real contribution to the world's
literature, but more strikingly so, since the type itself is
original. Poe, Hawthorne, and Irving are distinctly the pioneers in
the production of the modern short story, and neither has been
surpassed on his own ground; but Poe has been vastly the greater
influence in foreign countries, especially in France. Poe formed a new
conception of the short story, one which Professor Brander Matthews[1]
has treated formally and explicitly as a distinct literary form,
different from the story that is merely short. Without calling it a
distinct form, Poe implied the idea in a review of Hawthorne's
"Twice-Told Tales":

[Footnote 1: "The Philosophy of the Short-Story," Chapter IV of "Pen
and Ink."]

The ordinary novel is objectionable from its length.... As it cannot
be read at one sitting, it deprives itself, of course, of the immense
force derivable from _totality_.... In the brief tale, however,
the author is enabled to carry out the fulness of his intention, be it
what it may. During the hour of perusal, the soul of the reader is at
the writer's control....

A skillful literary artist has constructed a tale. If wise, he has not
fashioned his thoughts to accommodate his incidents; but having
conceived with deliberate care a certain unique or single
_effect_ to be wrought out, he then invents such incidents--he
then combines such events as may best aid him in establishing this
preconceived effect. If his very initial sentence tend not to the
out-bringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step. In
the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the
tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one preëstablished design.

This idea of a short story should be kept in mind in reading Poe's
works, for he applied his theory perfectly.

The stories are of greater variety than the poems. There are romances
of death whose themes are fear, horror, madness, catalepsy, premature
burial, torture, mesmerism, and revengeful cruelty; tales of weird
beauty; allegories of conscience; narratives of pseudo-science;
stories of analytical reasoning; descriptions of beautiful landscapes;
and what are usually termed "prose poems." He also wrote tales
grotesque, humorous, and satirical, most of which are failures. The
earlier tales are predominantly imaginative and emotional; most of the
later ones are predominantly intellectual. None of the tales touches
ordinary, healthy life; there is scarcely a suggestion of local color;
the humor is nearly always mechanical; there is little conversation
and the characters are never normal human beings. Although the stories
are strongly romantic in subject, plot, and setting, there is an
extraordinary realism in treatment, a minuteness and accuracy of
detail equaling the work of Defoe.  This is one secret of the magical
art that not only transports us to the world of dream and vision where
the author's own soul roamed, but for the time makes it all real to

Poe's finest tale, as a work of art, is "The Fall of the House of
Usher," which is as nearly perfect in its craftsmanship as human work
may be. It is a romance of death with a setting of profound gloom, and
is wrought out as a highly imaginative study in fear--a symphony in
which every touch blends into a perfect unity of effect. "Ligeia,"
perhaps standing next, incorporating "The Conqueror Worm" as its
keynote, portrays the terrific struggle of a woman's will against
death.  "The Masque of the Red Death," a tale of the Spirit of
Pestilence and of Death victorious over human selfishness and power,
is a splendid study in somber color. "The Assignation," a romance of
Venice, is also splendid in coloring and rich in decorative effects,
presenting a luxury of sorrow culminating in romantic suicide.
"William Wilson" is an allegory of conscience personified in a double,
the forerunner of Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Other
conscience stories are "The Man of the Crowd"; "The Tell-Tale Heart,"
also depicting insanity; and "The Black Cat," of which the atmosphere
is horror. "The Adventures of One Hans Pfaal" and "The Balloon Hoax"
are examples of the pseudo-scientific tales, which attain their
verisimilitude by diverting attention from the improbability or
impossibility of the general incidents to the accuracy and naturalness
of details. In "The Descent into the Maëlstrom," scientific reasoning
is skillfully blended with imaginative strength, poetic description,
and stirring adventure. This type of story is clearly enough the
original of those of Jules Verne and similar writers. "The Murders in
the Rue Morgue" and "The Purloined Letter" are the pioneer detective
stories, Dupin the original Sherlock Holmes, and they remain the best
of their kind, unsurpassed in originality, ingenuity, and
plausibility. Another type of the story of analytical reasoning is
"The Gold-Bug," built around the solution of a cryptogram, but also
introducing an element of adventure. Poe's analytical power was real,
not a trick. If he made Legrand solve the cryptogram and boast his
ability to solve others more difficult, Poe himself solved scores sent
him in response to a public magazine challenge; if Dupin solved
mysteries that Poe invented for him, Poe himself wrote in "Marie
Roget," from newspaper accounts, the solution of a real murder
mystery, and astounded Dickens by outlining the entire plot of
"Barnaby Rudge" when only a few of the first chapters had been
published; if he wrote imaginatively of science, he in fact
demonstrated in "Maelzel's Chess Player" that a pretended automaton
was operated by a man. "Hop Frog" and "The Cask of Amontillado" are
old-world stories of revenge. "The Island of the Fay" and "The Domain
of Arnheim" are landscape studies, the one of calm loveliness, the
other of Oriental profusion and coloring. "Shadow" and "Silence" are
commonly classed as "prose poems," the former being one of Poe's most
effective productions. "Eleonora," besides having a story to tell, is
both a prose poem and a landscape study, and withal one of Poe's most
exquisite writings.

Although Poe was not a great critic, his critical work is by no means
valueless. He applied for the first time in America a thoroughgoing
scrutiny and able, fearless criticism to contemporary literature,
undoubtedly with good effect. His attacks on didacticism were
especially valuable. His strength as a critic lay in his artistic
temperament and in the incisive intellect that enabled him to analyze
the effects produced in his own creations and in those of others. His
weaknesses were extravagance; a mania for harping on plagiarism; lack
of spiritual insight, broad sympathies, and profound scholarship; and,
in general, the narrow range of his genius, which has already been
made sufficiently clear. His severity has been exaggerated, as he
often praised highly, probably erring more frequently by undue
laudation than by extreme severity. Though personal prejudice
sometimes crept into his work, especially in favor of women, yet on
the whole he was as fair and fearless as he claimed to be. Much of the
hasty, journalistic hack work is valueless, as might be expected, but
he wrote very suggestively of his art, and nearly all his judgments
have been sustained. Moreover, he met one supreme test of a critic in
recognizing unknown genius: Dickens he was among the first to appraise
as a great novelist; Tennyson and Elizabeth Barrett (Browning) he
ranked among the great poets without hesitation; and at home he early
expressed a due appreciation of Hawthorne, Lowell, Longfellow, and

Poe's place, both in prose and poetry, is assured. His recognition
abroad has been clear and emphatic from the first, especially in
France, and to-day foreigners generally regard him as the greatest
writer we have produced, an opinion in which a number of our own
critics and readers concur. One's judgment in the matter will depend
upon the point of view and the standards adopted; it is too large a
subject to consider here, but if artistic craftsmanship be the
standard, certainly Hawthorne would be his only rival, and Hawthorne
was not also a poet.  The question of exact relative rank, however, it
is neither possible nor important to settle. It is sufficient to say,
in the words of Professor Woodberry, "On the roll of our literature
Poe's name is inscribed among the few foremost, and in the world at
large his genius is established as valid among all men."


The year after Poe's death there appeared "The Works of the Late Edgar
Allan Poe," with a Memoir, in two volumes, edited by R. W. Griswold
and published by J. S. Redfield, New York. The same editor and
publisher brought out a four-volume edition in 1856. Griswold had
suffered from Poe's sharp criticisms and had quarreled with him,
though later there was a reconciliation, and Poe himself selected
Griswold to edit his works. The biographer painted the dead author
very black indeed, and his account is now generally considered unfair.

In 1874-1875 "The Works of Edgar Allan Poe," with Memoir, edited by
John H. Ingram, were published in four volumes, in Edinburgh, and in
1876 in New York. Ingram represents the other extreme from Griswold,
attempting to defend practically everything that Poe was and did.

In 1884 A. C. Armstrong & Son, New York, brought out "The Works of
Edgar Allan Poe" in six volumes, with an Introduction and Memoir by
Richard Henry Stoddard. Stoddard is far from doing justice to Poe
either as man or as author.

Although Griswold's editing was poor, subsequent editions followed his
until 1895, when Professor George E. Woodberry and Mr. Edmund Clarence
Stedman published a new edition in ten volumes through Stone &
Kimball, Chicago (now published by Duffield & Company, New York). This
edition is incomparably superior to all its predecessors, going to the
original sources, and establishing an authentic text, corrected
slightly in quotations and punctuation. Professor Woodberry
contributed a Memoir, and Mr. Stedman admirable critical articles on
the poems and the tales. Scholarly notes, an extensive bibliography, a
number of portraits, and variorum readings of the poems, are included.

In 1902 T.Y. Crowell & Company, New York, issued "The Complete Works
of Edgar Allan Poe" in seventeen volumes, edited by Professor James
A. Harrison, including a biography and a volume of letters. This
edition contains much of Poe's criticism not published in previous
editions, and follows Poe's latest text exactly; complete variorum
readings are included.

In 1902 there also appeared "The Booklover's Arnheim" edition in ten
volumes, edited by Professor Charles F. Richardson and published by
G.P. Putnam's Sons, New York. This is mechanically the finest edition
of Poe's works.

The one-volume collections of poems and of tales are almost
innumerable, but nearly all are devoid of merit and poorly edited in
selection, text, and notes. (This does not refer to the small
collections for study in schools.) The best are the following: "Tales
of Mystery," Unit Book Publishing Company, New York (72 cents); "The
Best Tales of Edgar Allan Poe," edited with critical studies by
Sherwin Cody, A.C. McClurg & Company, Chicago ($1.00); "The Best Poems
and Essays of E. A. Poe," edited with biographical and critical
introduction by Sherwin Cody, McClurg ($1.00); "Poems of E. A. Poe,"
complete, edited and annotated by Charles W. Kent, The Macmillan
Company, New York (25 cents).

Professor George E. Woodberry contributed in 1885 a volume on Poe to
the American Men of Letters Series (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Boston),
which is the ablest yet written. In scholarship and critical
appreciation it is all that could be desired, but unfortunately it is
unsympathetic. Mr.  Woodberry assumed a coldly judicial attitude, in
which mood he is occasionally a little less than just to Poe's
character.  Professor Harrison's biography, written for the Virginia
edition, is published separately by T.Y. Crowell & Company. It is very
full, and valuable for the mass of material supplied, but is not
discriminating in criticism or estimate of Poe's character.

Numerous magazine articles may be found by consulting the periodical
indexes. A number of suggestive short studies are to be found in the
text-books of American literature, such as those of Messrs. Trent,
Abernethy, Newcomer, and Wendell; and in the larger books of
Professors Richardson, Trent, and Wendell. One may also find acute and
valuable comment in such works as Professor Bliss Perry's "A Study of
Prose Fiction," and Professor Brander Matthews's "Philosophy of the
Short-Story" (published separately, and in "Pen and Ink").

Many of Poe's tales and poems have been translated into practically
all the important languages of modern Europe, including Greek. An
important French study of Poe, recently published, is mentioned in the



I saw thee on thy bridal day,
  When a burning blush came o'er thee,
Though happiness around thee lay,
  The world all love before thee;

And in thine eye a kindling light                           5
  (Whatever it might be)
Was all on Earth my aching sight
  Of loveliness could see.

That blush, perhaps, was maiden shame:
  As such it well may pass,                                10
Though its glow hath raised a fiercer flame
  In the breast of him, alas!

Who saw thee on that bridal day,
  When that deep blush _would_ come o'er thee,
Though happiness around thee lay,                          15
  The world all love before thee.


Thy soul shall find itself alone
'Mid dark thoughts of the gray tombstone;
Not one, of all the crowd, to pry
Into thine hour of secrecy.

Be silent in that solitude,                                 5
  Which is not loneliness--for then
The spirits of the dead, who stood
  In life before thee, are again
In death around thee, and their will
Shall overshadow thee; be still.                           10

The night, though clear, shall frown,
And the stars shall look not down
From their high thrones in the Heaven
With light like hope to mortals given,
But their red orbs, without beam,                          15
To thy weariness shall seem
As a burning and a fever
Which would cling to thee forever.

Now are thoughts thou shalt not banish,
Now are visions ne'er to vanish;                           20
From thy spirit shall they pass
No more, like dewdrops from the grass.

The breeze, the breath of God, is still,
And the mist upon the hill
Shadowy, shadowy, yet unbroken,                            25
Is a symbol and a token.
How it hangs upon the trees,
A mystery of mysteries!

TO ----

I heed not that my earthly lot
  Hath little of Earth in it,
That years of love have been forgot
  In the hatred of a minute:

I mourn not that the desolate                               5
  Are happier, sweet, than I,
But that you sorrow for my fate
  Who am a passer-by.


Romance, who loves to nod and sing
With drowsy head and folded wing
Among the green leaves as they shake
Far down within some shadowy lake,
To me a painted paroquet                                    5
Hath been--a most familiar bird--
Taught me my alphabet to say,
To lisp my very earliest word
While in the wild-wood I did lie,
A child--with a most knowing eye.                          10

Of late, eternal condor years
So shake the very heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Through gazing on the unquiet sky;                         15
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings,
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away--forbidden things--
My heart would feel to be a crime                          20
Unless it trembled with the strings.


Fair river! in thy bright, clear flow
  Of crystal, wandering water,
Thou art an emblem of the glow
    Of beauty--the unhidden heart,
    The playful maziness of art                             5
  In old Alberto's daughter;

But when within thy wave she looks,
  Which glistens then, and trembles,
Why, then, the prettiest of brooks
  Her worshipper resembles;                                10
For in his heart, as in thy stream,
  Her image deeply lies--
His heart which trembles at the beam
  Of her soul-searching eyes.



Science! true daughter of Old Time thou art,
  Who alterest all things with thy peering eyes.
Why preyest thou thus upon the poet's heart,
  Vulture, whose wings are dull realities?
How should he love thee? or how deem thee wise,             5
  Who wouldst not leave him in his wandering
To seek for treasure in the jewelled skies,
  Albeit he soared with an undaunted wing?
Hast thou not dragged Diana from her car,
  And driven the Hamadryad from the wood                   10
To seek a shelter in some happier star?
  Hast thou not torn the Naiad from her flood,
The Elfin from the green grass, and from me
The summer dream beneath the tamarind-tree?


Helen, thy beauty is to me
  Like those Nicæan barks of yore,
That gently, o'er a perfumed sea,
  The weary, wayworn wanderer bore
  To his own native shore.                                  5

On desperate seas long wont to roam,
  Thy hyacinth hair, thy classic face,
Thy Naiad airs, have brought me home
  To the glory that was Greece
  And the grandeur that was Rome.                          10

Lo! in yon brilliant window-niche
  How statue-like I see thee stand,
  The agate lamp within thy hand!
Ah, Psyche, from the regions which
  Are Holy Land!                                           15


And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are a lute,
and who has the sweetest voice of all God's creatures.--KORAN

In Heaven a spirit doth dwell
  Whose heart-strings are a lute;
None sing so wildly well
As the angel Israfel,
And the giddy stars (so legends tell),                      5
Ceasing their hymns, attend the spell
  Of his voice, all mute.

Tottering above
  In her highest noon,
  The enamoured moon                                       10
Blushes with love,
  While, to listen, the red levin
  (With the rapid Pleiads, even,
  Which were seven)
  Pauses in Heaven.                                        15

And they say (the starry choir
  And the other listening things)
That Israfeli's fire
Is owing to that lyre
  By which he sits and sings,                              20
The trembling living wire
  Of those unusual strings.

But the skies that angel trod,
  Where deep thoughts are a duty,
Where Love's a grown-up God,                               25
  Where the Houri glances are
Imbued with all the beauty
  Which we worship in a star.

Therefore thou art not wrong,
  Israfeli, who despisest                                  30
An unimpassioned song;
To thee the laurels belong,
  Best bard, because the wisest:
Merrily live, and long!

The ecstasies above                                        35
  With thy burning measures suit:
Thy grief, thy joy, thy hate, thy love,
  With the fervor of thy lute:
  Well may the stars be mute!

Yes, Heaven is thine; but this                             40
  Is a world of sweets and sours;
  Our flowers are merely--flowers,
And the shadow of thy perfect bliss
  Is the sunshine of ours.

If I could dwell                                           45
Where Israfel
  Hath dwelt, and he where I,
He might not sing so wildly well
  A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than this might swell                  50
  From my lyre within the sky.


Lo! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.                            5
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky                                 10
The melancholy waters lie.

No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently,                           15
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free:
Up domes, up spires, up kingly halls,
Up fanes, up Babylon-like walls,

Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers,                       20
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.                                 25
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.

There open fanes and gaping graves                         30
Yawn level with the luminous waves;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye,--
Not the gaily-jewelled dead,
Tempt the waters from their bed;                           35
For no ripples curl, alas,
Along that wilderness of glass;
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea;
No heavings hint that winds have been                      40
On seas less hideously serene!

But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave--there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrust aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide;                        45
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven!
The waves have now a redder glow,
The hours are breathing faint and low;
And when, amid no earthly moans,                           50
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.


At midnight, in the month of June,
I stand beneath the mystic moon.
An opiate vapor, dewy, dim,
Exhales from out her golden rim,
And, softly dripping, drop by drop,                         5
Upon the quiet mountain-top,
Steals drowsily and musically
Into the universal valley.
The rosemary nods upon the grave;
The lily lolls upon the wave;                              10
Wrapping the fog about its breast,
The ruin moulders into rest;
Looking like Lethe, see! the lake
A conscious slumber seems to take,
And would not, for the world, awake.                       15
All beauty sleeps!--and lo! where lies
Irene, with her destinies!

Oh lady bright! can it be right,
This window open to the night?
The wanton airs, from the tree-top,                        20
Laughingly through the lattice drop;
The bodiless airs, a wizard rout,
Flit through thy chamber in and out,
And wave the curtain canopy
So fitfully, so fearfully,                                 25
Above the closed and fringéd lid
'Neath which thy slumb'ring soul lies hid,
That, o'er the floor and down the wall,
Like ghosts the shadows rise and fall.
Oh lady dear, hast thou no fear?                           30
Why and what art thou dreaming here?
Sure thou art come o'er far-off seas,
A wonder to these garden trees!
Strange is thy pallor: strange thy dress:
Strange, above all, thy length of tress,                   35
And this all solemn silentness!

The lady sleeps. Oh, may her sleep,
Which is enduring, so be deep!
Heaven have her in its sacred keep!
This chamber changed for one more holy,                    40
This bed for one more melancholy,
I pray to God that she may lie
Forever with unopened eye,
While the pale sheeted ghosts go by!

My love, she sleeps. Oh, may her sleep,                    45
As it is lasting, so be deep!
Soft may the worms about her creep!
Far in the forest, dim and old,
For her may some tall vault unfold:
Some vault that oft hath flung its black                   50
And winged pannels fluttering back,
Triumphant, o'er the crested palls
Of her grand family funerals:
Some sepulchre, remote, alone,
Against whose portal she hath thrown,                      55
In childhood, many an idle stone:
Some tomb from out whose sounding door
She ne'er shall force an echo more,
Thrilling to think, poor child of sin,
It was the dead who groaned within!                        60


Ah, broken is the golden bowl! the spirit flown forever
Let the bell toll!--a saintly soul floats on the Stygian river;
And, Guy De Vere, hast _thou_ no tear?--weep now or never more!
See, on yon drear and rigid bier low lies thy love, Lenore!
Come, let the burial rite be read--the funeral song be sung,                   5
An anthem for the queenliest dead that ever died so young,
A dirge for her the doubly dead in that she died so young.

"Wretches, ye loved her for her wealth and hated her for her pride,
And when she fell in feeble health, ye blessed her--that she died!
How _shall_ the ritual, then, be read? the requiem how be sung                10
By you--by yours, the evil eye,--by yours, the slanderous tongue
That did to death the innocence that died, and died so young?"

_Peccanimus_; but rave not thus! and let a Sabbath song
Go up to God so solemnly the dead may feel no wrong.
The sweet Lenore hath gone before, with Hope that flew beside,                15
Leaving thee wild for the dear child that should have been thy bride:
For her, the fair and debonair, that now so lowly lies,
The life upon her yellow hair but not within her eyes;
The life still there, upon her hair--the death upon her eyes.

"Avaunt! avaunt! from friends below, the indignant ghost is riven--           20
From Hell unto a high estate far up within the Heaven--
From grief and groan, to a golden throne, beside the King of Heaven!
Let no bell toll, then,--lest her soul, amid its hallowed mirth,
Should catch the note as it doth float up from the damnéd Earth!
And I!--to-night my heart is light!--No dirge will I upraise,                 25
But waft the angel on her flight with a Pæan of old days."


Once it smiled a silent dell
Where the people did not dwell;
They had gone unto the wars,
Trusting to the mild-eyed stars,
Nightly, from their azure towers,                           5
To keep watch above the flowers,
In the midst of which all day
The red sunlight lazily lay.
Now each visitor shall confess
The sad valley's restlessness.                             10
Nothing there is motionless,
Nothing save the airs that brood
Over the magic solitude.
Ah, by no wind are stirred those trees
That palpitate like the chill seas                         15
Around the misty Hebrides!
Ah, by no wind those clouds are driven
That rustle through the unquiet Heaven
Uneasily, from morn till even,
Over the violets there that lie                            20
In myriad types of the human eye,
Over the lilies there that wave
And weep above a nameless grave!
They wave:--from out their fragrant tops
Eternal dews come down in drops.                           25
They weep:--from off their delicate stems
Perennial, tears descend in gems.


Type of the antique Rome!   Rich reliquary
Of lofty contemplation left to Time
By buried centuries of pomp and power!
At length--at length--after so many days
Of weary pilgrimage and burning thirst                      5
(Thirst for the springs of lore that in thee lie),
I kneel, an altered and an humble man,
Amid thy shadows, and so drink within
My very soul thy grandeur, gloom, and glory.

Vastness, and Age, and Memories of Eld!                    10
Silence, and Desolation, and dim Night!
I feel ye now, I feel ye in your strength,
O spells more sure than e'er Judæan king
Taught in the gardens of Gethsemane!
O charms more potent than the rapt Chaldee                 15
Ever drew down from out the quiet stars!

Here, where a hero fell, a column falls!
Here, where the mimic eagle glared in gold,
A midnight vigil holds the swarthy bat;
Here, where the dames of Rome their gilded hair            20
Waved to the wind, now wave the reed and thistle;
Here, where on golden throne the monarch lolled,
Glides, spectre-like, unto his marble home,

Lit by the wan light of the hornéd moon,
The swift and silent lizard of the stones.                 25

But stay! these walls, these ivy-clad arcades,
These mouldering plinths, these sad and blackened shafts,
These vague entablatures, this crumbling frieze,
These shattered cornices, this wreck, this ruin,
These stones--alas! these gray stones--are they all,       30
All of the famed and the colossal left
By the corrosive Hours to Fate and me?

"Not all"--the Echoes answer me--"not all!
Prophetic sounds and loud arise forever
From us, and from all Ruin, unto the wise,                 35
As melody from Memnon to the Sun.
We rule the hearts of mightiest men--we rule
With a despotic sway all giant minds.
We are not impotent, we pallid stones:
Not all our power is gone, not all our fame,               40
Not all the magic of our high renown,
Not all the wonder that encircles us,
Not all the mysteries that in us lie,
Not all the memories that hang upon
And cling around about us as a garment,                    45
Clothing us in a robe of more than glory."


At morn--at noon--at twilight dim,
Maria! thou hast heard my hymn.
In joy and woe, in good and ill,
Mother of God, be with me still!
When the hours flew brightly by,                            5
And not a cloud obscured the sky,
My soul, lest it should truant be,
Thy grace did guide to thine and thee.
Now, when storms of fate o'ercast
Darkly my Present and my Past,                             10
Let my Future radiant shine
With sweet hopes of thee and thine!


Thou wast all that to me, love,
  For which my soul did pine:
A green isle in the sea, love,
  A fountain and a shrine
All wreathed with fairy fruits and flowers,                 5
  And all the flowers were mine.

Ah, dream too bright to last!
  Ah, starry Hope, that didst arise
But to be overcast!
  A voice from out the Future cries,                       10
"On! on!"--but o'er the Past
  (Dim gulf!) my spirit hovering lies
Mute, motionless, aghast.

For, alas! alas! with me
  The light of Life is o'er!                               15
  No more--no more--no more--
(Such language holds the solemn sea
  To the sands upon the shore)
Shall bloom the thunder-blasted tree,
  Or the stricken eagle soar.                              20

And all my days are trances,
  And all my nightly dreams
Are where thy gray eye glances,
  And where thy footstep gleams--
In what ethereal dances,                                   25
  By what eternal streams.

TO F----

Beloved! amid the earnest woes
  That crowd around my earthly path
(Drear path, alas! where grows
Not even one lonely rose),
  My soul at least a solace hath                            5
In dreams of thee, and therein knows
An Eden of bland repose.

And thus thy memory is to me
  Like some enchanted far-off isle
In some tumultuous sea,--                                  10
Some ocean throbbing far and free
  With storms, but where meanwhile
Serenest skies continually
  Just o'er that one bright island smile.

TO F----S S. O----D

Thou wouldst be loved?--then let thy heart
  From its present pathway part not:
Being everything which now thou art,
  Be nothing which thou art not.
So with the world thy gentle ways,                          5
  Thy grace, thy more than beauty,
Shall be an endless theme of praise,
  And love--a simple duty.


Fair isle, that from the fairest of all flowers
  Thy gentlest of all gentle names dost take,
How many memories of what radiant hours
  At sight of thee and thine at once awake!
How many scenes of what departed bliss,                     5
  How many thoughts of what entombéd hopes,
How many visions of a maiden that is
  No more--no more upon thy verdant slopes!
_No more!_ alas, that magical sad sound
  Transforming all! Thy charms shall please no more,       10
Thy memory no more. Accurséd ground!
  Henceforth I hold thy flower-enamelled shore,
O hyacinthine isle! O purple Zante!
  "Isola d'oro! Fior di Levante!"


The ring is on my hand,
  And the wreath is on my brow;
Satins and jewels grand
Are all at my command,
  And I am happy now.                                       5

And my lord he loves me well;
  But, when first he breathed his vow,
I felt my bosom swell,
For the words rang as a knell,
And the voice seemed his who fell                          10
In the battle down the dell,
  And who is happy now.

But he spoke to reassure me,
  And he kissed my pallid brow,
While a reverie came o'er me,                              15
And to the church-yard bore me,
And I sighed to him before me,
Thinking him dead D'Elormie,
  "Oh, I am happy now!"

And thus the words were spoken,                            20
  And this the plighted vow;
And though my faith be broken,
And though my heart be broken,
Here is a ring, as token
  That I am happy now!                                     25

Would God I could awaken!
  For I dream I know not how,
And my soul is sorely shaken
Lest an evil step be taken,
Lest the dead who is forsaken                              30
  May not be happy now.


There are some qualities, some incorporate things,
  That have a double life, which thus is made
A type of that twin entity which springs
  From matter and light, evinced in solid and shade.
There is a twofold Silence--sea and shore,                  5
  Body and soul. One dwells in lonely places,
  Newly with grass o'ergrown; some solemn graces,
Some human memories and tearful lore,
Render him terrorless: his name's "No More."
He is the corporate Silence: dread him not:                10
  No power hath he of evil in himself;
But should some urgent fate (untimely lot!)
  Bring thee to meet his shadow (nameless elf,
That haunteth the lone regions where hath trod
No foot of man), commend thyself to God!                   15


Lo! 't is a gala night
  Within the lonesome latter years.
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
  In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre to see                                     5
  A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
  The music of the spheres.

Mimes, in the form of God on high,
  Mutter and mumble low,                                   10

And hither and thither fly;
  Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
  That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their condor wings                       15
  Invisible Woe.

That motley drama--oh, be sure
  It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore
  By a crowd that seize it not,                            20
Through a circle that ever returneth in
  To the self-same spot;
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
  And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see amid the mimic rout                                25
  A crawling shape, intrude:
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
  The scenic solitude!
It writhes--it writhes!--with mortal pangs
  The mimes become its food,                               30
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
  In human gore imbued.

Out--out are the lights--out all!
  And over each quivering form
The curtain, a funeral pall,                               35
  Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
  Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
  And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.                        40


By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly                        5
From an ultimate dim Thule:
From a wild weird clime that lieth, sublime,
  Out of Space--out of Time.
Bottomless vales and boundless floods,
And chasms and caves and Titan woods,                      10
With forms that no man can discover
For the tears that drip all over;
Mountains toppling evermore
Into seas without a shore;
Seas that restlessly aspire,                               15
Surging, unto skies of fire;
Lakes that endlessly outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,--
Their still waters, still and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily.                        20

By the lakes that thus outspread
Their lone waters, lone and dead,--
Their sad waters, sad and chilly
With the snows of the lolling lily;
By the mountains--near the river                           25
Murmuring lowly, murmuring ever;
By the gray woods, by the swamp
Where the toad and the newt encamp;
By the dismal tarns and pools
    Where dwell the Ghouls;                                30
By each spot the most unholy,
In each nook most melancholy,--
There the traveller meets aghast
Sheeted Memories of the Past:
Shrouded forms that start and sigh                         35
As they pass the wanderer by,
White-robed forms of friends long given,
In agony, to the Earth--and Heaven.

For the heart whose woes are legion
'T is a peaceful, soothing region;                         40
For the spirit that walks in shadow
'T is--oh, 't is an Eldorado!
But the traveller, travelling through it,
May not--dare not openly view it;
Never its mysteries are exposed                            45
To the weak human eye unclosed;
So wills its King, who hath forbid
The uplifting of the fringéd lid;
And thus the sad Soul that here passes
Beholds it but through darkened glasses.                   50
By a route obscure and lonely,
Haunted by ill angels only,
Where an Eidolon, named Night,
On a black throne reigns upright,
I have wandered home but newly                             55
From this ultimate dim Thule.


Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of, forgotten lore,--
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door:                  5
          Only this and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow;--vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow--sorrow for the lost Lenore,                 10
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore:
          Nameless here forevermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me--filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating              15
"'T is some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door,
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door:
          This it is and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;                   20
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"--here I opened wide the door:--
          Darkness there and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,       25
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore:"
          Merely this and nothing more.                                       30

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore;
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore:                      35
          'T is the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately Raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door,                40
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door:
          Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,--
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,    45
Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore:
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the  Night's Plutonian shore!"
          Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning--little relevancy bore;                      50
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door,
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
          With such name as "Nevermore."

But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only                  55
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered, not a feather then he fluttered,
Till I scarcely more than muttered,--"Other friends have flown before;
On the morrow _he_ will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
          Then the bird said, "Nevermore."                                    60

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore                       65
          Of 'Never--nevermore.'"

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore,                    70
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
          Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining                  75
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er
          _She_ shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.               80
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee--by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite--respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!"
          Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! prophet still, if bird or devil!           85
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted--
On this home by Horror haunted--tell me truly, I implore:
Is there--_is_ there balm in Gilead?--tell me--tell me, I implore!"
          Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."                                       90

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil--prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us, by that God we both adore,
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore:
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."                 95
          Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!" I shrieked, upstarting:
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! quit the bust above my door!                   100
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
          Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,             105
And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor:
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
          Shall be lifted--nevermore.


I dwelt alone
In a world of moan,
And my soul was a stagnant tide,
Till the fair and gentle Eulalie became my blushing bride,
Till the yellow-haired young Eulalie became my smiling bride.                  5

Ah, less--less bright
The stars of the night
Than the eyes of the radiant girl!
And never a flake
That the vapor can make                                                       10
With the moon-tints of purple and pearl
Can vie with the modest Eulalie's most unregarded curl,
Can compare with the bright-eyed Eulalie's most humble and careless curl.

Now doubt--now pain
Come never again,                                                             15
For her soul gives me sigh for sigh;
And all day long
Shines, bright and strong,
Astarte within the sky,
While ever to her dear Eulalie upturns her matron eye,                        20
While ever to her young Eulalie upturns her violet eye.

TO M.L.S--

Of all who hail thy presence as the morning;
Of all to whom thine absence is the night,
The blotting utterly from out high heaven
The sacred sun; of all who, weeping, bless thee
Hourly for hope, for life, ah! above all,                   5
For the resurrection of deep-buried faith
In truth, in virtue, in humanity;
Of all who, on despair's unhallowed bed
Lying down to die, have suddenly arisen
At thy soft-murmured words, "Let there be light!"          10
At the soft-murmured words that were fulfilled
In the seraphic glancing of thine eyes;
Of all who owe thee most, whose gratitude
Nearest resembles worship, oh, remember
The truest, the most fervently devoted,                    15
And think that these weak lines are written by him:
By him, who, as he pens them, thrills to think
His spirit is communing with an angel's.


The skies they were ashen and sober;
  The leaves they were crispéd and sere,
  The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
  Of my most immemorial year;                               5
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
  In the misty mid region of Weir:
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
  In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Here once, through an alley Titanic                        10
  Of cypress, I roamed with my Soul--
  Of cypress, with Psyche, my Soul.
These were days when my heart was volcanic
  As the scoriac rivers that roll,
  As the lavas that restlessly roll                        15
Their sulphurous currents down Yaanek
  In the ultimate climes of the pole,
That groan as they roll down Mount Yaanek
  In the realms of the boreal pole.

Our talk had been serious and sober,                       20
  But our thoughts they were palsied and sere,
  Our memories were treacherous and sere,
For we knew not the month was October,
  And we marked not the night of the year,
  (Ah, night of all nights in the year!)                   25
We noted not the dim lake of Auber
  (Though once we had journeyed down here),
Remembered not the dank tarn of Auber
  Nor the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

And now, as the night was senescent                        30
  And star-dials pointed to morn,
  As the star-dials hinted of morn,
At the end of our path a liquescent
  And nebulous lustre was born,
Out of which a miraculous crescent                         35
  Arose with a duplicate horn,
Astarte's bediamonded crescent
  Distinct with its duplicate horn.

And I said--"She is warmer than Dian:
  She rolls through an ether of sighs,                     40
  She revels in a region of sighs:
She has seen that the tears are not dry on
  These cheeks, where the worm never dies,
And has come past the stars of the Lion
  To point us the path to the skies,                       45
  To the Lethean peace of the skies:
Come up, in despite of the Lion,
  To shine on us with her bright eyes:
Come up through the lair of the Lion,
  With love in her luminous eyes."                         50

But Psyche, uplifting her finger,
  Said--"Sadly this star I mistrust:
  Her pallor I strangely mistrust:
Oh, hasten!--oh, let us not linger!
  Oh, fly!--let us fly!--for we must."                     55
In terror she spoke, letting sink her
  Wings until they trailed in the dust;
In agony sobbed, letting sink her
  Plumes till they trailed in the dust,
  Till they sorrowfully trailed in the dust.               60

I replied--"This is nothing but dreaming:
  Let us on by this tremulous light!
  Let us bathe in this crystalline light!
Its sibyllic splendor is beaming
  With hope and in beauty to-night:                        65
  See, it flickers up the sky through the night!
Ah, we safely may trust to its gleaming,
  And be sure it will lead us aright:
We safely may trust to a gleaming
  That cannot but guide us aright,                         70
  Since it flickers up to Heaven through the night."

Thus I pacified Psyche and kissed her,
  And tempted her out of her gloom,
  And conquered her scruples and gloom;
And we passed to the end of the vista,                     75
  But were stopped by the door of a tomb,
  By the door of a legended tomb;
And I said--"What is written, sweet sister,
  On the door of this legended tomb?"
  She replied--"Ulalume--Ulalume--                         80
  'T is the vault of thy lost Ulalume!"

Then my heart it grew ashen and sober
  As the leaves that were crisped and sere,
  As the leaves that were withering and sere,
And I cried--"It was surely October                        85
  On this very night of last year
  That I journeyed--I journeyed down here,
  That I brought a dread burden down here:
  On this night of all nights in the year,
  Ah, what demon has tempted me here?                      90
Well I know, now, this dim lake of Auber,
  This misty mid region of Weir:
Well I know, now, this dank tarn of Auber,
  This ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir."

TO ----

Not long ago the writer of these lines,
In the mad pride of intellectuality,
Maintained "the power of words"--denied that ever
A thought arose within the human brain
Beyond the utterance of the human tongue:                   5
And now, as if in mockery of that boast,
Two words, two foreign soft dissyllables,
Italian tones, made only to be murmured
By angels dreaming in the moonlit "dew
That hangs like chains of pearl on Hermon hill,"           10
Have stirred from out the abysses of his heart
Unthought-like thoughts, that are the souls of thought,--
Richer, far wilder, far diviner visions
Than even the seraph harper, Israfel
(Who has "the sweetest voice of all God's creatures"),     15
Could hope to utter. And I--my spells are broken;
The pen falls powerless from my shivering hand;
With thy dear name as text, though hidden by thee,
I cannot write--I cannot speak or think--
Alas, I cannot feel; for't is not feeling,--               20
This standing motionless upon the golden
Threshold of the wide-open gate of dreams,
Gazing entranced adown the gorgeous vista,
And thrilling as I see, upon the right,
Upon the left, and all the way along,                      25
Amid empurpled vapors, far away
To where the prospect terminates--thee only.


"Seldom we find," says Solomon Don Dunce,
  "Half an idea in the profoundest sonnet.
Through all the flimsy things we see at once
  As easily as through a Naples bonnet--
  Trash of all trash! how can a lady don it?                5
Yet heavier far than your Petrarchan stuff,
Owl-downy nonsense that the faintest puff
  Twirls into trunk-paper the while you con it."
And, veritably, Sol is right enough.
The general tuckermanities are arrant                      10
Bubbles, ephemeral and _so_ transparent;
  But _this_ is, now, you may depend upon it,
Stable, opaque, immortal--all by dint
Of the dear names that lie concealed within 't.


I saw thee once--once only--years ago:
I must not say how many--but not many.
It was a July midnight; and from out
A full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring
Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven,             5
There fell a silvery-silken veil of light,
With quietude and sultriness and slumber,
Upon the upturned faces of a thousand
Roses that grew in an enchanted garden,
Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe:             10
Fell on the upturned faces of these roses
That gave out, in return for the love-light,
Their odorous souls in an ecstatic death:
Fell on the upturned faces of these roses
That smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted           15
By thee, and by the poetry of thy presence.

Clad all in white, upon a violet bank
I saw thee half reclining; while the moon
Fell on the upturned faces of the roses,
And on thine own, upturned--alas, in sorrow!               20

Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight--
Was it not Fate (whose name is also Sorrow)
That bade me pause before that garden-gate
To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?
No footsteps stirred: the hated world all slept,           25
Save only thee and me--O Heaven! O God!
How my heart beats in coupling those two words!--
Save only thee and me. I paused, I looked,
And in an instant all things disappeared.
(Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)              30
The pearly lustre of the moon went out:

The mossy banks and the meandering paths,
The happy flowers and the repining trees,
Were seen no more: the very roses' odors
Died in the arms of the adoring airs.                      35
All, all expired save thee--save less than thou:
Save only the divine light in thine eyes,
Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes:
I saw but them--they were the world to me:
I saw but them, saw only them for hours,                   40
Saw only them until the moon went down.
What wild heart-histories seem to lie enwritten
Upon those crystalline, celestial spheres;
How dark a woe, yet how sublime a hope;
How silently serene a sea of pride;                        45
How daring an ambition; yet how deep,
How fathomless a capacity for love!

But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight,
Into a western couch of thunder-cloud;
And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing trees                50
Didst glide away. Only thine eyes remained:
They would not go--they never yet have gone;
Lighting my lonely pathway home that night,
They have not left me (as my hopes have) since;
They follow me--they lead me through the years;            55
They are my ministers--yet I their slave;
Their office is to illumine and enkindle--
My duty, to be saved by their bright light,
And purified in their electric fire,
And sanctified in their elysian fire,                      60
They fill my soul with beauty (which is hope),
And are, far up in heaven, the stars I kneel to
In the sad, silent watches of my night;
While even in the meridian glare of day
I see them still--two sweetly scintillant                  65
Venuses, unextinguished by the sun.


For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
  Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies
  Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines! they hold a treasure                                5
  Divine, a talisman, an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure--
  The word--the syllables. Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor:
  And yet there is in this no Gordian knot                                    10
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
  If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
  Eyes scintillating soul, there lie _perdus_
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing                               15
  Of poets, by poets--as the name is a poet's, too.
Its letters, although naturally lying
  Like the knight Pinto, Mendez Ferdinando,
Still form a synonym for Truth.--Cease trying!
  You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.            20


Thank Heaven! the crisis,
  The danger, is past,
And the lingering illness
  Is over at last,
And the fever called "Living"                               5
  Is conquered at last.

Sadly I know
  I am shorn of my strength,
And no muscle I move
  As I lie at full length:                                 10
But no matter!--I feel
  I am better at length.

And I rest so composedly
  Now, in my bed,
That any beholder                                          15
  Might fancy me dead,
Might start at beholding me,
  Thinking me dead.

The moaning and groaning,
  The sighing and sobbing,                                 20
Are quieted now,
  With that horrible throbbing
At heart:--ah, that horrible,
  Horrible throbbing!

The sickness, the nausea,                                  25
  The pitiless pain,
Have ceased, with the fever
  That maddened my brain,
With the fever called "Living"
  That burned in my brain.                                 30

And oh! of all tortures,
  That torture the worst
Has abated--the terrible
  Torture of thirst
For the naphthaline river                                  35
  Of Passion accurst:
I have drank of a water
  That quenches all thirst:

Of a water that flows,
  With a lullaby sound,                                    40
From a spring but a very few
  Feet under ground,
From a cavern not very far
  Down under ground.

And ah! let it never                                       45
  Be foolishly said
That my room it is gloomy,
  And narrow my bed;
For man never slept
  In a different bed:                                      50
And, _to sleep_, you must slumber
  In just such a bed.

My tantalized spirit
  Here blandly reposes,
Forgetting, or never                                       55
  Regretting, its roses:
Its old agitations
  Of myrtles and roses;

For now, while so quietly
  Lying, it fancies                                        60
A holier odor
  About it, of pansies:
A rosemary odor,
  Commingled with pansies,
With rue and the beautiful                                 65
  Puritan pansies.

And so it lies happily,
  Bathing in many
A dream of the truth
  And the beauty of Annie,                                 70
Drowned in a bath
  Of the tresses of Annie.

She tenderly kissed me,
  She fondly caressed,
And then I fell gently                                     75
  To sleep on her breast,
Deeply to sleep
  From the heaven of her breast.

When the light was extinguished,
  She covered me warm,                                     80
And she prayed to the angels
  To keep me from harm,
To the queen of the angels
  To shield me from harm.

And I lie so composedly                                    85
  Now, in my bed,
(Knowing her love)
  That you fancy me dead;
And I rest so contentedly
  Now, in my bed,                                          90
(With her love at my breast)
  That you fancy me dead,
That you shudder to look at me,
  Thinking me dead.

But my heart it is brighter                                95
  Than all of the many
Stars in the sky,
  For it sparkles with Annie:
It glows with the light
  Of the love of my Annie,                                100
With the thought of the light
  Of the eyes of my Annie.



Hear the sledges with the bells,
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!                                    5
While the stars, that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline deligit;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,                                  10
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


Hear the mellow wedding bells,                             15
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,                              20
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells,                           25
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels                                 30
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!               35


Hear the loud alarum bells,
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!                        40
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,     45
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now--now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.                        50
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour                                 55
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;                             60
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,--
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells,  65
Of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!


Hear the tolling of the bells,                             70
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!                    75
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people--ah, the people,
They that dwell up in the steeple,                         80
All alone,
And who tolling, tolling, tolling
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone--                               85
They are neither man nor woman,
They are neither brute nor human,
They are Ghouls:
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,                                90
A pæan from the bells;
And his merry bosom swells
With the pæan of the bells,
And he dances, and he yells:                               95
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the pæan of the bells,
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,                                 100
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
  To the throbbing of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells--
  To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,                                 105
  As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
  To the rolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells:
  To the tolling of the bells,                            110
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
    Bells, bells, bells--
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.


It was many and many a year ago,
  In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
  By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought             5
  Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
  In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love,
  I and my Annabel Lee;                                    10
With a love that the winged seraphs of heaven
  Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
  In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling                       15
  My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
  And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
  In this kingdom by the sea.                              20

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
  Went envying her and me;
Yes! that was the reason (as all men know,
  In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,              25
  Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
  Of those who were older than we,
  Of many far wiser than we;
And neither the angels in heaven above,                    30
  Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
  Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
  Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;                            35
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
  Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling--my darling--my life and my bride,
  In her sepulchre there by the sea,                       40
  In her tomb by the sounding sea.


Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
  The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find among their burning terms of love--
  None so devotional as that of "Mother,"
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you--        5
  You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts where Death installed you
  In setting my Virginia's spirit free.
My mother, my own mother, who died early,
  Was but the mother of myself; but you                    10
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
  And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.


Gayly bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,                                             5
In search of Eldorado.

But he grew old,
This knight so bold,
And o'er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found                                           10
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow:                                   15
"Shadow," said he,
"Where can it be,
This land of Eldorado?"

"Over the Mountains
Of the Moon,                                               20
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,"
The shade replied,
"If you seek for Eldorado!"



  Son coeur est un luth suspendu;
  Sitôt qu'on le touche il résonne.

During the whole of a dull, dark, and soundless day in the autumn of
the year, when the clouds hung oppressively low in the heavens, I had
been passing alone, on horseback, through a singularly dreary tract of
country; and at length found myself, as the shades of the evening drew
on, within view of the melancholy House of Usher. I know not how it
was--but, with the first glimpse of the building, a sense of
insufferable gloom pervaded my spirit. I say insufferable; for the
feeling was unrelieved by any of that half-pleasurable, because
poetic, sentiment with which the mind usually receives even the
sternest natural images of the desolate or terrible.  I looked upon
the scene before me--upon the mere house, and the simple landscape
features of the domain, upon the bleak walls, upon the vacant eye-like
windows, upon a few rank sedges, and upon a few white trunks of
decayed trees--with an utter depression of soul which I can compare to
no earthly sensation more properly than to the after-dream of the
reveller upon opium: the bitter lapse into everyday life, the hideous
dropping off of the veil.  There was an iciness, a sinking, a
sickening of the heart, an unredeemed dreariness of thought which no
goading of the imagination could torture into aught of the
sublime. What was it--I paused to think--what was it that so unnerved
me in the contemplation of the House of Usher? It was a mystery all
insoluble; nor could I grapple with the shadowy fancies that crowded
upon me as I pondered.  I was forced to fall back upon the
unsatisfactory conclusion, that while, beyond doubt, there _are_
combinations of very simple natural objects which have the power of
thus affecting us, still the analysis of this power lies among
considerations beyond our depth. It was possible, I reflected, that a
mere different arrangement of the particulars of the scene, of the
details of the picture, would be sufficient to modify, or perhaps to
annihilate, its capacity for sorrowful impression; and acting upon
this idea, I reined my horse to the precipitous brink of a black and
lurid tarn that lay in unruffled lustre by the dwelling, and gazed
down--but with a shudder even more thrilling than before--upon the
remodelled and inverted images of the gray sedge, and the ghastly
tree-stems, and the vacant and eye-like windows.

Nevertheless, in this mansion of gloom I now proposed to myself a
sojourn of some weeks. Its proprietor, Roderick Usher, had been one of
my boon companions in boyhood; but many years had elapsed since our
last meeting. A letter, however, had lately reached me in a distant
part of the country--a letter from him--which in its wildly
inportunate nature had admitted of no other than a personal reply.
The MS. gave evidence of nervous agitation. The writer spoke of acute
bodily illness, of a mental disorder which oppressed him, and of an
earnest desire to see me, as his best and indeed his only personal
friend, with a view of attempting, by the cheerfulness of my society,
some alleviation of his malady. It was the manner in which all this,
and much more, was said--it was the apparent _heart_ that went
with his request--which allowed me no room for hesitation; and I
accordingly obeyed forthwith what I still considered a very singular

Although as boys we had been even intimate associates, yet I really
knew little of my friend. His reserve had been always excessive and
habitual. I was aware, however, that his very ancient family had been
noted, time out of mind, for a peculiar sensibility of temperament,
displaying itself, through long ages, in many works of exalted art,
and manifested of late in repeated deeds of munificent yet unobtrusive
charity, as well as in a passionate devotion to the intricacies,
perhaps even more than to the orthodox and easily recognizable
beauties, of musical science. I had learned, too, the very remarkable
fact that the stem of the Usher race, all time-honored as it was, had
put forth at no period any enduring branch; in other words, that the
entire family lay in the direct line of descent, and had always, with
very trifling and very temporary variation, so lain. It was this
deficiency, I considered, while running over in thought the perfect
keeping of the character of the premises with the accredited character
of the people, and while speculating upon the possible influence which
the one, in the long lapse of centuries, might have exercised upon the
other--it was this deficiency, perhaps, of collateral issue, and the
consequent undeviating transmission from sire to son of the patrimony
with the name, which had, at length, so identified the two as to merge
the original title of the estate in the quaint and equivocal
appellation of the "House of Usher"--an appellation which seemed to
include, in the minds of the peasantry who used it, both the family
and the family mansion.

I have said that the sole effect of my somewhat childish experiment,
that of looking down within the tarn, had been to deepen the first
singular impression. There can be no doubt that the consciousness of
the rapid increase of my superstition--for why should I not so term
it?--served mainly to accelerate the increase itself. Such, I have
long known, is the paradoxical law of all sentiments having terror as
a basis. And it might have been for this reason only, that, when I
again uplifted my eyes to the house itself, from its image in the
pool, there grew in my mind a strange fancy--a fancy so ridiculous,
indeed, that I but mention it to show the vivid force of the
sensations which oppressed me. I had so worked upon my imagination as
really to believe that about the whole mansion and domain there hung
an atmosphere peculiar to themselves and their immediate vicinity: an
atmosphere which had no affinity with the air of heaven, but which had
reeked up from the decayed trees, and the gray wall, and the silent
tarn: a pestilent and mystic vapor, dull, sluggish, faintly
discernible, and leaden-hued.

Shaking off from my spirit what _must_ have been a dream, I
scanned more narrowly the real aspect of the building. Its principal
feature seemed to be that of an excessive antiquity.  The
discoloration of ages had been great. Minute fungi overspread the
whole exterior, hanging in a fine tangled web-work from the eaves. Yet
all this was apart from any extraordinary dilapidation. No portion of
the masonry had fallen; and there appeared to be a wild inconsistency
between its still perfect adaptation of parts and the crumbling
condition of the individual stones. In this there was much that
reminded one of the specious totality of old wood-work which has
rotted for long years in some neglected vault, with no disturbance
from the breath of the external air. Beyond this indication of
extensive decay, however, the fabric gave little token of
instability. Perhaps the eye of a scrutinizing observer might have
discovered a barely perceptible fissure, which, extending from the
roof of the building in front, made its way down the wall in a zigzag
direction, until it became lost in the sullen waters of the tarn.

Noticing these things, I rode over a short causeway to the house. A
servant in waiting took my horse, and I entered the Gothic archway of
the hall. A valet, of stealthy step, thence conducted me, in silence,
through many dark and intricate passages in my progress to the studio
of his master. Much that I encountered on the way contributed, I know
not how, to heighten the vague sentiments of which I have already
spoken. While the objects around me--while the carvings of the
ceilings, the sombre tapestries of the walls, the ebon blackness of
the floors, and the phantasmagoric armorial trophies which rattled as
I strode, were but matters to which, or to such as which, I had been
accustomed from my infancy--while I hesitated not to acknowledge how
familiar was all this--I still wondered to find how unfamiliar were
the fancies which ordinary images were stirring up. On one of the
staircases, I met the physician of the family. His countenance, I
thought, wore a mingled expression of low cunning and perplexity.  He
accosted me with trepidation and passed on.  The valet now threw open
a door and ushered me into the presence of his master.

The room in which I found myself was very large and lofty.  The
windows were long, narrow, and pointed, and at so vast a distance from
the black oaken floor as to be altogether inaccessible from
within. Feeble gleams of encrimsoned light made their way through the
trellised panes, and served to render sufficiently distinct the more
prominent objects around; the eye, however, struggled in vain to reach
the remoter angles of the chamber, or the recesses of the vaulted and
fretted ceiling. Dark draperies hung upon the walls. The general
furniture was profuse, comfortless, antique, and tattered. Many books
and musical instruments lay scattered about, but failed to give any
vitality to the scene. I felt that I breathed an atmosphere of
sorrow. An air of stern, deep, and irredeemable gloom hung over and
pervaded all.

Upon my entrance, Usher arose from a sofa on which he had been lying
at full length, and greeted me with a vivacious warmth which had much
in it, I at first thought, of an overdone cordiality--of the
constrained effort of the _ennuyé_ man of the world. A glance,
however, at his countenance, convinced me of his perfect sincerity. We
sat down; and for some moments, while he spoke not, I gazed upon him
with a feeling half of pity, half of awe. Surely man had never before
so terribly altered, in so brief a period, as had Roderick Usher! It
was with difficulty that I could bring myself to admit the identity of
the wan being before me with the companion of my early boyhood. Yet
the character of his face had been at all times remarkable. A
cadaverousness of complexion; an eye large, liquid, and luminous
beyond comparison; lips somewhat thin and very pallid, but of a
surpassingly beautiful curve; a nose of a delicate Hebrew model, but
with a breadth of nostril unusual in similar formations; a finely
moulded chin, speaking, in its want of prominence, of a want of moral
energy; hair of a more than web-like softness and tenuity; these
features, with an inordinate expansion above the regions of the
temple, made up altogether a countenance not easily to be forgotten.

And now in the mere exaggeration of the prevailing character of these
features, and of the expression they were wont to convey, lay so much
of change that I doubted to whom I spoke. The now ghastly pallor of
the skin, and the now miraculous lustre of the eye, above all things
startled and even awed me. The silken hair, too, had been suffered to
grow all unheeded, and as, in its wild gossamer texture, it floated
rather than fell about the face, I could not, even with effort,
connect its arabesque expression with any idea of simple humanity.

In the manner of my friend I was at once struck with an incoherence,
an inconsistency; and I soon found this to arise from a series of
feeble and futile struggles to overcome an habitual trepidancy, an
excessive nervous agitation. For something of this nature I had indeed
been prepared, no less by his letter than by reminiscences of certain
boyish traits, and by conclusions deduced from his peculiar physical
conformation and temperament. His action was alternately vivacious and
sullen. His voice varied rapidly from a tremulous indecision (when the
animal spirits seemed utterly in abeyance) to that species of
energetic concision--that abrupt, weighty, unhurried, and
hollow-sounding enunciation--that leaden, self-balanced and perfectly
modulated guttural utterance--which may be observed in the lost
drunkard, or the irreclaimable eater of opium, during the periods of
his most intense excitement.

It was thus that he spoke of the object of my visit, of his earnest
desire to see me, and of the solace he expected me to afford him. He
entered, at some length, into what he conceived to be the nature of
his malady. It was, he said, a constitutional and a family evil, and
one for which he despaired to find a remedy--a mere nervous affection,
he immediately added, which would undoubtedly soon pass off. It
displayed itself in a host of unnatural sensations. Some of these, as
he detailed them, interested and bewildered me; although, perhaps, the
terms and the general manner of the narration had their weight. He
suffered much from a morbid acuteness of the senses; the most insipid
food was alone endurable; he could wear only garments of certain
texture; the odors of all flowers were oppressive; his eyes were
tortured by even a faint light; and there were but peculiar sounds,
and these from stringed instruments, which did not inspire him with

To an anomalous species of terror I found him a bounden slave. "I
shall perish," said he, "I _must_ perish in this deplorable
folly. Thus, thus, and not otherwise, shall I be lost. I dread the
events of the future, not in themselves, but in their results. I
shudder at the thought of any, even the most trivial, incident, which
may operate upon this intolerable agitation of soul. I have, indeed,
no abhorrence of danger, except in its absolute effect--in terror. In
this unnerved--in this pitiable condition, I feel that the period will
sooner or later arrive when I must abandon life and reason together,
in some struggle with the grim phantasm, FEAR."

I learned moreover at intervals, and through broken and equivocal
hints, another singular feature of his mental condition.  He was
enchained by certain superstitious impressions in regard to the
dwelling which he tenanted, and whence, for many years, he had never
ventured forth--in regard to an influence whose supposititious force
was conveyed in terms too shadowy here to be re-stated--an influence
which some peculiarities in the mere form and substance of his family
mansion, had, by dint of long sufferance, he said, obtained over his
spirit--an effect which the physique of the gray walls and turrets,
and of the dim tarn into which they all looked down, had, at length,
brought about upon the morale of his existence.

He admitted, however, although with hesitation, that much of the
peculiar gloom which thus afflicted him could be traced to a more
natural and far more palpable origin--to the severe and long-continued
illness, indeed to the evidently approaching dissolution, of a
tenderly beloved sister--his sole companion for long years, his last
and only relative on earth. "Her decease," he said, with a bitterness
which I can never forget, "would leave him (him the hopeless and the
frail) the last of the ancient race of the Ushers." While he spoke,
the lady Madeline (for so was she called) passed slowly through a
remote portion of the apartment, and, without having noticed my
presence, disappeared. I regarded her with an utter astonishment not
unmingled with dread, and yet I found it impossible to account for
such feelings. A sensation of stupor oppressed me, as my eyes followed
her retreating steps.  When a door, at length, closed upon her, my
glance sought instinctively and eagerly the countenance of the
brother; but he had buried his face in his hands, and I could only
perceive that a far more than ordinary wanness had overspread the
emaciated fingers through which trickled many passionate tears.

The disease of the lady Madeline had long baffled the skill of her
physicians. A settled apathy, a gradual wasting away of the person,
and frequent although transient affections of a partially cataleptical
character, were the unusual diagnosis.  Hitherto she had steadily
borne up against the pressure of her malady, and had not betaken
herself finally to bed; but, on the closing in of the evening of my
arrival at the house, she succumbed (as her brother told me at night
with inexpressible agitation) to the prostrating power of the
destroyer; and I learned that the glimpse I had obtained of her person
would thus probably be the last I should obtain--that the lady, at
least while living, would be seen by me no more.

For several days ensuing, her name was unmentioned by either Usher or
myself; and during this period I was busied in earnest endeavors to
alleviate the melancholy of my friend.  We painted and read together;
or I listened, as if in a dream, to the wild improvisations of his
speaking guitar. And thus, as a closer and still closer intimacy
admitted me more unreservedly into the recesses of his spirit, the
more bitterly did I perceive the futility of all attempt at cheering a
mind from which darkness, as if an inherent positive quality, poured
forth upon all objects of the moral and physical universe, in one
unceasing radiation of gloom.

I shall ever bear about me a memory of the many solemn hours I thus
spent alone with the master of the House of Usher. Yet I should fail
in any attempt to convey an idea of the exact character of the
studies, or of the occupations, in which he involved me, or led me the
way. An excited and highly distempered ideality threw a sulphureous
lustre over all.  His long improvised dirges will ring forever in my
ears.  Among other things, I hold painfully in mind a certain singular
perversion and amplification of the wild air of the last waltz of Von
Weber. From the paintings over which his elaborate fancy brooded, and
which grew, touch by touch, into vaguenesses at which I shuddered the
more thrillingly because I shuddered knowing not why;--from these
paintings (vivid as their images now are before me) I would in vain
endeavor to educe more than a small portion which should lie within
the compass of merely written words. By the utter simplicity, by the
nakedness of his designs, he arrested and overawed attention.  If ever
mortal painted an idea, that mortal was Roderick Usher. For me at
least, in the circumstances then surrounding me, there arose, out of
the pure abstractions which the hypochondriac contrived to throw upon
his canvas, an intensity of intolerable awe, no shadow of which felt I
ever yet in the contemplation of the certainly glowing yet too
concrete reveries of Fuseli.

One of the phantasmagoric conceptions of my friend, partaking not so
rigidly of the spirit of abstraction, may be shadowed forth, although
feebly, in words.  A small picture presented the interior of an
immensely long and rectangular vault or tunnel, with low walls,
smooth, white, and without interruption or device. Certain accessory
points of the design served well to convey the idea that this
excavation lay at an exceeding depth below the surface of the
earth. No outlet was observed in any portion of its vast extent, and
no torch or other artificial source of light was discernible; yet a
flood of intense rays rolled throughout, and bathed the whole in a
ghastly and inappropriate splendor.

I have just spoken of that morbid condition of the auditory nerve
which rendered all music intolerable to the sufferer, with the
exception of certain effects of stringed instruments. It was, perhaps,
the narrow limits to which he thus confined himself upon the guitar,
which gave birth, in great measure, to the fantastic character of his
performances. But the fervid _facility_ of his impromptus could
not be so accounted for. They must have been, and were, in the notes,
as well as in the words of his wild fantasias (for he not unfrequently
accompanied himself with rhymed verbal improvisations), the result of
that intense mental collectedness and concentration to which I have
previously alluded as observable only in particular moments of the
highest artificial excitement. The words of one of these rhapsodies I
have easily remembered. I was, perhaps, the more forcibly impressed
with it, as he gave it, because, in the under or mystic current of its
meaning, I fancied that I perceived, and for the first time, a full
consciousness, on the part of Usher, of the tottering of his lofty
reason upon her throne.  The verses, which were entitled "The Haunted
Palace," ran very nearly, if not accurately, thus:--


In the greenest of our valleys
  By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace--
  Radiant palace--reared its head.
In the monarch Thought's dominion,
  It stood there;
Never seraph spread a pinion
  Over fabric half so fair.


Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
  On its roof did float and flow,
(This--all this--was in the olden
  Time long ago)
And every gentle air that dallied,
  In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
  A wingéd odor went away.


Wanderers in that happy valley
  Through two luminous windows saw
Spirits moving musically
  To a lute's well-tunéd law,
Round about a throne where, sitting,
In state his glory well befitting,
  The ruler of the realm was seen.


And all with pearl and ruby glowing
  Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
  And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes whose sweet duty
  Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
  The wit and wisdom of their king.


But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
  Assailed the monarch's high estate;
(Ah, let us mourn, for never morrow
  Shall dawn upon him, desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
  That blushed and bloomed
Is but a dim-remembered story
  Of the old time entombed.


And travellers now within that valley
  Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms that move fantastically
  To a discordant melody;
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
  Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever,
  And laugh--but smile no more.

I well remember that suggestions arising from this ballad led us into
a train of thought, wherein there became manifest an opinion of
Usher's which I mention not so much on account of its novelty, (for
other men[1] haye thought thus,) as on account of the pertinacity with
which he maintained it. This opinion, in its general form, was that of
the sentience of all vegetable things. But in his disordered fancy the
idea had assumed a more daring character, and trespassed, under
certain conditions, upon the kingdom of inorganization. I lack words
to express the full extent, or the earnest _abandon_ of his
persuasion. The belief, however, was connected (as I have previously
hinted) with the gray stones of the home of his fore-fathers. The
conditions of the sentience had been here, he imagined, fulfilled in
the method of collocation of these stones--in the order of their
arrangement, as well as in that of the many fungi which overspread
them, and of the decayed trees which stood around--above all, in the
long undisturbed endurance of this arrangement, and in its
reduplication in the still waters of the tarn. Its evidence--the
evidence of the sentience--was to be seen, he said (and I here started
as he spoke), in the gradual yet certain condensation of an atmosphere
of their own about the waters and the walls. The result was
discoverable, he added, in that silent, yet importunate and terrible
influence which for centuries had moulded the destinies of his family,
and which made _him_ what I now saw him--what he was. Such
opinions need no comment, and I will make none.

[Footnote 1: Watson, Dr. Percival, Spallanzani, and especially the
Bishop of Landaff.--See "Chemical Essays," Vol. V.]

Our books--the books which, for years, had formed no small portion of
the mental existence of the invalid--were, as might be supposed, in
strict keeping with this character of phantasm. We pored together over
such works as the Ververt and Chartreuse of Gresset; the Belphegor of
Machiavelli; the Heaven and Hell of Swedenborg; the Subterranean
Voyage of Nicholas Klimm by Holberg; the Chiromancy of Robert Flud, of
Jean D'Indaginé, and of De la Chambre; the Journey into the Blue
Distance of Tieck; and the City of the Sun of Campanella. One favorite
volume was a small octavo edition of the _Directorium
Inquisitorum_, by the Dominican Eymeric de Gironne; and there were
passages in Pomponius Mela, about the old African Satyrs and Ægipans,
over which Usher would sit dreaming for hours. His chief delight,
however, was found in the perusal of an exceedingly rare and curious
book in quarto Gothic--the manual of a forgotten church--the
_Vigilice Mortuorum secundum Chorum Ecclesiæ Maguntinæ_.

I could not help thinking of the wild ritual of this work, and of its
probable influence upon the hypochondriac, when one evening, having
informed me abruptly that the lady Madeline was no more, he stated his
intention of preserving her corpse for a fortnight, (previously to its
final interment,) in one of the numerous vaults within the main walls
of the building.  The worldly reason, however, assigned for this
singular proceeding, was one which I did not feel at liberty to
dispute.  The brother had been led to his resolution (so he told me)
by consideration of the unusual character of the malady of the
deceased, of certain obtrusive and eager inquiries on the part of her
medical men, and of the remote and exposed situation of the
burial-ground of the family. I will not deny that when I called to
mind the sinister countenance of the person whom I met upon the
staircase, on the day of my arrival at the house, I had no desire to
oppose what I regarded as at best but a harmless, and by no means an
unnatural, precaution.

At the request of Usher, I personally aided him in the arrangements
for the temporary entombment. The body having been encoffined, we two
alone bore it to its rest. The vault in which we placed it (and which
had been so long unopened that our torches, half smothered in its
oppressive atmosphere, gave us little opportunity for investigation)
was small, damp, and entirely without means of admission for light;
lying, at great depth, immediately beneath that portion of the
building in which was my own sleeping apartment. It had been used,
apparently, in remote feudal times, for the worst purposes of a
donjon-keep, and in later days as a place of deposit for powder, or
some other highly combustible substance, as a portion of its floor,
and the whole interior of a long archway through which we reached it,
were carefully sheathed with copper. The door, of massive iron, had
been, also, similarly protected. Its immense weight caused an
unusually sharp grating sound, as it moved upon its hinges.

Having deposited our mournful burden upon tressels within this region
of horror, we partially turned aside the yet unscrewed lid of the
coffin, and looked upon the face of the tenant. A striking similitude
between the brother and sister now first arrested my attention; and
Usher, divining, perhaps, my thoughts, murmured out some few words
from which I learned that the deceased and himself had been twins, and
that sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed
between them. Our glances, however, rested not long upon the dead--for
we could not regard her unawed. The disease which had thus entombed
the lady in the maturity of youth, had left, as usual in all maladies
of a strictly cataleptical character, the mockery of a faint blush
upon the bosom and the face, and that suspiciously lingering smile
upon the lip which is so terrible in death. We replaced and screwed
down the lid, and, having secured the door of iron, made our way, with
toil, into the scarcely less gloomy apartments of the upper portion of
the house.

And now, some days of bitter grief having elapsed, an observable
change came over the features of the mental disorder of my friend. His
ordinary manner had vanished. His ordinary occupations were neglected
or forgotten. He roamed from chamber to chamber with hurried, unequal,
and objectless step. The pallor of his countenance had assumed, if
possible, a more ghastly hue--but the luminousness of his eye had
utterly gone out. The once occasional huskiness of his tone was heard
no more; and a tremulous quaver, as if of extreme terror, habitually
characterized his utterance. There were times, indeed, when I thought
his unceasingly agitated mind was laboring with some oppressive
secret, to divulge which he struggled for the necessary courage. At
times, again, I was obliged to resolve all into the mere inexplicable
vagaries of madness, for I beheld him gazing upon vacancy for long
hours, in an attitude of the profoundest attention, as if listening to
some imaginary sound. It was no wonder that his condition
terrified--that it infected me. I felt creeping upon me, by slow yet
certain degrees, the wild influences of his own fantastic yet
impressive superstitions.

It was, especially, upon retiring to bed late in the night of the
seventh or eighth day after the placing of the lady Madeline within
the donjon, that I experienced the full power of such feelings. Sleep
came not near my couch, while the hours waned and waned away. I
struggled to reason off the nervousness which had dominion over me. I
endeavored to believe that much, if not all, of what I felt was due to
the bewildering influence of the gloomy furniture of the room--of the
dark and tattered draperies which, tortured into motion by the breath
of a rising tempest, swayed fitfully to and fro upon the walls, and
rustled uneasily about the decorations of the bed. But my efforts were
fruitless. An irrepressible tremor gradually pervaded my frame; and at
length there sat upon my very heart an incubus of utterly causeless
alarm. Shaking this off with a gasp and a struggle, I uplifted myself
upon the pillows, and, peering earnestly within the intense darkness
of the chamber, hearkened--I know not why, except that an instinctive
spirit prompted me--to certain low and indefinite sounds which came,
through the pauses of the storm, at long intervals, I knew not
whence. Overpowered by an intense sentiment of horror, unaccountable
yet unendurable, I threw on my clothes with haste, (for I felt that I
should sleep no more during the night,) and endeavored to arouse
myself from the pitiable condition into which I had fallen, by pacing
rapidly to and fro through the apartment.

I had taken but few turns in this manner, when a light step on an
adjoining staircase arrested my attention. I presently recognized it
as that of Usher. In an instant afterward he rapped with a gentle
touch at my door, and entered, bearing a lamp. His countenance was, as
usual, cadaverously wan--but, moreover, there was a species of mad
hilarity in his eyes--an evidently restrained hysteria in his whole
demeanor. His air appalled me--but anything was preferable to the
solitude which I had so long endured, and I even welcomed his presence
as a relief.

"And you have not seen it?" he said abruptly, after having stared
about him for some moments in silence--"you have not then seen
it?--but, stay! you shall." Thus speaking, and having carefully shaded
his lamp, he hurried to one of the casements, and threw it freely open
to the storm.

The impetuous fury of the entering gust nearly lifted us from our
feet. It was, indeed, a tempestuous yet sternly beautiful night, and
one wildly singular in its terror and its beauty. A whirlwind had
apparently collected its force in our vicinity; for there were
frequent and violent alterations in the direction of the wind; and the
exceeding density of the clouds (which hung so low as to press upon
the turrets of the house) did not prevent our perceiving the life-like
velocity with which they flew careering from all points against each
other, without passing away into the distance. I say that even their
exceeding density did not prevent our perceiving this; yet we had no
glimpse of the moon or stars, nor was there any flashing forth of the
lightning. But the under surfaces of the huge masses of agitated
vapor, as well as all terrestrial objects immediately around us, were
glowing in the unnatural light of a faintly luminous and distinctly
visible gaseous exhalation which hung about and enshrouded the

"You must not--you shall not behold this!" said I, shudderingly, to
Usher, as I led him with a gentle violence from the window to a
seat. "These appearances, which bewilder you, are merely electrical
phenomena not uncommon--or it may be that they have their ghastly
origin in the rank miasma of the tarn. Let us close this casement; the
air is chilling and dangerous to your frame. Here is one of your
favorite romances. I will read, and you shall listen;--and so we will
pass away this terrible night together."

The antique volume which I had taken up was the "Mad Trist" of Sir
Launcelot Canning; but I had called it a favorite of Usher's more in
sad jest than in earnest; for, in truth, there is little in its
uncouth and unimaginative prolixity which could have had interest for
the lofty and spiritual ideality of my friend. It was, however, the
only book immediately at hand; and I indulged a vague hope that the
excitement which now agitated the hypochondriac might find relief (for
the history of mental disorder is full of similar anomalies) even in
the extremeness of the folly which I should read. Could I have judged,
indeed, by the wild overstrained air of vivacity with which he
hearkened, or apparently hearkened, to the words of the tale, I might
well have congratulated myself upon the success of my design.

I had arrived at that well-known portion of the story where Ethelred,
the hero of the Trist, having sought in vain for peaceable admission
into the dwelling of the hermit, proceeds to make good an entrance by
force. Here, it will be remembered, the words of the narrative run

"And Ethelred, who was by nature of a doughty heart, and who was now
mighty withal, on account of the powerfulness of the wine which he had
drunken, waited no longer to hold parley with the hermit, who, in
sooth, was of an obstinate and maliceful turn, but, feeling the rain
upon his shoulders, and fearing the rising of the tempest, uplifted
his mace outright, and with blows made quickly room in the plankings
of the door for his gauntleted hand; and now pulling therewith
sturdily, he so cracked, and ripped, and tore all asunder, that the
noise of the dry and hollow-sounding wood alarumed and reverberated
throughout the forest."

At the termination of this sentence I started, and for a moment
paused; for it appeared to me (although I at once concluded that my
excited fancy had deceived me)--it appeared to me that from some very
remote portion of the mansion there came, indistinctly, to my ears,
what might have been, in its exact similarity of character, the echo
(but a stifled and dull one certainly) of the very cracking and
ripping sound which Sir Launcelot had so particularly described. It
was, beyond doubt, the coincidence alone which had arrested my
attention; for, amid the rattling of the sashes of the casements, and
the ordinary commingled noises of the still increasing storm, the
sound, in itself, had nothing, surely, which should have interested or
disturbed me. I continued the story:--

"But the good champion Ethelred, now entering within the door, was
sore enraged and amazed to perceive no signal of the maliceful hermit;
but, in the stead thereof, a dragon of a scaly and prodigious
demeanor, and of a fiery tongue, which sate in guard before a palace
of gold, with a floor of silver; and upon the wall there hung a shield
of shining brass with this legend enwritten--

  Who entereth herein, a conqueror hath bin;
  Who slayeth the dragon, the shield he shall win.

And Ethelred uplifted his mace, and struck upon the head of the
dragon, which fell before him, and gave up his pesty breath, with a
shriek so horrid and harsh, and withal so piercing, that Ethelred had
fain to close his ears with his hands against the dreadful noise of
it, the like whereof was never before heard."

Here again I paused abruptly, and now with a feeling of wild
amazement; for there could be no doubt whatever that, in this
instance, I did actually hear (although from what direction it
proceeded I found it impossible to say) a low and apparently distant,
but harsh, protracted, and most unusual screaming or grating
sound--the exact counterpart of what my fancy had already conjured up
for the dragon's unnatural shriek as described by the romancer.

Oppressed, as I certainly was, upon the occurrence of this second and
most extraordinary coincidence, by a thousand conflicting sensations,
in which wonder and extreme terror were predominant, I still retained
sufficient presence of mind to avoid exciting, by any observation, the
sensitive nervousness of my companion. I was by no means certain that
he had noticed the sounds in question; although, assuredly, a strange
alteration had during the last few minutes taken place in his
demeanor. From a position fronting my own, he had gradually brought
round his chair, so as to sit with his face to the door of the
chamber; and thus I could but partially perceive his features,
although I saw that his lips trembled as if he were murmuring
inaudibly. His head had dropped upon his breast--yet I knew that he
was not asleep, from the wide and rigid opening of the eye as I caught
a glance of it in profile. The motion of his body, too, was at
variance with this idea--for he rocked from side to side with a gentle
yet constant and uniform sway. Having rapidly taken notice of all
this, I resumed the narrative of Sir Launcelot, which thus

"And now, the champion, having escaped from the terrible fury of the
dragon, bethinking himself of the brazen shield, and of the breaking
up of the enchantment which was upon it, removed the carcass from out
of the way before him, and approached valorously over the silver
pavement of the castle to where the shield was upon the wall; which in
sooth tarried not for his full coming, but fell down at his feet upon
the silver floor, with a mighty great and terrible ringing sound."

No sooner had these syllables passed my lips, than--as if a shield of
brass had indeed, at the moment, fallen heavily upon a floor of
silver--I became aware of a distinct, hollow, metallic and clangorous,
yet apparently muffled reverberation.  Completely unnerved, I leaped
to my feet; but the measured rocking movement of Usher was
undisturbed. I rushed to the chair in which he sat. His eyes were bent
fixedly before him, and throughout his whole countenance there reigned
a stony rigidity. But, as I placed my hand upon his shoulder, there
came a strong shudder over his whole person; a sickly smile quivered
about his lips; and I saw that he spoke in a low, hurried, and
gibbering murmur, as if unconscious of my presence.  Bending closely
over him, I at length drank in the hideous import of his words.

"Not hear it?--yes, I hear it, and _have_ heard it.
Long--long--long--many minutes, many hours, many days, have I heard
it--yet I dared not--oh, pity me, miserable wretch that I am!--I dared
not--I _dared_ not speak! _We have put her living in the
tomb!_ Said I not that my senses were acute?  I _now_ tell you
that I heard her first feeble movements in the hollow coffin. I heard
them--many, many days ago--yet I dared not--_I dared not speak!_
And now--to-night--Ethelred--ha! ha!--the breaking of the hermit's
door, and the death-cry of the dragon, and the clangor of the
shield!--say, rather, the rending of her coffin, and the grating of
the iron hinges of her prison, and her struggles within the coppered
archway of the vault! Oh, whither shall I fly? Will she not be here
anon? Is she not hurrying to upbraid me for my haste? Have I not heard
her footstep on the stair? Do I not distinguish that heavy and
horrible beating of her heart?  Madman!"--here he sprang furiously to
his feet, and shrieked out his syllables, as if in the effort he were
giving up his soul--"_Madman! I tell you that she now stands without
the door!_"

As if in the superhuman energy of his utterance there had been found
the potency of a spell, the huge antique panels to hich the speaker
pointed threw slowly back, upon the instant, their ponderous and ebony
jaws. It was the work of the rushing gust--but then without those
doors there _did_ stand the lofty and enshrouded figure of the
lady Madeline of Usher.  There was blood upon her white robes, and the
evidence of some bitter struggle upon every portion of her emaciated
frame. For a moment she remained trembling and reeling to and fro upon
the threshold--then, with a low moaning cry, fell heavily inward upon
the person of her brother, and, in her violent and now final
death-agonies, bore him to the floor a corpse, and a victim to the
terrors he had anticipated.

From that chamber, and from that mansion, I fled aghast.  The storm
was still abroad in all its wrath as I found myself crossing the old
causeway. Suddenly there shot along the path a wild light, and I
turned to see whence a gleam so unusual could have issued; for the
vast house and its shadows were alone behind me. The radiance was that
of the full, setting, and blood-red moon, which now shone vividly
through that once barely-discernible fissure, of which I have before
spoken as extending from the roof of the building, in a zigzag
direction, to the base. While I gazed, this fissure rapidly
widened--there came a fierce breath of the whirlwind--the entire orb
of the satellite burst at once upon my sight--my brain reeled as I saw
the mighty walls rushing asunder--there was a long tumultuous shouting
sound like the voice of a thousand waters--and the deep and dank tarn
at my feet closed sullenly and silently over the fragments of the
"_House of Usher_."


  What say of it? what say of CONSCIENCE grim,
  That spectre in my path?
               CHAMBERLAYNE: _Pharronida_

Let me call myself, for the present, William Wilson. The fair page now
lying before me need not be sullied with my real appellation. This has
been already too much an object for the scorn--for the horror--for the
detestation of my race. To the uttermost regions of the globe have not
the indignant winds bruited its unparalleled infamy? Oh, outcast of
all outcasts most abandoned!--to the earth art thou not forever dead?
to its honors, to its flowers, to its golden aspirations?--and a
cloud, dense, dismal, and limitless, does it not hang eternally
between thy hopes and heaven?

I would not, if I could, here or to-day, embody a record of my later
years of unspeakable misery and unpardonable crime.  This epoch, these
later years, took unto themselves a sudden elevation in turpitude,
whose origin alone it is my present purpose to assign. Men usually
grow base by degrees. From me, in an instant, all virtue dropped
bodily as a mantle. From comparatively trivial wickedness I passed,
with the stride of a giant, into more than the enormities of an
Elah-Gabalus.  What chance--what one event brought this evil thing to
pass, bear with me while I relate. Death approaches; and the shadow
which foreruns him has thrown a softening influence over my spirit. I
long, in passing through the dim valley, for the sympathy--I had
nearly said for the pity--of my fellow-men. I would fain have them
believe that I have been, in some measure, the slave of circumstances
beyond human control.  I would wish them to seek out for me, in the
details I am about to give, some little oasis of _fatality_ amid a
wilderness of error. I would have them allow--what they cannot refrain
from allowing--that, although temptation may have erewhile existed as
great, man was never _thus_, at least, tempted before--certainly,
never _thus_ fell. And is it therefore that he has never thus
suffered? Have I not indeed been living in a dream? And am I not now
dying a victim to the horror and the mystery of the wildest of all
sublunary visions?

I am the descendant of a race whose imaginative and easily excitable
temperament has at all times rendered them remarkable; and, in my
earliest infancy, I gave evidence of having fully inherited the family
character. As I advanced in years it was more strongly developed;
becoming, for many reasons, a cause of serious disquietude to my
friends, and of positive injury to myself. I grew self-willed,
addicted to the wildest caprices, and a prey to the most ungovernable
passions.  Weak-minded, and beset with constitutional infirmities akin
to my own, my parents could do but little to check the evil
propensities which distinguished me. Some feeble and ill-directed
efforts resulted in complete failure on their part, and, of course, in
total triumph on mine. Thenceforward my voice was a household law; and
at an age when few children have abandoned their leading-strings I was
left to the guidance of my own will, and became, in all but name, the
master of my own actions.

My earliest recollections of a school-life are connected with a large,
rambling, Elizabethan house, in a misty-looking village of England,
where were a vast number of gigantic and gnarled trees, and where all
the houses were excessively ancient. In truth, it was a dream-like and
spirit-soothing place, that venerable old town. At this moment, in
fancy, I feel the refreshing chilliness of its deeply-shadowed
avenues, inhale the fragrance of its thousand shrubberies, and thrill
anew with undefinable delight at the deep hollow note of the
church-bell, breaking, each hour, with sullen and sudden roar, upon
the stillness of the dusky atmosphere in which the fretted Gothic
steeple lay imbedded and asleep.

It gives me, perhaps, as much of pleasure as I can now in any manner
experience to dwell upon minute recollections of the school and its
concerns. Steeped in misery as I am--misery, alas! only too real--I
shall be pardoned for seeking relief, however slight and temporary, in
the weakness of a few rambling details. These, moreover, utterly
trivial, and even ridiculous in themselves, assume to my fancy
adventitious importance, as connected with a period and a locality
when and where I recognize the first ambiguous monitions of the
destiny which afterwards so fully overshadowed me. Let me then

The house, I have said, was old and irregular. The grounds were
extensive, and a high and solid brick wall, topped with a bed of
mortar and broken glass, encompassed the whole.  This prison-like
rampart formed the limit of our domain; beyond it we saw but thrice a
week--once every Saturday afternoon, when, attended by two ushers, we
were permitted to take brief walks in a body through some of the
neighboring fields--and twice during Sunday, when we were paraded in
the same formal manner to the morning and evening service in the one
church of the village. Of this church the principal of our school was
pastor. With how deep a spirit of wonder and perplexity was I wont to
regard him from our remote pew in the gallery, as, with step solemn
and slow, he ascended the pulpit! This reverend man, with countenance
so demurely benign, with robes so glossy and so clerically flowing,
with wig so minutely powdered, so rigid and so vast,--could this be he
who, of late, with sour visage, and in snuffy habiliments,
administered, ferule in hand, the Draconian Laws of the academy? Oh,
gigantic paradox, too utterly monstrous for solution!

At an angle of the ponderous wall frowned a more ponderous gate. It
was riveted and studded with iron bolts, and surmounted with jagged
iron spikes. What impressions of deep awe did it inspire! It was never
opened save for the three periodical egressions and ingressions
already mentioned; then, in every creak of its mighty hinges, we found
a plenitude of mystery--a world of matter for solemn remark, or for
more solemn meditation.

The extensive enclosure was irregular in form, having many capacious
recesses. Of these, three or four of the largest constituted the
play-ground. It was level, and covered with fine hard gravel. I well
remember it had no trees, nor benches, nor anything similar within
it. Of course it was in the rear of the house. In front lay a small
parterre, planted with box and other shrubs; but through this sacred
division we passed only upon rare occasions indeed--such as a first
advent to school or final departure thence, or perhaps when, a parent
or friend having called for us, we joyfully took our way home for the
Christmas or Midsummer holidays.

But the house--how quaint an old building was this!--to me how
veritably a palace of enchantment! There was really no end to its
windings--to its incomprehensible subdivisions. It was difficult, at
any given time, to say with certainty upon which of its two stories
one happened to be. From each room to every other there were sure to
be found three or four steps either in ascent or descent. Then the
lateral branches were innumerable, inconceivable, and so returning in
upon themselves that our most exact ideas in regard to the whole
mansion were not very far different from those with which we pondered
upon infinity. During the five years of my residence here I was never
able to ascertain, with precision, in what remote locality lay the
little sleeping apartment assigned to myself and some eighteen or
twenty other scholars.

The school-room was the largest in the house--I could not help
thinking, in the world. It was very long, narrow, and dismally low,
with pointed Gothic windows and a ceiling of oak. In a remote and
terror-inspiring angle was a square enclosure of eight or ten feet,
comprising the _sanctum_, "during hours," of our principal, the
Reverend Dr. Bransby. It was a solid structure, with massy door,
sooner than open which in the absence of the "Dominie" we would all
have willingly perished by the _peine forte et dure._ In other angles
were two other similar boxes, far less reverenced, indeed, but still
greatly matters of awe. One of these was the pulpit of the "classical"
usher; one, of the "English and mathematical."  Interspersed about the
room, crossing and recrossing in endless irregularity, were
innumerable benches and desks, black, ancient, and time-worn, piled
desperately with much-be-thumbed books, and so beseamed with initial
letters, names at full length, grotesque figures, and other multiplied
efforts of the knife, as to have entirely lost what little of original
form might have been their portion in days long departed. A huge
bucket with water stood at one extremity of the room, and a clock of
stupendous dimensions at the other.

Encompassed by the massy walls of this venerable academy, I passed,
yet not in tedium or disgust, the years of the third lustrum of my
life. The teeming brain of childhood requires no external world of
incident to occupy or amuse it; and the apparently dismal monotony of
a school was replete with more intense excitement than my riper youth
has derived from luxury, or my full manhood from crime. Yet I must
believe that my first mental development had in it much of the
uncommon--even much of the _outré_. Upon mankind at large the events
of very early existence rarely leave in mature age any definite
impression. All is gray shadow--a weak and irregular remembrance--an
indistinct regathering of feeble pleasures and phantasmagoric
pains. With me this is not so. In childhood I must have felt, with the
energy of a man, what I now find stamped upon memory in lines as
vivid, as deep, and as durable as the _exergues_ of the Carthaginian

Yet in fact--in the fact of the world's view--how little was there to
remember! The morning's awakening, the nightly summons to bed; the
connings, the recitations; the periodical half-holidays, and
perambulations; the play-ground, with its broils, its pastimes, its
intrigues;--these, by a mental sorcery long forgotten, were made to
involve a wilderness of sensation, a world of rich incident, an
universe of varied emotion, of excitement the most passionate and
spirit-stirring.  "_Oh, le bon temps, que ce siècle de fer!_"

In truth, the ardor, the enthusiasm, and the imperiousness of my
disposition, soon rendered me a marked character among my schoolmates,
and by slow but natural gradations gave me an ascendancy over all not
greatly older than myself: over all with a single exception. This
exception was found in the person of a scholar who, although no
relation, bore the same Christian and surname as myself,--a
circumstance, in fact, little remarkable; for, notwithstanding a noble
descent, mine was one of those every-day appellations which seem by
prescriptive right to have been, time out of mind, the common property
of the mob. In this narrative I have therefore designated myself as
William Wilson,--a fictitious title not very dissimilar to the
real. My namesake alone, of those who in school-phraseology
constituted "our set," presumed to compete with me in the studies of
the class--in the sports and broils of the play-ground--to refuse
implicit belief in my assertions, and submission to my will--indeed,
to interfere with my arbitrary dictation in any respect whatsoever.
If there is on earth a supreme and unqualified despotism, it is the
despotism of a master-mind in boyhood over the less energetic spirits
of its companions.

Wilson's rebellion was to me a source of the greatest embarrassment;
the more so as, in spite of the bravado with which in public I made a
point of treating him and his pretensions, I secretly felt that I
feared him, and could not help thinking the equality, which he
maintained so easily with myself, a proof of his true superiority;
since not to be overcome cost me a perpetual struggle. Yet this
superiority, even this equality, was in truth acknowledged by no one
but myself; our associates, by some unaccountable blindness, seemed
not even to suspect it. Indeed, his competition, his resistance, and
especially his impertinent and dogged interference with my purposes,
were not more pointed than private. He appeared to be destitute alike
of the ambition which urged, and of the passionate energy of mind
which enabled, me to excel. In his rivalry he might have been supposed
actuated solely by a whimsical desire to thwart, astonish, or mortify
myself; although there were times when I could not help observing,
with a feeling made up of wonder, abasement, and pique, that he
mingled with his injuries, his insults, or his contradictions, a
certain most inappropriate, and assuredly most unwelcome,
_affectionateness_ of manner. I could only conceive this singular
behavior to arise from a consummate self-conceit assuming the vulgar
airs of patronage and protection.

Perhaps it was this latter trait in Wilson's conduct, conjoined with
our identity of name, and the mere accident of our having entered the
school upon the same day, which set afloat the notion that we were
brothers, among the senior classes in the academy. These do not
usually inquire with much strictness into the affairs of their
juniors. I have before said, or should have said, that Wilson was not
in the most remote degree connected with my family. But assuredly if
we _had_ been brothers we must have been twins; for, after leaving
Dr. Bransby's, I cassually learned that my namesake was born on the
nineteenth of January, 1813; and this is a somewhat remarkable
coincidence; for the day is precisely that of my own nativity.

It may seem strange that in spite of the continual anxiety occasioned
me by the rivalry of Wilson, and his intolerable spirit of
contradiction, I could not bring myself to hate him altogether. We
had, to be sure, nearly every day a quarrel in which, yielding me
publicly the palm of victory, he, in some manner, contrieved to make
me feel that it was he who had deserved it; yet a sense of pride on my
part, and a veritable dignity on his own, kept us always upon what are
called "speaking terms," while there were many points of strong
congeniality in our tempers, operating to awake in me a sentiment
which our position alone, perhaps, prevented from ripening into
friendship. It is difficult, indeed, to define, or even to describe,
my real feelings towards him. They formed a motley and heterogeneous
admixture: some petulant animosity, which was not yet hatred, some
esteem, more respect, much fear, with a world of uneasy curiosity. To
the moralist it will be unnecessary to say, in addition, that Wilson
and myself were the most inseparable of companions.

It was no doubt the anomalous state of affairs existing between us
which turned all my attacks upon him (and they were many, either open
or covert) into the channel of banter or practical joke (giving pain
while assuming the aspect of mere fun) rather than into a more serious
and determined hostility. But my endeavors on this head were by no
means uniformly successful, even when my plans were the most wittily
concocted; for my namesake had much about him, in character, of that
unassuming and quiet austerity which, while enjoying the poignancy of
its own jokes, has no heel of Achilles in itself, and absolutely
refuses to be laughed at. I could find, indeed, but one vulnerable
point, and that lying in a personal peculiarity arising, perhaps, from
constitutional disease, would have been spared by any antagonist less
at his wit's end than myself:--my rival had a weakness in the faucial
or guttural organs, which precluded him from raising his voice at any
time _above a very low whisper_. Of this defect I did not fail to take
what poor advantage lay in my power.

Wilson's retaliations in kind were many; and there was one form of his
practical wit that disturbed me beyond measure.  How his sagacity
first discovered at all that so petty a thing would vex me, is a
question I never could solve; but having discovered, he habitually
practised the annoyance. I had always felt aversion to my uncourtly
patronymic, and its very common, if not plebeian praenomen. The words
were venom in my ears; and when, upon the day of my arrival, a second
William Wilson came also to the academy, I felt angry with him for
bearing the name, and doubly disgusted with the name because a
stranger bore it, who would be the cause of its twofold repetition,
who would be constantly in my presence, and whose concerns, in the
ordinary routine of the school business, must inevitably, on account
of the detestable coincidence, be often confounded with my own.

The feeling of vexation thus engendered grew stronger with every
circumstance tending to show resemblance, moral or physical, between
my rival and myself. I had not then discovered the remarkable fact
that we were of the same age; but I saw that we were of the same
height, and I perceived that we were even singularly alike in general
contour of person and outline of feature. I was galled, too, by the
rumor touching a relationship which had grown current in the upper
forms.  In a word, nothing could more seriously disturb me (although I
scrupulously concealed such disturbance) than any allusion to a
similarity of mind, person, or condition existing between us. But, in
truth, I had no reason to believe that (with the exception of the
matter of relationship, and in the case of Wilson himself) this
similarity had ever been made a subject of comment, or even observed
at all by our schoolfellows. That _he_ observed it in all its
bearings, and as fixedly as I, was apparent; but that he could
discover in such circumstances so fruitful a field of annoyance can
only be attributed, as I said before, to his more than ordinary

His cue, which was to perfect an imitation of myself, lay both in
words and in actions; and most admirably did he play his part. My
dress it was an easy matter to copy; my gait and general manner were,
without difficulty, appropriated; in spite of his constitutional
defect, even my voice did not escape him.  My louder tones were, of
course, unattempted, but then the key,--it was identical; _and his
singular whisper,--it grew the very echo of my own._

How greatly this most exquisite portraiture harassed me (for it could
not justly be termed a caricature) I will not now venture to describe.
I had but one consolation--in the fact that the imitation, apparently,
was noticed by myself alone, and that I had to endure only the knowing
and strangely sarcastic smiles of my namesake himself. Satisfied with
having produced in my bosom the intended effect, he seemed to chuckle
in secret over the sting he had inflicted, and was
uncharacteristically disregardful of the public applause which the
success of his witty endeavours might have so easily elicited.  That
the school, indeed, did not feel his design, perceive its
accomplishment, and participate in his sneer, was, for many anxious
months, a riddle I could not resolve. Perhaps the _gradation_ of his
copy rendered it not so readily perceptible; or, more possibly, I owed
my security to the masterly air of the copyist, who, disdaining the
letter (which in a painting is all the obtuse can see) gave but the
full spirit of his original for my individual contemplation and

I have already more than once spoken of the disgusting air of
patronage which he assumed toward me, and of his frequent officious
interference with my will. This interference often took the ungracious
character of advice; advice not openly given, but hinted or
insinuated. I received it with a repugnance which gained strength as I
grew in years. Yet, at this distant day, let me do him the simple
justice to acknowledge that I can recall no occasion when the
suggestions of my rival were on the side of those errors or follies so
usual to his immature age and seeming inexperience; that his moral
sense, at least, if not his general talents and worldly wisdom, was
far keener than my own; and that I might, to-day, have been a better,
and thus a happier man, had I less frequently rejected the counsels
embodied in those meaning whispers which I then but too cordially
hated and too bitterly despised.

As it was, I at length grew restive in the extreme under his
distasteful supervision, and daily resented more and more openly what
I considered his intolerable arrogance. I have said that, in the first
years of our connection as schoolmates, my feelings in regard to him
might have been easily ripened into friendship; but, in the latter
months of my residence at the academy, although the intrusion of his
ordinary manner had, beyond doubt, in some measure abated, my
sentiments, in nearly similar proportion, partook very much of
positive hatred. Upon one occasion he saw this, I think, and
afterwards avoided or made a show of avoiding me.

It was about the same period, if I remember aright, that, in an
altercation of violence with him, in which he was more than usually
thrown off his guard, and spoke and acted with an openness of demeanor
rather foreign to his nature, I discovered, or fancied I discovered,
in his accent, his air and general appearance, a something which first
startled, and then deeply interested me, by bringing to mind dim
visions of my earliest infancy--wild, confused and thronging memories
of a time when memory herself was yet unborn. I cannot better describe
the sensation which oppressed me than by saying that I could with
difficulty shake off the belief of my having been acquainted with the
being who stood before me, at some epoch very long ago--some point of
the past even infinitely remote. The delusion, however, faded rapidly
as it came; and I mention it at all but to define the day of the last
conversation I there held with my singular namesake.

The huge old house, with its countless subdivisions, had several large
chambers communicating with each other, where slept the greater number
of the students. There were, however (as must necessarily happen in a
building so awkwardly planned) many little nooks or recesses, the odds
and ends of the structure; and these the economic ingenuity of Dr.
Bransby had also fitted up as dormitories; although, being the merest
closets, they were capable of accommodating but a single
individual. One of these small apartments was occupied by Wilson.

One night, about the close of my fifth year at the school, and
immediately after the altercation just mentioned, finding every one
wrapped in sleep, I arose from bed, and, lamp in hand, stole through a
wilderness of narrow passages from my own bedroom to that of my
rival. I had long been plotting one of those ill-natured pieces of
practical wit at his expense in which I had hitherto been so uniformly
unsuccessful. It was my intention, now, to put my scheme in operation,
and I resolved to make him feel the whole extent of the malice with
which I was imbued. Having reached his closet, I noiselessly entered,
leaving the lamp, with a shade over it, on the outside. I advanced a
step, and listened to the sound of his tranquil breathing. Assured of
his being asleep, I returned, took the light, and with it again
approached the bed. Close curtains were around it, which, in the
prosecution of my plan, I slowly and quietly withdrew, when the bright
rays fell vividly upon the sleeper, and my eyes at the same moment
upon his countenance. I looked,--and a numbness, an iciness of
feeling, instantly pervaded my frame. My breast heaved, my knees
tottered, my whole spirit became possessed with an objectless yet
intolerable horror. Gasping for breath, I lowered the lamp in still
nearer proximity to the face. Were these,--_these_ the lineaments of
William Wilson? I saw, indeed, that they were his, but I shook as if
with a fit of the ague, in fancying they were not. What _was_ there
about them to confound me in this manner? I gazed,--while my brain
reeled with a multitude of incoherent thoughts. Not thus he
appeared--assuredly not _thus_--in the vivacity of his waking
hours. The same name! the same contour of person! the same day of
arrival at the academy! And then his dogged and meaningless imitation
of my gait, my voice, my habits, and my manner! Was it, in truth,
within the bounds of human possibility, that _what I now saw_ was the
result, merely, of the habitual practice of this sarcastic imitation?
Awe-stricken, and with a creeping shudder, I extinguished the lamp,
passed silently from the chamber, and left, at once, the halls of that
old academy, never to enter them again.

After a lapse of some months, spent at home in mere idleness, I found
myself a student at Eton. The brief interval had been sufficient to
enfeeble my remembrance of the events at Dr. Bransby's, or at least to
effect a material change in the nature of the feelings with which I
remembered them. The truth--the tragedy--of the drama was no more. I
could now find room to doubt the evidence of my senses; and seldom
called up the subject at all but with wonder at the extent of human
credulity, and a smile at the vivid force of the imagination which I
hereditarily possessed. Neither was this species of scepticism likely
to be diminished by the character of the life I led at Eton. The
vortex of thoughtless folly, into which I there so immediately and so
recklessly plunged, washed away all but the froth of my past hours,
engulfed at once every solid or serious impression, and left to memory
only the veriest levities of a former existence.

I do not wish, however, to trace the course of my miserable profligacy
here--a profligacy which set at defiance the laws, while it eluded the
vigilance, of the institution. Three years of folly, passed without
profit, had but given me rooted habits of vice, and added, in a
somewhat unusual degree, to my bodily stature, when, after a week of
soulless dissipation, I invited a small party of the most dissolute
students to a secret carousal in my chambers. We met at a late hour of
the night; for our debaucheries were to be faithfully protracted until
morning. The wine flowed freely, and there were not wanting other and
perhaps more dangerous seductions; so that the gray dawn had already
faintly appeared in the east while our delirious extravagance was at
its height.  Madly flushed with cards and intoxication, I was in the
act of insisting upon a toast of more than wonted profanity, when my
attention was suddenly diverted by the violent, although partial,
unclosing of the door of the apartment, and by the eager voice of a
servant from without. He said that some person, apparently in great
haste, demanded to speak with me in the hall.

Wildly excited with wine, the unexpected interruption rather delighted
than surprised me. I staggered forward at once, and a few steps
brought me to the vestibule of the building. In this low and small
room there hung no lamp; and now no light at all was admitted, save
that of the exceedingly feeble dawn which made its way through the
semicircular window. As I put my foot over the threshold, I became
aware of the figure of a youth about my own height, and habited in a
white kerseymere morning frock, cut in the novel fashion of the one I
myself wore at the moment. This the faint light enabled me to
perceive; but the features of his face I could not distinguish. Upon
my entering, he strode hurriedly up to me, and, seizing me by the arm
with a gesture of petulant impatience, whispered the words "William
Wilson!" in my ear.

I grew perfectly sober in an instant.

There was that in the manner of the stranger, and in the tremulous
shake of his uplifted finger, as he held it between my eyes and the
light, which filled me with unqualified amazement; but it was not this
which had so violently moved me. It was the pregnancy of solemn
admonition in the singular, low, hissing utterance; and, above all, it
was the character, the tone, _the key_, of those few, simple, and
familiar, yet _whispered_ syllables, which came with a thousand
thronging memories of by-gone days, and struck upon my soul with the
shock of a galvanic battery. Ere I could recover the use of my senses
he was gone.

Although this event failed not of a vivid effect upon my disordered
imagination, yet was it evanescent as vivid. For some weeks, indeed, I
busied myself in earnest inquiry, or was wrapped in a cloud of morbid
speculation. I did not pretend to disguise from my perception the
identity of the singular individual who thus perseveringly interfered
with my affairs, and harassed me with his insinuated counsel. But who
and what was this Wilson?--and whence came he?--and what were his
purposes? Upon neither of these points could I be satisfied--merely
ascertaining, in regard to him, that a sudden accident in his family
had caused his removal from Dr. Bransby's academy on the afternoon of
the day in which I myself had eloped. But in a brief period I ceased
to think upon the subject, my attention being all absorbed in a
contemplated departure for Oxford. Thither I soon went, the
uncalculating vanity of my parents furnishing me with an outfit and
annual establishment which would enable me to indulge at will in the
luxury already so dear to my hear--to vie in profuseness of
expenditure with the haughtiest heirs of the wealthiest earldoms in
Great Britain.

Excited by such appliances to vice, my constitutional temperament
broke forth with redoubled ardor, and I spurned even the common
restraints of decency in the mad infatuation of my revels. But it were
absurd to pause in the detail of my extravagance. Let it suffice, that
among spendthrifts I out-Heroded Herod, and that, giving name to a
multitude of novel follies, I added no brief appendix to the long
catalogue of vices then usual in the most dissolute university of

It could hardly be credited, however, that I had even here, so utterly
fallen from the gentlemanly estate as to seek acquaintance with the
vilest arts of the gambler by profession, and, having become an adept
in his despicable science, to practise it habitually as a means of
increasing my already enormous income at the expense of the
weak-minded among my fellow-collegians. Such, nevertheless, was the
fact. And the very enormity of this offence against all manly and
honorable sentiment proved, beyond doubt, the main if not the sole
reason of the impunity with which it was committed.  Who, indeed,
among my most abandoned associates, would not rather have disputed the
clearest evidence of his senses, than have suspected of such courses
the gay, the frank, the generous William Wilson--the noblest and most
liberal commoner at Oxford: him whose follies (said his parasites)
were but the follies of youth and unbridled fancy--whose errors but
inimitable whim--whose darkest vice but a careless and dashing

I had been now two years successfully busied in this way, when there
came to the university a young _parvenu_ nobleman, Glendinning--rich,
said report, as Herodes Atticus--his riches, too, as easily
acquired. I soon found him of weak intellect, and of course marked him
as a fitting subject for my skill. I frequently engaged him in play,
and contrived, with the gambler's usual art, to let him win
considerable sums, the more effectually to entangle him in my
snares. At length, my schemes being ripe, I met him (with the full
intention that this meeting should be final and decisive) at the
chambers of a fellow-commoner (Mr. Preston) equally intimate with
both, but who, to do him justice, entertained not even a remote
suspicion of my design. To give to this a better coloring, I had
contrived to have assembled a party of some eight or ten, and was
solicitously careful that the introduction of cards should appear
accidental, and originate in the proposal of my contemplated dupe
himself. To be brief upon a vile topic, none of the low finesse was
omitted, so customary upon similar occasions that it is a just matter
for wonder how any are still found so besotted as to fall its victim.

We had protracted our sitting far into the night, and I had at length
effected the manoeuvre of getting Glendinning as my sole
antagonist. The game, too, was my favorite _écarté_. The rest of the
company, interested in the extent of our play, had abandoned their own
cards, and were standing around us as spectators. The _parvenu_, who
had been induced, by my artifices in the early part of the evening, to
drink deeply, now shuffled, dealt, or played, with a wild nervousness
of manner for which his intoxication, I thought, might partially but
could not altogether account. In a very short period he had become my
debtor to a large amount, when, having taken a long draught of port,
he did precisely what I had been coolly anticipating--he proposed to
double our already extravagant stakes.  With a well-feigned show of
reluctance, and not until after my repeated refusal had seduced him
into some angry words which gave a color of pique to my compliance,
did I finally comply.  The result, of course, did but prove how
entirely the prey was in my toils; in less than an hour he had
quadrupled his debt.  For some time his countenance had been losing
the florid tinge lent it by the wine; but now, to my astonishment, I
perceived that it had grown to a pallor truly fearful. I say, to my
astonishment. Glendinning had been represented to my eager inquiries
as immeasurably wealthy; and the sums which he had as yet lost,
although in themselves vast, could not, I supposed, very seriously
annoy, much less so violently affect him. That he was overcome by the
wine just swallowed, was the idea which most readily presented itself;
and, rather with a view to the preservation of my own character in the
eyes of my associates, than from any less interested motive, I was
about to insist, peremptorily, upon a discontinuance of the play, when
some expressions at my elbow from among the company, and an
ejaculation evincing utter despair on the part of Glendinning, gave me
to understand that I had effected his total ruin under circumstances
which, rendering him an object for the pity of all, should have
protected him from the ill offices even of a fiend.

What now might have been my conduct it is difficult to say.  The
pitiable condition of my dupe had thrown an air of embarrassed gloom
over all; and for some moments a profound silence was maintained,
during which I could not help feeling my cheeks tingle with the many
burning glances of scorn or reproach cast upon me by the less
abandoned of the party. I will even own that an intolerable weight of
anxiety was for a brief instant lifted from my bosom by the sudden and
extraordinary interruption which ensued. The wide, heavy folding-doors
of the apartment were all at once thrown open, to their full extent,
with a vigorous and rushing impetuosity that extinguished, as if by
magic, every candle in the room. Their light, in dying, enabled us
just to perceive that a stranger had entered, about my own height, and
closely muffled in a cloak. The darkness, however, was now total; and
we could only _feel_ that he was standing in our midst. Before any one
of us could recover from the extreme astonishment into which this
rudeness had thrown all, we heard the voice of the intruder.

"Gentlemen," he said, in a low, distinct, and never-to-be-forgotten
_whisper_ which thrilled to the very marrow of my bones, "gentlmen, I
make no apology for this behavior, because, in thus behaving, I am but
fulfilling a duty. You are, beyond doubt, uninformed of the true
character of the person who has to-night won at _écarté_ a large sum
of money from Lord Glendinning. I will therefore put you upon an
expeditious and decisive plan of obtaining this very necessary
information. Please to examine, at your leisure, the inner linings of
the cuff of his left sleeve, and the several little packages which may
be found in the somewhat capacious pockets of his embroidered morning

While he spoke, so profound was the stillness that one might have
heard a pin drop upon the floor. In ceasing, he departed at once, and
as abruptly as he had entered. Can I--shall I describe my sensations?
Must I say that I felt all the horrors of the damned? Most assuredly I
had little time for reflection. Many hands roughly seized me upon the
spot, and lights were immediately re-procured. A search ensued. In the
lining of my sleeve were found all the court cards essential in
_écarté_, and, in the pockets of my wrapper, a number of packs,
facsimiles of those used at our sittings, with the single exception
that mine were of the species called, technically, _arrondis_; the
honors being slightly convex at the ends, the lower cards slightly
convex at the sides. In this disposition, the dupe who cuts, as
customary, at the length of the pack, will invariably find that he
cuts his antagonist an honor; while the gambler, cutting at the
breadth, will, as certainly, cut nothing for his victim which may
count in the records of the game.

Any burst of indignation upon this discovery would have affected me
less than the silent contempt, or the sarcastic composure, with which
it was received.

"Mr. Wilson," said our host, stooping to remove from beneath his feet
an exceedingly luxurious cloak of rare furs, "Mr. Wilson, this is your
property."  (The weather was cold; and, upon quitting my own room, I
had thrown a cloak over my dressing wrapper, putting it off upon
reaching the scene of play.) "I presume it is supererogatory to seek
here" (eying the folds of the garment with a bitter smile) "for any
farther evidence of your skill. Indeed, we have had enough. You will
see the necessity, I hope, of quitting Oxford--at all events, of
quitting instantly my chambers."

Abased, humbled to the dust as I then was, it is probable that I
should have resented this galling language by immediate personal
violence, had not my whole attention been at the moment arrested by a
fact of the most startling character. The cloak which I had worn was
of a rare description of fur; how rare, how extravagantly costly, I
shall not venture to say. Its fashion, too, was of my own fantastic
invention; for I was fastidious to an absurd degree of coxcombry, in
matters of this frivolous nature. When, therefore, Mr. Preston reached
me that which he had picked up upon the floor, and near the
folding-doors of the apartment, it was with an astonishment nearly
bordering upon terror, that I perceived my own already hanging on my
arm, (where I had no doubt unwittingly placed it) and that the one
presented me was but its exact counterpart in every, in even the
minutest possible particular. The singular being who had so
disastrously exposed me, had been muffled, I remembered, in a cloak;
and none had been worn at all by any of the members of our party, with
the exception of myself. Retaining some presence of mind, I took the
one offered me by Preston; placed it, unnoticed, over my own; left the
apartment with a resolute scowl of defiance; and, next morning ere
dawn of day, commenced a hurried journey from Oxford to the continent,
in a perfect agony of horror and of shame.

_I fled in vain._ My evil destiny pursued me as if in exultation, and
proved, indeed, that the exercise of its mysterious dominion had as
yet only begun. Scarcely had I set foot in Paris, ere I had fresh
evidence of the detestable interest taken by this Wilson in my
concerns. Years flew, while I experienced no relief. Villain!--at
Rome, with how untimely, yet with how spectral an officiousness,
stepped he in between me and my ambition! At Vienna, too--at
Berlin--and at Moscow!  Where, in truth, had I _not_ bitter cause to
curse him within my heart? From his inscrutable tyranny did I at
length flee, panic-stricken, as from a pestilence; and to the very
ends of the earth _I fled in vain._

And again, and again, in secret communion with my own spirit, would I
demand the questions, "Who is he?--whence came he?--and what are his
objects?" But no answer was there found. And now I scrutinized, with a
minute scrutiny, the forms, and the methods, and the leading traits of
his impertinent supervision. But even here there was very little upon
which to base a conjecture. It was noticeable, indeed, that, in no one
of the multiplied instances in which he had of late crossed my path,
had he so crossed it except to frustrate those schemes, or to disturb
those actions, which, if fully carried out, might have resulted in
bitter mischief. Poor justification this, in truth, for an authority
so imperiously assumed! Poor indemnity for natural rights of
self-agency so pertinaciously, so insultingly denied!

I had also been forced to notice that my tormentor, for a very long
period of time (while scrupulously and with miraculous dexterity
maintaining his whim of an identity of apparel with myself) had so
contrived it, in the execution of his varied interference with my
will, that I saw not, at any moment, the features of his face. Be
Wilson what he might, _this_, at least, was but the veriest of
affectation, or of folly. Could he, for an instant, have supposed
that, in my admonisher at Eton--in the destroyer of my honor at
Oxford,--in him who thwarted my ambition at Rome, my revenge at Paris,
my passionate love at Naples, or what he falsely termed my avarice in
Egypt,--that in this, my arch-enemy and evil genius, I could fail to
recognize the William Wilson of my schoolboy days: the namesake, the
companion, the rival, the hated and dreaded rival at Dr. Bransby's?
Impossible!--but let me hasten to the last eventful scene of the

Thus far I had succumbed suginely to this imperious domination. The
sentiment of deep awe with which I habitually regarded the elevated
character, the majestic wisdom, the apparent omnipresence and
omnipotence of Wilson, added to a feeling of even terror, with which
certain other traits in his nature and assumptions inspired me, had
operated, hitherto, to impress me with an idea of my own utter
weakness and helplessness, and to suggest an implicit, although
bitterly reluctant submission to his arbitrary will.  But, of late
days, I had given myself up entirely to wine; and its maddening
influence upon my hereditary temper rendered me more and more
impatient of control. I began to murmur, to hesitate, to resist.  And
was it only fancy which induced me to believe that, with the increase
of my own firmness, that of my tormentor underwent a proportional
diminution? Be this as it may, I now began to feel the inspiration of
a burning hope, and at length nurtured in my secret thoughts a stern
and desperate resolution that I would submit no longer to be enslaved.

It was at Rome, during the Carnival of 18--, that I attended a
masquerade in the palazzo of the Neapolitan Duke Di Broglio. I had
indulged more freely than usual in the excesses of the wine-table; and
now the suffocating atmosphere of the crowded rooms irritated me
beyond endurance. The difficulty, too, of forcing my way through the
mazes of the company contributed not a little to the ruffling of my
temper; for I was anxiously seeking (let me not say with what unworthy
motive) the young, the gay, the beautiful wife of the aged and doting
Di Broglio. With a too unscrupulous confidence she had previously
communicated to me the secret of the costume in which she would be
habited, and now, having caught a glimpse of her person, I was
hurrying to make my way into her presence. At this moment I felt a
light hand placed upon my shoulder, and that ever-remembered, low,
damnable _whisper_ within my ear.

In an absolute frenzy of wrath, I turned at once upon him who had thus
interrupted me, and seized him violently by the collar. He was
attired, as I had expected, in a costume altogether similar to my own;
wearing a Spanish cloak of blue velvet, begirt about the waist with a
crimson belt sustaining a rapier. A mask of black silk entirely
covered his face.

"Scoundrel!" I said, in a voice husky with rage, while every syllable
I uttered seemed as new fuel to my fury; "scoundrel! impostor!
accursed villain! you shall not--you _shall not_ dog me unto death!
Follow me, or I stab you where you stand!"--and I broke my way from
the ball-room into a small ante-chamber adjoining, dragging him
unresistingly with me as I went.

Upon entering, I thrust him furiously from me. He staggered against
the wall, while I closed the door with an oath, and commanded him to
draw. He hesitated but for an instant; then, with a slight sigh, drew
in silence, and put himself upon his defence.

The contest was brief indeed. I was frantic with every species of wild
excitement, and felt within my single arm the energy and power of a
multitude. In a few seconds I forced him by sheer strength against the
wainscoting, and thus, getting him at mercy, plunged my sword, with
brute ferocity, repeatedly through and through his bosom.

At that instant some person tried the latch of the door. I hastened to
prevent an intrusion, and then immediately returned to my dying
antagonist. But what human language can adequately portray _that_
astonishment, _that_ horror which possessed me at the spectacle then
presented to view? The brief moment in which I averted my eyes had
been sufficient to produce, apparently, a material change in the
arrangements at the upper or farther end of the room. A large
mirror--so at first it seemed to me in my confusion--now stood where
none had been perceptible before; and, as I stepped up to it in
extremity of terror, mine own image, but with features all pale and
dabbled in blood, advanced to meet me with a feeble and tottering

Thus it appeared, I say, but was not. It was my antagonist--it was
Wilson, who then stood before me in the agonies of his dissolution.
His mask and cloak lay, where he had thrown them, upon the floor. Not
a thread in all his raiment--not a line in all the marked and singular
lineaments of his face which was not, even in the most absolute
identity, _mine own_!

It was Wilson; but he spoke no longer in a whisper, and I could have
fancied that I myself was speaking while he said:--

_"You have conquered, and I yield. Yet, henceforward art thou also
dead--dead to the World, to Heaven and to Hope! In me didst thou
exist--and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how
utterly thou hast murdered thyself."_


  The ways of God in Nature, as in Providence, are not as _our_ ways;
  nor are the models that we frame any way commensurate to the
  vastness, profundity, and unsearchableness of His works, _which have
  a depth in them greater than the well of Democritus_.
                                          JOSEPH GLANVILLE

We had now reached the summit of the loftiest crag. For some minutes
the old man seemed too much exhausted to speak.

"Not long ago," said he at length, "and I could have guided you on
this route as well as the youngest of my sons; but, about three years
past, there happened to me an event such as never happened before to
mortal man--or at least such as no man ever survived to tell of--and
the six hours of deadly terror which I then endured have broken me up
body and soul. You suppose me a _very_ old man--but I am not. It took
less than a single day to change these hairs from a jetty black to
white, to weaken my limbs, and to unstring my nerves, so that I
tremble at the least exertion, and am frightened at a shadow. Do you
know I can scarcely look over this little cliff without getting

The "little cliff," upon whose edge he had so carelessly thrown
himself down to rest that the weightier portion of his body hung over
it, while he was only kept from falling by the tenure of his elbow on
its extreme and slippery edge--this "little cliff" arose, a sheer
unobstructed precipice of black shining rock, some fifteen or sixteen
hundred feet from the world of crags beneath us. Nothing would have
tempted me to within half a dozen yards of its brink. In truth so
deeply was I excited by the perilous position of my companion, that I
fell at full length upon the ground, clung to the shrubs around me,
and dared not even glance upward at the sky--while I struggled in vain
to divest myself of the idea that the very foundations of the mountain
were in danger from the fury of the winds. It was long before I could
reason myself into sufficient courage to sit up and look out into the

"You must get over these fancies," said the guide, "for I have brought
you here that you might have the best possible view of the scene of
that event I mentioned--and to tell you the whole story with the spot
just under your eye.

"We are now," he continued, in that particularizing manner which
distinguished him--"we are now close upon the Norwegian coast--in the
sixty-eighth degree of latitude--in the great province of
Nordland--and in the dreary district of Lofoden. The mountain upon
whose top we sit is Helseggen, the Cloudy. Now raise yourself up a
little higher--hold on to the grass if you feel giddy--so--and look
out, beyond the belt of vapor beneath us, into the sea."

I looked dizzily, and beheld a wide expanse of ocean, whose waters
wore so inky a hue as to bring at once to my mind the Nubian
geographer's account of the _Mare Tenebrarum_. A panorama more
deplorably desolate no human imagination can conceive. To the right
and left, as far as the eye could reach, there lay outstretched, like
ramparts of the world, lines of horridly black and beetling cliff,
whose character of gloom was but the more forcibly illustrated by the
surf which reared high up against it its white and ghastly crest,
howling and shrieking forever. Just opposite the promontory upon whose
apex we were placed, and at a distance of some five or six miles out
at sea, there was visible a small, bleak-looking island; or, more
properly, its position was discernible through the wilderness of surge
in which it was enveloped. About two miles nearer the land arose
another of smaller size, hideously craggy and barren, and encompassed
at various intervals by a cluster of dark rocks.

The appearance of the ocean, in the space between the more distant
island and the shore, had something very unusual about it. Although,
at the time, so strong a gale was blowing landward that a brig in the
remote offing lay to under a double-reefed trysail, and constantly
plunged her whole hull out of sight, still there was here nothing like
a regular swell, but only a short, quick, angry cross dashing of water
in every direction--as well in the teeth of the wind as otherwise. Of
foam there was little except in the immediate vicinity of the rocks.

"The island in the distance," resumed the old man, "is called by the
Norwegians Vurrgh. The one midway is Moskoe.  That a mile to the
northward is Ambaaren. Yonder are Iflesen, Hoeyholm, Kieldholm,
Suarven, and Buckholm.  Farther off--between Moskoe and Vurrgh--are
Otterholm, Flimen, Sandflesen, and Skarholm. These are the true names
of the places--but why it has been thought necessary to name them at
all is more than either you or I can understand. Do you hear anything?
Do you see any change in the water?"

We had now been about ten minutes upon the top of Helseggen, to which
we had ascended from the interior of Lofoden, so that we had caught no
glimpse of the sea until it had burst upon us from the summit. As the
old man spoke, I became aware of a loud and gradually increasing
sound, like the moaning of a vast herd of buffaloes upon an American
prairie; and at the same moment I perceived that what seamen term the
_chopping_ character of the ocean beneath us, was rapidly changing
into a current which set to the eastward.  Even while I gazed, this
current acquired a monstrous velocity.  Each moment added to its
speed--to its headlong impetuosity.  In five minutes the whole sea, as
far as Vurrgh, was lashed into ungovernable fury; but it was between
Moskoe and the coast that the main uproar held its sway. Here the vast
bed of the waters, seamed and scarred into a thousand conflicting
channels, burst suddenly into frenzied convulsion--heaving, boiling,
hissing--gyrating in gigantic and innumerable vortices, and all
whirling and plunging on to the eastward with a rapidity which water
never elsewhere assumes, except in precipitous descents.

In a few minutes more, there came over the scene another radical
alteration. The general surface grew somewhat more smooth, and the
whirlpools, one by one, disappeared, while prodigious streaks of foam
became apparent where none had been seen before. These streaks, at
length, spreading out to a great distance, and entering into
combination, took unto themselves the gyratory motion of the subsided
vortices, and seemed to form the germ of another more
vast. Suddenly--very suddenly--this assumed a distinct and definite
existence, in a circle of more than a mile in diameter. The edge of
the whirl was represented by a broad belt of gleaming spray; but no
particle of this slipped into the mouth of the terrific funnel, whose
interior, as far as the eye could fathom it, was a smooth, shining,
and jet-black wall of water, inclined to the horizon at an angle of
some forty-five degrees, speeding dizzily round and round with a
swaying and sweltering motion, and sending forth to the winds an
appalling voice, half shriek, half roar, such as not even the mighty
cataract of Niagara ever lifts up in its agony to Heaven.

The mountain trembled to its very base, and the rock rocked. I threw
myself upon my face, and clung to the scant herbage in an excess of
nervous agitation.

"This," said I at length, to the old man--"this _can_ be nothing else
than the great whirlpool of the Maelström."

"So it is sometimes termed," said he. "We Norwegians call it the
Moskoe-ström, from the island of Moskoe in the midway."  The ordinary
accounts of this vortex had by no means prepared me for what I
saw. That of Jonas Ramus, which is perhaps the most circumstantial of
any, cannot impart the faintest conception either of the magnificence
or of the horror of the scene--or of the wild bewildering sense of
_the novel_ which confounds the beholder. I am not sure from what
point of view the writer in question surveyed it, nor at what time;
but it could neither have been from the summit of Helseggen, nor
during a storm. There are some passages of his description,
nevertheless, which may be quoted for their details, although their
effect is exceedingly feeble in conveying an impression of the

"Between Lofoden and Moskoe," he says, "the depth of the water is
between thirty-six and forty fathoms; but on the other side, toward
Ver (Vurrgh), this depth decreases so as not to afford a convenient
passage for a vessel, without the risk of splitting on the rocks,
which happens even in the calmest weather. When it is flood, the
stream runs up the country between Lofoden and Moskoe with a
boisterous rapidity; but the roar of its impetuous ebb to the sea is
scarce equalled by the loudest and most dreadful cataracts, the noise
being heard several leagues Off; and the vortices or pits are of such
an extent and depth, that if a ship comes within its attraction, it is
inevitably absorbed and carried down to the bottom, and there beat to
pieces against the rocks; and when the water relaxes, the fragments
thereof are thrown up again. But these intervals of tranquillity are
only at the turn of the ebb and flood, and in calm weather, and last
but a quarter of an hour, its violence gradually returning. When the
stream is most boisterous, and its fury heightened by a storm, it is
dangerous to come within a Norway mile of it. Boats, yachts, and ships
have been carried away by not guarding against it before they were
within its reach.  It likewise happens frequently that whales come too
near the stream, and are overpowered by its violence; and then it is
impossible to describe their howlings and bellowings in their
fruitless struggles to disengage themselves. A bear once, attempting
to swim from Lofoden to Moskoe, was caught by the stream and borne
down, while he roared terribly, so as to be heard on shore. Large
stocks of firs and pine trees, after being absorbed by the current,
rise again broken and torn to such a degree as if bristles grew upon
them. This plainly shows the bottom to consist of craggy rocks, among
which they are whirled to and fro. This stream is regulated by the
flux and reflux of the sea--it being constantly high and low water
every six hours. In the year 1645, early in the morning of Sexagesima
Sunday, it raged with such noise and impetuosity that the very stones
of the houses on the coast fell to the ground."

In regard to the depth of the water, I could not see how this could
have been ascertained at all in the immediate vicinity of the
vortex. The "forty fathoms" must have reference only to portions of
the channel close upon the shore either of Moskoe or Lofoden.  The
depth in the centre of the Moskoe-ström must be immeasurably greater;
and no better proof of this fact is necessary than can be obtained
from even the sidelong glance into the abyss of the whirl which may be
had from the highest crag of Helseggen. Looking down from this
pinnacle upon the howling Phlegethon below, I could not help smiling
at the simplicity with which the honest Jonas Ramus records, as a
matter difficult of belief, the anecdotes of the whales and the bears;
for it appeared to me, in fact, a self-evident thing that the largest
ships of the line in existence, coming within the influence of that
deadly attraction, could resist it as little as a feather the
hurricane, and must disappear bodily and at once.

The attempts to account for the phenomenon--some of which, I remember,
seemed to me sufficiently plausible in perusal--now wore a very
different and unsatisfactory aspect.  The idea generally received is
that this, as well as three smaller vortices among the Feroe Islands,
"have no other cause than the collision of waves rising and falling,
at flux and reflux, against a ridge of rocks and shelves, which
confines the water so that it precipitates itself like a cataract; and
thus the higher the flood rises, the deeper must the fall be, and the
natural result of all is a whirlpool or vortex, the prodigious suction
of which is sufficiently known by lesser experiments."--These are the
words of the "Encyclopædia Britannica." Kircher and others imagine
that in the centre of the channel of the Maelström is an abyss
penetrating the globe, and issuing in some very remote part--the Gulf
of Bothnia being somewhat decidedly named in one instance.  This
opinion, idle in itself, was the one to which, as I gazed, my
imagination most readily assented; and, mentioning it to the guide, I
was rather surprised to hear him say that, although it was the view
almost universally entertained of the subject by the Norwegians, it
nevertheless was not his own. As to the former notion he confessed his
inability to comprehend it; and here I agreed with him--for, however
conclusive on paper, it becomes altogether unintelligible, and even
absurd, amid the thunder of the abyss.

"You have had a good look at the whirl now," said the old man, "and if
you will creep round this crag, so as to get in its lee, and deaden
the roar of the water, I will tell you a story that will convince you
I ought to know something of the Moskoe-ström."

I placed myself as desired, and he proceeded.

"Myself and my two brothers once owned a schooner-rigged smack of
about seventy tons burden, with which we were in the habit of fishing
among the islands beyond Moskoe, nearly to Vurrgh. In all violent
eddies at sea there is good fishing, at proper opportunities, if one
has only the courage to attempt it; but among the whole of the Lofoden
coastmen we three were the only ones who made a regular business of
going out to the islands, as I tell you. The usual grounds are a great
way lower down to the southward. There fish can be got at all hours,
without much risk, and therefore these places are preferred. The
choice spots over here among the rocks, however, not only yield the
finest variety, but in far greater abundance; so that we often got in
a single day what the more timid of the craft could not scrape
together in a week.  In fact, we made it a matter of desperate
speculation--the risk of life standing instead of labor, and courage
answering for capital.

"We kept the smack in a cove about five miles higher up the coast than
this; and it was our practice, in fine weather, to take advantage of
the fifteen minutes' slack to push across the main channel of the
Moskoe-ström, far above the pool, and then drop down upon anchorage
somewhere near Otterholm, or Sandflesen, where the eddies are not so
violent as elsewhere. Here we used to remain until nearly time for
slack-water again, when we weighed and made for home. We never set out
upon this expedition without a steady side wind for going and
coming--one that we felt sure would not fail us before our return--and
we seldom made a miscalculation upon this point. Twice, during six
years, we were forced to stay all night at anchor on account of a dead
calm, which is a rare thing indeed just about here; and once we had to
remain on the grounds nearly a week, starving to death, owing to a
gale which blew up shortly after our arrival, and made the channel too
boisterous to be thought of. Upon this occasion we should have been
driven out to sea in spite of everything (for the whirlpools threw us
round and round so violently, that, at length, we fouled our anchor
and dragged it) if it had not been that we drifted into one of the
innumerable cross currents--here to-day and gone to-morrow--which
drove us under the lee of Flimen, where, by good luck, we brought up.

"I could not tell you the twentieth part of the difficulties we
encountered 'on the ground'--it is a bad spot to be in, even in good
weather--but we made shift always to run the gauntlet of the
Moskoe-ström itself without accident; although at times my heart has
been in my mouth when we happened to be a minute or so behind or
before the slack. The wind sometimes was not as strong as we thought
it at starting, and then we made rather less way than we could wish,
while the current rendered the smack unmanageable. My eldest brother
had a son eighteen years old, and I had two stout boys of my
own. These would have been of great assistance at such times, in using
the sweeps, as well as afterward in fishing--but, somehow, although we
ran the risk ourselves, we had not the heart to let the young ones get
into the danger--for, after all said and done, it _was_ a horrible
danger, and that is the truth.

"It is now within a few days of three years since what I am going to
tell you occurred. It was on the tenth of July, 18--, a day which the
people of this part of the world will never forget--for it was one in
which blew the most terrible hurricane that ever came out of the
heavens. And yet all the morning, and indeed until late in the
afternoon, there was a gentle and steady breeze from the south-west,
while the sun shone brightly, so that the oldest seamen among us could
not have forseen what was to follow.

"The three of us--my two brothers and myself--had crossed over to the
islands about two o'clock P.M., and soon nearly loaded the smack with
fine fish, which, we all remarked, were more plenty that day than we
had ever known them. It was just seven, _by my watch,_ when we weighed
and started for home, so as to make the worst of the Ström at slack
water, which we knew would be at eight.

"We set out with a fresh wind on our starboard quarter, and for some
time spanked along at a great rate, never dreaming of danger, for
indeed we saw not the slightest reason to apprehend it. All at once we
were taken aback by a breeze from over Helseggen. This was most
unusual--something that had never happened to us before--and I began
to feel a little uneasy, without exactly knowing why. We put the boat
on the wind, but could make no headway at all for the eddies, and I
was upon the point of proposing to return to the anchorage, when,
looking astern, we saw the whole horizon covered with a singular
copper-colored cloud that rose with the most amazing velocity.

"In the meantime the breeze that had headed us off fell away, and we
were dead becalmed, drifting about in every direction. This state of
things, however, did not last long enough to give us time to think
about it. In less than a minute the storm was upon us--in less than
two the sky was entirely overcast--and what with this and the driving
spray, it became suddenly so dark that we could not see each other in
the smack.

"Such a hurricane as then blew it is folly to attempt describing. The
oldest seaman in Norway never experienced anything like it. We had let
our sails go by the run before it cleverly took us; but, at the first
puff, both our masts went by the board as if they had been sawed
off--the mainmast taking with it my youngest brother, who had lashed
himself to it for safety.

"Our boat was the lightest feather of a thing that ever sat upon
water. It had a complete flush deck, with only a small hatch near the
bow, and this hatch it had always been our custom to batten down when
about to cross the Ström, by way of precaution against the chopping
seas. But for this circumstance we should have foundered at once--for
we lay entirely buried for some moments. How my elder brother escaped
destruction I cannot say, for I never had an opportunity of
ascertaining. For my part, as soon as I had let the foresail run, I
threw myself flat on deck, with my feet against the narrow gunwale of
the bow, and with my hands grasping a ring-bolt near the foot of the
foremast. It was mere instinct that prompted me to do this--which was
undoubtedly the very best thing I could have done--for I was too much
flurried to think.

"For some moments we were completely deluged, as I say, and all this
time I held my breath, and clung to the bolt.  When I could stand it
no longer I raised myself upon my knees, still keeping hold with my
hands, and thus got my head clear. Presently our little boat gave
herself a shake, just as a dog does in coming out of the water, and
thus rid herself, in some measure, of the seas. I was now trying to
get the better of the stupor that had come over me, and to collect my
senses so as to see what was to be done, when I felt somebody grasp my
arm. It was my elder brother, and my heart leaped for joy, for I had
made sure that he was overboard--but the next moment all this joy was
turned into horror--for he put his mouth close to my ear, and screamed
out the word '_Moskoe-ström_!'

"No one-will ever know what my feelings were at that moment. I shook
from head to foot as if I had had the most violent fit of the ague. I
knew what he meant by that one word well enough--I knew what he wished
to make me understand. With the wind that now drove us on, we were
bound for the whirl of the Ström, and nothing could save us!

"You perceive that in crossing the Ström _channel_, we always went a
long way up above the whirl, even in the calmest weather, and then had
to wait and watch carefully for the slack--but now we were driving
right upon the pool itself, and in such a hurricane as this! 'To be
sure,' I thought, 'we shall get there just about the slack--there is
some little hope in that--but in the next moment I cursed myself for
being so great a fool as to dream of hope at all. I knew very well
that we were doomed, had we been ten times a ninety-gun ship.

"By this time the first fury of the tempest had spent itself, or
perhaps we did not feel it so much as we scudded before it; but at all
events the seas, which at first had been kept down by the wind, and
lay flat and frothing, now got up into absolute mountains. A singular
change, too, had come over the heavens. Around in every direction it
was still as black as pitch, but nearly overhead there burst out, all
at once, a circular rift of clear sky--as clear as I ever saw--and of
a deep bright blue--and through it there blazed forth the full moon
with a lustre that I never before knew her to wear. She lit up
everything about us with the greatest distinctness--but, oh God, what
a scene it was to light up!

"I now made one or two attempts to speak to my brother--but, in some
manner which I could not understand, the din had so increased that I
could not make him hear a single word, although I screamed at the top
of my voice in his ear.  Presently he shook his head, looking as pale
as death, and held up one of his fingers, as if to say _listen_!

"At first I could not make out what he meant--but soon a hideous
thought flashed upon me. I dragged my watch from its fob. It was not
going. I glanced at its face by the moonlight, and then burst into
tears as I flung it far away into the ocean. _It had run down at seven
o'clock! We were behind the time of the slack, and the whirl of the
Ström was in full fury!_

"When a boat is well built, properly trimmed, and not deep laden, the
waves in a strong gale, when she is going large, seem always to slip
from beneath her--which appears very strange to a landsman--and this
is what is called _riding_ in sea phrase.

"Well, so far we had ridden the swells very cleverly; but presently a
gigantic sea happened to take us right under the counter, and bore us
with it as it rose--up--up--as if into the sky. I would not have
believed that any wave could rise so high. And then down we came with
a sweep, a slide, and a plunge, that made me feel sick and dizzy, as
if I was falling from some lofty mountain-top in a dream. But while we
were up I had thrown a quick glance around--and that one glance was
all sufficient. I saw our exact position in an instant. The
Moskoe-ström whirlpool was about a quarter of a mile dead ahead--but
no more like the every-day Moskoe-ström, than the whirl as you now see
it is like a mill-race. If I had not known where we were, and what we
had to expect, I should not have recognized the place at all. As it
was, I involuntarily closed my eyes in horror. The lids clenched
themselves together as if in a spasm.

"It could not have been more than two minutes afterwards until we
suddenly felt the waves subside, and were enveloped in foam. The boat
made a sharp half turn to larboard, and then shot off in its new
direction like a thunderbolt. At the same moment the roaring noise of
the water was completely drowned in a kind of shrill shriek--such a
sound as you might imagine given out by the water-pipes of many
thousand steam-vessels, letting off their steam all together. We were
now in the belt of surf that always surrounds the whirl; and I
thought, of course, that another moment would plunge us into the
abyss--down which we could only see indistinctly on account of the
amazing velocity with which we were borne along. The boat did not seem
to sink into the water at all, but to skim like an air-bubble upon the
surface of the surge. Her starboard side was next the whirl, and on
the larboard arose the world of ocean we had left. It stood like a
huge writhing wall between us and the horizon.

"It may appear strange, but now, when we were in the very jaws of the
gulf, I felt more composed than when we were only approaching
it. Having made up my mind to hope no more, I got rid of a great deal
of that terror which unmanned me at first. I suppose it was despair
that strung my nerves.

"It may look like boasting--but what I tell you is truth--I began to
reflect how magnificent a thing it was to die in such a manner, and
how foolish it was in me to think of so paltry a consideration as my
own individual life, in view of so wonderful a manifestation of God's
power. I do believe that I blushed with shame when this idea crossed
my mind. After a little while I became possessed with the keenest
curiosity about the whirl itself. I positively felt a _wish_ to
explore its depths, even at the sacrifice I was going to make; and my
principal grief was that I should never be able to tell my old
companions on shore about the mysteries I should see. These, no doubt,
were singular fancies to occupy a man's mind in such extremity--and I
have often thought, since, that the revolutions of the boat around the
pool might have rendered me a little light-headed.

"There was another circumstance which tended to restore my
self-possession; and this was the cessation of the wind, which could
not reach us in our present situation--for, as you saw yourself, the
belt of surf is considerably lower than the general bed of the ocean,
and this latter now towered above us, a high, black, mountainous
ridge. If you have never been at sea in a heavy gale, you can form no
idea of the confusion of mind occasioned by the wind and spray
together. They blind, deafen, and strangle you, and take away all
power of action or reflection.  But we were now, in a great measure,
rid of these annoyances--just as death-condemned felons in prison are
allowed petty indulgences, forbidden them while their doom is yet

"How often we made the circuit of the belt it is impossible to say. We
careered round and round for perhaps an hour, flying rather than
floating, getting gradually more and more into the middle of the
surge, and then nearer and nearer to its horrible inner edge. All this
time I had never let go of the ring-bolt. My brother was at stern,
holding on to a small empty water-cask which had been securely lashed
under the coop of the counter, and was the only thing on deck that had
not been swept overboard when the gale first took us. As we approached
the brink of the pit he let go his hold upon this, and made for the
ring, from which, in the agony of his terror, he endeavored to force
my hands, as it was not large enough to afford us both a secure
grasp. I never felt deeper grief than when I saw him attempt this
act--although I new he was a madman when he did it--a raving maniac
through sheer fright. I did not care, however, to contest the point
with him. I knew it could make no diference whether either of us held
on at all; so I let him have the bolt, and went astern to the
cask. This there was no great difficulty in doing; for the smack flew
round steadily enough, and upon an even keel--only swaying to and fro,
with the immense sweeps and swelters of the whirl.  Scarcely had I
secured myself in my new position, when we gave a wild lurch to
starboard, and rushed headlong into the abyss. I muttered a hurried
prayer to God, and thought all was over.

"As I felt the sickening sweep of the descent, I had instinctively
tightened my hold upon the barrel, and closed my eyes. For some
seconds I dared not open them--while I expected instant destruction,
and wondered that I was not already in my death-struggles with the
water. But moment after moment elapsed. I still lived. The sense of
falling had ceased; and the motion of the vessel seemed much as it had
been before, while in the belt of foam, with the exception that she
now lay more along. I took courage and looked once again upon the

"Never shall I forget the sensations of awe, horror, and admiration
with which I gazed about me. The boat appeared to be hanging, as if by
magic, midway down, upon the interior surface of a funnel vast in
circumference, prodigious in depth, and whose perfectly smooth sides
might have been mistaken for ebony, but for the bewildering rapidity
with which they spun around, and for the gleaming and ghastly radiance
they shot forth, as the rays of the full moon, from that circular rift
amid the clouds, which I have already described, streamed in a flood
of golden glory along the black walls, and far away down into the
inmost recesses of the abyss.

"At first I was too much confused to observe anything accurately. The
general burst of terrific grandeur was all that I beheld. When I
recovered myself a little, however, my gaze fell instinctively
downward. In this direction I was able to obtain an unobstructed view,
from the manner in which the smack hung on the inclined surface of the
pool. She was quite upon an even keel--that is to say, her deck lay in
a plane parallel with that of the water--but this latter sloped at an
angle of more than forty-five degrees, so that we seemed to be lying
upon our beam-ends. I could not help observing, nevertheless, that I
had scarcely more difficulty in maintaining my hold and footing in
this situation, than if we had been upon a dead level; and this, I
suppose, was owing to the speed at which we revolved.

"The rays of the moon seemed to search the very bottom of the profound
gulf; but still I could make out nothing distinctly, on account of a
thick mist in which everything there was enveloped, and over which
there hung a magnificent rainbow, like that narrow and tottering
bridge which Mussulmans say is the only pathway between Time and
Eternity. This mist, or spray, was no doubt occasioned by the clashing
of the great walls of the funnel, as they all met together at the
bottom--but the yell that went up to the heavens from out of that
mist, I dare not attempt to describe.

"Our first slide into the abyss itself, from the belt of foam above,
had carried us to a great distance down the slope; but our farther
descent was by no means proportionate. Round and round we swept--not
with any uniform movement but in dizzying swings and jerks, that sent
us sometimes only a few hundred yards--sometimes nearly the complete
circuit of the whirl. Our progress downward, at each revolution, was
slow, but very perceptible.

"Looking about me upon the wide waste of liquid ebony on which we were
thus borne, I perceived that our boat was not the only object in the
embrace of the whirl. Both above and below us were visible fragments
of vessels, large masses of building timber and trunks of trees, with
many smaller articles, such as pieces of house furniture, broken
boxes, barrels, and staves. I have already described the unnatural
curiosity which had taken the place of my original terrors. It
appeared to grow upon me as I drew nearer and nearer to my dreadful
doom. I now began to watch, with a strange interest, the numerous
things that floated in our company. I _must_ have been delirious--for
I even sought _amusement_ in speculating upon the relative velocities
of their several descents toward the foam below. 'This fir tree,' I
found myself at one time saying, 'will certainly be the next thing
that takes the awful plunge and disappears,'--and then I was
disappointed to find that the wreck of a Dutch merchant ship overtook
it and went down before. At length, after making several guesses of
this nature, and being deceived in all--this fact--the fact of my
invariable miscalculation, set me upon a train of reflection that made
my limbs again tremble, and my heart beat heavily once more.

"It was not a new terror that thus affected me, but the dawn of a more
exciting _hope_. This hope arose partly from memory, and partly from
present observation. I called to mind the great variety of buoyant
matter that strewed the coast of Lofoden, having been absorbed and
then thrown forth by the Moskoe-ström. By far the greater number of
the articles were shattered in the most extraordinary way--so chafed
and roughened as to have the appearance of being stuck full of
splinters--but then I distinctly recollected that there were _some_ of
them which were not disfigured at all. Now I could not account for
this difference except by supposing that the roughened fragments were
the only ones which had been _completely absorbed_--that the others
had entered the whirl at so late a period of the tide, or, from some
reason, had descended so slowly after entering, that they did not
reach the bottom before the turn of the flood came, or of the ebb, as
the case might be. I conceived it possible, in either instance, that
they might thus be whirled up again to the level of the ocean, without
undergoing the fate of those which had been drawn in more early or
absorbed more rapidly. I made, also, three important observations. The
first was, that as a general rule, the larger the bodies were, the
more rapid their descent; the second, that, between two masses of
equal extent, the one spherical, and the other _of any other shape,_
the superiority in speed of descent was with the sphere; the third,
that, between two masses of equal size, the one cylindrical, and the
other of any other shape, the cylinder was absorbed the more slowly.
Since my escape, I have had several conversations on this subject with
an old schoolmaster of the district; and it was from him that I
learned the use of the words 'cylinder' and 'sphere.' He explained to
me--although I have forgotten the explanation--how what I observed
was, in fact, the natural consequence of the forms of the floating
fragments, and showed me how it happened that a cylinder, swimming in
a vortex, offered more resistance to its suction, and was drawn in
with greater difficulty, than an equally bulky body, of any form

[Footnote 1: See Archimedes, _De iis Ques in Humido Vehuntur_, lib

"There was one startling circumstance which went a great way in
enforcing these observations, and rendering me anxious to turn them to
account, and this was that, at every revolution, we passed something
like a barrel, or else the yard or the mast of a vessel, while many of
these things, which had been on our level when I first opened my eyes
upon the wonders of the whirlpool, were now high up above us, and
seemed to have moved but little from their original station.

"I no longer hesitated what to do. I resolved to lash myself securely
to the water cask upon which I now held, to cut it loose from the
counter, and to throw myself with it into the water. I attracted my
brother's attention by signs, pointed to the floating barrels that
came near us, and did everything in my power to make him understand
what I was about to do. I thought at length that he comprehended my
design--but, whether this was the case or not, he shook his head
despairingly, and refused to move from his station by the ring-bolt.
It was impossible to reach him; the emergency admitted of no delay;
and so, with a bitter struggle, I resigned him to his fate, fastened
myself to the cask by means of the lashings which secured it to the
counter, and precipitated myself with it into the sea, without another
moment's hesitation.

"The result was precisely what I had hoped it might be.  As it is
myself who now tell you this tale--as you see that I _did_ escape--and
as you are already in possession of the mode in which this escape was
effected, and must therefore anticipate all that I have farther to
say--I will bring my story quickly to conclusion. It might have been
an hour, or thereabout, after my quitting the smack, when, having
descended to a vast distance beneath me, it made three or four wild
gyrations in rapid succession, and, bearing my loved brother with it,
plunged headlong, at once and forever, into the chaos of foam
below. The barrel to which I was attached sunk very little farther
than half the distance between the bottom of the gulf and the spot at
which I leaped overboard, before a great change took place in the
character of the whirlpool. The slope of the sides of the vast funnel
became momently less and less steep.  The gyrations of the whirl grew,
gradually, less and less violent.  By degrees, the froth and the
rainbow disappeared, and the bottom of the gulf seemed slowly to
uprise. The sky was clear, the winds had gone down, and the full moon
was setting radiantly in the west, when I found myself on the surface
of the ocean, in full view of the shores of Lofoden, and above the
spot where the pool of the Moskoe-ström _had been._ It was the 20 hour
of the slack, but the sea still heaved in mountainous waves from the
effects of the hurricane. I was borne violently into the channel of
the Ström, and in a few minutes was hurried down the coast into the
'grounds' of the fishermen. A boat picked me up--exhausted from
fatigue--and (now that the danger was removed) speechless from the
memory of its horror.  Those who drew me on board were my old mates
and daily companions, but they knew me no more than they would have
known a traveller from the spirit-land. My hair, which had been
raven-black the day before, was as white as you see it now.  They say
too that the whole expression of my countenance had changed. I told
them my story--they did not believe it. I now tell it to you--and I
can scarcely expect you to put more faith in it than did the merry
fishermen of Lofoden."



The "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had
ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its avatar and its
seal--the redness and the horror of blood.  There were sharp pains,
and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with
dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body, and especially upon the
face, of the victim were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid
and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure,
progress, and termination of the disease were the incidents of half an

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When
his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a
thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and
dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of
one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent
structure, the creation of the Prince's own eccentric yet august
taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of
iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy
hammers, and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of
ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from
within. The abbey was amply provisioned.  With such precautions the
courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could
take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to
think. The Prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There
were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers,
there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and
security were within. Without was the "Red Death."

It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion,
and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince
Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most
unusual magnificence.

It was a voluptuous scene, that masquerade. But first let me tell of
the rooms in which it was held. There were seven--an imperial
suite. In many palaces, however, such suites form a long and straight
vista, while the folding-doors slide back nearly to the walls on
either hand, so that the view of the whole extent is scarcely
impeded. Here the case was very different, as might have been expected
from the Prince's love of the bizarre. The apartments were so
irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but little more than one
at a time.  There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards,
and at each turn a novel effect. To the right and left, in the middle
of each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a closed
corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. These windows were
of stained glass, whose color varied in accordance with the prevailing
hue of the decorations of the chamber into which it opened. That at
the eastern extremity was hung, for example, in blue--and vividly blue
were its windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and
tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green
throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was furnished and
lighted with orange, the fifth with white, the sixth with violet. The
seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that
hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling in heavy folds
upon a carpet of the same material and hue. But, in this chamber only,
the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations.
The panes here were scarlet--a deep blood-color. Now in no one of the
seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion
of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the
roof. There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle
within the suite of chambers. But in the corridors that followed the
suite there stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a
brazier of fire, that projected its rays through the tinted glass and
so glaringly illumined the room. And thus were produced a multitude of
gaudy and fantastic appearances. But in the western or black chamber
the effect of the firelight that streamed upon the dark hangings
through the blood-tinted panes was ghastly in the extreme, and
produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered
that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its
precincts at all.

It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western
wall a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a
dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the
circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from
the brazen lungs of the clock a sounct which was clear and loud and
deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiars note and emphasis
that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were
constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to hearken to
the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and
there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the
chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew
pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows
as if in confused revery or meditation. But when the echoes had fully
ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians
looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and
folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next
chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and
then, after the lapse of sixty minutes (which embrace three thousand
and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies) there came yet another
chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and
tremulousness and meditation as before.

But, in spite of these things, it was a gay and magnificent revel. The
tastes of the Prince were peculiar. He had a fine eye for colors and
effects. He disregarded the _decora_ of mere fashion. His plans were
bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There
are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he
was not. It was necessary to hear and see and touch him to be _sure_
that he was not.

He had directed, in great part, the movable embellishments of the
seven chambers, upon occasion of this great _fête_; and it was his own
guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure
they were grotesque. There were much glare and glitter and piquancy
and phantasm--much of what has been since seen in _Hernani_. There
were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There
were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There was much of
the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of
the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited
disgust. To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a
multitude of dreams. And these--the dreams--writhed in and about,
taking hue from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra
to seem as the echo of their steps. And, anon, there strikes the ebony
clock which stands in the hall of the velvet. And then, for a moment,
all is still, and all is silent save the voice of the clock. The
dreams are stiff-frozen as they stand. But the echoes of the chime die
away--they have endured but an instant--and a light, half-subdued
laughter floats after them as they depart. And now again the music
swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than
ever, taking hue from the many tinted windows through which stream the
rays from the tripods. But to the chamber which lies most westwardly
of the seven, there are now none of the maskers who venture; for the
night is waning away, and there flows a ruddier light through the
blood-colored panes; and the blackness of the sable drapery appalls;
and to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet, there comes from
the near clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any
which reaches _their_ ears who indulge in the more remote gayeties of
the other apartments.

But these other apartments were densely crowded, and in them beat
feverishly the heart of life. And the revel went whirlingly on, until
at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock. And
then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the
waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things
as before. But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell
of the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought
crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among
those who revelled. And thus too it happened, perhaps, that before the
last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there
were many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become
aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the
attention of no single individual before. And the rumor of this new
presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at
length from the whole company a buzz, or murmur, expressive of
disapprobation and surprise--then, finally, of terror, of horror, and
of disgust.

In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may well be
supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such
sensation. In truth the masquerade license of the night was nearly
unlimited; but the figure in question had out-Heroded Herod, and gone
beyond the bounds of even the Prince's indefinite decorum. There are
chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched
without emotion.  Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death
are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made. The
whole company, indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that in the costume
and bearing of the stranger neither wit nor propriety existed. The
figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the
habiliments of the grave. The mask which concealed the visage was made
so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the
closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. And
yet all this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad
revellers around. But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type
of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in _blood_--and his broad
brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the
scarlet horror.

When the eyes of Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image (which
with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain its
_role_, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be
convulsed, in the first moment, with a strong shudder either of terror
or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.

"Who dares?" he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who stood near
him--"who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and
unmask him--that we may know whom we have to hang at sunrise, from the

It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood the Prince
Prospero as he uttered these words. They rang throughout the seven
rooms loudly and clearly--for the Prince was a bold and robust man,
and the music had become hushed at the waving of his hand.

It was in the blue room where stood the Prince, with a group of pale
courtiers by his side. At first, as he spoke, there was a slight
rushing movement of this group in the direction of the intruder, who
at the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and
stately step, made closer approach to the speaker. But from a certain
nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the mummer had inspired
the whole party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize
him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the Prince's
person; and, while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank
from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made his way
uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step which had
distinguished him from the first, through the blue chamber to the
purple--through the purple to the green--through the green to the
orange--through this again to the white--and even thence to the
violet, ere a decided movement had been made to arrest him. It was
then, however, that the Prince Prospero, maddening with rage and the
shame of his own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six
chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly terror that
had seized upon all. He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached,
in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating
figure, when the latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet
apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There was a
sharp cry--and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet,
upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince
Prospero. Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the
revellers at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and,
seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless
within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at
finding the grave cerements and corpse-like mask, which they handled
with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form.

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death.  He had come
like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the
blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing
posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with
that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired.
And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion
over all.


  What ho! what ho! this fellow is dancing mad!
  He hath been bitten by the Tarantula.
                               _All in the Wrong_

Many years ago, I contracted an intimacy with a Mr.  William Legrand.
He was of an ancient Huguenot family, and had once been wealthy; but a
series of misfortunes had reduced him to want.  To avoid the
mortification consequent upon his disasters, he left New Orleans, the
city of his fore-fathers, and took up his residence at Sullivan's
Island, near Charleston, South Carolina.

This island is a very singular one.  It consists of little else than
the sea sand, and is about three miles long.  Its breadth at no point
exceeds a quarter of a mile. It is separated from the mainland by a
scarcely perceptible creek, oozing its way through a wilderness of
reeds and slime, a favorite resort of the marsh-hen. The vegetation,
as might be supposed, is scant, or at least dwarfish. No trees of any
magnitude are to be seen. Near the western extremity, where Fort
Moultrie stands, and where are some miserable frame buildings,
tenanted during summer by the fugitives from Charleston dust and
fever, may be found, indeed, the bristly palmetto; but the whole
island, with the exception of this western point, and a line of hard
white beach on the seacoast, is covered with a dense undergrowth of
the sweet myrtle, so much prized by the horticulturists of England.
The shrub here often attains the height of fifteen or twenty feet, and
forms an almost impenetrable coppice, burdening the air with its

In the utmost recesses of this coppice, not far from the eastern or
more remote end of the island, Legrand had built himself a small hut,
which he occupied when I first, by mere accident, made his
acquaintance. This soon ripened into, friendship--for there was much
in the recluse to excite interest and esteem. I found him well
educated, with unusual powers of mind, but infected with misanthropy,
and subject to perverse moods of alternate enthusiasm and melancholy.
He had with him many books, but rarely employed them.  His chief
amusements were gunning and fishing, or sauntering along the beach and
through the myrtles in quest of shells or entomological
specimens;--his collection of the latter might have been envied by a
Swammerdamm. In these excursions he was usually accompanied by an old
negro, called Jupiter, who had been manumitted before the reverses of
the family, but who could be induced, neither by threats nor by
promises, to abandon what he considered his right of attendance upon
the footsteps of his young "Massa Will." It is not improbable that the
relatives of Legrand, conceiving him to be somewhat unsettled in
intellect, had contrived to instil this obstinacy into Jupiter, with a
view to the supervision and guardianship of the wanderer.

The winters in the latitude of Sullivan's Island are seldom very
severe, and in the fall of the year it is a rare event indeed when a
fire is considered necessary. About the middle of October, 18--, there
occurred, however, a day of remarkable chilliness. Just before sunset
I scrambled my way through the evergreens to the hut of my friend,
whom I had not visited for several weeks--my residence being at that
time in Charleston, a distance of nine miles from the island, while
the facilities of passage and re-passage were very far behind those of
the present day. Upon reaching the hut I rapped, as was my custom,
and, getting no reply, sought for the key where I knew it was
secreted, unlocked the door and went in. A fine fire was blazing upon
the hearth. It was a novelty, and by no means an ungrateful one. I
threw off an overcoat, took an armchair by the crackling logs, and
awaited patiently the arrival of my hosts.

Soon after dark they arrived, and gave me a most cordial
welcome. Jupiter, grinning from ear to ear, bustled about to prepare
some marsh-hens for supper. Legrand was in one of his fits--how else
shall I term them?--of enthusiasm. He had found an unknown bivalve,
forming a new genus, and, more than this, he had hunted down and
secured, with Jupiter's assistance, a _scarabæus_ which he believed to
be totally new, but in respect to which he wished to have my opinion
on the morrow.

"And why not to-night?" I asked, rubbing my hands over the blaze, and
wishing the whole tribe of _scarabæi_ at the devil.

"Ah, if I had only known you were here!" said Legrand, "but it's so
long since I saw you; and how could I foresee that you would pay me a
visit this very night of all others?  As I was coming home I met
Lieutenant G----, from the fort, and, very foolishly, I lent him the
bug; so it will be impossible for you to see it until the
morning. Stay here to-night, and I will send Jup down for it at
sunrise. It is the loveliest thing in creation!"


"Nonsense! no!--the bug. It is of a brilliant gold color--about the
size of a large hickory-nut--with two jet black spots near one
extremity of the back, and another, somewhat longer, at the other. The
_antennæ_ are--"

"Dey aint _no_ tin in him, Massa Will, I keep a tellin on you," here
interrupted Jupiter; "de bug is a goole-bug, solid, ebery bit of him,
inside and all, sep him wing--neber-feel half so hebby a bug in my

"Well, suppose it is, Jup," replied Legrand, somewhat more earnestly,
it seemed to me, than the case demanded, "is that any reason for your
letting the birds burn? The color"--here he turned to me--"is really
almost enough to warrant Jupiter's idea. You never saw a more
brilliant metallic lustre than the scales emit--but of this you cannot
judge till to-morrow. In the meantime I can give you some idea of the
shape." Saying this, he seated himself at a small table, on which were
a pen and ink, but no paper. He looked for some in a drawer, but found

"Never mind," said he at length, "this will answer;" and he drew from
his waistcoat pocket a scrap of what I took to be very dirty foolscap,
and made upon it a rough drawing with the pen.  While he did this, I
retained my seat by the fire, for I was still chilly.  When the design
was complete, he handed it to me without rising.  As I received it, a
low growl was heard, succeeded by a scratching at the door. Jupiter
opened it, and a large Newfoundland, belonging to Legrand, rushed in,
leaped upon my shoulders, and loaded me with caresses; for I had shown
him much attention during previous visits.  When his gambols were
over, I looked at the paper, and, to speak the truth, found myself not
a little puzzled at what my friend had depicted.

"Well!" I said, after contemplating it for some minutes, "this _is_ a
strange _scarabæus_, I must confess; new to me: never saw anything
like it before--unless it was a skull, or a death's-head, which it
more nearly resembles than anything else that has come under _my_

"A death's-head!"  echoed Legrand--"oh--yes--well, it has something of
that appearance upon paper, no doubt.  The two upper black spots look
like eyes, eh? and the longer one at the bottom like a mouth--and then
the shape of the whole is oval."

"Perhaps so," said I; "but, Legrand, I fear you are no artist. I must
wait until I see the beetle itself, if I am to form any idea of its
personal appearance."

"We'll, I don't know," said he, a little nettled, "I draw
tolerably--_should_ do it at least--have had good masters, and flatter
myself that I am not quite a blockhead."

"But, my dear fellow, you are joking then," said I; "this is a very
passable _skull_,--indeed, I may say that it is a very _excellent_
skull, according to the vulgar notions about such specimens of
physiology--and your _scarabæus_ must be the queerest _scarabæus_
in the world if it resembles it. Why, we may get up a very thrilling
bit of superstition upon this hint.  I presume you will call the bug
_scarabæus caput hominis_, or something of that kind--there are
many similar titles in the Natural Histories.  But where are the
_antennae_ you spoke of?"  "The _antennae_!" said Legrand, who seemed
to be getting unaccountably warm upon the subject; "I am sure you must
see the _antennae_. I made them as distinct as they are in the
original insect, and I presume that is sufficient."

"Well, well," I said, "perhaps you have--still I don't see them;" and
I handed him the paper without additional remark, not wishing to
ruffle his temper, but I was much surprised at the turn affairs had
taken; his ill humor puzzled me--and as for the drawing of the
beetle, there were positively _no antennae_ visible, and the whole
_did_ bear a very close resemblance to the ordinary cuts of a

He received the paper very peevishly, and was about to crumple it,
apparently to throw it in the fire, when a casual glance at the design
seemed suddenly to rivet his attention.  In an instant his face grew
violently red--in another as excessively pale.  For some minutes he
continued to scrutinize the drawing minutely where he sat.  At length
he arose, took a candle from the table, and proceeded to seat himself
upon a sea-chest in the farthest corner of the room. Here again he
made an anxious examination of the paper; turning it in all
directions. He said nothing, however, and his conduct greatly
astonished me; yet I thought it prudent not to exacerbate the growing
moodiness of his temper by any comment. Presently he took from his
coat pocket a wallet, placed the paper carefully in it, and deposited
both in a writing-desk, which he locked. He now grew more composed in
his demeanor; but his original air of enthusiasm had quite
disappeared. Yet he seemed not so much sulky as abstracted.  As the
evening wore away he became more and more absorbed in revery, from
which no sallies of mine could arouse him. It had been my intention to
pass the night at the hut, as I had frequently done before, but,
seeing my host in this mood, I deemed it proper to take leave. He did
not press me to remain, but, as I departed, he shook my hand with even
more than his usual cordiality.

It was about a month after this (and during the interval I had seen
nothing of Legrand) when I received a visit, at Charleston, from his
man, Jupiter. I had never seen the good old negro look so dispirited,
and I feared that some serious disaster had befallen my friend.

"Well, Jup," said I, "what is the matter now?--how is your master?"

"Why, to speak de troof, massa, him not so berry well as mought be."

"Not well! I am truly sorry to hear it. What does he complain of?"

"Dar! dat's it!--him neber plain of notin--but him berry sick for all

"_Very_ sick, Jupiter!--why didn't you say so at once? Is he confined
to bed?"

"No, dat he aint!--he aint find nowhar--dat's just whar de shoe
pinch--my mind is got to be berry hebby bout poor Massa Will."

"Jupiter, I should like to understand what it is you are talking
about.  You say your master is sick.  Hasn't he told you what ails

"Why, massa, taint worf while for to git mad bout de matter--Massa
Will say noffin at all aint de matter wid him--but den what make him
go about looking dis here way, wid he head down and he soldiers up,
and as white as a gose?  And den he keep a syphon all de time--"

"Keeps a what, Jupiter?"

"Keeps a syphon wid de figgurs on de slate--de queerest figgurs I
ebber did see. Ise gittin to be skeered, I tell you.  Hab for to keep
mighty tight eye pon him noovers. Todder day he gib me slip fore de
sun up and was gone de whole ob de blessed day. I had a big stick
ready cut for to gib him d------d good beating when he did come--but
Ise sich a fool dat I hadn't de heart arter all--he look so berry

"Eh?--what?--ah yes!--upon the whole I think you had better not be too
severe with the poor fellow--don't flog him, Jupiter--he can't very
well stand it--but can you form no idea of what has occasioned this
illness, or rather this change of conduct? Has anything unpleasant
happened since I saw you?"

"No, massa, dey aint bin noffin onpleasant _since_ den--it 'twas
_fore_ den I'm feared--'twas de berry day you was dare."

"How? what do you mean?"

"Why, massa, I mean de bug--dare now."

"The what?"

"De bug--I'm berry sartin dat Massa Will bin bit somewhere bout de
head by dat goole-bug."

"And what cause have you, Jupiter, for such a supposition?"

"Claws enuff, massa, and mouff too.  I nebber did see sich a d------d
bug--he kick and he bite ebery ting what cum near him.  Massa Will
cotch him fuss, but had for to let him go gin mighty quick, I tell
you--den was de time he must ha got de bite. I didn't like de look ob
de bug mouff, myself, no how, so I wouldn't take hold ob him wid my
finger, but I cotch him wid a piece ob paper dat I found. I rap him up
in de paper and stuff piece of it in he mouff--dat was de way."

"And you think, then, that your master was really bitten by the
beetle, and that the bite made him sick?"

"I don't tink noffin about it--I nose it. What make him dream bout de
goole so much, if taint cause he bit by de goole-bug? Ise heerd bout
dem goole-bugs fore dis."

"But how do you know he dreams about gold?"

"How I know? why, cause he talk about it in he sleep--dat's how I

"Well, Jup, perhaps you are right; but to what fortunate circumstance
am I to attribute the honor of a visit from you to-day?"

"What de matter, massa?"

"Did you bring any message from Mr. Legrand?"

"No, massa, I bring dis here pissel;" and here Jupiter handed me a
note which ran thus:

"MY DEAR ----, Why have I not seen you for so long a time?  I hope you
have not been so foolish as to take offence at any little _brusquerie_
of mine; but no, that is improbable.

"Since I saw you I have had great cause for anxiety. I have something
to tell you, yet scarcely know how to tell it, or whether I should
tell it at all.

"I have not been quite well for some days past, and poor old Jup
annoys me, almost beyond endurance, by his well-meant attentions.
Would you believe it?--he had prepared a huge stick, the other day,
with which to chastise me for giving him the slip, and spending the
day, _solus_, among the hills on the mainland. I verily believe that
my ill looks alone saved me a flogging.

"I have made no addition to my cabinet since we met.

"If you can, in any way, make it convenient, come over with Jupiter.
_Do_ come. I wish to see you _to-night_, upon business of importance.
I assure you that it is of the _highest_ importance.

"Ever yours,

There was something in the tone of this note which gave me great
uneasiness. Its whole style differed materially from that of Legrand.
What could he be dreaming of? What new crotchet possessed his
excitable brain? What "business of the highest importance" could _he_
possibly have to transact?  Jupiter's account of him boded no good. I
dreaded lest the continued pressure of misfortune had, at length,
fairly unsettled the reason of my friend. Without a moment's
hesitation, therefore, I prepared to accompany the negro.

Upon reaching the wharf, I noticed a scythe and three spades, all
apparently new, lying in the bottom of the boat in which we were to

"What is the meaning of all this, Jup?" I inquired.

"Him syfe, massa, and spade."

"Very true; but what are they doing here?

"Him de syfe and de spade what Massa Will sis pon my buying for him in
de town, and de debbil's own lot of money I had to gib for em."

"But what, in the name of all that is mysterious, is your 'Massa Will'
going to do with scythes and spades?"

"Dat's more dan _I_ know, and debbil take me if I don't blieve 'tis
more dan he know, too. But it's all cum ob de bug."

Finding that no satisfaction was to be obtained of Jupiter, whose
whole intellect seemed to be absorbed by "de bug," I now stepped into
the boat and made sail. With a fair and strong breeze we soon ran into
the little cove to the northward of Fort Moultrie, and a walk of some
two miles brought us to the hut. It was about three in the afternoon
when we arrived.  Legrand had been awaiting us in eager expectation.
He grasped my hand with a nervous _empressement_, which alarmed me and
strengthened the suspicions already entertained. His countenance was
pale even to ghastliness, and his deep-set eyes glared with unnatural
lustre. After some inquiries respecting his health, I asked him, not
knowing what better to say, if he had yet obtained the _scarabæus_
from Lieutenant G----.

"Oh, yes," he replied, coloring violently, "I got it from him the next
morning.  Nothing should tempt me to part with that _scarabæus_. Do
you know that Jupiter is quite right about it?"

"In what way?" I asked, with a sad foreboding at heart.

"In supposing it to be a bug of _real gold_." He said this with an air
of profound seriousness, and I felt inexpressibly shocked.

"This bug is to make my fortune," he continued, with a triumphant
smile, "to reinstate me in my family possessions.  Is it any wonder,
then, that I prize it? Since Fortune has thought fit to bestow it upon
me, I have only to use it properly and I shall arrive at the gold of
which it is the index. Jupiter, bring me that _scarabæus_!"

"What! de bug, massa? I'd rudder not go fer trubble dat bug--you mus
git him for your own self." Hereupon Legrand arose, with a grave and
stately air, and brought me the beetle from a glass case in which it
was enclosed. It was a beautiful _scarabæus_, and, at that time,
unknown to naturalists--of course a great prize in a scientific point
of view. There were two round, black spots near one extremity of the
back, and a long one near the other. The scales were exceedingly hard
and glossy, with all the appearance of burnished gold. The weight of
the insect was very remarkable, and, taking all things into
consideration, I could hardly blame Jupiter for his opinion respecting
it; but what to make of Legrand's agreement with that opinion, I could
not, for the life of me, tell.

"I sent for you," said he, in a grandiloquent tone, when I had
completed my examination of the beetle, "I sent for you that I might
have your counsel and assistance in furthering the views of Fate and
of the bug--"

"My dear Legrand," I cried, interrupting him, "you are certainly
unwell, and had better use some little precautions.  You shall go to
bed, and I will remain with you a few days, until you get over
this. You are feverish and--"

"Feel my pulse," said he.

I felt it, and, to say the truth, found not the slightest indication
of fever.

"But you may be ill, and yet have no fever. Allow me this once to
prescribe for you. In the first place, go to bed. In the next--"

"You are mistaken," he interposed, "I am as well as I can expect to be
under the excitement which I suffer. If you really wish me well, you
will relieve this excitement."

"And how is this to be done?"

"Very easily. Jupiter and myself are going upon an expedition into the
hills, upon the mainland, and, in this expedition, we shall need the
aid of some person in whom we can confide. You are the only one we can
trust. Whether we succeed or fail, the excitement which you now
perceive in me will be equally allayed."

"I am anxious to oblige you in any way," I replied; "but do you mean
to say that this infernal beetle has any connection with your
expedition into the hills?"

"It has."

"Then, Legrand, I can become a party to no such absurd proceeding."

"I am sorry--very sorry--for we shall have to try it by ourselves."

"Try it by yourselves! The man is surely mad!--but stay--how long do
you propose to be absent?"

"Probably all night. We shall start immediately, and be back, at all
events, by sunrise."

"And will you promise me, upon your honor, that when this freak of
yours is over, and the bug business (good God!)  settled to your
satisfaction, you will then return home and follow my advice
implicitly, as that of your physician?"

"Yes; I promise; and now let us be off, for we have no time to lose."

With a heavy heart I accompanied my friend. We started about four
o'clock--Legrand, Jupiter, the dog, and myself.  Jupiter had with him
the scythe and spades--the whole of which he insisted upon carrying,
more through fear, it seemed to me, of trusting either of the
implements within reach of his master, than from any excess of
industry or complaisance His demeanor was dogged in the extreme, and
"dat d----d bug" were the sole words which escaped his lips during the
journey. For my own part, I had charge of a couple of dark lanterns,
while Legrand contented himself with the _scarabæus,_ which he
carried attached to the end of a bit of whip-cord; twirling it to and
fro, with the air of a conjurer, as he went. When I observed this
last, plain evidence of my friend's aberation of mind, I could
scarcely refrain from tears. I thought it best, however, to humor his
fancy, at least for the present, or until I could adopt some more
energetic measures with a chance of success. In the meantime I
endeavored, but all in vain, to sound him in regard to the object of
the expedition.  Having succeeded in inducing me to accompany him, he
seemed unwilling to hold conversation upon any topic of minor
importance, and to all my questions vouchsafed no other reply than "we
shall see!"

We crossed the creek at the head of the island by means of a skiff,
and, ascending the high grounds on the shore of the mainland,
proceeded in a northwesterly direction, through a tract of country
excessively wild and desolate, where no trace of a human footstep was
to be seen. Legrand led the way with decision; pausing only for an
instant, here and there, to consult what appeared to be certain
landmarks of his own contrivance upon a former occasion.

In this manner we journeyed for about two hours, and the sun was just
setting when we entered a region infinitely more dreary than any yet
seen. It was a species of tableland, near the summit of an almost
inaccessible hill, densely wooded from base to pinnacle, and
interspersed with huge crags that appeared to lie loosely upon the
soil, and in many cases were prevented from precipitating themselves
into the valleys below merely by the support of the trees against
which they reclined.  Deep ravines, in various directions, gave an air
of still sterner solemnity to the scene.

The natural platform to which we had clambered was thickly overgrown
with brambles, through which we soon discovered that it would have
been impossible to force our way but for the scythe; and Jupiter, by
direction of his master, proceeded to clear for us a path to the foot
of an enormously tall tulip tree, which stood, with some eight or ten
oaks, upon the level, and far surpassed them all, and all other trees
which I had then ever seen, in the beauty of its foliage and form, in
the wide spread of its branches, and in the general majesty of its
appearance. When we reached this tree, Legrand turned to Jupiter, and
asked him if he thought he could climb it. The old man seemed a little
staggered by the question, and for some moments made no reply. At
length he approached the huge trunk, walked slowly around it, and
examined it with minute attention. When he had completed his scrutiny,
he merely said:

"Yes, massa, Jup climb any tree he ebber see in he life."

"Then up with you as soon as possible, for it will soon be too dark to
see what we are about."

"How far mus go up, massa?" inquired Jupiter.

"Get up the main trunk first, and then I will tell you which way to
go--and here--stop! take this beetle with you."

"De bug, Massa Will!--de goole-bug!" cried the negro, drawing back in
dismay--"what for mus tote de bug way up de tree?--d--n if I do!"

"If you are afraid, Jup, a great big negro like you, to take hold of a
harmless little dead beetle, why, you can carry it up by this
string--but, if you do not take it up with you in some way, I shall be
under the necessity of breaking your head with this shovel."

"What de matter now, massa?" said Jup, evidently shamed into
compliance; "always want fur to raise fuss wid old nigger.  Was only
funnin anyhow. _Me_ feered de bug! what I keer for de bug?" Here he
took cautiously hold of the extreme end of the string, and,
maintaining the insect as far from his person as circumstances would
permit, prepared to ascend the tree.

In youth, the tulip tree, or _Liriodendron Tulipifera_, the most
magnificent of American foresters, has a trunk peculiarly smooth, and
often rises to a great height without lateral branches; but, in its
riper age, the bark becomes gnarled and uneven, while many short limbs
make their appearance on the stem. Thus the difficulty of ascension,
in the present case, lay more in semblance than in reality. Embracing
the huge cylinder, as closely as possible, with his arms and knees,
seizing with his hands some projections, and resting his naked toes
upon others, Jupiter, after one or two narrow escapes from falling, at
length wriggled himself into the first great fork, and seemed to
consider the whole business as virtually accomplished. The _risk_ of
the achievement was, in fact, now over, although the climber was some
sixty or seventy feet from the ground.

"Which way mus go now, Massa Will?" he asked.

"Keep up the largest branch,--the one on this side," said Legrand. The
negro obeyed him promptly, and apparently with but little trouble,
ascending higher and higher, until no glimpse of his squat figure
could be obtained through the dense foliage which enveloped it.
Presently his voice was heard in a sort of halloo.

"How much fudder is got for go?"

"How high up are you?" asked Legrand.

"Ebber so fur," replied the negro; "can see de sky fru de top ob de

"Never mind the sky, but attend to what I say. Look down the trunk and
count the limbs below you on this side. How many limbs have you

"One, two, tree, four, fibe--I done pass fibe big limb, massa, pon dis

"Then go one limb higher."

In a few minutes the voice was heard again, announcing that the
seventh limb was attained.

"Now, Jup," cried Legrand, evidently much excited, "I want you to work
your way out upon that limb as far as you can. If you see anything
strange, let me know."

By this time what little doubt I might have entertained of my poor
friend's insanity was put finally at rest. I had no alternative but to
conclude him stricken with lunacy, and I became seriously anxious
about getting him home. While I was pondering upon what was best to be
done, Jupiter's voice was again heard.

"Mos feerd for to ventur pon dis limb berry far--'tis dead limb putty
much all de way."

"Did you say it was a _dead_ limb, Jupiter?" cried Legrand in a
quavering voice.

"Yes, massa, him dead as de door-nail--done up for sartain--done
departed dis here life."

"What in the name of heaven shall I do?" asked Legrand, seemingly in
the greatest distress.

"Do!" said I, glad of an opportunity to interpose a word, "why come
home and go to bed. Come now!--that's a fine fellow. It's getting
late, and, besides, you remember your promise."

"Jupiter," cried he, without heeding me in the least, "do you hear

"Yes, Massa Will, hear you ebber so plain."

"Try the wood well, then, with your knife, and see if you think it
_very_ rotten."

"Him rotten, massa, sure nuff," replied the negro in a few moments,
"but not so berry rotten as mought be. Mought ventur out leetle way
pon de limb by myself, dat's true."

"By yourself?--what do you mean?"

"Why, I mean de bug. 'Tis _berry_ hebby bug. Spose I drop him down
fuss, and den de limb won't break wid just de weight ob one nigger."

"You infernal scoundrel!" cried Legrand, apparently much relieved,
"what do you mean by telling me such nonsense as that? As sure as you
let that beetle fall, I'll break your neck.  Look here, Jupiter! do
you hear me?"

"Yes, massa, needn't hollo at poor nigger dat style."

"Well! now listen!--if you will venture out on the limb as far as you
think safe, and not let go the beetle, I'll make you a present of a
silver dollar as soon as you get down."

"I'm gwine, Massa Will--deed I is," replied the negro very
promptly--"mos out to the eend now."

"_Out to the end!_" here fairly screamed Legrand, "do you say you are
out to the end of that limb?"

"Soon be to de eend, massa,--o-o-o-o-oh! Lor-gol-a-marcy!  what _is_
dis here pon de tree?"

"Well!" cried Legrand, highly delighted, "what is it?"

"Why taint noffin but a skull--somebody bin lef him head up de tree,
and de crows done gobble ebery bit ob de meat off."

"A skull, you say!--very well!--how is it fastened to the limb?--what
holds it on?"

"Sure nuff, massa; mus look. Why, dis berry curous sarcumstance, pon
my word--dare's a great big nail in de skull, what fastens ob it on to
de tree."

"Well now, Jupiter, do exactly as I tell you--do you hear?"

"Yes, massa."

"Pay attention, then!--find the left eye of the skull."

"Hum! hoo! dat 's good! why, dar ain't no eye lef at all."

"Curse your stupidity! do you know your right hand from your left?"

Yes, I nose dat--nose all bout dat--'tis my lef hand what I chops de
wood wid."

"To be sure! you are left-handed; and your left eye is on the same
side as your left hand. Now, I suppose, you can find the left eye of
the skull, or the place where the left eye has been. Have you found

Here was a long pause. At length the negro asked, "Is de lef eye of de
skull pon de same side as de lef hand of de skull, too?--cause de
skull ain't got not a bit ob a hand at all--nebber mind! I got de lef
eye now--here de lef eye! what mus do wid it?"

"Let the beetle drop through it, as far as the string will reach--but
be careful and not let go your hold of the string."

"All dat done, Massa Will; mighty easy ting for to put de bug fru de
hole--look out for him dar below!"

During this colloquy no portion of Jupiter's person could be seen; but
the beetle, which he had suffered to descend, was now visible at the
end of the string, and glistened like a globe of burnished gold in the
last rays of the setting sun, some of which still faintly illumined
the eminence upon which we stood. The _scarabæus_ hung quite clear of
any branches, and, if allowed to fall, would have fallen at our
feet. Legrand immediately took the scythe, and cleared with it a
circular space, three or four yards in diameter, just beneath the
insect, and, having accomplished this, ordered Jupiter to let go the
string and come down from the tree.

Driving a peg, with great nicety, into the ground at the precise spot
where the beetle fell, my friend now produced from his pocket a
tape-measure. Fastening one end of this at that point of the trunk of
the tree which was nearest the peg, he unrolled it till it reached the
peg, and thence farther unrolled it, in the direction already
established by the two points of the tree and the peg, for the
distance of fifty feet--Jupiter clearing away the brambles with the
scythe. At the spot thus attained a second peg was driven, and about
this, as a centre, a rude circle, about four feet in diameter,
described. Taking now a spade himself, and giving one to Jupiter and
one to me, Legrand begged us to set about digging as quickly as

To speak the truth, I had no especial relish for such amusement at any
time, and, at that particular moment, would most willingly have
declined it; for the night was coming on, and I felt much fatigued
with the exercise already taken; but I saw no mode of escape, and was
fearful of disturbing my poor friend's equanimity by a refusal. Could
I have depended, indeed, upon Jupiter's aid, I would have had no
hesitation in attempting to get the lunatic home by force; but I was
too well assured of the old negro's disposition to hope that he would
assist me, under any circumstances, in a personal contest with his
master. I made no doubt that the latter had been infected with some of
the innumerable Southern superstitions about money buried, and that
his fantasy had received confirmation by the finding of the
_scarabæus_, or, perhaps, by Jupiter's obstinacy in maintaining it to
be "a bug of real gold."  A mind disposed to lunacy would readily be
led away by such suggestions, especially if chiming in with favorite
preconceived ideas; and then I called to mind the poor fellow's speech
about the beetle's being "the index of his fortune." Upon the whole, I
was sadly vexed and puzzled, but at length I concluded to make a
virtue of necessity--to dig with a good will, and thus the sooner to
convince the visionary, by ocular demonstration, of the fallacy of the
opinions he entertained.

The lanterns having been lit, we all fell to work with a zeal worthy a
more rational cause; and, as the glare fell upon our persons and
implements, I could not help thinking how picturesque a group we
composed, and how strange and suspicious our labors must have appeared
to any interloper who, by chance, might have stumbled upon our

We dug very steadily for two hours. Little was said; and our chief
embarrassment lay in the yelpings of the dog, who took exceeding
interest in our proceedings. He, at length, became so obstreperous
that we grew fearful of his giving the alarm to some stragglers in the
vicinity; or, rather, this was the apprehension of Legrand; for
myself, I should have rejoiced at any interruption which might have
enabled me to get the wanderer home. The noise was, at length, very
effectually silenced by Jupiter, who, getting out of the hole with a
dogged air of deliberation, tied the brute's mouth up with one of his
suspenders, and then returned, with a grave chuckle, to his task.

When the time mentioned had expired, we had reached a depth of five
feet, and yet no signs of any treasure became manifest. A general
pause ensued, and I began to hope that the farce was at an end.
Legrand, however, although evidently much disconcerted, wiped his brow
thoughtfully and recommenced. We had excavated the entire circle of
four feet diameter, and now we slightly enlarged the limit, and went
to the farther depth of two feet. Still nothing appeared. The
gold-seeker, whom I sincerely pitied, at length clambered from the
pit, with the bitterest disappointment imprinted upon every feature,
and proceeded, slowly and reluctantly, to put on his coat, which he
had thrown off at the beginning of his labor. In the meantime I made
no remark. Jupiter, at a signal from his master, began to gather up
his tools. This done, and the dog having been unmuzzled, we turned in
profound silence towards home.

We had taken, perhaps, a dozen steps in this direction, when, with a
loud oath, Legrand strode up to Jupiter, and seized him by the collar.
The astonished negro opened his eyes and mouth to the fullest extent,
let fall the spades, and fell upon his knees.

"You scoundrel," said Legrand, hissing out the syllables from between
his clenched teeth--"you infernal black villain!--speak, I tell
you!--answer me this instant, without prevarication!--which--which is
your left eye?"

"Oh, my golly, Massa Will! aint dis here my lef eye for sartain?"
roared the terrified Jupiter, placing his hand upon his _right_ organ
of vision, and holding it there with a desperate pertinacity, as if in
immediate dread of his master's attempt at a gouge.

"I thought so! I knew it! Hurrah!" vociferated Legrand, letting the
negro go, and executing a series of curvets and caracoles, much to the
astonishment of his valet, who, arising from his knees, looked mutely
from his master to myself, and then from myself to his master.

"Come! we must go back," said the latter, "the game's not up yet;" and
he again led the way to the tulip tree.

"Jupiter," said he, when we reached its foot, "come here!  Was the
skull nailed to the limb with the face outward, or with the face to
the limb?"

"De face was out, massa, so dat de crows could get at de eyes good,
widout any trouble."

"Well, then, was it this eye or that through which you dropped the
beetle?" here Legrand touched each of Jupiter's eyes.

"'Twas dis eye, massa--de lef eye--jis as you tell me," and here it
was his right eye that the negro indicated.

"That will do--we must try it again."

Here my friend, about whose madness I now saw, or fancied that I saw,
certain indications of method, removed the peg which marked the spot
where the beetle fell, to a spot about three inches to the westward of
its former position. Taking, now, the tape-measure from the nearest
point of the trunk to the peg, as before, and continuing the extension
in a straight line to the distance of fifty feet, a spot was
indicated, removed, by several yards, from the point at which we had
been digging.

Around the new position a circle, somewhat larger than in the former
instance, was now described, and we again set to work with the spades.
I was dreadfully weary, but, scarcely understanding what had
occasioned the change in my thoughts, I felt no longer any great
aversion from the labor imposed. I had become most unaccountably
interested--nay, even excited. Perhaps there was something, amid all
the extravagant demeanor of Legrand--some air of forethought, or of
deliberation--which impressed me. I dug eagerly, and now and then
caught myself actually looking, with something that very much
resembled expectation, for the fancied treasure, the vision of which
had demented my unfortunate companion. At a period when such vagaries
of thought most fully possessed me, and when we had been at work
perhaps an hour and a half, we were again interrupted by the violent
howlings of the dog. His uneasiness, in the first instance, had been
evidently but the result of playfulness or caprice, but he now assumed
a bitter and serious tone. Upon Jupiter's again attempting to muzzle
him, he made furious resistance, and, leaping into the hole, tore up
the mould frantically with his claws. In a few seconds he had
uncovered a mass of human bones, forming two complete skeletons,
intermingled with several buttons of metal, and what appeared to be
the dust of decayed woollen. One or two strokes of a spade upturned
the blade of a large Spanish knife, and, as he dug farther, three or
four loose pieces of gold and silver coin came to light.

At sight of these the joy of Jupiter could scarcely be restrained, but
the countenance of his master wore an air of extreme
disappointment. He urged us, however, to continue our exertions, and
the words were hardly uttered when I stumbled and fell forward, having
caught the toe of my boot in a large ring of iron that lay half buried
in the loose earth.

We now worked in earnest, and never did I pass ten minutes of more
intense excitement. During this interval we had fairly unearthed an
oblong chest of wood, which, from its perfect preservation and
wonderful hardness, had plainly been subjected to some mineralizing
process--perhaps that of the bichloride of mercury. This box was three
feet and a half long, three feet broad, and two and a half feet
deep. It was firmly secured by bands of wrought iron, riveted, and
forming a kind of trellis-work over the whole. On each side of the
chest, near the top, were three rings of iron--six in all--by means of
which a firm hold could be obtained by six persons.  Our utmost united
endeavors served only to disturb the coffer very slightly in its
bed. We at once saw the impossibility of removing so great a weight.
Luckily, the sole fastenings of the lid consisted of two sliding
bolts. These we drew back--trembling and panting with anxiety. In an
instant, a treasure of incalculable value lay gleaming before us. As
the rays of the lanterns fell within the pit, there flashed upwards,
from a confused heap of gold and of jewels, a glow and a glare that
absolutely dazzled our eyes.

I shall not pretend to describe the feelings with which I
gazed. Amazement was, of course, predominant. Legrand appeared
exhausted with excitement, and spoke very few words. Jupiter's
countenance wore, for some minutes, as deadly a pallor as it is
possible, in the nature of things, for any negro's visage to assume.
He seemed stupified--thunder-stricken. Presently he fell upon his
knees in the pit, and, burying his naked arms up to the elbows in
gold, let them there remain, as if enjoying the luxury of a bath. At
length, with a deep sigh, he exclaimed, as if in a soliloquy:

"And dis all cum ob de goole-bug! de putty goole-bug!  de poor little
goole-bug, what I boosed in dat sabage kind ob style! Aint you shamed
ob yourself, nigger?--answer me dat!"

It became necessary, at last, that I should arouse both master and
valet to the expediency of removing the treasure. It was growing late,
and it behooved us to make exertion, that we might get everything
housed before daylight. It was difficult to say what should be done,
and much time was spent in deliberation--so confused were the ideas of
all. We finally lightened the box by removing two-thirds of its
contents, when we were enabled, with some trouble, to raise it from
the hole. The articles taken out were deposited among the brambles,
and the dog left to guard them, with strict orders from Jupiter
neither, upon any pretence, to stir from the spot, nor to open his
mouth until our return. We then hurriedly made for home with the
chest; reaching the hut in safety, but after excessive toil, at one
o'clock in the morning. Worn out as we were, it was not in human
nature to do more just now. We rested until two, and had supper;
starting for the hills immediately afterwards, armed with three stout
sacks, which by good luck were upon the premises. A little before four
we arrived at the pit, divided the remainder of the booty, as equally
as might be, among us, and, leaving the holes unfilled, again set out
for the hut, at which, for the second time, we deposited our golden
burdens, just as the first streaks of the dawn gleamed from over the
tree-tops in the East.

We were now thoroughly broken down; but the intense excitement of the
time denied us repose. After an unquiet slumber of some three or four
hours' duration, we arose, as if by preconcert, to make examination of
our treasure.

The chest had been full to the brim, and we spent the whole day, and
the greater part of the next night, in a scrutiny of its contents.
There had been nothing like order or arrangement.  Everything had been
heaped in promiscuously. Having assorted all with care, we found
ourselves possessed of even vaster wealth than we had at first
supposed. In coin there was rather more than four hundred and fifty
thousand dollars: estimating the value of the pieces, as accurately as
we could, by the tables of the period. There was not a particle of
silver. All was gold of antique date and of great variety: French,
Spanish, and German money, with a few English guineas, and some
counters, of which we had never seen specimens before. There were
several very large and heavy coins, so worn that we could make nothing
of their inscriptions. There was no American money.  The value of the
jewels we found more difficulty in estimating.  There were
diamonds--some of them exceedingly large and fine--a hundred and ten
in all, and not one of them small; eighteen rubies of remarkable
brilliancy; three hundred and ten emeralds, all very beautiful; and
twenty-one sapphires, with an opal. These stones had all been broken
from their settings and thrown loose in the chest. The settings
themselves, which we picked out from among the other gold, appeared to
have been beaten up with hammers, as if to prevent identification.
Besides all this, there was a vast quantity of solid gold ornaments:
nearly two hundred massive finger and ear-rings; rich chains--thirty
of these, if I remember; eighty-three very large and heavy crucifixes;
five gold censers of great value; a prodigious golden punch-bowl,
ornamented with richly chased vine-leaves and Bacchanalian figures;
with two sword-handles exquisitely embossed, and many other smaller
articles which I cannot recollect. The weight of these valuables
exceeded three hundred and fifty pounds avoirdupois; and in this
estimate I have not included one hundred and ninety-seven superb gold
watches; three of the number being worth each five hundred dollars, if
one. Many of them were very old, and as time-keepers valueless, the
works having suffered more or less from corrosion; but all were richly
jewelled and in cases of great worth. We estimated the entire contents
of the chest, that night, at a million and a half of dollars; and,
upon the subsequent disposal of the trinkets and jewels (a few being
retained for our own use), it was found that we had greatly
undervalued the treasure.

When, at length, we had concluded our examination, and the intense
excitement of the time had in some measure subsided, Legrand, who saw
that I was dying with impatience for a solution of this most
extraordinary riddle, entered into a full detail of all the
circumstances connected with it.

"You remember," said he, "the night when I handed you the rough sketch
I had made of the _scarabæus_. You recollect, also, that I became
quite vexed at you for insisting that my drawing resembled a
death's-head. When you first made this assertion I thought you were
jesting; but afterwards I called to mind the peculiar spots on the
back of the insect, and admitted to myself that your remark had some
little foundation in fact. Still, the sneer at my graphic powers
irritated me--for I am considered a good artist--and, therefore, when
you handed me the scrap of parchment, I was about to crumple it up and
throw it angrily into the fire."

"The scrap of paper, you mean," said I.

"No: it had much of the appearance of paper, and at first I supposed
it to be such, but when I came to draw upon it, I discovered it, at
once, to be a piece of very thin parchment.  It was quite dirty, you
remember. Well, as I was in the very act of crumpling it up, my glance
fell upon the sketch at which you had been looking, and you may
imagine my astonishment when I perceived, in, fact, the figure of a
death's-head just where, it seemed to me, I had made the drawing of
the beetle. For a moment I was too much amazed to think with accuracy.
I knew that my design was very different in detail from this--although
there was a certain similarity in general outline.  Presently I took a
candle and, seating myself at the other end of the room, proceeded to
scrutinize the parchment more closely. Upon turning it over, I saw my
own sketch upon the reverse, just as I had made it. My first idea,
now, was mere surprise at the really remarkable similarity of
outline--at the singular coincidence involved in the fact that,
unknown to me, there should have been a skull upon the other side of
the parchment, immediately beneath my figure of the _scarabæus_, and
that this skull, not only in outline, but in size, should so closely
resemble my drawing. I say the singularity of this coincidence
absolutely stupified me for a time. This is the usual effect of such
coincidences. The mind struggles to establish a connection--a sequence
of cause and effect--and, being unable to do so, suffers a species of
temporary paralysis. But, when I recovered from this stupor, there
dawned upon me gradually a conviction which startled me even far more
than the coincidence.  I began distinctly, positively, to remember
that there had been _no_ drawing on the parchment when I made my
sketch of the _scarabæus_. I became perfectly certain of this; for I
recollected turning up first one side and then the other, in search of
the cleanest spot. Had the skull been then there, of course I could
not have failed to notice it. Here was indeed a mystery which I felt
it impossible to explain; but, even at that early moment, there seemed
to glimmer, faintly, within the most remote and secret chambers of my
intellect, a glow-worm-like conception of that truth which last
night's adventure brought to so magnificent a demonstration. I arose
at once, and, putting the parchment securely away, dismissed all
farther reflection until I should be alone.

"When you had gone, and when Jupiter was fast asleep, I betook myself
to a more methodical investigation of the affair. In the first place I
considered the manner in which the parchment had come into my
possession. The spot where we discovered the _scarabæus_ was on the
coast of the mainland, about a mile eastward of the island, and but a
short distance above high-water mark. Upon my taking hold of it, it
gave me a sharp bite, which caused me to let it drop. Jupiter, with
his accustomed caution, before seizing the insect, which had flown
towards him, looked about him for a leaf, or something of that nature,
by which to take hold of it. It was at this moment that his eyes, and
mine also, fell upon the scrap of parchment, which I then supposed to
be paper. It was lying half-buried in the sand, a corner sticking
up. Near the spot where we found it, I observed the remnants of the
hull of what appeared to have been a ship's long boat. The wreck
seemed to have been there for a very great while; for the resemblance
to boat timbers could scarcely be traced.

"Well, Jupiter picked up the parchment, wrapped the beetle in it, and
gave it to me. Soon afterwards we turned to go home, and on the way
met Lieutenant G----.  I showed him the insect, and he begged me to
let him take it to the fort. On my consenting, he thrust it forthwith
into his waistcoat pocket, without the parchment in which it had been
wrapped, and which I had continued to hold in my hand during his
inspection.  Perhaps he dreaded my changing my mind, and thought it
best to make sure of the prize at once--you know how enthusiastic he
is on all subjects connected with Natural History. At the same time,
without being conscious of it, I must have deposited the parchment in
my own pocket.

"You remember that when I went to the table, for the purpose of making
a sketch of the beetle, I found no paper where it was usually kept. I
looked in the drawer, and found none there. I searched my pockets,
hoping to find an old letter, and then my hand fell upon the
parchment. I thus detail the precise mode in which it came into my
possession; for the circumstances impressed me with peculiar force.

"No doubt you will think me fanciful--but I had already established a
kind of _connection_. I had put together two links of a great chain.
There was a boat lying on a seacoast, and not far from the boat was a
parchment--_not a paper_--with a skull depicted on it. You will, of
course, ask 'where is the connection?' I reply that the skull, or
death's-head, is the well-known emblem of the pirate. The flag of the
death's-head is hoisted in all engagements.

"I have said that the scrap was parchment, and not paper.  Parchment
is durable--almost imperishable. Matters of little moment are rarely
consigned to parchment; since, for the mere ordinary purposes of
drawing or writing, it is not nearly so well adapted as paper. This
reflection suggested some meaning--some relevancy--in the deaths-head.
I did not fail to observe, also, the _form_ of the parchment. Although
one of its corners had been, by some accident, destroyed, it could be
seen that the original form was oblong. It was just such a slip,
indeed, as might have been chosen for a memorandum--for a record of
something to be long remembered and carefully preserved."

"But," I interposed, "you say that the skull, was _not_ upon the
parchment when you made the drawing of the beetle.  How then do you
trace any connection between the boat and the skull--since this
latter, according to your own admission, must have been designed (God
only knows how or by whom) at some period subsequent to your sketching
the _scarabæus_?"

"Ah, hereupon turns the whole mystery; although the secret, at this
point, I had comparatively little difficulty in solving. My steps were
sure, and could afford but a single result. I reasoned, for example,
thus: When I drew the _scarabæus,_ there was no skull apparent on the
parchment. When I had completed the drawing I gave it to you, and
observed you narrowly until you returned it. _You_, therefore, did not
design the skull, and no one else was present to do it. Then it was
not done by human agency. And nevertheless it was done.

"At this stage of my reflections I endeavored to remember, and _did_
remember, with entire distinctness, every incident which occurred
about the period in question. The weather was chilly (O rare and happy
accident!), and a fire was blazing on the hearth. I was heated with
exercise and sat near the table. You, however, had drawn a chair close
to the chimney.  Just as I placed the parchment in your hand, and as
you were in the act of inspecting it, Wolf, the Newfoundland, entered,
and leaped upon your shoulders. With your left hand you caressed him
and kept him off, while your right, holding the parchment, was
permitted, to fall listlessly between your knees, and in close
proximity to the fire. At one moment I thought the blaze had caught
it, and was about to caution you, but, before I could speak, you had
withdrawn it, and were engaged in its examination. When I considered
all these particulars, I doubted not for a moment that _heat_ had been
the agent in bringing to light, on the parchment, the skull which I
saw designed on it. You are well aware that chemical preparations
exist, and have existed time out of mind, by means of which it is
possible to write on either paper or vellum, so that the characters
shall become visible only when subjected to the action of fire.
Zaffre, digested in _aqua regia_, and diluted with four times its
weight of water, is sometimes employed; a green tint results. The
regulus of cobalt, dissolved in spirit of nitre, gives a red. These
colors disappear at longer or shorter intervals after the material
written upon cools, but again become apparent upon the re-application
of heat.

"I now scrutinized the death's-head with care. Its outer edges--the
edges of the drawing nearest the edge of the vellum--were far more
_distinct_ than the others. It was clear that the action of the
caloric had been imperfect or unequal.  I immediately kindled a fire,
and subjected every portion of the parchment to a glowing heat. At
first, the only effect was the strengthening of the faint lines in the
skull; but, on persevering in the experiment, there became visible at
the corner of the slip, diagonally opposite to the spot in which the
death's-head was delineated, the figure of what I at first supposed to
be a goat. A closer scrutiny, however, satisfied me that it was
intended for a kid."

"Ha! ha!" said I, "to be sure I have no right to laugh at you--a
million and a half of money is too serious a matter for mirth--but you
are not about to establish a third link in your chain: you will not
find any especial connection between your pirates and a goat; pirates,
you know, have nothing to do with goats; they appertain to the farming

"But I have just said that the figure was _not_ that of a goat."

"Well, a kid, then--pretty much the same thing."

"Pretty much, but not altogether," said Legrand. "You may have heard
of one _Captain_ Kidd. I at once looked on the figure of the animal as
a kind of punning or hieroglyphical signature. I say signature,
because its position on the vellum suggested this idea. The
death's-head at the corner diagonally opposite had, in the same
manner, the air of a stamp, or seal.  But I was sorely put out by the
absence of all else--of the body to my imagined instrument--of the
text for my context."

"I presume you expected to find a letter between the stamp and the

"Something of that kind. The fact is, I felt irresistibly impressed
with a presentiment of some vast good fortune impending. I can
scarcely say why. Perhaps, after all, it was rather a desire than an
actual belief;--but do you know that Jupiter's silly words, about the
bug being of solid gold, had a remarkable effect on my fancy? And then
the series of accidents and coincidences--these were so _very_
extraordinary.  Do you observe how mere an accident it was that these
events should have occurred on the _sole_ day of all the year in which
it has been, or may be, sufficiently cool for fire, and that without
the fire, or without the intervention of the dog at the precise moment
in which he appeared, I should never have become aware of the
death's-head, and so never the possessor of the treasure?"

"But proceed--I am all impatience."

"Well; you have heard, of course, the many stories current--the
thousand vague rumors afloat about money buried, somewhere on the
Atlantic coast, by Kidd and his associates.  These rumors must have
had some foundation in fact. And that the rumors have existed so long
and so continuously, could have resulted, it appeared to me, only from
the circumstance of the buried treasure still _remaining_ entombed.
Had Kidd concealed his plunder for a time, and afterwards reclaimed
it, the rumors would scarcely have reached us in their present
unvarying form. You will observe that the stories told are all about
money-seekers, not about money-finders.  Had the pirate recovered his
money, there the affair would have dropped. It seemed to me that some
accident--say the loss of a memorandum indicating its locality--had
deprived him of the means of recovering it, and that this accident had
become known to his followers, who otherwise might never have heard
that treasure had been concealed at all, and who, busying themselves
in vain, because unguided, attempts to regain it, had given first
birth, and then universal currency, to the reports which are now so
common. Have you ever heard of any important treasure being unearthed
along the coast?"


"But that Kidd's accumulations were immense is well known. I took it
for granted, therefore, that the earth still held them; and you will
scarcely be surprised when I tell you that I felt a hope, nearly
amounting to certainty, that the parchment so strangely found involved
a lost record of the place of deposit."

"But how did you proceed?"

"I held the vellum again to the fire, after increasing the heat, but
nothing appeared. I now thought it possible that the coating of dirt
might have something to do with the failure; so I carefully rinsed the
parchment by pouring warm water over it, and, having done this, I
placed it in a tin pan, with the skull downwards, and put the pan upon
a furnace of lighted charcoal. In a few minutes, the pan having become
thoroughly heated, I removed the slip, and, to my inexpressible joy,
found it spotted, in several places, with what appeared to be figures
arranged in lines. Again I placed it in the pan, and suffered it to
remain another minute. Upon taking it off, the whole was just as you
see it now."

Here Legrand, having reheated the parchment, submitted it to my
inspection. The following characters were rudely traced, in a red
tint, between the death's-head and the goat:--


"But," said I, returning him the slip, "I am as much in the dark as
ever. Were all the jewels of Golconda awaiting me on my solution of
this enigma, I am quite sure, that I should be unable to earn them."

"And yet," said Legrand, "the solution is by no means so difficult as
you might be led to imagine from the first hasty inspection of the
characters. These characters, as any one might readily guess, form a
cipher--that is to say, they convey a meaning; but then, from what is
known of Kidd, I could not suppose, him capable of constructing any of
the more abstruse cryptographs. I made up my mind, at once, that this
was of a simple species--such, however, as would appear, to the crude
intellect of the sailor, absolutely insoluble without the key."

"And you really solved it?"

"Readily; I have solved others of an abstruseness ten thousand times
greater. Circumstances, and a certain bias of mind, have led me to
take interest in such riddles, and it may well be doubted whether
human ingenuity can construct an enigma of the kind which human
ingenuity may not, by proper application, resolve. In fact, having
once established connected and legible characters, I scarcely gave a
thought to the mere difficulty of developing their import.

"In the present case--indeed in all cases of secret writing--the first
question regards the _language_ of the cipher; for the principles of
solution, so far, especially, as the more simple ciphers are
concerned, depend on, and are varied by, the genius of the particular
idiom. In general, there is no alternative but experiment (directed by
probabilities) of every tongue known to him who attempts the solution,
until the true one be attained. But, with the cipher now before us,
all difficulty is removed by the signature. The pun upon the word
'Kidd' is appreciable in no other language than the English. But for
this consideration I should have begun my attempts with the Spanish
and French, as the tongues in which a secret of this kind would most
naturally have been written by a pirate of the Spanish main. As it
was, I assumed the cryptograph to be English.

"You observe there are no divisions between the words.  Had there been
divisions, the task would have been comparatively easy.  In such case
I should have commenced with a collation and analysis of the shorter
words, and, had a word of a single letter occurred, as is most likely
(_a_ or _I_, for example), I should have considered the solution as
assured.  But, there being no division, my first step was to ascertain
the predominant letters, as well as the least frequent.  Counting all,
I constructed a table, thus:

Of the character  8 there are 33
                  ;    "     26
                  4    "     19
                  ‡)   "     16
                  *    "     13
                  5    "     12
                  6    "     11
                 †1    "      8
                  0    "      6
                 92    "      5
                 :3    "      4
                  ?    "      3
                  ¶    "      2
                  ]    "      1

"Now, in English, the letter which most frequently occurs is _e_.
Afterwards the succession runs thus: _a o i d h n r s t u y c f g l m
w b k p q x z. E_ predominates, however, so remarkably that an
individual sentence of any length is rarely seen, in which it is not
the prevailing character.

"Here, then, we have, in the very beginning, the groundwork for
something more than a mere guess. The general use which may be made of
the table is obvious--but, in this particular cipher, we shall only
very partially require its aid. As our predominant character is 8, we
will commence by assuming it as the _e_ of the natural alphabet. To
verify the supposition, let us observe if the 8 be seen often in
couples--for _e_ is doubled with great frequency in English--in such
words, for example, as 'meet,' 'fleet,' 'speed,' 'seen,' 'been,'
'agree,' etc. In the present instance we see it doubled no less than
five times, although the cryptograph is brief.

"Let us assume 8, then, as _e_. Now, of all _words_ in the language,
'the' is most usual; let us see, therefore, whether there are not
repetitions of any three characters, in the same order of collocation,
the last of them being 8. If we discover repetitions of such letters,
so arranged, they will most probably represent the word 'the.' On
inspection, we find no less than seven such arrangements, the
characters being ;48. We may, therefore, assume that the semicolon
represents _t_, that 4 represents _h_, and that 8 represents _e_--the
last being now well confirmed. Thus a great step has been taken.

"But, having established a single word, we are enabled to establish a
vastly important point; that is to say, several commencements and
terminations of other words. Let us refer, for example, to the last
instance but one, in which combination ;48 occurs--not far from the
end of the cipher.  We know that the semicolon immediately ensuing is
the commencement of a word, and, of the six characters succeeding this
'the,' we are cognizant of no less than five. Let us set these
characters down, thus, by the letters we know them to represent,
leaving a space for the unknown--

  t eeth

"Here we are enabled, at once, to discard the '_th_,' as forming no
portion of the word commencing with the first _t_; since, by
experiment of the entire alphabet for a letter adapted to the vacancy,
we perceive that no word can be formed of which this _th_ can be a
part. We are thus narrowed into

  t ee,

and, going through the alphabet, if necessary, as before, we arrive at
the word 'tree' as the sole possible reading. We thus gain another
letter _r_, represented by (, with the words 'the tree' in

"Looking beyond these words, for a short distance, we again see the
combination ;48, and employ it by way of _termination_ to what
immediately precedes. We have thus this arrangement:

  the tree ;4(‡?34 the,

or, substituting the natural letters, where known, it reads thus:

  the tree thr‡?3h the.

"Now, if, in place of the unknown characters, we leave blank spaces,
or substitute dots, we read thus:

  the tree thr . . . h the,

when the word '_through_' makes itself evident at once. But this
discovery gives us three new letters, _o, u_, and _g_, represented by
‡ ? and 3.

"Looking now, narrowly, through the cipher for combinations of known
characters, we find, not very far from the beginning, this

  83(88, or egree,

which, plainly, is the conclusion of the word 'degree,' and gives us
another letter, _d_, represented by †.

"Four letters beyond the word 'degree,' we perceive the combination


"Translating the known characters, and representing the unknown by
dots, as before, we read thus:

  th . rtee,

an arrangement immediately suggestive of the word 'thirteen,' and
again furnishing us with two new characters, _i_ and _n_, represented
by 6 and *.

"Referring, now, to the beginning of the cryptograph, we find the


"Translating as before, we obtain


which assures us that the first letter is _A_, and that the first two
words are 'A good.'

"To avoid confusion, it is now time that we arrange our key, as far as
discovered, in a tabular form. It will stand thus:

5  represents a
†      "      d
8      "      e
3      "      g
4      "      h
6      "      i
*      "      n
‡      "      o
(      "      r
;      "      t

"We have, therefore, no less than ten of the most important letters
represented, and it will be unnecessary to proceed with the details of
the solution. I have said enough to convince you that ciphers of this
nature are readily soluble, and to give you some insight into the
rationale of their development. But be assured that the specimen
before us appertains to the very simplest species of cryptograph. It
now only remains to give you the full translation of the characters
upon the parchment, 5 as unriddled. Here it is:

"'_A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat twenty-one
degrees and thirteen minutes northeast and by north main branch
seventh limb east side shoot from the left eye of the death's-head a
bee line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out_.'"

"But," said I, "the enigma seems still in as bad a condition as
ever. How is it possible to extort a meaning from all this jargon
about 'devil's seats,' 'death's-heads,' and 'bishop's hotels'?"

"I confess," replied Legrand, "that the matter still wears a serious
aspect, when regarded with a casual glance. My first endeavor was to
divide the sentence into the natural division intended by the

"You mean, to punctuate it?"

"Something of that kind."

"But how was it possible to effect this?"

"I reflected that it had been a _point_ with the writer to run his
words together without division, so as to increase the difficulty of
solution.  Now, a not over-acute man, in pursuing such an object,
would be nearly certain to overdo the matter.  When, in the course of
his composition, he arrived at a break in his subject which would
naturally require a pause, or a point, he would be exceedingly apt to
run his characters, at this place, more than usually close
together. If you will observe the MS., in the present instance, you
will easily detect five such cases of unusual crowding. Acting on this
hint, I made the division thus:

"'_A good glass in the bishop's hostel in the devil's seat--twenty-one
degrees and thirteen minutes--northeast and by north--main branch
seventh limb east side--shoot from the left eye of the deaths-head--a

bee line from the tree through the shot fifty feet out_.'"

"Even this division," said I, "leaves me still in the dark."

"It left me also in the dark," replied Legrand, "for a few days;
during which I made diligent inquiry, in the neighborhood of
Sullivan's Island, for any building which went by the name of the
'Bishop's Hotel'; for, of course, I dropped the obsolete word
'hostel.' Gaining no information on the subject, I was on the point of
extending my sphere of search, and proceeding in a more systematic
manner, when one morning it entered into my head, quite suddenly, that
this 'Bishop's Hostel' might have some reference to an old family, of
the name of Bessop, which, time out of mind, had held possession of an
ancient manor-house, about four miles to the northward of the
island. I accordingly went over to the plantation, and reinstituted my
inquiries among the older negroes of the place. At length one of the
most aged of the women said that she had heard of such a place as
_Bessop's Castle_, and thought that she could guide me to it, but that
it was not a castle, nor a tavern, but a high rock.

"I offered to pay her well for her trouble, and, after some demur, she
consented to accompany me to the spot. We found it without much
difficulty, when, dismissing her, I proceeded to examine the place.
The 'castle' consisted of an irregular assemblage of cliffs and
rocks--one of the latter being quite remarkable for its height as well
as for its insulated and artificial appearance. I clambered to its
apex, and then felt much at a loss as to what should be next done.

"While I was busied in reflection, my eyes fell on a narrow ledge in
the eastern face of the rock, perhaps a yard below the summit upon
which I stood. This ledge projected about eighteen inches, and was not
more than a foot wide, while a niche in the cliff just above it gave
it a rude resemblance to one of the hollow-backed chairs used by our
ancestors. I made no doubt that here was the 'devil's seat' alluded to
in the MS., and now I seemed to grasp the full secret of the riddle.

"The 'good glass,' I knew, could have reference to nothing but a
telescope; for the word 'glass' is rarely employed in any other sense
by seamen. Now here, I at once saw, was a telescope to be used, and a
definite point of view, _admitting no variation_, from which to use
it. Nor did I hesitate to believe that the phrases, 'twenty-one
degrees and thirteen minutes,' and 'northeast and by north,' were
intended as directions for the levelling of the glass. Greatly excited
by these discoveries, I hurried home, procured a telescope, and
returned to the rock.

"I let myself down to the ledge, and found that it was impossible to
retain a seat on it unless in one particular position.  This fact
confirmed my preconceived idea. I proceeded to use the glass. Of
course, the 'twenty-one degrees and thirteen minutes' could allude to
nothing but elevation above the visible horizon, since the horizontal
direction was clearly indicated by the words, 'northeast and by
north.' This latter direction I at once established by means of a
pocket-compass; then, pointing the glass as nearly at an angle of
twenty-one degrees of elevation as I could do it by guess, I moved it
cautiously up or down, until my attention was arrested by a circular
rift or opening in the foliage of a large tree that over-topped its
fellows in the distance. In the centre of this rift I perceived a
white spot, but could not, at first, distinguish what it was.
Adjusting the focus of the telescope, I again looked, and now made it
out to be a human skull.

"On this discovery I was so sanguine as to consider the enigma solved;
for the phrase 'main branch, seventh limb, east side,' could refer
only to the position of the skull on the tree, while 'shoot from the
left eye of the death's-head' admitted, also, of but one
interpretation, in regard to a search for buried treasure. I perceived
that the design was to drop a bullet from the left eye of the skull,
and that a bee-line, or, in other words, a straight line, drawn from
the nearest point of the trunk through 'the shot' (or the spot where
the bullet fell), and thence extended to a distance of fifty feet,
would indicate a definite point--and beneath this point I thought it
at least _possible_ that a deposit of value lay concealed."

"All this," I said, "is exceedingly clear, and, although ingenious,
still simple and explicit. When you left the Bishop's Hotel, what

"Why, having carefully taken the bearings of the tree, I turned
homewards. The instant that I left 'the devil's seat,' however, the
circular rift vanished; nor could I get a glimpse of it afterwards,
turn as I would. What seems to me the chief ingenuity in this whole
business, is the fact (for repeated experiment has convinced me it
_is_ a fact) that the circular opening in question is visible from no
other attainable point of view than that afforded by the narrow ledge
on the face of the rock.

"In this expedition to the 'Bishop's Hotel' I had been attended by
Jupiter, who had no doubt observed, for some weeks past, the
abstraction of my demeanor, and took especial care not to leave me
alone. But on the next day, getting up very early, I contrived to give
him the slip, and went into the hills in search of the tree. After
much toil I found it.  When I came home at night my valet proposed to
give me a flogging. With the rest of the adventure I believe you are
as well acquainted as myself."

"I suppose," said I, "you missed the spot, in the first attempt at
digging, through Jupiter's stupidity in letting the bug fall through
the right instead of through the left eye of the skull."

"Precisely. This mistake made a difference of about two inches and a
half in the 'shot'--that is to say, in the position of the peg nearest
the tree; and had the treasure been _beneath_ the 'shot,' the error
would have been of little moment; but 'the shot,' together with the
nearest point of the tree, were merely two points for the
establishment of a line of direction; of course the error, however
trivial in the beginning, increased as we proceeded with the line,
and, by the time we had gone fifty feet, threw us quite off the
scent. But for my deep-seated convictions that treasure was here
somewhere actually buried, we might have had all our labor in vain."

"I presume the fancy of _the skull_--of letting fall a bullet through
the skull's eye--was suggested to Kidd by the piratical flag. No doubt
he felt a kind of poetical consistency in recovering his money through
this ominous insignium."

"Perhaps so; still, I cannot help thinking that common sense had quite
as much to do with the matter as poetical consistency. To be visible
from the devil's seat, it was necessary that the object, if small,
should be _white_; and there is nothing like your human skull for
retaining and even increasing its whiteness under exposure to all
vicissitudes of weather."

"But your grandiloquence, and your conduct in swinging the beetle--how
excessively odd! I was sure you were mad.  And why did you insist on
letting fall the bug, instead of a bullet, from the skull?"

"Why, to be frank, I felt somewhat annoyed by your evident suspicions
touching my sanity, and so resolved to punish you quietly, in my own
way, by a little bit of sober mystification.  For this reason I swung
the beetle, and for this reason I let it fall from the tree. An
observation of yours about its great weight suggested the latter

"Yes, I perceive; and now there is only one point which puzzles
me. What are we to make of the skeletons found in the hole?"

"That is a question I am no more able to answer than yourself.  There
seems, however, only one plausible way of accounting for them--and yet
it is dreadful to believe in such atrocity as my suggestion would
imply. It is clear that Kidd--if Kidd indeed secreted this treasure,
which I doubt not--it is clear 30 that he must have had assistance in
the labor. But, the worst of this labor concluded, he may have thought
it expedient to remove all participants in his secret. Perhaps a
couple of blows with a mattock were sufficient, while his coadjutors
were busy in the pit; perhaps it required a dozen--who shall tell?"


  Nil sapientiæ odiosius acumine nimio.

At Paris, just after dark one gusty evening in the autumn of 18--, I
was enjoying the twofold luxury of meditation and a meerschaum, in
company with my friend C. Auguste Dupin, in his little back library,
or book closet, _au troisième_, No. 33, Rue Dunôt, Faubourg St.
Germain. For one hour at least we had maintained a profound silence;
while each, to any casual observer, might have seemed intently and
exclusively occupied with the curling eddies of smoke that oppressed
the atmosphere of the chamber. For myself, however, I was mentally
discussing certain topics which had formed matter for conversation
between us at an earlier period of the evening; I mean the affair of
the Rue Morgue, and the mystery attending the murder of Marie Rogêt. I
looked upon it, therefore, as something of a coincidence, when the
door of our apartment was thrown open and admitted our old
acquaintance, Monsieur G----, the Prefect of the Parisian police.

We gave him a hearty welcome; for there was nearly half as much of the
entertaining as of the contemptible about the man, and we had not seen
him for several years. We had been sitting in the dark, and Dupin now
arose for the purpose of lighting a lamp, but sat down again, without
doing so, upon G----'s saying that he had called to consult us, or
rather to ask the opinion of my friend, about some official business
which had occasioned a great deal of trouble.

"If it is any point requiring reflection," observed Dupin, as he
forebore to enkindle the wick, "we shall examine it to better purpose
in the dark."

"That is another of your odd notions," said the Prefect, who had a
fashion of calling everything "odd" that was beyond his comprehension,
and thus lived amid an absolute legion of "oddities."

"Very true," said Dupin, as he supplied his visitor with a pipe, and
rolled towards him a comfortable chair.

"And what is the difficulty now?" I asked. "Nothing more in the
assassination way, I hope?"

"Oh, no; nothing of that nature. The fact is, the business is _very_
simple indeed, and I make no doubt that we can manage it sufficiently
well ourselves; but then I thought Dupin would like to hear the
details of it, because it is so excessively _odd_."

"Simple and odd," said Dupin.

"Why, yes; and not exactly that, either. The fact is, we have all been
a good deal puzzled because the affair _is_ so simple, and yet baffles
us altogether."

"Perhaps it is the very simplicity of the thing which puts you at
fault," said my friend.

"What nonsense you _do_ talk!" replied the Prefect, laughing heartily.

"Perhaps the mystery is a little _too_ plain," said Dupin.

"Oh, good Heavens! who ever heard of such an idea?"

"A little _too_ self-evident."

"Ha! ha! ha!--ha! ha! ha!--ho! ho! ho!" roared our visitor, profoundly
amused. "O Dupin, you will be the death of me yet!"

"And what, after all, _is_ the matter on hand?" I asked.

"Why, I will tell you," replied the Prefect, as he gave a long,
steady, and contemplative puff, and settle'd himself in his chair.  "I
will tell you in a few words; but, before I begin, let me caution you
that this is an affair demanding the greatest secrecy, and that I
should most probably lose the position I now hold were it known that I
confided it to any one."

"Proceed," said I.

"Or not," said Dupin.

"Well, then; I have received personal information, from a very high
quarter, that a certain document of the last importance has been
purloined from the royal apartments. The individual who purloined it
is known; this beyond a doubt; he was seen to take it. It is known,
also, that it still remains in his possession."

"How is this known?" asked Dupin.

"It is clearly inferred," replied the Prefect, "from the nature of the
document, and from the non-appearance of certain results which would
at once arise from its passing _out_ of the robber's possession; that
is to say, from his employing it as he must design in the end to
employ it."

"Be a little more explicit," I said.

"Well, I may venture so far as to say that the paper gives its holder
a certain power in a certain quarter where such power is immensely
valuable."  The Prefect was fond of the cant of diplomacy.

"Still I do not quite understand," said Dupin.

"No?  well; the disclosure of the document to a third person, who
shall be nameless, would bring in question the honor of a personage of
most exalted station; and this fact gives the holder of the document
an ascendency over the illustrious personage whose honor and peace are
so jeopardized."

"But this ascendency," I interposed, "would depend upon the robber's
knowledge of the loser's knowledge of the robber.  Who would dare--"

"The thief," said G-------, "is the Minister D------, who dares all
things, those unbecoming as well as those becoming a man.  The method
of the theft was not less ingenious than bold.  The document in
question--a letter, to be frank--had been received by the
personage robbed while alone in the royal boudoir.  During its perusal
she was suddenly interrupted by the entrance of the other exalted
personage, from whom especially it was her wish to conceal it.  After
a hurried and vain endeavor to thrust it in a drawer, she was forced
to place it, open as it was, upon a table. The address, however, was
uppermost, and, the contents thus unexposed, the letter escaped
notice. At this juncture enters the Minister D----. His lynx eye
immediately perceives the paper, recognizes the handwriting of the
address, observes the confusion of the personage addressed, and
fathoms her secret. After some business transactions, hurried through
in his ordinary manner, he produces a letter somewhat similar to the
one in question, opens it, pretends to read it, and then places it in
close juxtaposition to the other. Again he converses for some fifteen
minutes upon the public affairs. At length, in taking leave, he takes
also from the table the letter to which he had no claim. Its rightful
owner saw, but, of course, dared not call attention to the act, in the
presence of the third personage, who stood at her elbow. The Minister
decamped, leaving his own letter--one of no importance--upon the

"Here, then," said Dupin to me, "you have precisely what you demand to
make the ascendancy complete--the robber's knowledge of the loser's
knowledge of the robber."

"Yes," replied the Prefect; "and the power thus attained has, for some
months past, been wielded, for political purposes, to a very dangerous
extent. The personage robbed is more thoroughly convinced, every day,
of the necessity of reclaiming her letter. But this, of course, cannot
be done openly. In fine, driven to despair, she has committed the
matter to me."

"Than whom," said Dupin, amid a perfect whirlwind of smoke, "no more
sagacious agent could, I suppose, be desired, or even imagined."

"You flatter me," replied the Prefect; "but it is possible that some
such opinion may have been entertained."

"It is clear," said I, "as you observe, that the letter is still in
possession of the Minister; since it is this possession, and not any
employment of the letter, which bestows the power.  With the
employment the power departs."

"True," said G----; "and upon this conviction I proceeded. My first
care was to make thorough search of the Minister's Hotel; and here my
chief embarrassment lay in the necessity of searching without his
knowledge. Beyond all things, I have been warned of the danger which
would result from giving him reason to suspect our design."

"But," said I, "you are quite _au fait_ in these investigations. The
Parisian police have done this thing often before."

"Oh, yes; and for this reason I did not despair. The habits of the
Minister gave me, too, a great advantage. He is frequently absent from
home all night. His servants are by no means numerous. They sleep at a
distance from their master's apartment, and, being chiefly
Neapolitans, are readily made drunk. I have keys, as you know, with
which I can open any chamber or cabinet in Paris. For three months a
night has not passed, during the greater part of which I have not been
engaged, personally, in ransacking the D---- Hotel. My honor is
interested, and, to mention a great secret, the reward is enormous. So
I did not abandon the search until I had become fully satisfied the
thief is a more astute man than myself. I fancy that I have
investigated every nook and corner of the premises in which it is
possible that the paper can be concealed."

"But is it not possible," I suggested, "that although the letter may
be in possession of the Minister, as it unquestionably is, he may have
concealed it elsewhere than upon his own premises?"

"This is barely possible," said Dupin. "The present peculiar condition
of affairs at court, and especially of those intrigues in which D----
is known to be involved, would render the instant availability of the
document--its susceptibility of being produced at a moment's notice--a
point of nearly equal importance with its possession."

"Its susceptibility of being produced?" said I.

"That is to say, of being _destroyed_," said Dupin.

"True," I observed; "the paper is clearly then upon the premises. As
for its being upon the person of the Minister, we may consider that as
out of the question."

"Entirely," said the Prefect. "He has been twice waylaid, as if by
footpads, and his person rigorously searched under my own inspection."

"You might have spared yourself this trouble," said Dupin.  "D----, I
presume, is not altogether a fool, and, if not, must have anticipated
these waylayings, as a matter of course."

"Not _altogether_ a fool," said G----, "but then he's a poet, which I
take to be only one remove from a fool."

"True," said Dupin, after a long and thoughtful whiff from his
meerschaum, "although I have been guilty of certain doggerel myself."

"Suppose you detail," said I, "the particulars of your search."

"Why, the fact is, we took our time, and we searched _everywhere_. I
have had long experience in these affairs. I took the entire building,
room by room, devoting the nights of a whole week to each. We
examined, first, the furniture of each apartment. We opened every
possible drawer; and I presume you know that, to a properly trained
police agent, such a thing as a _secret_ drawer is impossible. Any man
is a dolt who permits a 'secret' drawer to escape him in a search of
this kind. The thing is _so_ plain. There is a certain amount of
bulk--of space--to be accounted for in every cabinet.  Then we have
accurate rules. The fiftieth part of a line could not escape us. After
the cabinets we took the chairs. The cushions we probed with the fine
long needles you have seen me employ. From the tables we removed the

"Why so?"

"Sometimes the top of a table, or other similarly arranged piece of
furniture, is removed by the person wishing to conceal an article;
then the leg is excavated, the article deposited within the cavity,
and the top replaced. The bottoms and tops of bedposts are employed in
the same way."

"But could not the cavity be detected by sounding?" I asked.

"By no means, if, when the article is deposited, a sufficient wadding
of cotton be placed around it. Besides, in our case we were obliged to
proceed without noise."

"But you could not have removed--you could not have taken to pieces
_all_ articles of furniture in which it would have been possible to
make a deposit in the manner you mention.  A letter may be compressed
into a thin spiral roll, not differing much in shape or bulk from a
large knitting-needle, and in this form it might be inserted into the
rung of a chair, for example. You did not take to pieces all the

"Certainly not; but we did better--we examined the rungs of every
chair in the Hotel, and indeed, the jointings of every description of
furniture, by the aid of a most powerful microscope. Had there been
any traces of recent disturbance we should not have failed to detect
it instantly. A single grain of gimlet-dust, for example, would have
been as obvious as an apple. Any disorder in the gluing--any unusual
gaping in the joints--would have sufficed to insure detection."

"I presume you looked to the mirrors, between the boards and the
plates, and you probed the beds and the bedclothes, as well as the
curtains and carpets?"

"That, of course; and when we had absolutely completed every particle
of the furniture in this way, then we examined the house itself. We
divided its entire surface into compartments, which we numbered, so
that none might be missed; then we scrutinized each individual square
inch throughout the premises, including the two houses immediately
adjoining, with the microscope, as before."

"The two houses adjoining!" I exclaimed; "you must have had a great
deal of trouble."

"We had; but the reward offered is prodigious."

"You include the _grounds_ about the houses?"

"All the grounds are paved with bricks. They gave us comparatively
little trouble. We examined the moss between the bricks, and found it

"You looked among D----'s papers, of course, and into the books of the

"Certainly; we opened every package and parcel; we not only opened
every book, but we turned over every leaf in each volume, not
contenting ourselves with a mere shake, according to the fashion of
some of our police officers. We also measured the thickness of every
book-_cover_, with the most accurate admeasurement, and applied to
each the most jealous scrutiny of the microscope. Had any of the
bindings been recently meddled with, it would have been utterly
impossible that the fact should have escaped observation. Some five or
six volumes, just from the hands of the binder, we carefully probed,
longitudinally, with the needles."

"You explored the floors beneath the carpets?"

"Beyond doubt. We removed every carpet, and examined the boards with
the microscope."

"And the paper on the walls?"


"You looked into the cellars?"

"We did."

"Then," I said, "you have been making a miscalculation, and the letter
is _not_ upon the premises, as you suppose."

"I fear you are right there," said the Prefect. "And now, Dupin, what
would you advise me to do?"

"To make a thorough re-search of the premises."

"That is absolutely needless," replied G----. "I am not more sure that
I breathe than I am that the letter is not at the Hotel."

"I have no better advice to give you," said Dupin.

"You have, of course, an accurate description of the letter?"

"Oh, yes!"--And here the Prefect, producing a memorandum-book,
proceeded to read aloud a minute account of the internal, and
especially of the external appearance of the missing document. Soon
after finishing the perusal of this description, he took his
departure, more entirely depressed in spirits than I had ever known
the good gentleman before.

In about a month afterwards he paid us another visit, and found us
occupied very nearly as before. He took a pipe and a chair and entered
into some ordinary conversation. At length I said,--

"Well, but, G----, what of the purloined letter? I presume you have at
last made up your mind that there is no such thing as overreaching the

"Confound him, say I--yes; I made the re-examination, however, as
Dupin suggested--but it was all labor lost, as I knew it would be."

"How much was the reward offered, did you say?" asked Dupin.

"Why, a very great deal--a _very_ liberal reward--I don't like to say
how much, precisely; but one thing I _will_ say, that I wouldn't mind
giving my individual check for fifty thousand francs to any one who
could obtain me that letter.  The fact is, it is becoming of more and
more importance every day; and the reward has been lately doubled. If
it were trebled, however, I could do no more than I have done."

"Why, yes," said Dupin, drawlingly, between the whiffs of his
meerschaum, "I really--think, G----, you have not exerted yourself--to
the utmost in this matter. You might--do a little more, I think, eh?"

"How?--in what way?"

"Why--puff, puff--you might--puff, puff--employ counsel in the matter,
eh?--puff, puff, puff. Do you remember the story they tell of

"No; hang Abernethy!"

"To be sure! hang him and welcome. But, once upon a time, a certain
rich miser conceived the design of sponging upon this Abernethy for a
medical opinion. Getting up, for this purpose, an ordinary
conversation in a private company, he insinuated his case to the
physician, as that of an imaginary individual.

"'We will suppose,' said the miser, 'that his symptoms are such and
such; now, doctor, what would _you_ have directed him to take?'

"'Take!' said Abernethy, 'why, take _advice_, to be sure.'"

"But," said the Prefect, a little discomposed, "I am _perfectly_
willing to take advice, and to pay for it. I would _really_ give fifty
thousand francs to any one who would aid me in the matter."

"In that case," replied Dupin, opening a drawer, and producing a
check-book, "you may as well fill me up a check for the amount
mentioned. When you have signed it, I will hand you the letter."

I was astounded. The Prefect appeared absolutely thunder-stricken. For
some minutes he remained speechless and motionless, looking
incredulously at my friend with open mouth, and eyes that seemed
starting from their sockets; then, apparently recovering himself in
some measure, he seized a pen, and after several pauses and vacant
stares, finally filled up and signed a check for fifty thousand
francs, and handed it across the table to Dupin. The latter examined
it carefully and deposited it in his pocketbook; then, unlocking an
_escritoire_, took thence a letter and gave it to the Prefect. This
functionary grasped it in a perfect agony of joy, opened it with a
trembling hand, cast a rapid glance at its contents, and then,
scrambling and struggling to the door, rushed at length
unceremoniously from the room and from the house, without having
uttered a syllable since Dupin had requested him to fill up the check.

When he had gone, my friend entered into some explanations.

"The Parisian police," he said, "are exceedingly able in their
way. They are persevering, ingenious, cunning, and thoroughly versed
in the knowledge which their duties seem chiefly to demand. Thus, when
G---- detailed to us his mode of searching the premises at the Hotel
D----, I felt entire confidence in his having made a satisfactory
investigation--so far as his labors extended."

"So far as his labors extended?" said I.

"Yes," said Dupin. "The measures adopted were not only the best of
their kind, but carried out to absolute perfection. Had the letter
been deposited within the range of their search, these fellows would,
beyond a question, have found it."

I merely laughed--but he seemed quite serious in all that he said.

"The measures, then," he continued, "were good in their kind, and well
executed; their defect lay in their being inapplicable to the case,
and to the man. A certain set of highly ingenious resources are, with
the Prefect, a sort of Procrustean bed to which he forcibly adapts his
designs. But he perpetually errs by being too deep or too shallow, for
the matter in hand; and many a schoolboy is a better reasoner than
he. I knew one about eight years of age, whose success at guessing in
the game of 'even and odd' attracted universal admiration. This game
_is_ simple, and is played with marbles.  One player holds in his hand
a number of these toys, and demands of another whether that number is
even or odd. If the guess is right, the guesser wins one; if wrong, he
loses one. The boy to whom I allude won all the marbles of the
school. Of course he had some principle of guessing; and this lay in
mere observation and admeasurement of the astuteness of his
opponents. For example, an arrant simpleton is his opponent, and,
holding up his closed hand asks, 'Are they even or odd?' Our schoolboy
replies, 'Odd' and loses; but upon the second trial he wins, for he
then says to himself, 'the simpleton had them even upon the first
trial, and his amount of cunning is just sufficient to make him have
them odd upon the second; I will therefore guess odd;' he guesses odd,
and wins. Now, with a simpleton a degree above the first he would have
reasoned thus: 'This fellow finds that in the first instance I guessed
odd, and, in the second, he will propose to himself, upon the first
impulse, a simple variation from even to odd, as did the first
simpleton; but then a second thought will suggest that this is too
simple a variation, and finally he will decide upon putting it even as
before. I will therefore guess even;' he guesses even, and wins. Now
this mode of reasoning in the schoolboy, whom his fellows term
'lucky,'--what, in its last analysis, is it?"

"It is merely," I said, "an identification of the reasoner's intellect
with that of his opponent."

"It is," said Dupin; "and, upon inquiring of the boy by what means he
effected the _thorough_ identification in which his success consisted,
I received answer as follows: 'When I wish to find out how wise, or
how stupid, or how good, or how wicked is any one, or what are his
thoughts at the moment, I fashion the expression of my face, as
accurately as possible, in accordance with the expression of his, and
then wait to see what thoughts or sentiments arise in my mind or
heart, as if to match or correspond with the expression.' This
response of the schoolboy lies at the bottom of all the spurious
profundity which has been attributed to Rochefoucauld, to La Bruyère,
to Machiavelli, and to Campanella."

"And the identification," I said, "of the reasoner's intellect with
that of his opponent, depends, if I understand you aright, upon the
accuracy with which the opponent's intellect is admeasured."

"For its practical value it depends upon this," replied Dupin, "and
the Prefect and his cohort fail so frequently, first, by default of
this identification, and, secondly, by ill-admeasurement, or rather
through non-admeasurement, of the intellect with which they are
engaged. They consider only their _own_ ideas of ingenuity; and, in
searching for anything hidden, advert only to the modes in which
_they_ would have hidden it. They are right in this much--that their
own ingenuity is a faithful representative of that of _the mass_: but
when the cunning of the individual felon is diverse in character from
their own, the felon foils them, of course. This always happens when
it is above their own, and very usually when it is below. They have no
variation of principle in their investigations; at best, when urged by
some unusual emergency--by some extraordinary reward--they extend or
exaggerate their old modes of _practice_, without touching their
principles.  What, for example, in this case of D----, has been done
to vary the principle of action? What is all this boring, and probing,
and sounding, and scrutinizing with the microscope, and dividing the
surface of the building into registered square inches--what is it all
but an exaggeration _of the application_ of the one principle or set
of principles of search, which are based upon the one set of notions
regarding human ingenuity, to which the Prefect, in the long routine
of his duty, has been accustomed? Do you not see he has taken it for
granted that _all_ men proceed to conceal a letter,--not exactly in a
gimlet-hole bored in a chair leg--but, at least, in _some_
out-of-the-way hole or corner suggested by the same tenor of thought
which would urge a man to secrete a letter in a gimlet-hole bored in a
chair-leg? And do you not see, also, that such _recherchés_ nooks for
concealment are adapted only for ordinary occasions and would be
adopted only by ordinary intellects; for, in all cases of concealment,
a disposal of the article concealed--a disposal of it in this
_recherché_ manner--is, in the very first instance, presumable and
presumed; and thus its discovery depends, not at all upon the acumen,
but altogether upon the mere care, patience, and determination of the
seekers; and where the case is of importance--or, what amounts to the
same thing in policial eyes, when the reward is of magnitude--the
qualities in question have _never_ been known to fail. You will now
understand what I meant in suggesting that, had the purloined letter
been hidden anywhere within the limits of the Prefect's
examination--in other words, had the principle of its concealment been
comprehended within the principles of the Prefect--its discovery would
have been a matter altogether beyond question. This functionary,
however, has been thoroughly mystified; and the remote source of his
defeat lies in the supposition that the Minister is a fool, because he
has acquired renown as a poet.  All fools are poets; this the Prefect
_feels_; and he is merely guilty of a _non distributio medii_ in
thence inferring that all poets are fools."

"But is this really the poet?" I asked. "There are two brothers, I
know; and both have attained reputation in letters. The Minister, I
believe, has written learnedly on the Differential Calculus. He is a
mathematician, and no poet"

"You are mistaken; I know him well; he is both. As poet _and_
mathematician, he would reason well; as mere mathematician, he could
not have reasoned at all, and thus would have been at the mercy of the

"You surprise me," I said, "by these opinions, which have been
contradicted by the voice of the world. You do not mean to set at
naught the well-digested idea of centuries. The mathematical reason
has long been regarded as _the_ reason _par excellence_."

"'_Il-y-a à parier_,'" replied Dupin, quoting from Chamfort, "'_que
toute idée publique, toute convention reçue, est une sottise, car elle
a convenue au plus grand nombre_.' The mathematicians, I grant you,
have done their best to promulgate the popular error to which you
allude, and which is none the less an error for its promulgation as
truth. With an art worthy a better cause, for example, they have
insinuated the term 'analysis' into application to algebra. The French
are the originators of this particular deception ; but if a term is of
any importance--if words derive any value from applicability--then
'analysis' conveys 'algebra,' about as much as, in Latin, '_ambitus_'
implies 'ambition,' '_religio_,' 'religion,' or '_homines honesti_,'a
set of honorable men."

"You have a quarrel on hand, I see," said I, "with some of the
algebraists of Paris; but proceed."

"I dispute the availability, and thus the value, of that reason which
is cultivated in any especial form other than the abstractly
logical. I dispute, in particular, the reason educed by mathematical
study. The mathematics are the science of form and quantity;
mathematical reasoning is merely logic applied to observation upon
form and quantity. The great error lies in supposing that even the
truths of what is called _pure_ algebra are abstract or general
truths. And this error is so egregious that I am confounded at the
universality with which it has been received. Mathematical axioms are
_not_ axioms of general truth. What is true of _relation_--of form and
quantity--is often grossly false in regard to morals, for example. In
this latter science it is very usually _un_true that the aggregated
parts are equal to the whole. In chemistry also the axiom fails. In
the consideration of motive it fails; for two motives, each of a given
value, have not, necessarily, a value when united, equal to the sum of
their values apart. There are numerous other mathematical truths which
are only truths within the limits of _relation_. But the mathematician
argues, from his _finite truths_, through habit, as if they were of an
absolutely general applicability--as the world indeed imagines them to
be. Bryant, in his very learned 'Mythology,' mentions an analogous
source of error, when he says that 'although the Pagan fables are not
believed, yet we forget ourselves continually, and make inferences
from them as existing realities.'  With the algebraists, however, who
are Pagans themselves, the 'Pagan fables' _are_ believed, and the
inferences are made, not so much through lapse of memory, as through
an unaccountable addling of the brains. In short, I neyer yet
encountered the mere mathematician who could be trusted out of equal
roots, or one who did not clandestinely hold it as a point of his
faith that _x²+px_ was absolutely and unconditionally equal to _q_.
Say to one of these gentlemen, by way of experiment, if you please,
that you believe occasions may occur where _x²+px_ is _not_
altogether equal to _q_, and, having made him understand what you
mean, get out of his reach as speedily as convenient, for, beyond
doubt, he will endeavor to knock you down.

"I mean to say," continued Dupin, while I merely laughed at his last
observations, "that if the Minister had been no more than a
mathematician, the Prefect would have been under no necessity of
giving me this check. I knew him, however, as both mathematician and
poet, and my measures were adapted to his capacity, with reference to
the circumstances by which he was surrounded. I knew him as courtier,
too, and as a bold _intriguant_. Such a man, I considered, could not
fail to be aware of the ordinary policial modes of action. He could
not have failed to anticipate--and events have proved that he did not
fail to anticipate--the waylayings to which he was subjected. He must
have foreseen, I reflected, the secret investigations of his
premises. His frequent absences from home at night, which were hailed
by the Prefect as certain aids to his success, I regarded only as
ruses, to afford opportunity for thorough search to the police, and
thus the sooner to impress them with the conviction to which G----, in
fact, did finally arrive--the conviction that the letter was not upon
the premises. I felt, also, that the whole train of thought, which I
was at some pains in detailing to you just now, concerning the
invariable principle of policial action in searches for articles
concealed--I felt that this whole train of thought would necessarily
pass through the mind of the Minister. It would imperatively lead him
to despise all the ordinary _nooks_ of concealment.  _He_ could not, I
reflected, be so weak as not to see that the most intricate and remote
recess of his Hotel would be as open as his commonest closets to the
eyes, to the probes, to the gimlets, and to the microscopes of the
Prefect. I saw, in fine, that he would be driven, as a matter of
course, to _simplicity_, if not deliberately induced to it as a matter
of choice.  You will remember, perhaps, how desperately the Prefect
laughed when I suggested, upon our first interview, that it was just
possible this mystery troubled him so much on account of its being so
_very_ self-evident."

"Yes," said I, "I remember his merriment well. I really thought he
would have fallen into convulsions."

"The material world," continued Dupin, "abounds with very strict
analogies to the immaterial; and thus some color of truth has been
given to the rhetorical dogma, that metaphor, or simile, may be made
to strengthen an argument, as well as to embellish a description. The
principle of the _vis inertiæ_, for example, seems to be identical in
physics and metaphysics.  It is not more true in the former, that a
large body is with more difficulty set in motion than a smaller one,
and that its subsequent momentum is commensurate with this difficulty,
than it is, in the latter, that intellects of the vaster capacity,
while more forcible, more constant, and more eventful in their
movements than those of inferior grade, are yet the less readily
moved, and more embarrassed and full of hesitation in the first few
steps of their progress. Again: have you ever noticed which of the
street signs, over the shop-doors, are the most attractive of

"I have never given the matter a thought," I said.

"There is a game of puzzles," he resumed, "which is played upon a
map. One party playing requires another to find a given word--the name
of town, river, state, or empire--any word, in short, upon the motley
and perplexed surface of the chart. A novice in the game generally
seeks to embarrass his opponents by giving them the most minutely
lettered names; but the adept selects such words as stretch, in large
characters, from one end of the chart to the other. These, like the
over-largely lettered signs and placards of the street, escape
observation by dint of being excessively obvious; and here the
physical oversight is precisely analogous with the moral
inapprehension by which the intellect suffers to pass unnoticed those
considerations which are too obtrusively and too palpably
self-evident.  But this is a point, it appears, somewhat above or
beneath the understanding of the Prefect. He never once thought it
probable, or possible, that the Minister had deposited the letter
immediately beneath the nose of the whole world, by way of best
preventing any portion of that world from perceiving it.

"But the more I reflected upon the daring, dashing, and discriminating
ingenuity of D----; upon the fact that the document must always have
been _at hand,_ if he intended to use it to good purpose; and upon the
decisive evidence, obtained by the Prefect, that it was not hidden
within the limits of that dignitary's ordinary search--the more
satisfied I became that, to conceal this letter, the Minister had
resorted to the comprehensive and sagacious expedient of not
attempting to conceal it at all.

"Full of these ideas, I prepared myself with a pair of green
spectacles, and called one fine morning, quite by accident, at the
Ministerial Hotel. I found D---- at home, yawning, lounging, and
dawdling, as usual, and pretending to be in the last extremity of
ennui. He is, perhaps, the most really energetic human being now
alive--but that is only when nobody sees him.

"To be even with him, I complained of my weak eyes, and lamented the
necessity of the spectacles, under cover of which I cautiously and
thoroughly surveyed the apartment, while seemingly intent only upon
the conversation of my host.

"I paid especial attention to a large writing-table near which he sat,
and upon which lay confusedly some miscellaneous letters and other
papers, with one or two musical instruments and a few books. Here,
however, after a long and very deliberate scrutiny, I saw nothing to
excite particular suspicion.

"At length my eyes, in going the circuit of the room, fell upon a
trumpery filigree card-rack of pasteboard, that hung dangling by a
dirty blue ribbon from a little brass knob just beneath the middle of
the mantelpiece. In this rack, which had three or four compartments,
were five or six visiting cards and a solitary letter. This last was
much soiled and crumpled.  It was torn nearly in two, across the
middle--as if a design, in the first instance, to tear it entirely up
as worthless, had been altered, or stayed, in the second. It had a
large black seal, bearing the D---- cipher _very_ conspicuously, and
was addressed, in a diminutive female hand, to D----, the Minister
himself. It was thrust carelessly, and even, as it seemed,
contemptuously, into one of the upper divisions of the rack.

"No sooner had I glanced at this letter, than I concluded it to be
that of which I was in search. To be sure, it was, to all appearance,
radically different from the one of which the Prefect had read us so
minute a description. Here the seal was large and black, with the
D---- cipher; there it was small and red, with the ducal arms of the
S---- family.  Here, the address, to the Minister, was diminutive and
feminine; there the superscription, to a certain royal personage, was
markedly bold and decided; the size alone formed a point of
correspondence. But then, the _radicalness_ of these differences,
which was excessive; the dirt; the soiled and torn condition of the
paper, so inconsistent with the _true_ methodical habits of D----, and
so suggestive of a design to delude the beholder into an idea of the
worthlessness of the document; these things, together with the
hyperobtrusive situation of this document, full in the view of every
visitor, and thus exactly in accordance with the conclusions to which
I had previously arrived; these things, I say, were strongly
corroborative of suspicion, in one who came with the intention to

"I protracted my visit as long as possible, and, while I maintained a
most animated discussion with the Minister, upon a topic which I knew
well had never failed to interest and excite him, I kept my attention
really riveted upon the letter.  In this examination, I committed to
memory its external appearance and arrangement in the rack; and also
fell, at length, upon a discovery which set at rest whatever trivial
doubt I might have entertained. In scrutinizing the edges of the
paper, I observed them to be more _chafed_ than seemed necessary. They
presented the _broken_ appearance which is manifested when a stiff
paper, having been once folded and pressed with a folder, is refolded
in a reversed direction, in the same creases or edges which had formed
the original fold.  This discovery was sufficient. It was clear to me
that the letter had been turned, as a glove, inside out, re-directed,
and re-sealed. I bade the Minister good-morning, and took my departure
at once, leaving a gold snuff-box upon the table.

"The next morning I called for the snuff-box, when we resumed, quite
eagerly, the conversation of the preceding day.  While thus engaged,
however, a loud report, as if of a pistol, was heard immediately
beneath the windows of the Hotel, and was succeeded by a series of
fearful screams, and the shoutings of a mob. D---- rushed to a
casement, threw it open, and looked out. In the meantime, I stepped to
the card-rack, took the letter, put it in my pocket, and replaced it
by a facsimile (so far as regards externals), which I had carefully
prepared at my lodgings--imitating the D---- cipher, very readily, by
means of a seal formed of bread.

"The disturbance in the street had been occasioned by the frantic
behavior of a man with a musket. He had fired it among a crowd of
women and children. It proved, however, to have been without ball, and
the fellow was suffered to go his way as a lunatic or a drunkard. When
he had gone, D---- came from the window, whither I had followed him
immediately upon securing the object in view. Soon afterwards I bade
him farewell. The pretended lunatic was a man in my own pay."

"But what purpose had you," I asked, "in replacing the letter by a
facsimile? Would it not have been better, at the first visit, to have
seized it openly, and departed?"

"D----," replied Dupin, "is a desperate man, and a man of nerve. His
Hotel, too, is not without attendants devoted to his interests. Had I
made the wild attempt you suggest, I might never have left the
Ministerial presence alive. The good 30 people of Paris might have
heard of me no more. But I had an object apart from these
considerations. You know my political prepossessions. In this matter,
I act as a partisan of the lady concerned. For eighteen months the
Minister has had her in his power. She has now him in hers--since,
being unaware that the letter is not in his possession, he will
proceed with his exactions as if it was. Thus will he inevitably
commit himself, at once, to his political destruction. His downfall,
too, will not be more precipitate than awkward. It is all very well to
talk about the _facilis descensus Averni_; but in all kinds of
climbing, as Catalani said of singing, it is far more easy to get up
than to come down. In the present instance I have no sympathy--at
least no pity--for him who descends. He is that _monstrum horrendum_,
an unprincipled man of genius. I confess, however, that I should like
very well to know the precise character of his thoughts, when, being
defied by her whom the Prefect terms 'a certain personage,' he is
reduced to opening the letter which I left for him in the card-rack."

"How? Did you put anything particular in it?"

"Why--it did not seem altogether right to leave the interior
blank--that would have been insulting. D----, at Vienna once, did me
an evil turn, which I told him, quite good-humoredly, that I should
remember. So, as I knew he would feel some curiosity in regard to the
identity of the person who had outwitted him, I thought it a pity not
to give him a clew. He is well acquainted with my MS., and I just
copied into the middle of the blank sheet the words--

  '--Un dessein si funeste,
  S'il n'est digne d'Atrée, est digne de Thyeste.'

They are to be found in Crébillon's _Atrée_."


The text followed both for poems and tales is that of the
Stedman-Woodberry edition of Poe's Works, in which the editors
followed, in most cases, the text of what is known as the "Lorimer
Graham" copy of the edition of 1845, containing marginal corrections
in Poe's own hand. Poe revised his work frequently and sometimes
extensively. The following notes show, in most cases, the dates both
of the first publication and of subsequent ones. Familiarity with the
Introduction to this book will, in some cases, be necessary to an
understanding of the notes. Gayley's "Classic Myths in English
Literature" (Ginn & Company, $1.50) is the best reference work of
small size for allusions to mythology, and should be available.

Both poems and tales are arranged in chronological order.


SONG (Page 3)

Published in 1827, 1829, and 1845. The poem is believed to refer to
Miss Royster, of Richmond, with whom Poe was in love as a boy of
sixteen, shortly before he entered the University of Virginia. The
young lady's father intercepted the correspondence, and Miss Royster
soon became Mrs. Shelton. The blush, mentioned in lines 2, 9, and 14,
is doubtless intended to imply shame for her desertion. The poem is
commonplace, and shows little that is characteristic of the older Poe.


Published in 1827 as "Visit of the Dead," and in 1829 and 1839 under
the above title. It has been conjectured that this poem was inspired
by the death of Mrs. Stannard (see Introduction, page xii).

TO ---- (Page 4)

The original, longer and addressed "To M----," appeared in the edition
of 1829, and was republished in 1845.

ROMANCE (Page 5)

Printed as a preface in 1829, and as an introduction in 1831;
considerably revised and shortened, it appeared in 1843 and 1845 as

11. condor years. The metaphor implies a likeness of time--the
years--to a bird of prey. Cf. "condor wings" in "The Conqueror Worm."

19. forbidden things: i.e. "lyre and rhyme." What is the meaning?

TO THE RIVER-- (Page 5)

Published first in 1829, afterwards in several magazines and in the
edition of 1845.


Published first in 1829, this poem appeared in editions of 1831 and
1845, and in magazines. It is a sonnet, differing from the
Shakespearean form only in the repetition of the rhyme with "eyes."

9, 10, 12. In classical mythology, Diana is the moon goddess,
Hamadryad, a wood nymph, Naiad, a water nymph. Consult Gayley's
"Classic Myths." Explain the figures of speech.

13. Elfin: elf, a fairy, from the Anglo-Saxon, refers especially to
tiny sprites, fond of mischief and tricks. But there were various
kinds of elves, according to the Norse mythology. Consult Gayley's
"Classic Myths." Explain the figure.

14. tamarind-tree: a beautiful, spreading, Oriental tree, with pinnate
leaves and showy racemes of yellow flowers variegated with red. What
does the line mean?

TO HELEN (Page 7)

Published in 1831, 1836, 1841, 1843, and 1845. Read comment in the
Introduction, pages xii and xxiii.

2. Nicæan barks. It is impossible to say exactly what this allusion
means. Professor W.P. Trent aptly suggests that if "wanderer" in line
4 refers to Ulysses, as seems likely, "Phæacian" would have been the
right word, since the Phæacians did convey Ulysses to Ithaca. Poe may
have had that idea in mind and used the wrong word, or this may simply
be a characteristically vague suggestion of antiquity. Point out
similar examples of indefinite suggestion in this poem.

7. hyacinth hair: a favorite term with Poe. In "The Assignation" he
says of the Marchesa Aphrodite, "Her hair ... clustered round and
round her classical head, in curls like those of the young hyacinth."
The hair of Ligeia, in the story of that title, he calls "the
raven-black, the glossy, the luxuriant and naturally-curling tresses,
setting forth the full force of the Homeric epithet, 'hyacinthine.'"

8. Naiad airs: suggestive of exquisite grace. The Naiads, in
classical mythology, are water nymphs,--lovely maidens presiding over
brooks and fountains.

9, 10. Two of Poe's best and most frequently quoted lines. Explain the
fitness of the epithets. Originally the lines read:

  To the beauty of fair Greece
  And the grandeur of old Rome.

Is the change an improvement? Explain.

14. Psyche: the Greek word for "soul," and also the name of a
beautiful maiden whom Cupid himself loved and wedded. Read the story
in Gayley's "Classic Myths."

ISRAFEL (Page 7)

Published in editions of 1831 and 1845, and several times in
magazines. See comment in the Introduction, page xxiii. Poe derived
the quotation through Moore's "Lalla Rookh," altered it slightly, and
interpolated the clause, "whose heart-strings are a lute"; it is from
Sale's "Preliminary Discourse" to the Koran.

12. levin, or leven: an archaic word for "lightning."

13. Pleiads, or Pleiades: a group of stars in the constellation
Taurus; only six stars of the group are readily visible, but legend
tells of a seventh, lost. Read the account of the ancient myth in
Gayley's "Classic Myths."

23. skies: the object of "trod."

26. Houri: derived from an Arabian word meaning "to have
brilliant black eyes." It is the name in Mohammedan tradition for
beautiful nymphs of Paradise, who are to be companions of the pious.


Published in 1831 as "The Doomed City," in 1836 as "The City of Sin,"
and several times in 1845 under the above title.

Point out examples of alliteration.

18. Babylon-like walls. The walls of the ancient city of
Babylon, on the Euphrates, were famous for massiveness and extent.


Published as "Irene" in 1831 and 1836, and as "The Sleeper" in 1843
and 1845. The theme is Poe's favorite, the death of a beautiful young
woman, and the poem is remarkable, even among Poe's, for its melody.

LENORE (Page 13)

Published as "A Pæan" in 1831 and 1836, and as "Lenore" in 1843 and
1845. It was much altered in its numerous revisions.

1. broken is the golden bowl. See Ecclesiastes xii. 6.

2. Stygian river. The Styx was a river of Hades, across which
the souls of the dead had to be ferried.

3. Guy De Vere: the mourning lover. It is he who speaks in the
second and fourth stanzas.

13. Peccavimus: literally, "we have sinned." This stanza is the
reply of the false friends.


Published in 1831 as "The Valley Nis," with an obscure allusion to a
"Syriac Tale":

  Something about Satan's dart--
  Something about angel wings--
  Much about a broken heart--
  All about unhappy things:
  But "the Valley Nis" at best
  Means "the Valley of Unrest."

Later it was published in magazines and in the 1845 edition, revised
and improved, and transformed into a simple landscape picture,--one of
the strange, weird, unearthly landscapes so characteristic of Poe.


This poem was submitted in the prize contest in Baltimore in 1833, and
would have been successful but for the fact that the author's story,
"The Manuscript Found in a Bottle," had taken the first prize in its
class. It was republished several times, but not much altered. The
usual spelling is "Colosseum." It is very unlikely that Poe ever saw
the Colosseum, though it is barely possible his foster parents may
have taken him to Rome during the English residence (see Introduction,
page xii).

13-14. Apparently a reference to Jesus, but characteristically vague.

15-16. The ancient Chaldeans were famous students of the heavens and
practiced fortune telling by the stars; during the Middle Ages
astrologers were commonly called "Chaldeans."

17. hero fell. Explain the allusion. Read an account of the
Colosseum in a history or reference book.

18. mimic eagle: the eagle on the Roman standard.

20. gilded hair: adorned with golden ornaments.

26-29. arcades, plinths, shafts, entablatures, frieze,
cornices. Consult the dictionary and explain these architectural

36. Memnon: a gigantic statue of this Greek hero on the banks
of the Nile was said to salute the rising sun with a musical note.

HYMN (Page 16)

Published in 1835 in the tale "Morella," and several times afterward
in magazines and collections. As an expression of simple, religious
trust and hope, this poem stands quite apart from all others by Poe.


Published in 1835 as part of the tale called "The Visionary,"
afterward "The Assignation"; in 1839 in a magazine under the title "To
Ianthe in Heaven"; and several times afterward in magazines and in
collections. It fits admirably into the story "The Assignation," where
it contains this additional stanza, readily understood in its setting:

  Alas! for that accursed time
    They bore thee o'er the billow,
  From Love to titled age and crime
    And an unholy pillow--
  From me, and from our misty clime
    Where weeps the silver willow.

TO F---- (Page 18)

Appeared in 1835 under the title "To Mary," and in 1842 and 1843, "To
One Departed." It is not known to whom these forms were addressed. In
1845 it again appeared with the above title, which is believed to
refer to Mrs. Frances Sargent Osgood, a poet of the time, whom Poe
greatly admired.

TO F----S S. O----D (Page 18)

First appeared in the _Southern Literary Messenger_(1835) as "Lines
Written in an Album," addressed to Eliza White, a young daughter of
the editor of the _Messenger_; in 1839 the same lines were addressed
"To ----," whose name is unknown; and in 1845 they were addressed
under the above title to Mrs. Osgood (see note on the preceding poem).

TO ZANTE (Page 18)

Published in 1837, 1843, and 1845. In form this is a regular
Shakespearean sonnet. Zante is one of the principal Ionian islands, in
ancient times called Zacynthus. Again the poet writes of a fair isle
in the sea; point out other instances. Note the fondness for "no
more," and find examples in other poems. As usual with Poe, the thread
of thought is slight and indefinite; apparently the beautiful island
has become "accursed ground" because of the death there of the "maiden
that is no more."

1. fairest of all flowers. There is a zantewood, or satinwood,
but it does not take its name from this island. Poe associated the
name of the island with the hyacinth, but there is no etymological
connection.  He probably derived his fancy from a passage in
Chateaubriand's "Itinéraire de Paris à Jérusalem," page 53.

13. hyacinthine isle: a reference to the flowers of the island
(see preceding note).

14. "Isola d'oro!  Fior di Levante!" "Golden Isle! Flower of
the Levant!" These are Italian terms for Zante; they occur in the
passage in Chateaubriand referred to in the note on line 1.


Published in 1837, 1841, 1845, and greatly improved in revision. The
bride remembers her dead lover who died in battle, and wonders
fearfully whether "the dead who is forsaken" knows and is unhappy.

SILENCE (Page 20)

Published in 1840, 1843, and 1845.


Published in 1843 and 1845. The repulsive imagery recurs in several of
the tales and poems, and shows one of the most morbid phases of Poe's
imagination (see Introduction, page xxiv). It would hardly meet Poe's
own test of beauty, but the grim power of this terrible picture is
palpable enough.

9. Mimes: actors, who in this case are men; mankind.

13. vast formless things: doubtless the Fates (consult Gayley's
"Classic Myths"); at any rate beings who exercise the same powers.

15. condor wings. The condor is a great vulture of South
America; the word here suggests the Fates preying on human happiness,
health, and life.

18. Phantom: happiness, or perhaps any object of human desire
or ambition.

DREAM-LAND (Page 22)

Published in 1844 and 1845. The poem paints another of Poe's
extraordinary landscapes.

3. Eidolon: phantom, specter, shade.

6. ultimate dim Thule. "Thule" was used by the ancients to
indicate extreme northern regions; the Romans used the phrase "Ultima
Thule" to denote the most remote, unknown land. What does the allusion
signify here?

THE RAVEN (Page 24)

Published in 1845 in various magazines, first in the New York _Evening
Mirror_ of January 29. This is the most famous if not the best of
Poe's poems. There is a clear thread of narrative and greater dramatic
interest than in any other of the author's poems. If possible, read
"The Philosophy of Composition," in which Poe gives a remarkable
account of the composition of this poem, an account which is to be
accepted, however, as explaining only the mechanical side of the
work. This essay is included in Cody's "Best Poems and Essays" (see
Bibliography, page xxxi). Read the comment in the Introduction, page
xxiv. Note the numerous alliterations.

34. thereat is. Was the idea phrased this way for any other
purpose than to make a rhyme? Is it artistic?

38. Raven. Read an account of the bird in a natural history or
an encyclopedia; it is frequently mentioned in English literature as a
bird of ill omen.

41. Pallas: Minerva, goddess of wisdom. Consult Gayley's
"Classic Myths." Is a bust of Pallas appropriate for a library?

47. Plutonian: from Pluto, god of the underworld.

64, 65. burden: thought or theme.

76-77. gloated ... gloating. It is impossible to say just what
is suggested. It is characteristically vague. Find other examples in
this poem.

80. tinkled on the tufted floor. Not very easy to imagine. In
"Ligeia," Poe speaks of "carpets of tufted gold," apparently meaning
fabrics of very thick and rich material. Perhaps we may think of the
tinkling as proceeding from tiny bells.

81. "Wretch," etc. The lover addresses himself.

82. nepenthe: a name given in Homer's "Odyssey" to a drug
offered to Helen in Egypt, the effect of which was to banish all grief
and pain.  Later the term was sometimes used for opium.

89. balm in Gilead. Gilead is a district on the banks of the
Jordan and the "balm" an herb of reputed medicinal value. The allusion
here is to Jeremiah viii.22: "Is there no balm in Gilead? is there no
physician there?" The lover means to ask if there is any remedy for
his sorrow, any consolation. Perhaps he means, "Is there any solace
after death?" or "Is there any solace either in this world or the

93. Aidenn: Eden, Paradise, from the Arabic form _Adn_; coined
by Poe for the rhyme.

101. This line, Poe said in "The Philosophy of Composition," first
betrays clearly the allegorical nature of the poem.

106. the lamp-light o'er him streaming. In answer to criticism
on this line, Poe explained, "My conception was that of the bracket
candelabrum affixed against the wall, high up above the door and bust,
as is often seen in the English palaces, and even in some of the
better houses of New York."

107, 108. In these last lines the allegory is fully revealed.

EULALIE (Page 29)

Published in 1845 with the subtitle, "A Song."

19. Astarte. See note on line 37 of "Ulalume," page 189.

TO M.L. S----- (Page 30)

Published March 13, 1847, and addressed to Mrs. Marie Louise Shew, who
had been a veritable angel of mercy in the Poe home. She relieved the
poverty and helped to care for Virginia (who died January 29), and
afterward nursed Poe himself during his severe illness.  Mrs. Shew had
had some medical training and probably saved Poe's life. This brief
poem is instinct with a gratitude and reverence easy to understand,
and is, for Poe, unusually spontaneous.

ULALUME (Page 30)

Published in December, 1847, and in January, 1848. The earlier form
contained an additional stanza, afterward wisely omitted. Read the
comment on the poem in the Introduction, pages xxiv-xxv.

5. Immemorial: properly means extending indefinitely into the
past. Poe may mean that the year has seemed endless to him, but
apparently he uses the word in the sense of memorable.

6, 7. Auber rhymes with October, Weir with year; the
names were coined by Poe for rhyme and tone color. Note the
resemblance of "Weir" to "weird."

8. tarn: a small mountain lake. It is used provincially in
England to mean a boggy or marshy tract. Poe used the word to signify
a dark, stagnant pool. Cf. "The Fall of the House of Usher," page 49.

11. cypress.  What is its significance?

12. Psyche: soul. Cf. note on line 14 of "To Helen," page 183.

14. scoriac: a very rare word, from _scoria_ (lava).

16. Yaanek: another specially coined word.

35. crescent: suggesting hope.

37, 39. Astarte: a Phoenician goddess, as the deity of love
corresponding to Venus (Aphrodite), and as moon goddess to Dian, or
Diana (Artemis). But Diana was chaste and cold to the advances of
lovers, which explains "she (Astarte) is warmer than Dian."

43. where the worm never dies: implies the gnawing of unending
grief. Cf. Isaiah lxvi. 24, and Mark ix. 44, 46, 48.

44.  The Lion: the constellation Leo.

64. sibyllic: usually "sibylline," prophetic; from "sibyl."
Consult Gayley's "Classic Myths."

179. legended tomb: having on it an inscription.

TO ---- ---- (Page 33)

Published in March, 1848, and is another tribute to Mrs. Shew. See
note on "To M.L. S-----," page 188.

9-10. The quotation is from George Peele's "David and Bethsabe," an
English drama published in 1599:

   Or let the dew be sweeter far than that
   That hangs, like chains of pearl, on Hermon hill.

14-15. Cf. the poem "Israfel," and the notes on it.

AN ENIGMA (Page 34)

Published in March, 1848. To find the name, read the first letter of
the first line, the second letter of the second line, and so on. In
form this is a sonnet irregular in rhyme scheme.

1. Solomon Don Dunce: a fanciful name for a stupid person.

6. Petrarchan stuff: of or by Petrarch (1304-1374), a famous
Italian writer of sonnets.

10. tuckermanities: a contemptuous allusion to the poetic
efforts of Henry T. Tuckerman, a New England writer of the day.

14. dear names: Sarah Anna Lewis, a verse writer of the day,
whom Poe admired.

TO HELEN (Page 35)

Published in November, 1848; addressed to Mrs. Sarah Helen Whitman
(see Introduction, page xvii). Although her engagement to marry Poe
was broken off, she continued to admire him and was faithful to his
memory after his death. The poem was written before Poe met Mrs.
Whitman, and is said to have been suggested by the poet's having
caught a glimpse of the lady walking in a garden by moonlight.

48. Dian:  Diana, the moon goddess.

66. Venuses: refers at once to the planet Venus and to Venus,
goddess of love.


Published in 1849. The name is found as in "An Enigma," by reading the
first letter of the first line, the second of the second, and so on.

2. twins of Leda: Castor and Pollux, two stars in the
constellation Gemini. For the myth consult Gayley's "Classic Myths."

3. her own sweet name: Frances Sargent Osgood. See note on the
lines "To F---- ," page 185.

10. Gordian knot.   Explain this; consult an encyclopedia.

14. perdus: lost, a French word introduced to rhyme with "too."

17. lying: used in a double sense.

18. Mendez Ferdinando Pinto, a Portuguese traveler (1509-1583),
was said to have been the first white man to visit Japan. He wrote an
account of his travels, which at the time was considered mere

FOR ANNIE (Page 37)

Published in 1849, and addressed to Mrs. Richmond of Lowell,
Massachusetts.  This is the "Annie" so frequently referred to in
biographies of Poe, who also figures in his correspondence. Of all the
women associated with Poe's later years (see Introduction, pages ),
"Annie" was the object of his most sincere and ardent friendship, and
was his confidant in all his troubles,--including the courtship of
Mrs. Whitman. Poe and Mrs. Clemm were frequent visitors at her home,
and the latter found shelter there for a time after her "Eddie's"

This poem is usually regarded as one of the author's poorest, though
it has a distinctly individual character that must be recognized. Thus
Professor C.F. Richardson, in his "American Literature," quoting
several stanzas, remarks, "This is doggerel, but it is Poe's special
doggerel."  Some of the lines really deserve this severe epithet, but
hardly the entire poem. Its theme seems to be peace in death through
the affection of Annie, following a life of passion and sorrow, and so
regarded, it has some strength.

THE BELLS (Page 41)

Published in 1849. Read the comment on this poem in the Introduction,
page xxv. Though not especially characteristic of him, this is one of
Poe's most remarkable poems, as well as one of the most popular. A
very interesting account of its composition may be found in
Woodberry's biography, pages 302-304, or in Harrison's biography,
pages 286-288, or in the Stedman-Woodberry edition of Poe's Works,
Vol. X, pages 183-186.

10. Runic. Runes are the characters of the alphabet of the
early Germanic peoples. The allusion is intended to suggest mystery
and magic. Consult an unabridged dictionary or an encyclopedia.

23. gloats. What does the word mean here? Cf. line 76 of "The
Raven," and corresponding notes.


Published in the _New York Tribune, _October 9, 1849, two days after
the poet's death. Read the comment in the Introduction, page xxv. Note
the mid-rhymes in line 26, "chilling and killing," and in line 32,
"ever dissever"; point out other examples in "The Raven" and other

TO MY MOTHER (Page 46)

Published in 1849; in form, a regular Shakespearean sonnet. It is a
sincere tribute addressed to Mrs. Clemm, mother of Poe's girl wife,
Virginia, a woman who was more than worthy of it. The tenderest
affection existed between the two, and Mrs. Clemm cared for him after
Virginia's death and grieved profoundly at his own. She lived until

ELDORADO (Page 46)

This first appeared in the Griswold edition of 1850; no earlier
publication is known. It was probably Poe's last composition, and this
story of the knight's quest, its failure, and his gaze turned to "the
Valley of the Shadow," is a fitting finale for the ill-starred poet
(see comment in the Introduction, page xxv).

Eldorado: a fabled city or country abounding in gold and
precious stones, and afterward any place of great wealth. The word is
often used figuratively. In a preface to an early volume of his
poetry, Poe alludes quite incidentally to "the poet's own kingdom--his
El Dorado," and in this sense the metaphor may be accepted here.

Note the varying sense of the recurring rhyme, shadow. In the
first stanza it is simply contrasted with the "sunshine" or happiness
of life, in the second it implies the coming of discouragement and
despair, in the third it is the shadow of death cast before, in the
fourth the Valley of the Shadow of Death.


Published in the _Baltimore Museum_ in April, 1839, and in September
of the same year in _Burton's Gentleman's Magazine_ as part of the
tale "The Fall of the House of Usher"; afterwards published in 1840,
1843, and 1845. It was altered very slightly in revision. Lowell wrote
that he knew of no modern poet who might not justly be proud of it
(see Introduction, pages xxiii-xxiv).

59. 24. Porphyrogene: from Greek words meaning "purple"
and "begotten," hence, born in the purple, royal. This term, or
"porphyrogenitus," was applied in the Byzantine empire to children of
the monarch born after his accession to the throne. It is not clear
whether the word is used here as a descriptive adjective or as the
name of the monarch.



Published first in 1839, and several times reprinted with revisions.
Read the comment in the Introduction, page xxvii. Lowell said of this
story: "Had its author written nothing else, it would alone have been
enough to stamp him as a man of genius, and a master of a classic

This tale is one of the best to study as an example of the application
of Poe's critical theory of the short story (see Introduction, page
xxvi).  What is the "effect" sought? Is the main incident of the tale
well adapted to produce this effect? Are the parts skillfully related
to one another and to the whole? Is the setting suitable to the theme?
What is the effect of the first sentence? Pick out a number of rather
unusual words which Poe seems particularly to like; observe their
effect. The adjectives are especially worth study; in the first
sentence try the effect of substituting for "soundless," "quiet," or
"silent," or "noiseless."

49. Quotation: "His heart is a suspended lute; as soon as it is
touched it resounds." P.J. Béranger (1780-1857), a popular French
lyric poet.

50. 12. black and lurid tarn: see note to line 8 of "Ulalume,"
page 189. Tarn is one of several words Poe particularly liked.

58. 10. low cunning. See if the reason for this encounter
appears later.

58 31. ennuyé: a French word meaning "wearied," "bored."

54. 5-24. The description of Usher is in the main a remarkably good
portrait of Poe himself.

55. 20-30. Observe the extreme to which Poe goes in this study of
terror; it is the fear of fear that oppresses Usher.

56. 2. too shadowy here to be re-stated.  Note the effect of
making this weird suggestion instead of a clear statement.

57. 26. Von Weber (1786-1826), a famous German composer.

58. 5. Henry Fuseli, or Fuesli (1742-1825), as he was known in
England, was born in Zurich, Switzerland, and named Johann Heinrich
Fuessli. He was a professor in the Royal Academy and painted a series
of highly imaginative pictures illustrating Shakespeare and Milton.

59. The Haunted Palace. For notes see page 192.

60. 30-31. Richard Watson (1737-1816), Bishop of Llandaff, was
for a time professor of chemistry at Cambridge University and wrote
popular essays on that subject. James Gates Percival (1795-1856) was
an American poet, musician, linguist, surgeon, and scientist; it is
possible the reference is to Thomas Percival (1740-1804), an English
physician. Lazzaro Spallanzani (1729-1799) was an Italian
naturalist, distinguished in experimental physiology.

61. 22-31. All of these titles have been traced, except the last,
which Poe either invented, or, in quoting, altered.  Some of the works
named he apparently had not read, since their character is not suited
to his purpose. Jean Baptiste Louis Gresset (1709-1777) was a French
poet and playwright; the two works mentioned are poems,--the first, a
tale of an escaped parrot who stopped at a convent and shocked the
nuns by his profanity. Niccolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) was a
famous Italian historian and statesman, who wrote a celebrated
treatise called "The Prince"; "Belphegor" is a satire on marriage.
Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) was an eminent Swedish
theologian and religious mystic.  Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754)
was a great Danish poet and novelist; the work mentioned is one of his
best known poems and has been translated into the principal languages
of Europe. Flud, Robert Fludd (1574-1637), was an English
physician, inventor, and mystic philosopher. Jean D'Indaginé
(flourished in the first half of the sixteenth century) was a priest
of Steinheim, Germany, who wrote on palmistry and similar subjects.
Marin Cureau de la Chambre (1594-1675), physician to Louis XIV,
who was an adept in physiognomy, and wrote a work on "The Art of
Judging Men." Ludwig Tieck (1773-1853) was a German romantic
novelist. Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639) was an Italian monk
and philosopher, who suffered persecution by the Inquisition.
Eymeric, Nicolas Eymericus (1320-1399), was a native of Gerona,
Spain, who entered the Dominican order and rose to the rank of
chaplain to the Pope and Grand Inquisitor; his famous "Directorium
Inquisitorum" is an elaborate account of the Inquisition. Pomponius
Mela was a Latin writer of the first century A.D., who wrote a
famous work on geography "De Situ Orbis" (Concerning the Plan of the

61. 31. Satyrs and Ægipans: in classic mythology the satyrs and
minor deities of wood and field, with the body of a man and the feet,
hair, and horns of a goat; Ægipans is practically equivalent to, and
is also an epithet of Pan, the satyr-like rural god.

61. 33-34. curious book in quarto Gothic: printed in the
black-faced letters of mediæval times.

61. 35. The Latin title, which has not been found, means "Vigils for
the Dead according to the Choir of the Church of Mayence."

66. 1-2. The "Mad Trist" of Sir Launcelot Canning has not been found;
undoubtedly the title was coined and the quotations invented to fit
the text, as they do perfectly.

69. 24-25. It was the work of the rushing gust. Note the fine
effect of the momentary suspense, the instant's disappointment carried
by this clause.


First published in a magazine in 1840 (see comment in the
Introduction, page xxvii).

71. Quotation. William Chamberlayne, an English poet and
physician (1619-1689), who in 1659 published "Pharronida, a Heroic

71. 18. Elah-Gabalus: usually Elagabulus, emperor of Rome from
218-222, who indulged in the wildest debaucheries.

72. 26-73 2. The description here is based on fact, apparently
being a true picture of the English school attended by Poe himself
(see Introduction, page xii).

73. 31. Draconian Laws: Draco was an Athenian legislator, who codified
the laws of his city in 621 B.C. The penalty for every offense was
death, and the laws were, therefore, said to be written in blood, not

75. 5. peine forte et dure: "punishment severe and merciless";
a penalty formerly imposed by Enlish law upon persons who refused to
plead on being arraigned for felony. It consisted in laying the
accused on his back on a bare floor and placing a great iron weight on
his chest until he consented to plead or died. There is one instance
of the infliction of this punishment in American colonial history:
Giles Cory, accused of witchcraft, was pressed to death in
Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692.

75. 33. exergues: the exergue is a term in numismatics to
signify the space under the principal figure on the reverse of a coin,
usually containing the date or place of coining.

76. 7. "Oh, le bon temps, que ce siècle de fer!" "Oh! the good
time, the age of iron."

86. 11. Herodes Atticus: a Greek born about A.D. 101, who
inherited from his father, of the same name, great wealth, to which he
added by marriage. He was a noted teacher of rhetoric and became a
Roman consul.


First published in a magazine in 1841 (see comment in the
Introduction, pages xxvii-xxviii).

94. Quotation. Joseph Glanville, or Glanvill (1636-1680), an
English clergyman and author of several works on philosophy and
religion.  The quotation has been found in the writings of Glanvill by
Professor Woodberry, but Poe quoted rather carelessly, and his extract
varies slightly from the original. The Democritus referred to was a
famous Greek philosopher, born about 470 B.C., who taught the atomic

94. 1-3. Note the effect of the opening sentences in seizing attention
and arousing interest at once.

95. 21. Nubian geographer ... Mare Tenebrarum. The same
allusion occurs in "Eleonora," and in "Eureka" Poe speaks of "the
_Mare Tenebrarum_,--an ocean well described by the Nubian geographer,
Ptolemy Hephestion." Apparently he refers to Claudius Ptolemy, a
celebrated philosopher who flourished in Alexandria in the second
century A.D.

His theory, known as the Ptolemaic System, remained the standard
authority in astronomy to the end of the Middle Ages, while his
geography was accepted until the era of the great discoveries opened
in the fifteenth century. Ptolemy is thought to have been born in
Egypt, and it is impossible to say what grounds Poe had for calling
him Nubian.  _Mare Tenebrarum_ means "sea of darkness," the Atlantic.

96. 10-15. This is a real description of the geography of the region
of the Lofoden islands. Refer to a good map of Norway.

97. 27. Maelström: from Norwegian words meaning "grind" and
"stream." The swift tidal currents and eddies of the Lofoden islands
are very dangerous, but the early accounts are greatly exaggerated,
and Poe's description is, aside from being based on these accounts,
purely imaginative.

97. 32. Jonas Ramus. Professor Woodberry, whose study of Poe's
text has been exhaustive, has an interesting note to this effect: Poe
used an article in an early edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, in
which a passage was taken from Pontoppidan's "The Natural History of
Norway" without acknowledgment, this in turn having been taken (with
proper acknowledgment) from Ramus. The Britannica, in the ninth
edition, after giving Poe credit for "erudition taken solely from a
previous edition of this very encyclopedia, which in its turn had
stolen the learning from another, quotes the parts that Poe invented
out of his own head." See "Whirlpool" in the Britannica.

98. 26-27. Norway mile: a little over four and a half English

99. 19. Phlegethon: a river of Hades in which flowed flames
instead of water.

100. 4. Athanasius Kircher (1601-1680) was a learned Roman Catholic
writer, a native of Germany. See "Whirlpool" in the Britannica.

105. 2. what a scene it was to light up! Interest in the
narrative should not hurry the reader too much to appreciate this
scene,--the magnificent setting of the adventure.

109. 10. tottering bridge, etc.: Al Sirat, the bridge from
earth over the abyss of hell to the Mohammedan paradise. It is as
narrow as a sword's edge, and while the good traverse it in safety,
the wicked plunge to torment.

111. 35. Archimedes of Syracuse (i.e. 287--212) was the
greatest of ancient mathematicians; the work to which Poe refers deals
with floating bodies.


First published in _Graham's Magazine_ for May, 1842 (see comment in
the Introduction, page xxvii).

113. The "Red Death" is a product of Poe's own imagination;
there is no record of such a disease in medical history.

113. 3. avatar: a word from Hindoo mythology, in which it means
an incarnation. The word is used here in its secondary sense,--a
visible manifestation.

113. 11. This paragraph suggests the circumstances under which
Boccaccio represents the stories of his famous "Decameron." A
comparison will be interesting.

116. 3. decora: possibly used as a plural of "decorum,"
propriety; probably it is intended to suggest ornamentation.

116. 14. Hernani: a well-known tragedy by the great French
writer, Victor Hugo (1802-1885).

THE GOLD-BUG (Page 120)

First published in the _Dollar Newspaper_ of Philadelphia in June,
1843, as the $100 prize story (see comment in the Introduction, page
xxviii).  This is the best and most widely read of the stories
regarding Captain Kidd's treasure. Read an account of Captain Kidd in
an encyclopedia or dictionary of biography.

Is the main incident of the story the discovery of the treasure or the
solution of the cryptogram? Would the first satisfy you without the
second? The plot is worthy of careful study. Consider the following
points, for example: the significance of the chilly day, how
Lieutenant G---- affects the course of events, the incident of the dog
rushing in, the effect of introducing the gold-bug and making it the
title of the story. If Poe's purpose was to make a story of
cryptography, think of some of the innumerable plots he might have
used, and see what you think of the effectiveness of the one chosen.

120. Quotation. Arthur Murphy (1727-1805), an English actor and
playwright, wrote a comedy called "All in the Wrong," but Professor
W.P. Trent, who examined the play, failed to find Poe's quotation.

120. 15. Poe, while serving in the army, was stationed at Fort
Moultrie, and should have known the region well, but his description
is said to be inaccurate.

121. 11. Jan Swammerdamm (1637-1680), a Dutch naturalist, who
devoted most of his time to the study of insects.

122. 7. scarabæus: Latin for "beetle," and the scientific term in
entomology. While there are various golden beetles, Poe's was a
creation of his own.

122. 26. This is one of the early attempts to use negro dialect. Poe's
efforts are rather clumsy, considering his long residence in the
South.  The reader will notice a number of improbable expressions of
Jupiter's, introduced for humorous effect, but the general character
of the old negro is portrayed, in the main, very well.

124. 5. scarabæus caput bominis: man's-head beetle.

127. 17. brusquerie: brusqueness, abruptness.

127. 20. solus: Latin for "alone."  The Latin word is
altogether unnecessary. Poe was often rather affected in the use of
foreign words and phrases.

128. 22. empressement:  French for "eagerness," cordiality.

132. 31. Liriodendron Tulipifera: the scientific name for the
tulip tree, which sometimes attains a height of 140 feet and a
diameter of 9 feet.

138. 25-26. curvets and caracoles: rare terms belonging to
horsemanship; the first is a low leap, the second a sudden wheel.

142. 13. counters: pieces of money, coins; or the meaning may
be imitation coins for reckoning or for counting in games.

142. 16. No American money.  Why?

142. 31. Bacchanalian figures: figures dancing and drinking
wine at a celebration of the worship of Bacchus, god of wine.

143. 29. parchment. What is the difference?

147. 20. aqua regia: "royal water," so called because it
dissolves gold, is a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids.

150. 15. Golconda: a ruined city of India, once famous as a
place for the cutting and polishing of diamonds; used figuratively in
the sense of a mine of wealth.

150. 30. Read Poe's article on "Cryptography," included in his
collected works.

151. 13. Spanish main: that part of the Caribbean Sea adjacent
to the coast of South America. It was part of the route of Spanish
merchant vessels between Spain and her new-world possessions, and was
infested with pirates.


First published in 1845 (see comment on the detective stories in the
Introduction, page xxviii). This story is peculiarly original in its
incidents and subtle in its reasoning. "The Murders in the Rue Morgue"
should certainly be read also, and perhaps it will prove of more
sustained interest to the majority of readers.

160. Quotation. Lucius Annæus Seneca (B.C. 4-A.D. 65) was a
celebrated Roman philosopher and tutor of the Emperor Nero. The
quotation means: "Nothing is more hateful to wisdom than excessive

160. 3. Dupin: introduced in "The Murders in the Rue Morgue."

160. 4-5. Au troisième: French, literally, "on the third," but
the meaning is the fourth floor, because the count is begun above the
ground floor; Faubourg St. Germain: an aristocratic section of

160. 15-16. Monsieur G----: introduced in "The Murders in the
Rue Morgue."

164. 3. Hotel: in French usage, a dwelling of some
pretension,--a mansion.

164. 7. au fait: French for familiar, expert.

168. 26. John Abernethy (1764-1831), an eminent English
surgeon, was noted for his brusque manners and his eccentricities.

171. 15-16.  François, Due de la Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) was
a French moralist, author of the famous "Maxims"; Jean de la
Bruyère (1645-1696) was a French essayist; see notes on
Machiavelli and Campanella under "The Fall of the House
of Usher," page 194.

172. 19. recherché: French for "sought after," selected with

173. 1. non distributio medii: "undistributed middle," a term
in logic for a form of fallacious reasoning. Consult an encyclopedia,
articles on "Logic," "Syllogism," and "Fallacy," or the Century
Dictionary under "Fallacy."

173. 16. Nicholas Chamfort (1741-1794), a Frenchman, was said
to be the best conversationalist of his day, and wrote famous maxims
and epigrams. The quotation means, "It is safe to wager that every
popular idea, every received convention, is a piece of foolishness,
because it has suited the majority."

173. 27-28. ambitus: a going round, illegal striving for
office; religio: scrupulousness, conscientiousness; homines
honesti: men of distinction.

174. 17. Jacob Bryant (1715-1804), an Englishman; his work on
mythology is of no value.

175. 5. intriguant: an intriguer.

176. 3. vis inertiæ: force of inertia.

180. 5. facilis descensus Averni: "the descent to Avernus is
easy."  Virgil's "Aeneid," VI, 126; Cranch's translation, VI,
161-162. Lake Avernus was, in classical mythology, the entrance to
Hades. Consult Gayley's "Classic Myths."

180. 6. Angelica Catalani (1780-1849), a famous Italian singer.

180. 9. monstrum horrendum: a dreadful monster.

180. 23-24. "A design so baneful, if not worthy of Atreus, is worthy
of Thyestes." Atreus and Thyestes were brothers to whom, in classic
story, the most terrible crimes were attributed.

180. 25. Prosper J. de Crébillon (1674-1762), a noted French
tragic poet. The quotation is from "Atrée et Thyeste."

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